Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Devoted To Voting

Even when I have mixed feelings about who and why. When I turned eighteen I was a self-identified anarchist. I chose forthrightly not to "participate in the system". In other words, I didn't vote and spent the next eight years grappling with Reagan reality. After four awful years, I did my civic duty though it made no difference. Even so, I have never failed to vote. Even when my faith in the integrity of our elections was shaken in 2004. This election holds so much weight. Bush almost gone. Almost gone. The nightmare will end but who will be the leader to guide the cutting edge of change? As much as I like the idea of a woman president as a symbol of a new era, I do NOT want an old-school, business-as-usual, wife-of-Bill whose most powerful attribute is her ability to inspire folks to vote against her. (I have actually seen Stop Hillary bumperstickers !) If anyone could mobilize a disillusioned Republican from a sit-it-out mentality, she could. I'm sorry but she is just too Last Century to lead the charge. Early on, I briefly played with the idea of voting for Ron Paul in the primary because I wasn't excited about any of the Dems and I'd love to see the country riding on a choice between two decent candidates. He at least elevates the discourse on the Republican side, a breath of fresh air stirring up the stale flotsam of rhetoric. A committed Constitutionalist, he speaks with sincerity, intelligence and conviction despite some crackpot ideas. His Libertarian leanings conjure my old freedom-loving anarchist "the best government is no government" ideals which I still carry except where it distinctly does not address the elephant in the room: corporatism and its corrosive effect on our democracy. So my serious vote has been veering toward the guy who's been talking straight up about all the stuff I worry about: John Edwards. Even though he's a wealthy Southern white guy whose name will always remind me of the 2004 debacle, he met the pertinent issues head on: break up corporate media, make universal health care a priority, reinvigorate the middle class, support small business, ease poverty and end the damn war. But now he's tossed in the towel and I'm left looking at maybe the only candidate who really has the potential to be the change we need. Young, energetic, black, idealistic and genuinely inspiring when he speaks about "strengthening the pillars of a just society" or "building accountable institutions, strong legislatures, honest police forces, free presses". Potent language. About coming together, building, guiding. Renew our standing in the world. Be the change we want to see. All good stuff. But words alone won't make it happen. Can inspiration? Our good old American tolerance and spirit of goodwill has been frayed under the strain of fear, suspicion and the us versus them fracture so methodically cultivated these last seven years. The time has come to reclaim our ideals as a country and I think Obama has the vision to see it happen. He has my vote.

P.S. 2/1/08 State Representative Mark Cohen, PA summed up my feeling when wrote in his Daily Kos piece The Coming Obama Explosion:

An Obama victory would re-establish the Horatio Alger inspired myth that any American can grow up to be President. A Clinton victory would offer the more limited lesson for many that any relatively young wealthy former first lady with experience in high elective office can become President.

An Obama victory would be a victory for a fundamental change in direction. A Clinton victory would be a victory for political change when justified by a detailed study of the facts and careful reading of the political winds and the interests of wealthy campaign contributors".

Graphic of silkscreen limited edition print from OBEY Propaganda Engineering.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Full Rotation

After literally three months of pain and limitation from an inflamed rotator cuff, I am back in full swing. All my angst about "deterioration", "fraying tissue" and "ultimately, surgery may be necessary" has washed away and I am reveling in full mobility. It's been less than 48 hours since I went to see our friend and fabulous bodyworker Susan McDaniel with an office in Sebastopol ( She is an orthopedic massage therapist and knows the human musculature and joint system like a mama knows her baby. She gently rocked my entire shoulder, methodically reawakening every little muscle from it's traumatized trance. The big problemo was actually the very common condition of weak supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor muscles probably exasperated by poor computer posture, painting and relentless guitar playing which led to "impingement" which is just a fancy way of saying hot barbs of nagging pain. She gave me a long stretchy rubberband thingy, called a Thera-Band, and told me just how to pull on it to easily strengthen those little guys. Three movements, five times each. That's all. It actually felt so good to do it the first time that I had to pace myself to keep from overdoing it. By nightfall I was 75 percent improved. Today I feel almost completely free. I am so grateful to Susan for her expertise. Hallelujah! I really don't know why I didn't go to her sooner. Now I can get my new year off to a better start.

