Little Things with Great Love

During my stay in Desert Hot Springs, California, I met Cathy Greenblat, Writer, Sociologist, and Photographer, through my husband’s work and game-based learning.

Since 2001, Cathy has been working to change the imagery of aging, illness and dying by combining her background as a Professor of Sociology with her photography.

Cathy’s body of work began at a municipal old age home in Mexico after she left her tenured full professorship to focus on work combining photographs and text. 

 © 2004 Cathy Greenblat,  Mrs Morimoto Singing ,   Japan

© 2004 Cathy Greenblat, Mrs Morimoto Singing, Japan

I believe this to be the most effective vehicle to open people’s eyes, literally and figuratively, providing a better way to help them “face” issues that are generally avoided. Since then I have directed my energies to the creation of photographic projects that challenge stereotypical conceptions of the aged, the infirm, and those in the terminal stages of life.
 © 2008 Cathy Greenblat,  Benedicte Snoezelen , USA

© 2008 Cathy Greenblat, Benedicte Snoezelen, USA

I then documented a person-centered approach to Alzheimer’s care in the United States; those photographs and text appeared as a book in 2004, Alive with Alzheimer’s (University of Chicago Press). The German edition (Alzheimers und Lebensqualitat) was published in 2006 in conjunction with a three-year traveling exhibition in Germany. In recognition of that work, the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences awarded me the 2007 John P. McGovern Lectureship in Family, Health, and Human Values.
 © 2008 Cathy Greenblat,  "Can we use your ball?" , India

© 2008 Cathy Greenblat, "Can we use your ball?", India

Cathy has continued to photograph Alzheimer's care in the USA, in France, India, Japan, and the Dominican Republic. These photographs were presented in exhibits and are now offered in her book, Love, Loss and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer's Differently (Globe Pequot, 2012).

 © 2007 Cathy Greenblat,  Rolland & his daughter at Kate's music group ,   USA

© 2007 Cathy Greenblat, Rolland & his daughter at Kate's music group, USA

In both forms, they offer an additional challenge to stereotypes about Alzheimer’s disease. They show that while the losses created by degenerative brain disease are real, people with Alzheimer’s are not, as they are often depicted,  “empty shells”, completely lost. The photos show what quality healthcare looks like, and illustrate that such care allows people with Alzheimer’s disease to sustain connections to others and to their own past lives at a far higher level than is generally believed to be possible. The photographs reveal that they are capable of experiencing joy as well as sorrow, that loving care can yield loving responses and laughter.
 © 2008 Cathy Greenblat, Jacqueline laughing, France

© 2008 Cathy Greenblat, Jacqueline laughing, France

My other project, undertaken between 2005 and 2008 focuses on end of life care. Exhibits from that project have been titled Alive at the End of Life, or Little Things with Great Love. The latter title comes from a statement by Mother Theresa "We cannot do great things, only little things with great love." This project is meant to provide insight into the ways the experience of dying can be enriched, both emotionally and intellectually, for the person who is dying and for those attached to him or her. We cannot do “the one great thing”, eliminate death, but I hope to show the important little things that are being done with great love by those who are engaged in the reconceptualization and reconstruction of the dying process. 
 © 2008 Cathy Greenblat,  Judge Pratt and his friend John Wayne , USA

© 2008 Cathy Greenblat, Judge Pratt and his friend John Wayne, USA

As I have spoken with people with dementia, with cancer, and with AIDS and with their family members, I have seen how little prepared most of us are in terms of knowing what to do when death approaches, even when it has been coming on for some time due to a chronic illness. It is rare for people to make advance visits to places where palliative and end of life care is offered. If they visit at all, it is when someone is in need of immediate help, and then they are often so emotionally burdened that they are unable to observe and judge the quality of the services offered. I believe that my projects can help convey new information and insight to viewers not (yet) under such stress.
 © 2008 Cathy Greenblat,  "It's a DOG!!!" , USA

© 2008 Cathy Greenblat, "It's a DOG!!!", USA

The photographs and accompanying text provide a symbolic journey through the dying process via the representation of everyday people whose lives and deaths have been eased by the best of programs. Because of the obstacles to overcome in viewing death, I believe that still photography is a better medium for this endeavor than is film; people need time to stop and reflect on the images, to deal with their emotions and thoughts at their own pace.  
Much still remains to be done to increase both public awareness of the issues and to provide healthcare professionals with knowledge and training in dementia care and end of life care. I believe that photography can be an important tool in creating a new vision of what can be, of how to meet the growing need for quality care.  
 © 2008 Cathy Greeblat,  Going home after the Memory Clinic session , France

© 2008 Cathy Greeblat, Going home after the Memory Clinic session, France

Professor Greenblat has been selected to have her work archived at the Bienecke Library at Yale University. It will be accessible in the Women in Photography International Archive, Western Americana Collection, and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library/Yale University.

