Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Hi hon. Can you believe it's been a year? It was great seeing you a few weeks ago. What did you think of all those gorgeous cars? I hadn't seen you for a while but I have to say, you really haven't changed a bit. You are as complex and mysterious as ever - a timeless beauty that never goes out of style. Happy anniversary. I'm looking forward to celebrating with you tonight. Can't wait to give you an air smooch. xoxo

Monday, August 29, 2011


It's been almost a year since I was married to "Boar" by Gianmaria Buccelatti and I fully expected today to write a gushing description of my artistic attraction to this superbly crafted silver sculpture. I had planned to write a fascinated account of how each little hair on Boar's belly was somehow made to look lifelike in a sculptural medium that's generally used for jewelery and utensils. But that will not be happening today.

This is because I've just come to find out that I've been married to a porcine polygamist.

"Boar" appears to be the only ART / LIFE partner with TWO LIFE PARTNERS:



I suppose I can understand being attracted to other people. It's only natural. What really hurts is just knowing that my love isn't enough for this hairy harlot. The lies. The deception. The pain. It's all a bit much right now. Perhaps I can write a bit more when I've recovered from this horrendous shock of the new.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chatting about commitment and context

Ally Drozd talks with her friend Crystal Baxley about changes in her relationship with her partner Madame de Pompadour by Cindy Sherman.

Candid Commitments

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Dear Untitled,

When I first met you here, I wondered why you hung out with your neighbors. Now I've met some of them. The family just below you looks a lot like mine would if someone had made us all sit still for once and then turned it into a painting. I'm curious about those family-member-sized touchups I see.

And then I met your new neighbor. Hello there. I'll admit I'm tempted by this new Calder piece. It's so lovely and animated, it moves gracefully all on it's own. Untitled, I'm glad you've got a peer in your hall and hope your proximity to each other lets you trade tips on drafts and bald spots from your vantage point.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


As a co-worker of mine says, "I work in an art museum, I don't have time to look at art." How true. How true. I've been very negligent to my life-partner, Joseph Kosuth's Five Words in Orange Neon, but I'm turning over a new leaf, starting now. That isn't to say I've been completely absent. As I rush through the galleries, on some errand that doesn't involve mid-60s conceptual art, I find myself basking in the warm glow of orange neon, and pausing--if only for a moment--to reflect on our relationship.

Ours is a complicated partnership, involving both scorn and mutual admiration. While I'm often wracked with guilt for not visiting him nearly enough, my lover isn't without culpability for our strained relationship. His lofty position on the wall of the stairs on the fourth floor of the Contemporary galleries gives him a haughty and supercilious air, keeping anyone who wants to get closer just out of reach. Still, on this Valentine's Day Eve, I stop to remember and wistfully reflect on those heady days way back in September of 2010 when we first met and exchanged nuptials. It was a simpler time, a happier time, and I will never forget it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A history of Dying Gaul

Its quite amazing when one takes the time to put the busyness of life to the side and learn about their beloved. I was astonished and amazed at the long history of Dying Gaul. Go here to read more
I am humbled to know that the original statue is one of the most celebrated works to survive the antiquity.

It was murmured,

On a cold, crimson-colored night,

When the pyres burned hot and the echo of iron was long diminished,

That you fought with a titan’s frenzy

And passed on with quiet dignity

But mockery laced the accolades

Why, it was wondered, would a man shirk his shell,

Refuse his greaves, his breastplate, his helmet.

Did madness drive the purity of your ferocity?

Did sanity remain at the hearth, a tender recollection for a woman or child now enslaved?

It is said, when Achilles’ joy rested in your belly

When warm scarlet met earthen blue

That yours was not the face of one indignant

Rather perplexed



Had you too been dipped in the River Styx?

Had pagan rites portended heraclean vigor to you and your clan?

Or perhaps the promise to an infant was enough you thought

To ensure the triumph of your race

Hellenic iron though, sought a different design

And isn’t it odd?

The assailant, sheathed in jubilance

Glorious in slaughter

Misplaced his glory in but one generation

But you, dying Gaul, live

To die another day.

