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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Meditations on cheese

Yesterday, Dec 30, was the one year anniversary of my return home to my beloved after a four month residency in Paris. I was really ready to come home. Are there things I hated leaving behind? Yes. Cheap wine and cheese, incredible markets and monuments to the sublime, the ridiculous, optimism and arrogance. But, most of all I miss the cheese.

Particularly Roquefort which can be purchased in my neighborhood here at a price similiar to gold per ounce.

In 10 days I'll be returning to Paris and the first things I'll shop for will be a good, cheap pieces of French country bread and a chunk of Rouquefort. The title link will take you to an article on the history of Roquefort. Now I understand one of the reasons its so pricey - of course the exchange rate doesn't help matters any.

The link above will take you to a site which is collection of writings by an American who lived in Paris and wrote for Time-Life books for many, many years. He is in his late 80's and spends most of the year in Paris still living in a 5th Floor walk up in Montparnasse. I am a big believer that part of his vitality is due to climbing those stairs everyday as well as the knowledge that he can live freely in a city that he escaped on bicycle the day Hitler's troops marched into town.

Vive le France!
Vive le Roquefort!
Oh, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Miss Sue

"Now, Miss Sue don't you start doing anything around here that you don't wanna keep on doing..."

- Will Issac, the son of a share cropper who worked on my grandfather's farm giving advice to my Mother when she was a new bride and spending her first weekend with her new in-laws.

My mom said this was good advice and very timely since she is restoring my kitchen to order after the holiday festivities. (Leg of lamb was ok!)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The truth hurts

This past saturday was a long journey full of detours and discoveries. I realized late in the afternoon that someone I love to hate, our mayor, is even more complicated than I realized. Maybe I hate him less but it is certain he is still a wolf in wolf's clothing. (Or more accurate, a Republican in Democrat's clothing)

I voted for him when he ran for governor. He won and was the first black governor in the United States and I was very proud to be a part of all the hoopla on inaugeration day. It was sad and unfortunate that he turned on his constituency when he tried to elimate public art institutions and cut teacher's salaries as governor. Now, as mayor, lives in a house full of art and is still managing to close the doors of art establishments. I guess he thinks art is only for rich people. My husband's friend who told me of Wilder's love of art wrote a book about him and knows I am assuming he knows first hand.

Early in the evening we had the curious pleasure of attending a reception for an art exhibition of Mayor Wilder's daughter's paintings, Lynn Wilder. I have been following her work since the 80's and was excited to meet her. The image above is my favorite painting in the show.

Daddy/Mayor was there, too. One of my favorite painters in town was there and he told a story that reminded me of why I make art... and maybe why other's choose not to look at art in general.

My painter friend was hired by "King's Dominion," a regional theme/amusement park, when he was 17. He was hired as an on-site portrait artist, the kind on display near tourist attractions like St. Louis Cathedral and Notre Dame. A woman and her son came up one day and the mother sat down to have her portrait rendered. The son stood behind my friends's shoulder and watched, which is what the whole process if about, really. (Whoever hangs these things on their wall?) The son was going nuts exclaiming how much it looked like his mom. My friend kept on track with his charcoal until the mother insisted that she be offered a peek. The drawing was flipped around so she couls see it. She was aghast and exclaimed "if I looked like that all the time I would walk around with a bag over my head." My friend responded "Yeah, the truth hurts."

That evening the King's Dominion staff took my friend's smock taken away from him and he was fired and told he didn't have the King's Dominion spirit...:(

Oh, we howled at that one. I love this story because I think it sums up our populace in so many ways. People don't like art because it aspires to tell the truth...even when it lies the lie is there for everyone to see. An acknowledged lie is the truth. They prefer the comfort of religion or whatever institution they have faith in... preferably something that veils the conflicted nature of man into a landscape of black and white.

Oh, the truth hurts!
Happy Winter Sostice, everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Meek Shall Not Inherit New Orleans

This post is from

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Meek Shall Not Inherit New Orleans
"We are still here. We are still waiting to rebuild. We are still waiting on adjusters. We still have no electricity. We are still waiting on trailers that were promised. We are still waiting on the promised rebuilding of the levees. We are still waiting on Bush to fulfill his promise made in front of the St. Louis Cathedral.

We WILL have Mardi Gras though... and Chris Rose from the Times Picayune put it very succinctly in today's column."

Please click on the title of this post if you are interested in reading it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Spasmatics

No, not the band. The couple. We have no children. We have two cats. The burning desire that kept us going in our youth has wanned into slow burning coals that flicker now and then according to the winds of change and expectation.

Somehow we lost this weekend. We can't blame Katrina or a huge fight or family distress... we have no one to blame. The snow day through me for a loop but I can't blame that. My beloved had a biopsy taken from his thigh on Thursday... probably nothing serious... that may have contributed to our brain fart.

We had great plans that were important to us. A black tie party with friends/art collectors, a party to watch the boat parade on the river, a Sunday morning guest speaking engagement in front of a bunch of cool Unitarians. We realized we missed seeing the boat immediately after it passed, or in the most recent incidence, when someone called from the Unitarian Church this morning looking for my husband, the scheduled speaker!

He was HORRIFIED. He mentioned it on Friday morning but since then he had completely forgotten. Luckily, the Unitarians do their thing very close to home. He ran out the door, looking more like he was planning on raking leaves than speaking to a congregation on a Sunday morning...but the Unitarians should love that. They are humble folk and Mr. Spaz will be talking about the theatre so maybe they'll think he is playing the part of a maintennance worker.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Contemplating a Goddess

There was a plan for Thursday evening. Not a good one, but a plan. All time tables and directives to meet up with my beloved went out the window at some point. I drove across town to see an art exhibition/Katrina Benefit after I waited and looked for him. I had a piece in the show plus I had planned on meeting a woman there who expressed interest in my work. Would husband there? Maybe.

