On the Home Front

June 17, 2017

Okay – I haven’t done all of my Berlin blogs yet.  In the middle of Day 4, but took my granddaughter (11) to see Wonder Woman this afternoon.  Interesting comment on our warlike society (WWI).  At the age of 20, Israeli star Gal Godot served for two years as an enlisted soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, serving as a combat trainer. She learned to stop bullets with her wrists, to throw tanks, and to leap tall buildings in a single bound (with more panache – and less clothes – than Superman).  2 hours 20 minutes.

When I returned from my trip the garden was going crazy!  Kinda like jungle vines in horror movies that creep through your window and strangle you at night.  Then a wind downed the tomatoes, cages and all.  Lost a few cherries.  Had to put nails in the wall to attach them.  Many squash.  Am eating two tomatoes a day to keep up.

Heard some chirping in the garden this morning and when I went to check it out, a cardinal flew off with one of my cherry tomatoes.  Didn’t know they ate them but the internet said they do in dry conditions.  As in any time in Tucson.  104° today, but 113° by Monday.  Good time to be leaving for northern California, as in tomorrow morning.

I mentioned the second set of dove chicks in this blog,
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/the-garden/.  Went to clean out the nest when I returned to town, but the dove was starting a new brood!  Reminds me of my maternal grandmother, who had 11 kids (and then her husband died).  But yesterday morning, when I was out back in my yukata, two men walked into the yard!  Turns out the owner has a contract for them to “clean” the yard every 6 weeks.  (I was only there at that time of day because after two day of sitting for my three grandkids, I was too tired to go to exercise class!) The foreman was surprised how well the garden was doing.  Not sure the previous renters watered or trimmed anything.

“Cleaning” seems to consist of blowing all of the dead leaves into a corner, with the deafening noise of a plane taking off, then raking them up and taking them away.  All windows are then covered in tiny leaf pieces.  Plus (as the dove had flown in fright), they blew leaves off the top of the wall, and one of the dove eggs was blown from the nest, broken on the brick patio.  I did ask the foreman to trim a couple of rangy Texas rangers that I hadn’t gotten to before the heat hit.  And they carted off the 8-foot-long branch that I had sawn off the palo verde, but then had no energy to saw in thirds for the trash.  (However, I think that I may decline this service from now on.)


Berlin Day Three

June 15, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A late start! The history buffs got up early to walk to the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charley. We others slept in. But our curator suggested that I trot to the shopping center across the street to see an installation by John Chamberlain, a tower of crushed cars.  (Since 1999, CAS has raised and contributed more than $1 million in artwork value to the Tucson Museum of Art in consultation with the curatorial staff. Acquisitions include works by John Chamberlain…)  TMA’s Chamberlain is only a foot or so tall, but cost many K.  Imagine how much this behemoth must be worth. The Tower of Klythie is in the Q Shopping Mall Gendarmenmarkt.

After breakfast, on a rainy, grey day, we took a coach to Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, “an international cultural centre [our guide, Jill Sheridan, is a private curator in London, so her spellings are English] where there is an artist-in-resident programme, workspaces for professional artists and it is an exhibition venue.”  Christoph Tannert, the director and project coordinator of KB, gave us background information and the tour.

In 1974 the defunct hospital [Hospital Bethanien: “Bethanien” was then a common name for welfare and healthcare facilities, most of which were run by church organisations, as it evoked the Biblical town in which Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead] was scheduled for demolition, but the opposition of political interest groups sharpened public awareness for the building’s history, thereby paving the way for preservationists to propose a series of redevelopment plans. Among them was Dr Michael Haerdter, the founding director of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien GmbH and its managing director until 2000. Under his leadership the institution grew into an internationally renowned project and presentation platform for contemporary art.1

They moved in 2010 into a building that had manufactured metal chandeliers.  There are 400 square meters of exhibition space, but they have no permanent collection.  And in the basement are a wood and a metal workshop, complete with three trained workers and an engineer to work on the machinery for the artists.  Wow!  When I was in architecture school (with many more than 25 students), our wood shop was about the size of my living room.

There are 25 studios which face the courtyard.  Artists come from all over the world – this year from Japan, Egypt, Korea, Canada, Norway, German, Sweden, Thailand, Cyprus, New Zealand, the USA, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Australia, Switzerland, and Denmark.

Pets and kids are forbidden.  Each artist has a 75 sq.m. exhibition space.  They are supported for one year by grants of 1500€/month plus material costs.  The foundation is supported by the UN, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the EU, universities, cities (such as Berlin), countries.  In the US, Texas supports one artist each year.  This is the studio (one room, divided in half) of Joey Fauarso, from the US.

There are 600+ artists in residence all over the world, such as MoMA PS1 in New York and the London docks, both of which started in the 70’s.

The Künstlerhaus Bethanien is also an active publisher. Since its foundation it has produced over 300 books, catalogues and magazines covering a wide range of topics, exhibitions and projects.2 This includes publishing a bilingual magazine each year: BE.  To BE or not to BE.  Or BErlin.

Elizabeth Hoak- Doering, who gave us a talk in her exhibit, psycho- pomp, has a fascinating backstory.  She was born in Philadelphia, earned a BA magna cum laude in Anthropology at Amherst College, an MAed at University of the Arts, in Philly, and a MFA in Sculpture from Boston University, after which, in 1997, she traveled to Cyprus on a Fulbright scholarship!  She moved to Cyprus in 2006, the only person, who I have heard of, who actually left the US because of Bush.

In 2011 she was selected to represent Cyprus in the 54th Venice Biennale.  She teaches Figure Drawing at the University of Nicosia, in both Greek and English.

There was a 98 minute out-of-focus video of a ride on the Ostsee Highway (Rostock to Wismar), which is made from reused slabs of the Berlin Wall in 1990.  (There was a lot of concrete to dispose of.)

She quoted a poem by Hilda Doolittle, but I didn’t write down the reference.  Perhaps Cities:

…That the maker of cities grew faint
with the splendour of palaces,
paused while the incense-flowers
from the incense-trees
dropped on the marble-walk,
thought anew, fashioned this —
street after street alike…

And she spoke of political freedom – how people express themselves.  But you need her description to appreciate these drawings.

