July 27, 2007

Good news!

I went to my mailbox on the way into town yesterday. This is rural delivery with all the neighborhood boxes in one place so I don’t stop by very often, maybe once or twice a week. I had a feeling it was time for my last grant application results to come in, so I was visualizing the proper size envelope as I was on route. And there it was: a sizeable grant from the Nova Scotia Arts Council. A very happy camper here!

This is a peer judged grant so it feels good to know my fellow artists voted for me. Last time I was turned down I called the person in charge and asked why. He said, as usual, if there were more money I would have been next, or near next. But he also said there was one person who commented my paintings are too formulaic for that person’s taste. I found that difficult to hear. That is the farthest from what I consider to be my working mode. Granted, I do have a handwriting that is obvious in all my paintings, certain marks do keep reoccurring. But basically, I work from intuition, spontaneity, chance. At least, that’s how I see it. So I rearranged my grant proposal, placed emphasis differently, and sent in a wider variety of images. I guess it worked!

The first thing I did when I got to town yesterday was turn in the signed acceptance letter. Then I went to the Art College and cleared out my locker. It was hard to let go of teaching (and the income); I kept thinking maybe they would change their rules. But it is not very likely and I am very happy to paint every day—and to be able to concentrate on it so completely. A new phase of my life.

Posted by leya at 01:26 PM | Comments (1)

July 20, 2007

I saw a strange thing in the park yesterday.

I was walking with Lila yesterday afternoon in Point Pleasant Park. The park is now, after all the rain we have had in the past few months, very lush and verdant. The underbrush, berries and wildflowers are about to burst. A lovely sight. To my surprise, I saw a man walk past us, quite briskly, reading a newspaper. He didn’t miss a step and didn’t take his eyes off the paper. I saw him later on another path. Still reading.

Posted by leya at 07:58 AM | TrackBack

July 19, 2007

Time will tell

Speaking of serendipity: the man who worked on my website (the technical side, Aaron did the design and original setup but doesn’t have time to help with the maintenance) came by last night to pick up a painting he wanted (I had told him to come get it quickly before I sold it to someone else as it is a new size, tall and thin, 5’ x 2’, and it seems a very appealing shape and the painting worked, all a surprise to me, so I think I will be working in that size again.) He arrived just when I was struggling to play the DVD sent to me from the gallery in Denmark of the TV interview from when I was there. It was very frustrating as they use PCs and I have a Mac. So the formatting didn’t work. He downloaded a program that works on both systems and now I can play it. Very cool!! He is also going to put it on my website and also make me an email copy so I can send it to people. Very Cool!!! So as soon as he does this, I will let you know.

Meanwhile, after four days of houseguests, I’m back to my usual routine of painting and playing with Lila. (Being a very sociable animal, she misses our company! Me too!) While working this morning, I kept simplifying, taking things out, turning paintings around, upside down and changing the focus. A few days away and everything looks different. And I want it to change. It doesn’t work for me to keep using the same solutions.

My digital camera is in for repairs so I can’t take photos of the paintings yet, but I’ve been using my (twenty-five year) old Nikon, and I must admit, I could get addicted to it. It’s a beauty. Metal casing, solid, good lenses. I can have the negatives scanned to a CD and get prints for very little money. If it weren’t for the weight of the camera . . . I don’t know . . . Maybe . . .

Posted by leya at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2007

More so

Leaving Denmark (so to speak) for a while, here’s a photo of me in front of one of my favorite paintings, taken in the gallery in Saltum.

MeSaltum .jpg

I’ve since been working on two more paintings using five panels each with each panel being a different color. (My digital camera is in the hospital for repairs, having contracted sand on the lens from the beaches in Denmark. So, no pix yet.) It was hard not to repeat the same pattern of color change as well as hard because the size was slightly different, less tall. My (almost) final solutions have been to have one of the paintings to be very bright colors, the other more muted.

Another difficult part is the elimination of marks/ideas—not to have too much activity in such narrow panels. As usual, I have put down a lot of “information” and the task is, as usual, eliminating excesses. Choices. Over and over. So that the geography of the painting is concise and clear. Direct. Just right.

