A Very Good Day on the Burial Pieces

I found this beautiful remains of a Luna Moth yesterday. He seems old and worn out and fragile. I am sure he did his best. At a place where I was teaching a few years ago I would find just the wings of these moths and others at the base of a street light. The bats would go for the bodies and the wings just fell to the ground….loads of them. I think I will put those that I saved in the ground as well. I have already used them to make up bugs from my own imagination.

This series of watercolored insects on gessoed boards will not be buried. It never was exhibited but my daughter wants them, so they will have a good home.

Anyway, all the specimens from Expedition to Elsewhere have been wrapped and shellacked today.

Most everything from the exhibit is bundled.

The three dioramas will be placed in the cloths that were earth pigmented.

Hopefully there is a place for the burial site close to the studio like this place is.

Some of the things were hard to bundle, like the carefully arranged specimen jars/bottles. But the doubt passed as they should all be together.

The maps and tools will go with the dioramas. There is not much left.

Always loved looking into the dioramas.


I am keeping the guest book for my kids to enjoy. They both came down for the fun opening I gave myself when I rented a space for one week of exhibit. It was fun! I even served Expedition White and Expedition Red wine…..some very cheap wine that I made my own labels for. The food was crusty breads, cheeses and fruits.

The other thing from the exhibit that will be saved is the game played on board the ship of explorers. Native and Conquerors I think is what I named it.

Just feeling the carved pieces in my hand and the realization that this is what happens, the wealthy feel entitled to what little the poor can hang onto. The natives attempt to preserve a way of life but there is something on their land or in their huts that the conquerors covet. I love how neither of them have much room for negotiations.

I am keeping this one as a companion to the one I made with parts from Australia, called Cultural Exchange.

Here the two tribes face off in a rush to get to the other side and walk in the shoes of the others. I really love this game and the rules I made up and the arbitrator, Jimmy, named for Jimmy Carter. Sometimes he would rule that there are bad starts with good intentions and send some tribesman back home.

Anyway I am keeping both these games….one each for our kids. They are both a good lessen to play fair….or not.

That is the latest. All the bundles have been moved out of the way of the window washers coming later this month so I have plenty of time to wrap up dioramas, maps, tools and call for a grave digger.

Til later.

War Bundles

Two works pertaining to war are all there is left. Both are by artists touched by the situation in the Balkans. The artist proof above is titled Bosnia….now broken into three pieces so as not to be heard the way it was. And the one below about what I remembered as the profanity of war. One of the worst Serbian leader’s name was on it, so I bought it.

One hangs in the bedroom, the other in the office.

And now all of the war pieces are bundled and shellacked.

The pile is getting quite large. The detail below is how I feel at times….just trying to keep everything together and covering it up.

There are days when I just do not want to talk and that is probably a good thing as there really is no one I want to talk to right now. Sometimes talking will lead to things said that later are regretted…..so best to stay silent.

And honestly I don’t want to listen either. Hearing of someone else’s fun and free-ness is usually a good distraction but other times a reminder of another life…..one I had just a few years ago. So I am concentrating of clearing out artwork, getting rid of loads of books that may just end up in the trash as so few people want books anymore.

We do not live in a good area for a garage sale and I am completely out of touch with anyone looking for books. I might just take them to a recycle place. Many of them I was going to pass on to the Art Group. Too late for that. I should have been paying better attention to the drifting off of the members of the group. I missed how much they were ready to lean away from the one thing that made me look forward to having them here….talking about art based on feelings strongly held.

My plan is to strip my studio of everything not related to printmaking. All those bits and pieces stuffed on shelves and in drawers needs to just go. All walls empty except for the tai chi figures that have been there to remind me to breathe. I need to do more of that and stop panting with worry about what I am supposed to do next.

We had a good walk at the dam this morning in the fog. Here is Lee wandering off into that fog. He knows where he is, where I am….he just can’t find words. No wonder I do not want to talk so much right now. I am doing it for both of us and listening to figure out what it is he wants to say.

That is enough for now…..but I love this picture.

Til later.

The Last of the Patriarchs

Here are nine wrapped Patriarchs ready for the shellac. I will just show pictures of the last one I wrapped. It was done in graduate school about the men in Brasstown who I spent time with. There was not much we had in common so I set out to find a way to portray what we did share. It was a complex cross reference like one would find in an old library…..”Nettles, also see…..”

