Sunday, December 25, 2011

Daytime Santas

Nighttime is the best part of Christmas. Strings of colored lights and blow-up snowmen and Santas are meant to be enjoyed after dark. The scene in the daytime is like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz. We see the tangle of wires suspending the lights and the hooks holding up the wreaths. Deflated Santas sprawl in sad puddles on lawns, waiting for nightfall. It’s kind of funny but also a bit disturbing. Eventually people will figure out a way to disguise their deflated Santas. A small circular hedge, tended all year in anticipation of Christmas time would be nice, or perhaps they could rise out of a decorative structure like a jack-in-the-box. I can't wait to see what people will come up with.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bird Ladies

The holiday windows of New York's Bergdorf Goodman are always an astonishing blend of fantasy, chic and technical wizardry. With other windows featuring snowy party scenes and models floating amidst glittering fish, most viewers would not choose the Bird Ladies as their favorites. I cannot stop thinking about them. They are undeniably creepy. Their big heads and sharp beaks make me uneasy. They pose so perfectly in gowns spun from feathers, chiffon, crystals and air, each gown deliciously appropriate for a bird lady. Art often includes an element of ugliness, discord or discomfort, something that takes it out of the realm of simple prettiness, something that makes you think. The Bird Ladies have that complicated kind of beauty.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How We Look At Things

Crowds gather late into the night to enjoy the holiday tableaux laid out in Lord and Taylor's Fifth Avenue windows. Mothers cajole tots to turn towards Mommy and smile for a snapshot. Teenage couples hold cell phones at arm's length and click. The iPad Photographer is a new phenomenon. How funny it was to see this lady hoist her big slab of pricey digital technology up in front of her face and shoot photo after photo. As I watched her go from window to window, I realized that she was looking only at her screen, not at the actual scene before her. Her view was filtered through her digital device. Humans have the urge to capture visually or emotionally striking moments. Almost everyone has a digital camera, cell phone or small video camera. We also have eyes and hearts and a memory. With my little camera in my pocket, I looked and then looked some more.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Goodbye Autumn

We've enjoyed an extended autumn. But now it has turned colder and the last of the lingering leaves have drifted off, taking autumn with them. Leaves and flowers that gradate from light to dark or from one color to another have always attracted me. As a young girl, my grandmother showed me how to iron the prettiest leaves between layers of waxed paper. I would try to draw those leaves with my crayons, overlapping yellows, oranges and reds. Now I work with ribbons whose ombre shading replicates the subtle coloring of flower petals and foliage. My favorite dyeing techniques are the ones that give me swaths of changing colors or blurry streaks. They are a pleasure to work with but none are beautiful as the genuine item.