Monday, November 23, 2009

Ajanta and traveler's edge

When I was in grad school working on my MFA in studio art, I took several Buddhist art history courses. Pictured above is the Ajanta Caves which I studied and have been craving to go to for years. Finally, Ken and I will make this destination. It is about nine hours away from Mumbai by train. The complex is shaped in the form of a giant horseshoe and there are twenty-nine caves to visit. This is a World Heritage Site; a remote destination where monks conducted their practices and it dates back to the second century.

In the Buddhist and Jain temples, you start at one end of the temple and circumambulate to each cell of Buddhist icons or idols. By the time you make the journey around the periphery of the temple to each station, you become immersed with the Buddha mind or in other words you delve into a spirit of meditation and enrapture.

My past travels have afforded me to see great Jain temples most notably up north in the Rajasthan area, in particular the cities of Udaipur and Jaisalmer. The Jains feel that every little particle of life is precious and some wear masks to avoid doing harm to any organisms that they may breathe. Men are known to give up their entire possessions at the end of their life, leave the family (very similar to the life of Buddha) and seek a spiritual life without the worldly pursuits. Their temples are amazing; carved with marble pillars intricately fused with astounding minutiae of Indian daily life.

I remember coming back to Anchorage in 2006 from our first travels to India and it felt so good to sit on a couch! Much of the trip was uncomfortable because of the air and poverty; I hope to shed these preconceptions and immerse into Indian reality. To judge a country on one visit would be unfair; am still drawn to the Hindu mythologies and mystical sages. We depart for Mumabi in less than two weeks and for another time I will be able to experience another part of this subcontinent and drink in the many delights mixed with it's insanities.

Monday, November 16, 2009

divine standards

Above is pictured The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Giovanni Bernini. This image is often featured as an opening introduction to my art course that I teach at UAA. We discuss what we see and we reflect on what is going on. Saint Teresa was a mystic nun who saw visions. An angel is seen plunging her with an arrow, over and over again filling her with the love of God. This sends Saint Teresa in a state of ecstasy; her face almost orgasmic with pleasure and pain. It was completed in 1647-1652 during the start of the Baroque period and it is housed at the Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. This is what high art should be, a transcendence of spirit; a statement that stands on it's own.

What is today's standards? In the Oxford Dictionary, they describe standards as a required or specified level of excellence. I am not sure if the word standard fits into our 21st century; I often deny it and easily cast it out and it has become a warped, manipulated concept.

When I show art images, I identify certain works of art as obtaining an excellence and integrity in craft, a tediousness of detail and execution into the final outcome of a masterpiece that lives throughout time, a creation from the divine.

Students can visually see this work and identify it as something quite unique and special. I present this art work as a recognition of a time that we have lost in our own century - a standard of excellence. It is this level of exquisite fineness that takes us to another level. There is no need for any definition, no explanation required. It exists with an intense aura of power and it is perfect.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

crass America

This past week-end I was sleeping and woke up to an intermittant dog barking. I laid in bed thinking it would go away; perhaps a moose had sauterned by and the dog was agitated or maybe it was outside a little too long waiting to come into the house? The barking went on and on into the early morning. I let it go and dismissed it thinking it was a one time incident. Sunday night, Ken and I both woke up to the same dog barking, not only at 1 a.m., but it continued on throughout the night. It was still barking in the morning but I had to get to class and so I let it go again. I arrived home and the needy animal was still going on. I went out to investigate finding that it was indeed our neighbor's dog. Peeking through the fence I caught sight of the lanky lab named Beau; noticeably upset that someone had forgotten him. I went home and came back leaving a note on their door.

Later on that day, this guy was walking Beau and I rushed out of my home to ask him what was going on with the commotion; only to be answered in a nasty tone of denial - not even an apology or acknowledgement of the reality of the matter. The owners were out of town and it was their son who was taking care of dog. Well, I replied in a huff, angry and uptight tone and told him to take care of his dog; that he was being neglectful and it was cruel behavior leaving the poor animal out all night in the cold temps.

