Friday, July 29, 2011

Official: I love this album, you should too!

Work has been a battle this week. Serious back pain, arms full of poison ivy, the 3:30 wake-up, and unfortunately I just wasn't strong enough. But I trudged through as we do, those of us that know that failure is not an option. Like you I worked through the pain, raced to those deadlines and made them by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. My new boss granted me a much needed vacation day, himself all to strained as well, and I couldn't be more thankful. For whatever reason, or all the ones posted above, it has been tough this week. I am truly fatigued, inside and out. But one glimpse of light through this dreary pre-dawn haze, one little source of salvation came to me not in the form of a pill but rather a taste for the ears.

As previously discussed, Laura Stevenson and the Cans are a major new fave. Her voice is from the heavens, their music has groove and beat and so many wonderful levels. "A Record" is actually the precursor to "Sit Resist" which I talked about a few months ago, ("A Record" was released in April of 2010 and "Sit Resist" came out in April of the next year). Heading home after getting approval to rest the body and get out of this city for an extra day the song "Nervous Rex" came on the shuffle and damn near saved my life. I am going to listen to this album a lot this weekend. It's slow and steady and wins the race and sets the pace I need to go for a few days. Give it a whirl and treat yourself to some sensational new tunes.

Hopefully this video was posted legitimately and I'm not pissing off Laura, her band, or their label. damn beautiful, thanks to all who contributed!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

on the topic of collages and selling artwork

collage on paper
6.5" x 10"
aef08 (2008)
image courtesy of the owners, H. Harrison and C. Mcpherson

Ultimately the question is this:
Would you ever consider buying one of my collages?
...and if so, what would you pay?

The longer question goes like this:
I have always been pushed and pushed myself to make art. Growing up dad always had these sketch books that lived around the house and periodically us kids would create some new doodles and drawings. ...of course now so much fun to revisit as adults contemplating kids of our own. In high school I studied under great artists and began learning the basics of sculpture, photography, and painting. At the Colorado College I expanded my skills to installation art, printmaking and what we liked to call "exploratory media". To this day I kick myself that I didn't record more, for there I did some of my best installations. Following school I was back in New York at the end of Long Island growing as a painter, collage artist, and budding horticulturist. So flash forward to city living in the 21st Century. As I have shared in blog posts my main focus these days are collages of various shapes and sizes, some with apparent themes, others simply juxtapositions of images and memories that strike a chord. Each piece is completely hand made, the tangible process of laying layer atop layer and the tactile finished product as important to me as the image presented. Each collage is one of a kind and would never be recreated.

Though I have often traded art among friends and mentors I have never formally sold my collages or paintings. For years I have been urged to, but ultimately I never figured out what I would charge. Over those same years I have seen others successfully vend their artwork via their own blogs so now I am investigating following suit. Therefore, o' visitors of arborboy, let me ask you. To have one of these collages, completely original and one of a kind, sent to you in an attractive mat that all you would have to do is put in a frame, what would you realistically spend, or want to spend?

Seriously I would love any and all feedback on this matter. Whether you are an old friend or a stranger reading this blog for the first time, I would like to know what you would value these pieces at and what you would be willing to spend to have one of your own. Like art itself the answers are completely subjective so clearly there is no right or wrong answer. As far as size, let's say for the moment that said collages would range in size from 6.5" x 10" up t0 10" x 15". (To view other collages I have made, click on the collage tag below.) Feel free to comment or if you would prefer to email, send your input to The goal is for me to share with you these pieces at a reasonable rate so that I am driven to create new and better pieces on a more regular basis. If you wouldn't spend more than $20 I'd like to know. If you think I'm a fool not to charge $100 I'd like to know. If a number or range of numbers come to mind I'd really like to know. Whether you are a buyer or artist or both, please respond. I'd appreciate it.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Springs sunset

waiting for the fireworks

great idea, Mom!

the 'Stone

We went east for a weekend at the folks house. Hearing of the intense rage and hysteria that was accompanying this summer season in the Hamptons we made sure to steer clear, keep the mood chill and the vibe positive. This included a walk and dip up at Maidstone, and it was as perfect. Of course you don't get me near a rocky beach without a few cairns popping up.

Mrs. Krissy caught me in the act.

Slow and steady wins the race, not that we were racing.

Gardiners Bay in all her glory.

