The Ugly Beauty


California… the song by Joni Mitchel, comes sadly into my head as it does every Christmas. My hometown. I pass the time instead thinking of the reasons I did love this city of Amsterdam…to walk everywhere…to a film, theater, an opera. Through this crooked city- not from corruption but literally because the buildings lean on each other like drunken sailors. 

Where I know I can walk from that sight, down tiny pathways, over bridges, next to the University, towards tables filled with used paperback novels. I search titles and authors I’d never studied but now I collect as an adult.  Especially the gay stories.

My eye catches the view from my window. Two men unloading from their white van. Delivery of two washing machines. And as I watch the men using the same tools of years, no centuries before, that of a handtruck- centuries ago called sacktruck- and their own bodies, I wonder, really, will robots ever take their jobs? Will a robot ever use the same mechanics to unload a van? Sliding the wash machine off the van’s bed, then grip it, so to help it off the van, undamaged, to the ground?

Now I glance at the window beside me, of the neighbor who lives there. I wonder why her Christmas lights are not turned on for the past two nights. Logic tells me she has gone for visits to family or friends. But as far as I’ve seen, she has none. And there are no visits now since the virus started and now is worse. I could count on her for sports I could view for free from her big screen TV, through her window to mine, all the way over here. But there are no sports now either. 

I worry she is not ok. But I am too polite to go check. And I think she would be offended to learn she is watched by me. 

The workers have disappeared. And I remember why I got out of bed so early to write. The post I had seen from a friend in Los Angeles yesterday, who wrote of a public performance of a ballet dancer inside a glass ball- the only way she can dance safely during a pandemic. 

I felt the writer’s sadness as she talked of the absence of ballet, theater, music performances. She said, “We will survive this.” 

And I think, ‘Yet how amazing it is- a dancer in a glass ball. What a great idea!’ One that would not have come if not being trapped inside, in lockdown. 

And I think, perhaps more people are now seeing art from inside, who would never be going into a museum or performance. Because they would be too busy working in an office or factory, or driving freeways in LA. Or perhaps had never seen or thought to go to an opera or ballet but now I hoped would, because of this introduction to it online. 

Is this what happens to prisoners? Trapped, locked inside, they are faced with only their own brain and heart, so replay all they’ve done to get in there? Or all they miss? Is this what I’m doing? 

Such an oppressive term: Lockdown. LA in lockdown. And as I read her words about missing art, in all its forms: image, dance, music and word, I know it is these last two she misses the most. 

And perhaps, when lockdown also kept her from walking the beaches, her longing was just as forlorn as the words of the surfer I’d read. He had written  to the Los Angeles times at the beginning of the pandemic, (and somehow was picked up my the AP, so I could read it in the NY Times, all the way over here) 

When the beaches had been closed, he’d written, “Why am I being denied what I love? That which keeps me sane not insane?” He then went on to describe the pulse and rhythm of the waves, I could feel the spray and the pace and I was again there. And how damn grateful I was for the words of passion he felt. Because, in place of he alone on the Pacific Ocean, or a photograph of himself on a wave, his words were describing to me the pain he felt in his missing that vast body of water, the pulse and temperature of her.

Perhaps this disease has come, for the sole purpose of making us see and feel that which we would lose- are in danger of losing: The sea, the streets, the art that humans make to show each other the beauty  we are blessed to be living in. And the danger of it’s loss.

Artists like Kathe Kollwitz, who in the years leading up to WW1,  drew pictures of her fellow humans, portrayed starvation in the bleak winter and emotions of grief and inner conflict. She captured for all humanity the realism of those times, depicting human suffering with brutal honesty. Or perhaps she drew them so as to somehow believe what she was seeing.

I think of those now in the front lines in hospitals. Who tell their stories of what they are seeing. Is it now only with film crews that we can believe these images they tell us of? Is there no other truth except image- and even then, one part of society disbelieves it?

Was it only lack of photographs that kept the horrors of the concentration camps from a disbelieving public? Or was it that other thing- that part of humanity that just cannot believe that one person or group can inflict such horrors on another?

