GJ Willis' Art Notes

The Adventures and Misadventures of a Neer Do Well Artist Living in Baltimore.

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Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

I am a visual artist and writer living in Baltimore. I don't have any artist friends. Frankly, artists scare me, there so darn flaky. The above picture is either of me or proof that I'm a pretty decent artist. My goal is to be a self sufficient artist, whereas I wouldn't have to do something else in the day in order to eke out an existence. I also like to attend various cultural events around town. I go to plays, the symphony, etc. Also, I have Asperger's Syndrome. I found this out recently and it has explained a heck of a lot as to why I am as I am.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This evening I went over to the Creative Alliance to one of their monthly open art critique sessions.

When I came in a woman had two pieces up that she was working on. The pieces were very inventive and thought provoking.

After she had shown her work a man came up and put his pieces on the table. He was a poet and a photographer. He made a wonderful handmade book that contained his poetry and photos. He was very talented.

Next a woman came up that did felting. I wanted to ask her what felting was but I became afraid that I would start to stutter or that she would become cross with me. Everyone else seemed to know what felting was so I said nothing. To me felting appears to be some kind of a yarn work. The pieces she had up were very abstract and colourful.

Next an artist named George came up. I remember him from the Art Critique at last years members show. He is a senior citizen and his work has a strong linear feel to it. Seeing George gives me inspiration to continue on with my art. I hope to still be doing art when I am his age.

The last person to show his work was the bald man who I last saw a couple of years ago when the man with the funny foreign name that runs Artscape came to the Creative Alliance to give a talk about Artscape. This evening the bald guy brought in this absolutely breath takingly beautiful glass sculpture that he made.

Also there was a woman who suddenly became sick a little after I came in. I wonder if she left because she was suddenly ill like she said or if she left because of me. I have never seen her before so I do not think she would have anything against me personally.

One thing I noticed is that every artist that came up to show there work had a spiel or a story to tell as they were showing their work. I brought pieces with me to show but became afraid that I would begin to stutter or faint if I went up there to show them.

I am proud to report that I made it home in time to see who got kicked off of American Idol. So all in all it was not a bad night. I might just do it again next month. However, I will have to think of a story to tell as I show my work. I have about a month to rehearse and rewrite it. Hmmm, art critique as possible performance art......

link | posted by gail at 11:03 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

MfumeBumperSticker, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Today, as I was coming home from work I saw a bumper sticker in support of my cousins upcoming Senatorial race. My heart immediately leapt with joy over the sight. I could not help but take out my digital camera and snap a picture of the bumper sticker.

My cousin is Kweisi Mfume and he is running for Senator Paul Sarbanes old seat. His Democratic opponent for the race is Ben Cardin. To date I do not recall seeing any Ben Cardin bumper stickers anywhere.

As yet I have no idea how Kweisi is doing in the polls. All I know is that I have heard him several times on NPRs Marc Steiner Show. Of which I might add he sounded fantastic! While on one of his many appearances on Steiner’s show he briefly brought up the alarming fact that Cardin had voted for the USA Patriot Act. The Patriot Act if you can recall gives Bush the Carte de Blanc to do anything he wants including spying on American citizens.

Besides appearing on Steiner I also understand that Kweisi has been on the Ron Smith Show as well. I do not listen to the Ron Smith Show because it is on WBAL. WBAL to me is a station for old, angry white men who are in love with the Republican party.

I wonder if Kweisi will be on the Ed Norris Show next or if he is nixing an appearance in favour of staying with tried and true Baltimore mainstream talk radio, eg. NPR and WBAL?

link | posted by gail at 9:53 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 27, 2006

My on timeliness streak has been broken. I got up on time. I left out for work on time. The only thing in my way was that the light rail was extremely late. I suppose they have yet to fix what ever was broken yesterday on the rails. All in all I was 20 minutes late! Egads! I hope that this does not happen tomorrow. I hate being late for work.

link | posted by gail at 7:53 PM | 1 comments

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Today, I went to Church. However, I almost ended up being late again. The one thing that saved me from being late ironically enough was that the light rail was not running. So instead of taking the train I had to walk there. The only reason I found out that the trains were not running was because I happened to run into a pair of MTA drivers who were walking down the street towards the new Dunkin Doughnuts.

