Thursday, April 27, 2017

Daily Art Heart: Week Seven

This was not a great week. Physically or creatively. I found myself searching figuratively ever further afield and literally ever closer to home for inspiration for these daily heart images. I fell behind by a day. I almost gave up altogether. On Day 43 I attended an Earth Day gathering. This little girl was no less thrilled with the baby chickens than I, but she got the shot because she had hearts on her dress.

On Day 44 this view of the ceiling was not only the best I could do for a heart, it was what I was mostly looking at as I lay on the couch down with a headcold that was about to become the story of the rest of the week.

For Day 45 I didn't really do much at all, just took the easy way out and aimed my phone - from a reclining position - at the other occupant of the general household indolence. 

The photo I posted for Day 46 was actually taken that day but not posted until later and was borrowed from my regular album of photos from Saturday markets. By this time I was feeling as if my cold was actually the flu in disguise, and not a very good disguise. But it was still lovely to see fresh new basil back among market offerings. Spring is here! Even if I'm not.

On Day 47, a Sunday, I started falling behind, in more ways than one. This was another late posting, and was once again locally sourced - as in, across from the couch - in my bookcase. I am not a religious person, but I do love all the relics, rituals, edifices and artifacts of religion, including this strangely beautiful embroidered bookmark with the bleeding heart. I can relate.

Seeing this group of photos collected, I can see the proof of my sense of a week in which my world got smaller and smaller, and why it felt so strange after a week in which I felt so much more expansive than I have in a long time. Expand, contract, repeat. As the weekend faded and a new week full of unavoidable obligations began, my heart and body were still decidedly in weekend mode, and I paid dearly for every hour I spent functioning in the world outside with large chunks of recovery time at home. Yes, this Day 48 image was also taken on the couch. I'm sure it has some sort of deep symbolic meaning. Other than: I love my couch.

And for Day 49, yesterday, that couch makes another background appearance. This charm was given to me by my mother, who is not Irish, and probably didn't even know the relevance of the claddagh. It's a lovely symbol, nevertheless, the offered heart, crowned. A happy child, a light cast on shadow, an indolent cat, a new leaf, a bloody bookmark, pink lace, an old charm. This week's hearts have a story to tell, of a world compelled to shrink down to its bare essentials, and by doing so, finding out what they are.

And I still have the flu.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Daily Art Heart: Week Six

Day 36: Morning view with morning hair.

Day 37: The closer I get to NYC the uglier it looks and the better I feel.

Day 38: Morning view, city style.

Day 39: Once a punk, always a punk.

Day 40: My grandmother's locket.

Day 41: Artwork rescued from the closet and passionate attention released from storage.

Day 42: Waking up with someone special by my side. This week's worth of images is a tale of two cities, of traveling between two homes, both of which I was sad to leave. But oh so grateful to rediscover. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Daily Art Heart: Week Five

Day 29

Twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, I set up at the Vermont Farmers Food Center as part of the Vermont Farmers Market, my one and only closest thing I have for a job. It’s been a physically challenging many months and a lonely many years and some of the time I am intensely grateful that I still have at least these bare minimum occasions I am required to appear in public and engage with human beings. Some of the time, even this light obligation proves an intolerable burden. This sparkly little paper heart is pinned to the balcony overlooking the vast space of the Center, sometimes filled to the brim with lively heartfelt social activity among neighbors, friends and colleagues, sometimes host to much smaller quieter gatherings, seeming that much emptier for the memory of what it’s like at full capacity. I can relate.

 Day 30

I told you Henry would be showing up more than once in this collection.  This week a new couch arrived, my first such purchase in a long time, and a sort of symbol to me of living like a functioning adult – at least in terms of home décor. I last bought a new couch in 2002, the last time I transitioned from a one room apartment to a grownup home. That couch stayed with me through many changes and was left behind when I once again landed in a living space more suited to an undergraduate student. Now I once again have the ability to invite guests to my home and not seat them on the bed or the floor. That said, the most likely occupants of Big Gray, as I have named my new couch, are me and Henry, seen here already claiming his territory.