Is it easier to disbelieve when there are no images to prove it? That’s why secrets are the stuff of blackmail. And one part of society causing the other to feel shame of love for another’s skin color or same sex- the shame that many use a bible or blog to inflict pain with. And yet, even with an image like Floyd, we see but cannot believe. Like what the image of the twin towers did to me- to many. Airlines smashing into towers, or before that, World War 2 airplanes flying over Pearl Harbor, bombs raining down upon paradise- all captured by photographs, black and white and a body count. 

What good does a body count do now? The bodies- other humans who we read about to see who they were and we feel sick or relief because they had not voted against ‘Us’, whoever ‘Us’ is. The ones who laugh at ‘Us’. 

I’ve re-read these pages and think again of my neighbor. In this city, back in 1940 people disappeared. Perhaps folks like me- too shy or lacking language skills or not aggressive enough- did not go check on their neighbors. So the secret parts -the ghettoes of the city, then the camps remained either unknown or disbelieved. Because who could believe such things were happening behind brick walls? What we were hearing.

I’ve seen the reenactments. Life size photographs of a woman throwing a child over a brick wall towards safety. I’ll never forget that image. And its here because someone had actually stood there and watched  it happen. 

Remember the scene in Gone with the Wind? When Scarlett went to search among the wounded? A never ending sea of screaming, writhing bodies. And even that scene, that image, was too clean. There would have been blood. Red rivers everywhere. And when seen from above, that gives the powerful scope of it all. Not that they were killed brother against brother: that human link that all humans can connect to, but the number of those killed. Can only be believed when seeing it in a wave of bodies, too far to see an end to.

This is what, if lain side by side, we would see from this pandemic. 

And each cadaver, just hours, no minutes before, a live breathing being, upon whom others were frantically trying their best, in absolute exhaustion and overwork and with out proper protection, to keep alive.

These are the images we are not yet shown. One day the photos will surface, taken from a phone, of bodies in hallways, nurses resting exhausted on gurneys or under tables. 

The faces of exhaustion will be shown one day, like the black and white photographs of those snapped during the depression. The Dust Bowl families with no hope, surrounded by hungry children. These images slice our heart, enrage us, have us reach towards each other in humanity not anger. 

I’m reminded that it was not the live images of 1960 riots that had me take up a brush to paint,  Those who ignore History . It was the Los Angeles riots of 1992, that raged near my neighborhood. That had me searching through books for photographs to round out the image I had in my head: I’d combined the civil rights march with the holocaust, and all the racist worms slid out from beneath their hiding places. 

Was I surprised they were there? Not really. West Hollywood had just swam out of the gutter of Reagan: the president who had not even looked at, much less acknowledged a whole generation lost to AIDS. Even for his actor buddies, and by then, it was way too late. 

He instead had sided with conservative racism under the cloak of, “Good for America.” 

I picture that cloak as the image in Picture of Dorian Grey– who’s corruption festered within. I wonder now, if the story, The Emperor’s New Clothes was about this. For only a child would have had the guts to say aloud what the public felt inside. Like the child Greta does now. 

I suppose corruption- when covered in jewels is a mystifying, mystified illusion of beauty. Too stunning to look away from. 

I’d been captured – for a minute- when viewing the crown jewels in London. I’d understood why they were sought to steal. Was it that they were held behind bars? So, like a thick walled safe, assumed to be of value? 

Yes, they were stunning in sight, but beautiful? Every beauty queen or starlet must eventually see the tattered veil of that role. 

But ironically, the audience never does. They judge, snipe and snark about HER- the fat, the age, the attitude of her, and yet we all bow to the queen of captivating beauty. 

Did I? Do I? Of course. Yet I balance my meal of sweets with solid, sometimes hard to swallow facts:

That humans can be, are, ugly. 

And the presidents are people, not kings. Hell, even kings are human. And no matter what they are cloaked in, disease festers with in them as well. When they are supported and allowed to run crazy, dictators are born.

I glance out of the window and see the Christmas lights of my neighbor are switched on. Will I ever go knock on her door or have a conversation? 