Hoak-Doering’s Berlin works are devoted primarily to the recent past, traces of which she has been offered abundantly in Berlin. In Gesundbrunnen she explored the texts and drawings scratched into the air-raid bunker there as thoroughly as the signatures and messages from prisoners in the cells of the Stasi prison, Hohenschönhausen. Hoak-Doering did not copy, re-draw or photograph the inscriptions – which have often survived only in fragments or have been painted over in places – with any documentary intention: instead, she took the signs, engravings and inscriptions from their background by tracing and frottage, using this in turn as a pattern for a re-enactment of the unknown writers’ gestures and a focus on the surface as a transmitting medium. The direct ‘copies’ were left for the memorial site’s archives.3

Daniel M Thurau‘s exhibit is entitled It’s Only Rock’N’Roll (But They Will Play It At McDonald’s).4  One example at left.


Orawan Arunrak‘s Exit-Entrance. I just took a shot of the entrance curtain.  I can’t get the sound from this website, but it has the text of the conversation.  Here is the description:

All the artworks featured in the exhibition are are the visual and sound elements of a four-language conversation. It is presented in the form of installation of pattern images on the wall, which were designed from a conversation in Thai, German, English, and Vietnamese. It is the conversation between 10 people: a Thai monk, a Thai nun, a Thai anthropologist, a Thai woman, a German woman, a German anthropologist, a German man who ordained in a Thai temple in Berlin, a Vietnamese nun, and a Vietnamese woman, all of whom live in both Asia and Europe.5

There are gallery rooms for artists who live in Berlin.  One is Riccardo Benassi (whose work, if you google him, is all over the board); we viewed his Sleep’n’Spleen.  (We missed the acousmatic sound installation4 because we were not there during usual gallery hours.)

This is part of what is left of The Wall.  We have driven by this a few times, but I never took a photo, except for the graffiti.  (This from the internet.)

Lunch at Ubersee. Then a coach to the Springmeier-Gnyp Collection, where Marta Gnyp (she an art advisor from Amsterdam) and Giovanni Springmeier (a Berliner) live.  Much of their collection I didn’t care for; photos only of what I liked. The building, from 1903, survived the bombings (WWII). Even wallpaper in one room from 1903, but the chandeliers, one Murano glass, all new. Note: most buildings in Berlin are post-war, but some built with modern design, others to recreate demolished buildings.

This intricately beaded work by Raul Nieves, a Mexican artist, on their mannequin.  Below, a photo (from W) of the artist with some of his works (see this collection’s costume on the right) for this year’s Whitney Biennial.  (OMG – its website is totally disorientating!  http://whitney.org/www/biennial2017/artists.html)  Read this interview in his queer underground safe space from W – he’s fascinating.6

Petra Cortright, from Los Angeles,  does digital paintings created from a single master file of internet-sourced imagery.  I took this photo of a painting, printed on aluminum, which appears to be from the Zero-Day Darling exhibition.

Over the last few years, Cortright has been using Adobe Photoshop to make paintings, lightly hacking both the technology and the intended social use for this program—as an image-editing platform, Photoshop is frequently used to alter the appearance of women in photographs. Using websites like Pinterest, she sources colors, patterns, skin tones and other fragments of images. These elements are, then, integrated into the hundreds of abstracted layers that make up her work. This multidimensional process and hacking of visual language via technology was also a large part of her earlier video work, where she would “layer” software, manipulating the programs to create new visual effects and experiences.7

This is interesting, but you have to check out her website!  http://www.petracortright.com

Old master, 1690 (neglected to write down name, but not one of the Biggies), portrait of woman with embroidered dress, of tulips. Reminds us of Tulip Mania, beauty used for speculation, as many are buying paintings today. (A painting by the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat just sold at auction in New York for $110.5 M! )

One piece of Danh Vo‘s recreation of the Statue of Liberty.  We had seen a whole room of them on a private visit to Museion Bolzana in Verona two years ago.8

We the People, more than twenty fragments of monumental copper invade the fourth floor of the museum. The pieces reproduced life-size parts of the Statue of Liberty [as the original, out of copper, two pennies thick], an icon symbol of America, which is then revived dismembered.

In the ancient play, Medea, by Euripides, Jason leaves Medea for a Greek princess of Corinth, so Medea takes vengeance on him by killing not only his new wife, but her own children too.  This painting , by a German artist, whose name I did not get, depicts her bathing one of the children before she murders them.  (Whale bone in front not connected.)

Claire Tabouret‘s painting, The Blue Queen, 2016, from her show, Battlegrounds, which was shown at the Bugada & Cargnel, Paris, France.  You can see it better on their website (scroll down)9.


Portrait of English schoolboy (pimples and all) by Dutch photographer Rineke DijkstraKnown for her stark, engaging portraits, she often focuses on particular communities of people with an emphasis on capturing the awkwardness and self-consciousness of adolescence. “With young people everything is much more on the surface—all the emotions,” the artist observed.10  I’ve seen some of her Beach Portraits somewhere, but can’t remember where.

A beautiful tapestry by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, made from Jerrycans (5 or 12 liter plastic containers used for carrying water), although not as complex as those by fellow Ghanaina El Anatsui, who has gained international attention for his tapestries made from soda cans and bottle caps, and who I had mentioned in a previous blog.11)

Based in Accra and working internationally, Clottey refers to his work as “Afrogallonism”, a concept thTat confronts the question of material culture through the utilisation of yellow gallon containers. Cutting, drilling, stitching and melting found materials, Clottey’s sculptural installations are bold assemblages that that act as a means of inquiry into the languages of form and abstraction.12

On, by coach, to Karin Sander‘s studio.  She sold 180 pieces of this wall at Basel in 1999.  It was wallpapered in canvas, and rectangles were cut out and then were then fit into dozens of differently sized clip-on frames and displayed in a top-to-bottom salon style: not paintings on the wall but  the wall hung as paintings.13 The walls are now going to be taken to Switzerland. The canvases sold between €4,000 and €10,000!

