Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Crows Matter

Why crows?
Loud enough to startle you when you're walking across the yard. Black enough to leave their imprint on the sky. I love to see them menacing their way across the frozen grass. Or sitting so high on a branch, screaming to the heavens.

I wrote this poem:

What Crow Know

Crow watch- wonder
how we do
without wings, pale things
ground-bound, so down

sail Crow
in blackness, forgetting
limp limbs- thin lips
which no can crow or-

Crow fly fast.

A blot of ink circle my
sun- my blue- and more
amass, a murder of


So bead eyes in tree,
what see- what see-
me? growing slow


Crow know
Crow go.

I read this poem today and realized I wrote it two years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But I was lucky.

As a matter of fact, I got my mammogram results today-- and everything's okay. I even have a poem.

I want to dedicate this to all the many women who are dealing with or have dealt with breast cancer. Please share your story. Do a painting, write in your journal, do a drawing. Or write a poem. And imagine how great it will feel to look back years later and see what you made.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Me as Frida and Others

This self-portrait, from 1999 maybe, was obviously influenced by Frida Kahlo. I really got into Frida's amazing art in my early 20s.
Interesting that her first self-portrait (or so) looks like a Modigliani.
So she wanted to be Modigliani. I wanted to be Frida.
When I was in middle school, I read a book by Andy Warhol and wanted to be him too (maybe his art didn't influence me but his big dose of COOL sure did!)
In high school, I was fortunate enough to take figure drawing at a local university. Then I briefly wanted to be DaVinci (but we all want to be him at some point, right?)
I've also wanted to be Egon Schiele, Chaim Soutine, Alice Neel and Jackson Pollock (who wins the best quote of the universe with (when asked if he painted from nature): "I am Nature.")
Nowadays I'd like to be a combination of William Steig, Arnold Lobel and Beatrix Potter. Maybe with a pinch of Mo Willems.
Or I could just pinch Mo Willems. He's so cute!
Did someone just break into a chorus of "I gotta be me"?
Yes, I know, I gotta be me. I wanna be me. But I also want to take a blogmoment to thank all the artists and writers in the world for putting it out there so I could find it. And maybe borrow a little bit. Thank you all for keeping it going.
Now, who do you want to be?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Check out the really fun contest at this wonderful blog: http://www.faeriality.blogspot.com/

I'd say more about it, but I'm on Day 4 with a sick and irritable birthday girl :(
Not me!
Madeline is seven today. A very grouchy seven. But cute.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Post About My Kid

Madeline drew this portrait-- of me! I only wish I were so glamorous, but I do think she caught my essence.
On our morning walk to school today, she said, "Mom, is it true that snakes used to have legs?"
Thrown somewhat by the unexpected question and early hour, I replied, "No. Yes. Maybe. I don't know. Why?"
"Well," she said, "if we evolved, then snakes must have evolved too."
"And, " she added, as my head continued to spin, "can you believe we started being a million years ago? We were covered with hair. Lots of it. And then, in 1492, .... oh, no, that was something else."
Madeline pauses for a breath.
"We're having punch tomorrow!"
for their Valentine's Day party, of course. This disjointed thinking, this jumping from one concept to the next is what makes my husband observe at times that having a kid is like living with a crazy person. I think it may also be somehow the seed of creativity.
After all, tomorrow is Valentine's Day.
And we used to be covered in hair!
Now, who wants some punch?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Subway Drawing

I admit it. I miss New York. Yes I complained about the constant noise, nerve-jarring commotion, hectic pace and the subway.
What? I complained about the subway? Hard to believe. Because the subway was like one endless free figure drawing class. I'd steal glances or find people who were sleeping, reading or too spaced out/tired to notice. Or I'd just look at the whole car and assume an expression of someone who's attention was somewhere else, and try to draw the whole scene. There's so much going on in every car: musicians, poets, sleeper, dreamers, angry old people and crying babies. People from every corner of the world.
One time a young man approached me (and everyone's in their own private tiny cramped space on the subway and does not want to be approached--- there's probably at least one crazy person per subway car and you never know)
You an artist? he asked me.
Yes, I am. I said, hoping he wasn't going to yell at me for staring at his girlfriend or something.
Want to draw me?
And there he is. Abe. 23 years old. February 14, 1998.
I drew him. He smiled. I offered to give him the drawing.
No, he said. You keep it.
Valentine's Day. I guess Abe wanted to give me a little something special. Thanks, Abe!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Storyteller

Concetta Lombardo, born Montalto, in Sicily, Italy in 1901. My grandmother.

She could barely read or write. Her father took all his daughters out of school when he discovered one of Concetta's sisters had been passing notes with a boy. Concetta moved to New York city after she got married at age twenty. She never learned English very well. Her family understood her, but with her very thick accent, strangers often could not.

She could make something amazingly delicious using the simplest ingredients. Lasagna to die for. Homemade pasta. And the pizza, my god, the pizza. We loved her food and her natural warmth. We loved her for the rental cabin at the beach, into which she squished an unfathomable number of grandchildren. Cooked for us daily, carrying real china to the beach for a wonderful and unique picnic. Spaghetti on the beach!

And we loved her stories.

She said she got them from the radio. The one about the man who wanted to send figs to his brother through a telegraph office. The mouse who fell into the spaghetti sauce to meet his tragic end, leaving behind his bereft cat-wife. The king who learned the importance of salt. She would sit you in her lap and start talking and the world would melt away. Just the sound of that beautiful Italian-English.

Once when I was older Concetta asked me to tell her a story. I couldn't think of anything to say. And then I started telling her about all the people I'd seen in the East Village (in the 80s): girls with blue hair sticking out in spikes around their head, wearing jeans that were deliberately ripped. Boys with multiple safety pins in their ears. She laughed and laughed at my stories.

I knew my descriptions were not as wonderful as her stories. But I also knew she was happy to hear me talking, telling her about the strange world around us. We talked and shared stories to talk and share our love for each other.

If she was here today, I would love to tell her the stories I'm writing now. Of colorful snails, braggy turtles and lonely seagulls. I think she might like them. And I'd like to be able to thank her for showing me the wonders of storytelling.

Yes, I do. So thanks, Grandma Lombardo.