Decatur Glassblowing Studio and Course Horse

A representative from CourseHorse, a discovery and booking tool for local classes, contacted me to offer a free class in exchange for writing a review on my blog. With multiple classes in art, cooking, tech, professional, life skills, performing art, language and even classes especially for kids, it was hard to choose. Since I’ve collected blown glass for decades and Decatur Glass Blowing was on their list, I chose a 2 hour class on a friday night and made my first bowl. CourseHorse offers several other glass blowing classes in Georgia and the Atlanta area, you may find one closer to you.



Seven of us attended the one-on-one class at Decatur Glassblowing, which afforded me the chance to be taught by a veteran glassblower who had been practicing the art for 44 years. The other assistant to founder Nate Nardi’s studio was much younger, but highly skilled as well. As I chatted with my teacher, he gave me a short history lesson about glass in America. Glassblowing dates back to the 1st century BC and the Roman Empire, but quickly expanded into the Mid East and Europe.

In the early 1600s a few Germans and Poles arrived by ship to Jamestown, VA and discovered vast amounts of forests to fuel their ovens, endless sandy beaches and oyster shells for lime. A glass-house was built in 1608 and the first factory began exporting glass made in the U.S. back to England. “New Jersey and Pennsylvania had excellent sands and extensive forests, so for many years the glass houses of New Jersey dominated in glass production. To the north in Massachusetts, on the Island of Sandwich, there arose a group of glass houses and the glass produced there still bears its name.”

Bench with tongs

Bench with duckbill shears and various sized “jacks”.

Here is a more in depth glossary of tools and equipment used in glassblowing.

Applying color







We first had a demo on safety issues and the steps that we’d be following during the process. Everyone wore protective safety glasses and a heat resistant arm guard was provided during the shaping of the bowls. At no time was any one of us left on our own, but the teachers also encouraged us to engage without fear. As an admitted scaredy-cat around any potential hand or eye threats, my fears proved relatively unfounded. Once the glass is heated on the end of the rod, it’s dipped into colored glass chips and rests gently for a second or two.


Cutting off

During the initial demonstration, my instructor uses a clamp like cutting tool to snip the hole for the opening of the bowl.

Any glass that cools down too quickly is liable to crack, so there is a slower oven for annealing or cooling down from the initial 2,000 degrees in the firing oven or “glory hole”.

Cooling oven

Large blue Annealing or cooling oven in the background.


Heating the molten glass on the end of the blowpipe in the “glory hole”. The process of “gathering” is similar to using a dipper to take honey from a jar. Glassblowing furnaces are typically gas-powered and are heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


Turning the rod keeps the taffy like glass rotated to maintain its shape.

After blowing

Checking the bubble after blowing.

Student firing

Student refiring in the “glory hole”.

Shaping with tongs

Shaping the bowl with “jacks”, similar to large tweezers or tongs.


The gallery.

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Studio Gallery.

This video is a great overview of Nardi’s studio and processes.

CourseHorse was begun in 2011 by two NYU graduate students. After an unproductive search for a cooking class, the duo startup team of Katie Kapler and Nihal Parthasarthi won $75,000 from Stern New Venture Competition for their idea. Since then, Course Horse offers +70,000 classes to over 200,000 members in over a dozen cities around the country. They’ve also been noted in Forbes as one of America’s Most Promising Companies. Many thanks to Courtney, who signed me up!



















This was a fascinating and educational class. While glassblowing is seemingly spontaneous, the skills required to produce the end results can be honed over decades. I was particularly taken with Nate’s dragonfly glass sculpture, (more bugs here) and some of his earlier grad school sandblasted abstract glass work. You’ll just have to stop by and see for yourself, since I didn’t get a photo of those last fabulous pieces. I’ll be posting my own bowl here at a later date, after I pick it up.

An open house between 5pm and 10pm is coming up this Saturday, April 29th and again on May 20th. See the studio’s Facebook page for event updates. Demos, food, music and drink are provided free of charge. Raffle tickets for giveaway items are only $1.