Thank you Cathy for such wonderful and candid photos!

Happy Easter!

Easter, the celebration of the resurrection. For me, this spring equinox is the season in which we witness new beginnings. The first light is a reminder that we are still alive and ready to breath-in new challenges and happenings. As artists what will become of our imaginations? What will emerge from our skills?

I rarely wake-up early enough to see daybreak. When we lived in South Jordan, Utah, I once chauffeured my husband to the airport, a rare occasion I caught sight of a glorious pink and blue sky before 6 am. The experience brought to fruition two artists’ book one entitled Ouest/West the other 6:45 both in a flip book format.

 © 2011 Louise Levergneux, Ouest/West

© 2011 Louise Levergneux, Ouest/West

 © 2011 Louise Levergneux, Ouest/West

© 2011 Louise Levergneux, Ouest/West

 © 2012 Louise Levergneux, 6:45

© 2012 Louise Levergneux, 6:45

Art is presumably the sole reason I get up early. In Texas, a public art piece stimulated me to photograph its lit cylinders as the sun barely risen, kissed the horizon.

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Marfa, Texas

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Marfa, Texas

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Marfa, Texas

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Marfa, Texas

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Marfa, Texas

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Marfa, Texas

In Arizona, it’s the intensity of the sun first thing in the morning that inspired me to photograph these photos. I also had a second reason, a request from a fellow reader for photographs of sunrises after my March 4th blog post on sunsets.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Gila Bend, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Gila Bend, Arizona

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Gila Bend, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Gila Bend, Arizona

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Gila Bend, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, sunrise in Gila Bend, Arizona

Happy Easter to all you artists, studios, and presses.

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux, San Marcos Date Farm, Desert Hot Springs, California

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, San Marcos Date Farm, Desert Hot Springs, California

Numerous Hats

I’ve been wearing my arts management hat this week. An assistant to deal with the field that concerns business operations around my art world would be nice. Even on the road, one has to facilitate the day-to-day operations of one’s own organization — the finances, the sales, the invoices, the inventory, the databases, the acquisition of materials, the marketing...

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Heads 2014 by  Jun Kaneko  at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Heads 2014 by Jun Kaneko at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona

I deal with administration and create policies. But, who fulfills the mission? Most artists work on their own since finances do not allow us to hire staff. We need to understand all business units of a working organization. I've often felt I should fire one of my hats and hire another, better equipped to do the job. But reality presents itself at every turn, and I must deal with the whole shebang!

The teamwork, the creative leadership, and the dynamic process of reflection all lie on my shoulders. Oh! What fun when Income Tax returns are due in 21 days. 

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, a bird making its nest in a Saguaro, San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, a bird making its nest in a Saguaro, San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, a rabbit looking on in Congress, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, a rabbit looking on in Congress, Arizona

I prefer to produce than execute administrivia, I’m adept at it, but that is not my labor of love in life. 

At the moment, I am constrained by the living space and suffering from a sprained ankle. These create disquietness, and I can only dream of hiking and photographing cacti in the Sonoran Desert or standing at a workstation swearing at glue that is running amuck. But for the next week, Income Tax and database reorganization are my future.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, a Geico resting at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend, Arizona

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, a Geico resting at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend, Arizona

In the meantime, the early mornings are where I dream of new artists’ books. I would welcome the opportunity to visit another studio — I’m in Phoenix, where are you?

What strategies do you pursue to maintain your creative process through the many hats you must wear in a day?

How do you implement these strategies?

What gets your mojo motived?

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, driving through the Sonoran Desert

Documentation

It’s been two weeks since my last post. My friend, Flavie Beaudet, visited us in Arizona and her companionship took precedence over everything else. We enjoyed six days of sun and warmth in Sedona and Gila Bend—what a treat! As artists, art is never far from the conversation, and documenting what we witness is strong.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, cactus at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, cactus at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend

I brought my studio outside once again as I absorbed my surroundings with an unconventional eye. As a lover of landscapes, I could finally share with a friend from back home what I perceived in this astonishing—stupéfiant environment.

Textures and colours of Arizona suited Flavie’s fierce sense of design. In the past, Moroccan patterns have influenced her creations.