"Where Am I?"

My beloved has languished a bit in the last few months. I am sorry dear one. I have no excuse, especially since it's a less than five minute walk from my "office" to your "office". Accept my apology? I will do better.

Dearest Western Motel, I wanted to see you today to share a photograph that reminded me of you...and of me...and of our connection to each other. Recently, I came across something of a sidewalk maxim on a journey home from the corner store. I stopped in my tracks to consider its words--"You Aren't Lost You Just Aren't There Yet.” I immediately thought of you, patiently sitting in your rocking chair, waiting for travelers to check in or check out as they make their way along the lonely stretch of highway outside. I thought this phrase, scrawled like a road sign beneath my feet, might resonate for you as it did for me. Whoever took the time to chalk it out is wise beyond their years. Like you, the person who wrote this understands the complex nature of our metaphorical journeys on this planet. Sometimes we find ourselves in the psychological equivalent of your motel lobby, wondering where on earth we are, and where we are headed? While some who come upon you may find little comfort in the seemingly depressing space you carve out for us--ratty, dusty, self-medicated, isolated--I am warmed by your mere presence, and the fact that you are always situated somewhere between the "here's" and the "there's" of my life. Thanks for keeping the light on for all us travelers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Imagine this on cream paper rolled and tied with a red satin ribbon

Still Life,

I lose myself in the depths of your darkness.
To be still in the simpler times of your life.
You speak to me of souls less polluted by noise and chemicals
And I am still too.
So I find myself,
Shining in your light.
You are my golden aura.

Yours Always, Cedar Rose

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So sorry my love

Dearest please forgive me for letting life get in the way of us spending time together. It's one of the personality issues I should have discussed with you before we wed. I promise to stop letting chores, work and due dates get in the way of us re-connecting and taking our relationship to another level. You are always in my thoughts and dreams and I must do better to make you a higher priority. As I think back to when we first met I still remember how you took my breath away. I was toally smitten and spent more time with you than seemed appropriate for a first meeting. But your energy just pulled me in, never to leave me quite the same. Your quiet intensity is but one quality that peeked my curiosity and let me know you were the one for me. Each time I see your image and recall that first sighting I realize that you re truly one of the greatest additions to my life. So real, so present, always waiting patiently for my return. I can only imagine the other suitors who have come your way in my absence, but respect you more for waiting patiently for my return. I will be there very soon my love.

All my love, Scott

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rue, It's Me and You

Rue, I think we both know why I chose you.  There is really no reason to be coy.  I find you incredibly sexy.  You've got that brooding nature braided to your light side - you know that bright, internal eternal- you could put out the sun's eye.  I know, I've been avoiding writing to you, stealing glimpses of you as I walk quickly down the hallway back and forth to my office day after day.  I feel guilty about that, I get to call all the shots, you never can find me it is always me who is finding you.  But you also never tried to find me.  You never asked to be loved.  I guess I knew with you it would be this way.  You would be you and there would be no changing that.  It would be me who would change.  I liked that idea.   That you would never get old, though you are 19 years older than me now.  I wanted to marry you in your prime because of the primal part of you.  So I did. And the thing is I haven't known how to say this, but now I have and I intend to write to you more often.  It is the first love letter and this feels strangely cathartic. I think I could do this again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

ART/LIFE PARTNERS: Kimi Westermann + In Between by Darren Waterston

ART/LIFE PARTNERS: Kimi Westermann + In Between by Darren Waterston

The powers-that-be are threatening to annul my partnership if I don't post a blog, so here it is. I do visit my partner regularly; both before and after our marriage. But, I have no desire/time/interest in writing about our powerful bond for the world. Sorry! Just don't annul us; you don't understand us.

Newlywed Life with Bhudda

On the night of 10.15.10, we headed down to the Portland Art Museum hoping to get hitched to art. Within minutes of searching, I found my Art/Life Partner: a fifth century Chinese Bhudda head that immediately captured my attention with those divine eyes. Still, I like to know all my options and subsequently surveyed each museum floor, only to return back to the beginning with Bhudda. By that time, my real life partner, Bunny, was on board, too. Having married herself in a separate project earlier that day, this was her second ceremony as the good Rev. Ariana wedded us into a 1-year nuptial commitment with Art/Bhudda/Life.

