Well, I was wrong to gloat about the weather, because the last two days have been as cold as January in New York. Low twenties last night and tonight is supposed to be colder. And it's still October. Everyone is complaining about it though, so I guess it's unusual. There was supposed to be a lot of snow and there has been a little, but most of it will be further north in the mountains. I'm going to Taos tomorrow and I'm sure there will be snow up there.
The thing is, I have such a hard time with dressing for the weather here. The drop in temperature when you're in the shade, or after the sun goes down, is so extreme that I end up dressing for the cold and am hot. And people say, "layers." But where do you put the extra layers? Do you carry around a small suitcase with a heavy jacket, scarf and hat? So far I've noticed that you can experience all four seasons in one day. So I keep looking around to get clues of how to dress. Right now it's just plain cold so that makes it easier in a way.
It's been a busy week. I can no longer work on the patio so I've been working on a sketchbook for this project. I was sent a moleskin sketchbook with a bar code and my name in it, and a library card. I've made books with moleskin sketchbooks and expected a medium weight paper, but this has a lightweight beige paper and the theme I was assigned is "danger danger." I wanted to change it but can't. I came up with an idea about birds, because I've been making bird drawings lately. Each page will have more and more birds on it until the last page will be almost completely black. Then I came up with the idea to paste in pages from this weird pentecostal hymn book I bought at a tag sale this summer and paint the birds on top of that. There are a lot of pages in this book- 80, I think. It's more work than I expected but I'm not one to drop the ball.
Monday night I heard Rackstraw Downes talk about his work at SFAI. He was quite amazing. All of his work is done on site and if you check that link you'll see that his paintings are very detailed. Someone in the audience asked him about his eyesight, and he said he still has 20/20 vision for distance but he's finally needing reading glasses- which he doesn't wear when he works. He pointed out that most artists' work starts to become softer as they age. Monet, Degas (who had such bad eyesight that he couldn't work outdoors at all,) Rembrandt, for example. A lovely, thoughtful man, who has written extensively about art also, and just won the MacArthur "genius" grant.
Tuesday I went to Site Santa Fe to hear Nancy Holt give a talk. Her partner was Robert Smithson, who designed and constructed Spiral Jetty and was an early pioneer in Earthworks, now called Land Art. He died in a plane crash in the 70's in a small plane while looking for locations for his work. Parenthetically, I have a dear friend from way way back who lived in Salt Lake City for years and never heard of Spiral Jetty. In fairness, it was covered by water for years, but is now visible again. I included links both to the Dia Foundation website, which maintains Spiral Jetty along with many of the other Earthworks, and the Robert Smithson website, which is maintained by the gallery that represents his estate. There was a huge retrospective of his work a couple of years ago...at the Whitney I think.
Nancy Holt lives here and has made her own art over the years, but mostly what she showed and talked about were a series of slides from the 60's of her and Smithson with the artists who became enormously famous: Richard Serra, Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Joan Jonas, Michael Heizer. It was fun and a little depressing to see these artists, many of them gone now, young and excited about rocks and earth. (I didn't bother linking all those names.) She was saying that they all lived in Soho and as soon as they crossed into New Jersey they'd feel happy and free. The art world was so much smaller then. And the West was the frontier. Even if it was only as far west as Jersey- there was a lot of wilderness. I wonder if it's still the same now.
By the way, someone who might actually know (albeit second- or third-hand) told me that Jimmy Hoffa is not buried in the Meadowlands.