Castleberry Hill, Bonsai, Downsizing, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

Saturday’s Castleberry Hill Loft tour reminded me that I didn’t get a chance to share these photos from last year’s tour. This year’s tour stops were all interiors, but last year’s tour included a garden.  Here’s a bonsai for scale —

Bonsai garden: 2016 Castleberry Hill Loft tour

Tiny tree, complicated roots…

Downsizing trees — this might be one way to have a personal forest for people who (like me as of October 6) don’t have a yard. This one was a paradise, and perfect viewing for a clear blue October day —

Bonsai garden: 2016 Castleberry Hill Loft tour

Bonsai garden: 2016 Castleberry Hill Loft tourAnd, backing up for an overview —

Bonsai garden: 2016 Castleberry Hill Loft tour

There’s Sam in the background under the awning, “getting his 500 words in”, talking to the gardener.

An aside on downsizing — after all this time I’m still not quite downsized enough to be Hoarder Came Clean. Moving day arrived too quickly for me to finish, and I still have a storage bin (or two) to empty.

Wish me luck on that?

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Toadstools, Hurricane Irma, and Two Weekly Photo Challenges: Structure, and Waiting

I always get a thrill out of discovering quirky creatures and features in the yard. One sunny day last week I discovered this toadstool mound. I was so taken with its structure that I was ready to use it for the Weekly Photo Challenge. It’s almost a toadstool cliff-dwelling…Toadstool moundThen Hurricane Irma headed this way, and even though we’re far enough inland that it was “just” a tropical storm, the structure I thought about most was my house. Why?  Lots of trees — tall, with shallow roots. Forecasts of 50+ mph winds had me worried.

Pine trees with squirrel

Someone else is waiting for the storm.

Backyard trees

The back yard needs to stay vertical too.

I know the storm danger here was nothing compared to devastation in the Caribbean and Florida, still, for the last two days of waiting out the storm my mantra was “Trees – please – stay vertical.” I worried so much that I left and went to stay with Sam.

Coming home I found that so far, so good, the trees are straight up, the squirrels are fine, and my structure is safe. Sadly, the toadstool mound is not. It was one of several around the yard, and they’ve gone wherever toadstools go. I’m hoping the Irma-rain will sprout some more.

Meanwhile,  why do you suppose I’m so hungry for mushroom soup?

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Buttons, My Goofy Collections Part 5, and Catching up with the Weekly Photo Challenge: “Ooh – Shiny!”

I must have been desperate for distraction…  Sorting out my closet a while back, something caught my eye — a little pile of buttons. Ooh — shiny! Tucked underneath were even more, all in little envelopes, the kind that come attached to shirts and blouses with replacement buttons inside. Over time (20 years at least), I’d tossed them in to keep them handy in case I needed to replace lost ones.

A jar full of extra buttons

Buttons – all together now

Here they are on the day of distraction – and see, I’d even kept the little cards of extra yarn that came with sweaters.

Sorting extra buttons

Sorting extra buttons…

I don’t think I ever used any of the buttons OR the yarn. Later, sorting yet another drawer, I found Bob’s cache of extra shirt buttons.  Apparently still desperate to procrastinate, I took out all the buttons and put the paper envelopes in the recycle bin. All but one or two sweaters were long gone so there was nothing I could do with the yarn.

It’s been a while since I added to the button stash, so I’d almost forgotten I had them (must have something to do with living in T-shirts now that I’m retired).

What to do with the buttons? This afternoon I took them to the lady at the Alterations shop to see if she could use them, along with a bag full of assorted spools of thread, seam binding, and other sewing supplies I sorted out. She seemed happy to get them, and, she’s fixing one of my old favorite shirts that was missing a few buttons.

Are you a fellow button-hoarder?

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1970s-Era Denim, Counter-Couture at the MAD Museum, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Textures

Downsizing got a little all-consuming around here this spring. This week’s ‘Textures’ challenge reminded me I hadn’t shared pictures from Counter-Couture – Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture, a show we saw at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York in March. And who wouldn’t want to see, or wear, a flaming horse (or chicken!) flying in the sky —

MAD Museum - Embroidery Detail - Anna Polesny - Fancy Jacket 1974

Detail: Anna Polesny – Fancy Jacket, 1974

These pieces were in the Levi’s Denim Art Contest of 1974. Anna Polesny was born in Czechoslovakia. This embroidery tells the story of her life and travels.

Here’s the winner of the 1975 Levi’s contest —

MAD Museum - Billy Shire - Welfare - Sneed - My Personal Belt - Detail

Billy Shire – Welfare – Sneed – My Personal Belt

The artist’s clothing has been worn by musicians in the bands Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, and by Elton John.

This is an 11-pound jacket. Rockers work hard. Some materials: upholstery tacks, handset studs, rhinestones… and yes, that’s a desk bell, meant to chime when the jacket is worn. There is also purportedly an ashtray, but I believe I remember it was on the back. On the belts: bicycle reflectors, rivets, and luggage-bottom studs.

MAD Museum - Billy Shire Denim Jacket detail

MAD Museum – Billy Shire Denim Jacket detail

Counter-Couture, Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture is on display at MAD through August 20, 2017.