And then a door opened. Being raised agnostic, I was neither attracted nor repelled by religion. Still, I am completely fascinated by strange coincidences and hold a strong belief in being guided by spirit. Several weeks, after our Art/Life marriage, Bunny asked,

"Since our night at the art museum, have you been noticing connections to Bhudda like I have?"

"No," I responded, "but maybe I should raise my awareness."

A few days later, she was in the midst of a rough spell, so I suggested a visit to the Japanese Garden with the kids to be get inspired by the Zen vibe and Fall foliage. En route to the garden, we stopped at a stranger's house who was selling an unusual commuter bike - a no-brainer for only 40 bucks. Moments after the test ride, we stepped into an antique store down the block and unexpectedly entered a showroom full of Chinese Bhuddas. Suddenly everything seemed sacred.



A sculpture and raked garden titled, Bhudda Herding Cats.

Lilly immersed in a silk screen installation.

Thanks to Lilly, Bhudda joined us for a holiday 'honeymoon' to Maui. While visiting a friend, she commented on the spines of a book series that collectively completes a head. Turns out that these Tezuka graphic novels depict a fictional life of Bhudda. We promptly reserved the series from the library and they arrived a couple days prior to our vacation. Perfect timing since Lilly, age 7, very recently dove into the joy of reading. The graphic novel completely captured her attention and she finished the last book (over 1,000 pages!) on our return flight home.

I was reading the series in Maui, too, and at one point, several of the characters describe our innate connection to nature and a divine ability for some to mind-meld with animals. The next day, we were playing at a beach, when a big, beautiful macaw swooped over us and then landed into the yard of a private home. Lilly followed its flight path and engaged in a conversation with the resident. Turns out that he had lived next door for many years with a Bhuddist monk who passed away. Shortly after, the macaw arrived and started living under his shelter. And soon after that, a mutual friend told him a promise from the monk, "After dying, I will return as a bird to continue teaching to my disciples." The macaw has continued to reside with him for the last 7 years.

Our newlywed life with Bhudda is brimming with sacred art, strange coincidences and spiritual connection to nature.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Marriage countdown

I had 5 minutes to pick out the art I'd marry before the cut-off time on October 15th. Up the first set of stairs I found my match. To be life partners with anything by Calder gives me a thrill. It was the tiniest Calder mobile I'd ever seen and it was perfect. I've no idea why it's set in this hall, the lone mobile amongst a mass of paintings. Great basis for a relationship full of discovery.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Memory changes everything

I visited "Oannes et le Sphinx," by Odilon Redon yesterday. Funny how memory changes everything. It has been an unusually hectic few months and I had not had a chance to visit in too long, but encountering the painting again yesterday reminded me why I love it.

In my memory of it, in my mind, the image is transplendent, full of crisp lines that playfully and gracefully define and ornament the two metaphysical creatures located in a dark afternoon-like, almost subterranean environment.

Seeing it anew, I noticed more muck, more chaos. The two bodies were far less separate from their surroundings than I recall them to be. Their surrounding, far more mucky, more like ochre mucous, than my mental image would suggest. The purple stripes decorating the wings of the Sphinx look like day-glo acrylic paint. It's hard to believe Redon generated that color from the oil paint of his day. The disturbing little set of teeth (presumably the only part of Oannes that is identifiable) in the lower left corner is even less specifically attached to a body, than I recall. And most surprising, the breaking of that adage- "thick over thin." Redon painted several thin glazes of earthy-raw sienna over some very thick chunks of impasto smack dab in the middle of the painting.

