Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taking a Thanksgiving Break

We just got back from Washington, DC. The weather was perfect for us: grey, gloomy, cold, and windy with drizzle and rain. We consider ourselves "professional tourists" and bad weather definitely keeps the amateurs at home and out of our way. More pictures will be coming soon.

I didn't miss my turkey dinner, as the picture below shows. The boring plate with no meat on it is Susan's. She tries to avoid eating anything that has lips. Or beaks. This meal was at the Cascade Cafe in the National Gallery of Art. On second thought, her dinner does look better than mine. But I cleaned my plate anyway.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The main part of the Thanksgiving ritual is The Dinner. We've done many of them (paid our dues, so to speak) and we no longer spend two days preparing a massive, coronary-inducing, cholesterol-loaded meal. Instead, we support the local economy and get our dinner from Whole Foods and let them damage our health. As healthy as they pretend to be, they can do a good job of spoiling you -- just ask me about their chocolate parfaits. Anyway, now we spend only one day fiddling and fixing and fussing and yes, it is "we." I'm actually getting to be a pretty good cook.

This is a picture of what our silverware, accumulated from wedding gifts, looked like. It came out of its lined box only for special occasions when there we would have The Dinner. Of course it had to be polished and I never minded doing that. Susan has not-so-fond childhood memories of having to do the polishing for a lot of silver her mother had. Obviously, when you are a kid you'd rather be playing with your cousins instead of rubbing at silverwear with a cloth. Anyway, the silver never got used enough to justify having it so it has moved on to a new family and we are quite happy with our beat-up stainless steel.

We are thankful for all of the good in the world, for all the men and women in uniform and not at home who are trying to maintain the good in the world, and for all of the blog readers all over the world, who tie us all together into one common group, clicking away at our keyboards and touching the world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chartreuse Is New York City's New Black

The last time we were in New York City Susan decided to take pictures of anything yellow. Excluding taxis. This time she chose Rust. We weren't 5 minutes into our first walk to the subway before she starting whining that she had picked the wrong color, no one was wearing Rust. I told her that when we got to the next corner the Color of the Day would be what we saw when we looked to the left: Green.

Easy enough. The rest of our visit was great, including grabbing her from out of the street and keeping her from walking into walls as she waved her camera around. At least every 5 minutes she would fuss that someone walked right in front of her great Green shot, or "Why can't they stand still for just 10 seconds?!?" By the second day she had narrowed down her Green focus to an even more specific shade: Chartreuse.

Who would have thought that so many people in New York City would show chartreuse green? By the time we got home she had over 200 pictures of that shade of green, and about 100 of miscellaneous other shades of green. She had even hooked Seth into looking for Chartreuse, so that as we sat outside people-watching both Seth and I were continually telling her "Green coming up! On the left! On the right."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Another Love Story?

The red paper caught my eye on the sidewalk in New York City, it would make a bright addition to our ephemera collection. You know, the stuff you collect, planning to use in a collage or to glue down in a journal page, but then you put it in a box and forget about it. Susan picked it up and stuck it in her bag. And forgot about it until we got home.

When we got home we realized it was an envelope that had already been opened. Was it thrown away? No love story there. Was it accidentally dropped and was missed? A love story there. Was it from Grandma to a grandchild? Was it sharing between best friends? Or is this the recollection of an illicit tryst? (I think not)

I'll never know because I'm not even sure what language this is, not to mention who Kanako is. And if, in my ignorance, I've displayed a really obscene message... sorry. But it just looks like Birthday Love, of some sort.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fellow Artists

After two days the sale is finally over. We were lucky enough to be invited to show with the instructors on the second day which was a good thing except that I'm really tired after two days of being "on" and talking to people about my art. I took some pictures of the artists sitting around me and promised I'd show their work. Above is a segment of a bright painting by Jaspa Hickman. No, the hands weren't stenciled, they were all individually painted.

Below is Mel (Mélide Canton-Josh), a fellow ceramics student. I asked her which was her favorite piece and took a separate picture of that.

Right next to my table was Genevieve Elise, a printmaker. She had cards for sale and a number of prints. Susan negotiated a trade of one of my ceramic books for one of her "Buddy Holly Glasses" prints. She made Genevieve give her the last print that wasn't as sharp as all the others because she plans to cut it in half and use it as a front and back cover for a book she'll make.

Andrea Whilhite was selling dragonflies at the table next to Mel.

Mary (you saw her work before) gets a really nice dark green glaze on her pieces.

And last but not least, Amy of The 100 Heads. She also had a number of beautiful ceramic birdhouses that were really unique but they were a tough sale. People couldn't quite figure them out, as in "How can you clean them out?" or "What kind of birds go in these?" Get a grip, People, they're A-R-T.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Art Sale - Today!

The art sale is today (click here). The bowls above are about 6'' across, the tall vase below is about 12" high.

These little birds and Pod Babies are no bigger than 3" each.

And finally, a preview of work by one of my fellow students, Mary. This beautiful little pod is only about 4" high. Mary and I often meet with a few other students and our instructor on Friday mornings where I get to practice what Susan calls "The Art of the Chat."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Art Sale

If you are in the Austin area on Wednesday, November 18, please stop by the Austin Community College Highland Business Center (behind Highland Mall) to see what all of my fellow artists are offering for sale. Students sell on Wednesday, on Thursday the instructors' work will be featured.

