Monday, December 16, 2013

My Appropriation Story...Biography and then some.

Old habits are hard to break, and even harder when YOU'RE old.

I am guilty of appropriation. But I vow... not in the future.
But how did I get here?

Here's the back story...

I could blame it on my revered High School Art Teacher, Mr. Levine. I loved him [not romantically]. He taught me a lot, but also some bad habits... including the DEADLY opaque projector technique.

High School - Photo by Robert Schimmel, double exposure.
I spent most of my spare time in High School in the Art room. Actually, spent some Chemistry, Geometry and Physics time in there, too. I was often fetched by a fellow student and dragged to class. My Math teacher, Babe Steen would just stand the hallway and yell - SCHIMMEL!!!! I only went to science classes [reluctantly] because Mr. Green was so cute. I would rather be in the art room than anywhere. But let us go back further...

When I was a very little girl, I was painfully shy. I started playing piano when I was 4. By ear. I have perfect pitch, and after my older brother's piano teacher left, I would walk over to the piano and play his lessons. My Mom was in the kitchen and thought Bob was practicing. When she realized it was me, she signed me up for lessons and immediately started thinking "child prodigy" and Julliard and the Ed Sullivan Show. Terror!
shy little girl in Reading, PA

I also started drawing when I was little.
I would stay in my room and draw. For hours. I always drew people. Or clothes [on people] or shoes [on people]. I can draw. I learned on my own. Did not get much help later on except a few classes I took on my own. What an easy kid for my parents to raise. Piano lessons, practice [ick] and quiet hours alone drawing or reading.

My favorite books were [and still are] about people. I read every biography book in my school. Mostly about Native Americans.
I still read biographies.

Left to my own devices [literally], I'll watch documentaries about PEOPLE.We went to the JCC in Reading, PA and I took lots of art classes. Ceramics was my favorite. I still have EVERYTHING I ever made, even if it's cracked or broken.

In 6th grade, I made a puppet. I put him a plaid kilt, and a Tam O'Shanter... I remember arguing with my teacher who insisted I had to decide whether he was Irish or Scots. What a would I know the difference at 11? Now, on reflection...I'm thinking Scottish, I could swear it's the Black Watch tartan. I still have that puppet, too...molting away somewhere in a box. And now I know the difference.

In junior high, I really started thinking more about art and got great grades in drawing, and got an award for a portrait I did of my typing teacher [yeah... I'm THAT old]. Mr. Hobart really forced us to think outside the box... slapping metal rulers on the table and shouting "WAKE UP PEOPLE, it's the Pepsi Generation!"

I was not the "best" artist in school, that was Nancy Kintisch. And there were others. We were not in competition. The cameraderie in art rooms in high school was positive. But, encouragement on the home front was non-existent.

In the years between high-school and today... I bounced around colleges [4] and was an on-again off-again art major. I have to say, I learned very little in art class. One teacher I had for live drawing absolutely HATED me and ignored me all semester. At another college, one professor said "You know what you're doing, I can't teach you anything, just come back at the end of the semester with 12 paintings and I'll give you an A."
I was in a hard-edge acrylic non-representational phase for a while. But mostly, PEOPLE...always people. My degree is actually in Psychology [that's a long story about Eidetic Imagery experiments - on ME] ...but I did finish classes to get a BFA later.
Maybe I wasn't paying attention, or maybe it wasn't covered, but I never really learned how to BE an artist, how to make a living as a fine artist, how to get into galleries, or musuems, and I still don't know what a fellowship or residency is.
I'm not a joiner, and I need to learn things quickly. If I can't pick it up, I don't get it.
Well.. I got kicked out of graduate school since I could not pick a concentration. But, it was fun taking Textile design, and Surface design, and Metal work and Jewelry and Fiber Arts... even though I knew painting people was my thing.
And maybe fashion design...or shoe design...see, I'm still doing it!

