Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Barbie And The Crying Woman, Time of Their Lives

Barbie Roberts and Dora Maar as the Crying Woman, Pittsburgh, 2014

The end of 2014 is nigh upon us. Nigh!  Marking time, as we do, forces us to consider time as a thing, when it is really only a point of reference.  A nebulous point of reference at that, like raindrops in a thunderstorm, sand on the bottom of the ocean, all of the bones stacked beneath the streets of Paris.  I think back on the year that was, the events, the experiences, the people I love, all that I saw, the miles that I trekked, up early in the morning with the dog, predawn, finding Orion shimmering in the ink of the sky, and I think that there are those things outside of time, although technically they aren't, but they are. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Barbie & You Or Me

Barbie Roberts and Maria Lassnig in 'You or Me', Pittsburgh, 2014

This year the art world lost one of its boldest visionaries when Maria Lassnig died at the age of 94.  A towering genius of unrivaled talent, she explored techniques and themes more timid artists wouldn't dare attempt.  Never flinching in her desire to push boundaries and explore the human condition within her work, she was able to transcend the condescension of the term 'female artist' and was simply an 'artist'.  To say that she's influenced my work doesn't credit her enough with how deeply a chord she's struck.  She'll resonate well beyond her expiration date.
God's speed, Maria.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joyous Festivus, Such As It Is!

While I don't personally observe Festivus, much preferring to air my grievances daily, I understand that others who wander into this space, do.  Enjoy the Feats of Strength!  Try not to break a hip while pinning the head of the house!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bridge Of Sighs

Bridge Of Sighs, Pittsburgh, PA 2013

The bridge connects the old jailhouse with the  Allegheny County courthouse.  For more information go here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Meaning of The Season

     I've never paid much attention to the ginned-up argument that there's a 'war' on Christmas just because some people might say 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas'.  It's an utterly meaningless position and completely indefensible given that the sole source of the holiday lies in the pagan observance of the Winter Solstice and Yuletide.  There, now don't you feel better?  It's impossible for there to be a war on Christmas because the true holiday is something quite different, and so lasting in its influence that by altering what's being celebrated, as in the birth of Jesus versus the lengthening of days, cannot change how the season is celebrated.  The tree is up and encircled many times with lights, there is a fire in the fireplace, garland spilling over the mantle, gifts for all beneath the tree.  All of these things are pagan, and despite the best efforts of the church, any church, people will not relinquish their hold on these traditions that date back to when my pagan European ancestors huddled in their halls or huts against the seemingly endless cold and dark.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tales Of The Crypt

Leopold Vilsack Family Crpyt, St. Mary's Cemetery, Lawrenceville, Pgh, 2014

The thing about this crypt that caught my eye is the concrete seal covering the doorway, blocking entrance since the last child (Veronica) of Leopold and Dorothea Vilsack was laid to rest there in 1948.  All cities have their founders who amassed fortunes, and often they are known for generations because of philanthropic endeavors, but often there are those that slip through the cracks of time and if not for a creepy crypt in an already creepy old bone yard, they might be lost.
Leopold Vilsack was one of the founders of Iron City Brewery, which in and of itself is worth noting.  His wife Dorothea, who preceded him in death by only a month, bore 12 children that lived to adulthood.  While most of their children grew to be hard-working upstanding citizens, one son, August A. Vilsack served several months in prison for his role in a bribery and conspiracy scheme.
I wonder what the interior of that crypt is like, especially since there's virtually no way to gain access to it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Partial Reclining Figure

Reclining Figure, Close-Up, Columbus, 2014

Henry Moore's sculpture, "Three Piece Reclining Figure:  Draped", as it stands outside of the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio.  Here I have seemingly cut off the head of the woman, but in truth the artist did not give the work a head.  Like so many pieces of art crafted by men, the female subject lacks a head.  Is this because the artists lacks the skill to render the fine facial features of the female form?  Or is it because he doesn't deem it necessary that she have a head?  It's the Praying Mantis effect in reverse.  While it doesn't always happen, it happens often enough for it to be noticeable. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Pianist's Hands

      The Pianist's Hands, Pittsburgh, 2013

My mother is a pianist, playing/practicing nearly everyday (except while on holiday) for the last 70 years.  It's taken quite the toll on her hands, worsening the arthritis that has settled in the joints.  Regardless, she still plays for the church.  Her rendition of "Angels We Have Heard On High" brings tears to my eyes.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Red Pole

