Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The haboob and the blackout


        Yesterday evening another giant wall of dust hit the city. The trees bent and broke, and the wind was dangerous and intense. It howled for forty minutes and just as we sat down for dinner, the lights went out. Of course that meant no a/c as well, which worried me, the wind was still a hot wind (like a hair dryer on the highest setting). Then as we fumbled through dinner by candlelight we noticed it was misting rain. This changes things, maybe it will cool down.

     We gathered our dog and Naomi and decided to take a walk. The wind was there but not bad and it was just a drizzle. Debris was everywhere, and trees and branches were down all around us. Emergency vehicles raced past us. And the misting rain and the breeze was fantastic. As we approached the supermarket the rain began to pour, so we cut across the lot and noticed the metal corrals that hold the grocery carts were flipped over and tossed to the side by the wind. We approached the covered area in front of the Safeway where a group of supermarket workers mouthed and gestured "We're closed" at us through the glass doors. We wandered past them shrugging and pointing to the roof. From here we walked the outdoor mall under the roof till we had to run back home in the pouring rain. It was the best dog walk we'd had all summer.


After a few hours of playing cards and then dominoes by candle light, Naomi offered to read us some of her book (Mike and I couldn't see well enough to read, but she was all for trying). She was reading "The Secret Garden", a book she'd found in her room in Ireland a few weeks ago and started there. I remembered last year when Phoebe worked on the musical, that it was full of ghosts, so I thought it'd be perfect! Alas the book has very few ghosts. Naomi said it was all in the beginning when everyone died of cholera. Oh well.

Today when I left to teach art camp I noticed a clothes hanger high up in a tree ..... That was some storm.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Drawings from Ireland and new mask orders

So now that we are home and have access to our scanner, Mike and I have been going through our sketchbooks from Ireland.

Mike's drawing of a banjo inside the resident's cottage

Mike of course has many, many drawings as that was the focus of his residency.


He did some incredible work. This is inside the cool passage by the coach house.


And this is his drawing from the path in one of Shankill Castle's many gardens.


My drawings are not quite as complete. This is from the graveyard by the Medieval Mile Museum.


These are birds near the waterfront outside our apartment in Dublin. There was a very drunk man (or at least he was acting drunk) hanging all over us asking questions. His name was Peter, and Mike was sure he was trying to rob us. Mike kept closing the top of his backpack and 2 seconds later it would be open again. Of course when we draw in public we're very aware that we're vulnerable to this so we take precautions with our valuables.While he didn't get anywhere, he WAS very, very annoying.

Elizabeth's art on the poster by the gallery
Since we left Ireland our friend and host from the art residency, Elizabeth Cope, had her art open at a show in Cork. Unfortunately the banners and posters outside the gallery were vandalized by a very prudish person with a sharpie. I'm sure the free publicity about the vandals has only helped though. The gallery was reporting over 1,000 visitors a day!

drying mask
Since we returned I've been working on custom mask orders from my shop. 


This one is drying after getting a glue layer to smooth the surface.


This mask is a depiction of an anime character.


Here it is finished. There are pinholes to see through in the eyes. I shipped it yesterday, and of course I have more masks to work on. 

Next week I'm back to teaching art camp as well. Teaching kids can be challenging for me, but I'm forever grateful for my job with Abrakadoodle Inc. Thanks to this company's sponsorship I've been able to travel to Morocco and Ireland for art residencies in the last 18 months, which is pretty amazing.

In other news Naomi comes home from camp in California today. Phoebe's there as well, but she's staying on another week. Also the first day of school is creeping ever closer! Just another week and a half!!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Art updates and Mike hits the road

So right now we're slowly adjusting back to summer in Phoenix, which is not an easy task...

If you're used to celsius the temperature ranges from 40º to 46º
So I've been using the pool lately. 

close up

While we were off in Ireland last month my sculpture "Night Over Tétouan", that I'd created at Green Olive Arts in Morocco last summer was permanently installed into the Colegio Español Jacinto Benabente De Teuan (aka the Spanish School) and they held a dedication for it...



