May 28, 2010

I am tired, people.

I am surrounded by wonderful people in the various spheres, both tangible and not. All most of the paperwork is done. Seems I let a small policy lapse this past month on my mom's behalf, so I can look forward to more paperwork in June, but other than that, the business end of of the end got done. The funeral is Monday. I picked up Otto, the Palindrome Dog, from jail. He's no substitute for my boy, Fang, but he's a lovable lug and is special in his own way. I am happy to have him. I also felt an odd sense of comfort when I discovered there was an empty plot next to my grandmother that's already been paid for. I mean, it's not the same as owning as house, I'll give you that, but something about knowing I have a final resting place, just in case I'm not immortal made me feel good. I also got a sneak peek at the horse-drawn funeral hearse they have at the cemetery. Pretty cool. 

I found this sketch in a notebook my mom had compiled. She admitted liking Modigliani. My mom was a bit of a historian of life. There are records and documents of just about every thing. The Museum of Ephemera is taking note.

May 26, 2010


I was caught by surprise yesterday morning when they called to tell me my mom had passed. Less than 12 hours prior, the resident psychiatrist had called to tell me mom was "profoundly" depressed, citing Mom's 24/7 accessory, the sleeping blinders. She did look pretty cute in them, and I figured they gave her some sense of comfort. The doctor felt confident that starting mom on an anti-depressant would help tremendously. She said that my mom hated being at the facility, even thought the whole point was to get stronger so she could come back home. She also told me that my mom's cognitive impairment/pre-senile dementia, was mild, comparatively, for her age, and that she thought all the other behaviour stuff could be lumped under the oh so clinical term, eccentric, or idiosyncratic. This is one of the reasons I love being from the South: One DSM-IV-TR under God, indivisible etc.  

I had talked to my mom the night before in a rather uneventful conversation:
Me: "Hey mom, How are ya?" What's new, How's the weather?" "Are you doing therapy?" "Are you eating?" "The doctor said you're not using the call button when you need to get up." "You know the whole point of you being there is to get you back home, right?" "I'm almost finished boxing stuff up. I'll be there soon to break you out." 
Mom: "I'm okay, I'm okay." 
Me: "I know you're okay." I just want to make sure you're eating and doing therapy." 
Then mom probably said something about trying to sleep, or maybe she sounded agitated with me asking so many questions, so I said I love you and I'd call her tomorrow.

They were moving her from either the bed to the wheelchair or vise versa. I can't remember now. I just remember she was in transition when they said she gasped, and that was it. And for some reason I have that as a mental image- that she was neither sitting, standing or laying down but that she was in some state in-between. 

May 24, 2010

I wouldn't take pics of my studio even if you paid me, well maybe if you paid me, I mean, why not?

So instead I'll post images from the opening. I'll upload more to Flickr later. 
Prior to the opening, I did 4 paintings during the installation. Total time: about 8 hours, counting coffee breaks. The point was to make 4 paintings, site-specific, in a set amount of time, and in keeping with my MO, works that filter my day-to-day experiences. The gallery closed at 6 pm, so at 5:59pm I started cleaning up. The paintings weren't really "finished," but then again, that was one of the risks. Overall, about a 10-hour day counting the drive. Maybe a bit more, counting prep and break-down. Sushi afterward, which means I'm not 100% vegan anymore. But let's face it, I'll be land-locked in less then 3 weeks. Good-bye Sushi.

The opening in Glendale was this past Saturday. And, yes, I did a live painting on the wall during the reception. And, yes, this is the wave of my future. I liked doing this. It's efficient and I felt like the response was good. I like the idea of my practice consisting of just me and my supplies, as opposed to materials. A few people asked what I would do if someone wanted to buy them. I have to go back on Wednesday to shoot the work for real, but here are a few works that were shot during the opening. The white balance is all over the place. Sure, I'd love to spend the day tweaking this stuff, but I'm a little pressed for time right now. The studio is a fright. 

"Abstract Wall Painting" 
watercolor, gouache, acrylic on wall

"The Atrium" 
watercolor, gouache, acrylic on wall

"Orchid I Grabbed from Home This Morning" 
watercolor, gouache, acrylic on wall

"Fang Checks Out the Ivy by the Loading Dock" 
watercolor, gouache, acrylic on wall 

watercolor, gouache, acrylic on wall

May 16, 2010

Behold! The Great Exhausto!

I'm pooped. I let things slide until the last minute, so (a) I didn't ask anyone to help me deliver the work and (b) although I booked a truck online a couple of days ago, and called to confirm the 24 hr rental, I was later told that the 24 hour rental was only M-Thursday, making my pickup for Friday in order to deliver first thing Saturday moot. This would be why online booking blows. After spazing out on the phone, they secured me a truck at another convenient location. I rode my bicycle ALL the way there-a whopping 2.5 miles away, but heh, it's been awhile and it's L.A. 
Then I trucked it over to pick up a painting that had been on loan at a friend's office, stopped back home to feed the Fang, then drove over to storage to pick up more work; back home, loaded the truck, cooked Fang up some chicken, ordered myself some pho and watched an episode of Lost. After which I made a nice checklist and gathered all the works for another version of I Am Optimistic About the Future. I was exhausted. Around 4:30 am I think we had an earthquake and I didn't sleep well after that. Up at 6:15am, tended to Fang, then rode out to Glendale to deliver the work. When I arrived, I opened the truck to find some kind of high wire balance act going on with all my paintings. NEVER EVER load paintings at the rear of the truck. I should have known better, based on some simple laws of gravity, but  I was too busy being smug about my knot-making skills. Upon arrival, I discovered all the paintings had fallen forward and were suspended mere inches from my bicycle which was laying flat in the truck. It was a miracle nothing snapped or punctured. I am grateful I do not have to hang the work. I go back on Wednesday to to do my wall paintings.  I'm looking forward to that. Sometimes, exhibition prep is enough to make me want to go all Sol Lewitt and just phone in the directions for an artwork.

I was even more tired today. After returning the truck, I bicycled down the street, stopped for lunch, bicycled some more, stopped for my 2 pm cappuccino, and as soon as I got home, I cashed out on the floor with Fang and napped.

Then he heard the mailman, which meant that his nap was over.
He literally has ups and downs. That's all I can say. Sometimes he can walk, sometimes he falls down and can't get up and I have to pick him up, and place him on one of my painting boards topped with his furry throw rug and slide him around the house. Sometimes he hops up the 3 steps to the back door, sometimes he gets stuck and needs to rest a while. Sometimes I give him a boost, sometimes I just spot him. I love that guy.

May 14, 2010

I like studio visits with collector types because they like like to hear me talk about my art and smile and ask me questions.

So, I wrote my answers down and then just held the paper folded up in my hand. It was a good talk. I spaced on asking  anyone to shoot some pics or record the audio. I'll have to assume I looked great and sounded even better.

The descriptive clause, LA-based artist is going to be difficult to let go of. Kris Chatterson and Vince Contarino have linked me to a blog they started, called Progress Report, "...a visually-driven project that will offer a glimpse of what artists in NYC and elsewhere are working on in their studios." Great blog title and some exciting work. 

I'm so elsewhere. 


I'm scheduled to pick up a truck today and drop off a bunch of work tomorrow, as well as complete all the requested info to go with. I have a lot to do in less than 24 hours. I'll get it done. Part of my coping strategy lately is my commitment to wear overalls for the 30 days, effectively simplifying one part of my life. No worries, I wash them and have been creative with my choice of tops and accessories.

May 10, 2010

Feeling down, so I thought I'd post a work in progress before it morphed intProbalbynoto something else

"Seance," 2010

Really not much to say. Thought briefly about starting up another blog documenting the slow demise of people and animals I love, but it seemed way too morose.

I made some headway in the studio. I'm at the point where I want to throw everything out and start fresh on the other side, but that seems like an unnecessary waste. I also have realized I am a compulsive maker of things. I cannot stop painting even when I'm trying to pack up. I'm ditching a few pieces of studio furniture- carts and shelving I can replace on the other side. Why I am I calling Nashville, "the other side?" I don't know.

My boy is still not eating much- at all. Oh, he ate some of my left-over oatmeal and even a few leafs of lettuce from my lunch, but dry dog food, pfft. I broke down and bought a can of food and mixed it with his dry food. He ate most of it after spitting out the dried kibble. He cannot jump in the car or on the bed anymore without assistance. I'm sad. I love that guy. The vet couldn't find anything radically wrong in his blood work a few weeks ago. Maybe I said that already. I keep hoping it's just the chaos of the house sale and all the packing. I don't feel any lumps on him. My mom is also in a state of decline. I call twice a day and every time I call she tells me in a weak, but agitated voice, "I'm okay, I'm okay. I just want to sleep." That's our conversation. I try and ask her if she's been sitting up or how therapy was and it angers her. They put her on oxygen the other day. I don't know if that was temporary or not.

Here are the questions I was asked to address in my upcoming studio visit:

Can you discuss the evolution of your painting?  Is it possible to have a few of your earlier works out for the group to see?
Discuss your approach to abstraction. How do you place yourself in relation to earlier abstract painters. Which artists to you admire, and do you think they have influenced your work?
Discuss your interest in the 19th century British critic John Ruskin.
Talk about the new body of small paintings. Is there a narrative element to the work? How do they convey passage of time and of memory? How do you explain the choice of deserted swimming pools and decaying floral still lives as your choice of themes?
Christopher Knight Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2008 described your paintings as a “visual feast of color, technique.” Can you show us the range of your approaches  to applying paint – scuffing, smearing, brushing, pouring, shading and drawing? Are you technical decisions spontaneous, calculated or a combination of the two?

I'll post my response later. I'm tired now. 

May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day.

I come from one of those families where nothing is ever wrong. I mean, we could be a house full of loony tunes and the sky could be falling, but by God, every thing is OKAY. And maybe it is. Maybe normal isn't all what it's cracked up to be.

The facility called me this morning. They need to give my mom oxygen and she is refusing. They also said she is restless during the night.

Technically, she's there because she fractured her lumbar in a fall, but they couldn't help but notice some other things. No one has a straight answer, because I guess at a certain point, dementia is dementia is dementia, but when I spoke with the doctor about medication for Alzheimer's he suggested that it probably wasn't Alzheimer's because the symptoms would have been more pronounced in her 60's or 70's. When I think back 15 years ago what suddenly becomes crystal clear are some major OCD issues, that in retrospect, have been there all along. Probably other things as well. My mom is an excellent candidate for Asperger's (didn't speak until she as 5, skipped grades in school, limited interests, etc.) At this point the nurses and doctors who are dealing with my mom have agreed these issues are present. And as I told the doctor, I grew up around this stuff, so it was normal to have a mom teach me how to make a military style bed with mitered corners- only she wasn't in the military. The obsessive tendency to have everything perfect and clean and just so, is in direct conflict with how the last few years have been playing out, which is where the confusion sets in. What makes one stop doing? If you take away a person's tasks because they're not performing them as well as they could, it seems like another task has to be in place. She was compulsive about numbers and record keeping all her life, but that fell by the wayside a few years ago. I asked my mother if she would help me with bookkeeping when I got back, and she said she would.Of course, it's not like I'm going to rely on her as my CPA, but I think recording numbers in columns would be therapeutic.

Yesterday while packing the studio, I came across things and would ask myself, "Why?" I can always justify art supplies, but really, when was the last time I used acrylic gloss medium? Never. I have it because I used it as a demo in a painting class I taught about 8 years ago. I loathe gloss medium. The list goes on and extends to studio ephemera, small objects not suitable for children under 3, an extension cord collection, and a plethora of other things not dire to my current studio practice. Occasionally I caught myself picking up certain items and having a strong flash of discovering the same item in a drawer at my mom's house- a bundle of old pens that don't work, for instance. Maybe they worked when they were bundled. I don't know. I became ruthless, alternating between the trash and a large box to donate. I put an ad on craigslist for free supplies- used spray paint etc. On the other hand, I have that tendency to think, will I ever need it? I have a collection of how-to books I peruse for teaching purposes, but when was the last time you saw me post a Japanese style watercolor of a fish, and more importantly, have I ever taught that someone to paint a Japanese watercolor of a Koi fish? No, I have not. Will I? No.

