About the Artwork in this year’s Calendar
These pictures began life as hand cut papercut artwork, ink, and painted mural illustrations that I created during 2023. Most are now in the collections of friends. Here are some notes on each of the month’s illustrations.
January: Flaco and the Brooklyn Bridge
One of my ketubah couples had originally contacted me in 2019 for their planned 2020 wedding. We had spoken about many themes they would like to include: their love of Brooklyn and New York, the Botanical Gardens, trees near their neighborhood, protest and activism, their shared love of various foods and places here and worldwide… Sadly, all this needed to be postponed. It was only this year, 2023, that their celebration could become a reality. They wanted a representation of New York, with its taxis and skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge above all–now, with a little Tree of Life beneath it, Flaco the Escaped Owl perched on top, and of course tiny protesters (homage to the Black Lives Matter protests, among others) streaming across the bridge.
February: Plum Tree, Herald of Spring
This is actually an older piece of artwork done for a friend many years ago, in an imitation of Japanese paintings. The modern Buddhist poem is by Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu:
“The herald of spring, where does she sleep? Ah, cold harmony before the window, Midnight dreams of branches beneath a drunken moon – Ah, she returns after roaming in vast space. Roaming thoughts, And a return to the great world. Drifts of fragrance wind around pavilion and hall, Returning emptiness, As before, to the great world. Open the window, Graceful she stands, There is a plum tree, Growing tall and strong, Growing tall and strong.”
March: Raven Sparkles
This sparkly raven carrying a diamond in its mouth was one of my papercut pieces for the Cutober Instagram Challenge this year. Thanks, @papercaperco (Eva Ryan), for the wonderful prompts!
April: Pittsburgh, City of Bridges
Ketubah piece commemorating Pittsburgh, and in particular its Sister Bridges.
May: Restore My Soul
A piece done for a friend that includes one of my favorite texts, from Psalm 23.
June: Steve Peace
Steve Peace lives a rough life in Washington Heights, Manhattan, and camped across the bridge (during the summer months at least) in New Jersey. I have always admired his fortitude in the face of some incredible challenges life has thrown him. Stop by and chat with him if you see him at the entrance to the 181st St A station (at 184th and Overlook).
One of my favorite childhood activities. I added color to this black and white papercutting done once again for Eva’s Instagram Cutober challenge.
August: Woodland Creatures (mural)
Left section of a tripartite mural done in commemoration of a beloved teachers assistant, for a local grieving school community in upper Manhattan; sponsored and supported by Artistic Dreams International, an organization I have taught and done art with for years. Maria had created and sustained a garden in the school’s courtyard: the mural I created in conjunction with the children’s input at the school featured her favorite animals, plants and images.
September: Zakim Bridge (Three Cities)
The Leonard P. Zakim Bridge (“The Zakim”) is a structure completed in 2003 across the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. Here, it is one of three bridges connecting the three significant cities of the couple. The bridge’s full name commemorates Boston area leader and civil rights activist Leonard P. Zakim, who championed “building bridges between peoples.”
October: Diderot’s Staircase
Part of what may eventually become a graphic novel about the life and work on the Encyclopédie of Denis Diderot. This spiraling staircase comes from another apartment in his neighborhood (not his own, sadly–that apartment building is now gone), contemporary with him. I worked from a photo.
November: Moose Watching
Part of a ketubah that commemorated lake life for the couple, including flora and fauna (even some big ones, as you can see!).
December: On Earth, Peace
Another throwback, this time to my Peace card, designed over a decade ago: it’s still timely.