Monday, April 22, 2013

Lavish Retreat

Over the weekend, we (my sister Rosalind, my daughter Brittany, and me) traveled to Oakland to visit my daughter Camille and her twin girls.  My daughter, Alethea and her baby Eliza from Steamboat Springs joined us  for a girl's only retreat.  On arrival at the historic Claremont Resort, we found lovely flowers arranged by Camille, who is her spare time from part ownership of Walrus, works part time as a floral designer.
 And a gift basket filled with all sorts of treats....
Gift basket for Rosalind from Camille, Alethea, and Brittany 
The scents from the flowers perfumed the air for the entire weekend and then traveled to Camille's house for a Sunday morning brunch with cousins.  

On all the elevator lobbies in the spa section of the hotel were console tables filled with orchids.
So we were surrounded by the flowers for the weekend.

I am linking to Jane's "Flowers in the House Party" over at her blog, Small but Charming.  Click on over to see more lovely blossoms.  And don't forget to walk your neighborhood to see what is blooming outside as well. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Remembering Earth Day 1970

My college roommate, Linda, recently reminded me of my "radical days".   I was student teaching at Van Buren Middle School in Albuquerque under the supervision of Frank McCullough, master teacher, artist, poet and musician.  

Photo Via
Frank did not have space in his own Highland High School classes for another student teacher so made arrangements with a fellow art teacher at Van Buren Middle School for me to student teach there. 

I did join the group meetings and social events at Frank's north valley home and learned that the other student teachers had organized events to celebrate the first official Earth Day at Highland High School on April 22.  Thinking that sounded like a good idea, but having missed the official date, I talked with teachers at Van Buren and the student council and we settled on May 1st as a date to do an all student clean up of the school grounds.  Maypoles and flowers left on door knobs seemed a good image for an Earth Day celebration.  Posters were created and a time chosen.  At this point, we needed the principal's input about whether we could use the gymnasium for a rally to begin the event to educate the students about environmental issues.  

Thunder, Lightening, Consternation, Fury!  Or in other words, "Not on your life, young lady!  How DARE you plan something without talking to me first!  And we certainly are NOT having anything on May 1st, that communist holiday!"

Rashly, I tried to argue with the man.  TO NO AVAIL.  No earth day celebration. 
The principal called Frank and tried to talk him into kicking me out of the student teaching program.  Frank called me into his office and said that he would find me another school, or I could apologize to the principal and try to keep a low profile until the end of the semester.  Graduate or hold to my convictions?  Well, I caved.  Cowardly I crept back to Van Buren, apologized, and talked my students out of boycotting classes on my behalf.  Would I do that now?  Nope, but I am older and stronger now. And wise enough to involve the head honcho from the beginning to get his approval.

And the man who refused to kick me out and thought I would be a good art teacher?  Frank McCulloch went on to greatness as an artist, musician and poet while mentoring several generations of aspiring art teachers.

Here is a little peak into Frank's life and career...
Arroyo at the Bosque Via
By the Camino Real Via

Frank McCulloch in his studio Via
For a wonderful article by
Megan Kamerick, NMBW Senior Reporter, Albuquerque Business First about Frank's life click here. There is a story about Frank buying boxes and boxes of condoms at the local pharmacy in Roswell.  If you wonder what he did with them, read Megan's article.  Hint: he used the art supply budget that came with his participation in the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program in 1979.

When not in his studio painting, which he does almost daily, he can be found  playing most weekends at a downtown coffee shop, Java Joes. 
Photo by
Stephen Cussen

Image Via
And was Frank right?  Did I become a good art teacher?  Well yes and no.  My first semester at Mayfield High School was a disaster!  I followed a teacher who had only been there for a couple of months when her husband was transferred. The teacher before her had taken a medical leave.

