Monday, August 8, 2016

Maryland Evening

Cool Maryland evening,
Sitting on the porch,
Hearing song birds sing.
Wind blowing softly,
Sundown and the light dimming,
Cottontail on the lawn eating a clover patch,
While we listen to Jackson Browne.
We haven't done anything like this,
Since last autumn in Colorado.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Vintage Ellie Bogardus - The Italian Job

I was not able to recover my saved blogs for a couple of months since changing email systems and addresses. While on vacation, I puttered around a few times, with also the complication of having my iPhone not accessible because of a lost pass code, and finally figured out how to bring up my saved blog entries. 

At the top of the list of incomplete draft entries, was one that earlier contributor Alessandro La Villa in Italy sent me back on May 14th. At the link is a video cartoon for Becchi la Beccaccia, Becchi the Woodcock. It is an early era cartoon that Ellie worked on while living in Italy. The cartoon is sponsored by a domestic appliance company - note the advertisement at the end of the cartoon. The video has been preserved by an organization to document Italian culture. (1)

Below is the message with information that Alex sent me. Again, I greatly appreciate receiving information that I can post about artist Ellie Bogardus.

Becchi the Woodcock

First of all, sorry for the time I took to write. You can't believe what I've found digging in my mom's memories... an old Italian adv partially drawn by Ellie!
Unfortunately I didn't found more info on this, but My mom said she saw Ellie drawing it when she was living in Milano, so let me introduce to you: Becchi la Beccaccia!!!

Have a good life!
Alessandro La Villa.
(1) UPA Advertising Graffiti is a cultural, non-profit organization, created to offer a cross-section of Italian society through the collection and categorization of commercial trailers disclosed in our country from the [19]60s to today. The movies on the channel have been made available by companies and advertising agencies, or come from media libraries and private collections.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's About Vocabulary - More Details On Artist Ellie Bogardus

Following is another California central coast newspaper article about artist Ellie Bogardus. I found this one in a scrap book compilation my mom had kept of newspaper and magazine articles about family and friends. The article is full of information that was reported from an interview of Ellie by managing editor Sam Vigil, Jr. of the Cambrian. (I don't know what is the relationship of The Cambria/San Simeon Country News to The Cambrian, but the writer of this interview is also a managing editor of the Cambrian.) This article pulls together a lot of the information that has been turned up in earlier posts: her house, the cats, travels in France and Italy, her style...

Buenas Noches print by Bogardus
This past week I also received a photograph of an Ellie print titled "Buenas Noches" from the Johnson collection - a family that was a neighbor of hers' on Nottingham Drive. The family also has a print of the painting titled "The Streaker." As pointing out in the interview below, Ellie kept a book of photographs of her paintings, and as other artists do, sold prints of the originals as well.


The Cambria/San Simeon Country News
February 18-24, 1981

Gourmet-artist-author in love with life

By Sam Vigil, Jr.

It was anticipated that an interview with Ellie Bogardus, know as the “Cat Lady” in deference to her penchant for feline images, would take the familiar form. However, the artist had a different course in mind.

She handed over a scrapbook containing photographs of her work and suggested I look through it while she discussed her art and continued on her latest painting – a couple sitting in a European café.

On the wall was the only painting she said she kept, a self portrait showing her having a good time in an Italian café. She spent ten years in Europe, about half that time in Italy.

Ellie Bogardus sits before one of her works in progress.  The feline friend with her is included in her painting so frequently she is sometimes called the "Cat Lady." In the accompanying interview she talked about her painting and philosophized about cooking, humor, and life in general. When her painting style was likened to that of Matisse, she researched the great artist's life and found coincidences that "sent shivers up and down" her spine.

People kept saying my work looked like Matisse,” she said. “But it doesn’t.” Then people must be associating her bright and vibrant colors with those of Matisse, I thought. She continues; free association is her guide.

“Not too long after I was back from Europe, I thought, ‘I wonder where Matisse lived?’” She researched a little and found he lived in a place called “Cambrai.” “It just sent shivers up and down my spine” she said as shivered again. To top that, her voice rising, “He died in 1954 and that’s the same time I went into Chouinard (Art School!).”

