Saturday, September 27, 2008

What do I say?

First of all, I was wearing a name tag that said Sarah Hazel -- Artist. Beginning at 7pm and on through the night, people came up and asked about the Astrid painting. What do I say? Do I talk about the wonderfulness of my friendship with this child's mother? About how much I miss this child's mother now that they've moved back to France? Do I tell them that this child's mother took the time to help a stumblingly ridiculously ignorant French student? Do I tell people about how my heart aches because a dear friend is now living across the Atlantic Ocean instead of just across the street?

Do I talk about all the times I saw this child delight in the world around her, loving everyone and everything? Do I talk about noticing something in the heart and soul of this child early on, and how I studied her face for eight months waiting for the perfect pose to paint? That there was something something I couldn't quite put my finger on that compelled me to paint this child?

What do I say to people?

They all wanted to talk about brush strokes and the colors I used in the painting and the techniques and blah blah blah. Every time I look at this painting I'm reminded of this sweet little neighbor friend and her precious mother and the dear dear friendship we shared with her whole family. How do I explain to people that this is what the painting's part of my deep longing expressed through oil paint, brushes and canvas? How do I explain that I was just an instrument used to paint something that was already there?

The Astrid painting won the Peoples' Choice Award for Best in Show at the Xnihilo Gallery Showcase Showdown opening reception. I'm extremely grateful.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Weasel?

It just so happened that I had gone shopping for easels earlier in the day. A good easel is not inexpensive. Since it's such a large purchase, I called Reese to discuss spending that much money on a new easel.

That same night Reese went over to Mike's to jam. In Mike and Debra's living room was a large relatively unused art easel gathering dust. When Reese saw it, (the story went something like this,) he asked, "What's with the easel? Do you want to sell it?" To which Mike and Debra replied, "Sure, we want to sell it." So Reese asked, "How much do you want for it?" Yadda yadda yadda. And the next thing I know is Reese is walking through our front door with this giant amazingly sturdy easel....for me! They gave it to me! Free!

The next morning Helen dropped in to say that she and her family were evacuating in anticipation of Hurricane Ike. While she was here, I asked her if she would like to see my new easel. She looked at me like I was a crazy woman, and slightly hollered, "A WEASEL??!! When did you guys get a weasel?"

Through giggles, and enunciating very carefully, I said, "Not a weasel, I said A NEW EASEL."

Finally, yesterday was the first chance that I got to use my new, easel. It's awesome! It's sturdy, easy to adjust, beautiful, oh, and did I mention that it was free? The little unfinished painting on the easel is an image from our summer trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. More paintings to come!

(Life has been a little out of sorts since the hurricane hit. Thankfully our power was restored at 7pm on Sunday night.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ode to Ike

It's a week and a day without power
but at least we have a warm shower
four friends on our block
(they really do rock)
gave us ice so our milk wouldn't sour.

We baked bread in our friend Judy's oven
so Reese and I still have been shovin'
good bread in our tummies
whole wheat sure tastes yummy
and helps our health for good lovin'.

Gabrielle loaned her washer and dryer
for towels that sopped all the water
since Hurricane Ike
has caused quite a spike
in fact it was getting quite dire.

The Snyders had us over to dinner
supplies in the freezer are thinner
to eat our way through
is not hard to do
meal sharing is always a winner.

Today we got Minh's generator
his power came sooner than later
to Scotty and Jenni
he loaned two which was plenty
and they shared to make our lives better!

So now we have limited juice
I'm sitting here eating cous cous
updating my blog
like a bump on a log
quite happy to catch up on news.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Questions Answered

Message from the curator:

A lot of you have been asking questions about the opening reception, and rightfully so. Taft regained power late Tuesday, and we have been told that we will not reopen until Monday, September 22nd, as per a request from the elders of Ecclesia. That being said, the new reception date for our Showcase Showdown will be Friday, September 26th.

Thank you all once again for participating, and we apologize for the inconvenience. We hope you are all safe and sound and can't wait to see you at the opening.

Marc Brubaker
Curator, Xnihilo Gallery

Monday, September 15, 2008


Just a quick update because I'm borrowing a neighbor's computer.

The storm was fierce! The winds were unlike anything I've ever experienced.

The water has been deemed safe to drink.

We have a natural gas water heater so our showers have been pleasant.

The weather has been unseasonably cool for Houston is September.

We cooked pizza and chocolate chip cookies on our grill outside we're working our way through the freezer.

Two separate friends have brought us bags of ice -- amazing timing for our food! Nothing has spoiled.

We still don't have electricity, but again the weather is pleasant -- not that big a deal.

Only minor flooding in the yard and street. The neighbors all helped clear the street first thing which prevented problems.

No major limbs fell in our yard....lots of small ones, but they are already cleaned up. Reese worked all day Saturday, and Hilary and Joy helped out today.

So many friends have dropped in and called to check up on us. (and posted comments!) God bless you all!

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hurricane Ike is causing a commotion in Houston. So far, we are staying put.

Here's why:

1. Our home is so far inland that it's unlikely the storm surge will affect us.

2. A few months ago, Reese pruned (whacked) a tree that usually drops big limbs in high winds, so no limbs will fall out of that tree because of high winds.

3. We have plenty of food and water. The grocery store was out of all the good (bad) snack foods, and therefore our diet will remain healthy. On the plus side, Joy is making homemade toffee today. Yum.

4. We rented a few movies -- of course, we won't be able to watch them if the electricity goes out.

5. The leaves are raked from the path beside the house so that backyard water has a proper drainage ditch-ish thing.

6. The flashlight and small radio have batteries.

7. Just in case, the gas tanks in our cars are full.

8. And last but not least, we have an old school telephone that doesn't need electrical power to operate, just an old fashioned phone line.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Burn Baby Burn

Last night I burned two paintings. It felt liberating.

