Sunday, December 20, 2009

2nd snow breaks the records

pen pals share their snowy photos. this is northern Norway

the driveway at Cor's retreat in Sarrecave, France

the 600 year old olive tree named Martha at Cor's mountain home in southern France with a dusting of snow.

view out my bedroom window through the white cedar branches by our building where I also filmed the following snow falling>

video
the snow began falling Friday evening about 9:30 while I was visiting Doug and Bob over in Mt. Pleasant in North West for a nice holiday dinner. We had a fire in their fireplace and a beautiful Christmas tree near the hearth. I sat in the rocking chair by the fire for a while after a great day of museums. Went to see John Singer Sargent and the Sea an exhibition at the Corcoran Museum of Art. Sargent show includes formal portraits and paintings but also watercolors, oil studies, drawings and even some simple stamp sized figures on a boat from a post card sized sketchbook. After dinner I headed home in the snow via Metro, a long walk to and from metro with wet snow falling in my face all the way. Once I got home and in bed I was naturally wondering how much snow we would get here in DC and how my friends and family in the area might get and what would become of us all. It was fine powdery snow falling and it stayed dry powdery snow all through the storm in this region. It snowed all night and all day till several hours after dark on Saturday making 24 hours non stop snow. 16.3 inches officially at National Airport for Washington DC but that is along way from my home here in North East. We got that much and maybe a little more in Brookland. This storm broke the records for December snowfall in Washington DC the previous record was set in 1932 on Dec. 17th with 11.5 inches 77 years ago. How exciting to set a new record for snow fall but I wonder how this relates to our climate change?
This week The Copenhagen Climate Conference ended with Obama presiding over a failure in my eyes. He came home with no binding legal agreement, that means we got nothing so it is up to us to make the difference and cut back on our own carbon foot prints. Keep pressure on your representatives... Green technology for clean energy is not going to get us much more energy but it will give lots of people work and boost a failing economy.

They had a big snow storm in Europe too. My Dutch friend Cor Windhouwer set out for his winter holidays in southern France and spent 15 hours on snowy highways Friday driving a trip that should normally be 12 hours. He sent a couple pictures of his snow in the Pyrenees not far from Spain. Norway has snow but not as much as DC yet. My other pen pal Jonny Jamtjord shared a couple pictures of his snowy views far north in Norway. We will see our snow vanish in a week or two here in DC but predictions say we may have some more for Christmas next weekend. Let it snow, let it snow but give me time to get fresh supplies in the pantry...
More pictures on flickr.com


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a walk in my neighorhood

oak tree gnarled branches bare

bright red holly berries

another red berry in the same yard


small creeping sedum are showing lots of color this time of year in boxes on our doorstep.

I went for a walk a few days back when the sun came out and took my camera along to see what I could see. These are a few of the sights that caught my eye and made me stop and look closer. Winter's dark days mean every bright spot in your day should be coveted and kept close to your heart to warm you through to spring. I collect pictures that pop up on my screen when I let my computer rest. These are some of my smile makers for today. I am happy to be part of Brookland a great garden community in upper northeast Washington DC.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moving parts, dance, music, drinks and books

guests enter from the cold night air and sign in
Moving Parts: box sets stacked and open
bass and percussion
center pink Kelly O'Brein Moving Parts leader
the first of two dances

This week we met our goal to complete 10 sets of the Moving Parts collection for City Dance and Pyramid Atlantic studios. There was a party with live music and dance performing as well as silent auction of book parts individually and a raffle for a complete set. The whole event was wrapped in a very frosty December night air but the folks inside were happy to be warm and curious to see all that was on display. I had a good time watching and even though my raffle ticket wasn't the lucky one I still feel lucky to have made new friends and advanced my skills as a clam shell box maker. Now we begin the next phase of our project completing the other 40 boxed sets.
The highlight besides all the joyful faces of the artists who contributed to this project and the support people who made it happen was near the end. The man who got me involved at Pyramid Atlantic Studios almost ten years ago Steven Stichter arrived looking a little worn from rushing to find the gallery. He went to some other location and just made it during the last minutes of the party. He has been away from printing and Pyramid for some time now even though he works only three blocks away but said he is making a big effort to come back now. That was happy news for me. I miss his company, friendship and talents.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Roxy + orange and some red

