Posts Tagged ‘mom’

Mom’s Art 2: Collages and a Cactus Drawing

7 September 2012

Inside cover of Mom and Paige’s collage book. Text reads: this book was made by Paige Gastil and Grandma Marge Linton – finished in 2002

Thinking of my mom lately… wishing she was still around. Mom was pretty creative, but I think poured a lot of that energy into raising four kids.

I posted a few of my mom’s Stockholm drawings earlier here, today it’s some collages that she did with my niece Paige. (more…)

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Mom’s Art 1: Stockholm Drawings

11 August 2012

Riksdaghuset (Parliament Building in Stockholm, Sweden), drawing by Marge Linton, done in the late 1950s, pencil on paper, about 8.5″x11″

Here are a couple of pencil drawings that my mother did during her junior year abroad in Stockholm. Margaret Gerhardt Linton 1937-2011, then Margaret Eunice Gerhardt – mom – was a junior at Occidental College, she studied abroad for a year, during which she traveled quite a bit through various countries in Europe.  (more…)

Some Recommended 2011 Pieces

1 January 2012

I got inspired by Alissa Walker’s recent piece highlighting her top ten stories from 2011… so I figured I’d curate some of my 2011 output. Drive up some web hits here and there! Here are ten pieces from 2011 that I am proud of… and they’re so all over the board that I can’t imagine anyone out there reading this would actually like all this stuff.

These are from various places where I blog – here, L.A. Creek Freak, CicLAvia, Eco-Village, L.A. Streetsblog, and my art blog Handmade Ransom Notes. Yah – a lot of it is insider rants that only a hard-ass bicycling urban creek freak like me would really want to read.

Drawing of my mom - 1987

1. Remembering my mom, Margaret Gerhardt Linton, who died on July 31st 2011. I wrote about her in a few different places… but perhaps most memorable are the following: a three part piece about her home and my sketches of her in the hospital.

For a broader biographic sketch of mom, read this and/or follow the links here. I miss her a lot… especially around the holidays and the turning of the new year. She made me who I am in myriad ways. I am glad that I’ve been writing about her and posting others recollections… so I can keep her memory fresh.

2. Some of my best pieces are really long complaining indignant rants… one of my favorite rants was about the city of Los Angeles’ unnecessary project to tear out the historic 1929 North Spring Street Bridge. The project as initially proposed was, in my opinion hugely awful… then, through a many-year community activism campaign the project has been trimmed back to just awful.

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Letters to Mom

23 November 2011

Artistic envelope that I mailed to mom in 2004

I’ve started scanning and posting some of the letters that I wrote to my mother, who passed away earlier this year. I post these at my art blog Handmade Ransom Notes – under older work pages – see here, here, here, and here. I’ve been trying to mainly post new artwork there, because I want to use the blog to motivate me to work on and finish new artwork.  (more…)

Sondheim Rhyme: Sublime

20 August 2011

As I wrote about here, I’ve listening to a fair amount of Stephen Sondheim… and more you listen to Sondheim, the more his genius kind of sinks in. Like other great art, repeated listenings just get deeper and stronger. The first time I hear a Sondheim piece, I can get the basic gist, and I may like it – especially when it’s performed in a musical. I admit that, sometimes, hearing a piece for the first time, without knowing any of the plot that it hangs on and is completely integral to, it can be more difficult to appreciate. The first time I heard the soundtrack to Sunday in the Park with George, I didn’t get it… and now it seems like it’s part of the fiber of my being.

It’s repeated those listenings and viewings that deepen one’s appreciation for Sondheims work. It sounds deceptively simple… but then there are huge underlying complexities… both musically and in the rhymes. I am not a musician, so I can’t explain the musical textures (maybe watch this NY Times video to get a wonderful taste of it), but lately I’ve been thinking about the way Sondheim rhymes.

When my mom, the biggest Sondheim fan of my life, was in the hospital, I was thinking about her, cruising Youtube for Sondheim, I came across this 2010 PBS Newshour video:

Starting at minute 9 in the video, Sondheim talks about rhyming things based not just on sound but also spelling! This is something I’ve never thought of… isn’t rhyme just about sound? Isn’t that the definition? Sondheim says that he prefers rhymes that are spelled differently, because they surprise. The examples that he uses in the video is that “suffer” and “rougher” is a better or richer rhyme than “rougher” and “tougher.” The other example Sondheim cites is rhyming “journal” and “colonel.”  (more…)

Mom’s House (part 3)

12 August 2011

(This is the third part of three – if you’re interested, start with part 1 then part 2.)

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This third post is sort of journey through my sketches of mom’s home – first interiors, then exteriors – each group in chronological order, oldest to newest.

Mom's Den - 1987 pencil on paper in sketchbook 12, 11"x17"

This one is my mom’s den nearly a quarter-century ago. It’s roughly the same view as this image. The glass table on the wooden sled thingie was in the middle of the den most of the time while mom’s four kids were growing up. When the grand kids started walking around, mom swapped it out for more of a wooden trunk thing. The configuration changed a bit then – the chair on the far left moves to the right, and the couch was moved to the be along the plate glass window in the background.

I remember mom didn’t really like this drawing, because it has a big messy pile of newspapers – in the middle left next to the chair.

