Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chalk it up Prescott and a teacher's strike

This past weekend was a busy and a bit exhausting one, as Mike and I went up to Prescott, Arizona for their annual chalk festival. When I say up, I mean up! They are literally a mile high city up in the mountains.

Early on Saturday

On the plus side this means that temperatures are only in the high 70's (unlike in Phoenix, which is hitting the high 90's).

Even so working in the direct sun takes it's toll. I burn a lot faster at a high altitude.

This is where I stopped for lunch that Saturday. 

Later in the day Mike started sitting with me, shading me with the umbrella.

We definitely worked fast and made good progress on this 8 foot mural on the first day of the fest. Unfortunately I couldn't sleep that night at the hotel, thinking about this mural and distracted by my aching drawing hand which I managed to severely burn. I just didn't think to put sunscreen on my hand and it wasn't shaded by the umbrella.

So we came back at 6am as the sun was rising.

I cut up one of my socks that I'd packed and made it into a glove to protect my hand.

Anyway, I was done by 11am. Which was good I didn't want to work any later as I was exhausted.

I dedicated this mural to my friend, Stacey Aragon, who liked this original painting so much she bought it. She also supported me through my work for years buying my comics and paintings and even commissioning art. Then she passed away last year because cancer always takes the best people.

Drone photo of the festival.

All in all it was a really nice event and if you're ever in the area in April it's a great day out!

In other news this week has been a strange one. It started off normally and then the teachers of Arizona have gone on strike. The school system I teach after school art at has shut down today and tomorrow, and for possibly longer. My daughter, Phoebe's school is a small charter school that can't afford to close, but she had an excused absence today. Naomi's online school is business as usual, but all the big public schools are shut.

This morning teachers and supporters gathered downtown. They are all dressed in red because it's called "Red for Ed".

We managed to find teachers and students from Phoebe's school and march with this packed crowd of 70,000 people in 97º heat. It was one of the biggest marches I'd been to (and I've been to quite a few this year alone).

Here's Phoebe in red!

These people are obviously experienced marchers. They wrote their phone # on their child's arm in sharpie. Anyway it was intense. I hope this strike doesn't last as long as the last teacher's strike we witnessed. The one in Bariloche (Argentina) lasted weeks and weeks. Of course the teachers in Arizona are paid appalling low salaries and most work several jobs, so I hope this goes well.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sedona and an Art Show

 For Good Friday we traveled north to Sedona, to show Chloe's friend Makayla, from Missouri some of Arizona.

It seemed like a good idea at the time because everyone was off from school.

Except everyone really was off that day and we headed to one of the biggest tourist spots in Arizona so traffic was awful and it was pretty packed. We stopped off near this gallery for lunch and found this amazing sculpture in the rocks!

They in fact had a lot of beautiful southwestern art on display.

Then we headed out to hike in the Peace Park.

This is the site of the Amitabha Stupa that we'd hiked to before.

We hiked to the mandala where people were participating in some kind of new age ritual. A lot of people were walking around with a tour guide as well, searching for "vibrations".

Chloe with Makayla, Cayenne and Oscar near the rock towers.

There were fields of rocks towers throughout the park.

   In the end it was a good day out, even though I didn't feel any magical vibrations or whatever. Unfortunately that day Chloe's friend Cayenne was pretty sick and the next week we all found ourselves hit pretty hard with her cold (except Chloe who left back for Missouri the next day). 

    Of course while being sick (again) I was hired by a ballet company in Chicago to make many masks for their production of "Thumbelina", and was in a mild panic that I would feel this awful while drawing at the chalk festival in Prescott. Fortunately I feel much better and the festival is this coming weekend.

Also last week at Phoebe's school they had their big annual art show. This is a paint pouring demonstration put on by the art teacher and students.

It actually looked like a lot of fun!

They really coat it in paint.

This is Phoebe's table. She actually sold quite a few paintings, including the one of the lady in red, so it was a good night!

      The big news this week is that Chloe's been accepted into the study abroad program and will be spending her fall semester at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.  The crazy thing is that she's not allowed to have a layover in Ireland on her ticket there and back or she will no longer qualify for the program. We'll of course be in Ireland this summer, but instead of traveling on to Scotland, she'll come home with us and fly out again later (annoying and expensive).  Still, I'm thrilled for her!!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Yet another Spring break

  Over Easter Chloe came home for her Spring Break. She brought a friend, Makayla from school to visit as well. The day they were set to arrive, Mike was in LA for Wondercon and Phoebe and Naomi set upon the state capital with their youth group for "March For our Lives". The kids who marched that day were face to face with a counter protest of a large group of "open carrying" men, wearing their AR-15's like purses. Because of this group there was a swat team with their guns at the ready on top of the state capital. In the middle was thousands of very brave young people and my daughters. I was proud of them for marching, but that was a lot of guns.
  After that day of cleaning and airport visits we all headed over to the Desert Botanical Gardens to show Makayla some of what our city has to offer.

Me and the girls at the entrance

There were a lot of sculptures on display inside by an interesting artist named Jun Kaneko.

This one was called "Untitled Head"

Visiting the gardens is always a great day. This time the butterfly aviary was open as well.

On the path near many cacti.

Naomi took a break from the sun and stepped into this wigwam, a replica of, I think,  a Hopi Indian shelter.

Anyway after Mike came home we also went to check out the Pompeii exhibit at the Arizona Science Center. This is the statue at the entrance.

The exhibit was full of interesting artifacts from the city before the volcano erupted, like this snake statue.

This is a portable furnace. I think a slave would set it up in a room with hot coals inside. It looks a lot like a foot stool, but that would be a painful mistake.

And this is a very phallic wind chime photographed from above. Phallic symbols were everywhere during this time, it was a good luck symbol. People gave them to children to wear around their necks, though ultimately not such good luck for Pompeii.

These are theater masks. Theater was a big part of their culture and one form of entertainment, another was of course the gladiators....

... And here's one of the gladiator helmets

Anyway after learning about their lives and civilization we were brought into a room that shook, filled with smoke and projected a show of the destruction of Pompeii. Then we were sent into the after part of the exhibit. The castings of the bodies...

This is a woman and child. They were found hiding in their home.

This was a guard dog.

This man was crouching by a fence. He's holding a cloth over his face to help him breathe. 

There were more, but it was pretty creepy. The most accurate casting was of a child and the skin on top of his head had been burned off. It showed a very detailed cast of his exposed skull. Apparently the people didn't run during the early earthquakes because they got earthquakes all the time. By the time ashes were raining down it was practically too late to get away on foot.

During the week I also was finishing up as Artist in Residence over at Copper Canyon Elementary. I did finally bring a camera to take pictures of the kids at work making masks

Here we have 2 dogs masks and a carnival mask made by some talented 7 year olds.

A lion mask and some creative designs.

One of the students at work on a princess mask.

And my absolute favorite, a crow by a young third grader named Nina. I'm so impressed with all these kids it was great fun to work with them!!

“As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance”-Calvin (Calvin and Hobbs)


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