Tuesday, July 22, 2014

House sitting

It has been a pretty good gig this July, and last year too. Taking care of a moody cat and a sick Basset Hound was a bit more challenging than we anticipated, but worth the place of our own...a place to put our feet up and feed our need for solitary silence between all the socializing. This place came with good art, wi-fi, and fresh flowers! You could hear the river flowing like a rain storm outside the windows, and the morning light on the walls was like a Vermeer painting. On the down side, the Basset peed a lot and he shed so much all the furniture, and our feet, had tufted sprouts of hair. And worst of all the couch ripped open...

Monday, July 21, 2014

sketches of NY, city of dreams


I couldn't sleep because of the bright lights. Then enjoyed resting at the side of the sailing pool in Grand Central park.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Two exhibits in NYC touch on the past, the present

I loved going to the Metropolitan Museum with my little sister and learning more about the history and iconography of early (ancient) Buddhist and Hindu art. The show was sparsely attended compared to other galleries in the Museum, and enabled us to really pause and study the sculptures. We went twice through the exhibition titled: Lost Kingdoms.

The day before, when I came into the city, I went down to the Bowery to the New Museum with my friend Deborah and saw the Here and Elsewhere show of Arab art. It was deeply moving. Half of the work was from thirty years ago, and half was a contemporary dialogue. While we were watching videos of the wall in Palestine, Israel was launching a land strike in the Hamas controlled region. They're trying to find the tunnels into Gaza. The humanity at stake, as seen in the exhibition, was sobering. I had to walk away and gather myself.


Leaving, leaving, left

The sad truth. Spent the day at airports. Did a little drawing on the plane. Will share some of the adventures in the city from yesterday when I relax a little. It's been a great summer... and I wonder if it really is over now.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pond Paint Out

video
Last day at the farm we hosted a paint out and the weather cooperated. Artists included Eliska and Dean Smiley, Erin Haab, Sue and John Hennelly, Kate Long, Michael Gellatly,  me, and my dad, Julian Strauss.






Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beating Mesenchymal Chondrosarcoma

Ben turned 23 today. It has been a source for many moments of gratitude all day- from breakfast to dinner, when I most often have a moment to contemplate the gift of Life. I didn't think we'd get here from last Thanksgiving when the diagnosis was sinking in.

There is so much to celebrate today. Ben is alive! His mother and father are still feeling sane. My sons have their best friend. There is still a long road to full health- but Ben is beating the odds and that is nothing to sneeze at.
We are all just grains of sand in the giant picture. Some more colorful than others, but all of equal weight. I am so grateful that Ben can still be with us. His colors are bright and sunny.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Art Show in the Barn


Howard Simon is not the first, or the only, artist whose life's work is stored with my father. So, in an attempt to sort, clean and restore several portfolios hidden in the eves, I curated a small showing of this American illustrator, teacher, author, print-maker, painter and sculptor.
Simon was most famous for his work in oils and woodcuts in the 1930's and 40's. As a teenager he studied at the National Academy of Design and went on to the New York Academy of Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris. While in Paris in the 1920's he met his first wife, Charlie May. Together they lived briefly in San Francisco and homesteaded in the Arkansas' Ozark Mountains. Simon traveled for art shows and eventually left the Ozarks for good. He met his second wife and collaborator, the author Mina Lewiton in New York.
Starting in 1950 Simon taught as an adjunct professor at NYU for twenty years, and, after spending summers in the Hudson valley, he spent the last ten years with his third wife, Pony Bouche, teaching art at the Barlow School in Amenia.


Much of his work was burned in a studio fire at Barlow in 1978, and the remaining was held for sale at Simon's death in 1979. So the paintings we have are the survivors and the remnants. Perhaps a mix of personal favorites, like those hung in his own home, and the overlooked. It is a pleasure to see even this small portion of the collection up and on the walls!


Simon illustrated more than 100 books written by others and wrote several himself. His first two wives wrote children's literature, and it is interesting to see the change of media and style Simon used over the decades. He went from Conte crayon and pastel drawings to his mid-career ink line and tonal wash drawings, and, in his later years, woodcut engravings.
One of my favorite of his books is the one Simon wrote and illustrated in the 1970 that told of his homesteading years in the Ozarks during the American economic depression. It is full of how-to descriptions and whimsical stories of neighbors.  Cabin on the Ridge . We have a bound sketchbook of all his sketched used for the book!