“There appears to be a similarity,” wrote Richard Challis of Challis Gallery in a brochure of Ellie’s work, “to the bolder works of Henri Matisse, but compare carefully: Matisse, more often very serious, with Bogardus, bursting with humorous satire, unafraid to mix special art form with unmitigated jole de vivre.”
Ellie’s joy of life is probably illustrated well in her self-portrait in which she is joyfully sitting in an Italian café, while in the background the proper Italian ladies have their tea and cream in their little tea cups and an Italian gentleman looks on in wonder at these crazing Americans. And of course, there is a feline peering into the café through the wrought iron-type fence.
Another painting, probably my favorite of the ones I saw, shows a girl talking on the phone. As the cat behind her reaches for a fish from those on a platter, the girl is saying, “Come on over, darling. We caught some lovely fish for dinner.”

Speaking of which, Ellie is a gourmet cook.
“I’m an inventor in the kitchen,” she says. She is also in the process of inventing a cookbook. “Some of those recipes are my friends and some are my great inventions,” she says as I turn the pages of the cookbook she had plopped before me.
“I love to go mushroom hunting,” she says as I try to pronounce “Des Champignons,” “The Mushrooms,” one of the first recipes, illustrated with large mushrooms of the type one only finds in a wooded area. Ellie proceeds to tell me the story of a friend of hers who she says believes that mushrooms go back into the ground when the sun comes up.
Other recipes appear: Tart aux Fraise Al’ Alaska; The Three Little Clucks, “I see no reason that humor can’t be eaten,” she says; Crab Meat Mousse; Mock Canard, a leg of lamb made to look like a duck; Charlie’s Gin Fizz. She also has a section with kitchen hints, like putting a slice of raw potato on a burn and the pain goes away immediately.

Aside from her painting, Ellie Bogardus revels in the world of gourmet cooking. She theorizes "I like to cook probably because I flunked chemistry class the second week. It's kind of like a chemistry class (cooking, that is), mixing thing together." She revealed another maxim, "I see no reason why humor caan't be eaten." She offered dishes with names like Crab Meat Mousse and ...Mock Conard.

Ellie’s cookbook also contains recipes for outdoor picnics under “Un Pique-Nique Elegant.” As a matter of fact, there are four such recipes of four different outdoor picnics she has been on with other friends, including a friend she works with on the Charlie Brown animations. For each one they dressed up in period costume and on the third picnic, even hired musicians. These picnic recipes are illustrated with snapshots so one can see how such an elegant affair should be put together, carpets, table settings and all.

And speaking of books Ellie is writing, she pulls out two children’s books, both of which she illustrated. She says she wrote them a number of years ago but hasn’t marketed them yet. One is an alphabet book, each illustrating what she coined, her humor evident: An artistic acrobat, an archangel, an adorable alligator and an amusing anchovy all ate an apple; On Halloween, a happy heiress hid a hippopotamus in a hermit’s house; With vases of violet, a vagabond on vacation voyaged in a vermillion vehicle to visit a volcano.

The next time I went to visit Ellie, she said she wanted to talk in the kitchen. She said she was more comfortable there. It was obviously the kitchen of a gourmet. There were many “kitchen toys”, as she called them, hanging on the wall, utensils I’d never seen before.
We played a guessing game when I asked her to tell me what some of the utensils were for. I was feeling pretty good after I figured out that a certain mallet was for mashed potatoes and figured out a three-legged metal contraption was some type of shredder. But I never id guess the bean stringer correctly.
Amidst all this she was preparing pigs feet for her dinner. She had tried the pigs feet together and put them in boiling water and from time to time threw in herbs, spices and other assorted ingredients.
“Let me tell you something,” she said. “If you are a gourmet chef, it is very rare that people ask you to dinner. It’s not just me. It’s happened to some of my friends, too.”
To one side of the sink, I notice, is a small placard handwritten on it: “Procrastination ins the only spontaneous reorganization of my priorities.”
“You know,” she said, “if you want to do an interview the right way, should ask me what my favorite things are.”
“Okay, what’s your favorite food?”
She rattled off some name of a meat I’d never heard of, perhaps more because meat had not been a large part of my diet than because of its exoticness on might expect of a gourmet. The blank look on my face must have betrayed my ignorance.
“It’s a cross between a Smithfield ham and…” her voice trailed off as she moved from behind the counter to a shelf of cookbooks. “Well, her, let me show you,” she said as she rifled through the books lined on the shelf. “Oh, where is that book,” her voice had a tinge of anguish.
“I keep my mind continually blank,” she remarks distractedly, still looking for the cookbook. “I don’t want to clutter it up.” She hints this has something to do with creativity, allowing ideas to come to her move freely.
“Chicken liver pate is another favorite. I love any kind of pate.”
One of Ellie’s favorite foods to fix is Chinese food. And she likes a North African dish called couscous, a grain, like millet, used like a rice and put in soups.
“I like French food and Italian food.
“I really think a good dish should have as many “things to tantalize the senses as possible. “It should be exciting.”
Ellie uses the example of a steak that many people just savor, saying she would be bored with it after a couple of bites.
“But if you take that steak and slice up mushrooms and a whole bunch of other things, that’s more exciting”
She turns to her pig’s feet, raises the lid and sniffs as the steam rises. “How’s it smell,” she says half to herself. “Something’s missing. Parsley and tosses it in.

“I like to cook probably because I flunked chemistry class the second week. It’s kind of like a chemistry class, mixing things together.”
Back to favorites, she says James Thurber is her favorite author “because he’s funny.” And she like children’s author A.A. Milne, who wrote among others, “Winnie the Pooh.” She likes Milne because “I had a deprived childhood. I discovered him late.
“Read science-fiction if I don’t have anything else, I’m a nut about atlases. I like to travel. I want to go to China. They say if you’re going to travel, go to China now, because in 20 years they’re going to look like the rest of us.”
Ellie again checks the pig’s feet.
“I’d try anything once,” she says. “if you gave me an elephant’s foot I’d taste it just to see what it’s like.”
A little later we got back to talking about her art and painting.

“When I really get into a painting,” she says as she stands before a partially finished canvas, “I can see exactly how it’s going to look, all the colors.” She talks with a little wonder about a book she read, “To Paint is to Love Again,” which had been written by a writer [Henry Miller] who had also written some pretty raunchy sex novels.
“Forget about everything else,” she said about the intensity she feels when she gets going at the canvas. “It’s like a love affair with color. It’s hard to explain. “You have to look at things with humor–or else where are you? You have to laugh at things around you, or you could cry. Life is so grim that if you can’t giggle and find your little niche, you might as well go to San Francisco and get mugged.”

She describes how often she gets angry at her semi-invalid mother who lives next door. Ellie says “the mother” calls and complains about some of the simplest things. Like when her mother’s roof leaked, “the mother” called about what to do. Ellie told her to put a pan to catch the dripping water with newspaper on the bottom to keep the water from splashing. Later when Ellie went over to check out the situation, “the mother” had pulled out an angel food cake pan and put it on the floor. It made Ellie mad, she said, but it was one of those humorous situations.

Bogardus house on Nottingham Drive
It was time to say goodbye to Ellie’s cats and three dogs. As I left I looked back toward the gate to see a sign on the fence labeled “Ellie’s Cattery.” I passed the wooden mailbox that looked like a cat. Ellie called my attention to the side wall of her house, that she said she had to move because of a quibble with a neighbor over the lot line, and she had to leave off the wood shingles because of a fire hazard.

Wall mural interpretation
Ellie moved to Cambria when she returned from Europe ten years ago. Her aunt, Eleanor Chambers, Los Angeles vice-mayor under Sam Yorty, had owned the property.
The wall was drab gray plaster, very unlike the Ellie Bogardus I had been visiting. But that was not without her touch. She had drawn felines in a tree and in a garden.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Little, Little Bird Birding

I have been getting a regular diet of bird watching over this past year from the bay window in the kitchen eating area in my dad's California Central Valley house. We have watched the seasons change from spring, to summer, to autumn, to winter, and now back to spring. This past winter we decided to install a hummingbird feeder just outside the window to complement the bird seed one across the lawn - the results have been worth it.

A male Anna's Hummingbird
Our splatters of overall meal-time bird watching have often involved Anna's hummingbirds, males, females, and immature males (no more than two at a time, mostly a solo performance). I have been thinking about the effort as: A little, little bird birding.