She also tacked canvases on a building to collect graffiti.  (Photo of her at left, below two of the graffiti-ed canvases.)

More recently, she has done scaled figures, 1/10 scale (you have to search for the dog).  She used a scanner to measure people, then a 3D printer to recreate them.  The first generation were monochromatic.

Then came the second generation, and all museum guests were scanned at an exhibition in Dusseldorf.

Sander created these Lilliputian figures by first recording her subjects in the round with sixteen digital cameras [there is one machine in Germany that does this three-dimensional photographic body-scanning, usually for the fashion industry], then feeding the images into a machine designed for making models and prototypes. From this photographic matrix, the machine sprayed layers of plastic according to the shape of the person at 1:10 scale, which was then painted with an airbrush.14

The third generation captured the colors as well.  This young girl in the artist’s studio.

A person is scanned with a 3D Whitelight Scanner [seen at right], and by selecting their own gesture, pose and accessories, visitors can shape these representa- tions of their own figures. The 3D body scanner reads the whole surface of a person’s body. The data is then transferred to an inkjet printer which three dimensionally builds the figures layer by layer according to the whitelight scan. The “mirror image” is completed… in either grey tones or color with all the details of the original person’s pose and appearance. The artist refers to these works as self-portraits.15

I am fascinated with the concepts she comes up with.  This for an installation in Berlin:

…At five different upstairs sites… Sander removed the wastepaper baskets next to the desks and cut perfect circular holes in the floor at the exact places where the bottoms of the baskets had been. At each hole a small metal railing was installed to prevent people from injuring themselves. For the duration of the exhibition, gallery employees were instructed to throw away paper trash as they normally would. But rather than filling receptacles, the trash drifted down to the floor below: a slow rain of paper from on high, a gravity-induced information flow, falling “messages” that made you consider the mysterious people at work above…16


She affixed vegetables to the wall in Kitchen Pieces.17

She mailed blank canvases.  The postal service wasn’t sure what to do with some of them.  In one case, a postal worker sliced off the previous label. (Yes, these sell for a lot.)


Recently she has been learning to melt glass.

After freshening up our our hotel, we had dinner at Hugo’s Restaurant, the East Boardroom, on the top floor of the InterContinental hotel, with a panoramic view of the entire city.  The food was marvelous and beautifully presented.  (I stopped taking photos of food.)  A lovely ending for the day.


Berlin Day Two, afternoon

June 10, 2017

Monday May 29, 2017 continued

This afternoon we saw the Fahrbereitschaft [which translates motor pool – ?], with the Haubrok Collection. The series of buildings have a colorful history in the former East Berlin.  Purchased in its original condition more than two decades after the fall of the regime, a guardhouse, a sauna, and a bowling alley remain as reminders of its former purpose.1  If you’re interested, read this English translation of the complex’s background: http://www.fahrbereitschaft.org/info/#english

Our guide for the week is an art curator from England, who put together our Programme.  This is what she said of the Collection:

This is a collection focusing on conceptual art built up by Barbara and Axel Haubrok.  Frank Hauschildt, who works with the Haubroks, will lead a tour of the site and explain its history after which we will visit the exhibitions and several artists’ studios.  Axel Haubrok will meet the group and discuss the collection during the drinks reception.

I absolutely loved 100 Boots by Eleanor Antin, 1973 when I first saw the black and white photos in some magazine in the 70’s.  So quirky.  These are just six of the many.  Unfortunately, they were behind reflecting glass, so you can see me taking the photos.  (You can google them and see much better images.)  A record of performance art.  100 Boots in a Field, 100 Boots on the Job, 100 Boots out of a Job, 100 Boots Try Again, 100 Boots Enter the Museum, 100 Boots Move On.






This is how Antin has described the conception of her 100 Boots series: “Somehow it came to me in a dream. There! Black boots! Big black boots. I got them at the Army-Navy Surplus then I printed them up on postcards. Over the course of it — finally two and a half years — fifty-one cards were mailed out to about a thousand people around the world. Now it is  a piece that I see as a kind of pictorial novel that was sent through the mail, came unannounced, unasked for. It came in the middle of people’s lives….It spilled out of their mailboxes along with bills, letters, newspapers, Christmas cards, divorce papers. They could tape it to the fridge, tuck it away in a drawer, throw it in the trash.”
Through the simultaneously haunting and humorous photos, Antin had found her first group to direct. She had also portrayed a clear character: an everyman with the might of fifty people, and as powerless as none. We follow 100 boots in its pursuit of survival, justice, and an expansion of consciousness. And by following 100 boots, we each become an extra pair. In essence, by simply having people look at the series, Antin has helped foster a unity among us. You could say that those boots represent us, all who have viewed them, as scattered as we are by place, time, and ideology. Is this a bit authoritarian? Sure, but isn’t all art authoritarian at some level? And that’s when the fact that these are military boots comes back around.2

I did not know of Allan Kaprow’s Pose before I saw this show, but I found this greatly amusing too.  Carrying chairs through the city. Sitting down here and there. Photographed. Pix left on the spot. Going on.  (Click on photo to enlarge.)

