Braids 2, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Parker refillable pen with Itoya gel pen refill.Feels like a day in early early spring. The light is low and golden, casting shadows through the trees. As we got the buckets and barrels of recycling down to the curb, the cold air felt great, invigorating, and what with the lovely light filled sky, nothing seems impossible today.

Rob is coming back from NYC after a nice dinner with some old friends from the first renovation of the Museum project. His emails were sunny and chatty. They had a really nice time.

Good news for the Museum of Glass adding more work on Rob. It has been announced the the Museum will be undergoing a $64 million for a new wing at the Museum. They will be working with architect, Thomas Pfifer and Partners NYC. Excerpts from the Evening Tribune article:

”..the project will include a new Contemporary Glass Gallery and a new Hot Glass Stage, the amphitheater-style space where glass artists give demonstrations to tourists and also during events such as 2300 Degrees.”

“…the expansion and renovation will blend with the rest of the CMoG campus and will keep much of the historic Steuben Glass plant’s footprint intact. For example, the plant’s iconic Robertson Ventilator – the strange black structure that towers above the roof – will become part of the future Hot Glass Stage.

Also as part of the project, the area just north of Steuben Glass will add green space and a promenade. The parking lot for CMoG tour buses will be moved to the main lot just off Interstate 86, and a new drop-off area will bring tour buses right to the main entrance.

From there, new circulation flows on the museum floor will bring visitors into the new wing.”

So, you can see, there is plenty to do around these plans…and Rob is one of the players in this scenario. I am very proud of my hubby who has been dogging this for the past six years and finallly got great results and an opportunity to really boost the offering of this amazing museum for all of us who love museums and all they offer. More on this…as the world finds out.

Jacob and E. leave us today. Alex C. has another evening being a star. Alex is to be Prince Dauntless in “Once Upon a Mattress”.  He is as happy as can be. We are delighted for him. We listened to his songs last night on youTube. He has some nice pieces,with nice solos that will push his singing and push his beginning physical comedy.

I got word that I got work into the winner category of Creative Quarterly 26! When I went to the website to see where I fit in, etc. I was stunned (and excited) to see that I also got work into the winner categories for both graphic design and illustration. Feeling much better. The no show this year with the Society (NYC) was disappointing, but these other shows are affirming to keep swinging, and trying for base hits. Fellow Hartfordian, Amy DeVoogd also is in the winner illustration category (Yay!) and Fello Syracuse alum, Mark Bender, amazing Pittsburgh illustrator is in the runners-up category. Congratulations to all. I need to find out which images get in (and I will post) along with getting  a portrait shot. Ey yi yi.

New Year, new day.

Sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2012We are back from a lengthened trip to take Kitty back to Hampshire for Jan Term. We swung by Mass Moca with a treat (staying at The Porches Inn) complete with a little sleep, a lot of art and some swimming in the pool and hot tubbing outside in the cold New England air. We had a great time with Kitty and Alex— lots of talking, laughing and really enjoying being in each other’s company. Alex regaled us with his impromptu interpretation of the the horrible books they read in middle school… causing us practically to wreck the car with his funny insights and focus. Kitty wanted to talk about how she is changing/growing and how that could fit into her education and what she is discovering that she may want. What an evolution from the girl we looked at colleges with.

We drove down to Hampshire on Monday on the most spectacular road…taking in the sights of the Mohawk Trail….the mountains, the valleys, the hairpin turns, the goofy souvenir stands (selling moccasins!) (the best being one with an enormous polychromed native american chief to beckon you in for a treat). It was great just getting a dose of new terrain, new places—without having a definite deadline against it. All of my “vacation time” (and Robs) have been involved in looking at colleges, going on college tours and going to and from college as part of the shuttle bus. It was nice to have this as an option (along with our mini trip to Miami) just to change the channels. Would love a week of that. Love.

I kind of hit the wall with teenaged and college aged boys late last week. It started with one of them eating all the homemade breadcrumbs for Christmas eve prep for dinner and climaxed with eight guys lurking around my kitchen all day eating anything within eyeshot and then leaving all their detrius…moving on to more and more and more. I was overwhelmed after working and confronting this wall of masticating men…I immediately became dehumorized and needed to shut down. Unfortunately, with all of this pre Christmas, post Christmas gathering of the “Bros”, it took the quiet time we normally have together and tossed it out the window. I gotta make some plans to make sure this doesnt happen at such volume next December. I can appreciate the need to gather, to eat, to bro-it-up….but starting at 11 a.m. and then finishing at 3 a.m. with heaps of sleeping men for days…is just a bit overwhelming. Yes, I did approve this all…but it then took on a momentum I didnt anticipate.

We have the ACT done. We have the Hampshire application done. We have interviews at Hampshire and Landmark scheduled. We will have the Landmark application done this week. Alex is commited to change with Landmark and wants to sharpen up his skills to let him succeed in a four year program and is articulating why he is looing forward to Landmark and then the next chapter once he has gotten his chops sharpened up. He is a remarkable person…so self aware. He is a solid, centered person that I adore and want the best for.

The New Year has clicked into that of 2012. So much happening from a few graduations, a few weddings, a prom(!), travel for us and the kids (together and separate), and change galore. I do not feel that happy anticipation of the year ahead…and need to get my head there. I want a creative shot…and something I can run with… I hope the New Year will inspire that. 

and now the day begins. Work waits.

golden trees

Vector Pic of the day, Q. Casseti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5I got a brand new project with the Thomas Cole Historic Site I have been asked to create a portrait of Thomas Cole . Thomas Cole (1801—1848) was an English born American artist who is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School. Such a wonderful romantic….and he has a very compelling visage (though his hairdo is my favorite!). And, how can you not love a guy in a cape?  more about Mr. Cole here>> Should be fun!

Am in process of finishing up the Distillery brand/look on my desk. Additionally, the Hanford Mills Ice Harvest signature is finishing up. The holiday card for my old friend client is in review. There is a ton of thises and thats on the desk, but some new fresh projects waiting to be started. Some good ones in the lineup.

It is a brilliant fall day. No rain as predicted. The leaves have fallen a bit, so the golden and light green leaves really twinkle in the trees. The grass is really remarkable and lush, the fall carpet that reduces my rain resentment. Just glorious.

We went to see Alex run in Bingamton at the Ely Golf Course which is on the top of a large hill, thrusting out and over the valley which was gorgeous and inspiring. The running course was relentless with all sorts of severe uphills, and downhills, with switchbacks and tight curves. A. did quite well as did the team with the parents and peanut gallery chasing the runners—skittling from here to there and then over and up. Shady Grove was as happy as could be, dewclaws deep in the mud.

Then we stopped on the way home at Chenango Bridge (love the name) for spiedies at the reknowned (to Rob) Spiedies and Rib Pit. Spiedies are a local (Bingampton) specialty. They are tidbits of marinated meat (vinegar based) that are cooked or grilled, and served either with stuff, on a skewer or in bread. Speidies are chicken, beef or lamb. The Spiedie and Rib Pit is stand up only…with everyone rushing with their paper sacks to their cars to devour these hot sandwiches as quickly as they can chew. We were all in heaven after all that fresh air and gadding about. We got home and the boys crashed. I did a bit of cooking and reading. Sunday was working with Alex on college stuff and assisting Rob in the solving the freezer issues. Amanda stopped by to say hi. It was great seeing her.

I am making a bunch of quicky vector pix. Its been fun, fast and pretty.

The week is short as we are taking Alex on the road to see some colleges this week. Lots to pack into 3 days. I need to call the exterminator as the groundhog hillock under our big front porch has been opened up…and we need to get rid of em. All. I was left with a have a heart trap with the notation from our contractor to just put a bunch of lettuce into the trap and wait for the groundhogs to come. Big question is then what? My contractor shot the one that was eating his garden and then out of guilt, skinned the groundhog and prepped him for the roasting pan that evening….which he then ate. I am not that responsible. I want my groundhogs decapitated with the heads displayed on the corners of our property to warn off the deer and other varmints to stay away. But that is brave talk. I need to call our exterminator, Pat the Bugman, to have his focus his tractor beam of brilliance on capturing these rascals. Maybe Pat can wrangle them while we are away.

Gotta go.

Neck Cat

After Ganga Devi, Q. Cassetti, 2011, sharpies, pitt pen and moleskineBoys are doing a round trip to NYC today to get a family member to a medical specialist for an annual. Just called, and things are good. Thank goodness. They have blue skies and melting snow versus rain and sleet and snow. Shady is laid out in sunshine on the green floor. Mr. White, my new patient, is receptive to his treatment (eyedrops) and cookies that go with his good behavior. The vet tech said that they identify cats just their color and markings. Mr. White fits into a category as a “neck cat”. Neck cats climb up you, and will sit on your shoulders and around your neck like a fashion accessory. And believe it or not, Mr. White was doing that yesterday for comfort. Made wearing a thick wool jacket (like I am) a wonderful foil for the claws—creating a positive velcro environment for the big guy. Now, like a baby, he climbs up and sits on my shoulder after he gets his eyedrops looking for a little sympathy. He is a squinty pirate, and I guess I am the new pirate ship for his captaincy. I am not a big fan of cats, but Mr. White is alright. We have a week of eyedrops and then another trip to the vet for a confirmation.

I have been at the office since a quarter to 7 a.m. Getting a bunch of things done. Uploaded a brochure and two big sized business cards to Bargain Basement Printing with the cards being (500 pcs. for $14) and the brochure equally inexpensive. So, in a week or so, we will be able to kvell or cry about the quality/price. I hope I am going to be delighted. There isn’t much flexibility around this printer (thus the price), and the file requirements are touchy, but I made it work after a while, and am heartened.

A person I met at The Museum Institute at Sagamore contacted me to see if we could repurpose my valentine for a wedding “Save the date” card. I am flattered, and we have Joe Sepi at Pioneer rolling on the reconfigured redo. What a nice idea!

Next stop, cheap stickers!

Got a poster done for the HS play (on the edge time), got some memos done, paperwork filled out and done, and started some trial-ing the specs….and surfacing more stuff. That hurts. But, if we do not check the work, we will be working and justifying and trying to figure out the specs after the fact. It hurts to have to bounce the stuff back…but better now than later. We still have time to make it work.

Need to go.


Dreary Tuesday

East West Postcard, Q. Cassetti, 2010, for the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NYUpcoming fun at the Corning  Museum of Glass. Pencil it in…with Kelley and the Cowboys and Eric Meek, glassmaker extrordinaire along with John Ford..the man that spans both cultures interpreting in probably both Chinese and English. The show opening, “East Meets West” is an interesting take on objects inspired by those things Eastern created by Western hands. A bit of this, a bit of that. Eggrolls and Tacos? Tofu and Hamburgers? Sake and and Whiskey? Rockabilly and a  Tea Ceremony? All in beautiful Corning New York. If you are a CMU alumni, there will be a gathering of the Tartans as well. Look for more details coming your way. And as you can see, two color layout with my favorite Hoefler Frere Jones font, Knockout in all sorts of iterations.

Alex is being challenged to win the race today. Everyone else is being asked to make it a “tempo run” with Alex and a friend being told to take it…with some stiff time expectations put in place. I hope he can do it. Now the question of the big dinner I need to whomp up for him.

Am working on tables and info for the Baker and Feline. Lots rolling for the big client. We MAY have a holiday card…pretty noncommittal, but something. Right now, I will take anything.

Back from Shangri La

Old Forge Hardware, Old Forge, NY, Q. Cassetti, 2010Rob gave a great presentation Friday morning about the “three legged stool” of budgeting and how to compress your strategy into a single, workable document that becomes the milestone from which management, the museum board and each individual contributor can work off the same “song sheet”. The day was brilliant and surprisingly warm, “indian summer” with all of us searching our bags for the singularly cooler thing to wear contrasted with the clothes of the week. All the participants were melancholy as the time dwindled and they all had to go back to reality—energized and motivated by all they had heard, participated and responded to during the week of The Museum Institute at Sagamore from Museumwise. It was thought provoking for me to hear about the work and tribulations of these focused and stressed individuals trying their best despite odd board dynamics, small budgets, high expectations and the general accountability and record keeping around each and every accessioned object in their collection whether it be a museum or a historic building, site or event. Each shared in the same push pull…and took heart from each other.

While on the other hand, there was little old me, reveling in the language and nods to Adirondack fabricated romance and romanticism, imagery and iconography, language and form.

Sagamore Yin Yang, Q. Cassetti, 2010Where I am going with that is this: I am fascinated by the iconography of what makes up “Adirondack”. You know the drill: birch bark, canoes, ADK guide boats,  log or tree inspired architecture, twig chairs and furniture, adirondack chairs, taxidermy and “trophies” on the walls, snowshoes, enamelware, pine trees, hemlock trees, pinecones, stone, mossy/lichen, fish/ jumping fish, all things fish (creels, rods and reels, tied flies etc.), loons, ducks, herons, glassy lakes, rocks, pack baskets, bear, moose, deer, pine scent, wool blankets, plaid, all things native american, lean-tos. You get the drift.

What is curious to me is that all of this stuff is derived from a victorian style that emerged in these Great Camps (with Mr. Durant driving this forward) that romanticized the working man’s Adirondack lifestyle for these imports, these city dwellers who came North for vacation to participate in sampling this rough and ready, scrappy life that the loggers and true outdoorsmen lived. It was adapted and modified into this lovely depiction for these brownstone dwellers of fresh air, and a refined unrefinement which were polished and presented “naturally” (with hordes of servants and staff in the background) and became the style that we think of as Adirondack. Not to just make it stylistic, Tuffitts of Moss, Q. Cassetti, 2010Durant and others borrowed quite liberally from James Fennimore Cooper’s writings (Sagamore and Uncas being just two of the characters from his books)…to the naming of houses and lakes, places and things that were derivative of this victorian view of Central New York and the Adirondacks. It is inspiring me to see if I can chew on this a bit, read a few of these books and see how this romanticism is manifested (when John Muir lived in nature and spoke cleanly, and purely on his interpretation of his experiences). When it all comes down to it, it is a fictionalized, romanticized view of this life, which we have just accepted…somehow as more historic than it really is…a “disney-ifcation of reality”.

And yet, if we think of the Adirondack identity—it is the art, architecture and craft from this golden era, this fantasy—which is presented to us as the historic reality it isn’t.

I was horrified and delighted by the real life photographs at the Adirondack Museum of the loggers ridingfrom the collections of the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake,  these sleighs atop pyramids of enormous logs…with the narrative speaking to how these vehicles might lose control with the drivers jumping off and the poor horses left to fend for themselves if the sheer weight got the downward momentum of the load got to be too fast/too much. The impaled logger poster…and the descriptions of the camps and the absolutely primitive life these men had…eating and working with outdoors sport and hunting as the fun independent of family, or others. It was gritty, hard and though outside, as hard a job as any coal miner or railroad man might have had at the time. The trick was to stay warm, fed and active during the winter…and not to die getting the logs from the forest to the trains where they were taken away to the cities. Imagine the black flies and issues in the summer. At least if you fell in the river— the water might not freeze you…but being swept away with the tide and millions of pounds of wood would be horrendous. Not the cushy, pine scented, warm rooms with blazing fires in stone fireplaces with inglenooks and tea, oysters and champagne, (and people to make it for you and heat up your beds). 

Curious. Bring on the Cooper.

Speaking of continuing the fantasy, we left on our trip home to stop by the Old Forge Hardware Store.

Old Forge Hardware is the Vermont Country Store of the Adirondacks. They have all things woven, camping, enamel, food, outdoors wear, from bungee cords to campfire percolators (enamel or stainless?), from cast iron to smoked food…You could provision a cabin or a castle here…with chairs and back baskets, to canoes to Orvis fly fishing gear. It was fun. I was tempted but did not succumb. We have enough stuff regardless of how much I love this stuff. I mean, canoes and portable saw mills—beautiful enamel dutch ovens and tons of cool crockery that you can add a spiggot to in an instant (I adore these things). Gradient and colorful Pendleton shirts that put both of us in the way back machine (def. need to start thrifting for this sort of stuff). Crusher hats…the whole magilla. All there with brass sleigh bells on things, and huge jugs of maple sugar to go. Hardware store meets brand identity for ADK.

We got back late—and then up early this morning to get Alex to school to catch a bus to get to the Baldwinsville Cross Country invitational. “Bee Ville” is always one of the best meets, so we always go…and did. Alex and team did very well with some happy surprises in the JV, and a new varsity crew that did well. Tonight is a homecoming dance. I have thrown all sorts of leftovers from the week into a pot with some tomatoes and have a recycled soup in the works for the team next week.

Need to go…Alex awaits. More later.

Sunset Cottage [details]

On William West Durant from the NY State Archives:
William West Durant was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1850, the son of Dr. Thomas Clark and Heloise Hannah Timbrel Durant. Durant attended Twickenham School in England and Bonn University in Germany and while living in Europe, Durant traveled extensively. Following his return to the United States, Durant took a position as Supervisor at the Equitable Loan and Trust Company. Durant first came to the Adirondack Mountain region of New York State in 1876 to assist his father in managing the Adirondack Railroad Company. Durant served as secretary and later as president and general manager until the company was absorbed by the Delaware and Hudson Company in 1889. After the merger, Durant continued to sit on the company's board of directors. Later, he worked as a General Land Agent for the Adirondack Company, which was owned by his father. At its peak, the company owned half a million acres in the Adirondack Mountains.

In 1884, Durant married Janet Lathrop Stott and the couple had three children. Following the death of his father in 1885, Durant continued to purchase land in the Adirondacks and began to develop transportation lines and to build homes and resorts. He established the Forest Park and Land Company, of which he was president. Durant built a road between Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes and established a line of horse–drawn coaches from the terminus of the North Creek Railroad to Blue Mountain Lake. In 1878, he established the Blue Mountain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Line and built several dams to facilitate water travel. He built hotels to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the region and designed, built, and decorated many of the first “great camps” in the Adirondacks. He built Camp Pine Knot in the 1880s, which he took as his home. In 1895, he sold it to Collis P. Huntington. Durant built Camp Uncas for J. P. Morgan, the Sagamore for Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, and also built Camp Kill Kare. He established the Adirondack, Lake George, and Saratoga Telegraph Company as well as the first post office on Long Point, Raquette Lake. He raised funds and donated land to build two churches, the Episcopal Church of the Mission of the Good Shepherd and St. William's Catholic Church. He also built a store on Raquette Lake. In 1900, he built the Marion River City Railroad and oversaw completion of the Raquette Lake Railroad along with fellow investors including Collis Huntington, J. P. Morgan, William Seward Webb, William C. Whitney, John A. Dix, Charles E. Snyder, and Edward M. Burns. Between 1899 and 1900, he built the Eagle's Nest Country Club & Golf Course on Eagle Lake in Hamilton County.

In the early 1900s, due to several poor business deals and difficulties in the settling of his father's estate, Durant lost much of his fortunes. He was divorced from his first wife and married Annie Cotton in 1907. To earn a living, Durant performed title searches for land in the Adirondacks for Charles E. Snyder, a Herkimer, N.Y. attorney and former business partner. Durant died in 1934. In honor of his contributions to the Adirondacks, the lake located between the Village of Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake was named for him in 1936.

Quiet before the Maelstrom

Early up this morning to get Kitty to round two, SATS. Urg. Next weekend, ACT and the following week or so tests, regents, APs. She will be a testing machine. We dropped by the farmers market on the way home (Ithaca) to admire the pink and warm red poppies, the fluffy iris and the new plants beginning to blow out. We will pick her up around noon and rush off to WinLee (our local asian grocery store) for rice noodles and Pad Thai fixins. I am on an asian cooking jag because I have never done it and found this week that its quite simple, quite plentiful yielding leftovers for those who work here and for gigantic 15 year old golf playing, track running guys. There is never enough food for them. I stocked up at the Regional Access with a case of Pesto (another 15 yr. old staple...forget peanut butter! We only eat Pesto and cheese!). They have a little broken case section at the Regional they refer to as the "bodega." I bought some lovely olive oil and some cans of curry as this is another crowd pleaser with the youth--particularly when we eat at Thai restaurants which is a new love with the home team. So, Winlee to flesh out the mis en place for asian cooking.

I took some pictures of poppies and iris along with greenery for another vector valentine I want to do using really tight, self shot reference...Sweetsy with flowers and birds and butterflies. I think this has legs and I think it might be fun to do. Am getting some headshots for my CF Payne/Gary Kelley portrait(s) done in a very distilled, graphic character manner. Flat color, some detail...proportions stretched. Thoreau is number one guy. Poe and Twain...need 3 more. Library of Congress has a digital library (specifically portraits) as does the New York Public Library which has an impressive volume of digitized images. With the NYPL, there is a bit of a trick in the downloading and saving.

Finished the tortured waterfall project. Kitty proclaims it better than last year. I proclaim it done. Done! So more time for portraits, heads, Olivia Langdon and the like (even more asian pictures like the promised sleeping pig!). It is a bit over a month before Camp at Hartford, so getting the ship in order is appropriate.

Rob has the Glass Arts Society Annual Conference (GAS) in Corning this next week. He will be working long days (with music and festivities, demonstrations and lectures). GAS comes to Corning every 10 years--so it has in our lives become a milestone. Last time, Kitty and Alex were 5 and 7. Now look. Its always fun and if you are around here, worth the less than $300. conference fee to get the full bore. Many of the glass biggies are there (along with students and the biggies in the making). Often there will be shows of work, work created on site, huge neon and kinetic glass on the Brisco Bridge. The Horseflies will be playing the closing party along with a new Jim Reidy band.

I need to make my asian food list before we jump in the car to get into Ithaca.


We woke up to a perfect LA day. Went for a short walk in the neighborhood around the Kimpton, exclaiming like blind people about the plants, the color, the light the things that are unremarkable to those who live here. There were beautiful white roses, plump peace roses, all manners of palms, blue plants, purple plants, trees with berries, another form of bittersweet. The grass is gorgeous, and it must be becoming sping here because the glossy, leathery leaves of magnolias are coming on, and in some of these magnolias,there are buds on the branches.

We hopped in the car with two bouncy, chatty teenagers and headed over to Westwood for breakfast at the Corner Bakery which was delicious and really inexpensive. The baked goods were noteworthy--with the most interesting thing they do (I plan to do at home) is essentially twice bake thinly cut raisin bread and coat it with a layer of sanding sugar..all chunky and glistening. They also had a swiss oatmeal (cold with fresh fruit) that was outstanding and cost less thand $3.00.

Then, off for more walking around their college town. We saw all the famous movie theatres, shops and to my delight something really vernacular for Westwood. Along the side street of the shopping area, there were food stands/shacks set up--much like the stands we saw on Oliveria Street. More very local street food--korean, japanese, burgers with sit down or stand up tables. These stands are back to basics, probably built by the cooks that run these places....and from what I read, these stands are often the starting point for some of the restaurants here in LA. The group broke up for a short time with Rob going off to scout the Hammer Museum and the kids and I going to Urban Outfitters to see what there was to see (and buy). About an hour later, I had bought 2 belts and 2 pairs of pants for A, and 2 tunics, and a pair of metallic silver leggings for K. Off to the Hammer.

The Hammer is noteworthy as it was formerly a dusty, musty museum filled with old masters that was very restrained...(and probably not too popular with the college crowd). However, with a new director and a link to UCLA, the Hammer has upped the ante with their programs, presentation and work to become a beautiful jewel in Westwood. They use their interior and exterior spaces beautifully with fabric, pillows and curtains to define spaces that lead to the galleries and theatre. UCLA has a screening space ; The Billy Wilder Theatre, in which they screen the UCLA film series. The Billy Wilder is a spare area using huge blow ups of portraits of Wilder or select images from Wilder's work. Very black and white with benday dots.

We saw an absolutely rocking show on woodcuts, "Gouge"--woodcuts from 1870 to the present and another on portraits that were extensive and has me kicked in the booty. There was an Eduard Munch that printed a board/wood grain in a warm grey on beige/tan with the main form, sparely printed in black. Others just went to town printing the grain as part of the design of the piece. There were four woodcuts by Spanish artists: Artemio Rodriguez (1962, Mexican) Triumph of Death, 2007; Luiz Penalver Collazo ( Cuba, 1927) Latin American Unite and Carmelo Gonzalez Iglesias (Cuba, 1920-1990) were the show stoppers for me. These pieces were oversized (often as many as 5 panels across and 3 down)and absolutely muscular and vehement in the line, content and expression in black and white. Totally up my alley. The transition from image to image combined with a masterful use of black and white rocked my world. These artists were all working with politically charged content--often shifting scale within their pieces to stress a point or draw the eye... The portrait show was a show with the Grunewald Center at UCLA . HIghlights for me were Kathe Kolowitz's self portrait, a Durer portrait and my new favorite, Kahinde Wiley (remember Art Basel Miami's artist who does portraits of Rap stars??) with two amazing graphite portraits that were spare of line, and a delicate hand. I could go on all day about this stuff, but our day was long.

Then, lunch at The Stand in Westwood. The Stand is probably one of those stands that grew up. We all had burgers (which was what the room was doing) and took in the crowd, the vibe. It was great. We got in the car and did a little "lay of the land" drive through the UCLA, through Beverly Hills to the canyons to end up at an old favorite place of ours, Tree People.

Tree People has changed significantly since we went there last with a lot of new buildings, a nursery, and more groomed trails. It was absolutely amazing (as usual) with the smells from the eucalyptus, bay trees almost overwhelming you in the damp humidity that always seems to be part of the the Tree People environment. Lots of trees in bloom with vistas on our walk, opening up to seeing into the canyon and beyond--with the houses nestled into the valleys. It was the perfect break to the museums and shopping. K and A were laughing and teasing...and loud (as they proudly told us) which made it fun to be almost anywhere.

From there, R navigated with his new gps on his blackberry to get us to LACMA. LACMA, the LA County Museum of Art, is an uber museum with a huge range of galleries from contemporary to classic which embraces many repurposed buildings on a multiblock campus. There is art inside and out...with a wonderful installation of streetlights between the entrance space and that of the Contemporary building. We saw a great show of Vanity Fair photography with K and I swooning over the Steichen work. We gift shopped (lots of great books and gear...and a lot on sale) . We saw a sports inspired show with the highlights being a video piece with all kinds of levels of information projected with a tweaked soundtrack (overlaid by a person that quietly stated they liked cheese) My hands down favorite were five pieces done by an artist who translated Pacific Northwest ritual masks and totems out of sports gear. The totem was created out of many black and red golf bags with the masks being constructed out of sports shoes cut in half and joined together--with artifical hair (probably from wigs) when needed. Spectacular...