So naturally, I went into retail. What a joke. But then came Display. Although I designed all sorts of things - from handbags to T-shirts to jewelry, my career in Display, Window Trimmer, Visual Merchandiser kept me alive. And fed the creative side of me. And painting on the side. Always painting.

Fast forward to the naughts. Frustrated in a corporate career, divorced, single parent... I decide to go get back into Art. After playing around with mosaics, I am finally SURE of what I want to do, a style, a technique I developed. Turning junk mail into tiles, and creating mosaics with them. Mosaics of PEOPLE. New husband, my angel, said quit your job and be an artist.
My first Mosaic experiment...a self-portrait
So, with an anthem to rock, we built a studio and never looked back.

Okay - it's gonna be people. What people? I scour through magazines and pull out photos. I paste them on my studio walls. I draw from them, I simplify, but... I am using photos from magazines for my subjects. Look, I never lied about it - it's just he way I worked. My whole vision was to USE those very objects - women's faces - and create something new.

My latest work is my last appropriation. The photo on the left is from W magazine, and is by Patrick Demarchelier. I loved this girl's face and the composition. So, I drew from it. I made enough changes that I believe it is "transformative," and the new piece has new elements I added...having started out thinking Tudor age then switched to a Renaissance feel. There she is on the right - in my messy studio. Either way, I am guilty of appropriation and that's that.

But now, I've decided to stop doing that. I have a lot of commission work going on through the next several months, but starting in the spring, I vow to create my own images and work from those.

In the spirit of letting go, I'm holding a clearance sale now through Christmas to clear out the studio and my head.

Looking forward to a new year and new direction. Cheers!


Monday, September 23, 2013

But does it match the couch?

At an art festival this weekend, I was approached by a really interesting character who got my grey cells bouncing around my noggin'. He called himself Seemore. [Have you met him?} His name is
Charles Simmons and he is a BIG booster for his home town.

Occasional art festivals are one way I get to meet the public, take my show on the road... and hopefully make some sales of my work. Say what you will about art... I consider it my profession, and have no qualms about finding various ways to make a living.
It's a mixed bag.

Anyway, Seemore stopped by and told me he was looking for 
the next Martha Stewart. He thought it might be me! [Or maybe he says that to all the girls... or every artist he meets...] 

Well, I consider myself pretty clever, creative, can do all sorts of things... I can draw, and paint and grout tile with the best of them. I can design clothes, I can make a sample handbag from my own designs, I can dress a mannequin, darn socks, dye easter eggs, create sets for theatre, fashion floral centerpieces, do window displays, am a gourmet cook, do creative writing and make all sorts of art and craft thingamabobs. I don't have any livestock, but would love a sheep in the backyard to match my designer dachshunds. So, perhaps I fit his bill for the next Martha?

Seemore's actual purpose in attending the show was to find people [like me?] to come to High Point, NC. To visit, to perhaps participate in trade shows or be/display/rent in a showroom? I'm not quite sure. But, to be "discovered" as the "Next BIG Thing" seemed to be what he thought I could achieve in High Point. Or not. He was very honest.

"Dakota Daughter" Scottsdale, AZ
"Sheherazade" Stamford, CT
A RED wall!
He said some marvelous things about my artwork. And, my sense of color. However... he also uttered the phrase...asked the questions that many artists abhor... "But does it match the couch?"

 Apparently, interior designers who pick furniture, fabrics, accessories and ART for their clients in High Point and every where else... can make an artists' career if their work "matches the couch."

A Blue couch!
Seemore suggested I create work that will match fabrics and interiors that designers look for... and although I could almost say color schemes and palette I pick are something I "can't help doing" - from my inspiration in the moment, my thought process... I don't know...
Am I crazy for using COLORS??? 

"Ever" Museum Collection
Outrageous color combination!
Should I start perusing magazines looking for the latest trends in interior design so I can be more marketable? 
Are we still in the Tuscany trend? 
I haven't painted any villas or poplars recently...[ever?]

"Chauconne" Houston, TX
I never really thought about it before, and all the pieces shown here have sold... so someone somewhere must like red, purple, orange, yellow, teal and lime green! I guess a small minority.

