Sunday, October 21, 2007

Simon Museum Gets to Keep Adam and Eve

Never mind the fact that Marei von Saher, heir to the Jewish art dealer who had the works stolen by the Nazis in WWII had filed suit to have the paintings returned to her. A Los Angeles federal judge has dismissed her case and the five-hundred-year-old paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder will remain at the museum. The moral of the storey – well, if there is a moral, it’s that the individual can’t possibly win out against government and/or other brobdingnagian U. S. institutions, no matter what the circumstances are. The Dutch on the other hand did perform an act of restitution in February 2006 when they returned over 200 of the stolen artworks to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, the wealthy Dutch art dealer who fled Holland ahead of the advancing Nazi war machine in 1940.

As a working artist in the United States, I am appalled by our lack of concern for the individual. During the past century we have built into our institutions and government the ability to ignore the people and individuals in the name of public welfare. However, as Katrina proved, the government and institutions also have no obligation to fulfill the needs of people when disaster strikes. The conservative mantra, “they shouldn’t have lived there,” rings in my ears!

So, “let them eat cake,” or bread as the case may be.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Work Goes Slowly

"Bad drawing! Bad drawing!"

Now that we are back in Delaware I’ve begun a new over sized (32” by 40”) drawing based on photographs I’ve been taking in the saltwater marshes in the area. It is progressing slowly because I’m not used to working with grass and foliage. I haven’t managed to reach that state of automatic flow while working that often happens for me with the seascapes. Instead I’m stressed while working. I know stress is good and can lead to growth, but not when it's constant.

Sometimes I think that drawing and painting is a bad habit.

Why do friends think that doing art is a constant vacation?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Back in Delaware

It rained hard in every desert we drove to, and it wasn’t the rainy season, or monsoon as they call it out West. And, we brought the rain back to "The First State with us - three inches of rain in two days.

Is the drought over? I doubt it, but my garden and lawn look a lot happier than they did when we arrived home.

We had an absolutely wonderful trip, but we are so happy to be back in Rehoboth Beach – and, we are both tired of driving, driving, driving. Joe and I talked about going back to New Mexico and/or Arizona again, but we agreed that we would take shorter trips - fly to Albuquerque, or Tucson, rent a car, and drive from there.

In order to take some of the tedium out of driving such long distances (6500 miles total), we kept a record of the bizarre names people have given to their communities, streets, and homes. A partial list follows.

1. Dismal Hollow Road, VA
2. Hungry Mother State Park, VA
3. Massanutten State Park, Harrisonburg, VA
4. Bucksnort, TN
5. Toad Suck Park, AR
6. Little Skin Bayou, OK
7. Big Skin Bayou, OK
8. Lotawatah Road, Lake Eufaulia, OK
9. Deaf Smith County, TX
10. Of course there is Truth or Consequences, NM
11. Budville, NM – was surrounded by Indian and Spanish named towns.

So, on that note, I’m signing off on the trip out West. The next entry will be about art, Art or my art.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

October 5 to 6, 2007 - Grand Canyon, Arizona to Albuquerque, New Mexico & Albuquerque to Clinton, Oklahoma

The drive yesterday was complicated by our need to see the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Our visit to those two national parks made the 400-mile drive seem much longer, but was worth the effort for two reasons. First, the Petrified forest looks as though some ancient prehistoric god who grew angry and restless decided to send algid sub zero hurricane force winds at that ancient forest thereby freezing the trees and crashing them to the ground to shatter in pieces instantaneously. Not satisfied with complete destruction, he/she made the wind cover the trees with sand and silica for millions of years, and changed the trees to stone. Today, they lay uncovered once again, entire massive tree trunks smashed across desert hills and valleys. I found several pieces that lay appropriately in a desert wash because the stone looked exactly as though the original wood of the trees had gotten wet repeatedly and suffered from dry rot before being turned to stone. Secondly, the bypass through the two parks was so worth the effort because the painted-desert itself is magnificent, much of it looking as though the same ancient god had crumbled the prehistoric hills upon which the stone forest had grown into gravel and sand mounds of various stripped colors. I wanted to walk into those fairyland hills, but was held back by signs that prohibit park visitors from doing so. Oh to sit on the desert floor surrounded by ice cream scoop-like mounds of multi flavored grains of pulverized stone. I ached to do so, but understand the necessity of preventing people by the thousands from marching into that place and destroying it.

Unfortunately, I also had my camera set for ISO 1600 after shooting a dark interior of one of Mary Jane Coulter’s buildings in the Grand Canyon. Thus many of my photographs of both petrified trees and desert are grainy. Moral of the story – always reset the camera for a standard shoot immediately after doing a variation setting. The only question at this point - will I always heed my own advice?