Then off to the Contemporary space to see a wonderful Jeff Koons show (complete with Michael Jackson and Bubbles, an aluminum Balloon dog to name a few). A was very taken with it and it puzzled him. We toured the collection with Ed Ruche, Jasper Johns, Rauschenburg with A adoring it all. He read the side panels and took time with the pieces. The watch word in the contemporary space is warm red. All the vertical architctural members outside of the building were warm red....and upon entrance, you are presented a huge Barbara Kruger installation that frames an enormous elevator (also warm red) that traverses the floors. Truly huge elevator that Rob likened to a container size ( 10' x 30') which was art particularly when it took us to another amazing pair of installations by Richard Serra--much in the same hand and spirit as his pieces at Dia Beacon. This also prompted a lot of very pointed questions from A about why would someone do this sort of work? why would they do it? what was the point? Serra's massive steel (250 tons of molten steel for these pieces) express space, toy with the material and engage the viewer in thinking about outside, inside, and aptly framed up, rooms, by R. Perhaps we can go back to LACMA to see the show on Latin American artists and Indonesian textiles (separate shows--though the fusion would be great).

We met Rob's sister, Gloria, back at the Kimpton after driving through Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive with Christmas going full bore. The best of the best was that Baccarat had created chandeliers (each in a box) which were suspended over the street (two per pole) which were lit in the evening. No way would the luxury glass company we were affiliated be able to do to that extreme for attention. It was great.

Of course, there was more laughing and talking with the teens...We are creating a story line about a woman names Kitty Katz who was married to Bernard, the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and her liasons with her imported Christmas Decorator, Dimitri (from Russia) and her pool boy, Apollo from Greece. Kitty Katz has a solid gold car that doesnt have an engine. It just looks good. She lives in one of these confabulous houses we drive by...and the imagination goes wild. I think K and I need to do this as an extra credit project and have her publish a chick lit book before she finishes high school. It was very funny and fun for the group.

Dinner with Gloria was at Nanbankan on Sawtelle...a yakatori restaurant with amazing skewers of food from asparagus and ham all roasty to tiny lamb chops, and sushi. Nanbankan is hidden away (you really need someone to take you there) with a door inside a nondescript building that you enter from the back. It has been recognized by all the magazines, and they earned their status. Mr Ono, the owner, has a daughter who rides with Gloria (and sometimes competes) so that is where the link is...and is as extra kind and familial to her. She is lucky.

Today promises rain. We need to collect ourselves and get to Hermosa Beach with a trip to the grocery store for tomorrow. Other than that, we will see what will evolve. I am sure it will be great!

quick note

Lovely evening with gold and pink water so warm and beautiful. The bowl of clouds surrounded us all as the dog swam out with us with all kids and friends and the grownups. Wonderbus is getting the full treatment with the brakes and a repair of the magic doors.

Working on layouts for a catalog on Japanese Poetry Prints for the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell. It truly is a puzzle with all sorts of copy types needing to be placed (text, poetry in japanese and english), attribution and of course the image. I thought I could push this more than I can with the parameters in place. Tweaking the type, weights/sizes, sans serif/serif. Gotta use "Pro" fonts as there is the right japanese punctuation marks integrated into the font). Today it will be thought out to present by Thursday.

Spent a bit of time this morning pondering the Kay Nielsen book I got at the Eric Carle Museum. What a teacher for all of us decorative guys. Nielsen, Beardsley, Harry Clarke, and more. Need to get my papers done so I can start going crazy drawing.

Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters at the Getty

Merian's Crocodile from the Princeton Digital Library
I was clicking around and found this croc and art by this artist and was floored. Today I was nosing around to see if red or black ware was Greek or Roman at the Getty siteto find out that there is a show currently there of Maria Sibylla Merian (1641-1717) and her daughters Johanna Helena and Dorothea Maria. Check it out. Whoa.


The New Britain Museum was a small, interesting collection nicely curated with illustration work hung alongside fine art. It was a tight group of images presented right as you entered the galleries. We were greeted by a strong Wyeth and a sweet Maxfield Parrish of a farmhouse, an evening image that you could almost smell the cut grass and hear the peepers and crickets. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the pulp covers matted and framed along with the original painting. These wonderful images (shown above) were showstoppers along with as Lori Ann Levy-Holm referred to the Dean Cornwell, "a juicy one". She is right, that Cornwell is a rich one... Murray had arranged for us to see a group of images from the collection later in the day--so we had a sneak peak at some beauties from the collection.

The New Britain Museum also had a Walton Ford image with monkeys, a tremendous room of Thomas Hart Benson, a lovely Grant Wood (kind of out of the sweeter palette and and a bit more serious than my favorite Grant Wood ( George Washington as a child), a Paul Manship small bronze (but you know any Manship regardless of scale is a big Manship...they have such presence). There is plenty to see--and for all of us, plenty to talk about.

Its late.

