Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tree of Life

I recently viewed the film The Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick, starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. While I was skeptical at first with many of the photography images I thought pretentious kitsch overload in the movie making domain, it won my heart over. It is a must see and a recommended movie for everyone. The film can be slow, beginning with the birth of three boys and their gradual maturity. The death of the oldest son makes the film go back and forth abstractly to their childhood home and family. It takes place in the 50's and Brad Pitt expressed the mood and tension poignantly of his character. It is a reflective piece and a quiet honest psychological observation on the thoughts from the characters. It is a subtle and hopeful film of quality.

Monday, November 28, 2011

closer to hand

Above is a new work titled Tuxedo Moon. I have chosen a few works that were completed this past month inspired by my visit to the Utah landscape. These works are drawings with oil stick and paint on watercolor paper, all approximately 18" x 20". They were done spontaneously with great ease and clarity. The theme of the work is based on the hourglass formations that I saw from the desert terrain. I noted the rock cathedrals; beautifully orchestrated natural lines of symmetry mixed with the plant life have their own aesthetics and beauty formed over millions of years.
The artwork pictured above is titled Canyon Cup. I like these works because they are simply drawn and implied. Abstract work is the hardest to comprehend and probably the least accepting of all art movements. When I discuss the theory of abstract to my classes I inform students that we usually do most of our thinking abstractly. It is a hard concept to embrace because of it's elusiveness.
Above the piece is called Canyon Torso and the piece below is called Hourglass Landscape. Colors are indicative of the country that I saw; vast expanses of red soil, peppered with green Juniper trees and of course the brilliant blue sky was a constant.
My favorite piece is called Arrowhead Dress pictured below. These are contemporary pieces of art; works done for the now and studies of how my mind works, never taking or copying from photographs but are drawn from my imagination. They are a collective body of impressions that are greatly thought about, studied, and reworked to fit my understanding of the subject at hand.

Monday, November 21, 2011

China and staying inspired

Currently, I am reading a novel called River Town by Peter Hessler. He writes his accounts and personal experiences while as a Peace Corps college instructor in the town called Fuling located in the Sichuan Valley. (While Fuling isn't located on the above map, you can locate the nearby city called Chengdu.) His depictions of the Chinese people are intriguing; dealing with educating the country people in this area, Hessler teaches English literature. He expresses how the peasants absorb themselves in Shakespeare and Beowulf easily and how they naturally experience the language. They work hard with comprehending the prose and don't complain about the difficulty of nuances. Hessler talks about the Yangtze River, the Wu River which runs south of the Yangtze, and the Three Gorges Dam. This past summer I watched a documentary on the Yangtze River; the relocation of hundreds of villagers that would have to move from the valley because of the construction of the dam but were given better accommodations in exchange. However, I saw the eventual rise of the river tides progressively increase, farmers thrown from their fields while being virtually displaced was criminal. Hessler goes on describing the river and the river industry, his relationship with the Chinese and his experiences learning the Chinese language. He gives great detail on the politics and historical context on this area.

While Ken and I have plans to go to China next year, we usually go away for the winter season but house repairs and an update for a new computer made us decide to spend a Christmas in Anchorage. It will be our first Christmas in the state of Alaska in nine years. I look forward to setting up a tree and making it festive, cooking and spending time in the studio. However, I need to stay inspired and these trips abroad fuel my creative capacities.

But I did get to spend some time this past October; mountain biking in Southern Utah gave me incentive to work on some drawings on this spectacular landscape. In fact, I have become attached to drawing and like how I am closer to the paper - realizations are purer and embody the hand. These are works that color, line and composition do the talking - nothing else, no fragments, or bits of paper, collaging or fabric remnants feeding the expression.

It is hard for me to stay
inspired and immersed in the art process. It is a continual challenge and struggle. These trips give me the impetus to remain focused and engaged. Making art connects me to my center and I love the introspection of the studio. There is something about leaving a place of comfort and seeing other cultures, people, and experiencing their ways of doing things. I have always had a restless spirit and need to go and see. Perhaps, staying in Alaska during the core winter months will ignite some ingenious drawings on the other hand.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

king of the mountain

By biking and through a generous group of organizers of feisty Alaskan women, I got to the state of Utah. Immediately upon landing in Green River, I reconnected to the desert and realized how much I missed this landscape. It was an expansion of dry land, warm air and a scent of sage that greeted me. The Moab Airport is a quiet gem and I landed in a Beecraft 1900 after a layover from Denver; it is a small aircraft that sits not more than eighteen people. The airport has one landing strip and you are greeted with your baggage at the foot of the plane. I loved the intimacy of the building and this southwestern unpopulated domain made it an authentic and a novel establishment.

