Sunday, January 31, 2010

The view from here

“Distance lends enchantment to the view"
Mark Twain

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Closer to Fine

I remember a period in my life when the skies were opening up with possibility. I had taken a position as artist in residence at the Phoenix Center. It was the early nineties and I was starting to see myself outside of my role as mother. I had spent the last 10 years since I left full time teaching to raise children. Those years were precious if not completely blurred in a pink cloud of motherhood and a brief interlude with Catholicism.
(more on THAT in future posts…)
I had taken a leap of faith because this position was a total unknown and low paying venture. At the same time I had been offered an opportunity to return to full time public school teaching. Somehow I knew that I had to take this risk. The years at the Phoenix Center were instrumental and helping forge a new direction in my life and work. The part that really pushed me into accepting the position was the idea that I could have a space to make art outside the home. Having a proper studio provided me with the room to grow as an artist. I first started experimenting with mixed media and book arts during this time. There is a sweet naivety to those halcyon years of pure expression without the baggage of Ego.
I remember vividly listening to this song in my studio full blast and feeling that spark of excitement about the unknown and uncharted future.
Here’s the lyrics -if I could figure out the complicated process of video or audio on this blog, I would offer it here. Check it out on YouTube-

Closer To Fine
Indigo Girls

I'm trying to tell you something bout my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life after all

Now darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores

I went to the doctor; I went to the mountains,
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine

I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin, and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry, or see a b-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
I got my paper and I was free

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains,
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine

I stopped by the bar at 3 am
To seek solace in a bottle, or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
I went in seeking clarity

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountain, I looked to the children, I drank
from the fountain
We go to the doctor, we go to the mountains, we look to the children, we drink
from the fountains
We go to the bible, we go through the workout, we read up on revival, we stand
up for the lookout
There's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine
The closer I am to fine

Friday, January 29, 2010

marathon? who?

I'm doing it. It is a year for new beginnings. Commitments to things that seem impossible.San Diego-June 2010-1/2 marathon-for you baby girl.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

still life

I am thankful-for it all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a view from the car wash

Making a commitment to post on a blog every day is becoming problematic. Sometimes you just don't feel inspired to tell your story and nothing really interesting happened.
I humbly present the small details of my life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Stranger in a strange land.

Let me began by explaining that growing up in the Town of Tonawanda didn't provide me with much multi-cultural experiences. In the' hood we were all pretty much
Comfortable Blue Collar Catholics. I had plenty of Jewish friends who lived in the slightly more affluent neighboring suburb of Kenmore but I had never even heard of a Mormon until I started teaching at Mountain View High School. I seriously thought they would be wearing bonnets and long dresses and traveling by horse and buggy (not unlike the sister wives depicted in Big Love).
Mountain View High was probably close to 75% Mormon in the late '70s. They were typical white American teenagers without the drug habits. (at least in theory).
It was a pretty squeaky clean environment for the most part and I put all my energies into my new real job. My mimeographs (the purple inked and toxic smelling hand-outs) were embellished with happy little star figures and I even invented a Monopoly inspired board game for the students to play which taught photography terminology. In my spare time, I scoured the Time/Life series of photography books for information and ideas to present to my students. The first year I taught five periods of beginning photography, my head swimming with f/stops and shutters speeds.
I began to attract the alternative crowd over the next few years. The art students that didn't quite fit the typical demographic- the post-hippies, punk rockers and generally “too cool for school” kids. We formed an after school organization called “The Click Club” and wound up beating the larger clubs out of the Best Club trophy three years in a row.
A few years back, I ran into former alumnus of said club, Fort Guerin, at the opening of his exhibit at G2 gallery in Scottsdale. It was an Oh My God experience and when I expressed admiration for one of his pieces he took it off the wall and handed it to me. When I protested he said, “ You were my first art teacher, how could I not give it to you?”
Moments like that remind you why you teach.
Thank you, Fort.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

coffee anyone?

found this beauty in the darkroom.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The dude abides

sometimes you just need a few words of wisdom.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Go West, young man...

