Friday, December 31, 2010
I took a little escape break last night with dear Craig. A really nice dinner at Vito's and then we walked downtown to check out the gingerbread house exhibit. I hope to get a few photos up this weekend. We wandered past the carousel and decided it was too cold to take a spin. It's been unusually frigid for Seattle and reminded me of winters in New England.
I'm pretty much overloaded with work and honestly have no idea how it will be completed by next week's deadline. Seriously overwhelmed and tired.
Tonight I'm headed to two small gatherings. The first is primarily bears and then I'll ring in the New Year with a bunch of leatherfolk. This weekend I'll crash and hopefully can gather some energy for a little painting.
Happy New Year everyone!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Yesterday was an 11 hour workday. Solid. Productive. Calm.
When I left work I felt too tired to go paint but at the same time, sensed I needed to go into the studio. On my way down, I grabbed a quick dinner to eat in the space and then had a short painting session, a little more than a half hour. But that too was substantial and I left quite pleased with the new marks and color on the canvas.
It was one of those rare sessions where I could feel something new burgeoning.
And again, here is another photograph from my trip to Yachats in October.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Two new paintings I've been working.
I was in the studio this morning until I needed to run to the bakery to pick up a balsamic pear tart for christmas eve dinner with a friend, stop at work to clean up a few things, drop off tart at home, grabbed lunch and now back to the studio.
28"x22", oil on canvas
24"x18", oil on canvas
And now...back to the studio.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
My drawing table from Sunday.
Pioneer Square has a rich tradition in the arts. Our 619 Western building has been a haven for artists since 1979. The first Art Walk in the U.S. began in Pioneer Square in the mid-seventies.
When I began looking for a studio space in June 2007, I had two hard limits. Or so I thought. I wanted a private space and I did not want to be in a studio that opened to the art walk. While looking for work spaces I saw the ad in craigslist for my current studio: share with 3 other artists and part of Seattle's largest monthly art walk. I read it and tossed it.
But that ad haunted me for the next few days and I couldn't ignore it. I made an appointment with the artist to view the studio. Arriving early, I waited outdoors and walked around the building. Without stepping inside I powerfully knew I had to be there. It was my space.
When I walked in with the artist, the energy in the studio cemented that fact. It was a refuge. The sign above our studio door says "The Sophia Room".
The studio has been a holding tank for creativity, for sex, for intimacy. It's been my dungeon. Powerful moments and conversations have taken place not only at art walk but in private studio visits. It's been a safe space that offered healing. And orgasms. I've experienced and shared in not only my own but also others' internal openings.
Potent personal conversations.
I've witnessed joy. I've witnessed tears. I've watched bodies melt as aspects of shame fell away while viewing work.
During private visits, I've seen many someones sit on the little couch and given time, sink into the calm and allow themselves to relax in a manner they admitted was not often accessed.
In some of my most grief-stricken moments, the space would call to me. I'd lay out large white pages on the floor, get on my hands and knees and as tears fell, filled the sheets with big black charcoal marks.
I remember the afternoon that held a rediscovery of my love of boots and the healing that followed. I remember the connections shared at Art Walk with people where their intimidation that came from being surrounded by art began to be dismantled.
I'll never forget the unsettling and yet sexy crack that runs down the wall above each door on the north side of the building.
And, it's been a place for my painting to flourish and grow as I slowly continue to work toward a level of maturity. Learning to submit to my deeper self. I used to be very private with my work and this studio and special community has provided a safety net where I began to peel away the veil and reveal not only completed works, but the process. It was a letting go of a pride that required I only show my best which I knew was an impossible task and a set up for failure. This studio played a large part in revelation. Revelation of myself to others. Revelations of others to me. And most importantly, revelation of myself to myself.
An era is ending.
With the viaduct coming down in the next year or two, I knew that at some point all the artists in the 619 Western building would be required to leave. In mid-December the SDOT met with the artists and gave their time frame. The 619 artists will be evacuated in March 2012.
We have 15 months notice, which is a blessing. I'm not going anywhere for a while. But the idea of 100 displaced artists attempting to find inexpensive work space is heartbreaking.
The loss is pronounced because the official news is fresh and it's one more sad art news thing.
In addition to all that's happening in the world, there has been much distressing news in the art segment. The inexcusable censorship at the National Portrait Gallery, the economy that is challenging for artists to live their passion, the culture wars filled with a cacophony attempting to silence the critical importance of art in our lives, individually and as a community, and so much more. I haven't been able to write about it because the feelings run too deep and honestly, touch upon personal wounds.
Everywhere I look I see a society more entrenched in fear than in discovery. A culture ensconced in suspicion instead of invention. What happened to our imagination? Where is our striving for individual voice and personal excellence instead of settling for mediocrity?
So what do I do?
I work to try to keep my heart open.
I attempt to seek out the beauty while not hide from the ugly and the painful.