Upon being picked up by Brin, (our fabulous guide that would lead us throughout the biking territory of the Maze in the Moab), we rode for thirty five minutes to the Comfort Inn where I was meeting the rest of the bikers. While driving there and seeing familiar desert scape, I had forgotten the dinginess of place, the forlorn atmosphere, but the wide expanse of the sky extinguished these sights as quickly as the highway surged and sprinkled passing cars and trucks coming and going in it's desolateness. This is the romantic west; the heat pleasurable, where open half domed skies are immense, almost too blue to believe. The color is indescribable; a dense aqua and teal with the intensity of cobalt intermingled might be a fair description. Clouds lingered in the sky, floating Magritte fashion. Underlined the puffs were a purple, dark gray and these shapes dangled like cotton candy balls, hovering far away but still they seemed touchable.

Once at the Comfort Inn, I walked next door to the Museum of Green River and perused the information on the valley. It was a good introduction into the state; often forgetting America's greatness and the founding explorers that discovered this great terrain was a favorable surprise and a good reminder to stay humble.

The next five days would be filled with an assortment of gifts; great cycling among the paths of the Moab, climbing a bit here and there, and reaching to wonderful tops of jaw dropping spread out sights of wide canyons among canyons. Every where I turned I was aghast with the scale and magnitude of beauty; orchestras of Junipers trees and dotted sagebrush pressed against the red land, giant sculptural rock formations made me think of the Egyptian tombs and wall drawings of ancient times, conical pyramidal shapes were reflections of the remoteness of place pressed centuries of time to my face. I might have been on the Moon! Masses of brush would be contrasted to the hard blue sky as the evening would crash with a lit full moon creating assemblages of wonderful color and arrangement. The wake up morning light was clear, casting a yellow glow on the surrounding mountains and desert fields.

The biking wasn't difficult for me, while traveling the long roads could sometimes be monotonous the paths were redeemed by the heat. That glorious constant sun kept me reeling in the miles which seemed effortless as this keen energy source beat on my legs and the side of my face; I felt fantastic and would end fantastic at the end of the day's ride. You could describe some of the trails as jeep trails, dusty and soft red dirt and other times if you weren't careful you could speed down an incline to some deep ruts that could throw you out of control.
Above, is one of my favorite pictures. I took about four hundred pictures of the desert and choose thirty to post on Facebook. We ended our rides sitting and chatting around the fire; good camaraderie and assortment of characters sparked our adventure. The food was wonderful with a healthy balance of fresh fruits, salads and fish or meat. We were given choices and a varied menu each morning, lunch and dinner. Our guides, Brin and Ben, were there to help and suggest alternatives if there were any questions to where to ride. Most of it seemed impromptu but I admired this because the trip was tailored to every one's needs and fitted every one's comfort level. Hats off to the Alaska Dirt Divas!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

last night's poem

just for a moment I thought I smelled the excitement of lingering sea air, ocean big with expectations of tomorrow

now, rain drops hit and miss my ears making sounds of random the night time, bedtime when the dark is back

a small breeze seems to catch me though, filling the room with another type of enchantment

Saturday, August 20, 2011

summer strands

It is Monday morning and a quiet time to reflect, again, and these spells seep into my days as I observe the state of affairs, our country and our direction. While working in the studio, I put on NPR; my favorite news channel keeps me up to date and in tune with the rest of the world but I shut it off too, focusing on my paintings for space to think and to resolve creative questions that need my full attention. However, the news seems overpoweringly gloomy and full of despair and I cannot help but sink into this attitude that our condition is indeed unstable.
Above is a shaped tapestry. During the past few months, I set up three work stations in my studio. One consists of painting larger works with smaller drawing/painting studies. The second and intermittent activity are the tapestry wall hangings and constructed pieces that are physically demanding and throw a wrench into my psyche as a painter. These pieces are sculptural and I find myself wrestling with these works; the canvas and paint, the sewing on top of sewn remnants forces me to struggle and realize how little I am in control of this travail.Shown above and below are sketchbook entries which is my third area of the studio and the most fun to do. My sketchbook is like my time off. These drawings are bits and pieces of history that I have collected over the years but have decided to enter them into one book. On the other hand, I have taken reproductions from discarded art books and transformed them to coordinate with other pages. I like the pairing of each.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August landscapes

With the beginning of August, summer shifted drastically - light became dark early in the am and then the rains started. For me, this weather was productive and I found myself in the studio groove working on smaller landscapes studies. This ample time of activity will change too since school starts and I will be busy catching up on income. Above, is my favorite study of trees. How many times can you duplicate trees and reinvent landscapes?

