Friday, November 26, 2010
Some time upon leaving on our treks I seem to absorb fear; I get this nervous anxiety before our departure. In fact, I hear these random horror stories from people here and there and of course my ears are wide open for the media coverage in the part of the world I will be visiting. Accidents can happen anywhere. In fact, coming back from a tedious trip to Bali and Java in 2006, at home in Anchorage, the week later I slipped on ice and broke my wrist. Things happen! Things can happen in your home. You can even trip over your dog and break a leg. What about car accidents? Of course, I don't want to amp up the hysteria, but I do believe that a little fear is good to have. My father told me to always fear the ocean. He taught me how to swim in the Atlantic current and I practiced doing my crawl in the bouncing surf. Fear teaches you to be respectful. It teaches you to do a head's up, to pay attention and listen. However.......
Years ago, before venturing on my first major jaunt to Egypt in 1989, I had a girlfriend tell me how the men over there pull out your hair. My trip was astonishing fabulous; the people kind and welcoming. In fact, whenever we visit places, we are greeted with openness. Of course, there were places that are edgy too, but most of our travels have been successful and timeless. My travel agent, who is Cambodian, told me not to travel to Laos. She exclaimed that they will kill you! Maybe there was a little prejudice happening with this comment, but Ken and I seriously look into the travel warnings, alerts and read up from other people's comments who know of this area and have traveled in those parts. There is also the Thorn Tree Website that lists areas of the world; people can ask questions, leave comments, most everyone gives recommendations and wonderful, helpful advice.
I do think the older you get, you are more hesitant to travel. Why wait until you retire? You need to be in excellent shape to walk, experience challenging places, must transition and adapt easily. I have noticed a grand malaise over the years from the American people about traveling though and maybe this has happened since the 9/11 incident. We have become a nation of fear. In fact, we see more Australians and Brits on our trips, along with Italians, French and many German, not to mention Koreans, Japanese, Israeli and Russian. However, Americans seem to be seen the least on our journeys.
Once over in the country, I seem to forgot all these fears and settle on the adventure. The anticipation before going is always the worse part of the escapade and so this will be my last posting in my blog until I RETURN home! Adieu America!
Monday, November 22, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Last week, I went to the library and being interested in the spiritual and contemplative life, I set out to investigate a few teachers or mentors that I had always wanted to read. One book is by the Dalai Lama called An Open Heart, Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life and the other book is called Follow the Ecstasy, The Hermitage Years of Thomas Merton by John Howard Griffin. I started with the Dalai Lama and left it mid way to explore the Merton book. Currently, I am engrossed with Merton; a slow but fascinating read. It is a minute by minute psychological journey of his thoughts, actions and consequences; how he sought out solitude to achieve a purity of spirit and to become closer to God. Merton was a wonderful poet/mystic; deep and clear resonates his words. He was also a painter.
What is clear about both men is that they exemplify humanness and as I delve further and further into the Merton book, I see how it mirrors myself. It is honest, edgy and real. Follow the Ecstasy examines the last three years of the monk's life. (And with a little gossip expressed here - Merton fell in love with a young nurse during convalescing with some back surgeries. It makes me think of the great painter Michelangelo who also struggled with his love for a young boy and was so torn apart by his feelings because his actions did not follow the dictum of the church. Oh, guilt - we can do without you.......)
The book doesn't leave me feeling anymore composed or relaxed about the human condition but it does deepen my thoughts about being okay the way I am. The best part on this journey called life is that we learn to love ourselves in a profound way so we are able to give it back while slinging it and singing it at the same time.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Presently, I am working on several sketchbooks at the same time; weaving in and out from one to the other, letting paint dry in one book while setting up another page makes for a constant interaction of doing and trying to make the pages work. Sketchbooks are good in between projects and they instigate other ideas.
