Friday, August 22, 2014

We're on

I said I would leave a note here about Good Eggs participation in the Frogtown Art Walk. Well, it's happening. Jeffrey Hutchinson, the floor manager and the one who commissioned my mural, has been working hard to see this come to fruition...and yesterday, the word came. We're on. 

There will be more art than you can shake a stick at, local and close-to-local artists will fill the space with dance, music, and art. Please come by and check out Good Eggs

Where: Good Eggs Warehouse, 2760 Clearwater St. 

When: Sept 13, 2014

Time: not sure, but check the website, I see that some things start at 5 and the walk will probably go until 10 or 11. The action is usually along Blake St. but this year Clearwater will have a pedi-cab to ferry passengers to Marsh Park.

Here's the fb page:
and the website:

And here's a shot of the finished mural, at the entrance to Good Eggs. It doesn't have an official title, but I'm calling it "The Frogtown Bird Walk." 

See you there!

 (photo by Tom Harjo)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Freak Out!

 This is what happens when you freak out and have no confidence in yourself. You make a long list of everything you need to get through the day, pack your car and rush off in a flurry, but you forget your purse, and since you're not so far from home, you do an about face into the gas station, making a sharp turn, but what you haven't calculated for is the curb (you swear it wasn't there last week) and hit it, BOOM, slamming your tire, but you're still freaking out so you don't notice it's flat until passersby point at it with worried expressions, and so, you stop right there, realizing you have brought this on yourself, freaking out and such. 

It's hard to calm down when you've worked yourself up into a state, but you must, otherwise you're lost, so while your husband drives down the hill, you sit there and meditate. Not very successfully. Okay, not at all. 

I don't know why I was in such a state but I'd been working on a mural for Good Eggs for a month, and now it was done, which meant finally taking it out of the studio and putting it up. But instead of feeling good about it I felt anxious, anxious that somehow it wouldn't work. But after I busted my tire, left my car behind, drove Tom's car to Frogtown, I met with my art pal Margaret, who is full of positive energy, and we laid out the mural and pasted it up. The day went quite well actually: nothing fell from the sky, the paper didn't disintegrate, nothing dramatic happened. Other than frying my phone and not being able to call or text anyone, everything went smoothly. It was a feeling of great satisfaction to actually see the mural realized.

First, laying things out in the driveway
Margaret starting to paste up



Come by and see the mural in person at Good Eggs, 2760 Clearwater Street, in the old Hostess Bakery building. As of this writing, I'm hoping it's part of the Frogtown Art Walk, but will keep you posted here or through email, The big sliding door to Good Eggs, which is the entrance, is generally open.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Can't afford the rent

It started with sliding the key under the door...

No. It started with getting no sleep the night before...

Or maybe it started with my last night in NY?

Or the night before that....

but whenever it started, I hadn't slept a wink when I slipped the key under the door and realized I'd left my phone inside the apt. The apt was on the 37th floor looking south over the new Freedom Tower. A monstrosity close up...

...but from far away, at sunset, with the sun reflecting off the slanted glass—a sight to behold!

I was leaving on a 7 a.m. flight and had to make it to Penn Station and find my way onto the LIRR (not difficult)...

but here it was 4:30 and my phone was inside. Since I was a guest resident, would management open the door again?

They did for a fee of $15.

Unfortunately, I didn't have it because my ATM card had been canceled the night before due to a security breach.

Maybe it started there?

The night before I'd had dinner with my great pals Melissa and Louise, who knew each other from Reed College and were friends before I met either of them. Every April (or at least for the past few) we've gotten together, the three of us.

Dinner with pals

Earlier in the day, Melissa had asked for my assist on a little adventure putting up ELKPEN'S artwork--to be distributed around NY.

We were trying to figure out how to tie the red-tailed hawk on the other side of the fence at St. John the Divine, when a tall strapping young man by the name of Ian walked by and asked, "Need any help?" Sure did! We had tried climbing the fence, but got stuck half-way up like escaped convicts under the scrutiny of a search light. Ian was a godsend.

A godsend!
Sign reads: 
"The red-tailed hawk is one of the largest hawks 
and females are larger than males. 
Paris stay together for life.
Two are nesting near here."

