Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Little of This, A Little of That

A roofer came this morning to fix the damage done to Second Seating's roof during Hurricane Ike. Irma had a blue tarp over it, but it didn't do much for the leak. Today, they took care of it. I love the outside of this building and it will be such a surprise to see the installation. It is so going to work in that space.
Modelle and I are meeting tomorrow morning with a theater lighting person who'll advise on extra lighting we'll need for Second Seating. I know that with good lights playing on the tables and chandeliers, the whole place will become magic. This will be the first time I've worked with lights and I know that they will create the aura, the atmosphere. Will also meet with music and sound folks to create a tape that we can play, probably over and over, while Second Seating is open.
I went over to the Harrisburg studio mid-afternoon and stayed longer than I intended. Planned to be there just minutes in order to pick up one of the 'French' side chairs that I need to recover in some metallic faded, very messed up velvet from the cache of Hurricane Ike damaged fabrics.
I decided to set up the banquet table. The painted drop cloth and patchwork have been there on the floor for a week, so I gathered them up, pinned in a vertical and horizontal pleat on the drop cloth so it wouldn't be hanging all over the floor. Then put boxes on the table and covered the whole thing.
Added some of the stuff that will actually go on the table. I need to do something with the edges of the patchwork. In some places it looks unfinished. I may make some fabric knots or ruffles and tack on here and there.
Back at home, I decided to write and paint on the twenty pieces of beveled glass that make up a small chandelier. Gonzo247 is painting the base a bright sassy color. I wrote phrases and words on each piece of glass and drew floral sorts of things - all in metallic gold and pewter. They need to dry for 24 hours and then I'll bake and reassemble. I want to hang it in proximity to the big banquet chandelier that is covered with wrapped fabrics, ruffles and birds. I have got to finish that thing and get it off my dining room table. It needs a few more ruffles and two more light bulbs and then I'll take it over to Harrisburg and hang it up next to the Houston Dynamo soccer ball chandelier, the Clorox chandelier and the two smaller Valero chandeliers. The finished pieces are adding up, thank heaven.

Artists Meet

Mercedes Fernandez is in town. That wonderful woman who is responsible for the enormous mural adjacent to the original Ninfa's Mexican Restaurant is participating in Second Seating with a series of paintings on table napkins. We'll suspend them against a golden yellow wall or maybe a chartreuse wall. Her embroidery is becoming ever more complex and multidimensional. Her roses beg to be picked right off the painting.
Last evening she and I visited Jesse Sifuentes. He is just about to put the coat of polyurethane on his coffee buffet. That piece just dances. It's filled with life and littered with sly staccato notes.
It good when Second Seating artists get together. Hope that we are all here for the opening and can spend time together. They are each so talented. I need to plan for a late supper somewhere for artists and family.

Monday, July 27, 2009

First of the Flock of Parrot Pinatas

The first of the feral parrot flock is beautiful. Laurie photographed the bird last Friday night, so now we have images for Kelly and Sherri to use as they design the postcard invite. Moving right along.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Collage, Montage, Whatever

I've not been out of the house today except for a morning walk. Back to work in the studio, after a unplanned cleanup of the place. It hasn't been fun to go into the studio lately because the floor was covered with fabrics from work on that chandelier with the red vase at its center. The counter space was piled high with photographs, books and just plain mess. When Catarina was here yesterday working on the database, I decided to straighten things up out there. Strange how a clean-up mode takes over, comes out of nowhere and for me, so infrequently. Finished the job this morning and so spent the afternoon mixing and matching photos and fabrics.
I always think nothing is going to come of the process. It's painful how long it takes me to assemble something that looks like 'something.' It was easy to make the cut out of the gelatin salad and tuck it in behind the smaller one gelatin salad that's been sitting for some time on that square piece of weathered tapestry. It works, but how on earth am I going to affix these gelatin salads to the tapestry fabric? Back the photos with mat board? Cut around them again. Adhere with Velcro? Glue? This is the part where I think that everything should be done with PhotoShop.
Went on to work on another potential piece. Mixed and matched forever. Then all of a sudden, the collage appeared and I think it's OK. So, collages are sitting on the floor assembled and waiting for judgment. It's time to decide just what steps I need to take with each one in order to, tape, glue, sew and otherwise secure it. As I said, this is the part I don't like because I mess up so many times. I am not good at gluing. I can ruin a whole piece very quickly, so I have to think all this through carefully and see what portions of each piece I can take to Art Supply for a dose of their vacuum press.
This new one with the bananas and a portrait of Caroline from long ago is going to take a lot of big stitch sewing and I'll probably use embroidery floss. By the way, it's always a surprise how random images like this shot of Caroline are just right for a piece.
Worked on and another collage appeared and it may be finished. Not totally sure.
So here are all of the pieces, just sitting there on the floor, fermenting or seasoning or whatever. I'll look at them again tomorrow and see what the next steps are. Probably don't need many more. Need to get back to those fabric wall hangings and see how I can mess them up a bit. They are way too tame.
Also finished the first draft of yet another grant application today and will have a friend review it on Monday to see if it's seaworthy. And I'll look forward, yet again to see if I am 'worthy and well qualified,' as my dad used to characterize graduates every year at commencement.
Back to the collages. They all look more than a bit baroque at the moment.
By the way, I am writing on more plates, platters and bowls and was given a light fixture with pieces of foot long rectangles of beveled glass. I've decided to write words on all the glass, bake them and paint the structure. Another baroque piece to add over the table with the patchwork cloth.
Roofer is coming to Irma's on Monday to repair Hurricane Ike damage. Good news. Still need a final bid on the sheet rock panels I want to have installed here and there along the walls of the space. Onward.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What a Good Day

