June 2014 Archives

catching the light

| No Comments

I remember in 1987 my parents had an exhibit at Round Top Center for the Arts in Maine. My brothers and I all appeared and stayed the week helping to move art and cook meals. From my perspective it was a jolly time. I remember the night of the opening we had a potluck dinner at the Art Center and I sat with the painter Lois Dodd and my brother Stephen who as a kid had been close friends with her son, Ely. The statement that sticks in my mind is that Lois said, "when I come to Maine in the summer the first thing I do is sleep for two weeks." She said, "I have to reset my internal clock and slow down to see the view out the window."

After I weeded and harvested my garlic, I showered and felt overheated. I lay down on the couch with a catalog of her work called "Catching the Light." It was the perfect thing to read. She and her former husband, the sculptor Bill King, had studied in Italy like my parents in 1950. Then they came back to NYC and became dedicated figurative artists. Despite the fact that the then current tide was to be an abstract expressionist. Her dedication to observational painting allowed her to be living in the art world but outside the conventions of the moment.

It's how I feel I work. I look hard at the art world, but work outside the conventions of the moment. I am not a manufacturer and I am not a production potter and yet I make things that can be used with an artistic, poetic sensibility. After we visited Kiff Slemmons' studio and home in Chicago, the view of her table stuck in my mind. She is not a jeweler and yet that is the world she is associated with. On Wikipedia it says she is a performance artist. She said she knew that description was there, but she left it because in some sense her installations are a performance. We studied her long table--covered with work in process, work in hiatus--and she described it as her physical sketchbook. The time spent looking and talking ignited my imagination. The visit gave me that great feeling of jealously, the desire to play like her. Looking at her things is like sifting through the best flotsam and jetsam one could imagine. The careful collections and combinations seem like they occurred totally naturally and yet the sense of her hand is both visible/invisible. Her understanding of material and history of use is woven together beautifully.

I look at Lois Dodd's painting and I understand the brushiness of it. Her work  is not photo-realistic. It is not impressionistic. It is a fresh look at the things she sees, the shadows that catch her eye. Her paintings can be of the broken glass in the city,  the thistles in Maine, or the view out a window in New Jersey. She paints an iris and lets it be forgotten. She said once she brought flower studies back to the city to work on over the winter but could not work on them. She let the flower be forgotten like a fire that is stoked hot and then left to grow cold. Just as time can be our friend;  then it is gone as we get older. Lois is a year younger than my parents would have been and as far as I know she is still making her way to Maine in the summer. And first things first, she sleeps for two weeks.

garlic.jpgLet it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
   Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten for ever and ever,
   Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
   Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
   In a long forgotten snow.

Let it be forgotten by Sara Teasdale

The only downside of doing this project is that it makes me so aware of the length of the days  that now I know I have reached the apex. From here the days get incrementally shorter. Driving in Chicago at 5 this afternoon the sky got dark like a winter evening but it was only a thunder storm and we were still able to linger late in the evening light on a beautiful deck admiring the clouds trees and deep greens and depth of color in the sky.

21 summer solstice 2014.jpg
No one--

not the wind in the leaves, not

the leaves in the sky--can promise

permanence, no one

gets all the days, even if it seems

that we are the ones

writing the book,
even if it seems

that we are the ones

who made each leaf. Inside

each leaf

more leaves, inside these trees

more trees, some so old they threaten
the roof, some so tiny we will need

to keep the deer from them. Each leaf is not

a word, each branch not

a sentence, yet

the wind is saying something--inevitable?

unlikely?--even if impossible to perfectly

translate. Now imagine these trees as

a roomful of books, each book spills from its


each hour alone, reciting the alphabet,

marveling at how the letters cluster, how each

comes with its mouthful of sound--until

a word somehow entered you, until it

somehow led

to this--perfect day, perfect sentence.

Nick Flynn, from "Epithalamion," The American Poetry Review (vol. 43, no. 3, May/June 2014)

#20 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
Imagine the Chicago skyline reflected in light of the water of Warren's bowl.

20 summer solstice 2014.jpg

"One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark."
Annie Dillard, from The Writing Life (HarperCollins, 1989)

#19 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
These last few days have been full of people,conversations,pots, images, stories and urban contrasts. The input is great and the day light long but the moments for digesting short.

19 summer solstice 2014.jpg

#18 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
We are pleasantly exhausted after our opening at Douglas Dawson Gallery. wishing I could have found a thistle on a Chicago street corner to put in Warrens Vase.

18 summer solstice 2014.jpg

"Life must be back there. You hid it
So no one would find it
And now you can't remember where."

--John Ashbery, from "Vaucanson," in April Galleons: Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1987)

#17 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
17 summer solstice 2014.jpg

#16 summer solstice

| No Comments
the big question before I left the house was do I pick the garlic now or next week.
in the end I ran out of time.

16 summer solstice 2014.jpg

For some time I thought there was time

and that there would always be time

for what I had a mind to do

and what I could imagine

going back to and finding it

as I had found it the first time

but by this time I do not know

what I thought when
I thought back then

there is not time yet it grows less

there is the sound of rain at night

arriving unknown in the leaves

once without before or after

then I hear the thrush waking

at daybreak singing the new song

W.S. Merwin, "The New Song" from The Moon Before Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)

#15 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
When Warren and I are in the car together and I am the driver he often requests that I imagine I am driving around a basket of eggs. Our Sunday drive was a long one and instead of eggs we had to be careful of all our fragile pottery cargo.

15 summer solstice 2014.jpg"Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall."

― Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls

# 14 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
I remember my father telling me that when my parents lived in Paris in 1951 and they went to the market there was a day when there was palpable  excitement in the air. It was because peas had come to market. He told this story  in the late 1960s when we were eating instant mashed potatoes and frozen peas with our meat for dinner and and the picture of excitement was  as if it was a  foreign field never to be seen again.

14 summer solstice.jpg
"To the attentive eye,
each moment of the year
has its own beauty,
and in the same field,
it beholds,
every hour,
a picture which was never seen before,
and which shall never be seen again."
Ralph Waldon Emerson

#13 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
At the end of February I closed the door on my father's loft. I had done what I could do. I had sorted and argued,  joked and cried with my brothers going through my parents' art work and possessions. I have received my portion of objects and have unpacked and absorbed the furniture, art and books into our lives. It is lovely to see how things I grew up with have infiltrated and inspired my vision. The blue and white albarello was often on the dining room table with tulips or forsythia.

As I packed my art work today I recycled all the materials we used to pack my father's sculpture. The bits of handwriting on the recycled boxes remind me of how I can't go back to that life. I have been dreaming about Dad and wanting to ask so many questions. It's almost a year since his heart attack. I play back the last phone calls, the patterns of questions, answers and misunderstanding. In the late afternoon humid hours my memory climbs ladders up and down to keep track of the years. My various forms of self dissolve as I step forward. I am awake and listen for the call of the future. The call of the road is singing my name like the earliest birds at dawn.

13 summer solstice 2014.jpg

White Night

All night

I float

in the shallow ponds

while the moon wanders

 bone white,

among the milky stems.

I saw her hand reach

to touch the muskrat's

small sleek head

and it was lovely, oh,

I don't want to argue anymore

about all the things

I thought I could not

live without! Soon

the muskrat

will glide with another

into their castle

of weeds, morning

will rise from the east

tangled and brazen,

and before that

and beautiful

hurricane of light

I want to flow out

across the mother

of all waters,

I want to lose myself

on the black 
and silky currents,


the tall lilies

of sleep.

--Mary Oliver

#12 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
I almost gave up on my vegetable garden this year. I was late getting lettuce, kale, broccoli and peas in the ground and the memory of terrible battles with bugs caused a moment of hesitation. My unexpected extended absence last summer with dads death allowed the weeds to get crazy and I never felt as if I caught up. But as spring crept in so did my love of greens, and I missed my herbs( many of which bit the dust in the cold winter)  in-between tonight's showers  in the barefoot  light of June, the moments of gathering lettuce and kale for dinner allowed  a butterfly quality of silence.

12 summer solstice 2012.jpg

"Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly."
Pablo Neruda
100 Love Sonnets

#11 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
Summer markers

I see momentary smiles
in the single daylily.
a blossom  like a shot of strong coffee
an alert to the humid air.
the night rains like tears
while the damp earth welcomes
every gully that has become a stream,
or bloomed into a river of  memory
full of other Junes.

11 summer solstice 2014.jpg

#10 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments

10 summer solstce 2014.jpg

#9 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
No time for words tonight,
just an image and the sound of rain.
And the shadow of a bird at daybreak.

9summer solstice.jpgFor some time I thought there was time

and that there would always be time

for what I had a mind to do

and what I could imagine

going back to and finding it

as I had found it the first time

but by this time I do not know

what I thought when I thought back then

there is not time yet it grows less

there is the sound of rain at night

arriving unknown in the leaves

once without before or after

then I hear the thrush waking

at daybreak singing the new song

W.S. Merwin, "The New Song" from The Moon Before Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)

#8 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
I am looking into the future of my garden and see the blizzard potential of weeds in the twilight of June. I am thinking back to my parents and their artwork, then future of my own work. I work with my camera photographing pots and flowers, bringing the lens' image into focus so that my artistic ideas get  clearer. I leave behind the memory of honeysuckle on my way to a June dance class with Anita Zahn in Long Island. I leave it nestled behind the old childhood fears of repeating myself and trust that I am tilling fertile ground ever deeper and weeding out the confusion contributed by weeds.

8 summer solstice.jpgSo he's seen the blizzard that the future

looks like, and gotten lost,

a little. All the same--

he gathers the honeysuckle in his arms,

as for a lover.
Cloud of bees,
of yellow.

His chest, blurring bright with it."

--Carl Phillips, from "Capella," The Kenyon Review (vol. 36, no. 1, Winter 2014)

#7 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
Once again it was the perfect June evening. The long twilight encouraged us to linger outside after a dinner on the porch. The cool temps and lightning bugs encouraged us to smell the season. And when it was finally dark there was just enough moon light to stir my heart.

Thumbnail image for 7 summer solstice.jpg"Tonight I can smell the season the way it's usually only possible to at the very first moments of its return, before you're used to it, when you've forgotten its smell, then there it is back in the air and the flow of things shifting and resettling again."
Ali Smith, from The Whole Story and Other Stories (San Val, 2004)

#6 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
Sometimes I worry about repeating myself, but then I remember the plants, images, and forms that continue to etch their presence within my life are the poems that endlessly catch my attention.

6 summer solstice.jpg "the poem.
the one that runs along side and through your life.
pay attention.
that poem."
-- nayyirah waheed

#5 summer solstice 2014

| 1 Comment
I remember when I first discovered the flower of false indigo a few years ago I felt like it was brand new. But once it had entered my field of vision I saw it everywhere. It was as if the seeds had been planted in my imagination when I was a child.

5 summer solstice.jpg
"Every act of perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."

--Oliver Sacks, from Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007)

#4 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
After our parents are gone I wonder how do we use their names?  My parents imparted a love of water in me. Everything from the bathtub, to a stream or river and of course the ocean. I sit in my chair where I can glimpse my pond and see my dad's sculptures and I miss his hand and his jokes. I don't miss his smoking. I don't miss his grumpiness, but still I have these waves of sadness. The reality of death is a mirror image to the reality of birth. At birth we are imagining the soul of one who is not yet made. And then at death that soul of the one who was made or made us and we came to love and get irritated by and trust and doubt and count on and then the reality is they are not there. But their soul is there in the river of our memory.

4 summer solstice.jpg
"Memories, I've always believed, are liquid. They can't be buried or burned. When I was younger I used to think of memory as still water--a pond, a lake, a Great Lake, an ocean--but as I got older the water started to move--it was both carrying things and carrying them away--until it became a cataract, a raging river, a waterfall in which all the memories I still had were inextricably bound up and braided with the memories of everyone I love and everyone I ever lost. Here's to all those departed rememberers who are in that river with me, and to all those who are still making memories. We're all making our way back out to sea, where we can commence our drift into oblivion, and float with bellies full of stars."  --Brad Zellar 

#3 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
The power went out this afternoon for no apparent reason. We worked for a while in the gloom of the cool basement, numbering pieces to relate to our inventory list for our upcoming exhibit at Douglas Dawson Gallery. Eventually I brought the pieces outside where the light was better and the fragrance of honeysuckle was incredible. It got humid but I was so taken by the contrast of our wood fired pieces against the basalt rock of our entrance wall that it made it all worth it. As the sun got low the depth of greens vibrated against an elegant blue sky and the sliver of a new moon visible in the still daylight sky.

3 summer solstice.jpg
"When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality. So poetry becomes a philosophy to guide a man throughout his life.... [With poetry, one] is capable of going beyond the limitations of coherent logic, and conveying the deep complexity and truth of the impalpable connections and hidden phenomena of life."
Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair (1987)

#2 summer solstice 2014

| No Comments
As I begin each project I try to get a bit of a running start, so that I can have an idea of what I am after with the images and perhaps a text to quote. But so often I broadly define the field I plan to run in so that the lilies, the swans, a gesture or some form of ingenuity all influence the outcome of my images and choices of pots, background, and the natural element. The experience of June and the light and long days reinforce meaning of place. This attention to place, light, function, use and the garden are part of what add up my sense of what art has to offer us. I have tossed lots of possibilities around but in the end I make sure to leave room for the unimaginable to emerge.

2 summer solstice.jpg

"Where do I live? If I had no address, as many people
do not, I could nevertheless say that I lived in the
same town as the lilies of the field, and the still

Spring, and all through the neighborhood now there are
strong men tending flowers.

Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue. But
all beautiful things, inherently, have this function -
to excite the viewers toward sublime thought. Glory
to the world, that good teacher.

Among the swans there is none called the least, or
the greatest.

I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in
singing, especially when singing is not necessarily

As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious
and full of detail; it wants to polish itself; it
wants to love another body; it is the only vessel in
the world that can hold, in a mix of power and
sweetness: words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable."
Mary Oliver from Evidence

Here is the first image of a series that leads up to June 21. The summer solstice and longest day of the year.

1 summer solstice.jpg