Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ready for a Rant?

Ya know how when you look at a menu at a restaurant, you have certain expectations based on the description?  Ever been in a situation where you ordered something and expected it to come as described?  That was my situation the other night when JK took me out to dinner...after a fabulous read through with my casts and playwrights for the two 10 min plays I'm directing for SnowLion Repetory's "Maine Dish" show of 10-min plays by local playwrights during Restaurant Week this coming March.

It was snowing here in Portland but there was nothing in the house to cook, so we decided to try out C2 ... the restaurant at the Westin Hotel which bought out the East Ender downtown near the Art Museum.  I've had a bug in my bonnet for quite a few years now about how the Westin rehabs the old hotels it buys.  That came about after they bought out the St Francis Hotel in Union Square in San Francisco.  Instead of saving the beautiful period work in that old hotel, they redid it in a style I can only call "corporate design" - everything safe neutrals with no charm or class and looking like every other Westin you've ever been in. 

My entree came with a port wine sauce at dinner that night which was not as it was described in the menu.  I returned it saying that I wasn't fond of a port sauce on the meat and it wasn't described as such in the menu.  It took a while, but I finally got my meal and the very professional and kind Assistant Manager of C2 came over to apologize and tell me that they were comping our meal because we weren't happy!?!

Brava to her for knowing that they need to be good to the locals who eat there as well as the travelers who stay at their hotel!  I wish I had written her name down as she was doing the right thing and I wanted to praise her for this.

And now for something completely different, a photo I took in an Irish bar last year in NYC...


They put a painting behind a piece of stained glass with a light on it....clever way to add ambiance and use some local artists (I hope).

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Streets of Asheville

 I think I'm just a bit infatuated with Asheville, NC, but please don't tell Portland ME.  Here's some photos I snapped while we were there and walking around.

Mural

Lots of old brick buildings and lights all had these wreaths

Looking toward city hall and Asheville Art Museum to the right




Installation of Kitties


Mural on parking garage

It was foggy on Xmas Eve

I liked the painted awning over this store

Sista ironing JK





This panoramic photo is the original lunch counter at the old Woolworth's which has been converted into an artist's gallery.  You can read more about it and the artists by clicking here.

Coming up next, traveling from Asheville north east near the town of Boone NC, where we visted JK's brother and his family. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Is It the Holidays Already?

The end of November and going into December are a bit of a blur for me.  I hadn't realized how much work it would be to prepare for an Open Studio and Show at Running with Scissors, be a Christmas elf and get ready to go out of town for the holidays.  Yeah, I also regularly think it will take me a much shorter time to do something than it actually does.  The sad thing is that I've thought this for years.  I should know better.  Maybe this coming year I will finally learn this lesson - or not. 


I'm half standing in this photo while my Sista is seated while I try out a new Christmas present of one of those selfie poles with a bluetooth remote.   Isn't my Sista gorgeous?  That's where we went for the holidays - to her new house in Asheville, NC.  I posted some photos on Fakebook and those of you who are not there are supposed to be able to see them if I post a link to the album.  So try this LINK.   It's not working right now, but try back in a day or two to see if I can get it resolved.


This is the hubby and me in front of some public sculpture in downtown Asheville.  I'm quite impressed with the culture and food in this town.  Really does compare well to Portland ME.

I'll be posting more shots of us here in Asheville and up near Boone NC where the hubby's brother and his family have a home in the mountains.  It's about 2.5 hours NE of Asheville.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Blogging for Peace

Peace is Possible


It will start with mothers giving their sons some different ideas about masculinity and the culture becoming less misogynist - but it can be done.  For a more scientific look at the question, get this book from your local library - Women, Power and the Biology of Peace by Judith Hand.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Statements and Weekends

Artists are always asked to write Artist's Statements for various shows and projects.  Although I'm  a former journalist, blogger and playwright, you'd think this would come easily to me - WRONG!  This is why I'm drawn to websites that can generate them for you.   A reference was made to it by Jillian Steinhauer on the Hyperallergic blog.  She calls it the best statment generator and I have to agree with her.  Bravo to  Belgian artist Jasper Rigole who created it, who’s part of the art group Voorkamer.

The following is what I got from this great site to create artists statements:

Ann Tracy (°1951, Waltham MA, United States) is an artist who works in a variety of media. By experimenting with aleatoric processes, Tracy absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
Her artworks appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, she wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.

Her collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, she formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random works. The thought processes, which are supposedly private, highly subjective and unfiltered in their references to dream worlds, are frequently revealed as digital collages.

Her works feature coincidental, accidental and unexpected connections which make it possible to revise art history and, even better, to complement it. Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies. Ann Tracy currently lives and works in Portland Maine.

So here is a new piece I made for the weekend parking lot art festival we had here at Running With Scissors.



And this is the piece that sold during the Maker's Meal on Thursday night.  It's an image from my iPod, manipulated ONLY in camera, then printed on mulberry paper and coated with encaustic wax which gives it an amazing translucency.  




