Tuesday, December 30, 2008

double groom wedding

I went to my first gay wedding this weekend. The couple has been together for 17 years, but Connecticut just made same sex marriage legal a few months ago. It meant so much to them, and I think even more to their family, to perform this ceremony. It was the best wedding I've ever seen. And the cake was super cool.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Sweet

A tight budget because of the building of our new theater this year caused me to have to take up the roll of costume designer and set designer for our holiday show, The Nutty Cracker Christmas Sweet. I've never done costuming. It is hard. In the end I was pretty happy, thanks to the unbelievable help of Margaret Carl. 

The set was made from small paintings I made and had a billboard company blow up onto vinyl roll drops. It made a handsome show I think.

Friday, December 12, 2008

ice storm

An ice storm at my mom's house last night took down a bunch of trees, but the two maples over Lady Chair (as my mom is now calling it) stood strong, and the chair continues looking content.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I've been working at Yale on and off sewing costumes for the Rep theater. This vest is for a Drama School student show called Robbers, on Valerie the costume designer. I love doing detail work like the military cording and buttons which took a couple days. It's an awesome job. 

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008


This chair has been with my family for a long time. It was in every room I had when I was growing up and it had gotten very old and worn in my mom's house. She wanted to get rid of it for a new comfortable chair, and I had nowhere for it in my house. Of course I coerced her into keeping it, as is my nature. After a year of argument I accepted her creative compromise. She stripped it down to its skeleton, gave me a piece of the wonderful pink fabric, and we hauled the chair out to the edge of the woods behind her house, to rest between to maples. It looks suitably happy out there, and I'm glad to see it when I visit. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

1929 Singer

Under the beautiful domed wooden case tied with a little key on a rotted cord was this 1929 Singer sewing machine, covered in gold swirly ornament and shiny nickel plates. It's deceptively delicate looking with its wasp waist and voluptuous curves. I know this machine can kick ass with its all-metal parts and exterior motor, but to avoid any risk I took it to Newman's sewing machine repair in Springfield, MA before I even tried plugging it in. They say it's converted to electric from a treadle machine and would last me 100 years. She's still there, I can't wait to get her back to see how she runs. 

I was thinking that any machine I kept would have to be functional, but if this one wasn't I'd have a hard time not keeping it. I am most fond of the grape vine engraved in the nickel plate, as our name Wingerter comes from "vineyard" in German. It's a work of art.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The two most intriguing cases from my grandmother's house. I hadn't looked in them since I found them.

My grandmother and me.

Monday, October 20, 2008


A prelude to the 6 sewing machines.

This is my father's mother, Ann, from who most of the sewing machines are from. She and my grandfather Bill started off in Roselle Park, New Jersey where they had my dad. They moved to upstate New York where Ann started a business as a dressmaker and seamstress. She seemed to be busy with work and lived a modest life in a small house after her son and husband passed away. It was unexpected money she left me that allowed me to buy my house and try to make it as an artist.

8 years later I'm trying to save this house by selling off some of her things and taking any jobs I can. The two most recent jobs, synchronistically, were stitching jobs, one with ElizaB, another at Yale. And though I am overcome with guilt for not having done better with the generous gift she left me, while I work at making straight stitches I take pleasure in thinking about how she loved sewing as much as I do, and how pleased she'd be about the skills I've learned. 

Pictures of Ann, Bill and my dad in Roselle Park and at the beach. They were a pretty good looking couple, and impeccably stylish. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

deus ex machina

The things I need to clear out of my attic have caused me a lot of anxiety, not the least of which are these 6 sewing machines I inherited from my mother and grandmothers. Nobody needs 6 machines, certainly, and I should get rid of at least half of them. However looking at them all together in a row is like looking at my maternal ancestry. I love them all as if they were my family. And they are such fine and sturdy machines, lost in a time when good plain mechanics and domestic arts are not nearly as valued as they were when these beauties were born. My whole life right now is revolving around these six as I try to determine their pasts and their futures. 

and then...

...poof, it's gone.

To comfort myself through this traumatic event I went to Vermont to stay with my mom for a few days. We walked to the top of Putney Mountain where there was a good view and about a dozen intensely focused people watching the sky for migrating hawks. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I have to largely empty out my famous attic due to readjustments in living spaces. The biggest task yet was getting my long-collected and beloved fabric and sewing notions under control. That meant throwing out half of it, and categorizing the rest into see-thru plastic bins. It is a tremendous difference from what you might remember in previous posts on the ongoing subject of my chaotic attic (below).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Ophelia's dress

There were but a brief few years that I was a full time illustrator. Since 9/11 cut editorial and textbook work short I've always kept part time jobs on the side. One of my latest was assisting the costume designer of the Elm Shakespeare Company, which happened to be ElizaB. There was a lot of hand sewing and measuring of pants, and some more rare experiences, including one night when Alvin Epstein asked me to tie his bow tie for him before the dress rehearsal. Alvin is a most gracious gentleman and a venerated actor. As I was buttoning his collar with great sense of importance, I had a moment of wondering how I came to be here tying the tie of Alvin Epstein. And the answer is: with the same luck and chance as I've come to do all the other wonderful things I've gotten to do, all generated by the annoying fact I haven't been able to make it on children's books alone.

