Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rest in Peace - Zeisel & Duckworth, Artists Extraordinary

Eva Zeisel at the Museum of Modern Art in 1997, with a piece from a porcelain table service introduced in 1946; behind her is a chair she designed.

Look at this woman's face; kindness, wisdom and clarity, with a bit of the little girl thrown in. Rest in Peace, Eva Zeisel, the master of ceramics dies today at 105. 

Read about her, she is a unique and inspirational woman.

And Ruth Duckworth, another inspiration. She was the woman who said if you want to be an artist, you cannot have a husband. 

I may be in Pittenweem, but I am reading the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Scotsman, and of course, the Daily

Ruth Duckworth
Ruth Duckworth

Free-thinking sculptor-potter inspired by the abstracted forms of nature

The sculptor-potter Ruth Duckworth, who has died aged 90, shaped new ways of thinking about ceramics in the second half of the 20th century. Approaching clay as a sculptor rather than as a potter, she brought an aesthetic rigour to her refined vessel forms, figurative sculptures and installations, which range in size from a few inches to breathtakingly large, site-specific commissions.
In both her life and work, Duck-worth's background was one of non-conformity. In Germany, as a young girl, she risked prosecution by defacing a Nazi monument and resented being unable to attend art school because her father was Jewish. Most challenging of all was her determination to gain international respectability as a sculptor working primarily in clay.
Born Ruth Windmüller in Hamburg, the youngest of five children, she came to Liverpool in 1936 as a refugee from the Nazi regime to join her sister Renate, and study at Liverpool art school. Lively and questioning, Duckworth found formal academic teaching stultifying, but nevertheless it confirmed her love of, and aptitude for, sculpture. She was fascinated by performance and art, and for two years toured with a puppet theatre where she carved heads in an expressionist style. Following second world war work in a munitions factory, she moved to London where she met the sculptor and designer Aidron Duckworth, whom she married in 1949. Determined to work as a sculptor, she produced gravestones, though she had an early success when commissioned to carve in low relief the 14 stations of the cross for a church in New Malden, Surrey.
A change in direction came in the mid-1950s when she became fascinated with clay and ceramics. On the advice of a fellow refugee, the potter Lucie Rie, she studied pottery at Hammersmith art school, but again found the teaching too restrictive and rapidly moved to the Central School of Art and Crafts, where she responded to the more enlightened, experimental atmosphere. She later taught at the school.
In the late 1950s the Duckworths built a modernist house in Kew, south-west London, where she had her own studio producing both functional ware and individual vessels. With clean, minimal shapes, the tableware was very different from the prevailing taste for reduction-fired stoneware advocated by luminaries such as Bernard Leach. By contrast, the hand-built, coiled, often asymmetrical, totemic forms, covered with dry, crusty glazes, were partly derived from the abstracted forms of nature, a concern that became a recurring theme in her work.
Duckworth felt that she was making little progress in London, and so the offer of a year's teaching at the University of Chicago's Midway studios seemed an ideal opportunity to rethink. Apart from short periods, she was to remain in Chicago, eventually acquiring an old pickle factory, which served as home and studio, until her death. Her marriage ended in divorce in 1967.
In Chicago, tableware was abandoned in favour of one-off pieces and public commissions. The first significant breakthrough was for a 400 sq ft stoneware mural Earth Water and Sky, a massive project covering four walls and the ceiling at the geophysical sciences building of the university. With its broad, flowing interpretation of nature, the work suggested the ebb and flow of the natural world. Later came Clouds Over Lake Michigan for the Dresdner bank, in the Board of Trade Building in Chicago. The vast, sweeping surfaces, inspired by meteorological and geological themes, again demonstrated her abstract interpretation of nature.
Alongside large-scale public works, Duckworth created smaller, more intimate pieces that included abstract wall panels in stoneware and vessel-based forms in white, unglazed porcelain. One series, the cup and blade group, not only sensitively highlights the translucency and delicacy of the material, but also creates a satisfying balance between shape, proportion and space.
Usually around 6in tall, these modest sculptures can be seen as metaphors for relationships, the couplings and interaction between the two shapes – one rounded and hollow, the other a finely wrought slab – seeming to cut into, but to be an intrinsic part of the other. Tabletop figures have the same, sure sense of abstracted form and surface.
Fascinated by scale, Duckworth became intrigued by the stylised, figurative sculptures of ancient Egypt. Her larger-than-life-sized sculptures reflect influences from Henry Moore, who had encouraged her in the early 1950s, and were made in bronze, smaller ones in porcelain.
Diminutive in height, with sharp, bright, piercing eyes, Duckworth saw herself primarily as an artist rather than a theoretician, rarely writing about her work, though she would discuss it with insight. "Form," she said, "is what matters to me in any material", a concern that she explored by avoiding sentiment and nostalgia – qualities often associated with clay – and by honing and refining to allow the shape and surface to tell its own story. Her quiet but powerful presence could seem daunting but, after an initial reserve, she was a generous and warm personality.
Although represented from time to time in mixed exhibitions in the UK, many organised by Henry Rothschild, she had a major retrospective earlier this year at the Ruthin craft centre in north Wales, which provided an opportunity to see a full range of her work. She enjoyed being in the UK so much that, on her return to Chicago, she put her house and studio on the market, determined to move back permanently.
Duckworth is survived by her sister, Ilse Windmüller, as well as her nephew Peter, whom she and Aidron adopted as their son after the death of his mother, another of Ruth's sisters.
• Ruth Duckworth, sculptor, born 10 April 1919; died 18 October 2009