Above and below are more studies on nature landscapes. They are mixed media paintings. I take a lot of remnants that collect from around the house; odds and ends of fabric and old photos and other scraps seem to show up in my artwork. These bits of paper or college materials build a nice foundation or I call it a lift to heighten the work. They invigorate me. You can glue and tear off these extra pieces of paper or objects and the result can push you in another direction.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Monday's contemplative

While I listen to Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, I sit and stare out the window at the waving trees against the light gray of the sky realizing how I love the constant changing of weather from day to day. Am not a big opera buff either but decided to explore more of this expression while working in the studio and around the house. (I also picked up Verdi's Otello) but now as I observe the outside, I think about what I have done here since my move to Anchorage ten years ago. Here are just a few things worth mentioning in no specific order:

1 - My dog Blue, who is a 130 pound Newfoundland lies asleep by the door. She has been around our home for close to seven years. During that time, I have learned how to groom her, clip her gigantic nails and pay attention to her delicate health of fragile limbs and allergic ears. We manage to take walks through the grasses and down to the creek where she loves to cool her paws.
2 - I have learned how to handle a mountain bike and roam the hillsides of Anchorage with fellow bikers. This group dynamic has challenged a different entourage in my life and tested my ability to see people from other parts of the town. Learning to bike on a treacherous terrain too goes with part of the cyclist journey; long winding bumpy grounds sometimes laced with roots, rocks and an odd assemblage of growth can spin you into the air over the handlebars if you are not careful.
3 - I have been able to teach art appreciation and drawing classes at the University of Alaska; being immersed in a learning environment has helped me grow to know more about the art that I do, why I do it, what it really is, and expand this knowledge to the community.
4 - My studio is behind my house and every day I take a short walk behind my home and climb the steps to my sacred place. Never have I had this luxury in the past. The time I can spend on my work has been fruitful, long, thoughtfull periods mixed with unproductive spans of creative blocks while some of it has been ground breaking and other times monotonous. Living here in Anchorage has given me a different perspective of place in contrast to a large city. Big city pretentiousness has begun to peel off of my shoulders little by little.
5 - (Need I mention the incredible setting and nature parts that surrounds my periphery while I drive to places around town and can visit on a daily basis?)
6 - Being able to travel and see parts of the world has advanced my artistic persona. My partner of ten years is a great companion; we have reinvented our home, our lives to fit a fulfilling existence while I envision more adventure ahead.

P.S. - Days ago I was battling with the half full/half empty dilemma. Today, I am in the full mode and recognize how quickly the contents can drain from the glass. Saying that, I feel that I lifted the jinx and can exclaim good times!

Monday, July 18, 2011

shifting landscapes of experience

Shifting landscapes are a series of studies on line, color and space using oil stick and paints. They are casual and abstract renderings of the environment that I see around me while I frequent the outdoors. I reinterpret these surroundings in another way aside from the traditional landscapes that are easily recognizable such as visable mountains, trees, creeks and the lush green that inhabits the Alaskan summers. My works are progressive and ongoing studies and looking at these images can change day to day.

These two works, pictured above and below are studies on clouds. Many times when I am working in the studio, I have no idea where my drawings and paintings will lead me. They are manifestations of the collective unconscious, a Jungian concept that includes a universal library of human knowledge, or sage in the man or the very transcendental wisdom that guides mankind. Jungian theory focuses on dreams and symbols. Certain archetypes are the structure of the collective unconscious such as birth, death, power and failure. I studied Jung in California and as I write this I feel the need to reimmerse myself back into Jung's writings. While at college, I started out as a psychology major and delve into languages, gradually changing to the fine arts after moving to Los Angeles, California. Writing this blog helps me sort out my thoughts and inner/hidden reflections and uncovers the past bringing new discoveries to the present.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

summer and time

Long days with light and uninterrupted periods of space to reflect and to spread out in the sun maybe watering each plant attentively with quiet is a luxury. These gems dominate my summer until I think about the Atlantic Ocean long ago, so vast and sparking with glittering stars atop the surface. I once laid upon my stomach on the sand loving each sensation of time, observing the small tubular water drops that lingered on my tan arms from a recent dip. Feeling my warm breath, I never wanted this moment to vanish. Hot, humid days of people parading the shore with that stunning horizon that I looked at a million times but didn't see and didn't take the time to reflect upon its greatness until now, as I miss this thirty years later.

Summer days can be all absorbing. I make sure I have time to observe the birds, the heat and the blue in between the spaces of the tree leaves as they wave saying how happy they are. Light chime songs are competing with the sounds of the wind that dominates this occasion. I cannot tell the difference between the beauty of past/present. They melt into one. They are inseparable.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

sometimes an unusual aesthetic

What every artist depends upon are materials; a good find usually inspires me to get motivated and pushes me into another direction. In this case, I took some old art books that were being discarded from the schools and reinvented them into mixed media works. Sculptural works can be pleasant and this exercise stems around shaping the piece by gutting the contents of the book, adding paint and collaging techniques. The above work is called Botticelli's Prayer Beads.

