Those Moments

Quintessential Guggenheim

Quintessential Guggenheim

The NYC public schools were closed this past week for the February break.  I’m cursing this break when school is still in session at the end of June, but in the moment?  Yeeees, so necessary.  For the most part, the girl and I spent the week resting and ate half-priced-post-Valentine’s Day chocolate.  But yesterday morning Husband needed to get new glasses, so Art Child and I went with him to help pick frames.  Since we were going to be on the east side anyway, I figured it was a good day to hit a museum.

The Upper East side has been (marginally) more resistant to change than most other residential neighborhoods in Manhattan, so there are still a few old gems left to wrap me in the nostalgia of remember when.  Like this one.

Almost makes me wish I liked egg creams.

Almost makes me wish I liked egg creams.

Art Child and I said goodbye to Husband, I grabbed my camera, she grabbed her sketchbook, and off we went.  The Guggenheim isn’t one of the museums we visit regularly, it is not one of the suggested donation institutions.  Those types of museums can quickly blow a week’s budget.  Eat before we go.  No, we aren’t buying anything in the gift shop!  No, we can’t go again before the installation leaves. The saving grace is that flat admission price doesn’t exclude any of the temporary exhibitions.  If you’ve never been, the building itself is well worth a visit.  All curves, you spiral your way up a continuing ramp to see what’s on display.  Certain floors branch off to more permanent exhibits and/or smaller installments.

Every time I go I think of being there with Man Child when he was a little guy, an installation of motorcycles.  Very cool, even if I still don’t understand why they were there.  Mostly I think of it because Nerd Child was an infant.  They didn’t allow strollers/carriages along the ramps, and Nerd Child was a champion puker–one of those babies where every spit up looked like an audition for The Exorcist– so Husband and I took turns carrying him while zig-zagging around the bikes.

The current primary exhibition is a retrospective, a collaborative effort from Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss that spans over thirty years, “How to Work Better.”  Huge, the sheer number of sculptures, photographs, videos, and instillations left me overwhelmed at times.  Art Child tells me I’m supposed to be.  Some of it I really liked, some not so much.  The first thing you see is the costumes the artists wore while making their films THE POINT OF LEAST RESISTANCE and THE RIGHT WAY.  umm, ok.  I didn’t take a ton of photos, I was busy trying to understand what I was seeing, but I’m glad we went.

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Here's where I love the tourists, they remember the views over the park are part of the intended experience.

Here’s where I love the tourists, they remember the views over the park are part of the intended experience.

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In the Thannhauser Gallery there are an assortment of paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cèzanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, and others.  Regardless of what else is on exhibit, whether it’s something I enjoy, understand or not, I’m moved and satisfied sitting in that gallery.  I love Picasso, his paintings, his etchings, his sculptures.  Not all of his work, he starts to lose me with swaths of his Cubist period.  Does that mean I’m déclassé?  Maybe just a peasant.  That’s ok, I don’t mind.

One of my favorite paintings is there now.  Sorry, I must have knocked the dial on the camera right before I took this photo, it’s way too yellow.


Woman Ironing, by Pablo Picasso.  Can I say it again? I love this painting.  From his Blue Period, there’s something about it that has always drawn me in.  I don’t remember the where (pretty sure it wasn’t the Guggenheim) or when (I was a child, for certain) I first saw it, but I will never be tired of this woman.  When I hear people refer to a work of art speaking to them, this is one of the paintings that comes to the forefront of my mind.  Maybe I always knew I was destined for drudgery.  And scoliosis.  And shadows.  Take a closer look with me, the shadow along her neck is delicious, makes me shiver.

Everything you can't see in her eyes, but see in her curves and angles.

Everything you can’t see in her eyes, but see in her curves and angles.

This was the first piece of the day that Art Child chose to sit and sketch.  I can’t say what I enjoyed most, being able to sit down and enjoy the Ironing Woman, the girl sitting at the end of the bench and sketching her, or the museum visitors stopping to watch her sketch for longer than they looked at the painting in question.  Perfect moment.

After we had moved on, and were back to Fischli and Weiss, I felt my phone buzz.  A text from Nerd Child, frustrated and disappointed about a lost opportunity.  No fault of his own, one of those life-happens things. Still, I’m a mom, which means through the life experience that enables me to understand the whys, hows, and frequencies of disappointments, my heart aches for each of my kiddos, every time they’re faced with one.  In the middle of the gazillion clay sculptures I happened to be standing in front of a representation of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot.  I walked past the donkey to the inner wall of the museum and looked down.

Something had clicked for me, and the artists’  spent Rat and Bear costumes lying on the lobby platform made sense. Trying to make sense of a world that doesn’t, philosophical questions that don’t have a right answer–or any answer at all, dreaming about success.  Yeah, these are the things we need to do, to experience, the questions we need to ask.  These are the moments we need, perfect or otherwise.


