Friday, July 24, 2009

santas, big metal + maureen

There are 2 paintings by our front door. They are oils by Mike Foley from an exhibit called Santa Christ, 2005. His magical, one-night, December show was so impressive, albeit fleeting. A dozen successful takes on the theme of combining Santa Claus and Jesus Christ into one being.

On a very cold art hop Friday night, Foley and his wife took over a dark wing of the Millennium Center, hung the work from the high ceiling. They burned prayer candles below each painting, with the candles sitting on individual columns. (We positioned a small entry lamp below the 2, which i just realized is reminiscent of the prayer candle feeling.) Foley arranged the art hanging in a crucifix footprint, like a real cathedral. There was just open space and darkness between them. There were hushed and shuffling noises and comments by folks setting up some other event to take place later that night, way across the dark stage. It was spooky, provocative, singularly impressive - and i picked out what i call sleeping sexy santa, while Matt chose what he calls spooky homeless santa. and they hang by the front door year round, Christmas or not.

Between our taller than usual dinning room wall sconces is a metal sheet with cut out circle - it came with the loft. This found art was salvage from our bedroom window. It had been welded into place, many years ago, and was mounted with a large fan and motor.

At some point when construction was starting, we asked for them to hold onto the large sheet, free of fan blades, motor and rivets. We planned to get it hung on this dining room wall, and have been really happy it is there. Our contractors were able to devise and execute this final installation for us.

And to close this run of at the loft art postings, and with her permission, i wanted to present 2 other angel paintings by Maureen McCarron.

I am sharing her photos of her work so you can see them better, besides the fact that i can not phone photo them. they are soon to travel from new york to winston-salem, to join Little Pinkie. They are titled Colliope followed by Sam I Am.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

african, brother, dogs, and photo

Opposite our "Hall of Mirrors" - i keep that in quotes because it's just a bunch of mirrors - big gaudy, old and new, some beveled, some not. They hang across from and around our "library." Also in quotes since it is just the big turquoise book case, up to the ceiling, where all our books live. We do precious little reading in those wing backs at the front door. But it's a great place to sit and rest and look around.

I have a sick friend who wanted me to have what we affectionately call the African Voo Doo lady. My friends grand children were afraid of this exquisite elongated ebony carving from Africa. Actually, her son said it gave him the willys too, so i know now why her grand boys didn't want it around. It floats very nicely in a long white space where the library bookcase ends and the brick around the window starts. It is the perfect place for our graceful voodoo lady.

My brother Rob Norwood has art in our loft too. This lovely abstract landscape, he painted years ago, has set the standard for serene and lonely garden passage. It's an empty place with a million things going on. I have included a detail close-up from the center of this fine painting.

Below it we hung a lithograph gift of 2 happy, loving dogs, titled Best Pals. It was a gift from Sharon Hamilton, a jewelry artist and dog loving friend. We got the print as a gift because we have 2 happy, loving dogs and Sharon was foster mom for our second pup. She was the one who introduced us and thought that he would be a great addition to our family.

John Bassir's photo - man with onion - was a wedding gift to us over a dozen years ago. John was a gifted scientist and photographer. He was working on his PhD in microbiology and lived in Matt's apt. building back when we first meet. And i knew him from the medical school where i worked. Unfortunately he suffered from severe depression and took his own life not long ago, leaving a new wife and unborn child.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

more & more art

My friend Clark Whittington did this very large painting/ assemblage at the start of the first Gulf War. It's called, You Sank My Fucking Battleship. Matt was wild for it the first time we saw it. And we love it resting on top of a large cabinet where our TV lives, sort of in the middle of the loft.

This acrylic painting not only resembles some map of some planet, (Clark added a pale green chalk grid pattern over it all) but has attached Keebler elf crackers, comic book pages and little plastic model ships. Clark has a thing for board games.

I first meet Clark in the late 1990s as he had started the Art-o-Mat project - it has since become a full time job for he and staff that assist him. There are Art-o-Mat machines around the country and over seas. I did artomat art for 5 years or so. I even got nicely reviewed in the LA Times for my contributions. Clark is member of our Seed Coop, and like all of us, has strong anti-republican political views and very pro-socially liberal views.

Here is a additional perspective, just the lower corner, of Clark's Battleship. This photo includes my fabulous War of The Worlds tree lamp beside a painting of mine, i throw in just for fun. The painting is called night time far away, and the pure blue of both paintings, near each other, is appealing.

Here is one stylish guy that we do not have yet because it is still on exhibit. This summer's painting, by Laura Lashley, is called Native. He will come live at the loft in August, along with his 6-pack, tree, star and all that great hair. BTW, Laura is long time Seed Coop member too.

This final work of art today is by Armand de Navarre, who passed away a few years ago. Armand was from New England but lived for many years in Winston. This crucifix was a gift from a friend (a former boy friend actually) who wanted me to have it. Besides being taken by the drama, he loved the fact that i posed for it.