"graft" is the title of this new stainless steel sculpture by Roxy Paine in the NGA sculpture garden
one part is upright and very vertical
the other part is more gnarled and winding thus the title is illustrated by grafting two types of growth to the same trunk
oak leaf hydrangea showed off it's autumn colors at dusk under the hard flash lighting.
unknown garden shrub had purple, red, and orange leaves
topiary azaleas leaves orange up as winter approaches

bright orange Alexander Calder sculpture stands near the new Roxy Paine stainless steel "GRAFT" (tree?)
red roses in concrete pots still blooming

Sunday afternoon Keith and I went down to National Gallery with our cameras and took photos in the garden. We found NGA's garden surprisingly colorful the day after a snow storm with flowers and changing leaves of shrubs and bushes. We went to photograph holiday trees inside and the newly installed sculpture by Roxy Paine which is very big and very shinny outside. It sits in the sculpture garden near the restaurant and just beyond the great Alexander Calder orange installation from the 1970's. "Graft's" creator Roxy Paine, a Virginian who lives in New York, was only about 10 years old when Calder built his orange stay-bill. Paine's massive creations are in museum collections around the world now and they are such a surprise to discover. At first one wants to see it as a tree. I thought to myself, "who is this guy doing copies of nature in stainless steel and why the heck did he make such an awkward looking almost ugly tree? It doesn't look right at all with one half being this and the other half looking like that." Once I did a little research I discovered he was a very accomplished creative fellow. This isn't a tree, it is a system. It reminds us of a tree but also other things and the manipulation of nature by doing purely human things like grafting one tree part to another and I think that is his point. We are part of nature and we impact it all the time. We have systems inside our bodies that look like these branches in the veins and arteries or millions of nerve fiber connections. Art needs to be studied to really understand the layers of meaning are more than what meets the eye on first impression. Being a tree lover I was drawn to look and then repelled by his steel tree, then drawn deeper again. Imagine if we killed all the trees with global warming, I thought and this is all we had left. Only man made copies of trees in non perishable metals. If trees were to die away it is likely we would go too Oh how this sculpture speaks to me. I wonder what other people see and read it's hidden messages?

There were lots of beautiful colorful autumn leaves and late flowers outside the gallery which made Roxy Paine's work all the more stark.
We went inside and saw a photographic process history show and had a nice lunch then enjoyed some gift shop browsing and then an attempt to photograph the Holiday trees in the gallery. These are all live trees that smell so sweetly of fir or some evergreen that has a heavy association with Christmas. I hope if you are in town you make it down to see the beautiful installation in the West wing rotunda. I will be posting more of the pictures on my flickr. page and they are already in an album on my facebook page. Happy holidays to you all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1st snow

collecting on the evergreens

rain wet branches slowing coated in white


Today it began as rain then switched over to large flake snow that is so common early in the winter. I was sitting at my desk instant messaging with Keith and later my mother watching as it began to collect on the limbs of trees and grass.
We are going out to the memorial service for Margaret Cox Ayers my back up mom, aka godmother, who died a couple weeks ago suddenly. She was a beautiful woman, full of love, kind words, wishes and actions. She left a big family full of the same love and kindness to the world but we are all very sad that she left us so suddenly. I feel lucky that I got to speak to her in hospital by phone about a week before she died and to tell her how much I loved her. I am hoping everyone travels safely today to this gathering.
Meanwhile we have a beautiful Saturday surprise. You can see in my little video the view from my window as it just begins to cover the grass and branches of trees newly bared of their leaves. Houston, Texas where my sister Jenny lives and all across the south saw rare snowfalls last 24 hours.


video

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

sunny blue skies light up the oaks


tangled branches seek the light
unfolding in graceful systems of asymmetry
bursting through the giggling wind tossed leaves

sun lights bright blue skies
a few oak trees full of leaves
shift from green
becoming embers, flickering fiery orange, red and gold

I delight in the sight of flashing brilliance
as the cool autumn wind tugs them back and forth,
securely stuck to their branch tips.

