Friday, November 28, 2008

adieu (and a follow up on it's a crap shoot)

Just off the phone with my friend Terry; who house sits for us while we travel, I exclaimed my dismay over the situation happening in Mumbai, India. Ken and I have fond memories of our visit to New Delhi in 2005-06. We were in the northern part of India when the tsunamis hit. It was a devastating day too; as I recall traveling back to meet Ken at the hotel from my residency at the Sanskriti Foundation and noticing the digital news info on a business billboard about the death toll from the floods. It shook us, and my first reaction was to return home, but as the hours passed we realized that the world resumes its natural state and you continue going about your business. The sun keeps on rising.

As we take off to the Philippines for another journey this early December, I remain peaceful about our upcoming trip. The world has seemed to take a darker turn; (has it always been this way? perhaps so.....) but ever so recently, the landscape appears to be getting bleaker. We continue to go about our lives, visit, see and experience, laugh and enjoy, all while recognizing how good we have it and with a humble heart too and as I told friends on the trails last week who I bumped into while skiing, that I thought it was a good time to travel. And yes, I still believe it is a good time to travel.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

it's a crap shoot

While skiing today and buzzing along the trails on barely a few inches of fresh powder I suddenly found myself on the ground. I had hit a rock and took a soft tumble. Not only did it stop me abruptly but twice I went down. I promptly turned around and headed back to walk the dog which was appearing as a safe, friendly and easy thing to do. It is still very thin in places and unless you want to wreck your skis or take gymnastic tumbles, the skiing is feasible. But, yesterday I ran on the soft snow and underneath it had a dangerous edge. When are you safe? There isn't an answer. Life is a crap shoot, the rug can quickly be pulled from beneath your feet and yet we think we know this already.......

Thursday, November 20, 2008

playing with fire

A significant time in Alaska is the remarkable darkness that we all experience while living in the Pacific Northwest. All of a sudden you are thrust into a void and driving in the mornings becomes this floating sensation into space. Yesterday, the afternoon vanished at 4:30 and the beginning mist of gray started spreading quickly. Your evenings are shorter but the sleeping is good.

This past Sunday I rented the movie Before the Devil Knows Your Dead directed by Sidney Lumet with an excellent cast - Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marissa Tomei and Albert Finney. There was nothing good about this dark landscape of deception, drugs and violence. I described this film to my girlfriend as being evil and it definitely has a campy aura to it. It starts with two brothers robbing their parent's jewelry store and from that incident the story becomes one convoluted mess, troubled and a continual downward spin into despair.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a blogger's lull

I started to write on Friday night and then stopped because I felt I was getting ridiculously silly and low on content. However, today is Sunday, my sister's birthday, it is quiet and after much reflection I decided to take up the activity again. The other day I was perusing fellow bloggers and came across a painter's blog from Maine. She was very academic and literary; spoke about her work in such a serious fashion, I thought pretentious, out of date and bemoaned who the hell is this chick? We are suppose to contribute to vacuousness, not to serious intellectual exchanges - (I thought embarrassingly and shamefully small of my artist persona!) But the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that I am the most current and hip and will contribute to the world of 21st century pop and whimsy. I posted pictures of color......the middle one is an abstract of the Alaskan mountains taken and cropped by Ken. This could easily be an Franz Klein painting from the sixties. Below is a picture of my chartreuse boots which every time I wear them, I get stopped and complimented on these spectacles of footwear. Am pleased to have stirred some of the public (and wish my art would provoke this type of attention) but quickly tell the inquisitor where I purchased them - if they haven't asked me first....
This is a great time of space for me; having shipped off my tapestries for my January exhibit in Juneau, prepared for our upcoming trip to the Philippines and am still in the process of pulling together my lectures for next semester which I will be teaching three classes of Art Appreciation, it is Sunday at it's best. Oh, I forgot, I am going skiing this afternoon and then making lentil soup. What a life - if it could only snow more.......

