Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sava by the Clotheslines

I am really excited about our upcoming trip to my homeland: two weeks back in Northern California in the beginning of July!!! I am bringing some boards out, to start painting my new Americana series (slated for a show next May for the Arts Council of the Valley).  We are going to be camping up north with friends near a river, and then spending a week at the family cabin in the Sierra Nevadas....

This cabin is the loose foci of the new body of work  that I have been dreaming about doing for about three years. It is going to be source from family photographs from my early childhood spent at the lake, and so I hope to find inspiration in the revisiting of the smell and feel of the crisp mountain air, and the lake gently lapping at the shore. I would like to get some of the pieces at least started there.....

But hell, in the meantime... some Virginia is creeping in. I can't seem to wait to get started on this new series. I am getting inspired by images of my daughter, Sava Talulah, playing amongst the gardens and front yards (littered with bunny statuary and bird fountains and decaying front porch couches....ahhh, a different vision of American, but potent and compelling all the same). Here is what is perhaps to be the first painting in the series..... Sava by the Clotheslines...still in progress-  so much to dial in!   But...

I love it.

The other cool thing is that I was looking at the top photo on the computer (the up close painted face), with Sava in my arms, and I pointed to the screen and asked her, "Sava, who is that?" and she looked at it and said  "Saba!".    Which is saying something... I think. For her to recognize herself in blobs of collected paint.


Maybe this series is going to be as much of an examination of childhood.... in particular, the mirrored and particular upbringings of myself and my daughter. What has changed... what stays constant? Are we able to experience an Americana that is not utterly personal?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baby Robin: aka Michael Landon

Whew! It has been a whirlwind of emotions the past 24 hours.... at 3pm yesterday we found a baby robin in the road, and I immediately scooped it up and put it in a box to bring inside and figure out what to do....  it seemed the right thing to do, what with cars zooming down the street and cats prowling relentlessly. We read online that you feed a baby robin canned dog food with a tweezer, and no water, and that you should never ever think about hand raising them (not that I intended to, seeing as how they require to be fed every 20 minutes.)

So I made a makeshift nest from an easter egg basket and hung it from a branch in the general area of its nest, and hoped its mama would readopt him, and rushed off to work. When I got back from work at 10pm, I asked Jamba where the bird was (as we agreed we would bring him in at night to keep him warm) and he said it was still outside. I rushed outside to the "nest" and found it empty. My heart fell crashing to the floor! It fell out of the nest again! It's been eaten for sure.... I searched the ground sadly for feathers and bones, wanting closure, when suddenly my flashlight found my little baby straggler, inching out into the asphalt road again.

And I looked up... and saw Kitty, perched on the car, watching intently. It was honestly, not a moment too soon. So baby bird was scooped back up and I went to the neighbors (girlfriends of mine) and we set up a schedule to all take turns getting up to feed it every hour, so that not one of us would be so terribly sleep deprived the next day. And set my alarm clock for my 3:30 shift, wondering if I was perhaps a bit mad.

So, the next morning, after fractured, non-productive sleep in which i dreamed of gaping bird beaks and cats that swarmed like sharks under the surface of the street, I went online for more research and found this annoying news: 1) baby robins sleep through the night and don't need feeding after sundown, and 2) baby robins with feathers and with talons that can grip onto your finger are called fledglings, not nestlings, which means that the bird was on the ground intentionally, just going through a normal developmental phase in which they hop around on the ground, with parents watching, and learn to fly. This was confirmed by the Wildlife Center, who said to put him back up and let nature take its course.


So baby bird (nicknamed Michael Landon last night by Leela, because of its wispy little eye feathers that look like bushy eyebrows) was put back in the "nest" and I made a resolute plan to leave all alone, and stop being so meddlesome and imposing my incredibly strong maternal urges on creatures that don't need me. It has been a meditation, on... what? On, trust. On, surrender. On, giving up control.  As my friend Emi said, (as we rocked on the porch swing drinking mate and (me) watching the trees fiercely) how did she put it? Oh yes,  practicing "compassionate detachment". Not imposing our own egoic attachments on a cycle of nature so much larger than our own designs.

Still, I have been tormented all morning with guilt, hoping that his mama would readopt him, and not sure if she was ever going back to my little easter egg basket. And sometimes being mad and frustrated with her, like "My god, mamabird-  feed him already! He must be so hungry by now!!!"  As he perched on the edge of the basket and squawked, and she flew from branch to branch, circling wide.

So: sleepy and zoned out, I have spent a lot of time at my front window looking out at the basket... and here I will stop telling the story, and just post the videos of what happened next...