Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Day for Detroit

McSorley’s Bar, 1912
John Sloan
Oil on canvas
26 x 32 in.
Founders Society Purchase, General Membership Fund

I haven't posted in some time, but this is important. Tyler Green, the creator/journalist of Modern Art Notes has declared today A Day for Detroit in support of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). There is the possibility that much of DIA's important art collection may be sold as part of the city's bankruptcy proceedings. In support of the DIA, I have selected McSorley's Bar by John Sloan as one of my favorite works.

Please go to Mr. Green's blog and read more in support of this treasured institution. There are may ways you can support. Perhaps, like me, you can become a member of the DIA (I'll post my membership confirmation tomorrow). The city of Detroit needs it, the people of Detroit need it, the DIA needs it.

Go Tigers!

Friday, November 2, 2012

storm drain

Installation view, Gasser Grunert, "Where I Have Lived and What I Live For"

Rebecca Morgan
Installation View: "Where I Have Lived and What I Live For"
Gasser Grunert, 2010
all works believed lost

I believe that some of the art I make is good. I also believe that my best work is produced when I am making a lot of it. In addition, if the project is well conceived before I ever put a pencil or paint to surface, the result is better. It is sometimes as though the work makes itself.

Right now I have a set of two unfinished paintings tacked to my studio wall. They're stuck. I keep trying to complete them but I remain indecisive. I have been working on them for more than a year. Sometimes the size and complexity of work requires a substantial period of time for completion. These paintings are neither complex nor large. They were incomplete from the get-go.

Years ago, my inability to complete these paintings would have rendered me unable to complete any other paintings. It wasn't perfectionism, it was ego and fear and procrastination. I would have fixated on how profound their narrative was, how complete they needed to be. I am fortunate that my practice has broadened enough that have I now have more ideas than time, and I no longer believe my work to be so weighty that a particular project's failure can hinder the production of other work.

I have been thinking about this a lot in the wake of Sandy, and her devastating impact on artists in the New York City area. I have several friends who have lost not just whole bodies of work, but also the spaces in which they create them.  News photos of Manhattan's Chelsea galleries and Brooklyn's Red Hook studios break my heart.While this devastation is certainly less tragic than the loss of lives and homes, I feel so sad for the artists and the hours of dedication and skill they had invested in their work.

But I am hopeful. The artists I know will continue to make good and perhaps even better work. All of their knowledge and skill will be enhanced by the personal experience of this loss. The community of artists will be strengthened by it. I believe this.

I'm looking at these two paintings again and I'm going to put them away or get rid of them outright. If by some calamity, in 10 years, my work was all destroyed, I would much rather go forward with the sense of accomplishment of having  made a substantive amount of work, good and bad. I would value the experience and craft gained in the process of making that work. The real tragedy would be in attempting, achieving and then losing nothing.

To all of my tribe who have lost studios and work due to Sandy, my heart breaks for you. But really... I can't wait to see the work that comes next.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ms. america

Please explain. If you’re a woman and planning to vote (or have already voted) for the Republican Presidential candidate next Tuesday, I really want to know why. And I’m asking you to submit a substantive explanation in the comments section following this post. You may do so anonymously, if you wish. Or you may email the blog directly I will post those comments anonymously in the days that follow.

Below I will list some of the reasons why I will be voting for President Obama in this year’s election. I hope this explanation may explain my confusion as to why American women would choose otherwise.

Faith and Religion

I believe that every human is, in God’s eyes, equal. Yes, I believe in God. I am also a Christian, rather inadequately practicing my faith in the Roman Catholic Church. I believe God is all knowledge. I also believe that any spiritual exercise can lead to a closer relationship with God, thus the non-Theist practices of Taoism, Shintoism and Buddhism, among others, only expand the experience of any life, even for the faithless. But I am only human, thus I am incapable of stating that Allah, Elohim, Brahman, Baha, and Yahweh are not God. I try not to inflict my religious on others, and I believe that it is wrong for a politician to inflict his/her religious beliefs on anyone.

