Sunday, December 14, 2008
Just finished reading Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" and I enjoyed it so much that I'm baffled why it took me decades to get around to it. As a kid, I loved the black and white film when it aired on some rare Saturday via cable TV. The box of finds from the tree hole. The mad dog. Calpurnia. The trial. Racial tensions. Small town taboos and traditions. Boo Radley. I always watched it. Since I generally tend to opt for non-fiction when I read, it's not too surprising. When I do pick fiction, I want real. I'll read to feel steeped in an atmosphere, a place or a moment in history which is why I love Willa Cather, who wove stories out of threads of her own life, peopled with characters who seemed to have actually existed. Now, like thousands of readers before me I'm sure, I am fascinated with this book's reclusive author, Harper Lee. I wonder about her life story. Is she Scout? Did she know an Atticus? How much of the picture she painted grew out of her own experience? In the book store yesterday I saw a hardcover the words "I Am Scout" blazoned across it. There's an answer. A biographic work about Lee by Charles J. Shields written with young people in mind. I think I'll have to read it or his "adult" version "Mockingbird".
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Photo: Young Goddesses: Eden, Zoe and Paisley.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I am publishing here, with permission, two poems by my collaborator and creative cohort, Amy Trussell. We were fellow travelers on our recent trip to New Orleans where she was runner up for the Faulkner Society literary prize for poetry. Glimmers of our experience thread throughout both of these and I am flattered that one of them, Erzulie's Protégé, was written for me (!)
Black Eagles and Angels
Their throats always remain open once they decide to come forth-
The angels' trumpets that graced our door,
Our temporary holding place, halfway boarded up
When last we dipped into New Orleans.
These white ones are kin to the more state-altering blooms
that hold their seductive skirts and quilled pods
in vales of the Wild West.
Plots are there for the untameable and the cultivated too.
Even if you are in a place with opaque windows,
say in a dive waiting for Mardi Gras Indians to practice,
or a house that almost succumbed to hurricanes,
you can sense what is out there anyway, blue police light,
people on the streetcar full of desires, thinly veiled,
people making love and dying all over town.
This essence is what we drop under the tongue
when someone is going over the threshold to the other world.
It helps them row the light-flooded water back.
The African seer had told me there are ancestors
waiting to drum you into the other side.
So when you hear the Black Eagles call Indian Red,
you understand that this is the energy that could take you
over the edge, out past the bayous to heaven
where the shell games are played.
But it's also that which might bring you back,
down the funnel of the channeled flower, as deep
as night is long, waiting to turn itself out.
Some tribes say that zero is magic, the place to start over.
So if you get there and find yourself lost in a shotgun
apartment, you must turn to the creamy perfume
of the death-easers, then go inside, down the dark hall,
though your reptilian brain wants to flee your own grief
and the grief of the village too.
Pick up the dead lizard and wrap it in the kerchief for the altar.
Then twist on the water and let the sadness pour from
all that had begun to kink up the smooth muscle of the heart.
Cover your wounds in red earth and smother your pulse
points with come-to-me oil.
Blow out the candle, the hawk rests in a yard tree,
another refugee from the vortex.
I don't know what would happen if you dropped angels'
remedy beneath the roof of your mouth and kissed someone.
Are you willing to give yourself over that much?
After you make your X, will you stand in a crumbling cemetery
with arms outstretched, waiting for one or the other to set you free?
Amy Trussell, November 2008
Photo: A white Angels' Trumpet outside our "temporary holding place" in New Orleans.
For Krista Lynn Brown
The ritual party tray is out for Dia de los Muertes
with and heart opener cordials.
We drink some of both, and the rims of
our glasses pulse in the black light glow of the dance parlor.
Historians say that Marie Antoinette had a mold
of her breasts cast then made into wine cups.
The royal glass blower tonged them out of fire
then held the curved vessels up like a satisfied God
placing two moons in the pitch night.
My sister would take a lantern and find her way to the barn
to milk the goats before dawn arched across the horizon.
When she got high enough, Sally Ride could see meteorites
burning out below them and now there’s ninety percent proof
that once there were bayous on Mars, warm and moist.
Looking at her lunar paintings of jungles and the women
that dwell there, it seems that she has been a cosmonaut too.
Or has at least seen a crash site retrieval conference,
launching crafts from her drawing pad.