I thought over my behavior, how I had lost my temper and how upset I became. Now I don't hear a peep from the neighbors yard. Yesterday, I became part of crass America.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

on being arbitrary

There are always pluses and minuses to where you live and then there is the gray area, the arbitrariness of life. Driving yesterday on the Glen Highway I wondered why I was here, what was my focus to living in this state. At that moment, the landscape turned into a surreal out of the body experience and I lightly fretted. As an intuitive thinker though, I go by my gut and it has gotten me into trouble several times in the past; have grown wiser because of some impulsive choices but fortunately I have a knack of reinventing myself. I took Alaska and reshaped it into a workable environment and it succeeds to some degree and on the other hand it doesn't. I make quality artworks but my expressions are often too heady, too contemporary and esoteric. On the other hand I have become more socially conscious in the community as an entrepreneur and educator. I have continued to stay here because of my attachment to nature and to my marriage. In some ways, it has given me great insight and perspective not only about the land, but about the nature of people. I miss intense culture of big cities, the banquet variety of choices, but I don't miss the pretentiousness nor the politics. Anchorage has another set of politics, it is transparent and malleable but deep and disarming too; it surprises me and catches me off guard. It works for now and perhaps that is the present.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Since I have been living in Anchorage, Alaska, I often have wondered about the concept of kindness. Is kindness real or do people put on a mask; try to be cheery, try to be optimistic and is it sincerely genuine? To some extent, at times, I think it is true charity that I encounter. Kindness is something that is ultimately magnanimous. Kindness is everywhere in Alaska. I think it is a wonder land where I live and because of the beauty of nature, you are filled with a underlining happiness or disbelief of the fantastic surroundings. Most of the time the beauty is so powerful that you cannot take it all in. This past summer I was so taken back by the green large mountains that loomed so close to my presence. I became instantly scared; it overwhelmed me and felt small and insignificant. It is a very polite environment, even though Alaskans can be tough spirited, there is another side to their persona that involves an all inclusiveness, like someone reaching out their hand to you to tell you that everything is okay and fine.

I need this kindness because it soothes my anxiety at times. In the early pitch black mornings or on the snowy highways and vacant corridors of the city I need this comfort. Just entering a gas station to exchange silly pleasantries surprises me time and time again on the good nature of folks. I use to think it was terribly corny and provincial but now I see it as a mode of survival. It works and even when I don't need it, it is there, this approachable silly stuff, this gooey good that I sometimes scoff at and on the other hand I embrace it, walking away feeling fortunate that it is there as I choke back this sentiment, I reconsider my cynic being.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

the native in me

This past Saturday, I spent the morning at the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference and got to see a group of natives work on resolutions, amendments and adjusting the records. The process was very professional and dignified. Of course, since I have lived here, the native culture has been a part of my residency in Alaska and I have been absorbing it ever since.

Two years ago I observed a totem raising ceremony at the Alaska Heritage Center and spent the day hearing dedications; listened to speeches, prayers, singing and chanting, saw the young and old gather and talk in native tongues. Spending the day was not enough at this gathering to understand and feel the native pride. I wish I was part native, part tribal, an eighth or a fraction of color. When I was in middle school I use to tell my friends that I was part Apache and French. My mother is Swiss born; coming from Huguenots ancestry while my father from second generation German and Dutch roots makes me an official European offspring. The other evening though, I was telling an acquaintance that I am more interested in other cultures than my own.

Presently, I am taking a class at UAA called Alaskan Native Politics. It can be a bit dry some of the time, but integral learning about the foundations of the native people, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, the establishment of their corporations, their ongoing fight for their land, recognition and rights as people and their stories of the ongoing hardships and present trials in rural Alaska. It is like listening to another language; enjoying this challenge and new dialog I try to suck it up like a sponge. We live insular and comfy existences in our homes surrounded with all too familiar people. We think we know the lives of others, how they live and their struggles, but we know so little. The Alaskan Native is a rich culture and hopefully one day I can participate to a greater level of understanding.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

one part color

I became an artist because I love color and culture. Lydia Mendoza was my first Mexican girlfriend; we worked together in the garment industry, a job that I despised but was forced to find work and eight years afterwards, I developed a business mind learning great lessons from master marketeers. Downtown Los Angeles was a sprawling large setting; concrete and homeless, vacant store fronts peppered with markets, discount outlets and eateries. Later on, I lived in the loft district, called Little Tokyo, and immersed myself in this community. I loved that part of the city because it exuded a romantic industry; it was there that I grew up, spirtually and mentally as a fine artist surrounding myself with serious thinkers, poets, composers, designers, performance artists and the like.

There was chili, salsa, hot sauce and burritos. I met Lydia's family and I remember her father was warm and sun browned. It was a different neighborhood called East Los Angeles. This was a new place to add to my existence and after twenty years of living there, this Mexicana/Hispanic culture crept into my soul. I felt their taken land, the dry desert, looming catus and vast reservoir of space. Today, I miss it - the heat, their passion and deep humanity coupled with humility.

