Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mexico journal pages

Lest you think I have forgotten my art or neglected it in favor of shooting photos all the time, I wanted to show the two journals that I brought along to Mexico. Miraculously, I filled both of them during the trip with sketches and collage. After the trip, Paula, Robin and I had nearly identical journal pages at times! This first journal cover was a piece of fabric that I wanted to use but the image was too large for my book. I copied it smaller then added a covering of clear contact paper to protect it.

This was my scrappy journal cover, and I enjoyed it, though did not like the wrap around tie for travel.
This was the first page of my scrappy journal, a corazon that I had stenciled at home. I used several of these prepared pages in this journal.
We spent a morning at Atotonilco waiting to see the famous frescos inside the church. We had plenty of time to sketch and watch the families as they gathered for a baptism. I started to sketch this mariachi player but soon he left, presumably to play in the mariachi mass, which we could not attend.
We spent another relaxing morning at the botanical garden just above town. The Dali Lama proclaimed that this was a peace zone, and had special significance for peace in the not too distant future. We certainly found it to be peaceful and full of butterflies and birds.
I picked up a few odds and ends while in Mexico in preparation for creating this little alter for the Dia de los Muertos show at Guardino Gallery. The show opens tonight, Oct 28th and I will be setting up an outside alter, too. In spite of the rain...If you're in Portland, come by and see the show!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Seems that not that long ago I was taking an American road trip, and not much later was boarding a flight to Mexico! My motto for this year seems to be like a line from a poem I heard:
"...blow into town then blow out again". So here we are, three gringas in San Miguel de Allende, the "Heart of Mexico". I was last here over 36 years ago, when I attended spanish language classes, as well as weaving and jewelry making. Needless to say, the place has changed a little since I was here last. This is a photo of our home for the week, Casa Feliz, as people lined up to view the parade.
The exterior belied what lay within, as this view of our inner courtyard shows. The entire house was filled with art and plants and it really was a visual feast.We joked that we could happily sketch there for the week, and never leave the house!
We had two courtyards on different levels, and the views from the rooftop were spectacular! That was my favorite spot for sketching, and most afternoons would find me up there soaking up some sun.
This says Mexico to me. The rows of colorful fruit that was so enticing, but that we did not buy.
This was my amigo, who graciously posed with an armful of colorful detritus that he had collected from a recent explosion in the square. Unfortunately we missed whatever it was, which happened while we were having lunch. The debris consisted of lots of little paper mache arms and legs, though, so I'm sure it was very interesting to see.
This is the scaffolding that we watched being erected in preparation for the evenings' fireworks display, which we did see. It was fantastic, with lots of spinning, twirling , screeching bits, some of which spun off into space. After that was the larger aerial display, right overhead. It was the closest I have ever come to being on a fireworks barge.
I remember seeing lots of flowers when I lived here before, though mostly what we saw this time were rose sellers. But oh, what roses they were! We enjoyed the bouquet in our home that grew more beautiful by the day.
The balloon seller was a ubiquitous sight, especially on parade days. We never really saw too many being sold, but I fantasized about buying up his whole bundle and giving them away to the kids in town.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More American road trip

Well, it seems a bit strange to be writing more about this trip so long after the fact, and when I am sitting in a casa in Mexico, but I resized these photos, so by golly, I am going to post them for your enjoyment, I hope.
We had imagined that this trip might include much of Route 66, but when we changed our plans, it seemed like a good idea to seek out a bit of the route. Just outside of St Louis, we found Route 66 State Park, with a fabulous small museum and lots of information and interesting tidbits. It made us want to renew our commitment to drive the route someday. One man at the museum said his goal it to ride the whole route on his bike.
An interesting stop along the way was in Eminence , Missouri,a wide spot in the road . I would have loved to see inside of this antique store, or gone canoeing in the Ozarks, which is what everyone seemed to be doing. We passed hundreds of canoes for rent and of course wished that we had more time to stop for a leisurely day. We did see Alley Springs, though, which was the site of a former town, now long gone, but the old mill and one room schoolhouse are still there.
And it is a National Park, so we got one more stamp in our park passport. I guess we really are retired!
A new rule of travel for us is "If you see a guy selling watermelons from the back of a truck, stop and buy one". We did, and it was delicious!
Another National Park we stopped at was Hot Springs, Arkansas.This was the very first National Park, in fact and an interesting place to see. We especially liked the bathouse row, which has been in existence for over 100 years. There used to be many places where visitors could soak in the hotsprings, now there are only two in use. This is the beautiful original ceiling in one of the bathhouses that has been turned into the headquarters for the park. Tours are very interesting, and you should take the time to go for a HOT soak!
I can hardly believe that we made it all the way to Cafe du Monde, er, New Orleans on this trip, but we were sort of determined to try to see how NOLA looks 5 years after Katrina. We were there 4 years ago and were very discouraged to see the slow progress in rebuilding. This time,we felt very encouraged by what we saw. Everything looked pretty spiffy, though many buildings will never recover. Happy to see that our favorite Cafe du Monde is always the same, though. You always know what you are getting, and you are always happy, as the workers seem to be.
This was my favorite door in the 9th Ward. Yes, it is slowly coming back, but probably will be populated by new tenants and the face of the neighborhood will change. At least the changes seemed to be encouraging.
On the way to visit the cemetery (yes, I know it is sort of strange, but we both like cemeteries) we happened upon Longuevue Gardens, a historical home. Jim encouraged me to take the tour, so I did and it was very beautiful. It is NOT a plantation home, but a city estate, owned by the former heiress of the Sears fortune. Even though it was not a plantation, they included a traditional oak alley, and most of these are the original trees from the 1930's.
Every window in the house has a beautiful view of a different garden, and the interior was also quite unique. I enjoyed everything about the tour, especially the air conditioning!
This is just one of the many lovely angles at Metarie, a very famous cemetery, which is on the list of national landmarks. It is hard to find, but worth the trip.
In fact, everything we saw was worth the trip, and made us want to see lots more of this big and varied country. Who knows where the next "discover America" trip will take us?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Art across the country