I went for a walk today and was overjoyed by the sunshine pouring over the leaves of a few oaks on the edge of Turkey Thicket Park. Keith and I noticed the same trees a couple days ago when we took a similar walk but today they were even more colorful than the last time. I felt so inspired. I walked all the way home and got the camera then back to record the colors before the light changed. The funny thing about autumn leaves, we see them and think "how beautiful these colors are" but leaves are constantly changing as the light moves across the sky and the wind blows hour by hour. With a camera you never really know what you can catch until you try shooting and with a digital camera one is free to make all the mistakes you care to try. Hip hip hurray for 21st century digital technology! Slowly you discover ways to make the camera capture what your mind's eye sees, in addition to what is actually in front of you. Changes the angles and composition enjoy the fun of any experiment since you can only make one mistake. The mistake I think is not taking a the picture. You won't know if you could catch a delight to hold dear in those cold dark weeks ahead unless you try.
I heard the "state" tree of Washington DC is a Scarlet Oak "Quercus coccinea". I don't know if these are that type but the colors fit the name. Naming trees is hard to do and there are a lot of different types of oak tree. I wish we had a couple of these trees planted next to our house but a short walk down the street gave me some exercise and a destination to go visit my favorite Brookland oak trees. The best shape and style of oak are the oldest ones and the grandest ones are like the one across the street which is left to grow in full sun with no obstructions. The Elementary School Oak across the street has almost lost all it's leaves but the shape of the gnarled twisting branches and lumpy stems are one of my favorites. I also like the huge tall oak in our alley mid block but I didn't try to capture a photo of that one today.
I remember from my childhood a single ancient oak tree in the center of a narrow Appalachian valley cow pasture in Pulaski County Virginia where my Aunt Alice lives. It was broad, thick, round and stood all alone in a that pasture just past the gap where we turned to drive up in the valley to her farm. This country dairy we visited to see them using the milking machines and feeding kittens bowls of warm milk. That oak was the shade tree during the hot afternoon to the whole herd of milking cows. Some time in the past it was struck by lighting and burned down to the base so it is no longer there and I can tell you I really felt sad when I learned of it's fate. Trees are great monuments and should be respected and cared for to the best of our ability. I doubt there would be much help for a tree that caught fire from lightening so this was unavoidable. When I see the trees here in the city I know they live on the razor's edge. I am especially impressed by the old ones that stand in the hellish city forests.

Monday, November 30, 2009

flickr links into Orange blog


pyramid-atlantic-Kelly6814
Originally uploaded by woodcut55

I just added a new feature to my Orange blog which allows me to post my blogs from the photo sharing site FLICKR.com and today I am trying it out with this portrait of Kelly O'Brien. She is the leader of the team who is creating the Moving Parts small artists book collection at Pyramid Atlantic Studios. I volunteered to help her and the team build 50 large red and black clam shell boxes for the collections ten artists book about the City Dance company's season. Last Saturday I felt like we should have some document of our team at work out here on the web.
There were four of us working Saturday afternoon but I only captured Kelly and Jody this time. There will be plenty of time to catch the rest of the team. In this photo you see Kelly stacking bricks on the 3rd box we have finished building. We plan to have 10 complete by the premier event Friday, December 11th, 2009 from 6pm to 8pm at Hillyer Art Space (located at 9 Hillyer Court NW)

I am not sure this technique of writing a blog post from the Flickr site is going to be as flexible as using Blogger to write my posts. Blogger I have been using for the past year. I wanted to explore more ways to use new connections to share photos and ideas. One new feature of the Flickr connection, if you click on the photo in this blog post it will take you to my Flickr pages. There you can see the whole set of images I have posted from Pyramid Atlantic Studios. the past year I am really enjoying working with new book and print artists and it is beginning to make me feel like I am part of the family at Pyramid Atlantic. I first worked at Pyramid Atlantic when it was located in Riverdale Md. back in 2002 with Steven Stichter (letter press printer) and Monica Hand (poet) We called our production Seven Hands Press and created a beautiful book of Haiku poems in an edition of 100 and only completed building 55 books over the course of about 18 months.

Facebook has stolen some of my steam for writing blogs but I am sure this is more interesting work than posting little bits of whimsy, political commentary and news on that social networking site. I enjoy Facebook but it isn't as fore filling as writing a real post and sharing photos here has been. The good part about Facebook is that I have found a connection to many people I thought were lost and I can share these blog posts with them there.

News flash! I just saw that the yellow bellied sap sucker (woodpecker) has returned to drill new holes in the tree by my window and sip the sap he is so skilled at removing. He was here earlier this year and posed for a few photos...