For a few years, I had been taking old canvasses and reshaping them by sewing and molding them into objects. Another term for these pieces can be tapestries or scrolls. Fascinated with the aspect of taking painting elements but working without stretcher bars tends to be a tedious production for me. They are works in progress. (The above hasn't a title yet.) Pictured below is a detail of This is where I want to be - tales from a wall flower. The size is 72" x 45" and my more interesting work of unstretched canvas to date, however, time usually tells me if it is indeed anything I want to hold onto.

Pictured below is the entire piece of the sewn canvas. These works present challenges to me, so I continue onward because I like the physicality of each, the questions, the struggle, doubts and insecurities of trying to make something speak to me. Making artwork is also like having an intellectual conversation with myself, like solving a puzzle or mystery. It is elusive, engaging and mysterious.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

summer night light reading

Finally tired of imaginary stories and authors lingering with their indulgent banter, I decided to do a reading switch this summer and examine nonfiction. Loussac Libary is my favorite place to go in Anchorage and it was my first destination when I first arrived to Alaska ten years ago. The library does incredibly well; often needing inner library loans, they provide them quickly and meet your demands.

Last Sunday though, I decided to peruse the travel area of the library and picked up two books; one that I recently finished called Among Flowers, A Walk in the Himalaya by Jamaica Kincaid. I grabbed Kincaid's book excitedly because I had read her years ago in the New Yorker and was touched by her candid and open writing dialogue. (Kincaid is from Antigua and she told of her first experiences arriving to New York and what she had to do to survive in the big city.) Her style is a bit clunky but when you get past it, her honesty becomes bitter sweet and she takes you step by step into her crossings. This story in particular examined a two week journey into the Himalaya with a group of other naturalists while they collected seeds for their gardens back in Wales and Vermont. How novel I thought! Kincaid expresses her fears so openly and brings new insights into her trail wanderings that I felt I made the journey with her. Here is a short passage from her book - As I walked and observed, each plant, be it tree, shrub, or herbaceous perennial, seemed perfect in its setting or in its sighting. I was in fact looking at Nature, or the thing called so, and I was also looking at a garden. The garden is an invention, the garden is an awareness, a self-consciousness, an artifice. Eden is never far from the gardener's mind. It is The Garden to which we all refer, whether we know it or not.

Another book I picked up is called No Mercy, A Journey to the Heart of the Congo by Redmond O'Hanlon. Africa is one of my long times places to travel and had seen parts of Egypt years ago, but am fascinated with the western area of this huge continent not to mention the miles of expanse into other countries that would be equally spellbinding to visit.

(And by the way, last summer, I read a work of fiction called Small Island by Andrea Levy. I would hope all books would carry a brilliant prose such as Levy completed making your reading time a worthy investment. It takes place in London and Jamaica; weaving in and out of these places, carrying colorful and beautiful characters that you will not forget. It makes you believe that good contemporary literature exists and it stands out from many books on the market.)

Other books on my list for this summer are The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, Nothing Daunted by Wickenton, Desperate Characters by Paula Fox and The Journals of Delacroix to name a few......not to mention my library meanderings that always bring continual surprises to my table.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

our house

Seven years ago, Ken and I bought one of the worse homes on the neighborhood street in an area of town considered as the old part of Anchorage located on the lower south side. We live across the street from the inlet and do not boast of the spectacular views that our neighbors have across the street from us. During spring time, we wake up to the mating calls and cries of many birds; are situated beautifully with a periphery of mountains and open expanse that is so accessible and minutes within walking distance making a short trip to this splendid area often ignored, forgotten and taken for granted.

The house across the street has been vacant for almost two years and is too expensive for anyone to afford it, I am guessing. I treat this situation as a opportunity, as I wander over in the back yard that leads down to the inlet covered with dense growth of trees and a difficult climb down to the marshlands. Oftentimes, I sit and listen to the roaring winds and take in the sounds of the inlet. The birds come and go and you don't have to wait long for something interesting to arrive; sights contrasted against the starkness of the tundra and immense vistas fill your impatience. During winter months, my dog and I walk onto the frozen flats, another view that constantly changes and readjusts itself.

