Saturday, February 28, 2015

To Stand in the Center and See All Around - March 6 − 29 at bkbx gallery

The stuff dreams are made of (for some).
Please join me for the opening reception of To Stand in the Center and See All Around at bkbx on March 6th from 6 − 8 p.m.

At the end of the week, I got in the space with StudioLove's head installer aka Finnian.  We did a close inspection and realized that the installation could possibly be fairly straight forward.  I felt my whole body exhale.  We start on Monday.

Then I came home and finished the sound piece.  It isn't perfect, technically, but I feel quite happy that it is conveying…something.

So, if you would to experience something, please stop by.  I will be very excited to see you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


He's got his eyes on the prize.

Many exciting and unexpected things happen when light hits mirrors.

This is my final work week before beginning to install To Stand in the Center and See All Around.  What is most clear to me is that I honestly have no idea how it going to look and if it will convey what I want it to convey until it is totally installed.  Until then, la la la, I work merrily along as if it will all be just fine.

I do worry that I will get in the gallery space next week and suddenly remember some extremely important element that is missing.  That sick feeling in the gut.  The blood rushing to the face.  If I am the only person who knows that it is "supposed to" look like, are there any mistakes?  Every project I make leads to this same place.  I get right up close to the presentation and I begin to doubt and to worry that the whole world will finally - finally - recognize me as the total failure that I so clearly am, capable of nothing, full of myself, the emperor's new clothes personified.

Other people stay home at night and watch Dancing with The Stars instead of putting their hearts and souls out there for all to stomp on.  What's my problem that I have to go around blathering and showing off?

And more like that.

You would think that, after 30 years, it would get easier but it doesn't get easier because, each time, I am putting a new heart and soul out there.  In a way, it gets more difficult because I am less convinced of my own correctness than when I was 20.

These are the direction of my thoughts as I work on the sound component of the installation - the part that I have the least amount of experience doing so, naturally, is fraught with the most doubt.

But, what the hell - it's an installation in a little space in Brooklyn.  I love making it and I love sharing it.  The suffering, as they say, is optional.

And I want to share this monumental photograph!  Here we are, WAMER (Women Artists Meeting Eating and Reading) reunited in the most 21st Century of ways!  Our artist study group is getting back  together after several years' hiatus, this time with one member joining via Skype.  What was most incredible about it was that we all became immediately adjusted to having her join us like that, as if it were normal or something.

Oh people, we are a funny lot!

A Place at the Table.

Friday, February 20, 2015

If the Pre-Raphaelites Lived in Iceland

Who can say where the sweater ends?
Since returning from Nashville (and an amazing time it was), progress on my project has been a little slower than what I had expected.  I finished knitting one of the large panels and made the executive decision to forego making another one.  The project has drifted so far away from its original impulse that my initial configuration no longer seemed like the best solution.  The knit piece is but one piece of the whole - an important one, mind you - but only one.  I wanted to have time to do justice to the other pieces and so I made some revisions to my ideas.

Also, if I am honest, that part of me that used to stay up all night and work 'til I drop seems to have left me completely.  I would like to think that this is a sign of maturation and not just a growing laziness.  We'll see!  Photographic evidence seems to speak otherwise...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inflatable Bladders

You crave them.

The subtitle of this post is "So Much for Minimalism".  Wool, fabric, mirrors and now, inflatable bladders.  It is coming together.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Life is Fun!

Back in Nashville for Module #2 of yoga therapy training.  Since last June we have had a two-hour class online every other week but now we are gathering back in Nashville for nine days of intensive training.  This time I gave myself two days to get here after the grueling 16-hr drive last June.  For better or worse, it was only 3 p.m. when I entered the state of Tennessee yesterday afternoon, and knowing that I would gain an hour when I crossed into Central Time, I called ahead and booked an extra night in my room....and continued onward.  Yup, 16 hours.  The last two were tough - I had to call upon all my intensive Zen training to find my focus but the joy of arrival was pretty great.  And - bonus! - I have had all day today to do errands and get ready for the training that begins tomorrow morning.

There is something about doing ordinary errands in a small city - they feel like playing house.  I had to mail a package so I scouted out a post office nearby to where I am staying.  First - no bullet proof glass separating the staff from the customers!  Second, no lines!  Third, the guy actually invited me behind the counter to fill out the customs form online!  See?  It's like pretending to mail stuff.  "That was fun!  Let's do it again!"  Alas, I only had one package.  Then I got a latte at a busy cafe.  Look!  Everyone is dressed up like a hipster!  How cute.

Then I went to Whole Foods.  Grocery shopping is fun!  I wonder if I used play money to pay for it?  It felt like I did, but probably not.  Whole Foods likes the real stuff.