Decatur Glassblowing, 250 Freeman Street, Decatur, GA 30030.
ph: 404.849.0301
Hours: Gallery | Tues-Sat |2-6 pm

CourseHorse is currently still in beta mode for Atlanta, but more classes will be coming soon! Be sure to sign up with your email address and locale to receive more information on when classes near you will be available.

Finally, a 5 minute demo from Jamestown, Virginia’s Glasshouse. Visitors can see the remains of the original furnaces used by those early glassblowers and watch as modern glassblowers produce wine bottles, pitchers, candleholders and various other glass objects. Today’s glass furnaces are heated by natural gas, rather than by wood as in 1608. Glassblowers, however, use tools and methods similar to those of the 17th century.

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Hathaway David Contemporary in Atlanta

In my old vinyl collection is the Velvet Underground’s 1967 iconic LP with Andy Warhol’s yellow banana on the cover. A song on that album written by Lou Reed, “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, is an apropos title for the inaugural exhibit this April of the new Atlanta westside gallery, Hathaway David Contemporary, or HD for short. New York painter and founder Michael David and co-founder Laura Hathaway launched the space with an opening, that despite torrential rains, drew about 800 attendees, including Atlanta artists, writers and curators, museum directors and a few of the Brooklyn artists who traveled for the show.


The show was a mix of artists from Michael’s former Brooklyn based Life on Mars gallery along with Atlanta artists that he has also shown. Unfortunately, he recently announced that the New York gallery would be closing this year. David taught at both SCAD in Atlanta and also at the Atlanta Fine Arts Atelier that he founded here in 2002.

His new westside gallery is 8,700 square feet huge, with high ceilings and polished floors, an imposing glass garage door and plenty of storage space. I attended the opening and returned on a Saturday when Anna, the very pleasant gallery assistant, answered questions and graciously showed me some of the paintings that were being held for the upcoming Re-Hang exhibit that will open next week on June 16th.

This is a highly condensed version of the show. Don’t miss the opening next thursday to view the entire exhibit.

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I know some of the Brooklyn artists in the show, like Loren Munk and Farrell Brickhouse, only through social media. I was happy to finally meet Farrell in person, along with Mary DeVincentis, at the opening. My 2009 interview with Loren Munk was precipitated by seeing his YouTube videos online, under his alter persona, the James Kalm report. I became Facebook friends with Farrell back in 2010 and have enjoyed his daily postings of his thickly painted figurative abstracts.
















Farrell Brickhouse, SciFy #6, 2015. Oil on canvas, 20x16inches.

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Loren Munk, Bushwick Unfinished, 2003-2014. Oil on linen, 84x72inches.
















Mary DeVincentis, Swinger, 2016. Acrylic on yupo, 26x20inches.



Pam Longobardi, Bounty Pilfered, 2014. Ocean plastic from Alaska, Greece, Hawaii, Costa Rica on the Gulf of Mexico; steel amature and driftnet floats from the Pacific North Gyre, 136x84x54inches.

Longobardi is an Atlanta based artist/activist who sources materials from plastic garbage patches littering the oceans; “this strange material legacy that we’re leaving behind.”
















Brenda Goodman, Almost a Bride, 2015. Oil on wood, 80x72inches.



Arnold Mesches, Postures 2, 1981. Acrylic on canvas, 60x120inches.

Mesches has been around for some time, he’s 92. Take a look at his impressive bio and other symbolic and figurative works.

HD12HD12c William Downs, The Longest Walk, 2016. Ink wash and mixed media on found folders, 15x18inches.

William Downs is an Atlanta based artist and currently a lecturer in drawing and painting at Georgia State.


Todd Bienvenue, Boys Will be Boys, 2014. Oil on canvas, 76x67inches and High School Hi Jinks, 2014. Oil on canvas, 76x67inches
















Shara Hughes, Being Shady, 2016. Oil on canvas, 58x52inches.

