Monday, December 31, 2007

December 31st

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."
A Quote by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Friday, December 14, 2007

New Work Inspired from the Yucatan

Just a heads up...I am hanging new work at Frontera Grill / Topolobampo Restaurant next week.
This year the work was inspired by the staff trip to the Yucatan.

If you have a chance to get over there,
you could have a great meal and see some wonderful artwork from Rick Bayless's personal collection.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Had my first show in Chelsea, New York City at Paula Barr's Gallery.
It was well attended and fun to be part of the Thursday night gallery opening scene.
New York is so beautiful this time of year.

Had an opportunity to visit MOMA. Saw the Marvin Puryear exbibit which was beautiful and striking.

Also visited the New Photography 2007 exhibit showing the work of
Tanyth Berkeley, Scott McFarland and Berni Searle. I found Berni Searle's (South African) work to be original and haunting. She takes family photographs and transfers the silhouette onto crepe paper.

The crepe paper image is then immersed in water and starts to "bleed." The series is called "About to Forget" and is about the memory of her family.

And then there is the crowded (as were the streets) but lively.

On a final note, I picked up Nobel Lectures from a fabulous book store. I was drawn to the book because I really liked Wislawa Symborska's (have it on my website) lecture.
On the back of the book there is a quote from Orhan Pamuk.

"For me, to be a writer is to acknowledge the secret wounds that we carry inside us, the wounds so secret that we ourselves are barely aware of them, and to patiently explore them, know them, illuminate them, to own these pains and wounds, and to make them a conscious part of our spirits and our writing." The full text is available on the internet.

Monday, November 19, 2007


How does one reconcile the perfect beauty of a new life with all its purity, innocence and joy with what one reads in the daily newspapers? When an artist thinks about creating a work, do you consider making something beautiful or socially significant, so as to help make the world a better place? (I suppose one can also make socially significant beautiful art but that is another discussion).
So I returned a month or so ago from visiting a new grandchild. What, you might ask, does this have to do with the creative process? Well, it raised a very tough question in my mind which I had difficulty resolving.
Being in the presence of a newborn baby is an awe-inspiring experience. There is something so magnificent and flawless about this little person. It is life in its purist, most uncontaminated form. It is how we all entered this world and is universal to mankind.

And then there is this other world one confronts when reading the news, stories on every conceivable evil that man is capable of… the fundamentalists who feel justified in killing women who do not conform to what they believe is the correct dress, famine, the debates about abortion, the repression of Burmese citizens by one of the most cruel dictatorships in the world today. How does one reconcile these extremes?
This was a question I posed while at a residency at Ragdale. One of the residents, Patty Patterson, (a wonderful writer) left this for me in my mailbox the next day…
“In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.” Louise Bogan

The following day I found this in my mailbox…
"….what you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Don Pedro Arrupe

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ragdale ~ An Appointment with the Muse.

I have just returned from the most amazing 2 weeks at Ragdale in Lake Forest, an artist’s retreat. Never having participated in an artist residency, I did not know what to expect. This blog is an attempt to share some small part of the experience. (I say this because 3/4 of the artists I befriended at the residency were writers and poets, and I don’t pretend to be one.)

When I drove into the estate, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and awe. It was a beautiful fall day with the trees showing off their full glory. The environment had the feel of a monastery, with signs scattered about saying “Quiet Please, Artists At Work.” There was no person to be found but an envelope in a basket by the front door with my name on it. I quickly learned that my bedroom and studio were located in the converted barn. My studio had been the work place of Howard Van Doren Shaw, the prominent Chicago architect and owner of the Ragdale house. The Shaw properties overlook 60 acres of prairie.

I walked into my studio, a beautiful room with 3 skylights, a desk, table, cabinets and a sink. The walls revealed evidence of other artists being there by the walls pockmarked condition. On the far wall was a single leaf, spotted and folded in on itself. It was truly beautiful. I thought it was curious that the former tenant had left it behind.