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

vicky cristina barcelona

Just returned this evening from the Bear's Tooth and saw the newest Woody Allen film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. About this time of year, I am dying for color, movement and culture and this film hit home and satisfied my thirst for another place. It is a story about relationships and really a remake of all of Allen's old characters contemporized and platformed in Europe.

I remember my hitchhiking days from the late seventies. I traveled from Paris to Barcelona with a fellow companion. We wound up staying the week-end at a Spaniard's home we didn't know......of course we partied and carried on.....So, maybe the film hit a familiar chord. It was a light film, but at the same time I felt it carried many truths and the imaginary wondering that we all possess. It is tragic and funny; at the same time putting life at reckless abandon and making me feel that where we are is where we are suppose to be.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

et voila!

Finally our new chairs arrived. Above you can see Ken in his shop doing the last minute fix ups. This was the first time Ken fabricated chairs and it was no easy going; the end result paid off though and he is very satisfied with his creations. (And me too! I think they are great!) Below you see how the chairs fit with the table he made a few years back. The chairs are made from cherry wood with red leather pads; they are comfortable to sit on and I love coming home to this finished aesthetic.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama - the ticket, you betcha

I just finished watching the half an hour program that Obama aired on the seven channels. Needless to say, I was impressed by the alternative scenes that played, the down to earth reality of happenings shown in America; real families and their struggles, jobs and pensions lost, immigrants and the heart of America. Obama can be the thread that connects everyone in this country.

The other day I was having lunch with some elementary educators and one teacher expressed that she was voting for the McCain ticket because Palin was Alaskan and she was Alaskan. I verbally exploded and said "I don't believe it! Anyone except McCain. His politics are old politics and they do not fit with the 21st century." Of course I completed the total faux pas and was glared at for a good few minutes. I promptly left but felt deliciously happy that I expressed myself openly and honestly. It is not the time to regress!

I think if Obama gets elected, America will be looked upon as finally growing up. We need him and we need this change. Lately, I have been feeling very happy because maybe next week this country will turn paths, turn direction and head forward.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

albrecht durer

Albrecht Durer - a Renaissance master of the 15th century; master engraver and painter, was born from a family of goldsmiths, studied in Nuremberg, noted for being the most progressive city at the time, set up his own studio at the age of 29 is portrayed above as the thinking artist. This is a portrait done by the young Durer, wearing a fur lined coat of notability and looking very Christ like; the artist as a genius confronts you straight on believing that the most important of the five senses is sight. I am studying this artist with my class and decided to read his biography. Albrecht Durer, A Biography by Jane Campbell Hutchison, is an informative book and while it can be dry at times, my inquiry into his world has opened me up into a new genre of literature. In some of his chronicles, Durer embraces God as a cultural icon of liberal and conservative thought, is without denomination and is considered more of a humanist of his time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

between tenderness and rage

Sometimes I find myself thinking over my conversations with friends and people. At times seeing too much into casual talk and banter leads me into obsessive pondering and my mind spins and I start reviving past dialogs. I sometimes become inflamed or hyper sensitive about what people say or when they make general comments. I guess I take it too personally. Then, in retrospect, I start to understand that people just say what they say with little negative intent behind their comments. Perhaps I am submitting to politeness or being naive but by letting it go and not having the urge to control everything around me produces a lightness of spirit. The between feeling of tenderness and rage is an activity I try not to involve in my everyday living, but at the same time, I find people ridiculously contentious and maybe insensitive to what we utter, what we express. We all say silly things and often want to retract our talk or wished we hadn't said it, but still, I am torn between a tenderness and rage. Is it worth the battle to clear the air, to confront he person in charge? It depends on circumstance and the context at hand. Tenderness and simply allow people to be who they are is one of the greatest challenges; without judgment, without criticism, without scorn is ultimately the ideal act of charity.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

homage to kitsch

There is something about being sick that forces you to stop, pause and stay in one place; reflect and contemplate where you are. It can be a good time to catch up on your rest and let the world do it's own business. You realize that you can afford to do nothing and as the world buzzes on by, you really don't waste too much time at all until you realize that your insignificance starts to becomes enjoyable .