Shara is one of the founders of SeekATL, an artist run group that coordinates monthly studio visits in metro Atlanta and environs. Originally from Atlanta, she recently relocated back to Brooklyn.


Jessica Scott Felder, Compass Rose, 2012. Installation, 144x72x72inches
















Karen Schwartz, Neither Fish Nor Fowl, 2016. Ink, oil, charcoal on linen, 74x74inches.

















Fran O’Neill, Shadow, 2016. Oil on canvas, 84x84inches.

The bold and gestural work of Fran O’Neill gives Gerard Richter a run for his money. Rather than using a giant squeegee, her own body – literally her arm – is involved in the brushwork.

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Sharon Horvath, Dark Matter (for my Father), 2010-2014. Pigment, ink and polymer on paper on canvas, 60x84inches.

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Whitney Wood Bailey, Order/Chaos: Ages, 2016. Oil and mixed media on paper, 60x40inches.

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Thorton Dial, A Bird Will Always Try to Fly, 1991. Oil, braided rope, enamel, burlap, carpet and industrial sealing compound on wood, 72x48inches.

The prolific and self-taught Dial died this past January. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns 13 of his works. Dial once told Atlanta collector William Arnett that ““Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of the world…”
















Pam Longobardi, Downstream, 2013. Ink, gouache, acrylic, pigment and devalued currency collage on paper, 13x11inches.



Through Aug. 14. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays. Free. Hathaway David Contemporary, 887 Howell Mill Road N.W. (behind the restaurant Bocado), Suite 4, Atlanta. 470-428-2061,

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Cathryn Miles and Scott Upton at Thomas Deans Fine Art, Atlanta

The two painters in this exhibit through Saturday May 21 at Thomas Deans gallery on Miami Circle offer similarities only in their obvious command of their mediums. Photos of individual works courtesy of Thomas Deans Fine Art.

The press release offers this synopsis: Scott Upton creates abstract paintings that sometimes project the atmosphere of landscape. Cathryn Miles creates landscapes that border on geometric abstractions. Both artists display a rare mastery of color and form.

Cathryn Miles works with a palette knife and brush in broad planed strokes in a mostly horizontal or square format. “Abstract shapes, aerial perspective, flat patterning, and traditional perspective have all contributed to my developing style”, writes Miles. It’s satisfying to see paint handled so well, Miles boldly slabs her canvases with pigment. She states in her bio that she has been influenced by Diebenkorn, German Expressionism and the Bay Area figurative artists that include David Park and Elmer Bischoff. She has also spent time over the past six years in Oaxaca, Mexico. While most of her work in this exhibition has an intensely blue palette, I am curious whether Oaxaca native and renowned painter Rufino Tamayo and his brilliant reds and oranges will at some point surface and creep into the color spectrum of her work.

Miles has an MFA from the University of Houston and a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art. She taught design and color theory at Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design from 1994 to 2004, and has taught painting and design at both Georgia Perimeter College and the Art Institute of Atlanta. Now that Miles has retired, she is painting full time, find her site here. She has been exhibiting in Atlanta for many years and is represented by Thomas Deans here.

By the Water, oil on canvas 48×48 inches

Embankment, oil on canvas 48×48 inches

An extremely competent colorist, Miles judiciously uses cadmium red for emphasis along a diagonal or horizontal plane.

Freshwater Well, oil on canvas 48×48 inches

Morning Heat 2, oil on canvas 30×48 inches

Morning Heat is one of the few paintings in this exhibit that breaks from Miles’ azure/cobalt/ultramarine palette to offer more oranges, ochres and earthy greens that echo Diebenkorn’s series of work from New Mexico. Whether the painting was created in Oaxaca is not noted, but it would be intriguing to see more in this vein.

Night Sky, 1 oil on canvas 12×12 inches

Swept Up, oil on canvas 12×12 inches

Miles’ darker gestural slashes serve to divide and determine horizon, sky, and land in the broad forms of these landscapes, much like Richard Diebenkorn’s diagonal thrusts from his Berkeley series.