Sunday, November 22, 2009

chickens and turkeys

the appalachian farm where I first knew turkeys and chickens was Aunt Alice and Uncle Kenny's place in Pulaski county Virginia. In this view I shot in high school about 1973 you see the barn and some bird coops to the right.
antique post card of home grown chickens

the "crooked house" and garden fence where I next met live turkeys in Pennsylvania at the Hermitage Farm

heirloom turkeys on the Hermitage farm in Pennsylvania 2006

Royal Palm are the black and white turkey in the front of this lineup and one Bourbon Red turkey and in the back of the line are several Norfolk Black turkeys and a couple of Bronze. The Broad Breasted White turkey is the type we get here in our supermarkets. Those are raised in the same way chickens for market on huge industrial farms. I miss the gobble and trilling sounds these birds make on the farm as they march around the fields and search for bugs and grass to eat. They really are quite charming once you get to know them. Exotic colors help make them more interesting but wild turkeys are beautiful the most colorful with irredescent feathers that show off well in the sunny days of fall. I was inspiried to write again about the turkey by a new blog I discovered recently From London to Land Girl . A young woman nam ed Holly moved to the farm in Cornwall, England and she writes about her exploits on a farm that Keith and I watched develop in the program from BBC called "It Isn't Easy Being Green". Several years ago a weekly on Sundance Channel and we really enjoyed for two seasons. It hasn't been showing on Sundance Channel recently but this new blog is great because we can read all about new developments on the farm and see pictures of the current state of things. Most recently there was a disaster in the field for the best wheelbarrow that made a must read post.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Workhouse and the herstory

windows at work house are well over your head


When I published the last post about my third visit to Workhouse Arts Center I got a surprise. My friend Tom Palmer had just see the movie about the suffragettes who were imprisoned in the workhouse and written a paper for his master's class about the "Iron Jawed Angels" and women's education. He sent me his entire paper which I thought was very interesting and informative. Seeing that movie on HBO was moving and a part of history or herstory I thought everyone should know and I believe most people do not so if you can get a copy we both recommend it to you.
I asked Tom if I could share his paper with the readers of my blog and he replied I could share it with a comment on how amazing it was to find my post about Lorton at the same time he was just finishing writing about the events that unfolded at the workhouse nearly 100 years ago. What follows is Tom's complete paper including citations. Thank You: Tom!


“Iron Jawed Angels” Overview

The film “Iron Jawed Angels” follows the US women’s suffrage movement from 1912 – 1920, long after the death of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. From fiery beginnings, the US Women’s Suffrage movement had become complacent with a slow, state by state approach to reform in the early 20thcentury. The National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) shunned the brasher British women’s suffrage movement, which was seen as too extreme in their tactics. Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw, the leaders of NAWSA, preferred backroom political maneuvering over marching and picketing. The movie tells the story of two fiery college graduates—Alice Paul and Lucy Burns—who set out to start a DC chapter of the NAWSA and to organize a women’s voting rights march in Washington, D.C. To grab press attention, a robed suffragette dressed like a Greek goddess sat atop a white horse during their parade. Ms. Paul’s tactics got attention, created a firestorm of controversy, and money poured in. When the NAWSA headquarters wanted to take all of the money raised from the D.C. chapter, Paul and Burns started their own women’s voting rights party called the National Women’s Party (NWP).

Enraging many, the NWP started a campaign of around the clock picketing in front of the White House and slowly started to sway opinions about women’s suffrage. But when the U.S. entered the First World War in 1917, the protests were no longer tolerated and many NWP protesters were thrown in jail under the pretense of “obstructing traffic.” Men attacked them and many suffragettes were beaten up. Alice Paul insisted the picketing continue, and public scrutiny started to build. When Paul and Burns were eventually jailed for protesting, they went on hunger strikes and gained even more attention from the press. The women were severely mistreated in the Lorton (then called Occoquan) facility, and brutally force-fed. When major newspapers picked up the stories of the maltreatment, President Woodrow Wilson agreed to ask congress to pass the women’s voting rights amendment legislation in 1919. By 1920, the constitutional amendment passed through every state legislature, and through Tennessee by one vote. The title “Iron Jawed Angels” is derived from the nickname the suffragettes who took part in the hunger strikes were given, because they clamped their mouths shut and rejected the hard rubber feeding tubes (Weinstein 2004).

The Master Narrative and Women

Even though women have the babies, and perpetuate the human race, men run things. Our master narrative in this country assigns strict gender roles to boys and girls, and deviation is frowned upon. Part of our master narrative dictates that men should be aggressive, emotionally stronger, pushier, and more controlling. Women, as encouraged by our master narrative, are supposed to be more passive, calmer, more loving, and more nurturing. Women spent more than a third of this republic’s history without any voting rights.

