Saturday, February 4, 2012

Saturday 2/4

Back to L.A. where it's 75 degrees today. It's warm in Johnson, too - 25 degrees.

I have to say that this month flew past. I was lucky enough to have the summer off from teaching and I went to England for 5 weeks. That seemed a lot longer.

The river and the snow and ice taught me to look more carefully. My laryngitis taught me to listen. Everything eventually lead to my nascent shape poem project.

I ate far more chocolate and drank more champagne in Johnson than I have for the past year -- also terrific experiences.

Writing often changes its voice, depending on what I'm writing. Sometimes it's a bright or colorful voice. Sometimes the voice is quieter/paler and the language comes more slowly, chewily, which is what is happening currently.

I'm back into the swing of things. Grocery shopping, photocopying, lesson plan preparation, cooking and tidying up receipts.

Rolling up my sleeves for 2012!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday 2/2

A frisson of excitement. Last night, at some late night party, someone threw up in the dining hall men's bathroom. They threw newspaper over the evidence, perhaps hoping that it would somehow disappear. Or maybe it was a post-modern art attempt ...

Todd, our maintenance person, is furious. We, the elderly, are unable to stay up late enough to get that drunk. Over breakfast, we had a marvelous time tutting over the incident and congratulating ourselves on being innocently tucked up at 10:15pm.

This melting icicle is outside the elementary school but safely out of the way of the littlies.

Lisa has been making these alphabet letters as going away gifts for us. She's even providing packing
materials so we can get them home safely. My first experience in taking baby art on the plane.

The amazing Hwan's work. We had open studio visits last night.

The one in the box frame costs $2000. None of us had enough spare cash.

Today, I'm doing a couple of short pieces before my last work stint in the kitchen. It's now snowing gently - the real version of Hollywood snow that's made of tiny pieces of plastic.

And one last ice-sculpture pic before I wrap this blog up. I'll be packing my studio this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tuesday 1/31

The left-hand pic is of some kind of mushroom/toadstool item in the forest.

Finally some snow! It was quite warm, though, so I think we'll have more slush and ice tomorrow. Anyway, it was wonderful to go walking along the river this afternoon.

We had the last of the resident reading series last night and I read from the new short.

One of the artists dedicated her month to a project about everyone and produced these wonderful little paint snapshots.

The one on the left was written for me. I've been going around in my pink coat and orange hat all month!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday 1/30

Odd mix of snow and slush and more snow. It's meant to freeze tonight.

Lovely cavernous mouth of ice! I was lucky to get this one. I passed by later and it was completely frozen over. It seems weirdly dental.

I had my consultation with the current resident writer, Simon Van Booy. He's an interesting mix

of Chinese/French/Welsh but comes off as a peculiar and semi-proper kind of Brit. Really lovely person and a lyrical writer. He builds into his stories carefully, architecturally. His reading last night was deeply engaging. Everyone decided that he'd be great at audio books.

Spent some time with my friend, Cara, who's been a little under the weather. All of us are feeling this end to our month in various ways. Some are winding down, some are starting new work, and some are looking downright depressed. I'm doodling over some short pieces which are satisfying but not too demanding.

Going to bed early tonight.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday 1/29

After doing laundry and wrestling with the novel edit, I went with Lisa to visit Stowe, a nearby ski resort. We took the ski lift up to the top of the mountain.

The rock was amazing -- it had been wind-blasted with snow. And the skiers and snowboarders were utterly fearless.

On the way up on the gondola, we saw one small boy who was lying face-down in the snow and refusing to move. I completely sympathize.

At the top, we sat in the restaurant and had a drink while we admired the view and the backs of the skiers and snowboarders vanishing off the edge of the world.

This point was only 4,600 feet! It must have been even more stunning from the top of the black diamond runs.

What a glorious day.

During my last few days here, I'll be concentrating on the novel edit and the shape poems. It's so wonderful to have had this opportunity.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday 1/28

After the recent spell of warm weather, the river is running again. It has some interesting ice formations both above and beneath the surface.

It's constantly changing and mesmerizing. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm here to write!

Yesterday, I worked on the visual poems. I printed out a number of pictures and bought a piece of vellum to see what they would look like layered. I quite like the idea of multiple layers of vellum (for the words). Lisa came to my studio and offered really useful insights re: bordering, placement of language and so on. For now, I'm going to concentrate on seeing which images I'm drawn to. It's becoming more obvious that certain ones need less language.

Today, I'm back to the novel edit -- as much as I can do without feedback from the publisher. I'll have to send another email.