Friday, October 16, 2009

the witching month

It is the season of magic, of ancient harvest moons, smoke, bonfires and dancing to the drums. It is a time to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos - a festival of the ancestors. My personal experience with October sends many memories; a dark Los Angeles night and a feeling of my solitariness in a tremendous city, with background noise of traffic, sirens and the scurry of city life.

I was recently divorced and was renting a house in mid Wilshire, Los Angeles. If you went a block east, you were in questionable territory and going two blocks west, you landed in Hancock Park; mansions and wondrous homes that often one asked, who lived there or if anyone lived there at all. My new digs was a creaky, funky, run down space but it had a huge working studio and a courtyard that was filled with warm sunshine during the day. I had taken the bars off the windows because they obstructed the beautiful light that was needed to do my painting. I lived in the center of a Korean neighborhood. Sundays, I could hear a nearby apartment of worshippers singing hymns. Homeless would stroll by with their shopping carts while cars whizzed and helicopters hovering over the cityscape would jangle my nerves late at night. One October, my mother had come to visit me from the east coast. I had had a biopsy on my right beast and was waiting for the results to see if the growth was cancerous. My mother accompanied me to the doctor's; seated in the waiting room, I anticipated the call for the consultation. I remember so vividly how cool and confident my mother was, not doubting for a second that the results were okay and she was right. That evening, we returned to my eccentric pad, but it looked different. I put on my running shoes, skipped through the neighborhood, happily and freely, running with abandon. Every October I think of this incident; the in between darkness and light that I felt; that past, the comfort of others and my fortunate place that I inhabit today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

C'est la vie

Waking up to the dark and rain was not a good way to start a Monday. The weather visibly turned to pitch black; caused my brain to tumble toward insecurity and anxiousness. However, by the end of the day, it turned out to be quite beautiful; our fall has lasted golden and plush.

Last Friday, I was looking at a map of France. I traced the places I hitchhiked; my starting points were at the Sorbonne in Paris for a few months doing some preparatory work and then I went on to study at the Universite of Tours, France for ten months. It was an art epiphany of Van Gogh in Amsterdam, the Rodin Museum which floored me, The Louvre, The Jeu de Paume in Paris. Paris, Paris, Paris. Most of it was emotionally striking and I remember those times clearly. As students we were housed in these very small rooms; quite stark and placed in a wooded area (aren't most dorm rooms?) Socially, I spoke French very well but my grammar was very spotty. It wasn't until I taught French back in the states that my learning came together and I had arrived at speaking it fluently.

I especially remember my Marxist boyfriend who took me around to all the political rallies; we visited his sister on a farm in Limoges, smoked Gauloises and Gitanes and it was there that I really learned how to taste food. His name was Jean Claude Jandin and he wrote me love letters after I returned to the US, asking me to marry him. Helas, I was too young and fickle and I blew him off; still think fondly of him to this day and often wonder how my life would have evolved. Quite differently I suppose. It was from Jean Claude that I truly learned the psychology of Voltaire - on peut cultive notre jardin de l'amour.

So, as I looked at the map of France, my relationship with my past became surreal; as if I had never been there, never traveled through this wonderful country, never felt a foreign place, learned another language, tripped through the neighboring lands by trains, ferries, hitching by trucks. I became sad because it was if that part of me was gone forever. It is extinct I suppose; you carry it buried in the present, deep and distant but it can be recovered in a heartbeat.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

something like happiness

Just finished viewing a wonderful Czech film titled Something like Happiness. I fought a dull headache all day long; not sure how it happened, the air, too much school, fretting over a research paper, etc and after arriving home from a long bike ride through the golden forest paths still did not squelch the light throb that laid above my brow. However, after resting and watching this film, I fell into a state of abandon, letting go and living in this landscape. The characters in this film were just ordinary working folk; I loved each and every one of them, their warmth and appeal won my heart over. It was a down to earth film with a stark industrial background making their lives just bearable while the beauty of the film rested on each other. They treated each other with such humanness, dignity and charity. It is no small wonder how these films without all the bells and whistles appeal to my senses; are close to life and possess a reality far away from Hollywood norm.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

a fall bouquet

Today I gathered long stemmed straw flowers from our cottage garden because the sun was out and they were open. I took this chance of putting together a huge arrangement to bring into the house; will watch the subtle changes that evolve from these hardy plants during the next few months. These flowers become their own personalities while they dry. The last to bloom in the summer, they withstand the first frost, are haughty, sport a defiant nature to each flower head and each one has an amazing individual arrangement of colors, are showy but down to earth at the same time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