The Master narrative assigns men and women different occupations. Men are prevalent in positions of power, the science and math occupations, and the mechanical arts. Women are caregivers, healers, teachers, and assistants. With these roles, the master narrative ensures that businesses can still control vast sums of money and power, wars can be waged and fought to protect these interests, and a dominant male white power group can maintain control.

The movie shows this narrative breaking down somewhat. Voting rights is power, and the “iron jawed angels” courageously grasped at and achieved political rights. Now, almost a century later, women still earn less than men, holding fewer positions of power, and expected to conform to traditional female roles. Some argue that it is because the master narrative keeps them form equalizing. I believe it is also women themselves, who are reluctant to change. Many women buy into the master narrative. I have a sister who was an avid reader and an early achiever in school. But became concerned about popularity, marrying, and having children. Two divorces later, she has two grown girls but she is locked in believing that men are her only way out. Her whole adult life has been male-dependant. I believe that my sister’s story is not unusual. Women are told, and ultimately believe that their lives depend on making strategic relationships with men. This is true around the world. Fortunately, this is changing very slowly as women are taking control of their lives, and carving out their own destinies. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns are excellent examples of how women stopped waiting for men to decide for them.

New information

I learned so much from this movie. I knew that the house near the U.S. Supreme Court was a suffragette house, but had no idea about the history of Ms. Paul and Ms. Burns. I have held a Susan B. Anthony dollar in my hand, and observed her stern eyes looking back at me. I always assumed the suffrage story began and ended with Anthony. I learned very little from my high school textbooks about this movement--just the date 1920. I guess, like many boys, I was turned-off by the suffragette movement. My only recollection of the British women’s suffrage movement, so despised in the film by Catt and her NAWSA, was the comical mother in the 1960s Disney film Mary Poppins. I remember that Disney portrayed women seeking the vote as silly and buffoonish. For me, the significance of the actual history never broke through the sepia photos and grainy kinescope newsreels. That is why I liked the movie “Iron Jawed Angels” so much. Its modern soundtrack, fast editing, and great acting made the era and the women’s movement come alive. Knowing Wilson’s back story of anti Black feelings made me dislike him, and feel like he was a political opportunist when he gave the speech saying that the women’s vote is important to the war effort.

This film taught me that there was a progression of events that led to women gaining the right to vote. It showed me that at the turn of the century, Paul and Burns re-invigorated the struggle by breathing new life into it. By civilly disobeying, they were able to gain media attention to their cause. They were able, through hunger strikes, to ultimately sway the president’s opinion in their favor. All this was new information for me. I had no idea that the concept of hunger strikes went back that far. They preceded Gandhi with this tactic. I never dreamed that brave women utilized that strategy to gain voting rights.

The movie also set in motion for me the curiosity to see whether my notions about the differences between the sexes is real or biased. I went to Busboys and Poets and purchased the book Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girlsby Myra and David Sadker. The film “Iron Jawed Angels” was an excellent reminder that I am ignorant of not only the women’s suffrage movement, but women’s issues and educational issues regarding gender. It was a great call to arms for me.

The Challenges and Successes of Women Today

Conventional wisdom insists that women are simply wired differently than men. Television talk shows remind women that they are from “Venus” not “Mars” and that women should celebrate their differences and not question dominance by men. Educators are not directly addressing these misconceptions. Men clearly do not want to give up their dominant role. A male dominated media perpetuates the unjust laws that result in women not earning as much as men. The male dominated culture influences people to accept that girls should accept traditional roles as wives, nurturers and mothers, and stay away from traditionally male professions. I believe that this is the foremost challenge facing women today. Many women do not believe in their own equality. Many religions add fuel to this buy preaching that women are subservient to men and it is moral to accept that role.

Women also succumb to fear of non-conformity in marriage and sex roles. As Myra and David Sadker discuss in their book Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls, adolescent girls are often victims of low self-esteem. They are more likely to care more about weight issues, and become obsessed with popularity, being pretty and fitting in. I believe that fashion and societal views of women as sex objects enhances this (Sadker & Sadker, 1995).

The future of the women’s movement is embodied in children. Education about gender roles has great impact on perceptions. Of the 23 leading teacher education texts devoted only 3% of their space to gender issues. Huge challenges face educators who want to investigate whether these differences are real or perceived, and how to best address them in education. Girls get the short end of the stick in curriculum too. In reading, 61 % of stories have male-centric characters, in Social studies, only 2.5% of space to gender issues. Few science textbooks mention female scientists contributions, besides occasional quaint mentions of Marie Curie or others (Zittelman & Sadker, 2002).