Mom's Den 1987 pen on paper in sketchbook 12, 8.5"x11"

This one is slightly oddly cropped. That’s a TV in the bottom right. Sitting atop it, in addition to a couple of bowls, is a painting of mom. The painting also features my sister Liz, though she’s cut off. It’s an oil painting that I really like – one of my best, I think. There’s another painting on the ground, too, visible in the middle center of the painting. That one is a self-portrait – me. And of course, lots of books, which I wrote about a bit here(more…)

Mom’s House (part 2)

11 August 2011

(This is the second part of what I think will be a three-part series about the home of my mother, Marge Linton, who passed away recently. You might want to read Mom’s House (part 1) here, then this second part below.)

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Life-sized Borofsky poster on mom’s dining room door

The door to the dining room (which was downstairs next to the kitchen and the den – shown at the top of the earlier post) the  has a human-sized poster from the 1986 Jonathan Borofsky show at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA.) I think that the poster was attached with wallpaper paste. I remember going alone to that Borofsky show on my day off, and really enjoying it, then bringing mom back to it later. I think we got Borofsky posters in a discounted clearance bin well after the show had closed.

On the right side of the door frame, if you look closely you might be able to see some markings. Here’s a closer look at them:

Family height markings on the doorframe

Each year, my mom would paint how tall each of the four of us kids were. It was on the same date each year, though I don’t think that the date had any special significance. Entries were color coded (ie: yellow 1975, blue 1976, etc.) We would compare each other “Look, Mark is already taller than I was when I was his age.”

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Mom’s House (part 1)

10 August 2011

Mom’s den

For 43 years, my mom lived  in the two-story 4-bedroom 3-bath suburban cul-de-sac home where I grew up. At the time we moved into it, in 1968, it was a newly built – in a tract called Tustin Meadows. At that time, beyond Tustin Meadows, past a small riprap-lined straightened creek and some railroad tracks, was open farmland.

Architecturally, the home was pretty standard stuff. It’s fairly big for a suburban tract home, but no mini-mansion. Mom and Dad paid something like $500 extra for a large lot – mostly it has a big backyard, due to the geometry of the cul-de-sac.

From the outside, it’s not that different than other homes around it. What distinguishes the home is what’s inside. Friends of mine have mentioned that Marge’s home felt different than most suburban interiors – friendlier and more personal, more informal, perhaps more cluttered. (more…)

Chidren will listen

10 August 2011

Stephen Sondheim – photo from the Merrily We Roll Along LP cover

My mother, Marge Linton, was a huge fan of Stephen Sondheim, the incredibly wonderful composer and lyricist responsible for a host of wonderful musicals from Sweeney Todd to A Little Night Music to West Side Story and much much more.

The first time mom saw Sweeney Todd (the musical, not the movie, which she also enjoyed) was in the early 1980s, while I was away at Occidental College. She wrote me a letter that quoted all sorts of lyrics. I am pretty sure that she ran out and bought the soundtrack, as opposed to having memorized them from hearing a performance. I enjoyed mom’s letter, which I think was more than a third quoting Sweeney Todd lyrics, but I wasn’t entirely convinced of Todd‘s greatness until I later attended a live performance with her, soon thereafter. Since then, I’ve seen Todd, with mom, at least a half-dozen times at Cal State L.A., Occidental College, by the East West Players, and more.

Since mom passed away, I’ve been listening to a lot of Sondheim. As we, her kids, were sorting through her possessions, I got away with quite a few Sondheim CDs – even ones that I hadn’t even heard of – from Sweeney Todd Live at the New York Philharmonic to Sondheim Sings volumes 1 and 2. Sondheim Sings features remastered early versions of Sondheim songs sung by Sondheim himself accompanied by himself on piano. In few cases, he fills in missing lyrics with a sort of place-holder scat-singing. It’s a treat for me to see/hear work in progress… sometimes I think that the striving of the creative process is at least as interesting as the polished final product. (Some time I will tell the story of how I used to enjoy the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra’s rehearsals… but that’s another story. [Updated – see later LBSO story here.]) (more…)

Death as a Patient Visitor – from Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow

9 August 2011

Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow: The Life Story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William Membership, as Written by Himself – published in 2000 by Counterpoint Press

I read Wendell Berry‘s wonderful novel Jayber Crow novel a few years ago. At the time, I remember being struck by his sense that, at least in a rural agrarian community, death wasn’t so inconceivably sad and painful… but perhaps welcome, though uncomfortable – more a part of the cycles that are embedded in an ongoing continuity.

When my mother died, I had planned to bring this Wendell Berry insight into my brief remarks at her memorial service… but I ended up editing it out, for brevity… and also because I felt like it was probably more about me than about her. Wendell Berry is more in my pantheon of favorite authors, not hers though she’s read some of his work. His essay collection What Are People For? was on her bookshelf… though I suspect she got that book for its essay Wallace Stegner and the Great Community. Mom was a huge Wallace Stegner fan… but that’s another story.

So, this blog entry is sort of my exploration and of a memorial thought that I’d left on the cutting room floor. (To use a completely presumptuous analogy, but one mom would relate to, it’s a bit like Sondheim’s Marry Me  a Little. Mom was a huge Stephen Sondheim fan… but that’s also another story.)

Jayber Crow is the name of a barber – the barber in Berry’s fictional Kentucky small town of Port William. The novel is told in Jayber’s words, though it ends up sort of spanning the events of the township. (more…)