A cairn is the term for a man-made pile of stones, derived from the Irish and Scottish Gaelic "carn" or plural "cairn". Traditionally they are used as a marker or landmark, often with some social, cultural, or religious significance. For those of you that know Andy Goldsworthy and other installation artists you know they have become admired as a form of art as well. And if you don't know Andy Goldsworthy then you should check out his coffee table books or the documentary "Rivers and Tides". A bit Artsy, but genius really. this reminds me I never posted pictures from Storm King last year. hmmm. but enough about that...
Note: no honking horns, no screaming obscenities or expletives, no false sense of entitlement, no pretense, just the peaceful enjoying of our naturally beautiful surroundings. Ahhh....

this post goes out to Miss Erin Backus and the NEWFS crew of '06, Scott, Tom, and the gang. miss all you crazy people. dare I say, Rock On!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome to the world...

Keira Chanel Marshall
born July 11th at 1:20am
Mom (Kate Dunkle), Dad (Jerome Marshall), and Big Sis (Janaya) are all doing well.
And we of course couldn't be more thrilled and excited to see our precious new niece.
Much Love to the whole family,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happiness is a new 6'3" Fineline!

all pics the property of Mollusk Surf Shop or Alex Feleppa with all rights reserved

Back in May I was thinking about a getting a new board as a birthday present to myself. I had in my head the idea of getting a fish, a certain style of board that allows you to make the most of the mushy summer swells we can get hit with here in New York. I checked my local haunts out east and saw some beautiful boards but nothing quite spoke to me. Then I decided to check out Mollusk surf shop in Williamsburg. I knew about the shop and had heard that Chris was a great guy from fellow surfer and artist friends in Greenpoint (love Jodie Jacobson and Dave Melrose!) so one Sunday Krissy and I rolled down through Hipsterville to see what we could find. Sure enough Chris was there and we three had a great time talking about their killer spread of handcrafted boards in all shapes and sizes. I was psyched not only to find a local surf shop to support but even more-so to find one with solid products and a crew of smart guys with the right attitude. Ultimately I was transfixed by a board all waxed up and still salty from the previous days surf session so I had to ask. Chris enthusiastically pulled down his personal blue-green 6'3" egg made by Brian out at Fineline surfboards in California. I talked about the void in our quiver of boards I was trying to fill and without hesitation he nodded towards the mini egg as a major contender in his eyes. It wasn't the board I had pictured in my mind originally but learning about Fineline, their exqusitely crafted boards, and seeing the stoke in my eyes Chris had me sold pretty quickly.

I submitted the order and knowing it was the busiest time of year for shapers did my best to be patient. After a little communication glitch I learned today that the board was in so Krissy and I wasted no time to get back down to Brooklyn to find Chris and the rest of the gang. Sure enough the new arrival was everything I was hoping for and instantly upon seeing it in the flesh I was thrilled all over again. So here she is, the latest member of the Feleppa surf family, the orange board!
We opted for a single box fin and FCS sidebites. I wasn't sure before if the color orange I picked out was going to be too much, but with the transparent tint and sanded gloss finish it looks so killer and has just the right amount of pop.
And I don't know what it is or how to articulate it, but when you see your name there under the sturdy glass job and you sit back knowing this board is all about your specific size and weight, ah man, it's like Christmas morning every day of the year. To use one of my favorite words, custom, through and through.
And it really is the finer touches that went into this board that sets Fineline above a lot of other board makers out there that I checked out. The cedar stringer and reinforced tail, the way Brian shaved the rails to maximize the boards smooth flow and sweet rocker, I just can't wait to get this baby in the water.
Major props to Chris Gentile for turning me on to Fineline and taking great care of me as a customer. Thanks to Brian Hilbers and his crew out west for making such a fine creation that I intend to enjoy for many years to come. Thanks too to Zach at the shop for rocking my world and setting up this beast today complete with the 7.5" L-Flex fin 'cause I know I had him sweatin' there for a minute. If you are a local surfer Mollusk surf shop is near the water at the end of Metropolitan there in Williamsburg and it is definitely a place worth checking out. Always good to support your local surf shop. You guys are awesome and we will definitely see you again soon, either out in the lineup or when it's time to add another stick to the quiver. Cheers,