Know your brand

The Eric Carle Museum knows it's brand from the cute signage with Eric Carle Illustrations to the bathroom with Eric Carle tiles and tiny potties for littles with decorative, floral inspired seats (my male compatriot told me that in the men's room there were painted flies in the urinal). The company car is Carle inspired as is the lobby art, the children's art studio and projects juxtaposed against simple and elegant gallery spaces with a lobby that opens up on a grassy yard planted with apple trees. The whole place felt right--and with the treats in the galleries in the show--the morning clipped along quickly filled with color texture and line.

I was struck however, with the single composition that Carle uses for all of his books. The spreads are always crossovers of a single animal or creature on a white field. It is rare when he puts his living creatures in a context--with a horizon. And the books are a bit formulaic but dead on for teaching, reading and playing out into the world of children. This museum serves the illustration world with their shows and store chock a block filled with books, providing a networking center for the children's book illustrators and a bully pulpit to champion reading, children's literature and art.

deep breath

"Kintaro and Carp in a Waterfall," created ca. 1820 by Japanese artist Totoya Hokkei. The carp climbing a waterfall represents development and success, and the boy, Kintaro, in hanging on, is fighting for growth.

New glasses...the world spins a bit. But tons sharper with my screen and reading. Maybe now I can see what I am drawing. Maybe? Spent the better part of the morning watching the eighth grade prize ceremony for 125 kids. Very exciting. Thank goodness that the humidity and heat were mild. Then, back to the drawing board. Slugging it out with the Baker Institute book. Please, lets hope we get this finished up.

Great meeting at the Johnson Museum yesterday. Possibility of a big catalog (170pps. +/-) a second show on Surimono prints, collectible japanese prints with short poems that are absolutely scrumptious. Cornell had a show in Jan/2006 with another Surimono prints with interest developed for this future show (Nov.2008). Apparently, these prints (which are pretty small) were commissioned by poetry clubs and sold/collected. Cornell's Observer says:

Surimono, which can be translated as "printed thing," were privately produced, limited-edition prints commissioned by poetry groups to be distributed among friends for special occasions, often for the lunar New Year. The artwork and poetry on the prints were the result of unique collaborations among poets, artists, calligraphers and printers. Clever integrations of text and image were combined with the most advanced printing techniques available to produce deluxe presentation sheets for a sophisticated and highly literate audience.There are a range of images from portraits to stil lifes to landscapes.

Some of the poems are introspective and a few very cute and fun. Some prints have one poem and some as many as four. So from a design standpoint one has text, headline, image tombstone copy, japanese poem and the translation, sometimes notes. So there is a real typographic hierarchy that needs to be set up to get the layout right. A multi layer grid works...many columns over single columns. A variety of type treatments to match the hierachy of content. Big puzzle will be to find a font that has Hepburn Romanji punctuations/marks. We have been using the international keyboard here on the world of macs, and seeing which fonts can work.

YASHIMA GAKUTEI (active 1815-1852)
Carp Climbing a Waterfall, ca. 1827-1828
Signature: Gakutei Artist's seal
Yashima color woodblock print with silver, gold, and brass
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Gift of Caroline and Jarred Morse

more later>>

Salem Yesterday

We left our hosts and hostesses early on another perfect seaside day and decided to go to Salem to walk around and see what's what. It reminded me of Baltimore with the big captains houses with the widows' walks...not little salt boxes but big houses that are the oceanside town version of the posh brownstones. Henry James on the water. There was a lovely quadrangle surrounded by these glorious things that led us to the water--and the National Park presence--highlighting certain houses and the way of life in the 1700s. It was great to see the way the water interfaces with the land and the living--and how one drove the other--very Bath, England etc. I can imagine that there was a great deal of society and living that happened here...far wilder than the scene in Nantucket. We learned a bit about the pirates, the privateers and all that terrific Jane Austen/ Horatio Hornblower lore that is so rich and thanks to those books and movies, so visual (at least for me). It was a very quiet morning in Salem so my imagination had a bit of space to go...which I would think might be hindered with the tourbuses and interested parties coming just for the witches, which have historical relevance--particularly in best understanding the culture and people at the time...but the wax museums? and palmistry centers? and witch gear seems to abuse something that was a sad colonial moment of people maligning and mistreating other people out of fear and greed. It is not about Harry Potter, or witchcraft or fairies or spells ( you get the idea)--so that end of the tourist trap of Salem is unfortunate (but thankfully, not overwhelming).

We visited the House of Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorns birth house and toured them. Interesting but not really impressive colonial architecture (unlike Philadelphia)--but interesting none the less. The lady that rennovated the House of Seven Gables put her spin on the property and installed (among the real features) a cent or Penny Shop which I had never heard of. It was impressive how this establishment preserved other buildings and with their profits support community outreach in Salem. Additionally, the Peabody Essex Museum is a must we did not attend. Looks spectacular--and along with the Museum, they own and operate many grand houses in it's neighborhood which to my thinking is inspired in many ways (ownership, maintenance, taxes, control to name a few).

I love the all red houses (detail shown of the Hawthorn birth house), the all black houses and the severity beyond that of colonial brick or clapboard structures. Imagine entering under this bold eagle and terrific lettering--up the steps and into the custom house--a way to enter America--dead smack on the center of the water access. It's impressive now...imagine 300 years ago before illuminated signage and strip malls.

