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.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Remembering, Memorial Day, 2015

Please enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend but take a few moments to ponder why it is we even have a Memorial Day. It is a day for remembering and honoring the men and women who have died while serving in our United States military forces. Go here if you need to put a face to this day.
Barry Lynn Brown, Killed in Action, Vietnam, May 5, 1968

James Clifford McKittrick, Missing in Action, Vietnam, June 1967

I didn't have poppies to put by the path where I left a Give-Away pot but did the best I could.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tweet, Tweet

Right across the street from us is a huge area of mostly undeveloped land - 75 acres in all.  It is loaded with trees like this.  If you go to Google Earth and search for Bull Creek Road, Austin TX, you will see it just on the right of Bull Creek Road.  Right now there are only a few state department buildings on it. Otherwise, beautiful meadows full of wildflowers, lots of people walking dogs there or just enjoying a quiet walk by the creek --a very peaceful oasis in the middle of a city. Nice, isn't it?

Oops! Wrong. A developer has bought it from the state, has met with all the neighboring associations (including us) and cheerfully told us all that they are going to develop a "legacy" area there. In their minds a "legacy" means office buildings, townhouses, apartments, retail, parking garages, homes priced up to $1 million, etc. They will "try" to preserve 13 acres of it as open space and some people are buying into that story. The reality of it is that they have to leave those 13 acres on the east side alone because Shoal Creek is there as the eastern boundary of their land and it has some sections set aside as floodplain areas, so they couldn't be built on anyway.

In the meantime, until the power of The Mighty Dollar begins to take control of the area, I will continue to put my Give-Aways in the trees.

Can you see him? How about this closeup ...

So far this little red birdie is staying with me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

OK, All you Moms, it's not a rose, it's a cabbage. Looks pretty anyway and is definitely not ordinary, and I'm sure you aren't ordinary either. And I least I sent you a flower!

These were at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC last November. I've seen plenty of blooming cabbages before but they've usually been flat on the ground, not on tall stems like this. Strange.

This little birdie could have fit right in with the cabbages.

Remember this:
Not all Superheroes wear capes.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spiderman 2 and Egon

Another little test piece, about 4 inches high. Again, I probably won't be able to recreate the glaze again but hey, if was easy everyone would be doing it.

Do you see us there? It was in April, we were on our way to New York City. Wait! We aren't in that picture! We spent the $170 to get TSA PreCheck and ta-dah! ... I don't have to take off my belt or my shoes or, best of all, stand in a long line.  Best money we've spent in years.

This was a quick and short trip this time as hotels are really expensive in April. We used to go in late January-early February when rates are really cheap but just didn't get it together this year.  Turned out to be a good decision as nearly every weekend in January and February had flight problems as the Northeast was slammed with bad weather.

We were scrambling to get everything seen in three days, especially the Egon Schiele show at the Neue Galerie.  He had a mostly strange and sad life and died when he was only 28.  Some of the works in the show were things he had done as a 17-year old and his drawing skill was incredible even at that early age.  He made some really weird stuff and some beautiful stuff too.  This is a painting of his wife, Edith, and he's painted her as what I call a "gentle soul". She looks like someone you just want to give a hug to.   She was pregnant with their first child when she died just 3 days before he died, both from the Spanish Flu.

When we go to New York City we always stay at the same hotel - I know exactly where to get giant breakfast biscuits (Donna Bell's), liquor (mandatory), snacks (Food Emporium) and food (Pret A Manger).  At Pret A Manger we always see Tanya, who is an aspiring actress. We've been teaching her how to talk Texan:  "Y'all come back real soon now."