Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


New York, New York-Tim Burton Exhibit

This past weekend we took a quick trip to New York. We visited MOMA for the Tim Burton exhibit, caught the theatre production of “Fela! The Musical,” and visited The Frick Collection.

The exterior entrance to the Tim Burton exhibit included a time line of his work written on the wall and his name on the wall in big black letters with giant black and white arrows pointing you to the exhibit….

…where, after they took your tickets, you walked through this facade:

The first room inside the exhibit was all black with black lighting. On display were some of Tim Burton’s paintings on black canvas, a merry-go-round like sculpture that reminded me of “Beetlejuice” and the infamous Oogie Boogie in a glass display case.

The exhibit featured costumes worn in “Edward Scissorhands” (on a Johnny Depp-like mannequin), “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Batman,” and “Planet of the Apes.” Several of the claymation characters from the Oyster Boy series, Corpse Bride, Nightmare Before Christmas and Mars Attack are also on display. I had great fun looking at these pieces for their materials, construction, and size. It was stunning to see Jack Skellington and all the heads that were sculpted for each facial movement and expression seen in the movie.

The exhibit also includes a lot of Burton’s early work, including super 8 films from high school and college, a composition assignment from his early years (really, who keeps schoolwork from junior high and high school?), lots of sketches that lead to formal ideas for movies, work from his time at Disney, and even a handwritten note to Johnny Depp regarding the character development of Edward Scissorhands.

And, of course, where any music was playing, it was by Danny Elfman, Burton’s longtime music partner.

Outside the exhibit on the basement level were posters from many of Burton’s movies, his large Polaroid prints, and a theatre showing select movies. On the main floor, we were greeted by this blue, bulbous character:

One of my favorite series of drawings, however, was a study Burton did using the numbers 1-10. Using ink and watercolor, he created 11″x15″ drawings for each number and included a little poem or verse about each number. For example, in his drawing for the number one, one is lonely and sad, but by the time Burton drew number 10, number one was happily paired with zero and now one was two.

Burton also has a great way of taking simple phrases, idioms, and interpreting them in his drawings.

It was great fun to witness to Burton’s creative process and to see the development of his work over all these years. What struck me was how he creates these complex looking characters from very simple shapes that become distorted or inverted or stretched. It was also great to see the number of young adults and school age kids attending the exhibit. Remember how you felt as the “odd ball” in school? The kid who was different in dress, interests, or perhaps just not the social butterfly? Burton’s work and his background seems to reach all of us “odd balls” on some level.

Other sites at the MOMA:

Performance Art by Marina Abramovic

I admit that performance art is one form of art that I usually don’t get. I’d love to see the grants people write to get funding for these events. But that is the beauty of art; all the forms and the freedom to enjoy or not. Below is one of the live “performances” Abramovic was doing during our visit to MOMA.

Abramovic is in red. The other woman is a visitor to MOMA. Apparently the “performance” was to sit across from Abramovic and to stare at each other silently. On the 6th floor was another live installation that included naked people sitting on chairs. We didn’t get to the 6th floor.

We did visit the 4th and 5th floors which house some wonderful paintings and sculptures, including “Starry Night” by Van Gogh, the American Flag by Jasper Johns, Rothkos, famous splatter paintings by Jackson Pollock, a wheel sculpture by Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup can series, and these bronze sculptures by Henri Matisse

The first two sculptures at the far end, created over three years, were realistic representations of “Jeanette.” Here Matisse worked with a live model. The three remaining sculptures were broken down into more abstract components as a representation of the face. Matisse said he was organizing the head into simplified chunks to “reveal the essential qualities” of his model.

It is hard to tell from this picture but the line of large noses made me laugh. I also felt good knowing that even Matisse had an appreciation for large noses and that my sculptures shouldn’t feel too embarrassed by their large proboscis.


On The Road Again

We arrived in New Jersey yesterday.  We’ll be here for a few days to visit Eric’s mom and to take in the Cezanne exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum.  Eric’s mom continues to make slow, gradual progress in her recovery.  Our thanks to everyone who has sent positive thoughts and well-wishes.


This is also an important week for Eric’s sister. She is at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference conducting the National Honors Choir, which is comprised of 320 of the best high school singers.  Cris is the music director/teacher at Cherry Hill West High School. This is quite an honor and we’re all very proud of her for this achievement.

