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ImageOn television, when there is a haunted house show being shown, featuring a
“specialist” carrying around something like a ghost detector and the black and white video is shot so that spirits can be spotted with infrared heat, I am too scared to watch.

When I go to New York, I go for business, hanging my art show and then I go back three weeks later, to take it down.

I used to stay at the Salisbury Hotel. The staff knows me by name. It is centrally located in Midtown and the breakfast is luxurious, very inexpensive and on the second floor.

But during the last three or four years, I became fond of staying in a boutique hotel in the Lower East Side. Close to SoHo and Little Italy, and the new gallery district on Orchard Street, I could do a lot of walking. It had been the hotel of choice for rock stars. I have the love of celebrity in my blood, therefore seeing Kirsten Dunst on the steps was exciting also.

Nostalgia has its grip, though, and one New York stay, The Salisbury beckoned me back. Just for the weekend, it said. It was to be a very short trip since this solo show consisted of a video being shown across a seventeen foot wall, and most of the take down was fairly simple.

That night at the Salisbury Hotel, in my room, my by nightstand, I became unexpectedly cold. In fact, at first, only cold in one spot of the room. Intensely cold. I asked the front desk for extra blankets. Then more, more. I think I had ten extra blankets piled up on my side of the bed. I kept trying to jump out of the cold spot, but it did not release me. My husband, who was with me this time, was not affected. In fact, when he was in the bathroom, I screamed “Come out this minute!” Terrified he came out. I told him about the intense cold and he was annoyed at something so trivial.

You would think the hotel staff would be irritated at having to send up so many blankets to one room. Maybe it was because they knew us.

I put a camera next to my side of the bed the second night (I can’t believe I stayed there another night!) I told myself, I would aim in the darkness and take a picture when I woke up. I woke up in pitch black, aimed the camera but was too afraid to take the picture. More precisely, too afraid at what would show up.

The next day as I was leaving, I called the front desk and said, “Our room was abnormally cold the last few nights!” “What room were you in?” I told him. He pauses and let out a sigh. “Ah!”, he said with a little mischief in his voice……….“Room 237!”

After I wrote this story and I was searching around for a visual, I found out most of the horror movie, “The Shining” took place in non other than Room 237! I knew nothing about this! Never saw the movie! It was a total surprise. But let me caution you, the weirdness of this tale is true and I would not book my honeymoon hotel in a room with the number 237!

ImageMy roommate in art school, Judy LaBrasca took this photograph of me. A headache caused me to lie down. I had drawn the blinds, she said. Giving this picture a silent film star quality.

Judy and I were in Philadelphia’s Roosevelt Hotel together. On the ninth floor. At 23rd and Walnut. A grim corner. We painted the walls of our nine by twelve foot bathroom with Chinese Red enamel. The pale green toilet, sink and tub were just the right hue to interact with the Chinese Red. And my friend Bill Cohen ruined the aesthetic by drawing a peace sign on the light fixture. A by-product of Bill’s education: no appreciation of the color interaction.

My roommate and I had been collecting metal bottle caps. I think Judy started it. Soon we had so many, we dumped the bottle caps all over the floor. We placed our black throw rugs over them. A sign outside the bathroom door said “Before Entering, Put On Shoes.”

Behind the closed door, while our visitors were in the bathroom, we could hear the slushing of metal being plowed through. A heavy but slightly tinny sound. After all, the bottle caps were at least four inches deep! When not stepping on the rugs, which protected a person’s feet from tipping, one had to get footing by stepping on the floor and pushing the bottle caps in the direction one wanted to go! Kind of like walking through snow. But not on snow.

Art school, I am learning, is a very different sort of education. This suddenly is on my mind because our daughter just went off to college yesterday! What I lack in critical thinking from not having had a liberal arts education (such as my daughter and Bill Cohen), I make up for in creativity.

All those hours of life drawing, design and constructing modular pieces that “worked!” 
These classes went into the young art student’s brain in ways still waiting to be revealed.

Judy LaBrasca is now and has always been an artist. She lives in Maine. I am sure she, like I am, is tired of the bottle caps and doesn’t decorate with them anymore. I cannot speak for her usage of that wonderful color combination. I still have deep respect.

And while it may seem like I am trashing Bill Cohen, he received a degree from the University of Pennsylvania and then went on to law school in Boston. He has his own successful law practice in Pennsylvania.


Copyright 2014   Hollis Hildebrand-Mills   All rights reserved.