The Kingdom of Fife - Pittenweem Fish & Chips Bar

 What a pity, it is closed for two weeks for the holidays. The best fish and chips around, and it is just down the street, as is the post office, the chemist, the convenience store, Robert Adamson, the hairdresser (really good hairdresser, look out Los Angeles, because not only does Robert do great hair AND color, he gives great conversation, which every girl knows is important when she is in the chair), the new store The Wooly Brew, that has taken over the Rake Around's old space and given Pittenweem a fabulous new knitting store, which is more than convenient when there are gale force winds outside and it's time to knit more fingerless gloves, Barnett's Bakers, Page Pottery,, Amy Page who has created the most beautiful mugs and plates and bowls and jugs in the loveliest shade of green/blue watery turquoise what do you call that color?, The LITTLE GALLERY, Art Extraordinary, which always has the best and most deep of the deep water of Art, and Donald Butcher, The FISHER GALLERY,  and the Cocoa Tree Cafe                 which are all open, THANK GOD, during this time because we all need our hair done and bread baked and chocolates from the Cocoa Tree. Have I forgotten anyone? It's a pretty good line up on the High Street.

One fish supper with salt and vinegar and brown sauce.

THIS is Pittenweem.

Happy Hogmanay.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Kingdom of Fife - The Royal Burgh of Pittenweem

 In Pittenweem, fishermen harvest prawns, crab, lobster, and the all important haddock. Just a small village of 3,000 living in stone cottages and doing their shopping on the high street. The summer arts festival brings 20,000 people into town each August, and locals open their homes for the artist's exhibitions. Set in a small neuk that juts into the North Sea, overlooking the Firth of Forth and the Isle of May, Pittenweem is a step back into time; relaxed, friendly, and filled with some of the most interesting people one would want to meet.

James II of Scotland (1437-1460) described the East Neuk of Fife with its burghs built around sheltered bays and rich farmland as "a fringe of gold on a beggar's mantle."

Pittenweem's history dates back to the 7th century. Its name is of Pictish origins and means 'place (pit) by or of the cave (weem)', where it is said St. Fillan chose to live while he converted local Picts to Christianity. Nice, eh? No conversion or dragging into the cave today, but one can visit if it doesn't creep you out.

Today, Pittenweem is the main fishing centre of the East Neuk, a fact celebrated at the annual East Neuk Fish Festival also held in August, and has the best chipper ever.

