Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beach Trip, Hooshing, and Art

A Trip to the Coast

We just got back from a few restful days at Newport, Oregon on the coast. As a child I loved my family's visits to the beach, partly because it seemed like a mysterious and separate world there. I remember lots of amazing shells on the beach, agates to collect, and little shops, musty and strange. We knew when we were getting close to the beach by the strong and compelling smell of the ocean. Everyone wore their oldest clothes. When my brother's and my clothes got worn out or ripped, my mother would always say, "Save it for the beach."

Along about the late 70's things began to change along Oregon's beautiful coast. Suddenly, it seemed, people wore new clothes in bright colors to visit the myriad of specialty shops that blossomed on the sidewalks. Upscale restaurants opened up, as did chain stores along the highway. At that time you could still find lots of used bookstores and independent restaurants in Newport, though much of the mystery was gone for me.

Now, I can rarely smell the ocean. There aren't any shells on the beach or many agates at Agate Beach near where we stay. The ocean, of course, is still there and sometimes we can see whales from the picture window at my parents' condo. I now view the beach as somewhere to walk along when it is warm enough. I have my favorite shops and bakery. I go to the Outlet Mall up at Lincoln City where I can stock up on books from the Book Warehouse for very little money. Sometimes I even find clothes or shoes at the mall. We sleep a lot at the beach and watch movies on TV--something we never do at home.

Yesterday, I took some pictures of an old, locked house along Nye Beach, one of Newport's historical areas. This represents the beach I remember. How mysterious! How I'd love to get inside that place!

Some Mystery Still to be Found

Look at all the stuff in here!

More cool stuff!

Of course moaning about the Good Old Days is a sign of incipient cronehood and it's all relative. My grandmother's family took a memorable trip from Eugene to Newport about 1914. It took several days in my great-grandmothers old crank-up- the- engine car. Once they got to Alsea, they took a ferry to Newport because in those days there was no bridge!

Newport was having a real heyday around this time. My grandmother's photographs show lots of young folks on the beach. Those not sporting modest bathing suits are wearing their street clothes--long dresses and hats for the women and suits for the men. In one picture you can see a big sign in the background announcing the elegant Hotel Nicolai.

Here's my grandmother in front of the little grocery store at Nye Beach

Here's the same store today.

A shop I truly love at Nye Beach is Jovi. Here you can find all sorts of objects of beauty and wonder. The owners, Veronica and Jodie, carry things you won't find in other shops. The shop is always changing and I always feel wonderful and inspired after I visit.

This corner of the shop promises spring and picnics.

Jovie carries some of my work as well as that of other artists in a wide range of styles.

Another corner of Jovi

All in all, I'd say the beach is still an amazing place. We are lucky that our Oregon beaches remain public and that the ocean still reminds us of the wonder of our planet.

I Learn the Art of Hooshing

I finally broke down and ordered a copy of the out of print Book of My Desire, Interior Alchemy by Rebecca Purcell. I've been wanting this book since I first heard of it a few months ago. (The book was published in 1998, but I'm a little slow sometimes.) In the book, Purcell explains how she learned the most important decorating concept she knows. She describes working on displays in Atlanta and learning the concept of "hoosh."

"Hoosh was a localism that meant display. As in:

"The top of that armoire needs a good hoosh."

"That table looks great, it just needs a little more hooshing."

"Heavens, it's already ten o'clock. I have to get hooshed."

"Hoosh that cabinet."

A hoosh is an arrangement that works, that has a sense of balance and its own internal coherence. At home, this means taking disparate objects and furnishings that you have and making something whole out of it, something with weight and presence. Hooshing also involves transforming things: finding great collectibles and turning out cunning fakes with staining and aging techniques and some Do-It-Yourself art."

One night last week my daughter and I got inspired by this and stayed up too late hooshing various areas in the house. Here are some pictures of the hooshed and unhooshed:

A bit of the pyramid shaped hoosh on the mantel.

My grandmother's overnight case atop a stack of art books

For quite a while I've had a hoosh in the nonworking fireplace in the living room

Closeup of above

This dining room area needs a hoosh

Part of other side of mantel.

We've had these two old light fixtures over the mantel for ages. Behind each one is an orange-size hole with capped off wiring. When hooshing the area I got the idea to put a small celestial globe on top of one (shown above) and an ornament I collaged years ago of the same size on the other. To me part of the fun of this activity is using things I already have. I've got a lot of cool stuff hidden away. Purcell gives ideas on how to bring your stuff to light without creating chaos.

Desktop hoosh

More hoosh needed here--the library books need to go Somewhere Else and the candles and vases need a plate with some other small items.

Altar area in progress. Note the plaster hand emerging from the handmade pottery cup.

Interesting bunch of objects--now hoosh 'em! The right arrangement could make these disparate objects look great together.

Bedroom dresser hoosh in progress. The assemblage by Sonia Kasparian needs to be rehung slightly above the rest.

Vintage family china and silver could use the hoosh of smaller items added in and something to tie it all together, like a long necklace, old ribbon or ?

Latest from The Art of Life Group

Civil War by Sarah

While Cindy has been working with prompts, Sarah has been painting without prior plan. After she finished this piece last week, she realized that it had overtones for her of what she'd been discussing with her grade school students that day--The Civil War. Her trees are close but seem at odds with one another. In the actual picture there are blues and grays as well as bright red...hmmm. Subconscious at work?


Cindy's prompt for the above piece was:

"Prepare a piece in a Gothic style. Using green colors, evoke a sense of loneliness and place the subject in the Black Forest."

Jodi used a prompt for this week's painting. Her was:

"Create a portrait of a deceptively skinny man with a nude pose. The picture should include knee-high bots, and feature contrasting colors."

Jodi brought the next two pieces to show us. She did these at a painting workshop in Hawaii. The workshop was based on expressive art and painting freely. The first detail below e is of one of her dogs, and the second of childhood memories.



Sarah worked without a prompt, but again felt her piece may have been influenced by the day's class--in this case it was Geometry!

Cindy's prompt this week:

"Prepare a piece in a pre-Columbian style. Using green colors, evoke a sense of kindness."

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