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Plant ID: Rudbeckia maxima

Everyone knows Black-eyed Susans. The reliant summer blooming Rudbeckia fulgida and related cultivars and varieties hold up really well in a number of situations and it's no surprise they are loved and planted by millions. Just today I was walking and passed a patch planted in front of a local brownstone and had to remark to how great they looked. However, many are not aware of the other great species out there within the Rudbeckia genus. One wonderful player is a tall herbaceous perennial I get asked to identify a lot this time of year. This is Rudbeckia maxima.
From the base of blue-green foliage and leaves that are often over 4" in size emerge these tall flower spikes that can reach up to 5' in a happy full sun application.
Hardy in Zones 7-10 these definitely add a great tall element to your perennial garden design. As you can see the ray flowers are that awesome standard Rudbeckia yellow while the central cone of disc flowers are a rich brown that really stands out and draws the eye. This is a good looking clump but admittedly has taken some time and TLC to get established. For maximum impact I like to plant them close and make a nice big cluster of them.
And yes, it's a native species so the local insects and wildlife love them too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Shrub ID: Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)

I'm pretty sure this is Rhododendron maximum, the North American native rosebay rhododendron.
A broad-leaved evergreen, the rosebay rhodie is a big open shrub that can get 15' for sure, if not 30' over the course of it's lifetime for us down here in a Zone 6b or 7a. These guys are hardy to USDA Zone 3, which means well into Canada, where the species is apparently from. They usually bloom earlier, in June, but perhaps this guy was a new planting and therefore blooming a bit later. In any event, big fabulous clusters of white flowers are tinged with pink and yellow.
This guy is obviously just a youngster, weighing in at only 6-7' high and wide, but you can see the open habit and love for high shade or a little bit of sun through the canopy.

Shrub ID: Sambucus canadensis (American elderberry)

This is a beautiful native shrub (from Canada, introduced in 1761) I saw on a walk through the woods the other day. It's name is Sambucus canadensis, or American elderberry. You can see the bees love the flower, and in the fall the dark purple fruit attract the birds. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and popular for pies, jelly, juices, and wines. The shrub grows 8'-12' high and wide according to most, but because of it's more unkempt growth habit you want it to have some space.
These awesome flower clusters are called cymes, which basically means they are a group of tiny, solitary flowers that form a flat-topped blossom, in this case slightly domed. The picture below is a bit blurry but you can see better the pinnately compound leaves that make up the body of the shrub. Each grouping of 7 leaflets you count is actually considered a single leaf. Botanists identify leaves by finding their buds. Each leaf has a bud at it's base, so if the leaf is destroyed the plant can make a new leaf from that same node on the stem. I don't have a close-up, but if I photographed the main, central stem in the photo below you would see that the leaf buds are there in the center, at the base of the leaf stalks (petioles) going left and right, and at the base of the leaflets there is nothing but the petiolule, or leaflet stalk, sans bud. Hence we can say that it is a compound leaf, comprised of 7 leaflets.
Again, not the greatest shots but a valuable woodland shrub for Zone 4-9.

Plant ID: Panicum clandestinum (deer tongue grass)

This is a woodland plant that really speaks to me. When most people look into the woods I find that they just see green, and don't recognize or know the different species that make up these wonderfully diverse ecosystems. Yeah, you know, you got some trees, a couple shrubby things, and then all these other plants, but they don't really flower, aren't they all just weeds?!? Oh, how wrong people can be. My hope is to post and ID some native and non-native woodland plants to further expand my own plant palette and also to introduce to you some of the great things you can find here in the northeastern US. Except for ferns, conifers, and various mosses, rushes, and lichens, all other plants tend to be angiosperms which means they do flower and set seed or fruit at some point in their life cycle. The catch is that our eye is often untrained so we think we aren't looking at anything special. But I assure you, if you look closely enough you will find that all plants deserve merit.
This wide-leafed grass is called deer tongue grass, or Panicum clandestinum. Usually I am not a big fan of common names but this one I love, as you'd imagine because the foliage is thought to resemble a deer's tongue.
A North American native, this clumping grass only stands a couple feet tall but is a great textural addition to a woodsy setting. Even though it prefers a damp soil with good drainage I'm told it does alright in drier conditions too.
Above you can see the loose inflorescence of flowers that is light and airy and blooms in summer. Supposedly it holds it's nice stiff foliage into winter so I am anxious to see how it holds up through the seasons.