Name the good things. Naming is a good thing. Naming makes it real. So here goes. First, Second Seating got another sponsor today. Sometimes - once in a while - it is so easy (note: it always means an infusion of heavy duty energy on my part, whether easy or hard) to make a case for supporting this exhibition, especially when the person on the other end of the line is responding and understands just how their business can make a contribution to the whole of it. So it was this morning. I heard, "I'll commit to this," and after the phone call, I burst into tears just as I did when the check from Diverse Works came in the mail. That check was the first one given to Seating Seating and I cried a lot that day. I notice that real tears come when I've been working very hard and someone puts a seal of approval on all the efforts. I am astounded when it happens. The tears are about affirmation.
By the way, that bit of aerosol art above is Gonzo247. He picked up his dinner table and four chairs the other day and I suspect they may look rather like this.
Early this afternoon Texas Journey AAA magazine called and they will put a Second Seating listing in their September issue. That's really good news. After that second jolt of 'wonderful', I went to pick up the first parrot pinata from Victor Rodriguez.
It's delicate and more intricate than I anticipated. So, the big really big pinata chandelier he's making next with its five to eight foot wing span will be remarkable . Victor and his brother Manuel and I will meet at Irma's next week so they can ascertain how this big parrot chandelier needs to be for the scale of the space. Think tremendous. And just so you know, there will be a flock following along as if they'd flown in from the back door to Irma's patio. We're doing this all in honor of the feral parrots that live and fly in Houston's East End.
After picking up the parrot, I spent time on the floor with the big calendar mapping out a timeline. Irma and I have two weeks to remove all the stuff from the exhibition space and fix the leaks in the roof. Then, I've have the space cleaned, meaning the floor will be power washed, the walls dusted, all ready for a few dry walls and the electric work.
All of this good stuff after a day which I spent going over projected expenses for the next two months. Numbers make me more than crazy. I have a hard time trusting them. Are they real? Do I have enough?
But today, this day is a good one. That metal building will be transformed. It's all in my head and I wish I could paint a picture so others are able to see what I see.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Post Meltdown - Back in Gear