At Church there was a baby dedication service. However, it was not conducted by Rev. Hubbell. Recently, Hubbell has taken ill so the service was conducted by her husband, Rev. Manwell. Not seeing Hubbell conduct the service seemed strange and out of place. The music during the rest of the service entitled, Gifts From the Earth, had a Native American feel to it.

After Church on a whim I decided to go down to the Gallery to eat lunch. After that I went over to Barnes and Nobles.

While in Barnes and Nobles the strangest thing occurred. A man came up to me and asked in a very hushed conspiratorial tone, if I was going to buy books today. He seemed very shifty, like a con man. I lied and told him, No, as I walked hurriedly away. The man seemed to be up to no good. Later I saw him approaching another customer. This customer kind of laughed him off. I wish I had the courage to do that instead of get frightened.

link | posted by gail at 7:53 PM | 0 comments

Friday, March 24, 2006

This evening I was one of three people who mistakenly showed up at Church to see a movie called, Millions . The movie is a part of a series of films the Church is showing called, Movies For the Mind and Spirit. Last week the movie shown was, The House of Sand and Fog. We all three waited and waited for the guy who is in charge of the movies to show up. It was about a half hour later when someone decided to call him. It turns out that there was a misprint in the schedule and Millions will not be shown until later next month.

Oh, well.... At least I got out this evening and got some air. Afterwards, I even bought some Chinese food.

link | posted by gail at 8:27 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


KevinCovais, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

I just finished watching American Idol. I found it cruel that they let little Kevin Covais sing at the end after he got voted off. I am new to watching Idol and I know that they do this after someone gets voted off. But somehow it seemed extra cruel tonight. I dont know maybe its because he looks so geeky and vulernable. Anyway, Rest in Peace Little Kevin. May you get the starring lead in your next school play.

link | posted by gail at 9:52 PM | 3 comments

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Today, I am happy to report that Baltimore was not blanketed with snow. The only thing I saw was just a few snow flakes fall during the afternoon. So thus Spring returns back to Baltimore.

Also today, I went down to the Creative Alliance to get my poster for the Sowebo Fest. I have no idea what I will put on it. The only thing I can think to write right now is that I’m thinking metallic and collage!

link | posted by gail at 9:13 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 20, 2006


ostara eggs, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Well, this Ostara as usual I have the day off. However, I am bowled over with the irony that on the first day of Spring there are snowstorms brewing around the country. I hope that Baltimore will not be next to succumb to the white stuff.

link | posted by gail at 9:07 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 19, 2006

This morning I was only about 10 minutes late for Church. Todays sermon was entitled, Being Different Together. On the booklet was a picture of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. I believe that says it all....

PattiAustin, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

This is a picture of how Patti Austin used to look.

After Church I went to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to see Patti Austin perform with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. It was a 3pm matinee performance. To fill in time between Church and the show I ate lunch in the Gallery at Harbor Place. The Gallerys food court seemed to be filled with a lot of smart dressed women and men wearing dark coloured suits and skirt sets. This made me wonder if there was a convention of Christians or Young Republicans in town this week.

As far as the show goes this is my first one of 2006 for my Baltimore Symphony subscription. This year I started my subscription late because I was trying to save money. And boy did I save money! This year I have seats in the orchestra for all my shows!! I suppose from now on I should wait late in the season to subscribe.

Overall, the show was good. It opened up with The Duke Ellington Orchestra playing a string of big band hits. The orchestra was being led by a crotchety old trumpet player who never gave his name. He wore a red coat and had a mid sized old man afro. He said he had been in the band since 1972. He also said that one of the members of the band was from Baltimore. He never clearly gave out the hometown musicians name. He (the man in the red coat) seemed as though he had better places to be.

