Isn't it great that memento mori now meets a new favorite? How is it possible I can have so many loves...and they collide in the most wonderful ways?
Thank you for your patience.
Isn't it great that memento mori now meets a new favorite? How is it possible I can have so many loves...and they collide in the most wonderful ways?
Thank you for your patience.
My brain has been in color spin cycle. My mind is blown. My little Rumplestiltskin moments have pushed me out of my zone and into a blazing nature, with yellow fields, soft green willows budding, blazing pink cherry trees, and the billowing branches in tones of white, cream and pale pink. Spring has been slow...creeping one step after the next...slowly, slowly, quietly under grey skies and cold rain. That grey gradient fooled me until the brilliant blue sky we had last Saturday which continued through this weekend to my absolute shock and delight. What a winter of darkness, a medieval time of slow and sadness, change and cold to the bottom of my heart. What a winter of solid work, solid walls, dreary days and weekends. And now, nature has splashed the world with clear, clean, spring color with lush green, blue skies and delicate pinks, roses and clear yellows. This assault of new, of clean, of hue and shade was such a shock that I had to exclaim my amazement and delight in having the new just arrive at my back door...beckoning with cool breezes and big fat bumblebees seeking our their spot in our new season, in the new life we have been given, and the crazy growy time we are immersed in. Finally. And yes, there will be an abundance of sour cherries and cider apples this fall. So my friends will have to prepare for a robust harvest and maybe robust profits too. The CSA folks are wildly planting and preparing. We have had some amazing spinach and fine, elegant russian kale (not the horse food we normally consume). And soon, asparagus, strawberries and raspberries. Heaven!
Ron's memorial service was last weekend at Mount Saviour Monastery in Pine City, NY (just outside of Elmira). Mount Saviour is a beautiful, peaceful Benedictine Monastery that was Ron's first project on his own just after he received his architectural license. It is a bucolic place with wild nature and a true, steep valley that leads you to the top of a hill where the monastery, the chapel and the outbuildings housing artists, craftsmen, farmers and thinkers live/ and have lived their lives in peace and community. The service was perfect in it's exquisite, simple symbolism, in the quiet and song, in the message of work and life and living. In the quiet of loss, but the hope beyond death in the life/ the spirit beyond. This meeting of people was truly the memorial I think that represented Ron the best in his spirit, his gift, and his vision. Seeing the Monastery now populated with a new group of monks, a younger group of men filled with a new vision, a new attitude about this lovely place--it seemed that there was a continuum, an apt progression from one generation to the next, placing Ron's legacy in the hands and hearts of a new group who will love, live and get to know Ron through the buildings he designed with the founder of this Monastery, Fr. Damascus Winzen OSB (1901-71). For more on Fr. Damascus Winzen>>
We soaked in springtime at the lake this weekend and I am beginning to feel that maybe I might be coming back to myself. It is going to take a bit of time, but what with the color, the birds, and a hugging dog and chatty husband, things might take on a bit more levity appropriate with this glorious time.
It was heads down yesterday. I had yearbook, files to complete, new projects to begin. I am working on a bunch of vector things just to get my hand in, my eye in, my head into the work. I am feeling stale overall, so playing the visual scales is a good thing that is challenging me, and at the same time, making some happy holiday imagery.
Rob is in NYC. Alex is in prep for his play and for upcoming XC events. The girls XC team wants me to do a shirt for them inspired by the Sausage Fest shirt. Its not my design. It’s Alex’s work…I am just the hands…and he has ideas for the girls he knows either they will not get, or better, get and not understand how inappropriate it is. I need to get him to put his brain on this for amusement (at least ours).
Gloria is on her way east. Gloria is my sister-in-law who has lived in Los Angeles since college. She has decided to move east for a change of things—bringing household and horse (big horse) to settle here with family and old friends (and new ones too). We are all looking forward to this change for her…and feel that this will be a good thing for her personally, professionally. Los Angeles, as much as its heaven, is tough going financially, travelling, making friends, engaging in community. These are factors that are sweet here. I think she is going to be pleasantly surprised once she settles in. She is driving her cute little blue car east … Memphis was last night. Tonight is Lexington KY. She will be here Friday. So things are ramping up here on campus.
