Friday, July 25, 2014

Really Fine Pods ... that aren't mine!

Way cool! These two pods, made of slip decorated porcelain, are called "Pair of Sea Urchins", by Maggie Barnes and are from the Arkansas Arts Center Collection.  They were on display at the Crystal Bridges Museum and I am in total awe of the fine detail she got on them.

Here's a close-up:

This is my feeble attempt at something I did a while back, before I saw her work. Do we need to discuss any more why she is in a museum collection and I am not? Well, not yet anyway. Hope springs eternal or something like that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Crystal Bridges and a Lonely Pod

Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas.
In the rain, as seen from inside the museum.

In April we took a road trip to Bentonville, Arkansas, just to see the Crystal Bridges Museum. We were prepared to be underwhelmed by the whole experience -- Arkansas??? Wal-Mart town??? A little museum in Arkansas???

Instead, we were totally impressed. We drove the first day to Tulsa where we found out that their rush hour traffic lasts for about 25 minutes, as opposed to Austin's rush hour traffic that lasts for about 3 hours. Seth, the friendly clerk at the hotel checking us in, asked where we were from and when we said Austin he said "Why would anyone want to leave Austin?" Sure enough, Seth is an aspiring musician. We warned him Austin is expensive but he's young so he'll probably come here anyway. If you are Country-Western you go to Nashville, everyone else aims for Austin.

The next morning we headed for Bentonville with a stop on the way to apply for the TSA pre-check program. We were lucky enough to be randomly selected for this the last time we flew and it was great - shoes on, no baggage checking. Probably now that we have it ($85 for 3 years), we'll get unlucky and be randomly selected to go through the regular lines! It involved documents providing who we were, citizenship, residence, etc., answering questions (not many) and photo and fingerprinting. Everything went smoothly except for the fact that fingerprinting Susan was not an easy task - the grooves on her fingers have worn down! She surmises that it is from years of quilting and handling fabrics and years of messing with paints and repeatedly scrubbing at her hands with rough sponges. That, and the fact that she really wants to be in the Witness Protection Program so Time-Warner will quit calling her and asking her to upgrade her TV connection.

We were skirting bad weather the whole trip and it finally caught up with us as we got into Bentonville. Regardless, the town is lovely -- really neat and clean. We almost felt like we were in the movie Truman. Everyone is pleasant and friendly, and did I tell you everything is clean? I guess when you are the Wal-Mart headquarters you want to look good and you support the town with your tax base and there was NO trash anywhere at the public park we went to.  Added feature? That area of Arkansas is really pretty.

Yes, there was a lot of rain once we got into the muesum. This is a shot looking at the section of the museum that has the restaurant where I stuffed myself on Chicken and Waffles. It spans over the river which was very full due to the thunderstorm that came through while we were in there.

Maybe it's not a river but a creek? Whatever, this is looking downstream at some of the outdoor sculptures. Because of the rain we didn't do the hiking paths around it, we'll do that next time.

The galleries are spacious with benches in each area so you can sit and look at the art or just rest your feet. Why do so few museums have places where you can sit? Is it like having a noisy restaurant - they think you'll find it uncomfortable and hurry out so they can bring more people in?

One of Susan's favorites - Giocometti's Annette.

And of course I have to admire Odalisque by Matisse.

One lonely pod.

Friday, July 11, 2014

And Pods Again

Not sure how I'm going to glaze these.  Susan is beginning to mutter stuff about leaving them unglazed.

No, this isn't a pod. This is the lunch I ate at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was the first time I ever had Fried Chicken and Waffles and you could walk on me with high-heel shoes and I'd still keep right on eating it. Wow! How did I ever miss this treat?  Arteries, prepare to abandon ship, cholesterol, just surrender now.  Here I come!

More on Crystal Bridges later. We were prepared to be disappointed but instead were surprised and absolutely delighted with the city. the state, and the museum.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pods Again

These are similar to others I've done but this time I'll try to get the glazing right so we don't have to touch it up with acrylic paint. Although I do like the effect the gold paint can provide.

Latest Netflix: The Artist gets 5 stars. We put off watching it because, honestly, who wants to watch a silent movie? It turned out to be a great movie with a clever twist and thoroughly held our attention. Before that one we watched Paul - a totally stupid, cute, funny movie (4 stars) that made us laugh out loud at the scene of an alien mooning people. We ran that back 3 times and laughed every time.  Loved the references to old alien movies, which I'm sure anyone under 40 would not get unless they watched oldies.

Latest book finished: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It won a Pulitzer prize and definitely deserved it.  I'm dyslexic so I listen to books on and wasn't sure about this one because it seemed so long (over 33 hours) and I only listen an hour or two at night.  It was so good that after finishing listening to it I took Susan's hardback copy (she hasn't read it yet) and carefully read the last chapter just to savor it all over again. 