IMG_2454This little blog is about “Weird Al”. “Weird Al” Yankovic. I was planning to blog about “Weird Al” anyway. But when I found out about his newly released video album, (even the Wall Street Journal is writing about him. Nice going, Al!!!!!!) and because his fame has increased, his name more of a household word, I thought this would be a good time.

Many of you know, I worked for Orion Pictures. Orion was a client of the advertising agency where I was employed. I was on the publicity account. I helped promote “Weird Al” ’s movie “UHF.”

Unlike other actors in the business, who were always wonderful to me, “Weird Al” and I had a lot in common. We were both visual artists. While I thought he had gone to art school, like I did, I read recently that he had studied architecture at Cal Tech. And since I was unlike the publicity people with whom he had worked, we seemed to “speak the same language.” (so to speak) I was also, like he, (I say this because it may come as a surprise to you) soft spoken.

While I was promoting his movie “UHF,” I escorted him, along with his manager/producer, Jay Levey around to Atlanta’s TV stations and newspapers. To get publicity for the film. At the time, I worked for a woman who took credit for the work I did. Not a nice set up. This was not lost on the two of them. They tried to highlight my accomplishments in front of the “right” people at the agency to help bring me more recognition. They also managed to form an us-against-them team, humorously winking at me and putting my boss down. And who in the ad biz, can be angry with a client, let alone, a movie star? Mr. Levey even told me he would write me a letter of recommendation.

The above visual is a photograph of the “UHF” promotional T shirt I asked Al to sign. I expected him to just sign his name, but the limousine ride to the airport was long and he took time to painstakingly hand letter his name on the back. It looks perfect. No one would believe the printing was done by “Weird Al” Yankovic! Puffy glitter paint. I had it tucked in my purse. Eighties style.

When we arrived at the airport, it was my job to sit and wait until the two guys got on the plane. In the movie business, a lot of money changes hands. It was not assumed that two grown men could get on the plane by themselves. Jay Levey and “Weird Al” Yankovic were commodities. The plane was late. We talked for hours. No one was at the gate but the three of us. I am sure some joke was made about how, even though there were only three of us there, I sat right next to Al, as if he might escape. Maybe not good at self promotion at the time; I was publicity-smart.

I still have the letter of recommendation Jay Levey wrote. I have my own claim to fame. Watch a video from “Weird Al”’s new work:


Hoarding. I think of hoarders as people with stuff forming a landslide in their homes.

Until we had our basement finished. And we designated a certain part of the finished basement to be unfinished. That was when I thought of our family as hoarders. We did a lot of purging and sorting. To attempt to revamp the hoarder self image.

My husband collects music. He has 10,000 vinyl records and 8,000 CDs. While the basement was being worked on, these boxes of music were stored next to the furnace in the designated unfinished part of the basement. He also encourages others to keep their collections. Or make new collections. He is the person who, when I posted on Facebook: “What should I do with all my Martha Stewarts?” (I have been collecting the magazine since she first published. I have every issue.) My husband said, “Keep them!”

Our house is immaculate. Each room, people go into, saying, “What a nice room to read a book in!” Very sparse. I have a thing about neatness and cleanliness. You can tell. But to read a book? I spend a lot of time maintaining the neatness.

We hoard. Not only music, but Fiesta dishes. Many different kinds of china. And crystal serving dishes. Clothes. Dolls. Little porcelain shoes, also in boxes like the dolls. Bordering on hoarding.

The music on vinyl has gone into decorative crates in the finished part of the basement. The CDs in shelving in the unfinished part. However, we too have that cliched hoarders characteristic. When we wanted to find something like the wire that hooks the computer to the printer, we had to sort through a box labels “wires”, and delving into the assortment of extension cords, picture wires and Christmas light blinkers was a journey unto itself.

Pearls From Hong Kong

When my husband and I went over to China to get our daughter, before we flew to Shanghai and then on to Hefei, we went to a jewelry store in Hong Kong. This was the last year Hong Kong was under British rule. 1996.

We watched as a woman artfully strung pearls for our soon-to-be daughter. We envisioned gifting them when she reached age sixteen.

Sixteen came, fraught with teaching her how to drive a stick shift. (Never once did I grab the wheel, although I prepared for a crash once, thinking we were going to hit a telephone pole.) Also drama at sixteen was so great, as to make us hesitant to give her such a lovely gift.

