Author Archives: Penelope

About Penelope

Penelope is an artist. A Ford Foundation scholarship student (among many scholarships) gave her a jump start at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD. She worked her way through school and earned her BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in drawing and painting. Wolfe followed postgraduate study of media at Western Connecticut State College, journalism at University of Alaska, art at University of Alaska, and graduated in 2006 with an MBA in marketing at the University of Phoenix online paid for by The Commercial Appeal newspaper. Currently, she is retired. Until recently she was a teacher, for Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools. She also worked as an artist for newspapers. At the Anchorage Times in Alaska, she was the first female editorial cartoonist. She was Newsroom Art Director at the Staten Island Advance in NYC and also Roots Music Reviewer, which led to her adoption of Memphis as hometown. While working in Memphis at The Commercial Appeal (as the 1st female Newsroom Art Director), Wolfe made the acquaintance of famed photographer Dr. Ernest C. Withers. She worked as his assistant until his death in 2007. Withers’ training resulted in Wolfe becoming collected by prominent collectors, including blues man B.B. King. Through sales on eBay and in galleries, hundreds of people around the world have collected her art. She has sold to Australia, Japan, France, Portugal, England, the Ukraine, Russia, Scotland and almost every state in the U.S. Since 1994 she has been freelancing from her home: Art, writing, photography and publication design. I am doing the best I can to keep working. My media credentials are up-to-date. Penny Wolfe is a self-representing artist — living, working and enjoying life.

Bell rung, batteries exhausted, me also.

I’m thinking of getting the solar-powered computer (backup, backup, backup) out of the closet because I am tired of rechargeable batteries that last 5 minutes.

Tried to look up this book, still trying. No cooperation from Amazon’s built-in camera. It would have been convenient. A la Doris Day, “Que Sera, Sera …”

The door is imperceptively open to confusion

The doors, not the door, Mr. Beckett. I cannot see the border between my world and yours.

Italia 2016
Sister eldest, Brother Chris, Brother John, Brother Charlie

I’m trying to review a book, and Amazon won’t let me do it. So be it. The title is in Japanese. I bought it at the Strand. Must reduce file size, thank Shinto gods for Apple.

Ya: The Call of the Drum

Utagawa Kunisada, Ya, The Iroha Alphabet, mid-nineteenth century, with subject Ichikawa Danjuro VIII getting his hair combed, kabuki play

Kunisada went above and beyond the call of the drum when he designed this print. It’s one of those times that I heard the syllable in my head when I saw the print. Now I must find out more. I’ve seen it before, but I was waiting to find this one with nearly pristine color and no trimmed edges.

Now the fun begins as I research the play, the date, etc. It must have been a popular print (the Utagawa School rules with most surviving Japanese prints). My Lithuanian grandmother studied English speaking and writing until the day she died. She’d write a letter to a friend, and mail it to me in Iowa. Then I’d correct it and mail it back to her in South Dakota. Grandmother then recopied the letter and mailed it to her friends. That is respect for education and how generations spin in a wheel of worlds.

Which would you choose: Gourdian knot on bamboo, crane, painter, signature or mandarin orange?

Japanese Ukiyo-e Nishiki-e Woodblock Print Kawanabe Kyosai, Ichikawa Sansho

This print has a happy new year vibe about it. When we are all busy preparing for 2020, I will take a moment to admire the gourd and his friends before buying the oranges.

Cherokee cherry tree: Mistaking cherry blossoms for pink clouds — Happy New Year!

As a young child, I believed that I was Japanese. Perhaps it’s explained by my father’s black hair, narrow dark eyes and face that looked like the Japanese people in art books. The first books I remember: The Golden Bough and a Thomas Crown giant art compilation. My father brought home many adult art books instead of children’s books to me as a toddler. That’s why I love Japanese prints like this one from 1815 of a Lion Dance by Toyokuni I. It shimmers, too with mica sprinkles subtly on the background.

I taught myself to read, too. And I shunned children’s books. Like Groucho, I didn’t want to be a member of a club that would accept me.

My first school finger painting began with a cloud of pink on beige manila paper. I dotted fingertip detail on top of the pink with whorls and loops of white that mixed into the pale pink color that I wanted to denote blossoms. Blowing a dollop of dark brown at the bottom of the paper upward with a paper straw grew the trunk and gnarled branches. As I finished I felt a thrill at having created a Japanese cherry blossom tree. Indignant that my teacher and fellow students didn’t know what I was talking about, I took it home only to find my mother ignorant, also. I fiercely felt that I knew the value of this tree and too bad for everyone else.

Later I found out that Dad had Cherokee blood, not Japanese. He and I shared art knowledge. My younger brothers would complain, “Pen got all the Indian blood.”

My father, an actor and professor of speech and theater, did understand my cherry blossom tree. He took my tree art to the college to show his scene design students, saying “This is how you draw a tree.” Then he told the story to all his friends when they visited, year after year. Now this is a family legend.

Happy New Year. Winter cherry blossoms bloom. Father knows best.