 Day 31

On the second day of Big Gray joining my small collection of things I love – animate and inanimate – the tassles of the new throw I gave to my new couch proved that the feeling is mutual.

 Day 32

I got a new tattoo this past weekend – another thing I love. I took a train – which already makes it a great day - to and from a convention in Saratoga, where I was able to observe many of my tribe gathered in one place. In fact, the tattoo community is becoming so large and mainstream, with artists who are dedicated professionals and walking artworks who also lead responsible fulfilling lives, it’s hard to think of us as the misfit outcast rebel freaks we once were. We’re still far from normal, don’t get me wrong. Right after wrapping up the tattoo I did receive, I started browsing a wonderful book featuring images from turn of the century inkmasters who pretty much defined the American traditional aesthetic for tattoos, down on the Lower East Side of my home town before I was born. Because only a tattoo freak starts planning the next one before the ink is dry on the last one.

 Day 33

The day I went to Saratoga, it snowed. The next day, it – this. My love affair arrangement with my new couch allows for my other one true love, my deck, to share without resentment my attention and murmurings of sweet nothings. This photo of Henry and me enjoying the spring sunshine was taken without the use of my hands. With a cellphone that has no timer mechanism. I will not reveal how it was done.  Except, magic.

 Day 34

And sometimes you hold a cucumber slice up to the light and also - magic. There was other less happy magic on the day I took this photo, as temperatures soared to near 80 and my ambitions plummeted accordingly. Big Gray was happy to oblige as the setting for most of Monday. 

 Day 35

And now it’s Tuesday again. The moon was beautifully full last night and I was awake several times to check on its progress in a dark cloudless sky. This morning skies are hazy and the sun blindingly bright. I have a new tattoo of a tall ship on the high seas sailing and healing on my torso, and a new couch making my house a haven, retreat, and well, a home. It’s been a busy week, and a lazy week, at times feeling very nearly like my old self, or at least able to understudy that role and not have the disappointed audience storm out of the theater asking for their money back.  Today I will be out in the world, then tonight back in my own world. Both of these worlds seem to be less bleak and uncomfortable lately, but who knows? As I write this the clouds are already hovering in the distance. And the forecast calls for yet another abrupt major weather change.  But when it can be snowing and 30 one day, and 80 and sunny the next, there is no such thing as counting on anything. Good thing I’ve got that down.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Daily Art Heart: Week Four

Day 22

Week Four of this project was, um, interesting. This is what chronic insomnia looks like, when the day begins with giving up, instead of getting up. 

 Day 23

And then I stayed up all night, and slept all the next day – on and off, which is how I have slept for over a year now. One of these days I will awaken rested and ready for the day, instead of already negotiating how little I can get away with doing and promising tomorrow will be better. 

 Day 24

When in doubt, fold a paper heart, and let the metaphors take care of themselves.

 Day 25

March came in like a lion this year, and went out like a different lion. One final ice and snow storm provided my deck with an accumulation of wet white crunchiness the consistency of a frozen margarita, adding to this week’s themes of division and fragility elements of the transitory and the broken, not to mention a numb finger.

 Day 26

When a dead leaf understands exactly how I feel.

 Day 27

Back to back with myself. Because everywhere I go, there I am, my own better half.

 Day 28

Yesterday I was thinking about the self portrait project I abandoned a while ago when both the photographer and the model ran out of energy and enthusiasm. The shoots I was conceiving, planning, undertaking and editing were quite demanding physically, intellectually and emotionally, the sort of thing you can only do when you’re at your best and beyond. I’ve been far less than that lately, but I miss the process, and I miss the artist who was once equal to it. This image is from a test shot I did for a shoot 2 years ago. Maybe it’s cheating to recycle old images, but this little photo flipping exercise worked so nicely with this week’s batch of images, it counts as new. Sometimes all you’ve got is what you were, and while you wait for yourself to return, you just have to find ways of making that as beautiful as possible.    