Throughout the college years there were the requisite study abroad and the summer long road trip to explore the west coast. Both experiences solidified my resolution to leave Buffalo at the first opportunity.
After graduation, I remember sitting in my friend Sally’s basement typing (yes, typing on a typewriter) copious amounts of inquiry letters to various western cities. Where I got this initiative, I don’t recall but weeks later I received a response from Mesa Public Schools, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona.
They wanted to schedule a meeting.
Na├»ve as I was, I didn’t realize this was just a formality but I packed my bags and moved to the sunshine state without a job or friends or any real affinity for the Southwest.
I wound up making ends meet doing all the typical post graduation gigs including substitute teaching in the Phoenix Union High School district. One especially vivid memory is calling some unfortunate young man Jesus (pronounced Geezuss) instead of the proper Spanish pronunciation which really seemed to amuse the mostly Latino constituency.
When I finally landed my first teaching job at, you guessed it, Mesa Public Schools I was all of 22 years old. I would start the fall of 1978 at Mountain View High School to develop and implement the photography program.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the birds

It is cold, and rainy outside, and
just on the other side of the window glass -
there always exists the possibility
that you are about to be in a movie.

photograph and words by james hajicek

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." Plutarch

High school art is barely sufferable at best and mine was no exception. I took every class available; in fact, my senior year was a continuous stream of art classes with one exception-typing- first period. What do I remember? I remember assignments, an endless stream of assignments illustrating, symbolizing, decorating, etc, etc, etc. I particularly liked photography even though an overly attentive classmate that had a wee bit of crush on me printed most of my projects. I’m not proud of this but there it is. Truth is-I wasn’t one of the high school art intelligentsia, (but then I never have been). I could hold my own with the disaffected, mostly stoned and very groovy art crowd, I even flirted with a few of the art bad boys but mostly I was participating in my own small world of suburban misbehavior befitting an adolescent growing up in the ‘70s.
When it came time for college I fantasized about becoming a fashion designer and going to some fashion institute in Florida, which seemed exotic enough for my tastes at the time. I had probably seen an ad in the back of some magazine. But my folks could barely afford state school so I was bound for the State University College at Buffalo to become an art teacher. Growing up in the Town of Tonawanda, a blue-collar suburb of Buffalo, New York, did not present a wide range of career options for someone with an aptitude in art. My only role models were, in fact, my art teachers so I signed on the dotted line with good-natured enthusiasm and blind optimism.
The first year of college, at the ripe old age of 17, was mostly a blur. I was in way over my head and I knew it. The reality was that SUCB was a pretty decent art school and I quickly learned that I was now an even smaller fish in the proverbial sea of talent. My first photo professor was Les Krims, (yes, he of misogynist infamy) and after the first week I felt like Dorothy muttering, “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore “ except I hadn’t even bothered to leave home. Les Krims was not exactly present in either mind or body throughout the semester. I imagine he was busy collecting pretty and willing coeds for his now infamous tableaus. Thankfully I had a few years of high school photography to carry me through and I think I passed pretty much unnoticed.
Of course there were the cliques and I began to understand that “townies” were viewed differently. Students had come from all over especially from New York City and its neighboring boroughs to study here. Little did I know at the time that a few of my fellow classmates would go on to achieve almost incomprehensible fame, included in the roster: Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo.
Looking back, I did have one photography professor, the one that introduced me to historical processes and mixed media, that seemed to enjoy teaching and cared about ideas-your ideas. Barbara Jo Revelle was fresh out of grad school and eager to enlighten us. I didn’t know it then but she had sparked a small but significant flame in my burgeoning mind.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“Art is long and time is fleeting” Longfellow

As long as I can remember I have been enchanted with art. My mother told me she would sit me on my potty seat with a pencil so I would stay put. I have reconstructed images of little me redesigning the white bathrooms tiles with my drawings.
Later, in kindergarten, I fell in love with the painting easel equipped with enormous white paper with every primary color sitting like soldiers in neat little plastic cups at the base of the easel. I would deviously start a painting a few minutes before the scheduled recitation of the days of the week or the months of the year. Who cared about days, or months or even years when you have the opportunity to push glorious wet substances along a vertical plane of never ending surface?
All through elementary school I would count the days until we could march down the long hall and descend three perfect steps into Mrs. Lentz’s art room, a virtual emporium of all things available for our art making pleasure. Here I would draw, paint, sculpt and assemble raw products into something that I made with my own hands. The feeling of getting lost in materials was the perfect antidote to the humdrum of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Junior high is a big blur except for the few art classes spliced in between home economics. I remember one of my paintings was chosen to hang in the halls with a proper frame. My largely “uncultured” family hardly owned a dozen books so you can imagine there was not a single piece of art on our walls. The idea of art as something special was a new and exciting concept to me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

There's always a first time

I still remember my first day in school, my first kiss, my first break-up, my first child being born. Will I remember my first post on my first blog? The answer is probably no.
Anyway, here it is. A first.