          Trinity Episcopal Cathedral In Winter, Pittsburgh, Christmas 2012

This is Pittsburgh's oldest unreconstructed landmark, standing as it always has in the heart of downtown.  At one time it's cemetery was the resting place of over four thousand individuals, but now just has a smattering of a few prominent early settlers and natives, including Red Pole, chief of the local Shawnee.
Here is his head stone:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Primanti Brothers

Primanti Brothers, Southside Pittsburgh, 2014 and Beyond

Pittsburgh is somewhat famous for the Primanti Brothers restaurant sandwich which has fries and slaw piled on it.  It's an ok sandwich, I mean, it's not poison, but it's nothing special.  I would never, ever go out of my way to have one.  In fact, the only time we eat there is when people from out of town visit and they demand - yes DEMAND - that we suffer through the experience with them.
My primary complaint comes from exactly how the sandwich is delivered to you.  It's wrapped in thin paper, not even so much as a paper plate.  And if you dare ask for a knife and fork, you get the flimsiest utensils that Chinese convict labor can produce.  That knife aint cutting nothing, and the tines on the fork bend when you try to spear anything.  Forget asking for your fries or slaw on the side.  They'll laugh in your face.  You end up contending with a mountain high sandwich with soggy fries and bread.  Unless your a champion speed eater, the whole concoction loses integrity when you're about half way finished, falling to pieces on your now soggy and torn serving paper.  It's a mess, and an embarrassment.  All of the structural/serving faults could be forgiven if it was the best sandwich that you ever had, but it isn't.  I can, and do, make a better sandwich at home.
My advice is:  Beware.  You might want to bring your own utensils and plate.  Who knew you could long so much for a plate?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Touching The Art And It Touching Back

Casey Jane Ellison is the mastermind, and I do truly mean a mastermind, behind the web series, Touching The Art.  When I first discovered this youtube channel a few months ago, I was struck by how it's both serious and seriously funny.  Art (people in art, not the works themselves, because that would be impossible) so often takes itself so f*cking seriously that whimsy, humor, any sort of lightness of being, immediately discredits you.  What 'Touching the Art' does is address very real issues within the art community, large and small scale, and how women and people of color are always given the identifiers of: Female Artist (white), African-American Artist (male), Female African-American Artist, Hispanic Artist (male), etc.  We live in a world where 'white male' is the default, and the rest of the art world has to be segregated into their proper categories lest there be chaos.  This makes me not just a female artist, but a lesbian female artist.  Given that I'm a woman, my persona could be further broken down by age because our male dominated society is also ageist, making me a middle-aged, lesbian, female artist.  The lesbian and female may seem redundant, but trust me, it isn't. 
        Rosbro Cigar Smoking Snowmen, Pittsburgh 2014

To wrap things up I've included a pic of my favorite vintage cigar smoking plastic snowmen from the 1950s.  Take it away, guys!  I love me some inappropriate whimsy.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Refracted Reflection

     Polar Vortex, Connoquenessing Creek, January 2014

I am working on a water themed portfolio, so of course I revisited the photographs I took last winter of the bankside trees reflected in the above mentioned creek.  I didn't notice this at the time I was taking the pictures, but later, while working on them on the computer, I noticed that as the temperatures quickly plummeted it caused the water to begin to thicken, gelling into ice crystals, that then not only reflected the trees, but refracted them as well.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Close Up In Contrast

Miniature Olive Tree Roots, Pittsburgh, 2014

Olea europaea, this miniature olive tree only grows to be about four to five feet tall and can easily be managed in a pot.  That is, until or unless your cat decides to LAY on the tiny tree and systematically undermine the integrity of the main branches and trunk of the tree.  Simply, Peep's killed the olive tree last winter.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep him off the replacement one I got over the summer.  Olive leaf tea is very therapeutic and refreshing.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Grand View

     Pittsburgh From Mt. Washington, 2014

I have lived places other than here (or very near here), but not for long.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Barbie & Woman Dressing Her Hair

     Barbie & Woman Dressing Her Hair, Pittsburgh, 2014

A bit of tinkering, integrating cubism along with Barbie's selfies and Picasso's tireless denigration of women, especially those he'd grown weary of.  This may be a too obvious use of pixelation...