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red thread logo

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"An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance.  The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." -- Chinese proverb

The Red Thread Project is back!  The next stop is St. Louis, MO.  I will be working in collaboration with Springboard to Learning, a St. Louis art agency that brings art programming to schools throughout the St. Louis metro area.  I am so excited!!!

The new logo was designed by the Penelope Dullaghan.  I've been following her blog Illustration Friday for several years and long ago fell in love with her work.  When thinking of how to "brand" the project for national presence, she was the first person I considered.  I was thrilled when she said yes!  She did everything from her heart.  It shows in all the details. 

The generosity of others never ceases to amaze me.  Penelope did more than develop an illustration or logo.  She also designed a business card, post card and website.  (I'll save the post card for another day.)  She donated her time and rights to the material.   Really, I can't be more grateful. 

My long time friend Andy Altman, designer and webmaster of my website, is donating his services to construct the website for the project.  James Peterka and Derek Johnson of Lord, Bissell and Brook, LLP in conjunction with Professor Spencer Waller of Loyola University School of Law developed contracts for the project as well as wrote the papers for trademark application.  Again, free of charge.   Leslie Luebbers, curator of the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, has written an essay.  Bit by bit, the project moves forward getting richer and more exciting with each step.


friendship

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"Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small that it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like a friend takes time."  --  Georgia O'Keefe

I couldn't sleep last night.  Twelve years of memories plagued me.  He's moving to San Francisco.  It's odd.  I don't have one picture of him.  Notta one.   I managed to make it out last night despite my stomach still dancing a rumba.  We met for a coffee and then picked up my daughter to join us for dinner.  I brought my camera with me and again did not use it.

Do you have friendships that are so complicated that they become simple?  Or should that be rephrased as simply complicated?  We dated for a scant few months at the beginning where I lost my heart to him.  Hook, line and sinker - gone.   Damn him.  Damn pheromones. He is the only ex with whom I have stayed friends and I don't always like it.

Now sing along with Franky, Cole and me:
    I've got you under my skin
    I've got you deep in the heart of me
 
   
Repeat until nauseous. 

Baggage frequently trips forward movement. Over the years our friendship has ridden an emotional roller coaster with every twist and turn imaginable.  We've helped each other, screamed at each other, not talked to each other, and given advice regarding current love interests.  Many times I have wanted to walk away and yet there I was seated across from him sipping water, chatting about past, current, and future times.   Nothing had changed.  We are still friends.

It is interesting to consider the lack of art regarding friendships.  Why is that?  Television has "Sex in the City."  Cinema has "Grumpy Old Men."  I know there is a pop song or two.  But why aren't there paintings or sculptures?  I'm not talking about sentimental pics of ladies embroidering or children playing, but something that goes to the core.   Doesn't that seem odd?


stomach flu

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"Sickness shows us what we are."  -- Latin proverb   

How do such pretty little dots cause so much pain and suffering?  My stomach is playing the lead in a drum corp - probably all 200 drums at the same time.  Oh, ugh.  I don't remember ever getting it as a child, nor does my mother.  You would think that 2 1/2 years of chemo would prep me for the stomach flu, but nope.  The worst is trying to stay hydrated.  I won't go into the details.

You know you are scaring your child when she asks for the return of the "Mean Mother."  Mean Mother?  "Yeah, the one who wakes me up to do chores, " she responded all sugar and sweetness.  I had to laugh.  I could see her point.  She wants life back to normal, even if that means me bossing her around upon occasion.  The dogs do to.  Josie, the Monster Pup, has been glued by my side the past two days.  Her nose inches from my own as if to check for my vital signs.  Jack, the Pomeranian, guarded my feet preventing any notions of leaving bed other than to visit the toilet. 

And life goes on.  I am foraying into my first venture of art making without knitting needles or beads.  Fortunately the show opens in three weeks, so I have a little time......


slap happy tourist

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"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see."  --  G. K. Chesterton

Yesterday the rain cleared long enough for me to play the slap happy tourist.  I started at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  I gotta say, I wasn't impressed.  The upstairs collection hasn't seen much of a rotation in work since I visited a year ago and the current show was very hit or miss.  The worst were three enlarged tapestry woven images.  As the information next to the pieces noted, they were Gobelin tapestries, so not even done by the artist's own hand.  Generally my eye would be drawn to just about anything textile / pattern related at contemporary art museum, but I was disgusted.  The idea of throw away  or pop art culture transformed through the laborious techniques of textiles is not a new concept and yet these pieces were being considered as wonderfully new and exciting.  Where has the curator been the past 40 years????? 