Merlin iPhone ap
My Merlin Bird Identification application for my iPhone produced by the Cornell University Ornithology Laboratory worked well, once again. I wish there were more than 400 birds in its database - many common identifications can be easily accomplished by clicking on the GUI - graphical use interface, but I keep running into a few limitations once-in-a-while. Regardless, a little sugar syrup produced by my wife in my dad's kitchen has done its part attracting this subject of many discussions around the table: morning, noon, and evening - What was that flash out out there? Was that a hummingbird? More often than not, those were Mourning Doves, White-capped Sparrows, House Sparrows, Blue Jays, or House Finch - still, can be hopeful for the metallic-green streaks that come to sudden stops, take a sip, and again slip away.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

6100 Moonstone Beach Drive - A Trace of Ellie Bogardus

Google Maps, 6100 Moonstone Drive
The Cambria Coast Gallery, 6100 Moonstone Drive, has been mentioned in records where artist Ellie Bogardus had displayed her art. By my memory, I remember the location hosting the Seago Gallery and most recently,
Wearable art advertisement
the Moonstone Redwood Gallery. Also mentioned in a recent post about an article featuring Ellie in the Cambrian newspaper - she had a gallery showing was mention in 1983. A flier also turned up in my mom's files for Wearable Art - I am sure this is for items like the sweatshirt I posted about earlier. Not only does my mom still wear one of these, but my sister-in-law has one that was worn by my niece when young, and I received a photograph of one from a blog acquaintance in Italy. These silk-screen prints were marketed through the Cambria Coast Gallery. I like the descriptors of her art's subjects in the flier:

Bright sherbet colors

An untitled Bogardus acrylic
A more refined, fine-arts-style advertisement of Bogradus art is found in a glossy print from the Challis Galleries in Laguna Beach, California that featured "New Paintings" by Bogardus, Bunkall, Frame, Leeper, Post and Simandle in October 1980. An untitled 28" x 28" acrylic by Ellie was was shown with examples by the other artists. The gallery closed its doors in 2011.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Turn Back The Pages - Artist Ellie Bogardus in the News

My wife has been caring for my dad in his home for the past four months - my mom moved to assisted living in November. While going through some of my mom's things still in the house, Jan came across a newspaper article about Ellie Bogardus in the Cambrian dated August 18, 1983. Like Ellie's paintings, the text in the local paper was bright and descriptive, and biographic - tells a story about the artist, much like her paintings. The writer, Shirley Howell, is mentioned as an alumnus of the paper in an article this past summer about the Cambrian moving office locations. Whether Howell is one of the youngish staff shown in this photograph, I don't know, but this picture also gives a feeling of fanciful playfulness, like an Ellie painting.
The Cambrian staff in the 1970's
But of greater interest to me is the cross-referencing of Bogardus's painting The Streaker in the news article, that it was on display at the Cambria Coast Gallery (a photograph of the piece is found in an earlier post), as well as mention of another work, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, that is captioned by Howell: "...a typical part crowd which includes a banker and his wife, a retired actor, a gossip columnist and others." The article mentions Ellie having done a European tour in the 1960's. I was a gentleman in Italy who came across my my blog and furnished me the photograph of The Streaker - his brother had received the painting from Ellie when he visited her in 1982 (perhaps the memory of dates was slightly off since the painting was on display in 1983).

Shown in the newspaper article is photograph of the artist in her studio - the only one I have seen of her working at her craft.
Bogardus at work in her studio
Also, a copy of news photo of Ellie with her painting Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Artist with her painting
The Cambrian, August 18, 1983 – Page 13
Life’s episodes on canvas
Ellie’s paintings depict fat cats, dancing friends and more…

Story and photos by Shirley Howell

Ellie Bogardus pulls her acrylic painting right out of life’s most impressionable episodes.
Plucked from daily experiences in the kitchen or in her garden, with fat cats, dancing friends, at gourmet picnics or parties, her characters burst from the canvas in bold, simple designs and electrifying purples, oranges, reds, blues and greens.
Each with a story to tell, the images convey Ellie’s excitement with life.
“I’m just a born wacko – that’s all!” the Park Hill artist explained with a subtle smile. With a tongue-in-cheek, child-like quality evident, Ellie appears to relish the idea of unfolding a story.
“They’re like my children,” she said. “They’re something that come from me. And they do have a story behind them.”
One enormous painting call “The Streaker,” currently on exhibit at the Cambria Coast Gallery, paints the story of a naked man about to job through a park full of people. The viewer observes that, upon his jaunt down the winding path, the streaker will encounter a nun with some children, three old men, a woman eating a sandwich, a mother pushing a baby stroller and more, with a good possibility that he may upset all of them.
Another painting, depicting a sleeping cat (a favorite subject), a burning table lamp and a bird stepping out of a cage in the background, is aptly named “Impending Disaster.”
“You know something is going to happen,” Ellie says with a twinkle in her eyes.
A native of Long Beach, Ellie attended Chouinard Art School in Lost Angeles and has a long list of illustration credits, including the designing of background for the animated “Fractured Fairy Tales” and “Crusader Rabbit” and more recent Charlie Brown specials.
Following a six-month world tour during the 1960”s, Ellie settled in Paris, where she designed several award-winnings films for Les Cinemastes.
Although she insists that other artists have not influenced her work and that she has never had to “search around to find a style,” Ellie became familiar with the work of Henri Matisse after friends pointed out the resemblance between her work and the impressionist painter’s.
“I did some research one day and found out that he was born in Cateau, France, and didn’t live far from a town called Cambrai,” she disclosed. “And he also died the same year I went into school. I thought that was sort of strange – I don’t know if there is such a thing as split souls.”
When Ellie is not working in her enormous seaside garden or concocting a gourmet meal with husband Mike (lovingly portrayed as a pleasantly-plump television watcher in her painting, “The Man, His Dog and His Woman”), she is creating detailed backdrops for Garfield the cat and his friends to [gallivant] about in their upcoming movie.
The artist also has ready for publishing two children’s books and a gourmet cookbook that she has written and illustrated.
Several of Ellie’s painting will be included in “Creatures – Wild and Otherwise,” a show opening on Saturday at the Cambria Coast Gallery. A wine and cheese reception for the show will be held from 4-7 p.m. (The public is invited).

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

From The Distant Past - Never Read The Harper Lee Opus

From the NY Times, Harper Lee Among the Books

Once in a while, a small reminder of a pleasure long past - I had forgotten I missed Bloom County.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hotel California - The One And Only

There is such a place, the Hotel California. I didn't have a clue that the place is real and is in Todos Santos in southern Baja California. As it turned out, a new Colorado State University facility has been built in Todos Santos, and since there wasn't room in the normal hotel that staff stay in when visiting, I was booked one night in the famous inn. It seems that none of the members of the Eagles band ever stayed there, much less that the band worked on there album's song while staying there. The hotel makes no such claims. But it was still a fun place to stay, and eat. Really good chile rellenos were served in the restaurant; the whole place is nicely decorated, as you would think things should look in Baja; and the government is upgrading all utilities by burying cables under the streets - Hurricane Odile wrecked havoc all over the southern Baja peninsula.

Chile relleno for lunch
A primitive style portrait
Street view outside the hotel
Utilities upgrade in the street
Addition made on January 19, 2016
Four days after making this post, Glenn Frey, one of the founders of the Eagles and the voice behind the song Hotel California died. His video obituary in the Washington Post is here.

Quiet Monday Morning Birding

Early September seems a long time ago, given the recurring snow we have received in Northern Colorado. The leaves were on the trees, and sitting on the patio was pleasant. Now the outdoor activities are restricted to clearing the driveway and sidewalk of snow - three significant efforts so far, and another predicted for the weekend. Following are snapshots of the birds, and a squirrel, that hung around back then.

Common Yellowthroat

Black-capped Chickadee

Great-tailed Grackle

Fox Squirrel
The Fox Squirrel here on the Front Range is not as much an acrobat as the Eastern Gray Squirrel were were accoustomed to in Annapolis, and so they have not been as much of a pest. Our pole system to hold our bird feeders does the job nicely with the squirrel baffle, and didn't have to be upgraded to a racoon baffle instead, as we used in Maryland.

Blue Jay

Eurasian Collared-Dove

House Sparrow
Anna's Hummingbird