Thursday, September 1, 2011

ARTS SMACK!: If I'm a Racist, Then So Are You

I started another blog - I'll still post to "Art All year", as this new blog relates specifically to my pre-ervice teaching experience. Here's a link to the most recent post.

ARTS SMACK!: If I'm a Racist, Then So Are You: I know, I know... you read the title of this post and said to yourself - maybe even out loud to your computer screen - "Hey - watch it! I'...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Toy

I got a new scanner, yo.  Any tips on how to get the wrinkles out in the scanner?
Oil on gessoed paper

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why... YES! I think I WILL!

When I set out about a year ago on my "Art All Year" experiment, I had a goal in mind.  Create, examine and write about art enough so that I can, at the end of the year, apply to grad school for a Master of Fine Arts program.  Somewhere along the line, I came to realize that as much as I loved the MFA idea, I grew to see it as romantic and not at all practical for me any longer.  I've never been one to be entirely practical though, so the realization wasn't without mourning time for another lost love. 

But through the magic that was my art year, I became exposed to some other ideas that I also grew to love.  I investigated a curatorial studies program... for a minute.  And then there was Art Education.  Ahhh... art education - that's where I started at the Museum School in 1991.  Why... YES... I think I WILL!  The little experience I had with it while studying at Storm King was intoxicating.  So I applied to the Art. Ed. program at SUNY New Paltz as a second degree transfer student. 

Application - check.  Portfolio - check.  Fee - check.  Essay and resume - double check! 

And then yesterday - sitting in my mailbox - all alone - was an envelope from New Paltz.  I sat in my car at the end of the driveway and opened the envelope.  And there it was, "Congratulations..." and I didn't need to read any more - although I did... there's so much to do now!!!

I said throughout the year that my goal was to apply.  I met that goal and felt so good for doing it.  But then they actually accepted me.  Wow!  I can't wait for this part of the adventure to begin.  Don't know how much I'll be blogging about it, what with all the papers I'll be writing for credit, and what not, but stay tuned for highlights!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Art All Year, Every Year

One year ago, I was enveloped by the smell of linseed oil in Brigid's studio and fell in love once again with making art.  As everybody who has ever been in love knows, that state has it's ups and downs.  But you also know that as many times as you say you'll never do it again after a fall, you just can't help yourself the next time it comes around.  The end of "Art All Year" has come and gone, but that's not to say it won't continue.  I had a good enough time this year just getting started, that I choose art all year, every year.  I can look back and reflect upon what I've done, what I haven't done, and what I'd like to do going forward.  Autumn feels like a good time of year for that for me.

This past weekend, I celebrated the art  year with another trip to Boston.  Another trip to Brigid's studio yielded similar results - I am so inspired by artists who consistently make.  We also spent a day meandering through artists' natural habitat of Boston's Fort Point Open Studios.  The living-life-as-art spaces were each unique.  Some elegant, some cozy, some inviting and some off-putting, but all hopeful.  I think there's something inherently hopeful about making art that consistently.  I used to think that in order to make art, one had to be depressed or angry or desperate to send a message of some sort.  But now I think that art represents hope.  Why bother, otherwise?  Art is hope for yourself, for your society and your culture.

Some of the artists whose vision of hope was particularly of interest to me follow in no particular order:
  • Martin Berinstein:
    Beautiful photographs and this one installation of an object inside a mirrored box.  The mirrors were at multiple angles and you stuck your head in the box to take a look.  There, you were greeted by the object, which was almost superfluous to the piece, so much so that I can't remember what it was, the mirrors, and your head, at myriad angles - up, down sideways, front and back infinitely to the sky and below.  It sort of reminded me of the Star Wars Galactic Senate.
  • Kate Gilbert Miller:
    Beautiful, light and airy paintings with lots of white space and concise earth tones, reminding me that I don't have to be so heavy handed.
  • Dorothea Van Camp:
  • Christine Vaillancourt:
    Loved the process.  I was convinced that these pieces were encaustic until I read her statement.  Acrylic?  Whoda thunk it?!  I thought acrylic was for babies.  Another reminder that it's not the camera, it's the photographer.
  • Valda Zalkalns (sadly, no website or postcard to swipe)
    Earthworks.  Etchings of scratch marks made by swans on a frozen Charles River.  Fascinating process and beautiful outcomes.  This art makes me want to investigate an interest farther than "I wonder".
And then we visited Bessie - the "mascot" at the Museum School.  I always wanted to take a ride on her back, but was afraid of the trouble I'd get in.  I've lived that way too much - being fearful of potential trouble and wanting, at all costs, to stay out of it.

Enter, year two of "Art All Year".  I've already set a goal for the year end which is to put pieces in the Holiday Alumni Sale at the Museum School, 2011, which puts me back in Boston first week of November.  WHY is this TROUBLE, you may ask?  It's the fear, and this year, I'm going to conquer it... get right up on it's back and shout, "Whoa, Bessie!"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Your art portfolio has been submitted for review. You will be notified via e-mail when a decision has been made.

I spent the better part of my weekend prepping my portfolio and essay to be reviewed by the art department at SUNY New Paltz.  I've applied to the Art Education department and now I'm all speedy.  Nightmares the past few weeks about moving to Boston - I know it's anxiety and that it will pass - no big deal, but I feel all of a sudden like applying to school is more of a big deal than I had originally anticipated.  I am totally excited at the prospect, though, of going back to school for art ed.  It's where I started off and now I feel as if I've come full circle.  When I started "Art All Year", I did it with the intent of applying to an MFA program.  That was my end goal - to apply.  I didn't give anything beyond that much thought.   I thought if nothing comes of it, well then at least I'd have this year of art under my belt and it will have fed me.  But as the year progressed and I decided that the MFA wasn't for me and that the BSAE was for me, I started to look beyond the year and to imagine what it would be like to have a career in teaching art.  It's an exciting prospect for me and one that I hope I get to see to fruition.  Come on, SUNY NP... git 'er done!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Signs of Our Times

I have a few photos in an online exhibit at Mobius, in Boston, MA, called "Signs of Our Times: An online study of signs, especially as means of language or miscommunication."  Check it out here or at Also be sure to check out all the other artists' work by clicking on their names. 

Here's one of my photos, just for a teaser:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What is Art?

It's an age old question.  We've all pondered it.  We've all come up with our answers, and maybe, they're all right.  To me, art is broad.  It does not have tight restraints or rules.  It is wide open and all-encompassing.  That's why I love it and fear it all the same. 

What, then, when someone, presumably "in" the art world, tells you that your art isn't acceptable merely because of it's format?  I'll tell you what.  Fuck you is what. 

Art doesn't need the constraints of a frame - a frame of reference, maybe... but not a frame.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Apply Yourself

As you may have noticed in the header for this blog, I state that I am on a quest of all things art for the period of one year with the intent of applying to a Master of Fine Arts program at the end of said year.  The prospect of an MFA has always held a romantic place in my heart.  All the cool kids have one.  When I initially started talking about going back to school for mine, I got "mixed reviews" from those who let me chew their ears off about it.   I received both encouragement and discouragement on the topic and I shunned the discouragers as haters.  "What good will that do you?" they asked.  "What are you going to do with an MFA, teach??",  like that would be the worst thing possible for anyone to ever do in the history of doing things.  I usually answered by saying something to the effect that I was following my bliss and that I didn't need a financial or career oriented goal in mind in order to get my MFA.  I've always wanted to get it and so damned it to hell - I'm going to do it just cause I wanna.

My romance with the MFA, albeit a long and rocky one, has come to an end.  I tried it once in 2000(ish) and had to drop the program because my father died in the middle of it all and, well, I just couldn't deal.  And as much as I wanted the naysayers to be condemned to the pits of hell for trying to discourage me, it seems as if they actually gave me a better idea.  What if teaching art was something I chose on purpose (rather than something to "fall back on" as a certain tuition-footing parental unit of mine used to quip long ago).  Today, I put in my application for an Art Education degree.  I still need to tie up some loose ends on that, but they have my money and the ball's-a-rollin'.  Some of you may be saying to yourself, "But Helen - you don't even like kids!".  True enough, but teaching them art sounds fascinating to me.  Recall, my favorite teachers were always art teachers - I can still name all of them K-12:  Mrs. Sirotowitz, Mr. Hobart, Mr. Levine, Mr. Spitz, Ms. Lebenson.  College gets a little foggy (I was a little foggy) and there were a lot of them, so cut me some slack here (Brigid may be able to shed some light on this).  All of these people inspired me - even the ones whose names I can't recall.  They sparked something in me.  They taught me how to be creative and how to think and why I should. 

So think, I shall - and create too - and share the inspiration I've felt with art with others who want it.  There's no guarantee I'll be accepted to the program, so wish me loads of luck and keep your fingers and toes crossed for me (I'm not superstitious - really, I'm not).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And Then The Next Thing You Know...

How does two weeks of intertia turn in to nearly three months?  I'll tell you how - two consecutive bouts with bronchitis coupled with a business trip out of the country and an additional bout with allergies can really slam a girl down.  No excuses here, rather some serious painter's block and exhausting physical ailments.  That's not to say there aren't ideas swarming in my head from moment to moment, but when taking a clear breath is difficult to impossible, all else seems to just get put on the back burner.  Trying to be gentle with myself and not give myself too hard of a time for the inactivity, but also trying to give myself a kick in the pants.

Got back in to the studio for a little while yesterday, so am feeling nearly ready to jump back on that horse again.  I don't need inspiration, I just need to work.

A big thank you to Les Castellanos who was a great sounding board for me tonight.  Thanks for the ideas and the encouragement.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


So I haven't made any marks in like two weeks.  The dining room table where I had all my alternative process photography stuff set up was overtaken by my husband's tax receipts and the baby gate that cordons off my studio from the kitchen seems to have become increasingly higher, ever more difficult to step over.  (It is to keep the dog out of there while I'm not watching.)  A couple of weeks ago was the deadline to enter pieces in to a juried show that is coming up in a local museum.  I entered three pieces, figuring I had nothing to lose - there was no fee, after all.  But I feel like I've been holding my creative breath since the deadline.  Don't make a move, lest someone sees  you hoping for validation by the jurors or by other artists or community members.  At the risk of being publicly naked here - I found out yesterday that none of my pieces were selected for the show.  My husband reminds me that I just started painting again and that I said entering the pieces was merely an exercise in seeing how it felt to enter pieces for jury and that I wasn't actually expecting to get in anyway.  Yeah, right.  After the news, I did spend a fair amount of yesterday sulking and questioning myself and playing the "my art is better than your art sucks compared to their art yadda yadda yadda" game.  But this morning, I feel ready to get back in the studio and make some new marks.  My original intent was to do this for me - to get back to my art making roots and to rediscover my creativity, and although I am thoroughly enjoying everything that is coming along with that, ultimately, for me, right now, it has to be about the simple act of making, and that has to be enough.  There should be a big package of art supplies waiting for me by the time I get home from work today and I'm going to tear right in.

Friday, April 9, 2010


I attended Andy Warhol: Private and Public in 151 Photographs exhibition opening this evening at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art... complete with wig.  Wigs were encouraged attire as a nod to the late Warhol, who, as you likely know, was a fan of artificial hair.

Truthfully, I'll have to go see the show again with fewer people in the gallery.  It was packed with people and I was concerned, initially, about how freakish I must look with dutch boy fuscia hair.  I quickly got over feeling odd (I was on the campus of SUNY New Paltz, after all), but the crowd still made it difficult for me to really take in the art.  I guess openings aren't so much about the art as they are about the crowd.  I did have the pleasure of briefly meeting Sara J. Pasti, the Director of the Dorsky.   Thanks for introducing us, Kt.  She even commented how she loved my wig.  Not just the color, but the cut as well... maybe I should consider this as a pernament look - hmmm...

One thing that stuck out for me was the accessibility of the medium.  The black and white silver gelatin prints take a little know how it's true, but the Polacolor 669 portrait prints were something anyone could do.  I'm not saying that anyone could have taken the photos that Warhol took, rather that the medium was a tool of the masses.  Heck - I have a bunch of the stuff in the studio right now to make slide transfers and portraits with myself.  This is probably why I felt a connection to these pieces, crowded as the gallery may have been.  Alternative process photography has always been a love of mine, even if I haven't done an awful lot of it.  Keep an eye out for some Polaroids and cyanotypes in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Moment at MoMA

I spent a good portion of my day today (er - yesterday - it is after midnight as I write this) in a car traveling to and from.  Well worth it.

Monet's Water Lilies exhibit.  Beautiful.  Yep.  New wallpaper for my phone.  Go see it.

I may become very unpopular by saying this, but the Tim Burton exhibit at MoMA left me cold.  I know, I know... everyone loves Tim Burton, and I know, I know - I am trying to be more objective about what kind of art I am looking at and what I think about it.  So yes - I reminded myself of that while in the exhibit and it just didn't work for very long.  In all fairness to the work, it may have had something to do with the hoards of people in the exhibit.  There were so many people in there, well... it was like trying to leave a Grateful Dead show when they played RFK Stadium in DC and you had to walk through this tunnel to get back to the parking lot.  The exhibition galleries acted as funnels for ushering people here and there.  I felt like I was in a wave and had no control over where I went next and I was overtaken by a big one.  Under water.  Uncomfortable.  You get the point.  I did take note of an interesting letter to Johnny Depp though about an idea Burton wanted to try in his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Interesting in an historical context.  I also noted Burton's use of acrylic paints in his sketches and paintings.  I never think to use acrylics because they seem so flat and, well, plastic to me, but I kinda sorta liked some of the results he got with them.  Maybe acrylics are like cameras... its not so much about the camera as it is about the photographer.  I'm not discounting the merit of Burton's work - just claiming in public that it isn't my speed.  So after deciding I didn't want to drown in a sea of teenage boys who dig movies, it was time to move on.