Washing the Dust Off

The purpose of art is washing the daily dust off of our souls~Pablo Picasso

After the fiasco of our adventures on Friday I was more than ready for a good day.  So, on Sunday afternoon, Husband’s cousin, Miss Sweet Heart, met Man Child, Art Child and I at our apartment and we headed downtown to the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. Yes, Art Child and I went a few months ago (the show is put on twice a year, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend) but it’s well worth revisiting. Some of the artists are the same (new work and old) and others were new to us.

Man Child and Miss Sweet Heart haven’t seen each other in a couple of years, so that alone made the day beautiful.  Add in a day trip, trains that ran on time, art that is exciting and inspiring, generous artists, and it was damn near perfect.  One of the things that made it so special was that several of the artists we chatted with last time remembered Art Child.  Made her day, and mine.  I’m continually impressed by how many in the art community are willing to take and make time for a young artist, offer ideas and encouragement.

Remember the artist with the amazing tree-woman sculpture last time?  Anthony Santella was back with new work.  I didn’t think anything could be more perfect than the last bust I posted photos of, but I was mistaken. Last time we saw him at the WSAOE, he gifted Art Child with a nail-studded heart he had carved, it holds a place of honor on her desk.  Turns out he blogged about meeting her.  Hmm, for some reason the link doesn’t take you directly to the post.  From the about page, click on his blog, and then May 2015 in his archives, Sunday, May 24th, Day #144 of #MakeArt365.  (Spend time checking out his site, well worth it.)  Me, blabberfingers extraordinaire, can’t find the words for how beautiful it is to see my girl in this setting, with adult artists taking her and her work seriously, no one caring (in a good way) about academics, neurological status, sluggish reflexes, size, blah, blah, blah.

Isn't she wonderful?

Isn’t she wonderful?


Out of budget for us, but oh how I wish.

Out of budget for us, but oh how I wish.

Looking at the sculpture above got my mind racing, how could I write her into Wanna-Bees, change a character? add a new one?  I was about to ask Mr. Santella if he would mind if I “wrote her,” but then I didn’t.  I’m just not ready to write.

Besides the wood sculptures, he has paintings and smaller sculptures made from 3-D printing.  Art Child purchased one of his paintings from a group he had tucked away, older works.  Funny enough, she was drawn to those he made when not much older than she, and still in high school.  I bought a little 3D printed woman, maybe 2 1/2 inches with the base.  She’s looking down at me from the shelf over my desk now.

The lighting is too harsh in this photo, but it highlights the details.

The lighting is too harsh in this photo, but it highlights the details.

Tomorrow the craziness of a new school year for the girl will begin.  Thank you for letting us wash the dust off, and start fresh.

Sunrise from the terrace this morning.

Sunrise from the terrace this morning.

Taking it to the Streets

Art in the Village

Art in the Village

Yesterday I took my cane and my girl, and went to one of my favorite New York events, the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit.  It’s a biannual outdoor art show that’s been running as long as I can remember, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, with a lot of amazing art and artists. This is not a street fair, no sausages, zeppoles, blow up rides or knock-off handbags. I’ve heard the original idea came from Jackson Pollack when he was broke, and took some of his paintings and sold them on the street. Something about being in the midst of creative people who are living their art, and others coming to see, appreciate, and purchase the work is inspiring.  Plus, it’s fun and free, leaves me near all the places I used to frequent when I was young–can’t beat it. I’ll share a few of the highlights here, but if you’re in or around New York this weekend, or Labor Day weekend, go!

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As much as I’ve always loved this show, there’s an extra dimension to it for me now, attending with Art Child.  She chats with the artists and asks questions I wouldn’t think of.  She responds to this type of venue and it shows. No less than five artists commented on her style, a couple asked to take her photo for portraits. I could see her wheels turning, wondering when she can set up a booth and sell her own work.

Like Art Child, many artists use trees as subjects for their work, and we saw quite a few styles and interpretations.  We even found an artist with both paintings and sculptures of what Art Child calls “treeple,” trees with human features, and something she draws frequently in her charcoal sketches.  The artist, Anthony Santella, was lovely and patient, with work ranging from realism to surrealism to fantasy.

If I had the money and the room I would have purchased this piece.

If I had the money and the room I would have purchased this piece.


One artist, Lisette P, was showcasing jewelry that was all made from New York photographs she has taken, resized and set behind glass.  How can you not love jewelry you can Windex to keep clean?


We spent quite a while at her table, and I was happy to see many other people were doing the same. There’s just something about New York street photography when it doesn’t look like a cleaned up postcard.

