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"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"

The Walrus did beseech.

"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,

Along the briny beach"

Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and The Carpenter (from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

We started the week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom in murky waters! But with some surprising facts about water filtration when I presented a session about the oyster as an agent for change in the quest for cleaner water.

We started with a little Oyster history. “Before the 20th century, when people thought of New York, they thought of oysters.” — Mark Kurlansky, The Big Oyster

Oyster Houses, South Street and Pike Slip, Manhattan (1937)

Jean Shin’s exhibition Freshwater, on view through November 6th at the Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia, proved a great example of contemporary artists taking up the gauntlet for the almighty oyster!

Jean Shin in her exhibition Freshwater

I also shared work by Jan Steen, Duke Riley and Mara G. Haseltine and her students for additional inspiration.

Jan Steen, The Oyster Eater or Girl Offering Oysters, 1658-1660, oil on panel

Duke Riley, Oyster Tattoo

Mara G. Haseltine and students, Enchanted Oyster Sweet Spot: A Future Substrate for Aquatic Life (exhibition detail)

Did you know that oysters eat by filtering water (up to 50 gallons a day!), making them one of the most effective nature-based solutions for water quality improvements in estuaries and bays?!

I challenged participating artists to create an Oyster artwork, if possible to think about how they might present the work as a sort of public piece or Oyster activism, as it were.

Maraya drew an Oyster Party invitation on her palms, the oyster shell on the outside of her hands then made this fun video:

Maraya Lopez, Oyster Peep Show

Delphine didn’t disappoint and made a second piece in which her signature hand drawing figures.

Delphine Levenson, Oyster and Hands

Kevin’s process photo shows his recycled plastic and papier-mâché oyster shell sculpture on his outstretched palm.

Kevin Anderson, Oyster Shell Sculpture (in process)

While we did not discuss pearls, both Pat with her greeting card which will contain “Pearls of Wisdom” and Sigrid’s painting of a glowing orb of a pearl did!

Pat Larash, Pearls of Wisdom Greeting Card (front and back view)

Sigrid Dolan, Pearl

Jane used ink to draw a lovely portrait of oyster shells.

Jane Huntington, Dear Oysters Please Save Us

We are never without a humorous approach to our subjects – like Ed’s Oyster with bacteria and Delphine’s personified oysters sweeping up the water. Delphine did give thought to her audience and created that piece for young children as a poster or coloring book.

Ed Rath, Oysters Eating Bacteria

Delphine Levenson, Oysters Clean The Ocean

I also thought of activist art aimed at young people in what I thought would be a fun print book of Paper Dolls With A Message. My piece an oyster dress in the style of an Iroquois’ women’s dress, showing the oysters and water (fabric) both clean and murky.

Meridith McNeal, Oyster Paper Doll Dress

Assata had a fantastic idea for getting ideas and images out into the public by incorporating them into horoscopes! We all agreed that no matter how one goes in for that sort of thing, everyone loves to read their horoscope! (Happy birthday all those Libra’s out there!)

Assata, Oyster Horoscope

Karla took a multi layered approach to her mixed media Oyster Landscape inspired by the history of oyster reefs and repopulating initiatives on Chesapeake Bay. Made with printer copies of the Bay with colored pencil rubbings from oyster shells, collage drawings and ink tracings of shells.

Karla Prickett, Oyster Landscape

Madison worked digitally in Procreate® to make her artwork.

Madison Mack, Oyster: NY #1 Essential Worked in the River

Zeke tells us he has a great idea, but had to skedaddle before he had a chance to make a piece.


On Tuesday ART YARD Advanced Studio in person took place in our exhibition Towards A Brave New World at 180 Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn where hosted an Artist Panel Discussion which I moderated with exhibiting artists Evelyn Beliveau, Ed Rath, Vera Tineo, Fatima Traore and Quentin Williamson. The talk was a brilliant success!

We moved the furniture around to put the artists with their backs to the book shelves. We did this to make late comers feel welcome and not disrupt the flow as people joined. We put the refreshments in the far studio room, people were encouraged to enjoy and look at the exhibition.

Panel discussion artists: Quentin, Fatima, Evelyn, Ed and Vera

The audience was a mix of artists, writers, educators and interested folks. All were engaged and enjoyed the lively dialogue.


In ART YARD Portfolio at LaGuardia High School we opened with a frank discussion about the necessity of honing your photography skills. In short, the point of retaking photos of artwork is that you improve your photography skills in order to have your best possible portfolio for all digital portfolio submissions. To this end, we carefully review participants photographs and provide feedback, tips and suggestions.

A good example how the time of day and lighting can change the look of the color in a photograph can be seen in Maya’s still life from observation (left) in which the a yellow cast shows that the photo was taken at night with incandescent lighting and her still life from photograph (right) which was taken in daylight.

We moved on to completing the third and final still life in our series, this one from memory. Students noted that working from memory poses some challenges such as recalling detail and composition, and conversely allows for personal artistic choices such as color and reacting to the piece itself rather than a source image.

Charlie, Still Life Trio (Observation, Photograph, Memory)

Clara, Still Life Trio (Observation, Photograph, Memory)

Elizabeth, Still Life Trio (Observation, Photograph, Memory)

Anastasia, Still Life Trio (Observation, Photograph, Memory)

Maya, Still Life Trio (Observation, Photograph, Memory)

Jessica, Still Life Trio (Observation, Photograph, Memory)

Jessica’s memory drawing in pen conjured up the drawings of Louise Fitzhugh from her book Harriet the Spy!

Louise Fitzhugh, Harriet the Spy Book Cover


Other art news:

ART YARD Artist Alison Guinet writes:

“Dear ART YARD friends, I miss you! I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch in a while, the summer has been crazy. Let me tell you all about it!

Returning from New York, I was really lost with my place back home. I could not make art for about 2 months; I was completely stuck as an artist and as a human. When you come home from a long journey, it is quite difficult to find where the past 6 month can fit with the life you had before leaving. Although I had found a job for the year, which began in the end of August, I was really stressed and I did not know how to explain my frustration to the people closest to me, except for my friend who lived the New York experience. Also, I did have some expectation about my return that did not match my experience. But after the summer, starting a new life in a new city, Marseille, I finally felt at peace. I started my job in a Theatre (drama not musical theatre) where I must deal with the communication, administration, stage management and programming of the place. Though it was my wish to live alone for the first time in my life, I was a bit scared that loneliness would not suit me. However, I’m glad to say that I never been happier and fulfilled in my life. It’s funny how sometimes, peace come when you least expect it. I’m starting to do art again in multiple ways and I began to think about old project I would love to bring back to life.

I promise I’ll be back soon with for ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom! Being surrounded by all of your benevolent personalities is something I cannot replace, and I cannot wait to be around your artistic aura again. I’m sharing with you with some of my recent portrait drawings.

Kisses from France,


Alison Guinet, Portrait Drawings, 2022


Please join us next Tuesday for a special Community Drawing Session in the place of Advanced Studio in person and bring a friend!



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