Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Too long in the wasteland…

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I have been remiss. But I’m back and there is a gap as wide as the Grand Canyon including a move a year ago from Reno, Nevada to Fredericksburg , Texas.

So, to make a long story short, I am about to open my own gallery/studio by the end of May in Johnson City, Texas. I hesitate to post any pictures until the place gets it’s new facelift and I’m all settled in. But I may break down and post some teasers if I can’t hold back from excitement. Let me just say that it has been quite a year and i owe much of the success to my friend Linda Haddock who owns ECHO , in Johnson City, and was good enough to house Studio Massaro within her fabulous big building at 100 Nugent Avenue for this past year. Without her encouragement and great location in the up and coming new art community I would not be having the success I have been enjoying and now this next big step.

If you have been following my journey on this website, this next comment should come as no surprise … to end is to begin.


summer’s end…

Posted in art, beginnings, day of rest, home, journey, memory, notice, ponder, time, Uncategorized1 Comment

As the last warm days of the year fade away I am happy to announce the work is done on loading up the art from my last show, THESE FOOLISH THINGS. Good work takes time, and not just the creation of the work, but the telling of the story and the website design of sharing it is no simple task. Having spent the summer resting my mind, renewing my creative energy and just enjoying the rhythm of every day, I can feel the rumblings of my next body of work. Until then, please enjoy the show under the ART tab.


John Lubbock, The USE of Life

one man’s treasure…

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This morning I was honored to judge a city wide Youth Art Show at Kerr Arts & Cultural Center in Kerrville , Texas. All schools in the area from K-12.Only the 6 through 12 were awarded ribbons for first , second, third, and there were a handful of honorable mentions.

I saw this show last year and it was so wonderful! Just a joy to be surrounded by art so raw and free. And the skill level and point of view of those who clearly have a calling stood out. Here is an interesting interaction I had as I was placing ribbons for the 12th graders. A woman came in who was a retired grade school art teacher. She was talking with the receptionist in the room that housed the upper grades artwork. There were two great pieces that frankly, I had a very hard time choosing between. If there could have been a tie, this would have been the two. One had exquisite execution – lovely draftsmanship. The other had a marvelous story telling essence, and a unique point of view. I knew the obvious choice for this was the technically masterful one, but I came back again and again to the other one. Why? Because it was handled with a sense of abandon and confidence that drew me to it over and again. I knew there was more to come from this young artist beyond the mastery of technique. That was when I heard the art teacher say, ” You mean that other one won first prize?” Clearly she was not only horrified by my choice, but then said, “Is that a CIGARETTE in his mouth?!” Apparently this disqualified the fine work in her eyes. She simply could not get past this part of the subject matter to see the other truly fine qualities and unique style this young artist brought to his work. I admired his nerve, his studied look at all aspects of the composition and color handling. She could not get past the cigarette. I tried to explain why I felt it had the edge, but she was not convinced and it showed on her face. I’ve had that art teacher before. In fact I had one in high school that used to routinely lock me out of her class. We were like oil and water. She even told me I would never make it as an artist.

It’s so important to remember not to crush a young artists’ spirit when they put themselves out there for all the world to see. The cigarette is nothing. The nerve to use it in his work because he felt strongly it was part of the story is what was important. It was bold and brave and he deserved to be rewarded for the energy it took to tell his story.One that went well beyond technique. That ‘art teacher’ felt it was trash based on her narrow view of subject matter which was a tiny part of the larger work. You know how this is going to end now, right?


(FEATURED IMAGE – painting by Grace Ann Alvord 5 years old, my granddaughter !)

the stuff of life…

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As I returned from my spring road trip to New Orleans and unpacked my travels, I laughed at the spread of objects. A paper hat from Cafe Du Monde, an alligator foot backscratcher, travel brochures for future trips , a paper cup and hot cup sleeve from The Hampton Inn, a wiggly lobster refrigerator magnet, and a CD of Cajun music. I shot about 300 photos, and had more than my fair share of trolly rides and walking. Had the usual mishaps and laughable adventures in this fun city and made it back through some serious down-home Cajun country courtesy of my travel companion Sarah’s relatives.

