Sue Roberts at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

Didn’t Mom tell you not to judge a book by its cover?  Did your teacher say that art is about revealing inner reality?  Artist Sue Roberts upholds both these maxims in her pointed and funny show “Family of Sorts” currently at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (You can click on any image to see an enlargement.)

The Gun Family by Sue Roberts
“The Gun Family” by Sue Roberts

Attracted to “story” as I am, I was immediately drawn to this show (and gratified to see that artist has just ignored the vilifications which were heaped on visual narrative in my art school days).  Beyond the story, though, I was attracted to the painterly excellence applied to the ceramic work.  The artist doubles the intent of the work by skillfully adding semi-opaque 2-D layers which amplify the normal 3-D features of the work.  In the case of “The Gun Family”, the underpainting and overpainting on the surface gives a subtle and most appropriate grit-and-glitter result to this social commentary on interpretations of the Second Amendment.

The artist uses another technique which adds meaning to her stories:  Some of the work has a homespun look.

"The Pleaser" by Sue Roberts
“The Pleaser” by Sue Roberts

In “The Pleaser”  the costume conveys this meaning. But also, the dry and unsophisticated feel of the surface emphasizes by calling into question the complex maneuvering required for being a successful “pleaser”.

Compare that to

"Talons" by Sue Roberts
“Talons” by Sue Roberts

“Talons” which for the most part is polished with a coat of encaustic (a beeswax and resin concoction applied with heat).  The resulting seductive surface adds another layer of meaning to the “story”, especially where it contrasts with the unpolished “skin” of the talons.

"Oblivion" by Sue Roberts
“Oblivion” by Sue Roberts

In “Oblivion” the artist treats the ceramic surface with what appears to be more established glazing techniques.  The colors and surfaces are less subtle, the story more specific.  What contemporary person does not recognize this chap who is oblivious to his world and to the oblivion in the falls ahead?

If you are in the area, go see the show.  It is up until March 15, 2015. There is a master class with the artist on March 14.  Find out all about it at

1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Port Angeles, WA 98362


Leave time to see the sculpture garden!  More about that to come

Words Are People Too

cover of Bob Pitta's book
Words Are People Too

Well, he finished it!  After seven years of research and rare insight, Bob Pitta (my demented brother and Oola’s long lost ….uh…. relative) has published his Encyclobodomy.

Back cover of Bob's book
Back cover of Bob’s book

A short example of middly placed words:



Definition: The Person in charge — on the job or on the jury

Etymology:  Because mankind only has five fingers on each of his hands, and because prior to the invention of colleges, he needed one of his hands to count the number of fingers on the other of his hands — for many years, mankind could only count to five.  Most men in those precollege days worked for someone else.  Most bosses, in order to guarantee that each of his men was working on whatever job was assigned, promoted the smartest guy in each group of five guys to be responsible for the productivity of the other four guys.  This ingenious method of dividing up the workforce allowed the guy who was promoted to crew boss to match a worker to each of his free fingers on one hand.  He used the other hand to count with.  The guy who was promoted generally saved one digit, usually the thumb, to represent himself.  Each crew boss was named THE FOREMAN, obviously because he had four men to keep track of.  The reason that they spelled it FOREMAN instead of FOUR-MEN was because, as previously noted, college hadn’t been invented yet.

Check it out, read more excerpts, and support my brother in his quest for higher knowledge at

Wimmen’s Comix

Oola at the Wimmen's Comix Opening
Oola at the Wimmen’s Comix Opening

Once again Oola dons her special reception gown.  We are going to San Francisco on BART to the opening reception for the 40th Anniversary of  Wimmen’s Comix show in the San Francisco Library.  The Library is easy to find, just at the top of the Civic Center Bart station stairs.

There was a mix up in reception times, but we wandered around the displays on the 4th floor and had some good,  healthifying chortles and guffaws.

Wimmen's Comix, # 17
Wimmen’s Comix, # 17 Caryn Leschen  Oola remembers a cousin who looked something like this.  Big family.

Back in the day, underground comic books seemed pretty much a guy thing to me.  Though I did learn something about a job well done from Mr. Natural; and Fat Freddy’s Cat had shortcuts with which I could identify when confronted with life’s persistent problems.

Lee Marrs and Sharon Rudah
Lee Marrs and Sharon Rudahl, two of the “founding Mommies” of Wimmen’s Comix

But there was a group of uppity women cartoonists in San Francisco who thought their work should be seen too; and maybe they should make some $$$ for their work; and they did something about it.  From 1972 to 1992 they published Wimmen’s Comix and put the woman’s voice into the public eyeball.  They were telling funny stories about stuff I was interested in.  Imagine that!

Art should speak for itself.  Taking decent picts of the work (art) was a problem, what with the glass and all.  But here are some fragments of the pages that made me lol.  The first is a one page story of the first pair of glasses which become big as umbrellas.

Lee Binswanger, The Glasses from Hell

Ah, yes.  The adventures in the Gynocologist’s office….

Nancy Husari, Gyno Cops

And like Lee says, “Four pages in glorious black and white”.  Stories of real life.

Lee Marrs
Lee Marrs

On this post there is no way to do visual justice to the work.  Get yourself over to the SF Main Library, Fourth Floor. You won’t be sorry.

100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, 94102
(415) 557-4400

The show will be up until February 7, 2013.

Saint Oola

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Bob Sennhauser asked if he should light a candle for a grant I was applying for.  Any help at all would do, I thought.  But then Oola said that she should be a saint so that HER candle could be lighted. Hmmmm.

