BEV-LEE HAS BALLS

And lots of them.

IMG_20150610_180222981

Many of her balls are colorful old bowling balls which carry along the patina of age.  To install some of the outside ones,  she simply places a little rebar stick into the ground, and into the thumb hole of the ball.  She judges the length of the rebar to make them hover, and in this case, above the grass on Isa’s island.  Isa the greyhound used to make a bald spot in the middle of this island as she was master of this domain.  Kind of like the Little Prince on his planet, I always thought.   Isa is gone now, but the balls keep her memory on the island.

Bev-lee is old enough to have established her style.  Some never do, but she has loved orbs as long as I can remember.  She used to have an admirable glass office with her big job, and you could see the balls all through the adjoining work space.  Having an even bigger job now, she works from home and all those balls are in the home office.

IMG_20150610_180135104

They hail from all over the world, and they are not just decorative.  These icons of hers run much deeper than just objects to collect (although there is much merit in simple collections).

Balls are Bev-lee’s visual language.  They integrate all the rooms of her house visually, and the balls on the inside and the balls on the outside claim the same nationality.  They are visual team players.

You have already seen outside balls and inside balls, but these balls also do jobs.  This is why we know that balls are far beyond a collection.  They solve problems, they create compositions, they move.  I told you Bev-lee had balls.

IMG_20150610_180039549

Does your Mother-in-Law Tongue droop over the edge of its pot?  Use balls to keep it in place.

IMG_20150610_213341097

Need a dust ruffle for your bed?  Why not use balls?

IMG_20150610_180149762

Blank space under a tall table?  Fill it with balls and play with interesting texture contrast as well.  All good.

EVERYTHING is a composition.  The entire interior of this house is connected visually by repeated orbs.  All the rooms make sense together.  And this repetition is really important outside the house; in the front and back.

IMG_20150610_180343662

The idea of balls is introduced to the viewer at the entry of the house.  Here the red annuals were selected to repeat the beautiful red bowling ball.  So now you know what you are in for in the back of the house.  Welcome to ball world!

Bev-lee has been working on a couple of ponds for many years, and creating the landscape around them.  It was many years ago, hotter than hell, when we were racing around the city doing what we do when we get together.  The “Waste as a Way of Life” world joins the orb patrol for a couple of days.  We saw that some enormous bushes were being fairly ripped out of the gardens of a shopping center.  The bushes themselves plus the root balls probably stood five feet high.  We asked about the future of the bushes; they had none.  Bev-lee talked the workers into bringing the enormous things, maybe eight, to her house, and then muscle them into the back yard.  She tipped them well.   We dribbled water on those big boys for a couple of days until she could get them planted.  It is shocking how many survived; I swear it was 100 that day.

IMG_20150610_181919912

Above is one of those bushes, probably four feet high and wide now, and below is its context.  It is part of the landscape of the upper pond.

IMG_20150610_180240713

There is a footpath between the two ponds.

IMG_20150610_180249881

And the lower pond.

IMG_20150610_180257638

Form plus function is the best, anyone will tell you.  This is what is so marvelous about Bev-lee’s universe.  She wondered  how to keep the netting that holds leaves out of the ponds in place for the winter months.  Her solution is brilliant.  She puts a big exercise ball in each pond in the middle.  On the edges, smaller balls secured from bins at Target.  After the nets are installed, the balls don’t move, and the leaves are excluded.  And her orb fetish is intact!

IMG_20150610_181734829

It gets better.  For two years she has not removed the balls at all when not needed in winter.  She chose their colors appropriately in the first place, they are lovely as the little waterfall moves them around the lower pond (movement is a great attribute for a composition) and she has not had a fish taken by predators since she decided to leave them.  Trifecta!

IMG_20150610_180302557

Bev-lee has balls.

 

 

MY STUDIO

IMG_0533

Above is my studio as seen from our second floor gallery.  You can see the white wooden window at the right, leaning against the wall waiting for stripping and sanding.  It seems my world is full of wooden right angles.

IMG_0534

This stuff does not look like much until it enters into a composition.

IMG_0536

Other shapes are more interesting from the start.   Here you see many similar lines/shapes that can work well together in a composition.   The skill is knowing just how much of this to use and  what to use in contrast.  Also, these shapes have to do structural jobs.  They are the connective tissue of the sculptures.  Bought all of these unglued furniture parts last weekend at a flea market for three bucks.  This kind of stuff is my number one shopping priority for the window sculptures just now.

