Sunday, January 6, 2008

New York Inspiration

I have just returned from a long-awaited vacation in New York City! We stayed with our old friend Thomas Krever in Brooklyn and walked a bazillion miles while we were there. Re-entry after a vacation in another culture is always challenging, and New York is another culture! Brownstones, subways, New Yawk accents, a melange of colors and heritages, crowds, and tons of energy. Of course I had to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

I have to rave about seeing The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. This incredible installation now has a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum after being in storage far too long. I have known of this monumental work since the late 70's, but have to confess my attitude has been, yeah, yeah, The Dinner Party, the early Women's Liberation Movement, yeah, I know, I know. Now that I have seen the piece in person, I can't praise it enough. Walking many times around the triangular "dinner table" was amazing. Judy Chicago and her many helpers created intricate and evocative place settings for goddesses, artists, queens, poets, writers, and many other women who were important in their contributions to humanity. I can only begin to imagine how powerful it would have been to see this piece when it was first created. At that time women's history and experiences were much more invisible than they are today. Even now, in this supposedly "post-feminist" era, I felt so healed by imagining the women portrayed sitting down together for a feast. I feel that by creating this piece, Judy Chicago created a new reality for women, or perhaps, illuminated one that had always been there but was hidden for a long time. I felt in looking at this work that the women were sitting there together and always would be. I don't know if this makes any sense, but if you get the chance, go and see this work!

I want to tell the story of how I met Thomas, our gracious host. In 1995 I decided I would go on a tour of Italy where I had never been. My Italian Fever had been raging for some time at that point. Since my mate was starting school and was unable to go, I decided to go with a tour since it was my first trip to Europe since 1970. On the last night of the tour, Thomas, a lovely man named Dennis, our tour director, and I went to a late night club and danced for hours. This was a big deal for me, as I was in my mid-forties and thought my dancing days were over. It was a magical evening and it was hard to say goodbye to my new friends. Thomas and I had really hit it off as friends. He was 26 at the time and from the other side of the country (Brooklyn), but our mutual love of Italy and art brought us together. For some reason I thought of him often after the trip was over and finally wrote to him. We began a correspondence. He actually came out to Oregon to visit us, something most New Yorkers would never dream of. Shortly after that I took my first trip to N.Y. One year we went to NY to see Thomas dance at Lincoln Center. My mate stayed with him a couple of years ago while on temporary work assignment in NYC. Thomas is now the Executive Director of New York's Hetrick-Martin Institute which runs many important programs for youth, including the famous Harvey Milk High School. He has lunch with people like Cindy Lauper! Success has not changed his warmth and good will toward his friends from the provinces. I tell this story to illustrate how amazing life is when we take some chances. If I had not taken that trip to Italy I wouldn't have started making art and would not have known Thomas and his wonderful partner.

It was literally below freezing much of the time we were in New York. We walked many miles each day as we pursued the sights. We were out in weather that would surely keep us inside here in Portland. The goal now is to walk more at home. Hasn't happened yet...but I have hopes.

I plan to keep the gray and wet doldrums at bay this winter by making lots of art and offering opportunities for others to lift their spirits by doing so. My first workshop of the year is a favorite from last year, "Layers of Imagination/Memory". This is a chance for beginners and experienced collage artists to make evocative and personal work that honors a family member or creates an imaginary world. Here's the info:

A Unique Collage Workshop

This is a great opportunity to honor loved ones or create an imaginary world. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced collage artist, you'll find inspiration and support for creating your own magical world with collage.

Bring two images that you love, such as a reproduction of a vintage family portrait or a face from an old master painting. Learn fun techniques and leave with two magical collages that evoke your unique vision. Beginners welcome!

Sunday, January 20 10-4 PM

Tuition: 90. including supplies

Call Serena at 971-404-7664 or email

Happy New Year and thanks for reading my blog!

Pictures: Judy Chicago's Dinner Party; Thomas dancing with the Joan Miller Dance Company (he's in the foreground); Serena freezing in Manhattan, Close-up of The Dinner Party place setting for my fave, Artemisia Gentileschi

1 comment:

Judy Wise said...

What a lovely post. It sent my imagination soaring and helped me appreciate Judy Chicago's masterpiece once again. Well done.