Alice Neel & The Scatological Thoughts of Kerouac

Alice Neel is one of my favorite figurative artists, so I was excited to see her Drawings and Watercolors 1927-1978 at the David Zwirner gallery last week.


When I was younger, I bought a grainy VHS copy of Pull My Daisy just for her background cameo (this was pre-internet, which you can now watch for free on Vimeo). Their Bowery loft was exactly how I pictured artists living together in the lower east side back in the 1950’s.

Allen Ginsberg + Gregory Corso drinking beer and reading poetry before breakfast (or as breakfast) with the improvised narration of Jack Kerouac’s voiceover makes me melt:

They turn over their little purple moonlight pages in which their naked doodlings do show secret scatological thought and thats why everybody wants to see it.

In the spirit of throwbacks and freeform, my unfinished sketch of Alice Neel from many years ago,; and in the spirt of National Poetry Month, the exquisite corpse poem that started it all.

pull my daisy / tip my cup all / my doors are open / cut my thoughts / for coconuts / all my eggs are broken / jack my arden / gate my shades / woe my road is spoken / silk my garden / rose my days, now my prayers awaken.

Playing Dress Up: Cindy Sherman at MoMA

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director, best known for her conceptual portraits in which she uses herself as the model. She takes on the role of photographer, model and stylist, disguising herself with make-up, wigs, costumes and prosthetics. I’ve been meaning to see this for ages and finally got myself to MoMA before her exhibit closes on Monday, June 11. There is only one day left; try to catch it if you can!

I really loved the show and did not expect to both laugh out loud and be physically horrified so much within the same time frame. Whether she’s taking on history, clowns, film, politics, sexuality, diseases, or women who look like they’re from Jersey Shore, I was captivated and felt immersed within each world Sherman personally created for us.

My favorite piece was her early stop-animation work entitled Doll Clothes, where the female doll is first seen behind plastic, anxiously waiting to come out and play. You can view this short film on Vimeo here:

Speaking of dolls and their parts, I felt inspired by Cindy Sherman to use myself in an art piece, which is something I rarely (if ever) do. I started out with a different concept but allowed it to take on other shapes and forms. Here is the result:

Last but not least, how can I talk about playing dress up without mentioning my beloved Amy Sedaris? Amy is an American comedic actress, best know for playing Jerri Blank in Strangers with Candy, and like Sherman is also in her 50’s. From reading David Sedaris, I have learned that since childhood his sister has been active in creating different characters and walking around in fat-suits, while later stuffing lemons in her bra for the cover of BUST and talking about her imaginary boyfriend, Ricky, in interviews. She appears most comfortable in these external personas rather than playing herself, but unlike Sherman, Sedaris seems to do it more for entertainment value than high art.

I love these women; both unafraid to look ugly and morph into these limitless identities. For the full Cindy Sherman photo gallery, visit the MoMA exhibition website here.

Art & Fear: Louise Bourgeois

I have been watching documentaries on NetFlix Instant on two of my favorite passions: food & art. I will spare you the politics of mass food production, but I will share this inspiring segment from Art City (season 1, ep. 3) “A Ruling Passion.” Sitting with Louise Bourgeois in her studio, she shows us how she draws and controls her fears. Being cooped-up and lamenting on my own, I was very moved and decided to do my own interpretation as well (above).

She starts with a circle. “This drawing that I am going to do now is stemmed from a fear. Everything is stemmed from a fear.” (Louise Bourgeois)

“So I am going to indicate my space – and I am going to put inside – what is in this space is under my control.” (Louise Bourgeois)

“I put the fear here, another one there, a bigger one here.” (Louise Bourgeois)

“Under my control, I want my fears. That means I have my fears under my belt!” (Louise Bourgeois)

I get all warm & fuzzy whenever she is on camera; something within me completely lights up. She is very inspiring to listen to and the act of drawing out your fears is very powerful (art magic!)

Speaking more on the topic of fears, the book Art & Fear (Bayles & Orland) on my bookshelf comes to mind. I keep a few art self-help books like this around when I’m working late into the wee hours and need a little boost.

The first abstract image is not the first time I have attempted to draw out my fears though. Working through some personal issues on resistance in 2009, Julianna Takacs (yoga coach extraordinaire) had me describe and physically create my fear (below) then mail it to her in an envelope. I loved the look on the postal worker’s face when she caught me “weighing” my gnarly-looking fear for postage and sending it on it’s merry way…

copyright in order of appearance: colorful circles © 2012 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow), Louise Bourgeois photo © Annie Leibovitz, screen grabs © Art City/NetFlix, Louise Bourgeois linocut (left side) © 2009 Carri Skoczek, Art & Fear book cover © Image Continuum Press, “fear root”  © 2009 Andrea Sparacio (artsparrow)

Inspiration: Carson Ellis & her studio

More on art studios! The amazing Carson Ellis (illustrator for The Decemberists & wife of lead singer Colin Meloy). Not only do I love her work, but her space is so bright and inspiring. For more on Caron’s studio: click the photo above. For more on other Portland artist work spaces:

photography © Carlie Armstrong, source:

Inspiration Photos: Home Office

Being down with bronchitis for weeks, I have been spending an extraordinary amount of time at home. It has given me an urge to rearrange the furniture again, as my home office/studio have been moved 2 times already (see here & here). I also eat up the Apartment Therapy blog with a spoon and spend my downtime flipping through home decor magazines and dreaming up color combinations. We have the luxury in our Brooklyn apartment to have a dining room, which I realize is just dead space since it’s hardly ever used. Time to reinvent the studio and carve out more art space! I can’t wait to get better soon so that I can dig right into this. Here are some inspiration photos (not mine) that I pulled off the web a while back. Enjoy!

© copyright note: these are not my photographs & taken from the web for inspiration. I do not have the original sources (except for the last photo on Grain Edit of Wayne Pate’s studio), but promise for better citation moving forward. In the meantime, please contact me to credit your photo. Thanks!

For the Love of Red & Blue

I just saw this great post from Grace Bonney on Design*Sponge: Current Obsessions: Navy Blue and Red. It reminded me of my own post a while ago (from my old blog foodsparrow) and it was one of my very favorite posts!

Here is the old post (2010); it’s spirit reincarnated:

I saw this awesome jacket in The Look Book style section of New York Magazine (2/7/10). There was no mention of her jacket in the interview or footnotes, and even after some Googling around the web I still couldn’t find it. Some time later, I hit the vintage shops with a subconscious lust for red & blue:

Scarf from Odd Twin $22; skirt from Beacon’s Closet $11.95; striped shirt from a neighborhood stoop sale in Brooklyn $3.

While not finding the exact jacket, I found my craving satiated by these other red & blue accessories. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes…

Design*Sponge (2012):

photography: photo 1 © 2010 New York Magazine, photo 2 © 2010 artsparrow (Andrea Sparacio), photo 3 © 2012 Design*Sponge