Monday, October 27, 2008

Remember, remember

I'm almost done with a new big piece, but in the meantime, I've finished a small one.

You can see it larger here. I like this piece, but I'm fussing about the title. It's called Remember, remember and I want the title to make it clear that I'm talking to myself, not preaching to anyone else. I'm not sure that title does that, but nothing else is coming to mind. If you have any ideas for titles that DO make that clear, please let me know. Other than Hey Sam, Stop Wishing Your Laziness was Genius And Get to Work, I mean. I've already decided against that one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eat at Swallow

I don't usually write about food, but I've been driven to it by my sense of justice. And some fries. They were really good fries.

Swallow is the best food and the best bargain in Philadelphia according to me and everyone I know who's gone there. And the reason I know this? People who go there go nuts telling other people to go. Before I went there I was accosted by my photographer friend, who described the food in so much detail it made me think he must be a secret food fetishist. But no. Eating there is such an experience that you get the virus: you start ranting to your loved ones and strangers alike. This place is GREAT. The food is incredibly delicious. The bill is small. The owner is a doll, and always, for some reason, gives us free food, even though all we do is go in there with our unruly baby and mess up the place and compliment the food. The waitstaff is swell- they put up with the undomesticated child with good humor and grace. Swallow is better and cheaper than Farmacia and Sovalo, which are two other very good restaurants in the old city area. It's WAY better than the Standard Tap, but that's because it's less high toned- the food is more frenchy and fancy than the Tap, but I mention it because it costs about the same amount to eat at Swallow as it does to eat at the tap. The chef's cooking is deceptively simple, precise and nuanced. See? I'm doing it. Go there. Get the beef bourguignon. You can thank me later.

The reason I'm writing about it here is that for some reason the place got assassinated by Craig LeBan in the Enquirer. My guess is that he thought he was being sucked up to and got his revenge: the chef does tend to come out of the kitchen to chat, and perhaps Mr. LeBan took it personally. But whatever. The man is wrong, and Swallow should not be suffering because of one cranky man.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hold my hand, Guido, and teach me to sing

While I was in the Philadelphia library looking at the Poe exhibit I found out that they are digitizing many of their holdings. They have their medieval manuscripts online and available through Columbia University's Digital Scriptorium. Which is pretty great. I had planned to write a post about the rare book collection at the Philadelphia Library, but this image from the Scriptorium hijacked me.

This is a "Guidonian hand with somatization symbols." Guidonian hands, in case you didn't know, diagram a medieval method of learning to site sing. You can read about them here, and there's a lovely short video of someone demonstrating their usefulness below.

But don't you just want to look at them? I love them.

The Granger Collection, NY

The Guido in question is Guido d'Arezzo, pictured here.

This is a parody of a Guidonian hand from this blog.

While I was looking at hand diagrams I came across a glove map of London.

It's from Bioephemera, which looks like a great blog, and from there I went to this wonderful collection of hand images that includes a really great grisly description of the medieval "hand of glory" that should creep you out just in time for Halloween.

Here are some more hand diagrams, just because they're awesome.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Po, po, po Poe.

Manet's Raven

I went to the rare book collection at the Philadelphia Free Library yesterday to see the Edgar Allen Poe exhibit. It was really just an excuse to check in on Grip, my favorite raven, since I'm not that interested in Poe, but as usual when I find myself dismissing something other people like, once I gave Poe a chance I found him fascinating.

The Raven poem, for instance, gets stranger and stranger the more one thinks about it. The bust of Pallas? Lenore? What!? Imagine: "Okay. We've got this animal. Spooky. A squirrel, maybe, or a weasel. No, a bird. A big one. An ostritch. No, a raven. And it's all about the guy's lost love Betty. No, something unusual, we'll get that later. And the ostritch knows one word, but it's a really scary word..."