I enjoy working on these small canvas like sheets; you can easily rip one out if the expression isn't working your way but otherwise, I paint, glue, cut, shape and collage my way onto these works - in other words these manipulated sketchbooks are perfect examples of readjusting and formatting a design that can evolve into lovely paintings, drawings and sketches. My sketchbooks include some personal travel notes and thoughts. You can go back and forth with your ideas while they evolve into some interesting sculptural identities.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Fall is my favorite season because it is dramatic and in Alaska it is a sudden alarm after the heat, long days and sunshine of the summer. I grew up back east where the weather turned suddenly around late September. Around me, I would stomp through the massive swirling leaf piles and softly observe the turn and smells of nature. It is a subtle expression that fits me more than any other season. Living in Alaska, it brings back memories of my childhood on the Jersey coast and Indian summers were marvelous to observe by looking out on Atlantic's sparkling horizon. Of course things change from season to season but with the golden colors, you have the fresh air and winds, the waving trees and sprinkling of falling leaves like someone emptying out their drawers. Fall is an announcement of change, Alaskan darkness and things around the corner. I guess you could say that with every season, but fall is remarkably distinct, mysterious and beautiful because it seems to linger with newness and anticipation. I embrace it with fondness every time.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
With this weather, I am forced to be introspective; am back to gathering funds for outside travel and getting sufficient studio time while quickly scurrying to set up our affairs before leaving leaves me overwhelmed and waking up late at times into the night. Faced with pressed time, I realize that I cannot cut corners with my family, friends and my dog. Everyone deserves to be listened to and given thorough time, attention and focus. Blue, my dog, needs my care and I find her more responsive by brushing her and being with her whenever I can. Before going out in social gatherings, I resign myself to listening to others rather than broadcasting about myself and what is going on with my life unless I am asked. This is a small service that I try to do but I often fail at.
We recently bought a iphone and the action of getting another thing to learn threw me off; it sent me into a tizzy but I soon recognized that I must follow what I preach to my students about being updated with technology and electronics. My husband commented that these changes are good because we are forced to use our minds to apply different, innovative transformations and configurations. Last night in bed, I couldn't sleep and I found myself with this new gadget, playing around and surfing the net. This action seemed more off than perverse, but I readily accepted this diversion and chuckled to myself. At this time, I need to embrace all the subtle contradictions that I inhabit. Paul Campbell, the great philosopher, commented that humans constantly seek the ultimate experience of feeling or what it is to being alive - that is our quest and inquiry. No wonders and great wonders.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I was happy to leave early Sunday morning. When I got back to Anchorage, I looked at the photos of this city and found it looking beautiful and inviting. Los Angeles lives up to it's massive culture laced with eclectic surroundings and people. My girlfriend says that the city has something to offer for everyone. Los Angeles sets up an illusion encased in a Hollywood facade - a fascinating place that holds onto the mystery, the charm and the Peter Pan existence of never having to grow up.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Appelley, India, is located on the southwest coast and is known as the backwaters of this sub continent. We hired a driver from Mysore and along with a French Canadian traveler from Montreal, we all decided to split the costs. It would take twelve hours to travel south costing fifty dollars each to get there. Along the way, two hours from Alleppey, we got into an accident on Christmas day. A woman and a small boy seated between her legs on a scooter drifted onto our path, causing the driver to skid a good hundred feet. Fortunately, the woman was okay with a slight head wound and her boy bounced off the scooter unharmed. Our entire windshield was smashed and I was in the back seat while I quietly examined this terrifying slow motion happening. There was a police station across the street; we were taken there and sat in their offices for almost an hour while the driver was questioned. They didn't speak or ask us anything about the incident and we were told that a new driver was on the way to continue on with our journey. It was a good thing that the young woman was going to be fine and not sure what would have transpired if it had been serious. Travel in India is perilous and you literally take your life in your hands because of the hoards of people in this country and the general congestion on the main freeways and city roads.