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday night boxes

I created another two boxes to be donated for this December exhibition. While this work took some time, I enjoyed playing with the materials but the process was difficult and proved challenging. In retrospect though, they were fun to do and great activity for in between projects; a breather, which is a good thing to do from time to time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

on the subject of art

This is my newest painting. It is a mixed media piece; minimal in nature but considered an oil on canvas. I took my students to Alaska Pacific University to see art on Thursday night at two galleries. One artist drew these existential tree stumps - pastels on paper, and they felt alone and isolated. I felt her use of space was over indulgent and that it did not integrate with the rest of the drawing. The space was not active. However, her paintings are about the contemplative; how we sit with ourselves and examine our inner beings is a challenge in today's world. The paintings were successful in that notion. The next gallery we viewed was more decorative and full, animated and these pieces stirred conversation; industrial geometric assemblages are an easy lure to likability. Perhaps these assemblages were too accessible.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

small gifts

I get excited over small surprises but I call them gifts. Here are a few of my experiences and gifts that happened to me over the last 24 hours:

When you have waited for over an hour in line for a simple book of stamps at the post office because their automated postal center is out of order. I received a 42 cent book of Bierstadt landscape stamps. A small treat.......

When high schools usually get out at 2pm but today you have a different schedule and students leave at 1:30pm. You get to go too. A big gift!

Fretting over our visas (which included bank statements, $60.00, notarized applications, and not to mention your travel itinerary) to the Philippines that were sent out twice because we mailed them to the wrong embassy the first time and after resending them, our passports returned stamped with the wrong arrival and departure time. We dreaded calling the embassy but later found the passports are in working order. Not a gift, but a huge relief.....

Having Ken call the embassy.........a big help, a gift, a surprise and a treasure.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Golden leaves sprinkled gently on the dark streets as I drove to work this morning. The leaves left littered pieces of light on the ground. Our sunflowers sprouted to tall independent stalks supported by stakes that help erect their majesty. From a distance, these flowers guard our home, like a speckled band from a dotted design.

Monday, September 29, 2008

on being lucky

I was fortunate to experience a fabulous time with a group of super ladies. We biked thirteen miles to Serenity Falls Cabin, spent the night, gabbed up a storm, ate too much and drank too little. The weather was a picture perfect fall day; you couldn't ask for a better time to bike. I was thanking the gods in and out throughout my journey. There was cool brisk chill to the air. Above, is part of the morning crew having coffee (and of course gabbing about nothing and everything at the same time.)
There were nine of us who spent the night. We slept in these bunk beds and I was number #3, above another camper. I didn't sleep much that night with all the snoring going on. It was very black too; rich darkness adding to the upcoming winter.

This is part of the biker girls just at the entrance of the Eklutna parking lot. The trees had bright yellow foliage. I biked in with a bob loaded with my sleeping bag and other essentials; carrying Karen's odds and ends. I rode right through the puddles and managed to get there easily. The path was relatively flat with some long hills. We made the ride in three hours; stopped and rested, had lunch and perused the scenery.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

from a delicate state

There are times when all of a sudden I am struck down; my functioning is at it's lowest, my energy subdued and my confidence shaken. It is almost like I am engulfed in a hole and cannot come out. These periods don't happen often, am not manic and it is usually after a rigorous work out and some perspective, some talk among close friends, that I submerge quickly. I bounce back fast, fortunately.

But I think the world situation added to my gloom these past few days, and while the elections are exciting and exhilarating the possible outcome is scary and threatening. I watched Bush's address to the nation about our financial crisis. It was a serious deal. I remember watching my parents watch the Cuba crisis when I was very young and I could feel the tension; you could cut the atmosphere in half with a knife. It was a serious deal.