I started Thanksgiving on Sunday making the filler for the stuffing (I make a combo of sausage, mushrooms, leeks, parsley (sauteed)) that I blend with cornbread, and parmesean cheese. Tonight I start making stock so I can make the gravy in advance. I want to make pumpkin bread and cornbread in the next week or so. Same with the cranberries. All this prework makes the 25th of Nov. a pleasant day. I love this. Totally. I should be doing dupes so that xmas is the same. That would be genius. I am not that genius…but if one is prepping feasts, prep big. I am thankful I am living in the day of the freezer and not the middle ages so this sort of prework can happily be done.
In the spirit of giving, I was thrilled to read about my friend, Stefan Senders championing a local food delivery to the Occupy Wall Street folks>> Ithaca is filled with protesting old hippies who love local food. We are all over being part of the 99% and want to share our goods to keep cheer for those who are doing the occupying. Stefan, as you remember, is the baker/owner of Wide Awake Bakery (a wood fired, artisan bakery who uses flour that is grown and ground here in Tburg. Here is a bit from the Ithaca Journal article by Rachel Stern:
“A van, running on biodiesel and chock-full of goodies made in the Ithaca area, traveled to New York City to feed protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement last week.
Organized by Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery of Trumansburg, the van was packed with bread, pancake mix, cheese, scones, cabbage, bulgur and whole wheat pasta, to name a few items. Eager to find a way to contribute to the movement, Senders decided to enlist the help of local farmers and restaurant owners.
“Our bakery has a mission to bake the best bread in the world, but we also have a social mission to do good things we believe in,” he said. “We really wanted to contribute in some way to the movement because it is very much in line with what we think.”“…
“This is part of our mission — it is part of the mission of many of us in the area — to do all we can to help what we see as an important movement,” he said. “We feel like we are doing the right thing. We are totally psyched to be involved.”“
There are grackles on the roof looking at me with all sorts of nesting material to make their nest…probably in the carriage house to our displeasure. Rob looked at the bird leavings and proclaimed that we were going to bird proof our back porch as those critters just decide what they want to do and poop etc. everywhere.
There was a cacaphony of birdcalls, crow caws and morning doves this morning while Shady and I did the consititutional. The Garlic Mustard is just about ready to bloom (maybe I can get some help ripping it out…I ripped out buttercups this morning). What with all the rain, the air is tropical and humid. The grass is growing like crazy with all the rain and cool humidity.
So here is another lesson for me. TAG your online work. Tag your images…and dont be skimpy. Talk about technique, tag subject down to detail, tag your name, your town, and the design elements of the compostion. I got another job yesterday from someone I have never spoken to, never marketed to, never met who, when searching the internet for bees found little old me. Quick sketch process for Friday and more finished work for next week as they are going into a test marketing process. This job has a mythological creature, limes and bees. And, they are interested in the handdrawn Q. Not the vector Princess.
So, since January, I have worked for 4 new Art Directors I have an email relationship with! Wow.
I am meeting this pm with my lovely new friends….maybe about a new enterprise they are interested in.
p.s. Harold Camping has claimed that this recent Rapture alert was just the warmup for October. Bless him, he is in bounceback mode…which gives me more time to work on my Rapture work after the new quickly job:
Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. His independent ministry, Family Radio International, spent millions - some of it from donations made by followers - on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.
But Camping said that he’s now realized the apocalypse will come five months after May 21, the original date he predicted. He had earlier said Oct. 21 was when the globe would be consumed by a fireball.
Saturday was “an invisible judgment day” in which a spiritual judgment took place, he said. But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been, he said.
“We’ve always said May 21 was the day, but we didn’t understand altogether the spiritual meaning,” he said. “May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment.”
Make plans for October. Sounds like a good day to throw a party. Right?
Must make this quick. Have a two hour stint at the HS to work with wonderful Marc on the Yearbook and the software we have decided to use. So I will have to make tracks.
Got the cow picture squared away along with some doodads requested by the amazing art director I am working with . I got the cow picture (with a farmer) reduced down to black and three greys which is pretty good getting another color to hand back to the designer to weave back into the package graphic. Hangar is coming along…maybe by end of this week. A girl can hope. Some big pubs (brand new) are coming on the horizon…so cleaning up the little stuff will be key.
Mr. White is still suffering although he is walking better and eating like the good old days of robusto. Kitty is a bit topsy turvy…that back from college, trying to make sense of the at home thing and the college thing. She is tired and feeling stressed, but we see tremendous growth. Change can hurt…and I think she is feeling it a bit.
