Listening - watching
taking a moment
drawing the world
finding the way to connection
again and again.

For upcoming classes and events
visit my website –

Monday, October 19, 2015

New Work

I recently created two pieces for an upcoming exhibit of my work
The Moving Line : Calligraphic Expression  opening next month.
(See details below.)

I wanted to make something new that explored a visual idea
and my curiosity about the naming of things.

First I created a large calligraphic map of the Hudson River Estuary -
no roads, no towns, no human made borders - just the shapes and names of the waterways
and mountain ranges that feed into and surround this big river.

Around the border I wrote the names that had been given to the Hudson River by
the Iroquois, the Lenape and the Mohegan tribes - and the French, Dutch and English explorers -
and by Henry Hudson himself.

It was surprisingly difficult to find maps that provided this information clearly. 
(The person I spoke to at the Dept. of Environmental Conservation said that they had thrown out
most of their printed topographic maps and shifted to online downloads. ) 
Thanks to Erik Kiviat at Hudsonia for the loan of an old relief map of New York State
and a map by Gary Allen "The Hudson Estuary as Bioregion" from 1986.  

I painted in watercolor, gradually building up the elements of the design over hours,
contemplating and enjoying the forms of this watershed network as I worked. 
The slowness of the process was settling. I let the need for perfection relax
and the alive imperfect line unfurl.

Water Words

This past summer I read a book by Robert MacFarlane, a British nature writer, which included
a large glossary of words, a dictionary of "place-terms" collected from across the British Isles,
words that described the land forms, the waterways, the woods, the farms, the weather,
drawing from the Welsh, Gaelic, East Anglia, Scottish dialects and more. 

This glossary inspired me to begin looking for the old words interwoven with the Hudson Valley
rooted and handed down from the Dutch, English and Indian cultures. 
Was there a language of this landscape that I could gather and re-enliven through handwriting ?

I searched in the Local History Collections of the town libraries and spoke to elders
in the community. Words began to collect in my notebooks. For this upcoming show
I gathered all the terms I had found for water forms and wrote them out in a flowing watery way
with a big blue brushstroke coursing behind it all. 

The letters moved across the page, counterbalancing, maneuvering, lifting up and dropping down
like ripples in a stream. I wrote quickly, intuitively, sensing the whole while focused on the parts. 

I hope to continue the search for words that describe this landscape - old words, new words - 
celebrating the rich fluency of language that connects humans with place. 
By bringing handwritten letters into this mix the nature-based expressive imagery 
of the alphabet can be restored ! 

For anyone in the Hudson Valley here is the information about these upcoming events 
all happening at Unison Arts Center in New Paltz, NY .
For more information contact -

with Steve Gorn, David Lopato, Harvey Sorgen & Barbara Bash
Saturday November 7, 8 pm

THE MOVING LINE : Calligraphic Expression / Barbara Bash
Opening Sunday November 8, 4 - 6 pm
Exhibit will run through December 6

BRUSH SPIRIT / Barbara Bash
Saturday, November 21, 1 - 4 pm

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Crickets & Koi !

At the end of August I was deeply involved in a delightful arts and community event
at Sky Lake Retreat Center in Rosendale, New York.

The inspiration for this came from a image on a Japanese scroll
showing poets sitting by a stream, writing haiku and sipping wine.

Here in upstate New York, on a late summer afternoon,
we offered a spontaneous haiku / brush / flute event in celebration of water . . .

People began to arrive, gathering around the gazebo at the edge of the lake.

Brushes and paper banners were ready -

The music began - the sound of the flute traveling across the water.
The first poem was spoken . . .

Crickets tuning again
and again
notes of a flute hover
over summer's drone.

Bobbi Katz 

The first banner was created, lifted up,
and hung on a bamboo pole.

A song was sung - more poems were spoken -
banners were touched with ink and carried forth.
Some kind of dream was unfolding
with voice and note and stroke intermingling in the moment . . .

A step ladder waits
beside the empty banner pole - 
the mind slowly climbs. 

Will Nixon

Tropicana orange juice
taught me faith.


I think the flutes 
sound like water. 
What do the birds think ? 

Violet Snow

The sound of one flute playing
Is not the sound of one hand clapping
Simple is hard.

Harriet Hyams

A promenade of banners began to appear and was viewed . . .

Here are the eight banners that were created -
in response to the words, the music, the space.

 Barbara Bash

 Nancy Ostrovsky

Philip Ellis Foster

 Barbara Bash

Nancy Ostrovsky

Philip Ellis Foster

Phyllis Segura

 Barbara Bash / Nancy Ostrovsky / Philip Ellis Foster

At the end the artists all came up - 

From left to right - Youko Yamamoto (delicious Japanese food) Steve Gorn (music)
Nancy Ostrovsky (visuals) Harvey Kaiser (music) Sparrow (spoken word)
Bobbi Katz (spoken word) Harriet Hyams (spoken word) Barbara Bash (visuals)
Robert Morris (spoken word) Philip Ellis Foster (visuals) Rob Sanducci (music) 
Violet Snow (spoken word) Ami Madeleine - not pictured (music)

Look what you've done
All you people
Out there

What a night. 

Robert Morris

And here I am - happy amongst it all - 
getting ready to clean up !