another planet

When I was young, I was quite taken by a book titled From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  I guess it later became a movie.  It was about two kids who ran away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I am feeling a very strong connection to that book tonight. I drove all afternoon and evening back to Cleveland, and then Tom opened up the drive-in ramp to his building, gave me the security codes, and showed me around “my” floor.  I’m staying here for the next four days. It’s big enough to fit in six of my old Pilsen studios (later Vespine Gallery) and it is crammed full of excellent, odd, curious stuff…I think I counted four full-sized dining tables and I didn’t bother to try counting couches, lounges, divans…this is a tiny tiny tiny taste (and I’m not even showing you the paper studio). Yes, that green and red thing above is an etching press, not in use, surrounded just in that corner by nipping presses, lying presses, hand-carved printing blocks, giant wheels and gears, vintage machines whose use i can only guess at, masks…and more, a whole lot more…there are four floors like this!

Kathe Kollwitz!!!

1 Subaru, 3 days, 8 states

I am momentarily back in Chicago; during the long trip I alleviated road ennui with my camera.  But I took no photos of the places I spent the nights nor the friends I stayed with; the immediacy and pleasantness of their company, conversation and the comfort  they offered prevailed; even benign media intrusion simply seemed out of place.  Tana, Ann (and Zoe), Steve and Kathy (and Mandikat), and Tom: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, final PBI day:

Listening to Katie MacGregor during the show & tell.  Some of the work from my class is on the table in the foreground (the auction is on the two long tables).  Some people from my class did not show their work; they went to see some of Maine (and humpback whales!) instead.  Who could blame them?

Since I have no money, I ducked out of the auction after awhile myself, and went to a different beach.  There I wandered, breathed that incomparable sea air, played with the Atlantic one last time, and watched fog glide into Machias Bay a few miles away, while where I was stayed sunny.  Then I went back for the banquet…

…and got my lobstah.  Sooo delicious! And then the music and noise started, and I slipped away again.

The last hurrah: the dorm hallway at 2 am.

Thursday, July 22:

Well, where else would I stop for breakfast, except a major downeast tourist institution?  The wild blueberry scones were lovely.  I wanted to buy a pie, but was afraid of my road appetite.  I bought home-made wild blueberry truffles for Tana and Ann and the Smiths, but they melted.  I put them in the freezer when I got home, and Paul and I are now eating strange misshapen puddles – and they are still delectable.

Frenchman’s Bay in Acadia.

Huge, swift-currented tidal river, that boasts a waterfall that changes direction with the tides, further away than I could drive to. Especially because I wanted to stop at the LL Bean outlet I had spotted on the way to Machias.  I now have a very cool summer rain jacket coated in teflon – half-price.

Where I sat for nearly 40 minutes on Rte 1, waiting till the oncoming traffic had to sit and wait for us.

Pretty much the rest of Maine, interstate view.  What I wanted to shoot for you and couldn’t: BEWARE!  Moose Crossing signs; huge – huge! – nests built on top of major power poles, and the impressive dark angry clouds all stacked up on the coast to the east.

Interesting New Hampshire marketing strategy: tax-free liquor and lottery tickets combined with an interstate rest-stop.  I guess if people are buying to drink on the road, they’ll be in Massachusetts or Maine before the alcohol takes effect. Canny.

Massachusetts traffic seemed to uphold that premise.  Sorry, Mass – you are beautiful, but you have some of THE most annoying traffic I’ve EVER encountered – not just near Boston, but across the entire… freakin’… state.  I lost two hours sitting in stopped traffic (sigh). To say nothing of people barreling down the shoulder in Porsches, jabbering away on cell phones.