Tenniel's Raven

Dore's raven

Poe's obituary is on exhibit. It says, "Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it" It's a long, extraordinarily brutal piece of writing. It was written by one Mr. Griswold, who, Wikepedia says, bore a grudge against Poe. Um, yeah.

Shortly before Poe died he went on a paranoid bender that made him shave his moustache to confuse would be assassins, disappear for a few weeks of hard drinking and reappear puffy faced and sick wearing someone else's clothes. He died ranting about someone named "Reynolds" in a hospital, attended by a relative he called his "bitterest enemy".

He also had the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen. It's very jaunty and girly. I'd love to have penmanship like Poe. The writing looks especially great in a love poem he sent to a married woman friend that he later tried to woo with a suicide attempt. (Word to the wise, Poe, when you write a two page love poem, the first page should contain something about the beloved object, not just 18 stanzas of how you can't wait to shed the mortal coil.) Although he also married his 13 year old cousin. That stuff probably works pretty well on preteens, especially with the handwriting.

But who am I to snark? He was also a genius, and since 1950 his grave has been visited by a "Poe toaster" who, in the early hours of January 19th, toasts with cognac and leaves three roses on his grave. (I should be so lucky. My grave will probably be visited intermittently by a lonely dachshund who will leave three different souvenirs on an occasional basis. )

Manet, Le Corbeau,1875

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Thanks to a nice person who stumbled on my web site recently, I discovered VVork magazine, which has a nice little series of demonstration photos this month. This one is my favorite.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Budworm's Dilemma

The hiatus is over. I went on blog hiatus because I was working on an artists book which I knew would take a while to finish. I didn't think I'd have time to post anything until the book was done, but now I'm back to making drawings. Why, you ask? Because a fabulous artist* invited me to participate in a show in Paris. Oui oui, mon frere, Pareee de France. It's at a really great gallery, Galerie Magda Danysz, I love the work they show, and have I mentioned that it's in Paris? I'm so excited.

I finished this new piece this week. It's called The Budworm's Dilemma, and it's up on the website here.

It has some slightly complicated word play. It says, "Depending on my level of optimism or pessimism, the chomping past or present devours my past or present." So if you read it down the left side of the page, it says, "Depending on my level of optimism, the chomping present devours my past," and if you read down the right side it says, "Depending on my level of pessimism the chomping past devours my present." But you can read it any way you want.

What you might not know, though, is why it's called The Budworm's Dilemma. You'd only be able to guess at that if you were as obsessive a gardener as I am, or rather, if you obsessively watch your garden the way I do. I can't really say I'm an obsessive gardener in any typical sense. My garden is pretty amazingly messy: it's totally overgrown and weed filled. But that's because I'm always really curious to see what each little sprout will turn in to. So half the time I end up watering the weeds and watching the bugs that are eating my flowers with great enthusiasm and excitement.

Which leads me to budworms. Tobacco budworms, plague of the south, do immeasurable damage to crops like, say, tobacco. But they also eat petunias, and they eat them in a really artistic pattern. They eat petunias in such a way that if you look quickly at a ravaged patch of petunias, you don't notice that your flowers have been damaged: they just look like another kind of flower. You also wouldn't notice, unless you looked closely, the budworm itself curled up in the center of the flower it's finished eating.

Petunias and budworms are in this new piece. You can see the progression of the petunia in this series of details. The moth in this image is the tobacco moth.

Next time you're looking at some petunias, take another look. This kind of damage is fairly common, and it's very beautiful. There are larger images of the piece and more details on the site here.

In other news, Jennifer Zarro interviewed me last month for Art Matters, which has the full interview in a great looking two page spread with images of Suspense and Suspension of Disbelief in the magazine this month. It looks great. I find it excruciating to read. But hey. I don't get paid the big bucks to talk about art. (Or at all. But you know what I mean.) The interview is online here.

*The fabulous artist who invited me to be in the show will remain unnamed for now- I think he might want to keep things on the down low until he's sure his friends won't beat him with sticks for not inviting them to be in a show in Paris.