We arrived to Alleppey, hot and exhausted, late in the evening. Finding a temporary room, we slept and got up to look for a better lodging along the backwaters. Along the wet lands we found a duplex of cottages privately owned. Deepu, the caretaker (and is our friend today) made our lunches and dinners. It was a centrally located area where we hired a boat to peruse these fertile territories. The Keralans are darker and kinder in spirit; the Alleppey attitude is more laid back and there seems to be a wonderful shared sense of humor among the community. This video clip is taken on site at our lodging. Crows would assemble each morning and dusk to socialize; it is the sounds that I was drawn too and their massive enchanting cries.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Four new house posts were installed at the clan house at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. You can see the interior of the four nations represented - the Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak and Tlingit tribes. In the background, the Eyak complete their song and dance.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Realizing it was Friday the 13th, I thought it apropos to work on my blog statement. It has been raining for the past week with constant gloomy, gray weather and the summer has been a record of terrible and disappointing weather. I find myself though enjoying the time to focus on reading and catching up on loose ends; my studio work is healthy and complete at the moment. At times, I find myself imploding and needing to get out of the house because the lingering gray seems to sit on my head. Ken is away on a ten day flying survey and I find myself experiencing solitude and quiet. My dog Blue is with me, my shadow and constant companion who is suffering from a poor spine but is amped up on steroids. She keeps me busy tending to her needs; we take simple walks to ease her mind and she remains a good source of distraction from my singleness.
Today was my adventure day! This morning I loaded the dog in the truck and we headed to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This past week was the inception of four new house posts from the four nations - Tlingit, Eyak, Tsimshian and the Haida tribes. I was thrilled to be able to see the naming of the clanhouse ceremonies, experience the quirky behavior of these colorful people in dress and dance. Moreover, the sense of their self respect was radiant. I love Alaska because of this native core and it has drawn me closer to the land and forced me to embrace another way of seeing and experiencing this hidden culture. When I first arrived to Alaska, it was the Alaska Native people I searched for and found this culture too assimilated and strained under layers of many complexities and subtleties. It is prevalent however in the coming together of festivities that reveals their native pride and I sense their desperate grasp to hold onto their language and native ways. The video posted above is The Tsimshian Incoming Song sung and danced by a sister and brother.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
A series of new works called Blindfold Series are being completed in my studio. These pieces are done on board with gesso, graphite and oil; are done quickly at times while others are reworked to achieve the resolution that I want. The word blindfold is used to describe these works because I feel around, not seeing, not working with a photograph but drawing and painting intuitively and instinctively. I would assume that these pieces are records of memories lingering in and out of my unconscious.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Pictured above are two different scenes that I inhabit during the year. One is in my backyard where nature is full with abundant natural space and clean air. The other video is what I experience another time of the year - city life and it's massive culture. The second video was shot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Batu Caves. The towering caves are made from limestone and you walk up 227 steps. Along the way, we experienced Hindu blessings and services.
I haven't been inspired to say anything lately, but today is (another) cloudy out and I find myself sitting down at the moment rather than painting and slashing it out in the studio. Also, I find the video making fresh and I love the challenge of pasting the scenes together with my capricious editing program that I use.
