Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wild Women

E and I returned home on Monday evening, full and tired. The Herbal Symposium was as renewing and transforming as I remembered from five years ago. It's really a unique experience to feel so safe, nourished, supported and mirrored. There were guesses that the weekend was attended by 400 women and 100 children. I don't know about that. I can't really guesstimate. All I know is there were a heck of a bunch of us, as various as water crystals. A full spectrum array of beauty and power. What potent creatures we all are! And I love taking classes about herbs and natural healing out under the trees and sky. It's what I pined for as a kid, stuck seemingly forever in stuffy crackerbox classrooms. I came away with new info pertinent to my family about sugar metabolism, adaptogens and energy medicine. We ate love food three times a day until our bodies were humming. Eden did really well with the food. She became so independent in the short time we were there. Off to the creek, packing a picnic, getting herself showered. Our dishes lived on a mat near the fire ring so she could grab her plate at meals, get her own food, wash up and tuck it all away without a word from me. A revolution. I did great at market, making back my fee and more. I usually find it surprising but always gratifying to get so much appreciation for my work. I'm such a recluse, I forget how what I make touches people. It felt really good and was completely validating. Being there with the Tumbleweed women was perfect for me who tends to go satellite when groups gather. They grounded me and made me feel part of something. Thanx, you gals. By the end, lazing by the slow river in the waning day, we all pretty much agreed it was great and we will be back.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Women In Art

Off North

I'm heading north this morning with a faction of the Tumbleweed women and girls to spend four days camping in the trees on Wavy Gravy's ranch in Laytonville. The event is the Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium. I've attended before but not for maybe five years and it was sans children. Eden's coming this time. It's a great place to hang out with inspiringly wise women and commune with plants. Good company all around. I painted this little piece along with a few others to bring to the marketplace, though I am not going for business. I want to reconnect with the green beings and dance around the fire with my girlfriends. I've been feeling a bit slumpy so I'm hoping to wax light and just enjoy.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I am gearing up for summer festivals and my open studio so I'm cranking on lots of work. Frustratingly, I have multiple works of all sizes in various stages of completion (a lot of initiative energy there with much less sustained follow-through). So it's nice to just go in and complete something in one go. I work best when I am "just playing around". This is painted on a piece of cheap canvas covered 12 x 12 board. No pressure filling it. It could end up garbage. From blank white to this took about 3 hours. I really get off on just messing around with a multicolored patina and then letting an image emerge from that with some white paint and a small brush. The strokes came out almost calligraphic- short and succinct. I just let it become how it wants to, an approach that's been exciting since it offers the chance for surprising odd bits to surface (like that eye fish and that splash-like shape around her breast). As I've said before, I am enamored of shapes that "flip", embodying more than one thing at a time so it seems to have something to say. I liked how her tail looks also like a fish, and her scales become moons in phase and those little star darts remind me of the movement of the silver sardines we saw in the ocean on Moorea (Tahiti). All connotations of the ocean, the feminine moon, waves and dissolution. The happenstance wink sort of made me think of the fickle movement of water and the changing tides.

I recently had a realization that I have worked hard these past 7 years expressing some (for me) pretty potent imagery about power, potential, emotion, essential truths... I used do deep intentional imagining and lucid dream capture toward masterminding some of my images. Now I want there to be less head and more hand and feeling movement in my work. I don't need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, every single time I sit down to paint. I'm more into fooling around with different expressions on one narrative that holds a lot of juice. So, more like this to come.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mother Hike

Nothing like celebrating Mother's Day by getting out in nature and enjoying the the biggest mama of them all. After a crazy delicious brunch in Duncans Mills, we spent the day Sunday hiking Pomo Canyon Trail with the Tumbleweeds (an inspiring bunch of moms, dads and kids who we're lucky enough to know and hang out with). Gorgeous weather, cools folks and unbelievably spectacular landscapes made for a primo day. It was somewhat strenuous and my kids whined a bit but were soon won over by wildflower meadows, shady grottos, troll bridges, fairy holes and other mysterious wonders.
I took a ton of pictures but culled them and posted the cream on my Flickr.I especially like this photo which kind of summed up the feeling for me. What a life! Zoie making flower rings, Dave beyond awash in green and the earth stretching out all around to the river and out to sea. We live in such a beautiful place.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Party's Over