One of the first booths we stopped at was marvelous, a mix of paintings and jewelry that we both loved, and it turned out the two artists are mother and daughter.  Olga and Daniella Bacskay. Perfect, no?  I’ll admit to being a bit envious. I appreciate art, and thrill in Art Child’s joy and accomplishments, but can’t share the experience in quite the same way.


Art Child purchased a small print of this powerful mixed media painting. The original has volcanic ash in the tree limbs.

Art Child purchased a small print of this powerful mixed media painting. The original has volcanic ash in the tree limbs.

Moving on, we spent time chatting with another artist, this one with the kindest smile. I loved the work, another person displaying both paintings/prints and jewelry. Handblown, painted vases that blew me away.  Dudley Vaccianna, the scenes he paints just seemed to radiate female power. The earrings were all hand painted on brass, beads from Nigeria.

I think I could grow ten stories from his pose.

I think I could grow ten stories from his vibe.

Sadly, the show is much smaller than it used to be, but even still, my back and hip gave out before we were able to see everything.  So we walked back around the park to the west side.

So clean nowadays.

So clean nowadays!

And of course, because by then we were hungry, and so close, getting a late lunch was mandatory.

The peanut butter restaurant, simple and brilliant.

The peanut butter restaurant, simple and brilliant.

By the time we got home, I was unable to stand up straight, but completely inspired. There’s a story I’ve been playing with, building in my head for months. I now have the opening completely in focus.



Starry Nights and Street Fairs

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trite as it sounds, sometimes as a parent you have to make hard decisions.  Husband and I had to make one of those last week.  Flower Child’s school has an annual overnight camping trip.  After much discussion, asking questions about the plans for trip, student teacher ratio,  and watching how she’s been doing and feeling, we felt we had to say no. It was the right decision, but it sucked to come to it anyway.  I got a phone call from one of her teachers after the decision was made, one I don’t speak with regularly.  He asked if there was any information he could offer to help us to feel better about the trip, etc.  I absolutely believe he was coming from a good place, but it sure made that voice in my head–the one that whispers about how unfair things can be–a whole lot louder.

Yesterday I planned to go to the craft store with Flower Child so she could pick out a small pad of sketch paper.  Hopefully we’re going to get to the park today so she can find a tree she likes and sketch it.  The pad she had at home is too large and heavy for her to carry or manipulate in the middle of the park.  She has always loved art.  She loves to draw, and has been doing a lot of it recently.  Since getting the iPad for schoolwork, it seems like she has enough energy and strength left at the end of the day to put more into it and enjoy it.  Watching her have fun and progress with this is a particular pleasure I can’t put into words.

When we left the apartment, we saw there was a nearby street fair, first of the season for us. No reason we were in a hurry, so we walked the fair for a bit.  Most of the fairs run for about 10 blocks.

This is from a couple of years ago, they're $5 a pop now.

This is from a couple of years ago, they’re $5 a pop now.

Really, there’s only three blocks worth of booths.  Two blocks of wares that keep repeating, and every so often something different thrown in.  Still, on a nice day, and before you’ve had 5 straight weekends of traffic being messed up from them, it’s a nice thing to do.  We went past a booth of inexpensive art prints, Flower Child spent some time looking at the Van Goghs (she loves his work).  As I looked at the Starry Night print, I thought of how much Flower Child would enjoy being somewhere she could see the stars at night. Cuppa guilt, anyone?  I splurged on a couple of arepas (delicious for about 45 seconds, after you’ve burned your mouth on the first few bits but before you’re eating cold sweet corn grease) and went on to the craft store after strolling for four blocks.

The craft store was having a sale on sketch books.  Score!  Got two small sketch pads and a pad of tan paper so she can figure out how to use her white pastels.  Then we were just looking at the different art materials.  They had Bob Ross kits.  At this point, she isn’t into painting, but I was telling her about him when a man walked by and we ended up chatting about art.  He turned out to be an art teacher, made a couple of recommendations for paper for Flower Child, I added a large pad of newsprint paper to our pile.  Who needs groceries?   I took his contact info.  Nice guy, maybe we can figure out a way to get her lessons.

We were out for a little under two hours, and I was feeling great.  A beautiful sunny day, relaxing, no pressure-no rush strolling, got Flower Child what she wanted plus some, a nice New York moment in the craft store.  When we got to our corner, I told her we had to take the dogs out for a quick walk.  “Right now?  Can we rest for five minutes first?”  Pop goes my bubble.  She was out of energy, literally exhausted from the couple of hours out and walking around.  Oh yeah, this was why the plan was to buy the sketch pad one day, and go to the park the next.  And this was why saying no to the trip was the right call, much as we wish it was different.

4 "vine" charcoal sticks and 4 compr...

4 “vine” charcoal sticks and 4 compressed charcoal sticks. Drawing materials. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)