Ahhhhhh, the serenity of driving New York’s Taconic Parkway after all that, stopping for the hazy early evening view of the Hudson Valley and beyond to Catskills.  12 hours on the road…

Friday, July 23:

A good long early-morning, slightly drizzly walk in the woods with Tana and Zoe to get the kinks out, too-short talks with Meghan and Chris, and then off again. It was raining hard before I got to Ellenville.  Near Loch Sheldrake (possibly my favourite Catskill place-name) I missed a turn.  The GPS took me on a 7-mile loop back to rte 52.  It was fascinating…a town where all the signs were in Hebrew, old wooden camps next to fancy gated communities, and a huge, ostentatious, self-proclaimed ashram, with collonades, fountains, and an enclosed walkway bridge over the road. (I always though ashrams were spare, meditative environments? This looked like a Vegas resort.) But it was raining too hard to shoot anything, and then, on route 17, the Catskills put on a spectacular Smoky Mountain -type show:

OK, OK, I pulled over:

One of these (above or below) is mid-New York, and one is a brief dip into western Pennsylvania, I can’t remember which…

Entering my favourite part of western New York.  But then:

WHAM! A massive, violent storm tore through.  I had to put on the flashers and pull over, couldn’t see a thing except that before the white-out of solid water, the trees were bent double in the wind.  (There is another car in front of me with its flashers on here – and you can’t even see it!) As I sat there, the car was buffeted back and forth, rocked wildly, while I tried to remember if they have tornadoes in western New York.  It lasted all of 10 minutes, and then just as suddenly, stopped completely – and I was sitting right across from the Seneca casino:

When I see it, it  means I only have about 2 1/2 hours to go to Cleveland.

On I-90 in eastern Pennsylvania.  Lake Erie is on my right, and its winds are blowing a solid curved line o’ bad weather into New York.

“Cleveland, city of light, city of magic”.  It was 93 degrees and sweltering.  But later that night, the same kind of storm blew through, followed by a gentler one, and cleared the air for a lovely night’s sleep. 10 hours on the road…

Saturday, July 24:

Up for a lovely breakfast of home-made tabbouleh, fresh berries and cherries, and Rosendale apple cider doughnuts with cowboy coffee and always-great conversation with the Smiths, a stop at the Morgan on Aimee’s one day off to talk over the upcoming class with Tom, a little adjustment to Listen, which was having a few a more issues than I’d like in the massive humidity Cleveland’s been experiencing. But I was quite pleased with how the 99 copies of (S)Edition have weathered it all.  And then, the final leg:

Ohio, up until the Lake Erie islands or so.

Just about all of western Ohio and the entire state of Indiana look like this, with some crop variation, a few cities, and the nice broad Maumee river near Toledo, Ohio – until you get to the stinky industrialization of Gary, Indiana, belching flames and fumes into the sky, which means I’m almost home.

Well, come on – baby don’tcha wanna go?

Back to that same old place,

Sweet Home Chicago.  Which always welcomes me with heinous traffic. 7.5 hours on the road (might have been 6.5, but Chicago had a point to make).

Sunday, July 25:

Nothing. No-thing. Paul is grilling us dinner tonight, and all is right in Lupe’s world: the pack is home. For three whole days…

Bettah blahg now…

…because I don’t know when I’ll next get the time and access.  My immediate next-few-days future is uncertain – more on that in a moment.

My class minus three people who went…somewhere?… at the end.

The PBI class finished tonight, and I can honestly say, it was a blast.  Crazily intense energy ruled over the whole shebang, not just in my class, but I went for a relatively self-motivated, individualized approach and so we were a wildly experimental, noisy, productive madhouse (which I admit is my favorite way to roll). I think everyone got something out of it, and that is good, and I know a number of people got a great deal, because they told me so.  And I knew way back in February and up until I got here that PBI would be kind of a trial by fire for me, because I had never been here before; indeed, there were some things that I didn’t learn about till today (that often, instructors can and will go back and teach at night, that I could pop into other classrooms if I wanted, things like that). Regardless, I enjoyed it immensely (in spite of a continuing, significantly lessened tolerance for sound; alas, it is decidedly time to visit the audiologist). I would be very pleased to do this again.  Paper and Book Intensive is indeed an appropriate title!

The classroom transformed from chaos to clean almost immediately at 4:30, and I had lots of volunteer help loading the car.  Tomorrow is a wrap-up day, with a show and tell session after breakfast (where I will properly document the work, I hope: the one drawback has been intense humidity which doesn’t aid the drying of paste. Many folks left with damp work,  to rig up drying weights in their rooms tonight).  Then, there’s an auction and a banquet in the evening, and beginning at 3 am on Thursday, everyone disperses to the four winds.