This sale gets very little publicity even though we have it every year. As a result, we don't get very many shoppers so we have to price our work pretty low if we want to move it out. This means our sale is a great bargain! You can never tell what will sell and what won't and that unsold stuff has to be lugged back home. One year I sold out of ceramic books, but last time I only sold a few. They'll go back this year for another try.

I'll be selling my ceramics work and a few of the pieces I made while I was still doing welding. The full-size masks above ("Parental Unit 1" and "Parental Unit 2", will be part of my offerings, along with "Birdman", "The Woman" and numerous heads (shown below). I do put some of my work with the gallery that is generous enough to include me in their group but I have a lot more work that isn't the style they are interested in. So this is where I sell it.

My Blog Wrangler has told me many times (and so have several other people) I need to set up an Etsy shop but so far I've resisted, mainly because she would have to do all the work on it. Without my permission (as if she'd pay attention anyway) she did register "Flummoxed" as an Etsy shop (empty now) for me, mainly because she found out my name was already taken.

Remember Amy? She was going to make 100 heads and probably has more than that but they moved out of the ceramics lab as soon as they were fired. Here's a look (below) at one bunch of them after their final firing. Click here for her blog. I've been making heads (none bigger than about 4" tall) for about 6 years now and they are scattered all over the yard and in the house and many were given away. I wish now I'd bothered to count them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'll Be The One With A Tan Umbrella

A blind date?
A love story?
The Metropolitan Museum, New York City, on a Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remember: Veterans Day, Nov 11, 2009

Thalia Fields lies under a grey ceiling of clouds,
just under the turbulence, with anesthetics
dripping from an IV into her arm,
and the flight surgeon says The shrapnel
cauterized as it traveled through her
here, breaking this rib as it entered,
burning a hole through the left lung
to finish in her back, and all of this
she doesn’t hear, except perhaps as music—
that faraway music of people’s voices
when they speak gently and with care,
a comfort to her on a stretcher
in a flying hospital en route to Landstuhl,
just under the rain at midnight, and Thalia
drifts in and out of consciousness
as a nurse dabs her lips with a moist towel,
her palm on Thalia’s forehead, her vitals
slipping some, as burned flesh gives way
to the heat of the blood, the tunnels within
opening to fill her, just enough blood
to cough up and drown in; Thalia
sees the shadows of people working
to save her, but she cannot feel their hands,
cannot hear them any longer,
and when she closes her eyes
the most beautiful colors rise in darkness,
tangerine washing into Russian blue,
with the droning engine humming on
in a dragonfly’s wings, island palms
painting the sky an impossible hue
with their thick brushes dripping green…
a way of dealing with the fact
that Thalia Fields is gone, long gone,
about as far from Mississippi
as she can get, ten thousand feet above Iraq
with a blanket draped over her body
and an exhausted surgeon in tears,
his bloodied hands on her chest, his head
sunk down, the nurse guiding him
to a nearby seat and holding him as he cries,
though no one hears it, because nothing can be heard
where pilots fly in blackout, the plane
like a shadow guiding the rain, here
in the droning engines of midnight.

Brian Turner
From his book of poetry, Here, Bullet, about his wartime experiences in Iraq.

Remember also the family of James Clifford McKittrick.
They are still waiting for him to come home.
I'm still waiting to send them my POW-MIA bracelet.

Remember also Barry Lynn Brown. I escorted his flag-draped coffin home to his family.
Captain Barry Lynn Brown, Killed in Action, Vietnam, May 5, 1968

Remember also Joseph Ambrose, a World War I veteran, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who had been killed in the Korean War.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Looking Ahead

In these troubled times we must learn to do our own navigating.

Friday, November 6, 2009


13 dead and 30 wounded, by one of their own.

Fort Hood is the largest active U.S. military installation, and the only post on American soil with two combat divisions. Located in the heart of Texas about 60 miles north of Austin, the 340-square-mile post is home to more than 65,000 soldiers and their families - and thousands of civilian employees.

The installation's troops have borne some of the heaviest burdens in America's wars. Thousands of soldiers from the 1st Cav and other units at the sprawling fort have served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What Rhymes With Angst?

This has not been a very productive fall semester for me. Yes, I've produced a lot of pieces but in the end it has turned out to be a lot of activity and very little accomplishment. What happened? First of all, my life is too short to bypass great ideas and different techniques. As a result, I try everything I can, textures, clays, glazes, underglazes. And sometimes all on the same piece. You might call that "Going in different directions." I call it "Farting in a colander."

Second, the Kiln Gods were not cooperating with me. Some glazes faded out. Some turned green. Were they contaminated? In the wrong place in the kiln? The wrong glaze? Bad technique? More than likely just plain bad luck. Every ceramics artist experiences this, whether it's his own kiln or not. It's just the way life is.

So where is my new work? Most of it went in the trash, which is something I've had to really work hard at doing. Susan reminds me that putting lipstick on a pig never really makes the pig look any better.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Slash Your Fashion Statement

The Museum of Art and Design in New York City had an exhibit called Slash. The photo above is from the poster in their main window and is the head of a life-size figure in the exhibit. I thought everyone in the city wore black, like the guy below.

Guess I was wrong.

Sunday, November 1, 2009