Trivia: We were lucky enough to see the goldfinch painting by Fabritius at the Frick when we were in New York City.  Let me rephrase that: Susan remembers seeing it and pointing it out to me. I don't remember it.  OK, OK, there were a lot of paintings in that place!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July, 2014

The Fourth of July is our Independence Day and is a federal holiday. That means the day off from work and time to enjoy family, friends, a lot of flag-waving, picnics and fireworks. Party hearty! Or, as Erma Bombeck put it:

"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

One of the classic events is often an evening performance by the local symphony or orchestra, followed by the fireworks display. One of the more famous ones, often televised, is the Boston Pops Orchestra, composed of some members from the Boston Symphony.

The following pictures were taken in July 2013 as the Boston Pops prepared for their rehearsal on July 3rd. The frightening thing about the thought of people being wanded (oh yeah, a new vocabulary word) and FBI and heavy security for a rehearsal is that it almost seems normal now.  Kind of makes you wonder about the meaning of "civilization".

Meanwhile, in Kabul, Afghanistan, a re-enlistment ceremony:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pods Again

OK, it's not a pod, it's a magnolia blossom that has started turning brown. When she was a kid Susan lived for few years in Alabama and still remembers climbing in magnolia trees and smelling their great smell.  Our new friends, Archie and Martha, have magnolia trees in their yard and brought Susan some of the cut blossoms. If you leave them out they turn this beautiful brown color very fast. But if you put them in the refrigerator they stay white for a long time. Sure, you don't get to see them constantly but in our place the refrigerator gets opened often. Probably too often, but I'm not going to discuss that.

What does this have to do with pods? Two things. One, the center thingy (stamen?) is sort of pod-like and is good inspiration for me. Two, Susan took pictures of the pods I am making now and decided to take all the color out of the pictures so I could focus on the shapes. Eventually they will get glazed or painted or something, although I'm liking just the odd shapes of some of them.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I am working. Unfired pods.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hang It

Three birdies, all with a hanging hook that was put in while I was shaping them. I thought they could be hung in a tree. My idea was OK but the concept was faulty. They aren't flying, they are just sitting, as if on the ground or in a nest. So why would they be hanging in the air? Whatever.

We experimented with different acrylic paints on them and this last one has the old-world look I like. But maybe it's not "birdie" enough of a look.



We are catching up with our Netflix queue. Gave 5 stars to Nebraska, replayed the ending of the wife's scene in the cemetery three times before we could stop laughing. Gave 5 stars to Frances Ha, great acting and a story that managed to pull itself together by the end (we had doubts in the beginning). Gave 5 stars to Dallas Buyers Club, with a 6th star to Jared Leto for his acting. Gave 4 stars to Rush, a little too predictable. Gave 5 stars overwhelmingly to American Hustle, the incredible Jennifer Lawrence just seems to suck in all the air in a room when she's in a scene, making it hard for you to notice any other actors.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Buried Treasure

Go here to see what Seth Apter is up to once again.   Although we are identical twins, born several years apart and mysteriously separated at birth, we are both artists. But.... his art work is more creative than I could ever dream of. Go here for the listing and links of all the artists he inspires and admires.

And here is the Buried Treasure from my blog, an entry that reminds me that it's not hard to remain humble when you are trying to make art. There are days when Your Art just stomps on you but you come back day after day anyway, knowing that one day you'll make magic.

From October 20, 2013, Sad Birdies:

Look pretty good, don't they? This picture and the next two were taken by a fellow classmate, Bernie, who has a big honker of a camera. So you think all went well? Right now the Kiln Goddess is laughing her head off.

For starters, notice the small spot on the back of the dark bird below? Somehow the glaze just skipped that spot -- an air bubble? Or did the Kiln goddess spit on it?

Below is a really interesting sort of pink glaze and sheen effect I'll never be able to create again because I have no idea how it happened. Take a close look at the bottom of that bird. See that clunky spot under it? That's a bad bird butt.

Here's a quick shot I took of all the birds from that particular firing.

So you politely ask "Why are they sad?"

They are sad because I screwed up their butts. First, I like to make the birds rattle (they are hollow) so I put BBs in them. Because the birds are hollow I have to make a small hole in the bottom so air can escape. This firing was high-fire for these special glazes, not low-fire which is what I usually do. Much to my dismay (and huge learning experience) the BBs melted this time and flowed out the air hole and made a mess on the bottom of the birds. To make thinks worse, my glazes ran more than I expected and flowed over. AND, even though Susan has warned me a hundred times, some of the birds' butts weren't exactly flat so they fell over in the firing and messed up the glaze.

Out of 17 birds, 8 were a BB disaster, 3 tip over all the time, and 3 had a lousy glaze job. Three are OK. And you thought making art was easy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

47 Years

Ah, to be young, and dumb and fearless once again.
Still hanging in there, 47 years now.
As if we'd have it any other way!
Late edit, in response to query: We are on a dive boat off the Kona Coast of Hawaii, many years ago as the antiquated dive equipment shows, there and Bonaire were our favorite spots. We also dove Kauai, Maui, and Caymans Islands and Susan also dove Cozumel and Cayman Brac. She had over 120 dives, including 3 solo dives, I had about 85 dives. We finally quit diving when it got too tiring to be safe. Yes, you are weightless in water but the equipment isn't lightweight when you have to bag-drag back and forth from hotel to car to boat and the boat leaves really early and the long days on dive boats get really .... long. We miss it a lot.