Sunday, June 29, 2008

More wanderings

Does it seem like I am procrastinating on my own work? Is it obvious? Well, there are times that an artist needs to look around, and smell the turpentine in other places, for like, inspiration. Or procrastination. Whatever!

I checked out the Addison Woolley Gallery in Portland recently. The owner, Susan Porter, is a neighbor on the island. We met, like many of us do, at a yard sale. Their yard sale, in fact. She and her husband bought a cottage chock full of vintage stuff, several years ago. This is a particular high point of island life: when an old cottage changes hands. Deals are bound to happen. Anyway, Susan has pursued her longheld dream to open her own gallery, in the Old Port, no less! This is an undertaking of epic proportions yet she has pulled it off gracefully, with her experience in public relations and text/image studies, plus a personal passion for photography.

When I stopped in, I browsed long enough to overhear the earnest display of an artist hoping to score a show there.
That has to be both an up and downside to curating a gallery. You find the ones who blow you away, then there are those that do not. Susan has a good supply of firm tact. The space was the former Green Grocer, a shop islanders still miss. So the place has fond karma, good light, and plenty of room for mingling.

Paul Brahms' work was on the left wall, Victor Romanyshyn's photographs on the right. Down in the back L-shaped gallery hung Jeanne O'Toole Hayman's prints.

It was a series of feminine icons, all merged in a delightful way, causing me to muse on the multiple layers of meaning.
Jeanne used to graciously host the island life drawing group. Her figurative work is lively and deliberate. In this series, she combines the repetition of printmaking, art history symbolism, and the elemental female. Cool.

All this is presided over by Susan's hound.

Can you resist those eyes?

Friday, June 27, 2008

art wanderings

Another PeaksFest has come and gone. This annual "celebration of community" is highly anticipated and always delights. We began our roving downfront, at the library, where an exhibit sponsored by the Peaks Environmental Action Team (PEAT) was hanging out to dry.

Quite a few photographers responded to the call for art about laundry, doubling the aesthetic and environmental value of this humble fact of life. In particular, I liked these two by Craig Davis (left) and Ruby Murdock (right)...

Inside the library, the Peaks Island School's Chair Auction was underway, an effort first sparked by Kathy Newell's attempt to get rid of some old school chairs. Kathy Hanley's seat with ferry ticket stubs says it all.

Next we were entertained by the operatic puppetry of Julie Goell, who had a thorough cast of characters, including the Producer, and Madame Pompanour, the fundraiser. She asked everyone to donate to their opera company by throwing toasted marshmallows.

Later in the day, I headed out to sample the first Art Walk of 2008.
Marty and I participated the first two years ('03 and '04) but have barely found the time to be spectators during the last few summers. First stop: Robert Van Der Steenhoven. I met Robert years ago at a life drawing group and became acquainted with his sculpture at the Gem Gallery. It just started to drizzle when I arrived. I had the garden to myself for a bit. Quite magical.

This is Kissing Birds.

Robert crafted this cozy studio from found materials, repurposing a neighbor's cast-off deck as his roof.

I wanted to sit and soak up the atmosphere of inspirations, tools, and artful clutter.

Next stop: Cole Caswell and Jessica George, new island residents and MECA masters candidates. Their work overlaps with creative endeavors happening in every room. When I stopped in, Cole and a houseguest were working on a cross-country webcam trip. I got to poke around the house.

Photographs, ink drawings, oil paintings, augmented clothing. They do it all. Below is Jessica's painting studio. Love the sideways panorama of ocean rocks..

Next stop: Lane Williamson's studio. She works in a former garage now surrounded by organic gardens and a lily pond.

She had only one painting on display, one in progress, and everything else on exhibit elsewhere. So she had supplies ready for anybody game to make art. Yay! I envied her sumptuous stash of pastels.

Here's my oily attempt..

I moved on to my last stop, since two other studios I wanted to visit were not open. Paul Brahm's work was on nearly every surface of his studio. He's one prolific painter.

It would probably take every Art Walk left to cover all 20 of the participating artists. It's truly the most talent to be found in a single square mile in Maine. All of these artists, and myself, will be showing work at the Gem Gallery. More to come on that.