Being Female

I would not label myself a feminist, but I do believe EVERY human being is entitled to equal treatment and rights. Prior to Obamacare, being a woman was considered a preexisting condition. Childbearing age in women was considered a condition that automatically increased insurance premiums, or in some, cases disqualified or set limitations for women’s prenatal care. As a result, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the United States ranks 174th (behind 48 other countries) in infant mortality. According to the same index, The United States ranks 136th among 183 countries in maternal deaths[1]. This is ridiculous in a country as wealthy as ours.

As a personal note, my husband and I pay approximately $5000 per year for insurance. We each have a $7500.00 deductible. I am currently forgoing certain medical tests, because with only a part time job, I cannot afford to pay for it. Essentially, I have to pay $10,000 before the insurance company kicks in anything. I know a couple whose dog recently had an MRI. Fido can, but I can’t. It’s funny.

I also believe I have the right to choose what happens to my body. The Pro Choice movement has been demonized as a pro-abortion movement. My intimate experience has taught me that this is not the case. For women who elect to do so, terminating a pregnancy is often and at best, a harrowing decision. It stays with her the rest of her life. If her faith precludes condemns abortion, then it is her decision whether or not to follow the rules of that faith, and accept the consequences. Yet it is not any individuals right to prevent either decision.

The same is true for Birth Control. An extensive study, performed by Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and recently published in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology demonstrated that access to and availability of free birth control lead to a notable drop in the numbers of unintended pregnancies and subsequent abortions. The study added that unintended pregnancies and subsequent births cost American taxpayers $11 Billion dollars each year. Once again, if you don’t want to utilize birth control don’t, but don’t enforce your beliefs on those that can benefit from their availability.

Finally, if you are a Christian, how do you interpret Christ’s Golden Rule? What are the restrictions that you put on “do unto others”?


I sincerely salute those who have educated themselves with no government or academic assistance. You have demonstrated the work ethic and commitment to education that have been cornerstones of this country. Education has long been the most reliable way to financial security. Note: the operative phrase here is financial security, not wealth.

Higher education is considerably more expensive than it used to be. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1979, the average annual cost of tuition and required fees at in-state, 4 year, public institutions was $1513. In 2007, the cost for the same education had grown to $10,913.

The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Though eligible families may earn as much as $60,000 annually, Pell grants are awarded to families with incomes, on average, less than $30,000 a year. The In 2012-2013, the grants range from $575 to $5,550. The average grant in 2010-2011 was approximately $3,590.

Gov. Romney has stated that he both supports an increase in the funding of Pell Grants and supports his running mate Paul Ryan’s budget. He seems to have trouble telling the truth and making up his mind. 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank, the proposed Ryan budget would “both cut Pell benefits and eligibility and freeze the maximum grant at $5,550 per student per year, apparently on a permanent basis. … It would repeal the entire $101 billion in existing mandatory funding for Pell over the next ten years—both the permanent, open-ended funding and the temporary pools of fixed funding.”

In the Chicago area, a family earning $30,000 annually and claiming two dependents will actually take home approximately $26,000 per year.  If they do receive a Pell Grant, how do they make up the difference for the cost of a college education? These are hardly the parents that Gov. Romney suggested students borrow from.

Education does pay. The hard truth we have to learn is that the factory isn’t coming back to your town. Our work force has to be trained in fluid, more diverse areas. How does the United States expect to compete globally, if it doesn’t educate its population? Are you only allowed to attend college and university if you can afford it?

Actually, today more young women than men are enrolled in Medical School and Law School. This is not true of business school. But don’t you want your daughter to receive the same pay and benefits and have the same opportunities for advancement as your son? Governor Romney, when elected Governor of Massachusetts, was so oblivious to the number of talented, skilled women available that he had to ask women’s groups to submit the now infamous “binders full of women” for his consideration.

Poverty and Corporations

I believe it is the moral responsibility of every individual, corporation and nation to care for the poor, the sick and the disabled. Why do we declare who and who is not afforded assistance based on preconceived notions? Why do we assume every individual receiving on public assistance is lazy, drug-addicted and/or crazy? In Chicago, and according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless’ 2011-12 CCH analysis, families made up 48.6% of Chicago’s homeless population. There were 35,625 children (33.8%) and 15,557 parents or grandparents (14.8%). Yes, everyone knows someone who at sometime abused government assistance. But to blanket every instance as abuse is shortsighted, if not ignorant. Especially when we refuse to hold Corporate America accountable for tremendous harms done to each and every individual in this country.

