Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bonne Fête Du Muguet

In Paris on the first day of May one finds women on almost every street corner selling small bouquets of Lilly of the Valley. May 1 is La Fête du Muguet ( Lilly of the Valley) as well as the traditional Fête du Travail (Labor Day). The tradition is to give friends & loved ones the flowers for good luck and to celebrate the arrival of spring. Originally the idea was to go into the forest with the children to pick your own muguet as an outing & a rite of spring. But now one sees the women with their buckets of neatly tied bouquets on the street corners of Paris & else where in France. The little drawing above is from one of my Paris sketch books, the first time I encountered this charming custom. I was so enchanted by it.
One of the blogs that I follow is Chemin des Muguets . I was immediately drawn to it for the name alone but have since found much to admire. Today there is a wonderful post on this subject. Check it out & Bonne Fête du Muguet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alice Neel Retrospective in Houston

Alice Neel, the legendary 20th century portrait painter, is the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum Of Fine Arts in Houston. Working against the grain of popular taste, Neel concentrated on the portrait at a time when abstraction was the norm. Her bold, distinctive, signature style did not gain recognition until the late 60's,when she emerged as a major influence on contemporary figurative painting. A recent article, written in conjunction with the exhibit, for The New York Times, addressed Neel's influential role in the American art world. She was embraced by the feminist movement, but the sacrifices she made as a women artist were not fully understood until after her death in 1984 at the age of 84.
In a documentary film, entitled Alice Neel, her grandson, Andrew Neel, shares a moving & intimate picture of Neel’s life. Her story epitomizes the struggle of women artists in pursuit of their art & the difficult choices one must make to do so. I found this film very moving. It was sad how much Neel & her family had to give up in order for her to be true to her art. She said of herself :

I do not know if the truth that I have told will benefit the world in any way. I managed to do it at great cost to myself and perhaps to others. It is hard to go against the tide of one’s time, milieu, and position. But at least I tried to reflect innocently the twentieth century and my feelings and perceptions as a girl and a woman. Not that I felt they were all that different from men’s.”

Of course not all of us would make the choices that she made. One hopes for balance between art & life, but perhaps, balance is achieved at the expense of greatness & that is where Alice Neel succeeded.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Market in Saint Antonin Noble Val

It is Sunday morning & my French friends will be going to the market in St. Antonin. I love this tradition. Every week, rain or shine, the cobbled streets of this small town come alive with stalls of fresh produce, artisanal breads & cheeses, wines & pâtés, olives, herbs, spices, & more. The bountiful array of goods is a beautiful sight indeed & the profusion of smells & colors is exhilarating. But it is the congenial atmosphere that I love best. I love the friendly conversation with the merchants, who over the years one comes to know. I love to hear happy greetings of neighbors & friends as they stop to chat & say "Bonjuor". Certainly the freshness of the food is wonderful. But it is not only that the strawberries & melons were picked that morning, or that the bouquets of flowers still have dew on their faces, or that the eggs, still warm, sit in a basket of straw. It is the sense of connectedness. The Sunday market in St. Antonie offers a simple connection that nurtures both body & soul.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day 2010 which falls on Thursday April 22 I offer a few paintings from a recent series. I do not consider them landscapes per say. I sometimes call them dreamscapes. They do not depict a place, not a dream nor a memory. These paintings are informed by an emotional memory, dream like in it's awareness of the sky & earth that envelope us. They speak of a primal understanding of landscape & this home we call earth. I hope that this week everyone will take the time to appreciate the ephemeral beauty of our natural landscape & in doing so make a commitment to protect it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tattoos Come of Age in Boston

