The Lightning Field

 ‘Location, location, location.’ Chosen by the artist Walter De Maria, the high New Mexico desert provides the highest incidence of lightning events in the US. His seminal installation, ‘The Lightning Field’ is not easy to find- ‘you can’t get there from here-’ or anywhere. Four hours from Albuquerque in our rental car brought us to an empty office in Quemado where we met the conservator of the work- Robert Fosdick. An authentic cowboy and former Rodeo Champion we affectionately dubbed him, ‘Cowboy Bob’. Cowboy Bob then drove us another hour in a mud-caked SUV down dirt roads flooded with recent storm water at a rate of speed usually reserved for Amusement Park rides.

Visitors must stay overnight. Dinner- Enchiladas prepared by Cowboy Bob’s daughters- are in the fridge. The cabin is an original homestead dwelling that has been ‘remodeled’ for 21stcentury visitors. Well, maybe 20th century visitors- no Internet, no Wii, no TV. You get the picture.


But in this remote setting all there is to do is experience the artwork. And what an experience it is! Nothing can prepare an urban dweller such as myself for the vast expanse of the New Mexico plains. Trying to comprehend the vast, open space was truly an exciting endeavor.

The work consists of 400 stainless steel poles arranged in a grid measuring 1 mile x 1 meter. Each pole is 20’ tall, embedded in cement and sharpened to a point. Although we did experience lighting in all directions, it needs to be less than 200’ up to strike the poles. Watching the light change and viewing the contrast between the highly finished stainless and the grubby, saturated landscape was amazing enough.

We rose before sunrise the next day and walked the perimeter at Dawn. Cattle and Coyotes provided the soundtrack while a brief Rainbow graced us with its presence. We left the way we had come- Cowboy Bob’s daughter learned to drive from Dad- but a bit more fulfilled.

September 11, 2011






White Mountain, 14,252'

While driving 2 hours on dirt roads in the dark (and questioning our sanity) on the way to the trailhead we had no idea we were driving over a mountain peak covered with the oldest living things on the planet. The Bristlecone Pines have been dated to the days of the EGYPTIANS- over 4000 years ago! They are small, unassuming trees with very dense trunks the color of golden caramel and garnished with slight sprigs of green. Even when they die- the wood does not decompose- it's almost petrified.

We arrived at the trailhead just before dawn and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise over a lanscape like the moon. It reminded me of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire only so, so much higher. Hiking at altitude is always challenging and this was no different. Even though there is 'only' a 2000' gain- the trail teases you by going up and DOWN- only to go UP and down again. 

Since it's a research station for the University of California, there is a road all the way to the top. Technically, it's an 'easy' trail and very good road although you wouldn't want to drive your Lexus.

The summit was in dense cloud cover and we debated about turning back. We decided to continue as long as we could clearly see where we were going. We made the summit in a fog bank and strong winds, then quickly decended.

The payoff was beautiful weather on the way back and a tame heard of juvenille Bighorn Sheep! We also saw plenty of marmots and a view of Mt. Whitney in the distance.

A successful hike, but the hardest road I've ever traveled.

Mammoth, CA

One of my favorite places in Cali is Mammoth Mountain. Not only is it a fun and fabulous ski resort but it is also a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors in the summer. Ever since we summited Mt. Whitney two years ago we have enjoyed hiking the Sierras. Their sharp, jagged profile silhouetted against the clear, cloudless sky is always breathtaking. The hiking is challenging for us flatlanders since you are at altitude (9000'+) but it often results in a great payoff: remote pristine mountain lakes the color of deepest gemstone that take your breath away.

Of course sketching on location is a must!

Mark created this fantastic panorama of Duck Lake, elv. 11,000' while I was painting.


Rock Star

Amid great fanfare, The Rock made its' LA Debut. I went to see it just days after the unveiling. And the effect? A bit underwhelming, actually.

"Size determines an object but scale determines art,' said Robert Smithson of 'Spiral Jetty' fame. A more refined version of 'size matters.' Although the sculputure is gorgeous to be sure it now lacks the foil of the crowded city streets I had come to know. When it was strutting its stuff in Bixby Knolls or dwarfing churches in Carson, it had a different aura, a larger scale. It asserted itself: 'I am The Rock. And I Rule!'

But like many things about art- most visitors to the sculpture do not know its past. We rarely see the drawings of the Master, only the Mona Lisa. So to take 'Levitated Mass' at face value I had to erase the history of its journey. Upon viewing the installation it is impressive indeed: a sleek channel cut into the desert with a floating granite boulder above. A beautiful juxtaposition and gorgeous work of art; the olive perched on the rim your martini glass.

The Rock Stops

March 8, 2012

After the high of seeing The Rock on Wednesday, I decided to give it one more try. Unfortunately, it hit a big snafu in its route! A sneaky bridge settled just enough to deny the clearance it needed. So when I went to the pre-determined intersection- No Rock! I drove around thinking, ‘you can’t really hide that thing anywhere…’ but after I called my MPS (Mark Positioning System) he looked up The Rock’s Blog (yes The Rock has a blog) and confirmed that the route had been changed. The Rock was now in Carson!

I drove through some unfamiliar neighborhoods and found it sitting, on a non-descript street, with very little fanfare- and very few fans! ??? The Celebrity Policeman and his thought balloon were still waving to passerby along with some confused-looking older people probably wondering WTF? So after taking a few shots I headed back to the car and noticed that The Rock was sitting right in front of a church named….wait for it….The Rock of Salvation. You just can't make this stuff up.

The Detour of Divine Intervention?

Rockin' Around

March 7, 2012

Even though I had already seen The Rock I was not prepared for the party that surrounded it at Bixby Knolls. When we arrived in this hamlet of Long Beach, a flashing construction sign read, ‘Big Rock Ahead’. Gotta love the fact that someone has a sense of humor around here- there was also a policeman holding a cartoon blub that said, ‘that’s a big rock’. He became an instant Internet celebrity. There were DJ’s spinning appropriately-themed songs such as ‘We Will Rock You’, rock bands setting up and restaurants with tents selling burritos. On the other side of the street were guys silk screening t-shirts to order, graffiti artists capturing the mise en scene en plein air, kids painting rocks, Rock Guessing and Occupy Levitated Mass protestors. Last, but not least, were the Food Trucks! Ah, thank God. Now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!

Oh, and don't forget the media, of course.



The Rock Rolls

March 1, 2012

I’ve been waiting for The Rock. A 340-ton piece of granite, blasted from a cliff in Riverside, for over a year. It’s part of a monumental sculpture being installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (LACMA) Titled, ‘Levitated Mass’ it was conceived over 10 years ago by ­­artist Michael Heizer and will allow viewers to descend into a channel and walk under the boulder. Simple, right?

The one thing they don’t tell you in Art School is that your life will be filled with Schlepping. Getting Stuff from Here to There. ‘Levitated Mass’ is this on a massive scale. (get it?) Transporting the granite boulder from the quarry in Riverside 60 miles to Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles has probably been a logistics nightmare, but here it comes.

Affectionately known as ‘The Rock’, the granite boulder has its’ own special Semi Tractor Trailer, travels only at night and has an entourage to remove signs and traffic lights before it passes by. It moves at 5 mph and required many different permits from the hodgepodge of cities we call L.A. Naturally as the dates for the move changed, the permits expired and had to be re-done, etc. Fun!

I didn’t know it was finally coming but as soon as I opened the paper and saw it on the Front Page, I jumped in the car and sped off toward Chino. I found The Rock on a non-descript dirt lot across from the Ontario Airport. The scene was so LA: art hipsters, city officials in hard hats, media (of course), curious locals, supposed gang members, engineers. I did an interview with a documentary filmmaker and saw a wedding proposal. Channel 4 News interviewed the betrothed couple as the documentary filmmaker filmed them afterward. A small red headed boy played with his truck in the dirt while a pair of Japanese businessmen gazed in their tailored suits. A grandfather walked around with his grandson and a Golden Retriever patiently waited for his owner.

The only thing missing was the Food Trucks!



Laguna Art Museum Auction 2012

Last Saturday night we raised a record amount at the auction to benefit the Laguna Art Musuem! The theme was 'Lounge' and I dressed accordingly. My cousin from Germany was in town and enjoyed seeing my work there as well as the excitement and the crowds. After the auction, dancing ensued and a good time was had by all. I mean, what could possibly go wrong in a Silver Lame Pantsuit?

See you next year!

Laguna Art Museum Installation: The Event (Part IV)

Good thing I live close to the museum! Worked on lighting Thursday, hung paintings Friday and brought in flowers Saturday. It was a wonderful event with lovely wines from the Staglin Family Vineyard and delicious food by Craig Strong from the Montage. I was happy with the way the installation turned out....many thanks to the staff at the museum for all their help!

Laguna Art Museum Installation: The Details (Part III)

I decided to utilize the space overhead rather than create a giant centerpiece. I hate sitting behind a giant bouquet of flowers and not being able to enjoy a group conversation! I found some cool hanging lamps that echo the floral inspiration for my work. The museums’ talented installation expert has even agreed to hang them from the 25’ ceilings, yay Tim.

Flowers: one of my favorite flower arrangement concepts is the Lei. What a marvelous idea- to wear beautiful flowers around your neck! Each guest will be presented with a Hawaiian Lei in lieu of chargers at their place setting. (say THAT 3 times fast) Ideally my orchid cactus will still be blooming so I can add a few flowers from my garden: a nice tribute to complete the circle of inspiration. As they say, “art is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Genau.

Of course I wouldn’t be me if I said I hadn’t considered what to wear…



Laguna Art Museum Installation: The Table (Pt. II)

Wow. Now I know why there is a job called, ‘Event Designer.’ There is a huge amount of planning, attention to detail, and creativity involved. There is also a baffling array of choices with decisions to be made each step of the way. Make one change and, Bam! A domino effect sends you back to ‘Go.’

The Table: after toying around with different shapes and heights, I decided we are bounded by the shape we’re in- our bodies dictate what is comfortable for us. Like gravity, we cannot break the laws of dining without a great deal of discomfort! So I ended up with the 8’ x 4’ banquet table- not creative but a really good shape for dinner.

The Linens: as usual, I was seduced by color. When I visited the showroom there were soooo many gorgeous fabrics and colors! I have experience with fashion design and textiles so it was hard to resist the fuchsia Dupioni silk or the orange Damask with the textured swirl. And the sheers! Sexy transparent drapes with contrasting warp and weft which change color as one passes! Yum. Delicious.

The Chairs: since we enjoy entertaining and do it a lot, I wanted them to be comfortable. At home, we have a comfy bench with pillows. I really wanted couches on one side since I’m the one that always goes for the banquette at a restaurant, but sadly the budget did not allow. I did however find some comfy fuchsia chairs that (hopefully) will not look like the Prom! Or maybe it will look like the Prom but with better food.



Laguna Art Museum Installation: The Paintings (Pt. I)

The Laguna Beach Art Museum holds a fundraiser every year called ‘Palette to Palate’ that features a 5-course meal served by the chef of the Montage Resort in the Main Gallery of the museum. Ten invited artists each create a space to enjoy this memorable dining experience. It can be anything you dream up- as long as it will enhance, not hinder, your guests’ dining experience. This year I was invited to create a space; it has been a fun, exciting, and very educational endeavor for me.

Where to start? The installation includes work by each artist so it seemed obvious to begin with the paintings! I have continued my abstract landscape series with a ‘macro’ view as inspired by the organic shapes in my garden this spring. I enjoy distilling things down to their basic forms and using color to juxtapose areas of contrast against areas of harmony.

So much in life is editing; carving out beauty amid the chaos. The ‘Pacific Rim Landscape’ series imposes order on a chaotic surface the same way our exterior personalities impose order on our often turbulent or conflicted feelings. I am particularly interested in the space between the two (the edge) and am thrilled that the visual language in these pieces reflects this ideal with an exciting symbiotic energy.


Hortense Miller Garden

Right up behind my house is a lovely botanic garden which was donated to the city by the owner Hortense Miller. She and her husband moved to Laguna Beach about 35 years ago; sadly soon after the home was built her husband passed away. But Hortense spent the next 30+ years creating a beautiful hillside sanctuary which included many native species. The home is an amazing Mid-Century Modern tucked away within the garden- a hip Bohemian paradise. There is even an orchid house which the Newport Beach Orchid Society generously filled for the Open House event. I love the clean lines and indoor/outdoor living- I could move in tomorrow!

I am always inspired by plants and organic shapes; I have started a body of work based on them for my upcoming museum installation.


Thanks to everyone who made this year's LOVE Auction a success! It was great to be a part of it and always wonderful to talk with collectors. I especially enjoy hearing about why they collect what they do. Ran into a couple who acquired a piece of mine about 10 years ago- it was wonderful to hear how much they still enjoy it as it hangs over the fireplace mantle in their living room.


Art transforms things we take for granted and re-presents them in a new light. I especially enjoy interactive installations that are on the surface, very simple ideas- yet creations that transcend the sum of their parts. The current show, 'Suprasensorial' at the Geffen has several of these pieces: a bright line drawn in space, a room that made you feel underwater or a series of corridors that bathed you in Red, Green or Blue. They not only made you think about Light, Color and Space- they were just plain fun.

Swimming in Art

Just saw a wonderful exhibit at the Geffen which included an installation with an interactive swimming pool! You could swim in the pool- as long as you wore a bathing suit. I didn't happen to have one handy but I was delighted to learn you could purchase a paper one in the gift shop. Inside a John Cage sound and light display while wearing my paper suit, I was able to experience the piece as the artist intended. It was a memorable art moment to be sure- even though the 'pool' was only about 5M across. To 'real' swimmers, that's hardly worth getting your hair wet! But in this case I was willing to make the sacrifice for Art.

Snow to Surf Thanksgiving

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving, we decided to hike Mt. Baldy. But the weather decided otherwise! First early season snow cancelled the hike, then strong winds defeated plans of skiing or sledding. But we enjoyed the beautiful landscapes of the mountains followed by a gorgeous, calm beach on Thanksgiving Day.

'Dawn Patrol' Series

One day last summer I was surfing with my girlfriends when the sun just blasted its yellow-orange rays on the water as it was rising. The result looked like we were floating on liquid gold! My friends found it very amusing that I was ignoring the waves and trying to memorize the color instead. This painting is a bit more representational since there is a backlit 'Pier' shape on the horizon line.

'Dawn Patrol.2' is a more abstract version of the water's surface bathed in gold and 'Dawn Patrol.3' is a translation in blues.