Monday, May 28, 2007

Linocuts at the Business of Art Center

Tomorrow I'm off to Manitou Springs to hang an exhibition of linocuts in the Avenue Gallery at the BAC. If you're in the neighborhood, come on by! The reception will be June 15, in conjunction with the opening of a large ceramics show in another gallery at the same venue.

Flora and Fauna

Avenue Gallery
Business of Art Center
513 Manitou Avenue
Manitou Springs, Colorado

May 30 - June 26

Reception: Friday, June 15, 5-7 pm








Sunday, May 27, 2007

A different sort of ranching

Last weekend, cattle ranch. This weekend, Art Ranch.

It's the weekend of the Colorado Art Ranch Artposium here in Salida. The brain child of Grant Pound and Peggy Lawless, Art Ranch is a nomadic artists' and writers' program. The Ranch travels to two Colorado towns each year and adopts themes that reflect the area's heritage, natural resources, topography and people.

The program is composed of two parts: a two-day Artposium open to the public, and a one-month residency for contemporary artists and writers. Since the beginning of May, Salida has been hosting five artists-and-writers-in-residence from across the country, and this weekend we've been deep in the throes of the Artposium itself. I was honored to be asked to present a little session on field journals yesterday morning, and was delighted to have a full house. Which I promptly took outside. Of course.

For once I remembered to take a couple of photos as folks were working... so here are some journalers and journalers-to-be perched along the Arkansas River, just behind the Steamplant Theatre, headquarters for the weekend events.

If nothing else, my workshop participants will remember this weekend whenever they encounter ants... since most of them were overrun with the little buggers when they sat down along the trail. (Occupational hazard.) I saw lots of little ant drawings on journal pages.

It was a great day. Local author Kent Haruf got us started in the morning with a fabulous reading, and last night we had an always-interesting session with Christo and Jeanne-Claude, whose current project, "Over the River," is slated for a section of the Arkansas River between Salida and CaƱon City. In between we had fly-fishing and poetry and journals and assemblage and river-guiding, and a great presentation by molecular-geneticist-turned-photographer David Goldes. David has been a delight to talk to this weekend, and I particularly enjoyed seeing the work he has done exploring the qualities of water.

So today it's back for more! Congratulations to Grant, Peggy, and to local organizer Susan Tweit for pulling together a great weekend. In September Art Ranch is off to Durango, and I'm already looking forward to the trip.

A little Insight

After a couple of weeks of phone tag, the stars aligned and I finally met Katherine Benke of Insight Art Connection.

Katherine's got her rather new art consulting business off to a great start with the contract to build an art collection for the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center. The hospital board has recognized that we have a wealth of accomplished artists living and working here in the Valley, so they're looking to start their collection with locally-produced work. Kudos to them! (And not just because it means they might include me. ) Poor Katherine, in the meantime, is forced to run around Chaffee County, meeting artists and seeing art. It's tough work, but someone's got to do it.

While she was here, I encouraged (read: beleaguered) her to jump back into the blogosphere. Poor woman... she took me at my word. Now she'll never get anything done.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bandin' and brandin'

I spent the weekend on my old stomping grounds-- a working cattle ranch out on Colorado's eastern plains. It was a strangely diverse couple of days.

Typically the third weekend in May is a busy time for migrants on the ranch, so a goodly number o
f birders gather there each year to scour some of its 87,000 acres. Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory maintains a spring banding station there, too, so friends converged from all corners of the state.

For cattle ranchers, the third weekend in May falls in branding season. When I lived on the ranch, branding days were my favorites. I loved the heat, the dust, the bruises, and the camaraderie of working my butt off with friends and neighbors.

It all got a little surreal when banding and branding were taking place side-by-side and simultaneously. (What's that song about worlds colliding?)


Unfortunately, a lot of feathered migrants seem to be late this year, so the station and the birding were slow. We did luck out on Saturday and snag an unintended and unexpected young Cooper's Hawk.

Once we shut the mist nets down, I climbed the corral fence to join the dance of cowboys, cowgirls, and cattle. It was a little frustrating to be a spectator rather than participant... but still great fun to admire fine horsemanship and capable ground crews.

Somewhere in the swirling wings and dust of the weekend I was reminded of a book long on my "to read" list, which I still haven't managed to pin down. In 1896, Florence Merriam Bailey published one of the first popular guides to the birds of western North America, A-Birding on a Bronco. She wasn't herself an illustrator, but she consorted with some of the best. (Her 1902 Guide to Birds of the Western United States, was illustrated by Louis Agassiz Fuertes.) She was a birder, writer, conservationist, and adventurer... and maybe a closet cowgirl.

My kind o' gal.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Come and see!


Last weekend was Lilac Sunday in Boston. This week we could well have our own festival here! For the first time in several years, the lilacs didn't get hammered by a late hard frost, and the neighborhood is lavender and fragrant. Brenda brought over a big cluster from one of her shrubs on Monday, and their purple smell fills my apartment. "Come and see!" she said. And I think later this morning I shall.

