Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Crystal's Girl (Woolambia) tog side
Crystal's Girl--thel side
So I may have gotten slightly carried away with the Icelandic fleeces. I got two half fleeces locally from Valhalla Sheep Farm in Shingle Springs, then two fleeces from Woolambia in Vermont and today my last two fleeces arrived from Ridgetop Icelandics in Wisconsin. All small farms with very nice people and beautiful fleeces in a wide range of colors. I have one more of the Woolambia fleeces to wash and then will be ready to go with wool for a bit. As a preview, I made my dad a scarf with the samples of the fleeces I was getting as weft and grey alpaca spun from commercial roving as warp. The Icelandic yarn (thel only) was super soft in six lovely different natural colors. This is the only picture I took and this was before it was washed and brushed...I'll have to ask my dad to send me a photo of him wearing it.

I made my mom and brother glass sculptures and packed them carefully in baby alpaca fleece for the car ride down. (I brought three baby alpaca fleeces and my spinning wheel down to LA where two of the Icelandic fleeces were waiting for me.) The sculptures made it to LA safely, but I broke a piece of my mom's sculpture while wrapping it and my brother's sculpture broke in the wrapped box. Now I know to always pack glass in extra large boxes with plenty of cushion. Oh well, easy to fix. Here are the sculptures in their unbroken state:
Also made Anne a hat modelled off the one Steve and Anne gave me last year. The fabric is from a thrift store sweater. It remade itself nicely into a hat despite some calculation mistakes. (You know that old saying "measure twice, cut once"? I measure many times before cutting but for some reason I don't always correctly remember the number I'm trying to measure. My welded music stand ended up exactly an inch wider than it was supposed to be. )

My visit to Los Angeles was great. It was wonderful to see family. My mom took me to the reopened Getty Villa where there was an amazing mosaic exhibit. The sculpted nudes were inspiring as well since I have been working on glass nudes. I definitely will be working on my figure studies this coming year.

Back in Davis, my friend Dave came for a visit and we met up with Frank to go to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. There is an amazing social surrealist exhibit by Irving Norman entitled Dark Metropolis. His works were striking in the strength of their composition combined with their incredible detail, creating some devastating social commentary. Anyone reading this who is near the Sacramento area should check out the exhibit before it closes on January 7th. I had to go back a few days later to spend more time with these drawings/paintings.

Art and music-wise, it's been a great transition from 2006 to 2007. Before leaving for Los Angeles, I caught a performance by Margriet Tchicai with my former teacher/mentor John Tchicai and some other musical friends. John introduced me to free jazz and opened me up to a plethora of musical possibilities. Many of the musicians I know in Davis and Sacramento, I met through him, and happily many were at the show, including Dave down from Seattle and Olivia out from New York. After coming back from Los Angeles, I saw McCoy Tyner, Christian McBride, Jeff Watts and Joe Lovano at Yoshi's. Dave and I ended up sitting up against the stage right below McCoy Tyner's was a thrill to watch his hands and musically, it was amazing.

I get into musical funks once in a while. I'm playing in a few good groups right now, but two are in their beginning stages where there's a lot of potential but things haven't gelled yet. I've also been concentrating much more on textile and glass stuff than music, but hearing those incredible performances have inspired me to work harder on music (as well as on art) in this coming year. You know that feeling you get as if you're punched in the gut when you're in the presence of great art or great music? That's what I'm working for.

Last ramble for this post. I got lucky on New Year's day. Answered a Craiglist ad posted on the 30th; someone was looking for a pianist for a small birthday party for their dad on January 1st. It seemed like a last minute ad and the person I talked to was very nice but didn't really know what type of music they wanted, said the mother didn't really listen to jazz, hmm, they would like the happy birthday song and happy music please. There would be about 15 adults there. O-kay. They didn't really have a choice as to type of music since it was too late for me to go out and find anything besides what I normally play so I just brought a bunch of jazz fakebooks and the Christmas music we'd been playing at the airport. I was pretty skeptical and honestly took the job only because I didn't have anything else that afternoon and they agreed to my price.

I wasn't reassured arriving at the house. It was in a pretty sketchy part of town. The house had a bare front yard. It had just been redone (all by the owners, I found out later). The front door was open and there were half a dozen women talking and sitting in mismatched chairs in the fairly small front room. An old upright piano sat in the corner, a Kimball I think it was. I nervously sat down and started to play some old jazz standards, trying to play quietly (but lively!) so I wouldn't drown out the conversation. Behind me I heard shuffling as one of the older women (96) was having trouble hearing the conversation and had to trade seats with another woman. I felt so awkward and out of place.

But first on one song and then on another, there were comments...oh that's a good song. And humming. And a little singing. As more people arrived, one woman turned out to have sung in musicals when she was younger. With no fear, she attacked the high notes before we discussed that she was an alto and I could transpose down for her. Two women stood up and started to dance. Nothing staid, they were doing the Charleston full force to put the club kids to shame. Charleston, swing, even tapdancing. I've never gotten a group of people moving so well to solo piano. They sat and talked in between dancing, applauded their favorite songs, grabbed each other to dance when I found a fast song that appealed to them. Someone flipped through my fakebook and found the Maple Leaf Rag which was an adventure to sightread, but the dancers were going so well, they pulled me through. It was the most fun I've had at a party in a long time, and I was at a great dinner party the night before. The group was so diverse and perhaps because they were older, they inhabited themselves so well. There was no undue self-consciousness. Their voices might crack as they sang, but they sang uninhibitedly with style to match the great jazz vocalists. They had fun.

And the mother's cooking was sublime, and as they said, authentic Mexican. Taco with potatoes and cheese with amazing spices. Dried pepper stuffed with a meat mixture topped with a soft cheese and pomegranate seeds. Sweet custardy tamales with tapioca. The conversation was fascinating as well. One woman who stood out was the daughter of the 96 year old woman. Her mother had lived in the Italian part of New York and went to school when it was the norm that the smartest students sat in the front of the class and the less serious students sat towards the back, but all the black students were in the back of the class without desks. The woman herself had been a pilot who had lived in Los Angeles a while back and recounted the smog being so bad that it seemed to form a moving wall. She had been in Sacramento for a long time too and remembered when one of the now industrialized main roads along highway 50 was a beautiful country road lined with oaks reaching across to form a corridor. After finishing playing (the pilot sang "The Party's Over" with me for a last song), I sat and ate and listened to her stories for a good hour before I dragged myself away. It was a great day to start off the new year, capped off with knitting at the local yarn store and then baking pear crisp with a friend to end the night.

And finally...Meep and Dave sharing a moment. One may be enjoying it more than the other

1 comment:

Evelyn said...

Thanks for visiting my blog again. Your glass sculptures are just magical looking. I was also admiring the fleece pics, and looking forward to the day when I have all of the tools I'll need to handle a raw fleece. Forn ow, I buy prepared roving and I'm doing my best to get the hang of spinning.