Tenochtitlan Toyland

This is one of two proposals I recently submitted for a solo show… boney fingers crossed. The first, The Thinking Reed is pretty much ready to hang; this one resides mostly within my head and deals primarily with perception and the problems that arise from appropriation and misappropriation.


Tenochtitlan Toyland: Playthings from New Spain

My proposal for “Tenochtitlan Toyland: Playthings from New Spain” is a theatrical concept room, an installation piece that essentially represents a nursery from hell. My concept which employs painted and constructed assemblages, cardboard and papier-mâché figures, marionettes and paintings on paper also incorporate an interactive element in which to engage the gallery viewer.

The nursery in question is that of the Infanta Margaret decorated with imagined booty from New Spain. By utilizing commonly found construction materials, I wish to poke fun at consumerism and the incessant quest for novelty.  To achieve this end I plan to make a plywood Selfie Booth, fashion a series of cardboard jumping wall puppets , even introduce a live performer encased in a walking puppet of my making. There is also a faux didactic element to this installation; I’ve painted a series of watercolor illustrations for an alphabet primer of New Spain that completely misses the mark in comprehending these vanquished people. From encouraging the use of hashtags for my proposed Selfie-booth, to passing out crayons in which to color pastiches of Baroque wall hangings, I wish to engage the viewer, reflect the past and hold up a mirror to the foibles and vanities of our current society.

My work is always narrative based and whether expressed through two dimensional or three dimensional works, I seek to tell universal stories and explore universal truths. With this installation I wish to employ every weapon in the arsenal. Paintings, sculpture and interactive engagement are part of my concept; I wish to create a sense of Gesamtkunstwerk, but instead of a Wagnerian Valhalla, I instead wish to create a dark and funny depiction of our seemingly unquenchable thirst for power and privilege.
Much of this work is still in the conceptual stage, so I have provided preparatory drawings to illustrate my intentions. I have also, when available, enclosed images of completed elements such as marionettes, paper dolls and pages from the aforementioned Primer of New Spain. I have also enclosed an itemized page providing details concerning my concepts and anticipated materials for the elements which make up the whole of Tenochtitlan Toyland; they are numbered to correspond with the images. Concerning which gallery I would prefer I have submitted a scaled rendering of the show situated in the W Gallery; of course that decision is up to the gallery. Given that much of the work is site specific I would appreciate, if I were fortunate enough to be selected, a later date in 2017 for the opening. Given my themes of consumerism and toys, a slot close to Christmas would be devilishly delightful!



An Itemized List Concerning Tenochtitlan Toyland: Playthings from New Spain

1- “The Rape of Tenochtitlan”, 2016, colored pencil on paper, 18 by 24”.
The initial impetus behind this concept.

2- Pages from my alphabetic primer The Primer of New Spain ; letters A, B, C and D shown. The entire alphabet will represented .
Materials: watercolor on paper.

3- My marionettes of the Hero Twins. These marionettes are part of a body of work that includes other puppets and doll derived from the Popol vuh, that will be incorporated into the concept as a whole.
Materials: Sculpey modeling medium, armature, paint.

4-Part of a collection of paper dolls that I have been working on over the last few years. Some of the dolls are nearly life-sized, some conventionally sized.
Materials: watercolor, graphite, on paper, brads.

5- The Coatlicue Selfie Booth , given that Aztec goddess Coatlicue (and her war god son Huitzilipochtli) is quite a fearsome presence, she is an amusing choice for a selfie cutout . I would actively encourage the hashtag #teotoyland while visitors snap away; both ridiculing social media and exploiting it.
Anticipated materials: self supporting painted plywood cutout.

6- My proposal includes four “jumping jacks”, childish amusements of the Victorians, the difference being, as is the case with this depiction of the rain god Tlaloc,my offerings would be considered inappropriate for the nursery by most sane people. I imagine including three other Aztec gods including the aforementioned war-god Huitzilipochtli. Each will be placed behind a baroque inspired “tapestry”, that with crayons provided near by, I would hope gallery visitors would color in. I imagine an interactive experience, as with the selfie booth.
Anticipated materials: paint, cardboard, string, brads; tapestries, enlarged renderings with crayons provided.