“Lurking on the Railroad” is the play Alex is in at the High School. They are working late each night with opening night being Thursday (through Saturday) and we will have hot dogs and the cast party here. No biggie since the last extravaganza (Pourhouse).
Need to go…the clocks are all chiming to say “get going!”.
Onward! It was a quiet day yesterday with projects and nonpaying jobs. I worked on the Hangar work and Rob worked on the bathroom imaginings. Kitty slept and relaxed. Alex visited with friends. I got a little bit ahead, but now, back to the drawing board with late late thinking and amendments.
The snow is melting…as we continue to get icy flurries that dust the mud piles. We are looking at the season of mud in front of us…We all just hope that we can move forward with the brighter and longer days. We have had enough of the miasma of mud and ice.
Thanks to the intellectual salad bar that the iPad provides at quiet time, trolling or shopping for cool ideas surface things that are out there that are wonderful, interesting, useful and thought provoking. Here are some new cool discoveries:
In the tradition of Rip Van Winkle, I always find myself shaking my head and feeling like somehow I missed it again…and this emerging approach to type for the web and mobile devices (the WOFF Standard). The blog, “all Blogging Stuff” highlights some of these changes and resources for Web Typography in their entry (03/12/2011) “8 Essential Web Typography Resources.”
I also found this wonderful website: The Grid System, a resource and forum for grid systems. I love grids and the way it formats and puts bones into any publication or design program. And with a Josef Muller-Brockman quote to open this site (I mean, he is the MAN)—how could any girl resist?
“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice. ” Josef Müller-Brockmann
Love the writing and simplicity of Graphic Mac/ Smart Typography Tips A terrific starting place. I wish I had written this.
And, totally off topic, but part of the salad bar concept (this is the pudding next to the vinigrette), The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations from DARMC/ Harvard.
And now, to move onward to cook dinner.
First day of Lent. Thinking about the things I am going to give up. I have a list. It’s all doable , the right thing to do. It’s nice to have a reason to give something up. The question is how many things to give up so that it feels like something. and I can do some preemptive mental spring cleaning on M. E.
Poor Mr. White. I took him to the wonderful vet clinic, ARC. They immediately scheduled him for surgery tomorrow and decided to keep him until then. I guess Mr. Cranky and Mr. White mixed it up again, and his eye was severely damaged such that they are going to remove the eye and sew up the lids. Lets just say it has me shaken. Robbie has been nice to suggest that Mr. White finally has earned a new name, Winky. Mr. Winky White… David suggests a tiger’s eye eye versus the sewn up thing. A patch would be dapper. He is so sweet but eggs Mr. Cranky on.. So he will become my studio cat during the unmanaged time of the day—so that they will not have unsupervised time. The kind vet basically outlined that these feline behaviors cannot be modified.
New news aggregator, Zite, recommended by Walt Mossberg just launced on iTunes today (free) . Just downloaded it. Love Flipboard and Pulse. I know this is going to be great! Katie Boehret at All things Digital explains:
“Zite, by a Vancouver company of the same name, crawls over half a million Web domains to find specific reading material that would be of interest to you, according to your social network and/or online reading behavior. It evaluates this potential content by tracking signals (like tweets, comments, tags and sharing) from stories that indicate a certain level of social interest and momentum in the story. The result is a personalized magazine that gets more accurately targeted toward its reader the more it’s used.”
“Zite isn’t just a mirror of your social-networking account. It figures out what you consider interesting according to your Twitter or Google Reader accounts, then fills your magazine with stories about similar topics.
It also tracks and learns from user behavior as people open stories (or don’t), so if users just read a story on Zite, its personalization still works. With each story a user reads, he or she can opt to indicate they like a story, want to see more of one or all of the individual topics covered in that story, or want to see more from the source of that story. Zite then makes suggestions according to that knowledge. So your Zite magazine will never be exactly like mine.”
Another highlight of this morning’s news and article grazing was this gem to help lay people work with type (from Jim Dempsey at the Graphicmac.com). Dempsey simply outlines “tips that can make your next printed piece more professional”. I think I may ask Jim Dempsey if we can copy this as a document to add to our tools to help our big client’s employees work with type in a better way.
Speaking of Dropbox, we are going the next step with it. I am loving what it can do for me.
So working on the technique of these things. The bolder the lines, I find it getting harder to make them interesting in color, but the grisaille works (at least for me). I could color this. These images are different than the memento mori images, using techniques from the Home Sweet Home body of work last year around this time. As always, color stumps me, so doing it is pushing the old girl along to see if the images evolve and snap more with the color than just plain black and white which is my “go to” and safe place. The original line drawing (bottom) is where I started, took it to color (I’ll post, but am not thrilled with it), back to reworking in greys (top). The image is drawn in my moleskine (A4), with sharpie pens, and new copic brush pen (nice). Original sketch done in verithin photoblue pencil. Verysharp please. Then, I scan it in, retouch the half and then flop. Then I make another one, (negative) on another field…and cut and paste between the two. Pretty crafty…all we need is the virtual gluestick.
I am pondering….”Is it better to get an undergraduate degree in art/visual art from a liberal arts school if you know you want art? or is it better to go to a for real Art School?”. I have landed on the side of get the liberal arts education and draw like no one’s business. Learn to write. Learn some skills directly related to art, but also develop interests that are the sources for content, for inspiration, for further learning. Learn to learn. Get the spark. Focus happens for us all…why cramp your style by focusing down so quickly? Why get stuck in a groove too quickly. You might create a hybrid that can change you and or the world. You could find content in DNA and it can inform your art, your films, your stories. You never know. Mark Zuckerberg did not go to school to create Facebook. He learned to learn….and with the climate today with what a job, what work is— who knows if you can learn how to be something when the terraine is shifting in such wonderful and interesting ways. What with Etsy and the money one can make at short pops during the year…making a living is not limited to a nine to five at a Fortune 100 with your “work/life/balance” defined, and your personality questioned insofar as wheither you are good or bad. There is so much out there in this wide world, focusing down is safe insofar as the “job”, but isnt your time on this plain so, so much more?
I need to get on the ball and look at summer programs for the babies. It would be great to find something for Mr. Boy that might be related to photography or something else. Kitty, art. Maybe Illustration Academy (did you know its not in Florida anymore?). Here is what they say:
“The Illustration Academy’s 2011 summer program will be held in one location, Kansas City, MO. The Illustration Academy is now operating as a Special Program within The Art Department’s (TAD) Illustration Major. The 2011 Illustration Academy will be held in the TAD studios (Pods) that have been developed to accommodate the immersion component of TAD.
The Illustration Academy will begin June 12th and run through July 8th. The same stellar professionals will make up The Illustration Academy Faculty. It is a major advantage to have the Academy in our own space once again. We are presently speaking with a major convention hotel about housing for the Academy students and instructors. “
I have sauce bubbling away while two testosterone filled juniors bellow and moan over this shoot em up game they are playing on the t.v. There was drum music for about an hour and now we have breaktime with chocolate milk and gunplay. Alex had the school play practice today. Skiing (in the rain?) tomorrow.
Rob and I came back from trolling the big box stores for bathroom light fixtures and sinks. We were amazed by the sheet flooring that is out today that mimic the real thing wonderfully amazingly. I have a hankering for a deep brown parquet…which is really, really convincing though the cork was pretty spectacular too. We are finishing up Kitty’s bathroom and the yellow bathroom (one of the original 3) is having all the acid yellow tile ripped off the walls (this is an amazing acid yellow as nothing “went with it”—-we tested colors galore to a big bad yuck) and the dropped ceiling trashed. It is quite spectacular. All the fixures stay (except the cheap vanity) and we are looking at linoleum as we really do not want to have to shim all the plumbing to raise it for tile (as well as the thresholds and the contact with the tub). So, its a refit…and this luscious, believable, chocolate parquet would make it a stage set for glamour. We are thinking of moving one of the chandeliers (the house came with three yucky ones) into the space as we have the headroom…and it would be great. Only problem as I can see it, is that one chandelier is just not enough. Three? Five? At different heights? Now we are talking.
Mardi Gras illustrations fill my thin skull. I think I need to move towards doing a few.
Another tease from Spring. Blue skies, blue shadows, and bright light. The snow is still on the ground but the little flirt, Spring, is waving us on with the birds cheering time on and inspiring us that change is in front of us. I am anxious to buy some montmorcy cherry trees so make those little promises even more tempting. Lets see if the 4 hellebore I put in last spring (inspired by the few hellebore that Rebe left us) bloom and tempt.
Crazy today. Phone calls galore. Work galore. Track dish to pass at six promptly. Am worn out before we even get started. Not much time to chat….but figured I would post the newest with tone for your amusement…and say hi.
