The house of doors
Our house is not large but it has more than its fair share of doors: eleven on the ground floor alone. And that's not counting closet doors. I remember when we bought this house in 1971, it was advertised as having "rambling informality." That meant there was no rhyme or reason to its layout. There are no real halls; one room just leads into another. Kids have always loved running around the circle on the first floor--front vestibule to living room to dining/piano room to pantry to den and back to the front again. Yes, there are rooms spinning off this circle--master bedroom and bath, screened porch, kitchen, lavatory--and there are two sets of stairs, one going to the second floor and the other to the cellar, evidence both of the original 100 year-old house and the additions built in 1960. Ed and I haven't changed a thing. We like its strangely sloping floors and mismatched mouldings. We even like the old scarred pine floors laid right next to the newer oak ones. A real old shoe of a house.
I've just added this and three other images to my "Edward Hopper visits my home" gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
from my new gallery--Motion and Stillness
The more I looked at the photos I took from the third floor of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the more they had to say. Especially if I took the time to examine them. So many stories were being told without words. And no one even knew I was listening. Nor could they have imagined that people from across the globe would also be listening to their unspoken stories.
motion & stillness
I've been working with my Detroit Institute of Arts photos and, strangely enough, this is my favorite so far. There's something about its minimalism that appeals to me. I'd guess I took a dozen photos from that vantage point--looking over the railing from the third floor down to the second--and am now wondering if they might make an interesting gallery on their own. I'll know when I've prepared all the photos in this series.
I feel so fortunate to be a photographer. Nothing ever slips totally under my radar.
(Best viewed in original size)
Doesn't everyone have a bathroom altar? I guess not. But I can't imagine not having one myself. This particular altar has been 30 years in the making. It started with the plaster bas relief you see in the back. If I remember correctly, I made that in 1978 during my years in art school. Then one thing led to another. Shells, stones, my "family tree" in which I woodburned the names of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. The green pottery vase given me by Patricia and Marciela when I left Oaxaca, Mexico in 1992. An "S" worked into a circle that a homeless woman named Sharon gave me during one of the six winters I sublet an apartment out in San Francisco. A plaque given to me by Fatima who cooked for my brother Rabih, Sulaima and the kids whom I visited in Beirut in November 2005. So many objects that have value to no one but me. All lit up by sparkling lights. Pretty magical, especially at night.
By the way, I just added this and five other images to my "Edward Hopper visits my home" gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
Contemporary Galleries, Detroit Institute of Arts
(Best viewed in original size)
When I wrote earlier about the Grand Reopening of the Detroit Institute of Arts, I focused on the party aspect of it all. Of course I was still high from dancing for hours to some astounding electronic music DJs. Besides it was 5 a.m. and I'd been up all night. But today I want to celebrate the jewel of a museum that Detroit has recreated.
We've always been known for our excellent collection of art--apparently the 4th best in the United States--but until now most of it was in storage. We just didn't have sufficient space to display it. But six years of construction, $158 million including an unexpected $40 million charge to remove asbestos, visionary DIA Director Graham Beal's insistence that the museum be reinvented to be more accessible to the people of Detroit--what some museum experts are calling a "populist revolution"--the addition of 31,000 square feet of gallery space so that 5500 works of art can be displayed at a time, inventive design ideas implemented by master architect Robert Graves, four new galleries devoted to African American art--unusual in any museum--plus exciting new interactive and multimedia programs for all ages makes the 122 year-old Detroit Institute of Arts the place to watch in museum circles. But more than that, it puts the DIA on track to becoming the thriving center of Detroit's cultural and artistic life that it deserves to be. And judging from the people's response during its 32-hour Grand Reopening, someone sure had their finger on the pulse of the people when they dreamed this daring dream into being.
On Friday night, the Detroit News reported: "At the latest count, around 9 p.m., the 32-hour marathon reopening had attracted more than 19,000 visitors, an average of about 1,000 people entering every 30 minutes, said Sven Gierlinger, vice president of museum operations. The crowds were so heavy around 2 p.m. staffers temporarily had to restrict access to the building, which has a capacity of about 7,000, he said."
Hundreds waited outside in the cold for people to leave so they could get in. Every gallery I visited was jampacked. Even when I scooted through the second floor galleries at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. When I finally left the museum at 3:20 a.m., young people were still streaming in. Now they may have been there to party, but what I noticed in every gallery was each person's rapt engagement with the art...no matter what their age, race, national origin, educational background or economic situation. Director Beale's populist revolution was happening before my eyes! It was one of the most exciting experiences of my 42 years in this amazing city. And I think I may have had the longest staying power of almost anyone--16 1/2 hours straight! CLICK HERE
to see what the Detroit News reporter Ursula Walker had to say about your PBase friend Patricia.
She sits by the window, unseeing and unseen
Back in the late 1970s when I was in art college at Detroit's Center for Creative Studies, I took several life sculpture classes. There's no better way to get a true sense of the spacial dimensionality of the human figure than to sculpt it in clay. This small torso is one of the few remembrances I've kept of that era. She now sits at the side window of my front room upstairs, unseeing and unseen...except by me. My sculptor teacher Jay Holland lives in her curves. He was a hard man to please, artistically and relationally, but, my goodness, could that man sculpt! May he rest in peace.
Detroit sure knows how to party!
(Best seen in the original size)
Yesterday I was a woman possessed. Today I'm just plain wild! It's now 5 a.m. and I have yet to go to bed. Heck, I didn't get home until 4 a.m. And I left the party early. There were still folks arriving when I left at 3:20 a.m.! Actually, this party is going to continue for 32 solid hours! That's how long the nonstop celebration of the Grand Reopening of our beloved Detroit Institute of Arts is scheduled to go on. And it doesn't cost anyone a penny, that is unless they want to buy food at the Cafe or some treasures at the Museum Shop.