What are the successes of women today? The successes include a steady increase in women’s educational attainment and roles in traditionally male-dominated fields. According to the article “Helping Girls Succeed” by Denise Jobe (2002), “More girls than ever are attending college” (p.64). US census data shows that 1,000,000 more women than men had a high school education or higher in 2008. Although women lag slightly behind men in post-graduate degrees, they obtain more Bachelor’s degrees than men. Twice as many women have bachelor degrees as 20 years earlier. (Census, 2008). – “Over a work life, earnings for a worker with a bachelor's degree compared with one who had just a high school diploma increase by about $1 million.” This bodes well for increasingly more women than ever before (Census, 2008).
Paul and Burns would be heartened to know that 65% of women voted in national elections, compared with 62% of men. Fifteen percent of the active military is comprised of women, compared with 2% in 1950. Eighty-four percent of women use computers at home compared with 82% of men. This reverses the previous computer gender gap of the 1980s and 1990s (Census, 2006). 

It is the job of every multiculturally competent teacher to realize the biases of the master narrative regarding women. Women have come a long way, but have so much further to go. By examining history and women’s role in society today, educators must attempt to even the playing field. Educators hidden inclination to re-enforce traditional gender roles and gender interests should be re-examined and changed by educators. For me, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns are excellent role models. They demonstrate how people can reject conformity and achieve the great and often elusive goal of equality.

References

Census Bureau (2008). Women’s history month 2006. U.S. Census Bureau News. February 22

[Press release] Retrieved online at: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/

releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/006232.html

Census Bureau. (2007). Educational attainment in the population 25 years and over by

Selected characteristics: 2008, Table 2, United States Census Bureau [Web Site]. Retrieved online athttp://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/

education/cps2008.html

Jobe, D. A. (2002) Helping girls succeed. Educational Leadership.January 2002, 64-66.

Sadker, M. Sadker D. (1995) Failing at fairness: How our Schools Cheat Girls. New York, NY:

Simon & Schuster.

Weinstein, P., (Producer) & Von Garnier, K., (Director). (2004). Iron Jawed Angels.[Motion

picture], United States: HBO Independent Productions.

Zittleman, K., Sadker, D. (2002) The unfinished gender revolution. Educational Leadership.

January 2002, 59-63.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

arts in Virginia


Lorton's Workhouse Arts Center, view of the buildings across the Quad near the front

Workhouse Barracks currently house artists open studios with a central gallery for each.
This view is looking from the outside in towards the Quad.

Fiber Arts display gallery in one of the barrack studio buildings

Since my show with neighbor poet Peter Montgomery opened last Oct. 24th at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center I wanted to get my mother down to see the space and the show. It is open Wed. through Sunday and I was visiting last week so we made a date and went down to explore the new center. It was a nice drive down through the wooded parkway in Prince William County and just over the county line in Fairfax County we pulled up and began the exploration. First we got into the main building where the Associate artists have up displays and the gallery gift shop is open as well as the art supply store. We noticed a nice Art-o-mat® like the one I participated in back in 2001 with Clark Whittington the original man who came up with the idea to turn old cigarette vending machines into art vending machines to bolster young and new collectors. I did some of my most popular prints for the Art-o-mat ® It was fun but way too much work for the money. Exposure was great but the income was not quite worth the pains I developed from mass producing small folding prints, cutting cardboard and stenciling boxes... Still I had fun and if you want to see the prints I did you can find them in my web gallery Artomat page. We saw the first floor and then went up to the Poetic Art show on the second floor and read most of the poems and enjoyed a quiet look over the artworks which varied a great deal from my nude figure watercolor to abstract stenciled paintings, collages, photographs color and black and white and even porcelain sculptures that looked like real books.
From Poetic art we went on to the next exciting feature the artists studios in the barrack buildings that used to be prison quarters. This place has been completely gutted and rebuilt specially to suit artists with bright overall lighting and a central hallway for each artist to display some framed work. A gallery is situated at the front where an artist greets visitors who are free to roam and explore. Mom and I had a great time looking and I discovered the print maker Norma Pfaff who is doing an ongoing series of relief prints of chairs. Something that I have seen before and may try my own had at creating. She wasn't in her studio this day but clearly works there a lot and we met her studio mate Karen a painter who did lovely paintings and watercolors and had a nice talk with her. We also ran into my old class mate from Pratt Institute who lives in that area and is an associate artist, Cedrick Baker. He was also at the opening on the 24th so it was a surprise to find him there again in the middle of the week.
The concrete floors were pretty hard and the only drawback to visiting the Workhouse Arts Center for us. We spent about two hours standing and walking and were very happy to get back in the car for a ride back to Manassas. This place is full of history and the open studio model for this arts center was the Alexandria Art League and the Torpedo Arts Center in Old Town Alexandria, VA. also a historic building. I hope to go back and learn more of the history about the Workhouse where Suffragettes were held after a protest in Washington DC at the Whitehouse for several months and nearly died from rough treatment and starvation back about 90 years ago. Women's struggle to get the vote prevailed but not without suffering and the history is alive here. One whole barrack building at the Workhouse Arts Center is devoted to the history a museum at the far end of the central Quad. That will be my first stop on the next visit. Arts instruction, performances and concerts, readings and creative experiences are happy to change the history of the Workhouse but keep the record strong and straight about how this place got it's name.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wet October