Everyday, Americans purchase, use and promote the products of corporations that remain blameless in the financial disaster that came about because of deregulation, greed and profits. Earlier this year, Chase Bank lost an estimated $9 billion in a bungled trade. What were the consequences? An executive with the bank resigned. Prior to her resignation, Ina Drew was the 4th highest paid individual at the bank, earning a reported $14 million annually. Obviously, she was overpaid. Do we blame her? Do we blame Chase? Do we even care? Yet, we blame the poverty-stricken for poverty?

As for Government Regulations, let’s consider the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Now called the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (an obvious positive marketing spin), this disaster was the largest oil disaster in the history of the Petroleum Industry. Its consequences will not be understood for decades. Gov. Romney believes that energy independence will come from drilling more on this continent, not from research and development or new technologies. He mentions the failure of a handful of “green” companies when promoting the expansion of oil exploration on this continent. And please don’t forget the esteemed Sarah Palin’s catch phrase, “drill baby drill.”

Most, if not all of the tax benefits from the Bush era remain intact and have been throughout President Obama’s first term. Yet, Gov. Romney’s so-called job creators, the wealthy, aren’t hiring. They remain cautious. No Governor Romney, they remain greedy and fearful. Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and members of his family have donated more than $50 million dollars to super PACs to help elect a number of Republican candidates.  Imagine the good that vast amount of money could do elsewhere.

By the way, Sheldon Adelson’s casinos are under investigation for money laundering.

If you’re a woman concerned about “your children’s and their children’s future”, wouldn’t you like them to see a polar bear, a glacier or a National Park? Do you want them to have clean water to drink? Do you want their medications to be safe? Do you really believe corporations and banks are capable of self-regulating?

Gay Marriage

Ladies, I just want to know how this threatens you and why are you so afraid of it? What do you think will happen if gays are allowed to marry?

Bad Manners

Two Republicans raised me. I’m not ashamed to say that. They experienced far more difficult times than i- the Great Depression and World War II. They had a much broader scope of knowledge, more inclusion, less fear than the far right does today.

They also had better manners.

My parents would not accept, on any level, Ann Coulter calling the President a “retard”, whether he/she was a Republican, a Democrat or even actually cognitively disabled.

My parents would not accept any American booing at the First Lady of the United States.

Shame on the parents that raised these people! Shame on those that condone this behavior!

I believe that acceptance of any of the aforementioned bad behavior, is complicit with that behavior. As Howard Zinn, the liberal scholar once said, “To be neutral in such a situation is to collaborate with what is going on.”  

The Conclusion - thank God!

That’s probably what your saying. I’ve bored you long enough, and though I could continue on talking about the Arts, Donald Trump, Michele Bachman... I won’t. I would rather be making an apple pie. How patriotic and traditional of me.

I have to believe that women are compassionate, intelligent and independent. We’ll see how the women’s vote is cast next week and if I lose faith in my own sex. In the meantime, I hope to hear from you and I respect your opinion - or at least, your right to have one.

[1] The World Factbook 2009. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2009.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

from the outside

[People Looking at Political Posters on Street, Paris]
Rudy Burckhardt  (American (born Switzerland), Basel 1914–1999 Searsmont, Maine)
Date: 1934
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Dimensions: Image: 16 x 23.7 cm (6 5/16 x 9 5/16 in.) 18.9 x 24.9 cm (7 7/16 x 9 13/16 in.) Classification: Photographs
Credit Line: Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2009
Accession Number: 2009.278 Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

17 highly personal reasons that I’m conflicted about the teacher’s strike...
  1. teachers must be highly compensated when they do good work
  2. everyone who has a job must be evaluated at some point
  3. individuals who cannot fulfill the requirements should be retrained or replaced
  4. the battling egos of karen lewis and rahm emmanuel... rahm you’re short, karen you’re fat...get over it and think about the kids
  5. there weren’t student teaching opportunities at my graduate school, because the school’s faculty union prohibited them (as we were told by our department chair)
  6. teachers should not be considered daycare providers, social workers or medical practitioners
  7. I have applied to more than 600 jobs in the past two years and have only recently become a part-time employee earning not quite twice minimum wage
  8. if you exhibit at mccormick place you are not allowed to plug into an electrical socket or move a table even six inches, the union has to do it - and they’ll charge you for it
  9. parents need to be responsible for what their children do - not teachers
  10. 12.5 million people are unemployed in the united states
  11. “absolute power corrupts absolutely”
  12. in general, negotiation means compromise on both sides - this isn’t about “breaking” either side - i highly doubt that either the chicago school board or teacher’s union will be voting for the republican party - and if you’re voting for the green party - well i have no words
  13. books absolutely need to be provided the first day of class - shame on the Board of Ed
  14. the NATO summit - what a colossal cluster and waste of time and resources
  15. if standardized tests don’t accurately assess current curriculum, either the test, or the curriculum need to change
  16. there should be air conditioning in all public schools, but you’re going to have to reform the entire system of municipal building codes, permit acquisition and construction in the city to do this...good luck with that...(yes, talk to any architect who has worked on the city’s education facilities)
  17. I had a plumber walk out of my apartment because we had installed our own dishwasher 15 years before...because it was not union installed. never mind that the job for which we needed him had nothing to do with said dishwasher

i will support the union because i am a liberal and unions are the only institution where many individuals can be treated and compensated fairly - i just wish we lived in a country where individuals were respected in such a way that unions were no longer necessary.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Today is Memorial Day. Originally conceived to honor fallen Union soldiers after the Civil War, the holiday now honors all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

In 2005 we went to France. Paris was the main goal as we had wanted to experience it together for a long time, but we decided to begin our trip in Normandy. I’m so glad we did.

Seeing the tiny ribbon that is Omaha Beach and the lovingly cared-for graves of 9,387 soldiers that are buried there was a deeply moving experience. We were both moved to tears, and talk about that trip every Memorial Day. I’ve experienced the same complex emotions while visiting our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. There, almost all of the graves are identical. A military cook may be found buried next to a Colonel.

I am neither celebrating nor criticizing war. It is a terrible thing, I’m certain the 400,000 individuals buried at Arlington would attest to that. Every American should be required to visit Arlington. Perhaps it might give us some perspective when we plan the activities of our holiday celebrations, and what we might pause to consider during them.

And to those that have served, thank you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

yank me, crank me

48 x 48, oil on shellacked paper
(c) sioban lombardi 2011

I will return to concerns aesthetic soon, but recent reported events regarding speeches made at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Convention in St. Louis lead me to believe that my personal safety is in jeopardy, as is the safety of the President of the United States.

 I am neither a constitutional lawyer nor scholar, but I believe that statements made by Ted Nugent (a reactionary, aging rock personality and radio celebrity) violate protections granted under the First Amendment. He both incited violence and threatened personal harm.

The Secret Service is taking care of the Presidential aspect of his statements, but what about his incitement for violence against Democrats such as myself. He said, ““We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” Mr. Nugent may counter that this is mere metaphor, and I honestly believe the majority of conference attendees would treat it as such, but there are always those fringe individuals who cannot grasp the subtlety and nuance of metaphor. If you don’t think those individuals exist, consider the fate of Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and the innocent Saturday shoppers who were gunned down in Arizona last year. This fringe exists and it scares me.

Handguns are intended for one purpose: to kill people. My father, grandfather, numerous uncles and friends were and are hunters and sportsman. They’ve never used handguns. Now, most states allow individuals to conceal and carry for protection, and the NRA is encouraging this.

For the first time in a long time I am afraid. I am more afraid of Ted Nugent and his freakish minions than I am of terrorists, biological weapons, nuclear war and the flesh-eating disease. He and the NRA, in giving him a platform, have incited violence against normal, hardworking American citizens.