I know most people are afraid of color [I had to paint my last house BEIGE so it would sell].

I know most people don't like portraits. I know most people can't afford to buy original art. I get it, I get it...

If the point of making art... is not only to express yourself, but to also earn your way, pay your bills and put your kids through college - is that unreasonable? Is it time to SELL OUT and go beige or greige or sage green?

"The Karen E Project" Redondo Beach, CA
"Coco Rocha" New York, NY
"Can I get a Kiss? - Mexico City

What, neon colors? Unheard of.
Speaking for myself... Is creating DECOR that matches the couch the way to go?

An orange couch?
I guess I could make a lot more money if I did dog portraits...or flowers... or aspen trees... or landscapes or ponds or... the dreaded 
giant pear paintings. 

But, when I walk into my studio - and just create out of my
imagination, faces appear on the canvas 9 times outta 10. 
Colors that may or may not "go" together, or match a couch [Okay, I am being a smart ass here and I know it] get tossed together willy-nilly.

I know there is no real answer here, and I am sure if anyone bothers to comment... the opinions will be wildly different.

"Robin's Blue Bedroom Eyes - San Diego
Teal and Brown...that's more like it.
I am really glad I met Seemore, and might go visit him in High Point, or take a gander at design magazines... after all, being the next Martha Stewart would alright with me. I am sure I can stay out of prison or if I did end up in jail, I'd take up
Martha upon her release...with her knitted poncho
knitting ponchos, too.

Or better yet...  
the next Walt Disney
[after all, Walt & I share the same Myers Briggs ENTP personality type]

Like Seemore said...  
"You never know when Mickey Mouse is going to become Disneyworld."

So, what do you think?

By the way, if you want to be on my email newsletter list... 
go to THIS page and sign up.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The custom portrait process...and "inside the studio" insights.

It's his birthday, he's in his 70's. He is getting married. 
He started coloring his hair a little...
His family wants to give him something special.
A Portrait. From me!
I get these photos through email, and put together a quick sketch to capture the best of both of them.  I picked the photo of "her" from above [her eyes were the biggest] "him" from the top photo, and his hair color from the one on the right.

Quick Sketch in Paint on Canvas

After drawing and painting, I begin the process of cutting up hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper. What started out as a simple mosaic process has become an incredibly detailed method...I've been doing this for so long, it's just second nature and difficult to explain!

There is a set of old bedroom furniture in the studio [it was mine when I was a kid] - all junk mail, old calendars, postcards, menus, fly cards, card stock, greeting cards and other ephemera go into those drawers. 

Before I start a new project, I spend a few hours going through that stuff - cutting it and sorting into colors...those piles go into other drawers.
Back to the easel, I sort the colors I've chosen to use by shade and lay them out on a large table. I work one color at a time, cutting and pasting [glueing] each piece one at a time, cutting again and again to fit. Sometimes, they're nothing but a sliver... I might need tweezers to hold the tiny piece, I might need an exacto to trim... The process takes hundreds of hours... during this time, I am looking at the subject's photos...constantly going back and forth, tweeking whatever I need to "get it right."

Thank goodness for NPR and Pandora and PBS online... I can listen to stories, music, comedy and might learn something while I am working or discover a new artist whose music grabs my attention.

Sometimes one of the dogs wanders into the studio. Usually Farfel, who wants me to hold her, but that ain't happening. But she will sit on my hot pink chair and whine... I wish I had a baby bjorn for dachshunds.

In the morning hours, after I have my tea, I often work in whatever I was sleeping in the night before. T-shirt, Yoga pants...Hopefully, no one will come to the door. I work odd hours, all day, with breaks to check my email and see what my friends are doing on Facebook... or talk to friends or family... always wandering back in and picking up where I left off. I am back in the studio at night - often WAY into the wee hours. When I am in the mood...the "zone" I don't know where the time goes. 

The studio is carpeted and I am always trailing it around - embellishing the house with slivers of paper that have stuck to my toes or my socks... and at some point, vacuuming is necessary. Byproduct of my work.

