Friday, September 17, 2010


So, here is the second mosaic I created for Healing From the Ashes. I found a plate that provided the blue sky. It wasn't recovered from the fire but was recycled. The butterfly came from stoneware bowl or plate; while the black is either a Crockpot or a big ramekin and the red is a ceramic vase, and both of those I used for "Fire Dragon" as well.

I dropped off both mosaics at the "gallery" being put together in the old Century 21 office at 8263 Foothill, in Sunland. Almost half of the artwork has been delivered by the various participating artists and after perusing the work, I am convinced that this is going to be a wonderful show! The piece on the postcard looks even better in person and I, for one, would love to hang it in my living room!

Interestingly enough, the local Rotary has thrown its support behind this exhibit and series of events and one of the people very much involved is Richard Stewart, about whom I wrote earlier in my blog regarding his artful rock piles! He was at the gallery with Susan, who I finally and happily met. Six degrees of separation...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Ribbon of Light"

"Ribbon of Light" Acrylic on Canvas 12"x36"

I woke up last Tuesday with an itchiness in my chest I hadn't felt in years. Despite the length of time, I knew what that feeling meant...the wheezy descent of my bronchial tubes into major congestion. Usually, at the slightest sign of a cold, I chase it with of Airborne-fizzed gallons of water and a few Cold-eeze lozenges but despite my quick response to that warning tickle, my body rapidly took the downward spiral, hit by a wall of exhaustion and a clogged respiratory system from top to bottom. I couldn't even read, as my head felt it had grown to at least 150% its normal size.

Realizing I had had a lot on my mind lately, I decided to just let go of everything...after all, there was nothing I could do at that point, so giving my head a break, also meant giving my emotions and body a break, too. Each time I started to think about something I had to attend to on some level, I let go and just focused on thinking about nothing. As a result of this, I found I was getting a profound rest at a deeper level of my being. I was letting everything just be what it was; something that I know I'm capable of doing all the time, but usually haven't. So often, I've been busy fighting what is, comparing, projecting, what-iffing that I resist the beauty in the moment. Whatever cares I have had, whatever cares I might take on, the exact moment that I'm in is usually just fine. And other than the obvious physical woes, that's what I felt while lying in my bed for the better part of three days.

With gratitude for the effectiveness of zinc in the battle against the mighty cold virus, tonight my symptoms are beginning to improve. In reality, it was my finding my peace with myself which truly turned the tide, with the zinc and the aforementioned reservoir of water providing reinforcements. As my energy is building, so is my drive to continue expanding my platform of creation and produce more works of art, whether carving, sculpting, painting or writing, as well as connecting with the wondrous ever-extending community of friends and family that I am blessed to share. I've even decided to do a second mosaic for Healing From the Ashes. Yes, it's like giving birth. After you've recovered and you're embracing your beloved child, you can't remember how you felt when you were sure you'd never do it again!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Santa Ana Art Walk

My friend, Erick Rodriguez, special effects sculptor extraordinaire, was asked to show his art by David Pursley, a resident of a fairly recently built live/work space on Santa Ana Blvd. Through Erick, I was also invited to show in David's gallery. My work is on the left half of the photo on the left, the photo on the right is all Erick's sculpture.

Santa Ana Art Walk is on the third Saturday of the month, from 7-10pm. Cubical buildings of various colors, all squares and rectangles, and all is clean and crisp. Yet somehow, there is a warmth and connectedness, a sense of community that fills and rounds out all the straight lines. Each space is three stories with the ground floor serving as work space and during the art walk, as galleries. It is so interesting and engaging to see how each proprietor decorates and fills his or her space. There are generally about 20 galleries open during art walk, showing quite a variety of creative outpourings. People visit every month to see and perhaps to purchase new offerings. And, refreshments are offered, anything from a glass of wine in one gallery to a full course meal in another. And, of course there are the de rigueur food trucks, which has become a part of most public outdoor events.