Using scraps of iron, wood and a belt of old sandpaper for the container, I made several papers using something that each of us used in one way or another.  Those pages had square holes cut in the center to pass through all the strings that “attached” us to one another. The strings went through to the page of paper that best represented that person. Then like library cards we each got our own name with the main component listed first then “Also see”…. Small samples of the papers were on the back side of the name card.

Several of us had cows at the time so manure was used to make a page. I drank a daily infusion of nettles, Paul was mostly baptist, others chewed tobacco, harvested hay, ate okra etc.

The binding was like a concertinaed book to hold the pages apart.

Denim was used to make the blue page because most of us wore jeans. One of the men brought me a program from the baptist church to make a page with after reducing it to pulp.

I loved how tangled up our strings became every time it was looked through. The first letter of our names was stamped on the small squares of paper to the strings we shared in common. I loved making this piece and wrapped it especially careful. Half of these men are gone and those left probably won’t remember.

Here is one other beside the graduate that just could not be wrapped. The old patriarch teaching music. It is his open mouth, his joyful expression and his students held close as they smile at the experience.  I will keep this one a bit longer, not because I know anything about music but Patrick plays guitar and the graduate might become lonely.

Now on to the shellac. Here is the first coat on some of them. I am glad to have purchased two pounds of flake shellac but now need loads more denatured alcohol/methlolated spirits.

Til later.

PS I am very involved with the revisiting and remembering but you do not have to keep reading this as I document the process for my own benefit. Just check in later after I get everything wrapped, shellacked and ready.


Wrapping the Patriarchs

Stripping cloth to wrap the rest of the patriarchs. I emptied a very large packing box to reach the last of them. Here is the start and what is left to wrap.

This is a large wire paged book on how the men I studied in graduate school always knew where they belonged. Moving from outside to inside or vice versa they always stood next to the same man. They kept their order of belonging. Their bodies were woven on the loom, the heads complex wrappings of wires, legs local sticks. Each one had the same private parts of two nuts and one bolt and each had a different token for their heart. These four moved from one side of the page to the other and kept their order.

The binding of concertina folded hardware screening.

And how they finished up.

And another favorite. This old patriarch is teaching cooperation to his students. The local men I worked with while doing this series donated the old tools they no longer needed.

A close up of the teacher.

His students who learn cooperation by all putting the same end of the oar in the water to get anywhere.

And the old man who teaches different cultures to his attentive students.

His students being the next generation of “old men”.

And his text book.

And the rest to wrap.

Different languages in the foreground with another couple of patriarchs in their houses behind. And the two who teach music and dance are below. They hold their students close.

And finally “the graduate”. This one I can not wrap. It will go to our son as a reminder to help the next generation. He stands a bit helpless over a nest waiting for the doubtful hatching of the next old man to come, one who is trapped in this perfect egg-shaped stone. I always loved this one best of all. The futility of waiting for what likely is not coming and the honest to god hope that comes with it. Patrick will love this.

And here is one I found in the bottom of the carton. It will be tossed in the garbage instead of getting a proper burial……The Promise Keepers. They are trapped in their book of bigoted dogma.

In case you never heard of them (and they may still exist), they are the group of men who could not keep their vows to wives and promises to children….usually because of a sense of privilege and an overactive libido. They would gather at the command of an aging football coach of all things and promise to go home and behave.

In graduate school a friend who was involved with one of these men told me that on his way home from the big gathering in Washington DC he called her to see if he could coax her into some innocent phone sex. Not sure he ever passed the test…..but she did by saying “NO”.

I did just enough research to make me want to create this piece but not enough to continue. Their uncontrollable bigotry among other urges was nothing like the men I spent time with and who allowed me to create art about them.

I will finish the wrapping of the men by this weekend and start shellacking all the bundles I have so far.

There is still one more box of men to do…..they are the ones who deal with the pressures and promises of being “masculine”. They will be fun to photograph one more time as they sail their iron boats in waves of text by feminists.

After that it will be the war series. And I am wearing myself out just remembering all the passion that went into the work I used to care so much about.

Til later.