Jeff from Green Olive Arts went to represent me and I recorded a video message in Spanish to be played at the opening. (If you're reading this, thank you Jeff!!)


This movie I created props for ages ago finally opened in London last week which is super cool.


This is my sketchbook, titled "The Thing in The Lake". It just went on tour with the Brooklyn Art Library and will be in Toronto next weekend! The address is at The Historic Distillery District, 9 Trinity Street, Suite 200, Toronto.  From there it tours with the show to Chicago and then Atlanta, GA. Anyway if you live in any of these places the show will be pretty amazing, and some of the books are incredible!



A few days ago Mike and Phoebe left to go to San Diego Comic Con. Here's Mike, his publisher, and his editor, promoting his new venture, Forbidden Futures at SDCC! 



Anyway in a haze of confidence I submitted for a mural job before I left for Ireland. I got it, but the developer wants me to recreate this image from my book "An Caisleán" (that I just made for my Ireland art residency). The kicker is that I agreed to do this in August.... In Phoenix. I'd better get acclimated fast!!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Final days in Ireland and a journey home

On the street in Dublin

Our last days in Ireland slipped by quickly.


Early one morning Mike and I trekked over to Dublin Castle and drew at an outdoor cafe. Chloe woke up and found us so we wandered through the castle grounds. After seeing so many different castles in Ireland, I have to say the Dublin one was a little standard.


Next door to the castle the local ceramic society was having an exhibit. It was quite nice to see some local art on display.

outside the archeology and history museum

   We also managed to make it out to the Archeology and History Museum, which was definitely worthwhile, if only for the bog men remains on the second floor. They also had some incredible artifacts from the Vikings and of course Ireland has an Egyptian collection (Doesn't everyone? Is there anything left in Egypt?)


Here we are finally finding the museum after getting a bit turned around.


This is a statue on the corner by our apartment. I still don't know anything about it because it's a "talking statue" which means you download an app to your phone and wave it at the symbol to get it to "talk" about itself. We didn't have a working phone, so .... No idea, but lovely to look at.

On our last morning we hauled our many suitcases down from the 4th floor walkup and caught a cab to the airport. The one I'd booked never showed, but a van sized taxi with impeccable timing brought us there without a hitch. Before we knew it we boarded our flight to Boston.


In Boston we had a 5 hour layover. Not enough time to leave the airport but plenty of time to get incredibly bored and tired as the time change caught up with us.  This is Han Solo and friends in the cockpit of a plane in Boston.


Phoebe relaxing in a rocking chair display at Boston Logan Airport.


And these are all the rain boots I unpacked never used in Ireland, thanks to their unprecedented heat wave. Of course we arrived in Phoenix 20 minutes after a massive downpour. The moral is never try to chase the weather.

Ireland was full of surprises for me, there were things I loved, like the bookstores in every little town and everywhere in Dublin. A people who embrace reading are a people I can relate to. 

The ease of traveling in a foreign country using English was also remarkable, but perversely I missed the challenge of overcoming a language barrier. 

The lack of air conditioning was not really a bother because even though the temperature was mid eighties (ºF) it was still cooler for us and I wouldn't expect a/c. 

I did expect ice cubes and the ability to make ice (no ice trays), which is apparently was something I was already supposed to know about Ireland and the UK (but seriously, they have ice in Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Canada.)

The one thing that surprised me the most was that Ireland had the worst wifi of any country I've ever visited. I know you're thinking....You were in a cottage at a castle in the countryside! Except we were also in an apartment in Stillorgan, an apartment in Dublin and inside Dublin airport.... All I can say is that it was a bit faster than dial up in year 2000.

Mike's drawing of the castle gate at Shankill Castle


I really did love our visit there and all the people (and animals) we spent time with. Ireland will always be a special place for us.

Friday, July 13, 2018

In the middle of it all in Dublin

Ha' Penny Bridge 
       Our apartment was on the north side of the River Liffey and next to the Ha' penny bridge. The Ha' penny Bridge is officially the Liffey Bridge and was built in 1816. It's called the Ha' penny bridge because it used to cost pedestrians a hay penny to cross it. I know this because double decker tour buses passed by our window all day long announcing this information, usually in English. Then the French one would come, then the German one and well you get the idea.....


Once we crossed the bridge we could wander the very touristy district of Temple Bar. It was nearly always packed with people except in the early morning. We really enjoyed being in this bustling international part of the city.


The girls and I using "other" bridge, that's newer, not as crowded and wasn't as pretty, but only 100 feet from the Ha' Penny bridge.


Right away on our first full day in Dublin, we walked over to The National Gallery of Ireland. It's free and full of amazing classical art.


It was nice because inside was cooler and the heatwave had not let up.


Chloe and Phoebe in the portrait gallery.


Mike at the National Gallery studying a painting.


I really loved this impressionist painting of a woman with geese. Though I learned while staying on the farm at Shankill Castle that geese are kind of scary... Too many teeth for a bird and that hissing thing they do is very unnerving!


A wide shot of the portrait gallery.


Two amazing paintings of north Africa, which brought me right back to last years art residency in Morocco. I think I actually got emotional looking at them, unfortunately this is not a good, or clear image...


This is Rosa Bonheur's painting of a stag. She is fascinating because this amazing artist liked to paint animals in settings like the bog, but couldn't manage in the long bulky dresses of this time, so she had to get a special license to paint wearing men's trousers. Crazy!!

Chloe with an incredible mosaic on the street.

After many hours of trying to see everything we were pretty done with looking at art for the day. We stopped off at a burrito place for Chloe, who decided that experimenting with Ireland's take on Mexican food was a good idea. Then we headed back to our four story walkup and listened to the history of the Ha' Penny Bridge in Italian.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Last Days at the Castle

Our last few days at the castle went by with a blur. Not just because time has this tendency to speed up when you're my age, but because we were invited to the castle for a lovely goodbye from Elizabeth and Jeffery Cope and my wine glass stayed quite full no matter how much I drank.

That last night it was decided that I would leave my book project in their care to be displayed at Shankill Castle's "Festival of the Arts" in August. Mike will be creating some prints from his Ireland sketchbook (which is amazing and nearly full) and shipping them back to be in the show.


Naomi had made a strong connection with the animals and took a day to say goodbye. This is the little hen that showed up at our door on a regular basis. She liked this one because she let Naomi pet her.


These are the horses, and one young colt from up the road. Mike and I spent the last week drawing them each day till they started coming over to greet us.


The very friendly bull who was right near our cottage.


This is the shy sheep who lived with and was pushed around by the bull.



And of course, Naomi said goodbye to Wally, Reuben and Ellen Cope's little kitten, who happens to bear a close resemblance to our kitten, Gigi.


This is all of us with Ellen in the cottage the morning we left. We all piled into a car and the suitcases were in a van they just bought with Mike and Eugene (Elizabeth's brother who's just moved back from Australia) and Chloe. Following behind them we saw the door hadn't closed properly and was swinging open, so Jeffery went on a high speed chase down the narrow, and winding country roads to get them to pull over. It was really intense, but nothing fell out!!


And a group shot of everyone at the train station.

From our window

We managed to get on and off the train without incident. Finding a taxi was a bit of a challenge but two small cabs loaded us up and brought us to our airbnb. It's a nice apartment in the middle of the city, but a 4 story walk up, which was a bit nightmarish with all our luggage.

Naomi on the Ha' Penny Bridge

From our door is the famous Ha' Penny bridge and the Temple Bar district.




Right away on the first day we took a walk around.


Mike just had to get a picture of this place. :)


Unfortunately on our walk through Stephen's Green on that very first night here in Dublin, Phoebe dropped her iphone near a famine statue. She completely smashed it, the screen, and  the phone. If it wasn't so upsetting it would be impressive. She lost all her pictures she took of Ireland, as she didn't back them up. She bought that phone with money from her caricature jobs this year and understandably she's been pretty down since it happened.

Naomi by the waterfront

On the plus side Dublin is an exciting place to be and the weather has cooled nicely. We're really looking forward to getting out and exploring.

“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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