At the moment, I am experiencing dullness, very similar to the gray dark clouds that I see outside our computer room along with the metronome of the wind swaying trees. Perhaps I suffer from a cogent direction or a discontentment of what I have been painting. They are newer works of the figure and I seem to latch onto these images because they give me substance and a new ground for making work. Thinking and observing what you paint is as difficult as the physical act of painting. The inner necessity of having to say something and having it be good work is my main focus and general preoccupation. There is that ongoing continuation, that process that we forget much of the time while making the work and I often look towards the finale which is deceptive and absorbs useful energy that could be put back onto the canvas. Moreover, I find that work has to sit, incubate and gather energy throughout time, where it surprises and catches you off guard. It is truly a metaphysical journey. A friend's quote at the bottom of her emails reads, keep loving, keep fighting. It couldn't be better expressed!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The past few years, I have noticed that robins have been building their nests around our home. I hear that is good luck. Anyway, here is one bird using our birdbath. I caught this clip from inside the kitchen and miss the slight sounds. Last year, the birds nested in the eaves of our carport and this year they are nestled and well hidden in the center of our Mayday tree. I am happy they find peace in our yard and I love having them around, seeing them scurry for their food and flitting here and there.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Below is our Himalayan Poppies that we harvest each year in our front garden. They have doubled in size and the color is unusually stunning because you are not so lucky to get this type of blue. I am fortunate because I live in nature. I don't live in Los Angeles anymore and miss the avid art scene. It is a trade off I guess where big city dwellers miss the purity of the outdoors and where I miss the ruckus of city life. These days however, I seem to make it a fit and have determined to make this place a home, for now, and will adjust it to my art and style, to my life and call it a grand existence.
Monday, June 14, 2010
As a volunteer, you go through a training for five hours and the staff preps you on the routine and all the rules. You receive a badge, a key to the cages and a leash. You can walk the dogs anywhere around the grounds, but they must be on the leash at all times and cannot come in contact with other dogs. On the papers listed outside their cages, you can see how old they are and how they came to the shelter. Many are termed strays and others are titled owner surrendered. Some notes are mentioned what needs to be done to the animal, if their teeth need to be cleaned or if they have other health issues. Some don't get along with children or other dogs.
This morning, I did my small service and I walked this mixed breed named Case. Case had such strength for a small slender dog and he went wild when I brought him outside as he pulled me all over the place. I walked across the street to an abandoned large ball field and observed that it was completely fenced in. I hesitated and wondered what would happen if I let Case go. I took the risk, and let Case rip into the field. He ran like a race animal and bolted here and there, so happy to be free. Case came back to me and as I bent down to greet him and he put his head on my shoulder. It was a hug.
The dogs are very appreciative of the walks and the affection you give them. Most of them are so nervous and excited to be out that you wouldn't know this, but after they calm down, you see the their sweetness and gratitude. They correspond and let you know this by their pleading eyes.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
This morning is a breezy and balmy day experiencing changes from massive sun the past few days if you live in Alaska is not the norm and expect the weather to turn from day to day. I have been enjoying the heat however and how it fills and radiates throughout my being making me realize how missed a sensation. When I lived in Los Angeles the weather could be very predictable including hot (sometimes smoggy) and sunny days and at times it became monotonous and dizzying. Living in the upper Pacific Northwest you never know what you will wake to. We live across from the inlet and experience more winds and cooler temps. Here is a short experimentation on the winds of Alaska.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Alexander Nevsky, a saint and known as the Protector of the Russian army.
Every semester, I take a course at the university because it is free for me since I teach as an adjunct. This summer, I decided to take a five week course called the History of Alaska. It involves a good deal of reading, which I enjoy; missionaries from the Russian Orthodoxy and Presbyterian ministries, anthropological stories on the Native Alaskans and Russian history to list a few topics are some of the issues that we cover. You need to do a power point presentation among other things for the class. I decided to do my talk on Alexander Nevsky, known for the famous Battle on the Ice where he conquered the Germans. I tied my speech in with the films of Sergei Eisenstein, a 20th century film maker known for his brilliant epic stories on the grandiose scale and who created 12th century medieval Russia wonderfully in his films. (You can rent his films at the Loussac Library in town or most certainly at Netflix.) The actor seen above portrayed as Alexander Nevsky, was one of Stalin's favorite artists.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The subtlety of sounds and the home of hundreds of many bird species sometimes draws me in. Last Sunday, a beautiful and cool sunny day, Ken and I took a short drive to Potter's Marsh and observed the fresh noises of spring. I caught the Arctic Tern flying and hanging on the waters and read that it is known to complete one of the longest migrations of any known animal. From a distance it looks so small and unassuming, but after looking through the lens of binoculars, it is powerful and strong with a massive wingspread. This bird lives close to thirty years.
Sounds from the roaring Seward Highway can be heard on the video clip and oftentimes when I look down the coast, I get that vacation feeling of immense excitement and freedom. Alaskan summers does that to me; stirs up old times when I was younger and on the road with my parents, going somewhere new. There were family vacations to Gettysburg, Washington DC, New Hampshire and Niagara Falls to name a few. Staying at roadside motels were thrilling because we got to swim in the pools and showed off our diving skills. Early mornings, I couldn't sleep because I would listen to the sensations of a new place; the adventure of traveling and seeing and experiencing a first time destination presenting itself with possibility and it was the most fantastic thing that anyone could do.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Speaking of place, below is a larva or monsoma pulveratum, the sawfly; new and recent discoveries have been significant on this insect. Ken also writes and publishes scientific information for the Forest Service and his photographs of his field work are often included in pamphlets, booklets and scientific journals.
Last evening, I caught a glimpse of Ken, my husband and partner of close to ten years. As I was standing in our dining room, I saw his head from outside the front window of our door, perfectly framed and peeking out to me. He was fully engaged hanging with our dog Blue not knowing I was looking at him. It was at that point I saw how handsome he was. And within that distance, that moment, I realised that I had forgotten him. At the same time a fresh picture of someone I knew so well became outstanding. Perhaps we lose sight of each other; perhaps we get too close and they become too familiar.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Yesterday, I got up early on Sunday morning to film the art installation in downtown Anchorage that will accent the new wing of the museum. Lots of other folks were there too, at 6:30am to witness the cubed geometric figure of Antony Gormley. We all hung around for a good couple of hours, drinking coffee and nabbing quick bites of doughnuts; meeting with the artist and seeing his giant Habitat sculpture being lifted by a massive crane, slowly being toppled to it's upright position and then carried to the designated spot where it will be cemented and forever hold part of the grounds was the anticipated climax. I describe it as many boxes of a small city complex. Also, the gray, somber skies of Anchorage seemed to welcome in Gormley's sculpture and it couldn't have been a better day.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
People never tire of elephants; these cumbersome beasts are lovely to observe and seem so foreign and they certainly don't fit in our environment but only in the wild. Here you see the mascot gracefully moving the best he can and in such sad spirits it seems to carry, as he drags every bit of weight with him reluctantly. Afterwards, you can see the riot of color by women adorned in their green saris bearing offerings to the Ministry of Tourism. The festival was fun and loud; often the off beat drumming was too much noise but who cared because we were all so happy to witness an Indian celebration.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
After coming from the town of Aurangabad, Hampi was a soft and wondrous place; filled with Westerners like us, experiencing India's landscape of enchantment and awe. Early mornings, we would wander down by the river and observe all the bathers at the ghats doing their ritual cleanse for the day. That day, we got to see their mascot, the elephant being bathed. We were to see that elephant in Hampi's festival later that evening. Also, the elephant would be placed on the corner of the town square; taking your rupees by his trunk and flinging it into a coin basket would only leave you smiling. Hampi is set up for the Westerner, but it didn't take away it's ancient ruins, humble countryside nor it's magic. It is a place to be visited.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
(I have been tooling around and experimenting with video for almost three years; working on editing and not to mention meaningful content is a rigorous journey. This is a new art form for me and most of these clips I term as travelogues or vignettes.)
