Thursday, November 18, 2010

For the last couple of days I've been thinking about George. He can be read in different ways. In one version he was born on the left, traveled through a lot of difficult and scarring times, but was lucky or hard working enough to end up healthy after the mid-point of his life. He looks back and learns from the past while he takes in a better future.

A second version of George is that he was born oblivious to the turmoil around him, hopped blindly through life without being fazed, and now lives on a hill above it all, glad he's not involved. He now sees his past, but doesn't take in the fact that he might have caused a few of those accidents he avoided along the way.

Up on the hill, in the background, I see the outline of a person. What is this person thinking?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Variations on the Theme of Treasure

Is it the atmosphere or multiple moments of memory?

Jazz in the Attic

Loosely Grey

(early stage)

I've been exploring the world of grey lately. It's a much softer environment than I'd previously thought. Difficult to photograph, though. Light plays tricks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Living Outside the Box

Life experience has its benefits for the creative mind.


Some of us are extremely lucky.

Within and Without

This drawing clearly represents a fun work environment. I'm hoping that the jocular scene spreads outwards beyond Elton Street after closing hours.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pressure to Perform

Since these names are standing in like actors in a play, representing different types of human experiences of life, I usually don't pay attention to the addresses on the labels. In this case, though, I couldn't help but notice that this real person must be living quite a truly remarkable life on all levels. The test was how to portray such diversity and elegance of experience in such simple small form, without missing a beat because no mark was allowed to be erased or ignored or preplanned. Hopefully Weston feels in tune somewhat with the life he portrays here.

Chuckling Charles

Jovial Charles is such a delight ... but I think something profound happened later in his life that I can't seem to get my head around yet. Any ideas?

The Parade of Life

Since these cards came from a box I found 30 years ago at a goodwill, I don't know about 99.9 percent of the people. Here is one person who is actually a part of my past. He was a university art professor and he had a thing about lining ancient dolls up in parade format and photographing them. I wonder if he feels like his life has played out as a doll parade as well. He has since moved to a very different place in this world and seems to be just as involved as ever with observing and participating in life on an insightful level.

A Complete Movement

This person lives completely within his own creative music.
The question is how to keep the symphony going once the fingers can no longer play.

Atmospheric Lives

One of the benefits of doing an Open Studio is observing the many different types of ways that people respond to specific pieces of art. I see it as a constantly unfolding revelation about the diversity of the human psyche.

We often think of people as living concrete step by step lives full of distinct experiences and memories. There are the ladder climbers, the stepping stone hoppers, the people with a finger in lots of pies.

I perceive another type in Roger: I call his an atmospheric life. His memories are more diffused than most, and he might have trouble pinning recent events down. He thinks/feels his way through life with intensely immediate observation. He might take notes to keep a record of his thoughts, but when he leaves one event behind in order to take in the next event, he does so with complete abandon of the past and a complete commitment to the immediate new. These events might be as large as a trip to a new country or as small as a hike into his tiny back yard. While he doesn't claim to have a great memory, he recognizes that his intellect is constantly active and pulls from the whole of his life's experiences at any moment. To him his life is one big grand event.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Gift of John and Adrian

As you know by now, these names and addresses are pulled from 30 years ago and I do not know the people. I have used these names as if to ask these real people to represent certain characteristics of humanity, basically to stand in as actors in a play about life.

Today Donna stands for one small but important aspect of a real person I know/knew, John. For the past short time John fought through the ravishes of painful cancer. The manner in which he and his partner shared their experience, with open-eyed honesty, integrity, and admitted need for a dignity that was difficult to hold onto, has influenced me no end. While these two were fighting the most profound battle of all, I have been playing the demon in a fight for ego. During my thorny, wormy, muddy, broken-mirror experience there stood J and A beside me, mired up in more mess than I can imagine, but representing a clarity, cleanliness of human essence to the world that I can only marvel at. It was only when I stood up from my cesspool of self-indulgence, shook off the crap, and embraced them that I felt right in the world. Hand in hand with their abstracted encouragement I was able to create the 900 Lives, to get out of my small self and to do something that turned out pretty big.

November 4, 2010, John relinquished himself to whatever comes next.

Blessings to you, John Tinker, and to you, Adrian Card.
You both will always be sheltered in the deepest part of my soul.