IMG_0542

The windows are the bones of the composition, usually three.  Only the back window is cleaned up here.  Notice the yellow coil.  Never have I had a tool this fine.  We have a giant compressor that  Glenn uses for everything.  He made three stations in the barn where one can access the power.  One is back here in second class.  It is used to get the windows clean before varnish.

IMG_0540

Unfortunately most surfaces have some collection of raw material loaded upon them.

IMG_0553

But not all.  This fine oak desk was brought here this week, free for the taking from another scavenger friend.  This top must hold something significant, but what it might be remains unknown.  It was the acquisition of this that made me clean and organize.  That is a good thing.

IMG_0543

Critique chairs.  It is wonderful to sit out here until after dark with the studio light glowing and talk about creative options.

IMG_0544

This is taken from outside the building.  We have both warm and cool light in this studio.  And we have multiple sources.  Had been having a problem when using just the hot light on the right hand side.  The windows, being so linear were casting shadows on the wood chip wall.  And I was composing with respect to those shadows.  Of course, they are temporary.  We had to solve that problem with more lighting from all directions.

IMG_0546

Back of the barn.  We have an Overhead Door back here for unloading things like my big new desk.  Some tile stays outside the door because it can.  All that white will go to the pool deck next summer.

IMG_0548

Bicycles separate areas of the barn.

IMG_0550

They work well visually doing that.

IMG_0509

Out of all this mess will once in a while come a clean piece.  This is the first piece on which I used bunji cords.  Fun.

 

 

THE SOUL OF THE SOUTH

Damn. The famous travel writer Paul Theroux was in Orangeburg and I didn’t know. It wasn’t to speak or anything like that, who around here would go?  He was doing what he does, this time in his own country.  My husband has been talking the past couple of days about an article he is reading in Smithsonian Magazine. Flipping through the article backwards this morning with coffee and hummingbirds, it is so long. Finally reaching the first page, there was his name. Of course! Only a guy like Theroux could command that much space in Smithsonian.

This article was long overdue. Other than the famous interchange from some years back between Bill Cosby and a woman from North, SC (Noo-ath), in a remake of the old “You Bet Your Life” show, this part of my South is pretty invisible.

We have our roadside curiosities.  I love the little old now vacant restaurant on 301 that is crowned by a large coffee pot.  I have tried to buy it before.  No luck.  Through the windows Edward Hopper and men in fedoras can be imagined.

coffee pot

 

The UFO Welcome Center on the other side of Orangeburg is popular.

another ufo

Or the home of our Govette is in Orangeburg County, for what that counts as.  Some think she is the next Sarah Palin.

nikki

Theroux does talk about the Orangeburg Massacre, a locally famous event, which gets more to his “soul of the South” topic.  It was what was happening here when the rest of the country was focused on Kent State. In the article, a Mr. Johnson, the man who told Theroux about the Massacre, to whom Kent State was mentioned,  said “But you know those kids that died were white”.  “People here understand how it is to need help, to be neglected”.  So we do.

Finding some pictures from the event, it was pretty amazing, and pretty tame to have had three students killed.

all star bowling alley

 

Above is the bowling alley where it all started.  The building looks just the same now, but vacant.  It is in a part of town that boasts lots of vacancies, and has since I have been around here.  The alley is about six or eight blocks from SC State University (College then).  That was the destination of the march.  Back home after being rejected service in the bowling alley.

marchers oburg massacreLook at the marchers, how well dressed they are and marching in a line!  Kent State did not break out like this.  For two days peaceful demonstrations called for integration of the business so students could use it.  For sure, there was not another place where they could.  They were turned away by an owner who did not want to integrate, and the third day of demonstrations got dangerous.

the t and d oburg massacre

Here is the front page of the local paper for Feburary 9, the day after the violent night.  There is a building named after the three on the SC State University campus.

IMPROVE YOUR FLEA MARKET FINDS

Almost didn’t go to the flea market yesterday. Too tired. So lucky the “good-Lee” won the battle; our treasures were excellent yesterday. Spent an hour or so in total and really improved a wonderful little watercolor, bought for a buck. Many of my best things cost only a buck!

IMG_0016

Above is what I bought: a sweet little watercolor of a woman reading, in a water damaged mat, with spaces between the miters on each corner of the frame. The frame had to come apart.