Water Over the Bridge, oil on canvas 24×24 inches

Scott Upton has had his work featured in film and television, with a history of exhibiting in Atlanta and the Southeast since the late 1970s. His almost meditative paintings elicit comparisons to Mark Rothko and JMW Turner’s late abstractions. As with those artists and more contemporary ones like artist Olafur Eliasson (who based a series of color experiments on Turner’s work), Upton agrees on the importance of luminosity: “For me, light is the unifying force, transforming everything it touches by banishing darkness and encouraging renewal.”  Upton explores an existential realm in these calm works, suggesting that in addition to the beauty”, light can offer feelings of hope and peace.

One is drawn in close to discover texture and layers of colors in the works that elude from a distance. Red flecks might appear in an underlayer, while the topmost layer seems to have been scraped and sanded down. Upton’s multiple layers of acrylic paint both conceal and reveal reflective silver and gold leaf through his proprietary varnish. I haven’t witnessed this with his work since I was only at the gallery during an afternoon, but during different times of day, the reflective properties might add to changes in hue. Although he claims to paint fairly quickly, the work demands contemplation and a break from the multitasking that is ubiquitous in most lives today.

Upton has a website showing his painting, with reviews from both Atlanta based art critic Jerry Cullum and Richard Maschal, author and retired arts and architecture critic for the Charlotte Observer.

Scott Upton received his BFA from the University of North Carolina and attended the Art Institute of Atlanta. He has exhibited at the Asheville Art Museum in North Carolina and the Art Institute of Atlanta. His work is in many collections, including the Knoxville (TN) Museum of Art, Four Seasons Hotel, Atlanta, the Arthur Blank Foundation in Atlanta, Northside Hospital of Atlanta and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. He is also represented by Thomas Deans Fine Art in Atlanta.

Daybreak, mixed media on canvas 48×72 inches

Dragonfly with Firefly1, mixed media on canvas 16×16 inches
















From the Earth, mixed media on canvas 48×36 inches

Life’s Passion, mixed media on canvas 30×48 inches

Off My Shoulders, mixed media on canvas 48×72 inches

Run With It, oil on canvas 36×72 inches

Still Lagoon, mixed media on canvas 28×45 inches

Thomas Deans Fine Art, 690 Miami Circle NE #905, Atlanta, GA 30324

T: 404 814-1811   F: 404 814-1812

Gallery Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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Sydney Licht and Stephen Pentak at Thomas Deans Fine Art, Atlanta

Some paintings smack you in the face with emotionalism and raw energy. More controlled painting, like the works in this show, demands an almost meditative attention. It helps to devote time to looking and looking again; put away that cell phone, forget about texting. Go back for a review on another day. The reward will be an immersion in contrasts.

Thomas Deans always offers interesting and thoughtful exhibits at his gallery on Miami Circle. In this show titled Still + Life, two painters focus on still life and place. Stephen Pentak zeroes on a particular landscape of trees, often including water and horizon. Sydney Licht spins the mundane into voluptuous masses of color that transform ordinary objects, much like Cezanne’s bowls of fruit. Both artists transcend their subject matter with their considerable skill and exceptional attention to the craft of painting. Paint becomes poetry for these two painters.
The show is up until November 14. Photos of individual works courtesy of Thomas Deans Fine Art.



From the gallery’s site: The exhibition Still + Life presents paintings by Stephen Pentak and Sydney Licht, two highly regarded painters whose work explores the relationship between paint, form, and image. Both painters are thoroughly contemporary; both have developed unique and recognizable styles and have earned significant reputations; yet both work with traditional media, using established genres as a springboard to personal exploration.

I spoke briefly with Sydney Licht during the opening. She has a studio in Tribeca in NYC, and at one time taught at Ohio State University, where Pentak is Professor Emeritus. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to chat with Stephen.


