oranje - recent posts from my current home

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Final Justice

Okay, I thought this was pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pussy Willow - R.I.P.

About six years ago a friend gave me a pussy willow wand. It was about five feet in length, so when I got it home I broke it into three shorter lengths and put them in water.

I must have been in a hurry because one of the wands went in upside down.

A week or so later, all of the wands had sprouted roots, including the one I had put in upside down. Not being one to deny such an undeniable will to life, I planted all three wands in my postage-stamp-sized backyard. By the beginning of Fall, the upside-down wand had taken firm root and had grown about three feet.

I was pleased.

Pussy willows, along with Queen Anne's lace and Cat tails are among my favorite plants. With its long, green leaves and multiple trunks it is interesting, intricate and beautiful. Much to my surprise, I found that the willow had grown at least another foot over the winter. At the beginning of summer I spent an afternoon trimming it back to a bout five foot in height and bundling the branches. The tree was only about eighteen months into its growth at this point but was already well over twelve feet tall.

During the following storm season, the wind whipped up the Allegheny River valley one particular evening. Rain sheeted down and small rivers swirled through the streets. The next morning, I went out to see how much damage had been done to the backyard and found the pussy willow canted over with its roots exposed. I trimmed the top of the tree, thinking to get some of the weight off so that it could be propped up and saved. The next day, when I went out to finish the job, I found that the tree had righted itself overnight.

That was a little scary.

But I still loved that tree. I probably should have gotten rid of it then, while it was still somewhat manageable. Maybe if we had kept up with maintaining the tree it could have stayed a part of our lives. But with so much happening, it became more and more difficult to get out and do more than the most basic maintenance.

After six years, one bad storm and two severe trims, the tree had grown to a two-story height. It had spread to cover not only our yard but our neighbors' yards. The main trunk is a good eighteen inches in diameter. My schedule has grown more chaotic and packed while the tree has grown by feet every season. Tom has spent his last three weekends trimming the tree in preparation for removal. Our new neighbor is gutting her house and generously allowed us to dispose of the debris in her dumpster. The tree is almost completely down. There is still a trunk, about five foot high, left. But that will be relatively easy to dispose of.

I think we should just pave the whole backyard and paint it green.

Monday, August 28, 2006

You are getting sleepy...

Too many distractions - watch the spinning ball!
I have been packing my studio at the Brew House all day today. I left just a few boxes short of being completely packed. One more session should do it.

I have been in this studio for nearly six years. About every six months I go through the studio and toss a bunch of stuff. I don't know about you but I tend to pick up little odds and ends that I think are interesting. I have every intention of using them, along with the scrap foamcore, the chipboard backs of filled sketchbooks, the interesting piece of wood and the little scraps of metal.

Today, I purged a lot of that stuff from the studio. I don't want to admit how many bags of trash I took out to the dumpster today. Really, it's embarrassing. What did I think I was going to do with the broken glass? I can't even remember anymore why I was holding onto it. A lot of half-baked projects went to the dumspter too. Some things just weren't worth salvaging.

This purging of unused materials will be good for me. A chance to start fresh in a new space with a new accumulation of interesting bits and pieces.

My new studio is on the border of Lawrenceville and Bloomfield, next door to an ironworks. There are all kinds of places to explore in walking distance. Bloomfield has a thriving business district that has a lot to offer. There's a hardware store a block away and a lumber store accross the street. I'm looking forward to getting into the studio to make some art instead of making walls and piles of dust.

Right now, I just want to lie on the couch and listen to my birds sing.

Good night, Gracie.

Friday, August 25, 2006

George Bush singing "Sunday Bloody Sunday"

Thanks to http://onegoodmove.org and Rx @ http://thepartyparty.com/

Barely Brunch

Bethany Hofstetter spent quite a few phone calls and attended one of our monthly model sessions over the last month. She has written a very positive, if not terribly in depth, article for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Please, check out the article.

Barely Brunch has been running for about four years. We have an annual exhibit, hosted at SPACE 101 at the Brew House Association. Yes, we supply a generous brunch for the attending artists but the sessions don't begin until 1:00PM. The attorney referenced in the article, Fran Frederick, was the Executive Director of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh for ten years. In addition to lawyering and drawing she is also a poet. Pat Barefoot, one of the co-founders (I am the other one) teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie-Mellon and Duquesnes Universities.

