And Sings the Tune: New Art, New Cat

JFries birds border 7.2021

I can hardly believe it has been about three months since my last update, but as most of you know, I tend to fall off the planet fairly regularly. I don’t apologize for it. When I have crap to work through that’s irrelevant to anyone else, I just do it without showing it to anyone. But finally, I do have news to share.

New work on exhibit this summer

“Sometimes the neighbors are up all night,” collage and acrylic on paper.

JFries sometimes the neighbors 6.30.2021
And sings the tune without the words…

This new work is inspired by our local wild birds, whose songs frequently echo through the streets at night, when all else is relatively quiet. I find the birds’ nightlife deeply reassuring. Even in something as small as a bird singing in the dark, we are reminded that we share a living and lively world. The collage is 7 x 10 inches, and made with copies of vintage images, bars of music randomly sliced from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite,” my own blue landscape in acrylic paste, and a line from Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing With Feathers.”

It’s part of the summer show at the Brickbottom Gallery, “The Great Outdoors,” running July 15 – August 14, 2021. Visit the Brickbottom website at This Link for details.

A Cat

Allow me to introduce Luna Lynx, Lady Silvertip, our new cat and studio assistant.

lunalynx 6.2021
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau

She has been with us about a month and is still in studio orientation, but has taken the job of House Cat well in hand. According to the good folks at Animal Rescue League of Boston, although very young herself, she had just weaned off a litter of kittens before coming to us. I believe she has transferred her maternal instincts to her two new humans. Luna Lynx is extremely attentive, playful and nurturing. She scolds us if we wander off, makes sure we eat on time and get our exercise, and checks on us in our beds at night. 

I’m grateful because we have needed someone to take care of us these past few sad months. With her to get us up and running, I feel like we can finally start to move again and that the winter – and all of last year, really – is over at last.

Finally, watch this space for upcoming projects and a new online shop system, coming soon.

Sad News and a PSA for cat lovers everywhere

Hello, my friends. In my March 12th post, I told you that we have been dealing with unhappy things and that I would update you when I could.

I must report that our beloved cat, Scipio, has died due to an unexpected illness.

You may recall that our other cat, Leah, passed away in January at age 17, of cancer. Her passing was expected.

Scipio, however, was only 6 years old, in the prime of his life. In early March, he suddenly became very sick, and was diagnosed with Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). He passed away this past Monday.

I have kept cats all my life but had never heard of this disease, FIP. Most cat keepers that I know have also not heard of it unless they too lost a cat to it. That’s why I’m telling you about it today. If you keep cats, please, make sure you are educated about FIP, and please share this information with anyone you know who keeps cats.

FIP is caused by – supreme irony – a feline coronavirus. This cat-specific virus is no threat to humans, but it is common among cats, especially in crowded multi-cat environments. For the huge majority of cats, it will cause no more than the occasional cold or digestive upsets, but in a small number of cats, it can mutate into a variant that can trigger FIP, which is always fatal. This is what happened to our Scipio.

Veterinary medicine is working on FIP and feline coronavirus. There is a promising experimental therapeutic drug for FIP, but it is not available yet in the US. Hopefully it will be soon. Likewise, work is being done to develop screening and a reliable vaccine for the feline coronavirus. In the meantime, prevention and good health are the only protections against this disease. 

For your reference, here are the best of the articles I read for information about FIP. Also speak with your veterinarian about it.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis, by Tammy Hunter, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM, VCA Animal Hospitals

Feline Infectious Peritonitis, brochure by the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), International Cat Care, a UK charitable organization

Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Katrin Hartmann, DVM, via PMC US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (long and technical)

Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Michelle L. Barry, DVM, via PMC US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

So we have lost both our darlings since January. We are utterly heartbroken and exhausted. I had promised you new work and art for sale, and I do have a selection of things in celebration of spring, but I have been preoccupied up to now.

Thank you for being patient and understanding.

In Memoriam

sm JFries SA Scipio 2.2021
“Life is ten percent what happens to you, and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
– Cornelius Publius Scipio Africanus.

Scipio Africanus Cutieus Patootieus Maximus was charming, funny, affectionate, and caring. He was the terror of all mice, but had only love for the rest of the world. He came to us at another time of mourning in our family, and healed our hearts with his gentle good humor and extreme cuteness. During his friend Leah’s illness, he stayed by her side, comforting her day and night. He is survived by his humans – me and my mom. He left us too soon, and we hope he has been reunited with Leah on the other side.

It’s been a minute and a year

JFries doves border 1.28.21

Hello, all. I’m back after one of my long, unannounced absences, and I’m afraid I return with sad news. 

Our beloved cat, Leah, has died after more than a year battling cancer. The disease turned aggressive in late November, and she passed in early January, at home with us by her side. She was 17 years old. She’d had a rough as a captured feral cat in shelters before coming to our home some 13 years ago, but despite her post-traumatic phobias and neuroses, she was the sweetest, most caring and quietly affectionate creature you could imagine. Beautiful, small, delicate, she was our fairy princess, and few things could make us happier than to see her content and purring. We all miss her so much.

Immediately after our personal loss, of course, That Insurrection Thing happened. As you know, we are a rather political gang in the apartment attached to the studio, so it was a bit all-consuming to watch, in a state of grief, as a bunch of racists and fascists tried to overthrow the US government live on tv, and all the ripples that spread from that.

Also, covid-19.

Altogether, not a good time, and I hope you will understand that I haven’t done, said, or thought a single thing worth telling you about in over two months.

But tonight is the first full moon of 2021, and I am officially restarting the year as of now. 

Am I all healed up and ready to rock? Nope. I am tired, and foggy, and sad, my plans are a jumbled mess, and my calendar is mostly blank. But the fascists failed, and the days are getting longer, and I do feel just a little more … possible than I did just two weeks ago. It’s a flimsy straw, but I’m grasping it. In the past two days, I’ve started a new sketchbook for the year. I’m planning my garden. I’m gradually, baby-step KonMari-ing this whole place (ye gods, I’ve got a lot of stuff), and sorting it all out is giving me a ton of new ideas. Somehow, I feel vaguely like I can start moving again.

Where does this thin trickle of unexpected energy come from? Maybe the moon. January’s Ice Moon is ushering in a wave of snow storms and a deep freeze here in scenic Somerville, and I do feel as if those gusts of wind are blowing away the last, clinging dregs of 2020. You know, psychologically.

So, belatedly, happy New Year. I hope you are all warm and keeping well and looking forward to better days. I make no warranties or representations for what 2021 will bring from my studio, or when, or how. I offer no schedules or projects on deck. No promises = no apologies, that’s my motto for the moment.

So let’s just go forth, as it were, and see what emerges, shall we?

Winter 2020/2021 Photo Journal

JFries december merganser 1.28.21
JFries mourning dove 1.28.21
JFries moth 2 1.28.21
JFries moth 1 1.28.21
JFries moths in progress 1.28.21
JFries sketch #1 1.28.21
JFries January 2021 Ice Moon 1.28.21

In Memoriam: Leah the Bedea, Our Princess, forever loved.

JFries Leah 4.11.19