Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Website!

I am happy to share my new website, with you! I'll be posting to this site for a few more months during the transition, but all new content will be featured on the web site.

I have both my landscape and art portfolios there, as well as my blog, which is in the inspirations tab and now titled "journal."  I'll also post events like lectures and workshops on the site as well.

If you are following my work on this site - please update your bookmarks, links and feed-readers with the new site address and the blog . Thanks and I hope you visit!

Many thanks to Kristen Valle of Valle Studio for her inspired design....

image courtesy of Valle Studio

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hunting for Mushrooms

Rain. It seems like we're making up for the dry summer we had with consistent long spells of rain. It's great during this season as the last of the Fall color becomes amplified with the contrasts of dark skies and wet bark. The oaks are particularly delightful with cinnamoney reds and deep rusts that somehow glow at the end of the day no matter what the light situation.

With this abundance of rain, comes an abundance of mushrooms. I know nothing of how to forage for mushrooms safely. My interest lies in their forms, color and arrangement on the ground or tree in relationship to each other and the surroundings. That said with the proper - INFORMED - compatriots, mushroom foraging adds another, tasty layer to the delight in finding them. The day I went out with my myco-savvy amigos we found boletes and chanterelles nearby - and afterwards made a fantastic corn and chanterelle chowder.

Coming back home and looking at these photos I am amazed at the beauty of these forms and their composition. I am also struck by how truly bizarre and compelling their texture can be. How does one place it in everyday sensory experience? Perhaps that's the magic and beauty to these forms. They defy easy classification - except to the initiated. They appear in places that they want to appear....They are ephemeral. It's thrilling to be surprised when coming upon a mushroom - like an exclamation point into consciousness -  witnessing a brief moment of glory brought by decay.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Ok, I could post more about the Oregon trip, but I figure I should move on. Just one more.....

While in Portland, one of my objectives was to spend as much time as I could in the magnificent parks and spaces through the city and note all the incredible green infrastructure systems in place there that I could. To that end I walked from one end of the city to the other and back...but the places I constantly return to in my thoughts are the Japanese Garden - which I wrote about previously - Keller Fountain Park and Tanner Springs Park.

Here are excerpts of my interpretation of both places along with photos -

Keller Fountain

This place is a Landscape Architect's dream. You can spot other design nerds like me - fancy journals and pens, a little rumpled, sitting, looking, sketching, writing, taking tons of photos and if like me....thinking "this place is genius." Solid edges, berms with trees to contain the space, minimal understory planting, democratic materials and water. LOTS of WATER. Thundering. Misting. Running Smoothly. Pouring from two points through rectilinear chutes + platforms and then over the geometric falls into angular pools. It's all concrete. Does concrete look this good normally? There are so many angles - except for the water. So moving, so elegant. He truly captured the essence of the Cascades and this place with a minimum of materials and a minimum of flourish. I am floored by the economy, elegance and timelessness of this place......

Tanner Springs

At Landscape Architecture school, I always looked to the work of Atelier Dreiseitl for inspiration. It is fantastic to experience a place in its context instead of in a library on a page....For me the beauty of this place is it's embrace of the qualities of water as it moves through the landscape. Making it look as though you might encounter this in the wild is a tremendous challenge in terms of execution and public perception of "beauty." In the center of a former industrial area, one might not expect to see "unkempt" vegetation, or a meandering stream, but it is here. At the entrances to the park are thoughtful diagrams that explain some of the hydrologic processes taking place - from stormwater filtration, to the re-circulating pump to keep the stream going. The major point of success for me is that the park is effortless - there are serious engineering mechanisms and design considerations at play, but none of that gets in the way of the chaos of vegetation, or the unexpected marshiness of some of the places or the seating at the periphery where you can take it all in.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kitchen Garden Supper

The installation at the Kitchen Garden's supper in Hadley went really well. Caroline and Tim, the masterminds behind the event, created a beautiful atmosphere with festive lights and marvelous food that celebrated the magic of this fall season here in New England - with a Southern twist that reminded me of the food I grew up on in DC. It's not everyday here in Central Massachusetts that you can walk out the door and sit down to velvety collards, savory corn bread, out-of-this world mac 'n' cheese - and spit roasted pig, but Sunday was such a day. For a parent of two little ones, where going out is rare, it was a joy. To have my paintings there as part of the atmosphere made it even better for me. I appreciated the beauty of the barn as a working, functional space that is about getting food to people (it is where the farm CSA pick up is...) and how for an evening it's function shifted to a different mode of food delivery - where all of us could slow down, get to know each other and break (corn)bread with the people who so thoughtfully grow and deliver us our food. That feeling and gratitude I have for what they and other farmers/producers do is what inspired the paintings hanging on those walls for that evening. So in all, the Vegetable Portraits project has come full circle - or more aptly - from farm to fork. 

Thanks to everyone who made that evening a success and for having my paintings be part of that evening.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Still lives and Swine

It's not often in this blog that I get to demonstrate my deep love for all things porcine. But here it is. Apologies for the title of this post.

This Sunday I'll have a selection of paintings inspired by the Kitchen Garden's CSA on show at a dinner they are hosting at their farm in Hadley. The name of the supper is Pig Roast and Hard Cider Harvest Supper.  Here's a link to the menu and details. As of now there are still some seats left - so hurry! Hope to see you there....

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Japanese Garden Portland Oregon

While I was in Portland a few weeks ago, I made my way to the Japanese Gardens. I had been told to visit but I held little expectation of what I might encounter.

I knew that I was in for an inspired and meticulously detailed landscape when I passed through the first gate. Ramps were offset to provide an interesting and mildly challenging passage for all into the space and up the winding path to the formal entrance gates. The variation of the materials and the choreography of paths and rests brought me to gems of vistas - long and short - curvy and linear - richly textured and austere. At varying times I felt overwhelmed with inspiration/beauty/awe & blissed out - good design induced euphoria. Indeed, here is a landscape that functions as elevated art form with allusions, that I am sure to have missed, that are momentary, seasonal and deeply poetic. While this art form has been distilled and shaped through centuries of practice, meditation and philosophy, nothing felt dated or stilted. Being there after spending some time in beautifully designed spaces - like Halprin's Keller fountain park - I came to believe that this garden's form of expression and interpretation of nature is inherently modern. As I walked through the garden, details in the path edges and materials made me think of  Dan Kiley and Peter Walker. Later that day, as I was in spaces designed by Dreiseitl - Tanner Springs park, and Halprin - the Keller fountain park (again, ok, I was there everyday of my three days there in Portland) I could see the influence of what I had experienced in the Japanese Garden manifest in the path, materials and lines of those beautiful spaces.  

Most of all, what I loved about the Japanese Gardens was experiencing the spaces at that moment. It's a particular gift that travel bestows - removing ingrained context - so that experiences can flow smoothly and deeply where they need to & nourish the uncharted within.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ode to Portland, Oregon Signs

I love trade signs - and with neon, I swoon.

Here's a sample of the delights I found in Portland, Oregon.