I climbed several flights of stairs after waiting for an elevator and walked in to see a truly depressing art installation. Some of the work was very good but its installation just made everything worse. No husband. I didn't see my work anywhere. As a consequence I didn't see the collector either. One major distraction was the sight of an old friend I hadn't seen in several years.

When I met this woman in the late 80's she was one of the most stunning, natural beauties a colt. She was a beautiful beast that had been tamed by the reverent world around her... a traffic stopper! A lover of women, this made her beauty even more mythic to the world around her.

Someone completely unselfconscious about her looks, she had a beautiful, humble heart and made no attempt to submit her will to the legions of men and women who vied for her favors. It think its harder to watch someone past their prime when their peak inspired poetry, conflicts between the sexes and even great art! Why is it so hard to witness great beauty fade? Maybe it's because the fading process makes me feel older. Everyone basked in her glow. We had a show together in New Orleans in 1994 and she sat in the passenger seat of my Bronco II as we made the 16 hour trek south. Maybe I fell in love with her on that everyone else. She was a pied piper that way... legal heroin for the heart.

Some women love watching a beautiful woman lose their power. Not me. Maybe its because this creature transcended all that and was as close to being a goddess as any mortal. She was as lovely inside as she was out and I am sure that is even more true now than ever before.

The venus de milos was once whole. Now she's not. Her marble still glows even with all of her imperfections.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

December 8, 1980

I heard "Norwegian Wood" this morning on NPR. Tears resulted from experiencing the beauty of this song. It's the kind of music that is the seed for other art. As tears rolled down my cheeks I heard the last few words of the broadcast...John Lennon died 25 years ago today.

My heart doesn't feel 25 years older. I don't know if we appreciated the beauty of Norwegian Wood as completely 25 years ago... as a sophmore in College I working hard in the printmaking studio. My plate was on the press when I learned John had been shot. It was very upsetting... and even more so when my older peers standing around me dissed the Beatles. (ok, now I know that they weren't really good artists, either. Maybe they just didn't get it.)

Yoko Ono had a big exhibition here several years ago. An exhibition of Fluxus artists accompanied the exhibition since she was also part of that group when John met her. It was a gorgeous, poetic installation made even more so when one of the Fluxus artists passed away during the run of the show. He was in his mid 50's and an avid jogger. He was on the road when he dropped dead of a heart attack. As shocking as it was, in my opinion it was the best way to go if you gotta go.

There was a beautiful memorial service for him in the galleries that contained Yoko's that was very light and ephemeral. After the service everyone could walk upstairs and see Davi det's work in the Fluxus show and for the first time I really believed that art transcends life.

Norwegian Wood reminded me of this transdescence this morning. I can't think of a better reason to go to the studio.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lessons Learned

As the days get shorter and the sand slides through the hourglass with more urgency we make time to celebrate the holidays with friends and aquaintenances. My sense of urgency is greater than normal since I'll be leaving in early January for four months. Quite often I'll ask now why am I here?

On Oct 31 we were at a small gathering of people that I did not know very well or at all. I'd met one of the artists there through Craigslist. She was looking for a studio since she is now stranded in Richmond at her musician boyfriend's house. She had just completed restoration of a 100 year old Victorian home and studio on the Industrial Canal in NOLA when Katrina hit. We connected right away since she knows many of the same people I know down there and I thought maybe I could help her make her way here until she can move back home.

We were standing around the fire outside and I went inside to get a bowl of soup. I noticed one of the candles on their buffet table seemed much bigger than the others and I walked toward it just as a paper plate caught on fire. Someone had left it too close to the tea candle on the table.
I blew out all the candles after putting out the fire and realized maybe I was there for a reason.

This past Saturday we were invited to a big holiday affair which was also a fund raiser for a community center. My husband knows the hostess and I was curious to see their McMansion on River Road - and it was a good cause - so we decided to collect items to donate and GO. We made the trek west, parked the car and then someone yelled at us to wait so the valet could pick us up. A long white stretch limo pulled up. It was full of trendy young peope illuminated by a wet bar. Ok, I didn't expect that. The limo delivered us and our loot literally across the street. Their home was spacious and full of holiday cheer. You could see the pool from the bar and Christmas trees were reflecting in it. We enjoyed our shrimp and drinks and I sadly noted that million dollar chunk of real estate, full of chic looking people, did not have one piece of art on the walls. Nothing. (now, should I look at this as an opportunity? I wish I could. There were some very, very bad reproductions of decorative painting in the dining room and some Target brand metal work on one wall - but nothing else. Not even family photos. It was like an imcomplete stage set and very strange to people like us. Our home is full of art and book and the detrious of a life well lived. I suppose a hotel decorator would call if clutter...

We finally found the music room with a pianist playing a baby grand (thank the stars!) and hung out there most of the night. At one point I left to refresh our drinks at the bar and I noticed a strange effect in the bathroom...
(Gee, that's an interesting lamp...) No, wait, thats a FIRE. I didn't yell fire, I quickly started putting out a towel on a decorative stand. It had been left too close to, once again, an unattended candle. The flame was maybe two feet high! I started dumping water on it from the sink and another gentleman ran in and started helping me about the time the smoke alarm started going off. We put out the fire and I dragged what was left of the towel into the sink. The man started soaking the wall with water since it was scorched black. I need a whiskey!

No matter now safe a candle may be displayed, its hard to anticipate if a friend or a guest is paying attention. Lesson learned: assume nothing when playing with fire. Its snowing outside. My first inclination is to make a fire, something I'll never take for granted again.