The classroom was in disarray.   Most of the jewelry tools were missing.  All of the knobs on the cabinets were gone.  The butcher block wood tables were gouged and covered with graffiti.  And I was only four or five years older than most of my students, many of whom had already been afoul of the juvenile justice system.  One student slept through every class, completely stoned.  When I was busy unloading the kiln in the separate vented kiln room, some of the students tied him to his chair.  When the bell rang, he was halfway to the door before he realized the chair was attached to him. 

Slowly order was restored.  I took some "belonging" of each student as hostage until tools were returned.  With every paycheck, I replaced one or two of the cabinet knobs.  Any infraction of rules had everyone sanding the butcher block tables which resulted in powerful, peer pressure discipline.  Everyone hated sanding those tables, including me.  Of course, I couldn't make them sand without setting a good example by sanding along with them. By the end of the semester everyone was turning in all of their projects (with the notable exception of Mr. Sleeper).  Students won prizes in any competitions I could find for them to enter, and those butcher block tables had been sanded to their former splendor.  I taught there for two years until my husband took a job in Austin, TX. While it was never easy, when I was noticeably pregnant with my first child, the very tough boys suddenly became angels, refusing to let me pick up anything heavier than a pencil. 

I never returned to teaching in the public schools, but rather taught workshops through the years and worked art into all of my Sunday classes.   While my children were small, I stayed at home.. and those teaching skills helped with my own little "search and destroy critters..."  Now I hold an open studio tutorial on Mondays at my house located in Northeast Albuquerque.    Never painted before, but always wanted to?  No problem.  I will help you get started.  If you are a master painter, you may just want have a place to paint where you can share ideas.  Our group has room for two or three more artists.  Sometimes we paint for two to three hours, sometimes all day.  It just depends on how everyone feels their work is going.

If you would like to join us, contact me at for more information.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two lives, Maria Tallchief and Richard Martin

It seems there were a lot of losses over the past few weeks.  I was saddened to learn that dance legend, Maria Tallchief passed away after complications from a hip fracture at the age of 88.  Her role model informed a large part of my early life.  You can read more about that here
For a wonderful article about Maria's life and work, visit the New York Times here
While saddened by the passing of this wonderful dancer, she had a lovely, long, and productive life.   

However, the horrific loss of life in the Boston bombing brought home, once again, just how isolated Americans are from the everyday reality of violence in many other parts of the world.  When I was a child we lived through part of the efforts of the Moroccans to gain independence from France.  As scary and violent as those times were, at least there seemed to be a legitimate reason for the Moroccans to fight the French occupation of their country.  I am struggling to understand how this event could ever make any sense.  One journalist lamented the loss of the sense of safety that had previously been taken for granted by the people of Boston.  And yet, Boston was the birthplace of the American Revolution resulting from the civil disobedience of the Boston Tea Party.  I wonder about the ethical questions that arise from civil disobedience.  Is violence ever justified?  If so, when?  The person, or persons who planned this attack, must have had reasons for it.  I wonder what they thought?  Were they mentally ill or willing to sacrifice innocent life for some cause that they perceived as more important than human life?

This photo is of Martin Richard, who never had a chance for a productive life, holding a banner (made in Sunday School?) which shows the symbols of love and the Holy Spirit.  I wonder at the incredible love of God who could forgive a person that would take this child's life.
Martin Richard
Saddened and horrified as I was, I was so relieved that my friends Kerry and Todd, had returned from Boston, home to Albuquerque before this happened.  Kerry would have been competing in that race and her children may have been at the finish line.  And selfishly (because so many did not have such good news,) I was gladdened to hear from my blogging friend Steve, of Urban Cottage, who lives in Boston that he had been home, safe and watching the race and then the devastation on TV.

To the people of Boston, I pray your lives will return to normal, that the injured will heal, that the families of those who died will find comfort, and that we all will find ways to forgive and move forward to begin to create a world free of violence for our children and grandchildren.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gustave Baumann and a call for Print Makers

Maybe I will dig out my old printmaking supplies from a class that I took in college and try out a couple of ideas.  (Yes, I still have things from that long ago!)  If you are a print maker, I hope you will join this show.  We also have several wonderful print makers in the St. Mark's parish, who will be offering a print making class for children in June.  More information about that soon.