Afterward I parted from my friend who had joined me and drove to pick up my daughter. One of my favorite things to do is take pics from my car (while at a stop light).   I'm in my car many hours of the week and witness many odd scenes.   So as the slap happy tourist, I made sure I had my camera with me.  Here are a few of the things I saw:
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Sculpture in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
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I love crossing the Clark Street Bridge. 
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The Sears Tower.  No longer the tallest building in the world.
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Check out the stilts!  It was creepy watching him walk if that is what you call it.  He more or less jumped, hopped, skipped with every step.  He moved like an alien creature from some scifi flick.   Even creepier, no one else seemed to turn their heads as he walked.  Does he walk along Adams St. every evening and is therefore no longer a novelty?  Or are people really that oblivious? 


let them eat cake

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"If the people have no bread, let them eat cake."  -- Marie Antoinette

Look at what my daughter brought home last night.  It is a vanilla cake with layers of raspberries and white chocolate and a raspberry frosting.  The edge is trimmed with the most sublime sugar cookies.  I never thought anyone could out do my Gam on sugar cookies, but it looks like her great granddaughter has done just that.  The cake was almost too pretty to eat.  But I got over that hesitation in a nanosecond.  Oh-my-yumminess!  Sweet, but tart.  I think this is my favorite, though a Black Forest Cake is coming home this evening.....   A mom can get so spoiled. 

When Sweet Pea isn't at school she is at home experimenting with cookies.  This weekend's double chocolate chunk cookies were based on a recipe from this book.  It was a gift for high school graduation and every recipe she's tried has been a winner.  As far as I am concerned this book receives a double chocolate thumbs up. 

While I am on the subject of chocolate, I have added a new link to my list of "inspirations"  --  The Art of Tasting Chocolate.  Wow! I was nearly drooling by the time I turned off the computer yesterday.  I figured it was a must read for me.  After all, chocolate is the finest form of inspiration.  Yes?!


twist and shout

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"Art does not solve problems but makes us aware of their existence. It opens our eyes to see and our brain to imagine."  -- Magdalena Abakanowicz

This lovely poster was recently sent to me from the Lincoln Center Galleries in Fort Collins, CO.  I thought I would share.

Twist and Shout: The New Needle Arts was curated by Michele Tuegel and organized by Florida Crastmen, Inc.  It has been traveling for a year and goes to one more venue after Colorado.  There is a lovely catalog which may be purchased through either the exhibiting gallery or Florida Craftsmen.   The pink sweater on the lower right is mine.


piane-piane

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"I washed a sock. Then I put it in the dryer.  When I took it out, it was gone."  -- Ron Schmidt

Allez-y piane-piane.  Go gently.  Easy does it.  Piane-piane is the word of the day on Kristin Espinasse's blog.  Summer has arrived.  I may be two months behind schedule, but these days I am breathing in and expanding out.  I LOVE VACATION!! 

Saturday I visited a lovely arts and crafts fair in neighboring Oak Park (home of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway).  Rain did not deter me from some serious shopping.  I purchased a linoleum cut print of poppies by Alice Jaeger-Ashland and some very nifty wooden tongs made by Gary Weber.  I wish they had websites.  British artist Kirsty Hall has recently been writing in her blog about the benefits for an artist in developing a website or blog.  I couldn't concur more.  (Hint:  Check out Kirsty's Diary Project.)  After some shopping I headed over to the local fromagerie to purchase some Stilton and a lovely local cheese rolled in cocoa powder.  Chocolate and cheese combined?  Divine!

Yesterday was another rain filled day.  Instead of heading out, I headed down to my studio (which is located in the basement).   I painted for a few hours and then began piecing together a quilt I started 2 years ago.  It's not a fancy art quilt, but a humble domestic one which will soon grace my bed.  It is made from assorted chintz fabrics collected from my days as a "sample girl" at Colefax & Fowler in London. One of the fringe benefits was being given remnants of fabric that had been incorrectly printed.  Combine these with samples from discontinued lines and I have one elegant, but humble, quilt in the making.

