Amnesty International Art Auction

Last night was Amnesty International night… We discussed final plans for our Silent Art Auction that we are holding in a few weeks.  Since my life still pretty much revolves around Kazuo, I was grateful for the efforts of Helen who has really taken this event on and will be the reason for its success.  But I am hoping to see friends turn out to view/purchase art, find out more about Amnesty and have a lovely social outing.  Here are a sneak preview of some of the art that is on offer:

Jovan Hansman

Jovan Hansman

Tania Chackumkal

Tania Chackumkal

The event will be at SqWires restaurant in Lafayette Square, St Louis on Thursday 19 November.  If you are in the Lou and can make it, please join us!  The work of Amnesty is so important, I hope we manage to both promote the work, and raise some much-needed funds to help further protect Human Rights wherever they are at risk.  It would be great to see you there.


Some time ago I realised that many of my earlier blog posts were (a) a bit long and (b) a bit rambly… that I should really try and restrict myself to one topic per post.  Since then I have tried.  But some weekends are just too busy and give me too much to think about on a Monday… and I am not sure I am up for the daily blogging thing yet…

Apologies then to those of you who make their way through this ramble, and I will aim to be succint.  This weekend did make me go ‘Whew’ several times by the end of it all…

Early in the week, after having decided that the parsley was finally coming along and maybe we might eat some before the cold weather set in, I was astounded to discover a colony of Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars chewing their way through the now juicy plants!  So Akira dug up the plant that still had foliage and rescued the pretty caterpillars from the birds who flock to our feeder.  On Friday night we witnessed an ancient miracle as one of them split its skin and turned into a chrysalis.  We have one remaining caterpillar this morning and it should go the way of the others by bedtime.  They have been an incredible nature lesson and I am looking forward to posting pics of the beautiful butterflies in a couple of weeks.


Saturday we ventured out, post-nap to the annual Wash U Psych Dept BBQ.  It was a gorgeous day and there were scores of people at Deer Creek Park for the party.  The best part of this event for me was meeting up with several new families with babies as it opens up a world of social opportunities for us with Kazuo that we will really need in the coming months. I was so glad we went, and although Kaz didn’t really love the crowd, he did last the distance, which was quite a feat. Whew…

Our big drama this weekend happened on our return from home.  And just as well we returned when we did!  This old fridge had been occupying space in our garage (turns out it doesn’t belong to anyone who lives here) and about 20mins after we arrived home, it caught fire! Quick thinking from Akira (who knew where the fuse boxes were because we had been doing some investigation into our power bill… long and really silly other story) and some help from the neighbours whose dryer was going right next to the fire meant that the fire was out by the time the Fire Dept (who are just across our back fence) arrived with an ambulance, massive fire truck and two police cars.  WHEW!


On reflection we were lucky the whole fridge didn’t explode while the guys were in the basement with hoses and watering cans… and it was a very narrow escape.  The fireman put it down to lint from the dryer (harumph!) which made our poor neighbours feel a bit bad… but when we inspected it all later, it was plainly an example of the landlord needing to get rid of stuff that is left behind and do a wee bit more tidying up before new tenants come in… we were very fortunate – WHEW!

Clayton Art Fair

Sunday was another sunny, stunning  ‘Fall’ day.  It was the St Louis Art Fair in Clayton, 20mins walk from our new place.  We had our friends Nate and Denise round for lunch and as soon as naptime passed, we popped Kaz in the back pack and wandered up the hill to see some art.  Last year we only dropped into this big event, and had no real concept of the scale.  It was huge… and impressive.  There was nothing in our price range, but it was wonderful to see some of the incredible things people are doing.  Nate & Denise’s friend Joachim Knill was there with his beautiful still life, large format polaroids… and the most striking things I have seen in a while were the wax-based resin moulds in stainless steel (I think) that embedded little twigs and gumnuts and other wonderful, natural found objects.  Sadly, I didn’t catch who the artist was… but I was so taken by these organic little masterpieces, so much precision involved in their production.  We tested Kazuo’s gallery skills… the heat was not too helpful and he was not that taken with the whole activity if we stopped to look at things, but he had a nice little nap on the way home.  Whew.

Quilts and Dancing

I should have told y’all about this a week ago… but things got a bit congested around here after the holiday weekend’s antics.  Anyway, I am a bit of a gallery hound… happiest when I am nursing gallery legs from too long days spent trawling around museums and galleries and pausing every few seconds to take in things in a rarefied, hushed environment.  There is something a little mystical about these places and I don’t really like to interrupt other people’s enjoyment of them.  Consequently, with an increasingly shouty little person to spend my days with, I have avoided the hallowed halls of St Louis’ fine and free galleries until now.  But have been mulling over getting Kazuo used to them, since we are London bound at Christmas, and no trip to London is complete for me without some time spent pottering about in the Hayward, the National Gallery and the Tate Modern.

Our friend Tarah called a couple of weeks ago to say she had membership at the Missouri History Museum, and did I want to come with her for an outing to see the  Gee’s Bend Quilts that had been on exhibition there all summer.  I love to celebrate the home-style crafts of women that are a testament to centuries of providing for families in the most creative ways they can.  So I jumped at the chance.  I was a little apprehensive about Kazuo’s current loud impatience, but Tarah wasn’t phased, and a Friday afternoon at the MO History Museum was not busy time for the gallery.  So off we went.

I confess to not really having known much about quilting… save that it is a very labour-intensive art form well beyond my patience levels.  I have made one patchwork quilt in my life, it was a pretty lame affair… strips of calico that I died three different colours and alternated with some Laura Ashley fabric, cut into squares and machined up as quickly as I could onto an existing blanket.  It was serviceable for my bed but nothing to show off about.  Ironically, the thing that Tarah was not keen about with these particular quilts was the one thing I disliked about that quilting experience… it was all just too symmetrical!

It was wonderful to me, then, to encounter these incredible quilts and the women who made/inspired them, because they were the least symmetrical things you had ever seen.  They were put together from scraps of workaday fabric, which is how quilts should be, and they were born of necessity – women of the south who had to keep their families warm and stayed up long into the night peering at their piecework to do so.  Fantastic!  Here is one of the quilts… I loved the choppy irregularity of the designs, no quilt was like another:


We also managed to get two exhibitions in during our visit, we dropped into see the Katherine Dunham, Beyond the Dance exhibit.  Not sure how I had not heard of Katherine Dunham, but it was also an inspiration to view a retrospective of a woman who had so shaped dance and social anthropology in this country.  She had such a vast impact on both art and culture in the early/mid 20thC here, and I am keen now to seek out some of her films and watch some of the incredible works she choreographed.

Katherine Dunham

All in all, a satisfying afternoon at the gallery – thanks Tarah – and Kazuo got a little scratchy, but survived the distance.  There is hope for us yet!