Posts Tagged ‘kansas’

15 minutes…

March 20, 2010

…well, maybe 5 minutes, of fame…or, okay, not exactly fame, but they’re my minutes.  Grey Morris posted this little video of me working on a piece on his wonderful artists’ site, Hudson Valley Fine Art. If you’re an artist in this area, it would be well worth the trouble to sign on to his site, and if you’re an artist anywhere at all, check out Jonathan Talbot’s arts map and get your studio or gallery listed:  Grey’s blog is a real treat too:

Next pages in sketchbook: Son-in-law studying, with cat Solange….


Edna, Emma, and Lois

November 25, 2008

This is the fifth of this series derived from my visit to my home state; the girls are my mom, on the left, and her sisters.  The scene is one we passed by, shot from the car window…an abandoned limestone farmhouse, and the other characters are scans of toys.  I’ve run out of the little 4 x 4 canvases, so this one stands alone, at 8 x 8 inches.  emmaednalois-copy-3

On the road…

November 16, 2008

This may be the last in my little series of 4-panel pieces for now, not sure; I had a hell of a time getting my printer, papers, lazertran, etc. to cooperate on this one.  It’s also composed of pictures I took on the long drive to and from Kansas.  No memory pieces added this time…I tried to steer it in that direction, but it really wanted to remain simple, just the wide lonely spaces and the long road stretching through them.  I saw the beauty of the Great Plains on this trip, something I didn’t notice when I was a kid and just wanted to get out of there, get where things were happening.  Beautiful in its way, but I’m happy to be in the Catskills.


artwork progress

November 12, 2008

Upon returning from my trip to Kansas, I wanted to make some art about the feelings evoked by reconnecting with the place of my childhood, and leaving it behind.  I gathered some images; these are some old toy animals I found at a yard sale, which I scanned….animals

…an image of crows pulled from the internet (google image search)…

421626969_0d015b31f1_b…some shots taken on the road….kansas-backgrounds1And more.  I layered them, photoshopped them, and came up with this image:


I printed it onto Lazertran, a transfer paper, cut it into 4 4-inch images, and adhered them to small canvases.  Lesson learned: Paint the edges BEFORE applying.  It took forever to carefully paint the edges…!


When all were dried, I varnished them and glued them into the box I’d prepared by texturing with paper and medium, and this is the final product:


Kansas and Back, part 2

November 7, 2008

Okay, it’s taken me a bit longer to get back to this…I snapped so many photos that my hard drive filled up and I had to spend hours moving old stuff to make room to work on more.


Kansas limestone farmhouse


Kansas wind farm

On Tuesday morning, we headed west 250 miles to Hays, my home town. On the way we stopped in the little town of Lucas, famous for its Garden of Eden, the creation of an outsider artist, S.P. Dinsmore, who began building his house of limestone “logs” and filling his yard with concrete sculptures of Adam and Eve, statues illustrating his anti-trust political ideals, and the world’s only concrete flag.  He was a civil war vet who began his project at 64, and at 82 married a teenage bride and had a couple of kids with her.  His body is on exhibit behind glass in his concrete mausleum…he’s not looking so good these days.img_49631

Arbor, Garden of Eden, Lucas KS

Arbor, Garden of Eden, Lucas KS

Jessica and me in the doorway of her house in Eureka Illinois

Jessica and me in the doorway of her house in Eureka Illinois

Then it was on to Hays, and straight to Pete Felten’s Stone Gallery.  Pete and I have been friends since I was 12 and he was 25; curiosity drove me to the studio of the local “weird artist” and he became my art-encourager, source of information and a lifelong friend. Since I left Hays we’ve met up several times for adventures and travels.  He’s a wise and unpretentious man who spends most of his time carving stone, reading, collecting odd things that appeal to him, and studying old movies.  I hadn’t seen him for a few years, and it was really wonderful to have time with him.


Pete works and shows his sculpture in an old limestone building; here are some pictures of the outside and interior:img_4979img_4998

Below is a series he’s been working on for a few years, the Walking Women.  The sculpture on the far right, in the window, is a mahogany piece which I’ve loved for ages, and I bought it!


Below is the gallery’s bathroom, an ongoing project created of tiles he’s gathered:img_49911

Pete knows every nook and cranny of Hays, and showed us all the changes that have occurred in the 17 years since I’ve been there. A couple of local spots haven’t changed at all: The Brass Rail, watering hole for Ft Hays University students for about 50 years, where I had my first date with my ex-husband Bill (note grain elevators in the background), and Al’s Chickenette, which has served up its “special recipe” since 1946.  We had lunch there (chicken livers, an old favorite of mine which just is not seen on menus east of Missouri) and I think they were still using the same grease.

the Brass Rail, Hays KS


It was a busy couple of days.  We visited Old Fort Hays, built to protect the railroad workers from attacking Indians (they never attacked) and the new Sternberg Museum.  The museum used to be housed on the college campus, next to my dad’s science building, and it was my playground when I was little.  I knew all the bones and rocks and stuffed animals. It’s moved to the eastern edge of town now, all gussied up, and it’s been quite a popular tourist spot (if there really are any Kansas tourists) but I miss the old staid version.

I am having a hell of a time getting the photos to go where I want them to, to type where I want to type. Stuff keeps moving around and disappearing with a will of its own.  Sooo…I’m just going to write the rest of this and TRY to insert all the rest of the pictures at the end, because I’m getting really really tired of diddling with it.