And a good time was had. Eden declared it "better than last year" which is a surprise since that shindig was a bigger affair. Even though we contemplated doing something big, our small digs and an amped up calender decided for us. We so adamantly want to throw a big bash with all our dear friends, far and wide, that we will make it happen next year for her 10th. We thought we could slide by with a more modest event for turning 9. She liked her cake (chocolate buttermilk with pink cream cheese honey frosting and lotsa berries), she liked her gifts (art stuff, clothes, gift certificate to make pottery, groovy girl doll and bed, a book, a CD and a promise of a poncho) and we had her fave foods, quiche and pizza which I was up late last night and early this morning making along with the cake (boy am I tired and my stomach hurts). Yow. I posted a few pix on flickr.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tallest Tree

It's exalting to discover that the new tallest tree in the world has been found deep in one of my favorite places on the planet- Prairie Creek Redwoods. We often stop here on the way up or back the 500 mile journey to Oregon (a trip we've made countless times through the years) to gape in awe at the enormous ancient trees. If you ever want to get lost in the depths of a profoundly silent and alive virgin old growth redwood forest, well, this is a good place to do it. Stunning.

This clip was like a flashback to the days of Julia Butterfly's sit. India and I read her book together back when and then went to hear her speak at the Sebastopol Vets. She even stayed a night at our home once. Sadly, she had food poisoning and spent the hours getting intimate with our toilet bowl. (Boy, talk about being hyper aware of the kind of toilet paper we were using, yikes!) It felt good to nurture her with ginger tea and hot water bottles. We got to have an interesting conversation the day after.
She was an amazing person, really clear and focused (and a veteran homeschooler to boot!)

Worm Poop Bugs Goliath

Goliath picks a fight with...worm poop?

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a $2.2 billion assets giant which has at least a 59% share of the relevant market, has sued tiny TerraCycle, Inc., an inner-city company founded by college students to create an eco-friendly business. TerraCycle manufactures all-natural garden products by feeding organic waste to worms and bottling the resulting worm poop compost tea as ready-to use plant food in soda bottles collected by schools and other charities across North America. TerraCycle is located in the Urban Enterprise Zone of Trenton, New Jersey.

It's apparently an issue of copycat packaging (the yellow and green) and false advertising (how good can it be-it's garbage!). Hmmm. Is somebody feeling a little threatened?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Song to the Siren

Only in the incomparable Sixties could you tune in to a Monkees TV show and catch this soulful performance by the unearthly Tim Buckley (1947-1975) who died too young of, what else, a heroin overdose…the siren’s final embrace.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Open The Door

When I’m hanging out on our back deck in the mornings watching seedlings suck up radiation, pushing out of their small pots, intent on becoming a jungle, I like the heat. When I’m walking through the warm air in the evening, under Venus, drinking in honeysuckle smells, I really like the heat. But when I’m in my studio, so charming and rustically uninsulated, I definitely do not. I’ve been putting in some decent hours in studio since I got back, gearing up for the summer festivals but Monday was intense.

I got an early start and put in most of a day. I really sank into the work. Sometimes I get in that zone where I’m unaware of my immediate environs and get lost in what I’m doing. So I didn’t notice the swelter at first but when I finally called it a day and oozed home, I was in a poor state. I probably didn’t drink enough water so dehydration was added to my low blood sugar (I forget to eat when I’m in there). As I was flopped almost catatonic on a chair at home, mumbling, “ Shit, it was hot out there today. How hot was it ?” Oh yeah, 91 degrees ?!! Oh, boy. And that was outside. What about inside a hot box enclosure. There was not a drop of animation left in me. I was completely baked.

I’m funny about stuff. I read into things. That heat was like a little voice, a gentle nag, saying: open the door. Well, I did have the doors in the back of the studio open that day but it was urging me to go all the way. See, I had an epiphany recently about opening my space to the public. I work in this neat space (old redwood walls, skylights, old windows and French doors) in a great neighborhood (the old JC) and the only thing that separates the two is a big sliding door. I’ve been entertaining the idea of opening it up once a week on a regular basis to offer a place to peek in, have a seat, sip some tea, look at art, browse through cards and prints, talk awhile or whatever. So, “opening the door” is symbolic as well as literal for me. I'm getting ready to be seen.

Ironically, I had spent some time a few days earlier moving things around with just that in mind. I’ve already got a sitting area, a tea table, some canvases on the walls and my altar set up on the north wall. Boxes of junk still clog the “gallery” area but I’m making progress. Already hatching a plan to make the portal inviting with plants, paintings and a shingle. Who will cross my threshold when it opens ? I'm curious.

Photo: Painting currently on the altar-Truth, the Seed of Intimacy or maybe just The Kiss.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Santa Fe

Mom and I touched down in San Francisco last night after our five days in the city of “holy faith”, tired and full. Tired because we walked ourselves to exhaustion nearly every day through the web of little streets that make up the heart of town. Full from the sheer generosity of color, art, texture, architecture, culture and history our eyes absorbed in the singular high atmospheric light (not to mention all the food we ate). So we arrived sated on brown adobe walls, hot chilies, blue corn, chocolate, sopapillas, pinon smoke, turquoise, silver jewelry, clay vessels, woven rugs and art, art, art.

We lucked out on the weather since the winter there has been long and cold, ending with bitter winds on, well…Tuesday. We arrived Wednesday to find crabapples and gorse in full bloom, cottonwoods budding in a chartreuse haze and the sun high and warm.
It couldn’t have been more conducive to browsing shops, gallery hopping and café idling.

We went to relax and explore and shop. We’d each brought a small bundle of cash in anticipation. It began to loom a little inadequate the more we saw. Awesome silver and stone jewelry, hand tooled boots, Navajo rugs, pueblo pottery. All of it tempted until we tipped the tag. Such a small white snip, such a big number! $500 seemed the to be the average low, quickly rising into the thousands (even tens of thousands).
Oh, well. We soon fell back on simple pining and just enjoyed the beauty. I did “splurge” on a few modest pieces of hand built Black Chamba burnished earthen cookware from Columbia since I know I will get years of pleasure out of them and they didn’t cost so much (under $50). So much for buying local. I am pleased, actually, that the Native American arts of the Southwest can fetch such high prices. I like to see artists well compensated and traditions encouraged.

The galleries of Santa Fe were a primary draw for me. There are over 250 of them tucked here and there though most line the two-mile stretch of Canyon Road. This little town (pop. 65,000) supposedly ranks as the third largest art market in the US, trailing only NYC and LA and has attracted international recognition as an art center so I was curious. Besides, Rob had breezed through with the girls a few years back and was persistent I should see it. So we spent a day winding up the road, popping in and out of space after space.

There sure is a full spectrum of art represented. There are at least two foundries in the area so there is a substantial sculpture population-bronzes aplenty. Of course, paintings rule supreme and there is a multitude. Everything from skillful color saturated landscapes to naïf scribbles, Native American and Wild West scenes to whimsical, even weird, visionary styles, precise still life realism to dynamic abstract expressionism. It was all there.

One thing I felt pretty keenly was the general receptivity for art that expresses a spiritual feeling. Chalk it up to the deep Native American connection to the earth or maybe the strong thread of Mexican Catholicism that stitches through from the past but there is a palpable sense of appreciation for work expressing deep sentiment, ritual and the sacred that sat well with me. I resonated with the symbols and patterns decorating the Native American art as well as the Old Mexico influenced silver repousse, milagros and retablos altarpieces. I just had a sense that the images I make would be immediately embraced there, unlike wine-obsessed Sonoma County or urban edgy San Fran. It was a good feeling and a change.

Needless to say, I returned encouraged and inspired. Oh, and happy Beltane.