I love it. I love how he broke the rules in such a clunky way. I love the inexplicability of the foreground, wide irregularly shaped swaths of the ugliest green which somehow add up to a comprehensible space. Utterly brilliant.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jean-Michel & Mayzie Jean: Valentines forever

When I found out there was a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at PAM, I was shocked. How had this been under my nose? I loved him so much and for so long but I had somehow never considered the possibility of being in the same room as his work, especially right here in my hometown art museum. He seemed so elusive, more precious than the celebrated greats with travelling collections. For years I had poured through books at the library, photocopied my favorite pieces to frame, saved to buy my own pristine copy of the book from his 1992 exhibition at the Whitney. When Reebok put his illustrations on shoes, I bought a pair of slip on Vans and drew his signature crown all over them. When Fab Five Freddie and Charlie Ahern came to town to show Wild Style, I asked them about him, about what it like to be his friend. I made my own Jean-Michel in my mind, and I had been satisfied with that.

Needless to say, it was the first time art made me cry. I wasn't expecting that, but I also wasn't expecting to see something brand new. After so many years of research I thought I had seen it all. Silly me! It was a brand new piece of art to my eyes, but oh so familiar. So loving and tender and unexpected. I recognized the eyes, I could see him adding final touches with a red acrylic paint stick. I wanted so badly to touch it, to give it a hug like a long lost friend. Instead I touched his name on the wall, I figured I couldn't get in trouble for that. It was surreal to see:

Jean-Michel Basquiat
(American, 1960-1988)
Valentine, 1983

I still cry when I think about seeing Valentine for the first time. I'm so thankful to have it here in my town. A little bit of my favorite artist, from his hands straight to my eyes. To be married to this precious work is a dream.

-Mayzie Jean Hart

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Inscrutable you

Hello Early Hour, my dear. It's been a little while since we first met, but you're still fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. There were many strong, vibrant, and loud personalities vying for attention at the party that night, but you won me over with your gentle warmth. I looked and looked at you and wondered, "now, what could he be thinking?" And the moment reminded me that so much of what we perceive in the "other" is actually a reflection of our inner selves and lives. In your quiet face I could find sadness, peace, contentment, loneliness. I thought, are you in love with the woman sleeping at your side? Maybe you're contemplating how to tell her you're leaving her - or maybe you're planning to ask for her hand in marriage. Varied possibilities seemed equally plausible as I gazed at your expression, and I felt that was your genius - that you engaged me in that way. My understanding of you depends on my understanding of the world we share. You are beautifully complex and therefore open to interpretation - and that's a prerequisite for any lover worth his salt, don't you think?

- Juliette Harding

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where Did You Go?

When I visited the museum this week I experienced a small heartbreak. I led a good friend to the Northwest gallery to show off "my" painting, the Carl Morris Untitled 1968. It wasn't there! In it's place was a whopping photorealistic floral with fantastic colors, very striking, but I didn't even look at the title or the artist--I just wanted my painting! I had been looking forward to seeing and sharing this piece, to having my love for it on display in front of my friend, to praising it before sympathetic ears, and it had been swept away by circumstances (into a dark vault I could not visit), even as the powers-that-be had promised it would be fixed in place.

Such pinings are silly. It's just a painting, right? But I felt loss...people loss. And as I write this I suddenly remember a conversation I had with the painter Carl Hall in 1984, as we looked at some pictures in a show at Willamette University where he was my teacher. I had asked him to help me understand some paintings that were obscure to me. "Paintings are people," he said.

At the time I thought he meant that they contain bits of the artist, that aspects of personality rub off in the work, or that you need to pretend that paintings are people so that you can behold them as individuals without the judgement of comparison. But with this recent experience I wonder if he didn't mean something deeper. The sensation of loss I had, of disappointment, was a human response, the kind I would have had if I had lost another human being, as if a friend suddenly disappeared without notice.

I admit this with some embarrassment, as it seems full of drama, especially when I normally view the whole process of art coming into the world from the point of view of one who makes it. But I would not feel this way about a familiar mass-produced object that disappeared from the landscape.

As art involves magic, attempting portals through which willing participants can pass to transformed states of being, its potential may be more powerful than I thought. Instead of merely evoking love; it might create it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The first time we met

It was my first visit to the museum and I was really impressed with the permanent collection. As I continued to roam I came upon Dying Gaul. To say I was speechless by his beauty is an understatement. Dying Gaul seemed to be in a state of meditation, yet at any moment he would look up and say hello. So lifelike, in both his physical appearance and energy. There is a life force within him and he says so much without uttering a single word. John De Andrea truly captured the spirit of being human, with all our flaws and imperfections, yet balanced with true beauty and grace. The blemishes on his back, the curve of his muscles, I just want to curl up and fall asleep with him.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Ah, Sweet Consummation...