After unpacking and before the sunset, I went out into the prairie. It was magnificent. The grasses swayed in the wind as I strolled by so many plants native to the Midwest. A sense of peace and calm pervaded.

It was an amazing 2 weeks. After the initial adjustment, I found myself in a continual state of creative flow. Never before have I had the luxury of 2 uninterrupted weeks to explore my art. What started as a curiosity about my environment became an obsession. I fell into a state of continual excitement as I investigated the world around me. I began my Leaf Studies series, which have been endlessly fascinating. Every time I looked deeper into the essence of a leaf, I am reminded of repetition of form between the macro and micro worlds. What resulted was a body of work that further explores my interest in life cycles and the quality of light.

The creative process needs time and space to develop. It feeds the soul in a way that nothing else can. I am so grateful to Ragdale for the two weeks in which I reconnected with the magical feeling that anything is possible.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I have been following the events in Burma/Myanmar for several weeks now. What is unfolding is so disturbing. If anyone has not seen the movie, BEYOND RANGOON, I highly suggest you will have a clearer idea of what is happening in the country today. It was one of the more beautiful and haunting countries I have visited. I seems that Amnesty International is THE organization that is trying to monitor what is going on with the reign of terror there. Please consider making a contribution or signing their petitions. The two photographs in this post were taken in Burma in 1999.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Ok, so I have been coming up to the same place in Northern Wisconsin for 33 years....always taken the same walk. How is it that today, October 7, 2007, I finally noticed this sign? It makes me wonder just how much of the world we really see. I suspect not much. And what does it mean, anyway, to be ELSEWHERE?
I suppose it means that you are not here and not there. It might mean you are no where to be that how it is?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

How the world has changed since September 11, 2001. I wish the leaders of the world could
apply the wisdom of compassion to their decision making.
Here is one of my favorite poems by Thich Nhat Hanh which addresses the WE / THEM attitude that afflicts so many of us and leads to such suffering.

Please Call Me By My True Names

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow----
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the eart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
and legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by the sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and the door of my heart could be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, August 31, 2007

Accept Nothing, Question Everything

I came across this graffiti in a back alley in Oberlin, Ohio. Hope it stimulates some thoughts and/or discussion.

Also, I do hope that for those creatives reading this blog, that you are setting up some goals for yourself that you would like to accomplish this fall. The end of the summer is a great time to plan and visualize what it is you want to do with your creative energies.

Have a great labor day weekend....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Real Treasure....

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Heimrich Zimmer....
"The real treasure, that which can put an end to our poverty and all our trials, is never very far; there is no need to seek it in a distant country. It lies buried in the most intimate parts of our own house; that is, of our own being. It is behind the stove, the centre of the life and warmth that rule our existence, the heart of our heart, if only we knew how to unearth it. And yet - there is this strange and persistent fact, that it is only after a pious journey in a distant region, in a new land, that the meaning of that inner voice guiding us on our search can make itself understood by us. And to this strange and persistent fact is added another: that he who reveals to us the meaning of our mysterious inward pilgrimage must himself be a stranger, of another belief and another race."

Sunday, June 17, 2007


by Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune

June 15, 2007
The days are long now.
The early birds wake you up at some insane hour, yakking away like drunks staggering home from an all-night party.
You could get up then too, with the morning light just creeping in and the world still in a lull except for the noisy birds and the air conditioners of neighbors who like summer at the temperature of a morgue.
You could get up and put all this extra light to use. Study. Garden. Bike. Bake. Run. All before 8 a.m. Seize the rays!
Or you could just lie there and watch the slow illumination of the room and think about how to spend these few long days that will never come again.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

Those are the final lines of a poem someone gave me one day last winter. It's by Mary Oliver and called "The Summer Day."

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

There's more to the poem, but it's those final lines that get stuck in your head like chewing gum in your hair, that knock on your mind with the force of a dare.

So, sucker. What exactly are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?

Good luck getting that thought out of your head now that it's been planted.

What you're going to do with your one life is a question for all seasons, but it squeezes you in a particular way on these days when there are 15 hours and more from sunup to sundown, with the bonus light of dawn and dusk on either end.

