I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell – mine sell out!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Slow"



I said something was “slower than molasses in wintertime” and my girlfriend asked “what’s molasses?”  A: a viscous by-product of sugar refinement (Southern variation sorghum, British variation black treacle).  Cooking tip… instead of brown sugar, which gets hard if you don’t use it often, add molasses to regular white sugar when a recipe calls for brown sugar.

Sometimes I wish I still lived in a world when knowing about molasses meant something and times were slow enough for me to make cookies from scratch.  Oh alright, I could make them today if I felt like it, but do I need any more cookies?  I just want some of my obsolete skills to be valued.

Which leads me to one of those seasonal push-me pull-me moments.  Sometimes I like to cook, but I don’t like it when I’m expected to cook.  Cooking can get expensive and I dislike it when men won’t pull their weight in the kitchen.  But then, I’m actually pretty good at cooking, and I like to feel appreciated. 

What to do, what to do?

Last week I made clam chowder.  I noticed a surprising amount of it was missing the next day.  I asked my brother if he’d eaten it.  Yes.  Did you like it?  YES.  Good.  Even better that he washed the dishes.  See, that’s all I really need for positive reinforcement.  I might make clam chowder again sometime.  This brother has always known how to work me.  I might let him have some cranberries and non-dairy pumpkin pie this week.

I work around some staff and volunteers whose life work has been cooking for their loving families.  They’re the last of a dying breed I think.  Most people seem to “make” cookies by scooping out pre-made batter from the grocery store, plopping it on a baking sheet, bake 10 minutes, and general acclaim by the recipients.  I’m pretty sure that my cookies with butter and eggs will make my loved ones live longer.

When my grandma was alive, she spent most of her time in the kitchen.  She didn’t have to do all the other stuff that I have to do in a day, at least in my lifetime.  When she was young she was a single parent had to work and support her sons, and I’m sure that was very hard.  After she married my grandpa I bet she was grateful to spend days perfecting her recipe for white cake.

It’s not all about cakes and cookies either.  I told my brother I had a yen for greens.  What kind?  All kinds -- turnip greens, mustard, collards.  I got collards.  They were in the fridge the next day and I spent who knows how long washing, chopping, simmering, and especially thinking that I have to be careful about out loud yens if my wish fulfillment was going to work out this well.  I suggested that a free-range turkey might be a good idea.  We’ll see if that shows up.

My view is that we lived better when we ate better, and best yet when we ate together.  I hope everyone has a warm and loving Thanksgiving this week, and for those of you outside the US, please join us in the best of holidays when the point of everything is to slow down long enough be with people you love, sharing gratitude for all of the good that comes into our lives.  And yeah, good food :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Theater"



I don’t suppose many people think of Cleveland as a booming theater town, but it is.  We like our shows.  Our theaters are more beautiful than the ones I’ve seen on Broadway, but we almost lost them all.

PlayhouseSquare consists of 5 grand theaters.  They were built 1921-22 for plays, silent films, and vaudeville.  When people moved to suburbs the theaters suffered.  All but one of the theaters were boarded up by the 60s.  Rain dripped through the ceilings, the ornate plasterwork turned into damp sludge, murals molded…

The theaters were a mess, and the city wanted to tear them down – which bothered some people so badly that they got together and saved them.  It was a heroic effort, and I was fortunate to be working downtown and see a lot of it going on, even more fortunate to be able to work in one of the theaters while the artisans stripped things down and redid everything.  The before and afters were amazing.

It was the “world’s largest theater restoration project,” and now Cleveland has the country’s largest theatrical center outside New York City.  More than 1 million people attend each year.

When I was in Chicago recently, I told my friend about getting a backstage tour of the Chicago Theater.  My bf and I were peeping through the windows when the janitor saw us.  He took us on a private tour of back halls and showed us where the greats of bygone ages dressed and the pieces parts of a complex that fills an entire city block – which at the time was showing a B movie to a scant audience.  It’s one of those special experiences that remains vivid to me.  Seeing the Chicago Theater unloved makes me even prouder of Cleveland.

I love shows.  The fact that I’m soft-spoken and introverted might make you think that I wouldn’t appreciate grand, theatrical expression, or that I’d actually run a community theater, yet I did.  I even ran the program at a profit, which you won’t hear from anybody else.  I loved being backstage, just like being backstage in Chicago.