While we were in Hampi, we discovered rural India and everything else under the sun. We loved walking down to the river mornings while most of the community bathed and completed their daily rituals. In the same water, you can see woman doing the laundry. Other parts of Hampi were peppered with ruins and some very significant temples. It was very magical and had a relaxed air of centuries past. One day, we rented bikes for five bucks and rode to the outskirts of the city. The warm breezes and dusty winds were very comforting. Every minute in India is full with never a dull moment; you are either surrounded by the locals walking by or the painted oxen in the fields, not to mention a musical air that accompanies the scenery, that uplifts, takes you in and sweeps you off your feet.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Hyderabad is a bustling old city in the southern interior of India that is predominately Muslim. We decided to stay a few nights at this hotel before heading to Alleppy and I got in some film clips of street life from our second floor room. Not only is this a busy, noisy area, but crossing to the other side was sometimes perilous. Our room was comfortable, clean and quiet however. Ken and I finally found a restaurant to have a beer; located off the major boulevard, we climbed upstairs to a dark and smoky eating establishment. There were no women, but plenty of men drinking, smoking and carrying on. We had a wonderful shrimp dish with our Kingfishers. We found India to be very conservative in the interior and I have to admit, more interesting because we saw a side that the normal tourist wouldn't care to explore. We were virtually the only Westerners on some of our days of travel. People were wonderfully polite to us, and I found the Muslim people very intense with wicked, sharp humor. There were the fantastic tombs of the Qutb Shahi Kings - immense towering sculptures, bell shapes monuments and not only one, but the site was peppered with a least a dozen of these mausoleums. We also visited the Gaolconda Fort that wasn't as superb as Daulatabad fort in Aurangabad. I love the forts in India; works of art that carry this old age empire of the Mughal sensibility.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On our way back towards town from the Aurangabad Caves, we fell onto a wedding party. You can visibly see the groom on his horse before he goes inside to the wedding area. I wished I possessed the nerve to follow into the ceremony, but felt this really wasn't any of my business. However, I truly think I would have been welcomed to join in the celebration. You can see the dancing in the streets and everyone is very happy and elated. What I did notice throughout India, were the masses of men walking together; almost like a herd mentality. India is very patriarchal. While seeing men in groups walking around, I often wondered, where are the women and when I did see them, they were usually solitary and fleeting. Othertimes, I noticed that they were usually hidden inside the homes and most likely in the kitchen!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
This is a video of one of the Aurangabad caves. Aurangabad is located nine hours northeast of Mumbai and we traveled on a second class train - something you should do once while traveling in India and afterwards go A/C first class all the time! The town was a mess and we arrived at one in the morning; nearly fainting when the rickshaw driver dropped us off at the shabby hotel. The room had bars on the windows, a shower that dripped cold water and we were charged over thirty dollars for a run down space while questioning to ourselves why had we ever gone the distance. Even in the daylight, Aurangabad is a terribly dirty, trash strewn town. We hired a driver the next day who took us to the Ellora Caves and then the following day to the Ajanta Caves located two hours through charming rural countryside. Meanwhile, all the caves are immaculate and well maintained. This video shows one interior of the Aurangabad Caves (while these excavations are considered a lesser of the sites but what I love about this clip is the distant sounds of a Hindu wedding, which I also filmed and will post at a later date.) In retrospect, it was a wondrous journey and a trek I would do over and over again. I highly recommend seeing these first class 5th century Buddhist carvings considered as World Heritage Sites. India constantly throws you all over the place but you land standing on two feet in rapturous awe.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Mysore is known as the sandalwood capital. They boast the Majaraja's Palace which is indeed magnificent. However, one day we took a rickshaw up to Chamundi Hill, known to be a special pilgrimage site. It was indeed special; spirits ran very high with hundreds of people perusing the temple lining up to see the special icon. I stood in the fast moving queue and you are pushed or almost carried among several people on all sides; the excitement is quite clear. Once at the idol, you quickly pass by, whisper a prayer or drop flowers at the alter. It was a sunny and breezy day; clean air and the perfect temperature infested everyone it seemed. I made this video and although it is a bit fuzzy, you can catch the environment and good spirits of the people. Mysore is a sprawling city and a good mix of Hindu and Muslim cultures. One of my favorite things was waking up to the call to prayer each morning.