7-The Templo Major, the heart of Tenochtitlan, home to the primary altars of Tlaloc and Huitzilipochtli , scene of countless human sacrifices and terrible battles , could not be a more inappropriate inspiration for a dollhouse; yet I propose just that concept . The installation would include rag dolls of gods, priests and their unfortunate victims. I anticipate quite a few hearts.
Anticipated materials: Painted wood and or papier-mâché construction, lightbulbs, mixed media as yet undetermined.

8- One of the aforementioned rag dolls, in this case, Huitziliopochtli.
Materials: rags, thread, paint.

9- A Meso-american television complete with vignettes from the creation myth , the Popol vuh. It would include the aforementioned marionettes.
Anticipated materials: painted wood and or papier-mâché , lightbulb , mixed media elements as of yet undetermined.

10-A prototype of #9, the Meso-american television.
Materials: painted wood, mixed media.

11- Mictlantecuhtli (Lord of Xibalba) parade marionette. A walking interactive puppet depicting the major god of the underworld . Once again introducing an absurd interactive element into the nursery concept. I hope the performer to be most fetching.
Anticipated materials: chicken wire armature, papier-mache, dowels, string, wire, paint.

12- Schematic of my proposal within the Wubdemann Gallery; drawn 1/4” scale.

 1-Rape of Tenochtitlan
1-Rape of Tenochtitlan
2-detail from Primer of New Spain
2-detail from Primer of New Spain
3-Hero Twin marionettes
3-Hero Twin marionettes
4-Paper-dolls from Xibalba
4-Paper-dolls from Xibalba
5-Selfie Booth
5-Selfie Booth
6- Tlaloc Tapestry design
6- Tlaloc Tapestry design
7-Welcome to the Xibalba Dollhouse
7-Welcome to the Xibalba Dollhouse
8-Huitzilipochtcli Rag-doll
8-Huitzilipochtcli Rag-doll
9-Xibalba Variety Hour
9-Xibalba Variety Hour
10-prototype example
10-prototype example
11-Walking Puppet
11-Walking Puppet
12-Installation Schematic
12-Installation Schematic


Well, that’s it. I’m not sure which worries me more, being rejected or actually having this proposal accepted and going mad putting it all together! Wish me well please.


showtime in puppetland

My marionettes are finished, now I find the task at hand of photographing them and hopefully in the near future making brief 13 second clips of their escapades. But thus far I have been hampered by having only two arms; awaiting the husband to act as studio assistant.

The image that follow are those I have managed solo.IMG_5191

Detail of the Axis Mundi against a fiery backdrop of Xibalba, the underworld.


The Axis Mundi with the head of the slain Maize God


Maize God


The Hero Twins strung, ready to perform.


They are incredibly photogenic, I feel I cannot take credit for them as they seem to have come forth on their own.



The simple-minded God of Death, he also poses in a delightful way; he is quite a funny fellow.


When I manage to score some stage hands I will post some tableaux , until that time ,be well, Lg


The Nit-wit god of Death, Mictlantecuhtli


Standing at an unlucky 13 inches this little demon god delights me. My fourth marionette and I think my most successful . He actually functions and he came out pretty much as planned.






” Sculpey” medium over wire and foil armature, acrylic paint

13 inches high

My intention had been to play off a painting I had made a few year back, The Alpha and the Omega. I think I got it.

Greco_AlphaOmega copy

The Alpha and the Omega

acrylic and mixed medium on canvas



another inspiration were those crazy-assed demons that are always tormenting poor St. Anthony of the Desert.

DAE-93008297 - © - DEA / G  DAGLI ORTI

I’m happy with the face in the center of his chest, the gaping Hell Mouth, the cute little snake and the phallic schnozze. I’m also liking his little serpentine booties.  The gods of the Underworld were notoriously stupid, but this fellow is pretty snazzy.


I have a deadline to meet so I will be painting a bit, but I will return to PuppetLand pronto.