During that job I also got to help ElizaB distress this shiny new red dress of Ophelia's for Hamlet, which was a damn lot of fun. And both Hamlet and Matchmaker which she designed were beautiful. 

A list of jobs I can remember doing, starting at 9  years old:

motel chambermaid
Paramount Pictures ticket checker
bed & breakfast waitress
movie theater popcorn seller & janitor
gourmet produce store clerk
stage hand
fleamarket waitress
wedding caterer's waitress & prep cook
photographer's assistant
children's theater camp councilor
historical reenactment supply store clerk
library book shelver
gift store clerk
river boat waitress
restaurant hostess
theater sound & light board operator
set painter
dish washer
theatrical house manager & company manager
artist driver
house & pet sitter
fire dancer
puppet builder
theater usher
assistant stage manager
university puppet teacher
high school circus teacher
head shop clerk
elementary school visiting artist
go go dancer
roller disco dancer
community dance residency project manager
assistant costumer (and bow tie tie-er)
costume shop stitcher

If anyone remembers any more let me know. 

Thursday, October 02, 2008


RISD professor and artist Fritz Drury just published a book on drawing and put in a couple of my student pieces. It's crazy to see these self portraits again so many years later. It makes me remember how much pleasure I could get from drawing just for the sake of drawing.

Fritz can explain light and color and paint better then anyone, he is an incredible teacher, and this big fat excellent book is filled with fascinating drawings from masters to students. 

Friday, August 08, 2008


“A great master does not move his puppet if there is no reason to do so.”
Japanese Bunraku instruction manual

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I have a thirsty fish in me
that can never find enough
of what it's thirsty for.

Show me the way to the ocean.
Break these half-measures,
these small containers.

Let my house be drowned in the wave
that rose last night out of the courtyard
hidden in the center of my chest.

The harvest I expected was washed away.
But no matter.

A fire has risen above my tombstone hat.
I don't want learning, or dignity,
or respectability.

I want this music and this dawn
and the warmth of your cheek against mine.

The grief-armies assemble,
but I'm not going with them.

This is how it always is
when I finish a poem.

A great silence overcomes me,
and I wonder why I ever thought
to use language.



Monday, August 04, 2008


This is Wilson. He moves very fast all the time and only 2 out of 100 photos of him aren't blurry. He was born about May 29th at Wender Bender's house. He is a nephew to ElizaB's most wonderful cats. I named him Wilson because he looks like a tiny soccer ball when he lies on his back, which he does a lot. He's the most gregarious sort of kitten, and everyone adores him, especially the dogs. Only Mojo, who I brought him home for, is wary. But I think it will pass when the wildness of kittenhood wears off a little. He's got a bad habit of clawing everything, including my body, everywhere. I've been sporting a chelsea grin scar on my face courtesy of Wilson. But his extraordinary charming personality surpasses all his flaws,

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.

A voice inside the beat says,
"I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way."


Saturday, July 12, 2008

red panda

Somewhere I just read, Rule #1 of the Independent Woman: Don't Go To Art School. I hope that's not true. 

Just in case it is, here is this photo of a red panda that makes me inexplicably cheerful. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

wheeled prayers

Rollergirls and people in wheelchairs wheeled around the New Haven Green fountain on June 28 as part of the closing ceremonies of the Arts & Ideas Festival. We carried some of the of the prayer ties that had been inscribed by members of the community over months of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange's 613 Radical Acts of Prayer residency. Thousands more ties came in with dancers on bamboo walls. Jayne Bondage, Disco Nugget and Andy Chase in the dress rehearsal, below. 

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Last Sunday morning I found my cat Cheesy on my back porch looking very bad. Karl and I rushed him to an emergency vet in Shelton where they told us his odds weren't good. I knew by the way he was looking at me in the car that this was it. It was the first time, in all the dozens upon dozens of horses, cats and dogs my family has had to put down, that I had the courage to be there. I held him during the injection and felt his last struggle (he always hated to be held), then felt his body finally let go.

Karl gave me Cheesy on the day I finished my first professional illustration assignment 11 years ago when we were living in a basement in Lyme. He was with us a long time. Anyone who has been to my house knows he was quite a character. I've still not adjusted to him not being here.

This poem was read in church today.

may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die–
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.

Only the curious have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.

Alistair Reid

Thursday, May 29, 2008


On Tuesday my friends took me on a night drift through New Haven for my birthday. We were all stopped short by the window of Artspace radiating a gold glow into the darkness of Crown Street.

I was tired and distracted and might not have looked more carefully, but my fascinated friends lingered long enough for me to notice the San Marco Annunciation tucked high in the left corner. I've learned to always pay keen attention whenever that painting shows up.

And upon closer inspection of the window I found these gold scarabs,

and this gold dress,

gold shoes,

and my friends pointed out this dove was only one of 3 or 4 things not gold.

I love this window.