But what is my recourse? Well, I’m going to have to eat some crow regarding litigious practices that I lambasted in my previous blog post, but the only way to reach these people is through their pocket books. I want to sue the National Rifle Association and its mouthpiece Ted Nugent for threatening my safety and causing emotional distress. I just need an attorney to help me do so.

Someone out there has to be willing to take this on! If you are an attorney and are interested, email me at Remember, I’m a sucker for credentials and I‘m really serious about this.

Monday, April 16, 2012

circling the drain

Lucian Freud
English, born Germany, 1922–2011
Two Japanese Wrestlers by a Sink, 1983–87

Courtesy, The Art Institute of Chicago

A health scare and subsequent trip to the emergency room has prompted the recent receipt of a number of medical bills. We are self-insured, but due to prohibitive costs, we selected a policy with a large deductible. To date, our bills approximate $10,000 and we will pay the majority of that out-of-pocket. It will probably take us many years in one form or another.

We still don’t know what happened. An MRI that was ordered in the hospital kept getting pushed back, due to other incoming emergencies. While the care we received in the emergency room was impressive, it fell off after we were sent to the floor. Frankly, little of our stay was about care. I believe that the tests ordered and symptoms documented were based on two factors. The smaller portion allocated towards diagnosing a problem, the larger portion aimed at preventing a lawsuit.

Last year, the small company my husband and I own broke even, but we are teetering on the edge. These medical bills, a recent dental estimate of more than $3400 (yes I brush and floss), a trip to the auto mechanic and various potential plumbing bills feel like an undertow that we can’t escape. It’s funny. I’m educated, white, hardworking and smart. I possess both practical and theoretical skills.  Yet, despite hundreds of applications in dozens of fields, I have not been able to get a job, not even part-time. I never planned on becoming one of the marginalized.

Of course, healthcare is but a small example in a much larger storm. We will weather this as best we can. Unfortunately, healthcare and its brethren are but symptoms of a larger disease that continues to go unaddressed in this country. Here are some examples:

  • There is a Chicago man suing a playground equipment manufacturer because his daughter fell off a slide and broke her arm. The lawsuit seeks compensation for medical expenses and emotional damage. These slides have been pulled across the country because of falls and injuries. They are poorly designed and should be pulled. But I doubt there was any intent to harm. Can’t all playground equipment result in falls and injuries? Shouldn’t there be some shared responsibility? Who let her go on the slide? As for emotional trauma...please. My cousin fell off a giant slide when we were kids. She ran home carrying her spleen in her hand. There was no lawsuit; in fact, she’s a successful physician today.
  • On the flipside, I know of a young litigation attorney who recently travelled across country for several nights to obtain a deposition. This attorney had the option of obtaining the deposition via teleconference, but elected to travel instead. I could be wrong, but I believe the cost of the trip exceeded the cost of a teleconference. It’s not the law firm that paid the expense, but the parties in the lawsuit. Certainly this type of behavior drives up insurance costs thus driving up healthcare costs. Yet I guess this behavior is common and accepted in the industry. Pity.

What’s the larger disease? We are. Conservatives allow the right wing and tea party to scare them into submission while Liberals refuse to see where they are contributing to the problem. We are all complicit.

Today, while competing on a supposedly “fun” quiz game on the news, a man could neither name the Governor of Illinois nor state the Square Root of 4. He was a State of Illinois employee. I would like to condemn him, but when the morning news features quiz games, Kanye West, Brangelina and Chinplants as feature stories it’s difficult. We would rather be entertained than informed and we have become stupid, selfish, fat and lazy in the process. The sad thing is, we don’t care about anything or anyone that is beyond our scope of immediate gratification.

People keep saying that they are trying to protect this country for their children and their children’s children. Why protect something so broken, when a change of attitude create something wonderful for everyone? When are we going to take some responsibility for the world and individuals in it? We are circling the drain. If we aren’t willing to consider individuals and ideas beyond our immediate frame of reference, we won’t have anything. Me? I don’t have any kids, but I’ll continue to think of and hope for the best for the future. Even though I won’t have anything left to pay for it.