Thursday, November 14, 2013

where my gypsy blood leads me

I.M Pei's Glass Pyramid at the Louvre, Paris, France
A month ago, I applied for an artist residency located in Noyers, France, and coupled with a career grant from Alaska Council of the Arts, this will help me fund this adventure.  I will be going in May, 2014, and while the Alaskan dark can be invigorating for others, I need a focus on a future project and something to look forward to.

For three weeks, I will working on a body of drawings and watercolors gleaned from the French countryside and upon completing this expression, I will have an exhibition at the facilities' space.  I am also thinking of renting a car and perhaps with other resident artists, we can view the landscape together and aspire to new inspirations.

Before heading south to Noyers, I will peruse Paris for five days.  Currently, I am reorienting myself to the city where I lived years ago in the late 70's and frequented back and forth from my college studies.  Under Rutgers University, we studied for two months at the Sorbonne and then headed to Tours, France, where we finished the bulk of our schooling.  Tours, France is best known for chateau country located on the Loire Valley and where the best French is learned and pronounced.  It is said to be linguistically perfect.

I remember my college times fondly as they were intense.  It is where I continued my love affair with French literature ( not to mention other involvements!)  The last time I visited Paris was in 1990, and so I thought recently, that I was way overdue a visit.  I wanted to reconnect to the language and people.  In fact, upon rentering the United States back from school as a young gal, I felt out of place.  The states shocked me by it's bigness and it appeared ugly.  I had immersed easily into the French culture at that time; attitudes, ways of thinking, and their high sensibilities for taste had grown on me and had become home.

Noyers, France 
Noyers is located about one hour and forty minutes southeast of Paris.  This is where I will be working and doing some art at the Porte de Peinte pour les Arts.  Seen below is the village where I will be living and were the foundation provides me with a studio.  You can rent bicycles and tour the area.  They have three good restaurants and I can bet the  food is incredibly good.  When I lived in Tours, it was a small village too.  In fact, while looking at the train departures the other day, I found France to be riddled with hundred of quaint small neighborhoods equivalent to our suburbs.  I am currently reading some French literature and listening to French movies to get my comprehension and language fluency up to par.  It will be challenging but I am hoping I will fall into the mysteries of language and dialog without too much hesitation.  Oh la la!
the village of Noyers, Frnace
Manet's Gypsy Woman, oil on canvas, 1862

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

the high feather experience

Three of my newest works are listed on this page.  My works tells of my painting experiences and while they are figurative in nature, they are expressionistic, abstract and contemporary.  They exhibit an academic feel to them because I learned from the experience of painting.  I have been painting for a long time and of course, anything you do often and continually, your process and outcomes get better and better and it becomes a familiar place to be.
what I learned from black, 48" x 48", 2013
high feather, 60" x 30", 2013
These three works are older paintings that I reworked and the surfaces have a deep textured appearance.  Paintings are also gestural in style, painted quickly, intuitively rendered, in an unconscious manner; almost knowing by heart where each paint stroke belongs.  But, when I step back from each work, I realize consciously what I need to do and rework.  Painting is a strange form of activity; mysterious, a beautiful journey and an anxious pursuit for me.
new painting, she said, 72" x 52", 2013
This December, 2014, I am included in a group exhibition called PAINT! at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art.  Two of these pieces will be included in this show.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

kotzebue finds

Ken booked a companion flight for me and wanted to show me a true Alaskan village.  He has often flown there with his work and loves the town of Kotzebue. It turned out to be a great idea and I really caught the true essence about living in the Arctic.  Although we didn't experience the community first hand and walked around on our own, the sights made up for this difference.

