Where have I been these days? All around town, sometimes even beyond the boundaries and into Milwaukee, Riverwest, Bayview, or pedaling on the bikepath to some sort of predetermined destination. Or dancing at the free concerts in the parks.
The weeping willow dances in the breeze, and so do I.
But the willow has a different choreographer, though sometimes I give it a try, try to choreograph the trees with my brush or pen,
and they dance according to my whim.
And sometimes the trees choreograph me,
not from just their outside appearance, from their in.
For when I paint on wood, I let the grain below
my brush tell it where to go.
Each motion of the dancer flowed flawlessly into the next, like waves advancing or grasses in wind, and I sat entranced. Then it was over. The applause was enthusiastic, but not enthusiastic enough for the friend seated next to me. “What’s the matter with Milwaukee? In New York a performance like that would have brought down the house!” he exclaimed.
Kids love dandelions. When the flowers bloom they gather bouquets, and later on in the season they blow feathery spores and watch them float away. Fifty years ago no one questioned this. Things have changed, not for kids, they still love their bouquets, but for adults, some adults. I heard one recently rave, “I hate dandelions, I hate dandelions, I HATE dandelions!”
Adolph loves to turn the life around him into more permanent forms. In New York City he watched pedestrians on rainy city streets, eaters at Horn and Hardart’s Automat, the chaos of Herald Square, and created works of art.
Dancing’s in my genes. On my mother’s side. Even at age 85 she wildly improvised to Paul Cebar at Bastille Days. She loved the human body in action, loved the movement and the freedom of dance. And so do I.
Thursday, August 6, was dream-lake afternoon. The water, placid and aglow, was the ideal surface for hundreds of gulls, and an occasional goose, to float, dive, and harmonize. “It sounds as if the gulls are singing!” I exclaimed to my grandsons, as sympathetic vibrations replaced the usual seagull squawks.
Another April, another spring, another Gallery Night, Earth Day, Poetry Month...Adolph paints his sculptures, plays chess. I draw dancers, wake at 3 AM with a poem written in my head. Guests come and go, time to start planting again, the usual green onions have sprouted in my garden. Life continues, repeats itself, yet is never boring.
Nothing’s the same the second time round, nor the 70th. No face is perfectly symmetrical. No actor plays his part identically each night. And I imagine my hair’s a bit greyer each day. I appreciate the unpredictable: what thoughts I’ll wake up to, what news on NPR, what weather out the window, the quality of sunrise and sunset, the people I’ll run into around town.
This Friday, April 17, once again is Gallery Night, and the surprise is who will stop by and what amusing or interesting conversations we’ll have. Adolph repainted his WE ARE ALL MAKING ART sculpture. The pieces haven’t changed shape, just color. Are they still the same sculptures? And even if the color hadn’t changed, do we ever see things the same way twice? As always I have the walls in Rosenblatt Gallery, Adolph has the floor, Eli has added new work to his show in the back of Artasia, and photographer Aliza Ksobiech has a show in the revolving gallery.
Details: RECEPTION: Friday, April 17, 5-11 PM at ROSENBLATT GALLERY, 181 N. Broadway: Art by Adolph and Suzanne & guest artist, Aliza Ksobiech.
Adolph and I met about three hours before 1959 turned into 1960. By midnight we realized we both loved “play” and had had a little game of balloon volleyball, which ended when the balloon knocked one of my contact lenses out of my eye. “Hey, you have a big tear!” he exclaimed.
Adolph was already a working artist, and I wished I was (I had a BA in political science). I became his first student, and we’ve collaborated in one way or another ever since: three children, eight grandchildren, and, combined, over a century’s worth of art.
He sculpts, draws with Craypas, and paints; I paint, draw with brush and ink or micron pens, and write and perform eco-poetry. Our styles and our media may not coincide, yet our involvements and intent often do. We’re both concerned with light and form, with keeping the work alive. And our subject matter veers towards people: eating, swimming, sitting, relating to each other, caught up in their everyday activities. Or it veers towards nature, as in our show at the Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place, “Treescapes, Seascapes, Lagoons, Lake,” April 1st-June 30th. The opening reception is on Sunday, April 5, from 2 to 4 PM, and at 3 PM we’ll discuss why we’re drawn to draw nature.