Whenever you are down she will morph into "Space Girl"
and hit you with a love ray.
It’s two a.m. and she sits at a black canvass, wells of paint
before her at the left hand, brush loaded with burnt sienna.
Earth opens to the ink of heaven pouring in.
This is the season when Persephone fell into the opening
to come up later, stealing away pomegranate
seeds from near the molten core.
Venus rises in the skylight of her studio,
illuminated too with candlelight from her altar where
photos of her grandfather, Frida Kahlo, & her outbound cat
open the gates and keep the pulse.
She leans in, unafraid to travel the trenches, the ruins,
to be there on location spelling out the names of the
beloved dead with a sparkler.
If you write it backwards it will come out forward
to the Heyokas galloping by on their dark horses.
All night she dips into the face of lunar deities, her eyes
searching the craters for the unseen ones.
What ferments in the caves can be good, and shows up at
the reception, a vision of Erzulie with a catfish,
wines from the Valley of The Moon, wheels of pungent cheese.
Whoever said white Russians, paint and magic
can’t issue from the same hand at once?
Thanks to Melissa Weaver for the sparklers.
Amy Trussell, November 2008
Photo par moi: Altar to Erzulie. French Quarter, New Orleans
Friday, November 28, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Oh, what a contrast to (S)election 2004! Tears of elation, shouts of joy and, I admit, swells of good old-fashioned patriotic pride. Yes, I was moved. By the faces of young black people crying and smiling. The cracking voices of news anchors. Wet eyes in old faces. By the power of our collective voice. By the sheer historic significance of this shift in the tide. All signs point toward a world I want to live in. It's the end of, as Paul Krugman called them this morning, "the monster years". Well, the beginning of the end, at least. There is a hell of a lot of damage to heal and it won't be a cakewalk but if any one can bridge the divides and galvanize a united effort, it's "That One".
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Dear furry friend and familiar, Chili Mama, slipped free of her body this morning and went to frolic in kitty heaven, where I hope the mice abound in tall grasses and the air smells like tuna. It's been a long time coming but we knew this day was close at hand. She'd been getting more and more physically frail and was obviously extremely uncomfortable in her body but we kept putting off the hard thing. It's a deep knife to the heart deciding to put down a loved one. Chili's been with us a long time. Nineteen years ago I picked her from a batch of cardboard-box kitties outside a Safeway in a moment of weakness. She sat up on my pregnant belly all the way home, looking out through the steering wheel. I snuck her into the house under my shirt because Rob and I hadn't talked about any plans for another cat but she charmed him right off by standing up on her hind legs for a full minute looking about with intense curiosity. So she slipped into our life and hearts. She became my snuggle baby during the final weeks of my pregnancy and she curled quietly on the bed for the whole labor and birth of India. Things got a bit touchy then, when she realized her prima status had been ursurped by this new kid in town . She broke alot of nice stuff and made herself a nuisance for some months as she worked out her jealous feelings but she never scratched India and was surprisingly tolerant of being tugged and bopped by a baby. She's been through alot with us. Interstate moves, illnesses, other kitties, another baby. She's had a long life full of nuzzles and coos, wild romps and explorations. I like to think she had it good and was happy. Finally, the decision was made and we called our long time vet Sandy Nelson who has served us so well all these years. She makes house calls and came out this morning after the kids said their goodbye and were dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa's. We spent the last hour holding and comforting her. Sandy arrived. A sedative, a delicate needle and she was gone. Goodbye, sweet Chiliquin. You are loved.
Top Photo: Chili's grave with marigolds. Buried under the tree we were married beneath in Crane Creek Park.