I'd make a conservative guess that tens of thousands of people came to the museum today...and I should know. I got there 45 minutes after it opened at 10 a.m. on Friday morning, so I saw most of them at one time or another. Every gallery was jampacked, and it was the most wonderful cross section of our city and its suburbs with persons of all ethnicities, ages and countries of origin. I can't count how many non-English languages I overheard being spoken.
I took many, many photos and someday I may gather the best of them into a DIA gallery, but this morning I just want to show you where I danced my bootie off from 10:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. I took this photo at 12:30 a.m. and it only shows a portion of the crowd at the dance in the Prentis Court. There were DJs playing electronic music, my favorite music to dance to. It was awesome!!!
And now I am taking this weary body to bed...
Possessed by art
I'm like a woman possessed! On Thursday we finally got a couple hours of sun, so what did I do? I took my camera and searched every inch of my house to find patches of sunlight on walls, floors, curtains, tables, even on my former neighbor's alabaster sculpture and my collection of Great Lakes stones in the upstairs front room. But the search paid off! I have just added seven new images, including this one, to my "Edward Hopper visits my home" gallery. CLICK HERE
to see them.
I wonder how long this obsession with light and shadow will last? It's showing no signs of diminishment. If anything, it seems to be getting stronger. They should post a warning on digital SLR cameras: "This device may take over your life."
The first thing Ed and I bought together after returning from our honeymoon in November 1966 was this used Chickering piano. He can't really live without one. Since the age of eight Ed has been playing the piano. Although his parents tried to get him to take lessons, it wasn't his thing. Playing by ear is. What a special touch he has, even when playing the boogie woogie, the genre for which he became known in college. For 41 years we've been singing together at the piano. Sometimes I sing and Ed accompanies me; other times we sing duets. Back in the 1970s and 80s our home was the unofficial neighborhood youth center, and singing was a big part of it. The parents used to be surprised to hear their little ones knowing all the words to songs from the 40s, but that's what we'd sing. When we hosted three young adults from Japan for a ten-day sister city exchange in 1976, we taught them the song, "Getting to Know You." Thirty-one years later I still think of them when we sing it.
A few hours after I took this picture last night, Ed and I were at the piano again. Our songs were "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," "In The Mood," "Coney Island Baby," "My Funny Valentine," and "Perfidia." On this American Thanksgiving morning, it's simple things like this that I'm most thankful for.
If you're a regular visitor, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I've just added this image to my "Edward Hopper visits my home" gallery. CLICK HERE
to see it.
My definition of the word "accessible'' is "easily approached." To my way of thinking, Romare Bearden's collages, paintings and mosaics--like "Quilting Time" pictured here--are accessible. Now that does not mean they are not also significant artistic and social statements; it simply means they are easily approached. Perhaps it's his colorful palette or the simplified, almost abstracted, figures that help people enter into his works. Maybe it's that his favorite subjects during the last 25 years of his life were music, which he loved with a passion, and the activities of daily life in the African American community. But whatever the reason, Romare Bearden could speak to persons of all ethnicities.
That wasn't always true. During the Civil Rights era, a time when there was open estrangement between the races here in the United States, Bearden's paintings and collages of what life was like for African Americans sent shock waves throughout the art world when they were first displayed in 1964. But the shock soon turned to critical acclaim, and his position as a major American artist was assured. This mosaic, "Quilting Time," was commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1986. It was designed by Romare Bearden using cut-paper collage, and then sent to a mosaic artist near Venice, Italy who produced, cut and glued the small glass tiles according to Beardenís specifications. Romare Bearden died two years later, in 1988. To read a brief biography of Romare Bearden, CLICK HERE
I open my eyes
I could not count the number of times I've seen this view as I first walked and now scoot through our den at night on my way into the kitchen. But isn't it the familiar that we so often ignore? We'll travel across the country or even the world to see the unusual, or what to us is unusual, while shutting our eyes to what is around us every day. My artistic compulsion of late is to see, REALLY see, what has become invisible through over-familiarity. I'm starting right here at home. And I'm finding that light and shadow are my most trusted allies in the search.
This is one of six new images I added on Monday to my gallery, "Edward Hopper visits my home." (CLICK HERE
to see it.) I want to thank everyone who has visited and left comments thus far. You are helping me see that simple subjects can touch people just as much as splendiferous ones. And so my search for the familiar continues...
Great Hall at the Detroit Institute of Arts
This was a big weekend in Detroit! Our beloved Detroit Institute of Arts
reopened after five months of being closed for the final push in its seven-year major rebuilding project. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were the DIA Members Preview, and the Grand Reopening for the public will be Friday, November 23. If yesterday was any indication, it will be mobbed! Detroit does LOVE its art museum. And with good reason. Not only is it a lovely building--now made even more so with its spacious new galleries and light-filled additions--but it also contains a wonderfully diverse collection of art including North America's most significant murals painted by the Mexican master muralist, Diego Rivera. That mural was comissioned by Edsel Ford in 1931 and covers an entire indoor courtyard. It is the beating heart of our museum.
Yes, we have quite a history of art and culture here in the Motor City. Not what most people think of when they think of Detroit, but, if you're a regular visitor to my galleries, you already know that my city does not fit its stereotypes. You can be sure you'll be seeing lots of photos taken at the new improved Detroit Institute of Arts if you continue to visit my galleries. I am gaga over it!
To get a better idea of the magic they created by hanging these silver reflective disks from the ceiling in the Great Hall, you'll want to view this image in its original size.