Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flying to Seattle or Don't Trust Expedia to Actually Book Your Seats Even Though You Pay For Them

Twelve hours after we were supposed to be at our destination, we are finally on a flight to Seattle. Maia’s got a window seat and is watching Rainy Days with Little Bear, an appropriate theme for one whose first airplane trip is to visit a notoriously drizzly one.

Despite our careful planning, we immediately encountered a major fiasco at the check in desk: there were no seats in our name despite our itinerary. John stood at the Midwest ticket counter, his body slowly slouching and slumping and finally collapsing over a two hour span while the clerk tried unsuccessfully to locate our seats, unravel the mystery of the discrepancy and find some way for us to get to the pacific northwest in time for John's conference. We had booked two months ago through Expedia: four seats to Seattle via Minneapolis, round trip. But although the tickets were confirmed on our itinerary, they were never actually booked by Expedia. Expedia wanted to rebook for the next day at noon and throw our itinerary into the shredder but John and the persistent Midwest clerk weren't having any of it since we had a conference, a car and a hotel scheduled, booked and waiting. Thanks to Midwest, who refused to let Expedia off the hook, we finally got a flight to Minneapolis three and a half hours later. We ran through security and dashed to the terminal, our names being paged over the loudspeaker, only to spend one and a half hours on the tarmac while storms blew in and out and traffic control repeatedly changed directions for the plane's take off route. When we reached Minneapolis, we had missed the connecting flight and needed to find a place to stay close by in order to get up and out by 5am to catch an early flight.

We arrived at Sea-Tac airport tired but happy, our adventure only just beginning. There would be more mix ups, frustrations, fatigue induced crankiness and general disorientation, but our first attempt at air travel with two kids will most certainly be memorable. The views from Moran State Park on Orcas island and while crossing the Puget Sound to the San Juan islands by ferry made up for all for our initial stumbles and hassles.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Luck of the Spring

April is the rainy season and today like many other days this week, is wet and grey. The grass is greening up, pale yellow-green buds are sprouting from bushes and flies and ants have been spotted. Spring bulbs have grown thick leaves and flowered into yellow daffodils with tulips not far behind. Blue violets cover lawns, dandelions lift their fuzzy heads with strong necks and the crocus delicately pushes aside the dirt to make room for her short stem and wide flower.

It has finally warmed up fairly consistently, but I fear once I change my banner picture the temps will drop down into the nasty again. But we have enjoyed walks to and from class, to the library and playground and of course to the bakery for bread, cookies and coffee.

Maia has been watercoloring up a storm! We have been reading lots of library books (Owl at home by Arnold Lobel, There are cats in this book by Viviane Schwarz, You can't take a balloon into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, Iggy Peck, architect by Andrea Beaty, I love my new toy! by Mo Willems and Skunkdog by Emily Jenkins) listening to Putumayo Dreamland cd's (Celtic and Asian), playing eboo Life on Earth matching game - this one looks even better with images by Charlie Harper, attempting to participate in Turn off TV week (does that include computers, laptops, phones, DS's and video games?) and thankfully, getting back into the spring baseball and soccer seasons.

I made a flag, flexagon and tunnel book this week and read "Seven Days in The Art World" by Sarah Thonton and felt much better about our critiques. Her chapter "The Crit" was as disturbing as it was absurd - 12 plus hour crits for three artworks at CalArts where the instructor says little to nothing and students sleep, eat and occasionally attack the artist for his/her work. Fun times I'm sure. How lucky I really am!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lost and Found

I was waiting for this portion of the class, the box making section, and as labor-intensive as it was, I am happy to have completed two boxes made of book board and covered in book cloth and decorative paper. One even has compartments!

The first one we made, the smaller one, came with all the book board pre-cut from a company called Paper Source, which also had clear instructions on sizes of the cloth and paper. For the second one, we were on our own in terms of dimensions, paper and cloth sizes and divider lenghts. The planning, measuring and cutting took longer than the actual gluing together.

As for the class overall, I am a bit disappointed that the instructor has had a hard time stimulating discussion during critique time. For the first project she basically did all the critiquing herself, and for the second project, she had the artist speak about their work and then assigned one classmate to make comments. Despite the coffee and cookies she brought in, discussion was painfully sparse.  This last time she assigned a classmate to comment on another work first and then let artist explain his/her ideas, which makes more sense in order to get an unbiased impression about an artwork. Mostly though, the discussion returns to her opinions and ideas and what associations she makes with the materials or images. No wonder no one speaks. 

Frankly it is disappointing when an instructor, who may know how to make things really well, doesn't know how to guide a discussion, provide background or helpful
information that may be lacking or help students to think critically, not just do all the critical commentary herself.

My project ended up being a lost or found box that contained a collection of everyday objects that were compartmentalized and paired with an image that gave the object a new context, meaning and history.
And spring is such a good time for finding these little treasures that have been buried beneath the snow and leaves.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Too many people, too much

John and I got to get away last weekend, the first in many years. John had a Conference in NYC on Friday(along with a million dentists and Irish dancers with big curly wigs) and we celebrated a friend's wedding in Brooklyn on Saturday.

It worked out pretty well that I got to bum around Manhattan on Friday. I walked till my legs fell off - was a little scared of the subway, all the hurried, pushy people, the alphabet soup of rainbow trains, the blaring alarms, long lines and the too much swearing at the ticket machines. So I walked up to MoMA and saw a lovely bookarts/paper/print exhibit called Paper: Pressed, Stained, Slashed, Folded with works by Claes Oldenberg, Anna Maria Maiolino, Eva Hesse, Robert Smith and Joseph Beuys. Also, on exhibit was The Printed Picture which documents the history of printmaking from etchings to photographs to digital prints. Then there is the Kippenberger exhibit and installation, not to mention the permanent collection containting many Picassos, Monets, Miros, Van Goghs, Cezanes, Seurats, Kandinskis, and so on. This is where my brain turns to mush and I require much drinking of coffee on a nice concrete bench in Central Park where there are actually daffodils on the verge of blooming.

Although I didn't make it to Talas, which had just moved to Brooklyn last month, I did make my sewers' pilgrimage to Purl Patchwork for some Japanese cotton print (Kokka) and a party dress pattern (Oliver+S)... oooh the Liberty of London! We quickly toured the Center for Book Arts on West 27th street and saw a display of book sculptures by Jacqueline Rush Lee and many handmade letterpress books.

We also got to play with the dolls and toys FAO Schwartz, ate at Sam's Falafal, saw a late night swarm of bikes for a Critical Mass ride and visited the New York Transit Museum for tees and subway trains for the kids. We did finally ride the subway on a goofy, hiccuping trip back to the hotel after too many Coney Island Lagers.