The night before I'd had my own adventure putting up two rat wheatpastes down on the Bowery, with my son Mekko who served as my look out. It was deeply satisfying leaving something behind in the city, especially near where I used to hang out in the 80s, but now catering to a different crowd....meaning, the moneyed.

"I used to live here but I can't afford the rent."

 Wheatpasting on the Bowery

Still up the next day! (Spring and Bowery)

You see, things had just started going well after a bout of uncertainty, doubt and a strange fear that took hold on this visit. What had I hoped to accomplish here? Whatever it was, I hadn't done it.

But after I put up the wheatpastes, things started falling into place. The next day I felt surprisingly open to the great flow of humanity that is New York City. After breakfast at B & H in the east village, I walked to the Community Settlement House, the first Jewish social justice organizations on the lower east side. Inside I stopped to admire the painted panels on each side of the entrance, naive imagery of scenes of early life on the LES. As I stood there, the artist of the panels appeared and introduced himself. In his hand was the most beautiful plate I had ever seen—a work he'd just shown to his ceramics class of elderly Chinese from the neighborhood. What good fortune, I thought, meeting this man, talking about his art, seeing the work of his students. We talked like old friends. 

I walked away with the plate wrapped in my sweater.

"Golden Pheasant"
by Lee  Brozgol

After that openness and lightness, that spontaneity and beauty, after helping to put up ELKPEN and dine with my friends, it hit me, I was leaving the next day— which caused me to toss and turn and stare up at the ceiling all night. That's when it happened: Reality set in. I was going home—home home home— to my real life in L.A.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Hello Blog, it's been awhile. I was reminded of you this morning when I got an anonymous message sent to an old Rat's Nest post, from 2009. The post, RATZ, told of my love for my two pet rats, but also about the happiness I felt in writing the blog, you blog, and as I lay in bed I remembered that joyous feeling of having an outlet for my thoughts.

Fast forward. No blog writing but art making. Less writing and it's been missed. Where do my thoughts go now if I don't write them down? They basically fly out the window....unchecked.

For instance, this morning I was wondering, what's with the creative process that you can be so involved, so totally absorbed at the expense of everyone and everything else, ignoring your husband and your daughter— who is probably very happy to be ignored— but ignoring everything except what you're engaged in, in this case, painting. And then after all the hard work, all the sweat and self-doubts, after the damage has been wrought in the family, and the damage of creating something has been wrought, you return to your own sorry self and there's nothing there. What about that? Why is it always a letdown after a work is done? That empty feeling, that existential void? 

   Ukrainian artist Dase Roman Sherbakov

I'm not asking you, blog, to answer this question, I'm just happy you're still here so I can write this down. That already makes it a little clearer, already puts something in front of me to mull over.

It's a little unsettling to feel so empty now, with the painting hanging, and my studio cleaned and waiting for me again, and me up here, in the kitchen, writing, afraid of what's next. Afraid is not exactly the right word; stymied is more like it, paralyzed is even better, but as one knows, the process of going forward into the unknown is part of it. That part that makes the throat constrict, a hesitation in your step. Yet, in truth, nothing is holding you back. Of course, nothing but yourself. 

(Note to blog: that last part is not part of the process unless one's process is to completely destroy everything that has come before, in order to move forward...but I'd like to think total annihilation does not an artist make.)

As far as making a painting, Pussy Riot was on my mind. This funky first sketch was done while Marla Frazee was lecturing, a teacher at Art Center, who had just said the best time to sketch is when you're not thinking about it. I thank her for that nifty trick.

What engaged me about Pussy Riot was seeing the documentary "Punk Prayer" and hearing the Church elders speak of Nadia as the devil, with her full lips and the way she looked at you with those eyes. Pussy Riot was doing "the devil's work," the Church elders believed. That these men who had once spewed their hatred towards Jews and anyone who wasn't a true believer, who had reduced women to sirens, devils and witches was infuriating.  Who were these religious men who talked so dangerously and commanded so much power? They were nothing but buffoons in big hats!

My grandfather was also on my mind. I thought about the story he told of his brother, who in order not to be inducted in the Russian army, shot himself in the foot. For Jews, the Russian army was a fate worse than death. My scholarly grandfather emigrated at the turn of the century, probably for this reason. My grandfather was a peddler when he first arrived, but I imagined him, in a sketch, in the old country, with a horse and cart. And as a homage to Chagall, I painted the horse blue, however, not flying.                         