IMG_0018

Decided to continue to use the original mat as it is a wonderful gold color that pairs up well with the gold in the painting and the natural wood frame. Since the water damage was only at the bottom, I cut a new cream colored new mat 1/4″ larger in the window than the original mat. Because of this decision it was not necessary to remove the brown paper on which the painting was created from the mat. They have been taped together for well more than fifty years and why disturb them? I know, others would argue this.

IMG_0017

IMG_0030

IMG_0026

Above is the back of the watercolor, done on a piece of a brown grocery bag. The old-fashioned mailing label is from West Virginia. There is no zip code used, so the painting probably was done before the early sixties. There is a fifteen cent stamp on the bag also. These too elements are interesting, but do they help to date the painting? Look at the cardboard used to support the painting and the mat.

IMG_0020

A Betty Davis movie? And she looks young here! I have never seen a cardboard advertisement like this, and correctly still haven’t. The ad was cut off at the bottom to use in the frame. I kept the old ad in the frame package.

Searching “Charles Washington Ranson” finds an old opera house in West Virginia that has been remodeled. Born in 1910, it was renovated in 2011.

ransonrenewed.com/?tag=charles-washington-hall

IMG_0032

The miters were re-glued and nailed together. The frame itself was cleaned up with Old English Scratch Cover.

IMG_0019

On the back of the cardboard backing is written: “Compliments of e.e. Critcher”, in a European kind of hand, using small letters for the first and middle name initials. Also written is: “Eleanor Coleman states Mrs. Critcher painted this when Eleanor was a little girl”.

IMG_0035

I put the layers of the framing package together, and hung it in the bathroom with other small treasures.

IMG_0039

NOT RACE, NOT CLASS, IT’S CULTURE

Still thinking about Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson mo 1978-3

I grew up a stone’s throw from there, in the 1960s, and there were no blacks to speak of. We were all middle class whites and were trained with middle class ideas. Most of us went to state institutions, middle class schools, for college. We knew the program.

ferguson mo 1978 -1

After graduate school at a second middle class state institution, I came south to take my first college teaching position. The only person I knew in South Carolina was the person who hired me.

Landscape, behavior, attitudes were all unfamiliar to me. And true, I lived (still do) in a county that is majority minority. There was some kind of political plan to make this county the way it is, and its shape is huge, and far-reaching to attain that goal. Both whites and blacks were confusing.

I was truly in a different pond. Could not understand why strangers spoke to me. What did they want? Someone was to pick me up “after church” and I thought, “Which service?”. Overwhelmingly, there is only one here, and it is at eleven. The details of life became unfamiliar.

Having later married into a local family, it was very early on that I realized they were playing a game for which I would never know the rules. That is a cultural difference. Neutral, not bad, not good. It got me in trouble sometimes. That description stayed with me; it exactly depicted my emotions. I meant no harm, was simply confused. My antennae did not work well here.

People, black and white, do what their parents and grandparents did; they are the models. Those traditions may seem very strange to the other. Cultures are different ponds. Should know better, but last weekend was sort of shocked by the organization of a local Democratic Party campaign event.

IMG_20140829_112911_627

The fish fry and meet and greet was to start at four. We got to the event at that time, there was not a soul around. We sat in the car until we saw some movement in putting up a tent in the parking lot. My oldest, with us, is always embarrassed by my activities. We walk into the building behind the line of signs, against his advice. There was a meeting in a glass office taking place, and about 40 black people sitting in chairs around the perimeter of the office quietly and politely.

williams one

It reminded me of the above event from last year when all staked out their seats in a covered picnic area, loaded with railroad collectibles hanging from the ceiling. The people were glued to their seats, and were not going to give them up until fed. Same thing for the fish fry last week. They had all evening, they would listen to all the speakers, and then they would eat. Never mind how slow the start was. We, starving, left to go eat pizza as the event had yet to be born. Should have learned this stuff by now. It made me think of the Old South and the new black voters and getting out the vote. And generations of black families doing as they had seen done before.

FERGUSON, MISSOURI

This small city is my husband’s home town. Who would have known it would become so famous? Figuring what you must be seeing on television, let me tell you about his Ferguson, my Ferguson. Some of that information can be gained by contrast.

The next suburb north in St. Louis County is Florissant. This is where I grew up. Kids from Florissant and Ferguson merged together in 10th grade and attended the same high school, named McCluer High School. The school gained some fame in 1967 when a small airplane hit the old gym, just as modern dance students left it to change. The pilot was killed. The school was just beyond one of the major flight patterns for Lambert Airport. That would change. It was the middle of the boomer experience and kids were everywhere. Our school was the biggest high school in the state.

1-mccluer yearbook picture

Ferguson and Florissant represented two different ways to live, and I noticed it immediately when we were looking for houses, just having come back from a stretch in Japan. Ferguson had little streets and trees everywhere. The houses on each street were mostly unique; periodically a builder would create two or three houses on one street. Glenn’s house was one of those. In that area it was hilly and there were many parks. The neighborhoods were heterogeneous looking but there were better neighborhoods, and lesser neighborhoods. There is a distinct downtown area that most could walk to. I still remember one two story house my family looked at; I was so impressed because it had an intercom system between the front door and the kitchen. There were two like it on this little street in Ferguson.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/616+Superior+Dr,+Ferguson,+MO+63135/@38.753376,-90.296,3a,90y,94h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sTrz7ClcraI0CbKZ3SKAZIg!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x87df49e1473dc545:0x9c24a8df5ec32fd7

Glenn’s house

Unbelievably, Florissant was the higher end choice for those days. Acres and acres of farmland were scraped raw for the advent of subdivision houses rising from the mud. With each house you got two trees for the boulevard areas. One developer, Mayer Rasher Mayer (I think) developed most of the city. There was a downtown area which was more a cluster of strip stores. Not leafy like Ferguson. There was a small old part of Florissant that was older than any of the surroundings. That part of Florissant was like Ferguson.

https://www.google.com/maps/@38.797884,-90.294279,3a,75y,354.95h,89.77t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1shfKoHIR4Hn9jlLgIoTAjMg!2e0

My house

Florissant in the summer was as hot as you could imagine with those two toddler trees and cement streets. The sounds of all the air-conditioners made it seem the houses would fairly take off! We rode bikes or walked to friend’s houses in all that heat, counting blocks and streets with names of horses. You would see the same “model” house over and over again. That interested me for some reason; I would never live in a place like that again, although I knew no different.

Florissant had a park and a public pool, tennis courts and an A and W root beer stand, but it was too far for us to walk there. Ferguson, on the other hand, had the magnificent January Wabash Park where there was a pool and a bandshell and the old red brick Ferguson High School, to be turned into the junior high for Ferguson when McCluer was built. It also had a little lake where people fished. In the winter, the little lake froze and we ice skated. Nothing like that in Florissant. At January Wabash lake we spent much time during the Brownie years learning about nature. I remember seeing my first coiled up frog eggs on the edge of the lake. I remember one winter in ninth grade in my cheerleading get-up, crowding around a fire for warmth and then scandalizing myself because I smelled like smoke after.

During the summer of the Watts riots–there were black suburbs near us, everyone stayed calm.

The father of my life-long friend was the superintendent of schools for the Ferguson-Florissant R-2 School District. He came here about three years ago, and we spoke of the integration of the school district. This happened just after we were off to college. Dr. Brown said to the board “Give me a year for this”, and the board did. The integration was accomplished without drama.

Last summer we went back for a fifty year celebration of the opening of McCluer High School. These two suburbs are majority black now, but in riding by the houses, all looked neat and clean. So did the park, the tennis courts where Glenn and I first met; sadly the A and W is not anymore.

My heart is broken with Ferguson being in the news like this. And Florissant has its own problems. Turns out all those space-age houses were built upon a cesspool of a creek called Coldwater. And we have ourselves a huge cancer cluster there.

EARTH DAY AND WASTE AS A WAY OF LIFE

http://www.bluefishdigest.com/Blue_Fish_Digest/Welcome_to_Blue_Fish.html

Who knew?  Living on a budget because most artists have to, and to have to value creativity as an asset instead of money, does celebrating Earth Day elevate this?  Synchronicity is fabulous when one runs into it.

I remember the first Earth Day,  sadly being that old.  1970.  Another reference said 1978, but I don’t think so.  Remember the Whole Earth Catalog?

Wh-earth-69-cover

Looking at this cover and the subheading of  “access to tools”,  it was.  But it was so much more.  1969!  First published a year after the “Crack in Time” of the year 1968, things were definitely shifting.

inside whole earth

Steve Jobs said that the “Whole Earth Catalog”  was the predecessor to the internet;  he was just out of the garage by then.   Buckie Fuller became famous through it.  And those of us who were around remember the cheap paper the catalog was printed on, just like we remember Mr. Natural and “trucking on down the line”.

mr natural

Those were the days, my friend.  Go back and click on the link at the beginning of this post.  This is where I ended up.  Click on “current issue” and go to page 24.