Until then, be well, Lg

A Day ( and Night) of the Hero Twins ; NSFW, caution marionettes with naughty bits

My  Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque are now finished and awaiting proper stringing. I don’t anticipate too many problem,  my fingers crossed, but in the meantime I thought I would play around with the little mannequins. They are quite flexible and fall into clever and at times quite salacious positions. Good for them. 

IMG_4954Hero Twin marionettes


Sculpey and metal and aluminum foil armature, paint, steel wool, string

12.5 inches tall


They both have little necklaces, and bracelets and fancy boots; for naked boys they like to accessorize.


A Tom of Finland pose if there ever was one. 


For as long as I have been working with the Hero Twin archetype, their tongue twisting names have befuddled me. Xbalanque, of the jaguar spots is depicted in such a way as to exhibit his animal nature ; poor Hunahpu is spotted as a reminder of his time amidst the Dead.

Living in LA I see gorgeous tattoos on a regular basis, I was inspired by the local color in tagging my fellows; now at last I will be able to identify the Twins quickly and easily.


I’m happy with the boots-yet another salacious shot.


 End o’ day.

I will string them and I will record their movement, but for now they are at rest.

Be well, Lg




Back to the Marionette Bench

My last marionette was less than a stellar success; handsome fellow(s) but aside from a savasana pose, it proved to be a  cumbersome puppets. For starters it is too large for my need, over 20 inches and too heavy. When I cobbled the puppet together I did not research construction as well as I ought to have, nor did I really plan. I am a planner with my art, I love that process, I love the road map it provides. So my second time around I gave serious thought to the marionettes actual size and construction. I finished with the foundation of the figures last evening, there are now two actual Hero Twins, and I am pleased with them. They are going to be dashing-and sexy- fellows. Here they are fresh from my oven, awaiting color and stringing.


 Hero Twin marionettes


Sculpey medium, aluminum foil, wire, steel wool, eye hooks

My more careful planning paid off, they are nearly the exact proportion and size as my conceptual drawing.


So onward, painting, stringing and more marionettes. My friend Gina, hailing from a puppeteering clan, popped over today and gave valuable advice AND demos. Nothing like a master of a craft to inspire, as I said before,puppeteering is tricky business. Thanks Gina!

Signing off, be well, LG

Making a Marionette is Tricky Business


That said, as the sun begins to set, I’ve finished my Hero Twins marionette.

Aesthetically I’m pleased but the puppet is far from limber,  the poor fellows move about in the most wonky way imaginable. I need to figure out how best to string the Twins, plus I made some decisions that might have been less than ideal. The figure is perhaps OVER articulated , I need small metal rings to piece each limb together, hopefully it will move about  more smoothly.

I also need to learn how to use a marionette, again, tricky business.

In the meantime, the Hero Twins.


Hero Twin marionette


Sculpey molding medium,steel wool, aluminum foil, wire, acrylic paint

20 inches tall

I’m pleased, they are in keeping with the spirit of my original inspiration, this detail from one of my watercolors. Plus I’m happy I used steel wool for the beards, with a bit of paint , it has an appealing texture. 



I did manage to string the marionette up but now I need to improve upon the mechanics of it all. So much of this project is just basic experimentation.


I need lessons from this  incredible woman! Until that time, will fumble along.

Be well,



Of Body Parts and Chinoiserie

My studio looks a bit like  a set from Sweeney Todd, little marionette limbs fresh from the oven. Sculpey has an unpleasant odor when baking and an even more unpleasant “flesh” tone…it isn’t pretty. I’m eager to put paint to mannequin.



In addition to marionettes I have an actual (gasp)paying job, a series of four  decorative panels to be reconfigured into  custom wall coverings. The designs are dense to allow the designer enough material to “cut and paste” to suit the space. I am working with  a chinois/japonoise theme, proposal renderings follow:





Well that’s it so far, awaiting designer ( and client) feedback but for now back to puppetry.




