Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Springtime and "The Prom Aquatic"

Something I never knew until I lived here is that Phoenix is full of birds. Peeping, chirping, cooing, hooting, chattering, and whistling is all you can hear when walking down a quiet city street, it's like a rainforest. I guess it's not that surprising, Phoenix is an irrigated region full of sheltering trees in the middle of the desert, so birds flock here by the thousands.  The downside is (other than all the poo) I'll see at least 6 dead birds a week just on a walk with my dog.  This time of year is worse. In spring fallen nests are common and tiny corpses litter the ground.

Of course other things happen in spring.  Like prom....

Chloe is only a sophmore, but she's part of the student government, so she planned and help decorate and therefore was required to go to  "The Prom Aquatic".  Here she is on her way out with her friend Jewel.

Since Chloe was on the decorating committee, they arranged for my "Jelly Monster" sculpture to be part of the event.

Since her debut at the Frontal Lobe Gallery, she's been laying under a drop cloth on my patio, so it was nice to have her shown at another event. 

The Prom Aquatic was her last gasp though, and after last weekend she found her final destination.  All good things must come to an end.

This week is teaching, catching up on deadlines and having my kids drive me bonkers.... Between the elementary school science fair, the middle school "invention convention" and my high schooler's first student film I'm about ready to hide under my bed until summer vacation.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Back when things sucked

At least that's what it seems like when you peruse through portraits of people from the Victorian Era.  I know it had much to do with the eternal shutter speed of taking photos at that time.  I'd look miserable too if I had to stand perfectly still for 20 minutes or so.

Of course it was also against the fashion of the time to smile in portraits. At least according to photo journalist Nicholas Jeeves…

 "By the 17th century in Europe, it was a well-established fact that the only people who smiled broadly, in life and in art, were the poor, the lewd, the drunk, the innocent, and the entertainment."


Sometimes however they didn't smile for a good reason, like in this Postmortem Portrait.

Anyway, way back in 2006 I had my own Victorian portrait taken. (I know what you're thinking,  looking sharp!!). I visited The Brown House Inn in Amsterdam, New York,with my daughters and their Girl Scout troop. They dressed us up in Victorian style clothing and began to teach us proper behavior.  

We then put on a traditional Victorian play. For as their website says...

Plays and puppet shows were popular childhood pastimes in Victorian times, in both humble and wealthy households. Constructing puppets, and putting on shows or learning a play to act out was a "sensible" source of amusement

After the play was "tea time"We all sat down to a formal Victorian tea, and again we all had our roles to play, hostess, honored guests, and maids.  In our roles, some of us poured the tea and gossiped, while the maids stood to serve us.  The girls all wanted to be maids for some reason, I guess there was more to do.

It's interesting how for Victorian people the only documentation of their lives is a handful of stoic photos, when our lives today are documented almost by the minute.  A friend of mine was taking selfies at her father's memorial just a few weeks ago. Hmmm... I guess that's very similar to what they used to do, at least the clothes are better now.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pleasantly warm

Last week was "pleasantly warm" and if you read my blog before then you know that's what we call weather in the 90º 's here in Phoenix.

In the beginning  of our pleasantly warm week was "The Madison Bash".  A district wide arts celebration at Phoebe's middle school where she performed as a mime with other members of her theater group.

On Tuesday I taught my art classes out in Scottsdale. One class is outside on the patio with many hot and sweaty 4 and 5 year olds.  The great thing about young children is that a hot day never effects their enthusiasm!  

Thursday was a downer.  Mike flew to Portland, Oregon for the HP Lovecraft film fest, where he promoted many publications and was a featured artist, and our pleasantly warm turned to hot when we hit 100ºF. By Saturday though the weather cooled down again and a comfortable breeze blew across the valley.  Which was really, really good, because on Saturday morning I was scheduled for another chalk festival, this time in Glendale. 

Since Mike was out of town, everyone came with me, including the dog. Everyone wanted to pet him, which was fine at first but then he'd start to feel shy and come sit next to me, walking across the mural on the way.... I wound up cleaning up dog prints at least 5 times.