Back to the stuff though. The stuff I bring back from my travels has changed so much over the years. There were years of collecting objects and treasures that have now become part of larger stories in my canvas collage pieces. Now I am content to experience things so much more intimately, and spontaneously. Though I meant to find time to sketch, the trip was so filled with getting as many adventures in as possible, my camera became my creative vehicle of choice.

My new show, THESE FOOLISH THINGS, is only a few weeks away and as I ponder my relationship to travel and objects, the writings of Rebecca Solnit and Jeanette Winterson speak to me.

” The true artist is interested in the art object as an art process.” Rebecca Solnit

“Artists bridge the divide between objects and ideas, between metaphysical & material. It is the job of an artist to find out how materials and images speak & to make the mute material world come to life.” Jeanette Winterson

The material world is a chaotic and abundant place. It’s a place of visual overload and wastefulness. We sift through so much stuff on a daily basis it’s mind numbing to determine what holds any real import.

This is the story behind my newest body of work.

(Featured photo – WIN  PLACE  SHOW , canvas collage from THESE FOOLISH THINGS, Catherine Massaro)

let’s BUSK!…

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Five days till Spring is officially here. Spring cleaning coincides with my return to Nevada from wintering in Texas, and it’s time to clean up and get things in order for the drive back in April, right after my show opening of  THESE FOOLISH THINGS.

There is much to admire in the writings of Henry David Thoureau’ , WALDEN. Of late I have been carrying around a tiny volume of the book and diving in and out of it. I found this entry on a ritual called a BUSK a perfect Spring story of a custom from days past.

 ” The customs of some savage nations might, perchance, be profitably imitated by us, for they at least go through the semblance of casting their slough annually; they have the idea of the thing, whether they have the reality or not. Would it not be well if we were to celebrate such a ‘busk’, or feast of first fruits’, as Bartram describes to have been the custom of the Mucclasse Indians?”

When a town celebrates the busk (says he) , having previously provided themselves with new clothes, new pots, pans and other household utensils and furniture, they collect all their worn-out clothes and other despicable things, sweep and cleanse their houses, squares and the whole town of their filth, which with all the remaining grain and other old provisions they cast together into one common heap, and consume it with fire. After having taken medicine, and fasted for three days, all the fire in the town is extinguished. During this fast they abstain from gratification of every appetite and passion whatever. A general amnesty is proclaimed; all malefactors may return to their town. On the fourth morning, the high priest, by rubbing dry wood together, produces new fire in the public square, from whence every habitation in the town is supplied with the new and pure flame.They then feast on the new corn and fruits, and dance and sing for three days,’and the four following days they receive visits and rejoice with their friends from neighboring towns who have in like manner purified and prepared themselves’.

This made me wonder if this custom was a throw back to our modern day ‘spring cleaning’ ritual – without the fire! I never have to look too far when I look to others who sought knowledge and direction on how to navigate modern life . Few will argue that our lives have for the most part, become unmanageable in many ways. A good cleaning and purging helps, and as usual when one season is over…

 TO END IS TO BEGIN, so let’s busk!

(featured image from Catherine Massaro – Meditations on the Hill Country series)




the spaces in between…

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Forty one years ago I took a cross-country trip from Buffalo , New York to as far as you could get  in the United States –  Hawaii.