We consider our home a work in progress and an ongoing art project that is a welding of our spirits and temperaments. My garden is my favorite part of the home though because it turns into a meditation channel during my mornings, late afternoons or early evenings. During the years, I have learned to understand what works best in our soil; the wild flowers mixed in with a combination of lupin and poppies or the shooting star that arrives the first of the season as the lone flower, so subtle and easy to miss in it's solitariness. We recently planted three young, two year old weeping birch for our ninth year of marriage. They stand in the center of our yard combing the rest of the field of green grass into one single unit of togetherness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seattle's Best

A few months ago, I decided to visit Seattle. Ken and I had been there years ago, but I wanted to see a city, feel movement and encounter a substantial art scene. I had asked a few girlfriends to join me but they were too busy and Ken was off in the field, so I decided to take a five day mini field trip on my own. It turned out to be wonderfully alive and stimulating; my days filled with long meandering walks around the downtown district and having a transit system at my fingertips made going on my own a wise choice. I booked an inexpensive hotel for sixty bucks a night (which is cheap in Seattle) and after I committed, I read reviews where some had rated it poorly. The hotel turned out to be functional with a great bed and hot shower not to mention the light rail across the street, a few coffee joints around the corner made me wonder why people comment what they do. My room could be described as dim though but I was using it to hang my hat. I was set up!

Pictured above is an abstract picture of the light rail tunnel. I took this train to and from the airport costing $2.50 each way taking thirty-five minutes to arrive at my hotel destination. Once out of the underground passageway, my room was literally a hop, skip and a jump from the stop. Their bus system is great too. One day I took the local 72 train which landed me to the University of Washington where I intended to visit the Henry Art Gallery. I happened upon a street fair and loved reacquainting myself to the school and it's settings.

Before heading to Seattle, I bought two maps and oriented myself to where I was going and what I wanted to do. I used and devised a plan to go to the Bellevue Arts Museum one day that would take a thirty minute ride from downtown. I found the bus stop easily and got to see a successful ceramic show done by the Chinese artist Wanxin Zhang. Pictured above is a detail of one of his life size sculptures - his contemporary interpretation of the Terracotta Warriors. The town of Bellevue is odd and very sterile but everything was so green and bright, the day's weather warm that the outing won my heart over. The bus driver was incredibly nice and let me know when my destination appeared. In fact, the people of Seattle are warm, generous and not at all suspicious of taking on a conversation with a stranger. At the museums and bus stops, people were open and friendly. I held several lengthy substantial discussions with a few people I met throughout my journey. Coffee shops and eateries are everywhere, so you can rest, pull out a novel and pass a few hours before you take on your next adventure on the streets.

Pictured above is the public library located near the Pioneer Square District. Inside the library you are filled with this filtered light and the architecture takes on the outside appearance. It opens up to an immense reading space and you feel like you are sitting in an outdoor cafe book stand. Around the city, I viewed public art by famous artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Dale Chihuly. I visited the Seattle Arts Museum and the Frye Art Museum. Along the way, I would comfortably pick up free reading material where I could map out the galleries and where to go next. Several galleries held massive spaces; some art better than others but it didn't matter because the city was full of alternative art spaces, ample choices and the excellent shows made up for any of the misses. Evenings were a set back though and the city seems to close down early. I was surprised to find Pike's Market taking down its booths as early as five o'clock on a Friday evening.

Seattle is a beautiful city with the openness of Puget Sound contrasted to the massive industrial settings of commerce and cargo transportation, causing a tumble of mixed sensations and conflicting landscapes that keep you on your feet. It is quizzical and at times strange! (One night, I couldn't sleep and switched on the TV where the sci fi movie End of the World was playing. How opportune!) I had splendid weather during my stay reminding me and everyone around that we were indeed lucky to be strolling the waterfront and taking on this excellent sunshine.

It was the perfect city to experience on my own. Yesterday, I put together a slide show for my upcoming summer UAA class; my first class meeting will introduce this trip, reminding students to take a passage on their own. It is good to be uncomfortable, to be reminded that you are a capable individual, and by using your intuitiveness and your skills whatever trip you take works out in the end. I would describe it as Seattle's Best.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

cultivating your garden

Holidays make me think of my family back east and the places I enjoyed on these special days. One of my favorite times was the sunrise service where my father would roust us at 5am to get us to the beach to see the sun peek above the Atlantic's horizon. On this Easter, a day of life and renewal, I thought about my mother who died last January 2010, and I worked in the yard raking to get ready for our planting mania in her honor. My mother loved her garden and took pride showing me the recent growths of vegetables and her nurturing visions of the soil that she had tilled on her own. As she grew older though, the garden was kept smaller and my brother would help out by overturning the hard ground after each winter season.