And I continue to create.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Yeah...life has been crazy, chaotic and busy. Consumed right now by my day job and other things, my studio time is suffering. I come home from work and can't do much more than crash, let alone take pictures or write.
Here's a little update because I finally pulled out my camera. All still in progress. You can click on each to make them bigger.
Viaduct painting from 3 weeks ago...
(this one is incredibly tough to photograph)
A painting begun a few weeks ago...
Two smaller paintings I reworked last weekend...
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
(A photo of the stairwell in our studio building that I shot two years ago.)
I didn't announce December's First Thursday art walk because I wasn't planning on attending. I was pretty tired and needed a break. The studio would be open, my paintings would be shown and it would be tended to by my studio mates but this would have been the very first art walk since I obtained the studio in August 2007 that I would miss.
At the last minute I changed my mind...and ended up staying later than normal and not locking our space until 10:30 pm. It was a full four hours of wonderful conversations and good energy. What I totally forgot about was the film maker who came in and asked for permission to film the work. That is, until I received an email this evening with his completed little film.
Omar Taboada video is a beautiful piece that not only highlights some of the energy in the 619 Western Arts building on First Thursday, but he made it magical.
Check out the lovely 10 minute video. It gives a good sense of our building during the Pioneer Square art walk, which was the first art walk in the country.
If interested, my viaduct paintings are featured at the 5 minute mark.
Omar's website is at www.omartaboada.com.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Another shot taken while on the bus...
Lots going on between work and a few projects in the studio. My internal world is also pretty full.
Here's an article from the NYTimes that features a Seattle photographer's series called "Queer America". In the article, Molly says:
"There’s a lot of strength showing marginalized communities being really strong and tender with each other,” she said. “Instead of hypersexualized images, I like the images to be about strength and honesty — and taking out the bashfulness and shame."
Check out the photos and article In A Common Scene, A 'Queer Subject'
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Lovely day today. Bright, sunny and nippy. I spent the afternoon in the studio and planned to hit the Gage Academy drawing jam for a bit and then a play party tonight. But...tiredness took over and staying in, curled up in a blanket while watching episodes of West Wing won out.
I did go for a walk in the neighborhood a bit ago because looking at the holiday lights always brings a smile. Deliberating whether to get a little tree this year, I was also thinking about the candles in the windows back in New England. It's not something that's done in Seattle.
The late afternoon light was beautiful.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
World Aids Day comes amid progress, concern
from The Body:
Native Communities Overlooked and Underrepresented: Responding to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy
and in its entirety, from D. Gregory Smith:
I'm Not Writing a World AIDS Day Column This Year
I wrote a column last year, and I think it's still completely relevant- with only a few updates of statistics, geographic and demographic trends.
I'm not going to talk about the rash of new HIV infections among young men, nor am I going to write about my suspicion that 8 years of Bush era abstinence-only education is probably fueling this epidemic among our youth and twenty-somethings.
I'm not going to discuss the massive saturation of HIV in gay/bi men in this country. How we are not working to support each other in getting tested and getting into care and reducing the amount of the virus that can possibly be spread.
I'm not going to harp about the same old shit that gets ignored every year. About how HIV is crippling our communities, draining our resources, affecting our self-esteem and still causing death.
Instead I'm going to concentrate on a few good things that I think may have been overlooked.
I am grateful for the way the women saved us back in the eighties and nineties by stepping up as activists, caregivers and friends. I'm grateful for my lesbian and transgendered sisters/brothers who bravely stood in the face of obstinate refusal by the government to take meaningful action. They still inspire me.
I'm grateful for the medications that have stemmed the flood of funerals that carried away so many lovely human beings. I'm grateful for the drug side-effects that are still better for me than an early death. I'm grateful for the way that my illness has allowed me to prioritize my life, helping me put aside pride, fear and shame to live as honestly and with as much integrity as I can muster. HIV, ironically, has made me look at my life and create it more closely in the image of my true values.
I'm not writing the normal column this year. Instead, I'm going to put on a red ribbon and go to an AIDS Day service. I'm going to gather with other people and remember that we still have work to do. I'm going to remember some very painful moments-and some very beautiful ones. I'm going to bring to mind some people that I haven't thought about all year and breathe a prayer of thanks for their place in my life. I'm going to hold the hand of a stranger, I'm going to light a candle and sing my gratitude and resolve to whoever it is that is listening.
And as I leave, I'm going to resolve to work harder this year to make life easier for people with HIV and to work harder so people won't get HIV.
And I know I won't be alone. That beats any column I could write.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Popping in to say I've been taking a much needed blogging break. Finally finished all the book illustrations last Friday. To do so, I decided to deny myself any painting time until the job was done. I had joked with the author that I viewed working on the illustrations as foreplay and would not allow myself painting release until completion. So it was over a week with no oils.
Returning to the canvas this past weekend felt really good as did handing over the completed illustrations and receiving a nice check.