Bethany somehow missed some of our younger folks. Paula, who will be attending this Sunday, is going into tenth grade. She has been attending since January 2005.

This is a fabulous group to work with. Somehow the article kinda misses that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Play with your food

Edible origami cranes. these are made from wonton wrappers. it brings up a world of possibilities.

I wonder if this would work with:

filo dough
pillsbury crescent rolls
pie crust
fruit roll-ups

I think I might be spending a little time in the kitchen.

Friday, August 18, 2006

New studio space is moving right along!

The work on the new space is proceeding at a good pace, considering that we all have other commitments to keep up with. I am sharing the studio space with two other artists, my brother Chuck Busha and Ray Bradlau, both photographers. I'll tell you though, I wouldn't have even considered this space if it wasn't for Chuck. He's really handy. In my first post about the studio, I had mentioned that we were going to move the wall of shelves perpindicular to the front of the building and utilize them as a wall to secure the space. So, eighteen days into it and real progress is being made. The above images show the front of the space , which is where I will be doing most of my work. Look! Windows!

Chuck and Ray added additional walls to create a long cubicle and a hang-out area. Pretty cool, guys. See below left. The space has a loading dock door. The weather has been a little on the warm side but clear and sunny since we started working on the space. So we usually open the loading dock door when we are here to let in light and air. This is a little dark, but the image below right gives a fair idea of how long the space is.

What studio would be complete without a project? These are tiny pieces, a little larger than a slide mount. I have been doing the drawings at home. Did I mention that my husband and I have birds? They are the main reason that I have to have a stuio outside of my home. Although I have been drawing these at home, the finishing has to take place elsewhere because Alix and Louis are susceptible to airborne toxins.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Telling it all Part 6

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hill House Summer Festival

The Hill House Summer Arts project ended on Saturday, August 12, with a display of some of the students' work during the Hill House summer Festival. I wish I had gotten some pictures of the festival; it was a blast! They had music all day, food and drink, games for the kiddies. It was more like a block party then anything else. Lots of neighbors and friends, getting together to have a little fun on a bright and pleasant day.
A few of the artists that participated in the project showed up to say hello and drop off student work. Jessica Sommer kept me company for a couple hours and Biko, Ashley Cole, KL Brewer, Christine Bethea and Christiane Leach all stopped by to say hello.A few of the artists that participated in the project showed up to say hello and drop off student work. Jessica Sommer kept me company for a couple hours and Biko, Ashley Cole, KL Brewer, Christine Bethea and Christiane Leach all stopped by to say hello.

I got a little ahead of myself here. The top picture is of a hat-ku that one of the students at the Fresh Air Camp made. Ash and KL worked with the students on a couple forms of short poetry whaich the students then transferred to hats and t-shirts as part of the project. Just below that is one of the Sankofa reliefs created by a student at Addison Terrace with Biko.

Christine Bethea and Brenda Bethea-Brown are partners in Crossing Cultures. The project that they orchestrated with Hill House students this summer was Suessville on the Hill. This project brought the work of students from Addison Terrace, Bedford Dwellings and the Blakey Building. The students spanned 5-15 years in age. An interesting part of the project was that the artists worked with the students in owning traditional children's songs. I loved watching these two work.

The hit of the student exhibit was Vanessa German's Migration project. The students created shoes based on the ideas presented in the Women of Vision Migration exhibit. Considering the short time she had with the students, only four days, I think they turned out really well. This is just a small selection of the shoes. Unfortunately, most of the photographs I took didn't turn out very well.
The last image is of LaVerne Kemp's project, which is based on the Hill House's Find the Rivers neighborhood project. The pieces are quilt squares with a boat theme and incorporate images of the children. She worked witha group of 9-10 year-old students at Bedford Dwellings.

There are a lot of approaches to artist-in-community projects. The emphasis that evolved over these past four weeks at the Hill House was experiential rather than end-product oriented. Every student worked with more than one artist over the course of the summer. Every student was given the opportunity to work in more than one discipline. I am very proud of the work these artists have done and of the work that the individual students produced.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hill House Summer arts project: week four

Addison Hall is one of the five sites that the Hill House Summer arts project is placing artists. The hall serves the surrounding housing project and contains a gym and several classrooms. I would estimate that there were about forty children on the grounds on Tuesday when I visited with Rhonda Battl.