I think if Obama gets the presidency, the outside world will applaud us to a certain degree, we would be looked upon not as big babies (which we are often seen as) but as a country entering a new change and progression. Not sure if we are a sophisticated country though to work through our differences and biases to make this choice. I don't think Europe (France or Germany for example) would think twice about making a new leap. We want the same thing and we want the same old funk of comfort. Also, I find it difficult discussing politics with people around me. It has become a taboo subject to bring up and I find this ridiculous and repressive.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

a hunting saga

Last week, Ken went hunting with his son Noah. They met up with another couple at Swanson Lake and made camp. On Monday, the three of them stayed together and canoed some of the lakes looking for moose, while Sandra went off on her own with her two dogs searching for grouse. The trio of men got back to camp later in the afternoon while Sandra did not appear, and in fact she wound up being gone for the entire night. Great concern was in the atmosphere, and the next day a rescue team was called (because Ken and Noah canoed like hell back to town to Sterling to get in touch with the authorities.) Sandra was found early afternoon the next day, well shaken up but alive and kicking. She had found a squirrel midden to spend the night and was equipped with her shot gun, two dogs and three dead grouse. Sandra wound up eating the grouse raw.

What would you do if you got lost in the woods and how prepared would you be to spend a night in the deep and scary dark with creatures stirring about? Great stories abound in the Northwest and I was first hand to hear about it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

on the alternative political scene

I was up again late. By my night stand there are always some New Yorker rags handy. The current issue of Sept 15 has an interesting article called, The Lonesome Trail, by Ariel Levy, on Cindy McCain. She is quite an eccentric women; an avid horse rider, race car driver, recently McCain has taken up flying. Their marriage started when she met John McCain at a Navy party, seventeen years her senior. Their liaison led into a relationship of week-ends while she was at home with the four children as he was off to DC during the week. (Cindy became seriously addicted to pain killers for several years.) The article goes on to explain her complex family dynamic, their white lies and deception contrasted to a very prominent family from Phoenix, the Baptist church that she attended to her development into the political arena. Cindy McCain also does the humanitarian route and travels to conflict areas helping children with cleft palates and she later adopted a baby in Bangladesh. You often see McCain holding hands with her seventeen year old daughter on stage during their political rallies.

It brings me to comment that our country is seriously corrupt (and we all know this.) Who really knows what is behind a person and their motives? Is it really important to understand some one's background? And how much to we really know the story about these people in power? We are all tainted and have our faults and past mistakes. It also brings me to exclaim how little we know about anything, how naive and uninformed we are as people.

This is an interesting video that friends sent me. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

fall to dark

Last night, I couldn't go to sleep and I laid in bed thinking about my relationship with art. I realized that in some strange way, it replaces my faith in God. With my art I can see the things that I do and feel a tremendous and immediate satisfaction after completing a piece of work. My art functions in a random way; pieces falling into places, happy surprises and struggles are part of the picture. It is a visual piece of information that speaks to me and it is in the nature of this abstract level of thinking and doing that I can connect spiritually.

Fall to Dark is my newest short film. It is a menagerie of images - my feet, wooded areas and fallen leaves all coupled with a very strong score of music done by a close friend/composer who lives in Los Angeles. This is my second serious art clip. Sunday's Threads, my first art video will premiere at The State Museum in Juneau at my solo exhibition this January, 2009.