As much as Facebook can be pretentious, over the top, time wasting and superficial, I have found great things about it too. It has connected me to friends from my childhood and friends who I have spent time with in other parts of the world or perhaps they are friends of friends. Of course, this obliterates the notion of what real friends are; while some store up to over thousand friends on their list, others do not enlist on Facebook either because they find this act ridiculous in nature or else intimidating because they will not have enough people on their queue? Of course, it can be time consuming, but I find myself checking in here and there, not more then five minutes a clip and sometimes I just let it go for a while hoping new things will reveal themselves next time I open my profile. It has been especially good for me; connecting to the LA and NY art world, hearing the newest fads, seeing other artists artwork, reading the latest Utube sensations or just scanning the quirky "share" quotes. Let's face it; you wouldn't spend this type of time with your closest of buddies but I view this exchange as a game and as a fun outlet. Do I have better things to do? Probably so, but so what.......Facebook has connected me to a cyber and abstract communication channel; some where and no where but an in between space that reveals some of the true personality of the 21st century.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Pictured above is Ken's parents, his mom and his dad. Ken called me from the research station in Cooper Landing today and told me his dad had passed away. Pete was nearly 90 years old and had been suffering from Alzheimer's.

I didn't know Pete well; we had visited him in Cable, Wisconsin nearly five years ago. We attended a graduation at Claremont College in California, then flew to Chicago, rented a car and drove nearly eight hours to see his parents. Because we got a late start, we stayed overnight at a quaint roadside motel, ate down the street and had wonderful steak dinner for under twenty-five bucks. It was a short adventure traveling to the Mid West but a signficant passage. I had often spoke to Ken's parents on the phone but this was the first time meeting them face to face. It was a delightful four days of cruising around the area, hanging with the folks, meeting with neighbors and one afternoon we drove to Lake Superior.

It is sad how little we know of each other. I knew Pete via Ken who would tell me stories from his childhood; family dinners and heated discussions, the Lithuanian neighborhood in the south side of Chicago where he grew up. There are many other accounts that I will never know of I suppose, perhaps secrets that shall remain forever hidden.

The past is always around the corner while we take the present many times for granted. Sometimes I cringe in fear about dying. Who wants to die? Not me I shout inside myself and I go on living like I never will. People's deaths remind us of our own. And to every season, change, change, change. And to Pete, my thoughts are with you this evening.

Monday, September 7, 2009

interior notes

I spent two days in interior Alaska. Flying into Fairbanks, Nancy Burham, curator of the Annex Gallery picked me up at the airport. An exhibition of my tapestry works called Comfortably Red was opening that night. The show space is in Ester located about five miles from Fairbanks. The trees were beginning to turn but the weather was dry and hot, almost 70 degrees. This is hunting season around the Fairbanks area and I got to see a production of four wheelers headed out to the Tangle Lakes region for a twenty day moose hunt. I wanted to go along with the crew and hell with an art show! But, I met with some Ester characters; visited the Golden Eagle Saloon while dogs were coming and going out the front entrance of the pub added to the lively chatter, beer and hand on hamburgers was a treat making me think that you could be in upstate NY or the Berkeley CA area. Something to bring home to Anchorage; an interior difference in every shape and form made it a specialty stay.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Since I left Los Angeles nearly eight years ago, I have kept in better contact with my friends via Facebook and emails. It sounds pretty sorry doesn't it? I told my husband that I cannot live in Alaska without the internet and cyber services. Sandra, my LA correspondent and great friend, communicates almost everyday via emails. We spoke about travel this morning and how important it is for me to get out and see and experience. Travel gives me my edge, fuels me, gives me insight and inspires my work. For the next few months, Ken and I will be scrambling around pooling our ideas, planning and visualizing our routes, making contacts abroad and rearranging our schedules that will entail almost six weeks of a trek to the southern part of India.