 © 2017 Flavie Beaudet, first layer for a tabletop design

© 2017 Flavie Beaudet, first layer for a tabletop design

 © 2017 Flavie Beaudet, the second layer for a tabletop design

© 2017 Flavie Beaudet, the second layer for a tabletop design

 © 2017 Flavie Beaudet, several layers later, the finished tabletop

© 2017 Flavie Beaudet, several layers later, the finished tabletop

 © 2017 Flavie Beaudet, another Moroccan inspired tabletop

© 2017 Flavie Beaudet, another Moroccan inspired tabletop

We soon watched out for each other's obsessions. This past week, I was fixated on the sky with its fabulous clouds. More on that later.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Phoenix sky

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Phoenix sky

Flavie photographed motifs nature gifted within cacti, trees, desert plants, shadows, hay...

There were rocks to photograph...

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, rocks at Gila Bend KOA Camping site

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, rocks at Gila Bend KOA Camping site

... then there were rocks.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend

Since my camera was always in hand, I recorded Flavie documenting patterns. I’m looking forward to seeing what will become of this photographic archive of Arizona.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, on the way to document the desert

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, on the way to document the desert

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie documenting at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie documenting at the Painted Rock Petroglyph Site, Gila Bend

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie stealing a shot of the Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie stealing a shot of the Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie photographing hay on Citrus Valley Rd near Gila Bend

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie photographing hay on Citrus Valley Rd near Gila Bend

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie photographing and enjoying an architect's work at Taliesin West, Phoenix

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Flavie photographing and enjoying an architect's work at Taliesin West, Phoenix

We all document our thoughts and ideas in different ways, what is your process? I would love to hear.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, un bis pour toi

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, un bis pour toi

Tucson, Arizona

I enjoy meeting artists as I travel across the US and Canada. To my pleasant surprise, after emailing Barbara Grygutis for permission to feature her work on my last post, I received an affirmative answer to my request for a studio visit.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

Her studio in Tucson is at the back of a historic building inside a greenish cage, as Barbara calls it. It was a delight to walk through the wood and glass doors and enter Barbara’s space.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

The studio is considerable and airy, with multiple areas, each with a different purpose: spot for the printer, a place for administration, a corner for the computer-assisted design specialist who turns her ideas and designs into computerized renderings. A large shelf with archives of maquettes/models and workstations everywhere... I was given a complete tour of her studio and the first look at some of Barbara’s up-coming public sculptures.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

Stuff is widely distributed and filled with the characteristics of Barbara’s work and personality.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

Amazed to see the architectural drawings and maquettes for such work as Front Row Center and Sonoran Passage in Tucson.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio, maquette for Front Row Center

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio, maquette for Front Row Center

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio

Large drawings of new work in progress covered windows and walls. Notes or changes had been made directly on the drawings. The stories and connection to their environment were shared... We talked about the desert and how it related to some of the pieces as in Sonoran Passage where pleated and tapered columns look like stylized saguaros.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio, sketches and images for Sonoran Passage

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Barbara Grygutis' studio, sketches and images for Sonoran Passage

I went back on 22nd Street to view Sonoran Passage from below the Parkway. These works of art are best viewed at all angles to understand the connection and interaction to the spaces.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis from 22sd street

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis from 22sd street

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis from 22sd street

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis from 22sd street

As one of the nation's most sought-after sculptor, Barbara impressed me with her openness to share and her warm welcome.

 © 2018 Louise Levergneux, à bientôt Barbara Grygutis

© 2018 Louise Levergneux, à bientôt Barbara Grygutis

Thanks Barbara for a wonderful tour and looking forward to Happy Hour next year!

Texas and Arizona—Environmental Sculptures

A public art piece in Ohio entitled Garden of Constants made me curious about Barbara Grygutis' other works. So far, I have visited two pieces in Texas, Leon Creek Crossing in San Antonio and Silver Lining in El Paso.

Leon Creek Crossing created in 2016, is a layered, multi-dimensional work of art designed for the Hausman Road Bridge at Leon Creek Greenway in San Antonio, Texas. The artwork brings images from the natural shapes of the riparian plant community up from below to create an inviting pedestrian walkway along the otherwise concrete bridge. The canopy of the passage echoes the tree canopy along the Leon Creek Greenway below.