So, a new technique is emerging. Not exactly new…but taking these detailled black and white line drawings beyond black and white. I add tone via Photoshop (see yesterday’s image) using postitive and negative aspects of the original line work along with tone added via brush and eraser. Then, the toned piece is the base for the coloring (see above). I am thrilled with the way this is looking. lots of detail, and it is working as a color piece too. So, now onward to working with it. I do not know why Memento Mori images popped back up, but they have and I am looking at Mexican Sugar Skulls again with happiness in my head and pen.
Speaking of pens, do you know about the refillable Copic SP Multiliner pens? There is a wide wide range of widths along with a brush that is permanent. Sweet. Jet Pens have them…. and of course, they have wild and wonderful Japanese office supplies.
I am a bit nuts as a bunch of rushes were plopped inbetween me and the preexisting work that will keep me in my chair until at least 8 tonight. I would like to be able to leave before 7 on a more regular basis. It gets a bit tedious, but books on tape keep me wanting to work to stay with the story (thank goodness!).
Its that season…that happy season that girls can dream of Krampus and Ziet Piet. They can dream of Erzegebirge folk art and Russian dolls. They can think of all the lovely saints and santas. And so, the beginning of advent is almost upon us…and the drawing season for Advent Pictures almost is here.
I have been cooking pretty much full time since Thursday. We had 11 for dinner on Thanksgiving and 13 last night. In betweeen, I processed the amazing bird into lunch with sandwiches, three casseroles and a monster pot of stock for yes, Christmas’ bird which I will make all in advance like this time. I made a pair of quiche (using the leftover stuff to go into the stuffing that I couldn’t use up), a pan of toffee bars and three little ladylike loaves of nutbread. It is so critical to deconstruct and rebuild new feasts while the bird is front of mind…and the leftovers abound. Makes a lot of dishes, but I now have five whole dinners for the freezer which should help over the course of the next few weeks. Kitty has food to take back to school for her friends’ own Thanksgiving (nutbread, cheese, toffee bars, crackers, cranberries).
We went to the Corning Museum of Glass to their blowout holiday sale. They had all sorts of deals…the best to my thinking was 40% all Bodum and 80% off all Waterford (including some really beautiful Marc Jacobs designed pieces). Bruce came too, and we filled up the car with things to keep, to give away and to admire. Spangly bracelets and tea cups. All sorts of things.
I am serious about this NYFA grant. New York Foundation for the Arts presents over 100 grants to artists ($7,000) to work on projects in certain disciplines. I am going to propose a body of work in the Drawing area around the concept of People, Personalities, Events, Occasions and Symbols in the New York State Burned Out Zone from 1700-1880. That would cover the Mormons and Joseph Smith, The Fox Sisters, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Oneida Community, The Universal Friend and more. The Masons, the Shakers and all sorts of religious and political fervor reigned supreme….with all sorts of interesting things being stirred up here in Central and Upstate NY. I would pursue it in a folk style (inspired by the people of the time along with the American Puritian Gravestones, Fraktur, and Lubok styles…all within the hand). So, I have an idea. I have reference and I can map out what the images would be. So, though it is no strings other than a presentation (I would like to do it at Sagamore or here Chez Camp open to the public or the Library)…it would give me a year to work on an interesting body of work.
That is the thinking for now, at least…its something.
I dont know if Denver can happen. There is too much going on with my big client.. premeetings for pre meetings before a big meeting. What to present? What is the point of the meeting? What wants to be represented? What’s the takeaway? And I find that I am having some value during those meetings being a bit harsh…a nice counter to my nice client. But, after doing some research, Denver is so appealing just to eat barbeque and mexican and shop for snap shirts (want to do that with Alex Cassetti)…and maybe see a rodeo or something along that line. Love it.
The blue skull on cream is pretty. Love the color. Love doing single color work on cream as it changes the black and white dynamic. Sweetens it. Anyway…two more drawings and the notebook is done….all I will need to do is paint the cover…pentel black on beige with maybe the new coconut beige to deepen some of the line work.
Just spoke to Pioneer Printing about letterpress vs. stamping the Cornell holiday cards. They could be way sweet. Joe Seppi and i are in love with the same printing stuff…so the production of these babies could be beautiful. Will need to redo the cat card…to make it less grumpy. He just delivered a nice clean job on Kraft paper card for Ithaca College…Service is excellent. Price is excellent. I am thrilled to pieces.