Boy am I glad that my new life partner and I have finally consummated our marriage!

It was an instant attraction, possibly a bit too physical at first, perhaps a little rushed...
But an itch like that needs to be scratched as soon as possible for the good of both parties.

What a relief!

I'm not sure what took us so long. It may have been that post-nuptial buyer's remorse that grips some of the recently espoused. Or my companion's rigid, quadrilateral disposition. Or my own fear of liking Matisse.

Either way, I have found endearing qualities in my companion, and they aren't ALL bare bottoms and garters.

May our visits be frequent and long.

May she understand if I'm not entirely monogamous.

And may beauty always be in the eye of the beholder!

Mazel tov!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Reverse Courtship

Having just married "Peach Blossom Spring" I began considering ways to deepen our relationship. This lead me to seek out her creator, Jacci Den Hartog. A couple of days ago I sent a message; introducing myself, telling of our nuptials, explaining that I have only honorable intentions, and requesting her blessing. This evening I received a favorable reply! She wrote that she "had no idea that 'Peach Blossom Spring' was marriage material!" and was "honored".

Needless to say I am stoked! With our marriage, and now the approval of our families, out of the way... looks like it's time to start dating.

I married a good man!

George Washington, by Rembrandt Peale

The truth of the matter is that I have a special relationship with George. It is not that he was the richest guy in the Colonies, not that he was a leader among men (women didn’t count for much those days, and some say he had more luck on his side than strategy), not that he was even a president, but that he was self-possessed and simultaneously modest.

It was the embodiment of what came to be known as the American spirit, or American values that makes me love him. When you look at George, he wears no decorations of rank or status. All military men of some standing wore shoulder macaroni, as did he. He also wore a simple stock around his neck, and a clean but modest garment. There are no metals plastered or pinned to his chest or badges of honor. There are no sashes defining to which club he might have been a member. He is just there, stately and ruddy-faced, with a relatively un-handsome big nose.

I always interpret the wooden oval around his portrait as the rough-hewn material from which he had emerged, although I am told that it indicates that by the time Rembrandt Peale made this portrait, George was dead.

One ought not leave out the painter Rembrandt Peale in all of this. He is one of our early geniuses, and it is a welcome and cherished gift that the Portland Art Museum is the recipient of a piece of his work.

My family came to America long after Washington and Peale had died. But it was easy to adopt George and the mythology around him as our own. He stood for the best in all of us. Modest, smart, enterprising, but with the wisdom to know when to step down and pass the mantle of power.

When touring students at the art museum as I do, I look for an opportunity to have those students say, “Hello, George.” And if we have time, we pull out a dollar bill and compare portraits, and we talk about transmitted values. Civic pride ought not be overlooked just because art is our major topic.

Carol Isaak, Portland Art Museum docent

A Family Assemblage

I'll be honest. I'd been seeing the Raymond Saunders piece on the sly for a while before I introduced it to my family -- I guess I felt like I had to wait for the right time to bring it into the fold. When that right time came, we dressed up in our finery and stood before "Assemblage." Coen played "Song of the Wind" on his violin and I held the bouquet of flowers. It was a very tender ceremony.