Friday was the Damnationland Premiere of Sui Generis, the short film where I played a detective in one scene.  But I couldn't stay to see all the films as I needed to get up early to get to the studio and get set up for our afternoon parking lot sale.  We even had food trucks here!  I did sell 3 prints on paper and then a print on canvas.  Everyone got great deals and I got to give my art good homes - win-win!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pettiness at the Prado



Before I go off on our 2nd day adventure in Madrid, here's a few photos I should have posted before.

Street where our hotel was located.


 

Just up the street was this little plaza.
 But as we were checking in, they sent a welcoming committee to greet us apparently !  Sigh it was too big as a quicktime file so you'll have to go to Flickr to see it.  You'll also see the photos I posted along the way to Instagram & Facebook.

JK enjoying a mojito, which are popular in Spain now.
The next day, it was off to the Prado.   We hailed a cab (much easier than in NY) and saw this as we were driving
This was the first "No Matador" photo we saw in Madrid.    





Even if it didn't have a special exhibit of Goya and how he influenced many other artists, we would have gone.  It would have been like going to Paris and not seeing the Louvre.   It was truly an amazing exhibit showing work by Goya side by side with the artists he influenced - even Picasso, but mostly his Blue Period.  





I was surprised at how silly they were about letting people take photos with no flash... a big NO.  I could take photos in the Louvre, but not the Prado? After marching around the Prado for several hours we were tired and thirsty and we had spotted a Ritz hotel when we first got there.  So it was over to the Ritz for a drink - if we couldn't stay there, might as well have a boom-ba!
They had a charming garden patio type bar and eating area.  So we plunked right down and had a glass of Rosato and they brought over potato chips to munch on.  Who knew the Spanish were wild about potato chips?

That night, we decided to find the House of Mushrooms, since it had such good reviews in Trip Adviser I think.
Unfortunately they only had one mushroom dish on the menu - mushroom caps stuffed with ham, garlic and cheese - which were very good.  We ended up wandering over to another cafe for more tapas to finish the night before we headed to Sicily, Palermo to be exact the next day.  
Truth in advertising - not sure which day I shot this.  But we should have gone in for a glass of Rosato and a tapa, next trip!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

From Maine to Spain!


There is nothing like a travel adventure to make you look at the world and yourself a little differently.  When I received the news that I was a finalist in the Julia Margaret Cameron Competition that was certainly a feather in my cap.  But when I was invited to exhibit that fine art photographic collage at the 3rd Biennale of Photography in Malaga, Spain (a place I had never been) I was over the moon and began plotting a way to get to the artists' reception.  At first we hoped that Mimmo, (a foreign exchange student who lived for a year with my husband's family in Wisconsin in 1969-70 who is now a dear friend) would be able to meet us there.  But as luck would have it, a work situation interfered and he was unable to get to Malaga but suggested that we come visit him in Palermo.  
 
It had been four years since our last visit to see him when I first when to Bacau, Romania to judge the Gala Star Solo Show Competition.  That was the same year the volcano in Iceland was spewing such ash into the atmosphere that flights over Northern Europe were cancelled.  JK's tickets to meet me there (and then travel to Venice to meet Mimmo) where cancelled and we ended up meeting up in Venice through sheer determination.  I was able to get on the first flight that was cleared to get out of Bucharest and JK ended up in a circuitous route going from Sacramento (where we lived at the time) to New York to Casablanca to Rome to Venice.  I had injured my knee in Bucharest and hobbled my way around Venice which wasn't ideal as walking is really the only way to get anywhere.

Luckily we didn't have as many strange events happening this time.  We used points to upgrade to business class on Delta and were sorely disappointed after having been spoiled by Lufthansa accommodations, especially by the food.  BIG Delta FAIL as it was terrible.   Only got about 3 hours of sleep on the plane so we were jet-lagged when we arrived about 9:30 in the morning.  Luckily at the Madrid airport duty free shop I spotted a bottle of Havana Club rum from Cuba - one of my favorites.  Granted it wasn't the seven year old, but it was a reserva and better than the aged rums we had tried to find in Portland after our first trip to Cuba.

By the time we got to the hotel, we knew we needed to stay up most of the day so we headed out after unpacking to explore our neighborhood, the La Latina district of the city where most of tapas bars are located.  Since it's an old part of the city with buildings dating back to the 17th century and some to the days of the Moorish Muslim Empire, they were a bit of a maze - like downtown Boston.  
Coat of arms for the city showing a bear with fore paws on a strawberry tree

Apparently the Spanish, like New Englanders, paved the cow paths that wandered everywhere.  So, like cows, we grazed our way around.  A tapa here with a drink and a tapa there with Sangria and agua no-gas until we were exhausted and figured an hour or two disco nap wouldn't hurt.  So after a short siesta, we ventured out to have even more tapas for dinner.  In JK's research, he discovered a restaurant that translated in English was House of Mushrooms.  It was a grotto like place with only a few tables but a piano player squeezed in amongst the tables. They only had one sort of mushroom, large caps stuffed with garlic, olive oil and Iberian ham - deliciouso!  they also have a roast pig that is very good and we might go there again when we go back to Madrid for a few days before we fly home.
Graffiti Madrid