This evening, I will go out to the pretend airport and, no doubt, find a nice, convenient parking spot that won't cost money, or not very much, and collect my friend who is coming in from LA.


ETA:  Parking was $3.00 for 45 minutes in a space that was 30 seconds from the terminal.  The trip to the airport was 20 minutes but only because it was rush hour.  Normally, it is twelve.  How do they live this way??

Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't Mess with Mother Nature

New Yorkers love to panic about snow.  Maybe there will be a blizzard or maybe there won't.  The beauty part is that I had four appointments today and now they have all been canceled.

I have one appointment left standing.

Hello, my darling.

The reddish circle is from the camera, not the yarn.

Monday, January 19, 2015

To Stand in the Center and See All Around - an Introduction

While I hate to be one of those "sorry for not blogging" kind of bloggers...I do apologize for the silence.  Partly, it is because I have not taken photographs for ages so I feel badly about so many picture-less posts.  And partly it is because I have been pretty flat out busy.   Any extra moments have been taken up with smaller projects and being with a sick friend.  It is surprising how much mental space that uses up, but it does.

All that aside, I have been working (somewhat) steadily on my project for bkbx that will be opening on March 6th.  Save the date!  It is called To Stand in the Center and See All Around.

The piece has been morphing in my head and under my hands.  I am still very much in process of spinning and knitting the black Shetland wool.  My plan, and it seems to be working, is to simply begin the process without expectations.  Using the notion that textiles can become saturated with narrative, I began making the piece.  I spin in silence.  I spin while watching episodes of Chopped and Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown (a cooking theme seems to have started up).  I spin while listening to dharma talks by the MRO teachers and senior students.

I also knit.  I knit in my living room, on the subway, at the Temple, at the Infusion Center where my friend has her chemo.  I will bring my knitting and my wheel (hey - hope springs eternal!) to Nashville in a couple of week's time.  I even spent some time during Rohatsu working out the details of the  installation, which wasn't exactly what I was supposed to be doing but I did it anyway.

The piece is getting bigger and it also is gathering a kind of energy.  It is developing a presence that comes from everything that is being poured into it - intentional and unintentional.  I want to put my finger on what, exactly, that is but I find that it can not be summed up in words.  I suppose this is why it is a thing, an art object, and not a novel or essay.  It has a certain vibe or buzz or mojo - or maybe prana or chi or ki, if you want to look at it that way.  You can't make it happen but you can't stop it from happening either.

I also have purchased 2500 pieces of 1" mirror.  These will be included in the installation, as well.

That whole Minimalist thing?  Yah, not so much.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Gettin' Used By It

There is a Zen koan that includes the teacher telling the student, "I use my time, you get used by it."  When I hear this in my head this morning, I want to smack that Zen teacher.   A bit smug, don't you think?

Extra annoying because I am really feeling each and every remaining hour I have to work on my installation for bkbx.  Will they be enough?  I have my 40 lbs of wool that is slowly - ever so slowly - becoming yarn that is slowly - ever so slowly - becoming knit fabric.  I have 30 yds of black cotton fabric and 2500 pieces of mirror.  Smells like an art installation to me!

In the end, I couldn't just make the pieces and hang them on the wall.  Call it a lack of trust, but to me that was not enough to convey what I want to convey.  Enter 2500 pieces of mirror.  A little sparkle should bring things up a notch!  Also planning some sound elements and a few other things.  Plans, I got'em.  And as you can see, Richard Serra was left in the dust long ago.

It's all StudioLove from here on in...

Monday, January 05, 2015

Being Very Un-Dude, Until You're Not

Let it be known that 2014 was the year that I made bhuja pindasana my bitch.

Do I land it every time?  No.  But something clicked and the thing that was so effortful and difficult suddenly became a thing of ease and joy.  I have no idea why and I suppose the why of it hardly matters.  One of the key components of śraddhā (loosely translated as faith) is smrti (loosely translated as memory).  When one has the experience of the challenging thing becoming an easeful thing, it is not forgotten.  The memory of that experience can be drawn upon at the next challenge.  We create these experiences in our asana practice, which is a small thing, so we can remember them in the rest of our life, which is a big thing.

So, what's up for 2015?  I think I will let go of any asana goals this year.  Instead, I am resolving to take up running again.  There was a time when I ran long distance - marathons even.  It was not a happy time or a healthy time, even as I could run 10-12 miles/day, seven days/week.  In fact, as I look back, it might have been the most unhappy time of my life.  Running that crazy amount was my attempt to wrestle some control over all the things that felt so unhappy.  Instead, I ended up being addicted to exercise and having eating disorder issues.  Fortunately (and it was fortunate), I got injured to the point where I could not run through the pain (and believe me, I tried!).  I had to take my obsessions elsewhere (hello, Ashtanga yoga!).