Still Life with Sweet and Low. Oil on linen, 12″x12″














A successful artist who has been showing and painting for some time, Ms. Licht is remarkably accessible. Her skill with paint and texture is evident and while the small works are obviously still lifes, her forms abstract and flatten planes. She achieves volume with juxtapositions of highly keyed color and occasionally adds small touches of patterns to the work. I mentioned an echo of Cézanne in her two still lifes of flowers in a striped vase, reminiscent of his portrait of his wife posed in her green striped dress. She admitted to a great affection for his work and to that of Vuillard, one of Les Nabis who also used pattern to his advantage.


Still Life with Flowers. Oil on panel, 12″x9″


Still Life with Flowers. Oil on linen, 24″x18″

Painting without much medium and no varnish, Ms. Licht succeeds in keeping her colors both distinctly clear and matte. Whether working on birch panels or linen, I was struck by the exquisite craft of her work. On unframed works, the edges are at least two inches deep and left bare, no gesso to mar the beauty of the raw linen or wood.



Still Life with Three Bundles. Oil on linen, 12″x12″














Licht has said in interviews that she limits her palette to essential colors, eliminated black many years ago and is interested in understanding color by using very little of it. She says: “At one point I asked myself, “Can I make a monochromatic still life with just slightly tinted hues of white?” Right after that, I really wanted to see how far I could go in pushing color intensity so the palette expanded to include a fluorescent yellow.”

One can see Morandi in her structure, but Licht’s colors are jazzed up and richer, more like the Fauvists. We also talked a little about how much we both like the Bay Area Figurative painters, who weren’t shy about using high chroma. She says she begins with a palette knife to establish the idea for a color and plane and refines from there.


Still Life with Fat Quarters. Oil on linen, 10″x10″















Still Life with Coffee and Tea. Oil on panel, 16″x12″














A wonderful 2012 interview with Sydney Licht by Neil Plotkin, discussing her history and process of working can be found at Painting Perceptions. She is represented by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York and is also a member of the still life group Zeuxis.

Stephen Pentak’s oils on paper, my favorite of his pieces in the show, have an almost Japanese feel in the brushwork and an emphasis on negative space. His muted colors can be deceiving until a closer look reveals the intensity of a dark cobalt teal contrasted with a dusky lavender or cobalt blue. He states that he uses a palette knife along with wide brushes, and often paints an allover ochre as a ground for the works. Scraping with the knife reveals the tonal base and gives a subtle luminosity to the paintings.


Closeup – Landscape 2015.1.2. Oil on paper, 42″x30″ (paper size)



Landscape 2015.1.2. Oil on paper, 42″x30″ (paper size)



Landscape 2015.8.1. Oil on paper, 26″x 40″ (paper size)

Pentak’s larger oils on wood panels show multiple glazing and scumbling, that adds to the depth. The geometry of rectangles seems to be a basis for the work, along with reflections in bodies of water that can be found in most of the paintings. An eloquent review of a 2003 exhibit by Richard Roth gets to the heart of Pentak’s work and can be found on his site here.

He is represented by Thomas Deans Fine Art in Atlanta and Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in New York. His work can also be found in various galleries across the country.


Landscape 2015.V.III Oil on birch panel, 36″x 36″


Landscape 2015.V.II. Oil on birch panel, 36″x 36″

Landscape 2015.1.3

Landscape 2015.1.3. Oil on paper, 42″x 30″ (paper size)


VIII.VI.2012. Oil on birch panel, 34″x 76″



























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Brian Rutenberg at Timothy Tew Gallery in Atlanta

Brian Rutenberg gave an artist’s talk on Saturday, April 25, after the prior night’s opening for his show at Timothy Tew Gallery in Atlanta.

Rutenberg’s large abstract paintings are pure beauty and luscious paint. The artist isn’t afraid of color and he favors using generous amounts of paint, slabbed onto the Belgian linen he uses, with his hand or palette knife. During his talk he reminisced about growing up in Myrtle Beach and the lowlands of South Carolina. “Humdity made me a painter”, he said. Attuned to color as a child, he would bury his head in azalea bushes, breathing in his southern heritage.

“Nightcrawler” below, 55″x 68″, 2015. Photo courtesy Tews Gallery.

