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I’ve admired Julie Mehretu’s work for some time now, but I’m sitting up and taking more notice since I read an article about her, Abstract: The Art World, in the most recent issue of The New Yorker.

“Eighty feet long by twenty-three feet high, Julie Mehretu’s “Mural” dominates the entrance lobby of Goldman Sachs’s new steel-and-glass office building in lower Manhattan. Hundreds of precisely defined abstract shapes in saturated colors—small dots and squares, straight and curving lines, larger geometric or free-form shapes ranging from several inches to several feet in length—move across it in an oceanic sweep.”

It’s one of The New Yorker’s go-on-forever articles that I relish when I’m interested in the subject. Goldman Sachs has unpleasant connotations today, but Mehretu said that for her it’s about the art and the legacy of painting.

I’m looking forward to watching the PBS series, Art 21: Art in the Twenty-first Century via Netflix when I have time to savor it. She’s one of the featured artists in season 5,  “Systems.” Her work is built in layers with clear acrylic separating them: It must be fantastic to see in person.

Did you remember Earth Hour yesterday? For many years there were only two New York Times subscribers in our building, us and another couple about our age. The guys often run into each other in the lobby in the early morning when they pick up the papers. It was a nice surprise to open our NYTs yesterday and see an invitation to join them and others on their floor for an Earth Hour candlelit evening at their place. The city sparkled through the windows and the conversation flowed easily— an unexpected pleasure.

I can’t contain myself when it comes to color most of the time. Our apartment walls are multi-colored. The party last night was in an elegant putty-colored apartment. It looked serene, but ultimately it’s not a color I can live with on a daily basis. When I walked into our apartment at the end of the evening, I was suddenly struck by how eclectic ours seemed (maybe tacky?). And I doubted myself. Just yesterday when we were out and about I had started collecting color samples for repainting our main rooms once the weather gets better, so the seed was already planted to repaint. I’m thinking still colorful, but more muted. We shall see.

Speaking of color, we bought groceries yesterday and the colors of the fruit and the bowls handsome hunk chose made me smile, so here’s a little shot of color to liven up a drab weather weekend:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Art Propelled. Her post today delivered a swift kick to my rear!

The Facebook Group, Encaustic Art, has issued a new challenge to create an encaustic painting (or two)  based on “The Earth as We’ve Never Seen It,” recently featured in the New Daily News. These incredible photos from USGS National Center for EROS represent various combinations of satellite images from Landsat 7 and Terra Satellites to create the vivid RGB composites seen here. The satellites acquired the images in black and white, and then assigned a different ‘false color’ to each radiation wavelength, or spectral bands, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. You can find out more about these images here.

It sounds like an interesting challenge for the new year. Below are the stunning images that interest me from the 25 total images featured in the article. It will likely depend on my mood the day I start the painting as to which one I use as a jumping off point and how I interpret it. The colors are scrumptious. I’ll share my final painting later this month and link you to the other works entered into the challenge.  Any favorite?

Gehry Bandshell, Millennium Park, Summer Jazz Concert

Gehry Bandshell, Millennium Park, Summer Jazz Concert

Summer is winding down. When I lived in a quaint resort town in northern Michigan years ago when raising my children, I would now be feeling the onset of panic, followed by melancholy that right after Christmas would become depression, and by April I would be contemplating life alternatives. I skied, both cross-country and downhill, but it just wasn’t enough. When I moved south to Chicago I gained three to four months of better weather and some “juice” to my life.

Now, though I still hate to see summer wane, I don’t dread winter. There are plays to see, concerts to attend, jazz clubs to huddle in on cold nights, art museums to linger in, and people out and about. I feel less alone and less desolate inside myself.

Willie's Bakery, patio at breakfast, Victoria BC

Willie's Bakery, patio at breakfast, Victoria BC

I’m blogging from Victoria, British Columbia, where we’re visiting our daughter and her family — two of the sweetest little boys, both under three years old, and another baby due in November. DSCF2097I wish my daughter luck and sanity. I hate being so far away, especially since I think my daughter and her husband could use some help once in a while. Thank goodness for Skype and air miles. Having the boys yell, “GG,” and light up when they see me, is the icing on the cake to getting older! When we visit, we stay above Willie’s Bakery in a lovely apartment near the downtown harbor. The gulls screech us awake each morning!

With Ted Kennedy’s death, I’ve been struck by the immense amount of difference that he and his sister, Eunice Shriver, made in people’s lives despite the tragedies they bore. It is humbling to think about.

And the health care debate continues to amaze me. Have we no compassion? Do we think only of ourselves? We’re the only civilized country in the world that does not have some sort of public program. And we’re not even providing tiptop healthcare for people and employers who pay through the nose each month to maintain insurance coverage. It’s shameful. Even those of us who have health insurance through our jobs are just a layoff or perhaps a devastating accident away from financial ruin.

I have to admit that I’ve been enjoying my consulting gig. The current job is over the end of September, and I hope to get a bit of a break so I can get back to my art. I’ve been working on a piece, but there is not the same momentum, the same flow. I don’t feel as if I’m making progress artistically, I’m just dabbling when I have time. Dollars or art…how does one choose?

I know summer doesn’t officially end until late September, but for most of us Labor Day signals the denouement. What are you doing to take advantage of the last days of the summer of 2009?

I’ve felt productive these past few weeks, and it feels wonderful. My productivity has been in accomplishing some of the things I’ve always wanted to do such as focus on my creativity, but it doesn’t preclude contemplating my navel. I’ve always valued my down time when nothing is planned or expected of me. But now, even my down time seems ultimately more productive and satisfying. Maybe the guilt I’ve experienced from procrastination and dreams unrealized has moved on to greener pastures.

I feel that I am discovering, tapping into thoughts and feelings, unraveling and expressing. The voyage metaphor seems apt. A journey with an uncertain destination, yet the anticipation of the unexpected. Right now, I’m contemplating whether or not my latest encaustic is actually completed. I wish I had an expansive studio to hang my pieces on a large blank wall and encounter them unexpectedly as I walk into the room or turn around. It would help to see a painting with more detachment.

Encaustic Painting, 36"x24"

Encaustic Painting, 36"x24"

And, I’ve also been doing a free Deepening Creativity e-course designed by Shelley Klammer, Intuitive Artist. It involves taking 10 minutes each morning to create a spontaneous collage by selecting imagery in magazines that may feel vivid and exciting or that evoke an emotion. Shelley uses phrases on her Web site that appeal to me such as “Trust Invites Intuition,” “Visionary Creativity Can Be Accessed in Small Daily Ways,” and “There is Great Creativity Beneath Our Everyday Thinking.” To create a collage, she recommends that you suspend thinking to learn how to create effortlessly without planning. I look forward to this exercise each morning, it’s been more enjoyable for me than the daily writing recommended in The Artist’s Way that I tried years ago. Here are the six collages I’ve created so far:

I love color. I love flowers. I am torn between city life and rural life. I want a garden.

I love color. I love flowers. I am torn between city life and rural life. I want a garden.

Most of the magazines that I keep around relate to decorating. My art magazines, I rip out pictures and discard the magazine or put on the shelf by the mailbox downstairs for others to enjoy. I love food.

Most of the magazines that I keep around relate to decorating. My art magazines, I rip out pictures and discard the magazine or put on the shelf by the mailbox downstairs for others to enjoy. I love food.

I think I was feeling a bit blue and trapped this day.

I think I was feeling a bit blue and trapped this day.

I love to swim. The water seems so enveloping and soothing. The pool and surroundings remind me of a spot in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I chatted with a friend from South Africa I hadn't seen for 30 years.

I love to swim. The water seems so enveloping and soothing. The pool and surroundings remind me of a spot in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris where I chatted with a friend from South Africa I hadn't seen for 30 years.

Since I am between jobs, my future is uncertain.

Since I am between jobs, my future is uncertain.

Love the colors and sensual shape of the lamp base. Shoes to die for.

Love the colors and sensual shape of the lamp base. Shoes to die for.

What are you contemplating at this point in your life, your career, your relationship, your art? Inquiring minds want to know.

Today around noon we pulled into the garage, threw suitcases and camping equipment into a cart and high-tailed it for the elevator. I was peeling my clothes off as I put the key into the lock, opened the door to our condo, checked our messages and ran to run a bath. Home sweet home. Nothing makes me appreciate modern amenities more than rustic camping.

Over 600 people showed up for the first Great Lakes Regional Burning Man event, Lakes of Fire, in southwest Michigan. As I previously mentioned, we’ve attended the astounding, world famous Burning Man Festival in Nevada three times in the last decade. So, it seemed a great idea to join some fellow Burners for a fun weekend only a few hours away, and we’re glad we did. We reconnected with friends we’d met on the playa or shared camp with in Nevada, shook off some of the dust that has accumulated on our creative souls, loosened up our city personae a bit and just had a great time. Everyone we talked with mentioned that Lakes of Fire embodied the true spirit of Burning Man, and they also emphasized how much they enjoyed the multi-generational aspect of the event.

A lot of people came in groups and themed their camps; our camp was “Kamp Outpost” with a bit of a steam punk theme happening. Sitting on our “verandah,” I felt as if I were in some distant land, Kenya came to mind, overlooking the hills watching the sunset. A steady parade of people walked by, said hello or stopped to talk a while. At night, we turned in comparatively early (1am) to the pulsating beat of nearby dance camps.

Midwest Mayhem Dance Camp

Midwest Mayhem Dance Camp

The beat lulled me to sleep, but handsome-hunk husband had to reach for the earplugs.

Here are a few of the sights, though they don’t seem quite the same without the sounds!

Instead of a "Burning Man" effigy, Lakes of Fire featured a ship burn on Saturday night, the SS Bacon

Instead of a "Burning Man" effigy, Lakes of Fire featured a ship burn on Saturday night, the SS Bacon

During the day everyone wandered around to see the art projects, view performances or just greet old friends and meet new ones.

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We were intrigued by this vintage Canned Ham trailer. We even got a peek inside:

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In keeping with the Bacon theme of the effigy, we had Bacontinis for breakfast:

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Fire dancers just before the burning of the S.S. Bacon:

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The SS Bacon bursts into flame:

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We were part of the Whistle Works camp at our first Burning Man festival, and Whistle Works made an appearance at Lakes of Fire. The water tank is heated by logs and the steam flows through the pipes and out the whistles on the tops of the pipes in a range of very eerie sounds. I think you can make out the pipes in the foreground of this photo:

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An event like this takes a lot of coordination and dedication to pull off. My hat is off to all the talented and creative people who gathered at Lakes of Fire to blow off some steam and step away from the cares of every day life, if only for a few days.


Colour Leaf Sun Star

Originally uploaded by e s c h e r

A few weeks ago, I discovered Richard Shilling’s blog Land Art. He uses nature’s materials such as leaves, stones and twigs to make amazing art. Enjoy!