Then afterwards the cranky old man in the red coat went off the stage and another trumpet player came on stage to play with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The man in the red coat never said who the new trumpet player was.

ByronStripling, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

I later learned that the name of that trumpet player was Byron Stripling. I only found this out by reading the playbill. In contrast to the old man Stripling was jovial and full of life. He sang a little duet with Patti Austin. However, her vocals were not very strong I could barely make out what she was singing. This made me fear that perhaps this was not going to be a good show.

As far as Byron Stripling is concerned I have to say right now that he is an all around performer. Not only does he play the trumpet but he also sings. He kind of reminded me of Louis Armstrong because of that. Ironically enough, Stripling played Armstrong in a musical. If Stripling were in town again I would definitely pay to see him. That man is a tour de force!

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

After Stripling was done with his set Patti Austin came on again in a new slightly tighter long black dress accented by a diamond. This was the first time that I noticed that Patti Austin had lost a considerable amount of weight. When when she was onstage earlier she was wearing a flowing pink and white top with black slacks. So it was hard to tell that she had lost weight. In fact I thought she was still fat until she came on again on that black dress. Overall, she looks absolutely fabulous. Her new look suits her well. It was also nice to see that she does not cover her grey anymore.

I also noticed that during her set she had a wine glass filled with an amber coloured liquid. She would sip from the glass from from time to time throughout the show. One thought kept permeating through my mind as I watched the show. What was she drinking? Was it apple juice, tea, beer, or champagne?

Also I noticed that when Patti Austin came on stage again they, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, changed musicians. They bought out a new piano player and a new bass player. The bass player bore a striking resemblance to Jack Black. For a while I thought that maybe, just maybe, Jack Black moonlights as a bass player for the Duke Ellington orchestra on the weekends.

Overall, Patti Austin was much better than she was earlier in the show. Her entire set consisted of Ella Fitzgerald standards. One thing that struck me that she said during the show was that she was in her fifties and had never married or had children. I wonder if twenty years from now I will be saying the same thing. Oh, I also found out that Patti Austin lost all that weight through gastric bypass surgery.

link | posted by gail at 9:01 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This evening I watched American Idol and was stunned to see that my favourite pretty boy, Ace Young, was in the bottom three!!! If only I had watched the show yesterday maybe he would not have been amongst them. Luckily, he dodged a major bullet and was not voted off. Yeah! America!

My three favourite male contestants on the show are:

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Taylor Hicks

He is a very talented blue eyed soul singer. Lets face it, this man can sing his ass off!! I also like that when he breaks into song he moves like Joe Cocker. I also like that Taylor has very distinct grey hair. I have to admit that I like the idea of a grey haired older guy beating out all the young whippersnappers. Go Taylor! Go!

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Chris Daughtry

He has a very high energy rock and roll sound. He looks like Vin Diesel. He like Taylor can sing his ass off.

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Ace Young

To this day I still am not sure if Ace can sing. When I watch him I am not paying that much attention to his voice. All I know is that he sure looks 100% HOT!! If Idol does not work out I can see this guy working on a soap opera.

I admit that I have not watched the female contestants much on Idol. For some strange reason I only catch the show when the guys are on.... Anyway here are my three favourite female contestants:

Mandisa Girlfriend can sing her ass off.

Kellie Pickler Adorable country female singer

Katherine McPhee I do not know much about her except that people usually put her on their top Idol contestants list.

link | posted by gail at 9:34 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

chef, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

I think it is stupid that Isaac Hayes quit South Park over the way they were treating religion. My goodness they have been making fun of religion since the inception of the show!!!

I just find it hard to fathom that he would quit just because they made fun of his religion, Scientology, on an episode. An episode I might add that he read taped and voiced with no problems what so ever until now!! It is obvious to me that he was most likely pressured to leave by the Scientologists. Who knows maybe Tom Cruise and his lawyers got to him? The episode in question did feature Tom Cruise and something about Cruise coming out of the closet. Everyone knows how Tom Cruise will sue almost anyone over gay allegations about him.