Last night we went down to the lounge and watched "Spellbound" (Hitchcock). Ingrid Bergmand and Gregory Peck. Some beautiful camera angles and snappy (and corny) dialogue.

This evening, we're meeting at Lisa's studio. They're going to be knitting and I'm going to play with my shape poems.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday 1/27

The last week! How did we get here so quickly...

It was snowing last night. It was lovely to tilt my head back and taste snowflakes.

Today has been sludgy and rainy. Very exciting getting around. We're back to wind-milling arms and impromptu skating.

Last night's visiting artist, Brian Belott, was terrific. He makes most of his art in the cheapest possible way. Does a lot of collage, paints on post-its or playing cards. He makes little books and stitches them together in the most basic way. They're great fun to look through.

I'm asking him to come to my studio after lunch to give me an opinion on what I'm doing with the snow-ice pics and "shape' poems. I don't know if it's possible to put them into a small book because of the writing.

Afternoon: I tried reducing the pics but I'm not happy with the smaller size. I believe larger might be better in this case. Lisa brought over some larger paper. I'll experiment with that.

We watched "Spellbound" tonight (Hitchcock) after dinner. It was utterly fabulous!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday 1/26

I've started working on the ice-snow-sea pictures and shaping pieces around them. I suppose the nearest definition is "concrete" poems, except I'm working into a photo of the natural "sculpture". One of my friends suggested I superimpose the poems over the (enlarged) photos. I'm going to work with another friend's light-box tomorrow to see if I can trace a photo onto the paper.

We went down to the river today. Love those geometrics!

It was lovely to get out and walk. The recent icy conditions have made it difficult to walk around. and there's more icy stuff on the way. They've cancelled school tomorrow since the roads will be treacherous.

From the left: Gladys (painter and writer), Marie (poet) and Lisa (sculptor).

Tonight is another artist lecture (we get lectured a lot). The second fiction writer has turned up, so I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say in the workshop tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday 1/25

One of those extra-slushy
days. It's still warm (30 degrees) and I'm longing for that crispy cold weather ...

Still, there are some interesting slush sculptures around!

So last night's lecture was from a social-conscience type of sculptor, I suppose. He does all these projects with various communities (old people, children, outdoor parks and so on). Some of them are impressive and others less so.

Charmaine, an artist pointed out that one of his projects was helping a homeless man become a well-known artist. Instead of focusing on the artist's work, there were numerous shots of the man signing his first apartment lease, wining and dining with well-known artists and society folk. It seemed to commodify the man and change the focus of the project entirely.

On the other hand, the formerly homeless guy is better off and now more able to explore his art. This relationship between benefactor and benefactee is wobbly. Example: The students who help the homeless because it looks good on their resumes for college. On the other hand, they did actually do something.

So, instead we shall look at floating chunks of ice and other acts of nature.

Tonight is another slide presentation by the artists. I always look forward to these. And we'll have wine!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday 1/24

The warm, wet weather continues. The frozen river looks exquisite in the rain.

Within the space of 36 hours, the whole atmosphere has changed. We wander around, our arms outstretched, wildly semaphoring over the slick surfaces.

Well, I've finally signed up for the last reading, so I can bore everyone for 10 minutes next week.

Hard to believe we're over half-way through the residency.

Marie, a poet, has just arrived. We've been trading traffic ticket experiences. Nothing like laughing at the police over breakfast.

From my studio window, there's a narrow strip of river still flowing. Every so often I can see a chunk of ice floating down stream, or upstream, I'm not sure which. Whatever it is, it's going with the flow.

I'm always impressed by artists who know their overall "thrust" or focus. I don't know if I have one, other than the shifting sands of identity, and everyone writes about that.

Today is kitchen stint day, so I'd better get back to what I'm here for!

On my way back to the studio this afternoon, I saw this patterning in a puddle where the mud had thawed.

I love these shapes and how they replicate in other places.

This looks surreal, the reflection of trees in the water on top of the ice.

This one shows water flowing over the ice. The temperature dropped this evening, so it's going to be another impromptu ice-skating day tomorrow.

Tonight is a lecture by another visiting visual artist who is a sculptor. We have wine and chocolate so I feel we're adequately prepared.

Monday 1/23

Warm today -- 29 degrees. Very odd. And it's raining. I took this pic on Sunday. Today it's definitely more soggy.

A bit sleepy today after the big trip to Montreal. The writing felt sluggish, but I did work on the short story. I feel guilty when I'm writing the short instead of paying attention to the novel. Weird, that guilt thing. Must be a hold-over from the good old religious days of my misspent youth.

