Naked

My newest work is currently hanging in an installation titled “What Wild Life Left”.  It’s the brainchild of my son, Gordon Millsaps.  Gordon is a sculptor/fabricator/engineer/visionary who lives and works in Brooklyn. When Gordon first hit town, ten years ago, he found that a cabinet company nearby was discarding long thin strips of pine.  They were perhaps a little less than an inch square, and eight feet long, or more.  He gathered them up and brought them back to the rough-hewn loft where he lived, and started constructing everything he needed out of these narrow strips of wood.  He made …

Herb Jackson at the Gregg

On a breather from my studio, I set yesterday aside to see Herb Jackson’s latest exhibition, “A Door is not a Window”, curated by Lia Newman and Roger Manley, at the new Gregg Museum on the campus of NC State University. Like countless artists, my life story pivots on an encounter with Herb Jackson who, 40 years ago, figuratively picked me up out of an art trashcan, dusted me off, gave me a brief list of pithy instructions, and set me on my life’s path. I cannot imagine my life without that pivotal moment and those instructions. So, to see …

Good Food

Thursday nights in this little French village, the old hotel that clings to a precipice overlooking everything else plays host to a tiny organic market in the lobby. A couple of farmers sell their home grown carrots, cauliflowers, mushrooms and homemade breads. It’s on the honor system and you do the math. Meanwhile, on the terrace the hotel conducts  tapas night with local wines. We  picked a table on the end of the terrace, and turned our backs on the setting sun, after filling our bags with homegrown vegetables. We had the remarkable tapas and the lovely soft wines to …

A Bear Island Anniversary

I was standing at a counter filling out paperwork to camp on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands when the ranger reminded me what day it was— May 15, my 40th wedding anniversary. In 40 years I’d managed to reconfigure myself from the wearer of the long white gown to the bearer of the backpack full of gear. Nothing beats an island for turning inward. I found my campsite behind a twenty foot dune. Everywhere blackberry bushes grew absolutely flat against the ground, the white sand reflecting heat and light to ripen the thousand shining berries. It was a milk-and-honey …

The Color of Grace

Curled up on the sofa after a hot bath I’m very happy to be home. For the past three days I’ve been camping in the wilderness near Lost Cove Creek with my two backpacking mentors, Dick and Jim. There was nothing new about the plans– same plans, same food, same equipment. But it was new territory for us, and the trails were largely unmarked.  Dick estimates that we ascended 2000 feet, slow-going with loaded packs. Ascending, my face was close to the ground, and I became mesmerized by the beauty of mosses, lichens and  fallen leaves. The hickory leaves were …

Negative space

Today my new eight year old existential friend paid me a studio visit.  She carried on a lively conversation, told  a few jokes, and then, very seriously asked   “so, how is your life?”  It gave me a moment’s pause.  I answered her with the seriousness the question deserved.  I told her “my life is joyous”.  End of discussion. The day before she had told me that being in her new third grade classroom felt like “being in another world”.  I guess, when you grow up with the Aegean as your background you think in those terms.  As an artist I’m …

Vagabonding

Before I settle down to a summer’s work it’s good to do a little gypsy roaming.  I just had a great break from my routine, exploring Provence.  At first I enjoyed the companionship of wonderful friends at Le Beaucet in a  delightful country home. We saw the sights, enjoyed the regional foods and wines, and were expertly guided, tended and fed by Mary James and Xavier (www.maryjames.net) . In my journal I made a list of sounds and sights and smells that were especially vivid.  And of course, tastes.  There were many.  It was a sensual feast from morning until …

Dreamland

It’s Monday back in the real world.  I’m attempting to pretend I’m all here, but I still have one foot on an island.  Yesterday’s sunrise, which seems a continent away and a month behind me, was a battle between blackened hovering clouds and peach colored light thrown at the edges of billowing cloud formations.  It came and went, shifting back and forth.  I sat in the sand and tried to paint a seized moment here and an arrested cloud there.  Sand blew low and hard, needle-pricking me.  It completely filled my paintbox and scattered itself on my page.  My brush, …