Category Archives: Clay

Two Favorites

I visited the city on Wednesday, August 9, the city being my city, Philadelphia. My husband had a meeting at his downtown office and I decided to take the ride in and go look around.

It was a beautiful day. I rarely go into Philadelphia anymore, but for many years I was here every day – I worked in several different locations (for the same employer) in Center City and in the historic district. I also drove all over the place for my job, so I know a lot about the entire city; but it’s the hub of things I want to talk about today.

On this walk, I visited two of my favorite art pieces, both public art. I’ll show you a little bit and then, if you are interested, you can find more info on the internet or…you can visit Philadelphia!

All right. We’ll start with some relief sculptures on this building.

It’s the US Courthouse (now Robert C Nix Federal Building) and the William Penn Annex of the post office. The building is quite large – it extends a half block on Market Street and goes all the way through the block to Chestnut Street.

The reliefs I am interested in are along the 9th street facade. They were the work of Edmond Amateis and commissioned by the government through the WPA to ornament this 1930’s building.

They depict mail delivery and show it taking place in far-flung locations. I have always loved these sculptures for their style and beauty, and for the idea that mail delivery unites the world, with people working hard to get a letter where it needs to go.

Here they are: they are arranged in two pairs. You will notice a difference in the look of the reliefs – two were in the sun and two in shadow.

First, the cowboy and the city postman:

Next, mail delivery in the tropics and in the far north:

Every time I am in the neighborhood I stop to take a look. For more information look here.


 

Now, my other favorite. It’s Dream Garden, a huge mosaic located in the lobby of the Curtis Center at 6th and Walnut Streets, right next to the Independence Hall complex. I worked in a building around the corner for some time and when I needed a respite, I’d come over and visit the mural.

It was designed by Maxfield Parrish and created by the Tiffany studios. Many many small pieces of glass, iridescent, opaque, all glowing. It was installed in 1916 in this building, at the time the home of Curtis Publishing (Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post). The building itself is fascinating and beautiful, but I am showing you just the mosaic today.

As a note – there are a lot of pictures on the internet, better than mine – here is its official entry by its owner, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The mosaic was almost lost to the city about 20 years ago, when its owner died and the heir proposed selling it to a Las Vegas casino. In a complicated transaction with public donations and the cooperation of other beneficiaries under the will, the mosaic became the property of PAFA and is now protected as a historic object.

I noticed some “band-aids” on the mosaic that were not there when I last saw it.

A bit of research told me that construction elsewhere in the building had shaken the structure a year ago and damaged the mosaic. I can’t find details on what the restoration plan is, except that it is being studied for repair. I feel better knowing it is in the care of a museum, at least. Anyway, my pleasure was not diminished by the “band-aids”.

All right, now you’ve seen them. My favorites.

Advertisements

Out Into the Sunshine

I have been nominated for a blog award by Doctor Kandinsky. Now, I don’t do awards, but I always appreciate the feeling behind the nomination. It is very meaningful to me to have my work make enough of an impression on someone to merit being singled out, and I am very grateful for it.

I am writing this post as a thank you, and because I was intrigued by the set of questions posed, I wanted to answer them. I feel that I got the better of this situation, certainly, by being able to express some opinions and think about some issues. I’ve also taken the opportunity to post some images from the past – this blog has been going on since February, 2013…

Thank you, Doctor Kandinsky!


The questions posed and my answers:

1. do you think there’s a difference between art and decoration? why?

This question has been debated by better minds than mine. I will say that I do not like hearing someone say, as they look over my work in my booth at an art fair: “Do you have anything in (fill in color)? I need something for my living room.” – or – If you had a picture of a (fill in animal, object, whatever), I would buy it, because I collect pictures of them.” If you say these things in my booth, I will get a cold look on my face very quickly and I will try very hard not to sell you anything. I’m not kidding.

From February, 2013.

2. who’s your favorite painter (or writer)?

No favorites. There are just too many choices and each one offering something the others don’t. Let me just keep choosing from the endless buffet, that is all I ask.

collage, July, 2013.

3. when you look at art what are you looking for?

I am looking for something that stops me in my tracks.

Tell me
Artist trading card, 2013

4. do emotions have colors?

Yes, of course they do.

2″ square paintings, 2014.

5. do you think that concept art is a joke?

I am not really sure of the definition of concept art so I can’t answer. If you want to be taken seriously by me, then sincerity must shine through.

August, 2014.

6. does blogging help you to be creative?

I answer this with a 200% yes. Having this audience has meant everything for me.

Moon over the ocean. Clay tile, January, 2015

7. Da Vinci or Van Kooning?

Neither.

“Ghost House”
20″ x 16″
May, 2015

8. do you believe that artwork (paintings, photos, sculpture, literature, …) is more likely to speak to our mind or to our soul?

I do not think there is a line between soul, mind, or body. Art, like every experience, is to me something that rushes in wherever it can and roots itself in the places it finds best suited for it.

“Four Square.” September, 2015.

9. what is more important to you: technique or spontaneity?

If there is no technique, there is nothing to work with in a spontaneous way. I think in art, as in everything, skills have to be learned and exist in order to have a means of expression. I think the question needs to be: what is more important, planning or spontaneity, and I would say, my experience is that in every endeavor each one of these comes in waves, alternating with the other.

January, 2016.

10. is street-art vandalism?

Like so many other things, it all depends.

June, 2016.

11. how about young children as teachers in art schools?

No.

October, 2016. Clay tile.

12. why do people whisper when they talk inside of museums?

Because: they are intimidated by the look and atmosphere of the place, in the more haughty ones. Don’t like to attract attention to themselves in any situation. The acoustics of many museums amplify the least little noise. Were told by the teacher on that field trip so long ago that they’d in trouble back at school if they didn’t shut up right now. Are afraid their opinions will be overheard. Are afraid their opinions are uninformed or ignorant or embarrassing and will be overheard. Are shushed by the guards. Are shushed by other patrons. Are shushed by the people they’ve come to the museum with. Or, all of the above!

March, 2017.

Commuters: Train and Bus