For being in lockdown, I have quite a view. The world walks beneath and far off. I could be a king in this ivory tower. But kings never did look out of their windows. Perhaps only, as Hitler had, to view the next territory he would take over and occupy. 

I’m turning towards a horror image I would rather not see. To an image of color and beauty. Perhaps my mother finally got her wish when she’d said to me in high school, “Can’t you paint pretty pictures?” Well, bless her, she could, out of necessity, but I can’t. Not really. Life is a mix. As a child I’d been inspired from Martin Luther King and the Kennedys. They were assassinated. 

I look out my window for escape. Water speckles my pane. The sky turns from pale grey toward dark. No color at all, but upon one neighbor’s balcony, a string of colored lights. And I wonder of my home town who gleefully strung Christmas lights but not gay rainbows, and turn toward my big screen neighbor. She must be sad there are not sports on- what she lived for. This countries’ soccer team battling a rival country. At least its on a green field not in the streets. 

She probably never thinks of what I write here. Yes, her grandparents or parents probably lived through the occupation, but that’s been forgotten in every day life. 

No one talks of such things anymore, except perhaps in the museums devoted to the memory of those lost during the holocaust.

Well, I’m glad for those museums.

Because even Mother Nature does not completely wipe all truth away. Try as she may for the bleak winter before the rebirth of spring, it is only humans who try not to see, who disbelieve, who have the luxury to turn away and hide. 

It is the animals, the homeless, the refugees, the ill and the children who truly see, 

that life is both beautiful and ugly, 

sometimes in the same moment. 

To see this painting on video…. or to purchase a museum quality print of the images above, Pacific Moon or Those who Ignore History.

Amsterdam, Tuesday 15 December ~ 6 Week Lockdown

I’d heard this would happen. As I’d been planning to meet with a friend from out of town. I’d suggested we go to our favorite Portuguese restaurant near Central Station- If it was open. He replied, 

“Everything is closed.”

Those 3 words don’t really describe what that means though. We planned to meet Friday. 

And just as it had been for my birthday in October, tomorrow, everything would be closed. Then, I’d opted not to meet a friend on my birthday night. The last night of bars and restaurants to be open?

They’ll be packed. Not worth it. 

Again 3 words that don’t really describe. 

I went for a walk with a mission today. Not for health, or food, as I’d been doing every couple of weeks. I’d  bought more. 

Just in case. 

The 3 words my brother, who lives in Los Angeles, had said at the beginning of this pandemic. 

As we chatted on the phone, he was interrupted by his wife who texted, “San Francisco goes into lockdown today. They say LA will be next.”

That day, I’d done as he suggested: bought more food than was necessary. Just in case. In the shops here there’d been no raids on the shelves, no masks worn. I was the only one wearing one and it had taken me 5 shops to find one to buy. Hospitals had priority. I hadn’t known then, that supplies were low. None of us had. 

Seems so long ago now- back then, before the summer. Seems years.

Today I was awoken from sleep by an argument from two men on the street. Loud voices, impatient, sounding more tired than angry. But I awoke from a not real sleep by them, then by a truck. 

Fuck it. I’ll make coffee. I had to mail holiday cards before it became New Years. So I did this: shower, a bit of make up, nice clothes to walk to the post office a few blocks away. 

Upon arrival, I stood staring at the door. The sign on it said, “Post only.” Of course it’s post, that’s why I’m here. 

What did it mean? I was about to find out.

Walking there, I passed shops that were shut tight. A lot of them. Three barbershops in one block. I’d peaked in the window. Between each barberchair, the owner had hung hard plastic for protection. Now the place was empty. All for nothing. 3 words.