We traveled from Chicago south and along the way stopped in many small towns, including Clarksville, Mo. When I stopped to ask directions, and for a lunch suggestion, I happened upon a wonderful store, The Bent Tree Gallery. The young woman minding the place makes lovely leather bags and her mother makes woven baskets while her father does this amazing woodworking. One of the things I learned is that art is to be found everywhere across this huge country, no matter how small the community, and some of it is very good!
From these luscious leather pieces, she handcrafts very stylish leather bags, worthy of any that you might see in NYC. I guess I am just drawn to stacks of color, no matter what it is.
We also stopped in Hannibal Missouri to see Mark Twain's hometown and happened across a Norman Rockwell exhibit. I was impressed with the side by side painting and very detailed studies that he did for each painting. On the left is the study, and on the right is the finished painting.
The primary reason for the trip was for me to be able to take a private painting session with the very talented Stan Fellows who lives in Iowa City , Iowa. I had hoped for some time to be able to take a workshop with him but until now it had not been possible. I first saw his work as an illustration to a short story in SW Airline's magazine, and since then I have seen his illustrations in the Nature Conservancy magazine and Martha Stewart Living.
This was the painting that he demonstrated for me, and I was thrilled to be able to take it home with me! If I lived closer, I would happily study with him more often as I learned so much from our short session.
Here is his palette, with some colors, particularly the lavender and dusty blues that I would like to add to my own palette. Watch for more news of Stan in the future. I think he has some big ideas that are very exciting!

road trips and art escapes

We can't seem to stay in one place for long, so the fall travel season (my favorite time to travel) found us hopping a plane to Chicago and points south. We had long imagined a road trip across the country, but for various reasons it shrank down to 10 days so we decided on a loop from Chicago. This trip we discovered some new finds, one of which was the water taxi ride which was a great bargain, starting at $2 for a short trip and $4 to Chinatown. It was a lovely day, not at all Fallish, and we also walked along the river for several blocks. We heard that there is another water taxi that goes along the lakefront, which will have to wait for another trip.

There seemed to be a shortage of hotels available in downtown Chicago, so we stayed in the suburb of Oak Park, very close to the neighborhood where Frank Lloyd Wright built many homes. This is a lovely, tree lined area and it was nice to get out of the bustle of the center of the city. It is only a short train ride away.
What's this doing here? Well, another area we stopped in was Andersonville, with lots of good shops, including Brimfield. The owner was not crazy about me taking photos, but I couldn't resist these vintage wool blankets, like the ones that kept me cozy as a child.
This is one of several Wright houses, very modern for their time.
I rather liked this one, though, with all its' curves. NOT a Wright home, but very charming, and in the same neighborhood. We enjoyed seeing various neighborhoods this trip, each with its' own character. That is the advantage of having a car, but Chicago is very easy to get around just on public transportation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burning Man Redux

Well, for my two adoring fans of Burning Man (ha ha), here are some more images of my favorite things. The Temple was the heart and soul of Burning Man, waaay out on the playa. They provided houndreds of wooden hearts for people to write messages on, but of course everyone wanted to climb around and write on the structure itself, causing some consternation for the builders. Actually a direct quote from one woman involved was that "they were ripping her heart out of her chest" by doing this...Jim and I each wrote a little message to our moms and we spent some time reading other messages until we were so verclempt that we had to leave. It was a touching a spiritual place and one of the most beautiful structures at BM.
This is the long view, and it is hard to see from this that there are many rooms inside of the structure as well.
Here is the Temple at night, lit from within. It was even better at night, and we happened upon a wedding taking place there one evening. I'm sure there were many wedding there. I told Jim, "Where else can you have a wedding with guys wearing big foam hats, and a naked guy looking on?"We were all invited to the champagne reception afterward, but we had places to go...

Namely, The Portal, the beautiful structure that our son Jacob helped to build. It was scheduled to be burned at around 10pm, but unfortunately, the wind came up, bringing with it clouds of dust, then a whiteout dust storm that never let up for 2 hours. We finally gave up and rode our bikes home through the whiteout, only finding our way by riding toward The Man, one of the few structures that was visible. They burned the Portal at midnight when the wind died down.The performance went on more or less as planned the next day, but I missed that, too. This was the reason that we came to BM in the first place, so needless to say I was a little disappointed.
Another fabulous bus that changed colors as it drove across the desert.
This butterfly car was great during the day, but spectacular at night. I was riding furiously behind it trying to get this photo.
This is one of the many 'ships of the desert' that were basically rolling parties.
Another fab art car/rolling party car. This one had lights and lasers that projected onto the desert.As I said before, Burning Man cannot be captured in photos, but I made a stab at it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More tales from Burning Man

Well, I know you aren't particularly interested in the boring things we did or wore at burning man, so I wanted to show some of the more interesting attire. As Jim said, "I feel like I am in the middle of a Star Wars movie" . There is no way to convey the creative wackiness of Burning Man, hereafter referred to as BM, through photos or video, even. This was a favorite couple of mine, seen on the first day. These fake fur leggings were very popular, as were fish net stockings. This Aussie had a very hot girlfriend, dressed similarly, with rhinestones around her nipples. Hard to not stare...
Here's another hot playa babe. Oh, to have this skin tone, which was way more suited to the desert environment than my fair skin, prone to sunburn. Bikes were the main mode of transport, perfect for riding to and from the playa, and out to see all the art installations
This was a favorite art car of the smaller version. It was beautifully built and reminded me of the old style airplanes made from a thin metal sheath, bolted together. Note the rows of porta potties in the background. Plenty of those, too.
Here is another favorite personal art car. I tried to make a list of all the different ones we saw, including a chinese takeout box, shopping cart, various bugs, several fish, a Flintstone's car, a rat, a Groucho Marx type face and a fire breathing dragon. I'm sure there were many more that we did not see.
The larger art cars like this one were also pretty amazing, and basically they were a party on wheels. Most of them had their own sound systems of some sort, and usually had cute girls dancing inside! Some of theme were like ships of the desert-literally!
This is what started it all, The Man, who stood out as a beacon in the desert, and was lit up at night. He was the focal point of Burning Man and on Saturday night they prepared to burn him. Our son said that once he is burned, chaos reigns, as people are no longer able to easily get their bearings.We decided to try to beat the rush to leave, so as not to get stuck in hideous traffic. We were surprised to find that we were still stuck in a line, but it turned out that there was a los t child, and all gates are immediately closed until the child is found. It tool about 45 minutes, but that gave us time to get out of our RV and gaze at the beautiful, huge night sky. We miss seeing all those stars.
This was a beautiful little piece, very simple but powerful. We were constantly amazed by the creative ingenuity that people poured into their art, whether it be a car or an art installation. One could not help but be inspired by it all.
I call this fellow "Mr Love". I didn't see what he was giving away, but the front of his cart said "LOVE". The great thing about BM is that nothing other than hot and cold drinks could be sold, so there was a great spirit of generosity there. Camps would decide to give away free burritos one day (and judging from the line, some of those people forgot to bring their own food!) or many many camps set up bars with free drinks. We brought fans, thanks to the suggestion of my friend Gloria, and they were always well received, and something was given to us in return. Cool stickers were very popular, and I also received a stick on tatoo, a small flashlight and a fan.
Some people really went all out on their costumes! I had to resist the urge to take photos at every turn, so as not to look like a "tourist" (which I was, obviously). I could have easily taken hundreds of photos, just of people's creative costuming.
This is "the bone tree" all made from animal skulls and bones. It was very beautiful. Where do people store all this stuff between trips to Burning Man?! I have more photos. If you are interested in seeing a few more, leave a comment. Thanks for visiting Burning Man with me!