So yes, that's me bleeding like Jesus. Around mid 1990s, Armand told me said he needed a Christ figure model and i didn't hesitate to volunteer. Of course the drama rests mostly with the artist, and not my modeling. All i did was stand around in his studio in a jock strap, with arms out stretched. Armand added the above lighting, extreme flying blood, legs pinned behind and torn paper edges to get what he was after.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

additional art collected

Saturday's sample starts with Gomer Shazam, by Laurie Russell. She is a Seed member and does snappy pop and political art as well as her pet portraits. We fell in love with this Gomer face, fresh from Mayberry, and all the corn (as in cornball or corniness) that it provokes. He's a bit sexy in her sly rendition, so that was all it took. he's grinning at us - anxious to please - from above the kitchen clock, day and night.

Another work by Millicent is this Alice in Wonderland 3D piece. Millicent added the door that's swung open, the figure of Alice, plastic roses and mirror squares on the back wall so the viewer sees themselves peering back at Alice; just as Alice sees her own reflection.

Our Big Eyed Circus Babies are large paintings by Tiffany O'Brien. She was a Seed member but now lives in New York City's Soho neighborhood. She and husband Lee were also next door neighbors, who bought our first house, as Matt and i moved next door. We got a bigger place, staying in our downtown area and happily got to pick our neighbors by selling them our old home.

Tiffany and i collaborated not only in the Seed gallery coop but contributed to the Art-o-Mat project that was born in Winston-Salem. We also, over the years, curated our own at home 2 person exhibitions. We have traded and bought each other's work for the past 8 years. these circus freaks are early 2000s time frame. I have another one, maybe 2007, that hangs under Little Pinkie - See July 15th post.

Friday, July 17, 2009

further friends & family art

In that "Hall of Mirrors" there is a lot of the art work we own. This first shot includes a couple of mirrors, a very 3d work by Millicent Greason Spivak and two 5 x 7 oil paintings on cardboard that my maternal grandmother painted in the mid 1920s.

Millicent's barbed wire, rusty nails and polymer, with gold leaf, "It Takes an Egg to Make Vanilla Pudding" is the first art we acquired from her. It was the start of our art collection and the initial inspiration to have and display artworks besides the ones i make. In other words, a full house inventory of my paintings was getting old.

Below Millicent's egg are the two rediscovered oils that Grandmother painted before my mother was born. I never saw these or knew she had artistic talent until recently. And how they survived - she painted on brown corrugated cardboard - is amazing to me. With great fear and hesitation, I varnished them (to clean and preserve) and added frames. Her initials, MSA, stand for Margaret Spigner Avery. And the date '23 is also on one. The Zinnias stand on their own, awkward, sweet and detailed considering it is only 5 x 7 inches.

What Grandmother accomplished with her landscape captivates me more. The lake side scene is more stylized, reaching abstraction. Or maybe just more awkward. I like to think the former.

I imaging she was very taken with Picasso and tried to jazz up her Girl Scouts camp site. There is a canoe pulled up on the shore. And what looks like a happy yellow fish is really the lake water and a handle of the oar sticking up. A long puff of smoke rises from the fire, and the sunset sky swirls above distant mist on the water. There seem to be only evergreens in this forest on the lake, and she painted the little pyramid shapes in progressively paler purple as they recede.

Finally i wanted to show you the last oil painting my mom, Betty Norwood, did before her eyes and back stopped her a few years ago. Although Grandmother never got to study art, Mom did. And my mom has been painting all her life.

Mom's photo realism is truly mastered in her last works, like this one, from the 1990s. It illustrates her willingness to let reflections and light become part of the painting. This painting took years to complete, as she had to paint in every edge on every scrap of bark or blade of grass. This water's edge work is about 24 x 36 inches. Betty took photos and then decided which ones to paint. She employed a grid system to enlarge and layout her work. We are all sad, as is she, that she can no longer work on her pictures.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

more friends art

I am continuing to share art works that Matt and I have collected. This will go on for 5 or 6 postings i believe. Some art were gifts, or were purchased or were traded with artist friends - my paintings for theirs. Great artists are willing to do that from time to time. I reject the claim, by certian artists, that it just a custom or habit for young and less professional artists.

So then, in this corner of our "Hall of Mirrors" are 2 provocative and introspective silk screen prints under glass by Woodie Anderson, an intense Chilean desert photo collage by Dave Urena and a charming Day of the Dead painting, by Millicent Greason Spivak, with orange plastic flowers in each corner. Woodie, Dave and Millicent are Seed Gallery coop members with me, as is Danny Whitmer, further below.

Woodie's works here, with soft/bad focus and under glass, include reflections of art beside it.

And last is graffiti artwork by Danny Whitmer. This work was in his senior thesis exhibit at UNC School of the Arts, High School a few years ago. Matt and i had the large and heavy piece installed/ screwed into the best place for it, in our loft, where it fits between a door frame and steel I-beam column. A big strapping carpenter was hired to do this work. We also requested a trimming out of the 5 x 5 inch section at the top to accommodate the fire alarm, with Danny's okay, after the fact. The extracted mini graffiti detail rests on top. I like to take it down, and move it around, from time to time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

little pinkie

I am planning and have started collecting phone shots of art in our loft - am enjoying the project thus far - it should fill up the next week or 2.