I was reminded of Los Angeles, back when the city council had ordered restrictions be put into bars and restaurants for smoking sections. So every owner had paid money for huge fans to suck out the smoke, put up dividers and partitions. A lot of money.  I’d been a waitress then. I worked at a very popular dime-store coffee shop/restaurant in West Hollywood. It also had a bar and a patio.  A place for all sorts of people: Gays on weekends, to Bloody Mary their hangovers. Old folks at 5 pm to receive their pensioner discounts. The tables packed with every working or non working character actor from the last 30 years of film and television. There were waiting lines on weekends for the patio and bar area- where one could smoke.  But soon the city council decided the protection was not enough. Without public vote, the ex-smoker, ex-drinker mayor proclaimed Los Angeles a non-smoking city. I’d gone to the public meetings. Filled with waiters telling of the drop in crowds, in business. Yes, I’d been a smoker then. Yes it pissed me off. But even the non smoking waiters argued against the regulations. Because they were loosing tips so loosing money. There were only so many patio seats if you even had a patio and a lot of tips to be gotten. And of course, the owners had spent money. For a promise. All for nothing. 

So walking here to the post office reminded me of this and also the Northridge/Los Angeles earthquake of 1994, the last one I’d felt before moving from there. It had been a SLAM. Loud, violent, sudden. The sort of disasters I grew up with along with the brush fires and mud slides. None of that went on over here. Hell, my first weeks here, I’d panicked from a large truck rumbling by. All of me thought it had been another earthquake or tremor.

By then, I’d become a bit fed up with the city I’d been born in. Thirty years living in a town of tinsel. Everyday sun, heat, sweating. Hookers in cars beneath my window, helicopters at night overhead announcing their search for an armed man. “Stay inside,-“ the voice shouted down on us. I was sick of it. My apartment was cracked from the earthquake, my car unsafe in the carport below my window.  I’d found a homeless man sleeping and smoking inside it when I went to go to work. I’d asked him to leave. He’d said, “Oh! I thought this was abandoned!” Yeah, everyone’s a critic.

I looked around the city I loved. She looked so tired. Ragged. Old, without charm or character. She’d been beaten up, slapped, neglected and abandoned. No longer the starlet but now the worn out hag. She’d lost her sparkle. She no longer captivated me. Right now as I write this, I feel ugly- like a male CEO studio executive dismissing a hopeful starlet, or trying to fuck one.  It was time for me to swim out of the pond, into waters far across the sea. I feel sad thinking of her this way. I’ve been back and seen her now with her proper facelift, her youth restored. I smile at her as the taxi drives from LAX. She was back. But I wasn’t.

So walking this small city, I step toward the post office door, where hangs a sign stating, “Post only.”  I didn’t quite understand its meaning. I step inside to see I am the only customer. Surrounded by racks of holiday cards and tables of gift calendars. Ten days before Christmas. The place felt almost abandoned as I listened to the woman who ran the shop read from a letter she had just received from the city council.  She said, “…must be used only for post. No newspapers, no magazines, no office supplies, no cigarettes,-” which had been walled off and locked up.  I stepped toward her and asked if I could buy ink for my printer. She replied, “I don’t know! I don’t know if I can! This says no.” She was Dutch. It was not the language she didn’t understand but it’s meaning. 

I look out my window as I hear an incredible sound for this time of year. The squawk of a parrot. No, not on  some tropical island like where I’d like to be, but here. Yep, there it is- green- parrot green against the dull grey sky. Reminding me of the summer and the last time I’d heard people snapping at each other. During a heatwave that lasted this year for months, not the usual days or weeks. Unheard of here. People are not used to it. Makes them out of sorts. Like Los Angeles when it rains- when it used to rain. 

And here, in the summer, there were still tables outside. No festivals. It was too hot to be inside, even for me who grew up in a desert city. 

The only activity I see now from my window are the yellow vested delivery men (not women-still) The postmen on their orange saddle bagged bicycles. The only way people are getting their gifts for the holidays they won’t have. 

At the post office, and later in the market, I’d seen the front pages of every Dutch Newspaper. On them, Rutte, the Dutch prime minister with his mask on, looking towards the camera snapping flashbulbs. Well, he will not suffer from the headlines. Because now there is nowhere to buy the papers. The newspaper headlines translate to: ‘We Must.’ And another, a photograph of groups of shoppers, half with masks, congested in front of Christmas lighted shut shop windows, ‘Wij moeten dit doen’, ‘We must do this.’ 

