Two cat woman guardians Drawing in cray pas. Liza Cowan 1990
Way back in 1989/90 I studied Art Therapy with Dr. Erika Steinberg at The New School For Social Research in New York City. Dr. Steinberg had us all keep extensive journals of drawing exercises, dream and meditaion notes, and the process of drawing. It was an amazing class, with some extraordinary students, including a gifted and now- famous psychic/intuitive practitioner who subsequently became a best selling author, but during that year was just beginning her career, and, for those two semesters, was a good buddy of mine. Her insights amplified our work in many ways. The class met twice a week for two semesters, and it was the environment in which I rediscovered how much I liked drawing and the process of making art.
I chose not to become an art therapist, but the techniques of dream work and art therapy clung. I was reminded of this last night as I was listening to a radio broadcast that, almost in passing, mentioned feline guardian beings and goddesses. Of course, cats were goddesses in ancient Egypt and around the world, but I don't think I was thinking about them as I began this small series. Not consciously at any rate. The images came from dreams and meditation.
In our art journals, Dr. Stienberg had us keep notes, short ones, on three things: Environment, Process and Product. That is, what we were feeling and the physical space we were in while we were drawing, how we made the drawing, and a description of the work itself.
Cat woman guardian. Drawing in colored pencil. Liza Cowan 1990
Product: Cat/woman #1. February 19th, 1990
She is facing the world, staring right into its eyes. I love drawing mouths as circles. Like she's talking and kind of surprised, too. The boulders are from a dream I had two weeks ago, just after we got our dream-box assignment. In the dream I saw huge dark boulders and received instructions that my job was to decipher the rocks. Like, that's one of my lifetime jobs. The water is fluid and reflective. Her feet are not quite in it, or maybe her toes are just touching that unconscious substance.
Cat woman, drawing in colored pencil. Liza Cowan 1990
Product, Cat/woman #2 Feb. 19th,1990
She is still a bit stormy, but a lot more peaceful. I love this drawing. She is a solid presence. Heat or emotions rising from her, intense but rhythmical.
( I don't know what the "stormy" is in reference to.)
Mama lion and cub. Drawing over photocopy Liza Cowan 1990
Lion/woman. April 1, 1990. Woodstock
Environment: Hanging out at home in Woodstock
Process: I was looking through some magazines and came across this photo of a lioness and her cub, or a cub and her mother. I was moved by how they looked both peaceful and ferocious at the same time. I made a photo copy of the picture and drew over it with cray pas. I gave the mother lion my hair. I know that it is the male lions who have the mane, not the females, but in this case she, like me, has the tresses.
Product: Sometimes I describe myself as a mother lion when I am protecting people or things I care about. I can be ferocious in my guardianship, alert and calm. I love how the cub stands enfolded in her mothers arms and head.
The following drawing is from a week before the first cat drawings. I believe that the animals in this dream either were, or became, the cat figures in the subsequent images.
Dream of man and marsupials. Liza Cowan Feb 11, 1990
Product: This is a dream I had last night - from notes I took when I awoke from the dream at 5:30 am:
"I am at a Woodstock gathering, I have my video camera and am ready to tape, but nothing appeals to me.
Suddenly a small man is doing a "show" with strange looking animals, maybe marsupials, who are delivering ecology messages. They keep changing shapes and exit by disappearing into the ground. I get the whole thing on tape. I have no idea how this strange little man feels about my recording him. He comes over and smiles and hugs me warmly. Very lovely. He's glad I recorded it. I am going to give him my business card but suddenly everyone leaves the gathering in a big crowd and I wake up."
This drawing does not convey the eeriness of the dream. It was almost frightening, the animals were so strange and so was the man. But he was so nice that it ended up not being scarey at all.
I don't have a vivid image of the animals, so I just drew anything, figuring it was still accurate. The big eyes and stripes feel right.
Before I fell asleep I was reaing a Jungian magazine and I think it influenced ths dream.
The creatures are intense, especially their eyes, as they were in the dream. Their message was profound, but I forget it."
As summer approaches here in the Northern Hemisphere, we begin to think of trips to the beach. Here, from my collection of turn-of-the-century postcards, is a gorgeous beach scene.
The woman who sent this, Ethel W, found something funny about the card, which she set out to fix. Although the title of the card is "watching the bathers" Ethel noticed that there were, in fact, very few bathers present, none in the water, and mostly fully dressed folks sitting on the beach. So she drew some bathers into the water, and wrote on the face of the card, "I don't see many, do you? They forgot to put them in so I had to help them out."
Here's what she drew. Notice that many of the bathers are cyphers, literally question marks:
We are having a great time.
She drew in the bathers
Another detail. Most folks in full dress. A few in bathing costumes.
Organizing: a chore and a fascination. I've searched high and low for an easy way to orgainize an ever-growing collections cables and accessories for all those phones, players and games that can accumulate. My kids and I were always misplacing ours, so I had to figure out a way to keep track.
Organize small cables and chargers with binder clips
So far, this is my favorite. It's cheap, easy and quick. The only thing you'll need is a bunch of binder clips, available at stationery stores, and they come in an assortment of sizes and colors.
I borrowed these from the collections of Margaret Tramulonis. She gave me permission to scan and post them. Classic Barbie sewing patterns. Look at the detail, my goodness. When I was a kid I made lots of Barbie clothing, but nothing like these. I was more about drape and a quick stitch. These are formidable.
Barbie, Buttrick pattern 2519. Courtesy of Margaret Tramulonis Collections
Barbie, Butterick Pattern 2519. Back of package. Courtesy of Margaret Tramulonis Collections.
Barbie, McCalls's Patern 7430. Margaret Tramulonis Collections
Barbie, McCall pattern 7430 assembly directions. Margaret Tramulonis Collections
Barbie, McCalls Pattern 6901. "Instant" doll clothes. Margaret Tramulonis collections.
Barbie, McCalls pattern 6901 assembly instructions. Margaret Tramulonis collections.
These patterns look excruciatingly dificult to me. I so admire the women who probably made them for their daughters and granddaughters. The love, the care - I hope that some of these finshed pieces are preserved somewhere.
I love ginger tea with a real kick, and have been experimenting with making it for a while. All the ingredients I use are not only delicious but very good for your health. Here's my recipe.
Ingredients for ginger honey lemon tea
water: about a gallon
one whole fresh ginger
4 tablespoons organic honey
dash of cayenne pepper
pot to boil water
container for finished brew
grater for the ginger
I use a hand grater. It's what I have. If you have some kind of machine, I'm sure that would be useful. Ginger has a lot of fiber, so grating is not as smooth as grating a carrot, but you can do it. There will be bits you can't grate, so just cut them up.
grated ginger for tea
Some recipes ask you to peel the ginger, but I don't know why. You're not going to eat the pulp.
fill pot with water
I use about a gallon of water. I usually measure by filling my carafe first then dump that into the pot.
Dump grated ginger into the pot and boil until it bubbles. Then let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut two lemons in half.
cut two lemons
strain boiled water and ginger
I strain directly into the carafe, but you don't have to. But DO strain it.
Squeeze and strain the lemons. I squeeze/strain directly into the carafe, but you don't have to. But DO strain them.
Raw organic honey has healing properties. I get the best quality I can find. You don't have to, but DO make sure you use raw honey if you can.
I add about three modest shakes from a jar of cayenne pepper to the brew. I guess you could call it a pinch. This adds extra kick, and cayenne pepper is good for you. This step is optional and depends on your taste. Try it with and without, vary the amounts by trial and error, and decide which way you prefer it.
The honey and lemon bits will obey the laws of gravity, so give it a good stir. I use a long handled wooden spoon, but it doesn't really matter. I use it because it reaches the bottom of my carafe.
Enjoy your ginger honey lemon tea.
I like to drink ginger lemon tea hot in the winter and over ice in the summer. Hot, it is soothing and warming. Over ice, it is very refreshing.
For storage, I simply put the whole carafe in the refrigerator, and pour myself a cup when I want. Make sure to stir it up again every time you pour some because the laws of gravity still apply. I admit, I heat mine in a cup in the microwave.
I can't tell you how long it will last in the fridge because I drink it so frequently that I go through the gallon in a day or two. This brew is delicious and more that that, I think it's really healthful.
My new photography show, Saki, Pug For Fun opens in two days but I'm still shooting for it. Crazy, right? Today I took four pictures I'm very satisfied with. One will go in the show, maybe two.
Spotted Chair. Painted by Liza Cowan with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
Recently I started painting old chairs. This was my first. It's been a lot of fun and I'm so pleased with the results. I paint on any surface, really. Glass, walls, wood, canvas. And in the past I've painted some furniture, but discovering Annie Sloan Chalk Paint really made a difference. That suff goes on so easily and covers so beautifully. And no smell. And water cleanup.
Today I decided to photograph the chairs, on a beat up old table in front of my living room wall. I painted the wall 11 years ago when I moved into my house. You can see I like spots. I'm shooting with my iPhone 4, using the Camera+ app.
And here is Stella, the doxy. Stella's not quite as happy in front of the camera but the floor was a long way down and she was not about to attempt a jump. So she sat. Here she was listening to the sound of a car outside. It's best when something captures their attention.
This was originally published in the Forbes Magazine Blog by one of their regular columnists, Laurie Essig. They pulled it after a few hours and fired Essig as a columnist. She named the unspeakable: Male Violence. I reprint it here with her permission so that it can be widely shared. December 17th, 2012
Many people are already commenting on what can and cannot be said about the shootings in Newtown, CT. Words like unspeakable evil and gun control are said and unsaid as our country struggles to make sense of the incomprehensible. But some of the words being used about the tragedy are perhaps even more important to pay attention to. Words like “parents” are dominating much of President Obama’s and the nation’s public processing of the event even as other words like “masculinity” and “gender’ remain unsaid.
