Buffalo 1915

The photo I used in this piece is from April 18, 1915 in Buffalo, New York. The pipe smoker standing in back row is my great grandmother. She was celebrating her 21st birthday with her sisters, cousins and friends. All were cross-dressing for the party and were having a great time. Prints of this piece are available from Society 6.

Meet the Sprites

Sprite Series, mixed media on board, 4”x5” each

Just in time a series of sprites (15 in all) made on little cards from scraps of pieces from the Collagescape series.  These little creatures will be sent out into the world via the US Postal Service later this week.

Blue and Purple

Wherever you go, there you are, mixed media on canvas, 11”x14”

For all the map pieces I have done, I realized this is the first bigger piece where the dominant colors were blues and purples.  It was a break from my current series to return back to the world of maps and map quilts.  This piece was commissioned for a private collection.

March Mailness

Just a few of the goodies that arrived in the post office box recently:

  1. One of the “Poesia” pieces sent to me by Eduardo Cardoso in Portugal.
  2. A card that is like a condensed history of Canadian postage arrived from Kerosene in Québec.
  3. Diane Keys sent this abstract card from Illinois.
  4. Another nice piece form E. Coles in the U.K.
  5. And finally, Mark Dean’s Electronic Beer Mat (both sides shown) arrived from France.  I amazed when pieces like this get through the mail intact. 

I’ve been swamped (in a good way) with projects including commissions.  I need to get back to all these artists and send out some more mail art myself.


And a reminder, the mail art show Mail/Art/Book is up until April 27th.  You have a few more weeks to check it out.

San Francisco Map Collagescape

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San Francisco Map Collagescape, mixed media on board, 12”x12”

The other morning I woke with a start and an idea in my head.  Most of my ideas come first thing in the morning.  There needed to be a piece in the Collagescape Series with a strong map element. After years of doing map-based work, it would not be one of my series without at least one map-themed piece.  So here it is, the map of San Francisco given the Collagescape treatment.  This piece has already been sold. But you will get a chance to see it in person at the Collagescape exhibit opening in August.

This image is available as a print as well on another products from Society 6.

The Italian Job

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Italian Scrapbook (Album dei ricordi), mixed media on canvas, 11”x14”

A new piece that is like an encore to the travel series I did for the 2012 installation Imagining Val Travel.  An all Italian-themed travel pieces that includes: stamps, maps, vintage postcards, old photos, opera ticket stubs, a pasta package and some items more than 50 years old from a scrapbook I use as source material.  This piece was commissioned for a private collection.

Desert Bloom Collagescape

Desert Bloom, mixed media on board, 12”x12”

I had visited Joshua Tree National Park a few times before I had my first spring experience.  It was after one of the very wet, El Niño winters in the 1990’s.  I already was in love with the place but spring — spring was something else.  The desert blooming is still hot and dry.  The background colors are the regular shades of brown.  But as you walk along and look down there are little specs of color everywhere.  Some flowers are like miniscule drops of color.  Yellows, reds, whites, blues, purples and oranges are all there.  In high tech terms, think of wildflower pixels.  The only really big flowers are the creamy whites of the Joshua Trees when they flower and the flourish of red atop the blooming ocotillos.  Tall and spindly, the ocotillo is like the drag queen of the desert that makes an appearance every spring.

With these bright little specs of color against the desert background I wanted to create a collagescape that attempts to capture the visual experience of the park on a spring day.  Desert Bloom will be shown in my Collagescape exhibit opening in August.

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire, collagescape, mixed media on board, 12”x12”

I was inspired by Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada before I even knew where it was. It’s a place I saw in dreams for months prior to my first visit.  It’s a lightly visited state park about 90 minutes north of Las Vegas.  It’s a magical place.

I’ve painted the park a few times and included it in the 2011 Project as well.  Now it’s time for a collagescape, a very orange piece like the park’s dramatic rock formations.  It almost looks like it is– on fire! Valley of Fire can be seen in my Collagescape exhibit opening in August.

Mustard Collagescape

Pigeon Point, mixed media on board, 12”x12”

It’s the time of the year that when you head out of San Francisco you’ll encounter fields of bright yellow flowers.  If you go north towards Napa or down the coast, wild mustard (Brassica rapa) is blooming everywhere.  The San Mateo coast is always pretty, and with fields that seem to glow yellow, it becomes spectacular.  Alas, the wild mustard is another invasive species.  But, if I am to depict the California landscape for my Collagescape series, I can’t hold the mustard.  Last week it was glorious down by Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park (see photo below).   A roadside stop inspired my latest piece.

Pigeon Point will be shown in my Collagescape exhibit opening in August.

Ice Plants Collagescape

Ice Plants, mixed media on board, 12”x12”

Last week, on one of those perfect California days, a friend and I headed south from San Francisco for a little day trip — stops at a few beaches, lunch in Davenport, jam tasting and a walk through some redwoods.  The morning started at Pescadero State Beach where the surf was breaking on the rocks below the bluffs, sea lions bobbing just off shore and ice plants, lots of ice plants – the thick mats of ice plants that were planted years ago in an effort to combat erosion.  They are an invasive species that naturalists are now battling to remove.   When the U.S. Postal Service issued a California stamp in 2008 it featured an image of Big Sur with ice plants in the foreground.  I am sure the Postal Service would never have anticipated the stamp would be controversial.

Like them are not, ice plants are part of the California landscape.  With that in mind I strived to capture their palette.  I also used a pattern that referenced a patch of ice plants without attempting to be too literal.  And, even though I understand the problems posed by invasive species, I confess to a certain fondness for ice plants.

Ice Plants will be shown in my Collagescape exhibit opening in August.