Denise Lewis has worked as an artist in this program for a couple years. She has brought dance programs to students in other programs in Pittsburgh. A wonderful dancer, Denise was instantly able to engage a group of small boys in exploring movement and creating an improvisational dance performance. I was a little sceptical when I saw the students assigned to her, thinking that it was going to be tough to get these energetic little boys interested in dance. She pulled them in by incorporating their own inclinations and showing them how to coordinate their movements.

Biko was working with another group of students in one of the second-floor classrooms. His project, which is also part of the Find the Rivers project, incorporates the Sankofa adinkra symbol. Here, the students are in the final stages of creating a plaque that incorporates the Sankofa with images of renowned black figures.

Christine Bethea and Brenda Bethea-Brown have taken their Suessville on the Hill project to three of the five sites that the Hill House is serving with this program. At Addison, the artists were working with middle-school aged children, examing and playing with the traditional camp song A Sailor went to Sea. It was great fun listening to the childrens suggestions about changing the lyrics, developing accompanying gestures and insisting on singing a spanish version when no one in the room knew more than a couple words of the language.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Thanks to J.T. Kirkland for the opportunity that he presents to artists in his bARTer project. He has just posted about our successful exchange of my work from the Shadow series for a painting by John M. Adams. Go check it out, it is most sublime.

J. T. has been posting as a blogger since 2004 at Thinking About Art. His own work is really beautiful abstract wood pieces. His blog is a great source for the Washington DC scene.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New digs!

I have been working the last week on the space for my new studio. I'll be sharing the space (2100 sq ft) with two other artists, Chuck B and Ray B. There's a lot of work to be done, but Chuck has real-life experience in things like drywalling and, well, you know, stuff!
Above is a pictured Chuck and his wife, Lisa. I consider myself really lucky to be sharing the studio with this guy.

As of today, the shelving has been moved to create a corridor that will eventually keep the space separate from the rest of the buiding. This is an old warehouse on Liberty Avenue, where Lawrenceville borders on Bloomfield.

Keep Your eyes on this space for further developments. We'll be participating in an open studio tour in October.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hill House Summer arts project: week three

With one more week to go, the artists' projects for the program are winding up. At this point, the artists have one session left with each of their groups.

I started out with the intention of going to the Addison site to see what Biko, Crossing Cultures and Denise Lewis were up to. I got to the site only to find that the entire center had gone swimming at Sandcastle. So, instead of seeing Crossing Cultures at Addison, I waited until Thursday to check out what they were doing at Bedford.

Chrisine Bethea and Brenda Bethea-Brown have been working as a team, calling themselves Crossing Cultures, for a few years. This summer, they put together the Seussville on the Hill project for the students. Combining poetry and visual arts, the project is designed to appeal to a wide range of ages. At Addison, they are working primarily with the older students but have been flexible enough that when they are on site they can work with any of the age groups.

I filled in that day for an artist who had to cancel her planned sessions with the students. Hopefully Staycee Walters will be able to join us next summer; she's an amazing dancer. At left is Miss Edna, who has been assisting the artists where she can this summer. She has worked with the Hill House on their summer arts projects and at other projects for a long while. We are lucky to have her for the program, she's great with the children. I wrked with the children on a weaving project, using cardboard looms. Since I only have about three hours with them, we are making spirit bags. each child will get a red feather to seal into their bags. The feathers come from my parrots, Alix and Louis, who are Congo African Greys. These red feathers symbolize wisdom in an african myth.

Next week is the last week of the project. We'll be bringing student work and performances to the Hill House for the annual summer celebration on Saturday August 12.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Visit Pittsburgh

John Perreault was a visitor to our fair metropolis several weeks ago. He was in town for a press tour offered by Visit Pittsburgh. He wrote an extensive article about his visit on Artopia. If you have a little minute, check it out.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blossom Dearie

okay, here's a link to her site. Amazing musician.

Giant Girl Doll

Absolutely beautiful. The singer in the background is Blossom Dearie, one of my favorites.