Photo: Me and Chili, Summer 1989
Monday, October 27, 2008
After an insanely ambitious push this past week to finish my list of just-not-humanly-possible projects for Open Studio, I had to admit I am not a super being and must cut my losses. I am always dismayed by the discrepancy between my creative ideas and my energy to realize them. My physical focus and stamina never seem to be enough to bear the fruit I want. I was unusually tenacious this time and got tantalizingly close to making it all happen but dangerously close to illness, too. Luckily, I came to my senses in time but spent most of Saturday really wrung out. Nonetheless, the studio looked great and people showed up which made it all worth while. I built my artistic ancestor altar upon the teak Indian temple window gifted to us. (Thank you, Thalia! You must come pick out a piece of art). I felted and formed my Mictecasihuatl (Queen of the Dead) doll out of wool and paperclay for the altar, though her bony forearms weren't finished and attached until Sunday. (She's pictured here sans hands). I did get a small batch of elxirs done, labeled on Saturday and the little elixir bar assembled on Sunday. My dad, true to form, was culinarily inspired and made two beautiful loaves of Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead) and traditional pumpkin candy for the table. We had sweets and nibbles set out on the altar for the beloved departed and also for general consumption. The kids plundered the ofrendas early on and had to be reined in. Various friends and fans dropped by from far and wide and some twinkly folks wandered in from the nooks of our wonderfully ecletic neighborhood including some fellow artists, Sunday meanderers and a particular elderly gentleman who shared a story about the mythic Catfish and gave me a very fine compliment. Various bold and curious children lead their adults in for a closer look, including a Bible-toting family who admired the work and sampled the fare. (Kids are some of my fave critics. My own 5 year-old nephew, Zephyr, pronounced me a "big" artist. It doen't get any better than that!) So, there was atmosphere, people enjoyed it, strange paths of conversation were followed through some diverse territory and I sold a tidy bit, too. Always important. So, I didn't finish all the new small paintings I'd started and the several dolls in the works lay unfinished. I want to offer more large prints than I currently have, as well, but I am excited about paperclay sculpture, painted forms and abstract colorplays. Now I just have to decide if I can rejuice my battery enough to make it real. Will I have another open studio in December? Hmmm...that's a wait and see.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Went down to San Francisco last night to see one of my favorite artists, the deliciously inscrutable Jolie Holland, perform at Bimbo's 365 in North Beach. The club's posh vintage atmosphere was the perfect setting with it's moody interior of red plush and deep shadows flecked with flickering candles and glittery edges. The humorously dark but energetic French duo, Herman Dune, opened the show. Jolie finally emerged, backed by a new band in her latest venture into rock territory, a departure from her earlier work which varies widely from traditional folk tunes to haunting improvisations and soulful jazz laments. All her work is distinguished by her seductively malleable vocals, the flame at the center that keeps even the most loosely-stitched of her pieces together. I found that got lost a bit in the tumult of her newest songs. The bass and guitar were overbearing, submerging her eloquent voice and overwhelming the nuance of her vintage-amped guitar but I really enjoyed the energy when it did come together. She sang some of her older songs, too, beloved by the audience. Seeing her looking so happy, crow feather and spoon silver in her hair, singing her heart was worth the trip. She ended the show with her unique rendition of the old ballad Mad Tom o' Bedlam. Just her, her box fiddle and that golden throat.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
After a few weeks consideration, the way is paved. Today, plane tickets were purchased for two poetic souls on a venture to the Big Easy. My collaborator and creative cohort, Amy Trussell, recently was the first runner up for the 2008 National William Faulkner- William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for her poem Foreleg Eardrums. Because of this precipitous event, parts of our book, The Painted Tongue Flowers, will be set before the discerning eyes of an editor of significance. She's one of the honored guests to attend the Faulkner Literary Gala in late November and she's persuaded me to tag along. She loves New Orleans and is convinced I will too. I am game to explore the French Quarter and visit Queen of Voudoo Marie Laveau's grave, among other inevitable inspirations.We will also be steeling ourselves for signs of the devastation wrought by Katrina. Amy, having been before, will be strongly touched no doubt.
Oil painting "Marie Laveau" by New Orleans artist Dimitri Fouquet.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Come spend an afternoon of art this Sunday at Ace in the Hole Cider Pub from 3-6pm in Graton. I will be showing a couple of new large works and various smaller ones. Alongside me will be the work of three other artists: Mariela de la Paz, Suzanne deVeuve and Kat Kraus. With a pinot poured and nibbles at hand, it should be an enjoyable afternoon. The Thugz are playing at 6pm so there may even be dancing. Hope I see some of you there.
Friday, October 10, 2008
In his article The Great Unwind in The Washington Independent, Satyajit Das has a take on the current global financial turmoil that actually makes some sense out of this impenetrable tangle. Seeing this turbulence as a kind of detox rather than a terminal disease adds a new perspective. Like a body bloated on junk food to the point of death now being forced to eat brown rice and vegetables, the economy may eventually get well but the cure is no picnic. When a system is so out of balance, the healing looks like sickness. That I can get my head around and it actually feels hopeful.