One of my favorite print artists is Gustave Baumann.  My sister, Rosalind, owns a Baumann she purchased right out of college.  My mother, who loved artwork, never the less was horrified at the couple of thousand dollars Rosalind paid for it.  Here it is forty years later in Rosalind's living room...
Image Via "The Vintique Object"
 Baumann, born in Germany, moved to the United States when he was ten.  In 1918 he came to New Mexico where he lived and became an influencial member the community, active in civic affairs, and an integral part of the growing artist colony.

In Santa Fe, Baumann became known as a master of woodcuts and marionette-making, also producing oils and sculpture. His work depicted southwestern landscapes, ancient Indian petroglyphs, scenes of Pueblo life, and gardens and orchards. He remained in Santa Fe for more than fifty years until his death there in 1971. (via Wikipedia)

""After his marriage to the singer and actress Jane Henderson in 1925, and the arrival of their daughter Ann in 1927, Baumann and his family in 1931 began to create their marionette theater.  Intended in large part to entertain their daughter and friends, the marionette theater became an important part of their creative lives.

Gus, as he was called, carved the marionettes, created the stage props, painted the backdrops and wrote many of the scripts in consultation with Jane.  For her part, Jane helped clothe the figures and performed the marionettes with the assistance of friends. Ann inspired her parents and became a lead character in many of the plays. Performed in their living room, the theatrical productions became immensely popular and often referred to local characters and events. For years the Santa Fe community was invited to attend performances just before Christmas.  Eventually, because of their popularity, the marionette performances took place in St. Francis Auditorium and other public venues. The last public performance of the original marionettes occurred in 1959.

After the death of Gus in 1971, Jane and Ann gifted the marionettes, stage materials and related items to the New Mexico Museum of Art.  In addition, they and other Baumann supporters donated a vast selection of Baumann’s prints, paintings and drawings to the museum, thus making the collection the largest in the world. The museum annually presents marionette productions in St. Francis auditorium just before Christmas for the public. The marionettes performed are exact duplicates created so that the Baumann family’s gift to Santa Fe, New Mexico and the world can continue to be enjoyed."    (Via New Mexico Museum of Art)

In an interesting Smithsonian interview with Will Shuster,another Santa Fe artist, Will describes his relationship with Gus and shares that Gus made the head for the first giant puppet that is now annually made for the burning of Zorzobra celebration in Santa Fe.  To read that interview click here.

In you are interested in architecture and home design, click here for a fascinating peek into Gustave Baumann's home in Santa Fe.
Photographic reproduction via

Rosalind's print has increased significantly in value.  Perhaps you will find a similar investment by purchasing an original print at this upcoming show in June.  Although I would advise against buying a piece of artwork just because you think it might increase in value!  Only buy it if you LOVE it.  I am sure Rosalind feels like she has gotten her monies worth in enjoyment of this wonderful artist's work.  Rosalind is an art collector, while I always think..."Oh, I could make that myself."  But rarely do!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bea van Twillert

Image Via
Are you addicted to Pinterest?  I must confess that I spend a little too much time scrolling around, clicking on images.  As an artist, I think in color, form, light and contrasts, and these images spark my imagination.  Today I came across an artist's work that I really like.  Bea van Twillert is a Dutch artist, who lives and works on Ameland, one of the islands off the north coast of the Neatherlands.

More abstract than figurative, her landscapes evoke the windswept dunes and sea that surround her home.

Click here to visit Bea's Pinterest Page for more stunning paintings.

Click here to visit her website (don't forget to click on the "translate" link since this site is in Dutch otherwise).

Bea works in many medias and paints lots of subjects, but my favorites are her landscapes or "landschappen."