Sunday, August 20, 2017

Late Summer Cosmos

Cosmos are easy to grow. Cast the seeds out onto a patch of soil and they will rise exuberantly. They turn their sunny heads in every possible direction, stretching their foliage out every which way. Roses, dahlias and boxwood hedges require work and watchfulness, which earns respect and admiration for both the plants and their caretakers. Cosmos seem to flourish as easily as weeds. Tidiness simply is not in their nature. I walk past a fence that barely contains them and am cheered not just by their colors, but their unbridled enthusiasm. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tiffany Glass

The Cincinnati Art Museum is hosting an exhibit of lamps and stained glass panels created by Tiffany Studios. Wisteria and laburnum blossoms drape across shades, Madonnas glow from within and sunrises reflect in streams of watery glass. The colors and textures are heart-stoppingly beautiful. A table was spread with shards of the glass used for lamps and windows, as well as the small jewel-like molded pieces that were used as decorative elements. They illustrate the huge range of colors and textures developed by the studio. This looks familiar to anyone who hand dyes fabric. We love gradations, striations, unexpected mottling. That table alone is a wealth of inspiration and an example of how art often cross-pollinates.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Big Mushroom

After several days of rain, a few small mushrooms appeared in the yard, followed by this one, large as a luncheon plate. At first glance, there is nothing remarkable about it. But the more I looked, the more there was to see, starting with the subtle shading from  taupe to creamy white. Then there were all the textures; a split like lightning, disrupting the mushroom’s attempts to achieve radial symmetry. Scales, like the tips of flower petals go round and round in circles. For some reason, those scales made me think of the gigantic banners that hang in front of the Metropolitan Museum, proclaiming the latest blockbuster exhibit. They always have small rounded flaps cut into them, allowing the wind to pass through. Look closely at an unremarkable mushroom and you never know where your mind will go. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Windmills In the Front Yard

There are thirteen windmills and three birdhouses in the yard of a house facing a busy street. Each one sports its own unique architecture and paint job. Cars whizz around the curve and most drivers probably don't have time to notice the windmills. Many of them are half-hidden among the evergreens lining the sidewalk. Who built these and why are there so many? Are they an homage to the builder's Dutch ancestry? Perhaps they were the work of a retired shop teacher with a basement full of tools, or of someone with dreams of opening a series of miniature golf courses. I'll never know. It's enough to be able to slow down and enjoy the sight. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Waiting For the Music

On a meltingly hot evening, the lawn of Wolf Trap was already filled with people waiting for the start of the sold-out Moody Blues concert. "Days of Future Passed" was released 50 years ago and the Moodies were performing the entire album. As the sky faded into darkness, their signature spacy-choir harmonies mixed with orchestral melodies and guitar riffs. Parents who were teenagers in 1967 enjoyed the music with their children's children. The die hard fans in the rows closest to the stage danced.  During the encore, the  audience, which had come from all around the Washington DC area, sang hopefully or ruefully or plaintively the lines from "Question:"
"I'm looking for someone to change my life,
 I'm looking for a miracle in my life..."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dolls In the Window

They sit on a windowsill behind a sheer curtain in someone's office, their backs to the parking lot. The dolls never change. One rests a protective hand on the smallest doll's shoulder. Another leans to the side, as if to get a better view of the goings-on in the office, or perhaps to shimmy down from the window sill and escape. No one combs the blond's hair. Why are they there? Have they been forgotten?  It's mysterious and slightly sad, imbued with a sense of waiting, but for...what?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Plastic Bags With Blue Zips

Kevin Womack makes art quilts. Some of them are created from fabrics that he has printed from photographic images. He cuts and sews them into radiating blocks. The completed patchwork invites you to look closely and carefully at the individual patches, after you have taken in the quilt as a whole. Working this way requires careful organization. Kevin sorts and stores the cut patches in plastic bags. I am intrigued by the way the pile of bags creates a new design. My eyes insist on following the blue zips as they zig and zag through the pile. Out of this asymmetry comes order--literally. See  Kevin's quilts--the ones from this series as well as the ones made from his art fabrics--on his web site: