Closing, Potluck

A month is almost over and our show, FEAST, ends on Saturday.

It’s time for a real feast! Please come to a POTLUCK LUNCH from 1-3 at Grover Thurston Gallery on Saturday, September 29th. Please bring food to share. You can see old friends and meet new ones.

Thanks for visiting the show and this blog over the month.

At the end of the potluck we will dismantle the bread wall and you can take home a piece if you would like. The bread will last for years if it stays in the open air.


Carrot Salad

Here is a recipe for carrot salad from the Greens Cookbook by Deborah Madison. It is simple and tasty. You can vary it by adding cumin or raisins or cayenne pepper. I make it so often that supper guests expect it and quite possibly dread it.


1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely grated

2 TBS lemon juice, 1 TBS sugar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp orange flower water, a pinch of salt.

Combine the dressing ingredients and toss with the carrots. Chill and serve.

(Orange flower water is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. It is also good sprinkled on oranges with a little cinnamon.)

Feast or Famine

This show, FEAST, contains work that Joe and I created over several years. But for me the work didn’t come in a steady flow. I work in my studio consistently but my ideas and output ebb and flow. Sometimes I am dissatisfied with what I am making and sometimes I am excited. What I want, and what I sometimes get, is to be so absorbed in what I am doing that the work takes on a life of its own; creating starts to feel like a conversation. I call this traction – my friend Deborah Mersky calls it flow. I think we are talking about the same thing. When I don’t have flow or traction I am itchy, miserable and self-doubting. When I do then life falls into place around the central act of creating. Sometimes I can’t remember what starts a flow of ideas and sometimes I can. Here are a few things that bumped me into creativity for this body of work.

I saw a show of African American quilts at the Bellevue Art Museum this summer. I was inspired by the beauty, the utility and the imperfection of the quilts. This subtle variations in shape and the many shades of blue and white – all slightly different – made this quilt come alive.

The quilts jolted me with the idea that images don’t need to be complicated to be beautiful or meaningful, and they led to the series of work that I called Blue Quilts. I did many paintings on small sheets of paper and pieced them together like quilts. I dyed some of the sheets of paper with tea to create variations in the whites.

Another bump came when I was having lunch with a friend – Margaret Chodos-Irvine. I was frustrated with the work I was doing for Feast and feeling empty of ideas. She said: “Well, you can’t just paint a Feast. It has to be feast or famine.” How could I have forgotten? I almost kicked over the table in my eagerness to get back and  paint. These paintings and more were sparked by that conversation.

In old still-lifes the butterfly symbolized mortality. Life is fleeting. Fruit ripens and dies. We ripen and die. Feast and famine go together, as do life and death, creative times and fallow times.


Julie: What piece of art do you remember first noticing or caring about?
Joe: When I was a kid Northgate was brand new and they carved a totem pole there. I remember watching it go up  – the wood shavings on the ground. I liked all of the different faces and animals stacked on top of each other. It was hard to figure out exactly what it was. I’m still looking at totem poles. I look at them every opportunity that I get  – luckily in Seattle there are many of them to look at.

Here are some totem poles from Seattle and Canada.

Here is some of my work. I like stacking things on top of each other  – that’s for sure.


The show opened last night. We forgot to take pictures, but these figures from the bread wall show how we felt.

Thanks to everyone who came by and made it such a fun evening.

Setting Up the Show

Today we went down to the gallery and set up the show. Here are some pictures of the work going up.

I installed the bread wall. First I spread all of the bread pieces on the floor on tablecloths and then nailed them to the wall.

You can see more pictures of the Bread Wall by clicking here.

Here is a picture of Susan Grover hanging our wall of collaborative drawings. She and Joe put them up.

And here is Richard Thurston hanging a wall of paintings by Joe.

Please come by the Grover Thurston Gallery for the opening on Thursday night from 6-8. Anything that is crooked in these pictures will be straightened out by then!

Ruby in Julie’s Studio

In eighth grade I wrote a report on Roman dining. One Roman delicacy was roasted mouse. A small mouse was placed in a wooden box. The mouse was fed every day until it was exactly the same size as the box, at which time it was baked in the box and then eaten. My studio feels sort of like that box right now. Every day I fill it with a little more art. When the studio is full it will be time for the show.

Here is a picture of my studio table with Ruby, a willing if not able assistant in all projects.

Ruby is new to our household. Here is her first appearance in one of my paintings. Possibly she is looking for a Roman mouse.


From Blossoms in Rose

by Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes

this brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from the boy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward

signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,

from sweet fellowship in the bins,

comes nectar at the roadside, succulent

peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,

comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,

to carry within us an orchard, to eat

not only the skin, but the shade,

not only the sugar, but the days, to hold

the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into

the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live

as if death were nowhere

in the background; from joy

to joy to joy, from wing to wing,

from blossom to blossom to

impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Thanks to Tim Colman for introducing me to this poem.


This week we have been printing posters for the show. Here are a bunch of them drying in the dining room.

Joe has had posters for most of his shows. The posters advertise the show and they are part of a long graphic tradition of handmade artist’s posters. I have designed most of them – adding lettering to Joe’s art. Sometimes we have made them ourselves, other times we have had them printed. Here are a few of those posters. We’ve done about 15 in total. We have done several (including this year’s poster) with spray paint through a stencil. The photographs are a little crooked but you get the idea!

Jeff at Two Dimensions silkscreened several over the years.

Scott Smith designed and printed this letterpress poster.

and this one was printed by Cracked Compass Press using images from Joe’s sketchbooks.

Joe’s Studio

Our show opens in a few weeks and Joe and I have both been painting a lot in preparation. That really isn’t too different from any other time, especially for Joe. Joe paints every day, without fail, except when we are out of town. Painting is the center of his life and everything else fits in around that activity. But having a show still brings an extra intensity to the studio time. Joe has two studios – one in a small shed behind the house and the other in Magnuson Park at Lake Washington.Here are a few pictures from Joe’s studio at home.

Joe uses the wall as a palette. Every few years when it gets too thick he replaces it. Here is his painting wall at the Magnuson studio.

…and the window wall.

The shadow in Joe’s window did not inspire this painting by Franz Kline.