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Photographs and drawings by Georgette Freeman © 2015. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2015 by Georgette Freeman. All rights reserved.

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Currently on the Drawing Board: 11/2015




The roar of 7th Avenue as I climb
out of NYC's Penn Station on the
32nd Street side. Old Mack trucks,
a rarity in my part of California, are
everywhere and the Con Ed logo
seems to be on everything,

Midtown Manhattan

from the manhole covers at my feet,
to a convoy of utility vehicle's strung
out along a side street. In a word:
Manhattan. Home to Think Coffee,
the Jane, Grey Dog, and Broadway;
I'm back.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 10/2015







The left photo is 1992 and taken by Liz Welsh Abad with me unawares, the middle photo is 2002 and a self-portrait with a self-timer and tripod, and the right photo is 2015 and taken by SA at my direction.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 9/2015

portrait in oil

Artist and Photographer

I’ve attended a lot of openings, and, more often than not, I’ve had skin in the game. Member shows, no anxieties, no juries. You’re a member, your piece gets in, you’re doing your best just like everybody else and get to the reception early: The food at the SF Public Library is good, wine plentiful. But here, at the Monmouth Museum (New Jersey), both on the wall and beside my fellow artist, Paul Pinkman, I not only have skin in a juried show, but I’m the subject—of an oil painting! That’s a first.

Paul is New Jersey born and bred. We met through a mutual dear friend. Over the months we have gotten to know each other well enough that this past March Paul took me to his studio in one of those old New Jersey mansions across the Hudson from Manhattan. There he showed me a studio to do die for (comes with parking!). More than ample living space with other rooms devoted to painting and the storage of paintings, as well as the digital side of the craft all the way to web design. On the wall of the viewing room were the beginnings of Paul’s series of “99 Selfie Paintings,” including “bearded guy in pool.” (http://pinkmania.com/work/selfies/) And of course, it took no prodding from Paul to see me jump on his bandwagon.

I’ve always had a self-portrait as the wall paper on my later cell phones having that capability. A 20th-Century “selfie” taken the hard way: pointing the “dumb” phone’s camera at myself and, with no feedback from the phone or otherwise, taking pictures again and again, all the while changing up the image before the camera. Then, after running out of ideas, looking at what’s been caught and probably doing it all over again until ending up with something screaming to be seen. Self-portraiture was hit or miss back in the good old days before Apple put a lens on the same side of the phone (camera) as the viewing screen.

That said, with the beginnings of Paul’s “99 Selfie Paintings” series on his studio wall in front of me, I flipped my phone open and asked if the image on its screen was worthy of his efforts and he said yes. (You can see this image on the open phone in my hand, in the picture above.) So, right there and then, I commissioned a piece for Paul’s series of “99 Selfie Paintings.”

Every photographer worth her salt should have a wide range of self-portraits in her portfolio, the one that she shows to friends and others she wants to impress. If we photographers allow ourselves the freedom to make life up as we find it and photograph it, this should be reflected in our work. In our self-portraiture it should show that we know ourselves as intimately as Cindy Sherman apparently knows herself. In my portfolio of self-portraits, the selfie Paul painted (he titled his painting “Selfie Georgette”) is known as “Post Transition: They see what they want to see—it’s the hat.”

Four months after I commissioned the piece, Paul wrote to say that the painting had reached a place where he was happy with it, especially as to how my eyes looked, which to him were the key feature of the painting. But, he asked, would I mind if he held on to the piece, and submitted it in response to a local museum’s call for entries to a juried exhibition of portraiture to be on show from September through November? A month later, here we are at the opening!

Monmouth Museum is on the campus of a community college, and the opening was well attended, what with the work of 77 artists and 78 pieces on its walls. On the Museum’s website (http://monmouthmuseum.org/in-the-galleries/main-gallery/) the exhibition is subtitled “From Studio to Selfie, Sketch to Sculptures…” and the only painted selfies I saw on its walls were the two by Paul. So to me, Paul’s work was very much in the curators’ minds when they finalized the exhibition. Although many artists submitted more than one piece, I think it significant that Paul was the only artist exhibited to have two pieces accepted into the show. Think I hitched my wagon to a star.

There once was a gourmet trannie from ’Frisco,
Who schemed her way to The Endup for dinner and disco.
Arms flailing, legs pumping, music thumping,
This old trannie moved to the strobes a-bumping.
Alas! The tunes were Donna Summer, but dinner was SYSCO.

—Frannie the disco trannie, a frothy font of fluff



On the Drawing Board: 1st and 2nd Quarter / 2015

Lightning Strikes (Again!)

When I retired from the SEC ten years ago I had literary aspirations, but they were of a writerly kind. An avid subscriber, I pipe-dreamed of seeing my writing published in the New Yorker. And while I had moonlighted in the book arts prior to leaving the SEC, I had no thoughts of making a mark in the book arts world. Now however, I have a book in the Library of Congress‘s Rare Book and Special Collections Division, as well as three others in the University of Washington’s Book Arts and Rare Books Collection.

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The book recently purchased by the Library of Congress, Don Glaister at the SFCB, Mar 2010, is an accordion-style artist’s book, bound in a French tablet enclosure. Fully extended, the book is 18” long and 9” high. Closed and secured with ribbon ties, the three-panel, two-door structure, is 4.5” wide, 9” high, and 0.75” thick. The book’s frame is covered in dark Chinese silk book cloth, studded with wrapped photographic plaquettes. The book comes with a hand-hemmed georgette silk chemise and a Smithstonian-style box, bound in the same cloth as the book.

Leigh McLellan, of Leigh McLellan Design, my crack digital enabler, laid out the photographic imagery taken by me in Indesign. The imagery was printed digitally on heavyweight Epson matte paper. Don Glaister at the SFC, Mar 2010 was first presented at the 2010 Hand Bookbinders of California 38th Annual Members’ Show in the San Francisco Public Library’s Skylight Gallery. The book is featured under my press name, The New Girl Press, on page 344 of Book Art Object 2, a joint publication of the CODEX Foundation and Stanford University Library (Stanford, 2013).

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The Library of Congress bought an associative piece to complement its collection of artist books and design bindings by the noted bookbinder and instructor, Don Glaister of Vashon Island, WA (http://www.foolsgoldstudio.com). Don Glaister at the SFCB, Mar 2010, is a personal keepsake from a bookbinding workshop Don presented at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Don is featured in the book’s imagery, along with the other workshop participants.

The Library of Congress is also receiving an example of a unique bookbinding structure of my own original design. Looking to make a more manageably bound accordion structure, I cut in half lengthwise the bottom panel of an accordion (having an odd-number of panels), wrapped this “new” door back towards the front (widening and strengthening the resultant spine), and fitted the new door to meet a second door formed from the front panel, also cut in half lengthwise. For closure, the structure is tied off with ribbons (on the side opposite the spine), with one ribbon embedded in the back panel (opposite the spine), and the other ribbon embedded in the door (attached to the spine).

This elegant structure has a number of variations, some of which I taught at SFCB binding workshops, 2003–2008. In the University of Washington’s collection is a French tablet wrapped around a six-bladed carousel (Scenes from a Conundrum Answered, 2003).

And for the calligrapher, Sherrie Lovler of Santa Rosa, CA, I bound an edition of 4 (of 10) French tablets, nine panels each, plus doors, of Sherrie’s calligraphy of “Love Poems between Ryokan and Teishin,” from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, Translated by John Stevens. (See http://www.inkmonkey.com/fine_art/artists_books/) When fully open, Sherrie’s book is 47 inches long, when closed, it is only 4.25” wide and 2” thick.

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The Library of Congress’s purchase of Don Glaister at the SFCB is the fourth sale I’ve made to an institution and for that I owe a major shout-out to Peter Koch and Susan Friend of the CODEX Foundation, organizers and den mothers of the biennial CODEX International Book Fair held in (or near) Berkeley, CA. While it may take practice, practice, practice to make it to Carnegie Hall, I think it takes location, location, location to place a book (cold) in the collection of a prestigious library. And for my money, there is no better location than a table at CODEX. (The next CODEX International Book Fair is in Point Richmond, CA, in 2017.)

My plans for the next two years (I’ll be 70 years old in 2017) include the binding of a pair of striking photographic panoramas I made at sunrise, immediately following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, of the scene across from the disaster shelter at the Marina Middle School where I had gone for food that morning. I believe these panoramas are ideally suited for presentation in a multi-panel French tablet.



Currently on the Drawing Board: 6/2015

cribbage text

Pictured above is my submission to this year’s book arts members show, Kalligraphia XIV, presented by the Friends of Calligraphy, a Bay Area group, and hosted by the San Francisco Public Library, June 13–August 22, in the SFPL’s 6th floor Skylight Gallery.

My piece, “Appendix A, Recording Schemes,” is reminiscent of a science student’s lab journal and hand calligraphed in a medieval script known as Uncial. It is a presentation of a novel scheme of my own invention for recording cribbage card games. (Early this year SA and I joined the American Cribbage Congress and, with the start of the 2015–2016 ACC cribbage tournament season this Fall, we each have plans of competing in local grass roots clubs and regional tournaments, as well as possibly the ACC national tournament in Reno, February 2016.)

By being a member of the three book arts–related groups presenting triennial shows in rotation in the SFPL’s Skylight Gallery, I am reasonably assured of having at least one piece per year in a summer show at the SFPL. These shows are collegial and non-juried and represent the work of a cross section of these Bay Area book arts member groups:

Friends of Calligraphy (this year),
Hand Bookbinders of California (scheduled for 2016), and the
Pacific Center for Book Arts (scheduled for 2017).

Since 2003, I have participated in many of the member shows hosted by these groups.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 5/2015

tree house van

No. NOMAD is not dead yet. Besides, she's a Ford.

Just a great pix from a dear, dear friend and collaborator, Leigh McLellan, who is my technological enabler and guru of everything website-ish here @ thenewgirlpress.com.

And it's so fun to open e-mail and to see something that is so unexpected but speaks to one's heart as this pix does. Know that should NOMAD die with her tires still down and aligned, I would stuff her.

When old vans go to heaven . . .
Van tree house. From Green Renaissance’s Facebook page.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 4/2015 [Cribbage]

The New Girl Press & Peg Co.
graphite & coffeewash, 1.5" x 4.25"

In the book arts world, an “art book” is the culmunation of a long chain of successive creative processes in a variety of media which funnels various objects and effects integral to the whole and become a “book” when assembled.

Working alone, and effecting all of the processes oneself, the time between start and finish is necessarily long, in fact, glacial—measured in years in my case.

Pegs, cribbage pegs, however, made of bone, are far more immediate.

This past January, SA and I started taking our cribbage playing out of the kitchen, so to speak, and into the arena of American Cribbage Congress (ACC) sanctioned tournaments. Humbling, to say the least, to play these pros, but tournament play also led me to the idea of making cribbage pegs out of bone for tournament play.

Seems the cooler the player, the cooler their pegs. Some are modeled on golf tees with ersatz diamonds (I assume they're fake . . . everyone has a “lost” peg story) set into the top of the tee/peg. Pegs also come in the form of de-militarized bullets (among the guys), 22 longs for the most part, and there are also pegs made from sleek shafts of turned metal.

That said, if one can draw it, it can be made into a cribbage peg.

With that in mind, towards the end of January (before CODEX), I shaped a pair of bone cribbage pegs, one in the shape of a NASA lifting body, and the other in the shape of a crowned head without features. Got to play with them twice.

After CODEX, having sold the NASA lifting body to a curator for the Library of the Netherlands for $100, I had to come up with another pair for my own play, which I did and they ended up looking like bone toothpicks. (The crowned head peg awaits its face and the shaping of its partner.)

In the meantime, I'm looking into a mini-lathe. Maybe it's possible to shape pegs more quickly with a lathe rather than the farrier's rasps I've been using. The NASA lifting body took at least 3 hours, before taking overhead into account. (Don't forget, my bones started as dismembered elk and bison legs, delivered FedEx.)

So, here's to the TNGP&PCo! Something more to think about. . . . The logo above, by the way, would be fairly easily to make and to size out of bison bone.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 3/2015


Swelled Headstone

Crazy idea(s): what if I were to find out that I were terminally ill in a nice, clean, very white way? What would I do? And what would my resulting tombstone look like—what would my tombstone say?

Well, having given voice to that, last week while talking with the recent widow of a dear friend of mine, I think (in respect to the terminal illness) that I'd book a one-way ticket to Florence (Italy, not Oregon) and try to catch a serious case of Stendhal syndrome.

Seems literate tourists have been known to suffer severe psychological distress, even hallucinations, when confronting that cradle of the Renaissance and with luck I would be enough diverted to have forgotten why I flew there in the first place. (If you don't believe me about the "Florence disease," go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stendhal_syndrome.)

That said, should the Italians ever figure out who I was and ship the body back, what would my tombstone say?

Well, as you can see above, I've given that some thought, and my crack web master, designer, and technological enabler, Leigh McLellan, has come up with several versions of same, of which you see my favorite.

Now you might think it strange that one should give thought to the wording of one's own tombstone but, really, who better than yourself should hold sway in the matter? And, to further unload the situation, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_Achille_Cavellini and you should see that I'm following in the steps of a master.

Cavellini passed through San Francisco in 1980 on his way to a Dada fest in Ukiah, CA, and I was there from his arrival to his departure. (Never made it to Ukiah; I was a wage slave back then.) And among my many memories of Cavellini's visit is the one where I photographed him in a SOMA loft, writing his story with a Sharpie on the nude body of a friend of mine from shaved head to toe.

If I remember correctly, my friend didn't bathe for days after.

What's important about Cavellini? you ask. Well, back then he was famous for a decal that seemed to show his birth and death dates while he was very much alive and kicking. And I was very impressed by that: to have the hutzpah to spit in the face of death myself!

As well, I have appropriated and reworked a Rogue Brewery (Newport, Oregon) slogan: "Dare, Risk, Dream," and have come up with six pithy bullet points highlighting my passage through this life.

From Draftee to Old Woman, what a trip!  And I don't want posterity to forget it.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 2/2015

David Lee

I was on team David for some 8 years, 1995–2003. Together with Bill Lee and later with the addition of Mart McCann as collector and exhibitor as well as shooter, we took stereo cards as far as we each could go.

On team David, Bill and I functioned as sparring partners for David and he for each of us. David's view of competition didn't seem to be of the zero-sum-game variety where if I had something, he didn't. No, he seemed to want us to be working at our very best so that he, in turn, would be spurred on to do even better than he had before. And that's not to say that we didn't try to “win” on our own, but our imagery wasn't David's, he of the rocks, trees, and flowing streams. And did I mention that David also had phenomenal technique?

Legend has it that to sync shutters on cameras hundreds of yards apart in truly vast landscapes and in the era before cell phones, David would signal the moment of exposure to the person on the second camera by shooting off a blank round from a starter pistol. David's view, "Devil's Tower," probably synched using a cell phone, is of this variety and shows what can be done if one takes the time to get the stereo base right.

Technique aside, David's subject matter resonated with a wide audience in the stereo world. It's my understanding that after the 120-slide viewer kits became available in the early part of this century, David was kept very busy trying to fill the demand for 120-chrome views, as well as stereo cards. Much like late 19th-century stereographers, David probably found himself shooting multiple formats from the same tripod holes.

During those years, team David would meet up at various restaurants and pizzerias near Hillsdale, CA, to show off our latest and greatest views, discuss technique, make plans for the next NSA convention, pass on SSA stereo card circuit boxes, and just generally keep each other caught up on our respective interests. However I eventually discovered book arts while Bill focused more on acrylic painting, Mart moved to Portland and got very involved in the Portland's 3-D Center for Art and Photography, and David—well, David kept on doing what he did best.

And now, he's gone.


Currently on the Drawing Board: 1/2015

On the Trail

January is the month when I historically block out the "major" trips I will be taking in the year. The tail that wags the dog is the fact that January is when the workshops I frequent open, and this year is no different.

In addition to Sas's drawing workshop in Taos, I am giving thought to one big, big trip and have been focused on Dublin since last Fall for a variety of reasons, including meeting up with a Londoner with information about her country.

However, on the back of an envelope, a trip including Dublin, Wales, and London over 6-8 weeks looked to be about US$10,000, especially with the price of the Euro being strong in late 2014 when I did the calculation.

That said, I continue to hear warnings that the Canadian transcontinental railroad right-of-way may be sundered somewhere between Vancouver and Halifax. And I so enjoyed my journey west from Toronto to Vancouver. It might be the year to do full a transcontinental trip in the reverse direction—from west to east. Seems like it might be half the Dublin trip in price, especially now with the $CAN falling.

And that's just the long trips. Both Taos and (now) the Canadian trips will each take at least 4 weeks. So, what of the shorter ones?

(That said, the picture above was taken as our Via Rail train was nearing Jasper, and the picture below was taken just after leaving a tunnel and dramatically coming out onto Jasper Park's valley floor with a river running lustily right next to our right-of-way rails, what with all the rain the region had recently received. There doesn't appear to be any problem with a water shortage in Canada.)


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