  Unfortunately, the morning sun was right on us (Phoebe was my designated assistant this time).  I got the sketch down and had only just started with black and yellow, when we took a break for lunch. I decided to see if our shade would get better before continuing.  Of course drawing with black is really filthy work.  I cleaned up as best as I could, but I was not quite ready to dine in the fancy sushi bar my kids picked out for lunch.  After sushi I sent my other 2 kids to the movies and Phoebe and I got to work.  We had plenty of shade now and it went pretty fast.

Here's Phoebe in front of the finished mural.  It's called "Phoenix Rising".

This is an upside-down close-up.  The city is, of course, Phoenix.  I thoroughly researched the city's silhouette online and found it beyond annoying when people walked past saying things like "Look it's a phoenix flying over New York!!"

And this is a photo taken by a tall lady who offered to help me out!

After finishing I took a look at some of the other artists' progress...

This is Linda Harrison Parsons hard at work.

My friend Chris Leon's mural. He came all the way up from Tucson that day!

And some very creepy giant ants by José Ignacio (also from Tucson).  Incredible work, as he was stuck in the sun most of the day! The murals will be on display until the end of the month if you live in the Phoenix area.

By Sunday the weather was back in the 80º's, I picked up Mike from the airport and we spent the afternoon at the theater.  Mike's Aunt Jill and Uncle Ray met us for a naughty puppet show called "Avenue Q"  it was truly hilarious! Happy Monday. :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

96 hours

Thursday began as usual with shaking reluctant children awake for school as they lay ignoring their blaring alarm clocks. Naomi was late again. Phoebe missed the bus, and only Chloe got moving on time.  The morning was spent cleaning house and the afternoon was studio time, doing our work, trying to meet our deadlines. It's our best time of the day, Mike and I just working and listening to music or half watching a movie.  Studio time is always over too fast and before I know it I'm back in the car racing back and forth across town during rush hour to pick up kids from school, and in the case of Thursday getting Phoebe back to school again for her opening night.  Her school theater group was performing "I Never Saw Another Butterfly".  She had the second lead role and was amazing....
The play was acted, directed and performed by students.  The teacher that runs the group, Mrs. Lang (Phoebe's hero), acts only as producer and advisor.

All the kids did an incredible job and there wasn't a dry eye to be seen at the end.

Of course the subject matter was very intense.  Jewish children living inside a Nazi concentration camp is bound to be a downer.

Friday started much the same as Thursday. Racing kids to school, walking the dog, morning house cleaning... The exception being I was called in to sub an art class. In the last 2 weeks I was hired by a company called Abrakadoodle to run children's art programs around the valley.  I've been training but this was my first day on the job.  Teaching on Friday I had a class full of very excited 7 year old boys.  One of them was flirting with me, so I told him I was married.  His friend shrieked and said "Are you crazy, she's like 29!!"  So now I'm 29. It 's awesome.

Saturday I rolled out of bed at 5:20am and shook Chloe awake.  By 6:30am we were on the road to Tucson, for Park Place Chalk Art Festival.  We arrived by 8:45 and I found my designated area.  As I began to grid my square of concrete people began to come over and ask questions.  "What are you drawing?" "How long will it take you?" and my favorite "When will you be finished?" (Keep in mind that I have drawn four lines at this point.)

After about 20 minutes of sketching in my design, Chloe and I began the sky. 

Here she is working from a print of my painting.

By the time the morning was over we'd made a huge amount of progress.  This is well after lunch on Saturday.  The festival was quite crowded and the questions people asked never stopped.  "I saw this festival in the paper this morning. Did you see it in the paper too and just come down and set up?" 
"No, I was paid to be here and assigned this spot"
"This is the best one so far! You're going to win!"
"This is not a contest, all the artists were judged beforehand."
"How can they judge your work before you do it?"
"I submitted my drawing and I was selected, so we all win."
"Well how can you all win?"
"I was kidding, all the artists here are paid."
"When will you be finished?"
Here's Chloe blending sand on Saturday afternoon.

As you can see we made a lot of progress on Saturday.

This cowboy on stilts kept walking past and chatting us up.

