Friday, September 25, 2009


A change of pace today. Doing art with Todd in the morning. I like it. We ate some english muffins from M J Bread (absolutely delicious). The weather was nice and we left the door open, something that does not happen in Phoenix too often.

Continuing with the next piece of evidence, exhibit no. eleven. A piece of jewelry that almost seemed burnt and pulled apart at both the top and bottom of the design. Very delicate and loopy, I enjoyed the flow of the metal and the shadows it created. Todd said we should push ourselves further and not be afraid of using dark color and shadows. Todd is layering water colors, transparent textured layers, which he will be experimenting with.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The dominoes were placed in the grate by some anonymous hand. We don't know if they were old when they were placed there, or if they got old sitting in the grate for over 40 or 50 years. When Mary found them they looked almost burnt, the white paint on the recesses was partially worn away, the edges cracked and the pieces broken. What significance did they have and why were they hidden with the other more valuable items? That is part of our mystery.

Using oil pastels I started sketching one of the pieces. Layering the colors the domino looked exceedingly bright, at first orange and red, then a layer of greens and blues to make it dark, it began to get muddy. Hesitatingly I added black and it instantly gave it the contrast to bring the piece some dimension. While doing the tiny 4 x 4 inch canvas I made up more of the story in my mind...

To help with the boredom aboard the Arabella, Patrick Hart had a box of dominoes. They were not new, they came in a leather box which was worn with age on the edges. He gently laid down the pieces against his opponents, ace to ace, deuce to deuce, holding the "trial" and hoping to use it before someone else went out. "The luck of the Irish" a deckhand yelled when Patrick won a game. But what kind of luck was it that forced his family to flee from famine and cholera?

And so he kept busy trying to forget the sadness on that long, arduous voyage to America.

See the series so far here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


We spent a few hours today getting some prints done for my husband, Jacob (who is also an artist). Our friend, Mary C. Leto, will be taking a booth at In the Spirit, the Art and Craft of Hand Papermaking, sponsored by Friends of Dard Hunter, in Atlanta. She kindly offered to take some of our work with her. Since this is a papermaking conference we bought some handmade paper at the Paper Studio, a local paper and printing space, run by Cindy Iverson.

Jake said "What results will I accomplish today? The beauty of the handmade paper is that uncertainty, that imperfection and this is how I approach my prints. I have a general idea, carve it out, sometimes changing in midstream and the result is almost secondary. I enjoy the harmonious balance of ink on paper and how it tells stories on so many levels."

View more of the prints on flickr.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I love the feel of clay and the way you can manipulate it into a three dimensional space. I have missed that feeling and so signed myself into an open studio space. Most of the people in the class are potters on the wheel with the exception of one man and myself. I stood in the back room and started to create two ideas that have been in my mind for a long time. I like the idea of forms within forms, especially with clay, because suspending a platform in the center of another shape seems to defy gravity.

sketch for work in progress

The Venus of Willendorf has always been one of the pieces of ancient art that is very compelling to me. I image the person who created her, holding her in her hands, proud of her creation. She is so primitive and yet so sophisticated that I am compelled to make my own version of her... but in my version she is made of clay, she is a rattle, filled with clay beads, unfired clay that i wrap up in layers of newspaper to be fired out in the kiln. So i made two pinch pots and scored and slipped them together and paddle her little body into a preliminary shape to be continued next week.

Sunday, September 13, 2009



Part of the "job" of making art is also the marketing of it. There are many ways to get your work on the internet and do some self promotion. For the portraits of ageism I decided to do a simple glossy post card. There are so many coffee shops and venues here in Phoenix where I pick up other people's cards, I thought, why not do some of my own. So today I made a card which I will be sending to the printer for 500 copies. If you would like to see the portraits you can go to the website about the movie CUT BACK: facing ageism or flickr and view them there. If you are interested in showing them please send me an email. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


nothing to mark the graves

In creating this page Mary wanted to show how the babies at Hart Island really had no place for someone to see where they were buried. She writes on the tissue-paper, thin "ghost" of a tombstone "NO story, NO obituary, NO service, NO headstone, NO marker, NO visitors, NO mourner, NO notice, NO testimonial, NO flowers." Their names are written across the page with historic information collaged onto tombstone shapes. Faint outlines of what might have been indicating a certain emptiness and loneliness on this page.

hand drawn coffins and bones

Here Mary has drawn an open trench filled with the tiny boxes of baby coffins, at the base broken and bones spilled onto the landscape. Because of shear lack of space the trenches at Hart Island are turned over every so many years to make room for more burials.

Out of plain manila folders she had created a truly authentic toe tag with accurate information about a baby who died on Nov. 25 1898.

She used rubber stamps, wire, printed and cut pages, oil pastels and colored pencil to complete the piece.

All photos and artwork in this post property of Mary C. Leto © 2009


Each trench can contain 1000 bodies, so to indicate the numbers I stacked the cutout pages on top of one another and stamped a baby's head on the top of each. Using an old children's primer for the pages I thought that these children never had a chance to grow up, to go to school, to play, to learn to read....

There are hand written names of babies listed at the top of the page written one on top of the other as that is how they are buried and it is hard to know exactly where they are. (now these bones have been turned into the soil many times)

On this page I used rubber stamps, stencils, colored pencil, sharpie and staples.

When I was little my dad used to say that if you hit someone your hand would stick out of the grave. I used to believe it, I don't know why. I never saw a hand sticking out of the grave, and we lived near two large cemeteries in Brooklyn and Queens. We even walked through as a shortcut to get to the bus sometimes, but I just never thought about it... or maybe I believed no one ever hit anyone. I wrote on the page ever so faintly, "Why did he say that?" I was just imagining for this page tiny ghost hands reaching up. I would surely remember them then.

Using colored pencil and making trenches out of the backside of the stapled page I wanted to protect the edges and used crystal lacquer to seal them in.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Saw the exhibit called Nooks and Crannies yesterday at the Phoenix Public Library (Burton Barr) showing the paintings of Barbara Kemp Cowlin. They include a lot of familiar corners to us living here, the spaces from the Phoenix Art Museum. In her own words Barbara says "I paint inconspicuous places in public spaces. Although overlooked by most, these special places have an inner glow, a strange and ethereal quality that I am moved to express in my work. I am most inspired by spaces with an air of mystery, a sense that there is a story to be told. Turning a corner and seeing a vision that is as beautiful as it is unexpected takes my breath away. I want my viewers to experience this." (from her blog)
I was very moved by her work, so if you get a chance go see it. (open till Oct 22)