We saw Pete’s 1961 statue, The Monarch of the Plains, a buffalo gazing over the prairies.  We made a pilgrimage to my old childhood home, next to my elementary school, and it was sad seeing the place so run-down and ruined when my parents had tended it so lovingly.  Hays has been improved, I suppose…they’ve rebricked Main Street, remodelled the library, and some trendy cafes and shops have moved into the downtown spaces, but it’s not a lovely town.  It was good to revisit my roots, but I had had enough by the time we departed and started the long drive back east.  I managed to squeeze in a brief chat with old friend John Bird, who has been the Democratic Chairman of Kansas (YES, there ARE some Democrats in the reddest of states!) We stopped in Kansas City overnight and I dropped off samples of my work at a couple of galleries, then drove on to Eureka Illinois, where my daughter Jessica teaches at Ronald Reagan’s alma mater.  She treated us to a delicious vegetarian dinner–all local and organic food–and then we just plowed on back to New York with an overnight stop at Kent, Ohio.  And that’s my story.  It will probably be a long long time before I visit Kansas again, but it was good to see those vast skies and breathe its wonderful air.  And here are the pictures I gave up on putting where I wanted them. Actually, not.  I’m just going to make a new post and hope the pictures show up there…I entered them and they’re not showing up.  Sigh.

Grain elevators, Hays KS

Pete's looks like a mess, but it's really a very organized collection of books and plastic action figures

Pete's home...looks like a mess but is a highly organized collection of books and toys

Grain elevators, Hays KS
Monarch of the Plains, statue by Pete Felten

Monarch of the Plains, statue by Pete Felten


Fish within a Fish...the most famous piece in the museum, one of only 2 or 3 such specimens in existence.

T-Rex skeleton

To Kansas and Back

November 4, 2008

Today I stopped at the carwash on my way to vote, and got 3,000-plus miles’ worth of dirt rinsed off my new Subaru.  I cleared out all the trip-trash, washed the mats, vacuumed and polished it, and it’s ready for its second oil change in 2 weeks.  Jerry and I returned from our road trip last evening; I deposited him and his stuff after a celebratory dinner at La Florentina, then came home to my very happy cat, who purred and rubbed against me all night.  It’s nice to be missed.  I spent much of the night in a half-awake state wondering which motel I was in…my house and life always feel strange to me after time away, and it takes awhile to settle back into my routines.  This morning I was dumping hundreds of junk emails when there was a pounding on my door; I opened it to a police officer asking me if anything was missing from my car.  It seems that at about 2-3 AM some teenagers from Middletown ransacked all the cars on Boxwood Court and many more in the neighborhood, stealing Ipods and GPS devices.  He had looked into my car (how embarrassing, with all the junk strewn everywhere!) and we checked…GPS and Ipod were safe and sound, and I don’t know why I was the lucky one on the street–usually I do lock the car, but I was tired and left it open to greedy hands.  Maybe the thieves were grossed out by the mess, or maybe the light that goes on automatically in my studio when the door is opened came on, if they came near the house–I don’t know, but I’ll keep the thing locked–and clean–from now on.


It was a great trip.  We set the Garmin to the address of my old friends John and Elaine Brewer, in Lawrence, KS, and adjusted it to find out-of-the way eating spots and motels.  How easy that thing makes travel. img_4713We got a late start on Wednesday, and stopped in Lock Haven PA that night, Carrolton Kentucky the second night…a grim dark town where we were lucky to find a pizza place open after passing on the local dive, where desultory youths tossed darts, slurped Bud, and chewed on greasy unidentifiable substances.  img_4738Boonville MO was our third stopover, a rather pretty place where we dined in a high-ceilinged old hotel, and on Saturday we landed in Lawrence which was mobbed with football fans, a party at every house. (KU lost the game badly but the celebrants were having a grand time anyway.)  Elaine has created a very beautiful living space in their large, graceful Arts and Crafts house, full of elegant furniture, plants, and art, a grand piano and two harps.  She’s a harpist and a Rolfer, and Jerry and I each got treated to an hour of body work. John is the primary cook, and he dished up fabulous Indian dishes for us.  John and I have known each other literally since birth–his father delivered me–and I’ve known Elaine since she and John were dating in graduate school.  HIghlights: the evening I sat back and just listened to Jerry and John deep in conversation while playing with John’s Soma Cubes and Elaine and a friend practiced harp and flute pieces.  img_4839The Doggy Halloween party at a local jazz place, all wiggly tails and silly costumes, ballerina dogs, skunk dogs, clown dogs. img_4830 Being guests of honor at John’s weekly “salon” session with his good friends Sally and Christy, both delightfully eccentric women.  img_4872Revisiting spots I knew during my first grade year spent there, when my dad had a Sabbatical at KU and my brother was a student.  Food.  Lots of food.  Art shows.  Watching Chris Brewer dance wildly with his DDR thing–a computer game activated by elaborate dance steps. The Spencer Art Museum at KU, where the fire alarm went off and we were hustled out an exit and had to wait till the firetrucks left before I could retrieve my coffee mug, which was left at the front desk.  (Maybe they thought it was a bomb??) Elaine’s garden–what a massive and gorgeous piece of work, an oasis of stone walls and paths, ponds and waterfalls.  We left on Tuesday morning, to head on west to Hays, my hometown, where one of my oldest and dearest friends, Pete Felten, stone sculptor, lives.  But this is enough for now; I’ll add some photos (I took hundreds, mostly out of the car windows) and continue the rest of my travel tale tomorrow.img_4736