Didn't spend much time over meals today. I'm already into the third week of my stay and it seems as though I'm not doing enough. I know that's probably untrue, but I can feel February relentlessly creeping up ...

Went to the reading (some of the writers read excerpts). It was hard going. It's hard to read just 10 minutes' worth of writing. A number of the writers are working on novels, so it's difficult to get the "flavor". Or perhaps I just wasn't a good listener last night!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunday 1/22

A crispy start to our day in Montreal! Because I knew I was going to be away for the day, I got up a little early to take some pics.

I've started watching these two ice peninsulas to see when they're going to meet.

It was -12 this morning and then warmed up to -9.

I wonder if I would wander around Woodland Hills and pay close attention to the incremental differences from day to day. Probably not!

We left for Montreal after having a breakfast panini at the local cafe. It only took an hour and a half to get to Montreal. Lisa, who was driving, has a range of music (blues, country, rock, opera) on her iPod so we had a triumphal arrival to Bizet's Carmen.

It's always so much more dramatic to arrive in a city over a bridge.

Our first stop was the Museum of Fine Arts where we saw the Feininger retrospective. Some of the early drawings look like they might have inspired the art work for Yellow Submarine (e.g. Carnaval a Arcueil). I also liked the Dorothea Rockburne exhibition. Huge geometric blocks of blazing color. Pictures don't do the pieces justice.

After that we wandered about in the old quartier, narrow cobbled streets. In one shop, I watched a small boy fill his pockets with sweets. I was admiring his enterprise when went to the owner (whose son he was) and announced the fact that his shirt was full of bon-bons.

Dinner was absolutely lethal. Champagne and venison. Utterly amazing. I've never had venison before.

We left around 8:30pm and got back around 10pm.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday 1/21

So I didn't make it to the party. Apparently, it didn't start until 11pm anyway, but people danced until 3:30am. Go, artists! Except for me, that is. I was tucked up in bed by 10:30.

I've been looking through the book that Cara (artist friend) loaned me -- "Patterns of Earth" by Bernhard Edmaier. It's a series of photos taking from heights, some quite considerable, that compare patterns, such as volcanoes, islands, glacier streams, island channels, and so on. Pattern-seeking is a human hobby, so this is quite lovely to look at. I wonder how salt crusts form into polygons (Badwater). Geomorphic research needed ...

More of the river froze last night. There isn't much left other than places where the water is precipitate. I like this bird-head icicle.

Today was novel-editing day. I did a fair amount of tidying up. Nothing yet from the publisher. I hope they send comments before I leave ...

This isn't very clear, but there's that layering thing going on -- different ice thicknesses.

I thought of going out for a walk this afternoon, but after my kitchen stint, I decided against it, and stayed in the studio.

This is from the middle of the bridge. The river was flowing freely when we arrived.

Oh yes -- dinner last night was this incredible sea-food soup. I wasn't crazy about the sea-food but the soup was absolutely delicious!

Dessert was lemon meringue pie. I was going to brag about being dessert-free once more, but I did cave in the afternoon and threw myself onto a rasberry chocolate bar. I think I would have liked to try the pie, though ...

My college acquaintance left today -- we didn't have a chance to catch up while he was here. I was either voiceless or sitting with other people at meal-times. He has a book out (published in 2005) and I didn't know until he'd gone. Someone had a copy of it. I wish I'd been able to talk to him about it.

Tomorrow we're off to Montreal. It looks like a number of cars are going, so we're going to meet for dinner. Might have to wheel out the creaky Francais.

Am currently reading Ilya Kaminsky's "Dancing in Odessa". Intriguing Ukrainian poet. He paints in verse. I found out that he, too, had been to VSC! Apparently, he's deaf and has a high-pitched voice, so he gave out copies of his poems for his reading. I think that would be helpful at all readings, prose or poetry.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday 1/20

Had the chance to spend some time with another group of visual artists at dinner. How interestingly they perceive line and sound.

This is what's left of the river: small fissures in the ice. We've been talking about the snow, but one of the locals tells us that this is nothing. Usually, it's much colder and there's about a foot more snow! It's apparently one of the mildest and driest winters they've had so far.

You can see the ice growing under the water. I wonder how the mink are doing with their fishing.

I'm accumulating files of ice-and-water pics!

This one looks like an ancient map of England. It's quite different from the other ice-hole shapes.

The below shape is more typical, that meandering and pushing of water against ice. I love these layers above and below the water-line. They record more about movement than the water itself.

There's a party tonight but it doesn't start until 10pm and I don't know if I can stay awake until then!