After all the paper is applied, I go back and repaint the eyes, teeth, whatever makes sense. Whatever colors you see - that's the color of the paper. After 24 hours, I apply a sealer and UV coating. Edges of the canvas are painted...usually black.

Here's a small pic of the happy couple [a little glare on the right side] before it got shipped away to enhance another home.

By the way, I don't make my art for me... I make it for YOU!

Thanks for reading!

What's in a Face?

Wolf whistles...Scorn...Desire...Adoration...a Mother's Love...Rejection...Swoons.
It starts with the face.

Babies are born looking like their fathers...  so they'll know the child is theirs and won't run off. Well, at least that's what I've heard, and it is certainly true of me and of my own daughter.

What is attractive? Repulsive? Beautiful? Sexy? Attraction is physical, "chemical," intuitive. We respond to what we like. So, most of us are stuck with what we're born with, other "enhance" with products and poisons and reach an ideal...and that target is always moving.

One man's meat is another man's poison
One man's meat is another man's person

My Mother told me...never trust someone with thin lips, or close-set eyes.

So, What's in a Face?

After all...aren't most of our face comprised of two eyes, two lips, one nose? Are not our faces merely skin stretched [or sagging] over muscle and bone? What's the big deal?

And yet... so much is made of our visual appearance. If you've read my blog, seen my art or know me, you know I have been exploring how our "looks" relate to our own self-image, and the messages we hear and tell ourselves. This collage was originally completed several years ago, soon after I dealt with a slight change to my own face [no one sees it, but it is glaring to me] which altered my impression of myself and others. 

Included in this composition are photos, textures, verbiage, people I know, and many others I don't.
Here are some details. I'm in there somewhere...and I don't look like Kate Moss.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"LUNA" a Pareidolic Portrait [what's Pareidolia?]

This is "Luna," a new mixed media portrait.

 Materials are: Junk Mail, Acrylic Paint, Glitter, Textured Glazes.

Pareidolia is the experience of “seeing” something in a stimulus or an object that’s simply vague and random. An example is the Shroud of Turin. Remember when you were a child lying on your back in the grass, watching the clouds go by and you saw a bunny or a castle in the sky, or the man [or woman] in the moon? Or the Madonna on a piece of toast, or a cluster of cactus? Maybe you've even heard messages when records are played in reverse [number nine? number nine?].

Carl Sagan believed that the ability to recognize faces from a distance or in poor visibility was an important survival technique. While this instinct enables humans to instantly judge whether an oncoming person is a friend or foe, Sagan noted that it could result in some misinterpretation of random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.
Leonardo da Vinci wrote about pareidolia as an artistic device. "If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills."

So often, people compare my work to those photo mosaics they've seen at Disneyland or in magazines... an image made up of thousands of photographs created in a computer.
Photo Mosaic at Disney

In fact, many people believe I use some sort of computer program to create my work. I'd like to say that no... I actually DRAW...PAINT...CUT...GLUE... using nothing more hi-tech than pencil, brush, scissors and sometimes and exacto knife.

So, I decided to tackle one of the most common Pareidolic images, the man in the moon... but I love women's faces better...
It's only a Paper Moon
I began by creating a monochromatic background and crescent moon in large squares - if you look closely, you'll see movie tickets [Knight & Day how apropo], greeting cards, advertisements, invitations, fly cards, postcards and photographs. Yes, I have a room full of paper. I save everything. I recycle everything. It took HOURS to cut and sort by tone all of those pieces! I reversed the progression on the moon.  It's only a Paper Moon!

Then the painting of Luna took shape... I kept to a somewhat monochromatic color scheme, only adding a bit of pink paper to the lips and greige shades for the hair.
Luna before the asteroids...

A Crater!

I was pretty happy when I got there, but never leaving well enough alone, I grabbed palette knives, brushes, glitter, gravel, textured gels and my own fingers to create peaks, valleys, craters and rocky textures.
This changed the perfectly flat "collage" into a textured moonscape. Now my woman in the moon looked like she was ON the moon!