Before that begins, let me show you more pictures of Little Pinkie. When this angel painting, by Maureen McCarron, came to live with us last March, i moved it from room to room on a daily basis. I finally found a resting place to hang it at the top of a salon wall collection of artworks. This angel ghost watches over the group and because of July 13th post, i wanted more shots of Pinkie with my computer.

I love this one of Pinkie helping me work on the blog posting about himself.
But he was sort of aggressive and got on top of the keyboard in order to see better.
And then this final shot, for now, of Pinkie on my fab little desk, at my grubby brick wall under amazing windows; Notice the perfection, in these 2 pics, of warm gold light and cool blue light...boner time again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

photos of artwork

I am delighted to tell you how much i like this angel painting, Little Pinkie. and i say i like it a lot! It is by Maureen McCarron, friend in new york city. I got it for my bday this year, and i took this picture with my phone when Maureen had the painting featured on her blog.

Am delighted with the photo too. i love the image in an image, repeating, flirting with the mirror in front of a mirror idea. The very meta-ness of it all. next i should photograph my blog entry, with the original pic on my computer and add it to this post, etc. you get the idea.

Also i really like my small computer, on my small desk, under giant industrial window, above the solid but shabby painted brick in the loft we live in. And lord, whenever i see gold and blue in the same photo, i get aroused, so to speak. Warm yellows and cool blues, hot and cold, sweet and savory.

Matt's 2nd photo in my last post, July 8, is an example of the tingly gold and blue in a photo. And here is another wonderful example of cool blue & warm gold in one photograph. It was taken late afternoon by John Samadhan Harter. He is a friend from vienna austria, who with his wife, Christiane, were visiting us.

Also i get to show little more of the big dramatic, romantic windows i get to live with, dream about, and postpone ever cleaning. My silent dream scape, mental cross roads place called opla plaza, was born just before i walked in this old warehouse we now call home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

a phone camera?

It is unbelievable to me that, more and more, i like my phone camera. After having a cell phone for years, and having truly no interest in taking pictures with my phone...well now i like it.

I suddenly have found the off-quality, low light factor appealing. Not to mention the convenience of always having it with me, and it being so easy to email pictures to folks or to myself for future use, like on my blog. The rose bush & oyster shells as masthead for opla plaza is an example. After lunch, one warm day in Southport NC, i took the shot that has proved satisfying.

Am reminded how in the early 1980s, i was using a pocket Kodak Instamatic 110. The negatives were microscopic and the prints came from the drug store in a square format, which i liked. The quality was ragged and light would leak in somehow. For about 2 years i shot portraits of friends in the grainy low-quality photo style. But i digress- and promise to post some of that collection of faces for opla plaza in the future.

Back to phone cameras, Matthew set the stage for my interest. He not only has taken over for me as family photographer, using the new digital camera he gave me for Christmas a few years ago, but he just loves techy toys. He and i use iPhones now and the ease of all functions, camera included, is astounding. But regularly, Matt will grasp and embrace some new tech and gagets much quicker than i do. He likes the spontaneity of a phone camera - i like it's artistic dreaminess. And then while Matt wants to use the new Kodak digital for "good photos", I still like my old Lomo LCA (see April 8, 2009, opla plaza post) and our Pentax 35 m.

Here are 2 shots he took from his desk, with his phone, viewing the impressive Reynolds Building across the street, 17 floors up; one with sheets of rain and the other with the moon in the distance.

I think Matt has a great eye. He had his first photography exhibit in March 2009.

Monday, July 6, 2009

films aka dreamy

I spent a long July 4th weekend alone. It was great. I missed Matt but wanted some solo time since we had been on the go so much this spring and into the summer. Quiet time lead to dreamy time and i was influenced by the moodiness of some old films.

I watched The Third Man, 1949, one night and Niagara, 1953, another night -not because i'm a Joseph Cotten fan per se, it just worked out that way.

What great films, especially the one in Vienna - although the one in Canada held my interest. Niagara has a lot of style, in really bright, new Technicolor.
Yet the noir quality is there for both Niagara and The Third Man; dramatic shadows and tilted camera angles and a black & white sensibility. They even share tense and memorable "let's run scared up a stair case" scenes. In both, the stair case and surrounding architecture becomes a third character. But Niagara was simple in comparison to The Third Man, and was simply a showcase for Monroe. (per me, Robert Weston + other reviews.) I think her best moment, and the best turn of the film was in the morgue - she gets a bit of a shock, and it leaves the viewer wondering, for a minute or so, until they realize what happened.
over and out, A.

July and Lots of Sun

No more about the weather...well some maybe. It was just so rainy, for so long, with that jet stream running low. And now i have the summertime i love, good and hot.

And no more whining about the many places to promote and indulge myself on the Internet. I decided i like opla plaza on blogger, so i'll keep it. I will drop other things before long, for i have way too many social networking sites for them all to be relevant or even maintained.

I like the idea of opla plaza as the busy cross roads in the center my mind- as place of lots of movement, living at the same time with total peace and quiet. Last week i added the phone photo i took down at the coast. A good size rose bush surrounded by oyster shells, looking a bit like a Christmas tree with snowy skirt. I like it.