It was not planned, possibly very foolish and most certainly under the category of youthful indiscretion at it’s very best. It was exactly what youth is for and all about. I regret nothing. The right trip at the right time with all the lessons I could squeeze out of it without dying in the process. I think we remember these moments better than trips in later years because there is nothing but new adventure ahead, no previous experience to draw on and more importantly, no expectations. Every day was a gift of wonder. National Parks and Forests, a Volkswagen bus, a geodesic dome,  a 30 foot catamaran and any friend who took us in took the place of a house. Life lessons happened on a daily basis. After a few months the country stopped and the ocean appeared. The mighty Pacific Ocean! I thought I would be thrilled. Awed. But we arrived at sunset and to this day my strongest memory of that long travel to end up at ocean’s edge was – loneliness. I felt small, vulnerable, and oh, so alone. Weird, right? I am still not sure why I was so overcome with that emotion, but I suspect it has to do with the space in between. In only a few short months, I had come to some big conclusions about my young life and made some very big realizations. The vast space in between the east coast and the west, the Atlantic and the Pacific, my searching and my finding, my needs and my wants, my past and my future.

It’s funny how we yearn for youth and avoid old age. What we lose in the physical body we gain in spades in our heads and hearts, and that’s the trade off…and I’m okay with that. Those decades of the learning curve of life were long and winding. Little went as planned and much more came from finally accepting. I want to tell those in their 30’s, 40’s  and 50’s that it gets easier in your head right around the time your body says, “this is wearing me out a bit.” To which I say, it’s supposed to. We are all warriors on the road to a final rest.

I love this photo I chose for the blog header. Here I am, some thirty odd years after my first sad encounter with the Pacific Ocean with a very different outlook on it to be sure. And that’s what happens in the spaces in between – we find some joy and peace on the way.

walking heart…

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I read this recently and was so moved by how beautifully these words were both chosen and written. How much of our days are spent attending to the most mundane activities that eat away time. I myself, spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about health and health matters. This could be time worse spent, for sure, but then there is the question of balance in one’s life. Attending to our heart and soul. The needs of our heart and mind.

I have the luxury of being in very close proximity to the woods of northern California, where within 45 minutes I am so far removed from the mundane activity of modern life, that I have occasion to enjoy this type of walk in the woods with my heart. It’s not about the exercise, though I am grateful my legs still carry me so, it’s that effort it takes to recognize how much our heart needs to be pampered and constantly healed and nourished by things like, ‘the magic whispers of old trees’ ; trees that have been here so very long before generations of us, and will still be here growing ever bigger after we are long gone. We need their silent whispers in our lives, as well as their old wisdom to put us in our place and humble us, and remind us of  how we choose to spend our days. We can race around believing much of what we do matters, or we can respect the fact that much of what we really have to learn, we learn in silence… and the whispers of old trees.

when life gives you peaches…

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It’s the end of summer and I can already feel it in the morning air. Mostly I sense it in my head. The change of seasons tends to throw me off my usually steady countenance. Pretending it doesn’t just makes it worse for me as I look for ways to avoid the rocky , unsteady way it makes me feel.

I stared at this lovely, perfect peach for 2 days now waiting for it to hit that point where when I walk past it, the smell becomes  so heady, that I knew today was the day. I will eat this peach today and celebrate the end of the summer season and the coming of the next one. The change of seasons seem to affect me differently than other people, and I’m not sure why. They are like ‘little deaths’. I know that sounds strange and sort of dark, but perhaps that is why I like a climate where it feels like a never ending summer.

Time creeps on us all, and while we wait for the calendar pages to go by, always waiting for the next thing, we should not let those magic moments slip by too fast. Those moments when you can smell the peach in it’s perfect ripeness, and look forward to nothing else for the entire day, wherein you finally get to eat it. In another moment there will be only a pit, and I just might have to shed a tear of joy for how wonderful it was, and then one more for the fact that just like summer…it’s gone.



doodle power!

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There seem to be plenty of articles lately on retaining your memory. As we depend more and more on smartphones to keep all our important information at our fingertips, we rely less and less on our memory. Gosh, I used to have over a dozen telephone numbers as well as addresses (zip codes too) memorized and ready to recall at a seconds notice. No more. I’m mortified to admit (sorry mom) I even have to look up my own dear mother’s phone number, now having grown lazy of mind, since at the push of one button I can dial her automatically. So when I read this great article entitled, ‘  The Power of the Doodle ‘ , it brought back a few important memories that I had long forgotten.

