Visual Bon-Bon

Getting close to finishing an Idea which hatched during my residency at Blue Mountain Center, and that is a box of visual bon-bons.  In actuality they are geometric puzzles to which I added photographs, prints and drawings.  You can find these puzzles on the internet by searching for “flexagons”.

One fairly simple puzzle with an impossible flap grew into a little book named “Membranes”.

Click on any image to see an enlargement.

Artist Book by Jan Dove
impossible flap puzzle grows into a book

“Membranes” is finished off with some batik cotton and coptic binding.

coptic binding

Next project: finish the box of bon-bons of which this book is one piece — I think.

Paul Farinacci, artist of social commentary

It has been a while since Oola and I traveled on any “plane”.  That foolishness dealt with, I would like you to meet — if you haven’t already — one of my fellow travelers at Blue Mountain Center.

Paul Farinacci is an artist with whom I spent a few whiles in pleasant discussion of the kinds of stuff Artists talk about.  Paul gave the suggestion — and the hand —  to light one of my book installations by candles (big citronella buckets, if you are into details).  But mostly he was bent on getting two pieces done for a show.  He worked longer into the beautiful Adirondack nights than I ever did.

Paul’s work is the kind that you might pass by if you are not the kind to take close, slow looks.  At first it reminded me of Grimm’s fairy tales. The more I looked, the more Daumier and Dorothea Lange and Mark Fiore came to mind.  It even made me wonder how Goya would deal with the social issues we are facing in our place/time.

During our residency Paul was working on 2 paper maché sculptures in his series about testing school children on their academic progress. Each work is covered in NY State testing pages.

Click on any image to see its enlargement.

“Death by #2” is another of my favorites.

deathby#2Paul makes sculptural buildings which are lighted inside, so that you can play the voyeur to see what is going on.

And another favorite:

Assisted Living

Paul also makes huge drawings of which you can see representations at the New York Foundation for the Arts website:

If you are in New York, you can visit his work at the Lyceum Gallery, Suffolk Community College (Riverhead NY) until Oct 26.

Well worth a second, third, and fourth look!

Work at Blue Mountain Center

Today was the day.  When I came to Blue Mountain Center three weeks ago,  I thought I would like to try to create two books, one that pays homage to the water here, and one that pays homage to the land.  The water book has been finished for a while, but rain has kept me from presenting it to the Lake.  This morning opened just a little cloudy, so I told Oola, Today is the Day.

All picts can be clicked on to get enlargements.

The photoshop file looks like this.


and it is divided into 28 panels, printed on clear film, and bound loosely into a folding book.  I attached little floaties and prints of waterlily leaves.  (The waterlilies here are beautiful and endangered from acid rain.)  (I had a remote encounter with a river otter, and a mink.)

Right after breakfast Mike – another of the residents and a fine writer – and I took the Water book down to the shallow part of the lake and launched it.  A little while later several other residents showed up.  Jen and Danica took these great pictures.

a corner of Waterbook
a corner of Waterbook
Waterbook floating
Waterbook floating

I bet a few of you were wondering where Oola has been.  Well, she’s been plenty busy, but she helped out with this art installation.

Oola and Waterbook
Oola and Waterbook and some real waterlily leaves

Soon it was time to take Waterbook out of the water, and start thinking about a suitable bound box for it.

Taking Waterbook out of the water
Taking Waterbook out of the water

Then it was time to start folding up Waterbook for the trip to the studio.

folding Waterbook
folding Waterbook
folding Waterbook
folding Waterbook
once more

Here you can see some of the text.  It consists of water related definitions from which I highlighted selected words to create an I Ching sounding poem.  Here is part of it.


a house down by the lake

your story:
to breathe
under water,
flowing water,
an abundance.

she swam on the surface.

he went for a swim
against) the tide.


The second book, an homage to the land, is nearing completion.  Hopefully I can finish in the next 6 days.

More later.

Artist’s Studio at Blue Mountain

To make art you need time and a place.  I have been given the gift of a month of unobstructed time by Blue Mountain Center.  Staff here bends over backward to make my time here as productive as I want to make it.

As for a place, that could be a prison cell, a dining room table, a classroom, or as Virginia Woolf so famously phrased it, “A room of one’s own”.  Well I thought you might like to see my studio at Blue Mountain for the month.