This month in Boston, both the Museum of Fine Arts & the Institute of Contemporary Art have simultaneously opened exhibitions featuring the art of the tattoo. The exhibit at the MFA, entitled "Under the Skin: Tattoos in Japanese Prints" explores the historical side of this ancient art form through it's extensive collection of Japanese prints. While the ICA presents the first US solo show for the contemporary Mexican tattoo artist known as Dr. Lakra. The fact that both of these prestigious art institutions are giving the nod to the medium of tattooing, gives, what is generally thought of as an underground art form, a greater sense of authenticity. I myself do not have any tattoos nor do I wish to, but I do confess to enjoying the guilty pleasure of looking at tattoo books & magazines. Perhaps now I can take the "guilty" part out of the equation. In searching for some images to share with this post, I discovered an array of websites on the subject. Some of my favorites can be seen here , here & here. Weather one likes tattoos or not, it is impossible not to acknowledge the artistry involved in these finer examples. It certainly does seem, with the shows at the MFA & the ICA, that the art of the tattoo has come of age in Boston, when, interestingly enough, less than ten years ago tattooing was actually banned in the state of Massachusetts.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beautiful Photos of Volcano in Iceland

Just a few of the amazing photos posted on flickr & else where of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. Having flown into Reykjavík many times, I am drawn to this eerily beautiful country. These photos represent the magnitude & beauty of nature at work. I have a friend that was to leave for Paris last night. I do not know if her flight got off or not. Many flights through out Europe have been canceled dew to the heavy cloud of volcanic ash. Nature is now in control. We must bow to her forces with awe & admiration even though she is wrecking havoc with our plans. It is also possible to see this phenomenon from outer space. NASA has a gallery of remarkable satellite pictures of Iceland’s volcanic eruption on their website if you are interested.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Won Something!!!

I won! Soon I will be receiving a new sketchbook compliments of Art House co-op. I was one of three winners of a blog give away over at Art Rivals. Art House co-op is based in Brooklyn & organizes worldwide art projects, this one is The Sketchbook Project with the theme of In These Shoes. I had to leave a comment based on the theme at Art Rivals & voila I was chosen a winner. Because I have never won anything before, this is a big deal. And because I love the challenge of a daily sketchbook practice I am thrilled. Linnea at Art Rivals started her give away blog post off with a wonderful link regarding the art of the doodle. Last year I had also written a blog on my website about sketchbooks & journals after seeing the documentary film 1000 Journals by Andrea Kreuzhage. I am excited to take part in this new project & look forward to the arrival of my very own sketchbook to begin doodling my way through "in these shoes". Thanks so much Linnea !!

Above I have put together a little group of old sketchbook pages... hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Artist Reception at Nourish

Last night Nourish Restaurant, in Lexington, Ma., hosted a reception for their latest exhibit of regional artists. The theme of this season’s show is “Food & Farming” which is in perfect keeping with the restaurant’s mission of responsibly sourced, nutritious cuisine. The exhibition was organized & juried by gallery owner Francesca Anderson, & local artists Barbara Lucas & Emily Passman . I was one of the participating artists, with my painting titled “Olives” on display. The evening was lovely, providing a chance to meet the artists, sample some of Nourish’s tasty appetizers, & to view all of the beautiful art. Restaurant regulars, as well as, art enthusiasts joined the artists to create a lively mix.
I felt especially proud to take part in this event, because I feel so strongly in the integrity of this restaurant. Being a vegan myself, I especially love that there are many options for me as well as for my non-vegetarian family & friends. Co-owner,
Karen Masterson (who was kind enough to take a moment to pose for a photo with me), has an impressive history of commitment to social & environmental issues. In Nourish she has brought together all of her passions to create what I hope will be the restaurant standard of the future. Not only is she devoted to local, organic, sustainable products but provides a delicious & diverse menu as well. And on top of all of that, she also supports the art community. What could be a better combination than that?! Thank you Karen for a lovely evening.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

SoWa First Friday April 2

April is here & with it glorious, glorious sunshine. I only hope it does not prove to be a cruel April fools joke. We have certainly had enough rain for a while. Tomorrow is SoWa Frist Friday. In anticipation I have hung a new painting. It is a sky & earth landscape in triptych.
I forgot to take a photo, though. So it looks like you have to come tomorrow night in order to see it. No, April fools, I will post one later. But until then, also hung is the above abstract that I call "Crossing". Like the untitled landscape it deals with my fascination with clouds of late. Could this have something to do with the weather?

SoWa First Friday 450 Harrison Ave. Studio #311 Boston , Ma. 5-9pm