Photo: From the online article. By flickr (TW Collins)
Friday, October 03, 2008
Here a word cloud of Palin's debate verbage last night, the result of a run through Wordle, the most used words being largest. Some interesting speculation here. Like what's with the word "also" and where the heck is "maverick"? Or "heck" for that matter?
Watched the debate last night and almost couldn't take it. What is with that woman's face? It's like a mechanical mask bolted on with a jaw that never quits. Flap, flap, smile, wink, click tongue, snap head. It's freakish. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. The pressure must have been unedurable. I kept waiting for her program to jam. Malfunction. Malfunction. Mal...Here's a hilarious assessment of Sarah Palin by Erica Jong called You Betcha She's Doggone Cute!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Or is it? So hard to really know what the hell is going on. I knew that first bailout bill was poison but that doesn't mean something shouldn't be done. Though it might seem healthy to just let the whole sick system detoxify itself, there are innocent folks' homes, businesses and retirements at stake. I thought the revised 100 pager would likely pass but I'm glad it didn't. Now, maybe, some legislation with true function and integrity can be honed to address this debacle with less fear and more intelligence and the stock market will have time to catch its breath. Onward.
For weeks I've been meaning to catch Frida Kahlo at the SFMOMA and this weekend was my last chance so a trip to the City was in order. I looked into getting tickets and, unsurprisingly, the show was sold out. Damn. Instead of kicking myself for being less than vigilant, I let Rob convince me into heading south anyway to check out the Shepard Fairey show at White Walls gallery in the Tenderloin. Shepard is the artist who created the Obama poster (see my previous post) and I was eager to see his work up close.
Being a Saturday, there was more traffic on the streets than our last several trips to SF and that was a headache. It took us considerably longer to navigate the streets and we almost got in a major collision on the way, but we finally made it. White Walls is on Larkin Street a few blocks east of Van Ness in a nondescript building with minimal signage but a vibrant streetside mural by Ron English and a Fairey piece hung behind the smudgy glass of a paneled window. It was clearly the place.
I expected to confront a bank of good-sized silkscreened posters of Fairey's work framed behind glass, the same that I'd previewed online. And indeed there was that. But my first impression was overhwhelmed by a huge piece, a larger version of this, hung prominently and flanked by others of lesser size but equal gravity on either side. I was really floored by the quality of these originals. Strong black stenciled work boldly laid over multi-layers of collaged graphic ephemera with textured varnished surfaces and richly nuanced color on canvas. No fussy glass. I love this stuff. A street art aesthetic giving way to tight graphics and, upon closer scrutiny, fine-grained delicate detail.
A possible cosmic reason for our delay en route to the gallery revealed itself when, upstairs amid multiple smaller works, I was startled by a young guy giving me an unexpected look of "Hey! Krista!" It took me more than a minute to grok that it was my own cousin, James, standing before me, who I hadn't seen in literally years. Strange and cool. He's a digital graphic artist himself and we had a catch up chat before heading out.
So, it was Fairey not Frida this time. No regrets.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The shift is happening. This weekend Ecuadorians will vote on whether to approve a new constitution which includes articles that would grant Nature the right to "exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and processes in evolution".
I'm in awe.
Read more at bright green blog. Ecuador is not the only country to grant rights to nonhuman entities. The US, for instance, grants some human rights to corporations (see my old blogpost Corporate Beastie). Why not for trees? Bodies of water? Species? Ecuador has tread the furthest into this realization of Nature's right to be.
Here are the rights to be granted to Pachamama (aka Mother Earth):
Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.
Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.
Art. 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration. This integral restoration is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people and the collectives that depend on the natural systems.
In the cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including the ones caused by the exploitation on non renewable natural resources, the State will establish the most efficient mechanisms for the restoration, and will adopt the adequate measures to eliminate or mitigate the harmful environmental consequences.
Art. 3. The State will motivate natural and juridical persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.
Art. 4. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.
The introduction of organisms and organic and inorganic material that can alter in a definitive way the national genetic patrimony is prohibited.
Art. 5. The persons, people, communities and nationalities will have the right to benefit from the environment and form natural wealth that will allow well being.
The environmental services are cannot be appropriated; its production, provision, use and exploitation, will be regulated by the State.
At the cusp of reparation...
