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Feeling the Green

Paula Ogier art studio Boston

While the rain’s been working overtime in Boston making the outdoor world green, I’ve been surrounding myself with indoor greenery. A corner of my art studio has become a leafy haven over the past month.

In addition to these indoor plants, I’m harboring some little cilantro and rosemary plants in the studio until the weather warms up. Not only has the spring season been soggy, but it’s also been one of the consistently coldest ones I can recall.

Paula Ogier art studio

My neighbor Kelly and I picked up these little lettuce and basil plants at the farmers’ market several days ago. They’re for the garden plot we share, but so far it’s been too rainy to get them planted in the ground. Tomorrow’s forecast looks cheerier and drier, so I may get my chance!

garden plants

I’m so looking forward to just picked herbs and arugula from the garden. Lately Joe and I have been making a salad dressing from fresh basil, fresh cilantro, chives, jalapeño pepper, cumin, lime juice, and avocado oil mixed together with an immersion blender. It’s delicious on salads, but also good for sautéing salmon in or poured over smashed potatoes. I look forward to making it with basil, cilantro, and chives freshly picked!

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

 

Two Artists, One Grand Space

Dimensions: Space & Line art show Boston

An artist friend had a reception last week for an exhibit of her paintings at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. When I attended the reception, I was blown away by how great her paintings looked in this elegant space. I love her deep dark abstract paintings to begin with, but the building’s interior and her paintings looked to me like they were made for each other.

This show, called Dimensions: Space & Line, pairs two artists whose works enjoy easy conversation with one another: painter Elena du Plessis and sculptor Kim Radochia.

The St. Botolph Club occupies a double-wide Victorian brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay. The interior’s lovely period details look meticulously maintained and cared for. I had never set foot in the club before, so it was a treat to experience this grand space for the first time. Its beautiful wide staircase makes a dramatic setting for the artworks of these two talented artists.

Dimensions: Space & Line art show Boston

Elena du Plessis’s painted works are expressionist, drawing from her own experience and memory. She is often inspired by objects such as nests, seed pods, or flowers, many times at the end of their life cycles.

St. Botolph's Club Boston

Kim Radochia’s sculptural work often recalls water currents and lines, murmurations (patterns of flocking birds), and geological formations. Her works range from large site-specific outdoor pieces to small intimate assemblages and room-sized installations.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Kim Radochia. Her wire “Waiting” sculpture is suspended above the staircase, and her “Murmurations” paper sculpture is on the wall between Kim and the wire sculpture.

The paintings begin on the wall at the base of the staircase. They travel up through the second and third floors, along the staircase walls as well as on the walls of the second and third floor. Many of Kim Radochia’s sculptures are suspended in the air between floors.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

The artworks and interior complement each other so well that the journey up the staircase feels a bit magical.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Elena du Plessis’ “Sunflower” (2017, charcoal ink on paper, 45″x36″)

I’ve lived in Boston for 24 years and never had any reason to venture inside the St. Botolph Club, so I’d probably never have known about this exhibit if I hadn’t known the artists. This show will be up through May 19, and is open to the public Wednesdays from 2-4 pm. Go see this perfect combination of artworks and interior space!

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Kim Radochia (left) and Elena du Plessis (center) respond to questions and comments from reception attendees.  They are joined by the show’s curators, Michael Price (second from left) and Barbara Glee Lucas (far right).

By the way, Elena and Kim are both members of the SoWa Artists Guild and have studios in 450 Harrison Avenue (the same building as mine). One of them is next door to me and one is across the hall! You can visit their studios on the First Friday of each month from 5-9 pm.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

Cats in Space

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

It’s endearing enough to me that someone wondered what the original Star Trek cast would look like if they were cats. But then that someone actually took the time to imagine and paint those feline avatars and put them into real Star Trek scenes. And they’re good — they’re really good!

That someone is scientific illustrator Jenny Parks. I don’t know her, I’m pretty sure I like her. I recently crossed paths with her “Star Trek Cats” book in a museum bookstore. I was in awe of the illustrations and delighted by the book. I bought it for my boyfriend, who was just as amused as I was by it.

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Lots of “wow”s and laughs later, I still love looking at the book. Page after page, it’s a joy. The scenes are from the original Star Trek series that featured William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, DeForest Kelly, and James Doohan. I think this would be a really sweet gift for any cat-loving original Star Trek fan.

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks, you have boldly gone where no illustrator has gone before. Thank you! I’m still laughing.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

 

SoWa Artists on WERS Radio Boston

450 Harrison Avenue artist studios

WERS radio’s Jolin Cheng made a surprise visit to our artist studio building recently. It was Salon Sunday, an annual event when many of the artists open their doors to the public. She talked with some of the artists in the SoWa Artists Guild, and WERS aired the piece Sunday morning.

When Jolin introduced herself and asked if she could interview me, I said sure. She pulled out her recorder. “Right now, right here?” I asked. She smiled and nodded.

In a moment of what-the-heckness, I agreed. When I later learned she’d talked with half a dozen of us, gathering selected comments from each, I was relieved.

One of the artists she interviewed made the point that open studios are a place for people to not only see and connect with artwork they like, but to connect with the person behind the work. Yes! Here’s the clip: Listen.

As the narrator says in the intro — To artists, art is language. If you’re in Boston, First Friday happens this week. I invite you to come by and experience this language for yourself.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

 

Spring Brings Sounds to the Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Each time I’ve visited the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, I’ve been surprised by how beautiful it is. It’s always like I’m seeing it for the first time. That was especially true yesterday when it serenaded me with subtle sounds of crickets, cicadas, and frogs. The sound artist who made it happen learned to make the sounds himself especially for this environment.