Ken and I took Blue for a long walk over at the paint ball field last Sunday and he spotted hundreds of paint balls on the outside of the fence. I gathered them up in a found plastic bag and went to town, inspired by this find. The tripod was set up in our back yard and I went about working spontaneously, stomping on the paint balls with my bare feet. (If you can remember, think of I love Lucy and the grape stomping incident......!) Anyway, it was a beautiful mild fall day with the sun out and the leaves were just beginning to turn and land to the ground. Fall to Dark is my newest creation and in this activity I find my faith.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

truth seekers

This oil painting was photographed from the Latino and Hispanic Museum in Long Beach, California and though I thought most of the art staid, this painting made me stop and take a look and observe. Was this a forecast? Is this a political statement? (Probably so.......) because most of the great Mexican muralists and painters for example, were political revolutionaries of their time; took chances and risks and many got exported and imported to their lands because of their views. These artists were truly brave and painted content and narrative like there was no tomorrow. They were naturalists, epic heroes and painted politically charged work because it was in their blood and soul and they lived and breathed it with insurmountable passion.

Most strong artists are keen perceivers and see and feel things differently than others. They make social statements and as Bruce Nauman said, (one of the most influential conceptual artists of the 21st century) artists reveal mystic truths.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A passing - Fran Reed, 1943-2008

I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar-stairs
That slope thro'darkness up to God,
I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.
In Memoriam, Lord Tennyson, 1849

Monday, September 8, 2008

on the lighter side

Here are are a few shots that Ken photographed from around town. This insect was seen in our backyard and Ken said the dragonfly was cold making it stationary.
Another wonder shot.......splendid color I thought, and I love the spiral form; it appears comfortable and poised.
And lastly, an unassuming spider making it's way somewhere, someplace.

Friday, September 5, 2008

shit howdy

Listening and reading the many opinions about the nature of the politics that went down this week cast an excited glow and energy to the start of the fall season. I came home from a bike ride with the Divas on Wednesday night and listened to the Republican Convention on PBS afterwards. I was especially surprised to hear Rudy Guiliani speak and was waiting for a slithering tongue to creep out of his mouth at anytime. I thought the whole charade was pretty cheesy. Palin did a good job.... but why wouldn't she rally for the occasion? And I thought it was utterly ridiculous when McCain's wife was coddling Palin's baby. What a transparent and phony act. I think it is time to get rid of old politicians and in with new perspectives and content.

I also thought it was strange that Ken cannot even volunteer on the Obama campaign because he works for the Federal Government and according to the Hatch Act, it is against the United States law.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Presently I am working on some smaller works that will be part of an exhibition this December. You are asked to use boxes of any kind. Apart from my paintings I like to tool around and play with other materials, so it led me to dig around our Christmas decorations in the attic and I came up with these containers/boxes. I had fun with this project, but currently I have no idea what to name these pieces. Jackson Pollock, the abstract NY painter, would have people over to his studio in Long Island and they would actually help title his works. If anyone is reading this entry and can contribute a name that fits to these latest creations, I will use it.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have never been a great poser for photographs and I find having someone taking my picture a pretty contrived activity, but I guess it is a civilized (?) method of containing one's subjects for a picture, mood or event. The French word poseur is one who attempts to impress others by assuming or affecting a manner, sentiment or degree of elegance. Perhaps the drama queen/performance artist brings out the poseur in me. This photo shows my sister and I being silly and goofing around under one of the sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. (So, this anti establishment behavior runs in the family!) Otherwise, I have done some nice posing in the past and will continue to pose and act graceful when someone wants to take a photograph of me in the future. I will feel honored.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

rabbit redux

Years ago I read one of John Updike's novels and quickly dismissed him but fortunately, I picked him up again and just finished the book Rabbit Redux (redux meaning restoration.) The author is loaded with brilliant prose in almost every sentence he writes. Wow, I kept telling myself! One of his short stories in the New Yorker prompted me to take him up again. The novel takes place in a small town in PA; is gritty and raw and was written in 1971. Updike is more or as contemporary then any of the young writers that I have known to study. His writing is sensual and descriptive and loaded with content - truly a genius at hand.

Pictured above are metal sculptures by the British artist Anish Kapoor. They are large cubes and pyramids that take on distorted reflections from the viewer or perhaps the contemporary landscape that we all inhabit. This was seen in the Chelsea area on my gallery walk in New York.