In Spain they talk about staying out so late they "kill the night", at least according to our Cuban photographer friends.  So we decided to give it our best shot and walked over the Plaza Mayor.  It really reminded us of the plazas in Cuba and shows how much Cuban architecture was influenced by the Spanish.  But we each had only between 3 to 5 hours of sleep, so after another glass of fabulous Spanish Rosato -all the ros├ęs we had there were wonderful, some better than others but all very quaffable - it was remembering our way back to our hotel.
More graffiti in Madrid in La Latina district

 The small hotel we stayed, at Posada de Dragon, was very Spanish in that they served a small buffet  breakfast until 11 each morning.  Matter of fact I could easily slip into the Spanish way of life staying up to 1 or 2 in the morning, sleeping in to 10, lunch at 3 and dinner at 9.  Maybe I was Spanish in another life time!  Another great feature of our Dragon hotel was that it was a bar/restaurant as well.  We could always bring a nightcap up to our room.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Critical Mass

Did I ever tell you about my days as a critic?  During my final days at KGNR in Sacramento, I approached the General Manager (the Big Guy) after seeing all the automated equipment coming into the station, with an idea - I was quitting the morning drive news job but it wouldn't look like another rat leaving a sinking ship if I stayed at the station on a part time basis and did theatre and movie reviews!  (We call him the Big Guy because he did remind much of the staff of the GM on WKRP in Cincinnati.)  I only did that for a few months (I had to keep the reviews way too short) before I went over to KXPR, the public radio station where I knew the News Director (Russ Heimerich who is a PIO for the state of California) who used to work with me over at KGNR. 

Of course they weren't paying me squat so after doing a great job for a year or so, I asked for a raise and was refused - so I quit to become a PR Consultant for small businesses and non profit groups.  But reviewing theatre is a very different animal than reviewing art and there's also the distinction of being a critic or being a reviewer.  When I got into critic mode, they always pulled me back even though I was careful to put the good with the "didn't work very well" comments.

I wish I had heard (and had the time and money to spend some time in NYC) for a free class on art criticism run by the Bruce High Quality Foundation University.  You can read about it here.

Wonder how they would have reviewed my latest little painting - it's from an idea I had back in the 90s and even though a very wonderful artist (Margaret Nomentana) is currently showing work in a group show at UNE where she's done the same thing - using acrylic paint skins on canvas - I had to realize my idea as well.  But I had to blab about it on the canvas first and then paint over that.

My photo is not that good as you can't see the golden shine on it... will tray for a better one later.  Letting Loose is only 8 x 6".  What would be a fair price for it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come Celebrate with Me



 When I  was chosen as a finalist in the 2014 Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, I was also invited to exhibit that work at the 3rd Biennale of Documentary and Fine Art Photography in Malaga, Spain at the Municipal Museum beginning September 18th and running to November 20th.  A reception for this and other new works is coming up -  Wednesday, August 27th from 5 to 8 pm at Constellation Gallery, 512 Congress St in Portland.

I've been doing some experiments with digital prints:  printing them out on Japanese mulberry paper and infusing them with encaustic wax so they have a translucency that is really amazing.  They are iPod photos that have never seen Photoshop!  They were enhanced (or manipulated or what you will) on an iPad then just transferred to the computer for printing. Here's one of them

Sunset Low Tide on the Cape Neddick River


here's the rest of the event release that I sent out to media....
 
Tracy has returned from New York where she showed her digital mixed media paintings based on historic artworks "The Green Graces Series" as well as new work based on her recent trip to Cuba this past January with Bilhenry Gallery at Art Expo New York 2014, on Pier 94.

She got to Cuba earlier this year on a people to people cultural exchange led by internationally renowned photographer Elizabeth Opalenik and organized by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  Tracy is also a member of the Maine Artists Collective.  She has also been vetted by U.S. Artists, a nonprofit group in Los Angeles, and successfully used their unique fundraising program for her "The Three Graces For Environmental Awareness" project which was shown in Portland at Akari and at the Spectrum Art Fair in Miami this past December.

This is the second time Tracy has shown work in New York City since moving here almost three years ago.  Although she grew up in Maine, NH and Massachusetts, her family moved to Colorado in 1969.  She most recently lived in Sacramento CA where she not only exhibited in many venues such as the Center for Contemporary Art and Asylum Gallery but her work has also been shown in galleries and museums in California, New Mexico, New York and Maui.  Her fine art photograph "Behind the Water: Mystery" was a juror's choice in the New York Center for Photographic Art's "Water" show which was exhibited at the Soho Digital Gallery in October of 2013.

In addition to her fine art, Tracy is also a portrait and editorial photographer.  Her studio is located within Running with Scissors, 250 Anderson St, Portland Maine.   Her studio is open by appointment by calling 916-804-6095 or emailing anntracy51@gmail.com.