The courtyard is one of seven spaces within the museum hosting “Listen Hear,” a collection of sound art exhibits. The moods of sound contributed so much to my experience of the museum that I really wish they’d keep it there all the time. It made wandering through the halls and dark rooms magically transporting. Even the art looked different, more interesting, to me. It slowed me down. It no doubt helped that it was a weekday and, although it was far from empty, it didn’t feel crowded. Being alone helped, too.

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum

Upstairs in the museum’s new modern addition, a wall of close-up cat portraits were part of another sound exhibit called “Sound for Insomniacs.” A viewer could sit on a wooden cube across from the portraits, put on a special pair of headphones, and listen to the purr of each individual cat. A little screen in the cube shows the name and image of the cat being heard. I don’t know why this surprised me—I’ve lived with cats for most of my life—but the purrs were remarkably different from one another. One was so gentle, it made me think of a finger softly stroking velvet, while others varied from bold to enthusiastic to musical.

Purr sounds Gardner museum

An eerily satisfying collection of sounds could be heard in the main house’s Fenway Gallery, a small room the size of a large closet. The room was dark except for a mysterious shimmering mass dangling from the ceiling, so bright it could be seen from all the way down the hallway.

This suspended ethereal mass was made of small glass ampules containing blue and gold liquids, woven into a digital fabric containing miniature acoustic resonators and LED lights. With nobody in the room, the installation was silent. If people entered the room, or even walked past, it would pick up on the movement. This would send an almost ghostly series of sounds in motion—what sounded to me like a gently steaming soup of skittering, whispering, breathing, brushing, and blowing.

Sentient Veil Gardner Museum

Peoples’ voices had the same effect on it. It interpreted all sound and motion, and then fed it back into the air with its own peculiar translations. It is aptly titled Sentient Veil.

Back in the cloister, the soothing chorus of insects and frogs went on beneath glorious strands of hanging Nasturium flowers. The blooms last about three weeks, and are a feature of every spring season at the Gardner Museum. This annual annual tradition was started by Isabella Stewart Gardner in the week prior to Easter.

Nasturiums Gardner Museum

There are more sound exhibits inside the museum than what I’ve shown you here. This one goes until September 5. If you’re in the mood for an earthy and sensual change of scenery, this is as good a spot as any in Boston.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

Abstract: The Art of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design

During an unassuming scroll through Netflix offerings last week, something new caught my eye. It was a series of eight documentaries called Abstract: The Art of Design, each one about a specific designer, their field of design and creative process. What a good surprise! The even better surprise was how much we enjoyed watching them.

I was completely charmed by the first episode featuring self-conscious illustrator Christoph Niemann. Whether sitting in his Berlin studio staring at a blank white page or wandering through animations of his own drawings, the shy Niemann himself is cleverly drawn out by the filmmaker’s creative directing and editing. He describes quite accurately how people don’t really want to see authenticity in what he does. His success seems to lie not just in understanding the power of abstraction (“The abstraction for me is this idea of getting rid of everything that is not essential to making a point”), but in showing up everyday and keeping a non-formulaic practice alive (“I have to trust for crazy moments to happen”).

I think the best aspect of this series is hearing these eight different personalities—who range from confident to self-doubting to curious points in between—describe how their creations materialize.

Probably no surprise, but the graphic design episode featuring New Yorker Paula Scher was also a favorite for me. I liked seeing this person who has made a career of putting text on things (buildings, brands, theater posters) in her Connecticut home making loads of quirky, messy map-like paintings of the United States.

This series probably wasn’t intended to be binge-watched, but that’s what we did, burning through it in under a week. The creative disciplines included the two mentioned above, plus photography, stage design, athletic shoe design, car design, interior design, and architecture. In particular, I didn’t expect to care about car design or athletic shoes, but in some ways that wasn’t really the point. It’s fun hearing each of the designers talk about what they do and how it happens, even when it’s something I don’t think much about. I looked forward to that with each episode and wasn’t disappointed.

Cheers,

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks

 

Spirograph, We Meet Again

Spirograph

Well, well, well. If it isn’t my old pal Spirograph.

I spotted this new metal box version in a museum shop and had to get it. It’s been decades, and I mean decades, since I played with Spirograph. It was a favorite art toy of mine as a kid. I think the original ones came in cardboard boxes.

I would bet there are bigger newer versions of this than the one I picked up. This box measures a mere 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. The pen options are pretty limited — there are just two. One red, one blue. Here’s what else the box comes with:

new spirograph

It no longer uses pins to tack the gear wheels to the paper. It comes with “spiro-putty,” which is similar to that tacky stuff used to adhere posters to the wall. I think it’s a great improvement. You just roll out small balls of the putty, stick it to the back of the wheel, and you’re good to go. No more shifty wheels. The putty holds it tight.

Spirograph art

The instructions say to twist the wheel, rather than pull, when lifting it off the paper. This is in order to prevent the putty from tearing the paper. I found it really difficult to twist, but sliding it worked well for me.

I had forgotten how slowly and consistently you need to move the pen. If you go too quickly, it’s easy to slip out of gear. If you hesitate in mid-design, you end up with little blobs of ink where you stalled.

new spirograph

Did I have as much fun playing with it as I thought I would? Sadly, no. It was another reminder that attempts to recreate delightful experiences seldom work. But I’m going to play with it some more. Practice is likely to make me more comfortable with it.

Cheers!

Paula

Paula Ogier Artworks