Kotzabue, view from our hotel window

salmon drying by the sea

Along out walks by the Chukchi Sea, we stumbled upon the many drying shacks where the natives hang their fish and complete their harvesting, a wondrous abandoned bullet holed Quonset hut, subtle colors that hemmed the disheveled huts, sunlit grasses along with feeling the immense extreme of the Arctic winds and cold was impressionable.
love the subtle colors and worn look!
playing in the fox tail grasses
We stayed for close to three days; an hour and a half plane ride over much of tundra, the massive Yukon River, winding rivers and lakes, snow capped mountains was mesmerizing.  We stayed at this sterile hotel (one of two in Kotzebue) but it did have a great windowed restaurant overlooking the sea, where sea gulls coasted in one place by the winds and where I got to observe hundreds of white caps.  The room was brightly lit with the massive sunlight that flooded upon us.  The power of the sea struck me as very full and almost menacing.

abandoned Quonset hut
fall colors by the shoreline

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Pokhara Raptors and Tharu Dancers

Among our favorite places in Nepal: a respite from our travels from Lumbini (the birthplace of Buddha), and the hectic pace of Kathmandu, was the town of Pokhara.  We stayed on the third floor of the Tropicana Hotel; observed Pokhara's main street and beautiful lake from the balcony. We also witnessed many para gliders from our spot and loved seeing these floating apparitions.  We were tempted to try it out but wanted to save our money for Tibet travel.  (You can see my mini video clip I put together above from the captured sights.) Pokhara is known as a agricultural city; is fertile, a kick back place, and the air is better breathing.  It is also where many trekkers go to hike the Annapurna Trail.  We hiked up to see the Peace Stupa and you can view the city landscape from very high.  It was a grueling one our walk up hill making the downhill just as demanding.  

In the above video clip are the Tharu Dancers from our stay at Chitwan National Forest.

the main drag in Pokhara, Nepal, seen from our balcony

At Chitwan National Forest, we bought a package deal for four nights and five days; visited the towns and villages of the Tharu people was a plus.  We witnessed several wild life during our stints in the jungle.  I loved seeing the one horned rhinoceros and rushing through the brush, we saw some deer and wild boar.  The heat was overwhelming at times but our room had a nice fan (when the electricity was working!) the food not too stellar consisting mainly on variations of potatoes and vegetables dishes.  One of our outings included an evening to the cultural center that featured several dances of the Tharu people.
the one horned rhino at Chitwan National Forest, Nepal

Friday, August 9, 2013

Jersey short stops

a small view inside Princeton University campus

One of my highlights was revisiting Princeton University.  While in high school, I would hear singers at the cafe on campus and it is where I first heard Paul Stuky sing solo.  (You may know him from the trio Peter, Paul and Mary.)  My girlfriend had an ingenious idea to drive over there one Saturday.  It took us an hour to get there; beautiful mansions, roadside vegetable and fruit stands and large open green pastures filled our glimpses out the car window.  Once on campus, we saw a fantastic collection of art at the museum.  They have quite a range of work - Contemporary,  Medieval, Renaissance to the Impressionists from masters around the world.   

Princeton University Art Museum
My brother and sister

Hibiscus the size of your hand
a friend since eight grade

 I had worked my visit too with my 40th high school reunion and made it to the opening night barely recognizing a soul!  The rest of my sojourn was focused on close friends and family.  I posted some of the highlights of this journey.  New Jersey is an expansive, rich and busy state - townships connecting one another with dozens upon dozens of side roads, parkways, interstates and freeways. 
Jersey Shore, Ocean Grove

When visiting the shore points, I would have not known that a devastating hurricane had destroyed much of the beach front under a year ago.   I loved the sea while I lived there and during my short stay, I managed to spend time sitting on the beach observing the vastness of the horizon line.  It is where I first learned one point perspective and gorgeous space.  No art class could ever teach me that.

Friday, July 12, 2013

This time around, blog entry, Kathmandu 5/21/2013i

Paton Dubar Square idol, near Kathmandu, Nepal
This time around we have chosen the fifth floor of the Karma Travelers Lodge.  
Our shanty room opens up to a courtyard of urban sprawl and roof top views; twin size beds receive light and air from both sides of the room, screened windows let a cross flow of breezes filter in 
and it has become pre monsoon month.

It may rain torrents like yesterday as we splashed through puddles viewing the Paton Dubar Square temples.  They where magnificent ancient buildings however, even in the downpour, while heavy rains kept coming.......we jumped from one overhang to another missing the rain but got to see its work, its relentlessness.

Almost as immediately as these rains fell, the sun came out.  Steep waters are sucked into the gutters leaving roads with only patches of wet remembrances.  Muggy, humid days but extreme dry too comes and changes from a quick setting to another.