Meeting the Puppet Challenge…at long last

It seems like ages ago when Clive Hicks-Jenkins sent out a puppet challenge (HERE)to the folks who follow him. My natural inclination to jump right in has been thwarted by my keen phobia of the third dimension. I am a painter and I have had very little luck with fashioning objects in the round. I allowed myself some slack in that puppets can be crude and terribly effective, but still…

I had been ruminating about how I wanted the figures to present themselves, oil sketches, watercolor drawings, on and on, just not putting idea to armature. I ended that this week and the following is the unfinished results. Once again I am working with archetypes from the  Popol Vuh, the Hero Twins,  their slain father,the Maize God and the Axis Mundi (the World Tree)plays a supporting role.

starting off with an idea for the Hero Twins (detail from one of my watercolor paintings),


a quick sketch to figure out logistics


the armature-I love this image


working out the figures in ever reliable Sculpey


thus far, I ran out of aforementioned Sculpey, off to supply shop…


I used fine steel wool , applied to uncured medium, it bake right in perfectly.

Before the heroic fellows there was fittingly the World Tree. I had dreamt of this Axis Mundi , putting dreamscape to panel.


it was just a matter of applying wire and tin foil to an old can ; kindergarten craft class at its most lively.


I enjoyed playing with a form, gnarly trees with anthropomorphic features that I frequently employ in other disciplines; all with the aid of  ubiquitous Sculpey.


IMG_4868primed and ready…


now, off to supply store, yoga and then puppetry.

Be well,Lg




Trashcan Trio

I am in the midst of gathering gifts for my niece Grace. I’m trying to buy as little as possible, not because I am a tightwad (although I am) but as a matter of principle. I’m disheartened by how much our society purchases and how little we actually make. William Morris had concerns that the Industrial Revolution would destroy the craft spirit and I fear he was, once again,  right on target. What is particularly perverse was my instinct to run to the local craft store to BUY craft materials in order to make home-made toys.  Madness.

I did succumb (thus far) to one purchased gift, a book (actually several, but books are exempt from my embrace of stoicism).

It is a charming book , called The Art Room, it’s meant for children my niece’s age, kindergarten through 1st and 2nd grade. Lots of funny craft ideas such as making your own throne *(everyone needs a throne), imaginative button crafts and refashioning  junk shop frames into gilded masterpieces.

What I loved was that most projects started with materials culled from the trash bin and the recycling can. I wanted to make sure Grace would  have as  little trouble as possible  following the instructions so I tested some of the projects in my studio, mostly wooden spoon/junk drawer puppets and what the authors called Portrait Plates-chipped chinaware tarted up with paint and glitter and silliness.

The following are the three puppets I made for Grace, The Trashcan Trio:


The point of the puppets was to use only what I could find in the jumble of my garage and studio, I rummaged through my fabric box, my toolbox, my holiday wrapping center and the garden shed. Fortunately I have a lot of crap and was able to rather quickly cobble together this trio. I think they are funny and I hope Grace gets a kick out of them. More importantly I hope she is inspired to make her own.

Persephone misc junk, lids, spool, printer's rag, holiday ornament, spit and glue.
misc junk, lids, spool, printer’s rag, holiday ornament, spit and glue.
Gerome the Gnomewooden spoon, old boxers, plastic spoons, paint, florist moss
Gerome the Gnome
wooden spoon, old boxers, plastic spoons, paint, florist moss
Aphroditewooden spoon, shredded crepe paper, button, old fabric from my friend Loreen.
wooden spoon, shredded crepe paper, button, old fabric from my friend Loreen.

I also followed directions for a portrait plate, the authors were channeling Picasso’s wonderful ceramics and I’m going to pop a small volume of the master’s work into my niece’s gift box. Never to young to meet Pablo.

Neptunechipped plate, paint, florist moss, varnish.
chipped plate, paint, florist moss, varnish.

This is a lot of silliness, but I hope Grace has fun with it.

She is quite the budding artist, my sister Kat is drowning in her “masterpieces”- that is what my niece very immodestly calls everything she makes. I envy her hubris.

My thought was if Grace had actual examples she might be inclined to craft her own. I hope so.

I will be shipping it all out at the end of the week to Philadelphia, I wish I could be there and have craft time with her personally. This will have to suffice.


I have , after taking Clive’s lead, carved a bookplate for Grace. I will run an imprint in the a.m., eager to see the result.

Until next time,

take care,