Looking Beyond the Now

One of the risks of drawing life lines that go from 0 to 50 is that viewers who are younger than 50 might not get the complete picture. I tried to inject enough youthful life into different stories so that the young could relate as well, maybe see themselves in the stories somewhere.

(Photo by Dana Pianowski)

Today is the last day the show is up. After this it goes back into the little black file box it came in. Poof! Just another life story that came and went and influenced a few people's lives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Only the Hairdresser Knows

Sometimes this is all the info we get about our neighbor's life.

Nosing for Trouble

One of the hardest parts about being a female artist is any type of softness easily comes across as sentimental to a male thinker. Women are basically considered sentimental until proven otherwise. I have the physicality of "cute" and my mind is fed by experiences from all six senses (drat to that sixth one!), so I am constantly fighting this battle.

This Halloween I dressed in black with large plastic rats attached to my black slacks so that they appeared to crawl up my legs. I represented the dark crawl space under a derelict house. (My husband was dressed the same, rats attached to his shoulders. He was the attic.)

Across the party floor sat a man dressed as Hugh Hefner, with male limp genital mask hanging down as a nose. My first instinct was to look the other way, as any sane person would who wasn't into orgy-with-stranger behavior. Then I decided I'd make sure to talk to this person sometime during the night.

I did approach the man, and he did speak macho sexism talk for the first part of our conversation. But after a while, and maybe it was because I didn't laugh but acted like he authentically did have a penis nose, he started asking me questions about myself and found out I was an artist. What ensued then was a very careful bombardment of questions at trying to get me to prove I had little depth as a thinking, practicing artist. I had learned from him that he was friends with a Choral Director so I decided that the questions might be derived from more educational background than your regular Dick. In fact, they sounded quite similar to those that might be asked of a masters student of the arts. I decided to answer him with completely sincerity.

I spent most of my time answering the questions by describing the little drawings you see here, trying to explain that each card was a unique person with a unique life and we all live differently, and sometimes with great difficulty. He wanted to know how I portrayed people as being different from one another and I explained it was with symbolism, ink line thickness, abstract shape making, gradations in gracefulness of line and in grey tones. I talked about how in order to portray a clumsy person as growing into a person of immense grace by the end of their story I needed the atmospheric help of graceful music playing on my radio.

I also explained that the economic fall with so many people going through hard times is what inspired me. I talked about how at the end of every life line I tried to put a positive thought, resolution, sense of well-being. He asked (firm chastising voice) if I thought it was right for me to tell people what to think. I responded that many of my drawings are vague enough that people can think whatever they want. It is up to them to see the healthy resolution or not. We are all participants in the perception of art and of the larger world around us.

His eyes brightened, the frown on his brow cleared, and he admitted he had also been a University Professor of Choral Music and that leading the audience to a positive resolution was at the essence of his work.

Phew. I passed the class.

Looking back I appreciate that conversation. Those were great questions and they might have been asked of a male artist in a spur of the moment manner like that. Maybe. But the female in me who is always fighting against being seen as sentimental couldn't help but notice that throughout the whole conversation the guy was unaware he was sweating, in essence dripping, out of his nose mask.

Dodge Ball

I bet Rick feels he has survived life's bowling-ball-hits fairly well, really only needing to bear his soul once during his well-appointed life.

Taking Care

Have you ever noticed that when you "take care" of someone you are actually saying you are "taking" something from them? Their self care.

Rex seems to have had a tough time with overbearing family or community during his younger years. It seems that in the end, though, he has finally learned to take care back at them.

(Click on image to see Rex's youth better... He was so pale back then.)

Congrats SF Giants!

David and the Dunce Cap

Here's David. He was born inside a party hat that looked too much like a dunce cap to his peers. Protecting himself, he grew older looking at the world from a dark space. He must have had a major "Ah-hah!" because he finally threw off his protective cone head. Thoughtfully he didn't throw it away. Instead he sat on his new wisdom, searching for more. Should he dance through life? Should he megaphone his thoughts out to everyone? Or should he simply embrace that inner, beautiful wisdom that is David?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Lost Story Unfolding

Put your ear to the wall and listen.

Meeting the Art

Today I met this life line in someone describing themselves as full of puppy energy right now after a big emotional wounding. I drew this last summer, so am pleased to meet a person fitting this description today. Woof!