I gotta hit my own pastels in the meantime!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Full strawberry moon

Some things are sacred around here: when there's a full moon, there's a bonfire.
Last night's Strawberry Moon was a sight to behold, as red and awesome as they come. The moment it breaks the horizon is a bit surreal.

Is that the moon?!!!

We gathered not just in awe, but in celebration of the milestone moment of the island fifth graders' graduation,
all seven of 'em. Now they'll move on to Big Ole Middle School in Portland!

Plenty to contemplate....all while the moon got higher and brighter.

Is it any wonder the moon is so often a muse?

This one is titled Sumac Moon and is done from memory, of walking in the moonshine.

A couple of winters ago, some nature sculptor wedged a dead tree out on the rocks. Given the fury of winter tides, it was a miracle every morning the tree remained. It turned into an omen for me, to march out in the bracing wind, day or night, to see if the Spirit Tree was still there.

That kind of rootedness fills me with strength.

This drawing/collage was in the Lunar Calendar awhile back.
As Nancy says, keep looking up!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Who needs Hallmark?

It goes without saying that we usually make our own cards in this house. Not that I don't shop for lovely cards (usually at
Ferdinand or Edith and Edna's, but some occasions require the personal touch. Like with scissors and a gluestick.

First, I made this for my friend, Ged, who was throwing himself a shindig in his brother's backyard. Ged and I were cohorts at RISD and both moved to Boston following graduation, eons ago. We were both in CA for awhile, but now I must catch him on the fly when he's in from LA. He is the Communications Director for the Aids Healthcare Foundation, lover of pop culture, TV trivia, and best treat-bag sender of anyone I know. He never fails to send along a box of something at Halloween and Easter. He respects my peeps!

Here is Ged, sleek and swanky, ready to party. Happy 50th!

On my way to Boston, I stopped to see my Kittery Kousins. Wanda and Mike are a big reason why I moved to Maine. I loved visiting their old farmhouse just across the border from Massachusetts, where life seemed so sped up, back in those single days. After a while, you get fed up with being sped up all the time. I always felt better when I passed that sign: Maine The Way Life Should Be.

I made this card for Wanda and Mike's son, Andrew, graduating from Traip Academy. Congratulations, Andrew!

He's on his way to Spain first, then Colby College this fall.

The big bonus during my lunchstop was seeing their daughter, Mati, visiting from SF. She is The Next Big Thing, according to some folks, including me! We got to all yak about graduations, school consolidations, in-laws, parenting styles, art, writing, Maine demographics, bickering, and family. The usual.

Here is Wanda, Mike, and Mati, who make my life sunny.

After the blast to Boston, I made this for none other than the Best Dad Ever.

Marty was not even bothered by the picnic venture being rained out. We puttered as a family, all day. And shared my pretty good pie. I can cut dough as well as paper. Sweet...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For the love of Peaks

I do love this rock. It's not just the raw beauty, the stinky lowtides, and the knarly trees. It's the salty people!
For the (almost) four years I lived in San Francisco, I didn't get beyond waving to my immediate neighbors, except for
Frank, who shared his Giants season tickets with me, on occasion.

But here on Peaks, there is constant contact with community. You can't actually avoid it. Marty and I thought we would have so much time, living on a bucolic island: I would be hooking rugs while he banged together birdhouses from driftwood.
Think again!

Instead, we're part of the school, the Fifth Maine Museum, the Children's Workshop, the Island Times, the Gem Gallery, the volunteer taxi, the Girl Scouts. Hmm, now that I consider it, when is there time to work??

We get to know folks we might not have met in other stratified places, where orbits don't intersect like they do here: potlucks, the ferry portal, Peaksfest. We met Fran Houston many years ago when she wandered into our house during an Art Walk. Now, she has her own show at the Gem. Marty designed this announcement:

Fran has been interviewing and collecting oral histories of various island residents with rich histories on Peaks. She hopes to publish a book of her photographs and islanders' stories. The lovely lady on the bottom left, Anne Romanyshyn, talked to me on the phone, even before we moved here. The realtor gave us her number, since she used to own what is now our house.
She very graciously chatted about what she loved about this place, so my mind was intent on "so, why did you sell?"
Why, they'd found a pretty piece of land on the backshore. A better view overlooking the ocean and a field of lupines!
We are honored to be the current stewards of this old place.....