Painting by Betty LaDuke "Pachamama"
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio saying it straight and strong. Powerful! The events unfolding these past few days are spectacular in their surreality. Can this be happening?? This bailout legislation reeks, the worst stink coming from a rotten bit of language that effectively transfers the power of the purse from Congress to the Executive branch. In the hands of this criminal administration that would mean a stake in the heart of anything resembling a democracy here in the US. They are talking about a staggering $700 billion blank check with absolutely no oversight! Write your Congresspeople and tell them NO. The "emergency" has been manufactured. There is time to craft something healthy that will actually address these dire straits. Real Reform or Nothing.
UPDATE: Yet another informative diary on just why we need to say NO.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The artist who recently created the wildly successful Obama silkscreen posters, Shepard Fairey, is having a solo show in SF at the White Walls gallery space from September 13 through October 4, titled The Duality of Humanity. I find his work so excellent it gives me pain. A perfect amalgam of conception, aesthetic flavor and political bite. Yow.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Our primary good move was staying in a motel in Eugene after a full day on the road in the brutal heat and smoke with no air con. Normally we drive all day, stop in town to pick up provisions and water for the next week then push on out to the fair site where we slather our sticky selves with bug spray and spend the final hours of day assembling the loft and pitching camp before nightfall. No wonder we succumb to exhaustion every year. Instead of the usual death march the alternate scenario this year was: we took hot showers, walked through campus in the twilight, reveled in the fading sun and old trees, helped the kids finish their craft projects while watching Galaxy Quest, mended and ironed (!) a few loose ends, slept in a firm bed and went out for a meal the next morning before heading out to Fair. That did wonders to fill my cup and as it turns out I needed my cup full.
We were indeed in the groove. So much so that we when we went out to the Keystone Cafe the next morning we dovetailed with a convergence of dear friends and got to sit down to a leisurely meal together. Laughing and catching up. Unexpected and lovely. Then we went to the health food store to pick up food and water and it wasn't even noon. We were so ahead of the game!
Then our van died.
Looking at it in retrospect with the rose-colored glasses (as opposed to the shit ones) I could say we were damn lucky it happened in the tiny parking lot of Sundance rather then out front of our booth deep in the Eight. We were stunned at first, sitting there in Big Red unable to grasp the reality that we were supremely stalled. In a daze I got out, compelled to step over to the bulletin board along the store front. There was a small yellow card pinned up quietly proclaiming the services of a "mobile mechanic". Steve Child, miracle guy, wasn't really working that day but generously rode his bike (mobile, yes) over to check out the scene.
So the short version is, while the girls and I distracted our merciful Eugene friend Nancy from her pre-Fair packing, Steve worked all day in the hot sun pulling the steering column, fishing out an errant bit of sheared off steel and showing Rob how to hot wire the engine. (Rob says the technical diagnosis was "snafu"). So instead of noon, we rolled in to the Eight near 9 o'clock under threat of closing gates and rushed to unload quick as lightning. Our edge utterly lost, we just pitched a tent and tossed some bags under the skeeter net to collapse on into welcome sleep.
Could the lesson be as simple as having a better vehicle next year? Because other than that one freak event, Fair was good. Though the days were sweltering the evenings were pleasant, the morning and dusk lights beautiful, appreciation in the air, small serendipities everywhere. Our camp never looked better, the display the best ever, our sleep was deep, we fancied up and tipped cocktails with our Fair family on Friday night and the hardest part really was fighting tiredness in the face of so much fun to be had.
Sales were down a bit but strong enough despite reports that sales were weak for crafters throughout the fair. Abundance was enjoyed. Eden's dolls sold out, Zoe made the big bucks and bought velvets, India sold enough for a velvet skirt but had a refreshing change hooking up with friends from camp, Rob's magnets were hotcakes and even Zephyr was financing his own ice cream with path side lectures about the solar system that won him the respect of many including a very impressed cosmologist. Jonathan was making the most of his time, laughing a lot and taking pride in Zephyr doing so well. Mom came through many times getting the kids food when they bottomed out (as did Steve and Meredith a few times) and selling in the booth which was perfectly graced with the rug she brought us. When Karen wasn't watching over the girls she got to wander the Eight, see some music and even hear her guy Bruce Lipton speak up at the Front Porch. Despite Rob's paring down on frivolities such as his so called "hippie traps" like the glowing Butterfly and electric Ball of Mystery, Dad came through with his own light toys for nighttime. Gang of revelers. We did good.