A Little Brag

Last year I started to put together several vision boards; one for spirituality, one for home and garden, and one for my art/business. On the art/business vision board, I glued a picture of American Style magazine.  American Style is a great arts magazine launched by The Rosen Group in 1994. With my vision board, I set an intention to have my work appear American Style magazine.  And earlier this year, that happened.

In all the hustle of everything else that was happening this winter, I did not acknowledge the fact that one of my spirit messengers was featured in a Polymer Clay Co-Op ad in the April 2009 issue that arrived in stores mid-February. It is an honor to be featured in this co-op which features the work of more than 40 polymer clay artists, including Gera Scott Chandler, Luann Udell, Judy Belcher, Barbara Sperling, Tejae Floyde, and Tish Collins. This issue also has an article titled “Arts Focus: More That Meets The Eye” that spotlights polymer clay artists such as Kathleen Dustin, Dan Cormier, Jana Roberts Benzon, Ann Kruglak, and more.



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Monday Reflection

10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert in anything.

10,000 hours is equivalent to
3 hours of practice a day
20 hours of practice a week
over 10 years.

The more experiences we have with something, the stronger the memory or learning trace for that experience becomes.

-Daniel J. Levitin
This is your Brain on Music

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The Secret Knowledge of Water

Our friend Emile Tobenfeld, aka Dr. T, is one of several featured artists exhibiting work at The Nave Gallery’s “The Secret Knowledge of Water” in Somerville, MA. The opening reception was held last Friday, followed by a performance by Dr. T and the Immersions ensemble which included Eric, our friends Dean Stiglitz and Ramona Herboldsheimer, and Rick Scott. The video and music performance was aptly named “Water Music and other Improvisations.” To hear the performance, visit Jamendo.

Folks gathering in the gallery.

Several photographs in the “water” theme.

Mixed media, video, and photography.

Painting and photography.

More photography.

The Nave Gallery is part of the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church. Dr. T and the Immersions ensemble performed in the Sanctuary.

Loved this stained glass window.

Setting up for the show.

Eric plays synth and the Harpejji. Dean plays Electro Flute. Ramona plays Hammered Dulcimer. Rick also plays synth.

No show is complete without Gwynnie, Dean and Ramona’s dachshund.

Or the bees. Dean and Ramona sell organic honey. They were selling the honey at a farmer’s market before the show. And you do not leave your bees in the car.

Show time (sorry for the low light; I did not want to use a flash to take these pictures.)

The Secret Knowledge of Water exhibit runs through August 17. For more information visit ARTSomerville.


London: Day Three

Sunday was a beautiful day; sunny with puffy clouds and blue sky.  We opted to sleep in this day as this was the weekend when England started their summer time schedule.  Weren’t we lucky to experience “springing ahead” twice in one month on two different continents?

The time difference between England and Massachusetts was now five hours.

With the lovely weather, we decided to head over to Covent Garden which reminded me of Quincy Market here in Boston.  Covent Garden, however, includes not only the market area but also a number of streets with shops, bakeries, restaurants, and theatres.  And on this Sunday Covent Garden was hopping with people and street entertainers.



We first visited Paul’s Bakery in Paris.  What a treat to find this bakery in Covent Garden.

  A rather sad Roman fighter in Covent Garden.

  Give a hand to the Green Man in Covent Garden.

Once we had our fill of people watching we took the tube to the South Kensington stop.  Here we found ourselves in the Kensington area of London; home to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and the Princess Diana Memorial Children’s Park.

We spent the afternoon touring the Victoria and Albert Museum.  The V&A is a curiously quirky museum.  It houses a vast collection of art and design, from Asian and European artifacts to Glass, Fashion, Jewelry, Stained Glass, Silver, Musical Instruments and Tapestries.  There are apparently 4.5 million objects in this museum.  You could literally spend days here trying to take it all in.

The V&A was founded in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum and has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851.  (The purpose of the Great Exhibition was to encourage art and industry to work together with the best of technology and creativity to improve lifestyles.)  Queen Victoria presided over the museum’s official opening in June, 1857.  The V&A was the first museum in the world to open a “refreshment” room.  In 1858, V&A introduced late night openings made possible by gas lighting.  Here the intent was to provide convenient hours for the working class.  In May, 1899, Queen Victoria helped place a foundation stone to the left of the main entrance and the museum name was offically changed to the Victoria and Albert Museum.