I cried during a flute audition, laughed at dance auditions, scratched my head over the sound and lighting systems, sold advertising, begged audiences to fill out contact information, browbeat the director, thanked the cast and volunteers, set up chairs, helped cook for dinner theaters…

Loved it.  I didn’t know how to do any of it before taking that job either.  Sure, I had cooked before, or done advertising, and other things like that, but nobody told me how to put it all together.  Maybe if I’d known how much was involved I might’ve been too overwhelmed to try, but I didn’t know, so I just did it.  I bet the people who saved PlayhouseSquare didn’t know how hard it was going to be to save a theater district either, but look at what they did.  It’s gorgeous, and a joy to everyone who goes to a show.

If there’s anything to take away from all this, it’s try.  What is the theater about anyway?  Fantasy makes the world go round.  First we have to be able to dream it, then we can do something to make our dreams come true.


P.S. Thanks for everyone’s kind thoughts in response to the sad news that my friend died last week.  I especially appreciate your prayers for her husband, Tim. 

P.P.S. My coworker Sue lost her husband this weekend.  Please remember Sue and her family in your thoughts and prayers too. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Paper"



I have a sensual relationship with paper.  Coarse paperbacks, silky Bristol board, wispy rice paper… Mmmm…  I think this started when I discovered construction paper in vivid primary and secondary hues, Mom yelling “Don’t run with scissors!” She didn’t like little bits of paper lying on the floor, but I liked them.  It was like discovering bits of previous inspirations.  Mom just doesn’t understand creative priorities sometimes.  She has a real thing against Legos too.

I’m trying to distract myself today by thinking of happy paper thoughts because what I’m really thinking about how much I hate the newspaper sometimes.  Dad used to read the obituaries every day and say “Well, I’m not in here today!” – until one day he was.

It’s been one of those weeks -- another accident, another irreplaceable person gone, another round of picking up pieces like little bits of construction paper.  The fact that I’ve been through this a number of times doesn’t make it any better; the steps to follow are just more predictable.

Wednesday I had dinner with Toby and her husband Tim.  We laughed and talked and everything was so normal.  I liked the way Toby smiled, and liked figuring ways to make her do it.  When we parted in the parking lot I gave her a hug, thinking about what I wrote last week about touch and hugs.  How could I know that would be the last time I’d get to hug her?

She was warm and smart and funny and everything nice.  I am so going to miss her.

I don’t know why the school bus hit her or how the kids on the bus are affected by being part of an accident like this.  How the bus driver will deal with it?  How can I help Tim in the aftermath of this kind of shock?

I think about how Tim kept loading her plate with zucchini during dinner.  They seemed so well matched and happy together.  It seemed like they had figured out zucchini compatibility and every other kind of sharing a long time ago.  I can only be glad for them that they had that kind of happiness together.

I’m blessed to have known her, so sad I can’t know her longer.

Moving along to the next phase of grief, I’m so POed that I have to deal with this again.  How many other people have to keep burying their friends?  I’ve been going back and forth between sympathy and concern for Tim, anger, sorrow, self-pity… yeah, all the usual stuff.  I know all these feelings are normal and part of the process, but I don’t want to feel these things.  I’d like to be able to just have dinner with Toby again.  We would’ve seen each other again next Saturday and laughed over bagels.  We were regular as clockwork, and now there’s a gaping hole in my monthly calendar.

Life sucks, and then you die.  One of these days it will be my turn.  Meanwhile, please send healing thoughts and prayers to Tim.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Smooth"



“Smooth” makes me think about cheeks: an old woman’s paper thin skin, a man after shaving, a baby’s softness.  I keep trying to think of other stuff, but I keep thinking about skin and touching, maybe because I don’t do enough of it.

My uncle has joked many times about my touchiness as a child.  He says if he sat down and made a lap, I was on it.  True, and I liked stroking his crew cut and holding his hand while sitting on his lap too.

I’ve told my dog that she fails me because she won’t cuddle.  She looks at me and thumps her tail while I’m talking and then goes back to protecting me from squirrels.  While I’m happy to be squirrel-free, I’d also like a dog that cuddles.

There are touchers and non-touchers in the world.  There are mates that sleep in the same bed, and mates that would rather sleep in different houses.  The separate bedroom people often say their mate snores, but I’ve also heard them admit they don’t want to touch, or even that they can’t stand someone else breathing their air.  I’m not quite sure how these people procreate.