Today’s trip was day one of our reverse voyage home to Rehoboth Beach, and I took no photographs, not even of windmills, nether contemporary, old, nor tilted variety.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

October 2 through 4 – The Grand Canyon

I’ve got a heads-up for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon. Beware of the Yippee Yi Oh Steak House in Tusayan, the village just outside of the park. The steaks are greasy-grisly horrors, the baked potatoes are old and tough, the biscuit that is served with the meal is cold, and the service is terrible. You can get a better meal at Wendy’s down the street for one-third the price. In general, we found the area just outside the park to be an over priced tourist trap. If you can afford to stay at the pricy park lodges and cabins inside the park proper you are probably better off, though we had a just average meal at the Bright Angel Lodge last evening.

Having put the tourist trap part of the park down, it is necessary to move on to the magnificent canyon itself, and the marvelous park service that takes care of it. The canyon is indeed remarkable, and no matter how hard I tried to create an honest impression of the canyon’s grandeur, size, and beauty with the camera, I did not succeed. Standing physically in that space can not possibly be duplicated. Part of that is because one is standing in the presence of God.

It rained this morning with rolling thunder, and sheets of rain. We got soaking wet. The sun came out after noon, and I took 200 photographs of the canyon as the storms moved over and beyond. Sunlight shown through the clouds, and rain made hoary transparent layers between buttes, crags, and valleys. We took the free park shuttle south all the way to Hermits point, and we were dry by 2:00 P.M.. I’ve included some of those pictures below.

Tomorrow we start back on the return trip to Rehoboth Beach.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

October 1 – Sedona and the Vortex

I have no idea how the vortexes work. I can’t find a smidgeon of authentic research in any of the writing about them. However, as a spiritual being, I know that faith works, and I saw evidence of spirituality (and the commodification of it) at work in Sedona. Everywhere, scattered over the surface of Bell Rock were small balanced structures of stones created by believers, and everywhere in Sedona stores sell minerals and crystals that would help the purchaser to improve his/her well being.

I also found a beautiful corner of our planet that lifted my spirits, and I will return.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

September 30, 2007 – Arcosante

We drove the 60 miles to Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti through the unending urban sprawl of greater Phoenix, and then watched low desert flora change to high. The temperature droped from 93 to 83 degrees and we approached the concrete city on 2.5 miles of washboard dirt and gravel road at a necessary pace that made our vehicle seem useless.

Arcosanti is the evolving experiment in urban living created by Paolo Soleri in order to demonstrate how the automobile is spoiling our ecology, and leading to the decentralized and decadent urban city structure that prevents individual human growth instead of encouraging each of us to flourish. Dr. Soleri even coined the term arcology by joining the word architecture to ecology in order to encompass his notions concerning urban planning, ecology, philosophy, the arts, and social living.

That’s it in a nutshell, and, as usual, the nut shell is totally inadequate.

I’ve included photographs of the city below which today houses at most 100 inhabitants, but is projected to house 5,000 at some point in the future – maybe. The entire place has been built with volunteer participation during the past 40 years in a struggle that seems almost beyond human. It is Dr. Soleri’s wish to demonstrate possibilities for future urban structures that exist harmoniously with nature instead of in conflict with it. We talked briefly and by happenstance to one of the recent graduates of the building / philosophy / ecology seminars still conducted personally by Dr. Soleri at age 88. Jeffrey, was working in the bake shop and we bought chocolate chip cookies, mocha puffs, and rice crispy treats from him as we were leaving Arcosanti. When he spoke of his experience at Arcosante Jeffrey’s eyes sparkled and he was not totally present with us. Both Joe and I realized that his experience had been life altering.

Today, at the juncture of the second wave energy crisis and certain global warming it is more important than ever that we listen to Dr. Soleri and other’s who have anticipated and tried to demonstrate ways to correct our mistakes.

Monday, October 1, 2007

September 29 – Taliesin West

Fact - Frank Lloyd Wright did not have a degree in architecture. Fact – he created early designs using the names of other certified architects because he was not certified.

There’s much more dirt and so much tragedy, but I’m only interested in these two pieces of information because I know that if Frank were to try to begin his career today, it would not happen. In the first place, our contemporary society is entirely credential reliant. In the second, he would end up in a court of law because of unethical practices.

I wonder how many extraordinary contributions to science, math, the applied sciences, the arts and humanities, all fields of human endeavor are prevented because of our preoccupation with credentials.

What a shame!

More pictures of Taliesin West follow.

Frank's aluminium bathroom

Frank's desk