Calvary Cemetery, Queens, NY

I arrived at JFK airport in New York City this morning at 8:05am and hired a cab to take me to my sister's place in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I asked the cab driver how much this ride would cost. He replied its on the meter since we are going to Brooklyn and not New York City which is a flat rate of $45. Yikes! I gulped and buckled my seatbelt. I kept thinking its OK to spend some money, I'm seeing my family after 11 months of being independent in Portland, Oregon. So, instead of dwelling on the upcoming dent to be made in my wallet, I began talking with the cab driver. We started with the usual weather chat, followed by some traffic updates and the New York City cost of living coupled with the poor job market, then silence, a bridge, more silence, and then I saw it. First the light caught my eye. Then the shades of white and gray. Then the rectancilinear shapes all fairly similar in size, but shifting in height due to the rolling hillside they stood upon. These rectangles echoes the much larger ones in the distance. We were driving past the largest cemetery in New York, The Calvary Cemetery of Queens. Now, this is a cemetery I have seen before. But having been away from the enormous and over populated city that is New York, my memory was a bit foggy. I should mention that upon leaving the airport, I was drawn to the low income housing units sprawled out in every direction. So many people living so closely in such mediocrity. This is not what life is about.
I asked the cabdriver for the name of this expansive city of the dead. I began to feel confused about it. Why do we bury our dead in a plot of land to just sit and take up space? I then asked him from where he came. India. I asked him if there are such places in India where the dead are buried. He said in Hinduism the dead are cremated. He said that we all have a light and that when we die that light leaves us, and then we are just a dead body. He said that burying a dead body in the ground is the same as cremated it and returning the ashes to the earth. Some people have their deceased loved ones cremated and then keep them in an urn in their home. He said that is the same thing as a cemetery.
I continued to think about all this as we drove through the congestion and honking. Is burying a loved one in a cemetery a means of holding on? Does it make some people feel more comfortable and less alone? Is it a form of denial? Does burying someone or cremated them and keeping the ashes interrupt the natural cycle of life?
As we neared my sister's apartment, one more conversation took place. We spoke of the hustle and bustle around us. The cab driver said that a person's pressure goes up living in the city. He said you miss one train and you are 30 minutes late to work. People are stressed. I said that's why I live in Oregon. He said that you have to have lots of patience to live in New York City and that everyone is in rush. I sat there looking out the window, listening to his words, thinking of how calm he seemed. He sits there in his cab all day long watching New York City as if it was a movie. Scene after scene, new characters, new stories, new conversations. I wonder how many conversations he thinks about after a ride is up. Is he writing about me right now?


A Day in Wonderland

We spent yesterday afternoon in the Gorge hiking up to Angel's Rest view point, a three sided vista allowing an all encompassing view of the Gorge and beyond. It was a 4.6 mile round trip hike, moderate in difficultly and breathtaking in beauty. Because of a 1991 wildfire, the hike guides you through several varying patches of forest separated by open areas offering expansive views of the Gorge as you ascend to the top. My favorite part of hiking in the Gorge is the light. It creeps through the dense forest and delicately paints itself on new leaves, moss covered branches and rocky formations. It is is truly a magical place and only about 35 minutes from our home!


Studio visit

Welcome to my studio! This is a place where I spend most of my time. I am a member of Switchyard Studios, which is in Southeast Portland, quite close to the river. There are about 30 artists renting space on one floor of a warehouse. The floor above is home to a recording studio and below us is a ceramics distributor. Oh, I cannot forget the man who makes chicken coups on one of the floors above us, as well. The building is also situation right next to train tracks. So, I hear my fair share of train horns, rooster crowing and hip hop artists getting down! Its quite entertaining. The other day I sat in my studio working on a canvas necklace while listening to this really talented female vocalists record a song with a solid drummer, bass, piano, and sax. It can also be quiet and peaceful at times.

Here are some of the bracelets I described in my first blog post. Ah, it seems like only yesterday, I was a novice at all this. These bracelets are made from scrap fabric, macrame, stones, buttons, leather and shells. I will be posting them to Etsy and my website very soon.

I have also been painting a bit. Man, not nearly as much as I used to. But, I feel like my focus on jewelry has been a means of shedding some of the "what to do and not to do" lessons of art school. I often wonder what my paintings would look like if I had not attended and graduated from Art School. I am allowing myself the room to be creative in any means I see progressive at the time. I enjoy having these two creative outlets and I feel like they inform each other.