Peddler (internet).

Top, photos of Great Grandparents and Grandparents. 
 Silkscreen (in peacock blue) of same.

Images started appearing. The naked woman on the chest of the Church Elder was from a page out of a Russian revolutionary art book that Molly brought over. The lecherous Cossack came from my imagination. The Russian clown below, reminded me of the Russian clowns who performed in an early Cirque du Soleil. The masks are ghostly pussy rioters.

Putin's head is smashed by Pussy Riot's foot, Stalin is next to the Tasmanian devil, with "the devil's work," written in Cyrillic script, and the reason for the collaged eyes of the main pussy riot character is because I spent 3 days trying to draw eyes and failed. Eyes are said to be the window to the soul, and trying to capture the soul of Pussy Riot, well, now, that's beyond my scope.

First try, wrong pose
right pose, wrong eyes

 I used one eye from Nadia and one from Masha


(a not quite finished version)

That's it. Thank you blog...and thank you readers.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eastside Zine Market

Introducing Leo "Puppypants" Lopez, my tablemate at the Eastside Zine Market last Sunday, but honestly, I thought he went by the name of Mr. Panda.

Leo grew up on the other side of Soto Street in East LA, works as a librarian assistant in Berkeley, lives in Oakland, thinks about getting a MA, and writes and draws comics with other like minded ziners. When he heard there was going to be a zine market in East LA, he booked a flight. I was so lucky to get Leo as my tablemate for my first ever zine market. He taught me the ropes: how to walk them, how to jump over them, how to ignore them; he's done dozens of these before. You'll find him next at the LA Zine Fest in mid-Feb.

Here's a pretty famous ziner: Yumi Sakugawa, author of "I think I'm in Friend Love with You," and many wonderful meditation guides and comics for The Rumpus. (She was going to tell me her secret Compton connection for getting books printed for $1 each —unheard of— but we never talked again after initial introductions.) Her zines are sold at Skylight and on Amazon.

and here I am with my zines and half table display. (Note: tablecloth from South Africa in memory of Nelson Mandela.)


Although I sold only five books, I'm going to say that was OK, given the competition— a room full of talented cartoonist and ziners who are passionate about the form. The zine I sold the most was called "Lost Rat," about a rat who leaves her comfortable existence for the street. Here's some images:


Will I zine again? Not sure. It's fun to think about what works and doesn't work, and how to make a zine more cost effective; that takes time and patience, neither of which I have in spades. As Tom said in the build-up to this event, this wasn't about making money (boy, he can say that again!). Welcome to the zine world.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Playing with Puck

Last week at the library, I was glad to hear Maureen Moore, associate director of ALOUD, mention playful in a list of her boss's most beguiling attributes, because 1) it is such a rare trait to have in a boss, and 2) I have known her boss, Louise Steinman, mainly in that way for over three decades, and it would be such a pity if she couldn't carry that puckish prankster part of her to her job.

I was also happy that Jack Miles who interviewed Louise for ALOUD about her new book, himself took up the playful mantle—jumping out of his seat at one point to focus attention on the twinkle in the eyes of rescuers Janka and her 9-yr-old son, Marian, projected overhead. Imagining the thought process of mother and son in deciding whether to house a 17-yr-old Jewish boy, Miles turned to the audience, shrugged his shoulders and said: "Save a Jew? Why not!" It was a funny Woody Allen moment and a testament to the book that Miles could segue from seriousness to playfulness and not be considered a heretic, given the gravity of the subject.

Louise's book, The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation, is a revelatory read, seamlessly weaving a complicated history with the personal, and although not done in the name of play, certainly it was Louise's skills in the art of play that helped her through the ten years that it took to write the book.

As for knowing her mainly as a playful puckish prankster.... that might not be entirely true, but for the purposes of this post, I will say it is, and present to you, forthwith, some playful moments shared together over the years. 

Dog's Head Route, Portland, OR, 1980
(photo credit: Chris Rauschenberg) 

At the harmonium... 
(photo credit: Chris Rauschenberg) 

 In rehearsal...

Ojai, mid-80s
(Where are those dresses?)

 New York City subway, 2013

Playing around in Studio A (still!)