What was the best part of participating in this event was the experience of the feeling of support and validation that the artists give to one another, as well as the excitement and interest of the local residents who come to view the work and meet the gallery owners and artists. When I arrived on Friday to begin setting up, I knew no one and when I left Saturday evening I had extended my community.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Healing From the Ashes

"Dragon Fire" Black Crockpot and red stoneware vase.

Another artist who lives in Tujunga, Ariyana Gibbon, lost her house in the Angeles Fire in 1994. Some good friends and neighbors of hers lost their homes in the Station Fire early this year. Knowing what they had experienced and fueled with the knowledge that seven of these families had no fire insurance to replace their losses, Ariyana decided to enlist the aid of fellow artists, two of whom actually were victims of the fire, to create art from the remnants of those homes. She determined to create an exhibit, where the art would be offered for sale and the proceeds would go to the owners of what was now shards of pottery and dishware, twisted and melted globs of glass and wire, as well as charred bits of wood and more.

Ariyana mentioned that people in this area responded very well to mosaics and suggested that I might like to do one. I agreed, despite the fact that I haven't created a mosaic since my childhood classroom days, when we cut up little bits of construction paper and glued half of them to our fingers while trying to carefully place them on our backing papers. Right after agreeing to do this and before meeting her and picking out materials, I attended a 4th of July party, where a henna tattoo artist was decorating the guests. I looked through her books and when I saw some dragons, I knew that's what I wanted. I really enjoyed having that little beast on my arm for the several day period it lasted and made my decision to design a dragon mosaic for the Healing from the Ashes Art Exhibition. Thankfully, between YouTube demonstrations and Ariyana's advice, I managed to create this guy, although I still felt I was re-inventing the wheel to some extent and it took quite a bit more time and patience than I'd anticipated. I'm happy with the end result and am optimistic that it will find a new home.

The opening reception will be held on October 3, 2010 from 2pm-5pm and the show will run from October 3-October 21 at 8263 Foothill Blvd., Sunland, CA 91040

Accompanying the exhibition will be a program of related events:
Thurs. Oct. 7th at 7:00Pm Documentary Film- “The Station Fire Tragedy" by award-winning
filmmaker Christopher Toissaint (work in progress),
Sat.Oct.16 1:00-5:00 pm Artist Demonstrations
More events will be posted on http:// ASAP

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Un Petit Feu"

Un petit feu means a little fire or flame, in French. This piece is just over 5" tall.

It's interesting to me to see how the call to reach upward seems to be inherent in human nature. A few years ago, almost subconsciously I noticed that a little patch of land on Tujunga Canyon Blvd near my home, was going through some changes. It had been totally overgrown, with dead and dying branches hanging off the trees in sad disarray. Gradually, the landscape was brightening up and the living plants and trees were more evident. But, what was particularly catching my attention was the appearance of rock piles, artfully stacked in a way that was balanced and engaging to the eye. At first, there were only two or three and I thought it might be my imagination that they were even there, for I caught them from the corner of my eye, as I drove by. After awhile, I remember asking my daughter if more were appearing or was I just imagining them. It was if they were growing up from the landscape. Rocky sentinels rising from the earth, these natural sculptures had a feeling of connection and community, as if they were speaking to each other and to the visitors who might walk amongst them. I determined to do just that, to get out of my car and take my time looking at them all. Whoever was the artist, he or she had also started to put up various decorations pertaining to holidays, which led one to wonder what s/he would think of next! One day I made up my mind that this was the moment I'd stop. When I drove up to the spot, I saw that the person responsible for this transformation was there! His name was Richard Stewart and he was a local painting contractor who, aside from being a member of the Rotary, had felt compelled to start cleaning up abandoned areas and was particularly taken with all the rocks he'd been unearthing at this spot, also known as Horse Thief Pass, in the process. He was very modest and really pleased when I told him I was an artist, whose greatest passion was in carving stone, and that I was very taken with his creations. He didn't consider himself to be a "real" artist, but one has only to look around to know that true art is taking the materials one has and with love and thoughtfulness, brings a new vision and understanding. From my perspective, Richard fills the bill.