William Kentridge: Five Themes was my speed.  According to MoMA's website on the special exhibit, [Kentridge is] "Best known for animated films based on charcoal drawings, he also works in prints, books, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts."  What I really love about Kentridge is the sense you are left with that something has come before.  There is a history.  You have a sense of it even if you don't see it - but you do see it.  Many of his animated films are made via a process of adding to and erasing from a drawing and each step filmed for animation.  What is left is a one panel drawing, but you can see evidence of what was there.  It's almost as if you can see and feel the history of the character in the drawing.  Movement has happened here and this is merely one (the final) moment that we get to know about in the drawings.  They are beautiful too - we're not talking about stick figures here.  This man can draw.  And his torn paper animations?  Fuggetahboutit!  He can draw so well that he doesn't even HAVE to draw.  Gorgeous silhouettes of people, animals, costumes - mere suggestions of form from ripped up pieces of paper but that dance right off the screen in such a believable way that I sat and watched slack jawed.  This show closes on May 17th, so you still have a little time, but make sure you see this exhibit.  It was the best thing I saw all day hands down, and I wish I had spent more time with it.

...and More!
I managed to get to a couple more galleries while I was there, surprisingly, as I was pressed for time.  Architecture and Design was interesting - its always a hoot to see common household kitchen utensils in an art museum - historical context, ya know.  And who doesn't love an Eames chair!  Also managed to get to the Picasso exhibit, which I breezed through except for some quality time in front of the series of five "Bull"s.  Loved this because you could follow him through his time and process from a very  accurate, almost anatomical drawing of the bull all the way through the next four levels of abstraction ending in a "simple" line drawing.  It was easy and interesting to see the connections he was making and that the viewer can make visually.  I also noted that he always included the bull's "parts", no  matter how accurately represented or abstracted.

I got to a drawing gallery too.  Lots of great stuff for me there - Mark Tobey (a new fave I have to do more research on - I only was introduced to him recently by Amy Lipton in her curated show, Body, Line, Motion: Selections from the Permanent Collection, at The Dorsky Museum in New Paltz) , Jean Dubleffet, and more Kentridge, to name a few.  But the stand out in my mind was a drawing by David Smith, Untitled (Tank Totems) 1953.  I'm certain that getting acquainted with the Smith collection at Storm King Art Center as part of my docent training informed this for me, as it did for other exhibits as well, especially the aforementioned Picasso Bulls.  But being able to see the connections between Smith's drawing (which I am largely unfamiliar with) and his sculpture (which I am becoming sorta familiar with) was a little a-ha moment for me.  The artist only has his own "handwriting" if you will.  Something I;ve always know and expounded on in conversations before, but a good and solid recollection now.  Maybe it is different for other sculptors - I don't know.  Studying sculpture and sculptors is relatively new for me.  But in this instance, at least, it is clear to me that the marks made on the page and the marks made in space are one and the same, and I think that is lovely.

What I Wanted to See But Missed
  • Painting and Sculpture galleries.  Really?  I missed these?  Sacrilege.  Next time, I promise.  
  • The Sculpture Garden.  I did have a few  moments there, but mostly to sit and rest and while I did a wee bit of communing with the Calder there (ooh, aah), I didn't have enough time to wander the garden.
  • Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present.  The artist was absent.  I knew she wouldn't be there - it was one of her very few scheduled days off.  But her exhibit space was lit and even without her physically being there, it felt as if she was holding that space for something to happen later.  It absolutely had the energy of things having already happened - not entirely unlike Kentridge's drawings from his films.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Work, then art. A few more elevens.

The expiration date on the cereal box this morning read, "11/11".

Then to a busy day at work - even with the gorgeous weather we are having, people want their massages.  I knocked off a little early so I could head upstream a clip to a brand new gallery in Saugerties for their inaugural opening.  Actually, this was the second opening reception for Jen Dragon's 11 Cross Street Gallery's first show.  Artist was on-hand and spoke casually but passionately about his "Rock &" exhibit.  One piece, "The four directions" by LDDD (I'm embarrassed because I dont know what the initials stand for - I want to know the artist's name better than this - Jen, if you are reading, help a girl out, unless LDDD is the artist's version of "Madonna" or "Seal" or "Sting", in which case "LDDD" is enough) took its inspiration from a Native American medicine woman's healing words, carved in stone, mounted on wood and arranged int he four directions.  In the center, was the artist's late wife's bag that she carried around Nepal on a trip there.  To me, it said that any way you look there can be healing.  Any way you look there is history.  Any way you look, there is a foundation.  What made it even more interesting, was the artist's story of how, tragically, his home recently burned down and this piece was able to be salvaged from the rubble.  Any way you look, there is hope.

Thanks to Jen Dragon for being such a gracious host and for welcoming me so warmly to her new gallery.

Photo of "The four directions" taken from:

From Saugerties, I made my way back downstream - no, I wasn't in a kayak, but could have been with all the runoff and localized flooding we have in the area as a result of an 80 degree day at the beginning of Spring.  I noticed some roadside trickles that turned in to rushing rapids.  A quick stop at the used book store in Saugerties and $11 later, I had in my possession two art books which I intend to flip through this evening, if I can break away from the computer for a moment.  I am especially looking forward to thumbing through "Henry Moore Carvings, Bronzes, 1961-1970".  Ever since my days at Purchase College and a few covert and a few not so covert trips to the PepsiCo campus across the street, I've been in love with Moore's work.  And now that I am in training to be a docent at Storm King, I have a renewed love for sculpture and am fortunate that they have a Moore or two in their collection for me to gawk at.