Today is better. Last weekend was not good. Meltdown is not fun at all. But yesterday, I began the return to an even keel. Even on four hours of sleep (and that's another story), things got done and I wasn't overcome with a nebulous blob of anxiety. I've been lucky for months. That space called 'in the zone' is a very nice place to be. I am working my way back there.
My yesterday went like this. Went to Pilates and discovered that every part of me ached, surely a symptom of the weekend meltdown.
Then at noon, I met Gonzo247 at my studio on Harrisburg and we got the table and four chairs loaded up and taken to his place where he'll turn them all into aerosol art. Then we drove to the chandelier shop and picked up that big chandelier structure that needs to be covered with yards of stretchy stretched out fabric so he can paint all over that too.
I heard from Jose Solis and he's got his studio in order and will give me dimensions and photos of the coffee can chandelier in a week's time. I am really happy about that. Over the weekend, I made a scale drawing of the exhibition space and laid out the dinner tables and chandeliers. It looks good and I need his chandelier dimensions so I know where to hang what he creates to best advantage.
Manuel Rodriguez and his brother were rushing to finish the first of the parrot pinata chandeliers by Tuesday and they put the crepe paper on too soon and the colors ran. They've had to redo the feather covering.
Still trying to contact Laurie Perez about a photo shoot for the parrot and perhaps the oil pipe lights so I can get stuff to Sherri for the postcard invitation design. I have the wording for the invitation and Diverse Works reviewed it. Sure hope I haven't left someone off the list of funders and supporters. I'll be refining that list until it goes to the printer in early August.
Have not heard from Modelle about her calls to the monthly magazines. I'd love to know if some - any at all - will include a Second Seating calendar listing. We sent packets in early May. That process is always tricky.
Catarina was here in the afternoon making database address corrections and then she counted all the plates I've written on so I know how many plate holders to buy. The number is close to 60. And this doesn't count Jesse's plates or the plates of any other of the artists. It'll be quite a 'plate wall.'
In an hour, I'll be at Irma's meeting with someone from a cleaning company to see what's involved in getting the space ready for installation. Like power washing the floor which may not ever have been washed. Then I meet with Marci at 9:30, again at Irma's, to talk about FaceBook and how Second Seating can take better advantage of its page. Then on to get a hair cut, to stop by the Apple Store and see why my Microsoft Office isn't working as it should, then on to Melissa's to look at expense spreadsheets, then to PetCo to buy a cat carrier. Where ever did my wooden cat carrier vanish? Marisol needs overdue annual shots. After that I need to pick up oyster shells again. This is an every-other-day event.
So, upcoming day is upon us. Time to get dressed and gather my papers and phone and sunglasses and pen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Three Day Meltdown

I've been in meltdown for almost three days now, so I'm making efforts to rid myself of this anxiety that is ramping up and clouding my thinking and my work. Went for long early morning walks both yesterday and today, saw a 5:00 p.m. movie last evening and made an appointment with the friend who is keeping up with Second Seating expenses and income.
Still in fund raising mode and I am making a list of everything for which I could possibly be spending money on to install Second Seating. We will tally the two columns and see exactly where this exhibition is headed.
I do have a pretty good feel for it, but I never trust numbers and tend to return to them again and again to remind myself that things are OK. There is enough. Or there will be enough. Work hard and trust in the universe. That combination has worked very well so far.
As part of my self-therapy today, I went to my website MM Hansen Communicates and watched the video of 'la folie innocente du coeur,' that 2005 Marfa installation. Of course, it's filled with portraits of my daughters and mother and the music is evocative and nostalgic. Both conducive to a good cry. Everything is going to be alright. It helps to see something I've already done.

Text and images for the Second Seating postcard invitation are due midweek so design work can begin, followed by proofing, adding in underwriters that haven't surfaced yet, printing and finally that trip to the bulk mail house. The text for the postcard is long and cumbersome because I want to list not only the underwriters, but the companies that have been generous with in-kind. Will all these names fit on a postcard? In addition, I am working on yet another funding application and am gathering support for doing so.
Tomorrow Gonzo247 picks up the table and chairs I bought late last year and we will pick up the chandelier structure that won't fit in the back of my car. He'll cover all with aerosol art and I've given him paint chips so his table will 'feel' like the show, in addition to being a knockout.
Will also pick up a parrot pinata tomorrow from Victor Rodriguez. A month ago, it came to me that we needed a parrot pinata chandelier for Second Seating because of the growing feral parrot population that flies and roosts in our neighborhoods.
It's almost 3:00 p.m. I need to call Irma and see what she's done about measuring those huge banquettes she's storing in the space. We are putting them on Craig's List. Hope they sell and, more importantly, are removed.
Looking onward to Wednesday. I'll meet with someone I know from a big cleaning company and he'll take a look at the space and tell me how much it will cost to power wash the concrete floor. Maybe he'll become an underwriter? Trust in the universe. Then I'll meet with Marci, a friend who will help me make better use of FaceBook for Second Seating. After that, I'm getting a haircut and then will be see Melissa, the friend who will look at numbers and spread sheets with some degree of calm.
My friend Sally asks me periodically when I'll be making 'the art.' I tell her now to ask me that question.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

All Covered Over

This afternoon, Catarina and I lifted the patchwork tablecloth and the painted drop cloth on to the big table and assessed the situation. Not working. Plus both the patchwork and the drop cloth are both just enormous.
We pinned a deep horizontal pleat and then a vertical pleat the length of the drop cloth so it isn't dragging on the floor and then we took it off the table for total repainting.
I'd brought two more cans of house paint I'd considered for my studio a year ago. Wicked shades of chartreuse. I spent almost two hours painting with both colors. The whole thing needs to dry. Looks a bit flat, but maybe some metallic spray paint will work at some point. I did put the patchwork back in the center of the new greens and it looks a whole lot better. So how many times will this thing be repainted? I'm not counting. Just considering colors and patterns.
Catarina sat at a table with two of the three fans faced in her direction. She worked on my laptop, correcting and adding to the invite database. ace was very hot. We drank a lot of water and stayed focused until 5:00 p.m.
Tomorrow is a mixed day. Won't get to the studio. It's time to make a new TO DO list and lay out my time for the next week. I am cancelling my trip to Chicago and the BlogHer conference. Made reservations in January, but a Thursday through Sunday without work on Second Seating makes no sense. I've been twice and hate to miss it, but my brain and heart are with this exhibition. I sure need those four days to 'move the meter.'

All of a Piece, What's Happening Now

Sometimes it's good to go back to the start of something, to remember how it was near the beginning. The second post on this blog ties in with the very things I am working on now. It's been slow and steady progress from day one.
Those oysters that my daughter Jeanne and her husband Dan and my grandchildren Kelan and Lauren and my sister and brother-in-law Denny picked up along a stretch of beach in the Pacific Northwest have been grilled and eaten. I boxed up the empty shells and sent them to Houston. Now they sit on a tabletop with dozens of silver plated scallop shells for Seating Seating.
Every day I take a giant Rubbermaid tub to a seafood restaurant and trade it for one full of oyster shells. The smell in my car is awful and the pile of shells by the side of my studio is growing. when those shells have been eaten clean and bleached in this hellish Houston summer sun, they'll surround the table as will these chairs which will be covered in more of my Hurricane Ike flood salvaged fabrics.
It is all of a piece, what's happening now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cans of Paint and A Brush or Two

Spent a really nice day in the Harrisburg studio. Hot? Yes, but the intense heat of an unairconditioned space was tolerable because I had three big fans blowing. And besides, I really got into the work, complete with dirty knees. The floor is something over there. That's not newspaper ink.

A couple of days ago, Catarina and I put the completed patchwork tablecloth back on the floor on top of the giant paint cloth. Ready to be painted. I'd come with cans of left over latex house paint from Trish and my own stash. I love house paint because for me, it brings a sort of freedom. There is so much of it and one color will cover another if you don't like the first or second go around.

I have no idea what the drop cloth will look like when it's 'finished.' And I will know when it is finished, only when it's 'finished'. I've been drawing on those plates and so I thought I'd begin on the drop cloth with similar squiggles and shapes and the rest would develop, once I started 'seeing.'
Started with a light Wedgewood sort of blue and then went around the four sides with two shades of coral, one more brownish than the other.
Lots of circles emerged. I guess because the brush made them so easily. Then I added two greens, but neither is strong enough and so the whole thing is beginning to look like a play on one of those 1950s tablecloths printed with checks and strawberries or maps of states visited on vacation.
If a few viewers make that connection, it may be OK. Perhaps, I'll bring in a poison green, add some black or black and white checks. Or more of that heavy brownish red. I won't know until I get after it again.But I am finding it interesting to paint away, watching something emerge and having no idea where it will lead. I will know when it's finished and it's not there yet.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Plates. In Spanish.