The article pointed out that doodling has the power to improve your focus and memory. This increases both the focus and attention you pay to your doodling. It can serve to increase your memory retention during that time so engaged.

Flash back to my 5th grade book report on the explorers. I had chosen Sir Frances Drake. It was my first serious book report and in all honesty I found Sir Frances Drake fairly dull subject matter. I remember discussing the assignment with my mother, who always seemed to know how to bring out the artist in me. (thanks mom!) She suggested I write the book report in a diary style, which I did, but then found myself adding doodle illustration drawings in the margins of the paper. Little wooden sailing ships. Antique map details. Things that helped to illustrate his ocean voyage, which suddenly became much more interesting to me now that I could connect to his journey through my doodles. I got an A+ for my efforts. God bless my teacher for not deducting points for drawing on my book report.

Now I’m in junior high school. ( still don’t know how I lived through that) I’m in Mr. Michael’s American History class and he is droning on and on about the French Revolution as I desperately try to stay focused. Mr. Michael’s was always kind enough to tell us that the test we would be taking would come directly from his lecture, so paying attention and good note taking was imperative. I’m listening to his words, but not looking up as I am doodling Marie Antionette’s head, cakes, and peasants in rebellion when I hear my name being called out…loudly.

“Miss Massaro, would you please care to share with me what is more important than what i have to say!?”

I just about fainted and now am about to be called up in front of the class to show that I am sketching instead of note taking. Public humiliation 101. I hand him my crazy looking notes with my weird little doodles in between historical facts, ready for the humiliation hammer  that is about to fall. Instead he hands it back to me and says,” Well, I am very happy to see someone is paying such close attention to my lesson.”

God bless you Mr. Michaels for seeing that I learned a little differently than other kids and keeping me on my young creative path.

I was red faced by the attention, but so relieved that I did not get chastised in front of my peers.

Art vindicated me again and I passed the test too. It seems the power of doodling indeed helps you focus. Not only that, it enriches the information you are surrounded by in a very physical manner.

I still doodle. As an artist it’s called sketching. I do it in any setting, anywhere I find myself bored or inspired. Boredom can often lead to inspiration. Sitting in the audience while my husband plays is no where near as interesting as being up there playing. So I draw. I sketch. I doodle. I am intently involved in not just the music, but the players, the audience and the environment as a whole.

I had no idea where I was going in my life back then, but others might have seen what was ahead for me. My mother, a few good teachers. We can never underestimate the influence one kind or encouraging act can have on a persons life –  at any age.

Let’s just keep passing it on and on. What a difference we can make, whether we know it or not.





Getting perspective…

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  • Old abandoned houses along the vast stretches of our state highways are just beautiful to me. I now have a series of photographs that I’m adapting to oils, drawings, watercolors and mixed media, with the intention of a body of work for a show.

Most of the time I am pretty sure of what I want in a piece, and I jump right into it. Other times I want to really deconstruct my viewpoint and dig deep into what I’m investigating. I get out any media I want and start hammering away at the image with a sort of vengeance, really pushing it to the boundaries of the paper’s edge. I try to approach it like it is one minute away from the trash,  so all intention of preciousness or a  finished piece is not part of the process.

Then I alter it one more time by reducing it down. It takes on an entirely different perspective. Colors become clearer, as does composition.  Mistakes and values become more evident and important .

The lessons I learn in my art continue to teach me how to live my life.  When I consider some problem in my day to to day life, I reduce it down, look at it from an entirely different perspective, don’t cling to my idea of the outcome. Rather,  I let it take its’ own course as I allow my thoughts to go all over the idea –  the good, the bad and the ugly. I find I have an entirely different perspective on things  when I go through this process. I can see what I’ve overlooked, or failed to include or consider. I know when I start a new piece what needs to be added, included, or abandoned and now might result in a more well thought out idea.

What have I learned?

I’ve learned that fine art is nothing more than learning the fine art of living.