This year, however, at graduation from High School, she received these pearls with a knot tied in between each one. The knots representing the knots in our stomachs as we flew military flights into the interior of the country. Happy music and the nose of the plane pointed straight upward. Hot wet towels handed out. And the nose of the plane thrust downward upon landing. More happy music. Knots for each of the ten planes. And knots for the anxiety we had at becoming parents.

It was the best thing we have ever done. To adopt our daughter. And the best thing we will ever do.

“Out Of Order”

I am an artist. I do not assume this photograph to be a work of art. I was in a store yesterday. And my daughter was in the dressing room. I decided to take a seat outside the dressing rooms on a platform. Couldn’t even be called a bench.

A dressing room with an “Out Of Order “ sign on it?? I thought about it as my daughter was changing her clothes.

Well, it could be, that if one were to open the door, disregarding the sign, that there was an elevator shaft on the other side of the door and one would plummet to one’s death. After all, what could be “Out of Order?” Could it be flickering flourescent lights reminiscent of a David Lynch movie? So minor. Had to be something more dangerous like a mine shaft. On the other side of that door.

Okay, we all know by now, that certain phrases are used willy nilly, like “One Moment Please”, “Have A Nice Day”, “No Problem”, “Fill Out The Form,” “Please Sign.” (As you are grappling with five things in your hands, stuffing your credit card back in your wallet, spilling your sunglasses to the floor.) Then again, when you don’t sign right away as you are picking up your shattered sunglasses, again it comes, “Please Sign!”

I wonder if this “Out Of Order” sign means the end of the world is on everyone’s mind? Or another phrase put up there with no thought whatsoever. After all, they put “Out Of Order” signs on bathroom stalls, don’t they?

My car. My precious Honda. It is old but it is special. So special, in fact, that every time I drive it, someone asks me if I will sell it.

My car was hit by some obnoxious person. Hit in a mall parking lot on private property. Which, no police officer can assign guilt or liability to either party involved in the accident.

My car is not mine anymore. I have to go to a lawyer to get it back. My fear is, that it is in a place where everyone wants to drive it and claim it as their own.

Say a prayer for Frostie. Although he is nineteen years old, he is not used to spending the night away from home.

Whizzing by the other night, I saw a dog with a light on its collar. It was designed for the dog to see where it was going in the darkness. Just loose enough to move with the dog. Just tight enough so that the light didn’t swing and sway to confuse the puppy.

I have never seen these lights for dogs. Then I thought of SkyMall, the inflight magazine on airplanes. (which, by the way, was where I ordered my dog repellent device.) SkyMall, of course, is now online.

SkyMall is the best magazine for obscure and interesting “things.” An “It Is what It Is” inscribed bracelet. Really, people say that all the time: what does it MEAN? A scalp massaging shampoo brush. (Shown with water showering down on a head in the photograph) Stretchy wearable posture aids, a floating desk (with storage), phone mounters for the car, iPhone printers and so much more.You can see why these magazines are on the airplane. Why worry about lousy inflight service when there is SkyMall?

Have you ever tried to solve a mystery? Something in your daily life you can’t quite figure out, but you have a gut feeling about? Have you combined your intuition with some facts surrounding the situation and BAM! you have it the solution. Or have you? Has this ever happened to you?

The Chinese say that intuition is a “second brain”, physically located in your stomach. Hence the “gut feeling” expression.

Most people do not trust their intuition enough! When I try to solve a problem using my intuition, it feels like stepping out on a cloud, walking off a plank, taking a shot at something. It feels a little strange. People think they need facts alone to solve problems and mysteries. That to use intuition could not possible be sound.

But, as I said in the first paragraph, I put some facts with my intuition and…..well, I can solve almost anything. Can you?

“Water On Paper 2″, pencil and charcoal on paper, 5″ x 5”, 2014

Ceres Gallery is having a group show. In June. The exact date of the reception is June 26, 6-8 PM. It is a Thursday. The gallery is located in Chelsea, an established gallery section of New York. 547 West 27th Street. New York, NY 10001. Phone: 212 947 6100. The second floor. You can take the stairs, if you prefer.

I did the piece for this group show and am pleased with it. It is based on a painting I did a few years back. The painting had collage in it and the abstraction was based on the spaces in between trees. In the painting, I chose the pieces from magazines, not for their subject matter, but for their potential for volume and how they related to the paint.

The charcoal translation is interesting (bad word, interesting) to me, since the face from the painting comes through as significant here, where in the very large painting, it was just a shape.

I hope some of you can attend my reception! It would be so nice to see you!