Finally he came by and offered to take a photo from his view.  I think it's the best photo we got all day.  As we worked a woman walked past and said "Oh it's lovely, are you two related?" 
"Yes, this is my daughter!"
"Oh you don't look old enough to have a daughter that old."
"Oh, well, I am only 29." She walked away quite confused.

This is where we stopped at 5pm that day.  We attempted to wash ourselves off in the mall bathroom amid many stares and headed over to the hotel.  

Sunday we awoke around 6am even though we didn't have to be back until 11am.  I ate some disturbingly crunchy eggs at the hotel's continental breakfast, while Chloe ate the chewy pancakes.  We lingered for awhile but then headed back to finish the mural.

We picked up some Starbucks (conveniently located next to our mural) and got back to work. We were on site an hour early and finished the mural 15 minutes into the second day of the official start of the festival.  Of course the questions kept coming.... "How did it take you to draw this?"  "AAAH!!" -That scared them off.  By then I was very sore from working on the pavement and a little sick of the same questions over and over and over......  

Since I couldn't get paid until 1:30pm we decided to clean up and take a walk around. Some of the work was amazing.

This artist was working in the back courtyard on bricks which is a tough surface.

This artist was creating an amazing mural from a photo.

This is the "Kids Zone" where each coloring space is a puzzle piece they give you to draw in.

One of the pieces from the "Kids Zone".

I liked this Hindu elephant from the kids area.

This artist was given an indoor work area.  Her mandala is still in progress in this photo.

A portrait of Freda Kahlo, was in the back courtyard.

Matt Cotten's Orangutans

Some pretty bunnies for Easter, by José Ignacio Garcia

Shloka was working just up the sidewalk from us.  I really loved her whimsical drawing.

My regret is that I didn't go back to see her finish.  I could tell it was going to be great.

Victor's butterflies.  Another one I didn't see finished.

And Cynthia's wildlife image was coming along really well!

Around 1:30pm we had walked the mall, ate in the food court and seen all the chalk murals, so I went to see if I could get paid.  I found the director and was given my check, and as I walked to the car I saw that someone had released their small child onto my mural.  It was covered in footprints!  So I got more chalk and wound up working another 20 minutes, all the while muttering " The sidewalk over there is for walking, this sidewalk's for looking at."  (I was maybe losing it a bit). Anyway, Sunday afternoon at 4pm we stumbled through the door back home in Phoenix.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The SPARK Festival and the radio show

Last week all my kids were on spring break, which is nothing short of amazing as they go to three different schools and never seem to have overlapping school breaks.  I wish we'd planned to go away for the week, but both and Mike were a bit swamped with work and deadlines.  We did manage to go to the big SPARK festival down in Mesa.

As you can see they had a very entertaining photo booth!

The Austin Bike Zoo set up at the festival.

We all took a ride on their rattlesnake bike.

This is Naomi on the bicycle carousel.

The bat bike was a bit creepy.

This baby liked him though.

My favorite is the owl-Who knew owls could be such cool bicycles?!

 Phoebe enjoying her green snow cone. 
They had a flavor station where little kids were adding 5 or 6 flavors to their shaved ice.  I asked my kids why they only did one.  "Mom, that's disgusting!"
And it is, but it's interesting that they're all old enough to know better....

This is me (hiding behind a dancing butterfly).

 There were in fact many costumed dancers romping about.

The gecko was very convincing.

There seemed to be more to see and do everywhere we turned.

As the sun began to go down these forest fairies began to lurk about.

This juggler began his impressive show with fire torches.

This is Naomi, she jumped out of the audience to assist him.  It's an odd photo because of the black light, but she has a Chinese yo-yo on her head.

This photo is better... I think.

Everything was lit up after the sun set.

The glowing snake.

In case you didn't think that bat could look creepier, here he is after dark.

On Monday we had another episode of Art of The Red River.  This is by one of our guests Afton Kern.  In the end it was a good show.  In the beginning though, I went to the studio website and the show was scheduled to start an hour late, so I tried to change it and couldn't do it.  I notified everyone about the change and then it launched suddenly, on time.  We were running circles!  My co-host Wade Zahares was quite upset as he had no time to change into his "radio clothes"....It turns out he's quite good at hosting in his regular clothes.... It was archived here so you can listen in!

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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