A dozen more plates are sitting all over my kitchen counters, newly written on and waiting for tomorrow's slow bake in a 300 degree oven. I wrote on them in an effort to 'move the meter' and get something tangible done today. I get so irritated with myself when I spend most of a day out riding around doing errands. One can always think of another and another place to stop and then, the entire day is gone. So I vowed that after the TTN group tonight, which by the way, was pretty wonderful (more on that shortly on Rockbridge Times), I'd write all over a lunch of plates. In Spanish.
There is going to be a whole walls of plates in Second Seating and each one will have some sort of fragmentary or cryptic message. I'd written on several dozen a week ago when it occurred to me that the whole thing would be a lot more 'East End' if the wall became bilingual. So, after emailing a few friends for phrases and sending them suggestions in English, AND waiting for a day or two, I went to a library discard book that I bought years ago and found what I hope are wonderful and compelling phrases in Spanish.
It's actually becoming fun to write and draw on these plates. Never think of myself as being able to draw much of anything, but I've just plowed into this and used 'soft eyes' when moving those pens around the plate. That means looking slightly out of focus, looking at the whole space and seeing where it 'needs something.' The technique is working reasonably well. I'm not trying to make great art. I am trying to write on enough plates to make an interesting wall so folks will linger to read all the stuff and then perhaps, will just have to own one or two of plates for their kitchen wall.
Other stuff I've done today included a visit to the chandelier shop where I met with the man who will make the feral parrot pinata chandelier and the man who will electrify it. They worked out the details and now have a plan. Should be completed by the first of August.
Also, went back to Wolf Camera and had some more wallet size photos made of East End places and things. And to Art Supply to buy a 30 x 40 inch piece of Arches paper on which to lay all of these small photos in a mosaic of sorts - after I've painted on the paper and messed it up a bit. Hope it looks quilt-like and a jumbly colorful blur, until you get up close and see individual images. Kudos to me. I kept myself out of the Guild Shop today.
As I was driving today, I figured out a way to paint the edges of the drop cloth that will hang under the big patchwork tablecloth. Catarina and I will go tomorrow and move both the drop cloth and the patchwork back on to the floor and I'll take over newspapers and cans of house paint that Trish gave me and just set to work painting random stuff for a border. I have some good colors and painting a border will be a good exercise. We'll see if it will 'hold' together when I'm finished.
Delivered another funder packet this morning. Still have money 'out there.' Fundraising never ceases. Still need to get the bid for the sheetrock and painting of same that I want to do in the exhibition space. Got an email from my electrical contractor today and they've done the work required by the city inspectors. Inspectors will be out tomorrow to see if it's all up to the mark and will post their response on line. Sure hope we don't have to go back for more stuff.
Oh, also went to Art Supply today for advice and counsel. I took it upon myself to glue a reasonably good collage together late last week. My gluing, as usual, leaves a lot to be desired.
I ruined the collage with poor gluing and after consultation tore it apart right there in the store. With some lamentations. I'll have another color print made, affix all the pieces with masking tape and then have them vacuum press it all together. I should know better. Will tape all the collages together and get them over to Art Supply for the final steps. Not happy about the mess I made of a collage that was actually working. Lesson learned. Again.
Must get in contact with one of the artists making a coffee can chandelier and see where he is in the process. So, I guess that's my day. Oh, I had a doctor's appointment this morning too and the news was good and that's a story for Rockbridge Times. Off to bed.
I like to write this posts that are actually 'lists' so I know I've accomplished a few things. Of course, it's never ending. It won't be over until it's over. But I am liking it all. Very little not to like. I mean, this is why I quit my job two years ago. I remind myself of that often. Stay in the present and move the meter. And thank heaven for the flow of good ideas and solutions. Ok, really off to bed now. It's after midnight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oyster Shells on Saturday

Two photos. One 'before' and one 'after.' The before is the oyster shells when we first dump them fresh from the tub and the flies feast for a day or two. There are hundreds of flies at this feast. Fortunately, all this takes place away from anyone's house and the flies and whomever else comes at night sure are efficient.
The 'after' photo shows the shells that we dumped four days ago - clean and just needing a good rain and more sun.
I pick up a tub of shells every 36 hours or so and will continue for as long as this seafood place is willing to fill and exchange the tubs. All these shells will make a heck of a Second Seating tableau in September.
Tomorrow I should probably take my scale outside and weigh a colander of shells and then calculate how many pounds I have and the number of days it's taken to collect them. This is from one restaurant. I can compare these numbers with other numbers of oysters harvested and eaten. I've read that 100 years ago, folks sat down and ate dozens and dozens before soup , stew or salad. The dozen we order seems tame in comparison.

Saturday. Oh, and Dean Foods

Well, I had a morning of shopping, for Second Seating, of course. Began the morning by picking up another tub of oyster shells (They are still smelling up the back of my car. I must get out there and deal with them.). Then dashed over to Michael's for more embroidery floss, so I can stitch together pieces of another wall hanging. Stopped by Bering's for some free coffee and plate holders for all these plates I've been writing on and baking.
Then I couldn't help myself. I stopped by the Guild Shop and found ever more plates to write on as well as another old metal top-of-the-stove coffee pot and a tray with hand painted roses.