A two day performance where Kaprow and his friends walked around Berkeley carrying chairs. Pictures were taken periodically and left on the site where they were sat upon. The documentation of this performance is printed on seven loose sheets and bound in a manila envelope.3

I also love Mason Williams’ Sunflower.
Many in our group couldn’t get their heads around Conceptual Art.  Here is the Synopsis that our TMA curator gave us:

Conceptual art is a movement that prizes ideas over the formal or visual components of art works…
Conceptualism took myriad forms, such as performances, happenings, and ephemera. From the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s Conceptual artists produced works and writings that completely rejected standard ideas of art. Their chief claim – that the articulation of an artistic idea surfaces as a work of art – implied that concerns such as aesthetics, expression, skill and marketability were all irrelevant standards by which art was usually judged. So drastically simplified, it might seem to many people that what passes for Conceptual art is not in fact “art” at all, much as Jackson Pollock’s “drip” paintings, or Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes (1964), seemed to contradict what previously had passed for art. But it is important to understand Conceptual art in a succession of avant-garde movements (Cubism, Dada, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, etc.) that succeeded in self-consciously expanding the boundaries of art…4

The galvanised steel ducts used by the late German artist Charlotte Posenenske were not appreciated by most of the group.  This from Wikipedia:

In 1968 Posenenske published a statement in the journal Art International referencing the reproducibility of her works, and her desire for the concept and ownership of the piece to be accessible:

I make series
because I do not want to make individual pieces for individuals,
in order to have elements combinable within a system,
in order to make something that is repeatable, objective,
and because it is economical.
The series can be prototypes for mass-production.
They are less and less recognisable as “works of art.”
The objects are intended to represent anything other than what they are.

Our curator had also given us a Synopsis of Minimalism:

Minimalism emerged in New York in the early 1960s among artists who were self-consciously renouncing recent art they thought had become stale and academic. A wave of new influences and rediscovered styles led younger artists to question conventional boundaries between various media. The new art favored the cool over the “dramatic”: their sculptures were frequently fabricated from industrial materials and emphasized anonymity over the expressive excess of Abstract Expressionism. Painters and sculptors avoided overt symbolism and emotional content, but instead called attention to the materiality of the works…5

In the last building were beautiful fabric hangings, but I neglected to record the name of the artist.  (Email me if you know.)


Berlin Day Two, morning

June 9, 2017

Monday May 29, 2017

Our room at the Berlin Hilton is a bit small, but my roommate and I have divided up the space. The breakfast buffet is marvelous, and I can get my lattes every morning.

Our first venue was the Boros Collection.  The building, which had been a WWII bunker, was renovated for the art collection, and a penthouse (which we did not get to see) added as the residence for the art collectors.  This photo I took of the exterior of the Reichsbahnbunker (Railway Passenger Air Raid Shelter), which was built by forced labor after WWII bombings; the “windows” on the exterior are fake.  I found photos of the penthouse (which is totally awesome) online, but they are copyrighted by Ailine Liefeld für Freunde von Freunden. However, they’re on this website: http://www.zeit.de/lebensart/2013-06/fs-christian-und-karen-boros-fvf-2 

The listed air raid bunker was constructed during the second world war… The building could house up to 3000 seated people distributed on five floors during air raids… a 1,8 meter thick outer concrete wall and a 3 meter thick concrete ceiling. In the year 2003 an art collector bought the bunker and commissioned Jens Casper of Realarchitektur to design a place for him and his family to live in and house his collection.

Outer additions were removed, the facades were cleaned and have been structurally refurbished. Selected ceilings and walls were cut out of the building, the resulting overlapping spaces now join the floors vertically throughout. Only parts of the interior walls are plastered and painted white. Traces of all former uses and incidents, graffiti, scars, bullet holes remain present.

To connect up to the newly created dwelling on top of the building, around 150 cubic metres of concrete were cut out of the bunker roof. The apartment is reached through this opening by way of a steel staircase and an internal open lift. It is laid out as an open plan with the living spaces flowing through the entire area. It has a ceiling height of 3.75 meters. Only few materials were used for the interior: concrete, smoked oak and shell limestone. The apartment is surrounded by a load bearing steel-glass facade, gardens, terraces, a pool and the Berlin roofscape.

The project has been widely published and received many prestigious awards…  http://jenscasper.com/bunker.html

We were allowed no photos of the collection.  Here are some of my notes, with similar photos from the internet:

One room had egg cartons of different sizes on the floor, by Chinese artist He Xiangyu. Gee, I recognized these bronze items right away, as I had made one in my lost wax class.  (‘Cept He covered his with gold leaf; I only sprayed mine with gold paint.) There is a photo of mine in this blog, before I spray-painted it: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/wax/

His first egg carton installation had a “single actual egg – personal reflection of the artist on the one-child policy in China”1. This installation had two eggs, for obvious reasons.  There was also a painting of his – lemons, them in white, the background yellow – similar to the one on this website: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/china/articles/what-to-expect-from-the-first-gallery-weekend-beijing/

Two giant heads by Brooklyn artist Justin Matherly.  In the entry this eagle head This (photo on Pinterest).  They are carved originally from styrofoam, then cast in concrete, and set on walkers.

Next, Kris Martin, a Belgian artist, with Life after Death.

The Belgian artist brings together sculpture, drawing, photography, and works on paper that examine themes of morbidity, beauty, destruction and time.2




Avery Singer, from New York, does paintings, some huge, that look like black and white photos of computer animation, with lots of heavy, fuzzy shadows.

Employing the 3D-modeling software, Google SketchUp, to create an under-drawing, Singer applies acrylic paint to the canvas via an airbrush, creating images that are both digital and analog… part human and part cyborg…3

This website gives some examples:

A large canvas by Danish artist Sergej Jensen, similar to this:

Jensen employs a range of ready-made materials in lieu of canvas including wool, silk, linen, and burlap. His works often eschew painting altogether, relying instead on sewing, bleaching, or staining. When used, paint has been applied subtly, sparingly, and at times from behind the canvas.4

Martin Boyce, from Glasgow, won the Turner Prize4.5, and represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2009.  A few nice mobiles and ventilation grilles with messages (much the same as these), venting to a closed-off space.5

German artist Johannes Wohnseifer, plastic trash in corner.  I looked him up on the internet; his works are all over the board, but couldn’t find anything resembling what we saw.

Johannes Wohnseifer’s video works, photographs, sculptures, and installations contain references to the history of art and design—analyzing our everyday life as defined by the media, in which the hierarchies between highbrow and lowbrow have become invalid.6

Katja Novitskova from Estonia was in the Venice Biennale.  This is the work we saw in the Boros Collection, Pattern of Activation, 2014 from Art Basel 2015 – larger than life-size horse digital print on aluminum looks 3D, arrow on trampoline is.  https://www.artbasel.com/catalog/artwork/21917

German artist Peter Piller‘s photos of houses in series.  These photos are from the Sleeping Houses series.  (They are boarded up and “sleeping”.)