Time and light are related. If you live in a place that's often cold and dark, you don't have to be an Einstein to know that. In places like Chicago , the gift of light feels like the gift of hours.

"Light does not age," I read recently. The line referred to the theory of relativity, and I'm not sure what it means scientifically, but the poetry of it feels true.

The long days this time of year create the illusion that time has slowed down, been stretched, looped back on itself, restored some part of yourself that seemed gone.

The extra light feels like an extended warranty on life.

Every summer I write down -- and occasionally write about -- my summer to-do list. Every summer, the list is a contest between idleness and industry.


Walk before breakfast.

Walk after dinner.

Read for pleasure before breakfast.

And after dinner.

Eat outside for breakfast, dinner, lunch.

Find a beach.

Eat blueberries.

Watch the shadows in the trees.

Do more of everything good.

Do less of everything else.

Do more of nothing.

A thing not to do:


When the days are long, the nights are different too, and they invite you to act differently.

A few nights ago, a couple of my friends went out. It was late, way too late for people their age to be embarking on the evening, but when the days are long, the night can seem young even when it's not.

They were strolling around their neighborhood when a man rode up on a bicycle. He had a chair on the back and offered them a ride. They rolled through Chicago in the warm night like emperors in a rickshaw, seeing the place they live from a different angle, at a different speed.

That's the kind of thing worth doing with your one wild and precious life.

So consider this your summer challenge. And if you needed more incentive, here's this: Next week, at the official start of summer, the days start getting shorter.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catherine Edelman Gallery Show

If you are in the Chicago area and have not yet seen the "Mourning Light" series up close, please stop by the Catherine Edelman Gallery at 300 W. Superior Street.
The show will be up until July 7th.

Unbroken circle,
my mind travels...
are we not but stars
suspended in space,
energy soon to be extinguished,
searching for that which is known
and that which is imagined,
visions reflected in light and shadow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Santa Cruz Arcade

And we wonder why there is so much violence in this country!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thoughts from Andrey Tarkovsky

Andrey Tarkovsky - Sculpting in Time
The Great Russian Filmmaker discusses his Art

“Art is born and takes hold whenever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual, for the ideal : that longing which draws people to art.… artistic creation the personality does not assert itself, it serves another, higher and communal idea. The artist is always a servant, and is perpetually trying to pay for the gift that has been given to him as if by a miracle ….

When I speak of the aspiration towards the beautiful, of the ideal as the ultimate aim of art, which grows from a yearning for that ideal, I am not for a moment suggesting that art should shun the ‘dirt’ of the world. On the contrary! The artistic image is always a metonym, where one thing is substituted for another, the smaller for the greater. To tell of what is living, the artist uses something dead; to speak of the infinite, he shows the finite. Substitution….the infinite cannot be made into matter, but it is possible to create an illusion of the infinite : the image.

Hideousness and beauty are contained within each other. This prodigious paradox, in all its absurdity, leavens life itself, and in art makes that wholeness in which harmony and tension are unified. This image makes palpable a unity in which manifold different elements are contiguous and reach over into each other. One may talk of the idea of the image, describe its essence in words. But such a description will never be adequate. An image can be created and make itself felt. It may be accepted or rejected. But none of this can be understood in any cerebral sense. The idea of infinity cannot be expressed in words or even described, it can be apprehended through art, which makes infinity tangible. The absolute is only attainable through faith and in the creative act.

The only condition of fighting for the right to create is faith in your own vocation, readiness to serve, and refusal to compromise. Artistic creation demands of the artist that he ‘perish utterly’, in the full, tragic sense of those words….

Moreover, the great function of art is communication, since mutual understanding is a force to unite people, and the spirit of communion is one of the most important aspects of artistic creativity. Works of art, unlike those of science, have no practical goals in any material sense. Art is a meta-language, with the help of which people try to communicate with one another; to impart information about themselves and assimilate the experience of others. Again, this has to do not with practical advantage but with realizing the idea of love, the meaning of which is in sacrifice; the very antithesis of pragmatism. I simply cannot believe that an artist can ever work only for the sake of ‘self-expression.’ Self-expression is meaningless unless it meets with a response.

…In Art, as in religion, intuition is tantamount to conviction, to faith. It is a state of mind, not a way of thinking. Science is empirical, whereas the conception of images is governed by the dynamic of revelation. It’s a question of sudden flashes of illumination….to what does not fit in to conscious thought."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Artropolis in Chicago

I have been exhibiting this weekend in The Artist Project which is a satellite show of what was formerly called Art Chicago.
It has been amazing experience meeting so many people with an interest in the arts. I was asked to share some thoughts with another blogger and thought I would include the interview here.

Q. I observed your work at the Artist Project exhibit in Chicago last Thursday. How did the exhibit go for you?
It has been lots of work but great fun and great exposure.

Q. ARTropolis has been a great success. Care to reflect on the events and how they have improved Chicago's standing in the 'art world'... I understand that some critics had doubts about the exhibits... what have you heard?
All the planning has really paid off. My impression is that this has been a world class event. Chris Kennedy is doing all that is humanly possible to put Chicago back on the map, including buying out Art Basel and the Armory show in NYC.

Q. Jane, in the last three years you have done several lectures about art. What do you normally discuss at these lectures?
I am interested in the creative process and helping people to more fully express what it is that needs to be expressed. I have also spoken at length about my experience as a relief worker in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans and how I came to photograph there.

Q. You have won several fellowships- Illinois Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award, Ragdale Foundation Fellowship Award... do you have any advice for emerging artist who are seeking fellowships, grants, or other awards?
Just to apply and don't be discouraged if you don't get it. There have been plenty of times that I have been rejected but that is just part of the whole picture.

Q. Let us take a step back- when did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?
I have always been involved with making things. During summers in my college years I took ceramic and welding courses. I was a quilter for a few years but found it took too long to express what I wanted to in working with fabric. As so time freed up, I began taking art classes and happened upon a wonderful photography teacher.

Q. How has society influenced your art? What are the social implications of your art?
I had never been very interested in politics. I did protest in the 60's with the VietNam war but that was about it. I suppose that when you see so much of what you believed in starting to erode, it is difficult to remain silent. I am also a clinical social worker. After 34 years of helping people to live more full lives, you begin to see the big picture of what it means to be alive...what is important. This in addition to my own life experiences of raising a family has greatly influenced my art.

Q. Jane, can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?
I have a book sitting next to my computer that I have been trying to find time to include in my blog on since you asked...
The book is called Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky. In chapter 2 the title is ART - A YEARNING FOR THE IDEAL. "the indisputably functional role of art lies in the idea of knowing...In a very real sense every individual experiences this process (self-knowledge) for himself as he comes to know life, himself his aims. Of course each person uses the sum of knowledge of ethical, moral self-knowledge is the only aim in life for each person, and subjectively, it is experienced each time as something new. Again and again man correlates himself with the world, racked with longing to acquire, and become one with, the ideal which lies outside him, which he apprehends as some kind of intuitively sensed first principle. The unattainability of that becoming one, the inadequacy of his own "I", is the perpetual source of man's dissatisfaction and pain. And so art, like science, is a means of assimilating the world, an instrument for knowing it in the course of man's journey towards what is called "absolute truth."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?
It was at the DePaul University Art Museum in 2006 when I showed my Katrina work. It was very well received and was named the top 2006 photography museum exhibit in Chicago that year by New City. It was kind of like a coming out...the work has been continually exhibited since then. 30 images are being included in the 3rd edition of New Orleans, The Making of An Urban Landscape by Peirce Lewis which is to be released in June.

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?
Very difficult to say...

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. (Let me know which one you are talking about."What were you thinking when you created it?
Matters of the Heart...the first one that pops up on my a self portrait. In my journey to understand this life, I decided I needed to understand death and dying. I managed after great effort to
visit a slaughter house in Louisiana. Needless to say, it was a very traumatic experience. I often wonder how many people would still be eating meat if they had to do the killing.
Anyway, the pig heart is the same size as the human heart. This self portrait was created after the visit to the slaughter house and I continued to use the heart as a metaphor for other images.