Today is a brilliant day on the plateau. Seems that we are on the edge of the massive storm coming east…I hope we are holding tight on the tree front. These big storms are a worry for me as it tests the success of how we have been maintaining our trees, our big old trees…and if we have missed ones that may have seemingly been healthy, but turned out to have structural flaws. Remember this storm? It literally uprooted this enormous pine tree on the lake three years ago. Looked like a bomb went off. These beautiful big trees…you never know.
The internet has been crawling—slowly, slowly—to finally just stop working today. Erich is on the phone trying to get some help—trouble shooting our connections and the viability of the line. It is amazing to discover how dependent we are on that link to the world, particularly that of mail, for our work, our deliverables, our communication with clients, friends, family, and suppliers. The world stops spinning a bit when the connection hiccups and we find ourselves out of focus for a bit. But, I guess the nice thing is is that these instances teach us that we cannot take this marvel for granted.
Oh look. Now we are back—connected!
We are clocking down the Annual Report for a non-profit research organization we are working with along with a holiday card. We are wrapping up a small mountain of tiny projects for the main client—from consulting on an e-card, to ads and a tradeshow unification between two disparate aspects of the business to presenting a series of colorways for a corporate “little red book” document that is annually issued. Nitty little projects that often have nitty little bits to tweak and change forever, but that is what we are paid for.
I guess we are now in the throes of the peak of the color. The deciduous trees have shed enough foliage to be able to see through the branches/leaves to the darker woods or evergreens behind. The gold color against the dark is breathtaking. And the glimmers of red is remarkable too. Halloweeen approaches, and with that the long winter is in sight.The chestnuts, horse chestnuts and apples are all out…as are the extraordinary number of deer that park themselves on the front lawn as if on contract for some photoshoot about living in the country.
A sad note. Don Ivan Punchatz passed away on Thursday. He leaves an extraordinary legacy as an illustrator, mentor, teacher and friend. Wikipedia says:
Don Ivan Punchatz (born 1936 - October 22, 2009) is an artist who has drawn illustrations for numerous publications including magazines, such as: Heavy Metal, National Geographic, Playboy, and Time. In 1993 id Software hired him to create the Doom video game package art and logo. The result was named the second best game box art of all time by GameSpy  His son, Gregor Punchatz, has worked on special effects for several movies, and also created monster sculptures for Doom.
Rapid fire blog entry this morning. Interesting news. I have my work on Behance, a cool creative resource/social networking site...and I got an interesting job (albeit gratis) that came across the email. There is The Star of Bethnel, a pub in East London that has a poster program that they ask international artists/illustrators to submit art for. They have a good deisgn firm doing the branding--and they came across my work on Behance and want me to do the December poster...anything I want. How fun is that...Rob thinks I should go totally Memento Mori on it... I am thinking more a la valentines with Fraktur angels as it is December and the English don't really have an issue with Christmas as the December Holiday.
Work here has been from fire drill to fire drill...the quick, drop everything approach to no planning and trying amidst the chaos to not let anything slip through the cracks. I have been carless for well on to two weeks which is making me a bit of a princess in the tower--- with work, cooking and general house stuff keeping me land locked. Timmy, our painter, spent the better part of Monday getting a small cherry picker into the back yard to paint the roof trim of the house. As I hung up the phone with another rush completed, my mother in law came in to tell me " Timmy is up in the air". What? And I need to be the adult for this too? So, I went outside to see that yes, Timmy was up in the air--with the cherry picker somehow stuck--locked so the mechanism wouldn't work. Everybody was hanging back...and yes, I had to be the adult. So, Timmy and I talked it through...and I tried a few things and managed to get the up/down mechanism unlocked so that we could get him down. Then, it was back to the other emergencies...not as scary as that...but still scary for the two hour turn arounds/bailouts that keep coming.
That is why the star project seems so fun. No emergency there.
Kitty is crazed with her play practices. Alex with Cross Contry training and trying to make up the work he lost last week with his ill days. Rob has left every morning before seven and this morning at five to get to NYC and back today. Its pretty much everyone nose to the grindstone.
This weekend we have a celebrated apple picking/cider pressing event that we have been included in...which should be interesting and fun. But first, we need to get through this week.
The Granary Burying Ground is the 3rd cemetery established in the city of Boston, dating to the year 1660. The need for the site arose because the land set aside for the city's first cemetery, King's Chapel Burying Ground located a block east was insufficient to meet the city's growing population. Early in its existence the area was known as the South Burying Ground until 1737 at which point it took on the name of the granary building which formerly stood on the site of what is now the Park Street Church. In May 1830 trees were planted in the area and an attempt was made to change the name to “Franklin Cemetery” to honor the family of Benjamin Franklin, but the effort failed.