In 2002, German photographer and archivist Peter Piller obtained over 20,000 aerial photographs from a bygone business venture that endeavored to sell homeowners images of their own houses. In the statement for the work, somewhat dryly titled Arial View Archive, Piller explains:

“The salesperson had used a ball-point pen to add some revealing notes to the back of the photographs: “Not interested in pictures”, “looks nicer from the ground”, “wife keen, but house too expensive”, “you’ll get half a moped for that”, “doing it himself” or simply: “deceased”, for instance.

After several archive inspections, I was led to the first collection themes and classification categories: “Sleeping Houses”, “Floral Objects” and “Person in front of House”. Whilst sifting, for the forth, fifth and sixth time, through 18 removal boxes packed with yellowing photos and negatives; I eventually discovered the material that now constitutes the content of this book.”7

A few pieces from Norwegian artist Yngve Holen. Two sets of Hater Headlights that were similar to this, and a section of an airport fence, possibly entitled Butterfly, a symbol of death.

Right, this massive piece of metal, the face of a CT scanner covered with a fishnet stretch fabric.  I don’t trust anyone for the most part. But then again, I am my own creature, 2015, plastic, fabric, metal.

For his first solo show at Galerie Neu, the artist has produced a new series of works with the face of CT scanners, the machines that create tomographic images from computer-processed X-rays… beige medical-grade plastic, and dressed with black, white, or yellow fishnet stretch fabric.8

Hubcaps that look like snowflakes, such as this one, right.

And a washing machine part, with a chicken, not with a car brand, but similar to this description (foto: Anna Kærsgaard Gregersen):

Sensitive to Detergent, Moving Forward (2012), which includes a VW-branded, ghost-white, 3D-printed chicken breast resting on the drum of a washing machine.9

Swiss Fabian Marti – photograms, some massive, covered with resin, of eggs.  http://atpdiary.com/fabian-marti-fonti-exhibits/

The only note I have for Michel Majerus is big, upstairs.  Cannot remember the piece(s).  This from Wikipedia:

Michel Majerus was a Luxembourgish artist whose work combined painting with digital media. He lived and worked in Berlin until his death in an accident in November 2002.

Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson did an interesting installation of mole holes, in bronze, scattered about a room.  Homage to Mole, I think it was entitled.  I couldn’t find any on the Web, so just imagine this dirt entry to a mole hole (right), without the grass, cast in bronze with a black patina.  Has to be done in the winter when the ground is frozen.  There were a few paintings too.

…Andreas Eriksson works with a variety of materials. Here in Basel he does painting, photography and sculpture, for which he uses structures from nature. His still works have their origins in the isolation of his homeland, a small place in the Swedish countryside. In accordance with the famous quote from Cézanne, he does not work subject to nature, but in parallel to it, such as when he traces the painterly structures and rhythms of a group of tree trunks…”.10

Some of the works, we were told, were chosen by Christian Boros’ wife, Karen, an art historian, such as a number of works by the German artist, Uwe Henneken, whose work has been described as kitsch or romantic, and reflects the “inner child of the artist”.  There were three paintings, and a number of sculptures of Monsters in boxes, like this.11

There were a few bronze (except for the parasol) sculptures from Chinese artist Guan Xiao, and this may have been one of them: Slightly Dizzy (2014)12, which I loved, and a video.  This was not it, but you get the idea:

The works we saw of Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz dwelt on skin color, both in bottles of silicone, and in paintings, one done on gold.  She was influenced not only by the beauty industry, but also by Yves Klein… a notable French artist known for his innovative blue monochrome artworks.13

At the Venice Biennale 2015 (which we attended) the [Swiss] pavilion is filled with a monochrome liquid matching the standardized northern european skin tone.  (photo by marc asekhame)

pamela rosenkranz fills the swiss pavilion at the venice art biennale 2015 with an immersive installation … her chosen materials — bionin, evian, necrion, neotene, silicone, viagra (to name a few)14

But there was also a satellite photo kaleidoscope of earth.15

In the collection was a muslim robe, hand embroidered by Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth,

He exhibits quite regularly in Europe, recently in the Lyon Biennale, and in Oslo for instance. Still the continent hasn’t had the opportunity to greet him personally, as he plans to walk the earth of Latin America and Africa, before going to Europe. He’ll get there eventually, finding his way via Africa. It is not a matter of dislike of Europe, Silva tells me, it is just a matter of priority, as Nazareth wants to understand his own roots first. In 2011 Nazareth went by foot to attend Art Basel Miami Beach. His trip took him almost a year. He was met with disbelief by border patrol; sometimes they didn’t accept his passport. He was wearing flip-flops, not washing his feet so they gathered the dust of all the America’s, to be washed off in the river Hudson as an apotheosis of his journey. While travelling, he took pictures of himself and the indigenous people he met during his travels, to look for similarities, to look for differences (‘Noticias de Americas’, 2011). It is his own background, being of African, Krenak and Italian descent that fuels his search for identity. Sometimes people think he is black, either indigenous. In Cuba, he was perceived as local. On Facebook he posted a message: “Being mixed-race and travelling through the Americas, my skin changes every day. At home the labels are not so well defined…I cannot open my mouth because then my skin color changes, there are days when I am an Arab, Pakistani, indigenous and other adjectives which may change according to other people’s gazes and the words to come out of my mouth at any rate, sometimes in the United States of America, when I go into white people’s shops, everyone is afraid, including me.”17

The curator giving our tour mentioned that he is now hyped in the art world, but when his art sells, half goes to the galley, and the other half he gives away (as the kaftan).  His suitcase was a sugar sack from Brazil (in the collection).  He is very much a performance artist.  Here is a video of him walking backwards around the Tree of Forgetfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e26AJhlkLF8

Nazareth’s long walks question the notion of boundaries and the global scale. In L’Arbre D’Oublier, filmed in Ouidah, which was once home to one of Africa’s biggest slave trafficking ports, the artist walks 437 times around the Tree of Forgetfulness, which men were made to encircle seven times in a rite meant to erase their memories of the past. The performance gesture, a poetic attempt at rewinding history, is repeated by Nazareth around other trees, in Africa and Brazil, including an ipê amarelo (golden trumpet tree), the national symbol of the latter country.18

For the last artist I have written Ama Blanca and Brazil, but cannot find her.  It translates White Love.  Perhaps that was the name of a painting…

Phew!  On to Clarchens Ballhaus for lunch, then the afternoon collection.