Packing and cleaning Culver City Studio, Day 2. Boxes to storage this morning. Fang being fussy on the appetite. Open House again.

I really, REALLY have to get with the titles on these paintings.

May 08, 2010

This is my studio today.

This is my studio today. 

I have to straighten it up and pack things away by Wednesday to accommodate a large group of visitors. I will be in there all day today. 

Fang hasn't been right since the house painters came in. Barely eating, finicky, etc. He had an infection so he's back on antibiotics and I think Matt fed him too much hamburger meat while I was gone. I found a dry food he eats, but I've had to feed him by hand. 

I saw a video someone made about the flood in Nashville. I'm still in awe of the amount of water and devastation. Even more amazing is that the community found creative and efficient solutions to spread the word about the water supply, deal with the aftermath, and help each other immediately. Before the flood, when I was dealing with the situation with my mom, I kept thinking of a couple of lines from the Baz Luhrmann song, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen.)" 
"Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft."

I thought about this because after moving from Chicago to L.A., I have become soft. It was a fluke I took my raincoat on this last trip. I never wear a raincoat and I certainly don't carry an umbrella. Walking the big dog in the rain, wearing a raincoat and rain boots I found in the utility room, felt good. I felt like I was on my way to finding a happy medium between hard and soft. 

May 07, 2010

Never a dull moment

ART: I’ve lost track of time. I postponed my departure date by 2 days and would have kept postponing it except I had to get back to clean my studio space for a visit with a class from the Skirball Museum next Wednesday. Twenty people. My 4-person show opens at Brand in two weeks. I install next weekend. Right now as I’m precomposing this on an airplane, on my way back from Nashville.

LIFE: The flood was surreal. It just kept pouring down rain. No sudden earthquake, No tornado coming in and out, though there were a few watches and warnings- just torrential rains that did not stop for 2 days. There was a small reprieve of maybe an hour or so between storms. My mom was in the hospital during the deluge, so I went to see her during the day. It was totally trippy to see brown water cascading through the neighborhoods on my way over. They said it was a 500-year flood. Epic. 13 inches of rainfall in 2 days. Four counties in middle Tennessee were declared as a disaster area. I have no idea  the extent of it. I didn't have power for a few days and the internet won't be ready until next week. At one point I considered firing up a candleabrum and reading a 1920's dictionary I found, but I had to muster through the clean-up, which in my special case was not flood-related.

No one I know had flood insurance. My mom’s house suffered only minor damage-a small part of the driveway was torn up a bit and the garage flooded from all the water being channeled through. I think that was the weirdest thing- seeing the water cut it's own path, and watching nature do its thing. The basement flooded, but it’s just a crawl space. I wouldn’t go in there with a ten-foot pole even on a good day. Inside the house, a few leaks,  the house is old and hasn’t been updated, so I feel fortunate that nothing major happened. The creepiest thing was seeing water fill up the large duct of the central ac unit. I got a little paranoid that it would keep filling up and something would swim in the house in the middle of the night, but it receded after a couple of days.  So did the pool. I saw something swimming in the pool. I couldn't tell what it was. My first guess was a miniature loch ness monster- it had a little head that resembled what I imagine a loch ness monster head would look like. but then I went on to either snake or turtle. Mom suggested a chipmunk. If that was the case, I don't think he made it. I absent-mindedly poured myself two cups of coffee one day. I walked palindrome dog in the rain and cleared out a bunch of junk that had been saved over the years. I also saved a bunch of junk that had been saved over the years. Everybody needs an emergency packrat kit, no? It's genetic. I worry. I've sufficiently harassed every nurse and doctor I can to make sure my mom gets proper care. I felt a small sense of accomplishment today when the physician in charge of her case offered his cell phone number to me and said I could call him. I feel better.
I'm auctioning off my 11" x 14" paintings from the ITBICDT project and will donate 50% of all proceeds to The Community Foundation's Disaster Relief Fund to help victims recover from flood damage. 

I added some more strokes to the painting from a few weeks ago. It's back to being a pool. It's still in progress. Obviously.