Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NYC Trip – MoMA.

Even though I literally gasped many times when I turned a corner and was front and center with the real thing, paintings I'd only seen in my art history books, this is what struck me most on my first visit to the Museum of Modern Art: A class of about 12 6-year-olds sat in front of this enormous Pollack painting, and enthusiastically raised their hands, eager to give their take on what was happening on the canvas. It was as beautiful to me as the art itself.

Monday, March 28, 2011

NYC Friday Night.

The Red Cat. This little vestibule was filled with glowing candles, yellow forsythia, red lilies, a basket full of green apples, white hyacinth, and tulips that were yet to bloom. So pretty.

Awesome atmosphere. Great food. We feasted on Crispy Asparagus in phyllo pastry and roast tomato-sherry vinaigrette, Seared Diver Scallops with spring mushroom hash and green garlic puree, Grilled Pork Loin with white beans and spinach, Eggplant Parmesan with garlic fettucini, and got a complimentary order of Tempura Green Beans with spicy mustard sauce because our service was so slow. Delish!

Afterward we walked up to the Hotel Chelsea so I could get a peak inside. It was nothing like I'd imagined, but filled with beautiful artwork. It would have been nice to see during the day to get a snap of the balconies, which looked so neat lining the facade.

Even though this wasn't what it looked like in the 70's, it was still fun to imagine Patti Smith hanging out writing in the lobby while Bob Dylan or Jimi Hendrix walked on by.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh... New York, New York!

My weekend in New York is approaching quickly! Ruth and I have come up with quite an agenda, but we've agreed to let the weekend play itself out a bit naturally too. Here are a few things I'm looking forward to:


Very excited to see "Abstract Expressionist New York". I've never been to this museum either and I can't wait to check it out. I've probably mentioned it before, but art museums can be a little overwhelming for me. I tend to have sensory overload after about an hour or two. I prefer to browse quickly, and stop and really spend time with just a few pieces that catch my eye.

A visit to the Hotel Chelsea.

After reading Just Kids, I decided I just want to go sit in the lobby for a minute. I think it's completely renovated or something, but I don't care. I feel like you'd still be able to soak up some of the spirit of the artists, writers and musicians who lived there at one time or another. And check out these amazing rooms? Geez! We'll walk around and pop into some of the Chelsea galleries, too.

Brunch at Balthazar.

I'm not going to lie. Ruth and I like to spend a lot of time planning our meals. Brunches and dinners make a perfect day of eating out if you ask me. Yes, I've already looked at the menu. Yes, I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to order.

And, I get to cross one off The List.

Drawing by James Guilliver Hancock.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

They will be missed.

I was so sad to hear of the passing of both Julia and Chett, but also find the timing of their departure together (at 91) quite beautiful. While we didn't have a whole lot of interaction in my grown adult life, my childhood encounters are so memorable to me. Over the past week I've literally been able to recall the tone of both voices. Perfectly. But especially Julia's raspy southern sound.

I picture her sipping a coke with lemon, in a to-go cup always (at 8am! Where did she get it??) drawing on it through a straw into immaculately painted red lips. She was SO GLAMOROUS! I would hide in her closets, filled with pretty flowing clothes, and leave notes to her in her shoes.

Chett, always so mild-mannered, would shyly ask me about this and that. His calm presence making me feel I belonged in this strange world. I remember he had a secretary named Silvia, which to an 8-year old was about the most beautiful name I had ever heard. Like silver! How I wish I could visit his office again, and see the reality of what I remember – or not. I loved stopping in there and looking at everything, dusty papers and files everywhere.

They had a brilliant blue marlin hanging on the staircase that I just could NOT comprehend, and I found it so funny they had to "open" sections of the house to us when we visited. After a LONG, 7-hour drive for a kid, the driveway to the house when we finally got there seemed ENDLESS; their home, a treasure trove of things to discover. We had a fire in the fireplace EVERY NIGHT, and I wasn't allowed to TOUCH ANYTHING. I learned later that it was because the place was filled with beautiful antiques, and things that were forbidden were not due to Chett and Julia's rules or fears, but more likely my own terrified parents fearing I would break something they would never be able to replace. I remember to this day the scent of their home. Musky, fireplace, cigarette smell. Dogs. And we weren't allowed to go outside alone, we might fall off a cliff. But we could safely watch and identify birds landing on feeders thru the picture windows that surrounded the living room.