OK - that's enough.  Time to go home.  But as I made my scenic route home, I remembered that it was the first Saturday of the month,  and so I found myself in Kingston at the Arts Society of Kingston's opening of a member show, "Three Dimensional Wall Sculpture" with pieces that ranged from silly to poignant.   Also showing was Lynne Friedman's, "Poetry of the Flowering World" consisting mainly of representational watercolors.  Not my cuppa, but I can appreciate the technical merit and creativity.

I've been trying to be more of an "art appreciator" lately, even if (or maybe especially if) I don't particularly like the subject matter, materials or execution.  I keep saying that making art can be purely about the making.  Whatever that means to each artist can be different, but I respect each person's own process, or at least, I choose to believe that each person is in their own process.  Props to photographer, Anthony Maddaloni (, for sharing his own insights about looking at other people's art with me.  You never know what little golden bits of wisdom may be birthed in even the most casual of conversations or gleaned from a quick visit to a cute little gallery.

11/11.  Any way you look there can be healing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cover Story!

I was recently interviewed for the cover story of Regional Report, The New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce's quarterly news magazine.

In "Nontraditional Becomes The Norm: Higher Education and the Adult Student", staff writer Kelly Granger discusses the educational pursuits of a number of community members and what their goals mean to them.

You can check out the article by clicking here or visiting

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Art All Year: An Intimate Discussion on Inception

March 20, 2010.  The Vernal Equinox.  The sun passes over the equator.  Buds are popping.  Birds are singing.  The sun is shining.  There are people in the streets.  Shoppers.  Demonstrators.  Tourists.  Dog lovers. 

March 20, 2010.  Third Saturday Art Loop in New Paltz.  At 6:15, Eileen Quinn began her talk at Van Buren Gallery about her experiences in a recent visit to Kenya, and resulting photographs.  Giraffes and zebras and elephants... oh my!

At 7:15, it was my turn to deliver a talk about "Art All Year".  If you've been following this blog, then I won't bore you with the details of the talk - you've pretty much already read it here.  If you're a new follower, then please feel free to catch up on previous posts.

The big news that was delivered is that I will have a solo show at the Van Buren Gallery in November as a sort of wrap-up of the year in art.  I can't wait to see what I come up with and hope that you'll join me then for another talk!

P.S. -  I once had a design boss tell me I should wear more black - that I'd be taken more seriously as an artist that way, and that he hired me partially due to the fact that he liked the amount of black I was wearing during my interview.  Hahaha!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Bit of Press

I was recently interviewed regarding my "Art All Year" endeavor for an article about adults changing careers or continuing their education, whether it be in an existing or new field for them.  The article will appear in the Spring edition of the New Paltz Regional Chamber of Commerce's Regional Report.  If you are a Chamber member, it should be in your mailbox on April 1 (no foolin').  I'll also be posting a link to their online version here, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gallery Talk at Van Buren Gallery

I will be giving a gallery talk on my "Art All Year" project at the Van Buren Gallery in New Paltz, NY on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 7 PM.

Are you on facebook?  If so, please RSVP to the event here:

If not, then here's the info - I hope to see you there!

"Local Woman Artists Working in Paint, Pencil and Photography" a group show is featured at the Van Buren Gallery, Inc. 215 Main St. New Paltz, NY 12561 for the month of March. The show includes the art of Helen Gutfreund and Maureen Rogers of New Paltz, Eileen Quinn and Yong Sook Kim of Gardiner, Polly Reina of Wallkill and Patti Hokanson-Murphy of Walden.

A reception will be held on Saturday, March 20, 2010 from 4-8PM. At 6PM Eileen Quinn will provide a free travel lecture on her trip to Africa, which is the subject of her photography in this show. This will be followed, at 7PM, by Helen Gutfreund speaking on her year long commitment to art, which is the subject of her Blog entitled "Art All Year" and can be read at

March 20th is part of the New Paltz Third Saturday Art Loop. 13 Art and Cultural Venues in New Paltz are open for visitors to "Loop" through each third Saturday from 4-7PM.

Receptions are free and open to the public, light refreshments will be served. For further information visit or call 845-256-8558. The gallery is open at least 12-6 daily.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tying a Bow on Your Finger. ASK Opening.

Last night was the opening of Abstract Art at the Arts Society of Kingston, as well as Ric Dragon's, BifurcationsRic's paintings were particularly beautiful, transporting the viewer into a dream world when viewed from up close.  These rich and creamy large scale paintings had a similar effect on me as did Imi Knoebel's  paintings at Dia a couple of months back.  I felt different about them up close than I did from farther away, getting to a "sweet spot" a foot or two away where my entire field of vision was engulfed by the painting.  It gives me the feeling of being totally within a painting, almost that I am part of the painting itself.  It certainly becomes part of me.  I want to start working on a larger scale again.  The larger works seem to envelop the viewer,  engaging their bodies by their sheer size alone, and the engagement of the body gives the viewer a feeling experience, not just a thinking experience, which is not to say that art shouldn't be a thinking experience, but I want it to be a feeling experience too.  Maybe that comes from my experience in the field of bodywork, or maybe it comes from my art appreciation experience, or maybe a little of both. 

