Friday, December 30

First Cookies!

Paul made his first batch of cookies, ever, yesterday! And they were delicious. Way to go, honey! Now that you've "cracked the code" I look forward to many more delicious cookie appearances!

Le chef!

Tuesday, December 20

MIT cake

Any excuse for cake, right?

Congratulations Peter Louis Downs, we're all so proud of you!

Saturday, December 17

All Over NYC!

Paul and NB on the High Line in Chelsea
Paul and I took a breakneck day trip to NYC earlier in the week, combining business, pleasure and even family!  We started off in Soho where Paul made a flying visit to some clients while I went to the Lee Friedlander show at at Janet Borden:

Lee Friedlander

Lunch and a few more galleries, nothing too memorable, then off to Chelsea where I had been strongly advised by more than one of my teachers to see the MichaĆ«l Borremans show at David Zwirner. It was impressive and I am glad I managed to catch it before it closed. I am still trying to work out why several people whom I respect thought of my work in connection to this work..there definitely is some similarity in our impulse, but it's somewhat "submerged" in the presentation. This needs pondering!

In front of Borremans' "The Loan." My dressing to coordinate was unintentional!
While in Chelsea we strolled on the High Line, something that is becoming a tradition.  We always enjoy the city sights, and the people watching (as usual, a large percentage of French and German speakers) and the beautiful landscaping of the line (cityscaping?)

Birdhouses and feeders in heavy use

Great light!

Walking around Chelsea we also caught some street art, like this choice little interactive project, Hope:

Hope, Chelsea, NYC, 12/11

I don't know who did it but it was simply and beautifully executed and a pleasure to participate in. It also fostered communication as several people encountering it at the same time necessarily spoke a bit, expressing astonishment and interest, sharing pens etc. I always like public art that breaks down barriers between people, however fleetingly.

Adding Hopes to the collection.
We saw some other excellent art in galleries, and then headed over to the New York Times building where we had an appointment to meet Paul's editor. It's quite an interestingly designed building, done by Renzo Piano, lots of vistas and strong colors, and we spent a pleasant hour talking and drinking tea in the beautiful Times employee cafeteria, Paul and Loren kicking around some of Paul's ideas and me quietly taking it all in.

New York Times Employee Cafeteria Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad
This would have been enough to fill up my dance card satisfactorily but wait there's more!  Paul had also arranged for us to rendezvous with a relative of his whom he only recently met, who works at Christie's. He thought I would like her (and he was right!)  We waltzed right in to Christie's, past all the security... turned out this was  something of an unintentional Ninja move because it was one of the nights of the Elizabeth Taylor auction and admission was limited and security was tight. We did get stopped at some point, but courteously, and we then waited for our relative in very glamorous Christie surroundings, and perused a fascinating digital databank of auction images. 

(I have to admit, I am not very interested in jewelry so the Taylor Collection was somewhat wasted on me!)  Once our relation, Deborah Bell, arrived downstairs we whirled off, crossing through the jolly crowds at Rockefeller Center and ended up in The Modern, which is part of MOMA. I was thrilled to see an enormous and shockingly beautiful piece MOMA commissioned from Mickalene Thomas still on display right where we were entering (it's only up temporarily so what incredible luck!)
"Le dejeuner sur l'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires" by Mickalene Thomas

A huge crush of people filled the bar/restaurant almost to bursting, in pre-holiday fervor, and we spent a very enjoyable if all too brief time getting to know our newfound cousin a little better (she's wonderful!) and making plans to meet again post-holidays, before dashing off to catch our train home. 

What a day! Didn't feel tired at the time, it was all very energizing, but I noticed at the end of the next day's various duties and work efforts, my boyfriend Paul and I were both drooping. Well worth it!

Friday, December 9

Almost Done!

Almost done with my first semester of grad school! I came home yesterday to find my sweet husband had these flowers and encouraging note waiting for me...his thoughtfulness brought a lump to my throat. It's been such a tough week for all of us, really.  I had four end of semester school hurdles to leap and then there were other things, kind of big things, going on as well. If I listed everything you'd stop believing in my truthfulness after a few bullet I'll just mention the most important and saddest: a death in the family, Paul's sweet Aunt Sue, necessitating his sudden flight out to Chicago. Sick kid with asthma, a minor (I hope) but urgent hospital procedure, a long-ago scheduled house repair beginning and ...(and I can see your eyes starting to glaze so I will just stop listing..though there is even more!) This would make for a busy week even if I didn't have two final class projects due, end of semester Reviews (these were a real BFD...eeek!) and a 10 page  term paper due.

I'm done with everything now except the term paper. I felt like I was going to crack under the strain and so I swallowed my pride and asked for a two day extension on the paper. I cringed while I was doing it but I did it. It seemed the only aspect in this load that had a little "give"...and, fortunately, my teacher kindly gave!

So, yes, beautiful roses, almost done! :-)

Saturday, November 5

State X-C Championships 2011

P has been quite sick since Tuesday night but nothing would keep him from running in the state championships today! The doctor rather reluctantly okayed it, as long as he brought his inhaler.

P ran far below his norm, but finished honorably, middle of the pack.

Naturally he was disappointed,  but we're all very proud of him!

Monday, October 24

My X-C Kids!

Saturday was a gray day but a good one for the Cross-Country team...P came in second in the district conference (with his team-mate and co-captain coming in first) and H made a Personal Best!

My guys 

Strong start for H and he stayed steady!

P and his co-captain took off from the pack at some point

Coming in to the finish! 

Thursday, October 13

Cupcake Social

Netta with Cupcake

There is a seemingly never-ending barrage of social and instructive events for us students at PAFA. There are so many opportunities and offerings that  I am almost finding it a bit distracting. But it's all very fun, tempting stuff, like today's Cupcake Social at 4 pm. Hundreds of cupcakes, scores of toppings to customize them, and gallons and gallons of strong coffee. End of day bliss! Could I have squeezed in an extra hour of painting instead of consuming empty calories and socializing? Yes! But it was darn fun.

Thursday, October 6

My Town

Off the evening train,
stopping to drink in the sight-
my town at sunset

Monday, October 3


My baby turned FIFTEEN today! Warm with happiness, at the same time frozen with horror at the speed the years are winging past...

I'm 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I'm just dreaming...

100 Years, Five for Fighting
(This song is one the biggest tear-jerkers on the radio! Sometimes I just have to turn it off when I hear the opening bars, sometimes I let it happen...)

Sunday, October 2

First Fire

the first fall fire:
its muffled roaring and hiss
suddenly remembered

Sunday, September 4

Goodbye Henry

Yesterday Paul, Henry and I took a quick trip downtown. Henry really enjoys the city, walking around, taking in the scene. Today he has gone back to his school deep in the country. I miss him already!

Tuesday, August 23


Evacuees from the PAFA Hamilton Building await the All-Clear

So, wow, this was an eventful day! I went to school to discuss my semester's critic choices and turn in that form. While I was there I dropped a few things off in my new studio too and then wandered around the studio floor a little, trying to get more acclimated. I was standing in my studio chatting with another first year mfa student (we were having an animated discussion on the work of Judith Schaecter) when the floor started vibrating and the lights started swinging gently. I assumed it was just some construction work and kept talking but the other student at once said "What is that? Is this an earthquake? I think this is an earthquake." I replied somewhat lamely, "Oh, don't you think somebody is just using power tools?" but yeah...turned out to be an earthquake. Totally bizarre! We so rarely get earthquakes in Philadelphia. 5.8!

People swarmed out into the corridors and there was a lot of nervous laughter and many expressions of astonishment.  Then we all calmed down and went back to what we'd been doing.  About a half hour later though the alarm system sounded and we were told to evacuate the building! All very weird and exciting.  People hung out on the street (some of the students started a game of kickball) and talked and stared up at the tall buildings and felt very keenly the bizarreness of the whole situation! It was a gorgeous day, with bright sunshine and refreshing breezes, while overhead News choppers hovered and police and fire sirens wailed in the distance. At one point I happened to be standing next to a school administrator  who wise-cracked that they had arranged this specially to make it an unforgettable Orientation Week! Aw, what a school! Seems like nothing is too much trouble for us MFAs. ;-)

Took me a while to get home. Turns out that SEPTA's schedule was temporarily halted and long delays were forecast so I walked back to the school and put in a little library time (even found another image for my Women in the Act of Painting project: yay!) I waited an hour or so and then tried again. Much the best idea: as I walked onto the platform a train scheduled for an hour previously was just drawing up.  What a day! Home a couple of hours later than expected but still in good time to make dinner.

Back to School!

This was the first thing I saw when I walked in the door after a long day of Grad School orientation! What a sweet husband I have! It was an exciting, exhausting day.

Sunday, August 7

Cheese Sculpture

Turn your back for one minute in this crazy house and people are making art out of whatever comes to hand! In  Henry's case, a purloined hunk of aged, extra-sharp Cheddar. Notice the fine "tooth-mark" detailing characteristic of this artist's technique. ;-)

Wednesday, August 3

Henry is Home!

Henry is home and sporting a summery close-cut hairstyle thanks to the supremely talented Adriano! I keep hearing other Autism Parents lament how their kids resist haircutting but Henry never has done that for some reason! I admit to missing his flowing golden locks when he gets buzzed like this, but Paul likes this look better. Henry doesn't seem to care either way! ;-)

Monday, July 18

Ethical Dilemma

Black Swallowtail Butterfly larvae decimate my herbs
They've already taken out the dill (see bare stalks beyond) and have moved on to the parsley. As much as I love my fresh herbs, I think these little guys probably need them more. But argh!!!