4.5 The Turner Prize, named after the English painter J. M. W. Turner, is an annual prize presented to a British visual artist… Awarding the prize is organised by the Tate gallery… Since its beginnings in 1984 it has become the UK’s most publicised art award. The award represents all media.
As of 2004, the monetary award was established at £40,000… A prominent event in British culture, the prize has been awarded by various distinguished celebrities: in 2006 this was Yoko Ono, and in 2012 it was presented by Jude Law.
It is a controversial event, mainly for the exhibits, such as The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – a shark in formaldehyde by Damien Hirst – and My Bed, a dishevelled bed by Tracey Emin. Controversy has also come from other directions, including a Culture Minister (Kim Howells) criticising exhibits, a guest of honour (Madonna) swearing, a prize judge (Lynn Barber) writing in the press, and a speech by Sir Nicholas Serota (about the purchase of a trustee’s work).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turner_Prize

Berlin Day One

June 2, 2017

Sunday May 28, 2017

Took a sleeping pill just before dinner last night, and don’t even remember eating the dessert. While the lights dimmed and I was changing into my pj’s, the stews made up my bed, not only the seat fully flat, but a lovely comforter (down?) in a duvet cover to snuggle into, and the partitions raised to five feet for privacy.  Great breakfast, each ordered individually, with hot washcloths served before the meal, as last night.

Gained nine hours.

Horrible jetlag when I got to the hotel, due perhaps to too much wine at a high altitude.  Instead of dinner, went right to bed and slept through until morning. Missed “one of the best meals” and a fabulous guest speaker, but everyone said that the room was stifling hot. Guess not many buildings here are air conditioned, and global warming is sneaking up on them.

Oh – must tell you why I’m here.  It’s an art tour with CAS (the Contemporary Art Society) from TMA (the Tucson Museum of Art). You may remember that I went to Cuba1 with them, as well as the Venice Art Biennale2.



June 2, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I am  chortling as I write this.  Got a call from American Airlines this morning. Supposed to be flying AA, then British Airways to Berlin, but BA’s entire computer system has gone kablooy.  So got rescheduled earlier on Lufthansa. My daughter was at work, and my son-in-law at the gym, but he left and picked me up 15 minutes later.  (Laundry just out of the dryer!)  Got to the airport by 11am for a 12:12 flight.  TSA, so I got through expedited baggage check without having to take off my shoes.  But here’s the punch line: they had to put me in first class!  On the flight to Chicago, while those in steerage got crackers and soda, I had an appetizer of sliced artichoke heats with cherry tomatoes stuffed with a lovely cheese, a tabbouleh salad, a pretzel roll, vegetable lasagne (not very good, but then my son makes the best with homemade noodles!), and a chocolate mousse with raspberries for dessert. I decided against wine for lunch and had club soda with a slice of lime, in a real glass. In Chicago sat in Lufthansa’s Club drinking wine and eating nuts with three other women in our group, who had also been rerouted, rather than the buffet.

So now I’m in a first class section with only ten huge seats.  The seat has nine different adjustments (including flat, which I plan to use).  We were offered champagne (2003 Cuvee Louise, Champagne Pomery, Frankreich) and macadamia nuts.  (I had orange juice.)  We were given pajamas (!) with an apology that they’re women’s but one size fits all.  Plus night socks and slippers, and a makeup case with miscellaneous toiletries.  There is a fresh long-stemmed red rose in a vase next to my TV screen.  The flight atttendants are obsequious, but the pilot speaks first in German (which always makes me think of Dr. Strangelove), then English.

For dinner I shall have a 2011 Barolo Cerequio, Michele Chiarlo, Italien, cavier “with the traditional garnishes”, seared beef filet and lump crab with bernaise sauce, asparagus, baby carrots and whipped potatoes, a hazelnut pot de creme for dessert, and possibly a Niepoort Portwein LBV.

The Garden

May 25, 2017

My tiny vegetable garden is very happy with being watered twice a day.  There are three tomato plants (closeups of the large tomatoes and the cherry tomatoes, which will no doubt ripen when I’m in Berlin next week; the housesitter can enjoy them) and an eggplant in the back.  The cucumber and squash vines completely cover the carrots (which take a long time to grow) and spinach (from which I’m harvesting the largest leaves, leaving the plants to continue producing.  Yesterday I got half a bag for a salad.)  One spinach leaf had a caterpillar encased in what looked like plexiglass on a leaf; I moved that leaf to another part of the yard in case it becomes a beautiful butterfly.

My neighbor was out the other morning (in short shorts – and she’s older than I am!) taking photos of her blooms.  The red birds of paradise (the left is hers, the right is “mine”) look gorgeous, even in front of lavender Texas ranger flowers, about the shade of  “my” purple prickly pear cactus on the right.  But the star of the show was her night-blooming cereus, which hadn’t faded out yet, and blooms only once a year!

Amazing that some plants love the heat.  My bulbine frutescens (a plant from South Africa), sends out long stalks with tiny yellow flowers.

Must mention that I have another pair of mourning doves raising two chicks, farther down the wall from the last dove family.  One of the parents sits patiently on the nest as I water my potted plants under it, but the other flaps noisily out of the nest when I just open the back door!

Summer is here!

Yes, we had one day over 100° a few weeks ago, but yesterday it was 102°, and in another week the serious heat will start; the temps will no doubt be in the 100’s for months. The rest of you in the northern hemisphere may start summer on June 20, but we start with those 100° temperatures!

Looks like Berlin’s not going to be as cool as I had hoped.  (Going with the Contemporary Art Society – CAS – from the Tucson Museum of Art -TMA.)  However, my daughter got me a tiny umbrella (something we rarely use here in the desert) for Mother’s Day, which fits in my purse, so I’m set for Tuesday and Friday.

End of the School Year

May 20, 2017

First there was the kindergarten graduation. (My youngest grandchild’s photo here with his proud parents.)  I think this is beyond silly, but that grandson also had a pre-school graduation!  Interesting that they sang about learning the alphabet, while my grandson has read the entire Adventures of Tintin series.  And they counted to ten in Spanish.  He can add three-digit numbers in his head.  My daughter said that’s because he is a competitive third child.

Then the second grade performance, followed the next week by the middle child’s piano recital. (Pictured here with his instructor.)

Next the fifth grade performance  (granddaughter pictured here at the microphone).  They sang about memories from first grade to fifth, nostalgically.



The next day was the elementary school orchestra, band, and chorus performance.  (My granddaughter still plays the violin, although she only practices about 3½ minutes a day.)  Two boys, middle school to high school age, sat to my right, both hunched at a 45° angle over their phones, playing video games the  entire time.  While the orchestra and band (which consisted of one clarinet, no flutes, about a dozen trumpets – with no mutes, a sax, and four drums – imagine the cacophony bouncing around that hard-surfaced room) performed from the floor of the multipurpose room, the chorus sat on bleachers on the stage fidgeting, one with her new Fidget Spinner,  another picking at her toenail, some chatting with each other, and no one sitting up straight.  Luckily all of the girls in dresses were also wearing tights, as they they were all sitting with legs akimbo.  Just more than half of the performers were dressed up (my granddaughter in a pink sparkle dress, a few boys in suits and ties), and the others in ragged T-shirts and jeans.  The jeans that the violin soloist wore had holes in the knees.

Finally the oldest boy’s taekwondo finale.  He is now in training to get this black belt, so he can start sparing.  Free classes in the summer for parents or grandparents.  Actually thinking of doing it again, with a few caveats.  I did mess up my left knee four-and-a-half years ago, demonstrating a taekwondo kick for the boys.1

And I’m finished with my last semester teaching at Pima.  This one burned me out.  A class of students just out of high school, who couldn’t be bothered to attend class or do all of their assignments.   Started with 18, then four dropped, and another four pretty much just stopped coming.  Those who did finish seemed positive about the class, and two of the girls actually hugged me, but that’s it.

Seen Today

Those were not dried grasses my mouse had gathered in the storage shed, they were pieces from my broom that it had chewed off!

On my fence this evening – a rosy finch, a male quail (watching over his family from above) and a pair of lovey doveys.  (Okay – I’ve made an adjective into a noun, but those doves do go at it.)

Drug Cartels

On the radio one morning they were discussing a drug cartel in Hermosa, Mexico and I thought they called it the Golf Cartel, so immediately I pictured the drug lords and their minions in golf attire.  Then I realized that they had said the Gulf Cartel.


Mom’s Day

May 14, 2017

A less stressful (less expensive) brunch this year at Einstein Bagels, followed by a cold swim (kids and polar bears only), then a turkey-burger BBQ dinner.  Note: my 11-year-old granddaughter is taller than I am.

This card is especially funny ’cause my son-in-law bought it for my daughter to give me!



Seen This Week

A woman checking out books at the library with a triple baby stroller, and three moon-faced, innocent, almost identical babies staring at me.

A male pyrrhuloxia perched on the shelf next to my outdoor table, but I couldn’t take a photo (but you can see one in this blog post: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/the-vegetarian-coyote/) because…  Tuesday afternoon it drizzled.  Not enough rain to wash off the windows, just enough to convert the covering of desert dust into spots that my camera wants to focus on.

I moved my finch feeder to just outside my bedroom window, and it’s been populated by a rotation of maybe a dozen goldfinches and one rosy finch, which is about twice their size, since I refilled it with Nyjer thistle seed.  I tried a few shots and just got a blur behind the spots on the window. I was sure there’s a setting to remedy that.  Yup – with Manual I got this shot of a goldfinch.

I have (at least) two cute geckos living here, one in my garage (I had to scoot it out of my way to back the car out), another in the storage shed.  Add that to all of the outdoor lizards, and I have quite a few reptiles eating my bugs.  But I am keeping the paper wasp nest in the ceiling corner of my patio.  Am fascinated with those insects.

Someone (mouse?) keeps trying to make a nest in my aforementioned storage shed.  One was composed of dried grasses, another of fallen blossoms from the desert willow.  I keep sweeping them out, but the shed smells of animal.  I even googled do geckos make nests to make sure I wasn’t jeopardizing its reproduction.  (They don’t.)

Took a photo of the clutch of baby quail, all just a bit bigger than acorns, but the camera focused on the welded wire, and they scampered down the slope too fast for me to count.  Somewhere around eight.  Have considered removing the wire from the fence to let in more critters, and just encircling my vegetable garden (harvested some spinach leaves today – leaving the plants to produce more), but it would be a bit of trouble.


I have not had a working television since the cable line in the back of my TV was ripped out during my move to South Carolina, which was somewhere around a dozen years ago.  When my daughter moved back to town two years ago she loaned me one of her spare flat-screen TVs as their house came with two televisions bolted to the walls.  (Gave the old behemoth to my handyman, just to get someone to carry it out.)  It’s not smart, however, so I had to get a fire stick just to have it tune into my wifi.

So I do not get actual TV, but my son put me on his Netflix Streaming plan, and now I’m watching way too many series and a few movies, thus melting my mind every evening.