My piece in the show was a little 9x12 encaustic and charcoal drawing transfer.   Described by Mr. Dragon as "poetic", Another Eleven is a drawing I did about the loss of my sister - one of a series of similar pieces focused on this theme.  Some have said they look like trees,  jail bars, tubes and pipes.  They are an accounting of the numbers 11, 111 and 1,111 in a form that attempts to organize or make sense of some nonsensical life events with an energy that is derived from the emotions associated with them.  Carol had a thing about the number eleven, so I am using it as my muse for a number of pieces.  I don't believe 11:11 is "happy minute" or  that the world is going to end at 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 or any stupid shit like that, although I do seem to catch 11:11 on the clock at least once daily.  Its almost like tying a bow around your finger so as not to forget something.

This was my first time showing at ASK, and I look forward to many more opportunities.  Would like to meet and network with some of the other artists there too, so if you are an artist in the Mid-Hudson Valley or anywhere, for that matter, be sure to leave me a comment and say hello!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Docent Training at Storm King Arts Center

I began my training as a Docent at Storm King Arts Center today.  What a trip.  It was a basic introductory session.  We were presented with an overview of the Docent program and of the art center, and then we did an "around the room".  People were there for all sorts of reasons -  retirees looking for productive ways to spend their time, art-lovers, horticulture enthusiasts, teachers - all with a passion for the arts and with some emotional connection to Storm King.  One person had never been there but felt drawn to be there now, while another had been a regular visitor for forty years.

The first time I went there was with my friend Laini with whom I worked at the Koenig Art Emporium, an art supply and framing shop in the Nanuet Mall when I was in High School.  I was 17.  That was 21 years ago.  Oh, my.  I've been there only once or twice since, but pass by it frequently on the New York State Thruway between exits 16 and 17.  I always try to crane my neck to see something new or to see Andy Goldsworthy's Storm King Wall (pictured - and thieved from Storm King's facebook page, so go there now and become a fan) for just a little longer (while driving very carefully, of course).

The session was led by four knowledgeable and wonderfully accessible experts in their fields:  David Collens - Director and Curator, Ron Romary - Director of Education, Helen Hydos - Education Coordinator and Lisa Stern - Trustee.  Each presented themselves as extremely knowledgeable about art, art history and the art center, while remaining friendly, pleasant and clearly in love with Storm King.  I hope to be able to emulate their enthusiasm and confidence while helping to make the art and the experience enjoyable for my "students".  The initial training lasts for nine weeks and will be followed by a self-directed portion with study and observation, all leading to composing my own tour, hopefully by early to mid summer. 

Founded in 1960, 2010 represents Storm King's 50th year.  I am excited about all the events surrounding this occasion and look forward to becoming a part of the landscape.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Women Artists Group Show at Van Buren Gallery

Saturday, February 27, 2010 was an historic day.  It was the first time my work was seen in a gallery since college.  Nice.

I didn't really expect anyone to come to the opening.  The weather here in the Hudson Valley has been atrocious and, and a result, the opening was postponed from Friday to Saturday.  There was snow, rain, ice and hundreds of thousands of people without electricity or access to the Internet (my major form of communication with the outside world).  I resolved myself to think that if it was just me standing in a room with a bunch of art, then hey - more wine for me.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  Dozens of people dug their cars out and braved the elements for what proved to be a fun and productive evening.  I really loved taking my "massage therapy hat" off for a few moments and being in the moment with the art and hearing what people thought about it.

I showed three pieces.  Pink Oval Head on Black Cat Body, Eleven Pillars and Boob Brigade.   I think the most interesting moment came for me while some women were looking at Boob Brigade and they were all comparing themselves to it - trying to find which ones they were.  People really related to this piece, and  in a way I didn't expect.  Awesome.

Please join me and Eileen Quinn, another artist in the group show on March 20th for our gallery talk.  She will be talking about her travels to Kenya and her resulting photographs, and I will be talking about my Art All Year project and announcing my solo show at the Van Buren Gallery later this year which will include another gallery talk about the year-long project.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Art as "fun"?

Against my inner critic's advice, I took a one-day encaustic dipping workshop at R&F Handmade Paints in Kingston, NY today.  I haven't taken an art class in, oh, let's say a (really) long time.  I had no idea what to expect other than some instruction on how to dip paper into wax, which isn't rocket science, but as it turns out takes some skill and practice. 