I'm also fairly swamped at work and on top of it, trying to prep my new assistant because it looks as if I may be taking a 4 - 6 week sabbatical at the end of February through the month of March.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
It snowed today. Flurries bring me a sense of calm. I stepped off the bus halfway during my trip so I could walk home in the cold air, feeling the wetness on my face. Taking a right on E. Republican off Broadway, there was the comforting smell of wood stoves warming homes all the way up the hill.
Last night I purchased a small roasted chicken, knowing it would be dinner for four meals. The weather was perfect for my baked sweet potato with baby peas and chicken. An early taste of Thanksgiving.
These past few days I've been too engrossed in a project to blog or even take photographs, saving my creative energy for the studio. This photo was shot last week.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A quickie once again because I'm still slammed with work -
It is Thursday afternoon in the office and for the first time in a long time, I have successfully resisted office cupcakes and bagels and chocolate all week. A couple times today I'd walk into the kitchen muttering "screw it", pick up the package, remind myself that I will indulge on Friday night and then walk out without succumbing to major sweets temptation. Huge victory.
The days are shorter and it feels as if we've not only lost hours of daylight but hours in actual time. How can I get everything done?
I've had to make a decision not to think about painting for the next week or two. My work week is spent focusing on my day job and the weekend is committed to completion of another art project, interspersed with a little fun, social time.
a couple links...
Patti Smith wins the nonfiction prize at the National Book Awards for "Just Kids". The book is a gorgeous read and I've been slowly savoring it.
Here are some poignant photos from various protests held in the last few weeks.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian is featuring artists' explorations of the fluidity of sexuality and gender. Gorgeous site.
Entrance to the exhibit, Hide/Seek - Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.
Keeping with the Hide/Seek theme...here is Matt Alber performing Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" live.
For the original, here is Imogen Heap.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Yesterday's open studio went well. There were folks who had come into the studio for the first time as well as friends. A few painters popped in and we had great conversations. It was a good day. After dinner with a few friends I hadn't seen in months, I arrived home at 7 and was in bed by 8. Very tired.
The above photo is of the 30 paintings in 30 days completed by my studio mate. I shot this while prepping for the open house. The work was due last night, and a few were still wet. So we set up the lights hoping they would dry a little more before she dropped them off.
And the color photo of my work table was taken by my friend John while he was visiting yesterday. He captured the 5 minutes the sun came out.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
When I purchased my new Macbook in June, I discovered iWeb. Since then, I've slowly been creating a website to showcase my work. It's still in progress. There is tweaking to be done. And I'm still indecisive about what else is going up, or coming down...etc. I still need to put is dimensions for the paintings and plan on redoing the photography section. But, at least there's finally something up.
You can get a first glance at mariegagnon.com
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Shot on Tuesday as our ferry was leaving for Bainbridge for our staff retreat. It was a good and fruitful day.
I had planned to take a vacation day this week to paint until we were reminded that today was a holiday. I've looked forward to an entire studio day and decided to walk instead of bus it. I can make it in under an hour. It'll be good, quiet day, chunking through paintings, working on illustrations while munching on a hard boiled egg, a couple satsumas, apple, cheese and a 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich.
These are some of the small things that bring bliss.
I walk or bus more often than I take the car. Yesterday morning I woke up very late and decided to drive to work instead of walking the 20 minutes. That is, until I found this. I am penned between two cars in a 3 car spot. What angered me the most was that the car in front can move up another 4 feet before hitting the loading zone. The car in behind me (although you can't tell from this photo) can back up a couple feet before hitting the crosswalk.
So...I walked to work.
This morning, nothing has changed. I called the nonemergency number of my police precinct to find out what I can do if I absolutely needed to take the car. They suggested I call 911 and their officer would come out to get it towed. I wrote a couple notes and left it on each windshield, asking them to move a foot otherwise they would get towed if I had to leave.
I don't need the car until Sunday, when I head out for my open studio. That morning I'll be hitting various shops to pick up food, wine, cider, and flowers. Hopefully one or both will see the notes before then.
A huge pet peeve is when people park without paying attention to what's around them.
And yes, I know I need to get new hubcabs. The plastic ones that came with the car 10 years ago slowly cracked and disappeared. But, for an old car, it only has 79,000 miles on it. My Corolla is still a baby.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
I walked into work yesterday and after seeing this declared war on carbs…simple carbs. It was a weekend of meetings and events which meant loads of extra food in the office. I love carbs but they no longer love me. Getting older means a slowing metabolism and it takes a greater effort to keep the weight down. I have to be even stricter with what I'm eating and increase the exercise even more. I don't purchase cookies, cakes or desserts for my home so the discipline needs to happen at the office.
I can deal with hot flashes (my new super power as I call it) much easier than deal with a tired metabolism.
And now, away for the day. I'm walking down to the studio before hitting the ferry for an all day staff retreat on Bainbridge Island.