This portrait, one of many in my collection of paper mosaic portraits is 30x40" on 1" museum wrapped canvas. Edges are painted black. Wired, ready to hang!

See more here: Schimmel Art Web Site

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Warsaw Waiter... huh?

Women's faces. Yeah, that's my usual... ["idiom, sir?"] genre. What's with the guy with the curly hair?

A moment to back up. I read a lot. Books, Magazines. I get way too many...
and today, as soon as I stop typing... I am going to go have an "education" day and pick a bunch of the magazines up, go through them once and for all, glean everything I want from them. And then recycle them.

Yeah, I even recycle magazines.
Not by putting them in my art, though... I magazine bomb. I would yarn bomb, or photo bomb...but I can't do everything.

When I go to the library, or doctor, or dentist, or car wash...anywhere magazines are lying around, I innocently plop them down and leave them for someone else to enjoy. And, by the way, nothing trashy. No People, no US, no Star Magazine.

Okay, anyway... I was probably reading Town & Country... or Travel & Leisure... or Conde Nast Traveler. Came across an interesting photo of a fellow, a waiter at a restaurant in some eastern European country. It was NOT Poland, I remember... Maybe it was a "stan" country -Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, or maybe a Baltic state... or Ukraine. Anyway... this dude looked pretty cool. His attire, his hair, his NOSE harkened back to an earlier time. I created his portrait out of junk mail, as usual... but he looked too modern.

I found some crackle glaze... actually created for ceramics. I thought I could create an "Antique" look by creating tiny cracks [this stuff by Modern Masters is great, by the way]. I used to love making ceramics when I was a kid,
and remembered how to use it to my advantage.

I used the glazes [there are a few steps] and rubbed dark brown ink into the cracks... let it settle and then rubbed it off. It worked, and I got the effect I wanted.

My husband makes fun of me and my crazy ideas. But a lifetime of art experimentation, etc. Years of being a display artist, prop designer, pattern maker, sample maker, and all around use-your-noodle, you're clever after all... has me creating and taking risks. I love this guy, he belongs on the wall of someone's library, or in a home filled with antiques [unlike most of my other art...] and yeah, he is definitely NOT from Poland, but I'm a big fan of alliteration. So sue me, title Police.
Here's my Warwaw Waiter - 16x20" mosaic portrait - he's in a wooden frame but it's not shown here:

Sandhi Schimmel Gold's Warsaw Waiter

Try a Little Tenderness

For this portrait, I wanted to capture the vulnerability of a woman in love, the sweetness and femininity. Doesn't my subject look as if she were about to speak? 
Her hand, moving towards her lips...not sure what to say?
 She seems thoughtful and perhaps a bit sad. 
What she needs is assurance and some tender loving care. 

With props to Otis Redding:
Oh, she may be weary
Young girls they do get weary
Wearing that same old shaggy dress, 
But when she gets weary,
Try a little tenderness

You know she's waiting
Just anticipating
For things that she'll never, never, never, never possess,
But while she's there waiting, without them,
Try a little tenderness

It's not just sentimental, no,
She has her grief and care,
But the soft words, they are spoken so gentle,
It makes it easier, easier to bear

You won't regret it,
Some girls they don't forget it
Love is their only happiness,
But it's all so easy
All you gotta do is try, try a little tenderness
All you gotta do is, man, hold her where you want her

Squeeze her, don't tease her, never leave her
Get to her, try, try,
Just try a little tenderness
You got to know how to love her, man, you'll be surprised, man,
You've got to squeeze her, don't tease her, never leave her
You've got to hold her and rub her softly,
Try a little tenderness and watch her groove,
You've gotta to know what to do, man,
Take this advice...