But what fun!  I had forgotten, or maybe never knew, how enjoyable learning a new technique can be.  It isn't exactly a new technique, either.  I've just joined encaustic artists going back thousands of years.  The first use of encaustic was to seal and waterproof the bottoms of Greek ships.  Damar varnish is one of the ingredients in encaustic medium and paint.  It is a resin collected from the same tree whose sap becomes amber when hardened over time.  Much like the amber entombs bugs and plants for us to see millenia later, so does the varnish compound fix whatever is within it - in the case of encaustic painting and collage; pigment and paper. 

Early paintings were found on mummies, and even after being buried for thousands of years, the paintings are pristine.  Its learning things like that which make me feel a connection to people throughout the ages via art.  Art is a connector.  The mummies and the artists who painted them and I are as directly connected as my table mate and I were at the workshop, as are my sister and I as I create work based around her memory, as are you and I, dear reader, as you take a look-see at a couple of my experiments.

Truthfully, I'm finding it a little difficult to write about this experience, I think because I felt so in the moment while I was working.  I'll just leave it at this:  This workshop was fun and it leaves me wanting to do more.

Encaustic and mixed media on board

I Had a Very Itchy Back
Encaustic and mixed media on board

Figure Drawing at Unison

Yep - hold that thought.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5,250 Massages Composite Painting #1

I figure that I've done something in the range of five and a quarter thousand massages so far in my bodyworking career.  Probably more -  this is a conservative estimate.  My body is used to tracing the outline of other bodies.  Here's how that memory manifested itself in paint.

This is the first real painting I've completed in a lot of years.  It feels really good to be back to it.

5,250 Massages Composite Painting #1
32" x 51"
Oil on canvas


Monday, February 8, 2010

Its a bird, its a plane, its... The Flatiron Building?!

"Everything begins with yourself." - Carl Jung

There seems to be a recurring theme for me lately, and it isn't something I'm at all used to, although it is a tenet I've aspired to over the years.  Have no expectations, and then you can only be pleasantly surprised.  Well, OK - this might not be entirely true.  Unless you are a monk meditating on a mountaintop somewhere for a year or three, I don't think its entirely possible not to have ANY expectations at all.  I mean, I EXPECT that the sun will rise each morning.  I EXPECT that after I exhale, I will inhale again.  You get the point.

Yesterday, I spent the day with Brigid in Manhattan visiting an exhibit that she was excited about viewing, it being the intersection of Jungian Psychology and art, her two passions.  I didn't want to go so much as I wanted to see my friend.  As a matter of fact, I had turned down another invitation to see the same show a couple of weeks before.   If you're reading this, Cuzzin, I'm sorry - I love you and I'll see you another time, I promise.  The exhibit was interesting and Jung's images were easy enough to "read", although they did reveal layers of meaning, benefiting from us viewing them from different vantage points, spending some time with them and using our historical filters.

Perhaps my favorite part of the exhibit, incidentally, called The Red Book of C.G. Jung at The Rubin Museum of Art, wasn't the folio at all, but some quotes by Jung that were being projected on a wall by a settee.  They got to the heart of the matter, and how.
  • "Everything begins with yourself." 
  • "What will come to you lies within yourself."
  • "Understand yourself and you will be sufficiently understood."
  • "The wealth of the soul exists in images."
Eerily appropriate for me right now as I am rediscovering my love for art (it never went away, really).

So now what?  We digested some more of the Rubin's collection, as well as a tasty snack in their cafe, and it was time to move on.  Art is everywhere in New York, you know.  We didn't have any real plans - a couple of ideas, and that was all.  We never did happen across a gallery guide for Chelsea, so we didn't go gallery hopping as we thought we might.  MoMA and the New Museum both seemed too far out of the way if we wanted to stick to walking.  So after some shopping, we ambled over to Union Square, where some local artists had set up shop for the tourists.

Its about now that I should probably mention my recent infatuation with New York's Flatiron Building.  I spent some quality time in the library recently, looking for something... inspiration, company, quiet, time... and I happened upon this book about the Flatiron building.  Photos of it's construction and it's life with writings to accompany each image.  Fascinating to me, for some reason.  Still not sure why, exactly, but perhaps something about seeing the neighborhood change around the monolith, which stays the same.  It was on my short list of things I would have liked to have seen, but wasn't really expecting to.

OK - back to Union Square.  Union Square is the home to the Cooper Union, highly regarded as one of the best art and architecture schools on the planet, and just a short block away, some people trying to make their living as street artists, perhaps never having set foot in an institute of higher learning.  I give them a lot of credit.  They were all prolific, if not talented in a "high art" kind of way, and all had a sense of go-get-'em-ness, a little of which can go a long way.  So I kept happening upon images of the Flatiron building in their work and I bought a couple of small mementos.  OK - I know these things are made for tourists and that this building is famous all, but it has NEVER been in my consciousness before.  Now, everywhere I look is that Flatiron Building.  Its a triangle, you know.  And not an isosceles triangle either, as the name would suggest.  Its more of a right triangle.  Who expects a triangular building?  Buildings are square or rectangular.  But enough trivia - that's not my point here. 

Also seen in Union Square were some sidewalk artists, Felix Morelo, for one.  His "Felix's Faces" captured my attention.  How could it not.  Its like 30 degrees outside, maybe - and here's this guy with a piece of white chalk drawing and keeping count of a line of faces on the pavers.  Would I ever do such a stunt?  Hell to the no!  I'm looking to get inside at this point for a cuppa hot.  The last thing I would want to do to get my art seen is freeze my ass off outside making temporary chalk drawings.  But this technique is effective, isn't it - I visited his website, as I'm sure countless other passers-by have.  He's got charisma.  He's got chalk.  He got my attention.

Oh yeah - something hot to eat and drink.  Looking at art and strolling around the city can make a girl (cold and) hungry!   We looked at a few window menus and nothing caught our eye, so we headed north.  Walking and walking in the cold, searching for something comfy and vegetarian.  We finally decided on a pizza and specialty salad shop that was actually pretty good.  Just before we walked in, I looked up and  realized that I was in the shadow of the monolith - the Flatiron stood before me as it has stood for over a century.  I hadn't expected to actually see it and was giddy at my good fortune.  The light in the late afternoon of this clear, sunny day was beautiful and I darted across the square, de-gloved and shot away with my camera phone - I couldn't help but think about the origins of photography and the intricate photo set-ups that were once necessary to make an image with light.  Now I can just point my phone and *poof*.  I thought about ladies in long dresses with parasols standing where I was standing in my fleece-lined coat and horse drawn carriages in the streets where now the yellow taxi cabs zoom by.  I felt part of history for a moment... before my hand froze.

Being in NYC does that for me generally I think.  It puts me in another time and in another space, both figuratively and literally.  The mere act of being there seems to open doors and windows - not the kind I want to jump out of either, but the kind I want to let the fresh air in through.

  • "Everything begins with yourself." 
  • "What will come to you lies within yourself."
  • "Understand yourself and you will be sufficiently understood."
  • "The wealth of the soul exists in images."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Art Openings: What's Behind Door 111?

I went to my first art opening tonight in a long while - actually, two of them.  First, I stopped by ASK, the Arts Society of Kingston, which, incidentally, I just joined.  More on that later.  The second stop was The Shirt Factory, also in Kingston.  They were two very different events, although I felt the same at both of them.  Pretty much the same as I've ever felt at an art opening.  What do I say?  Who can I talk to?  Will anyone talk to me?  Why are they looking at me?  Why aren't they looking at me?  It seems like all my insecurities come out at art openings, which is likely why I've avoided them all these years.  Good thing I didn't actually have any work on any of these shows - I'd have had some sort of attack for sure.

So why did I go?

I desperately want to get over this.  I want art just to be something I do.  A fact.  I don't want it to be this scary looming monster that might bite my head off and stab me in the heart.  That's what it still is, to some extent and I need to take that power away - take my power back.  I need to go to an art opening and be relaxed - like I am lying on the sofa doing a crossword puzzle or taking the dog for a walk.  I want it to be mundane.  Easy.  Boring.  Banal.  Friendly, even.  It isn't.  Not yet.  This is practice.  I put myself in a scary situation and will repeatedly do so in the hopes that if I do it enough times, it will become familiar enough that - well... what?  I don't know, but I want it to become, at the very least, familiar and not foreign.  (Truthfully, I think a little fright is probably a good thing, but not so much that it keeps me away.)

I joined ASK for much the same reason - so that art becomes fact for me.  I will attend openings and shows there.  I will show there.  I will meet other artists and like-minded people there, or at least I hope I will.  A few years ago when I opened my own business, I joined my local Chamber of Commerce not knowing thing one about being in business, but knowing somehow that a Chamber membership would be good for my business growth.  It was.  I have similar hopes for my membership in ASK. 

So... what do you think is behind door 111?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Déjà Vu

Yes.  I feel like I've been here before.  Well... I have been here before, kinda.  Turns out painting is sort of like riding a bike.  If you haven't done it in a really (really) long time, you might be afraid at first.  You might even think that you can't do it anymore.  You'll probably even feel stupid mentioning it to people.  Sure - your balance might be a little off and you might wobble a bit at first, but before you even realize it, *POOF*, you're riding your bike (painting), just like it was yesterday.

Nothing really "done" to show at this time, but feel like I'm finally *doing this* and it feels great.  That feeling's different though.  New.  Shiny.  In my younger years, I put the "pain" in "painting".  It was rarely a pleasant experience.  But now, I am finding joy in the process.  A combination of creativity, activity, relief, release, expression, time for myself...  Whatever the painting is about is perhaps another story, but I finally feel ready to tell that story again.  It'll be OK, Helen.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I spent an hour painting in my new studio tonight.  It felt like five minutes.  Just sayin'