Tomorrow, we send our visas out for our trip that takes us to Mumbai, our starting point early December. This trip especially excites me because it will be a mental and physical challenge. We traveled to New Delhi and across the northern part of Rajasthan in 2006. It was a difficult trip for me; the pollution and poverty especially upset me and I came home not knowing if I truly enjoyed myself. It was an acute pleasure/pain experience. For our future plans, I will prepare myself with armor and learn to readjust my eyes. BUT, you can never be ready for India! I told my girlfriend that you have to travel now! Who wants to wait for retirement when you suddenly lose the nerve to go, to take long journeys across the continent?

Monday, August 24, 2009

enough of me..........

Above is Ken's work and design. The finished masterpiece; a sideboard made from paduok and canary wood laced with ebony on the cabinet drawers and door handles gives density to the piece.
Above is another view of the sideboard. This is a wedding gift to Noah and Amanda, which will be delivered next week-end to their home. This project took quite a while; tedious detail, attention and the learning mechanics on getting a simple door to function was a feat. I couldn't imagine doing this type of artwork. Ken and I have lengthy discussions on what comprises art. This doesn't need any explanation because it speaks for itself. As artists say good work!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

and on the other hand........

My sister called me from Brooklyn yesterday afternoon to tell me that a childhood neighbor had died. Mrs. Crouse was considerably older than us but was one of the fixed stable of parents on our block. She lived across the street from us, had a great sense of humor and spirit, we knew her daughters and could always see them coming and going from their home. Marie, my sister, was walking from the subway station talking to me on her cell telling me the news. I was at home looking over our large quiet green yard with the sun shining through our front windows and caught her call. On her end, I could hear a fire engine barreling down the street, noise and clatter making our connection fuzzy. Contrasts.

And on the other hand......

Remind me that I am an artist. I constantly think outside the box. I am not associated with any routine of a work place that meets everyday peppered with a community of people. I free lance. My adjunct position at the university is from semester to semester, I do odd jobs, workshops and substitute teach in the local schools to supplement my income. I work in the studio with uninterrupted periods of time and then I don't work at all. I think too much.

I deny the right that what I am is valuable to my community and that being an artist is a career path in it's own right. I make expressionistic paintings that are on the wall of my home and some people look right by them or comment questionably or they don't know what to say at all. And that's okay! Remind me that I am an artist and that what I do is important. I think too much.

I observe my garden in the front of my home; it's beauty, the sacred flowers that hold subtle scents, sublime colors with their divine arrangements, the dampness of the grass where I walk to catch the lingering summer warm, the sun that I often take for granted. Didn't Voltaire say that you must cultivate your garden? Doesn't that mean that you can be anywhere but you need to be happy with yourself? Remind me that I am an artist.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

sometimes a great notion

While the summer affords me more time to read, I found the most difficult lingered with me; wondering if I get sucked into a fast consuming literary market; easy reads that take little to no time getting into the fabric of the book had me rethinking my book taste or my facility of patience. I switch from light to dense finds and if I decide not to finish the book it is because of the lack of prose.

Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion and Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls were two novels of density, form and content. But during the reading, I found myself wondering if I wanted to continue. Both these books took my total attention and a strong concentration to finishing each labor. Both of these books were completed nearly fifty to sixty years ago. Has the craft of writing changed that much over the years? Have I become lazy?

Kesey's book goes back and forth with hidden psychological identities. His character thoughts are fused with one another so you cannot decide who is who. Kesey is a master poet while Hemingway's feat is a tedious journey, taking the day, a thought or motion stretching into an epic narrative. It was a dry read, but it's simplicity was dense with emotive clarity. I relate to Hemingway's emotions and relationships; a profound sensibility especially when he talks about animals and nature. He is a perfectionist when it comes to sensitivity.

At the moment I am beginning the novel by Zadie Smith On Beauty. I support young authors and like to study their craft and surely if I hadn't been a painter, I would have become a writer. Now I understand the full meaning of the love of labor and what it produces. Hopefully we can still take notice.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'm assuming

It is a quiet Sunday morning; a great time to write, reflect along with the ominous clouds that linger forecasting rain. Last night a friend and I were discussing small town living. As much as the quality of life is wonderful in Alaska I still have issues with groups or cliques that seem prevalent on surviving this part of the world. It is important to be part of group activity in one way or another. Myself, I guess I belong to a group of artists (although I don't regularly meet up as groups often do, but we are linked together by the work that we do.) I feel that groups become exclusive; they separate and make people feel left out.