Despite all that history, I love running.  Still, it has been tinged with this bit of toxic residue and I haven't dared to try it again - fearful that I would fall down the rabbit hole of crazy.  In December, I was talking with one of my yoga teachers about engaging in other physical activities and I told her my running story.  She said, "Running wasn't the problem - you bring your mind to whatever you are doing."  For whatever reason, I actually heard what she was saying.  Just like how bhuja pindasana suddenly felt not just possible but easy, I realized that the problem was never that running was bad or evil or would "make me" become an obsessed anorexic.  I did that.  To myself.  And that it is possible to enjoy running just to enjoy running.

So, later today, I will take a little jog around the neighborhood.  Just for fun.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

On the Docket

As is my want, I ushered in 2015 up at Zen Mountain Monastery, finishing Rohatsu sesshin with a glorious ceremony of setting intentions for the coming year and generally sharing the love.  Only, you know, in silence and with eyes cast down.  It was as wonderful and intense as you might imagine it being when you are awake for 24 hours (only on the last day, but still...).  I started to write a whole, long post about how mistakes are our best friends but I think I will just say that and you can work it out for yourself.  But they are, you know.

Occasionally, I would dip out of my state of deep samādhi and think about what needs to get done this year, and in particular, in the next several months.  Highest on my list is my project for bkbx gallery, which will open in early March.  I set aside everything in December so I could focus on homeschool things with F&L, the holidays and caring for my friend who is ill.  But the time has come to Put My Head Down and Get To Work.

I have many thoughts about how the project is shaping up, which I will share with you shortly.  For now, however, this:

PS.  I know you are waiting to hear about my yoga resolutions for patient, my beauties, all is coming.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finding Light Without Searching

Affectionately known as Drunk Santa.
It is a symptom of how time flies that Drunk Santa has remnants of both Halloween and Thanksgiving still on him (he came out early this year).  But, at last, his true moment has come and he is decking the halls, or at least the corner by the bookcase, and making merry.  Also a symptom of how time flies is how I practically had to corner Finn and Lucy to get our tree and then get it decorated.  In years past, they would be on me to get the tree right after Thanksgiving.  This year, I had to schedule it with them a week in advance.

My ginormous project, in which Studio Love bitch slaps Richard Serra, is on hold for the holidays (really, almost the entire thrill is to write those words) (even as the term "bitch slap" might be among the most offensive in the English language) (but damn, it is so effective sometimes).  For better or worse, I set aside my spinning and picked up my knitting needles.  A week ago, I had a minor crisis when I realized that one project was definitely not going to be finished in time.  Plan B was enacted and I feel confident that it was the wise choice even as I am still working on it.  More detail than that, I can not share.

Also filling this holiday season for me is that I am part of a team of goddesses offering care and support for a friend who has been recently diagnosed with late stage cancer.  Goddess is her word but I'll take it.  At the moment, there is not a lot of hands-on care to be given, rather I think we are all mostly in the stage of simply adjusting to the news, and it is an adjustment that takes its own toll in a way.  It feels eerily familiar, as much of what is going on is very similar to what happened to Colette two years ago.  At the same time, this friend is very different and part of my challenge has been to not take Colette into the room with me, or at least, to notice when I am doing that.  Of course, this is my reality of it.  Her reality is quite different - for her, it is every second of every day, without the luxury of taking a break.  As another friend put it, we are enjoying our NYD status (Not Yet Disabled).  It is simply a matter of time.

Darkness.  Light.  I love this season because it is so dark, and in that way, so filled with potential - the light is always there.  No need to go searching for will come.  It will come.

Speaking of light, may I extend my sincerest thanks to you, dear readers, for hanging out with me for another year!  Drunk Santa and I wish you good cheer and good health for this holiday season - see you in the new year!  XOX

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Thing About Grizz

Meet Grizzwald aka Grizz

Since we returned from Newfoundland in August, there has been a cat coming around our backdoor.  While he looked somewhat cared for, it grew increasingly clear that he had been abandoned.  He was a sweet thing who seemed to come around for the love and attention as much as the bowl of food we put out.  Occasionally, he would disappear for days at a time and we thought we had seen the last of him but then he would reappear, as sweet as ever.  As the weather grew colder, we realized that a decision had to be made - is he in or is he out?

Lucy came up with a name - Grizzwald or Grizz.  I guess that was our answer.  I got him in the carrier last week and took him to the veterinarian's office.  Grizz needs his balls cut off (to put it bluntly) but he also needed to be checked for anything else that might infect our two felines in residence, who are quite healthy and happy, thank you very much.

