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Weekend art.

Look, I don't want to get to heavy here, but let's just say the last 2 years have been, for me, a seismic spiritual/intellectual/political revolution. It's been... exhausting? Liberating. I feel like I have had to take stock of my work and life, and also confront things like: Holy shit, we live in a culture of "total work" and that modern work overtakes your mind and attention completely. It easily displaces your attention from other essential human functions like: community, learning, exploring, and true recreation (in the almost religious sense of that word).

This weekend was a nice retreat from all that. I am getting better at having some peace in my own time. This is good. I am probably a less-good employee as a result. I think this is also good.

A super duper thing to read if you are like, "What is this nonsense she is babbling about?" is the book Leisure the Basis of Culture, which is a small book, but a little dense and dry since it's a book of philosophy. The smart/lazy reader will just read THIS in which brilliant Maria Popova distills it for you.

This weekend, true recreation (literally re-creating myself with rest and learnin') came from a few good things:

I bought a book on Gericault simply because it looked... cool. And then I did a bit more digging to learn who he was. This 6-minute video on his epic painting The Raft of the Medusa was so illuminating. And omg, this painting is literally a representation of all the ways modern government fails people. (Hello Katrina.)

Also in the book was a small newspaper clipping written by Pierre Schneider, beautifully written, reviewing a museum show of Gericault paintings. Schneider, I then learned, is the foremost Matisse expert, which was super timely because I just read this AMAZING book called The Art of Rivalry, which tells the story of four pairs of artistic friends/rivals. The chapter on Picasso and Matisse is excellent (as is the one on Pollack and de Kooning). So that was timely and brought my very recent reading full circle.

Then I made silly/fun portable watercolor palettes in Altoid tins. Then I made block prints.
Then I tried to learn to paint. I won't even show you that effort. I have a way to go.

The bottom line is that I have now fully replaced my time on Angry Political Twitter with reading about or making art/doodles. I used to think people who had those ART SAVES bumper stickers on their cars were, you know, a bit much. But now I get it. Learning to paint or draw is so humbling. When I look at even the simplest, least-refined drawings of Gericault, I am in awe. These are tough times socially and politically. It's good, always, to find a beautiful thing and to remain in awe of it. Because art saves.

1. What do you make (art, food, crafts, gardens, other)?
2. What are you learning? What's new to you these days? 

So far, so British.

I have promiscuous decorating taste. I like a little bit of everything good. But I find that my own house is getting a bit more "Hazlitt's" every year and I think it's because I really only like to shop at Pacific Galleries, a local vintage/antique mall here in Seattle. I don't have the discipline or patience to map out a room or house all at once and then go buy it all new. Now, I don't hate that look. Show me a Brian Paquette room installed yesterday, with (nearly) all-new things and I will say: "YES. I am into that." But I think my hunter-gatherer instincts will continue to mean I come home with bamboo nested tables and old tufted mohair Edwardian chairs, and blue & white cachepots and the like.

And because of the Brians of the design world, and everyone's obsession with minimalism, brown furniture is, well, a steal. And so I kinda wish it would have a moment. I wish all the kids would trade in their air ferns and West Elm chairs and whatnot and maybe throw in some seriously old-school bits. Because it's all cheap and it can be so good and fun. I want to see all the kids in old tufted chairs, reading Jacobin and plotting campaigns for single-payer healthcare in their old-timey apartments with their fine old brown furniture. Or something like that.

(Susan Deliss / shot: Paul Massey)

And lastly, speaking of both politics and British decorating, here's a quick essay about how Karl Max kept house that should make you feel much better about your own place.

Q: Has your style become more modern or more traditional as you've gotten older?


If you quit your job tomorrow, what would you do? Like... if you could do anything?

And... tell me a story about quitting. When have you quit something? What was it? Were you glad? Did you regret it?

[Photo by Juli Bulla... like Alex Prager but still affordable. You can buy her stuff HERE.]

Backyard dreams.

Julianne Moore's backyard is my dream.


I have dogs for whom, if they were human, I would have already secured restraining orders. They follow me constantly which I love about 80% of the time, and the rest of the time I have to sneak around to avoid them and hide. Sometimes I have my morning coffee in the bathroom. I sit on the toilet (seat down... I'm not a monster), cross my legs, and hook one against the shitty 70s cabinet, phone in hand to check stocks and news and Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram. I can hear the dogs clicking nervously outside. I read on, trying to have a little peace. It's a thing.

Last year I went into the attic and realized: WOW. This is like... a room I am not using. The attic stairs are too steep for the dogs, so that works to my advantage. In fact, they're almost too steep and dangerous for me. But, bit by bit discarded old furniture has made its way up here. Last year after I quit my job (I since returned, but I had a nice 7 month fake retirement), I realized that one thing that made me completely insane was that I never did anything with my hands except type. I never made anything. I had spent 18 years working in a way that I often described as "bending spoons with my mind," doing a lot of things that were not visible to me. Everything happened sort of... theoretically. So I started making really bad paintings and bad carvings and bad prints. Now I am on to bad pottery. (It's liberating to do things badly. Also a late life lesson.) So the attic, like the bathroom, is my new hideout.

What's your hideout?

"No politics"

"No politics," is what she emailed to me when I asked what we should talk about. I respect the request (especially since I asked what we should talk about) but it's hard not to think politics when we've had our deadliest shooting since the last deadliest mass shooting 16 months ago. White male American terrorism is an issue we have to tackle in this country. Guns, too. I'll ease back into politics over time. I've become even more of a leftist in the last few years. I even joined DSA. Read their platform. There is literally nothing to disagree with there. 

In the meantime, here's a photo of a painted screen that I recently bought. It was so amazing I had to have it. This is (a) a terrible photo and (b) not the final resting place for this screen. Now that it's in my house I am like, "Who do I think I am? How is this screen going to live in a basic craftsman home?" I am no Rothschild. Oh, well. I'll figure it out. What have you bought for your home that never really found a place? Everyone says "buy what you love and it will work," but is this really true?

I'm back. What should we talk about?

It's chilly here... fall for sure, though we are getting a little sun today and probably next week, which is good.

How is everyone doing? How are you holding up under this fascist regime?

(Here is a photo from summer vacation. No reason to post this except that I am tired of looking at the last post. If you wanna go here, stay HERE. Highly recommend it and you're a 3 minute walk from this exact spot.)
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