Friday, June 19, 2020

I am not an angel

I live in a cul-de-sac.

My last four houses have been in a cul-de-sac.

There are a lot of "walkers" in our neighborhood... people who walk around, just walk and enjoy their walks.... sometimes I am one of them.

Early this morning, I went out to put something in my mailbox for the mailman to pick up. After spells of sunshine, it was Seattle-like, gray and brooding.

I heard a woman sobbing as she rounded the trees in the center of the cul-de-sac... so I delayed a little, and when she got close to me, I asked her if she was OK.

She came to me and hugged me and cried on my shoulders. She was a stranger, but the two or three generations of the women who raised me (my grandmother, my mother, and all my wives) popped through, and I hugged her back, and soothed her and said, "It will be OK."

She cried for a few seconds, then gently pulled away, sniffed... and asked me, "Are you an angel?"

She was serious - I felt the seriousness of the question.

"Fucking far from it", I thought to myself (thank God that I didn't say it out loud!)... but I just smiled and said no and asked her again if she was OK.

"Yeah", she sniffed again and started walking away slowly... then the stranger turned around and said to me, "Thank you Lenny."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Andy Warhol at auction

This 40-year-old work of mine just showed up at auction in Houston! This 1980 art school assignment is a signed and numbered litho of a portrait of Andy Warhol done for printmaking and also for portrait class - a steal at $50 opening bid!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Art Bank call for artists!

Deadline is Friday, August 7, at 4:00 pm

I am pleased to announce that the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH) Art Bank Program grant application is now open

The Art Bank Collection is the District of Columbia’s fine art collection. Acquired through an annual request for applications, Art Bank works are loaned to District Government agencies for display in public areas and offices of government buildings. The Art Bank has been a source of recognition and support for local artists since 1986. It now includes nearly 3,000 artworks - none of which is mine, as the city has always declined to acquired any of my works. 

Please view this video (and more here!) to see examples of recently acquired works, or explore the entire Art Bank Collection here - note the lack of any work from yours truly!

The request for applications is now open - including both established and emerging artists living within a 50-mile radius of Washington, DC. District art galleries and nonprofit organizations may also apply on behalf of artists.

The application deadline is Friday, August 7, at 4:00 pm

The Commission will be offering free workshops on Wednesday, June 24, 10:00-11:30 am, and Wednesday, July 1, 4:00-5:30 pm. These session provide information on the grant and guidance on the application process.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Artist Relief Emergency Grants: Cycle III

Deadline: June 18, 2020

Artist Relief Emergency Grants: Cycle III
Organization: Artist Relief
Submission Deadline: June 18, 2020
Award Info: $5,000
Type: Grants & Fellowships
Eligibility: National
Categories: Craft/Traditional Arts, Photography, Drawing, Film/Video/New Media, Mixed-Media/Multi-Discipline, Painting, Sculpture
Online Only: Yes

Details here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

How One Artist is Preserving Her Legacy

I would imagine everyone has had to reflect on their own mortality during this pandemic. 
But, as it was, I spent significant time at the end of 2018 and a good part of 2019 thinking about my own impermanence. Not that I was ill or anything like that. But, my father, who was a cartoonist, passed away in 2018 from a long battle with cancer. As did my brother-in-law that same year, also from cancer. 
Maybe it was part of the grieving, but my husband and I decided it was time to think about our own “not being here anymore.”
What would happen to everything?
Read the insightful article in Artwork Archive here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

WHAT IF? The prison drawings of Carlos Walker

OPENING JUNE 10 - 6 pm - 8 pm 

WHAT IF? The prison drawings of Carlos Walker

CARLOS WALKER is a 38-year-old self-trained African-American artist who was released last year after spending 13 years in prison for drug trafficking. The inspiration for these drawings came to him after seeing a black prison guard discipline a white inmate.
"What if" traditional racial relationships wexre reversed, he thought to himself. And then set to work. Using chalk pastel. he completed 48 drawings while still in prison, before his release. Only 36 of them are currently on display because he couldn't afford to frame the other 12. He would be most grateful, as would we, if someone would donate $1,000 so the remaining drawings can be framed in time for them to be shown at CCPArt before WHAT IF closes July 5th.
10 June - 5 July 2020
CCPArt is located at
916 G Street NW / DC 20001

CCPArt is a 501-c-3 nonprofit corporation and donations are fully tax deductible

Monday, June 08, 2020

Glen Echo Park Partnership Gallery Request for Proposals 2021

Deadline: June 12, 2020

Glen Echo is seeking proposals from individuals, groups of artists or curators for their 2021 exhibitions.
>>> Details here

Friday, June 05, 2020

Call for Artists: Foundry Gallery Artists’ Choice 2020

Deadline: Jul 8, 2020

Open Juried Online Exhibit - 
>>> Details here

Artists’ Choice 2020 —Open Juried Online Exhibit
Exhibition dates August 5 – 30
About: Due to Covid 19 Artists’ Choice 2020 will be exhibited entirely online via The Foundry Gallery’s website
Eligibility : A National Juried Competition open to all artists 18 and up. There are no size restrictions or themes. Categories to include all 2-D and 3-D work.
All art will be for sale, and the gallery retains a 40% commission. Shipping arrangements made between artist and buyer.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

On the anniversary of a superwoman's death

A few years ago my courageous mother died... this is my eulogy from that day:
When my father died last year, I began his eulogy by noting that another oak had fallen.

This morning, around 1:25AM, Ana Olivia Cruzata Marrero de Campello, his wife of over 60 years, and my beloved mother, passed on on the day of her 97th birthday.