This spring he and his wife Susan were married there and all of us local residents were invited to come and share their happiness and a little wedding cake. Unfortunately, my daughter and I were committed elsewhere, for we would have loved to participate in their joy and in the warmth and celebration of a community for a member that started a little flame that has become a roaring bonfire of appreciation. One person can make a difference.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Further Meanderings

After discovering Azteca Farms at the Montrose Farmers Market a few years ago, I have been the most loyal of customers. Especially during the summer, when Irma and her husband, Vincente, bring out the crispiest, juiciest, sweetest watermelons ever! Irma picks out a particularly luscious specimen, in anticipation of my arrival, which makes me very happy. One day, Vincente was helping me to carry the three huge melons I'd bought for myself and also to share with others and we chatted a bit about his story. Vincente arrived several years ago and worked as a migrant worker on various farms. During that time, everywhere he worked, he asked the growers many, many questions about what they did to encourage the best growth from the land. After twenty years, Vincente was able to begin farming on his own and he has done a wonderful job of growing the most beautiful and delicious produce. Particularly, as I mentioned, those irresistible watermelons. It's heartening to know that the traditional American success story still happens!

Sometimes, such as today, I buy my melon(s) and leave them there to continue shopping as well as visiting other friends' booths. One of these friends is Vince Takas, a prolific watercolor artist. He has been painting at this market for several years now and a steady stream of friends and clients make their way to his booth for a chat or to pick out some cards or paintings. From all the greetings, he seems to know practically everyone! He has a way of looking at things through a very honest and wry lens... there is something refreshing about sharing a chat with him.

I stopped to take in the little petting zoo. The two eleven week old piglets caught my eye. They are so cute and just like the stereotype, all they're interested in is food! Maybe they sense they have to eat continuously to get to the size they're going to reach. If they knew what was ahead, maybe they'd slow down on the consumption!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Who's in the House?"

One of my very favorite times of the week is when I take class with former Solid Gold dancer, Darcel, incredibly enough at the Crescenta-Canada YMCA. She also teaches at the Glendale Y, which I catch on occasion. Her honey, Jonaton, teaches the first half hour in the more lyrical style from my past, and Darcel takes us on an energetic journey for the remaining forty-five minutes to the land of funk and hey, hey!!, where we move in a way that my 15 year old daughter refuses to watch when I get home and want to share!

When I arrived last Tuesday, Jonaton was just leaving. With my questioning look, he told me that he'd received a call to get home right away and would see me later in the week. The mystery was revealed when, after class, Darcel shared with us the story of a night visitor. At around 2am, a dark shape flew past Darcel's head and made it's way through the drapes of their bedroom, then out the door into the livingroom. Terrified, Darcel nudged and nudged Jonaton awake, quietly insisting that something was in the house! He sprang up and closed the door, then grabbed a workout weight, ready to defend their territory, but hesitated to leave the bedroom. They could hear as whatever it was crashed through the house, knocking things over everywhere and were afraid to open the door to confront it. Darcel got the idea to call their next door neighbors to see and let out whatever it was, from the outside. By this time, it was 3am and the call woke their neighbors from a sound sleep, despite all the noise going on. Darcel thought one of the doors was open but Jonaton had locked them and the usually hidden key was nowhere to be found. Finally, their neighbor shined a flashlight on the raccoon that was attempting to escape by pushing on the screens of every window it could find. Finally, when it was pushing at the kitchen window, the neighbor removed the screen and the critter made its exit!

Isn't that a perfect metaphor for so many things that we fear? Here were two people afraid to leave the familiar to encounter the unknown, while the misplaced being in the other room only wanted to get out, to find its own familiar surroundings. In this case, there is no way to know what might have happened had they left the bedroom and the raccoon might very well have defended itself had it felt cornered. Everything happened for the best and everyone was left with their own space. By the way, it turned out the raccoon had gotten trapped in the attic of the building and had made a hole above a cabinet in the kitchen to escape. What horrors it must have experienced to realize it had jumped out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak...