Monday, August 10, 2015

Jamie Wyeth and Ivan Garth Johnson

Way cool.  These very tall paintings (for the scale of the paintings use the black benches at the bottom as a reference) are by Jamie Wyeth and were in the entry area of the San Antonio Museum of Art.  They had a terrific show by Jamie Wyeth there and it was well worth the horrendous drive down IH35 to see it.

He's a third-generation Wyeth showing his painting skills  The museum had excellent signage with the paintings which always gives you a different way of looking at things.  Some of the work in the show was from when he was just a young teenager and he really had the skill showing even then. 

An iconic area in Austin is an underpass heading into town just north of the river that bisects Austin. This was painted many years ago (do the math) and there was a huge uproar about a year ago when the city decided to paint over it, even though its presence had been authorized by a previous city council.

At this time I just put a small sweater child there, hoping someone would come to their senses.

Okay, the city workers do try to paint over a lot of graffiti and of course there is debate about what is graffiti and what is street art.  This small memorial just seemed to resonate with a lot of people, mainly because it was relatively attractive.  And maybe because, thanks to Austin's terrible traffic problems, most people got to see this as they sat and sat and sat in traffic at that particular point.  It's only 2 lanes each side and they can't widen it because a train track is over it.

Finally we got the Ivan memorial back.

The top picture shows the two pots I put there, on either side of the piece that says "25" (do the math).  The bottom picture shows how people have added to it.  Lots of the time when I put ceramic Give-Away art out it disappears in a week or so.  These pots have stayed there for about 6 months now.  We may try to "Keep Austin Weird" but we do have respect for Ivan Garth. No, I have no idea who painted it years ago or who repainted it recently but the message is right.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Definitely So

Found this interesting biology lesson tacked on an instructor's door at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio.  

Odile thinks he is awesome also.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Oh yeah, I'm an experienced ceramic artist.  See this little guy?  No, he's not supposed to have his arms sitting in his lap.  The wire and red balls were Susan's idea on how to try to put lipstick on the pig and maybe distract you from his anatomical strangeness.  The picture below shows what he was supposed to look like, glazed but not yet fired, with arms that would be on a stiff wire through his body, arms that could swing in place. The wood skewer in the picture below is just holding the arms in place temporarily so I could take a picture before firing the piece.

So, your experienced ceramic artist carefully glazed him and took him to school and put him in the kiln.  When he did that, experienced ceramic artist that he is, he carefully laid the arms on the guy's lap so they wouldn't get separated when the kiln was unloaded. Of course, once the piece was fired the arms fused to the guy's lap. Duh.

I've been doing ceramics for about 8 years now so Susan was quite sympathetic about this situation, beginning with "You've got to be kidding me" and then transitioning to "You fool!" followed by some statements appropriate only for Mature Audiences.  I started to toss him in the trash can but she made me put him on the shelf above my worktable as a reminder to Pay Attention To Details. Actually, now we've both grown sort of fond of him.

Sometimes I draw, sort of in a Zentangle-like style.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Red Pots and Music at The Skylark Lounge

Two medium size red pots, ready for the Student Art Sale this fall.

It's a really, really big deal for us to stay up late.  "Late" as in after 10:00 p.m.  Face it, we are old duds.  Actually, Susan is usually asleep by 10 (thank you, Ambien) and I listen to my audible books while sitting out on my balcony till about 10:30.  So when our new friends -- I'd tell you their names but they are probably in the witness protection program so let's just call them John and Therese -- asked us to join them.... at a LOUNGE....

Fortunately, they promised we would be home by 9:00 p.m. (and we were) and best of all, they would drive.  We love the Driving-Miss-Daisy routine.

We had fun and felt like real grown-ups.  Margaret was great, the Skylark Lounge was so dark you had to grope your way to a table so the atmosphere was appropriate, we enjoyed being with our friends, and we had excellent pizza.  The fun part was when people in the audience came up and sang with Margaret -- not karaoke but real singing. One guy had a snazzy little briefcase that he carried his harmonica in and he accompanied her with that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No, I'm Still Not Kidding

Austin likes to claim its city motto as "Keep Austin Weird".  Thanks to Buzz Lightyear the motto stays in place.

Moving along, I made a "guy" bracelet and some chain stuff at AdornMe earlier this year.

I don't know what this piece is for but I sure had fun making it.

When I go to jewelry classes I have to bring a lot of my own tools. I carefully made sure all my tools would never get mixed up with anyone else's.  Susan just scribbles her initials on her stuff but hey, I'm a artist.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

No, I'm Not Kidding ...

Moving along....

BlueBird went to Susan's sister. She has blue colors in a fancy bathroom so it seemed appropriate.

Jungli was going to be at the gallery that shows my stuff but after this picture was taken he had an accident (not fireworks related!) and wound up with some unintended finger amputations.  He will eventually get to go on a train ride.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Party Hearty!

Happy Fourth of July:  Independence Day!

Over Kandahar, Afghanistan
Enjoy the picnic, the cold beer, the hot dogs, the cake and cookies and all the friends and relatives you've gathered in.

Afghanistan, with a World Trade Center flag
Please take a moment to remember, honor and thank those who have volunteered to serve our country and protect your independence.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015



Catching up, I went to AdornMe in Houston.  Consequently I have been fiddling with jewelry stuff instead of working with clay. Or as we call it in Texas in my classes, "mud daubing".

I make lots of pieces that I envision as wall sculpture because Susan doesn't wear jewelry -- too many years of hearing her mother say "Be sure you don't lose that if you wear it!" Sad because I'd like to see some of my pieces on her but good because she doesn't spend money on jewelry. Or shoes. Or clothes. How did I get so lucky? But books....

The piece below needs some alcohol ink on the white wrapping to change its color. I have no idea why I used white (it was a class freebie) but I do know I specifically wanted that eye in the middle.

This last piece isn't mine - it's EJ Brown's, a fellow student. Way cool skull necklace (made from spoons).

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day, 2015

If you know me well you know I can easily be described as quiet, a stoic, and hard-working. You should know I'm also not a quitter. All this came from my father.

He had a tough start - his mother rotated through 5 husbands, which was not exactly model-mother behavior in the 1920's and 30's. He served in the Pacific in World War II and never talked about it. He always, always, always worked.  When the Texaco service station he managed closed down he took a job selling soft drinks at the high school football stadium, just to keep working. For him, exchanging as many as 25 words was a long conversation.  He didn't walk out on a bad marriage*, which meant that whenever I came home there was a father around.

On the down side he was a distant and unemotional father. For the good side, he never ever gave up, never tried to force me to do anything I didn't want to and was proud of me.

He was my father and I am him.
Rest in peace, Pa.

*Unlike my father, I am lucky enough to be married to a good woman.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Another Anniversary

Once we were very, very young and married less than one year.  Now we are very, very definitely not young. But still married.  I added this frame to the picture for Susan's card. She was absolutely stunned, not that I had saved the picture all this time but that I had figured out how to make a color copy ALL BY MYSELF on our printer. Miracles never cease. Like our marriage!

If you go to iTunes and search for "Lucky" by Jason Mraz, with Colbie Caillet, you can play a little of a song that explains how we've managed to stay together all these years.

School is out and I'm starting to drive her crazy because I'm home all day but hey, that's the way I roll.  These are probably the last of the penguins because I'm moving on to new things and the penguins have had their day in the sun.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Washington DC and Yes, We Are Dry

We fly JetBlue into New York City but take Amtrak to Washington DC, then fly home Southwest from there. That's us getting on the train in the picture above, 3rd car from the left. Seriously, when we get to Penn Station we ask for Red Cap service. That gives us a separate quiet waiting area but best of all, a Red Cap who gathers up our luggage for us and escorts us early down to the correct train track, waits with us until the train arrives and then directs us onto the Quiet Car, where we leisurely pick a seat and wait about 10 minutes before the horde comes racing down to the track to board. All for a tip of $20. Little do they know that we would pay double for the privilege of not having to queue up in a huge mass, wondering which was the Quiet Car and then fighting to get a seat on it. There are some pleasures in life that are worth every penny.

In DC we always go to the Smithsonian Craft Show on the first day. We talk to a lot of artists and just enjoy seeing incredible artwork. Yes, craft and art are the same thing. Here are just two examples.

Evan Chambers.

Irina Okula.

We saw a great exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery -- Elaine de Kooning: Portraits.  The interesting thing about this portrait of Kennedy was the information she provided that said his posture in this portrait (and another one also) was unusual because he was favoring his injured, aching low back.  Susan sometimes has low back pain and she immediately recognized the posture, the way the pain can sometimes be eased by leaning on one arm.

Of course we had to go to the Torpedo Factory to see Susan Finsen.  As you can see, I am carefully advising her on her painting technique. As if.

Susan does great work and is always a pleasure to talk to.

Thanks to all of you who have asked if we have stayed dry during the recent storms and flooding. Yes, we are fine and so are all the people we know that live near the flooded areas.  You might think Texas is dry, like you see in western movies. Not!  Here is what the low-water crossing alert map of our area looked like the day after the heaviest rain.

Red is road closed due to high water. Green is OK to cross. There are 1029 low-water crossings in our immediate area. 

This is what high water looks like in the San Marcos area. In the background is IH 35, the main interstate that goes north-south through Texas. In a nearby area it was closed for over 5 hours at one point because it was flooded. 

This is what high water flooding over a river bank does to a home.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wrapping Up New York City

This is an old watercolor I glued on the cover of the sketchbook I took to New York. Didn't do too much sketching in it because we were too busy:

1. Neue Galerie (see previous post)
2. Cooper Hewitt
3. Museum of Arts and Design
4. Metropolitan Museum
5. Center for Book Arts

That's right - 5 museums in 3 and a half days. No pain, no gain!

The Cooper Hewitt has recently re-opened and they have a great thing going - The Pen. When you come in you get The Pen to carry around - it's just a fat pen on a cord - and you touch it to the labels of the items you are looking at.  When you leave the museum you return the pen and get a receipt that tells you your personal website that includes the images and data about everything you marked. No need to photo stuff, all saved for you.  Way cool!

Susan did take a picture of me in the middle of the Tools exhibit. It was definitely a Guy moment.

One afternoon we were staggering back to our hotel and had to stop and take a break in a pocket park.  This big macho guy was sitting there knitting. Susan told me she wanted to go over and ask him about it and of course I told her not to talk to New Yorkers, they don't want to be bothered by tourists. Naturally she ignored me and went over to his table and had a 10-minute conversation with him about knitting, yarns, patterns and whatever that stuff is. I just hate it when she comes back and says "I told you it would be fine."

Sometimes it seems like people just don't choose the right shoes for city streets. I'd love to know the story behind these abandoned ones.