It’s a sad day. A few days ago I read a post from a friend in LA. She told of a ballet dancer in a glass bubble: the only safe way she could dance in public. When I read that, I still had not been out in the city, not for weeks.  So it hit me today. It’s just that the city feels, looks so tired, abandoned. Like everyone has gone on vacation.  But I know they are here, inside, maybe lonely. Alone. Three words.  Pray its over.  Pray for vaccine. Squawk of parrots, Climate change Christmas.  It’s not over.  I have hope.  

Butterfly Reflections


Ahh, where to start?

I have my father’s fountain pen in hand. Now I see why he rarely used it. Messy, but the fat barrel feels good in my fingers again. It’s been awhile since I’ve held it and set it to flow.  I like the scratch of it on the paper. Reminding me of the sound of brush on canvas.  Funny how exquisite these tools used to feel, their grasp the start of my day of work. A pen on paper, once a brush on canvas, or a chisel to stone. Long hours, if the day’s flow went well. Stroke, pause, squint, smoke, try another color, again brush to canvas or chisel to stone. 

For over 40 years, these were the tools of my trade. And now, as ink from a leaking pen stains my fingers, I’m reminded of that 20 year old cigarette puffing, paint splattered tight jean wearing art student I once was. Filled with my father’s pride, and a teacher’s knowledge. 

Barefoot from the heat of Los Angeles, I’d walk or stand on the dust covered cement floor of the grubby studio I was so ecstatic to have a place in. Where my teacher, Martin, taught and inspired his students. He would gaze at my painting, then stroke one color onto it. Which would break my ego of gloating, youthful pride, but push me further into the space of possibilities, shattering my comfort zone. Which is what a great teacher is supposed to do. 

Ah, to swim in those dreams again. Before life slaps me into reality of hard learned lessons- the land of make or break me. The sea of swim or sink.

I survived because I swam a pond of sweet dreams to challenge me. Encouraged by loving parents and brother.  I’d go on in life, collecting wonderful people who had not had the joy in their lives that I had. The chilling stories I’d been told over a drink or three. Martini or Scotch. Or on silent mornings whispered from the lover’s pillow. My own parts of life that had kicked me in the teeth had not necessarily been brought on by myself. Yeah, life is a roller coaster of surprises, and as I watch the sun rise through the dark clouds- literally – I see what I’d not see for years: the sky break at dawn. Not since the first days I’d biked home from an all night dance club. Back then, this city was mine. When I’d driven home through this silent city of dawn’s early light, still buzzed from cocktails with a smile on my face. Thats when I embraced this crazy- anything goes- “Only in Amsterdam” town. As I see before me silhouettes of leafless trees. Behind them a strip of the palest custard yellow topped with pale blue. Floating above me are darkening clouds slashing the grey. Bird silhouettes, now awoken, float, looking for food I guess or just enjoy the morning. 

Enjoy the morning is what I want now before I am too old. Far to the left I see orange sherbet splash into an otherwise charchol sky.  The pop of orange lamp switches on from the yellow and red brick houses. Above their chimneys, a towering tree or three. 

I sigh, reflecting,  Its all about the tools and how they feel in the hand, between the fingers. I’ll never be one to tap a keyboard. (Yet here I am). 

My whole grasp is to be involved.  So how does one use words to say what once she spoke of only through image? As I watch my window streak in water lines, I think of what I’d asked myself about writing: Do I really want to spend the next 40 years trying to capture life’s images – do what I’ve always done – that which would be chiseled on my gravestone if I were not being cremated :

“She saw every detail but missed the big picture.” 

I answered myself, ‘No’. I want to be out and live. Meet people. See places. Not to be forever inside, carving stone or brushing oil paint on canvas. I look up and see the flying ‘V’ shape of birds across the sky towards who knows where? I think,  What is the name for the flying ‘V’ pattern of birds, anyway? I never bothered to learn this and so many other things in this life. My whole world was about art. Seeing it, being inspired from, creating it- now I see in all forms- even word. So yeah, here I am a long way off from the start of these pages. But that’s what art does- carry me off into all places I’d forgotten, or blocked, or not before thought of. 