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BrianR At twelve, Rutenberg copied Manet’s sea battle paintings in an effort to learn spatial displacement. He spoke of building virtual rocks out of pillows to duplicate the way that Manet placed his objects in the paintings. Rutenberg’s tactile paintings depict place. While he may appear to be an abstractionist, he realizes the sky and earth as standard conventions for a landscape painter, and isn’t hesitant to admit to the same thing in his own work.

In the talk, Rutenberg stated that it’s important for a painter to define his/her “job”, and to craft a place in which to do that. The fact that “no one cares” is a liberating premise for any artist, mistakes are inevitable. Rutenberg cherishes the notion of failure and says that success, to him, is defined by curiosity and effort. “Every painting fails before it gets better… and it never looks the way it does in my mind….you have to screw up if you want to be a painter. Do everything you can within a series of limitations.” He also insists that too much technique or too much intellectualism, as well as too much “craziness”, doesn’t work. His affability betrays a dedicated workmanship in both the craft of painting and in the intensity of his ambition; Rutenberg has shown yearly since the late 1980s, after receiving his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York.


His influences are surprising; he admitted that Thomas Gainsborough is one of his favorite painters, with Tiepolo another influence. The Canadian Group of Seven was more obvious to my mind, at least for his color palette, along with the Scottish Colorists. He didn’t mention Hans Hoffmann, who seems a natural influence based on Rutenberg’s juxtapositions and rectangles of vivid and bright color. I also find some Diebenkorn similarities in swatches of odd colors – like a pink flesh tone in a horizon that is framed by ochre on the left with smaller red and acid green rectangles on the opposite vertical side that ring almost of Klimt. This particular painting (below) was not featured in the show, but it’s worth noting for Rutenberg’s versatility of palette.


Fascinating as well, is his affection for the pianist Glenn Gould, whose quote can be found his website: “The purpose of art is the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” Rutenberg’s works commissioned by the Glenn Gould Foundation are more circular in composition, and quite different from the more current vertically striated paintings. He does not elaborate on which of Gould’s interpretations he favors.

While Rutenberg doesn’t usually paint on site, he does make sketches that he rarely shows. And although he calls himself a landscape painter, I detect a symbolism in the pictorial haze that permeates the mid part of his canvases. He mentioned the quality of light that came through the Spanish moss hanging on the trees of that southern home. The softening serves as a contrast to the harsher edges of what may be a response to a more dense, urban landscape. Rutenberg has lived in New York City since he was 21, and has his studio there.

Some of his works are bright, pop in your face vivid. Others seem moodier, with dark undercurrents of tonal values. The current paintings in this show offer a complex palette; juxtapositions of muddied earth tones and rusted oranges with fantastic jewel like reds and violets, which segue into deep and mysterious dark teals.




















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Brian’s studio in New York City.


You can find more of Rutenberg’s work on his website and a 2011 review by critic Diane Thodos on the blog


Rutenberg offers videos about his process here. Timothy Tew’s gallery can be found in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.

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Anne-Sophie Mutter at Emory’s Schwartz Center

The Mutter Virtuosi Tour 2014 – Anne Sophie Mutter with young students from her Foundation rocked Emory’s Schwartz Center last night, playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Mendelssohnn’s String Octet in E-flat Major, op. 20.

She began the performance with Sebastian Currier‘s “Ringtone Variations”, Roman Patkolo accompanying her on double bass. Mutter had commissioned the piece, which Currier dedicated to her. Resplendent in a sequined gold top, black clingy capris and a pair of impossibly high black patent stilettos, Mutter is the glam queen of classical music.

As one of the perks of being a volunteer usher, it was a special treat to see a beautiful harpsichord on stage being tuned before the audience arrived. Exquisitely played by Knut Johannessen, he has been touring with Mutter since 1999 and is founder and artistic leader of the Oslo Baroque Orchestra.

The audience rewarded Mutter and her young virtuosi with two standing ovations, they gave an absolutely electric performance.