How many times have you gone to a gathering or party while running into people you know; conversation sometimes turns into talking about friends or acquaintances that we may know indirectly or directly. Assuming you know or supposing or guessing, conjecture or theory about this person who lives in the abstract, we try to make a story about what is going on with their lives. Oftentimes, we state, I don't know - (the better supposition,) or I think she is going to stay in state, or perhaps he isn't taking that job position or maybe he/she is still running or maybe he/she has a bad injury. We are assuming we may know when in actuality, we don't know the details but we formalize and judge without really knowing.

While I lived in Los Angeles, your identity about who you were dissolved into the masses and situations often became diffused and forgotten. When you said something, it was often taken with a grain of salt and people really didn't care or hold you to it! You were allowed to change, move and evolve into a free individual. I feel that living in a small town you become this fixed identity by what you say or do without people really knowing or asking or really trying to find out. To me, this is scary and confining. On the other hand, we live in a community; people giving and helping, perhaps in a surface way, but doing the best they know how. I'm assuming.

Friday, July 31, 2009

brief head trips

How do you quiet the mind? How to you stop thoughts that go on incessantly and cease to close? At times, I am confronted by situations, conversations or happenings that seem to linger in my head long after the incidents. Being still, focusing and concentrating on something else, like a book or listening to someone else, helps alleviate the head ramblings. Letting go and just letting it be; allowing the universe to go its course, unwind itself to answers and the whimsy of life allows this freedom from the mind, freedom from obsessing.

The painting above reminds me of my sometimes ongoing chatter of the mind. Medusa was completed by Caravaggio, one of my favorite Renaissance painters. What I love about Caravaggio is his realistic and intensity of spirit which forces you to meditate on the action of the painting. Medusa is one of the Greek heroes; a woman with hideous and snaky-haired head. Myth says that by looking at her she could turn you to stone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

decisive moment and some shadows

It crossed my mind the other day how involved I have become with photography. To me, it is immediate gratification, it tones the eye and it is used for my painting studies. The other evening, my class and I were looking at a range of Cartier Bresson's work. Bresson took photographs by a process called the decisive moment; simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, precise organization of forms which gives the event it's proper expression. His black and white photography emphasized the smallest thing - a kiss, an embrace, children running; human details that are universal.

Monday, July 20, 2009

not for sissies

I practiced yoga for years in Los Angeles but until recently, I restarted with a new form called Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga. It is an intense cardio exercise and it takes shape in a variety of 26 poses held in a heated room. By the end of the session, I am usually drenched. Above, I posted a utube clip on Bikram. I would recommend this practice for everyone; a mental and physical challenge ranging from acute complexity to simple design. Personally, it keeps me calm and centered often rejuvenating me with additional energy throughout the day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

good-bye solo and being magnanimous

The other night I took my class to see the independent film at the Bear's Tooth Theatre. The film called Good-bye Solo takes place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, directed by Ramin Bahrami, and involves a Senegalese cabdriver named Solo who befriends William, an old Southerner. William wants to be taken to a mountaintop in the wilderness where he will end his life. It is a story about friendship, and it is filmed in an existential manner; dark, brooding but photographed beautifully. I wasn't impressed with the film though; it being very bleak, quirky and off beat, tired me at times (making me think maybe I had seen too many films?) Currently though, I have begun to think about relationships and how we treat each other. I didn't believe in the character Solo, who went out of his way to attach himself to this man; someone he didn't even know but wanted to save him from giving up on life, his persistence overwhelmingly questionable. I asked my students afterwards if they thought people like that existed, and some responded "yes." I wondered, often surprised by naive responses, if I had become cynical and jaded. On the other hand, I learn from my students; how we are all capable of being magnanimous - a possibility of openness and genuine giving. Let's hope so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

a gift horse.......maybe

Last night I was on the phone talking with my sister and telling her about my agenda; my long summer days in Anchorage, my sufficient studio time, my nature outings and our fabulously ongoing sunny, warm weather that we have been having to add to everything else. She commented and expressed "sounds like quite a life you have." I am suspicious of too much happiness and I realize how abundant my daily gifts are but little things go unnoticed and I often take things for granted. In French, ennui is the perfect word that I sometimes feel in between my joys - a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction or better known as boredom. Doesn't that sound terrible after all the wonderful things that I have in my life? Dare I even mention this part of speech? Maybe this is an American phenomena. My contentedness has an opposite force; the little upsets that annoy me, that I never fail to whine about such as a teaching position that would possess greater substance in my career, or a fuller banquet of art venues that I miss terribly at times. I strive for these attainments but perhaps I am looking a gift horse in the mouth..........well, maybe.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