The Fife Coastal Path hugs the coastline and connects neighboring villages.

Pittenweem = beauty.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Kingdom of Fife - Crail Road

There are only 7 hours of light, the sun is beginning to change at the turn off to the Dunino Road.

In the distance is the Firth of Forth, just behind the Boarhills Church.

We are in the Kingdom of Fife, and what is there to do between Christmas and Hogmanay? Read, write, eat. Outside it is gale force winds.

Travel - Literature - 1Q84 Haruki Murakami

Reading Murakami is taking a journey through story, into sound, into many layers of foreign worlds. I cannot put it down.

Page 177:
I am dumbstruck by something Tengo says he felt about story as he grew into adolescence, that feels as if it is something I have said, somewhere in a foreign land. Certainly it is something I know from a place I cannot name. It is a signpost.

"The role of a story was, in the broadest terms, to transpose a single problem into another form. Depending on the nature and direction of the problem, a solution could be suggested in the was like a piece of paper bearing the indecipherable text of a magic spell..."

Please read 1Q84 so we can discuss it. I do believe it has a magic. I do believe story can transport us, transform us and change us for the better.

If you are in Los Angeles, go to BOOK SOUP for it:


Or better yet, the yelp lets you choose your own

December 28, 2011 Scotland Poetry & Drawing

    "My boat struck something deep.
Nothing happened. Sound, silence, waves.
                       Nothing happened,

or perhaps

    has happened,
and I'm sitting in the middle of my new life."

                                     - Juan Ramon Jimeniz
                                                   Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Travel - Edinburgh - St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles' Cathedral

St. Giles' Cathedral stands on the Royal Mile between Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. 
Majestic, a touch stone, known as the "High Kirk of Edinburgh, it is the Mother Church of Prebyterianism and contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle (Scotland's chivalric company of knights headed by the Queen)." It stands in a rather open space in the old town, considering everything else is tightly built together, and ignores the tourist shops selling cashmere, the whiskey shops and street musicians. The terrace gives one a place to stop and consider this glorious piece of architecture on the climb toward the castle, open and empty in December, packed with actors, pipers and mimes in August during the Edinburgh festival. 

"There is record of a parish church in Edinburgh by the year 854, served by a vicar from a monastic house, probably in England. It is possible that the first church, a modest affair, was in use for several centuries before it was formally dedicated by the bishop of St Andrews on 6 October 1243. The parish church of Edinburgh was subsequently reconsecrated and named in honour of the patron saint of the town, St Giles, whose feast day is celebrated on 1 September.

That St Giles, a 7th century hermit (and, later, abbot) who lived in France, became the patron of both town and church was probably due to the ancient ties between Scotland and France.

According to legend, Giles was accidentally wounded by a huntsman in pursuit of a hind and, after his death in the early 8th century, there were dedicated to him hospitals and safe houses for cripples, beggars and lepers were established throughout England and Scotland within easy reach of the impoverished and the infirm. St Giles is usually depicted protecting a hind from an arrow, which had pierced his own body, a fine relief of which rests in the tympanum over the west (main) doors of the Cathedral."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Travel - Christmas 2011 - United Kingdom

Ten days in the United Kingdom for the best of Scotland; it's museums, restaurants, galleries, shops, villages and the people that inhabit this truly unique and 180 degree opposite of Los Angeles.

Let's go on a ride. 

Christmas 2011 Poetry - Michelangelo complete

"If all my roughness, then, should be so blest
by your compassion, then what penance ought
my feverish ardour by your rules be taught? "

                  - Michelangelo 

Happy Holidays to all 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas 2011 Poetry - Michelangelo

"and so with me, among all models least:
for I was born to a great destiny -
to find new birth in you, Lady most high." 

         - Michelangelo

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas 2011 Poetry - Michelangelo

" Likewise on roughest paper, artists will
Make sketches, long before they use the brush.
Among a hundred efforts, crude and rash,
The right one springs at last from so much skill."  

