Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You spin, I spin, we ALL spin...

When I take a look at some of the themes in my work, one that seems to keep coming up (as in spin into view repeatedly) is that of motion. I never like myself in photos. Why? Because I am not moving. Juggling...Doing..Trying...Learning..Being: as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, artist, friend.

(pastel,watercolor,graphite,charcoal on paper,
38"x 58")

Well, now I am spinning in yet another context: exercise! The bicylcle spinning class I take stresses posture and core strength rather than speed. It forces me to focus on my body mechanics, breathing and internal zone at the same time. (This is all very exciting after my big surgery 5 years back.) I like to do things that allow me to move. Are we back at that again? My body freezes up if I sit for too long. So does my brain.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

truth IS stranger than fiction!

GARDEN OF EDEN (oil on canvas, 53" x 48")

Tonight I was told a true story that is incomprehensible:

There was a wedding. The grandfather of the groom, went up to the grandmother of the bride and said, "You are my wife". He rolled up his sleeve to reveal the tatoo inscibed on his arm by the Nazis. The grandmother of the young bride rolled up her sleeve to reveal her numerical tatoo which was one number away from his. They had each thought the other had died, integrated the nightmare into their reality, and gone on to a new life with a new spouse. Astonishing in its reality.

What goes round comes round

I went to visit an longstanding family friend who had just lost his Mom (yes, with a capital "M"). He lived with her and has to sell the house which is the only one he has known all his life. I left him and went to the Farmer's Market where I bumped into another longstanding friend, a realtor. You know how you hear people's stories when you first meet them and then it's 20 years later and you need a refresher course?

So I asked this realtor friend where he grew up. It was the same block of the same street of the house which needs to have a new owner. The realtor's parents sold every house on that street and in a five block radius as they began their business 40 years ago. And my friend would LOVE to go back to his family's beginnings and sell this familiar house on this familiar street. And by the way, I haven't seen him or his wife in a year. We also found out that we'll be attending the same concert tomorrow for a mutual friend Sharon Katz and the Peace Train who is raising monies for a sucessful music therapy program for children whose lives have been affected by AIDS in South Afica

It's really fun to continually bump into these coincidences.

(watercolor crayon on mylar, 20.5" x 16.5")

Friday, January 25, 2008

Speaking of Grandmothers...

Mine was a top-notch seamstress for the International Ladies Garment Worker's Union for 50 (that's 5 decades!) years. With her "golden hands" she seamed the most detailed parts of ladie's shirts.: facings and collars. facings and collars. facings and collars. facings and collars. Over and over. For all those years. Sound a bit like drudgery? Think of how it was before the unions came into being. For fun, she used to make clothing for the family.

In those days real men had wives who didn't work. And that was what my grandfather believed. Only my grandmother thought they needed the extra cash in order to put food on the table so she went to work against his will. A big step for a woman from the shtetl in Russia.


(flameworked glass, fabric, gold leaf, mixed media)

This sculpture has been juried into a Philadelphia Sculptors' exibition at West Chester University, PA. The images of my grandmother are from one of my oil paintings, the sewing machine and lace are glass that I flameworked, the bobbins and spool were my grandmother's. There is even a cloth replication of her ILGWU card which she proudly carried.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Our new Mayor

So, Philadelphia finally has a new mayor, Michael Nutter, who seems to be liked by many. Now that is a change for this city of Brotherly Love which holds the record for the past 2 years and it ain't for kissing. We had the highest murder rate of any city in the USofA. As soon as Mayor Nutter got into office, he declared an essential war on violence in the city and we all have a great deal of hope that he will be able to redirect all of this negative energy and pain.
In the meantime, one of my sculptures is being enjoyed by our new Mayor since it was chosen to be on exhibit outside his office as part of the Art in City Hall's juried exhibit by Mary Salvante entitled TOYING WITH ART . A perfect match for this artist who is currently working on a series of glass "toys"!