project piece

Ken started working on an extensive sideboard project as a wedding gift for his son and his new wife. (We attended the ceremony at at lodge in Stanley, ID; beautiful sage coated hills with grazing cattle in the background made for an excellent venture. We rented a car in Boise and drove up through Ketchum which took us close to four hours.) Anyway, above is the start of this project which has three shelving cabinets.
Above is the back of the sideboard which was recently finished. And below you can take a peek at the elaborate labor involved in constructing this piece of furniture. Each slab was an inch thick, each applied individually, glued and nailed. Ken spent three hours or more sanding the back. There are 74 pieces of these redwood planks. The finished piece will have drawers and a wine rack built above with more shelving. Quite an endeavor! I will post pictures of the finished product in the next months to come.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

night light

Lately I haven't' been sleeping well because of the Alaskan light. I lie in my bed listening to all the sounds of the evening. We live close to the inlet, so the birds are very active, their noises prominent. Also, I think I intentionally stay awake so I can keep these moments, study this time and keep it near to me. This night light of the summer will go away in the upcoming few months ahead of us; the seasons of fall and winter on it's back and the pitch black of the night returns. Above is my painting titled, the night of the summer stars, a poem stanza that I snatched from Carl Sandburg.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

yin and yang

Everyone knows that Yin and Yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole in which these forces constantly interact. Above is my painting she loves him, she loves him not. It is oil on canvas, 60" x 50" and my first art piece completed this summer.
Also pictured above is the painting called Flight Arrows; part of my Yin and Yang series. Spiral headed arrows pointed downward perhaps cast a dark point of view but the piece can also be looked upon as birds in flight; take on a work of calligraphy and mark making, part of my signiture style. It is an oil painting,60" x 32".
For the birds was completed last Sunday. It is a oil painting; the size 60" x 50" on canvas. It is more representative than my other work; the moodiness carries a painterly expression though and I am trying to be more image oriented. It is a stuggle for me to stay fresh in the studio; a tug of war and a constant accessing of aesthetics.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

tough love

Last night I watched the film The Wrestler with Mickey Roarke and Marisa Tomei; filmed in Jersey and perhaps Philly. The movie was photographed and directed subtlety and so wonderfully revealing, that I went from being embarrassed by Roarke's ugliness and sadness of character to loving his candidness, beauty and carriage. It is a very quirky film, raw, crude, seedy, and gritty. The director walks you through the hyper wrestler world; frank honesty makes this film expression almost appear like soft porn while only emphasizing the cheesiness of the true mentality of this life. Not only is this film about tough love but about tough everything. Roarke is great, courageous and wonderful. Kudos to his artistry.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

we don't know what we have and things

I don't know about you, but half the time I roam about my beautiful environment of nature and don't realize what I many things and luxuries, conveniences, ample food, clothing, shelter, comforts of space and transportation, places to go that are free, positive learning tools - books, libraries and institutions and not to mention the services of technologies seconds or minutes away from our fingertips. We are spoiled people whether we know it or not; most of us don't even want to admit to this factor. Just by living in this country we have become privileged beings. I am not sure if this is such a great thing.

I remember traveling to the Philippines and encountering Filipino Americans. They too realized that they could never go back to their native land. We are disabled in another way. We have become isolated with our riches and impervious to the hardships of the outside world even though we read, think we inform ourselves and rear a compassionate heart. In the meanwhile, I was looking into relief services in Burma and sent a note asking what I could do to help out, also stating that my husband and I were interested in doing this type of work in the future. I received a prompt email back. Money. Of course, what did I expect? Honestly though, I do not treat these services as a game but perhaps I do treat the notion of helping in a romantic, ideal way. I am kidding myself and if the opportunity arose, could I really do this type of work? Would or could I go through the rigors? Something to think about.

Friday, June 5, 2009

the flag

Yesterday while working in the studio I tuned into NPR and caught up on my news fix. Also, I was impressed by Obama's visit to Egypt, his speech and how it touched Muslims around the world. During my visit to NY, there was an extra sense of patriotism and realized when I got back to AK and viewed my photos, how often the American flag appeared. Above is located by the Plaza Hotel near Central Park.
This is the hustle and bustle I experience at Penn Station when I catch the NJ Transit back to the shore points in New Jersey. It takes about an hour and twenty minutes on the train to get back to where I grew up; a modest ranch home located close to three miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes I would ride my English Racer to the coast and hang out on the boardwalk, absorbing all the sights and ocean sounds, smells, and local character. Below is one of the shore points called, Avon by the Sea. From what I understand, many a writer and poet frequented this area. When I visit the east, I take long runs on the boardwalk that stretch for several miles dotted with huge mansions, Victorian homes, along with some small shanties and cottages. This area has an abundance of color.

