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!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dispatch from Burning Man

We are off to Burning Man in the heart of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.And this is our rented chariot that will take us there. Very deluxe! Crazy, you say? Yes, but this was finally the year for us to see what this place is all about. Our son Jacob has been there several times, and he was part of a crew working on one of the funded art installations, as well as a performer. If we were ever to go, this seemed like the time.
The drive from Portland was beautiful all the way, and as we approached the BR desert, this is the view that greeted us. Beautiful, and stark. Not unlike the surface of the moon. And that notion was going to become more of a reality, the closer we came to the desert.
Since we came later in the week, this was the rather sparse amount of traffic that we encountered as we approached, but we could imagine it earlier in the week when thousands of cars and motorhomes were arriving at the same time.
Jim quickly made the transformation from khakis and a linen shirt to his more informal desert attire. The hat is mandatory in the sun. He got a few comments on his shirt, which was fine for bar hopping in the desert. This was a gift from my sister.
This was the first personal art car that we encountered, and it remained one of my favorites. Lucky for us it was parked nearby. I will show you a few more of my art car photos, too. Stay posted!