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daily Art Heart: Week Three

Day 15

This is a very small t shirt that fits me when I am also very small. People look at me funny when I complain about recent weight gain. At a petite 5 foot 4, and having lived life for long and recent periods at the most comfortable weight for a small person, as well as the most uncomfortable, and knowing I far prefer the former, going up a whole size or two in mere months really does make a huge difference in how I feel. On Day 15, in spite of fatigue, aches and depression, I forced myself to exercise, on behalf of the small strong me that is currently buried inside the less small, less strong me. Because New Yorkers are fighters, regardless of size. 

 Day 16

Get used to it. Any artmaking challenge involving matters of the heart as inspiration is going to have more than one appearance by Henry the cat, here proving to be the ideal model by immediately working the perfect pose with the provided pipe cleaner heart prop.

 Day 17

Last week I became, and still am, addicted to the live feed of April the Giraffe, now well past 15 months pregnant and continuing to be due any minute. Mostly she walks around the edges of her pen, pauses, snacks, hangs her head, and looks forward to her human visitors who touch her and leave. Her mate, Oliver, is in the next pen, visible, but mostly out of reach. Her pain is obvious in her awkward gait and her ungainly body stretched to its limit with the burden she carries, but her kind, even in captivity, and relative safety, knows not to betray weakness lest she become vulnerable to attack. She doesn’t sleep much. On Day 17 I realized I am obsessed with April the Giraffe, because I am April the Giraffe. The only difference being that no one really expects her to have a life beyond this mindless routine, which has way more followers than mine ever will, and she, presumably, will one of these days unburden herself and have something beautiful to show for it, that people actually care about.

 Day 18

My mood didn’t improve much after that. Plus a headcold crashed the party of my usual gang of physical ills and together wrecked the joint. Whenever I find myself at a low point in present circumstances or conditions, I keep going back to moments when I unimaginably  and unpredictably left similar low points behind, moments I exceeded my own expectations and defied those of everyone around me. It’s sad but helpful to remind myself both that “I’ve had worse” so many times and survived, and that “I’ve had better” soon after. I seem to be stuck in a series of worsts without the betters lately. But my first tattoo, the sword of the spiritual warrior, will celebrate its 18th anniversary this summer, and in all that time I have many times thought I’d never see another summer, only to see my entire life change, so it remains a constant reminder that I still have some fight left in me - and on me.

 Day 19

On Day 19 I visited the magical wonderland of shopping known as Target (pronounced Tar – ZHAY in the French manner for true enthusiasts). When I left NYC for Boston back in 2001, I pretty much created a household and a wardrobe from the offerings at this store. Life goes in cycles. I moved house last summer and I am still in the honeymoon phase of assembling and arranging just the right items to make this more than a living space, in fact, a true expression of who I am and how I want to be for the many years I hope to be living here.  I spend so much time at home, it better be a reflection and extension and reinforcement of who I am. So, being in Vermont five years now, I don’t miss Boston, but turns out there’s a Target less than an hour’s drive away, and I do miss Target, to whom I am grateful for my new perfect throw pillows.

 Day 20

Part of my resumed home décor enthusiasm involved buying a beautiful batik wall hanging called Tree Lovers, of which this image is a closeup. The full panel features two tree beings intertwined, yet separately bearing fruit and flowers, connected but individual. The sun streams through it and creates a lovely colorful glow, as well as a haze of wishful thinking

Day 21

This has been a week of circling around, circling back. Of reaching what seem to be intolerable limits and somehow finding the strength to keep going. As of this writing, April and I are still pacing and pausing, feeding and waiting. Henry is still striking perfect poses. I am further along on a journey, in a place where I can look back to other places and other versions of me, and sort out what remains and what falls away, like this poem I wrote 16 years ago in the space between my New York Life and my Boston Life, a space where I am who I always am and will be, wherever I go, whatever I do next. The poem still speaks for me, and to me, and true. A whole woman is a heavy burden.