Thursday, June 30, 2011

sometimes an unusual aesthetic

What every artist depends upon are materials; a good find usually inspires me to get motivated and pushes me into another direction. In this case, I took some old art books that were being discarded from the schools and reinvented them into mixed media works. Sculptural works can be pleasant and this exercise stems around shaping the piece by gutting the contents of the book, adding paint and collaging techniques. The above work is called Botticelli's Prayer Beads.

For a few years, I had been taking old canvasses and reshaping them by sewing and molding them into objects. Another term for these pieces can be tapestries or scrolls. Fascinated with the aspect of taking painting elements but working without stretcher bars tends to be a tedious production for me. They are works in progress. (The above hasn't a title yet.) Pictured below is a detail of This is where I want to be - tales from a wall flower. The size is 72" x 45" and my more interesting work of unstretched canvas to date, however, time usually tells me if it is indeed anything I want to hold onto.

Pictured below is the entire piece of the sewn canvas. These works present challenges to me, so I continue onward because I like the physicality of each, the questions, the struggle, doubts and insecurities of trying to make something speak to me. Making artwork is also like having an intellectual conversation with myself, like solving a puzzle or mystery. It is elusive, engaging and mysterious.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

summer night light reading

Finally tired of imaginary stories and authors lingering with their indulgent banter, I decided to do a reading switch this summer and examine nonfiction. Loussac Libary is my favorite place to go in Anchorage and it was my first destination when I first arrived to Alaska ten years ago. The library does incredibly well; often needing inner library loans, they provide them quickly and meet your demands.

Last Sunday though, I decided to peruse the travel area of the library and picked up two books; one that I recently finished called Among Flowers, A Walk in the Himalaya by Jamaica Kincaid. I grabbed Kincaid's book excitedly because I had read her years ago in the New Yorker and was touched by her candid and open writing dialogue. (Kincaid is from Antigua and she told of her first experiences arriving to New York and what she had to do to survive in the big city.) Her style is a bit clunky but when you get past it, her honesty becomes bitter sweet and she takes you step by step into her crossings. This story in particular examined a two week journey into the Himalaya with a group of other naturalists while they collected seeds for their gardens back in Wales and Vermont. How novel I thought! Kincaid expresses her fears so openly and brings new insights into her trail wanderings that I felt I made the journey with her. Here is a short passage from her book - As I walked and observed, each plant, be it tree, shrub, or herbaceous perennial, seemed perfect in its setting or in its sighting. I was in fact looking at Nature, or the thing called so, and I was also looking at a garden. The garden is an invention, the garden is an awareness, a self-consciousness, an artifice. Eden is never far from the gardener's mind. It is The Garden to which we all refer, whether we know it or not.

Another book I picked up is called No Mercy, A Journey to the Heart of the Congo by Redmond O'Hanlon. Africa is one of my long times places to travel and had seen parts of Egypt years ago, but am fascinated with the western area of this huge continent not to mention the miles of expanse into other countries that would be equally spellbinding to visit.

(And by the way, last summer, I read a work of fiction called Small Island by Andrea Levy. I would hope all books would carry a brilliant prose such as Levy completed making your reading time a worthy investment. It takes place in London and Jamaica; weaving in and out of these places, carrying colorful and beautiful characters that you will not forget. It makes you believe that good contemporary literature exists and it stands out from many books on the market.)

Other books on my list for this summer are The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, Nothing Daunted by Wickenton, Desperate Characters by Paula Fox and The Journals of Delacroix to name a few......not to mention my library meanderings that always bring continual surprises to my table.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

our house

Seven years ago, Ken and I bought one of the worse homes on the neighborhood street in an area of town considered as the old part of Anchorage located on the lower south side. We live across the street from the inlet and do not boast of the spectacular views that our neighbors have across the street from us. During spring time, we wake up to the mating calls and cries of many birds; are situated beautifully with a periphery of mountains and open expanse that is so accessible and minutes within walking distance making a short trip to this splendid area often ignored, forgotten and taken for granted.

The house across the street has been vacant for almost two years and is too expensive for anyone to afford it, I am guessing. I treat this situation as a opportunity, as I wander over in the back yard that leads down to the inlet covered with dense growth of trees and a difficult climb down to the marshlands. Oftentimes, I sit and listen to the roaring winds and take in the sounds of the inlet. The birds come and go and you don't have to wait long for something interesting to arrive; sights contrasted against the starkness of the tundra and immense vistas fill your impatience. During winter months, my dog and I walk onto the frozen flats, another view that constantly changes and readjusts itself.

We consider our home a work in progress and an ongoing art project that is a welding of our spirits and temperaments. My garden is my favorite part of the home though because it turns into a meditation channel during my mornings, late afternoons or early evenings. During the years, I have learned to understand what works best in our soil; the wild flowers mixed in with a combination of lupin and poppies or the shooting star that arrives the first of the season as the lone flower, so subtle and easy to miss in it's solitariness. We recently planted three young, two year old weeping birch for our ninth year of marriage. They stand in the center of our yard combing the rest of the field of green grass into one single unit of togetherness.