Long story short - Grizz tested positive for feline leukemia.  It isn't clear yet whether he has it in his blood only, which is not necessarily a terrible thing, or if it has gone into his bone marrow, which is a terrible thing.  There also is debate about whether it is ok to have him around other cats - most vets will say definitely not but if you dig around the interwebs, things are a little murkier, especially if he is a carrier only (not infected to the marrow).

Grizz has been living in our basement while we get all this sorted out.  He is a very affectionate cat and, mostly, has not shown his testosterone-driven nature.  I have allowed Olive and Webster to have a little contact with him and mostly he seems ready to cede the Alpha status to Webster.  I am afraid Olive was determined to be below him on the food chain but her attitude seems to be "that's your problem, not mine" so I think it is ok.

This morning, I thought I would give them a little face time but that turned out to be a mistake.  Grizz was hungry and if there is one place where he is alpha, it is around his food bowl.  This guy has known hunger and he isn't about to let some posh, bourgeois, fancy cats elbow in on his eats.  He didn't even wait for Webster to make a move before he was giving him some threatening gestures.  Webster's reaction to run down into the basement was a bad idea - Grizz was hot on his heels.  Then: silence.  I ran down after them.  Still silence.  Then I hear a pathetic little Webster meow back behind the laundry drying rack.  What happened next, well, let's just say that Tabby is the new orange is the new black.  Or something like that.  Webster gave me a look that said, "hello?  yesterday I was King of all I surveyed and today?  Buddy has me pinned down and he clearly is mistaken about my inclinations.  What have I done to deserve this??"

Oh, Webster!  I am so sorry.  (Although I am surprised that you use the term "Buddy" since I always thought that was a Newfoundland thing.)  But it won't happen again.  Buddy (his name is Grizz, by the way) will have that situation fixed, so to speak, and you will reign again.

I swear.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Cut It Out

Can you forgive me for that post title?  I hope so.

Finally got myself to MoMA to see the Matisse cut-outs exhibition.  It is my good fortune to have a friend who is a member so not only was it (almost) free to get in, we were able to get in an hour before the museum opened to the great unwashed aka non-members so the galleries were sparsely populated and viewing the works was easy and enjoyable.

Growing up, my family was not what you might call high cultured.  There was not a lot of art around the house, indeed, there was almost no art around the house.  My mom knits - and a most excellent knitter she is! - but looking at art, going to museums, talking about art and art-related  Art was a foreign land and I am sure it was more than once that my parents shook their heads and wondered how a foreigner was born into their family.  But there I was, burbling on about becoming an artist from the time I was able to put those words together.  Hey, it happens.

Within that distinctly non-art atmosphere, very few images of artworks creeped in.  For reasons I will never understand, the only artists that I had really ever looked at by the time I left for art school were Georgia O'Keefe, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Pablo Picasso and Claus Oldenberg.  Weird, right?  But imagine the amazement and joy I felt when I discovered Matisse and Cezanne and Delacroix and Giacometti and....and....and...the world was my oyster in the first year of art school.  Everyday was a good day, for sure.

And yet.  I distinctly remember two images from my childhood the fell outside these narrow confines.  These two, in fact:

Blue Silhouette II

I don't remember how or why postcards or posters of these two works were around our house, but they were and I don't remember even knowing that someone made them.  They were just kind of there - some kind of anonymous example of Art.  Well, today I saw them for the first time in the flesh, so to speak.  As always, when I look at anything by Matisse, the first word that enters my head is virtuosity.  He's got it.  In spades.  These two pieces are wonderful, and they bring back childhood memories, however puzzling.  But I have to say, they feel minor to me compared to other works in the exhibition.  

Yes, this man was a virtuoso.  I especially love that he left things looking unpolished.  The feeling of the hand is there as much as if he were wielding a brush.  They are complex and sophisticated.  And simple and playful.  They are a kind of crowning achievement of his life's work and they are humble and even functional - there are program covers and book covers among the masterpieces.  

There are two short videos of films made of Matisse making the cut-outs.  He sits in a wheel chair with a pair of huge scissors.  He has his assistants doing the legwork of putting the pieces he is cutting together up on the wall (we will overlook the fact that all the assistants are beautiful, young women...ahem).  Truthfully, there is almost nothing remarkable at all about what one sees in the films.  He doesn't have flashy technique.  He doesn't look particularly special or wise.  But, oh my, look what he created!

Seriously, look at what he created!  Go!  Especially go if you have a friend with a membership and get in an hour early.  It's worth it!  The exhibition is on view until February 8th.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gratitude Is Not Some Distant Land

Grasses and trees, fences and walls demonstrate and exalt it for the sake of living beings, both ordinary and sage; in turn, living beings, both ordinary and sage, express and unfold it for the sake of grasses and trees, fences and walls. 
Eihei Dogen, (1200-1253)