17 August 2011

There and back again

Malcolm and I just spent 12 days in New York with Hamish. I'm terrible at taking pictures when travelling, but I did manage to get some nice shots at the Dia: Beacon museum in the Hudson Valley. Funny it's the one place where all photography of any kind is expressly prohibited. Oh well. The museum is in an old factory building in rural New York, a two-hour train ride from Manhattan, repurposed several years ago as a showcase for large-scale modern art. And it's really wonderful.

I took Malcolm to Dia: Beacon eight years ago, when he was 18 monts old. This time, I challenged Malcolm to guess which was his favorite installation on his first visit. Turns out, I think it was his favorite thing this time, too. It's giant room with four of Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses -- massive bent steel plates, each with a surprise interior environment. One with an offset interior entrance, one spiral, etc.

When he was a baby, he immediately and joyously began running circles around and inside the ellipses. He did exactly the same thing on our recent visit. I truly felt out of time for an instant.

Here are my two guys inside one of the Serra elipses. The light in the room is amazing.

We returned to our friend Amanda's cottage in Beacon for a glass of wine and some Bananagrams.

Sydney and Totoro had a hangout sesh. Then we hopped on the train back to Manhattan.

Another great highlight of the trip was the Quilter's Take Manhattan event organized by the Alliance for American Quilts. I sadly missed the well-received Friday night modern-quilting roundtable at Vicoria Finday Wolfe's studio, but I had a great time at the other events. There were three talks Saturday afternoon: first Marianne Fons spoke on "Why We Quilt," then daughter Mary Fons riffed on reaching a new generation of quilters, and finally Mark Lipinski  interviewed designer Jay McCarroll for AAQ's flagship Save our Stories archive of interviews with quilters. I don't think Jay would call himself a quilter, though he designs fabric for quilters and the patchwork aesthetic is one of his design signatures.

The evening cocktail party at City Quilter was also fun. It was great to meet so many interesting people, including Jay, Victoria, Luke Haynes, Mark, and Meg Cox. I have to say I was a bit  quilter-starstruck. And Victoria has some photographic proof that I was actually there.

I also managed to get some sewing done on the trip. In the spirit of Lynne's Hexalong at Lily's Quilts, I pieced this 16" hexagonal medallion. It was my first go at hand-sewn paper-pieced curves, and I think it went well. I had to unpick and resew more than one seam (a lot more), but I love the results. In any future project I would definitely try to avoid so many sharp, sharp points. One easy way to do this would be to erase the inner and outer hexagonal borders and combine a few pieces.

The next step is to piece the circular medallion into a solid background, then perhaps finish as a cushion, but I didn't have the fabric or tools to make that happen while travelling.

On the flight home I made a dent in my ongoing red and blue hexie project, though I'm in mostly red territory at the moment.

Finally, an update on my tomato project. I wasn't sure if my tomatoes would survive my absence, because I had forgotten to arrange watering while we were travelling. I left some slow-drip plastic bags filled with water in the pots in a desperate attempt to keep them alive, but I was not confident.

Thankfully the plants are still alive. Not especially happy or pretty, but covered with fruit, and the leaves revived almost as soon as I gave them a little water. September is usually the hottest and sunniest month here in the Bay Area so I'm hoping for a bumper crop.


  1. Love those pics of Malcolm in the museum - one of the best things about big museums for kids is the running space - my kids are the same with hotel corridoors. Now secondly, being the impossibly nosey person I am, is that photo of a man with the kid not you?! Does your other half look a lot like you? ! Love that!

  2. Oh and your hexalong thingy is still baffling me with its incredible parterre ingeniosity - also love love love that garden you had in a magazine - we had a teensy garden when we lived in London and had it "done" but it wasn't anywhere near as fab as that!

  3. Ohh, those tomatoes look tasty!!

  4. I saw a special on PBS just a few weeks ago and it showed the man & the construction of those big pieces you can walk right into. He said they were inspired by the big ships when he was a little boy. He wanted to recreate how they tower over him and envelope. Awesome! :

  5. What a great trip you had! Great to meet you! I love Dia beacon.. I think my favorite is the Michael Heizer... The Serras get me claustrophobic... I worry they will tip over and squash me flat....MIND GAMES!
    so glad you could make the events! happy sewing!

  6. oh NY must be amazing!! hopw can visit the city some day ;)

    love your reds! the hexies proyect looks aweome and those tomatoes... yum!