Monthly Archives: June 2015

Selling my babies

I recently sold a cutout that held a great deal of significance for me. I was happy to sell it, of course–that is one of the reasons artists have exhibits–and glad to make the buyer happy to have purchased it.

“Portrait of a Lady” depicts a woman sitting sideways on a chair, a glass of water in her left hand, head turned. She is dressed in black except for the fuchsia pashmina on her shoulders. That was my mother’s pose at her ninetieth birthday party while she listened to the speeches made in her honor. Because it is a tangible representation of a person who no longer inhabits my material world, I felt the need to bid proper farewell to the picture before handing it to the buyer.

A year ago, I was reluctant to part from my creations, my “babies.” Selling artwork isn’t like selling pork chops at the local butcher. It is imbued with layers of meaning, which evoke a range of emotions, among them ambivalence. I have gone from being overly attached to my artwork to acquiring a sense of detachment fueled by the belief that wherever my pictures end up, they will be displayed, admired and looked after. But in the process, did I miss something?

Art is communication. It serves as a repository of the artist’s thoughts and feelings, and the authenticity of those thoughts and feelings is what viewers tend to react to when they become smitten with a particular piece. Viewers, by no means passive, get to interpret what they see through the lens of their own experiences, thereby offering another perspective.  Art is engagement, for example, when the artist challenges viewers by enticing, confronting, infuriating them. Indifference is the kiss of death for the artist.

For me, the sale of the portrait brought home a new realization: The loss of the picture was a metaphor for the loss of maman. Now that she is traveling the universe with other particles, she is harder to pin down. But by letting go of the picture, I am in fact releasing her excellent karma into the world of its buyer, and that makes me smile.


On art exhibits and the kindness of neighbors

This week I will attend opening receptions for two of my shows, one on Thursday at the Kemmerer Library in Harding, the other on Friday at the Johnson Education Center, D&R Greenway Land Trust, in Princeton. That is, if I manage not to injure myself–say, by trying to slam shut the passenger door of my car before my head is out of the way. That’s right: It was stupid. But accidents do happen. Blood kept gushing forth, instantly soiling the handful of paper towels I had grabbed from the kitchen. Shit, I thought, I’ll have to go to the hospital. Distraught, I walked over to my neighbors’ house.

What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. This family of three–mother, father, and their eleven-year-old daughter–sprang into action, offering calm, soothing words, a drink of water, more ice, pain killers. My head was examined (as it should have been long ago) and after the cut was deemed “not that deep,” it was disinfected and dressed in gauze, which made me look like a World War I veteran. What could have been a harrowing evening spent in the emergency room turned into an evening that I can only describe as “fun”: I played games with the daughter, a lovely fourth-grader with the patience of an angel, while her mother fixed me a lemon drop–the drink, not the cookie; meanwhile, her husband had volunteered to drive all the way to the airport to pick up my husband and his sister, who were returning from a trip. There seemed to be nothing my neighbors wouldn’t do for me to ease my discomfort. Such kindness is rare. I was touched by it, and will always be grateful for their care and compassion.

Dear S….y, N……s, and S….a, I thank you for an unforgettable evening. Owing to your generosity, healing power, not to mention crisis management skills, I won’t be wearing a hat at the openings. Hats off to you!

Kemmerer Library, opening reception:  June 18, 5:30 – 7 pm

D&R Greenway Land Trust, opening reception:  June 19, 5:30 – 7:30 pm





To tweet or not to tweet…

"Musée d'art moderne" (2015)

“Musée d’art moderne” (2015)

… that is the question.

  • So far I have held off on joining Twitter or Facebook. But lo and behold, last night at the opening reception for the Childhood Memories themed exhibition at Zufall Health Center in Dover (NJ), a lovely young woman who works at the Center asked if she could take a picture of me next to my artwork, “Musée d’art moderne,” to put on Twitter.  I said yes, of course.
  • Now I must decide whether or not to sign up. Do I really want to communicate in shorthand? The world of Twitter is an abbreviated world, and as much as I like shortcuts in other areas of my life (the road, the kitchen), when it comes to writing, I prefer the longhand version, which is why I have a blog.
  • A few words about “Musée d’art moderne.” It’s a mixed media piece–the imaginary museum made out of paper cutouts, and the art inside painted in acrylic.  At the bottom of the picture, towards the left, you can see my mother holding my hand as we head for the entrance of this awe-inspiring repository of treasures. The museum itself symbolizes my early introduction to the world of modern art, and my fascination for the bold, colorful works of the Abstract expressionists. My mother, a marvelous interpreter of art, used to linger and deconstruct, tilting her head, taking a few steps back, while my approach lacked nuance: I either loved a painting or hated it–there was simply no in-between. I owe my passion for modern art to maman, who recently passed away at the age of 98.
  • The miniature paintings hanging on the walls of my imaginary museum are mostly my creation, with a couple of nods to famous artists: Calder, Pollock, Mondrian.  The challenge here was to keep my painting hand steady (I have Parkinson’s), and to avoid sudden movements that would mar the design.
  • So, if your travels bring you in the vicinity of Dover, go check out the exhibit at 18 West Blackwell Street. The offerings, skillfully displayed  by curator Nicole Okumu, will dazzle you with their originality.