And now, turning the page, I go back to what I’d awoken from sleep – too early- to grasp before it was gone:

That yes, I’ve created beautiful art, lousy art, indifferent art, fantastic- really?-art. I’ve cut, carved, carried, penciled, color mixed, stretched canvas for, breathed in the paint and the turpentine, smoked the cigarettes, sipped the alcohol, delivered by bike, car, van, ferry, train, metro and bus my art to sidewalk shows, expositions, venues, galleries, podiums, openings and unveilings, always on time, meeting deadlines I’d set for myself.

As I look at the sherbet streaked sky, I remember that I’d intended to sit down here and thank every single person who I’d met along this path of my journey. Those who leaned in, not run away. 

Those who’d sat for portraits as a teen (Mary). Who helped carry bathtubs (Karen) in the east end of London. Who carried stone torsos (Zlatka and the east end boys)  Those who helped me to find the perfect solution to whatever my current art dilemma in Amsterdam was (The Ijzerwaren guys). Those who gave me expositions (Donna and all the creative ABC Treehouse gang of creatives, actors, photographers, and artists). In London, the gallery and it’s group of warm, efficient, smiling art lovers who broke their asses to sell my sculptures. Along the way – one of many side paths I’d taken – when curiosity got the best of me: the school I’d found in Stratford, where I’d befriended 2 of the teachers and one of the students, one who I still call my friend. I’d wandered into that school of art and learned new tips on cutting stone. Tips I’d first learnt at UCLA alternative course in Los Angeles, high the atop a mountain in the glaring sun burning down on me, hacking the stone. Tap, tap, tap.  I had no idea then that this sort of art would bring me so damn far from my home.

But now I think of Laetita who was the one who reminded me the importance of who we meet along the way- and what we learn if we are open to it, from each other.

After a day of shooting a video and all the prep work that had been done before, we were both tired, bordering on exhaustion. It was she – Laetitia – who had, while she’d browsed my website, said to me, “Why not make a video to promote your site and shop?” “I don’t know how,-” I’d replied. “I do,-” she’d said.  Ping! Light shines on me. On her. On artists at work. 

Its what I love the absolute most about being alive- after that first breath,- talking and sharing with people. And for me, with another artist (but need not be) that idea which sparks the flame. These inspirations are like a gentle fragrance that come towards us but like smoke are hard to grasp. So came this idea.

It was all this that led to yesterday’s video shoot. 

And to help – if for no other reason than they wanted to help, to participate and give their best to this moment – two actresses I’d met years ago. At the job I’d taken when I’d walked – no – limped away, wounded and heart broken,  from London, a gallery, a relationship, and art.  When the bank crash, my 8 year relationship, and complete burnout had ganged up on me, having me walk away from all things art. I’d not slammed the door, not locked it, but I’d felt I was finished with art. And I stayed that way for more than 6 years. The place I’d never, ever thought I’d be. Not ever. Because I’d had it in me to be an artist from birth. Or at least from the age I could clench a crayon or mix a color.

As I’d been saying, Laetitia and I were tired and a bit irritated from too little sleep and no food. I’d seen early on that there should be only one director. I’d handed the director’s cap, or crop- whatever- over to her. Later, after all was filmed, she’d said to me, “I see now that I must learn how to stop and let other’s give their opinion.” Then went on to say, “It’s your shop, it’s your promo film not mine.” I had only been trying to tell her to say, “Action!” when she wanted me to walk onto the stage.

I don’t know if its because she is Dutch so the whole bark of “Action!,-”  was too Hollywood for her… (where I was born ) or perhaps she was too much in her head. As she’d said to me later, “I’m used to working alone, in my own way. To grab an inspiration, (before it leaves?) and go with it.” Myself, I am a bit more methodical but am also used to working alone. I often don’t enjoy the fun.

So it was that yesterday, I’d handed the reins over to her, to make a video in her vision and above all to do as she’d said to me weeks ago.. “I want to enjoy, have fun with what I do, not just produce.”  That hit home for me. Because when was the last time – or ever –  I’d enjoyed- had fun creating art in place of producing it? (Sounds funny, right? All artists are only having fun, right? No, they should be but no.) 