Her Virtuosi tour can be found here.

Anne-Sophie Mutter playing Vivaldi.

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Rail Arts District Studio Cruise, Tudor Square and Dashboard Co-op

This Saturday, March 15, was the annual Rail Arts District Studio Cruise (RAD) in my neighborhood of Avondale Estates. Held mostly in artists’ studios on Franklin Street, an industrial warehouse space that Marghe and Bob Means of Little Tree Art Studios began renovating years ago, it attracts people from all over metro Atlanta.


This year, the cities of Avondale and Decatur got in on the act. Avondale’s mayor Ed Rieker bought the old Academy Theatre building on Center Street and has great plans for what he’s calling Tudor Square. His new community manager, Deborah Revzin, coordinated an artists’ market in the space that included Root City Market and local artisans and artists, of which I was one.




Simply Seoul was making kimchi, beef and pork buns all day long and sold out early.


Andover Trask makes handcrafted bags from American canvas and leather.


I didn’t get the name, but this man had beautiful knives and leather bound journals.


More canvas and leather bags, must be a trend.


Lovely ceramic work.





A decoupaged whale.



My friend Arthur (Theo) Matthews is making ceramic gnomes and creations. He also displayed some of his small acrylic paintings.


I set up a booth after we realized we couldn’t hang paintings on the walls. Met a lot of nice folks and some neighbors and old friends dropped by.

I didn’t get a chance to hop on the trolley to the Franklin Street studios, or head over to studios in Decatur. Next year.

One day after work at One Midtown Plaza, I took the elevator down to the Mezzanine to check out Dashboard Co-op’s exciting show, COSMS, 12 installations by twelve artists. I had to miss Martha Whittington’s talk, but at least got to meet her and lie on one of her cots and listen to dreams. Dreams, the stuff of an artist’s life.

Artists below, in order of images:
Martha Whittington, Elizabeth Riley, Paper Frank, Lindsey Wolkowicz, George Long, Chris Chambers, Dave Greber, Kevin Byrd, Jason Peters, Andre Keichian. I didn’t get a shot of Dustin Chamber’s wonderful video installation of friends and neighbors afflicted with Alzheimers and Zopi Kristjanson’s container of moss was not marked. Credit to David Batterman for some shots that I couldn’t get in the fading light.















There is a review by Jerry Cullum of the show on ArtsATL.

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Jim Byrne at Timothy Tew Gallery

Last weekend closed Jim Byrne’s show at Tew Galleries. Jim had found my blog and invited me to his opening. A group of his newest paintings was exhibited there from October 25 to November 25th, along with artist Isabelle Melchior. I was unable to make the opening, but saw the show and took some photos. Lighting is always an issue with photographing paintings in a gallery, there is some glare and color discrepancies in my shots. The best solution is to view the work on Jim’s site.

Byrne’s brushwork is luxurious and his palette both subtle and bold, revealing a sophisticated colorist. His people look more fully developed and ‘alive’, than if he’d relied solely on photographs, and like Balthus, he captures emotion and mood in the dynamics between the figures, the viewer and the landscape. The patterns that he weaves into objects and backgrounds recall Matisse and Vuillard. The guy can paint.

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San Francisco and Marin county

I lived in San Francisco during the dotcom boom years; ’97 through 2001. I visited for a job interview in 2002 but hadn’t been back in about 10 years. I flew out a couple of weeks ago for an orientation session with the educational non-profit I’ve been working for since March, whose headquarters are right around the corner from TechTV’s old corporate office on Townsend. The city has more high-rise lofts and new spiffy restaurants along the Embarcadero, along with housing rental rates that may now be higher than NYC’s.

For my first two days I stayed in an AirB&B flat on Brannan, a short walk from the company office. The private room and bath were spotless and great for a change from a pricey hotel. And considering that most of the hotels close to downtown were booked months in advance, there wasn’t much choice.