An interesting experience with this (above) painting is that, when I first saw it in the gallery, I felt uneasy about it. It didn't look as good to me as it had in my studio. I couldn't figure it out. I then asked them to hang it just six inches higher. And it looked much better. It was fighting with the floor. Interesting what just six inches can do.

Posted by leya at 07:39 PM | Comments (3)

July 10, 2007

Sean’s painting

Or rather, one of them:


The last two weeks I’ve been painting (almost) every day. At first when I went into my studio I thought: I don’t want to paint, I don’t want to do this, I don’t have anything to say. But as soon as I started, picked up some paint sticks, the paintings just worked themselves out. It’s been exciting to see the way they can still change, still have a life of their own, separate from me, from what I am thinking and feeling.

A couple of months ago I put a series of small paintings, 12” x 12”, around the room. Because of the size, the imagery seems bigger. So it looked like a series of circles. Every painting had one or more prominent circle in it. I had once said I’d Never Do Another Circle. Imagine that. Circles. No circles. Sometimes it feels like it’s not my choice; I may have some thoughts but the painting chooses, has the final say.

Posted by leya at 07:46 AM

July 08, 2007

Listen up

My friend, Sean Kennedy, recently wrote about my paintings on his blog on MySpace. What he said is closer to what I feel about my work than anything else I’ve read. Sean should know. He has several of my paintings in his home instead of a TV and he watches them change with the changing light throughout the day (and night). I was so impressed with what he wrote that I asked him if I could reprint it here;

Every Leya Evelyn painting carries a wound. A wound that, in turn, carries the painting. Often they are vaginal. Sartre, giving full rein to his misogyny and resentment of the female form, described the vagina as obscene, a gaping hole, "an appeal to being". His sense was that the vagina, like any gaping space, an open mouth at Burger King, demanded to be filled, satiated, and, by the same token, contained. If he was, perhaps, wrong in most of what he said in this, one thing rings true in the current instance. The idea of the wound as an appeal.

In the case of Leya Evelyn's canvasses, there is no shouting, no hysteria, and certainly nothing of Sartre's all-too-easy misogynistic philosophy. But each painting carries a wound. And the wound is an appeal to being. A muted scream. When you first see one, all you can see is the scream, the difficult corner that will not go away. After a while, when the painting has agreed to be around you, the scream is the place you return to again and again. Like a tongue to a jagged tooth.

To try and explain how and why Leya Evelyn's art articulates any or all of this is not so much to mix metaphors as to simply intrude verbally upon a process that is written in, or on, or by and through the body. Samuel Beckett never got over the fact that he had to work with words, and all of their sullied etymological history, when his friends, Jack Yeats or John Beckett, could draw on the purer medium of the note or the brushstroke. These seemed cleaner to him, whereas words carried everything with them. Hoarders of hurt and history both. "I love you". Like putting your heart into a left luggage locker in Kings X and expecting it to be found by your intended. "I love you too".

Of course, wounds are everywhere. But nowhere more beautifully transposed than in Leya's canvasses. They don't just scream, they also sing. Sometimes they sigh. Often, they say nothing at all. They are, in fact, nothing more or less than ourselves. Hurt, hopeful, beautiful, and in search of redemption. Or, to use Leya's own word, resolution.

Not resolution in the sense of a neat and fitting end. Not solution. More like resolution as in the strength to go on, the resolve to continue. Courage. The courage, perhaps, not to lick our wounds so much as hear them out.

Posted by leya at 04:38 PM

July 06, 2007

A toast to Marcella


A couple of days ago I was walking through Point Pleasant Park with Lila, a friend of mine and her lively border collie. As the dogs were romping around, I told my friend that my 102 year old Aunt Marcella was dying. It was time; she was ready. I then went home to receive an email that indeed, she had died at exactly the moment I was telling Brenda that the end was near.

I do feel sad, feel a loss, but am glad that she is finally at peace. It was a long slide down. The quality of life for her in the last year especially was not good. It’s not easy for an active person to allow the body to slow. And she was memorably lively. The photo posted here is from her 100th birthday party. She was, as always, very beautiful and vivacious that day. Alert and perky for five hours, entertaining all of us.

