Monday, August 31, 2015

Vonnegut at Cornell University: two eyes and a quote

art by Kurt Vonnegut as seen at Cornell University. 2015
 Do you like being asked about favorites? What is your favorite cake, flower, 80's band, color, ... author?  To say one is a favorite seems wrong to me. Really are Cosmos better than Dahlias?

There was a time period where Vonnegut was one of my favorite authors. His writing spoke to where I was in my early and mid twenties and I read everything I could get my hands on. I am not sure if I would enjoy it as much these days, maybe.
art by Kurt Vonnegut as seen at Cornell University. 2015

I did not go to Ithaca to see his art. I was much more interested in seeing waterfalls, which I did. But it was there on a steep campus and now I can remember my younger days. Legs and spirit that would have carried me about a campus that now looked better suited for mountain goats than humans.

But here is a Vonnegut quote shared by the museum currator, and at this moment in time, as brief as moments can last... It is my favorite. Maybe it needs to be taken within me when I enter my studio.

quote by Kurt Vonnegut as seen at Cornell University. 2015

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

TBT: painting a two studio row porch 2005 ... and again today

2005: the first time Stratoz painted the porch
I dove into the project in 2005, using tape to scetion off areas, maybe it took ten years and a rotting board to forget the project to the point of doing it again. But I have enjoyed the color.

And I guess I am grateful we didn't buy a house with a huge wraparound porch. Our two studio row is all about moderation. Small yards, small porches, small studios... it fits us nicely... most of the time.

When we bought the house in 2004 it was to have more space. Space to create art; and from the beginning it was a two studio row. Eleven years have passed and art indeed has emerged; as well as pizza, strudel, jazz, blog posts, and glass.

So with a promise to Margaret to fix the porch, time off from teaching, and a favorable forecast; I began the project today. Feeling ten years older is not the only change. The yellow has more ochre, the dark green jumps toward the blue side of the sprctrum, and the design... simpler much simpler. And the sunflowers, well they weren't there in 2005. The rose bush has died, and today I am glad to not be painting by thorns.

August 2015: Stratoz painting the porch.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A sun and sky photo shoot at the Jesuit Center

Sunlight and Clouds: 1 at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville PA by Wayne Stratz

On a splendid spring day I took my Earth and Space students outside and told them to look up at the clouds. Fifteen minutes later the class period was over. It meant something to some of them who told me they were now checking out clouds.

When I am on Silent retreats I allow myself more time to look up and use my camera to try to preserve that moment in time. These were my favorite three from one particular photo shoot.

look up.

Sunlight and Clouds: 2 at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville PA by Wayne Stratz

Sunlight and Clouds: 3 at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville PA by Wayne Stratz

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Going Forth: What does one take from a Silent Retreat?

The second Ignatian Star: a design from Silence by Wayne Stratz

The Jesuits are glad to have us there for a time to be in silence, but they are joyful when we leave. It is then that the awakening of silence grows. No matter what the silence brings: days of wresting with God, a week of rest and rejuvenation, insight into who you truly are, hope to make the right decision, and/or a stained glass design. 

In 2013 I drew a design of an asymmetrical seven-pointed star. Each point consisting of three pieces of glass, which gives me that number I love, 21. It sat for nearly a full year before I made use of it. I remember feeling pressure of going on a retreat without having used a design from the previous. Feeling moved, I chose Three types of Youghiogheny Glass and this emerged:

The original take on the Ignatian Star by Wayne Stratz feauturing three varieties of Youghiogheny Glass

Retreats are where prayers are formed. Truth learned. Journeys begin. They are not vacations from everyday life. Everyday life can fuel what happens on a retreat. What do I truly desire from this life I am given? What pain needs to be released? How can hope remain?

They live on in you like a design drawn on an old wooden desk. The best work will resurface:

Ignatian Star: a design worth revisiting by Wayne Stratz
PS ... I do remember the moment in time the first one sold. It was in my living room and it was to friends, who had come to our open studio in 2014. To purchase an Ignatian Star: Go this this section of my shop which is where they reside

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Blue Butterfly Thoughts

Blue Butterfly by Wayne Stratz with the row homes of Lansdale, PA
When I go about creating a blue wing, I walk to my tower of glass, go to the blues and choose one, two, or in this case three that delight my eye.

When a butterfly creates a blue wing, it requires a bit more precision. Scales grow forth, each one from an individual cell and thus a colorless membrane is covered. To get blue light to reach my eyes, the wavelength of light entering my eye must be in the range from 400 to 480 nm. The slits in the scales of the Blue Morpho are 200 nm apart. One inch contains 25,400,000 nm. Like I said, I don't need that precision because the glass already appears blue.

Now if I actually worked from scratch, some cobolt or copper would come in handy to make glass blue.

and this... see all my current animals, blue and not blue at my etsy shop

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rogue Sunflowers in the early morning with bees: three moments in time

Sunflowers in the early morning with bees by Wayne Stratz #1
 In the Garden of Nutmeg Designs, what I call Rogue Sunflowers have been arriving in masses each year. A few live to feed the bees, most are culled. A new variety is arising here in Lansdale.

Sunflowers in the early morning with bees by Wayne Stratz #2
Sunflowers in the early morning with bees by Wayne Stratz #3

Sunday, August 16, 2015

something beautiful from Lyme CT -- Barbara McKie's quilt "Pelican's Partner"

Barbara McKie Lyme CT  "Pelican's Partner"  Photo by Wayne Stratz

A friend at work was hospitalized this recently because of the dreaded tick bite infecting hime with Lyme Disease. He was out of the hospital and fighting the disease with meds. News of the disease brings back my memories of being sickened by a tick; fortunatelyI did not need hospitalization.

I wonder how tired the people of Lyme CT are of the disease named for where it was first recognized. Maybe they would like to be known for their artists instead.

It turns out she has a two studio home like we do at Nutmeg Designs. Click here to see more of her art and discover what her husband is up to in Lyme.

and so, what is that you would like to be known for? How about your town?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

a blue and orange type of day: glass, dinner, birthday card

the day started soldering this sun catcher, design was inspired by the solo jazz piano of Vijay Iyer. Created by Wayne Stratz

Cherry tomatoes purchased at the Lansdale Farmers Market awaiting to be used in dinner. Photo by Wayne Stratz

Drew this for a friend who was celebrating a big birthday. I did celebrations. Colors inspired by her shower curtain. Drawn by Wayne Stratz

Friday, August 14, 2015

apparently my heart has a silent retreat rhythm

from my journal at the Jesuit Center, Image by Wayne Stratz

Summer school teaching ended today. For the past several years that meant I would be going on a silent retreat. However, I went in June. But my heart is prepared for silence and taking my mug to Wernersville.

I considered a short trip, but am thinking it won't happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe I need to reserve a room for this fall. A place to go with a favorite mug...

At the Jesuit Center in Wernersville with a Pam Cummings Mug. Image by Wayne Stratz

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

seven questions : Peter Lundberg "Where is Geometry" 1999 Stainless Steel Concrete

Peter Lundberg "Where is Geometry" 1999 Stainless Steel Concrete  
  1.  Who taught the sculpture geometry?
  2.  Where is the geometry? 
  3. Where is it lacking? 
  4. Will you look for it? 
  5. Does it want to be found?
  6. When found is geometry really there?
  7. Why place the geometry over there?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Blue Skies turn Hans Van De Bovenkamp Sagg's Portal blue

Hans Van De Bovenkamp "Sagg Portal" 2004 stainless steel  at The Grounds for Sculpture. Photo by Wayne Stratz
The Sculpure caught Margaret's eye as it resembled a sculpture here in Lansdale (a search of his name and Lansdale led to nothing).

The clouds caught my eye.

Combining them led to a real combination that I did not notice at the time.

That is the unexpected joys that can come with photos. In this case the blue sky reflection in the stainless steel sculpture was not my goal, my goal was to get the two separate, not the two interconnected.

Van de Bovenkamp states, “…it is all about time, change, and interconnectedness." The sky changes and the sculpture connects to it. See the entire sculpture and more about the piece here

Glass is so much the same. A photo of a suncatcher in a window is a moment in time, as time unfolds the glass changes interconnected to the moment at hand.

Wayne Stratz: Stained glass designed to the music of Vijay Iyer


Monday, August 10, 2015

Old Technology That Works: Clearing off the stereo so I Can Play Solo Monk on LP

from the back of the album cover: Solo Monk by Thelonious Monk. Photo by Wayne Stratz

I stopped for some fresh coffee and a bit of conversation with a new friend on my way to the Lansdale Farmers Market. At one point we talked about old technology. I did not mention the 8-Tracks I had of Zappa Live and Pink Floyd's The Wall, but I did speak of Bruce Cockburn and Dar William cassettes; and a floppy disk that has my life list of birds. Things go out of favor, grow old, and new devices look at them with curiosity.

My new iMac is too thin to have a CD slot. Really?

But before any of these things there were LP's, a recorded moment in time. One source tells me that in February of 1965, Thelonious Monk sat alone with a piano. Twenty years later I bought the LP.  Thirty years later, I removed the stacks of CDs on top of my stereo in the studio and gently plopped the needle down on Dinah...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Reflections from the Jesuit Center: after discovering the nonexistant gate, a walk back up the hill

On the grounds of the Jesuit Center, Wernersville PA, 2015 by Wayne Stratz
After discovering the gate was not where it was supposed to be, and being told where it was by the passing by Jesuit; I had to walk back up the hill to the Jesuit Center.

Five images have survived the purge of photos taken on that walk up the hill. The first is a celebration of a lush evergreen botanical life.  The second photo shows the ravages of an aging leaf. The summer is early but the great vibrancy of a springtime leafing Maple has moved on to leaves showing the signs of a hard life.

On the grounds of the Jesuit Center, Wernersville PA, 2015 by Wayne Stratz

 Then there was this Maple seed. A sign of hope. One could say, "a dashed hope" as it rests on the macadam driveway at the Jesuit Center, but a tree could still emerge. Who knows where that seed could travel to if forces lifted it up?