Thursday, July 14

Bunnies Beware!

Homemade BB Gun target found in my recycling bin. Summer is here and boredom is the mother of invention it seems! ;-)

Saturday, July 2

Monday, June 20

Mystery Monday!

(click image to enlarge)
I just stumbled across this old shot and was struck by its aura of mystery and magic. I wonder if anyone out there can understand just from looking at it what it is all about. Just for fun, no prizes! ;->

Wednesday, June 8

June Colors

My street is loud with
crashing clashing colors shrieking
"It's spring! It's spring!"

Sunday, June 5

The Death of Plaid Man

The Death of Plaid Man, colored pencil and graphite, artist: Hugh J. Downs

Friday, June 3

Another Friend Friday!

Joe Sweeney, painter & Tony Boyd-Heron, gallery director
My friend Joe Sweeney has a show which opened last weekend in Lewes, Delaware.
Along the Coast
Peninsula Gallery
520 E. Savannah Road
Lewes, Delaware, USA
May 28 through June 28, 2011

This is Joe's first time exhibiting at the Peninsula Gallery and the first show in his career to consist entirely of oil paintings. Thirty paintings are on display featuring coastal scenes from Delaware, Ireland, Maryland and New Jersey.  Best of luck Joe! For more information about Joe's work, click here.

A relatively new friend, Jennifer Baker, is in a show opening tonight in Philadelphia:
Northern Liberties: A Transformation
June 3 - July 30, 2011
Projects Gallery
629 N 2nd Street
Philadelphia, PA USA 19123
First Friday reception June 3, 6-9 pm
Readings start at 7:30 pm

Jennifer's paintings and monoprints chronicle the death and rebirth of a city neighborhood as she experienced it during three decades as an artist living and working in Northern Liberties. The work of Baker and nine other Northern Liberties artists tell the story of this unique place.

During the First Friday opening reception, short readings will be given by
Nathaniel Popkin, author of Song of the City: An Intimate History of the American Urban Landscape and The Possible City: Exercises in Dreaming Philadelphia; Inga Saffron, Architecture Critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer and author of Caviar: The Strange History and Uncertain Future of the World’s Most Coveted Delicacy; Stephan Salisbury, senior Culture Writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer and author of Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland; and Jennifer Baker. A John Thornton “Northern Liberties” video will also be shown.
Summer gallery hours are Friday and Saturday, noon to 7 pm
For more information about Jennifer's work, click here.

Thursday, June 2

Unhappy Eggs

The latest batch of hard-boiled egg faces came out a little sad and angsty this time. Perhaps in preparation for a new dish:  oeufs durs et tristes?

Monday, May 30

Thursday, May 26

Homegrown Peonies

The poor, struggling peony that was here when we bought the house has managed to produce three viable buds this year. (Last year it had none!) I was briefly undecided if I should let it continue to  grace the side of the house with its small splash of color, or cut the blooms to bring indoors for more study and admiration. The latter decision is what I went with, obviously. The color is almost too intense, too incandescent for my eyes, but as Ralph Ellison said, "Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked."  

Another Ralph's poem about May flowers and the nature of beauty also comes to mind:

The Rhodora

On being asked, whence is the flower.
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1847)

Wednesday, May 25

The End of Days

...of my current show at Artists' House Gallery! Exhibition dates May 6-29, 2011, and I can't believe that we are nearing the close of this run. It feels like only yesterday that I was hamming it up at the opening reception:

(Thanks to Elaine Lisle for this strange but interesting photograph!)
Here's a few images of some pieces in the show:
Arrangement for Ukulele, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches

Coconut Cupcake, oil on linen, 7 x 5 inches

Duck in a Box, oil on cardboard, 6 x 6 inches

Green and Yellow, oil on Cardboard, 8 x 10 inches

Joined, oil on canvas, 10 x 8 inches

Little Crocus (Blue Pearl), oil on canvas, 6 x 4 inches

Open Hand, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches

Amber Dreaming, oil on canvas, 28 x 24 inches

Mill Pond (Somesville Library), oil on linen, 12 x 16 inches

I'm grateful to the many friends, neighbors, collectors and family members who came to see the work in person! To read a sweet write-up on the show click here. More information, if desired, can be found on the Artists' House website. Any exhibit, even a one-person exhibit, is always a group effort, and my grateful thanks to all involved: gallerists, framers, bloggers, writers, buyers, viewers, visitors, commissioners, encouragers and well-wishers.