Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We've Been Busy

The image above is Superwoman, 1973, by Kiki Kogelnik, shown at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. My own personal Superwoman, aka BlogWrangler, is Susan and she's been ignoring the blog lately because:
 a) we went to Washington DC (via Fort Worth and Dallas) for Thanksgiving, and
 b) she was getting me ready for my Austin Community College Student Art Sale tomorrow.

What did we see? Special shows of work by these artists:
Richard Diebenkorn, Jean-Paul Gaultier (ok, not exactly an artist, but very creative), Degas (does he even need a first name?), Andy Warhol and Mel Bochner.

Miles driven (to Dallas and back): 400+
Flights taken (from Dallas to Washington DC and back): 2
Hotels stayed in: 2
Nights at hotels: 7
Number of times we had to ask for a properly maintained room:
1, in Dallas
Number of times Susan chewed up and spit out a Manager because the cleaning service goofed up badly:
1, in Alexandria.
Number of free nights we got because of that: 1
Number of museums visited: 10
Number of art galleries visited: 1 - but it was the Torpedo Factory which has over 80 open studios and galleries.
Number of Belgian Brownies bought and consumed: 4

Once all the dust settles and our suitcases are unpacked and laundry done, the pictures will be sorted out and blogging done.
And....and....and.... I'm keeping up with my email!
All by myself.
Sort of.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Fiber Friend

Susan has little drawers full of fancy strings and ribbons. She calls them "fibers". Whatever. When I needed to wrap the little ceramic packages she suggested I look in the various drawers. Then she hovered over me, telling me which ones I could use and which ones were "...I'm planning to do something with those...". We all know not to ask details about PIMMs.

PIMMs? Projects in My Mind.

Every year we go together to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, where there are about 600 vendors selling all sorts of good stuff.  I look at the metal doodads and jewelry findings, she looks at fabric and fibers. This year I got to meet a special friend of her, Connie James, The Fiber Goddess and Diva Cord Maker.  Connie and Susan laugh every year about Susan's addiction to buying more fibers but never using them because "If you use them you won't have them to fondle and admire!"

Connie and I bonded immediately because I know about serving in the military in bad times and Connie has a son in Afghanistan. And because I liked her fibers. I promised her I'd make more packages to wrap up with her fibers. Do you visualize Julie Andrews and hear the sound of music in the background, "...brown paper packages tied up with string..."?

Yes, I also looked at a lot of quilts.  We both agreed we were underwhelmed at most we saw but one by Joyce Seagram had great colors and design. You only see a detail portion in the photo because they set the quilts up with big hunks of plastic tape in front of them so no one will touch them and this makes your photos look weird so we just don't take full photos there anymore.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Somewhere, there is a turkey gobbler missing his head.

Somewhere there are raku clay bodies that were supposed to fit these heads but didn't. Someday I'll figure the clay shrinkage deal out.

Hope you all have a good Thanksgiving this year.

Matakhan, Afghanistan, photo by Scott Olson

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Big Angry Bird

We both play Angry Birds on our iPhones. I'm struggling at level 3 but Susan is stuck in level 9. She says she's that far ahead because she spends a lot of time playing while she is waiting in lines, on hold and waiting for me.  We would both be a lot farther ahead but someone told us she never moves forward until she gets all 3 stars so we have been intimidated into perfection on Angry Birds. Could our lives be more superficial?

It has rained in Texas - not enough to ease the drought for the farmers and not enough to lift our burn bans but just enough to let us do raku firing in ceramics class.  This is Big Angry Bird. His head lifts off and he is a container of sorts. He stands about 10" high. I wanted to get a defined dark shape (which is the smoke effect) on his front and his back and I feel I was very successful at that. Raku firing is a lot of smoke and crackling of your glaze. The best part about raku firing is that you put it in the raku kiln and you have a finished piece a few hours later, as opposed to a 10-24 hour firing cycle and 6-10 hour cool-down time.

The worst part about raku is that you don't have much control. That's why Big Angry Bird has a dark off-center belly button and a long vertical clay crack right down his side. Damn!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Say hello to Blippa, another one of my Little Dudes.

Enough about my art. When we were in New York City we were hit with that huge snowstorm. This shot is inside the Metropolitan Museum, looking up in the atrium where the Robert Lehman collection is.

Another favorite is the Museum of Artsand Design. It used to be the American Craft Museum but ... let's just leave it at this: I craft art.

This piece, Intrinsecus, by Jennifer Trask, was fascinating and even more so when I finally took the time to read the documentation. Maybe you can read some of it if you click on the photo below. Got to start collecting more bones!

A beautiful basket by Lillian Elliott, displayed in front of a window looking out over Columbus Circle.

It wasn't all art. We walked to Bryant Park, watched a performance by synchronized skaters doing a dance thing at the ice rink, watched protestors at nearby bank, browsed at Kinokuyina, a Japanese bookstore (the art supplies are in the basement) and people-watched from the generous collection of chairs in the park while having a coffee break. The obligatory cup of coffee was purchased at Le Pain Quotidien where Susan spotted their Belgian Brownie and insisted on it. The clerk asked, "Just one?" and we said yes, we'd share. She asked, "Are you sure?" Yes, it was a really large brownie.

And oh boy, was it ever good and I'm not even that much of a chocolate fan. While she was eating the first one Susan was moaning so much ("Oh, yum. Good! Sooo good!") I looked around to be sure no one thought I was misbehaving. Fifteen minutes later we were back inside, asking for two more to take back to our hotel for our late night snack. The clerk just laughed at us and gave them to us as a freebie. Thanks, Chris, you helped confirm our belief that some of the friendliest people around are New Yorkers!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Did It!

I have replied back to over two months of various comments and emails. True, I didn't have much to say but then if you get to know me better you'll find out that I don't usually say much anyway. I'd like to think I'm "pithy" but maybe not! Anyway, if I missed you it's because 1) your comment reply address was blocked or 2) I accidentally deleted your email. Sometimes I get confused with all my choices and accidentally delete something I should keep -- It's accidental, honest!

I also looked at a lot of blogs that I've been ignoring lately. You people are really productive and creative! I'm appropriately humbled.

I promise to be a better person in the future.

Susan speaks: That probably means he'll take one month to reply. But trust me, he does appreciate your comments - every day he asks me "Did anyone comment? What did they say?" and every day I say "Read your own damn mail." It never ends.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


More of the Little Dudes, this is Callio.

Susan seems to always gravitate toward the artwork that has greys, blacks and whites in it. Then she'll stare at it for a long time and take a photo. I have no idea why. The first piece below is a collage by Esteban Vicente, the second is a detail from a large painting by Pat Steir (both at the Metropolitan). Do a Google Images search on their names and you'll pull up some great eye candy.

Not until we were putting this blog entry together did we notice the similiarity between her photo of Steir's painting and the photo below. She checked and sure enough, the title of the painting was "Waterfall..." (She usually takes a photo of the documentation right after the photo of the artwork).

One purpose of our trip to New York City was for Susan to go to the World Trade Center Memorial and make sure her step-brother's name was shown correctly (he died in the plane crash at the Pentagon).  Susan had always been impressed by the Pentagon Memorial and was worried this Memorial wouldn't seem "right". Her fears were unfounded as the sound of the flowing water at the Memorial seems to block out the city noise and gives it a serene feeling.

On October 31 we found this little kiddo watching the street action, ready for his trick-or-treat night.

Every morning it's my job to go out, buy the daily newspaper and Wall Street Journal for Susan and forage for breakfast that we eat in our room. (Want to travel a lot but have a small budget? Don't eat in restaurants.) 

I found great breakfast scones as big as softballs at Donna Bell's, just across the street from our hotel. Those along with the Belgian Brownies would increase my pants size except for the fact that we were on our feet all day long. My abs look almost like this guy's (from the Metropolitan Museum, Greek hall).  Almost. But not quite. At all.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Here is Alippo. I've been busy lately. Austin Art Garage has been patiently waiting for me to produce something for them but I've been doing the usual "farting in a colander" and doing everything else. I finally got "or else" orders from Susan, accompanied by a lot of yelling and dire threats.* Being retired is hard work!

To compound the problem of a lack of productive work, we took off for a week and went to:

Yep, New York City with Times Square for Halloween once again. Before that crazy night we had the (dubious) pleasure of a beautiful snowstorm. Through rain and wind we went down into the subway at 51st St.....

.... only to come up at 81st St to blowing snow. These shots are from within the Metropolitan Museum, the perfect place for a snowy day but not exactly a good choice for a snowy Saturday. Just us and a zillion other tourists.

*Susan speaks: Very dire threats. He has orders to respond to comments from a month back (yes!) and to read his emails all by himself. Dire threats. The man is not going to get lucky anytime soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day, November 11, 2011: For the 1%

Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

But the past is just the same-and War’s a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

From Aftermath, by Siegfried Sassoon

The  Occupy Wall Street protesters proudly display this political statement: 
 "We are the 99%".
This refers to the fact that wealth and income has become concentrated within the top 1% of the United States population.

Here's another way to look at numbers:
Just 1% of the United States population has served,
or is currently serving, in the military
to shoulder the load of America's two longest wars.

Do you need a job?
Join the Army. Or the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or the Air Force.
Are you part of the 99%?
Thank a veteran today (or any other day) for stepping up for you.

Remember 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.

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

Remember 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.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What's Your Cup Size?

Two small test cups, about 3" high. I'm liking this glaze and want to try some more soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Close, But No Cigar

Sometimes I make large pieces that just refuse to talk to me but I stubbornly insist on continuing with them. They come home and Susan takes one look at them and says "That one is going outside in the back yard or the trash can, your choice."

After I pout and whine for a while and desperately try to defend the piece, I accept the inevitable: the piece sucks. Big time.

Susan tries to placate me by telling me it's not a failure, it's a "learning experience". That sucks, too. Big time. But she and I took the piece and started fooling around with acrylic paints and inks and stamps and all sorts of junk because obviously there was no reason for it to be "precious". And the end result was some interesting color combinations that I'll try in the future on pieces I decide to paint instead of glaze.