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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


After a week of kid stuff, I was ready for a different kind of eye candy, so, on the way home, I decided to stop off in New Haven. Primary destination: Louis Kahn's wonderful Yale Center for British Art.
Right now there's an unusually good show there called A New World: England's First View of America. These are drawings and watercolors by John White, an artist who first visited the shores of present-day North Carolina in 1585 and recorded what he saw there, with a view toward encouraging settlement. I had read about this in the NY Sun when it opened, but hadn't seriously thought I'd ever manage to see it. It will be there through June 1 and is worth a special trip.
And - sheer serendipity - it was the last day for two very interesting exhibits about "Orientalism" in British painting. One, organized by the Tate Gallery, focused on the nineteenth century and the other, comprised entirely of Yale holdings, dealt with the seventeenth and eighteenth. I was glad that there were detailed illustrated handouts to study later, as none of this work was familiar to me.
I also enjoyed a very small show of portraits of women curated by current undergraduates. And as much as I could handle of the permanent collection, especially the birds-eye "estate" portraits. I took my time poking around in the tempting gallery shop, after which I decided to take a quick look at the main Yale Art Gallery (also by Kahn) right across the street.
More serendipity! I had expected it to be closing momentarily, but it was open for an extra hour on Sunday. And - it was the final week of a wonderful multi-media (paintings, photos, letters, films) show called "Making it New", all about the lives of Sara and Gerald Murphy who were at the center of the group of artists and writers in Paris in the 1920's that included Picasso, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stravinsky, Dos Passos, Leger, Le Corbusier, Cole Porter, and others. A friend had seen and raved about this when it was in Williamstown last summer - I had no idea that it was there or that I'd ever see it. And to think I nearly didn't!
My one-hour stop somehow turned into five hours, and included a delicious Thai dinner for the road. A great day - utterly unplanned.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Boston and back

When the neighborhood is teeming with professors, there's sure to be an eminent biologist around to organize a walk in the woods. Such was the case. We identified garlic mustard, skunk cabbage, marsh marigolds, and cinnamon fern. We unearthed salamanders.

Some of us veered from the approved path.

And were rewarded, at the end, with a place for jumping.

There was a fourth grade soccer game. And piano practice (New World Symphony, and some hot New Orleans jazz).

And there was, of course, the birthday!

And now there's a new chemistry set to figure out. Good thing Dad's there to help!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


It's been a busy week with lots of family back and forth. Mulching, mowing, painting, weeding. Sushi with a side of mac and cheese. Brunch at the creperie. Dinner at Amazing Hot Dog. Miniature golf. Whoopee cushion fun ("too bad" it broke, finally). Slingshots. Basketball. Not much time left for blogging.

Off to Boston today to return helpers to their keepers and celebrate a seventh birthday tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


You can probably guess where I've been. It's that time of year again. Garden time. All the usual spring clean-up chores. Digging up and dividing hostas to share with a neighbor. Hacking out the wild roses before they take over again, as they had for years before I realized what a menace they were and are.

No complaints. These are glorious days, and it's a pleasure to be outside, moving, trying to beautify my little corner of the world.

Biggest mission: this is the year that I intend to defeat the Japanese Knotweed that wants to take over the plateau. . Once and for all. Finding out what it is called was an important first step. Next step: full strength Round-up. The war is on.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Which fish?

Just discovered that The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a free easy-to-use fish eating guide that you can print or order copies of, or just view on line. There are different versions for specific parts of the country.

I enjoyed a filet of bluefish yesterday. I wasn't sure, at the time, whether it was an environmentally good choice. Now I see that it's on the "good alternatives" list, with an asterisk indicating that there are concerns about mercury contamination. Noted.

The very BEST choices for the northeast: Pacific halibut, Alaska wild pollock, Alaska wild salmon, US albacore tuna (troll, pole). These are rated "sustainable" to the Marine Stewardship Council standard .

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Pearblossom Hwy

The Getty Center has a photography exhibit that I won't be seeing unless I manage to visit Z before August tenth. (Not out of the question, I suppose!) But their website has a short but wonderful little video of David Hockney explaining the making of this favorite of mine, the huge photocollage, Pearblossom Hwy. See it here.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth

My friend Sue and I went to hear Jhumpa Lahiri read and speak at Barnard (her alma mater, and Sue's too) a few years ago, just after The Namesake was published. I was already a fan (Interpreter of Maladies), and have been waiting somewhat impatiently ever since for something new.

So it was with unexpected pleasure that I was able to snag a copy of her just-published book of stories, Unaccustomed Earth, from the library. In characteristically undisciplined fashion, I won't be coming up for air til it's finished.

One of the stories, Year's End , appeared in the New Yorker's big fiction issue around Christmas time, leading to speculation among our read-what-you-want book groupies that it might be part of a larger work. This turns out to be true.

Enough. Back to reading...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Yesterday was the last pastel class. Well, actually today, as we in the beginner class were invited to join the "master class" for a special session, the result of which you see before you. We were confronted with a diabolically complicated still life, and the assignment was to create an abstraction based on what we saw. I don't hate what I did, but I don't love it either. One thing I realize: I am still working with the very limited palette of about ten "sticks", or colors. Good discipline, but a little too limiting at times. Back to the art store!

The next session begins in two weeks. The focus will be on plein air painting. I hadn't necessarily planned to take another session. And I don't have a particular interest in landscape. At least I don't THINK that's the case. I'm not even sure that pastels are the medium for me.
I will have to miss at least two classes because of conflicts with bridge. BRIDGE? What's more important: bridge, or ART? I'm not sure. When I miss a bridge session, I miss seeing my friends. Do people count? I think so.

And of course there's the garden. I know how crazed I get in April and May. Why would I think I would have the time or energy to DRAW the garden after WORKING in it all day?

Well, whatever. I'm going ahead with it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Starving, and artists

Speaking of starvation, as we sort of just were (see comment on previous post, and I would argue: yes, we are "feeding" most people in this country, but with WHAT?), and in following up on the "movies I've missed" theme: I saw Into the Wild. Beautifully done, in every way. Sad, in so many ways. Lead actor Emil Hirsch was amazing. Thought all the supporting actors were pitch-perfect: Hal Holbrook, Catherine Keener, William Hurt ... And can Marcia Gay Harden do anything wrong?

Speaking of whom, I also saw Pollock (finally!), which I also loved. In a way it was a good thing that the DVD got stuck in the middle - just at the point where Clement Greenberg, Peggy Guggenheim, Alfonso Ossorio, and Tony Smith are visiting the East Hampton studio. It took a couple of days to get a replacement from a different library, and I had a chance to figure out how all those people fit together. I'm working through a little mini self-conducted crash course in mid-century painting - reading a lot of gorgeously-illustrated and hard-to-lift books on Pollock, Frankenthaler, Johns, Rauschenberg, Diebenkorn, Still, and others. Realizing how brilliant Kirk Varnedoe was (reading his Mellon Lectures - Pictures of Nothing), and what a tragic loss his premature death was.

Diebenkorn, who, as a California painter, was a contemporary but not really part of this group might be my favorite. Went to see his New Mexico paintings in NY at NYU's Grey Art Gallery last week. Such colors! Luscious! (See above).