It's a significant phrase, "come and see," and last week in Boston I had a striking reminder of why.

Denis and I were drawing at Drumlin Farm, a Mass Audubon property. As the name suggests, the Farm has fields and barns and chickens and goats and pigs. A garden. A greenhouse. Tractors. And hordes of small children and their parents.
On that day, the visiting population was mostly pre-schoolers and their mums. (And two field artists.)

It's an interesting exercise, drawing in a public place. I've often found that I am treated as a manikin or other exhibit. I've had clueless teachers plant their entire classes between me and my subject so their students can "see what the lady is doing," without asking if I'd mind or considering that they are now completely obscuring my view. Oblivious kids have just run me over... sending paper and pencils flying in all directions. Adults talk about me or my drawing in loud voices, or continue their sometimes very private conversations as if I weren't able to hear them.


But I can and do hear them. And last week my ears caught two short sentences... identical in all words save one, but miles apart in spirit:

"Johnny, come and see," and, "Johnny, go and see."

One an invitation. The other a dismissal.


The "come and see" mums were on their knees with their kids, exclaiming over bugs and the softness of the goats' ears. They played in the dirt. They asked as many questions as their kids, and engaged in delighted conversation. They all saw the farm together.


The "go and see" mums talked to each other. About designer dresses and sales on shoes and the shortcomings of husbands and neighbors. Their kids broke twigs off bushes and ran across garden seedlings.


I realize there are good days and bad days with kids and mums and neighbors and goats and life. But given a choice between a "go and see" world and a "come and see" world of invitation, participation, and discovery... well.... it's no real decision, is it?


I'm going to Brenda's to visit her lilacs now. You're welcome to come along any time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No more nemesis


Well, at least no more of this particular nemesis. Thanks to friends Nancy and Mark, I FINALLY saw rose-breasted grosbeak in my own patch today. Sure, I've seen the little monsters elsewhere, but not here. Not last year. Not the year before. Not the year before that. And, of course, even people who don't make a regular habit of paying attention to birds have seen them here. Over and over again.

A spanky male,
and his apparent intended, appeared at Mark and Nancy's feeder two days ago... right on schedule. (They have notes for the last 20 years which pin the species' arrival precisely on May 11 on several occasions.) Naturally I was out of town. But this morning Nancy kindly gave a call and said the pair was still around, so off I toddled to engage in some hard-core kitchen table birding.

We probably spent 45 minutes peering hopefully out the windows, to no avail. Black-headed grosbeaks, yes. White-crowned sparrows and house finches and assorted blackbird species, yes. But no flash of magenta.

Annie the dog required her morning constitutional, so pooch and persons left me with a cup of coffee and a serious contemplation of karmic faux pas. I must have been very naughty. (No real surprise.) Why else would I miss this bird, year after year?

Thankfully, contemplation lasted precisely 37 seconds. First the male, then the female, popped up right before my eyes. Huzzah! Both for the birds, AND for once again dodging any sort of serious look at my personal failings tick list. Phew!

Of course, once the birds turned up I suddenly wished for my sketchbook. What WAS I thinking? A place with big views, a comfortable table, and beverages? Potential luxury "field sketching" spot.

Thanks to Bill Schmoker for the pix (since I didn't have my camera, either)... he has more groovy stuff to see on his website. Go there. See stuff. Have fun. Tell him I sent you!

PS: Hi, Mom. Happy Mother's Day. I know you're reading. :-) Thanks.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Larry's baby














Larry and Betty are devoted family folks... all their kids and grandkids live not far from their
home place in Canton, Massachusetts... but Larry's baby is this handsome Model A, lovingly restored by the man himself. (That's Larry on the left, Denis on the right.)

The French guy behind the wheel never even put the thing in gear... but it looks good, eh?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Home again, home again


Well. The eagle has landed, but is off again on the morrow for workshop teaching on Saturday. No rest for the wicked.

Boston was great... the
Mass Audubon folks were fabulous, Denis' exhibition opened to acclaim, friends new and old were visited, I got to take in the just-opened Edward Hopper exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, AND we got to ride in the rumble seat of Larry's beautifully restored Model A.

Of course, all this running around meant not many sketches were made. We spent our first day at Drumlin Farm, but as usual I spent the first day spinning my creative wheels. (Can you say, "couldn't find the mark-making end of the pencil to save my life?") Three days later we got out to Cape Cod for about 2 hours, since it was a requirement that I at least SEE the ocean. A few small sketches happened there, and a few later at friend Pat's house... and some whilst waiting at the airport and on the journey home. Ah, well... sometimes you just have to go have fun, too.

It will be piper-paying time after Saturday's workshop, so thought it best I put something up before I even finish emptying out the suitcase. Model A photos when I get the camera downloaded.