         - Michelangelo

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas 2011 Poetry - Michelangelo


    "If noble concepts have a birth divine
     In human looks and acts, the value is
     Doubled - that from such petty images
     A face, not art's, should in the dull stone shine." 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Interiors - Bulthaup Kitchen

West Hollywood condo installation of the B3 Bulthaup kitchen. Integrated into the great room makes it easy to cook, dine, watch tv and socialize all at once.

Incredibly easy to use.
Incredibly easy to keep clean.
Incredibly fun to cook in.

photography by Milroy & McAleer

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best of fiction - Books 1Q84 - Haruki Murakami

On page 158 of 925 pages. An intrigue, reading 1Q84, with it's beginning soundtrack of Janacek's Sinfonietta, written in 1926. Of course I had to go to itunes and download the music, which bridges the images so well. I have never read Murakami before, but knew about him, certainly. It's clear. The reader always knows where the character is, whether you like what he or she is doing or not, you know what they are doing. 1Q84 is a word bridge and a sign post to the bizarre quick-slow world we all now live in. 
The writer does that Hemingway thing. He hooks you and reels you in. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yoga & restoration with Jillian Pransky

 Restorative Yoga with Jillian Pransky

Herein lies the rub: it's not about doing, it is about "be-ing." Jillian Pransky, of Yoga Jillian, is doing just that on the east coast. I took her teacher training. Train in relaxation? Yes, learning how to prop with blankets and bolsters, blocks and mats, learning how to let go, unlock, roll clear, drain down tension out of the muscles. Let go of what is holding in the muscle, then we are more free to stretch.

She teaches in New York City, in Hoboken, at Kripalu, does special trainings at Yogaworks in California.

Restoration yoga takes a great big dive inside, clears the muscles, the mind, the heart & spirit. Fresh air. Try it.   Jillian's page or


Sunset Strip Billboard WAR HORSE

Mr. Spielberg's WAR HORSE is coming for Christmas.

The enormous billboard of the horse head on Sunset Boulevard lets the brain fill in the body, and one can imagine the horse galloping over the Hollywood Hills, alive, alive. The movie is imprinted onto the Los Angeles landscape, super sized. War of the Worlds, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Empire of the Sun, my personal favorite, the entire movie exists for the last heart wrenching tear-jerking boy-with-mother scene. Mr. Spielberg knows how to do war.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thoughts about the blog....

“ A great work of art, if it accomplishes anything,
serves to remind us, or let us say to set us dreaming of all that is fluid
and intangible, which is to say, the universe.
It cannot be understood; it can only be accepted or rejected.
If accepted we are revitalized, if rejected, we are diminished.” - Henry Miller

There has been feedback about the blog. Thank you.
Some say focus more, some say don’t put ads on it, one more thing to manage, some say you have to think about what you are selling. I say listen:

The artist is affected by a note of music, a drop of rain, a haiku and Woody Allen, the way color becomes a flavor in my mouth, or how I hear a symphony when I observe Rousseau’s Monkeys in the Jungle.

I am in love with art, literature, film, food, the masters of fashion, music, theatre, travel. It's life. How can I separate myself and focus on one thing only? Why should I limit myself? Why not explore and examine the richness? This is not a dress rehearsal. This is real life, and I’m never going to get back Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 so I make it a kaleidoscopic cacophony of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and that crazy crooked Christmas tree.

 It all boils down to one’s bed at night, to sleep, to dream, 

“ay, there’s the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil….”

All passion springs from the heart and comes from love. Whether it is Walt Whitman or Tennessee Williams, Herman Melville or William Faulkner, Saul Bellow or Ernest Hemingway or Jane Austen, it all comes from love, Proust or Wilde, Anais Nin’s Journals, Murakami or Dickens, Shakespeare or Warhol, it all comes from love.

It all comes from love and love is not final.

Let me set you dreaming. I trust you will be revitalized.