Remember those two French style chairs that I forgot to purchase in a timely way for the Bayou, Bay, Beach tableau, when I first saw them months ago at Corporate Outfitters? Of course, they were sold when I finally returned for them, and so I've spent time this week looking for replacements. Here's a potential replacement. I am sure the right ones will turn up if they are truly necessary.
In the meantime, I stopped at Reeve's Antiques this afternoon, and lo and behold, at the end of a long corridor of furniture stood a small French sort of chair with needle point sunflowers. Well, that chair was a must have at any price. Sunflowers have been the management district's icon ever since we published the East End Strategic Vision and we had that big luncheon at UH to introduce 'our vision and goals' in September 2006. Does this sound like I still take ownership of projects and programs of the Greater East End District, even though I haven't drawn a salary in two years? Can't help it.

So now I have a delicate and comfortable little chair covered with sunflowers. Of course, it's going into Second Seating. Though probably not in the Bayou, Bay, Beach tableau. I am still looking for tattered little French chairs. The sunflower chair is, by the way, an American chair from the Northeast. Perhaps from the 1920s?
This afternoon, I invited a friend over just to see and listen to all the things that are happening to make this show a reality. I simply needed to reiterate all the tasks undertaken of late.
This past week has been a somewhat lost one as far as I am concerned. July is supposed to be about getting the facility itself ready. I was supposed to hear about the permitting process and I was supposed to get a bid for installing some sheet rock in the space.
Irma has to clear the place out, the roof needs repair and I need to get a crew in to clean and power wash before the sheetrock work and the final electrical work must be installed for the chandeliers.
So, all that being said, I need to take a Tylenol or two aspirin and get myself on the walk that I didn't take this morning and then on to some collage work out in the studio. First, a detour to the trunk of the car with a colander and a pot so I can get those oyster shells laid out in back to be cleaned and bleached by natural means.
By the way, I read an article today written by Ari LeVaux about Dean Foods, the company that owns the Oak Farm Dairy plant here in the East End. I'd wanted to make an Oak Farm Dairy milk carton chandelier because this plant processes all the milk used by the Houston Independent School District and the Cy Fair District. It's a major East End plant. But now, I think that perhaps it's a good thing that Dean Foods is not sponsoring a chandelier for Second Seating. LeVaux talks about Dean Foods taking over Silk, originally an organic soy milk product made with American organic soy beans. Dean Foods proceeded to dump American organic farmers in favor of buying cheaper Chinese soy beans for Silk. Another example of an organic food business being taken over by agribusiness and then, simply not supported, even when it's clear that Americans are willing to pay more for 'real' organic foodstuffs.
I quote from the article, "When mega corporation Dean Foods acquired Silk soy milk the prospects looked good for American organic soy farmers. Silk had always been committed to supporting domestic organic farmers, and with the new might of Dean Foods behind it, Silk would likely grow. Silk did grow, but it also dropped its commitment to domestic soy.
"Multiple Midwestern farmers and farmers cooperatives in the heart of American soy country were told by Silk they had to match the rock-bottom cost of Chinese organic soybeans -- a price they simply could not meet. Organic agriculture is labor-intensive, and China's edge comes largely from its abundance of cheap labor...
"Dean Foods had the opportunity to push organic and sustainable agriculture to incredible heights of production by working with North American farmers and traders to get more land in organic production," says Merle Kramer, a marketer for the Midwestern Organic Farmers Cooperative, based in Michigan. "But what they did was pit cheap foreign soybeans against the U.S. organic farmer, taking away any attraction for conventional farmers to make the move into sustainable agriculture."
"Silk bought Chinese soybeans for years, building a commanding share of the soy milk market, before substantially decreasing its support of organic agriculture altogether.
"Few Silk products are certified organic anymore, and some are processed with hexane, a neurotoxin. The use of hexane poses risks to workers in the plants and possibly the consumers of the product and is listed as an air pollutant by EPA. In Illinois alone, 5 million pounds of hexane are released into the environment by food processors Bunge, Cargill and Arthur Daniels Midland."So, I guess I will stop looking for vintage milk pitchers and just let that milk carton project fade away. I'll get on with the feral parrot pinata chandeliers instead. For whatever it's worth.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Brought home another tub of oysters shells. That makes four tubs and more to come. I go each day now to pick up more. The shells are all off behind my studio (which was my garage) and I don't think the stench or the flies are bothering anyone. I'll pour a little Clorox water on them from time to time and let the sun and heat and bugs take care of things.
Catarina was over today to sew on the banquet chandelier. I hardly know how to describe it or photograph this piece. It is so bizarre and yet it seems to work. Here's a photo of it but really needs to be hanging against a simple background. Have no idea what kind of light bulbs I'll use with it.