Monday, August 18, 2008

the porch aesthetic

Porches abound on the Jersey shore and they come in all shapes and sizes and anything else you want to attach to my two simple adjectives. Here is a row of Victorian houses in Ocean Grove (or Ocean Grave, as youngsters would refer to it, because elderly would retreat to this area.) It is a dry town, very Christian and years ago, they wouldn't allow cars on Sundays.
Is anyone home? You could host great parties here. Meanwhile, the place looks vacant and in its immensity very alone. These homes are a common sight and are metaphors of grandiose labor turned into indulgent spaces for show. Several of these shore front properties exist in a wealthy town called Springlake.
I like this one because it is modern, sleek, and by bringing the outside in, the design makes it architecturally stimulating. It has an openness to it and it alludes to being cold but warm at the same time. The third floor would make the perfect studio (or maybe I would be too comfortable?)

This I term as the human porch. It looks well lived in, colorful and homey. I did see one or two people hanging out on their porches, but not many. By the way, do we have porches in Anchorage?

Friday, August 15, 2008

shore points

Trips always make me energetic and I think blogging is the perfect way to share your travels. I happened to be visiting my family back east, when a friend telephoned me and told me my 35th high school reunion was happening over the week-end. No way, I wasn't going to go! At the last moment with much deliberation, I made it and the affair turned out to be sweet, warm and supportive. We did a lot of dancing that night to retro DJ tunes - very apropos.

These photos are from the Jersey shore; in particular a small town called Avon, located in Central Jersey, about an hour and a half south of NYC. I grew up a few miles inland and always envied the Victorian houses. They seemed big and mysterious and right out of a Edward Hopper painting. (For my next blog entry, stay tuned for the porch aesthetic.) Anyway, if things got too tough around the house, we would retreat to the Atlantic Ocean, the beaches, jetties, the boardwalk, the concession stands, and amusement parks. I first learned linear perspective from the Atlantic's horizon.
One of the typical shore birds......the scavenger, the gull. (Check out the BLUE sky!)
The famous ice cream signs and my favorite choice was Strawberry Shortcake.

Lifeguards (and I knew quite a few...), the American flag, the blue sea, errant sea vessels, tanned bodies that look like have been dipped in a chocolate vat, tall grasses and funky, worn old fences are still a common sight.
Here is the beach guard who checks your badge......His character seemed fitting.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Yawk

My sister and I visited the Metropolitan Museum of New York in upper Manhattan. The Turner exhibit was beautiful and afterwards we went to the roof top of the Met.

(Turner was a British landscape painter and he uses light in a brilliant and painterly way; but he also fuses the perfect amount of dark to his paintings.)

Here are some of our glimpses. The photo above is the wonderful skyline of New York, a perfect combination of green and concrete along with a massive sunny day.

This is a reflective independent sculpture from the contemporary and controversial artist Jeff Koons. His works are playful and they modify the example of our kitsch, fast paced and surface society.
This is another one of Koons sculpture. These sculptural works are gigantic and you
can catch an idea of scale by looking at the other people in the photo.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Joisey heat and some bragging rights

My luck turned to drop dead gorgeous weather on the east......sweating as I write this from a neighborhood jog, I love the salt and smells that emanate from the damp grounds and from my body, the sauna like wet, the stickiness, the sometimes uncomfortable humidity which gives me a youthful glow and I think how fortunate I am to experience another place, to travel, to see and to be among family and friends. This upcoming Wednesday, I will be flying to the Northwest, back to Alaskan temps and back to another reality.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


There are a few things that I couldn't live without in Alaska. Listed below are those essentials; not given in any particular order.
1. NPR Radio Station
2. the library (especially the inter-library loans - you do a great job Loussac!)
3. a companion (but highly questionable at times......)
4. lots and lots of exercise
5. travel (anywhere - and to any means to get there - I just try to go!)
6. high speed internet