I was in India late December 2009, in a small village called Benelim just outside of Goa. It was early evening and I was about to prance out onto the dirt roads where Ken and I would find a good place for dinner. My sister, who I had called to see how things were going in the states, had told me about my mother falling and breaking her hip, and how she was in an intensive care unit. My mind couldn't wrap around this bad news and I was on vacation! The village store where I was using the phone was bustling with activity, noise; our conversation seemed surreal and ridiculous. Children were crowded around the store grounds talking and playing with ruckus. Three weeks later, I flew back east to attend my mother's funeral.

During my mother's service, an old boyfriend came by to pay his respects. We dated on and off for a few years; Nathan attended my college graduation, became familiar with my family and we played tennis together. As a young bright attorney, we often scooted around in his convertible MG attending parties and cultural outings. I was completely bored though, his incessant chatter unnerved me, and the relationship ended where I had taken on a new guy and shortly afterwards left for California.

As my old friend and I chatted for a while in front of my mother's open casket, (we hadn't seen each other in close to thirty years), he commented how I was always the restless sort when he knew me and that I had always wanted to leave the east to find new adventure. He wanted to know about my life in Alaska. And then, we connected; there was an understanding, a mutual exchange of recognition on our how lives had become and developed. He questioned and confided in me that he never left our home town. We continued to talk about his sons and we spoke about travels. The years that I knew him in my early twenties I was aloof and fickle but realized a different person in another dimension at that instance. Our lives had been hallowed out with lots of living and experiences. At the moment I write this, I often look back at that point of talking to him as touching and recognizably human. At my mother's death, this was not the occasion for regrets or anger nor dredging up the past. Time had flown by us almost literally as we stood there in a funeral home. I could touch time's wings at that point. Life became transcendent at that meeting with my friend and his gift of openness and genuine sincerity threw me. To me, this was an relevant convergence and oh sure, I have probably had several and meaningful passing occasions (and more to come), but this was an interval that brought me to see how life can be absolutely spellbinding, astonishing, and amazing. You don't have to believe in anything or even holidays as special to acknowledge the symbolic gesture of forgiveness. It is incredibly powerful. I am in another place now, another world and living in Alaska. Who would have thought this? Not me in a million years.

Monday, March 28, 2011

spring back

Pictured above is the pride of our front yard. We started with these blue Himalayan poppies a few years ago and every year as they blossom they take on a greater spread. Ken and I will be preparing some small seed pots this week-end for the start of our garden. As I write this, it is blustering with noises of the wind outside, swaying trees take on a wonderful gray fused with the sky, (and not to mention the recent snowfall and ongoing chilliness) it is wonderful to see the new light and read by its glow before I go to bed. Happy Spring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

on being comfortable........

What does it mean to be comfortable - a house, a job, wonderful surroundings and fun activities to go out and see and of course the friendships that we nurtured throughout the years are forces in our lives to stay put forever. Maybe we get use to routines, beautiful environments and we continue on not stretching ourselves to perhaps greater heights of challenges? Maybe we extend ourselves in other ways in a hobby or picking up new reading material that forces as to think harder? Maybe it just doesn't matter and one is happy where they are; is perfect with one's setting, content, and fulfilled? Maybe being comfortable is a good thing? Or is it too easy? Maybe too good of a thing makes us give up other chances to see, learn, experience and fully develop other areas of expertise in our lives. I am grappling with this issue at the moment. My life is pretty good, although I feel that a new opportunity overseas or in another part of the country would lift my esteem out of complacency and to a better learning place about how I feel about myself. Maybe I am looking a gift horse in the mouth? As human beings we need to destroy what we create too.
To skirt the issue, I have decided to include several self portraits.
Below, is the opening painting called Princess Parlee and on the left two smaller drawings. (Above, is my one of my favorite paintings that sold at my recent show!) For a long while I have been avoiding the issue; have thought long and hard about it. The verdict is called change. Not sure where it will take me or where I will go, but along with change comes hard work, endless scrutiny which I have been doing for a long time and pushing ideas against the wall, hounding the hell out of myself. I have been too comfortable for the past few years and now is the time for another lifetime, another move. It won't happen too soon, but I am encouraged to do something about it. It's time to do, but rest assured, I will probably get comfortable all over again.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ambassador's Pagoda

Ambassador's Pagoda is considered the main centre of Buddhism in Hanoi. Ken spied this temple out in our Lonely Planet book and we walked over to the temple in the blustery cold. I am always thrilled to happen upon these moments; seeing the women coming together before their prayerful meditation, the interior of the space is fascinating with the massive array of offerings and the photo ancestors homages, allowing me to listen to their chanting of prayerful meditation was the plus. I spent some time observing the ladies, all dressed in their winter coats and hats, a communal setting at best, with their prayer books splayed out before them, it seemed to be the place to be in Hanoi. Outside the temple, Hanoians would come by and listen to the prayers, drop money in the offering box or incense in the huge urns. On the streets, vendors sold gifts and trinkets for the pagoda - papers to be burned for the ancestors, beads, fruit and miscellaneous items that I fail to remember. It is a city pagoda by the ongoing sounds of the traffic that you can hear inside the temple; a blending of the outside sensations into the world of thoughtful ruminations making my morning a sensational impact of imagery and delight.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I vote for more beginnings.........