This time around, I sleep better.   Kathmandu shuts down by 11 pm; noises subdue and the place slumbers.  The whole district is blanketed with a stillness of quiet.  And, this time around, I rest with everyone else.

Paton Dubar Square 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tibetan Pilgrimage - Pekor Chode Monastery

The Pekor Chode Monastery was founded in 1418 and is a twenty minute drive located near Lhasha, Tibet.  When we visited the monastery, it happened to be one of the holidays marking the draping of the thangka.  This only comes about once a year.  Hundreds of Tibetans could be seen making their walk clockwise around the stupa (called circumambulation) and some continued on by walking against the large wall (pictured below) where the thangka was displayed.  They do this to obtain merit and to put themselves on the right path.  You can see the picture of the Buddha icon of the thangka in the photo, whereas in the video, the image of the Buddha was already removed in a matter of a couple of hours while I was there on the grounds.  I was taken by the uniqueness of the Tibetan people.  You can see many of the pilgrims in the original dress, with their prayer beads, prayer wheels and some prostrating by stretching themselves on the ground and rising up again.
draping of the Buddha Thangka 

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Going clockwise, the large Boudhanath Stupa sits while pilgrims make it move.  Its two eyes forever revealing and watching from up above. 

Surrounding this structure is architectural, colonial tiered places/homes/businesses/perhaps vacant.
                   There is a happy hum while the religious swing and touch the bells turning them as they make the circumambulation.

Monks sit here and there asking for offerings.
Older peasants are the ones that I love to watch, are they there because their time is close?
I watch their wizened eyes, crevasse faces, lined dark, tan, black Nepalese, Indians, Tibetan, Malays, Chinese and Caucasian too, as the pavement fills with walking faith.

Big Buddhas and small colorful, kitschy buddhas make their appearances like we will forget them.
The temple sprawls into smaller domes of white among the huge iconic masterpiece that is littered with several  hundred prayer flags giving hope to the day. 
lovely old pilgrim with prayer beads

Sunday, June 23, 2013

May 7th, Kathmandu journal entry

Durbar Square, Kathmandu (durbar means "palace")

Watching the pigeons getting fed at Durbar Square - the place where kings were legitimized,

am told by a Nepalese man that these birds bring good luck.

They are fed generously and coo happily.

The flapping of their wings are insurmountable.

They fly in the mist of seated village folk, settle by several dozen maybe hundreds among the tiered 

temples, and sit on the heads of the gods and goddesses of old time Hindu Shivas,

they infest this place - they rule now.

They make it remarkable too, this gray bird of commonness.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

taking off soon, travel notes and the reflective spirit

Soon Ken and I will be leaving Alaska for a seven week journey to Nepal.  We will arrive in Kathmandu, recuperate from the long plane ride and will stay in a comfortable hotel for five days.  (I understand that the Beatles stayed at this particular place.  Maybe it will be our most expensive of places as fifty dollars a night is often a stretch for us.)  Afterwards, we are headed to Chitwan National Forest for a safari.  We have plans to fly to Bagan, Myanmar, Bhutan or head to Tibet, but we are leaving ourselves open to see, feel, scour maps, talk to the natives and other travelers, and ask around to decide what would best fit our travel and budget sensibilities.

At this time in my home though, in Anchorage, Alaska, I begin to look around me and view my surroundings.  A deeper knowledge of place is emphasized and it's luxuries,  like water fountains, the fresh scented snow air as I am skiing in the bright sunlight and an abundance of things at my fingertips. The small things that we often take for granted, like a warm, comfortable bed, a clean couch, adequate lighting and an accessible computer is often much sought after in our travels. 

sunshine and its reflection in Anchorage, Alaska
Most of all, and what intersects these comfortable times of where I am now in the great USA, are the people that I meet on our excursions from all over the world - time spent traveling on planes, buses, hotels, and moments in small cramped coffee shops.  A connection on a universal level is met on my travels making it wondrous and magical.  Written below are just a few memories that stick out in my mind as being prevalent and worth recalling at this time.

After my mother's funeral coming back from the east coast, I took up a conversation with a woman seated next to me on the plane.  We were relating similar trip details, how our friends had changed, how life had become different in scope, experiencing sentiments of growing older and challenges of fighting depression.   

After the massive tsunami hit in 2006, Ken and I sat in a small cafĂ© in New Delhi.  I had grabbed a stray newspaper on a nearby table and read the horrific headlines. I quickly exclaimed how we should fly back to the states.  Around us, people were going about their business, ordering drinks and food, the bustle of the afternoon was in full gear and the day seemed in total neglect of this happening.  

Me and Blue after a ski in Kincaid,
(the one I miss most while on jaunts)
Our eight hour drive to Agra from New Delhi to see the Taj Mahal was a hectic and frantic trip.  The driver, who weaved in and out of chaotic traffic, blasted the same local, popular Indian music over and over again for the course of the ride (and I wound up buying the tape soon afterwards in town.)  The Muslim tour guide, who led us inside the belly of the temple, couldn't be kinder, told us about his family and was elated to show us the massive marble mausoleum.  He was genuine, all welcoming, open and had a great sense of humor.  We shared similar insights and perspectives about lives.

On another bus journey in South Viet Nam, going through several border crossings at seedy stations wore us down.  There was an American family traveling with their young daughter and the father worked in the American Embassy in New Delhi.  How quickly you converse, share your insights and impressions with others especially if they are American.  We struck up an immediate conversation and later saw them on Christmas day.  They wished us a Merry Christmas, and it  struck a deep chord because it resonated heart felt sentiments. These bits of kindness are perhaps stronger because you are far away from home and I am sure that travel in foreign places puts you in a vulnerable zone.

There is a lot of waiting when you travel but I find myself wrapped up in a sensory store of fascination and it is acute visual eye candy.  Observation couldn't get any better.  I cannot begin to express the myriad of people you meet - the immediate bonding, the roundtable of discussions, the stray, brave young American traveling alone, a Montreal woman who we toured with us for two weeks, the German couple who we spent time seeing the Plain of Jars in Phonsavon, Laos, or the British couple, spending the day in the Borneo jungle observing the orangutans.  Australians are to be seen everywhere in Asia and I think they have taken the place of the American.  They can be brash, competitive, loud and confrontational but there is always the other side.  We spent some time with an Australian family in Bali and they were delightful in their scope and curiosity.  They wanted to know who we were as Americans and our politics. Ken and I sometimes remark about the families touring too - small babies slung on backs and children excitedly running close by their parents.  Everyone is happy to be out, you bond in this universal way and you become grateful for this advantage of experiencing the world.  It is a magnificent journey and worth fighting through the barriers of fear that have penetrated our world today.  Travel gives you hope and it adds another dimension to the soul and to the great spirit of awareness.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

second half of painted ladies

Angry Lady, paint and oil stick on canvas, 35" x 30", 2013
The second half of this blog features more paintings on the figure.  Below,  Matisse's half  is my favorite.  I love Matisse, his colors and his stories or interiors of inside the frame of the picture.  Matisse was a great colorist and rival of Picasso.  While Picasso had a strong edge, Matisse felt that you should look at his work easily, like sitting in an armchair while enjoying the painting.  Going forward, I will be studying interiors to put my new figures into a story or narrative.
Matisse's half, paint and oil stick on canvas, 35" x 30", 2013
Clown Dancer is another work done rigorously.  I am greatly inspired and very energetic while making these works as this is a new body of artwork and the newness invigorates me.  At other times, I have difficulty of what to paint, what to say or if I have anything important to express at all!  This is usually an artist's dilemma and I often struggle with this happening.
Clown Dancer, paint and oil stick on canvas, 30" x 30", 2013
The bottom work titled A study of two is a continuation of more of these works.  Am looking forward to making more messages and putting these figures in a landscape.  At this moment, they are solitary and effective, hoping these paintings can stand on their own.
A study of two, paint and oil stick on canvas, 35" x 30", 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

