We are the go-to people for certain kinds of stuff: a clearinghouse of a sort.  Crap in, crap out.  Our friends know this.  They turn us on to available stuff, and sometimes get things from us.  It is a free flowing dance.

My friend and colleague had a special problem with the building code in a small city near here, and his home shares our aesthetics.  He wanted a new garage, but the code said he could only renovate as the old grandfathered garage was too close to the property line.  The only garage that could be where his stood was THAT garage.

Larry_Jean_old garage

So the plan is to save the siding and the special details below the roof that makes it Craftsman style, eliminate the bad parts of the interior structure, and reinstall the old siding and details.  There you have it; an old/new garage that passes the code. He needed windows from us, and we were thrilled to provide them.  We have an ass of old wooden windows given to us by various people because they know that windows are my current raw material.


He came bearing pizza and took two six-paned windows larger than the originals, plus two six-paned smaller windows to install in the front and back of the garage just under the apex of the roof line.  That is a slight change from the original garage, but one has to live dangerously!


He was disappointed during the destruction phase that there was more damage to the structure than he had thought.  He wasn’t able to save any of the original bones, but did save the cement pad.   Above are three walls framed out, with larger spaces created to handle the bigger six-paned windows.

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Here headers yawn out to frame the front facade and serve as a base for the roof structure.


Due to the insect damage and rot, there was only enough siding to cover the front face of the garage.  Love the way the addition of the small window makes the building look like it has more than one story.  Perfect little detail.  These windows are hinged and can be opened for ventilation.


The side view of the garage shows a nice contrast in materials with the upright separating the two areas.  The two windows on the sides of the garage are not the ones we donated; they turned out to be squarish rather than square, so they will do something else at some time in the future, I am sure.

Larry extended the roof ends with brackets to match the two other buildings on their land. Electrical work still needs to be finished, and a system for the doors created.  No small task!

Building for his home is not all that Larry can do.  He digs far deeper into the trash heap to create his sculpture.  You must see his work by clicking http://larrymerriman.wix.com/art


We said “hello” to the fabulous city of Detroit last weekend.  Reason for the journey was to visit the Detroit Institute of Art’s exhibition of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

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Not only could it be a quick trip with not a lot of driving, and a new place to visit, we wanted to support the city which has gone through a lot of pain lately.  We were not disappointed.  Most service people we encountered were very happy.  The city is starting to buzz again.  A lot of smart infrastructure building is under way.  The restaurants are full.

The exhibition was a figurative dance between Frida and Diego.  It was stated that their eleven months in residence while Diego manifested his design in fresco, was the beginning of the end of his career, and the jumping off point for hers.  It must have been so fine working together in the magnificent hall, he expressing his love for the worker and industry, she concentrating on her amazing little detailed symphonies (The detail in her work was more precise than I expected.  It was fully reminiscent of Northern Renaissance detail; think of Jan Van Eyck.).  Her “Henry Ford Hospital” was painted during this time, the spontaneous abortion happening while there.

Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts look at the four-wall mural by famed artist Diego Rivera in Detroit, Michigan June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
Visitors to the Detroit Institute of Arts look at the four-wall mural by famed artist Diego Rivera in Detroit, Michigan June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook


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Above is “Rivera Court” in the Detroit Institute of Art.  The many frescoes are separated by architectural members.  Entitled “Detroit Industry”, the work was paid for by Henry Ford.

Many of the cartoons for the frescoes were on display.  We could see Diego’s mind working as figures were approximated and finally spelled out in a darker line.


Above he is working on the cartoon for one section of the hall.  This section was changed after the loss of the baby.  He commemorated the sad event by including a baby in the womb as the beginning of all of man’s wondrous achievements.

We entered the exhibition space and saw this:


The exhibition space prior to entering the great hall alternated between Diego’s early panel paintings and cartoons, and Frida’s small works.  Detroit had a lot of the most famous works there.

Kahlo 1

“Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair”

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“A Few Small Nips”  The blood from the murder of the wife by the husband is reflected on the frame.  I had not remembered this.

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“Self-portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States”  1932

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“The Suicide of Dorothy Hale”.  Again, interesting treatment of the frame in regard to the content of the work.

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And, of course, “Henry Ford Hospital”.

There were many more, and also earlier panel paintings by Diego.

This exhibition is over, as of yesterday.  Something else will be shown in that space, but the DIA is full of wonderful stuff.  I realized before we left that we would see this:


Pieter Brueghel’s “Wedding Dance”, one of my favorites, for pedagogical and sexual reasons!


It seems like more than three summers I have been working on the cement surface around the pool.  Never full-time; this year sculpture is pulling me hard.  And there’s the heat.  Much of the time, laying the tile is the only option.  Composing is more fun than grouting anyway.  It has been so hot these last weeks that grouting is out of the question.  One could only treat a small bit since it “cures” so quickly and that is simply inefficient.


Last summer it occurred to me to date areas of the pool with reference to when they were created.  I had been doing this for years in the big house.


Not even sure if it was 2012 when started, the numbers started there.  Numbers don’t mean much to me anyway, whatever they represent.


In this area, where around a hundred “century plants” live, they are reflected in the tile work.


Not too easy to read, “Here I Sit” is ready for grout when it gets cooler.  Obviously, this is where I sit, on the steps.


Lots of real estate has been finished in this area this spring.   Curvilinear lines make up most of the figure; various organized squares of tile picked up on the street present a small area of tight pattern to contrast with the otherwise pretty chaotic ground.