If you haven't seen my exhibition - click on the link below and scroll down. The blog features my paintings and videos from the opening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

a contemporary Lucy

This video was realized in 2008; titled Fall to Dark is a quirky rendition of abstract visuals of my feet and the grounds of fallen leaves accompanied to the music of a Los Angeles composer.

Ken and I had walked to the sports park over by our neighborhood one late Sunday summer afternoon and the weather was changing. I was grabbing all the good days I could before the eventual fall to the winter months. This sports park is an immense field of land making it a grand space to walk your dog, see the local soccer and baseball games from the neighborhood schools or to see the changing fields of swinging daisies, grasses and local fireweed. At that time, the park was cordoned off to a group of paint ball battlers. The large bags of pillows (used to shield the aggressors from the rapid fire of paint pellets) are strategically placed on the playing field. The players suit up donning their masks and uniforms shooting their paint ball guns by teams making for short bursts of attacks on each other accompanied with loud cracks from the rifle noise. That day, we happened to collect the residue of the paint balls outside the playing field. Some were bleached from the sun, some half filled with the liquid, others full and unused colorful balls, but nevertheless I happened to find a floating plastic trash bag in the area and started collecting these cool pieces of soft rubber.

Once home, I set up the tripod and filmed my feet dancing on the semi liquid paint balls. I also walked around the yard observing the dying green of summer. It wasn't until later that I edited the film coupling it with the fitting sound to my friend's music.

I was fortunate to be able to show this video at my solo exhibition at the MTS Gallery on February 18, 2011. It was the opportune time to show this short clip, the perfect setting and night. It added color to the snow that had accumulated that morning and ironically ushered in some signs of spring.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

just a pretty picture

Just a Pretty Picture is a diptych, oil on canvas, is 40" x 90" and was completed in 2011. The left side of the canvas was done during the summer and then I added the right panel a few weeks ago. My exhibition titled Ends and Beginnings of Paintings opens at MTS Gallery in Mountain View on February 18, 2011. It will be a show of studies on the figure; fleeting impressions, half organized shapes dotted with some design work, completed forms too and some peppered with graphite scrawls, nature bits, and paint. Painting is what I do best but often I veer off this trail and do other alternative medias such as documenting my travels and mixed media works which are a relief between my painting practice inducing sculptural textures. I will also be showing a video titled Fall to Dark, music composed by my good friend who lives in Los Angeles, Drew Lesso. This is an abstract wandering piece, quirky and charged with absurdity.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

America's Catfish and more outside stuff......

Last night, I rented the film Catfish; an unassuming, independent film that I think all Facebook fans should see. While I found myself annoyed at the precociousness of the actors, I watched it to the end. The film is directed, acted and produced by a team of brothers from New York. One brother starts a online relationship with a women from Michigan. They eventually meet up and the movie turns into a psychological, disappointing, predictable but interesting happening. A very well crafted and intelligent film, the ending is what grabbed me. The star of the film is the almost retarded husband giving the film the powerful message that wrapped up the movie into a fable of sorts. The film turned out to be sad, sweet, corny but redemptive.

Above, is a performance that we saw on our way back from the Bac Ha market; close to the China border, located in the far northwest of Vietnam, we stepped into this temple ceremony. I cannot say what is going on except that it was a delightful entourage of regulars and gawking tourists while this dancer enchanted us. The interior was filled with incense and it made me think of an opium den which was at one time a huge market for the hill tribe peoples until the Communists took over.

Above, are the water puppets, formally called roi nuoc and we saw this performance at the Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi. This is a thousand year ancient art form and it takes the puppeteers three years to train for this craft. You can see the puppeteers standing behind the bamboo fence as he stands in waist level water and operates the puppets from long poles. Many of these skills are kept secret and passed down from family generations. This art form was created by the rice farmers and because of the heavy rains, they started using the water as a dynamic stage. In the video, you can see the band accompanying the performances. Several of the vignettes are about pastoral traditions and legendary folklore.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

journal entry - back to Hanoi, 1/5/11

Ken and I do lots of walking around the city of Hanoi; we have visited several of the museums and much of our time apart from this activity is spent observing the street life. It has been very chilly, cold with damp breezy gusts of wind - I would say in the low 50's and today I understand that they closed the schools because of the weather.