Sweet Gum tree on 10th St. NE turns many colors slowly and the seed pods show up for the first time.
It was planted earlier this year and survived the summer heat with a little help from me watering.

Washington normally has more dry sunny days in October than any other month of the year and the temperatures are just right but this year we had a mix of rainy cloudy gray days that were very disappointing. We got over five inches of rain putting us in the Black for rainfall this year. September was a little dry they say so the rainfall was good and it didn't hurt the students competing in the Solar Decathlon too much this year. It did take some of the joy out of our seasonal autumn display. Wet leaves under gray skies are just not quite what we expect. I went out on Sunday the 1st of November for a walk around my community of Brookland and had a good time catching views of leaves wet and dry. I uploaded a group of my walk in the set named Brookland on my flickr. pages. You can see the pretty wet leaves there along with some of the pumpkins that didn't get smashed up Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumn colors

equality march on Pennsylvania Avenue

Texans brought the biggest flag naturally

yellow dahlia with dark purple red leaves Smithsonian Ripley garden

an exotic orange relative of the tomato at Ripley garden

fuzzy orange relatives of the tomato

potted violet blue tropical flowers in the Smithsonian Haupt gardens

hibiscus at the Smithsonian Haupt garden

crepe myrtle leaves

crepe myrtle leaves

orange sun sets over turkey thicket

Turkey Thicket Community Center orange in the sunset

This time of year is golden orange and bright colors in the warm range abound everywhere you look in nature and in the culture that reflects our connections to the world around us. I have been watching my stack of images pile up while out on lots of interesting adventures in the past month. Yesterday we traveled down to a Poetic Art exhibit and reading which I donated some work for sale to raise money for the Yellow Ribbon Fund and had a great time visiting the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center. What a gem the Workhouse has become. I knew it as the place where imprisoned suffragettes were locked up after a early twentieth century demonstration for Women's votes. The leading ladies were kept in the work house and after a food strike protesting their imprisonment they were brutally force fed with funnels and hoses. They got out and the vote was eventually delivered to Women thanks to their work. Later it became a real prison where Washington DC sent our criminals to serve time and was closed due to over crowding and health problems. Now it is a wonderful open and clean modern arts center. Sadly the exhibition had rules about taking photos that kept me from pulling out my handy Kodak so when we got home Keith and I took a walk and made some local photos of the trees the sky in shades of my favorite orange.
A couple weeks ago we went to the National March for Equality as spectators and later enjoyed some garden time afterwards in the Ripley and Haupt gardens kept by the Smithsonian Institution. I made photos of flowers and fruits some orange and some the opposite blue. The flags and signs and people in the march were exciting and the crowd was much bigger than we expected to see after only six months lead time to plan and implement a national event.
Another project I am giving my time as a volunteer on a artists book project at the Pyramid Atlantic Studios in Silver Spring, Maryland not too far from home. It is a project that started last year as a funds raiser by ten book artists who went to the rehearsals and performances of the City Dance Company and made book art in response to their dances. The story of it's inception is explained nicely by this film excerpt Moving Parts. I am helping to assemble 50 black and red clam shell boxes to hold books for those ten artists dance related books. These boxed book sets are going on sale next month to raise funds for the Pyramid Atlantic and City Dance. While I work with a team I am learning new techniques and meeting new people with who also love book making.