I think perhaps the most obvious compatibility between our family and Saunders is the habit of collecting things and assembling them into a kind of ordered chaos, whether it's bits of paper, chalk, paint, a chair, newsprint, a box of cereal. We too collect things, and though we don't necessarily assemble them as well as Saunders, there's a certain art to our household chaos, just the same. Among the objects on Saunders’ piece, one can see cornflakes, paintings, a set of Chinese checkers, a mask, an article on Tuskegee airmen, etc. The assemblage serves to preserve artifacts from a bygone era and evokes a kind of nostalgia for the past. Were we to assemble a family panel on the wall like Saunders' "Assemblage," it would likely include Sylvie's pink framed rainbow sunglasses and stuffed toy guinea pigs, ("Guin" and "Guin-Guin"), Coen's little shoulder bag embroidered with the word Ecuador, full of coins, a compass, secret messages written in code, and a popsicle stick whittled to a sharp point. Ben's section of panel might include items like a handkerchief, a mug of strong coffee, an I-pod, and notebooks full of his second novel. Mine would have a pile of library books, a pair of fingerless gloves, and a diagram of my novel-in-progress in colorful sticky-notes on the wall. We surround ourselves with objects that are dear to us, and comfortable, and from the pile emerges a family narrative, and the beginning of the history we will assemble together.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That'll do pig...

My love affair with a shiny, silver oinker began several years ago.

I was visiting the art museum with friends and we were meandering around when I ran into Boar quite literally. I was walking backwards talking and bumped into him. I remember being fascinated by the detailing involved in the piece. I can only imagine the time involved in creating this amazing work.

When I heard about the ability of being married to a work of art I immediately thought of my beloved pal and signed up right away! Luckily I happened to be just in time to be the last one to be married that night by my "Justice of the Peace".

Vows commenced. We kissed. (Insert photo op here)

I'm looking forward to my next visit with Boar. Hopefully that will be soon :-)

Thinking about looking and time...

I have been thinking quite a bit about what it means (or can mean) to have a relationship with an artwork. Like all relationships, it's complicated. In today's Huffington Post I was interested to see this new column by James Elkins, historian and critic at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The title of his piece is "How Long Does it Take to Look at a Painting." Link is below. He talks at length about people who have spent lifetimes looking at single works of art. Little does he know that there are dozens of us in Portland doing the same thing...

" spend that much time in front of an artwork, you have to be in dialogue with it. You have to listen to it, and think something in response, and look again, and see how the work has changed. You have to believe that you can have an ongoing, evolving relationship with something that is unchanging. Many people might say that is impossible."

-James Elkins

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stephanie Parrish + Western Motel by Edward and Nancy Kienholz

Sonnet to a "Western Motel "

By Margaret Kieweg, Portland Art Museum Docent

In honor of the art/life partner-commitment made by Stephanie Parrish on October 15, 2010

Art thou a lovely work of art?
Entombed within museum walls
How capture thus a maiden's heart
While yet thou makest my skin crawl!

The dirt and grime are shine enshrined
Old shoes or slippers over used
Alas the ice cream smears are primed
Liquor bottles strewn, confused

The soft red neon makes the plea
A vacancy is there within
My heart is cold, desires to flee
Or grab a mop, paint brush and bin.

Despite my own reluctant dread
She makes her vow, “Motel” to wed.

Kelsey Snook + Untitled by Alexander Calder

Hayley Barker + Oannes et le shinx by Odilon Redon

John Henry Dale + Boar by Gianmaria Buccellati

Cassie Neth and Bethany Hays + Bitter Lake Compound by Whiting Tennis

David Lochtie + Untitled, 1968 by Carl Morris

Jill and Vinh Mason + Bhudda Head from Xiangtangshan, China

Jack McClaskey + Boar by Gianmaria Buccellati

Alex Lee + Fragments of Oracle Bones by Unknown

Juliette Harding + Early Hour by Karl Hofer

Robby Bricker + Rug, 1991 by Betty Harvey

Tori Abernathy + Girl with Cigarette by Moses Soyer

Scott Davey + Dying Gaul by John De Andrea

Cristy McCarty + Le gong c'et une lune by Alexander Calder

Carol Isaak + George Washington by Rembrandt Peale

Christopher Sappington + The Mill by Max Beckmann

Robin Brady + Artifact Panel by William Morris

Emma Vicente + L'arbre rouge by Dale Chihuly

Amy Lyn Matteson + Marine, 1884 by William Trost Richards

Ariana Jacob +The American Flag is not an Object of Worship by Richard Serra

Jessica Funaro + P's and Q's (Slender Bowl with Folds) by Ursula Von Rydingsvard

Kimi Westermann + In Between by Darren Waterston