Sabin Howard Interview about His Drawing Book
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Sabin Howard Interview about His Drawing Book

My husband Sabin Howard is a master sculptor. He’s currently working on a book called Drawing: The Foundation of Art. The drawing book is a kind of follow-up to our book The Art of Life, which was a photo-rich survey of figurative sculpture through the ages, from the very earliest times through the Renaissance and the Neo-classical periods until his work now.

Sabin is an exceptional draughtsman. With awe–because I know I could never do what he does–I watch him draw. He sits at our dining room table and focuses so fiercely that he doesn’t hear the rowdy dogs and rambunctious kid, the cell phone ringing and the front door banging open. He pours himself into his vision and his skilled hands with such intensity that it all fades away from him.

He knows what he’s doing, too. One of the things I find so fascinating about my husband is that he’s extraordinarily articulate about his work. Also about art in general. He tends to be quiet and soft-spoken until he launches into a discourse about art, both its history and its theory.

We talk about art all the time, and I think that’s one of the best things about being married to Sabin: our conversations about art. It’s these very conversations that led to our book The Art of Life, because he was speaking one day about his approach to sculpture and I said, “Sabin, people need know what you’re up to. It’s important.”

So now Sabin Howard is up to a book on drawing. The book is about how drawing is the basis of visual art. He has a lot of cool stuff to say about that, and I cajoled him into doing an interview with me for my iTunes podcast channel. He talks about the perceptual and the conceptual parts of doing art, and about the three great masters whom art students should study: Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael.

Listen here to the Sabin Howard interview or on my podcast channel.
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OR watch on Youtube

Review: Sigmar Polke at the MOMA
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Review: Sigmar Polke at the MOMA

I saw a lot of art in Italy. The Accademia in Venice, the Uffizi in Florence, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, the Canova Gipsoteca in Possagno, and a thousand Tintoretto/Tiepolo/Giovanni Bellini-graced churches in Venice. Then I came home to NYC and went to the MOMA with my museum buddy Ying.

The Exhibition Guide for the Sigmar Polke show was filled with the kind of pretentious art-speak that gives art historians a bad name because it distances viewers from art. For example, it describes Polke, a German artist who lived from 1941-2010, as having a “promiscuous intelligence.”

Ying and I had a conversation about that diction, “promiscuous intelligence.” Why couldn’t the writer just say Polke was interested in many subjects? Or something equally direct and to the point. It would be nice if artspeak didn’t try to call attention to itself, but rather served the art it references.

I should note that Ying is even more educated than I am, and has a few advanced degrees. She’s also one of the most dauntingly engaged readers I know. If she’s taking exception to word choice, her opinion matters.

My husband Sabin Howard the master sculptor has a lot to say about the vanity, self-importance, and general silliness of most art historians. He believes that great art should stand on its own, without need for the conceits and airs of PhD’s who are trying to justify their scholarly degrees.

Indeed, no one needs to explain the immensity and gorgeousness of Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel–they deliver themselves directly to your heart.

Sabin would have been skeptical of Polke, who worked in many mediums: painting, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, print-making, television, performance, and stained glass.

Sabin Howard is about mastery, uplift, perfection. Polke was about experimentation, curiosity, irreverence. Sabin operates from an admirable, even enviable, inner certainty. Polke was questing.

I enjoyed the show, though I did roll my eyes at Potato House, a wooden lattice with potatoes nailed into it that was supposed to evoke pedestrian objects in German life: the garden shed and the potato.

But I do like the wit and boundless curiosity with which the prolific Polke approached his art, and what do you call it if not art? In this I disagree with my husband, who would call it entertainment.

Maybe it isn’t the eternal high art of Michelangelo or Botticelli, but it’s valuable and important, partly as a cultural document–Polke grew up in post-war Germany, and that carries its own weight, a particular gravity. But Polke’s works offer more than cultural and historical reverence. His works attempt to change the viewer’s consciousness, to provoke questions and a kind of delicious uncertainty akin to Buddhist beginner’s mind. In that, it often succeeds.

Though I must agree with Ying who commented, “I like it, it’s very intellectual. But will I be thinking about it in two weeks? Will I be thinking about it in two hours?”

An insightful question, perhaps the salient question. I’m still thinking about Giotto’s frescoes and Botticelli’s Primavera.

Worth seeing, and do go to the Painting and Sculpture I floor, where are housed some stunning Kandinskys.

Sigmar Polke at the MOMA

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FLIGHT Mobile by Sabin Howard

My husband Sabin Howard is insanely talented and versatile. Check out his Flight Mobile, which was a private commission.

What may not be readily apparent in this video is that the mobile is quite large–9 feet long. It’s breath-taking in person, full of uplift and resonance, spirals and organic forms and the expansion of wind and sea and birds taking wing.

For a while, there was a standing, small-scale model in the foyer of our home, next to my office. Every time I walked by it, my heart soared. This piece is dynamic and enchanting.

Sabin says abstract art isn’t as artistically satisfying or challenging as figurative art, and I kind of get it. I love bodies. One of the great pleasures of being a hands-on healer, back when I had a practice, was the palpable experience of putting my hands on a warm, pulsing human body with love and the intent to heal. But this mobile called Flight is every bit as jubilant as anything in the flesh.

No matter what Sabin says about challenge, it took him thirty years of education, experience, practice, and living as an artist to create this piece. It is beautiful.

iTunes Podcast and T-shirts with Sculptures on them

iTunes Podcast and T-shirts with Sculptures on them

T-shirts with Sculptures and iTunes Podcast.

SO, I have arrived: my podcasts have made it to iTunes.

Check them out here on iTunes. So far I’ve made two podcasts: one of me reading Chapter 1 of FALLEN and one of me reading Chapter 1 of THE LOVE OF MY (OTHER) LIFE. Look for more podcasts of book chapters and interviews! Also, I will be setting up a Parvati Press podcast with Parvati Press authors reading from their books or being interviewed.

And check out the new Parvati Press Emporium, where you can buy t-shirts that feature my book covers and my husband Sabin Howard‘s sculptures or drawings. You have options: you can choose a t-shirt with the image (book cover, sculpture, or drawing) on the front or back. The sculpture shirts say “RISE TO THE OCCASION Sabin Howard Sculpture.” The FALLEN t-shirt says “JOIN THE APOCALYPSE“; the COLD LIGHT t-shirt says “IN THE END, LOVE DEMANDS EVERYTHING” and the FAR SHORE t-shirt says “LOVE IS SALVATION.”

Check them out, and enjoy!



T-shirts with Sculptures



Posing for Sabin
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Posing for Sabin

Posing for Sabin

Marriage is hard. The great philosopher of our time, Chris Rock, has this insight into love, but it applies to marriage even more. Just substitute the word “married” for the words “in love”:

If you haven’t contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t seriously thought about killing a motherfucker, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t had a can of rat poison in your hand and looked at it for forty-five minutes straight, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t bought a shovel and a bag and a rug to roll their ass up in, you ain’t been in love. If you haven’t practiced your alibi in front of the mirror, you ain’t been in love. And the only thing that’s stopped you from killing this motherfucker was a episode of CSI: “Oh man, they thorough. I better make up. They might catch my ass.” Never Scared, HBO, 2004

So, added to the usual rigors of the institution, is posing for my husband. He’s in my face, literally, every night. I don’t think the piece he’s making resembles me in the slightest. The two sides of the face are wildly different–am I so asymmetrical? My nose is that lumpy? Really, my ears stick out that much?

But yes, he says, and it’s in process. You can’t judge it for months yet, nor will you ever be detached because it’s a portrait of you. 

Insult and injury. Such are the sacrifices we make for art, and for our spouses.


Loving 24 on Netflix
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Loving 24 on Netflix

24 on Netflix

My husband Sabin is sculpting a bust of me.

Posing is not glamorous. It is work. It consists of being perched on a high, uncushioned ladder so I’m at his eye level. It’s necessary to maintain a certain tilt of my head and drop of one shoulder, and to wear a consistent expression. It’s cold because I’m tucked into a lacy brassiere and yoga pants, and this is one winter that doesn’t want to end.

Periodically Sabin shakes his head, grimaces, and moans. Then he squints in disgust at me. I’m not overly self-conscious but I wonder, at those moments, if I have a lumpy pickle-nose like the Wicked Witch of the West.
I also wish that dark chocolate didn’t strike at the heart of my frailty as a human being. “Frailties,” rather, because there are many of them, too many. He’s already muttering about me posing for a full figure, and then every imperfection of flesh will be immortalized in bronze.
More yoga, less Vosges.
Meantime, as a distraction, 24. We started with Season 1, Episode 1, and now we’re well into Season 3.
This series is enthralling! I watched the show when it aired, years ago, but I had forgotten how well-written, tightly plotted, and suspenseful the show was. It puts to shame all the current TV. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I agreed to pose for my husband in the evenings: TV is so lame right now that I can’t bear to watch most of it.
24 is anything but lame. It’s not perfect. Some of the seasons are stronger than others, and some of the plot lines are better than others.
But for intensity, intricacy of plot building, and multi-dimensional character development, 24 rocks.
Let’s start with David Palmer, who’s one of the greatest fictional presidents ever. His moral center, personal integrity, trustworthiness, thoughtfulness, and charisma are compelling. I find myself wishing he was actually the president. He commands respect in every way.
I often wonder how much that character paved the way for Obama. For an hour every week for 24 weeks, for over 3 years, everyone in America had a magnificent, awe-inspiring, African-American president in their homes. We all got used to the possibility of having such a man lead our country. Unfortunately, Obama is no Palmer.
Then there are those great slimy villains, Nina Meyers and Sherry Palmer. Sherry is one of the most interesting nefarious creatures ever to grace the world of television. She is mesmerizing in her manipulativeness. Nina Meyers holds her own, with her constant betrayals and double-crosses. She has the cunning self-possession of a gutter rat, though less empathy. For all this, Meyers was no caricature. She was a believable reptile. Her murder of Terri Bauer at the end of the first season was just as shocking all these years later as it was when it first aired. I almost couldn’t believe it!
I haven’t gotten to the season with the sniveling cowardly president, yet, but I can’t wait!
Tony and Michelle. I remember having such affection for them that when Tony appeared on the final season, I applauded. Watching the show this way, one episode after another, I see why. Tony is a kind of ultimate soft-voiced good guy, always coming through for Jack. He’s tough when he needs to be and he’s competent and focused. He’s just so appealing. I love that he and Michelle get married….
Chloe. She didn’t show up until the season I’m watching now, season 3. If memory serves, she appears in the rest of the seasons. I was delighted to see her again, and love her nerdy, snippy, grumpy, awkwardness.
Last but not least, Jack Bauer. A latter day GI Joe, or Superman without the cape, or Batman without the mask. I’m struck by how respectful he is, when he’s not shooting, punching, or torturing people. He’s the Great Iconic American, the noble loner driven to get results by any means necessary. He’s tough, independent-minded, and nearly Christ-like in his willingness to sacrifice himself. For all that, he’s got a tender side, with his daughter Kim and various others.
Fantastic show. Makes me forget when my tushie falls asleep on the plastic ladder rung. Passes the time  delightfully. A treat every bit as good as a truffle, and longer lasting.