Monday, June 1, 2009

some bleak concepts

This is a painting that I quickly snapped while at the Francis Bacon Retrospective at the Met. (I couldn't figure out why I wasn't allowed to take pictures during this exhibit but you can at the permanent collection of paintings - Monet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh to name a few.......?) Bacon paints a pretty grim picture of the human condition; twisted bodies, anguished torsos and screaming faces of high anxiety are just some themes to mention. His work is disturbing and successful. There is also a video that shows him in a noisy bar scene in London, his messy studio arrangement, and it takes you on his painted warped view of life. The film was great and I picked it up at our local Loussac Library for free.
While walking the Chelsea art streets in NY, I came across some interesting signage. I took my time and was able to really look and observe what was around me on the streets of NY which is often exciting and filled with a continual buzz. Sometimes these street expressions are better than the art work that I experience in the traditional gallery settings. This was posted on a wall along the gallery row streets and below you can read the fine print. It paints a pretty bad picture of what an artist does and what an artist is, but I think this is the scenario of what some artists think about themselves and experience as a young working professional. Perhaps this artist came to America to find a name for themselves? And it looks that they became very disappointed and disenchanted with their artistic endeavors? Perhaps this artist is in need of a better perspective?
Also, posted on the streets was this sign shown below that I thought more provocative and interesting. It looks to me that someone is angry and someone is not getting want they want.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

incurable rooted uprootedness

Above is pictured a rooftop sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Maelstrom, meaning restless and disordered, is made from welded metal and created to resemble giant roots. It filled the huge courtyard. I thought it very appropriate since I always had a restless spirit growing up along the east coast (and still possessing this energy to this day, I am afraid to admit.) On that particular day, it was a sunny and beautiful Wednesday, with little humidity, only peppered with wonderful breezes. Another scene I caught, shows the energy of the city absorbing the long forgotten sun. The mood was very high; people strolling happily with their coffee drinks, guys with loosened ties, and I got to check out the latest fashionable Grecian sandals too. More to come on the next post! I spent over ten hours on the flight back to Anchorage yesterday, and almost feel it is easier to fly to Asia. There has to be a better way to go back to my roots.........

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

fresh paint

It's a new start for me, a summer bringing elated optimism of doing new studio work. Pictured above is a painting completed last year called fresh paint peppered with a minimal ground and fabric ties. It is a contemporary landscape and probably not too understandable but to artists of my kind and network. Today's contemporary artists are the most misunderstood of art makers. Contemporary means the now, the present and the work is too current for acceptance from mainstream audiences. As the summer months approach, I look forward to creating another three art works; stretched canvasses are gathering energy in my studio and ready to be pounced upon, scraped, bullied, painted, destroyed, recreated, loved and despised. I enjoy the challenge; the adventure of doing something better than what I have created in the past (or possibly not.) Painting is a psychological game to me, a cause, a break, a misery, darkness and light. My yoga practice encourages and teaches me to do some of the poses without struggle. I will try to employ this theory to my art making, but I still believe that without some struggle, some pain attached, some sweat, the works don't resonate and speak out. As one student once commented during a lecture I was giving, who cares?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

some gray breaks

Some Gray Breaks is a photographic study on the last of the Alaskan weather that sometimes lingers a bit too long, however, it is the finale of snow, ice, endless layers of winter gear including an assemblage of coats, gloves, hats, scarves, boots, and socks. Just to walk with bare feet in the grass and inside the house will be a delight. Going sleeveless and wearing shorts will be another phenomena. We have not yet arrived to the above mentioned (can you tell that I am anxious?) but we get closer day by day with the growing light.

This artwork will be featured at the Middleway Cafe in a group show next May and another painting will be shown at the new exhibition space at the Conoco Phillips Building at Grant Hall, once part of Alaska Pacific University.

This week, I am administering finals to my classes and we meet for our last class next week. Some Gray Breaks presents itself on a positive and uplifting note - more bike rides with the Divas, yoga studies, canoe trips, gardening, reading, long walks with the pooch, and a long awaited uninterrupted time to do my studio work.