I did get more light bulbs for the oil pipe drilling parts that I had made into lamps. I them them and not sure whether they'll be on the floor or on a table during the exhibition. They come in series of one, two or three all linked together with transparent wires. The idea was a good one.

Also baked some more dishes today. They'd been 'drying' on the kitchen counter for a day after being written or drawn on. Can't remember where I found those two painted red compotes, but I like them and drew with gold all over them. They looked gorgeous in the oven.
Have to get busy on the invitation postcard next. I am meeting with the folks at Diverse Works tomorrow and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday After Four Hours of Sleep

So what's new? Another busy day that began with an extracurricular early morning meeting at 7:30 a.m. I had plenty of time to get there. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and never went back to sleep. I am more than tired tonight. But made the most of the day.
After the meeting, Catarina and I went to the management district offices and moved three tables back across the street to my Harrisburg studio in order to reassemble the 'banquet' table which is made with six 36 inch square tables. None of this is fun in the heat. The studio is as breathtakingly hot as the street, but we persevered and got the big drop cloth on over the tables. It's perfect. Touches the floor on all four sides. Then we overlayed the patch work cloth and it's all going to work. I just have to paint patterns on the drop cloth with house paint. That's next.
Catarina also counted all the filigreed Clorox bottles. There are 51 in the Harrisburg studio. Plus more at home that Carmella's made. Imagine that many bottles in one chandelier.

Had a late lunch at Irma's with a friend and then went back to the district to look at all the photos on their server. I'd taken so many over the years and a few days ago, I decided I'd like to use some in the collages I'm working on. I sat there and sorted through hundreds of images. I love doing it. My daughters are sure that should I become dementia-impaired in my very old age, they can give me a box of photographs or perhaps a lap top and I will be fully entertained sorting and arranging images. They think I may even use the same collection day after day. Perhaps. All these thoughts are certainly the result of mom's decline into dementia. The girls are looking at their grandmother and now are looking ahead and fearing the worst for their mom. OK, back to the photos for Second Seating. I found a real trove of images I'd taken and have a CD just chock full to print and use. Nice afternoon.

On the way home, I stopped at Value Village and bought a few more plates. That stack on the lower left cost we $5. 26. Not bad. I have all of these to write on. A batch I finished the other day is now in the oven baking at 300 degrees.
And there are more on the counter waiting to bake. We'll have that wall of plates at Second Seating for sure.
My today is over.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nine Women

Partnerships, collaborations and sharing are the things that make a project work. I don't think there is anyone who creates anything without lots of help and encouragement and the skills and talents of others. So it is with Second Seating. There are dozens of people who've gone out of their way to move this project forward. The list grows longer every single day.
I think of all the women who sewed on the very large 10 x 14 foot patchwork banquet tablecloth.
It's made from fabrics salvaged from Hurricane Ike flood waters. First, there was the lady who owned these fabrics and stored them in her garage where they flooded last fall during the hurricane. She hauled these sodden, mildewed fabrics out to the driveway and I walked past one day and asked about the mounds of velvets and brocades. "Take as much as you want," she said. "I can't look at them any more."

After washing and drying load after load, and ruining my dryer in the process, I arranged the fabrics on a big drop cloth in the Harrisburg studio, mixing and matching until it all looked like 'something'. Then we must have used a 1000 pins to hold it together.
Irina sewed with Catarina for several afternoons and then suggested that we move our work from drop cloth on the floor to a big table which made sense. we could sit in chairs.

Next, we scheduled sewing bees. Virginia came and so did Evelyn Pat joined us. Hedy took a turn in the early spring too. Each of these women arrived at a warehouse studio and together we pushed needles strung with embroidery floss through layers of velvet, brocade, silk and linen. It wasn't always easy going. We needed thimbles, so Evelyn brought a thimble or two with her. We ate strawberries and cookies too.

Catarina has given more hours to this sewing project than we can count. She spent almost every afternoon of her spring break sewing. She spent every afternoon last week working to complete this patchwork. Catarina was joined by Evelyn one afternoon, Irina another. Roanne was with us the last hour of the last afternoon. There were three of us sewing when the piece was finally finished. Roanne, Catarina and I put those final stitches in place. Perhaps a toast was in order?
Nine women stitched away until there we had one giant banquet table cloth. Thank you all for every single stitch.