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?
I found that I could most easily access what I needed to express with the camera

Q.Where can we see more of your art?
You can go to my website
I am also exhibiting in various venues which is also on my website under "What's Current"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
I am part of the Catherine Edelman Gallery's Chicago Project which is web based. Every 2 years she has a group show and I will have my Mourning Light series exhibited there. The opening is this coming June 8th. I found I have done very well on my own. The internet is really an amazing tool.

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom? is something I think every artist goes thru...It is important to just work. Let the judging go.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?
Art has the amazing capacity to help heal not only the artist but also the viewer. It is an essential component of being human and I am so happy that
the Chicago will once again become an important center for the arts.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Judging ourselves and the Creative Process

I was recently asked to jury a photographic exhibit at a Chicago Gallery. I have mixed feelings about doing so as I saw merit in all the work. Every person has their own unique vision. It got me to thinking about the creative process once again....
There is nothing more meaningful than being true to yourself and finding your own voice. Follow your heart and don't let anyone discourage you. I once attended a portfolio review session providing feedback from four internationally renowned photographers. I had brought 20 photographs and saw each reviewer separately. In the end, I was surprised that each expert cared for different images, and had varied suggestions for how to continue my work. If each expert had been my teacher, I would have pursued four different directions, and lost my way.
It is vital for any artist to nurture and protect that which will make their vision unique. One needs to go inward instead of outward, and learn to trust your own inner guide, preserving your identity and finding the answers from within.
If you must have a rule to follow, I would suggest cultivating a dialogue with your inner voice, and photograph with your heart. If you listen to the clues your own images offer, the resulting work will be fresh, and authentic. Fall in love with your world and shoot a lot.
"Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own intelligence and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist's life. Being an artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide." Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, March 22, 2007

4th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

It is hard to believe that Tuesday was the 4th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. It was encouraging to see so many people out marching. How is it that I did not see anything reported in the newspaper the following morning. What does it take to turn the tide?....

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Creativity and Fear

I would like introduce you to Richard Olderman who can
share some of his discoveries about life and
creativity. Lets begin with a simple question...WHAT

The realization that for one to be genuinely creative may require that one become un-attached to oneself and to become lost in the moments of creation . To allow other forces to guide one into territories unknown and be transposed to places only dreamed about or imagined. Before one even thinks about making their creative, or perhaps hidden self public, one has to breath in the moments of discovery, what it is they see , and be prepared to let go of what they have uncovered about themselves. Art Blakely once said that when one has infused their soul in a creative act, when it is finished and shared with another, it then belongs to everyone. I have experienced many souls who pause at the
"moment of discovery" and balk at going beyond what they already know. Taking action to be creative is a journey into the unknown. To lose the self you are most conscious of, can provoke feelings of becoming lost, or perhaps even quiet thoughts of non-being. When this "unknown" is experienced the possibility of new birth can occur and one can actually begin to evolve in a way more consistent with their original nature and, in fearless sharing, begin to reveal their unique selves. There is more than a little courage needed to expose who you are.
I do wonder at times what is not art. Can you tell me?


Monday, March 05, 2007

If you missed my
"LOOK AND LEAVE : New Orleans in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina" exhibt, it just reopened at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. It is wonderful to have it in a religious setting, especially when the music wafts into the gallery space! The church is located on Michigan Avenue between Chestnut and Delaware, across the street from the John Hancock building. The gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday 11:00 – 4:00, Sundays 8:00am – 6:00pm, closed Monday and Tuesday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A counterpoint to the falling snow....


This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meaness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house
empty of it's furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be." -Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Put on your dancing shoes! We are going to have a Mardi Gras Celebration Benefit for the New Orleans Common Ground Health Clinic on Saturday, February 17th. Great food and music. Donations of $75.00 are fully tax deductible. Space is limited. If you are interested, please email me for more information at :