Try a Little Tenderness
I used white paper with lavender and purple designs for the majority of the face, irridescent tissues for highlight, and my usual - junk mail paper source - for the rest.  
I hate to pick out frames. I always pick out the wrong ones, so I found a creative framer who can come up with interesting combinations of color and texture.
who put this unusual composition in a silver wood frame, and then in a seafoam textured frame.
It's amazing.
Here's my "gallery on the go" at an art festival in Virginia last year.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A life...what is it? Remembering the Tuna Fish Lady

My friend died this week. Suddenly. In bed. Alone.
Don't know why.
I am guessing heart attack.
Or a reaction to medication.
She lived, she was a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a loving doggie mom.

You can google her, and all you'll get is a FB page, and some other social media nonsense. It's almost as if she was never here...?! I can't even find her blog About My Pet NYC.

She call me SOSH I called her MOSH.
Back when I was a needlepoint designer, my signature was Saschi. Her name, Mara, is supposedly from the Russian Masha.  There you go.

She lived in the same apartment in NYC for 30 years. From when Murray Hill was a joke to Murray Hill as a hot spot. So easy to get in a cab and say 30th & Third.

She was vulnerable, generous to a fault, and she lived vicariously through other people.

In these past few years, she was unhappy, desperate, angry and in horrible physical pain... if she could, I wouldn't be surprised if she'd tell us said she's relieved.

My last conversations with her were frustrating and depressing. I couldn't help...

She was at my Mother's funeral two years ago. She made quite an effort to support me, and it was appreciated.

I spent a couple of days thinking about that...but then, started telling my husband about our history, and the funny things I remember... and the love... so here we go.

Here's how I remember her - fondly.
I met her in college. My brother Bob was living in NY, went to visit his girlfriend's college in Ithaca, but she kicked him out.
My school was fairly close by, and Bob decided to visit me, stay for a while.
I lived in an all girls dorm, and we were already overcrowded. Bob found a spare mattress and slept on the floor.
I ate at the dining hall, and Bob couldn't get in. Of course, he didn't have any money, and neither did I. My roommates and I would bring him food if we could sneak it out.
In the meantime, the lounge area of my dorm had a piano. Bob spent his days serenading the girls [while I was in class] and met Mara. She was the only girl in the dorm with a refrigerator of her own. She had food. Tuna.
Mara had always been overweight, and tuna was somehow the magic diet food. Her struggle was a lifetime of Tab soda, grapefruits, and going to fat camp and Durham, NC for diet prison. She'd been reasonably successful at times, but mostly it was a huge issue that affected her life. Everything revolved around a meal.

I didn't know her, we didn't have classes together, but I met her through Bob. Funny, her roommate Lisa was supposed to me mine, and we became best friends. So, I started hanging around with Mara and Lisa more and more. They moved off campus, and I hung around their apartment.
The next year, we took classes together - theatre classes. I moved off campus, and eventually Mara lived upstairs with Lisa and two or three other women. That year, all those long island college girls had epiphanies... opened a food co-op, took in a lot of dogs, and were gay [some on a more temporary basis], except Mara. I lived downstairs in the same building. So Mara started hanging around with us. And, due to some drop-outs and shuffles, eventually moved in with us.

Mara was a carbo-holic. She'd cook and eat an entire box of pasta, or an entire bag or rice. She'd lie on her bed smoking and eating ice-cream watching her own mini TV. Her father had heart problems, her mother had cancer. One day I ran into her room with a hatchet and chopped her pack of Marlboro's in half. I asked her if she was trying to kill herself. She answered: "slowly."

But, Mara was up for anything. Costume parties, going to one of the many bars downtown. Auditioning for every play.

When it came to men, she had a penchant for black men and white trash. She had a relationship with an Ethiopian exchange student, and a blonde "townie." Neither of those went well. She hated the guy I dated and let him know. She had a crush on a school staff member. I think I knew that...but when he came over to take me out on a date...and she was PISSED. It didn't work out. Man, he was a control freak.
Mara saw me through relationships and heartaches. She listened. She advised. She commiserated. She took sides. Always a friend in need. You need sympathy? You got it. We remained friends through college.

