Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Nature of Pink

Last Saturday, Washington was crowded with women and men wearing hats in every shade of pink. Before the march, a concern had been voiced that too much attention could be focused on all those pink hats, rather than the reasons why so many people had gathered. Pink has a complicated history. Originally, pink was the "boy color" and blue was the "girl color." As late as the 1920s, magazines and department stores were recommending pink for boys. But by the 1940s, pink had become firmly associated with girls and no boy wanted anything pink. The McCarthy-era term "Pinko" carried connotations of weakness along with communist sympathies. Nowadays, pink has been coopted for the Breast Cancer Awareness machine. While it's a good cause, this inevitably reinforces the association of pink with all things feminine. Perhaps, at the very least, by continuing to wear those pink hats, pink will signify strong women (and men) who are unafraid to take a stand on issues important to them.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Winter View From Roosevelt Island

We tend to think of winter as a gray and charmless time, especially if there is no magical blanket of snow. Winter is a time of nuance, a good time to notice the many shades of rust and brown on the ground and in the undergrowth, to revel in the tracery of almost-black branches. Standing on Roosevelt Island in the middle of the Potomac River, I turned my back on the more photogenic views of Washington, DC and instead looked across to Virginia, where Rosslyn's office buildings rise up beyond the trees. Lines and angles in every tone of gray and blue-gray contrast with the irregularity of the branches. There is inspiration in this, and a reminder of how subtlety can be beautiful.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Inaugural Port-o-Potties

A big ceremonial event involves untold numbers of details that most of us never think about. Consider the upcoming presidential inauguration. In anticipation of the thousands of people who will crowd into the heart of Washington, port-o-potties have sprouted like dandelions on an untended lawn. They circle the museums and march down side streets. The most impressive group I've seen so far is the battalion lined up near the Canadian Embassy, ready for duty. Reports abound that tape is being used to obliterate the company name on the ones that might end up on camera during the parade. Let's all offer a word of gratitude to Don's Johns for filling a need when crowds gather, whether it is to applaud or to protest.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Every Color In the Rainbow

Is there an artist out there whose heart does not pitter patter a little faster at the sight of a big group of ANYTHING in a vast selection of colors? It probably starts with that first box of 64 crayons. As we try new media and new techniques, we experience that same thrill from a new tin of high quality colored pencils or that longed-for set of watercolors. Step inside a quilt shop and gaze down the length of the shelves: yellows, oranges, rusts, reds, burgundies, violets. Oh, the possibilities! Now, for me, my fixation is the Wonderfil thread display at Artistic Artifacts. So many colors, textures and weights, that it actually turns a corner in the shop. Let’s call it Threadlandia. I want to live there and stitch happily ever after. Check it out, along with all the other exotic and colorful things at

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Subway Therapy

Shortly after the presidential election, people began leaving Post-It notes on the walls near the exits of Manhattan's Union Square subway station. Soon the tiles were covered in a paper mosaic.The Post-Its came and went, like multicolored grass that is mown but continues to grow. Right from the start, participants understood the need to try and keep the comments positive and hopeful, to show others that there is goodness and optimism out there in the world. Now the notes have been taken down. Some will be preserved by the New York Historical Society. It is thrilling and, yes, hopeful, to know that little bits of paper can come together spontaneously in a communal art project.