Murillo came to mind and the short of the story is:

St Oola candle, front
St. Oola candle
St. Oola candle, back

I’m thinking of creating another website devoted to the Commodification of Oola.

Another friend, the Mysterious One, said that he hopes I don’t get stuck in the head with lightening.  Wasn’t that SWEEEEET!!!??

Oola as Antiope

Oola has taken time from her travels to take a nude modeling gig with this French artist guy, Watteau.

Oola as Antiope
Oola as Antiope

The back story is about this guy, Jupiter, who goes around spreading his DNA.  And I post it especially for those esteemed persons who like to do searches for “nude Oola”.  I’m sure they are looking for the green dancer, and they are into really high quality stuff.  Unlike those persons who do searches for “naked Oola”.

The wire-heads?  They are just fetishes I built and photographed.  I gave them a little contrapposto with the new Photoshop puppet warp tool.

You can see the real print, at 35″ x 46″ at the Art in the Atrium event at Berkeley City College, Saturday, May 5 from 11AM to 4:30PM.  BCC is located at 2050 Center Street, 1/2 block west of the Berkeley Downtown BART station.

You can also see a larger, online version at

Trip to Another Place

This post is not a road trip, per se, but it did start in Mom’s Memorial Prius.  It was rent day, and I had to go to the landLord’s building in the next city. You can guess that this is not our favorite place.  But Oola and I dutifully climbed the stairs.

When we got to the top, we were stunned by the sight of a needle-felted wool sculpture.  This, by any standards, was no ordinary sculpture.  Oola gulped in recognition of her long lost cousin – a trailer trash zombie named Trailina.

Trailina. Oola's long lost cousin

To make a long story short, Trailina’s creator, Bird Mccarger, agreed to come visit us in my studio.  Oola and I had discovered not only her long lost cousin, but also the fountainhead of a whole lost family.  Oola was overcome with joyous vapours.

Oola's long lost cousin. The resemblance is amazing.

Come for tea they did, with a little vodka in a hip flask.  Oola and Trailina had a lot of catching up to do.  And I had the pleasure of talking art with someone who really understands issues that are important to me.  Soon we were cackling in mutual recognition.

Bird, who went to California College of Arts (“and Crafts”, she emphasized), discovered that what she really loves is the process of making miniature things that are personal and intimate.

Then on-line she discovered dry felted dolls.  She thought they were hilarious.  I went to the web and looked, and the process I saw left me dumbfounded.  You use this fragile, barbed needle — that can draw blood — on wool, wrapping and poking over and over to make the shapes and add to them layer by hairy layer.  Check this out: the amount of work, not to mention danger to the fingers, involved in making a simple, stupid pumpkin:

But, not a lot of equipment is needed, and the process does not poison your space or the environment.  It just takes an amazing amount of time in the obsession pit.

Bird confessed to being annoyed by the BIG HIGH ART thing that we both experienced in art school.  We agreed that bigger=better is a “guy thing”, a remnant of the “heroic” age of Modernism.  I remembered how disappointed I was, having seen reproductions of Motherwell paintings in the art history books, to see them in person.   I had thought them beautiful in miniature scale, but in life they looked bloated, overblown, with no perceivable reason for being gigantic, except that maybe they could sport a bigger price tag.

Bird – a true craftsperson — said that big Fine Art is “a manifestation of a hedonistic society that masturbates all the time”.  Bird says things like that.  So does Oola.  I personally do not see any difference between good art and good craft.  I think that Bird is an exceptionally good artist who deserves a lot more time to make what she makes.

We talked about the greed of our society, about the need to fill your hut with “stuff” and guard it aggressively.  The need to make more money that anyone could ever use in a lifetime.  We talked of the aggression of our society, and how that aggression is only a mask for fear, the fear of losing all that stuff that greed piled into your hut.   How the oil companies, the banks, the pharmaceutical companies are “entities of fear”.  And how fear limits how much of the world you can see, limits your manifestation of your inner self, limits your ability to create.

We talked about humor.  How you will be making what you think you are making, and something will sneak into your work and surprise you.  Bird likes poking fun at our pop culture, and at what people think they know.  I posited my current mantra that humor is — at root — the expression of rage and pain.

For all of us who wonder why anyone would wear the words we have seen on their butts.

Bird agreed, and began talking about the dolls that had come with her.  Trailina is a pregnant zombie (there is a story there!) and she is tacky.  Trailina talks about Bird’s mother-anger that our kids have to grow up in an over-sexualized, porn, pop-culture that is “frickin ridiculous”.  As a mother of a teenage girl, she sees 14 year olds looking like they are ready to “hook it up” on San Pablo Ave.

Mystery Meat

Miss Trie Miet, detail

“Miss Trie Miet” is a drag queen.  How come men are more beautiful than me? she asks.  Bird posits that it is because men in our society developed the impossible standards of beauty that girls and women foolishly aspire to.  Standards that in essence say “Be young beautiful boys for your Greek boyfriends.”  (That is “Greek” in the historical sense; forgive me Ianos.)


“Florabella” is reverence for movement and physical control, and for not relying on someone else to tell you you’re beautiful.  Flora reminded me about an experience I had once, in my bellydancing days.  I was all costumed up and waiting to go “on”.  I saw a bellydancer in the room who was beautiful and whom I had never seen before.  I stared at her, and she at me.  When I cocked my head so did she.  Then came the shock of recognition. She was I in the mirror, and we were the REAL THING.

It is possible to be a cranky “bitch” about what bothers you, but nobody will listen.  Bird has discovered how to make us listen.

Both Oola and Bird insisted on family snapshots:

Bird and Oola
Bird and Oola

To see Bird’s websites, go to: