Zoe Art Becky

Becky was Dave’s mom, Zoe’s gram, and Artist Zero in this generational art story. Before she passed last February, she was a ceramicist and jeweler. Among the things she taught us as artists was the freedom to use art as a personal expression, and the deep pleasure of natural materials, forms, and language.

One of my earliest art memories was coming home from kindergarten with a ceramic cup I’d made at school, courtesy of an art program for kids. I had pressed my name into the clay with a pencil, but the lady working with us scolded me, saying, she didn’t like it when artists put their names on their work. Nothing like a little art criticism to start the kiddos off on the right foot! When I told my mom, she was so angry that she immediately put out soft clay and we both set to work making things worthy to bear our names. Fast forward to today, and I share a blog with my daughter that bears both our names.

Zoe and I both have a bunch of Becky’s pieces in our personal collections. I think we each love the small pieces, perfect for holding in your hands, and perfect for hanging around your neck. Apropos, Zoe, who has already demonstrated her facility as a metalworker, and as a keen observer, has recreated one of my mom’s ceramic pieces in silver, and given me permission to brag on two of my favorite artists.

Two pieces: Stones on Pillow, porcelain with stain and glaze, Becky Maddalena; Stones on Pillow, silver (on chain), Zoe Maddalena


pewter and turquoise bolo

image: pewter and turquoise bolo tie strung on leather cord, 2020

I’ve been working on a personal jewelry practice since losing my job to covid-19, and that last month or so has led to in home pewter casting. Because of pewter’s low melting point, you can cast around most stone and bone objects. This is a piece of turquoise I collected at some point. I have made several bolo ties this week, but I chose this one to post because it was the first one I sold.

passing through

Collage: image from mid-20th century illustrated bible, sqid-like creature from early-20th century naturalist print; final image desaturated in GIMP

A response to Zoe’s Untitled tapestry. Her improvised piece has a 1980s vibe, both in terms of graphical and color qualities. It looks to me like a woven-art homage to an imagined video-game cartridge box, where the 8-bit sea creature ditches stage-right to escape the light of the submarine’s lamp.

My collage pulls 20th century images together to tell a similar tale, of an interloper in an idealized garden. The final image is desaturated to more closely match the pale colors of the tapestry.


Tapestry: embroidery floss, found driftwood

I have been experimenting with smaller tapestries lately and received a large lot of embroidery floss which have a shinier quality than typical yarn. This piece was unplanned and made freehand, each part just coming along naturally.

round, 2020

round tapestry weaving, cotton and acrylic yarn (donated)

response to “Graded on a curve

it’s a round one! also used techniques of rya knots and color blending, which is exactly what it sounds like. I was drawn to the split between greige and rainbows and wanted to show color exploding out of the neutral. excuse my dirty walls.

Graded on a curve

Collage: images of blue water, painted waves, trees, microscopic stuff, fruit and salt, cathedral at sunset, Autumn leaves and branches, painted sand with snippet of poem, and a 5500 yr old Mourning Figure from Egypt

A response to A Study in Gradient

Zoe’s beautiful weaving left me with a very subtle mournful feeling; not sad, more on the thoughtful end of the spectrum. It has an earthy, grounded feel, and a progression from dark to light on a field of sand next to water (as I perceived it) that has an a ascending flavor of life, death, and rebirth.

My response is not so simple, elegant, or integrated, but I tried to capture a similar movement along a spectrum.

At First The Words

A response to Dreamster.

At First The Words is a video collage inspired by Fol Chen’s song The Holograms. Click on the gif to view the movie in full, with audio. This piece is about the way that time can erode our confidence in childhood stories. Images are from a popular 1930s animated movie. The young heroine and the bitter queen are imagined to be two versions of the same person, whether separated by age or perspective.


Full disclosure: this work preceded Zoe’s challenge to make art to music. I tried to piece together a sound-and-picture assemblage in direct response, but all the parts were too heavy and the whole thing crashed to the ground. (That piece may yet be resurrected in the able hands of a DJ friend of mine … stay tuned.)



Digital Painting, 768×1024

I was a passenger in a car driving along in Port Townsend, Washington, the narrow streets lined with tall evergreens and not much else. It was about 10pm and the local radio was being master-controlled by the regular Saturday-night-spirit-journeyman, Captain Peacock. He played Tipper – Dreamster, and what you see above was inspired by the many visuals that his music encouraged.

I want to switch this particular stimulus-response up this time: instead of responding to my image, try responding to a piece of particularly inspiring music. (Tipper is highly recommended.)




Collage: remote mountain scene, shapes cut from earth imagery

A response to Range

Range has an impressive aboriginal quality to it–a thoughtful, meditative reflection on the provision of the mountains. And, those six suggestive paddles hanging down there. What are those? They are streams draining the mountains of water; oars for navigating the rivers; earlobes stretched with age and wisdom; trophies gained in competition. Six is the number of creation, completeness* … and those mountains are, in the perspective of those who live there, complete in their provision of supply, and adventure.

The six forms in my collage can be many things–traditional oars, amphorae, or abstract figures–but whatever they are, they capture and contain the gifts of the hills.

*Six is the number of completion in the biblical sense, but not the whole: after six comes seven, the number of rest — sabbath


father/daughter rep-art-ee