  • Sherlock (with Smaug and Bilbo, which is kind of mind-bending)
  • Untold History of the United States (co-written, directed, and produced by Oliver Stone, starting with WWI)
  • The West Wing (the presidency – way too cheery)
  • House of Cards (the presidency – way too dark)
  • Veep (politics – which is supposed to be funny, but I’m put off with every third word starting with an “f”; had a friend visiting from Australia who kept needling me about Trump, so I thought that this would give me a laugh)
  • The Crown ( a costume drama – the life of Queen Elizabeth II from 1940 to today)
  • Longmire (reminiscent of Tony Hillerman’s Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, which I got tired of after book two; my son was put off by the cowboy sheriff being played by an Australian actor)
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (magic in 19th century England – mostly silly)
  • Black Mirror (a BBC contemporary reworking of “The Twilight Zone” – each episode is stand-alone, and some are dreadful.  Season 3, Episode 6: “Hated in the Nation” reminded me of Michael Crichton’s book Prey;  but my favorite episode is Season Three Episode 3, “Playtest” – I love the punchline at the end)
  • Cleverman (an American drama that takes place in Australia, with Iain Glen from Game of Thrones, and hints of District 9, where the internment camps were in South Africa – somewhat silly but with roots in Aboriginal mythology)
  • Stranger Things (see my ref in
    https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/humor/ – silly)
  • Zootopia (I loved this Disney animated feature)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.(silly – a Marvel’s series)
  • Daredevil (also silly – a Marvel character)
  • Captain America: Civil War (“)
  • Luke Cage (“)
  • Jessica Jones (“)
  • Game of Thrones (love this !!!  See this ref:
  • Outlander (“)
  • Father Brown (a BBC series of a crime-solving Catholic Priest – silly)
  • Arrow (as in the Green Arrow – a DC character – silly)
  • Helen Mirrin’s old Prime Suspect (the British series – woman as hard-ass)

Frankly, by this time I’m sick of half a dozen killings a night…

  • Boardwalk Empire (but after five seasons I got tired of Nucky Thompson – how could women fall for Steve Buscemi?)
  • Juana Ines (liked this period drama in Spanish with subtitles but real story of a self-taught scholar, philosopher and poet of the Baroque school, and Hieronymite nun in Mexico City)
  • Grace & Frankie (with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, whose husbands, Martin Sheen – really?  he’s the West Wing President! – and Sam Waterston, divorce them to marry each other – pretty vacuous, with old-people jokes)
  • The Big Short (movie okay, but liked the book better)
  • The Last Kingdom (how England arose as a nation, with Anglo-Saxons and Danes – with great hairdos and tats – based on the historical fiction novels The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, which I haven’t read)


May 2, 2017

Good that the doves breed all year ’round to keep the predators fed.  Not only the bobcat and snake I showed in my last blog, but the roadrunner that today jumped over my fence to drink from the birdbath.  And yesterday there was a hawk on my neighbor’s fence, Cooper’s I think, although I didn’t get a good look, as when I saw it, it saw me and promptly flew away.

The Goldfinch

On Saturday, when my daughter’s family stopped by, my daughter espied a baby chick on the ground.  We knew it was a goldfinch because a parent was cheeping at us from a tree.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a nest to return it to, and the large mesquite out front has been over-trimmed (why do people do that?) so that the branches are 30 feet up, with no way to get to a nest if we’d even seen it.

So… my daughter took it home, filled a container with rags and hamster bedding, made a mash of kitten milk, catfood, and ground seeds, and fed it with a eyedropper. Pretty horrible looking, isn’t it? It doesn’t have flight feathers, and it hasn’t opened its eyes yet.  A bit of smashed mash on the wings, as it would turn quickly.  (The grey feathers I added – they were left from the bobcat’s meal.)

Anyway, she then took off on a three-day field trip to California with her daughter, and left the nestling to me!  She said she’d been feeding it every hour or so.   Supposed to feed it until its crop (a bubble on its neck) is full.  And if its skin is red, it’s dehydrated.  I checked the advice online to verify.1

Decided it needed birdseed, so chopped up sunflower kernels and Niger thistle seeds (which didn’t grind well with the mortar and pestle), mixed with water, and it seemed to like that, cheeping and jumping about.

Something is seriously wrong with its eyes.  I googled, of course, I have a finch with encrusted eyes. What should I do?

You are observing a disease that was first observed in House Finches in the Mid-Atlantic States in 1994, that has since spread to most of North America. It is caused by a parasitic bacterium called Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis. So far, the disease is most prominent in the eastern population of House Finches. However, a few reports of the disease have been confirmed in American Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, and Pine Grosbeaks, all members of the family Fringillidae. There is a lot of information on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website — the FAQ page is particularly informative.2

So I looked up what to do for that.3

Then kept searching:

Avian pox is another disease that affects House Finches. This disease is characterized by wart-like growths on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. Avian pox can be mistaken for conjunctivitis when the eyes are affected. “Growths” on the eye are typically from avian pox.4

Then the meds for that.5  But of course my daughter pointed out that it was just a chick that fell out of a tree, and it would die, just not by predator.

Five days later and the bird is dying.  My daughter has brought it by on her way to work.  No cheeping today, no fluttering of wings, and  only two bites of food each feeding.  I cheeped at it in an attempt to get it to open its beak, and even played chirping goldfinch babies from the internet, earphone next to its head, but it wasn’t hungry, or we got the food wrong and maybe it’s stuck in its throat.   It is withering away.  So I thought it should spend some time outside, with the bird calls, the cooing of the mourning doves, underlain with the hum of my AC unit, the swish of cars along La Cholla, with the occasional low rumble of a truck.

A dried bougainvillea slowly rattles across the brick patio, the trees rustle in the wind, and there’s the whir of a hummingbird wings and their high-pitched ratchet call, along with the chitter of some small bird.  The white winged doves call “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you?”  There’s the loud cheep cheep cheep of the woodpecker or flicker (or is its call the scrak scrak scrak?), another twittering.

A goldfinch drinks from the birdbath, then swoops back to the area outside the fence.  Two mourning doves share it now.  Then the AC unit turns on again.  It had been windy and the sky was overcast all day, but it has blown over and the evening is cool.

My daughter picked the bird up after work and it died before she reached home.

[It] should have died hereafter…
Out, out, brief candle…
It is a tale…
Signifying nothing.