You can click on any image on this page to see an enlargement.

The only problem is that it is too pretty.  I have not had enough time to really make it look like my space — messy.

I have finished an artist book I was working on before I came here.

"And the Mother Said", cover
“And the Mother Said”, cover
Artist book, And the Mother Said
“And the Mother Said”, fully opened

The images were mostly recycled scraps of prints.  I just didn’t know what they meant in their new context.

I was having a problem with discovering the text.  So Oola and I went to the screened-in thinking room shown above and we mentally grunted,

The text came out like this:


And the Mother Said

Enter your studio
Someone is there waiting for you.
Someone is waiting to be born.

Tell your Father
I have saved a place for him.
Tell him in the language of the crows.
Tell him in the woodland crowned with crows.

Tell him in beauty; tell him in your grief.
Tell him by the waters; cover him with salt.

Weave for him a blanket of grasses.
Sew for him a cloak of night feathers,
your anger’s lullaby.

Fly with him through slipping winds.
Fly with him to me.


When we were sitting down to dinner that evening Oola blurted out, “I wrote a poem today.  It was like squeezing a boil”.

Be Well
More Later

Going to Blue Mountain

If anything could teach one the cost of attachment to worldly goods, a backpack containing a 17” laptop, 2 professional cameras, plus all necessary peripherals will do it…or at least it will slow you down.

On the other hand, an artist needs her tools.  Did Georgia have to pack her stuff around?  Then again, I’m not Georgia!

at SF airport
Flight 88

It’s Thursday evening.  Oola and I are on the red eye to Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks, upstate New York.

There had been a moment when over three hundred people wondered why we were not taking off.  It seems that a lady had put her two dogs on the plane, and then she did not show up.  There was a kerfuffle as to what to do about the dogs when finally she, the owner, materialized and was escorted – eyes lowered, cat in tow – down that long, narrow aisle, under the curious if not hostile gaze of 600 eyes, to the back of the airplane.  Oola and I were divided as to whether we should curse or pity her.  Maybe she enjoyed being the center of a drama.  Let’s hope there was a worthy story to accompany the display.

There would be no sleep this night.  I would watch a map of the United States unfurl below me.

Lifting off from San Francisco in the growing dark was an enchantment in itself.  I saw a soft layer of fog illuminated from below by the multi-hued lights of the City.  A large moon was climbing a ladder of protracted clouds.

Cities appeared like distant fireworks.  Most amazing was to witness the emergences of quicksilver snakes in the blackscape below.  These were, of course, rivers illuminated by that big moon which accompanied us through the night.  Most stunning were the shimmering disks of lakes, especially in the Illinois area.  As we passed over them, the moon would add a special phosphorescent glow to their borders.

My only regret was that the tiny iPhone camera couldn’t capture them.

At one point, to the south, Oola witnessed great flashes of lightening.  She displayed a wisdom unusual to her nature by not shouting “Did you see THAT?!”  All fellow travelers were at least trying to sleep.

Flying into the dawn we watched trails of clouds define the contours of hill country.

above the clouds
Above the clouds

Much good art to see in the airports.  For example, this spectacular piece by William Wiley.

art by Wm Wiley at SF Airport

At the Albany Airport we saw a small show – “Where the Boundaries Fade” –  of exquisite collage/paintings by Robert Gullie.  Somewhere between folk art and surrealism, his images brought to mind both renaissance tales and the spare perfection of a Japanese floral arrangement.

Robert Gullie, title unknown

It is so easy to make a cluttered collage.  Guillie’s compositions go straight to the visual point: Just enough to bring the narration together and no more.

These were digital reproductions of the originals, something I would normally question, but the quality of the prints were such that I was fooled into believing the tiny edges of glue around the assembled elements.

Robert Gullie, title unknown

Apologies for the reflections in the glass.  They were unavoidable in the circumstances.

Now I am at Blue Mountain having recovered some of my lost sleep.  The air is warm and it is raining a beautiful soft rain.  This is the view from my studio back window.

Apologies for the reflections in the glass.  They were unavoidable in the circumstances. Now I am at Blue Mountain having recovered some of my lost sleep.  The air is warm and it is raining a beautiful soft rain.  This is the view from my studio window.
Back view from my studio at BMC

Feeling much gratitude here.

Love to all, More to come.