Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mystic Marquee

The Mystic Theater in Petaluma, California. A pretty great place to see bands if you want an intimate setting and don't mind blowing your eardrums out. This place used to be The Plaza back in the Seventies and Eighties, a movie house with plush red interior that screened a double feature plus every few days. It was where all us kids would congregate to smuggle in booze, see rockumentaries and thrash in the aisles. It's where I saw Tommy and Quadrophenia. Eraserhead. Freaks. Odorama. Pink Flamingos. The Holy Mountain. All the weirdest films. Classics, too. The burning of Atlanta is something on the big screen. Rob and I saw The Lady Eve with Peter Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck on our second date. You could buy carrot cake and tea instead of popcorn and coke. Now it's a club but still pretty cool. I'm glad it wasn't razed in the foolish years when they set the bulldozers on anything with character, like the old Cal in Santa Rosa. Vintage infrastructure put to new use. It's what we need more of.


Since we were a block away from Chinatown we walked along Grant for a hour or so, window shopping, eating and embarrassing Eden by taking photos in a blatant manner.

Lucky Pigs

I am a sucker for store window reflections. I snap them up. Something about an interior and an exterior mixing their colors in light and reflection to make something new, abstract and pleasing to the eye is satisfying.



Friday we drove to San Francisco to deliver a painting. One With The Sweetness, transported. It was strange taking her up into one of the tallest skyscrapers in the City, the sleek brown Bank of America building on California Street with its hushed and gleaming interior. Powering up the elevator pushed all the blood to my toes and made me lightheaded but that was nothing to what was ahead. After we delivered our package we took a moment to glance out of an enormous conference room window at the literally breathtaking view and a deeply familiar vision met my eyes. Stretched out before me was a perfectly vivid scene straight from my dreams. A profound and particular dream actually, one I had six years ago (see my blog post Premonition Recognition). It varied only it that the scene was expanded slightly, the frame enlarged, since I was seeing the TransAmerica pyramid instead of looking out from it, but all other physical elements were in place: being high up, looking out through a wall of glass at the vast San Franciscan cityscape, Coit Tower, the jumble of structures and avenues and a clear long distance view of the bay with Alcatraz Island resting out upon the water. Eerie. Spine tingly. There was an unusual structure adjacent to us that added a new element. The 580 California Street building features an odd mansard roof (think Gothic spooky) embellished with three faceless wraiths or "corporate goddesses" or fates (?). In researching these beauties, I discovered that there are twelve in all but these three look down upon something known as the Banker's Heart, a large abstract sculpture by artist Masayuki Nagare. A heart-shaped hunk of glossy black granite titled "Transcendence" , graces the entrance to the Bank of America center. If I knew this on Friday, I would have made a small pilgrimage (stepping out into the bitter cold courtyard) to see it because the prominent substance in my vision dream was a huge hunk of glossy black obsidian. All this probably may sound like stretching for connections but to me it reads beautifully. It's something wordless and important about the fate of humanity. Any way I look at it it's an interesting view.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Love and Loot

A sweet and exhausting holiday. Every year I'm either driving the Christmas train or being dragged under its wheels. This year the relentless holiday momentum was pinching at the edges more than I like. I was lacking verve and couldn't quite mastermind the hundred projects I usually can when I'm in top form. Heaps of xmas detritus gathering on every surface in the house, betrayed the general level of disarray. I abandoned any pretense of organization early on and cut myself some slack. The basics got done. A big charmingly encrusted tree, lots of mysterious packages, poorly wrapped but wrapped nonetheless, in a growing pile under its branches. No cards sent but some photos and a few "What We Did This Year" letters (thank you, Rob). It all came together miraculously by the big evening. The house was semi-tidy and I got to the store for eggnog and whip cream. We ended up with a lovely Christmas Eve on our hands. Potato latkes with sour cream and homemade applesauce (thanks Peg and Dave). An impromptu visit from my bro, sappy secular carols ringing out from the kitchen, hot cocoa and eggnog, a small pyramid of sweeties saved for special (thanks, Karen), angelica wine and chocolate cordial. Per tradition, the girls each opened one special gift. India a pair of psychedelic furry slippers. Eden a bento box tucked into a cat-faced furoshiki sack. Then a night walk through the neighborhood to spy out lights. The girls were finally ordered to bed, we did the Santa thing and then slept until almost 7AM! Unheard of. A fun morning tearing at and disemboweling gifts, gorging on chocolate and then subjecting the girls to a high protein breakfast. We made soup and salad later on and took it three blocks over to Mom and Dad's where we sat down and ate it up. Good wine, more gifts, homemade cheesecake and champagne all rounded out with some strong coffee. Lots of laughing and exclamations of how lucky we are. A solid good time in appreciation of the best stuff there is: family, food and fun. Hope everyone had as good a day.