Early mornings, I try to get out and walk around Hoan Kiem Lake with the rest of the residents of Hanoi. This settles me for a decent (partial more like it) night's sleep. Our room becomes a shoe box at a certain point if you spend too much time there but it is efficient. The Vietnamese are very stylish; gorgeous shoes, heels, boots and lovely fashions can be seen in the shop windows and the women are usually decked out in contemporary feminine dress. The area where we are staying is called Old Town; with motoring motorbikes, sometimes a clogged nuisance in the streets and to your psyche. Some of the streets get so jammed with these machines, their incessant noise, and they seem to own the city.

Yesterday, I stumbled onto a cool temple with services going on and I caught a lively assortment of the neighborhood religion. At this temple there were five stations of Buddhas, people bringing alms, food, money, many saying their fervent prayers as heavenly and steady smoke plumes of smoldering incenses were sent off; burnt offerings from the huge urn that is usually in front of the temple yard making for a hazy view became almost toxic. These exchanges bring me to patiently sit and observe. I don't connect to their ancestor worship or their Buddha's but I do know, that upon entering this environment, this quad, I do experience a sense of peace and a time to reflect. I acknowledge this spirit world and I find myself feeling indebted to something greater than the surface and to the worldly.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

journal entry - Sapa/Bac Ha Market, Vietnam

The soft sleeper to Sapa from Hanoi was nice, however if I got any decent sleep it wasn't on this train. The trip lasted eight hours; you received a sweet pillow with an embroidered pillow case and of course the standard blanket. Throughout the night, I seemed to ride along and hear the engines start and stop, pull and grind. It couldn't be considered sleep but more like the thinnest layer of conscious reverie.

Sapa is cold - damp, and a fog engulfs most of the city. Today, it was considerably better with the parting of clouds and I got some rays of fresh sun. The vistas are stunning; mountainous terrains of rice paddies dotted with farming shacks and peaceful to many tourists who make it off this beaten track. Traffic is at a minimum and you can comfortably walk along the large streets.

Sunday, we headed to the Bac Ha Market; it entailed some driving and lots of sitting, but we were amongst other foreigners and I thought that travel is good about that - warm, familiar Western bodies gives you comfort and stamina. A couple of Brits were particularly nice to talk to.

The Bac Ha Market was outrageously beautiful with winding muddy roads and coursing down the streets were the ethnic tribal minorities, all beautifully decked out in their native dress. It was gorgeous to see their embroidered bibs of colors, broad black dark skirts hemmed with multi colored bands. Some wore leggings and on top elasticized with other bands of colors laced with dangling beads. Their head dresses were checked scarves or red kerchiefs. I thought this scene was a brilliant statement and I never came so close to the real thing. Lines of these women were on the streets; some assembled together talking while others were buying from vendors and selling vegetables.

The most compelling sight was above the marketeers on a flat plateau raised above the sprawling village. There were several dozen water buffalo ready to be sold. These docile creatures were indeed sweet, kind and gentle. I found myself weaving in and out of the animals comfortably. There was a small calf nestled to his mother, afraid, shaking at all the commotion. Men and women hung around chatting and it seemed a good mood everywhere. You could make a 360 degree turn and see the magnificent landscape. It was imperial and majestic; the deep dark green from the rains dotted tiny villages inside and outside the mountains, the fog and low hanging clouds added to the charm. The mountains had these jagged formations, curving here and there with sometimes a steep, odd jutting triangular shape that seemed different from other hills that I am use to seeing. This has been my favorite part of the journey so far.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Monk's Walk, Hoi An, Vietnam

Our travels led us to the south central area of Vietnam to Hue and Hoi An where we experienced warmer and milder temps. It was a relief to experience some heat away from the blustery cold damp winds of Hanoi. One morning, we rented bikes and decided to ride through the village paths. Often, while biking or walking I would look over top of the town and would spot a pagoda and that is how we stumbled upon this beautiful temple. Some of the temples had adjoining monasteries and the ones that we frequented were often bathed in quiet and held this aura of the contemplative world; exuded a gentleness of spirit apart and separate from the folly of daily life.

Upon entry to a pagoda, Wat or temple, there is usually a courtyard of wonderfully sculptured trees called bonsais and the grounds are flanked with a few stupas, a main temple and sometimes surrounding the courtyard is the monk's quarters, their studies, the kitchen, library and other places of worship; some rooms laced with alters held fascinating tributes to the ancestors and other Buddha icons. I was lucky to see an old monk doing his services and lighting incense walking from one room to another. In the main temple, where I filmed this, the monk chanted and worked on the bells making sonorous vibrations. Enchanted, I stood transfixed and captured this visual and sacred jewel.