On the grounds of the Jesuit Center, Wernersville PA, 2015 by Wayne Stratz

It sure was a wet June this 2015, after a dry springtime. Talks of drought were gone and fungi were sending up their fruiting bodies. And like the Maple leaf, it captures my destination in the background.

On the grounds of the Jesuit Center, Wernersville PA, 2015 by Wayne Stratz

I am no bird photographer and my camera is really, really not up for the job, so when I got home with hundreds of silent photos, this Blue Jay delighted me. I knew it was there. I had hope that it was in the frame. I clicked. Hopefully in the next moment it would be nourished by a leaf eating insect on this Maple tree.

On the grounds of the Jesuit Center, Wernersville PA, 2015 by Wayne Stratz

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New Jazz in our house: Matthew Halshall & The Gondwana Orchestra; When The World Was One

My brother-in-law chose Matthew Halshall & The Gondwana Orchestra; When The World Was One to be my birthday present. He did well. I have listened to it three times in the last few days. Halshall's website describes him as a "Manchester based trumpeter, composer, arranger and band-leader Matthew Halsall is one of the rising stars of the UK jazz scene."

When it was given to me, my brother-in-law told me his favorite track was A Far Away Place. Give a listen:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Looking back at my birthday dinner, Greek Food at Yanni's Gyro in Lansdale on this Blue Tuesday

Maredsous, Blue Label Tripel from a Benedictine Abbey, Belgium Ale photo by Wayne Stratz 

Plenty of blue to be found at Yanni's Gyro in Lansdale, and it is nice to be walking when you are bringing a large bottle of Belgium Ale to the table.

Cold Spreads presented at Yanni's Gyro in Lansdale. I do believe the spicy Feta is our favorite. Photo by Wayne Stratz

Briam is a perfect side with so many items at Yanni's Gyro in Lansdale. We had mussels and gigantes along side this evening. Photo by Wayne Stratz

And  some authentic Greek coffee is a fine way to end any meal at Yanni's Gyro in Lansdale. Photo by Wayne Stratz

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Groundhog Thoughts: Pondering in the Garden of Nutmeg Designs

Margaret Almon's mosaic bowling ball with sunshine streaming across the top and Black-Eyed Susans in the background. Photo by Wayne Stratz

Ten thoughts on Ground Hogs:
  1. There is a groundhog, that has not shown itself to me, but Mosaic Woman has seen it dash about a few times. It seems to like being under our porch.
  2. Groundhogs dig spending time in crawl spaces under porches; this I know.
  3. Typically a groundhog gives birth to six young. That is plenty if you ask me.
  4. Groundhogs enjoy eating plants; this is why I don't dig them very much.
  5. A few times this growing season, I have filled in/blocked the entry way the groundhog has created to dash under our porch.
  6. Groundhogs weigh in around 13 pounds. That is an excessive amount of plant matter being transformed into a critter. But a moose in my garden would be so much more critter.
  7. As far as I can tell, our groundhog has caused no damage to our garden. This baffles me. Living harmoniously with a groundhog has me pondering my life as a gardener.
  8. I do believe that a groundhog watching me pull weeds and deadhead flowers from under my porch would be baffled... "What is that two legged critter doing on all fours and why is he not eating anything?"
  9. If the groundhog looked up as it it dashed into our yard, then it might have the view I had when I took the above photo.
  10. Groundhogs are true hibernators as their body temperature plummets to the temperature of the air in the burrow. I respect animals that snooze instead of driving to work on icy roads.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July 31st: The Feast Day of St Ignatius, an imagined photo: Statue with Clouds at the Jesuit Center

St Ignatius, Statue with Clouds at the Jesuit Center. Photo by Wayne Stratz
I am sure there are plenty of people born on feast days of saints who don't go on retreats inspired by the spirituality of that saint, but I do. And I had gone many a year before I realized the connection.

So what is the connection. Imagination? Ignatius wanted us to imagine ourselves into biblical stories, as bystanders and key characters. By becoming part of the scene, we become part of the story and are placed into the tradition of the church. On Facebook I list my job title as CID of Nutmeg Designs , Chief Imagination Dude. Imagination leads us into places we would never experience. Our story takes shape. Imagine a JOY inside a mandala. Then design it. Then collaborate with Margaret.

Joy Mandala: Imagined by Wayne Stratz. Created by Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon

The clouds are not an afterthought, like when a photo of a flower lands a great insect within it. I was photographing the clouds as much as I was photographing the statue of Saint Ignatius. Photography is imagination. Imagine an image recorded for history. Use the camera. My imagined designs and photographs are not crystal clear. They have some clouds floating between the idea and the finished product. Ignatius did not say how exactly to imagine a story, we may have an idea when we leap into a scene, but forcing it to play out as it was predicted foils the creative flow of imagination.

Choose a story, any story, now leap in. And follow your imagination.

St Ignatius, Statue with Clouds at the Jesuit Center. Photo by Wayne Stratz