My family isn’t very physically demonstrative, but when we went to Grandma’s house we lined up at the door when we came in and gave both Grandma and Grandpa a kiss on the cheek.  One day I decided that I was too old for this kind of thing and Grandma let it pass.  It’s one of my regrets.  I should’ve kept kissing her as long as she offered her cheek, but she let me think myself more grown and I didn’t kiss her again.  Sometimes the price of autonomy is too high.

We need to be touched.  Wolves rubbing noses and monkeys grooming each other aren’t that different from people.  Touch is part of our socialization.  Our skin needs it as much as our minds and souls.  Or maybe it’s empathetic people that need touch?

My early training means that I often sit with my hands in my lap like a “proper” female.  My Italian friend loosened me up enough that I sometimes use a hand to express a point, but I very rarely reach across the invisible personal borders to touch a friend’s arm while empathizing with them.  It’s so wrong, and it’s wrong that I fight my startle response when someone does it to me. 

Part of it can also be that not all touch is good.  I got swatted in school for laughing in the library.  Mr. Delzoppo made me bend in front of the corner of his desk and I pointed out that he was going to crack my head open.  He hit me with everything he had, and I pointed out that the only reason my head wasn’t bleeding is because I caught the desk in my hands before that could happen.  More swats with a heavy stick for insubordination.  Jerk.  Can’t really see how corporal punishment altered my behavior in any positive way so I’m against it.

I abused my computer this week.  I also had problems with 2 printers at work, broke the camera, and spilled a box of macaroni on the floor... so I'm going with old art.  Touching a salamander seems smooth.  They have very delicate skin.  I’m just not safe to exist in the world this week so for all this talk of touching, I think I’ll stay curl up with my non-cuddly dog an old-fashioned book this weekend.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Puppet"


I was a toy-deprived child.  I know this sounds unthinkable today, but my leisure items were limited to books, Monopoly, chess, checkers, blocks, and Legos.  There was a stupid plastic baby doll with plastic hair, but I hated that thing.  It didn't love me and real babies are messy, noisy and a thousand other irritations.  I learned that fast.

Bro says illo #1 isn't a puppet so I made
this ghost. He says this isn't a puppet either.


My oldest sister had a Barbie knock off and a Ken doll.  I snuck into her things on a regular basis to play with Ken.  I could care less about Tammy, but Ken was dreamy.  Messing with Sis' stuff was flirting with real pain when caught, so eventually Ken and I ended our relationship.  So sad.  I wonder if he ever thinks of me?

Okay, I had a well-loved
hand-me-down Teddy too.
Thus ended my early days of make believe and toys until I was a teenager and the Muppets were on tv.  I bought a Kermit. 
Aware that I never enjoyed the prerequisite amount of play, I took Kermit with me to see his movie.  I went with a friend who brought her own Kermit.  Our mutual friend thought we were hopelessly nuts which just made the whole thing funnier.  I took Kermit to a lot more activities and enjoyed that friend's look of exasperation.

I got Animal to keep Kermit company.  I loved Animal.  He was everything I could relate to, unlike Sis' Tammy.  I wonder if Ken would love my inner "Animal"?

My relationship with toys was therefore somewhat formed, and I was happy with my 2 pets.  I didn't talk to them or anything.  I mean, I knew they were stuffed, inanimate objects, but they made me smile.

Until... yes, another painful parting.

Bro says sock puppet counts :)
I was living in the bottom half of a house when I was in college, when Stacey knocked on my door saying that my upstairs neighbors told her I was looking for a roommate.  I said okay since Pat and Matt recommended her.  They afterwards said they only sent her downstairs to get rid of her.  Aaagh!!!  Lesson: check references.

She wasn't all bad, but I wanted to kill her when her lesbian relationship stood between me and the bathroom.  I had to go outside and around the house to go in the back door, which is annoying enough, but they also xxxxx... Okay, some things don't need to be recorded in blogland.  I'm sure there are some very fine lesbians out there, but Stacey wasn't a desirable roommate.

Our house was broken into and Stacey's cache of cash got stolen with a bunch of other things that the thief obviously knew she had.  My stuff was just tossed around, but intact... except for Animal.  They stole Animal!!!

I wish they'd stolen Stacey instead.  So much for my life with puppets.

TV doodles for art this week.  While scribbling I came up with an idea I'd like to pursue, but that's nowhere near to unveiling yet since it's still just an idea.  What I will share is that sometimes I just scribble and then see what zen pictures are hiding in the scribbles like taking a Rorschach test.  Sometimes the best ideas are waiting to be found that way.

...maybe some fall leaves too?