Sunday, November 26, 2017

Family Trouble 2017

Two friends of mine, an aunt and her niece, come from a very large family--11 brothers and sisters.  Recently, when I asked them about their Thanksgiving plans, they told me that over 50 people would be coming, and that they would be cooking two large turkeys.  When I asked them if everyone got along, they looked at each other, then smiled, and the aunt said, "Mostly. We do fine."

I don't know how they do it. Our parents are fading, fragile, and under the constant decay of dementia, which is eroding away what little memory they have left.  Once they are gone, I'm not sure what will tie us siblings together. Taking the responsibility of their care has already caused large riffs between us, and as we've aged, the things that bothered us slightly 40 years ago are now huge issues that we can't talk about. There is anger, resentment, and in some cases, because of the current political climate, horrible exchanges on social media. And even within the close circle of our immediate family we have altercations that seem absurd, small things that blow up out of all proportion. I wish I knew the answers to making a family work, but I don't, and I worry that if we can't even work out our familial issues, then what hope do we have for running a country or a world.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Old Cowboy

"Old Cowboy" is very loosely based on my husband's grandfather, Irby Downey, who, as a young man, was a ranch hand, first in Texas, and then in Albuquerque on the West Mesa back in the 40's. He was a dashing, handsome man(he looked like Richard Boone ), as well being charming and personable.  And of course, the real deal: the quiet, rugged, western man with a drinking problem.  But then, to make a living  and support his wife and three children, he became a masonry contractor in Albuquerque leaving most of his cowboy life behind.  I fabricated the rope from a coiled hose, and his belt buckle from a bird's nest, his "bones" made of tree branches.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Jealous 2009

             Jealous:  hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage  Merriam Webster 

One of the seven deadly sins is envy, not jealousy, but close enough(Envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage  Merriam Webster).  The two cross over in my mind, and lay on top of each other, like dead, smelly fish.  I am burdened, a lot, by the combo.  I'm jealous of people I know, people I've never seen, dead people from history.  I'm envious of friends and family members, even people that I feel sorry for. The duo sit on my shoulder and whisper mean crappy things in my ear, mostly about how worthless I am.  To make myself feel better, I like to watch one of my dogs stack all the dog pillows on top of each other and then lay on them so that the other dog can't use them. It turns out it's not just me after all.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Woman with Black Purse 2017

It was a horrible day starting with a restless, sleep interrupted night as the pressure tank that connects to our well kept cycling off and on, off and on, keeping me awake, worrying. At 3:45am I got up, unplugged the pressure tank, then, finally, managed to get a few hours of sleep.  The next morning I woke up, groggy and irritable.  After my husband called the well people, we had an idea of what might be wrong and called our plumber, who never called back.  Next, to the studio, where I was denied entry because the lock to the door, after a few days of hard rain, had frozen.  Went in through another door, turned on my computer with my brand new monitor attached and got nothing from the new monitor(it's a dual monitor system).  I caller Acer and they determined that it was my computer and not the monitor that was the problem, so I piled all in the car(two monitors and my Dell desk top) and headed for PC Experts where Vu, the owner, met me at the door of his completely torn apart store.  Boxes and boxes of old hard drives, cables, dead computers, monitor screens, and desk top carcasses littered the floor.  Vu was moving.  The rent was too high.  Amidst the mess and confusion(his workers in the background talking and smoking, "Can't get this f****ing thing up!)", Vu looked at my problem, and after an hour of digging around through all of his things determined that what I really needed was a new computer. I loaded everything back in the car and headed home, the beginnings of a hard driving headache starting up as rush hour traffic swirled around me.It was clear what I need to do: swing by my local thrift store(Savers)and shop.  An hour later, with a new(used)pair of plaid leggings,and a new(used) teal green down vest, I was okay, back on the planet.  Headache gone. Life would be okay.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Woman Falling(and Laughing)2017

A student of mine brought a number of old photographs into class a few years ago to share with all of us. I snagged this wonderful snapshot of a 50's era woman who was posing with another couple. She had on a pearl necklace and pearl earrings, and a lovely, form fitting striped dress. I loved the image, and although I never knew this woman, I wish I had.  And while 2017 has been a rough year so far(multiple illnesses, aging parents with numerous problems--and knowing that we will be there soon--missing our eldest daughter's wedding, the death of a beloved dog)for some unknown reason, I've felt surprisingly good, almost buoyant at times. This unknown woman, in her swirly dress, perfectly captures my mood--falling, but still, joyfully, upright!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Empty Woman 2017

Last night I spent time looking at the work of Frank Moore, an artist--primarily a painter--who would have been a few years younger than I had he lived. * He was a victim of the AIDS epidemic, and his work is a fascinating and complicated reflection of not only his declining health, but of our failing environment as well. The work is visually complex, reminding me somewhat of Hieronymus Bosch if he would have reincarnated as a 20th century gay man.  The work isn't as damning or condemning as Bosch, and has a dark humor and an intelligence that's hard to fathom at times. The work has so much to say, and is so well done, that I found myself questioning my own imagery, wondering what I have to say that matters anymore.

In the 40 years that I have been making images, I've grown and matured, not only as an artist, but as a woman, and as a human being. I no longer suffer the way I used to, and the magic and mystery of the world that seemed right around the corner, now seem distant. I feel inspired by Moore's work, but also humbled, and worried that maybe what I have to say is of no great importance.  But then I think that if Moore hadn't died of AIDS, if he would have lived a life parallel to mine, he would probably be in the same spot I am right now. Like me, he would have been fretting and worrying about his images and trying to figure out how to continue working in a way that is significant. And he would know, as I do, that he would have had no real say in the matter and could only make the images that he was given to make, significant or not.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Transfers 2017

Transfer: 1. an act of moving something or someone to another place 
               2. a small colored picture or design on paper that can be transferred to another surface by being pressed or heated.

 Dog(with Doe and Spots)2015

Although I've been teaching transfer processes in my workshops for years, it's only been recently that I've started to incorporate transfers into my own work.  In the past, I've directly glued onto my painted surfaces. It works--you get what you see.  Transfers, on the other hand, are not that, and, as far as I can tell, pretty much starting a dance with the devil.  Not only do you not get what you see, in fact, you get the reverse, since the transfers are always mirrored.  If you are doing a paper transfer, you don't see anything at all since the paper backing is opaque.  If you do an ink jet transparency, you see what's underneath your transfer, but somehow, in the process, what you thought you were getting is never exactly what you saw in the first place.

 Wrapped Crane 2016

You have the ability to take whatever is in your computer, print it out, and then apply it to another surface.  The surface can be white, and your image will be pretty true to your original, or you can have a painted surface underneath, and that will change the nature of what comes through.  But you can almost always count on something going wrong, either something won't transfer completely, or you will have forgotten to change it to mirror image in the computer, or part of the image will transfer and part won't(always, of course, the parts that matter the most being what's not left behind).  Because the transfers are so tricky, I've become obsessed with them.  I'm constantly trying to find the perfect, least labor intensive method of making the transfers.  Like a true scientist, I'm continually trying different papers--writing to companies and asking for samples, ordering what I think might work from EBay or Amazon, even (I know this is hard to believe) taking and keeping notes.

However, this seems to be part of the dance, that it's risky and scary, and that you mostly don't know whats going to happen. When you peel or pull away the backing material you have something that may be the most wonderful thing you've ever seen, or just bad--but a good dance nonetheless.

Man Being Surprised 2017