There was nothing but very prettily colored ashes left.

Today, I burned another painting. It was really annoying me.

At this point, there was a need for a bigger barrel type container in which to burn stuff.

Well, I tried to burn it.

Reese liked it. Even after attempting to completely annihilate it, he brought it inside and set it up in the living room.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yoycie and Jankee

When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.
-- Winnie the Pooh

Most late mornings, I'm a "bit out of sorts and feeling a little eleven o'clockish" but not today. Today, at precisely eleven o'clock, I had the privilege of meeting Yoycie, Carmen, David, and Agnes. Yoycie was the grand prize winner in my blog give away art contest, and today was the day that I finally delivered her painting. We have talked back and forth through the Internet but had never met face to face. She's amazing. We had an absolutely wonderful visit despite the late morning hour. Up until today, in referring to her, I had called her Joyce. Once, after I mistakenly replied to an e-mail calling her Joy instead of Joyce, she said,
Don't worry about the misspelled name, I'm used to it, and I'll answer to anything. When I grew up my relatives called me Joyce, Yoycie, Joy, Joycita (variations on my name); also Evelyn, Shebe, Sylvia (Shebe's real name), and Zelda (those are three of my aunts, whom I supposedly resemble). Oh, and John . . . that was my brother's name but my mom was usually so frazzled that we didn't expect her to ever get our names right.
After watching her and being around her for maybe half an hour, I looked at her and said something to the effect that, to me, she looks (and acts) like a Yoycie. She laughed and said that for whatever reason, the people in her neighborhood when she was growing up in San Antonio couldn't pronounce her name instead of calling her Joyce, they called her Yoycie. The oddest part about that was that she had a dog named Yankee. The very same neighbors who had trouble pronouncing the J in her name, had no problem at all calling the dog Jankee....because they couldn't seem to be able to pronounce the Y in Yankee!

The whole story reminded me of this particular blog post on the pronunciation of names. Thank you, Yoycie; I had a great time!
(Carmen and David are Yoycie's precious three year old twins, and Agnes was a mother's helper.)

Friday, September 05, 2008


I'm delighted to report that "Astrid" was selected to be in Xnihilo Gallery's Showcase Showdown; juried by Marc Brubaker -- curator for Xnihilo Gallery and Elizabeth Murray of Art Lies Magazine. Opening reception will be September 13th from 7 - 10pm, with the exhibit running until October 13th.

Reese and I will be at the opening. Please come join us (!), have a glass of wine, and enjoy the variety of art presented in this exhibit. Awards for Best in Show, Second Place, and People's Choice will be acknowledged at the opening reception.

Xnihilo Gallery is located in the heart of the Montrose district at 2115 Taft Street. Walk through the coffee shop/book store to access the gallery.

UPDATE: Opening reception now September 26th from 7-10pm.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


After reading positive reviews my curiosity was aroused. The Menil Collection is hosting an exhibit called "NeoHooDoo: Art For a Forgotten Faith." According to the Menil brochure, "the works in NeoHooDoo illuminate various ways of living in the present day Americas. They are an embodiment of ideas in the forms of the ritual and the sacred that come from this unique and vast cultural expanse, and they validate the spiritual as a foundation for the making of contemporary art." The NeoHooDoo Manifesto "believes that every man is an artist, and every artist is a priest." Hmmm, to draw from one's personal cultural experience in order to signify and add meaning to one's artistic endeavors; to elevate one's art to a form of worship; to be a conduit for the spectator to one's inner soul; well, this sounded intriguing to say the least.

Going in with an open mind, the first image that caused me to wonder was the entrance sculpture. It was an upside down liquor store neon sign with the tips of the toes of shoes woven around the empty dead extinguished light. Does this mean (my interpretation) that if alcohol is exalted, then one's world will be turned upside down, the light of spiritual illumination will be dulled, and one will be walking through life partially shod....only on the tips of one's toes? Therefore, one can never be fully grounded because liquor makes us lose our footing? OK, that makes sense....

The next sculpture was a very large gilded brass ring, which could easily be interpreted for wholeness, continuity, and beauty.

In another room, there were totem poles made out of tennis racket bags -- an easy leap to mass consumerism in the US and elevating sports to a form of idol worship. I actually thought this sculpture was quite clever and slightly ridiculous.

Not expecting to agree with the various artists' spiritual views was a given. It didn't mean that I couldn't appreciate the art form and process. However, by the time I had made the circuit to the last two galleries in the exhibit, I was truly disturbed. There was an almost life size photograph of a reclining nude with an enormous scar diagonally across her back. It was stitched together with red beads as if they were cascading from the wound. There was a short film with someone being repeatedly immersed in water...not a baptism, but a drowning. It was very hard to watch. Each turn of my head and it felt as if I was assaulted by something else -- screaming hatred and showing me the utter emptiness of the human soul in NeoHooDoo. The last straw (for me) was a sculpture of small graves set in the wall. The top layer of the grave was a thin film of transparent skin stitched in place with the same kind of stitches that held me together during my tomboyish childhood. It was just too vivid. The description card on the wall said that it was animal fiber sewn with surgical thread, but it looked like an ancient tribal ritualistic skinning of a human. The skin was transparent, and entombed in the tiny wall graves were shoes. If it was meant to be offensive, it worked.

Am I the only person who sees the total depravity of the human condition that accompanies elevating this form of "art?" Art that screams hate is exalted time and time again. Why? Is this type of art really meaningful to society? Why do I look at exhibits like this, and think that the emperor has no clothes? If every artist is a priest, then what kind of faith am I perpetuating?

I am a tiny voice.