When I originally planned the trip, I had five days after the end of PBI plus two days driving time to get to Cleveland in time to prep for my next class at the Morgan (which Tom says is full).  I thought that would be the genuine vacation I’ve been craving, and I would wander around beautiful Maine a wee bit. Then a month ago I learned that I had to be back in Chicago for two days before I teach at the Morgan.  Fine:  I planned to drive from Maine to Cleveland, park my car, fly home for two days, fly back and then drive home after the class (and the Listening de-install).  After I got here, those dates became uncertain, and then they were re-confirmed yesterday morning…just enough frustrating waffling so that airfares are now prohibitively expensive. Grrr.  So now it looks like I’m driving back to Chicago…three days on the road. Even so, I thought at least I could have Thursday to wander by staying in the Machias motel that night, but now the weather report says rain all day.  Sigh.

Now I am triply glad that I snagged Velma and returned to the Jasper Beach with her on Sunday after dinner. It was a gorgeous day, she is lovely, fun, rich company…and I got a surprise, too: big islands in the bay that were completely hidden in fog during the last visit, even when the fog seemed to have lifted!  We got our feet caressed and toyed with by the Atlantic, collected smooth bindery weights and lovely small pieces of jasper, amassed lots of tiny sharp rocks in our shoes, laughed, talked, and watched a beautiful sunset.  Sadly, this may be all of Maine I get to have this time…I’m very glad I got to spend it with Velma!  And maybe I will go get lobstah for breakfast on Thursday…

Good, and Tired

One day of sizing, then

three days of traditional Japanese dyes:

I truly, truly enjoyed Tatiana Ginsberg’s class.  I am so glad I was in the morning session to be there when the dyes and mordants were prepared.  It was all so seductive, in color and in process, and Tatiana is the kind of excellent teacher who is fascinated with the processes herself, who passes that on.

PBI is half over now.  My class began this morning. I am, as always,  too-many-options Craig, and it was an incredibly productive day.  I took no photos (no time) and I am going to have to sit on the materials, we are already in danger of running out, even with the extra I have already added and am adding to the mix tomorrow from my own supplies. Total enthusiasm!  I’m lovin’ it.

This is a portion of what happened in the first session classes; so much that I couldn’t fit it into a single shot.

This is, again, only a portion of the attendance.  PBI is all rather amazing.

Yesterday was ‘excursion day’ and I slipped away with Nancy M (though the morning and evening were spent setting up the classroom, deciding how it could work best for all, and cramming in a wee bit of last-minute supply shopping).

This wide, long perfect quarter-moon slice of a ‘beach’ is made mostly of jasper, smooth, tumbled, beautifully variegated colorful stones thrown up and stacked by the tide, in big hills that were tricky to walk, like piles of ball bearings.  It’s the end of a rocky pine-clad cove opening wide, out into the Atlantic, and supposedly one of only two such beaches on the planet.

We filled our pockets, and once again I breathed along with the thrum of the sea, my heartbeat aligned with its pull.  Thick cool delicious fog rolled in, lifted, and was followed by more, blanketing us in its not-quite-liquid.

I am, I hope, done with my extra evening work now, and won’t be so continually exhausted after today (at least while I’m here).  I hope  for news tomorrow or the next day that might let me stay for a few days, even while knowing that it’s improbable.  Just in case, I also ate ‘the best blueberry pie in Maine’, delicious, not sweet.  I will stay over at least one day, and get me a lobster, too, and at least another whole day of ocean love.

We doubled back around and drove out to the point to see what this gathering of vessels was about; lobster being unloaded.  Below: just majestic, that fog waiting to come in.  It’s delicious and cool on the skin when it rolls in slow and gentle, and speaks to me of Scotland on the other side.

DownEast, FullSpeed

I got so excited when I saw this view after driving driving driving in Maine rain, four hours of it; and then the Atlantic, the mist!  I still had a few hours to drive, but I felt much better about it (and the rain stopped, finally, so the windshield wipers weren’t hypnotizing me. It was a loooooong drive: up thru NY, across Massachusetts almost to Boston, then on up north through New Hampshire and Maine, nearly to Canada).