As I drove home from work Friday with two colleagues who are not parents, I cringed when I heard Obama’s words:“I react not as a president, but as anybody else would as a parent. And that was especially true today. I know there’s not a parent in America who doesn’t feel the same overwhelming grief that I do."Our President was somehow suggesting that parents are more able to feel the pain and horror of this tragedy. This is in line with other ideological claims that people who are parents and are married are somehow better than and more deserving of rights than those who are not, but surely people who are not parents are just as grief stricken by the massacre at the Sandy Hook school.
It happened again yesterday when the President addressed the grieving community in Newtown. "With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves — our child — is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet, we also know that with that child’s very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them… It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children."
Although Obama offers all Americans the possibility of being “parents” he also continues to locate the need and desire to protect children in the role of reproduction and outside other roles like teachers or even adults who have close and binding relationships with children who are not their own.Yet even as Obama made the love of children about the reproductive family, he refused acknowledge the evidence that is before us: our love for children might in fact be far more about gender than about parenting.
Consider these facts:~There have been nineteen mass shootings in the past five years every single one of these mass shootings has been committed by a man~On the exact same day the massacre in Newtown happened, a man in Chenpeng, China walked into a kindergarten and stabbed 22 children and an 85-year old. This is one of a growing number of knife attacks in China, all committed by men against school children and young women.~ Far more women (and Blacks, Democrats, and residents of the Northeast) support gun control than men.
As terrible as it is to say aloud, we must acknowledge that masculinity, far more than parenthood, is what makes these tragedies comprehensible. Even as we discuss what we as a country ought or ought not to do about gun control and mental illness, we also need to look deep inside ourselves and ask if there is something pathological about a masculinity so deeply and fully rooted in violence. That violence occurs in play- whether video games or sports, but it also occurs as a measure of manhood, a demand that “real men” are willing to kill for their country or even to “protect” their family. And until our President and we as a culture are willing to talk about manhood, the twentieth mass shooting will undoubtedly be just ahead on an increasingly grim horizon.
Four years ago I found the artist TMNK, The Me Nobody Knows. I was searching for art about Obama, because I believed in him passionately, and wanted to spread the word about him through art. I was running an art gallery at the time. I found "Nobody" on a google search for Obama art. Thus began a wonderful relationship.
TMNK, The Me Nobody Knows. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. 2008. Used by permission of the artist.
Once again, I passionately support Obama for his second term as President. So here is a small re-visit of some of TMNK's Obama paintings.
TMNK, The Me Nobody Knows. The Blacker The Berry. 2008
TMNK. The Me Nobody Knows. Innaugural Obama. 2009.
In 2010, TMNK presented his work at my gallery during Art Hop, which is New England's largest art fair. Close to a thousand people saw his work during Art Hop, and over the next month. "Nobody" came to spend the weekend with me during the Art Hop, and to meet what turned out to be an adoring public.
TMNK, The Me Nobody Knows, hanging his show at Pine Street Art Works.
This weekend (September 7, 8, and 9) is Art Hop in Burlington, Vermont. I no longer run a gallery. And Obama is running again. "Nobody" is doing phenomenally well in his career. Visit his website HERE, The painting "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" hangs in my living room.
Broadway and musical theatre performers Sean Smith, David Burnham, Kim Huber, Christina Saffran Ashford, Damon Kirsche, David Engel, Jennifer Shelton, Emma Ashford, Matthew Ashford, Ali B. Olmo, Johnny Pastor, Bubba Dean Rambo, William Martinez, Flora Rubenhold, Takako Gregg, Teri Yates, Mason Keane, and Paula Keane sing from their heart with the lyrics of Don DeMesquita, in a parody of One Day More from "Les Miserables". For more info and facts, go to www.OneTermMore.com
My favorite phrase: "To the Dark Side they've succumbed" meaning, of course, the Romney Ryan team.
VOTE. It still means the World. Obama 2012. CowanDesign
"The right to vote and be voted for is the first of rights," says the National Race Congress. "It is the vital principal of self-government and individual liberty. The ballot marks the difference between the citizen and the serf. Without the ballot the Colored American is powerless to contend for right and justice and civil equality; with the ballot he is all powerful to act in defense of every lawful privilege" September 20, 1919, The Union Newspaper.
My daughter and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly at the Pug Fest at Alice Austen House Museum last weekend. Not only are we pug fans (and owners) but we are fans of Alice's life work as a pioneering 19th Century photographer. See more about Alice on this blog here and the Alice Austen House Museum website here.