The newly designed DeYoung museum was in the last stretch of a Richard Diebenkorn retrospective; The Berkeley Years. Too bad they didn’t allow photographs. The show was magnificent and the museum’s grounds were dotted with sculptures. Visit the website to see various video clips of Diebenkorn talking about painting, his daughter on his life and art, and others. How often do you get to hear Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond on a museum site? Never. If you go, sit outside at the café for a warming cappuccino and small bites.

For all you foodies, friends treated me to dinner at the fabulous RN74, a new place on Mission, part of Michael Mina’s empire. Another friend and I ended up at Osha, across from the Embarcadero. We tried to land at Slanted Door, an excellent Vietnamese restaurant that had opened back in the day on Valencia. A group of us went back then for a special lunch that chef Charles (or his mom) created, he was a friend of one of our colleagues. Tourists and locals now pack the place.

In Los Alamitos, a new Thai place is the superb Coconut Rabbit, run by a friend of a WestEd colleague there. It rivaled Marnie Thai in the inner Sunset, my old neighborhood in San Francisco.

In Mill Valley, Greg and I lunched at Joe’s Taco Lounge, a local haunt that offers vegetarian tacos and extras.

Images below include the show, gardens where I used to spend hours sketching in Golden Gate Park, my retreat in Mill Valley and an early  morning trek out to Point Reyes and its lighthouse. First, a stop at the Bovine Bakery for provisions, coffee and pain d’amande. There’s a gray whale skull on display at the lighthouse visitor’s center that I’d forgotten about. After a fantastic lunch at the Farmhouse restaurant in Olema, down Rt 1 in my little Fiat that could, back through Stinson Beach and stops along the way at Muir Beach overlook.

I dropped into Claudia Chapline’s gallery at Stinson and finally had a chat with her after having been there a few other times since the late 1980s. I now own one of her small abstracts and her signed memoir, Falling Up the Stairs.


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Strawberry season

I have no excuse for not posting since February. I’ve had a painting block since early March that I don’t attribute to returning to a (wonderful) full-time job. Although it means that I could once again buy a $60 tube of Old Holland cadmium orange, my time in the studio has been limited.

Getting the gardens going in early spring meant a dump truck bringing in 5 cubic yards of mushroom compost. The hard part was hauling it out in the wheelbarrow to various beds. The soil here is high in mineral content, low in loam. Worms love my lazy sheet composting, but they don’t work fast enough. And now I’m deep in strawberry season, having to pick daily to keep up. On my second year for the 25 each of Honeoye and Ozark Beauty plants, it’s another bumper crop, planted in the fall of 2011. This happened before, when I lived in Chester County, PA. I had to buy a small freezer to hold all the berries from the then 5 year old plants.

Alfisols, the second best soils in the country, are found in that part of Pennsylvania, the bedroom suburbs of Philly. Second only to the Mollisols found in the midwest and in California’s central valley. Here in Georgia we have what are known as Ultisols or commonly, red clay. It’s typically acidic. Strawberries love acid soils, but they were easier to grow in the southeastern PA garden. I never had a problem with ants eating them there, or with mold. Next fall I’ll mulch with pine straw to keep them dry and clean. Lucky for me that the birds have bugs in their sights, not berries. Even the bluebirds nesting in the birdhouse overlooking the strawberry beds are oblivious.

Once I added spent mushroom substrate (compost) to my Atlanta gardens, the worms, collards, kale, spinach and strawberries, love it.

What to make with my bounty? I finally have a bundt pan, thanks to a colleague’s shared cake recipe. Inspiration.


I found a beautiful blog called Manger on food with artful photographs by the writer’s husband. From the Médoc region of France, it’s enough to just peruse the gorgeous layouts that look like Dutch still lifes.


This cake is a simple meringue with flowers and berries. And whipped cream.

I may just settle for strawberry scones, found on Confessions of a Tart. And I’ll make some time for a jam making session.



Garlic Soup  with a dollop of duck fat (what, they’re in France already) and a peony head from the Manger blog. I miss having peonies, so next fall will be planting time for the beauties from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery.


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