I spoke too soon about rain in the last blog – it never did at WSW, until right at the very end of the class, when there was a 15 minute deluge. Then some good downpours on Saturday. Instead, we got the full brunt of the heat wave, consecutive days of 105 degrees.  This was an extremely intent group of women, and they worked relentlessly, days and nights. They voted not to stop on the last day for things like looking at each others work or group shots.  It was just five days of work work work work work then – bang – we cleaned up the studio, and it was done.  We used lots of fiber, too.

At the end of the second day, with the reports of the coming heat, WSW moved the big stack dryer out to the porch, and moved in more work tables. Still, one woman, Amy, chose to work out on the porch table the entire time (so she’s not in these snapshots). I don’t know how she survived it; I was steam- cooking kozo outside right next to her every day, too. But she got a lot done and really liked what she did. I had a bit of a difficult time; the heat hit me hard.  But I managed to make these odd things as demos; no idea where they’re headed, but I am intrigued, and thinking about pursuing them:

So I stayed over on Saturday, ran a million errands, packed and loaded into the night, hit the road early Sunday and now, Machias and PBI at long last, after years and years of hearing great things about it. I’m still working in my spare time and being as social as I can with my ridiculous overbooking and ears that seem to have reached a new low in sound tolerance during the past week. PBI is definitely about connecting, in a fine way, and it’s a very lovely group of folks, so I hope to get these my extra things finished quickly.  I’m loving meeting new folks, many of whom I’ve known about or have had electronic communications with for years. Right now, though, I’m out of words, so here’s an interesting feature of Machias; the name means Little Bad Falls, so titled by the original inhabitants.  There is a broad, swift-looking but relatively calm river, that’s suddenly broken by a rock island into three jagged waterfalls that cannot be captured in one photo, and then it calmly re-assembles into a lower broad river again, and heads out to Machias Bay and the ocean, about four miles away. A busy bridge carrying all the traffic into town spans the rocky island and the falls, but there’s a little park with observation decks, a gazebo and a footbridge  over one set of falls just below.  The air smells of the sea and I love that.

West side o’ the big bridge, with kayakers pulling over to portage.

East side, with the park’s footbridge.

Looking back at the bridge into town, from the park deck…

…and to the east, from the footbridge.  Nice.

I love the stairs.  Around that bend, the river goes on a wee bit to the bay and the sea. I haven’t been there yet. I can’t wait. Oh!  And I finally met Velma in person, hooray!  And she shot the giant blueberry that I didn’t stop for on the way here!

Helter Swelter

Some samples in a hot studio window…

On Saturday, when I wrote the last blog, the outdoor thermometer read 45 degrees when I woke up; during the day, it climbed into the 90s.  For the past three days, temperatures have been between 98 and 100 degrees, and it’s humid and sticky with it.  That’s making the second workshop, which began yesterday, a bit tougher.  It’s cooler in the paper studio; there is an immediate , intense difference when you walk in or out.  But the five women in the last workshop were able to spread out, to work outdoors as well as inside (especially when pounding kozo). For six women making sculpture plus the paper for the sculpture plus treating the paper and mixing the dyes indoors in the same space, it’s a tad cramped.  Still, everyone has been working hard and there are some mighty promising test pieces drying in the studio tonight, which I forgot to shoot after doing my slide talk (mercifully, held upstairs in the air-conditioned silkscreen studio and not in the Rosendale arts center).  In addition to the heat, having the noise from two other classes added into the mix is difficult for my ears, and I’m a bit crankier, bristlier. In spite of it all, it’s looking like a good class, and I think (hope!) it will go well for everyone.  We are supposed to get rain tomorrow and then it will cool a bit for the final two days. Whew!

I shot this two-inch long bug in the light of a wee LED flashlight held in my mouth.

Last night, I gave up being stoic and turned on the window air conditioning unit in my apartment, mostly to dehumidify it.  That was an immediate relief, and the pace on the things I’m working on in the evenings (for other obligations) picked up immediately, or at least accelerated from a stupefied crawl to slow but steady. I was able to wrap up and ship out two things this morning.  But, I am still behind, and I’ll be working hard in and out of class till I leave for Maine, and probably will need to keep working in the evenings during the first PBI session. I am cursing myself a bit for all the overbooking, fully aware that  I have no one else to blame…

Thanks to Heather Bella for pointing me to the site this came from; it cracks me up (though I wish I had been credited for having my artwork chopped into the shape of New York State.  However,  if you steal the image from the site, I am in the file name).  And: this show opened last Friday at Abecedarian in Denver, and Marking Time opened yesterday in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I’ve also heard that there was mention of Listening in the Cleveland newspaper, with photo, in an “advertorial” – but as yet, no one has reviewed it. A bit disappointing, except one must take into account that none of the regular small Cleveland publications are running art reviews any more.  Sigh. And now: more cold water, bed, and (still) dreaming of a vacation somewhere, a real one. Somewhere balmy, with cool breezes.