Here are some of Adolph’s tree drawings (with Craypas):
Gallery Night and Day comes round once each season, and the years go by. And the Milwaukee art scene spreads its venues over time and place, further into the heart of the city, reaching into the outskirts. On Friday, January 16, Gallery Night comes galloping in once again. Crowds will tramp the cold sidewalks, seeking the warmth of art.
We’ll have a Gallery Night Reception at 181 N Broadway. In Rosenblatt Gallery Adolph has added several small sculptures to his mix of Lunch Counter, Balcony, Benjy’s, Pools, Highway, Herald Square.
Ideas are like amoebas, shape changing with input. And that's how the Shorewood Conservation Committee’s Reusable Bag Campaign developed.
The Conservation Committee was divided into three subcommittees, and I was on the Sustainability Subcommittee. One issue we decided to tackle was toxins in the environment. I had long ago bought educational door-hangers to put on the doorknobs of neighbors who use lawn pesticides. I never did it though. So I suggested we make our own lawn-care door-hangers to distribute in the village.
Someone else suggested we make them two-sided, one side for safe lawn care outdoors, the other for safe cleaning methods indoors. We then all agreed that the door-hanger would be in the shape of a house. And that was our plan when I went to visit our son in New York last December.
When I returned a week later, subcommittee members had met again and instead of mere door-hangers, they planned to distribute reusable shopping bags to every household in Shorewood. Our inside-outside door-hanger would be an insert in the bags. And subcommittee members were already checking out manufacturers, costs, materials, and possible delivery dates.
Of course we also had to design the bags and figure out how to pay for them and how to distribute them. Many more issues cropped up, with countless meetings and Emails, discussions and disagreements.
The corner of this project that I know most intimately is the design of the bags. The artwork was my responsibility. I was working with Tammy Bockhorst, who was in charge of putting it all together, an endless project that required new software and extended learning curves.
At first everyone wanted a logo. Someone directed me to show Shorewood between a lake and a river, and she drew ripples to illustrate what to do. Since no one disagreed, I assumed that was my first assignment, and I wasn’t too happy about it! For a few weeks I played around with the idea in my wordrawing style, though someone else had told me not to include writing. Well, I always knew I’m not a logo-type.
Finally Tammy pointed out that that was just one person's suggestion, and I could do whatever I wanted. I decided leaves would make a good logo. So with Tammy's help, we modified an old drawing of mine of mulberry leaves as a prototype.
I figured it wouldn’t be a final logo since mulberries aren't native to Wisconsin. Actually I just researched that on google, and red mulberries with lobed leaves ARE native. However they’re considered invasive.
In any event, we needed a drawing for one side of the bag, and we settled on non-invasive native plants. Since it was winter, and no native plants were in bloom, I drew from photos in catalogues and online. After I'd done a series of flowers,
As a painter, poet, performer, dancer, my creativity usually begins with getting into the flow. My hands become my eyes and put down the image, my feet listen to the music and decide the moves, the dream part of my brain tells me what to write. It’s basically losing the self to find the self. I have decades of flow behind me; I don’t know what I’ve got ahead!
I’ll have the opportunity to discuss my thoughts on creativity in a presentation at Danceworks, 1661 N Water Street, on Friday, October 17, at 7:30 PM. I’ll also have some of my latest artwork, and some of my oldest artwork, on exhibit there from October 10 to January 8, opening reception October 17, 6:00 to 8:30 PM. Below are a few of the recent drawings I'll include in the show, and some comments about them.
Why do I draw dancers? I'm not a dancer, I just love to dance, even if I make an absolute fool of myself, love to move to music, letting my feet guide me, love feeling energized and free. So when I draw dancers, I'm feeling the movement and energy. And freedom.