Marcella was the last of my mother’s five siblings, four sisters and a brother. Another era closed. The emails with eulogies circulating amongst family talk mainly about her feisty personality, her strength of character, her warm, strong presence. She loved to play bridge which must have been a part of what kept her mind so active. She outlived all the friends and family of her generation and I am sure that must have been sad for her. She talked often to me about being a rebel. Not living by rules. We understood and connected. When I visited her about a year ago, she bemoaned that “The good Lord doesn’t want me and the devil won’t take me!” She was, of many things, dramatic and humorous.

As she wished, she will be cremated and buried under a rose bush in my cousin’s yard in Westchester, New York. The memorial for her will be August 11, giving our far flung family a chance to make travel plans. Once again, Marcella brings the family together.

Her obituary, printed today in the New York Times, reads:

KAPLAN, Marcella (Abrams), aged 102, of New York City, died July 3, 2007. Born in Hobart, NY, Marcella led a full life filled with travel, family and friends. She worked as personal secretary for the head of the US Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture in the 1930’s, and also worked for many years as the personal administrative assistant to Gottlieb Hammer, Exec. VP of the United Jewish Appeal. She enjoyed theater, concerts and traveling to many parts of the world, including Europe, Israel and the Far East, and visiting her relatives. An enthusiastic member of the 92nd Street YMHA, she was a well known bridge player there every Tuesday and Thursday for over 60 years. Ms. Kaplan is survived by many loving nieces and nephews, who will miss her sharp wit, colorful observations and deep love for her family. A memorial service will be held later in the year.
Posted by leya at 04:40 PM | Comments (3)

July 05, 2007

Final day in London

On my last full day in London, I walked around the city:



saw the Old Vic:


walked across the Thames on a bridge with the Eye of London always in sight:


I went to the Tate Modern, of course, and spent two long sessions sitting with Rothko's paintings. Then I went to Trafalgar Square to check on the pigeons. When I was in London with Tamar and Aaron, watching the pigeons was great entertainment for them. The day before, on Saturday when I was there, the pigeons had been scared off by a falcon on the shoulders of a woman. She patrols the area frequently to keep the pigeons at bay. But when the falcon is gone the pigeons return:


On this Sunday, the entertainment was dancers from Vietnam:



Then I went to the Royal Academy of Art for their annual exhibit. Took the Tube back to my friend's for the evening:


And Monday was the long trip home. Tuesday I picked up Lila. And here I am. Happy to be back at work!

Posted by leya at 06:21 PM | Comments (1)

July 03, 2007

I went to London to visit the Queen

I arrived in London in the early afternoon and my friend William, who works in Parliament, took me on a private tour there. This also gave us front row seats the next day for the Queen’s birthday parade, the Trooping of the Colours. I couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit London and see the Queen.


The soldiers all looked so young. It seems the more mature were in Iraq.



Standing next to us were a couple of women with their children. As the father of one of the boys walked by, he winked at his son. Anther soldier blew his wife a kiss.

The first (and last) time I was in London I was with Aaron and Tamar who were then five and eleven. Tamar was fascinated by horses at that time. This time, it was my turn. They were truly majestic:





As the infantry was standing around a bit, the horses did what is natural. At the end of the ceremonies, a single soldier was striding by us and, when he saw what was in his determined path, turned his head to us, smiled broadly and said: “Yes, I’m always in it!”


After the ceremonies, we had lunch in the park and then a trip through the Royal Portrait Gallery. Then dinner with friends . . . and a sound night’s sleep.

Posted by leya at 06:50 PM | Comments (4)

July 02, 2007

To Copenhagen

The next day I went to Copenhagen by bus and ferry. Denmark is a series of islands connected by ferries and bridges. It's a very ecologically conscientious country, growing windmills and barley. From my bus window:


In Copenhagen I first took a bus tour, saw the famous Mermaid (don't understand),


then walked all around,



went to the Carlsburg Art Museum (housing some beautiful paintings and sculptures),


and the Tivoli Gardens where I (along with Hans) was enchanted watching the amusements:








Everyone was enjoying the rides. Well, almost everyone:


I sat in the lovely flower gardens and had tea:



Then back to the Aarhus area by train and to Elin’s home for the night before going on to London for three lovely days. At this point I had traveled from the very middle of Denmark (Aarhus) to the very most northern point (Skagen) and then to the most southern end (Copenhagen) and back to the middle.

Posted by leya at 01:52 PM | Comments (3)