Monday, October 14, 2013

Doing the New Thing

"Magic Sticks"

It will soon be Halloween, I realize.  Halloween once meant diving into boxes of decorations and costume parts and pieces accumulated over years:  Masks, fake blood, face paint, plastic fingernails, Happy Meal buckets, even packages of (very messy) phony cobwebs to string around the front windows and porch.  It meant fighting off the temptation to swipe "fun-size" candy bars out of the stash purchased for trick-or-treaters.  It used to involve my sewing machine, as in when I once sewed a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell for my older son, Michaelangelo.  (Just kidding.  His real name is Jonathan.  We only called him Mikey for fun.)  Pumpkin carving (eww) and playing scary music out the front windows.  

We used to offer a Fall Festival at my home church, where the kids could wear their costumes, play games, eat creepy treats like Worms in Dirt and Hand-Maid Punch.  We'd have quasi-carnival games like a cake walk and decorated pumpkin cookies.  Everyone was guaranteed a stomachache the next day, and everyone had a ball.  My favorite thing to do was to dress up as a gypsy, "Madame Fortuna Casserole" and tell fortunes with a bagful of polished stones and crystals and a pack of tarot cards.  Everyone knew it was bogus but making up fortunes was a lot of storytelling fun.

In my new life as a working artist, I realize that the most fun came from making something amazing using the resources that were readily available to us.  Fruit juice frozen inside rubber gloves became the ice cubes floating in Hand-Made Punch.  Crushed chocolate cookies and candy worms topped pudding cups for the Worms in Dirt.  Pretty pictures on tarot cards inspired fanciful predictions for aspiring ballerinas and astronauts.  

Artists everywhere have helped build culture, historicizing society using the resources that are available to them.  Often artist's images are the first mirrors held up to trends and paradigm shifts in politics, religion, values.  Sometimes however, art is art because artists find ordinary things and are compelled to do something extraordinary with those things.  Great chefs do it with food.  Designers use bricks and mortar.  Storytellers do it with a handful of sticks.  Magic sticks.  And paper.

Anyway.  Now that I am a crone and full of the wisdom and experience of my age, I have a lot of time that won't be spent sewing TMNT shells or painting Darth Maul faces on little kids.  So I have more time for my Magic Sticks.

It's a good thing it's almost Halloween.  It's a good season to make magic.

Join me on October 20th 
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Monticello Seasonal Cuisine
630 G Street
Davis, CA 95616


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Art About Davis



Cinderella, my studio assistant, pictured here, unfortunately will not be helping me present art this Friday, Sept. 13th at the monthly Art About Davis
event.  I will be with the Square Tomatoes show in the old Beach Hut space downtown next to the Natsoulas Gallery.

I will be exhibiting small works and works on paper, so the art is big but the format makes it both affordable and easy to handle.

So, here's the contest:  Caption the picture of Cinderella using the comments section below, by 3:00PM PDT on FRIDAY the 13th, 2013.  The writer of the best caption explaining why Cinderella won't be there at the Art About will win an original work on paper by me, to be awarded either in person Friday evening or by USPS priority mail.  Winner need not be present to win!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Maiden, Mother, Crone...

Throughout the centuries the mystery of womanhood and its attendant phases have given rise to countless myths and legends, but for me the clearest way to understanding follows the eons-old "Maiden, Mother, Crone" progression, or the Goddess Tripartite.  This is an illustration found in many ancient civilizations and is for me most clear as the waxing moon of maidenhood, waiting to ripen, the full moon of motherhood which astonishingly gives life in many diverse ways, and, finally, the waning moon of the crone.

She, the crone, embodies the elder role within the tribe.  She has left the skipping flirtation and discovery of maidenhood behind.  Likewise, her hardworking, child-rearing  days are behind her.  Hopefully, with the days of reflection in which to meditate, she takes advantage of the opportunity to consider all the wisdom of the world, to integrate it, and to become the locus for that wisdom within her tribe.

Some women become crones which are dry as dust, uninteresting, and hollow as an old stump.  If we are truly women of wisdom, we choose to age differently.  My aging has been a thing of grace throughout my entire existence, and for the next season I bear the Creator nothing but gratitude.  To honor and celebrate the progression into that season which will lead me inevitably into the next life, I will gather friends and family on September 28, 2013 at the Davis Art Center in Davis, California, for a champagne dessert and a croning ceremony.

I don't know how folks will react to this; some of my friends have considered this to be 1) silly 2) pagan  3) self-indulgent.  Me, I say:  I'm having a pretty good time, all things considered, and my biggest question right now in my life is if I should stop coloring my hair.  My next question is:  Want to join me?  Want to look smack in the face of the ONE THING that American womanhood is supposed to fear above all others:


I say:  Let's join in raising a glass to honor women of "a certain age", let's celebrate wisdom, power, grace, and the beauty that comes with experience of life.  RSVP to me at or leave a comment here below to join the fun.  Bring a token, talisman, or trinket to affix to my traditional walking stick to wish good wishes into the grey journey.

I said a "Croning", not a "Crowning"!

You are cordially invited to a champagne dessert on
Saturday, September 28, 2013
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM 
Davis Art Center 
1919 F Street, Davis, CA 95616

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's the Little Things that Mean so Much...

The Great Egret Song (Sold)
 These little gems are only 8"x8" and are on display at the Kennedy Art Center Gallery now through June 1.  They are a part of my 25-piece collection "Impressions of the Sacramento River Delta" and each of the 25 has its own special story to tell. 
The Delta is a network of paradox:  Cultivated fields and orchards abut wild meadow lands.  Natural watercourses join canals and irrigation sloughs.  Former marshlands are home to small towns protected by man-made levees.  And above it all are the birds, for birds and other wildlife continue to make the Delta their home.                               

