Mystic Birds, a New Exhibition, Green Life

Work abounds, and thus I’m late again. This past week, I launched at last a project in planning all last year. Mystic Birds 1, 2, and 3 celebrate some of my favorite waterbirds – Herring Gulls, Common Terns, Canada Geese, and Mallard Ducks – against the backdrop of the Mystic River estuary and Boston’s Tobin Bridge. I used some of my own photos of the birds and bridge, taken over the last year at the Schrafft’s Center in Charlestown. You can go there any time and see these scenes just as I did.

If you happen to be in Somerville this spring, you can also see these collages at the Brickbottom Gallery, in the Brickbottom Artists Association annual Spring show “Green,” running April 18 – May 18. You can come and meet me at the reception, April 29, 5 – 7 pm, and be sure to visit all the artists during Somerville Open Studios, May 4 – 5. Details at the BAA’s website.

These Mystic Birds are the first of a series of works exploring the life of the Mystic River watershed from Boston Harbor up to the Mystic Lakes. Once one of the most polluted water systems in the US, the Mystic is now one of the most improved, getting stronger every year, but still threatened by development, industry, and climate change. Learn more about it from the Mystic River Watershed Association. It is wonderful to spend time by the river, see the wildlife carrying on their business, and realize that the human world and natural world are not at all separate, but one and the same. Our own neighborhoods are environments worth saving, something I remember as I write this and listen to sparrows outside my window and a woodpecker working on a tree somewhere nearby. I hope with my new Mystic River Project to raise awareness of the vibrant nature around us all the time, and to encourage people to live in nature wherever they are, even in the middle of big cities.

So this year look for more of my love letters to this urban river. Also more walks around the rest of my city, commissioned toys and objects, artist books and self-publishing, and blog posts about greening up my studio and art practice. Spring is the time for cleaning up and getting started.

I hope to see you at the Brickbottom “Green” reception!

Progress on miniature buildings and Open Studios 2017, coming up this weekend

I’ve been pasting and papering and designing all week, to launch a new project at Brickbottom Artists Open Studios 2017, this weekend, Nov. 18 and 19. I’ve been working on small sculptures of buildings and cityscapes as objects in their own right and to photograph for use in collages and other works. I like to play with perceptions of scale in my work, so I’m eager to get lost in the shadows and textures and imagined streets among these minimalized structures.

Here are some progress shots of a little factory, waiting on my totally wrecked work table for its final surface finish. Also, some super tiny castles and corporate towers that I really like, though I’m not sure how much they like me. The smaller the object, it seems, the bigger the work involved.

Don’t forget, if you’re in the Somerville, MA, area, come meet me and lots of other artists at the Brickbottom-Joy Street Open Studios 2017 event, this weekend! I’ll be showing the first towers of my little cities as well as many collages, large and small. See you there!

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Nature walks, art under glass, a view of the Mystic

The little power plant object is nearly complete. One of my regular nature walks is along the Charlestown side of the Mystic River estuary in Boston. It’s a place teetering on the brink between industrial past and environmental present. This somewhat abstract diorama depicts the view of the electric generating substation I see on the Everett side of the river. My sense of the place is expressed in the bone-white plant (in real life, its red brick), the burnt wood evoking the rotted pilings of long-gone piers, and the fresh gull’s feather, which I found there recently, dominating all, because the gulls were there long before the power plant, and they’ll be there long after it’s gone as well.

It still needs a few details, but I’m pleased with the effect so far.

In progress: Nature walks, industrial zones, getting ready for Open Studios

This weekend, I started work on a set of small assemblages honoring the urban landscape of my city. I live and work in a somewhat formerly industrial area but still nature is to be found all around. These little diorama objects use gleanings from my urban nature walks and references to the places they are found. Here is a very tiny impression of the electric generating substation on the bank of the lower Mystic River estuary. It’s all of 1.5 inches high, cut from card stock. I have just started covering it with papier mache. The jar of feathers picked up on my walks will be part of the finished object.