I moved back to AZ, and afterwards to California. I followed a boy there. Mara came to visit. She was there when my brother auditioned at the Improv. She wanted to go to Disneyland. But, everyone in L.A. will tell you - EVERYONE who visits wants to go to Disneyland. I took her to Knott's instead. Now, this was right after a fat person died on a roller coaster at Magic Mountain. The bar didn't lock, and they went flying off the coaster. As we were settling in a coaster at Knott's, she asked "Am I too fat for this ride?" the kid ride operator said "We'll find out..." and off we went. She was clinging to my arm, and I told her to let go, so if she did fly off, she didn't take my arm with her. Needless to say, we survived.

My brother Bob stayed with Mara whenever he played NYC - at least before comedy clubs started paying him, and putting him up in the chuckle-condo or a hotel. When he became "more famous," she still went to every show - and after a while, he started ignoring her. She had a crush on his opening act, Eddie Brill. He wasn't interested. 

We always kept in touch, by phone, letters and my occassional trips to NYC. I always had a place to stay. A sway-back couch. I always forgot she smoked. Open window...even in frigid winters.

We took a trip to Vegas once.  She came out to AZ to visit. It was the winter. We drove up to Payson, just for fun [in the pool in the morning, in the snowy pines that afternoon]. I remember my seat belt was choking her. We flew to Vegas and I remember she put a $5 chip on a roulette # and won. We stayed in a horrible room behind the Stardust hotel. We ate at a buffet [my first time], we went downtown and she took me to dinner at Hugo's at the Four Queens. Fancy.

I had a business in the 80's. We took trips to NY. I always stayed with Mara. Kay came with us one year. I told her Mom I would take care of her 18 year old kid. She was staying with Mara while I went down the street to see my Aunt & Uncle. I got back to Mara's apartment, no Kay. She called from a bar called LIVE BAIT and said - come meet us! I ran down, caught a cab and found them. Mara had a little naughty streak.

I got married. During the days prior to the wedding, Mara was trying to be involved in every detail. To tell the truth, she was really getting on my nerves, and driving my soon to be ex-husband, Tim crazy. We asked her to back off. She did - she backed all the way off to Vegas with one of my friends and employees, Kay - only to return in the nick of time for the ceremony. I wanted her there, but as a guest, not a yente. She made new friends anyway... hanging out with the fellow smokers outside that cold December night.

She was my friend, but so distant. We kept in touch by phone. I would tell her what was going on in my life, and she would, I don't know... not listen completely? I could just see her, watching some inane program on TV, skimming a people magazine and having a smoke while we talked. So when we'd talk next, she would ask me how things were, backfilling details that weren't exactly true. Husband worked as a clerk for a judge. She told me he was the Attorney General. I would imagine she would tell her NY friends stories about me and mine... and wonder how true they were... if I tried to correct her [about details of MY life] she would say no no no... and keep going. She got things wrong about my job, my pregnancy, my daughter...So, whenever I got off the phone with her, Tim would say "How am I?"

When I was thinking of getting divorced, I decided to get away for a while. I went to NY, and Mara & I attended our college reunion. Other than her, I knew NO ONE there. It was ridiculous. There were a bunch of us "onesies" so we joined together for dinner, for drinks at the Black Oak afterwards... I was in a lot of emotional pain, and boy - Mara was the best ear - the best you could hope for in a confidante. The group played pool, Mara bought a pitcher of a beer [a first!]. One the guys wanted to go out with me afterwards... we dropped Mara off at the dorm we stayed in and off we went. That's another story, but when I got back she listened to me cry, and the next morning during breakfast pinched me hard under the table so I'd stay in control [another story for another time.]

I met and married another man. The keeper. We visited NY and Mara got to know him. More slightly fictionalized stories of Norm... always good stories, tho!

She'd humor me and let me go to a neighborhood chinese restaurant every time - so I could get fried won ton noodles. [no such thing in AZ] Norm and I humored her one morning and we went out for dim sum. It was not great, but she had a wonderful time.

