Thoughts on Mother's Day 2019
Thoughts on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2019
There were many times I disappointed my mother but the one thing she never mentioned was my conscious decision not to have children. My mother was studying art when she met my father and I still cherish the artwork she created at Leslie College in Boston. (circa 1939) .
Her mother was a naturalist and a respected watercolorist in their retirement community. As was the custom, both women sacrificed their abilities, in order to raise children and further their husband’s career.
And like many on Mother’s Day, I thought about the sacrifices she made for me. I also took stock of how much my Mother influenced me artistically. There was always beauty in our home, flowers, art, music, and amazing food. She introduced me to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where I spent many Saturdays studying mummies and their jewelry. I was quite sure I’d become an archeologist and study in Egypt. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the Museum’s Saturday class in printmaking was a defining moment.
As it happened our neighbor, Ture Bengtz, was head of printmaking at the Museum School. We lived across the street from the Bengtz’s and our families spent lots of time together. Ski trips, backyard grilling, and swimming on Cape Cod. My family members were models for his lithographs, paintings, and photography. My father commissioned him to paint this portrait of my mother and followed up by carving the frame.
Gardens and flowers were a big part of my mother’s life. She would offer to do the wedding flowers for young couples in her church who didn’t have much money. I can still see the garden path she created with hostas bordered with broken lithography stones from the printmaking department that were a gift from Ture Bengtz.
My mother gave me an education in culture, while Grandmother instilled in me a love of nature and I’ve always felt as if I have “one foot on the boat and one on the dock”. So, in my 20’s it was off to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest to live in a cabin. It was an interesting experience of raising goats, encountering grizzly bears, trolling for salmon in the Georgia Straight, hitchhiking upstream on the Salmon River in a jet boat, pristine hot springs, cowboys riding horses through the bar, and backpacking in the most spectacular land I'd ever seen.
One year I made a trip home wearing my handmade elk skin boots carrying my watercolor landscapes along with my brush quiver carved from the heart of a red cedar tree. She begged me to stop into Portland School of Art (Now Maine College of Art) to see what they thought of my work as I traveled back to Idaho.
My appointment was on a Thursday. When my interview wound down the professor told me “This is the first week of classes. So, if you want to attend school here you need to be in class on Monday.” When I called to tell my mother, she didn’t hesitate, she told me to do it. She breathed an audible sigh of relief and I swear I could hear her murmur, Thank God! She was so glad to have me back in civilization!
Without her love, support, and her belief in me I most certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. The series “Gardens I’ve Known” is a tribute to her memory and her love of gardens.
The monotype Mediterranean Summer, monotype, 2016 in my portfolio is part of the Gardens I've Known series.
Blog Post 4/4/19
A Woman in the Men’s Room, by Siri Hustvedt, writing for The Guardian.
The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. The real creator of Duchamp’s Urinal?
In this morning's article, Hustvedt claims that it's time to rewrite history the same way the Baroness claimed its time to rewrite the rules for women artists.
I’ve always had a love of Dada and many years ago (1987) I curated the exhibition Dada Documents for the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum on the campus of Utah State University. I was working towards my MFA in printmaking and was a graduate assistant in the Museum as well as a Summer Intern in Paper Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
The premise for the exhibition was to map the various cities where the “zines” of Dada were published and show how they cross-pollinated their ideas over great distances. While in the City during my Internship I was fortunate to be able to meet with a curator on the Museum of Modern Art and ended up borrowing several documents. I also secured loans from the collections of Northwest University in Illinois as well as from the International Dada Archive at the University of Iowa.
Seeing the Hustvedt article today has given me a lot to think about. I went down the rabbit hole and found a second article about the Baroness from 2014. I hope you check out these two articles. They are fascinating.
Blog Post 3/31/19
A sleepy spring morning in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Coffee in hand I pull up Hyperallergic and there I find a feature about the paintings of Claire Sherman. I am so excited to show you her work. In 2017 I took a watercolor workshop with her at Haystack Mountain on the coast of Maine.
Her canvases are huge! They literally go from floor to ceiling. Her subject matter is the natural world in all it's lush variation. They are thickly painted with rich surfaces. It's as though you could walk into the environment with all the cognitive abilities of an adult but in an infant-sized body. An astounding experience.
I had never really worked much in watercolor, but it was a blast.
She was a wonderful teacher and her critiques were substantive while being kind. I woke up before everyone, stumbled to the dining hall for coffee and was off to paint in the early morning hours. It was an immersive experience. It was also meaningful for me as I used to go to the coast of Maine every summer. It was like "old home week" seeing and painting the diversity of flora and fauna so different from the Black Hills.
I've spent so many years teaching, now that I'm retired I can't help but want to continue, but on my own terms.
I plan on sharing the work of interesting artists, the local music scene, tips for collectors, behind the scenes in my studio, and art history while I travel to Spain this summer.
Alex Massa rockin' the house!
Alex Massa rocked the audience of Black Hills Bureau of SDPB on Thursday night. What talent! And, if you're lucky you've already purchased your tickets to catch him tonight at the Blind Lion Speakeasy in Rapid City, SD.
Many thanks to South Dakota Public Broadcasting and Deb Lux, (DLux Blues) for making Rapid City rock.
South Street Studio!
In May 2018 I retired as Professor Emeritus from 19 years of teaching from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. With an additional 15 years in curatorial practice and teaching before I found my way to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I'm very excited to devote time to my own artwork, traveling for inspiration, teaching out of my studio, doing art appraisals, and consulting for artists and collectors. And of course riding my motorcycle. Please let me know if you'd like to be on my mailing list for my newsletter and come along on my journeys!