Photo: My loot. Among other things, a book of Leaf Poems by India, a beeswax candle from Eden and a lovely Cosmic Blaster ray gun with "Out Of This World Space Gun Sounds" from Rob (something I saw in Santa Cruz and wanted).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Erzulie Rising

When I was first introduced to Erzulie, the Haitian Aphrodite, I was smitten. An insatiable Voodoo love goddess of beauty, dancing, jewelry and pretty clothes, fond of luxury and the sensual pleasures, promiscuous and yet demanding faithfulness, fierce protector of children, prone to rages and occasional fits of complaining and all this tempered by her being so deeply burdened with the sorrows of the world that she weeps uncontrollably. Venus, my dearest deity suddenly rounded out into this dark ally, wonderfully complex, contradictory and real.

So, I painted an image of Erzulie inspired by a poem composed by my collaborator, Amy Trussell. Rising up out of a streaming river, crowned with doves and trailing white lace upon the currents, she caught the eye of Jayson Fann, the creative director of the International Arts Festival at Esalen and Visual Arts Director of First Night Monterey who is launching a project called Waters of Life, an emerging international educational effort addressing the issue of global water pollution. He has invited me to allow Erzulie to be one of many water images contributed by artists to be transformed into freestanding murals by schoolchildren and then used to promote "care, respect and practical strategies for protecting our planet's most precious resource". It will eventually be a moving installation that travels the globe. The kickoff is happening on New Year's Eve in Monterey and will feature a performance by Oshun Priestess Luisah Teish.

Erzulie knows where she wants to be.

Heart of Erzulie Painting by moi.

Sweetness In The World

Yesterday was surprisingly languid and golden after the biting cold wind on Friday. It made for a good day to slide wide the door at my Open Studio. Many small indulgences. Paint, radiant wood heat, burning candles, good conversation, chocolate, port and winter sunshine. The cherry was meeting a vibrant young couple from the City who are now the new owners of the (coveted by many) painting, One With The Sweetness. I have had countless inquiries about this piece since I painted it and some generous offers to purchase it early on, before I was ready to let go. Just a few weeks ago I made the decision to place this one in the studio. The time was ripe and they were it. Some work feels like progeny. One of my children. Release is twofold. A small wrench but a greater sowing. Casting. Like a light or a seed. Makes for a good day.

One With The Sweetness-Ostapuk private collection, SF

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Babies

Overdue but looking good with all their fingers and toes. We brought them home last week and had a small pyramid of boxes (18!) in our tiny kitchen for days but Rob consolidated and moved some to the studio where they are now available. Thanx to all who participated in our focus group. Your preferences really did sway the final decision. You may notice one of the designs was not included in the voting. We actually goofed up and forgot to list it with the others but it was a top contender in not only my book but in Rob's and more importantly our rep Ginger's so it was allowed to slip in at the end of the race.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Time Being

It's been a matter of weeks now that I've been eschewing the computer or at least keeping my hands off the keyboard with the goal of persuading an inflamed rotator cuff to ease up. It's somewhat better but still painful. Ergonomic I have not been so I suffer the consequences. No writing or playing guitar or even painting much. Sigh. In the face of such "freedom", existential angst threatens to set in like rigor mortis and so I am vigilant, steering relentlessly toward any small measure of the sweet and pleasurable. A nectar seeking bee, happy it rained and enjoying the sun.