I was just, once again, too worn out to fully absorb all there was to take in. I can't seem to help going into partial shut down. Getting there is such a herculean effort but being there also takes stamina. I was in the booth more this year and it requires energy to interact with folks brimming with gratitude, enthusiasm and interest for my work. The down side of being an introvert, I suppose. Quiet moments are the best for me. My highlights: showering in the sun at the Ritz, stumbling on the Crow Quill Night Owls, finding a unicorn horn, watching Zak's light forms change color across the river, playing guitar in the loft, tripping with Rob, following Deva out to the funky dance party in the Craft Lot, our cocktail parade, booth front late night laughing, seeing Ayala, bone buttons and black feathers.
A decent fair all in all but still glad to be home.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
I just read Mark Morford's piece "Is Obama An Enlightened Being". He nailed it when he wrote:
"There's a vast amount of positive energy swirling about that's been held back by the armies of BushCo darkness, and this energy has now found a conduit, a lightning rod, is now effortlessly self-organizing around Obama's candidacy. People and emotions and ideas of high and positive vibration are automatically drawn to him. It's exactly like how Bush was a magnet for the low vibrational energies of fear and war and oppression and aggression, but, you know, completely reversed. And different. And far, far better."
I watch this video of him speaking to his campaign staffers after the win and I am truly moved. He understands that each of us contributing our best to a common task is the new way, the only way we will make it. He is us, the ones we have been waiting for. We the People.
Photo by Alain Briot
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Here's an Escher montage set to anti-folk guy Jeffrey Lewis' hypnotic "Springtime" with some great pictures by the great Maurits Cornelis and various other Escher related stuff. Also check out Jeffrey Lewis video Acid Song. I love his Rules for Tripping. (Thanks, Molly!)
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Kudos to Marvin Schenck, the show's curator, and his assistant, Denver Tuttle, for orchestrating a terrific show.
Friday, May 02, 2008
RIP: Albert Hofman (January 11, 1906 – April 29, 2008)
I took note when Swiss chemist and the father of LSD passed away a few days ago. I give profound thanks for the ground he broke all those years ago which changed the face of my reality and laid a fertile foundation for the evolution of consciousness in general. That chemical agent of clarity that blows the dust off the old lenses may have been a fluke in the lab but the fruits of his discovery have yet to be fully borne. Hofman once said that LSD "wanted to tell me something. It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation." He considered the hallucinogen to be "medicine for the soul" and lamented the casual recreational use of something he felt should be approached with great reverence. He was also greatly dismayed when it was eventually criminalized as he was convinced that the drug offered the potential to counter psychological problems induced by "materialism, alienation from nature through industrialization and increasing urbanization, lack of satisfaction in professional employment in a mechanized, lifeless working world, ennui and purposelessness in wealthy, saturated society, and lack of a religious, nurturing, and meaningful philosophical foundation of life". Indeed.
From his contemporary, Aldous Huxley , Hofman gleaned an understanding of psychedelic agents as keys to the "new doors of perception", offering an alternative to other "proven but laborious door openers like meditation, solitude, fasting or certain yoga practices." Synthesizing lysergic acid diethylamide in the lab based on a mere hunch, Hofman considered it possible that his discovery of this powerful catalyst of expanded consciousness from a "pharmacologically uninteresting substance" was not mere chance but perhaps "predestined by some higher power to arise precisely at the time when the predominance of materialism with all its consequences over the past 100 years was being understood. LSD as an enlightening psychopharmakon along the path to a new, spiritual age!"
Aldous Huxley impressed Hofman in his consideration of human consciousness as a world resource and considered psychedelics as key to helping develop its potential and tap its power. "A humankind with highly-developed spiritual capacities, with expanded consciousness of the comprehensive wonder of being, would have to be more capable of observing and recognizing also the biological and material bases for its existence on this Earth. The development and unfolding of the ability sensually to experience reality directly, undisguised by words and concepts, would be of evolutionary significance, above all for Occidental humankind with such hypertrophied rationality."
Food for thought.
Quotes from LSD: Completely Personal a speech delivered by Dr. Albert Hofman to the 1996 Worlds of Consciousness Conference in Heidelberg, Germany
Image : Anonymous wood engraving in l'Atmosphere: Meteorologie Populaire by Camille Flammarion 1888
Monday, April 28, 2008
I couldn't restrain myself from snapping a few illicit photos at the Ruth Asawa show a few weeks ago. Shadow play like this is irresistible. To see her work gracing the spaces inside our own Sonoma County Museum was an unequivocal pleasure. Her work stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it at the De Young in San Francisco last year. Stunning, elegant, organic, fractal beauty.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
This photo captures a compounding of a couple of peeves I have: the vinyl sign and the shady financial institution. I can't resist a rant here.
I'm an aspiring optimist with an distinct aesthetic orientation so I maybe I'm more challenged by the plague that is modern advertising than many. Most of it is oppressive visual garbage to me. A depressing din. I steel myself just to drive around town. In fact, I have such a revulsion for "Buy This!" ploys that I've developed a bit of blindness that actually doesn't serve me when I'm really in the market. So I have this lament about the uglification that happens in a consumer culture. Forget elegant understatement or letting things speak for themselves. These days the cry to consume is mostly a ruthless take-you-by-the-throat affair and I have to stay positive by giving thanks that there aren't ads on the moon...yet.
Everyday the yellow-orange plastic fast-flashing hook-you info cram gets a bit more intense and I find I've developed a new peeve, nagging for attention like a nasty little dog. I must continually and pointedly look away, sighing with irritation but that does nothing to ease the problem I have with this ubiquitous eyesore: the saggy vinyl sign. I suppose the small business needs a cheap sign to make a go of it and maybe I'm the only one who thinks these sad plastic wonders are really suited only to the brand new or the temporary. A grand opening or an event, OK. They shouldn't hang perpetually in every nook and cranny of town, flapping like lame birds.
Here's where I get really riled. These lame birds should NOT be used to entice customers into banking. I have really been bugged by the plethora of banks in town with a wrinkled banner as their main tag. Nothing says fly-by-night like a floppy sheet of landfill hastily lashed to some recently empty building and I just have to shake my head in wonder. That a bank should be housed in a structure of solid foundation, with thick walls and preferably some large columns, is basic. It should exude security. That was focused-grouped like a hundred years ago, right? I am able to let that one go. But at the very least there should be strong permanent signage, securely affixed. Made of gold metal even.
Anyway, a wimpy banner does not bode well for a bank and a sly punny name is worse. When I first caught sight of the Wachovia sign here in town I experienced a slight wave of disgust. How patronizing is that? It came off so flip and condescending. Oh, yeah, we'll watch over ya (snicker). I figured I was just in a mood, reading too much into it. Turns out, my gut reaction was telling. Headline: Feds Look At Watchovia In Drug Money Probe (!) Scamming seniors, accepting unsigned checks and other practices questionable for a large financial institution. Rather disturbing really.
I don't enjoy the feeling I sometimes have that my hometown has morphed into a Pottertown with fast food huts, bong shops, seasonal crapstops and tattoo parlors. (Do we really need one on every corner?) Now questionable banks plastered with cheap vinyl. I pine for the old days when my Grandpa lettered the shop shingles and painted ads for Clover milk on the walls of neighborhood stores, by hand and with skill. When signs really attracted and banks looked like banks to be trusted.
End of rant.
I find this brilliant and beautiful. It appeals to my love of words and forms. Onomatopoeic sculpture by Japanese artist Atsushi Fukunaga who (literally) takes sound effects into the third dimension. It helps that the Japanese characters for giongo are themselves so comely.
From Fukunaga's website:
"I am interested in how to give form to something that is formless. Formless things have many qualities, among them sound, movement, atmosphere, taste, light and shadow, and I am particularly interested in sound, There are many ways to interpret sound, My first step being to translate the sound an onomatopoeic word. My own country of Japan has many onomatopoeic words. Furthermore, the Japanese katakana alphabet is used to communicate foreign words by breaking them down into their constituent syllables. These ‘translated’ foreign words are unique to the Japanese language. I believe there is a universal communicative quality to sound as opposed to language. In Japanese, onomatopoeic words are often used to describe events which have no sound, thereby creating an imaginative link between language and reality. I am interested in investigating ways of communicating to as many people as possible through sound, In the visual language this would be akin to road signs, traffic signals, toilet signs, and hazard patterns. I am also interested in describing sound through visual language. For example, in Japanese manga comics a loud sound is often signified by larger, bolder letters. I am currently exploring this idea further."