Rosendale sidewalk; last year, there was a chalk monster in the very same place.

Last year, when I was spending much more time alone in the woods here, I did not see a single deer.  This year, I have had three beautiful does leap out of the woods in front of my car so far. I’ve been grateful for my agile Subaru…it’s startling!


Terez (WSW ArtFarm papermaker), Ingrid, Pamela, Arielle, Meg, Kelly and me – behind (and in some cases, wearing) some of the work.

I can hardly believe it, but the first class is over; ended yesterday.  It flew by incredibly fast, while I slowly acclimated to the pace, the new apartment, and Women’s Studio Workshop in Summer Arts institute mode, something quite different from what I experienced as a resident, but still great. (Actually it’s not yet in full SAI mode: that happens Monday.  Abby’s class and mine were tacked on early when our regular classes quickly filled, so only our two classes were going on last week). My two major solutions to personal problems I experienced in the first two days: take my hearing aids out as soon as class ended, and take a nap before the various dinners and events at seven. It really helps the busy busy flow.

Kelly and Arielle on Thursday evening, at the moment a lung turned into a hat.

The five women in my first class were a wonderful group, so enthusiastic, so willing (and eager) to experiment, and so incredibly productive.  Classes officially end at 4, but a core group would go eat together, and then return to spend every evening from Tuesday on working late into the night, carpooling to the places where they were staying. Everyone’s hard work showed. Arielle knew what she wanted by the beginning of the third day and went for it:  a giant abaca-covered corset shape draped in layers and layers of kozo lace, which will become the core of a larger installation. (It traveled back to Ontario with her today; I hope Air Canada treated her well).  Kelly made 50 abaca bones, some with added kozo, which will become a hanging chandelier-like environment.  Ingrid experimented with just about everything, making dozens of small-ish to tiny shapes, which assembled on the last day into reliquary like containers holding detailed artifacts.  Pamela translated shapes from her main body of work into paper, and Meg became fascinated with the translucency of stretched abaca and the vibrancy of the dyes, and began to bring versions of her color-saturated drawings into three dimensions. And everyone made more than what I’ve mentioned. We could easily have gone for another few weeks – though Arielle might have needed to charter her own plane home!

Towards the end of Friday lunch on the second-floor deck.

All that was added to an evening life much busier in wee Rosendale than at home in Chicago.  Abby and I went to dinner; the next night we went to a lovely dinner at Tana and Ann’s; last night I went to dinner again in a loud, loud place with Ann, Tana, Jackie, an early-arrived teacher,  Gretchen who will teach later but came from Maryland to install her show and Lynette who came to help (and whose name I am not sure is right, but who I liked even before I learned she had once given a presentation on my work).  When I gave my talk on Tuesday evening, a lovely lady named Leslie asked me if I had ever used lichen dyes on my lichen pieces.  The next day she stopped by during the excellent communal lunch (that new intern Meghan prepares each day), and brought me a bag of dried lichen that makes a beautiful magenta dye, a small sample (all she had left) of another that makes a rich gold / sienna, yarn swatches of each, the dyeing methods, and advice on responsible harvesting.  The gold dye lichen crows on trees on the Maine coast, where I’m headed next.  When she learned I’d be here another week, she came by again on Friday, and left me a lovely book to look at, on British lichen dyes.  I was so astonished and pleased…I don’t think I’ve ever had such a nice response to a talk.

There’s really much, much more, but it’s all  moving way too fast to cover…I had time to write this today because I brought my laptop with me to the laundromat!

Arielle’s piece drying…

One of Meg’s works.

The backside of Pamela’s Venus drying.

Not all 50 of Kelly’s bones!

Looking into just one of Ingrid’s vessels.