If my father was an oak, then my mother was an equally strong, but also very pliable, and elegant tree.  When hurricanes attack the mainlands of the world, the strong tall trees often fall, but the pliable ones, like plantain trees, always give with the wind, and survive the storms, and thrive in the drenching rains.

My mother was like a an aged plantain tree, not only immensely strong and pliable, but also giving and nurturing.

Like many Cuban women of her generation and her social-economic background, she had never worked for a living in Cuba, and yet within a few days of our arrival in New York in the 1960s, she was working long hours in a sewing factory, putting her formidable seamstress skills, honed in the social sewing and embroidery gathering of young Cuban girls, to use in the "piece work" process of the New York sewing factories.

As soon as we saved the money, one of the first things that my mother bought was an electric sewing machine - a novelty to her, as she had always used one of the those ancient Singer machines with a foot pedal.

I remember as a child in Brooklyn, that women used to bring her fabric and a page from a magazine with a woman wearing a dress. Without the benefit of a sewing pattern, my mother would whip up a copy of the dress that was more often than not probably better made than the original. As the word of her skills spread, so did her customers and soon she was making more money working at home than at the factory - but she kept both jobs.

I once noted to her that I admired the courage that it must have taken  her to leave her family and immigrate to the United States. "We didn't come here as immigrants," she corrected me. "We came as political refugees, and I initially thought that we'd be back in Cuba within a few years at the most."

When the brutal Castro dictatorship refused to loosen its stranglehold on her birth place, she became an immigrant, and from there on an American citizen from her white-streaked hair down to her heel bone (that's a Cuban saying). Like my father, she loved her adopted country with a ferocity, that I sometimes feel that only people who have been bloodied by Communism can feel for a new, free homeland.

As as I've noted before, Cubans are archaic immigrants... we love this great nation because we recognize its singular and unique greatness; perhaps it is because our forebears had the same chance at greatness and blew it.

I remember as a teenager, once I started going out to parties and things at night on my own (around age 16 or so), that my mother would wait up for me, sitting by the third floor window of our Brooklyn apartment, where she could survey the whole neighborhood and see as far as the elevated LL subway station a few blocks away, to watch me descend the station stairs and trace my way home.

My mother was always fit and, as once described by my father, "flaca como un fusil" (as slim as a rifle). She was strong and fast. She was also quiet, but never silenced, and when needed, could and would command attention.

My mother was always well dressed and superbly coiffed. When we'd go to parties and events, women would always ask her where she'd gotten that dress! The answer was always the same: she'd made it!

At least once a week, to my father's dismay, and in spite of his demands that my mother stop it, she'd get her hair done at the nearby peluqueria (hair dresser).

My dad knew, and respected his limits with my mother. 

I remember one time that my father and I were returning from shopping at the supermarket, dragging one of those wheeled folding carts that could carry four full paper grocery bags. It had been snowing, so the Brooklyn streets were wet and muddy.

When we got to our apartment my father opened the door. He then stood there.

"Go in!" I demanded.

"We'll have to wait," he said gloomily, "Your mother mopped the floor and it's still wet." This giant, tough, street-brawling Galician then looked at me sheepishly, "I'd rather walk through a mine field than step on your mother's wet floor."

I learned a lesson there.

She used to delight in telling stories how, as a child, she would often win the horse races that kids staged around the small country towns where she was raised in Oriente province, where her father was a Mayoral.

"I almost always won," she'd say, and then would add: "Even though I was a skinny girl."

Once, in her seventies, back in the days where you could actually accompany people to the departing gates at airports, we were escorting my oldest daughter Vanessa, who had come to visit, and we were running late. As we got to the airport, we ran to the gate, and to everyone's surprise, Abuela got there first. I still remember how delighted my daughter was that her grandmother could still run like a gazelle.

When I joined the Navy at age 17, my first duty station was USS SARATOGA, which at the time was stationed in Mayport in Florida, and thus my parents decided to migrate south to Florida and moved to Miami... just to be close to me.

They spent the next 40 years in the same apartment while I was stationed all over the world.

The mostly Cuban-American families that lived over the years in that apartment loved my mother, and would always tell me stories about my mother, ever the nurturer, bringing them food when she knew that they were going over tough times, or riding the buses with them, just to show them the routes.

This week, when I arrived in Miami, already somewhat knowing that this was approaching the end, I saw her with tubes coming out of her mouth and her eyes closed. When I spoke to her she opened her eyes, and in spite of the visuals that my eyes were seeing she somehow still managed to look strong. 

I showed her photos and movies of her grand children, and talked to her for a long time.

I thanked her for having the courage to leave her motherland and afford me the opportunity to grow as an American.

When she was being extubated, a young woman came into the room with a guitar and played and sang the haunting free prose of Guajira Guantanamera (The peasant girl from Guantanamo); a most fitting song, since my mother was from Guantanamo, and she came from strong Cuban peasant stock.

"Guajira pero fina (A peasant, but a very refined woman)", noted a neighbor and loving caretaker. 

The song, which can start with just about any prose, started with the Jose Marti poem:
 Yo quiero, cuando me muerasin patria, pero sin amo, tener en mi tumba un ramo de flores y una bandera
I want to, when I die, without my motherland, but without a master, to have on my tomb a bunch of flowers and a flag.
She died without a master, a strong and pliable woman who not only gave me the gift of life, but also the gift of freedom.

And as my mother died in her sleep in the early hours of the morning, in the capital city of the bitter Cuban Diaspora, all that I could gather to say to her was mostly the same that I said to my father when he passed last year: "Thank you for your courage... from me, and from my children... and soon from their children. You opened a whole new world for them."

I love you Mami... Un Abrazo Fuerte! Thank you for your gifts to me and my children, and happy birthday in Heaven!