The ranch, where they kept and rode horses, would have been the first time I rode one. I remember a spotted mare named Lisa, who's mane was braided in a hundred small braids, and a St. Bernard named Moon. And we'd go out to dinner in town, and everyone knew Chett and Judy. This I thought was very cool, not quite grasping small town familiarity, but more remarkably because of who they were, so prevalent in the community. These are things a little kid doesn't pick up on, but of COURSE everyone knew them.

At their house I learned for the first time to *SNAP*, to shuffle a deck of cards, and to make pretty patterns on ordinary paper kitchen napkins using food coloring. I always felt ridiculously welcome there... and now realize what it meant for them to open their doors to children (my brother and I) and make us feel so at home. In one long weekend, endless I'm sure for the adults, I learned every word to Crystal Gayle's "Dont it Make My Brown Eyes Blue", played on a record player over and over, which at the time I believed was genuinely a tribute to my brother's and my own eye color.

These people were incredibly influential to my Mother, and for their influence in her life I am truly grateful. I know they opened doors for her and exposed her to many things, and were also incredibly generous. I am so glad I was present for their 50th wedding anniversary. They will be missed but it's so nice they lived and died together.

To view the memorial service, click here. It's really something. I remember both of those portraits from their home.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Green!

And growing! In my yard! Yahoo.

March Madness ~ Irish Badness.

I didn't think it was possible to out-do last year's perfection. Then I got this in the mail.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just Kids.

I just finished the book Just Kids by Patti Smith. I loved it.

I love biographies, and autobiographies even more, but either one about an artist is for sure my favorite. This was like an autobiography and biography about TWO artists - Jackpot! I had always known there was a special relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, but to get to read about what was happening behind the scenes as they emerged together as artists was truly a gift.

In the summer of '92 I saw an extensive exhibit of Mapplethorpe in Japan. One of my souvenirs from the trip was the museum catalog of the show, a thick, beautiful book illustrated in both English and Japanese. I was only generally familiar with him and his work at the time – photographer, gay, "risky" imagery – and I remember loving the images of Patti the most as I flipped through the pages. I never forgot that blank stare looking right back at you. (Him).

What was especially exciting in reading her description of their story was getting details and discovering the relationship behind these easily recognizable portraits. At the time I was looking and learning about Mapplethorpe, they were both already famous and he had been dead for a couple of years. What a treat to read about their individual explorations and the journey they were on together as they worked so hard to achieve success as artists in multiple mediums, before eventually discovering their own strong voices – and then the acknowledgement for each that followed.

This book made me think of the "artist" from a different perspective. She was not simply a musician, nor he "just" a photographer. But rather they pursued artistic expressions on all levels, drawing, painting, styling, writing, building, making, collecting. I really like that we don't have to be limited to the development of one art form, that creating is creating, and that the word "artist" means so many different things.

I got all these images off a Google Images search. I'm going to go ahead and credit Mapplethorpe for all of them. Not really sure about two though.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gracie turns 1!

It's Gracie's first birthday today. This morning I played U2's "Grace" a couple times for her and did an impromptu photo shoot.

She's usually pretty hyper in the morning. Actually if she's not sleeping or napping, she is very high-strung and a tense, muscular little cat who does not care to be held, even for a second. In dosing/sleep mode, she turns into a live rag doll and is incredibly affectionate. I'm surprised she's not a Gemini.

Her favorite toys include:
– Q-tips
– The round metal hair-catcher for the drain in the tub
– Grout between the bathroom tiles
– The toilet
– 18" plastic wand with a mini pink boa and bell (actual cat toy)
– Sticks, pencils, pens
– Fishing lures and their sharp hooks

When she runs like grease lightening around the house in circles, she goes so fast she crashes and slides into things she can't spontaneously leap over or around. Some of her other likes include: Parmesan cheese, watching the birds in the backyard, climbing behind the blinds, and toppling over potted plants and rolling around in the dirt on the floor.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


It's that time of year again. Where I start to mentally lose it. I can't stand to look at the clothes in my closet, or bear to pull on a heavy wool coat, over layers of thick clothing, while also hiding under restrictive hats and gloves – all suffocating me.

It's fitting that Ruth sent me to Art Interiors, specifically to the artist Elizabeth Lennie. She correctly figured that I would like these swimming, pool and lake pictures. I love the treatment of the water reflections. And I long to put myself within these paintings, outside, free and happy it's summer.