I think Mara had such an empty life in some ways. She was not fulfilled at work, but never did anything about it. She had no love life after so many years trying, she gave up - although she was so full of love. She was a little too trusting and got burned a few times... once by some charming French guy who owed her a lot of money. He left art with her before departing [the earth, I think?] that she hoped upon hope was worth something. Nope.

She was a tireless fan of my brother, and wrote this on Larry' Miller's blog after he passed away:
Mara Makler says:
Thanks Larry, I found your blog through Robert’s sister Sandy. I met Robert 30 years ago when he was crashing in Sandy’s dorm. I became friends with him and am still close to his sister. I was in LA the week that Robert became a comedian at the improv. Who knew how successful he would be and how much pain he would have to overcome. He amazed me that he could take a tragedy like the death of his son and find the humor and pathos in it. I just saw the family at his mom funeral last month. I like to think that his mom has embraced him because I think he couldn’t take much more. Bobby gave hisall but itwasn’t enough. RIP Bobby, you will be missed but know that the family will be ok. Love and miss you. The tuna fish Lady!

She lost her parents when she was young, her sister not too long afterwards. Her only brother was protective, and yet critical [but for good reason]. Mara was stubborn, and... lazy. There, I said it. There is no other way to put it. I'm not just criticizing, she would have agreed.  Towards the end of her life, she was desperate, reaching out to me, to all her friends, her brother - looking for a savior. She was in a panic. Financially, emotionally, physically... she had exhausted all of her resources in one way or another. She could hardly walk. She had dental problems. She had had so many surgeries. But, her hair was always perfect, her nails... Although she had been morbidly obese, she was certainly less so toward the end. The last time I saw her, she didn't have money for food - we met in NYC with my best friend and my husband, we paid for dinner.

She supported me in all my endeavors. A little too pushy, sometimes, but hey...

She loved me. She loved my daughter, and Ally loved her, too. She loved my friend Kay. She loved my friend Bobby - athough she insisted he was gay no matter what I said [he's NOT!!!]. She loved my husband, Norm. She loved her brother and sister-in-law and her niece and nephew... and maiden aunts in Florida.

She never got over the men she loved - including celebrity crushes.

Mara took up space on earth and now she is gone. She had a neighbor she hated, a dog-walker, a crew of friends from high school. She had clients, she bought things, she made things...she was here.

She existed. I have photographs of her. I have plenty from college. She was little bo-peep for Halloween one year. My friend Sharon and I in her apartment, playing with teddy bears and pearls. A pic of the two of us in Vegas in front of a giant horse-shoe. Mara outside with the smokers at my wedding. With my daughter in Anaheim when she flew to California to go to a Highlander's convention and went to Disneyland with Ally & I [they went on the tea-cups, no spinning for me]. More.

So a woman lives - has friends, has family, co-workers, neighbors. Will she be remembered? Was her life her own? I am thinking of her today, months after her death. I am laughing, and sad and knowing she had experiences... and all of is is gone to the vapors. I still feel for her. I remember.

She was 57.

She was a devoted doggie mom to Roxie. I don't know what happened to Roxie. Sometimes, I wish I could pick up the phone and talk to her again.

Chimera - an illusion?

chi·me·ra also chi·mae·ra  (k-mîr, k-)
1. a. An organism, organ, or part consisting of two or more tissues of different genetic composition, produced as a result of organ transplant, grafting, or genetic engineering.
b. A substance, such as an antibody, created from the proteins or genes of two different species.
2. An individual who has received a transplant of genetically and immunologically different tissue.
3. A fanciful mental illusion or fabrication.
 The term chimera has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe concepts perceived as wildly imaginative or implausible.

This portrait - in very pastel colors - is a fabrication... an illusion, the holder of a secret, a myth. Yeah, I know... she looks like someone else. But she's not.

White with black and grey type, greys, a patterned background and trim in blues and yellow enhances a very simple composition; made of two or more "tissues." Hundreds of separate pieces of junk mail and business cards, grafted together through engineering, glue and bit of paint.