The Burying Ground was originally part of the Boston Common which originally encompassed the entire block, but two years after the cemetery was established the southwest portion of the block was taken for public buildings, which included the Granary and a house of correction and the north portion of the block was used for housing.
Tombs were initially placed near the back of the property and on 15 May 1717 a vote was passed by the town to enlarge the Burying Ground by taking part of the highway on the eastern side, (now Tremont Street). The enlargement was carried out in 1720 when 15 tombs were created and assigned to a number of Boston families.
I was struck by the extrodinary liveliness of line, of spirit and of image that was expressed at this significant graveyard. Yes, there were many stones that were to the raw eye, probably developed, cut and finished by the same artists. However, even in those "gimme one of those" moments, how each stone had a special attitude, spirit that suited the stone that was selected (with many of them having the carving and lettering conform to the basic shape of the stone), the depth and fineness of the line, and the expression of the faces/skulls. I was intrigued by the way the wings even in this small community of stones were different from a central form from which feather forms developed either horizontally or vertically. There were some pomegranates, pinecones, masonic symbols, and sometimes a stacked spirit effigy and skull combination.
I am charmed by the stone with the heart as the central vehicle to hold the type . In the same manner, I am charmed by the stone with the urn that holds the type. This is originality that is not the same as the look in this neighborhood for the afterlife. I just got a great book on American printer's woodcuts/etchings. There are a few examples of handbills notifying the public of a death at this same time. It is a fascinating juxtaposition that somehow dimensionalizes these stone versions....Unfortunately, I didn't shake poor old Memento Mori out of my system when I stopped a while back. I think there are more images (perhaps a bit more refined) but more images nonetheless.
Monday we had a day long session at Hampshire College. To put it mildly, we were blown away. And, after viewing it the night before, were not prepared to be so pleased. The evening before we had toured the five colleges in the area in the golden sun with the grass greening right in front of us. Kitty had been wowed by Amherst College's architecture and attractive students we saw walking on campus. We loved all the collegetowns. We loved UMass and the nice Studio Art building along with the offerings it had. Smith was quaint and beautiful...along with Northhampton filled with stores, restaurants and places to hang out. It was all pretty great. On the flip side, after entering the Hampshire Campus from the back side (or was it the side) from the perfect, small Eric Carle Museum, we were less sure about this place. It was shaggilly. It did not have perfect buildings. However, to see the students hopping around campus, it did reflect an eccentricity and diversity that was not evidenced at the former locations. So, we drove about...admired the woods, the grounds, the trees...and drew in our breaths for Monday. Looks arent everything!
Monday, we were greeted at their gymnasium by tables manned by smiling, attractive people with folders stuffed with information, tables adorned with tablecloths and flowers and coffee. And vegan coffee cake. There were banners in front of the impressive climbing wall that served as the background to a small stage and podium. The prospective students and ones who were making their decisions were all there...with parents and siblings in toe. And, they were our tribe! It was if the Tburg crowd from every state, and region had showed up with their eccentric child, their headsets all sync'd. So, we were in the right place. Then the adorable, and real admissions director stood up and gave us our schedules of tours, classes, and lunch--warmly suggesting we spend the day and come back at least five more times...
We were whisked off to a large-ish hall to have an orientation run by smart and very articulate students (and one new graduate). These people were funny, confident, engaged (!) and took us through the self-driven core of what it is that Hampshire does...essentially, using my phrasing "messing about" with focus. The Hampshire program mirrors what I have been doing during the last two educational stints in graduate work--classes that then form a small body of work that drives another body of work that forces re-education through reading etc. and then the cycle continues. Liberal doses of writing and talking and thinking. Math, only if you like it--or need it. The Hampshire diamond approach (explained to us by our first year tour guide) is that one takes a class...say in pond biology. You love it, and feel that you need more training in a topic...so you go do that either at Hampshire or any of the 5 other schools (a bus runs every half hour to all the other schools). Then, with the training, you study more either on that topic or something else. The path of learning takes you to where you either want to go, or find yourself going. And, this work is supported by panels of teachers--with the end product being a way to learn, a passion and a focus that is bespoke for each student.
They had me by the ears.
Then, the tour led by a very candid, funny first year. He was very honest about eveything from the bicycle repair run by students, to the Emergency Medical teams run by students, to the spring and Jan Term trips (run by students) in kayaks and canoes. No sports--except their competitive Ultimate Frisbee team. Man, having no sports changes the paradigm considerably. Rob reminds me that they do engage in dodge ball. We saw classrooms and most importantly, the shops. The biology labs, woodshops, art studios all were phenomenal messing about spaces. Room to work.Really work...and if you needed something you could get it, or build it yourself. The art barn had a nice small painting studio where a professor was critting a remarkable work done by a student. The cubbies/studios for the other students were great and the WORK. OMG. The work was phenomenal. This is a place (remember, this is self driven) where even the best artist gets better/stretched. We saw a student's work, Wilson Kemp, who had linoleum prints which were extrodinary, bold, and beautifully designed. He had come to Hampshire as a photography student (state of the art Mac lab with 3 enormous epson printers there for anyone's use)--and after his trip to Cuba (did I mention that their study abroad program really was about study...it is the real thing with Cuba, China and one other place that Hampshire focuses on)--he came back and was taken with printmaking. He does all of his work at Amherst (knowing the riches that are there) and takes full advantage of the 5 college relationships. There were paintings better than MFA work from Syracuse that I bumped up against. Once again...each person with confidence, excellence and a work ethic that was beyond their years. We saw students working passionately, as if on deadline with themselves...and when Rob and I sat on the commons...what did these students talk about? Sex and parties? NO. Work, and their learning. So, when Kitty and Alex sat in on a class on Neurobiology (which they both loved), we went back to the shop to see about the glassblowing that was mentioned. We were given a tour by one of the shop heads who explained it was flameworking...but the santas workshop aspect of how they (the teachers) were there to help make anything happen. There was a tiny blacksmith kiln that had been rigged to take vegetable oil and the student could get it to heat to 2800 degrees. Another student was going to make a tabletop glass operation (inspired by the medieval furnaces) which was impressive.
Never judge a book by its cover...and at Hampshire, this is certainly the case. It's the beat..the passion, the love of learning and the entrepeneurism that comes from each student having to get out there and get what they need to fuel more learning. It is a fearlessness that I admire in people who are possesses and on a path which is rare in any academic environment--however at Hampshire, seems almost commonplace. I could rattle on forever but time is of essence.
We saw Emerson College yesterday. Emerson is situated at the edge of Boston Commons--an urban campus which has amazing facilities from the high tech studios and classrooms to gorgeous dorm rooms and library. The students are very focused (a professional program) on journalism, film, theatre, theatre production but have the ability to work in any of these areas with student run clubs and productions. This school runs and manages two theatres (beautifully rennovated, old theatres with gold leafed plaster putti and balcomies) with more than fifty productions a year. Everyone gets their hands dirty. They run a recognized radio station that broadcasts, raises funds and even is available on itunes. They run a newsroom and a t.v. station. It is very real. The students we met and saw were nice, focused and also driven by the work in a more conventional way. Not a place to find yourself but if you know what you want...impressive place.
We did a bit of walking around. A trip to the cemetery next to Park Church for me. Wonderful. Being with so many of these carved gravestones was amazing due to the liveliness of the cutting, the repetition of the imagery and yet so many derivations. The lettering was great--with ligatures and corrections to amuse everyone. Kitty and I spied a triple head...one of a skull, a winged cherub and then another head on top of that. There were some other examples not shown in the Ludwig book...from flat stones cut like silhouettes of obelisks, to silhouettes used in the design of regular stones (an urn in particular which served as the base for the copy). Paul Revere was buried there with a column marking his grave where people left stones as tributes. John Adams was there with a rather monumental marker complete with an English style heraldic device with lions/griffins, swirlies, and hands. Will post the images later
We got a taste of Harvard in the morning...walking through the beautiful campus on a perfect cool spring morning. The buds are coming out...the students were on campus...so it really was quite a juxtapostion from Hampshire to Harvard. Cambridge was bustling. We had remarkable hamburgers for breakfast/lunch that made for some fun as it was very much a student landmark we ate at to the delight of the home team. We took the Hotwire lottery and spent one night at the Kimpton Hotel Marlowe and the second night at Kimpton Onyx Hotel in the Quincy Market area.
Both very nice, small boutique hotels that we have stayed in in San Diego and last Christmas in Westwood (LA) California.
Off to University of New Hampshire this morning. Should be interesting.