Anyway, Fran was glowing on opening night.

I had to go back the next day, when it wasn't so packed, in order to read the texts. It was sweet to learn new things about all these familiar faces. We stay in the present but it takes Fran to ask them about their histories. Congratulations, Fran!
And thanks to the islanders who shared wisdom, humor, and heritage.

The front room exhibit is jammed with members' work. Love this big oil by Jeanne O'Toole Hayman to the right of my pastel,
Wish I May.

Come see the show: 62 Island Avenue, up the hill from the ferry and take a left. Hours can be spotty, though.
Islanders are busy, being salty, mostly.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Whatever floats your boat

It probably comes as no surprise that boats keep showing up in my work.

This piece is currently at the Gem Gallery in the front room exhibit of the members' collective. I have drawn this boat several times. Just love the color and shape.

Even illustrations seem to feature boats pretty often. This was an unused cover for last year's Cast Off bookjacket.

Peg knit the boat piece for me, since I don't knit. Had fun drawing lots of yarnish things, though.

And I drew several boats for Greater Portland Landmark's Activity Guide...

This one is refers to Captain Lemuel Moody, builder of the Portland Observatory.

This was part of an activity for flag signals.

We travel on the ferry all the time, but it's a rare treat to be in a small boat. This is based on a real boat ride in Peter and Maeve's boat.

This came after a ride through a MS Regatta on Casco Bay, in Kim and John's boat.
See, it's better to have friends with boats!

For the family that kayaks together: Stan, Linda, and Mitchell leading the way.

And back when the Scotia Prince still signaled the twilight cruise every evening all summer.......

Sometimes I just like to make an impromptu collage, with an old ferry stub as souvenir.

My favorite sight is when the ferry departs for Portland and I get to stay right here on the island.

Come again, soon!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Foodie friends

The house was sorta clean and the grass sorta mowed. Time to welcome some friends over!

It just figures that Russell French would show up wearing the same groovy logo for the Rosemont Market that I was. Lucky me, I won my apron sporting his wife, Mary Anne's logo at last fall's Folio Feast. He probably had to EARN his products, providing tech support or photography, or maybe even cooking! Never a chore for Russ, who is a premier food photographer, slow food afficionado, organizer of MOFGA, and all-around fun guy (who loves funghi...)

Feeding a good cook can be intimidating. But good wine helps.

We favored zin and cab for the evening, starting out with some Torta spread and baguettes from Rosemont Market, courtesy of our guests. Word has it there will be one in my orbit, which is within a walking radius of the ferry.

While Marty and Russ were grilling eggplant and polenta outside, Mary Anne and I could gab over the shrimp in the pan, inside.

I would like to say I sketched this while buying shrimp, but actually it's from a seafood cookbook I illustrated awhile back (The Great American Seafood Cookbook.) At the time, I went to Haymarket in Boston for reference. Now I ferry past fishing boats on a daily basis, but merely bought the shrimp down at the island market.

While the adults were catching up, the girls were playing with a recently inherited Ouija board.
Will there be dessert?

YES!!! Green tea and something sweet.

Actually I made gingerbread men for dessert, paired nicely with some Lowfat Latte ice cream. Russ regaled us with tales of a recent outing to an undisclosed island for a sheep shearing photo shoot. Stay tuned for the views.

People may think Mainers eat a lot of lobster, but we (mostly) leave that to the tourists.
A table of nine islanders recently had the delicious chore of tasting 5 varieties of quiches baked by Rhonda and neighbor, Eleanor, for a possible new venture called Ha Ha Pies. We dined by candlelight, rating the appearance, texture, depth of flavor. Fun to be in on the ground floor of a culinary adventure.

We discussed ingredients, amount of salt, (nothin is too salty for this taster), crust products, density....prices. Lots to consider.
The key piece is timing and location: a cart parked at the top of the hill for islanders coming off the 5:30 boat would be sure to snag those too tired to cook. Right?

At any rate, the pies disappeared before I got a photo.

Anybody hungry?