Anyway, you wont see me leaving a prosperous venture just because someone made fun of Unitarians. Heck, even I make fun of Unitarians and Im Unitarian! I say if you can not laugh at yourself who can you laugh at?

This all makes me wonder if the Scientologists are just one step away from being like those nutty Muslims who rioted and killed over a newspaper cartoon? Make fun of Scientology or Tom Cruise then they go over the edge and start rioting in the streets.

link | posted by gail at 8:54 PM | 1 comments

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Today, I learned the shocking news that Rush Limbaugh will no longer be on the air in Baltimore. His departure begins May 2006. This is shocking because Limbaugh has been on WBAL for what seems like ages. I remember back in the day his show would come on right after Allen Prell went off. Allen Prell by the way was the sole liberal on WBAL. I wonder if they will bring him back now that Rush is gone? It would definitely help to balance out the right wing slant of the station.

All I can say about the eminent Limbaugh departure from the Baltimore airwaves is, Oh, Happy day! Could this finally be the chink in the armour of All Conservative All The Time WBAL Radio? Heck, the station might as well be called W-GOP.

I have to admit that I have not listened to WBAL in ages. I get my talk radio fix from WHFS FM. In fact I have been listening to them ever since they switched to FM talk in the day. My favourite local show on that station is the Ed Norris Show. I have to admit that when he first came on the air he was boring as hell. Lately, The Norris Show has been pop, snap, and crackle good. I like that the former police commissioner does not tote a particular party line. I agree with him on some issues (he’s anti-death penalty, pro-gay marriage) and disagree with him on others (he feels we should stay in Iraq). I also like that he does not trust the government and feels that they are inept at handling things. Besides, who could not like the one talk show host in Baltimore with the most paranoid daily ending of his show with, Remember folks Al Queda is out there and they are trying to kill us!

link | posted by gail at 6:49 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I went to Church today. I was surprised to see one of our regular ministers there because on the online Church calendar the sermon was supposed to have been preached by the visiting minister from California who was there last week.

After Church I could not help but notice that Charles Street was beginning to become lined with people wearing green. It appeared that I had walked smack dab into the start of the St Patricks Day Parade. Well, the parade had not actually started it was just people lining up to see the parade. There were also some who were there to participate in some kind of a St Patricks Day marathon. I could tell that they were runners because they had very official looking green and white numbers attached to there backs.

I started to feel a bit claustrophobic from all the people so I decided to go to the Inner Harbor to the book store. I spent quite a while in Barnes and Nobles and ended up buying a book called, How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends by Don Gabor. I bought this book because I do not know how to start conversations and I have no friends. This friendless condition I understand is common for adult autistics like myself.

As I was leaving the store I noticed that the parade was going on. I had no idea when it had started or when it would end. So I decided to take out my camera and snap pictures. It turns out that I was there just in time to catch the tail end of the parade.

Overall, I did not find the parade to be very exciting. I suppose this might have been due to race and culture. All the bands I saw at the tail end were white. They marched stiffly and there was no effort to entertain the onlookers. I am black and am used to seeing a more exciting display of showmanship in parades. In our parades there is rhythmic dancing and a real effort to put on a show. A good movie to rent to get an idea of how black marching bands differ from white ones would be Drumline. OK, I admit the marching in Drumline is a bit jazzed up. But it does give you the general idea that we expect to see a little more effort in our parades.

Almost every Sunday when I was a kid there would be a big neighborhood parade. At the end of the parade which was always in front of the Prince Hall Masons Lodge on McCullough Street they would hand out trophys to the three best marching bands. The best neighborhood marching band when I was a kid was the Baltimore Westsiders. A few years ago The City Paper wrote an article about The Baltimore Westsiders. The online article includes a brief video of the Westsiders in action.

