It’s been forty-five years since I rode in a London taxi. Summer ’68 I worked in Hoxton, the East End, while boyfriend Dave counted checks for Barclays Bank.
London seemed more crowded than we remembered as we taxi’d to a Club Quarters Hotel near Trafalgar Square. With McDonald’s and Starbucks everywhere, London felt more like another Manhattan borough.
I’ve been in love with art history since 10th grade when I got to dump my Latin textbook for Janson’s “History of Art.”
Now that my last child is a senior at NYU, it seemed time I visited those French works in Janson. With that in mind, husband Dave and I left Berlin on an easyJet for Paris—warning, hungover passengers and no pre-assigned seats on budget european airlines.
To a baby boomer like me who grew up in the fifties learning how to crawl under a desk in case of nuclear attacks or being told to watch out for Communists lurking under everyone’s bed, the idea of vacationing in Berlin this past June seemed daunting.
Husband Dave and I landed at Tegel Airport, then taxied to a Best Western located in the Mitte section of formerly East Berlin.
There was still ice on Pike Lake in front of Richard Ellmers’ house as we recently chatted about his new book over the phone. He had just put his King Salmon house up for sale and was planning to move to Anchorage after this winter’s record snowfall.
Ellmers is a mesmerizing story teller both vocally and in print.
Amazing, no snow, the first week of April in New York City! The thermometer read mid-thirties, surprisingly colder than Anchorage as I subway’d around Manhattan in search of art. A former professor once told me “find me something I haven’t seen before.”
It took some scrounging around as the downturned economy has reduced exhibitions. Good news: many shows are staying up longer and there appear to be bigger crowds in galleries and gift shops than last fall.
Grandmothers are no longer sitting in rockers, knitting socks or being an annoyance to their daughters-in-law—well let’s hope! In reality, grandparents have been economically necessary throughout history. In agrarian times they raised children and boosted family incomes by engaging in cottage trade while parents worked the fields or kept the local shops. I remember the exact spot I first became a grandmother.
Portraiture is a timeless art form and my favorite. It has never been super popular as a genre but none the less has lasted through time. Today’s social media has turned digital photography into a form of cheap and accessible portraiture.
The human face is the foundation of portraiture which conveniently comes with built in narratives, often revealing ongoing dialogue between the artist, his material and the viewer.
Winter blahs are the Alaska norm after New Year’s. With kids back in college and tax time approaching, my husband and I have traditionally ignored the cold and dark by spending January cleaning our office, putting labels on manila envelopes and rummaging through the shoe box we use for accumulating tax information (actually we have upgraded to a Rubbermaid container).
The first weekend in December was the American Bankruptcy Institute’s conference in Palm Springs and Dave’s turn to find an excuse for us to travel. But before driving through California’s desert, we flew into San Francisco to view Pissarro’s People.
Pissarro is considered a father-figure to Impressionists as he empathized with those who wished to take their easels and palettes outdoors observing the sublime of nature – wind, rain and changing light patterns.
In spite of economic downturns some museums have labored financially to finish renovations. Traveling exhibitions have been reduced but seem to be staying up longer. Disappointments when visiting a museum can be turned into new discoveries and fond memories.
Most Saturdays, husband Dave and I push a cart around Costco, sampling the latest tooth-picked sausage dipped in some sugary goop. Across from the massive freezers, we observe self-published authors sitting at card tables behind piles of books. These artists are eagerly trying to catch passing shoppers. The lucky ones sign copies or hand out promotional brochures.
Venice’s Santa Lucia railway station is on the Grand Canal, my first clue that getting around this watery city meant using the aquatic bus system, Vaparettos. We stayed on Lido Island, a typical resort with over-priced boutiques, ice cream vendors and beaches with cabanas. Lido translates to beach, hence lido decks on cruise ships.
Flash-back twenty-one years ago, May 1990, Judi Betts was juror at a Fairbanks Watercolor Society exhibition and workshop. My watercolor, “She the Prom” had been accepted into the show—the piece depicted the mutton chop prom dress I had sewn for daughter Jennifer. What a thrill for me, a soccer mom, this was my first outside-the-state acceptance.
I hadn’t been to Europe in forty years. Summer 1968, I worked at a community center in London’s East End, doing art projects. Late afternoons I would help the cook, her main ingredients seemed to be canned mackerel and powered pudding mix. I slept on an old WWII army cot, the showers were undependable.
Remember when the Anchorage Daily News was thicker. Those days are gone but the News’ former food editor Kim Severson is well and now the Atlanta bureau chief for the New York Times. She’s just published a memoir-cookbook.
Severson finishes each culinary interview with recipes like aioli and even spaghetti and meatballs.