I have been working on this painting for months. Different ideas and images have soaked into like a sponge of information. The Swifts, my inner SE industrial neighborhood, my tiny macrame knots...

And here is some advice, check out the work of Todd Kelly. He is a Brooklyn based artist. I really like his work. www.toddkellyart.com. I won't describe it, just go see for yourself.


everything you imagine is real

In addition to being an artist, I am preschool teacher.
My kids are hilarious! They are also true. These kids respond to other people and things they see with such genuine feeling. They are inspiring. The other day, I was making sandcastles with one of my students. She watched with such focus as I filled a bucket with sand, packed it down and then turned it over to reveal - A Sandcastle! Her response, "Oh!! It's beautiful!!!!!" Pure joy! This same little girl is the smallest in our class, but attempts to drive the largest of toy tractors when we play in the gym. She's got such might, such conviction to be independent. We wash hands in the bathroom before snack and if I ever turn the faucet on for her, she turns it right off and then on again. She can do it! Inspiring.

Watching my students explore, learn and stand up for themselves makes me think, if they can do it, why can't we all accomplish what we want? What's stopping any one of us from creating that picture we have in our minds? I'd like to thank my preschool classes for giving me strength.

I think they have all the answers. Its like that Picasso quote that I love so much.
"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child".
Here's another one, "Everything you can imagine is real".
It's too bad he treated woman so poorly.

Here's a secret. When I paint canvases for my canvas jewelry collection, I imagine a child painting. I imagine how they move the paint ac
ross their paper, sometimes slowly, sometimes quick. I image them paying more attention to the colors swirling together in one tiny area, than if the piece has a nice composition overall. If you have not already, take a good long look at the painting of a child. It is of a world which most of us have forgotten.

I am contemplating the start of a series of paintings. I want to somehow take my many years experience watching kids paint and draw, and create a tribute to them. A tribute the truth of children. Hmmmm...

Next time you share an experience with a preschool aged child, remember that they may have all the secrets. Or, at least they will make you laugh, maybe thats the real secret.



Tomorrow is Monday. On Friday night, I sent out more than ten emails, with photographs, describing my jewelry to various Art and Craft Museums across the country. And now I wait. I am still waiting for the buyer at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to write me regarding the samples I sent her upon her request. The ball is rolling. This is a very exciting time.

The Saturday Market has opened for its 2010 season, but I am waiting until April to begin my season for it is still quite chilly out and I am still quite in need of my creative studio weekends. I have been very busy making new pieces, new designs and working with new materials.

I will soon finish a canvas collection for the fabulous Tender Loving Empire, a funky store and recording label in NW Portland, which will be moving to a hot new location next to the Radish Underground and near Powell's on Burnside. I slightly altered my circle canvas earrings by using very small circles that float and dangle of shimmery sterling chain. They remind me of fish scales!

Upcoming goal? Take a silversmith class. I am eager to start forming my own silver pieces to use with macrame, leather, canvas, fabric, stones and more!
Variety is the spice of all life!

Almost 11 Months

In ten days I will be going home. I almost erased "home" and retyped Connecticut, because my home is now in Portland, Oregon and has been for almost eleven months. The apartment I am sitting in feels like home. It is comfortable, decorated with our photographs, settled in. Home really is wherever Noah and I are together. Yes, thats sweet, I know. But, I really began writing about home because a lot has happened since we left our parents' basement and spare bedroom. The just over a week visit with my family is beginning to feel like a race. So much to say, so many hugs to give and receive, so many different locations. But, I really began writing about home because I feel proud. Despite my moments of insecurity, feelings of not achieving my goals or falling short of success, and admiring (envying) the accomplishments of others, I know that I am doing great, that we are doing great! Life...

My life consists of a few things at this moment. Sharing my life with Noah, teaching preschool, and spending time creating jewelry in my studio. Yes, I have a studio! I love it! I could spend every day, every week, every month there. Well, maybe not, but my point is that I love having my own space to create freely.

My studio is currently covered in fabric scraps. I finally jumped into my plastic bin of old clothes and recycled fabric from SCRAP to create some necklaces I've wanted to attempt for quite some time now. I also just finished 6 bracelets using macrame, braided fabrics, leather, feathers, snaps and stones! Oh my they are fun!

My only fear at this moment is that I may not be able to create every design that enters my mind. Lack of time.

Good night!