Rosette from ancient Roman fragments as depicted in a hand-colored engraving published by Carlo Antonin in 1781.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Open Territory

I just bought my first BIG canvas. A few, in fact. One of my resolutions this year was to start to work larger. I was researching substrates online and tracked down some biggies for around $130 each (not including shipping). Rob, the ever thrifty, called around town just to compare and on a fluke Riley St. was having a big 50% off sale. So this beauty is a gallery-wrapped whopping 4 feet by 6 feet and I got it for a song. 57 bucks. It was too big to fit in the car and it takes up a big chunk of my studio space. That's a lot of white for me. I've only painted up to 30" x 40". I also got two in a 38" x 48" size. So, my work's cut out for me. Painting new territory. It's giving me some crazy dreams and not a little anxiety but the time is ripe.


After enjoying some extended cheer gazing upon our glittering Christmas tree these past rainy gray weeks, we finally stripped it down a few days ago and toted it outdoors to become fragrant explosive kindling for the studio woodstove. Shhh. Don't tell Eden I posted this, she'd be mortified but it's just so funny. She's in the habit of sketching her feelings out on paper and then leaving the snippets tossed around for parental eyes. I guess she was none too happy about taking the tree down even though we kept it up two weeks into January. (Not an unheard of tradition in some parts of the world...Mexico, for instance). This was before the deed was done and she had me pegged as the likely culprit. Rob actually did the thing. I don't know why I'm wearing my glasses or what the frown means. Focused ill intent? Malevolence? That's our homemade angel looking on, aghast. Probably Eden's stand-in. She's seems to be over it now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Brochure Torture

Last Friday I began work on putting together a long overdue new brochure for the biz. For a few years now we have been sending stores a growing collection of product sheets, postcard add ons and desktop printed price lists with order sheets. Very agitating to my aesthetic and professional sensibilities but slick little booklets cost money and we still have lots of the other motley mix so we've put it off. Now that we have some new designs, I set to it with a fresh New Year's goal-busting attitude. I want to streamline. Simplify presentation. Pull it together with a consistency of design. An eight page booklet seemed an easy feat last week but it has waxed into a little hair pulling stress fest. I have decent Photoshop skills but when you are dealing with dozens of images of different dimensions, getting the color right, making sure code numbers are correct, accounting for full bleeds and trim lines, making constant design decisions which may or may not pan out a day later when you bring in another element, can get a bit ugly. Adding to the mix is my shoulder's "stop clicking that mouse" pain nag, general household interruptions and desire to make it look more than just a bunch of stacked rectangles. I am reminded so vividly why I did not stay in the graphic arts field. So, I'm almost done. The brochure is... OK. But, boy, do I appreciate what you pay graphics folks for. I'd almost pay money not to do it. Maybe next time I should.

Body Rhythm Goddess

I painted this image for the cover of Kris Freewoman's DVD, a "Body Rhythm Goddess-A Dance Ritual for Body and Soul", a different kind of workout incorporating Yoga, African Fusion dance, Pilates and deep relaxation created with the intention to reconnect us with our own inner rhythms and inspire us to step into the "magical circle of joyful fitness". Sounds very juicy. She wanted the four elements active in the image which I think I accomplished without being too contrived. The shapes in the border were also inspired by the elements. More info about the DVD, where to purchase it and all can be found at her website.

The blue border looks curved because I just took a photo of the booklet.

yellow and red

Thorsten from Germany asked to use one of my images for his CD. He chose to sample an abstract "Realm of Childhood" which I think goes really well with his ambient atmospheric sound, some of which can be heard here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Camper Van Cracker

Saturday night Rob and I went down to the Mystic Theater in Petaluma to see an old fave band. Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker is really two bands with some interchangeable members centering around main man, David Lowery. Camper Van's been around since the early Eighties which was when we got to know them. We had an odd mix tape of their stuff and liked their sound so much we wore it out. They're hard to describe. They've called themselves "surrealist absurdist folk" and they do mix it up. Punk, ska, alt rock with a country folk twang. Some high energy violin weaving throughout and occasional accordion flourishes thrown in give a kind of Eastern European flavor. Lowery's got this boyish voice with a nice flat edge perfect for deadpan delivery of dryly goofy lyrics. (Unfortunately, several shows I've seen at the Mystic have had poor sound mixing and the vocals were a bit too receded and fuzzed out for my taste. That's my one complaint). Their songs are funny with dark undertones, political threads and bright flashes of stark beauty. It was like a teenage dream to be at front and center watching music you love breaking over you three feet from your face. Too cool. After a break, they reconvened in a new constellation as Cracker and played a satisfying eclectic set. Highlights included audience faves "Eurotrash Girl" and "Low". These guys together can really build a wall of sound. For the encore they did a hypnotic Brides of Neptune and then segued into an unknown (to me) song that waxed into a sonic juggernaut. I swear, it was like the launching of the mothership. Needless to say my ears were very wacked afterwards despite earplugs but oh so worth it.