Image by Atsushi Fukunaga, Ame no oto (Sound of Rain)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
A nice fat stack of these slick mailers just arrived via snail mail announcing the Northern California Visionary Art show that I will part of at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah, California. I was impressed with the quality and pleased to see Illumination reclining in ease and prominence. (It is originally a tri-fold jobbie that I condensed here for posting) The copy reads:
In the late 1960s the San Francisco Bay Area became the focal point for a new art movement labeled Visionary Art. It materialized against a background of Vietnam War protests, campus riots, a new idealistic counterculture, Far Eastern spiritual influences, underground comics, psychedelic music and poster art. It was a time of mind altering drug experimentation and free love. Massive numbers of youth were fleeing their middle class upbringing to seek other paths of consciousness and utopian dreams. Concepts of ecology and a back to the land movement were beginning to flourish. The first television generation was seeking new realities.
A nucleus of artists developed on this wave of rising consciousness. They were influenced by Surrealism, Jungian universal archetypes, personal dream awareness, ancient art symbols, and non-Western religious philosophies. These Visionary Artists expressed new alternate realities in their detailed dream-like images.
This exhibition germinated from the large number of Visionary Artists who are now located in rural Northern California. This selection of works follows the traditions of personal dreamscape, utopian landscape, spiritual awakening and apocalyptic visions as originally manifested in early California Visionary Art. Both original and recent artworks by some of the founders of this movement are represented. Also included are paintings by artists who have immigrated here from afar or are younger painters who represent a second Visionary Art generation.
It is clear from the powerful artwork that California Visionary Art remains an important contemporary, creative and idealistic force.It continues to offer alternative spiritual realities and serves as an ecological conscience, even a seer
of doom, for the competitive materialistic world. For all, Visionary Art offers a plethora of intriguing epiphanies to ponder.
Marvin Schenck, Curator
Grace Hudson Museum
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Saturday was a frantic rummage through the shops collecting shiny bits and candies for the girls' Easter baskets, something I usually do in a casual way over a period of a few weeks. Between Rob and I we assembled an attractive pastel colored mess that was well received on Sunday morning, which began too early for me. The afternoon came on slowly and opened beautifully like poppy buds in a warm room. Mom and Dad hosted lunch and had the family table set out under the wisteria. Dad made what we proclaimed to be the best mac and cheese in the universe with Spring veggies, greens and bread. The meal was exalted by a '96 bottle of Clos du Val Cabernet, Mom's lightly chocolate Pavlova crowned with cream and fruit for dessert and a family meander through the neighborhood under flowering trees. Yes, a really lovely weekend. Now some rest.
Photo: My studio this Spring.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
This photo is an odd angle because the canvas is actually resting vertically against the slider door.
I first saw this over a year ago and loved it. I came home from another long day in the studio and found it had been sent my way again by a friend so I thought I'd share it. Sincerity can still shine in a jaded world. I think humanity has a pretty good shot. Creative and uplifting.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Here's quintessential trippy dude Terence McKenna talking about culture as a kind of operating system of the mind that can be overwritten by a deeper, more "vitalistic" program through shamanic practices such as ingesting psychotropic plants. This is akin to my own take on culture, religion, capitalism, evolution, the world...ever since age 19 when a series of temporary mind alterations ("perturbed brain chemistry") wiped clean the old hard drive. To experience stepping off a bus, exhaled into the cityscape like a gush of seawater from a great whale to hear the trees in the park singing my name while they tossed the moon like a ball and the gutters rang with bells...well. I never went back to Kansas. I became the smallest weed cracking through the sidewalk and the farthest star winking in the fog. It flashed through my body: it's all more beautiful, alive, connected and simple then I could know with my head. That's been my stance ever since, seemingly outside the cultural norm but deeper inside something more real. A place where old cliches like "love makes the world go 'round" are reborn to their original radiant profundity. In those days I came upon a shattered store window and plucked a shard from the wreckage. It became an icon for me, a piece of my old world view that showed me where I'd been limited and now had broken free. I still keep that hunk of glass upon an altar of bird nests in my studio and still revel in the beauty of this elegant universe and my place in it.
This clip has some fine far out art by the likes of Alex Grey and Mark Henson, among others, and a rather eerie soundtrack.