Anyway, since I had my camera out below are pictures of the stiff white St Patricks Day marching bands. The best band I saw that came close to what I was used to seeing was the band from my old semi-alma mater, Towson University. I think this was due to the fact that the mostly white band appeared to have been led by a brother.

link | posted by gail at 7:42 PM | 0 comments

Friday, March 10, 2006

Today, I finally changed my work schedule. I had to do this because lately not much work has been coming into my work area. It was so bad that at the end of day I would usually end up helping out in the mailroom.

This situation we have all been told is only temporary. In a couple of months our department moves into a brand new building. After the move I might switch back to my old work schedule.

link | posted by gail at 7:42 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006

SrHelenPrejean, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

This evening I just got back from seeing Sister Helen Prejean speak at St. Ignatius Church on Calvert Street. Her presentation was called A Culture of Life and the Death Penalty An Evening with Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ. Sister Helen Prejean is the New Orleans Catholic nun who wrote the book, Dead Man Walking. Dead Man Walking gave readers an inside look at her relationship with one death row inmate, Patrick Sonnier. The book made the 1994 American Library Associates Notable Book List; it was also nominated for a 1993 Pulitzer Prize.

The book also as everyone knows was made into a movie that starred Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen and Sean Penn as Patrick Sonnier. The movie version was written and directed by Tim Robbins. The film received four Oscar nominations including, Tim Robbins for Best Director, Sean Penn for Best Actor, Susan Sarandon for Best Actress, and Bruce Springsteens Dead Man Walking for Best Song. Recently, Dead Man Walking was made into an opera where is is currently being presented at the Baltimore Opera Company.

Sister Helen also has a second book that was recently published called, Death of Innocents.

As you can imagine I was very excited when learned that she was in town. I immediately purchased my tickets online to see her. I did this especially since tickets were just $5. I could not believe it! Just five bucks to see a real live famous anti-death penalty activist!

I admit that as I was walking on my way to see her I began to have apprehensions. Would her presentation be dry and boring? Would I fall asleep? What the heck was I doing seeing a presentation against the death penalty given by a little old Cathlic nun? How much fun could a little old lady be?

When I finally made it over to St. Ignatius I was surprised by the turnout. The place was packed. I ended up sitting accidently in the back row in an area that was meant for special guests. No one asked me to leave after I explained that I did not know that that particular row was meant for special guests. As it turned out there were not many people who sat in that row. So thus I did not have to move. I suppose they did not have many special guests that night.....

As far as Sister Helen went she was a very lively down to earth talker. She started off her presentation by saying that forgiveness is a path that should not be seen as weakness. During her presentation she also explained as I knew that the States reserves the death penalty for the worst of the worst murders. 87 percent of those who get the death penalty are more likely to receive it for for killing whites. She explained that in New Orleans police speak Black on Black murder is seen as a N-O-N crime. A N-O-N crime in New Orleans means Nigger on Nigger.

Towards the end of her presentation she went on to explain her wariness towards Justice Scalia, a fellow Catholic. She appears to feel that Scalia is a vengeful person because he often cites Romans as a justification for upholding the death penalty. She also said that Scalia believes that the more Christian a country is, the easier it is to kill people. Yikes! If Scalia truly believes this I feel he should be off the Supreme Court.

In conclusion I really enjoyed being enlightened and informed by Sister Helens presentation. Heck, she even sang a little from the Dead Man Walking opera. Sister Helen Prejean Rocks!!!!

link | posted by gail at 8:12 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tonight, I watched American Idol again. This time I actually listened to them sing and decided to vote on talent not looks. I ended up voting for the man with the grey hair. I think his name is Taylor. Anyway, Taylor rocked. He kind of reminded me of Joe Cocker meets Michael McDonald. Sadly, I did not vote for Ace because he was wearing this hat that covered up his long beautiful hair. I still can not honestly tell you if Ace can sing. All I know is that he sure does look cute. I feel that with Ace if the singing career does not work out he has a bright future as soap opera heart throb.