Don't you love the phrase "sample girl?"  The puns to be made are endless.   My job as "sample girl" was to send out the meter length samples of fabrics requested by interior designers.  As a textile artist straight out of college, I was in heaven.  Figuring out how to properly spell the names of certain towns was a different story.  During my first few weeks on the job, packages were frequently returned as I had a decidedly American slant to phonetic spelling.  Fortunately, I also had a very patient boss who was much amused by my various spelling attempts.  She finally handed me a map book of the United Kingdom.  No more spelling mistakes. 

The sock animals I've been making with the children are becoming another source of inspiration.  Don't you love the beagles?  They were made by two young girls, each aged 7.  I thought they did an incredible job.  The boys too.  We had "Super Slug" and "Snazzy Snail"  as well as "Rabbi Elephant" complete with a felt Torah.  Children love to sew.  It is immediate gratification and yet it takes time.  Sewing is slow work.  It provides them with a much needed respite from their already hectic lives.       

It's still raining.  A few errands will be followed by more time on the quilt.  But for now, it is time for a fresh cup of Earl Grey tea.


laughter

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"For fast-acting relief try slowing down."  -- Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin always hits the nail on the head.  I've been laughing with her since childhood when she played on Laugh In.  If teachers are as much performer as educator then Lily Tomlin is my guide.  I want children to laugh as they learn.  Why should an education be emotionally painful?  School should be a place of anticipation, not dread.  Though this summer I was teaching an art camp, the principal is the same.  Color, texture, shape, line, light and laughter are the basic elements I follow.

In honor of Ms. Tomlin, I plan to follow every step of her advice and s-l-o-w  d-o-w-n for the next few weeks.  Classes ended yesterday and I'm on vacation.    Sure, studio practice continues, but I don't have any impending deadlines, so I'm resting my wrists and elbows and heading out to explore Chicago from the perspective of a tourist.


cake

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"Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  --  Jim Davis

My daughter has been in pastry school for one month and already her baking skills have surpassed mine.   Pistachio cake on the left and pineapple coconut on the right.  Yesterday it was banana chocolate with a vanilla cream icing.  And I think a raspberry concoction is coming home tomorrow.   I am getting into a habit of eating an early dinner followed by a late dessert.  It is all rather civilized.  Needless to say, I've gained a few pounds.   

Until recently cake to me had always been about the chocolate.  Chocolate cake with chocolate fudge icing as only my grandmother could make.  Gam was friends with Mrs. Rombauer (author of the Joy of Cooking).  She tasted many of the original recipes as they were in progress.  Her taste buds were impeccable.  She could take one bite of a dish and tell you the ingredients.  Her cooking was never fancy.  It was my paternal grandmother who dared to make egg rolls and maki.  For Gammy it was pork chops, mashed potatoes, a salad with blue cheese dressing and biscuits followed by chocolate cake for dessert.   Mom preferred it with white icing, but I loved the chocolate fudge.  Mmmmm.

I'm the only family member not directly involved in the food industry.  Okay, my father isn't either, but Mom, Gam, my brother Doc, and now my daughter.  Grandma was a nurse, but really a closet chef with a stash of copper pans, many of which now grace my pot rack.  Just for kicks and grins,  I stopped by a bakery on my way home yesterday.  I purchased a croissant for my daughter.  She was incensed!  How dare I stop by a bakery when she is bringing home such fine treats!  It was all very funny and in keeping with "Ratatouille" (see the movie and you will understand).  She took one bite of the croissant and pronounced it stale.  Of course she was right, it had been made early in the morning, 14-16 hours before she tasted it.         


tissu, part 2

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"In every work of art the subject is primordial, whether the artist knows it or not. The measure of the formal qualities is only a sign of the measure of the artist's obsession with his subject; the form is always in proportion to the obsession."  -- Alberto Giacometti

Sometimes the search for the proper quote to begin an entry leads to new thinking or in cases such as today's quote, it clarifies muddied musings.  Why cells?  Always I return to the elemental, the primordial.  It started 15 years ago when told I had thyroid cancer.  I spent a semester in graduate school wondering what it looked like while they tried to shrink it with medication.  Eventually the cancer was surgically removed, but knowing that something so small could turn deadly has led me down a path I have yet to leave. 

"The form is always in proportion to the obsession."  In this case the form is the circle and the oval.  Though the paintings, and eventually the quilts, are rectilinear, the form applied is soft and round.   They follow the shape of my bead embroideries.

Ack! While I write a certain Josie, a 4 lb Papillon with heaps of attitude, is nipping at my fingers.  It's morning and breakfast is being demanded.  I am definitely not well trained.  More gouaches and musings later.