Every day so much gets accomplished and yet it's all just a drop in the bucket because there is so much to do. I"ll recount what went on today. Woke up late at 8:10. Unheard of. Had a breakfast meeting with Modelle at 9:00 at Irma's. Wanted to show her the exhibition space and all of its quirks so she can assist with the process of getting a 90 day occupancy permit from the city. The electrical contractor is to be there this week to take care of the list of requirements given in the inspectors' report. Hope everything gets done the first time around.
Breakfast, of course, was grand. Love the migas and I covered the whole plate with Irma's salsa. Wasn't hungry until nearly 3:00 p.m.
After a tour of the Second Seating space, we drove over to Corporate Outfitters where, months ago, I saw two French looking chairs that would have been perfect for Bayou, Bay, Beach, had I purchased them when I first found them.
Eli remembered them and my wish to buy them for the show. But gone they were, sold, and I could kick myself for not ever calling him, not getting myself there in a timely way. So now I need to rethink chairs for that table that will be surrounded by thousands of oyster shells and trash.

A good thing about this particular tableau? I am now collecting plastic tubs of oysters shells from a seafood restaurant. Bought three tubs and will rotate them as they are filled with shells. They asked me today just how many tubs I'd need. I did not say that at least 50 tubs would be grand. I couldn't even lift the first tub into the back of my car. Poured the shells all out by the side of the garage to be picked over by ants, flies, rats and whatever other small animals might like to clean them for a snack. Need to pour a little bleach over them too. Smell is awful. However, I am more than delighted to have found a willing source for shells and we have time enough for them to dry out before they're needed. And collecting these shells for Second Seating is a good idea? I tend to see an image in my mind and have no idea what it takes to make it real. If I were a painter, would it be easier?
After lamenting the missing chairs (I'd even photographed them months ago), Modelle and I went on to the Harrisburg studio to gather the white tablecloths that were rolled and strung with filigreed Clorox bottles. Moving that chandelier around and letting the ends of the tablecloths drift along a dirty floor or two messed them up. As I have no clothes dryer (and that is a story for Rockbridge Times), Modelle will wash them and then I'll reassemble the entire chandelier, perhaps right there at Irma's in the space itself? When we are installing the show. Not a bad idea.
Modelle and I were so hot, with sweat running down our cheeks, that we dashed across the street to the East End mangement district offices for cold water. Found Sherri Oldham reviewing all of the photos we'd taken over the years of district activities and projects. Martin has very neatly cataloged them all on our server. Just this weekend, I'd decided to ask if I could peruse these district photos, many of which I've taken. Decided that the collages for Second Seating needed more than food images. They need East End images and there is no sense in retaking what I've already photographed. So will get there perhaps on Tuesday afternoon and wander through those digital files.

At the right, for instance, is a photo of some of the folks who attended the celebration for the completion of Jesse Sifuentes' mural on the side of Rex Supply on Harrisburg. There were almost 100 people at that reception.
Came home and spent time with emails, called folks and made an appointment to talk more about the parrot chandelier. Then headed over to Jesse's to see the progress on the coffee mug buffet. And progress, there's been. He's leaving on a vacation shortly so it won't be complete until the end of July, but I can see how it's going to be when finished. It's a mural that continues on down the sides of the table and somehow it reminds me of folk art. It will be quite wonderful.
The top of the buffet opens up so one can store coffee urns and cups inside the piece. Each side of the buffet is covered with coffee mugs and Jesse is putting each cup in with great thought. Colors blend with the bits of mural that run from the buffet top down each leg. He's got stencils of an old Model T Ford along one edge as a reminder that that great coffee plant on Harrisburg was once a Ford Assembly plant back in the day.
Back at home, Catarina worked on the fabric covered chandelier attaching drop crystals first with pins and then with thread. Haven't gotten a good photo of that piece yet, but here is a detail.

So, is it a waste of time to catalog the day when I could have been out mixing and matching for another collage? This does give me time to think, though I am truly thinking about Second Seating about 90 % of my waking moments.
Also working on text for the show. Found snippets that I wrote last February for the Clorox table. How nice to find these words and they still work and will be just fine.
Melissa is emailing me oyster facts and figures so we are on our way to text for Bayou, Bay, Beach too. Adding to the an ever longer list of all the people who are contributing their time and talents to Second Seating. I am continually amazed that so many are willing to play a part in this expanding effort. Perhaps I should post some names?
This is twelve hours of Monday.