Taylor on the other hand I feel is 100% unique and talented. However, he is not as hot looking as Ace.

link | posted by gail at 9:19 PM | 0 comments

This morning the weirdest thing happened. I accidently stepped on the foot of someone sitting down on the bus. I immediately politely said, Excuse me. Then two stops later this man goes into a big tirade accusing me of not saying excuse me to him . Then I say, Excuse me, to him again, this time a little more audible. Then he goes into yet another production number about me not saying excuse me to him. This time I was angry. I felt as though he was bullying me. I loudly said, Excuse me, to him for the third time, this time loudly pointing out that I said it three times to him. I even asked him how many times did he expect one person to apologize to him in the course of one morning. I had never been this angry before on a bus. My voice was actually quivering towards the end because I could not believe how angry I was.

A man on the bus as he was leaving said to me that he thought the man was being a jerk and that if the man was really any type of gentleman instead of complaining and forcing me to apologize to him several times he would have offered me a seat. I was taken aback by this. The reason was that I was not sure if I was in the wrong or right about speaking up and getting angry. Apparently, I was in the right to speak up against him. The man was being a bully in making me apologize to him several times.

Then after I got off the bus yet another man came up to me to tell me that he thought the man was being an asshole and that he wanted to speak up on my behalf. I understand why he did not. Times as they are, who knows if the man was carrying a gun and looking for a reason to use it. Frankly, I thought the man whose foot I stepped on was either hopped up on drugs or drunk.

link | posted by gail at 8:18 PM | 0 comments

Monday, March 06, 2006

As far as the Oscars go. The biggest surprise of the night for me was when Three 6 Mafia picked up an Oscar for Best song.

, originally uploaded by willisgirl.

Yeahh Boyee!! I actually have Its Hard Out Here For a Pimp on my iPod!!

The one thing I hated was how they made them change the lyrics of the song for their Oscar performance. I felt that it was stupid to change bitches to witches. I also felt a bit cheated that Terrence Howard did not perform the song. Then again I can understand why he did not. After all he was nominated for Best Actor. It was neat to see Taraji Henson from the movie perform the song onstage with Three 6 Mafia. I had no idea that she was actually the one singing on the track. In the movie I though she lip sinking to someone else’s singing voice.

link | posted by gail at 9:32 PM | 0 comments

Sunday, March 05, 2006

This morning I went to Church. On the way over I almost felt as though the
light rail was conspiring against me making it to church on time. The light rail supervisor was out and keeping close watch over the trains arriving on time. The train spent an aweful long time sitting at stops to get on a particular schedule. I ended being ten minutes late. Last week I was just five minutes late.

We had a guest minister this week from California. He sounded very warm and fuzzy. I have to admit that his sermon seemed to meander a lot. I have no idea what he was preaching about. The service ended ten minutes later than usual.

I did something I rarely do. I went over to the parish hall and had a few cookies. They were holding the spring Opportunity Fair for various groups within the Church. As usual no one said anything to me. I just spoke to the little old lady that minds the book table and bought a MC Beaton book for 50cents. The book I bought was Death of a Scriptwriter. I picked this book because I like reading MC Beaton mystery series. I have read many of her Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin books.

Afterwards I went to the movies and saw Transamerica at The Charles. I bought a small popcorn and a medium ginger ale. The ginger ale spilled on the floor as I was taking off my coat to get in the movie seat. Oh, well...

The reason why I wanted to see Transamerica was that I was curious about Felicity Huffmans Oscar nominated performance as a transexual. I have to say that she was really great in the movie. She was 100% believable as a man who wanted to be a woman. However, I do not know if her performance is good enough to edge out Reese Witherspoon.

Overall, I really liked the movie. It seemed almost as if it could be the basis for a TV series. Transexual balances the issues of being a brand new woman and a mom to her newly found teenage son. Watch the fun, hilarity, and poignant heartfelt moments.

link | posted by gail at 8:53 PM | 0 comments

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