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Leon Creek Crossing  by Barbara Grygutis, seven aluminum units, each 14’ H x 14’ W x 10’

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Leon Creek Crossing by Barbara Grygutis, seven aluminum units, each 14’ H x 14’ W x 10’

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Leon Creek Crossing  by Barbara Grygutis, a series of seven arched sculptures, evoking natural shapes, combine to form a sculptural space through which the viewer passes

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Leon Creek Crossing by Barbara Grygutis, a series of seven arched sculptures, evoking natural shapes, combine to form a sculptural space through which the viewer passes

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Leon Creek Crossing  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Leon Creek Crossing by Barbara Grygutis

 © 2016 Katie McCann,  Leon Creek Crossing  by Barbara Grygutis, at night, Leon Creek Crossing is lit from within to create vibrant blue color effects, integrated light

© 2016 Katie McCann, Leon Creek Crossing by Barbara Grygutis, at night, Leon Creek Crossing is lit from within to create vibrant blue color effects, integrated light

We drove to El Paso, Texas to see Barbara's Silver Lining. Fourteen identical sculptures created in 2009, emanate computer-synchronized kinetic light. They are sited on the second story of the El Paso Civic Center to create an elevated pedestrian promenade, which circles the civic center. The circa 1964 building becomes the canvas for a shifting display of brilliant colored light. 

One can no longer walk through the sculptures as the second floor is barricaded. I shot my photos from the barricade and the stairs. It is unfortunate that the city has permitted this building to fall into disrepair. Barbara's sculptures still look good!

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Silver Lining  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Silver Lining by Barbara Grygutis

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Silver Lining  by Barbara Grygutis, fourteen sculptures, 18’ H x 6’ D x 6’ W

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Silver Lining by Barbara Grygutis, fourteen sculptures, 18’ H x 6’ D x 6’ W

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Silver Lining  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Silver Lining by Barbara Grygutis

 © 2009 Vanessa Monsisvais,  Silver Lining  by Barbara Grygutis, computer-synchronized light

© 2009 Vanessa Monsisvais, Silver Lining by Barbara Grygutis, computer-synchronized light

While traveling through Tucson, last December, I had a chance to view Front Row Center built in 1999, at the University of Arizona. Front Row Center, the environmental sculpture consists of ten bronze chairs and five small amphitheater units used during outside performances and gatherings.

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Front Row Center  by Barbara Grygutis, integrated into the front landscape of the Marroney Theatre at the University of Arizona Fine Arts Department

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Front Row Center by Barbara Grygutis, integrated into the front landscape of the Marroney Theatre at the University of Arizona Fine Arts Department

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Front Row Center  by Barbara Grygutis, 12'H x 3'W x 3'D, fabricated sheet bronze, handmade tile, landscape

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Front Row Center by Barbara Grygutis, 12'H x 3'W x 3'D, fabricated sheet bronze, handmade tile, landscape

 © 2017 Louise Levergneux,  Front Row Center  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2017 Louise Levergneux, Front Row Center by Barbara Grygutis

We are back in Tucson, Arizona, and serendipitously to my surprise while driving on Kino Parkway I saw Sonoran Passage a sculptural treatment of the major interchange bridge connecting Kino Parkway over 22nd Street.

This gateway constructed in 2015 is the entry point to downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona from the airport. It includes 14 large sculptural elements integrated into the overall layout of the bridge. The bridge piers echo the sculpture forms’ design. The inspiration for this cohesive artwork was the cross-section of the Saguaro cactus, uniquely native to the Sonoran desert setting. Pedestrian rail arches additionally pull together all of the sculptural elements of the bridge. The sculptures are lighted at dusk creating a safe and welcoming atmosphere for commuters around the clock.

 © 2018, Louise Levergneux,  Sonoran Passage  by Barbara Grygutis, 40’ H x 100’ L x 60’ D, aluminum, concrete, light

© 2018, Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis, 40’ H x 100’ L x 60’ D, aluminum, concrete, light

 © 2018, Louise Levergneux,  Sonoran Passage  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2018, Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis

 © 2018, Louise Levergneux,  Sonoran Passage  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2018, Louise Levergneux, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis

 © 2015, Katie McCann,  Sonoran Passage  by Barbara Grygutis

© 2015, Katie McCann, Sonoran Passage by Barbara Grygutis

Barbara’s sculptural environments enhance our surroundings and reveal unspoken relationships between nature and humanity. She engages the public through her works of art by identifying themes meaningful to each specific site and community. With over 75 large-scale commissioned works of public art throughout North America, Barbara is recognized internationally for her sculptural environments.

When you look at a city from a different and new perspective, one can find the most extraordinary phenomenon for the mind and eyes.

Looking forward to visiting other cities that have commissioned Barbara’s work.