(sheet glass, stained glass, cast glass, grass seed, thorns, egg, mirror, brass hinges)

Now this is not your ordinary dollhouse, since there are no windows or doors. It's other name is "INCUBATOR" which is fitting for this houses an egg. You know there's something inside (there are some branches protruding mysteriously out of the corners) , but it's hard to see inside unless you are putting your eye right up to the peephole. It's a protected yet somewhat thorny and dangerous world inside and if you look really carefully, you can see your eye blink inside the egg.

inside the peephole:

I hope Mayor Nutter took time to look inside. This piece reminds me of what it must feel like be a parent of children in a dicey neighborhood, where it's too scary to let them play outside, walk to the store or even go to school. We need to fix this immediately or we'll lose another generation of creative minds to violence and all of its repercussions.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What is it about Family?

My husband's cousins (for those who know him, he does have one in every port) from Washington, DC visited us for brunch today. They brought their adorable midgets ("2 3/4, 5 1/2 and 7 3/4 years old") who we have had the pleasure of meeting 3-4 times in their teensy lives. They walked into the house as if we were their long lost cousins (?!) and gave us each a big bear hug. The saying that "blood is thicker than water" rang true as they knew at their oh-so-young ages that we had special meaning in their lives. Yet we are essentially strangers who piggyback onto each other's stories that go way back.

PIGGYBACK (Prismacolor on paper)

Those genes are powerful stuff when you get right down to it.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Tonite touched me deeply as I heard Jennifer Higdon, the reknowned composer living in Philly, talk about her desire to write a piece for violin, chorus and orchestra. She lacked a muse. As she wandered the hallowed halls of Curtis Institute, she met up with poet Jeanne Minahan. Her words inspired the music for The Singing Rooms. The music as played by the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Philadelphia Singers and violinist Jennifer Koh inspired me as I listened. Minahan's first poem, Three Windows: Two Versions of the Day enveloped me as the words were sung (it's copyrighted so you'd better go buy her book of poems or the music to actually feel the mood!) and I relaxed into listening.

Just then the image of one of my paintings popped into my head: A WRINKLE IN TIME (oil on canvas). The huge painting of my husband and his much older father sharing the same space in a way they never had in real life.

The connections continue as one muse bumps into another.

art IS magic!

Three years ago I was determined to use my art to make a difference in the Philadelphia community. I am a strong believer that if we had more art in the world...real hands on magic would develop. There is something so exciting and transforming about starting with nothin' and ending up with somethin'. SO I decided to gather a group of artists together and get to it.

Our mission is to teach stained glass to any interested 9-12th graders from a local city school's after-school program. We teach the kids to follow their dreams and make whatever they'd like. Glass artists and shops from the community have generously donated all kinds of goodies, and the church that hosts the after-school program helps out too.

None of the students has ever actually created something from glass. Most have serious learning differences. Most can't concentrate for longer than a nano-second...except when they are working on their projects. Suddenly, they are focused for 2 hours. They don't fidget. They wait their turn patiently. They are calm. They are pleasant. They are thoughtful. They are proud. And they come up with some darn creative ideas.

Today was one of those magical days. We had 17 kids (usually we have 8-10) and each one is excited and raring to go. Here are some photos from last year's projects...What do you think!?!

After only one session, each student is on a new road as they learn about themselves.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Once an Artist...

SKEWED VIEW (flameworked glass, mixed media)
I am about to embark on another unplanned and unpredicable voyage. Since my eloquent son, sister-in-law and artist bud each started blogs, I have realized that I need to express myself in words in order to maintain the ability to speak, a process which is rapidly diminishing over time. In fact, I used to be able to speak several languages and now find that English alone is a challenge. So I have made up my mind to create a trail of my travels and influences and the creations I develop as a result. In honor of my first post, here is a flameworked sculpture I made which celecbrates writing, painting, creativity...ART!