Monday, November 15, 2010

Lily turns fifteen

Leigh took this picture of David and me with Lily recently. It’s hard to believe our doggie is fifteen years old today because she raced down the stairs and out the door like a shot chasing after a couple of squirrels this morning. Not that Lily is a threat to them, or to any cats or rabbits invading her territory for that matter. No, her barking is basically a lot of hot air. Well, I guess there were those two skunking episodes a few years ago, but I like to think Lily's maturity has brought with it a good measure of canine wisdom. I could be wrong there though.
According to Stanley Coren who wrote The Intelligence of Dogs, Cavaliers like Lily rank number 44 out of the 80 breeds he surveyed, so she has "an Average Working/Obedience Intelligence." For example, in order to understand new commands, a Cavalier needs 25 to 40 repetitions, and he or she will obey your first command 50 per cent of the time or better.
I’m not a big fan of statistics myself, but just to let you know: if you have a Border Collie, a Poodle, a Doberman or a Golden Retriever, your dog is way smarter than mine. Nevertheless, I think it’s interesting that while Coren might have a couple of smart dogs himself, he also has Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Banshee (see below) who is referred to as “old” (whatever that means) in Coren’s online biography.
P.S. What I’d really like to read is a book on disgusting food that your dog loves to eat and nevertheless thrives on. Aside from the virtuous home cooked meals of steamed broccoli, string beans, lean ground beef and chicken, Lily loves toast and peanut butter (breakfast),  grilled cheese sandwiches (lunch), and her all time favorite: Kraft Dinner, which she will be chowing tonight for her birthday dins. (You go girl!)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Julian Schnabel

Ever since I visited Buffalo’s Albright Knox Gallery in 1998 and saw a giant “broken plate” painting by Julian Schnabel, I’ve been curious about him, and I really enjoyed his retrospective, which is on at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto until January 2, 2011.
His work won’t be to everyone’s taste because it’s so free and individualistic. Some of the paintings are 22 feet high, but whether large or small everything seems to be on a monumental scale. Schnabel says he was inspired to become an artist after seeing a Rembrandt. It was the glow emanating from the painting that inspired him, and now as a practicing artist, he says, “I know how to lean towards the light” (adding that while he always knows how to start a painting, he doesn’t know how he’s going to finish).
There are paintings done on giant tarpaulins and in the photo of Schnabel with two of his pieces (see above), the one on the right is painted on a sail he bought right off a guy’s boat on the Nile. To the left is a “Big Girl” painting, a rendition of a small picture he bought in a thrift shop, which is also on display at the gallery.
The curator also chose several portraits painted by Schnabel, including one of Gary Oldman as a matador and the twin daughters of Steve Nash, the basketball player. Schnabel describes the shiny finish he applied to their portraits as “liquid glass.” Obviously Carmi isn’t the only one crazy about resin!
Schnabel spends most of his time in his pajamas and slippers even when he’s going out for dinner or shooting one of his movies. I can totally relate to this habit because I’ve worn my nightgown to go shopping on several occasions, although I always wear a coat to cover it up.
You get the feeling that Schnabel really doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about his painting, and that’s very liberating and inspiring …to me at least. I came out of the show feeling that I’d never really let go in my own work because I’ve barely scratched the surface of who I am creatively. But instead of feeling overpowered by this insight, I felt energized to go deeper into my imagination and see what happens.

Below: Schnabel with two of his surfer paintings.