When I'm not in the Studio





True confession. I have excuses for my woeful absence from art-making since my return home. Economic for one. Funny how a trip empties the coffers. As a advocate of "when the doorbell rings and the bank account is empty, better answer" school of employment, I've been wearing my consultant hat and my art eduator workboots. I have managed to craft a life that is creatively challenging, it just happens in different directions sometimes.

This spring and summer I've been working on a library outreach family program in association with a major showing of the works of Fernando Botero. -- the first U.S. venue for his exhibit that traveled Europe the last few years. The exhibits are spectacular, and ring with resonance in this majority Latino city. Botero, whose work I had dismissed as facile from my scant exposure to his ubiquitous bathing women posters, has become an artist of interest to me. His work has this dark, ominous quality that both defies and defines his baroque volumetric vision of the world. Also, Botero has taken on some heavy topics in his work -- most recently Abu Ghraib and torture.  (These drawings aren't part of the show, but a lecture about them was part of the programming.) Many of his archetypal portraits are subtle but telling examinations of power and its effect on a nation; others present quite chilling images of violence and distruction. And his studio practice and productivity  is inspiring. (OK, no matter what else is going on, I am trying to do some work at least eight of the week's overstuffed hours.)

If you are anywhere close to San Antonio between now and mid August, I strongly recommend a visit to the exhbits at the Southwest School of Art and Craft and San Antonio Museum of Art. See www.boterosa.org for more information.

As part of the citywide celebration of the exhibits and Botero, we've been producing family day workshops at each of the city's 20 branch libraries, three per Saturday, and usually one of those is mine. My colleague and longtime partner-in-work Zet Baer (also a fiber artist) and I planned the program, recruited staff and volunteers and are also lead teachers some of the weekends. 


We've had great activities for kids and parents. One of my favorites: Kids see prints of Botero's portraits; make a Boteroesque hat to wear, have their face painted to look like one of his portraits. We have a sheet of mylar that reflects their image as if in a Botero painting (like a fun house mirror) and then they paint a self-portrait. Or even another painting of their own in Botero's signature style. This is a wonderful exercise in looking closely, learning through copying and paying attention to style as signature.