In the years from 2001 to 2010, I’d become a torso making factory. That’s how I’d functioned until the bank crash: Make another torso, carve the same figure, maybe use a different color stone. Six to ten life size torsos per year, carved in Amsterdam, brought by van to sell in London. And God knows, it had taken me 30 years to find a gallery who were willing to work as hard as I’d been doing all those years. I’d felt their (extremely high) percentage was worth every penny because finally I found a gallery who worked as hard as I did. They sold my work, consistently and in good cheer.  I’ll admit it was, in the end, a bit of a love/hate, well irritation with, relationship. Probably It was my burnout and the looming financial crisis. 

Fact is, when the London banks went broke, so did all the bonuses. They’d happily spend their pounds less on bling and expensive cars (like in Los Angeles) and more on art. Maybe only as investment- but who cares?- not me. I was selling steadily for the first time in my life. I’d finally found a reputable gallery minus the pretentious attitude.

My gut feeling, that which kept me going all those years was this:                                     A piece of art does not live unless people see it. And as I watched that video being filmed, my paintings were revealed to me in the most creative way I’d ever seen or thought of: Suddenly the art was more alive, lived more completely because it was part of something, shall I dare to say, more important than I? To be more accurate, more important than my work.

With these 3 women, one a new director who’d I’d befriended long ago in a studio upon my return from London. An Amsterdam studio that is now is more hotel than art spaces . The woman with whom I’d smoked cigarettes and planned expositions. Who now, 10 years later, I was, we are, curving along yet another path, separate but together. Not as lovers or partners, or colleagues, but as friends. The sort of friendship – dare I say- only women can have with each other.  The relationships I’ve had with women, for years and years. More years than I would like to admit. Oh hell, who cares? 61 years.

And the actors? I’d met during those 6 years away from art, years I’d not glanced inside a gallery window or peaked into a museum. Hell, the whole reason I’d moved to Europe in the first place- 20 years ago! Not even an opera or theater could budge me from my new life: That of a grunge job, working for minimum wage, 40+ hours a week,  lifting, packing, loading, ironing, steaming, counting and shipping, the best selling clothing brands, created in New York, stitched in Indonesia, packaged in Amsterdam. 

It had been there I had met one of the actors, Hanna, on my first day. Her shy smile held in reserve  until she’d gotten to know me through her inquisitions of questions, not for gossip topics but because she wanted to know me. And Agata, whom I’d known for fewer years, but yesterday I’d seen more clearly than in the past. Because there, in front of the camera, I’d taken time to see the color of her eyes and her perfect smile. And perhaps most importantly, when I’d asked how she’d been all these years, in place of talk of jobs come and gone or relationships the same, she’d done as only women do when they feel a bond with another woman: Confess. Or to be more accurate, she spoke about having taken the time to reflect and ponder until a new path was shown on which to again try her boots on, to open her smile to those shining upon hers. 

That, among other fun things is what happened yesterday.

And what better homage to pay to this body of paintings, The Woman’s Series – The series started from my self searching for the woman’s power so many of us are blind to see. That which is in us and yet,  we still put aside what we love to do and instead do for others. Un-like men, who don’t. 

It’s not even that but the strength of our fight to show to the world (to men) how amazing our gifts of creativity, healing, empathy, commaradery,  intuition, and the gift of love we have inside our souls. 

That is what this series of paintings were , are about. And for me, at that time, so long ago to the time when I first arrived here, to re-discover my power and walk away from one who was no longer good for me towards another one who was. Life is all about choices. We forget the power we have to chose.


Butterflies don’t sing

When some unknown critical self asked me, ‘Why, in the video, do we hear birdsong from butterflies? How is that possible? I’d answered aloud and without hesitation:  because ‘Butterflies don’t sing.’

And so with this title,  I circle back to the joining together of four women, each of us finding within our own strength. To my falling back in love with art, and my pride, no my duty to art: to have it seen in the world.  Circle back to what I love life for: that journey of moving forward, effort and experimentation, hard physical work and self reflection,  respect for self and dignity and, to: What we learn, who we touch and what we give back.

(To view and purchase images shown in this video click Oils ) First screen image is Time.