I was having dinner downtown with Jill Leininger, a poet that I met at the Vermont Studio Center. Afterwards, we stopped at one of our local downtown ice cream places. There regular is defined as Avocado, Black Sesame, Taro, Wasabi and Durian, while Chocolate and Cherry Vanilla are "exotic" flavors. It was the perfect place to discover in the company of a poet. This is why I love New York.
As I start this post, I wonder how many hundreds of thousands of bloggers are at this moment saying, "I'm sorry for not posting in a while." Prisoners of an ever-expanding collective societal guilt? It smells like a thesis to me.
In the meantime, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the fire. I always think I'm o.k. but am getting bogged down by the details. I keep remembering more things that were in the fire space. The best news of remembered items was that I had a 10 foot square dog painting (that I really like) rolled up in a giant PVC shipping tube (constructed from drain pipe). The tube melted and bent but the painting was fine. O frabjous joy!
Looking at billboards lately, I am enjoying the facial contortions of the models, actors and musicians. It seems like a trend and they are transformed by time as well the wear and wrinkling, adding the "je ne sais quoi".
You only have a week left to run down to CANADA at 55 Chrystie St (between Hester & Canal) to see this great show. The surfaces of the paintings are truly beautiful and... Carrie is one of the most interesting painters I know.
One of the things that happened when I was in Louisiana, was that I took a "Cajun" French immersion class. I had a wonderful time learning forestry, crawfishing, cooking couche-couche and making bousillage--a hybrid mud mixture of mud, clay and Spanish moss used as a plaster to fill the spaces between structural framing. Seen in French architecture of Louisiana of the early 1700s. Wood bars (barreaux), set between the posts, helps to hold the mud mixture in place. The bousillage wall when dry was plastered and then painted. The bousillage also formed a very effective insulation especially against the heat.
The class ended up doing some original skits based on the adventures of Boudreaux and Thibodeaux--a classic Cajun duo akin to Laurel and Hardy. We also performed some traditional songs including "L'arbre est dans ses feuilles." I ended up sketching it for translation assistance. It is a list song, with lines like, "on the branch there is hole, nest in the hole, egg in the nest, bird in the egg, heart in the bird and so on ending with love. I loved drawing the birds I saw out on the swamps. C'est un bon souvenir, hein?
We were on fire last week so things have been jumbled and out of kilter. No one was hurt and the firemen/trucks came right away but there has been some damage and we are regrouping. This was not the first time (maybe 1873?) the building has been on fire. Every time we remove later renovated sections, we've found scorched evidence. I'm happy to say though, this is the first fire where there is a sprinkler system and we had a very speedy Fire Department response. This photo, taken after the fire was out by Kurt, is shot from the second floor with a view of the Zeckendorf towers and the Con Ed building. It's nice and crisp (ho ho) since the windows are gone--one of those photos that needs an explanatory caption to belie it's peacefulness.
Of note, a couple of my canvases burned up in the fire. I'd like to think they were in sympathy with James Rosenquist's work after his recent studio fire. His loss is much greater than mine. And the loss of art is always a tragedy.
While I firmly believe that renovation is up there with death and divorce, I am still excited about the fadade restoration where my studio is located. This landmark building was studio for many other artists before me. Notably, Isobel Bishop, associated with Social Realism, painted people in and around Union Square, sometimes right outside her window. These are some of Kurt's snaps from his daily diary of the process.
One of the best things about being an artist is one's artist friends. This is myself and Stephanie Patton. She does installation, painting and performance art among many other art forms.
I find her to be positive in the face of adversity (so important for an art career), warm, generous, and always ready to laugh. I visited with her on my recent trip to Louisiana. She's been showing a lot recently both in New York and Louisiana and is enthusiastically teaching art to kids as her second job.
One of my favorite performance works's is her character, Reynella Rose Champagne. Reynella poses, performs and gets press for the songs she writes like, "Beer is my Best Friend." The image here is Reynella as Manet's Olympia circa 2003.
I met Stephanie originally at the Vermont Studio Center. We collaborated on a project and I also participated (she's persuasive) in her production of "Fountain of Talent" (bottom, middle photo). That's me playing the 'tit fer (Cajun triangle) while singing "Diggy Liggy Lo" with simultaneous translation into English and Korean. I get by with a little fun with my friends.
My head is spinning. I've been out west, north, south and now finally back east. I feel as gaudy as this Rosy Spoonbill who flew overhead one afternoon. I'm back for the duration (at least for a few months this time) so expect some daily blogging. And new art, photos, "movies" and souvenirs coming up. Thanks for all your patience!
This Anhinga a.k.a. the Snake Bird, snapped by Kurt, is fascinating to me. It is a water bird related to a Cormorant. The Anhinga's feathers are not waterproofed by oils, and so can get waterlogged, causing the bird to become barely buoyant. However, this allows it to dive easily and search for fish under the water. It can stay down for significant periods. It has to spread it's wings to dry in between fishing expeditions. When it's in the water with body submerged, the long neck and head looks like a water snake (I don't know what biological advantage there might be in looking like a snake rather than a bird.) It scoops up fish with it's beak and pouch kind of like a Pelican. A bird of southern swamps, the Anhinga is also known as the Water-Turkey. Tastes like chicken?
Susan Shaw is an internationally exhibited painter and photographer. Private and public collections include the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Shaw is the recipient of two New York State Artist’s Fellowships and 2007/2009 residency fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center.
Kurt Hoss is a freelance photographer capturing the exuberance of
New York City for 35 years. A favorite project has been documenting life in south western Louisiana, culminating in two recent books, Going to Lafayette and Bosco Swamp.
Shaw and Hoss recently received an AVA gold award for video production, as producers of The Mermaid Parade.