The museum now covers approximately 12.5 acres and has 145 galleries.

  The Cast rooms contain casts made of famous works of art and sculpture.  The casts were brought to the museum so people who could not travel could view and enjoy art from around the world.

   I couldn’t convince Eric to let me bring David home for our front yard.

  This is the bottom half of a cast made of Trajan’s Column, a monument in Rome in honor of the Roman Emperor Trajan.  The original is 125 feet tall, including the pedestal.

  Cast Celtic Cross

  This Chihuly glass sculpture hangs in the entrance over the information desk.

  I was really taken with this lock.  It reminds me of a shrine.

  Rodin’s Muse

When we arrived in London the previous Thursday night we stopped in the hotel bar for a light bite to eat.  I was flipping through the March issue of Where London and saw that Jean Michel Jarre was performing at the Royal Albert Hall.  Jarre is a keyboard player who hit it big in the 70’s with the recording of his album OxygeneOxygene was the first album recorded in a home studio.  And here he was, in England, performing Oxygene in its entirety, using all analog keyboards, at the Royal Albert Hall.

Eric’s eyes lit up when I read that Jarre was in town.  We bought tickets for the show that same night.

The Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful venue with an impressive history.  It opened in 1871.  The Hall was created as a result of Prince Albert’s dream to create a complex of cultural, scientific, and academic institutions.  Profits from the Great Exhibition (1851) helped fund this dream.  (The V&A Museum was also part of this dream.)


Prince Albert died before any of these institutions were built yet his dream was still realized under the supervision of Queen Victoria.  The Hall opened in 1871 with a performance by the Grenadier Guards Band.  An inaugural organ concert by Dr. Best was performed on July 17, 1871.  Since then the Royal Albert Hall has held balls, shown movies, hosted theatre performances and ballets, and, of course, hosted numerous music performances.

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed here in 1963, Frank Sinatra in 1975, Phil Collins in 1985, Sting in 1986, Eric Clapton in 1987, Music for Monserrat in 1997, and the Who in 2000; the Concert for George Harrison was held here in 2002; Cream’s reunion concert was held here in 2005, Jay-Z performed the first hip-hop concert here in 2006, and Madame Butterfly was performed in the round in 2007.

And in 2008 we were here to see Jean Michel Jarre.  Sweet.


Jarre had a large mirror over the stage that moved into an angled position over the stage which gave us an overhead view of all the keyboards.

  Dolly the Citreon

The Albert Memorial

Next: The First Emperor Exhibit


Video Improvisations: Dr. T and the Impromptu 3

Eric had a gig Friday night at Gallery 119 in Lowell.  He played with two other musicians; Karen on augmented cello and Michael on bass and table guitar.  The three of them (Impromptu 3) were accompanied by Dr. T, who provided video mixing.

So what does that mean?

Dr. T (aka Emile Tobenfeld) mixes video images that he has compiled and projects them on a large screen while the musicians create music to compliment the images.  I consider it performance art that is truly spontaneous.  You’re not quite sure what images Dr. T will project on the screen, though he will give the musicians a general theme as a starting point.  From there they have to keep an eye on what is projected on the screen, develop and play music to match (or perhaps not) the images, and then also try to compliment what each other is playing.

Hence the names improvisation and impromptu (also because Dr. T often knows each musician, but they may not know each other.)

As I watched and listened to the performances I started to think about altered art work.  How the artist starts with an image or surface and then adds elements, removes elements, and transforms the piece until it feels complete.  Or perhaps round robin art events where individual pieces of art are passed amongst a group of artists, each person adding elements until the piece returns, transformed, to the original artist.

I also wondered what it would be like to make art to music.  I don’t mean working on art while listening to music but making an original piece of art influenced or inspired by a piece of music.  (For some reason Jackson Pollock paintings come to mind.)  You’re constrained by the type of music and the length of time the song plays.  But often out of constraint and limitation something wonderful emerges.

And so it was with the performances on Friday night.  A little constraint to begin with as the images appeared onscreen and one musician would begin to play a rhythm.  As more images appeared, changed, and repeated, the musicians joined in; each adding his or her signature to the piece.  The music would swell, dip, and sometimes become a little frenzied.  A range of emotions was sometimes evident. 

And then the improvisation, the pictures, the music, would quiet and come to a close.  And before the audience was a finished piece.

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