©Murakami at the Geffen at MOCA

October 29,2007- February 11.2008
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Takashi Murakami's show at MOCA is more than a show. It's a candy colored trip into the changing mind of a manga/anime inspired artist who is evolving his brand and art from a sexual anime form to that to me, that is more interesting--a fusion of pop art, the branding culture, eastern philosophy and imagery with that of japanese cuteness and palette. Sometimes its over the top cute, sometimes its headspinning "out there" which the context of the entire body of work grounds and to some degree begins to explain and provide the sources for the changes in the art. I mean, there are these painting that look like sticks of gum with random eyeballs and teeth that are arranged very much in the austere and precise world of Josef Muller Brockman, the swiss poster designer and proponent of the Swiss graphic design education of the seventies and eighties. Brockman would be on a rotisserie over this stuff.

Murakami created the DOB character to express himself and act as a personal brand. DOB was his first image and brand--a brand that is used exclusively, and manipulated by size color and placement. DOB was best expressed in Murakama's blow up (huge) DOB heads and these almost Mickey Mouse type paintings that had a roughness-- a painted tie dyed quality that took it off his normal "Superflat" painting technique that defies the hand and could be screen printed or even better, cut vinyl. DOB evolved to Kaikai + Kiki (adorable little Mutt and Jeff characters who are rendered either front on or just their heads--in shades of hot pink and white). I first saw Kaikai and Kiki at Art Basel Miami at a Gallery--they were full sized fiberglass, painted figures--that were striking and funny. However, it was not knowing the context of the pieces that just made them a cute oddity like the trike D'zine did. They are, however, part of a much bigger idea. DOB was best expressed in Murakama's blow up (huge) DOB heads and these almost Mickey Mouse type paintings that had a roughness-- a painted tie dyed quality that took it off his normal "Superflat" painting technique that defies the hand and could be screen printed or even better, cut vinyl. His evolution to room sized, enormous, complex forms expressing both the anime, lessons from DOB and a new component, eastern religion and religious iconography. His Oval Buddha, 2007 has a duality of personality of his main character sitting atop a turtle complete with lotus details and leaves as part of the design. There are tiny figures plunging into and out of the head with a janus like quality--one face at rest, the other with it's mouth wide open with thousands of big conical teeth, layer upon layer of them much like a shark. As I toured around this figure (well over 5 meters tall according to Murakami in his Moca video)--more and more of the detail sunk in...This is an object and yes, an entire show well worth seeing for the first time to just settle into the aesthetic. Beyond that, I would visit at least two more times just to dig into the detail. If I were a starting artist, this show would change my palette and perspective on my art. It is noteworthy.

Beyond that, Murakami is also clever. His work is sold through his own venue--books, teeshirts, buttons, and plastic characters. Inexpensive stuff he marks up to the max. His work originally sold a trinkets sold with gum. Clever man--learning the non magic of how that happens. Beyond that, he has taken it way beyond the world of Kid Robot and into the collections of sincere art collectors. He took the Louis Vuitton pattern and monkeyed with the color and started tweaking it with his eye shapes, with happy cherries and a variety of his little visual icons. Marc Jacobs saw the work and now Louis Vuilton and Murakami are collaborating on some very expensive but very cute (say Asian cute!) bags and accessories. My favorite is a steamer trunk built with shelves and on those shelves are dozens of the same bag with the accent color changing...so essentially , it is a different (but the same) bag for every day of the month. Can you say KaChing?

I am inspired by this man, his work and will be curious to see how it evolves in the next decade as the money has been made, there are new works in film (the KaiKai + Kiki was at MOCA along with the new video done with Kayne West) and his visuals are expanding to take it to a more cerebral while pop inspired place.

Take a look at Murakami's films on the MOCA site to better understand the work and artist>>

Damien Hirst's diamond encrusted skull

My friend Tina mentioned the Hirst skull when we were last having a gab fest...so I googled it. And here it is for you.

From Boingboing.net:

Damien Hirst's latest artwork is this life-size platinum skull encrusted with 8,601 fine diamonds. The sculpture, titled "For The Love of God," will likely sell for as much as $100 million, making it the priciest contemporary artwork ever made. White Cube gallery is selling several limited edition silkscreen prints of the work, priced from £900 to £10,000, for one sprinkled with diamond dust. The title of the piece comes from Hirst's mother who asked her son, “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?” From the New York Times:
For Hirst, famous pickler of sharks and bovine bisector, all his art is about death. This piece, which was cast from an 18th-century skull he bought in London, was influenced by Mexican skulls encrusted in turquoise. “I remember thinking it would be great to do a diamond one — but just prohibitively expensive,” he recalls. “Then I started to think — maybe that’s why it is a good thing to do. Death is such a heavy subject, it would be good to make something that laughed in the face of it.”

Hirst, who financed the piece himself, watched for months as the price of international diamonds rose while the Bond Street gem dealer Bentley & Skinner tried to corner the market for the artist’s benefit. Given the ongoing controversy over blood diamonds from Africa, “For the Love of God” now has the potential to be about death in a more literal way.

“That’s when you stop laughing,” Hirst says. “You might have created something that people might die because of. I guess I felt like Oppenheimer or something. What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”

New York Times says on June 3, 2007>>

Hirst is quoted on is it bling or not:
“I was very worried for a while, because if it looked like bling — tacky, garish and over the top — we would have failed. But I’m very pleased with the end result. I think it’s ethereal and timeless.”

He is selling screenprints of the same image for 810. pounds  for the edition of 1700 pieces. There are other images of the same skull with editions of 250 prints at 10,000 pounds per print from White Cube>> Hmmmm.

Memento mori with tude.