Birds and serpents in the background, a yucca is being reflected in the pool surround next to where it is planted in the garden.


The area up to the yucca was done in 2014.


Love leaving messages in my work.  Did it all the time in my textiles.  I wonder what owners of this place in the future will think of this.  After all, what remains of me will be in the gardens.  Could be fun!


This is part of a Lee + Glenn that is now partially covered by a bottle brush bush.


Same is true for the master shower.  Waiting for a rainy day to finish this grouting on a project that has been at least three years in the making.  Might be today.


There are many ways to start a work of art.  Staring at a blank page is not so easy.  Some do it.  Some artists trick themselves into starting.  Some know that the beginning of a work means working through a lot of stink and they simply hold their nose.  Some rip up the page and then reconstruct it to start something, anything.  It is very interesting where all these unique experiences of creativity begin.

My work has always been inspired by new materials, but I have not always known this.  Usually busy beating myself up about something else, things are falling into place now.  Saturdays I go to the flea market, and if lucky, come home with the materials for my next piece.  It all makes so much sense now.  IMG_20150518_085533_031

Katz jumped out at me last Saturday.  Twelve for five bucks, all white save one black and one grey.  Someone had put eyes on some, some have strange paws defined.  I sanded them all to mute their values, and revealed wood at their edges.  Then the varnish.  Coats and coats, layers and layers.

These Katz will be the webbing that hold a number of large windows together.  The Katz and assorted other fun things that make sense with Katz in terms of composition and content.


This window is being glued in place so it can contain all the Katz.  They are strong, those Katz.  Stay tuned.


Would that I could write down my dreams.  They are very complex.  Containing plots, subplots, maps, familiar people in new context, or those same developed but with a new history because of different life events, it could be easy.  Not a copyist, though, my memory for these complex stories is not that great.

But wait.  My dreams arrive in layers, just like my art speaks in layers.  Hmmm. The layers of my visual work come together in a process like pick-up sticks.  Could one look at writing the same way?

I do have a tool, though, should an attempt be made.  Months ago a very detailed map of the campus of Northern Illinois University was sent to me by a student group.  Could not believe it!  Devoured it.  There is where much of my dream drama takes place.  Checking my dream world against the real, it seems that the former is a combination of the campus of the University of Missouri and that of NIU.  Makes sense.mapThe map sent to me was much more complex than the above.  It viewed the world of the university at an angle.  Little rendered buildings popped up. The art building, of course.  It suggested the highway which was the road to Oz,  Annie Glidden, barbed wire.  That map wouldn’t be stolen to put on another site.  Sheesh.


Meanwhile, real life took me to St. Louis.  Read almost two books during that drive.  One old one, “Mozart” , by Marcia Davenport, written in 1932, is still steeping in my brain.  And the old images from “Amadeus” provide more visual reference.

So this was Mozart’s deal, which makes the images from “Amadeus” more sensible.  He had one kind of special memory, not to mention talent beyond comparison.  He worked on his music when doing other stuff, tilting his head, accessing the special recesses in his brain.  A multi-tasker. He put the entire piece, when finished, in a “pocket” there, fully realized, all parts.

The work was done, it only had to be copied out.  What we saw in the movie, using his beloved billiard table, was the copying out phase, which was done perfectly needing almost no correction.  He was under pressure, with better things to do, like sleep.  Wet pages were raced out to the conductor and musicians.  More than once, the overture was played for the audience at first reading by the orchestra.

The life of Mozart is also instructional to any artist.  In his genius, he was forced to observe the success of much lesser artists, whether his assignment to the bowels of employment were because of jealousy, ignorance, or politics.  He did not create an image of himself, he simply was himself.  He thought that was enough, that the magnificence of the work would carry him.

It takes time for that, as we know.  He was buried in a mass grave of impoverished souls.

One more thing to know about these kinds of brains.  When commissioned for a requiem, his brain told him it was for his.  It was not, but turned out to be.  Brainpower.


The work going on with the new room addition sucks the day away often, but yesterday there was time to work at the pool.  Do you see the tiny elements which are stuck down into the expansion joints in the cement?  They are waste, and I have used this stuff for various reasons, aesthetic and not,  for years.

When these little man-made elements are tumbled into these shapes, they are worthless.  They start out looking like something else, spend their little lives in a huge tumbler with manufactured tools, helping to remove the unwanted harsh edges, and are dispensed with and thrown away by industry when they look like this.  I often use these shapes in mosaics, and in the pool here, they have been inserted in the joints so that the grout used will not have to cover more space than is recommended.

Years ago, when the big house was first moved here and under renovation, the old windows had to go.  I went to the big box store  to purchase eight windows for part of the house, and stumbled upon a wonderful thing.  Someone had returned seven custom windows and they very nearly fit my needs.  And they were priced at fifty dollars each!  They were not standard sizes.  I snapped them up, and what you see above is how some of the windows were made to fit.  My contractor inserted cement board in this space, and along with marble pieces, little garden pot feet (bought a bunch of these years ago for five cents apiece), and my amazing WASTE, the bargain windows worked fine!

Look closely and you can see another joint filled by these shapes dividing the crescent shape and the acuba plant shape. This area is yesterday’s work.  My grout color is getting to be a deeper and deeper brick color (through mixing grout colors) as the tile becomes redder and redder.

At the top of this picture is the deck area that I am tackling next.  There is papyrus in the garden next to the studio which is pretty much obscured visually by the yucca in the foreground,  and I feel like making lines to reflect it in the composition.