Now back to downsizing — remember downsizing? I thought I’d donated or recycled all my oldest jeans, but here’s some denim I found in the depths of the closet this spring. My oldest jeans This isn’t even all the old jeans. No embroidery here, but the green jeans are 1970s era bellbottoms. As for embroidery, I do remember having some small well-behaved embroidery patches over holes, but of course nothing on the scale of the wonderful show items. I can offer this colorful inside label —

Green jeans vintage label

Vintage rainbow label in my 70s-era green jeans…

I guess having these makes me Ms Green Jeans. Is anyone else old, um, vintage enough to remember Mr Green Jeans?

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The Best Way to Find Lost Things, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction

The best way to find something lost is to lose something else.  It’s a complicated dance. It’s as if, in order to find the lost thing, something else must go missing to leave room for it to waltz back into my life.

A few weeks ago I needed my old TWA employee number and guess what, I’d just shredded a file cabinet full of paperwork.   Still, I knew I’d seen an old access badge somewhere. Could  the number be on it? I looked everywhere I could think of, but it remained stubbornly  lost.

Then I needed a pre-phone address book but couldn’t find it.  That must have triggered a call for the badge to come back. I took innocent hold of a dresser drawer handle and the entire drawer jumped out and emptied itself at my feet.

Dresser Drawer Collapse

No, “Up Your Kilt” is not what I was looking for.

And guess what was in the drawer — my badge. I found the number, but my old address book is still lost.

I’d forgotten this dresser drawer and it yielded some crazy stuff.  Among the old employee-anniversary pins, notebooks, and archived glasses were these three kinds of cards.

Computer punched cards

Punched cards! This dis-assember deck would have been Bob’s

Punched cards are nice to for turning over and writing lists on the back.  (In case you’re a compulsive list maker)Grannie Smiles card

This tiny playing card must be leftover from a long-ago and now forgotten deck. That bird looks a little predatory to me, but Grannie seems happy enough and has a cat to keep her feet warm. TWA Term Pass From my TWA Term Pass – I thought I’d hit the jackpot with this card BUT it doesn’t have my employee number on it.

I wanted to photograph the badge I found when the drawer leapt out at me, but now it’s disappeared again. I guess that means it’s time for the lost address book to come back.  But never mind, I’m satisfied, I found the number I needed  — or it found me — and have already sent away for my retiree standby card.

How do you find lost things?

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Bologna, The Whitney Biennial 2017, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

“It smells like bologna in here,” Sam said.  He meant bologna sausage, aka ‘baloney’. We were at the Whitney Biennial, and he’d been further into the room than I had. Here’s what we found when we went to investigate —

Claim: Whitney Biennial Version - Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Claim: Whitney Biennial Version – Pope.L aka William Pope.L. The hand stitched banner above is by artist Cauleen Smith. (I’m fond of the symmetry of the two red bags)

This is a grid of 2,755 slices of bologna, each tacked onto the appropriately pink background with a black and white photocopy portrait attached —

Detail - Claim:Whitney Biennial Version - Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Detail – Claim: Whitney Biennial Version – Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Playing with words and numbers, the artist’s ‘claim’ is that the number is related to New York’s percentage of Jewish population, though the photographs were chosen randomly. See that drip in the photo above? We were there a couple of weeks after the exhibition opened, and the passage of time was wreaking a little havoc with the materials in this piece.

Claim:Whitney Version - Pope.L aka William Pope.L

Greasy Art Stuff – nope, it’s not archival.

The curator’s note tells us that Pope.L has made other versions of this work, many focusing on Black subjects, and goes on to say that “Claim (Whitney Version) plays with our tendency to project ourselves onto numbers and stokes our awareness that such counting often lays the groundwork for systematic acts of discrimination.”

Conceptual art can challenge the viewer in ways that strictly visual art does not. Still, it’s rewarding to see it through, even though it’s dependent on our patience in being willing to read about it.

Um, there may be one potential problem here —Service dog at the WhitneyWe went on to view the next floor, so can’t say what happened when dog met art. Hopefully, training prevailed.

Claim won the the Bucksbaum Award, which recognizes one artist from each Biennial exhibition. The Whitney will host a show of Pope.L’s work this fall.

What do you think of this exhibition?

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The Whitney Biennial, 2017 (Catching up with the Past Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflecting)

Want to know what these people are looking at?  We’re in New York at the Whitney Biennial in March, and it’s hard to know whether to look up, down, out, or over.

Samara Golden - The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial, NYC

Samara Golden – The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial, NYC

Here’s a view from the platform —

Samara Golden - The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial, NYC

Samara Golden – The Meat Grinder’s Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial

You can tell this is a huge and site-specific installation, but even standing there in it, I couldn’t tell exactly how many floors were part of it and how many were illusions. The sky was down, or was it up? The traffic was up (and down) and the Hudson River was out (wasn’t it?). To each side were floors of sculpted interiors – with stratified layers of furniture, office, and institutional space, some nightmarish. Were they all even right-side up? I don’t think so.

Samara Golden - The Meat Grinder's Iron Clothes, 2017 Whitney Biennial

The clouds and the traffic, along with the occasional helicopter, provided movement. It was hypnotic. With so much going on, I didn’t take in the social commentary until I read about it. Not unusual, since I’m all about the visual when it comes to looking at art.

Like many recent exhibitions, this year’s Whitney Biennial was strong on social concerns. Suffice it to say that those layers were meant to provoke thoughts of social as well as visual stratification, referring to inequality and our political climate. I’ll share more images from this year’s exhibition in future posts.

How about it – do you look for the social implications or for the visual when you’re reflecting on art?

 

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