Saturday, May 23, 2020

Man Jumping From a Roof 1999

Life is very strange in this epoch of Covid 19.  Most of the country has been locked down--sheltering in place--for the last two months of March and April.  When one does have to go out, one has to be careful not to breathe another person's possibly infected out breath, so we practice "social distancing" and we wear masks.  We can't see each others faces because we should be wearing those masks, but when we are outside, exercising, we don't have to be as careful with our masks, we just can't get close to anyone and we become very anxious when a stranger comes too close. The country is torn politically, with the democrats being good mask wearers and social distancers, the republicans, not so much. Everything seems normal, but terribly not.  Same air, same TV programs, same food, same relationships with people but a constant stream of information coming in about the horrors of the disease, the deaths and the terrible economic toll.  We witness shaming behaviors from others, and we ourselves want to shame those that aren't taking precautions, while at the same time people go out of their way to be open, friendly, and encouraging. It seems crazily, bleakly hopeless, but still, we seem to be muddling through it, just hoping that we will land, somehow, on our feet.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Life 2020

My mother died in November of 2019, and I recently put this little video together of her life.  It helped me, among other things, to see the entire arc of her life and not just the last ten years of her life as she began her slow slide into dementia.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Frightened Child 1992

 Frightened Child, Monoprint, 22"x30"

Sometime in 1992, or thereabouts, I was invited by the Washington University Art Department in St. Louis to do a print.  I based the print on a painting I had done of my youngest daughter when she was a toddler, which was based on a photo I had taken of her when she was crying. It was hard, mainly because I had an audience--all of the art students and teachers who were interested in me and my work watched as I struggled with trying to make something work.  I have a natural tendency to A) show off and B) want to please, and while that's not such a bad thing in social situations, it's deadly when you are trying to make an image  I can't even listen to music when I work, much less have 20 people standing around silently watching(and judging) me. The photograph was reversed in the printing process, and I remember being displeased when I did the monoprint, although, of course pretending to be pleased(pleaser, remember?).  However, recently, while trying to bring some semblance of order to the work I have here in my studio, I came across the print buried in my flat files. I was no longer displeased, in fact I thought the print good.  I had disliked it so much that I never even photographed it. What strikes me now is the force of the emotion; Teal's crying face, and the wolf/child figure that is so threatening.  It seems to me now, that it is even more frightening than the original one that it is based on, perhaps because now we have the very real wolf of Covid 19 at the door, or even inside us.

Frightened Child, Oil on Silver print, 20"x24"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Awkward Rider 2018

I have memories of always owning and riding horses, having traded my bottle(when I was four)for a pair of cowgirl boots so I could take riding lessons. We owned horses throughout my childhood, and I always had a special horse that was mine, progressing to better horses as I got older.  I rode mostly bareback, treating my horses much as other kids did their bicycles, and having those horses in my life is probably what most helped me arrive at adulthood (more or less) in one piece,.  However, when I started riding again, now a much older person, I was shocked to find that, although I still had all that muscle memory, things were different.  When I went to get on, the horses' back seemed miles away, and the ground seemed just as far once I did manage to get up. Where I could once throw my leg over a bareback horse and spring on, I now stood futilely by his side, tossing my leg up only to slam into his side with it, again and again. A ride meant that I would be sore for days after, and I found that I was nervous being around the horses on the ground--they just seemed so big and unpredictable.

But now, I'm finding that once again, being around horses is helping me get through the stress and worry of this tough time of Covid19.  It's very hard to think about all the things that are going wrong when you might find yourself being dragged through the dirt, or being stepped on, or run away with. So, in many ways I find I'm back to my 14 year old self, escaping the world through the wonderful portal of being with a horse.  The ride is a little different now, but I'm getting the two things I most need--a different focus and a connection to something that isn't dark and scary.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coyote at the Door(Five Trees) 2019

the wolf is at the/(one's) door

Some danger, threat, or calamity imminent or at hand.

Since I don't have photographs of wolves, but only of coyotes, I used a coyote for my canine in Coyote at the Door(Five Trees). The two faces in the windows of the house are my husband and I, but it could be, of course, anyone.  When I made this painting, and two others that are similar, all having to do with canines at the door, I was dealing with friends recently diagnosed with cancer, the ever present threat of climate change, the decline and eventual death of my parents, and political leadership that was(is)terrifying just to name the most obvious.  But little did I know that all of that would become secondary to what seemed like not a big deal at the time--out of China--a flu like illness called Covid 19, or, the Corona Virus. Currently, this is all my friends and family can talk about, and we watch the news and read the internet obsessively to find out the latest.  A week ago, most of us were still taking it lightly, but now, when I go out to shop, I use hand sanitizer after every entrance in and out of a store, and once I get home I wash my hands for 20 seconds with soap and water singing "Happy Birthday to Me" twice.  As well most of us are trying hard not to touch our faces and practicing some form of social isolation(not so hard for an introvert). Shelves are bare of strange things like toilet paper, bottled water and dog food.  All of our plans for travel for the spring have been cancelled, including an opening reception in Tucson at  Etherton Gallery  for a show called Go Figure. The stock market has tanked, and people are becoming more and more frightened as the weeks go by and the numbers of victims goes up.  Who knew that things could get so much worse when they already seemed so bad?

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Five Birds 2020

Finished version(start of the flu), of Five Birds

I finished this piece in my last week at Anderson Ranch this past January. I was there to teach and work on my own art for three weeks in the glorious winter that is Snowmass, Colorado. I was vaguely aware of the fact that I was developing a cough and my joints were starting to ache, but, since I had already been sick with a cold and sinusitis for the past two weeks, I didn't pay much attention.  Things weren't going well as I adhered the pieces to the panel, shifting ever so slightly as I went to but them down.  The bird caught in the man's hand was too low, so I had to peel his body back up, re-cut it to make the body bigger, and then add wings to cover up where I had pulled it up.  In the process, I lost the big bird's hands and had to remake them, and as well, somehow the beak went from being small and sweet to large and threatening. Even the three birds in the trees seemed now to be alarmed rather than interested. And for some, flu connected reason, I thought the legs should be walking instead of standing still.  The image went from being welcoming and sweet to dark and threatening. But it was done, glued down, and there was nothing more I could do.  I cleaned up, wobbled to my room on aching legs, and finally admitted to myself that I was coming down with the flu, realizing Five Birds had become an accurate representation of what the world had become for me.

First (pre-flu) unfinished version of 5 birds