Delta Yolo Rice Fields; Green

I've spent more time in the Delta than I expected to over the past few fact, for the first few years I lived in Northern California the only thing I knew about it was that it was the annual water-skiing and houseboating destination of some SoCal neighbors who loved the landscape, the glassy water, and the camaraderie of river type folks.  When I met and married Dan Ray I learned to look forward to weekend sojourns to hunt for the elusive bass or striper.  I also soon learned that, for me, it was more gratifying to catch a watercolor or pen-and-ink sketch (they are sure bets) than making myself frustrated missing out on the fish or tangling my line.


We often see blue herons, the occasional deer, many assorted ducks, sand hill cranes, and the regal snow geese.  My favorite by far is still the great egret, and one of my best times on the river was marked by the finding of a feather floating in the water alongside the boat.  I fished it out and took it home, where it serves as talisman in my art studio.  I don't think egrets are known to sing, but I think they have a song we should listen for nonetheless.

Red Levee
I think there are a thousand stories large and small to be told yet about this place of water and light.  I've told 25 of them and I'd love for you to see them.  Won't you stop by the gallery while the show's running?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Professor Hero

It's not often one gets to meet one's hero, but I'm particularly fortunate to be able to say I've gotten to meet master California painter, Gregory Kondos, three times.  It's the trifecta of art geekiness, I know, and last night I was privileged to hit the trifecta of Kondos art, to bask in the California sun-lit canvases of his it-never-rains-in-sunny-California (or Greece, either). 

It started out with his giving a talk at Sacramento City College, where he taught for many years, and where the gallery which now bears his name is featuring a stunning show of his drawings and sketches.  This photograph is likely the only one I'll ever have the opportunity to get with him, and it was taken right after he'd personalized one of his prints for me.  We were both giggling, me because I was star-struck and him because, well, 90-year-old geniuses are entitled.  Do they need a reason?

The drawings are notable for revealing that the underlying stability of his compositions comes from a sure-handed, almost muscular understanding of his subjects.  To see them is to understand that his brilliantly colored landscapes succeed first because they're built on brilliantly conceived craftsmanship.  Never having seen any of his black-and-white works on paper before, I went on to his painted works with a deeper appreciation of his personal typography.

The second course for last night's art feast was at the Kennedy Gallery Art Center, where their Spring Flowers show is now hanging and ready for Second Saturday.  Who knew Kondos did florals?  I suppose the magnificence of his wall-sized landscapes probably takes center stage in the art-loving public's imagination, but the florals are not to be missed.  They are every square inch a Kondos, but unlike the landscapes, they exude a wistful tenderness which is almost playful in spirit.  Go see them while you can!

Finally came the climax of the night, the retrospective at the Crocker Art Museum entitled "A Touch of Blue".  When we went, we approached from the outside hall where the first painting I encountered was another of his ethereal flowers.  Up and down the hall are a particularly well assorted collection of smaller canvases showing many of the Greek landscapes, including a Byzantine church that made me want to embark on retreat.  But the plunge into the main gallery was like a plunge into a huge sunlit baptism of blue and white, green and gold.  Vast planes of Sacramento River Delta, Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite, and California vineyards create an alternate reality of reflections, shimmers of light and color.  The show is only open for a few more weeks.  I wonder how many more times I'll be able to get over there and imprint those colors into my retinas.

Kondos isn't just a genius painter who has been lucky enough to live to be ninety.  Kondos is a force of nature.  Do your art and spirit a favor, go and soak up some of that baptism.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just Google Me. Or Not.

Dori Marshall - Fine Artist
The other day on Facebook a friend of mine who is pretty well-known in Presbyterian and other reformed faith circles mentioned that he'd been asked for a resume.  A resume?  Really?  Of course his first reaction was "Why can't they just Google me?"

Sounds legit to me.

In this day and age writing a resume sounds as outmoded as saying "in this day and age."  When most of us think nothing of picking up our smart phone or pad or turning on our laptop to get the information we need in the moment, waiting for a resume seems cumbersome and well, not as proactive as going on line.

Another thing I wondered about was the self-promoting nature of a resume.  Do prospective employers really credit applicants with the accomplishments they relate via paper, or is a resume a map to use during an interview?  After all, stacks of resumes on hiring managers' desks reportedly end up in shredders all across the country if you believe the stories. But I suppose if the applicant and interviewer each have the same piece of paper as a starting place they might have a better chance of finding common direction.

But something bubbled in the back of my mind over this for the past few days and, today, when faced with the necessity of writing that mad cousin of the resume, the dreaded ARTIST STATEMENT, it broke forth into daylight.  To have to write about oneself, one's work history, one's accomplishments, or one's outlook on the creative process, is a journey into self-discovery as much as it is self-revelation.

In the process of gazing deeply into that mirror, sometimes the buzzwords and bullshit fall away and we get to examine our visage more clearly.  Maybe that has value to people who would read our resume or artist statements...maybe how we understand ourselves and show ourselves to the reader is what's really being sought.  Maybe the snippets of our past which can be seen on Google need to be viewed in the light of our own lamps in our own hands.

When we reveal, the substance and process of that revelation have value.  It is different value than the substance of what little we might obtain by mere discovery, but value nonetheless. 

So if you want to know more, just Google me.  Or not.