on spring paintings - the feminine and color, 2013

Self portrait in the studio, 48" x 48", oil paint and oil stick on canvas
Listed on this post are all new paintings.  I have been building on the concept of telling stories and at this moment, most of this work is figurative studies of more works to come.  Above, is a portrait of myself and it is housed in our dining room.  I usually put new pieces in my home to live with them and peruse them while I go about my business.  It helps me reflect and access the artwork.  At this point, I am happy with this canvas.
Yesterday and Today's Study I, 35" x 30", oil paint and oil stick on canvas
The next four studies are smaller.  Each work is 35" x 24" and can be termed as figurative paintings on canvas.  I enjoy working with the various colors and do a lot of mark making with oil stick and gesso.  My process is very immediate, as I paint, rub out, paint and erase creating the image I want to make, until the final picture finally shows itself.
Yesterday and Today's Study II, 35" x 30", oil paint and oil stick on canvas
These paintings are worked in the same fashion - painting or making scrawls while each image is done as mentioned above - erasing and painting while the picture evolves.  This process also builds texture and movement to each piece.  These works are also experimentations and designs with color.
Yesterday and Today's Study III,  35" x 30", oil paint and oil stick on canvas
Building ground is one of the more natural things that I do as a painter.  You can see various blocks of color in the background and at the same time this also creates edges to the paintings.  I try to fill the canvas and this to me is the most difficult task.  Balance and composition must all be working together to create a strong work.
on second thought, 35" x 30", oil and oil stick on canvas
The painting below - Gestural Studies - Not a walk in the Park carries a story.  Last week, I photographed myself and my dog walking around the neighborhood block.  The picture was a black and white shadow of our reflections on the snow.  It was my first piece completed in this series and I used this photograph to begin my painting process.  Photographs often give me ideas about what to do or how to proceed in the studio.  Never completely realistic, I enjoy making contemporary expressions that make us look at the world in a different ways.  These works force us to use our imagination.
Gestural studies - Not a Walk in the Park, 48" x 48", oil paint and oil stick on canvas

Friday, March 1, 2013

about place - black and white in another hue

Leaving my blog unattended felt like it was the right thing to do; several classes this past fall semester put me into a whirl of non stop activity.  I successfully taught four classes, all of them being different, creating a full pendulum of strengths and weaknesses from each one made me enjoy the trip of teaching immersion. Every semester, I learn from my classes and add these times to my repertoire as a communicator of insights and information.
Totem Sculpture, Tujunga Canyon, 1995

I took a short visit to Los Angeles early January where I visited the art scene, friends and experienced strikingly brilliant weather.  Coming back to Alaska's grim gray, I realized how spoiled I had become on my visit.  The colors in Southern California were hyper real to me; examining the lush plant life and being struck by the massive Pacific stirred a profound sense of nostalgia.  I had greatly missed the sea.  The weather in Los Angeles wasn't past 55 degrees, rising to 65 degrees in the full afternoon sun but Californians were taking advantage of their winter garb by wearing coats and boots. 
Blum and Poe Gallery, Culver City, CA,  January 2013
My trip to Los Angeles had become more of an adventure in seeing color as was my driving experience with my nifty rental car through the grand boulevards of the inner city with the spectacular southwestern views and waving palm trees.  It was easy driving to me, it was fast going with a constant stimulant to my senses, ongoing ruckus of movement and noise.  I realized why people lived here.  The weather is all welcoming and people seem less uptight, more casual, freer and open. I left Los Angeles for a reason and I wanted to leave, find another adventure, see another landscape and take a risk.
Blue and I out walking

Yesterday in Anchorage, as I was walking the dog I peered by the inlet and looked at the arrangement of the landscape.  Subtle colors of golden grasses became distinct as dark brown stick trees casted another shade adding to the white and grays. The looming mountains peaked through some the cloud layers with snippets of a possible and hopeful blue sky.  Colors in Alaska are muted but it has become my responsibility to find the soft colors beautiful in their own way.  Each time I look at the horizon, outside my window, down a ski trail or outside my car window while driving there are various and constant changes.  This is space in another grand way.  I sometimes question why I don't embrace this landscape so easily and find myself pushing it away.  Other times, I think it is like contemporary art, while I appreciate the grandiose of Alaska perhaps it is too new for me to love it.  Perhaps it is too overwhelming.  I also recognized that by seeing the Pacific, I had taken it for granted, and maybe that is how I react to Alaska's wilderness, it is at a distance but too close to me right now.  It seems like I need to leave a place to fully want it back and maybe that is okay too.  It is okay, and I repeat this mantra quietly quietly for today.