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Three hours in New York City in December. Some flânerie and a visit to one excellent bookstore. A dose of “cityness”.

New York has been called the capital of the twentieth century and an architectural battleground. Here are some of the stories I found at Rizzoli.

The playful books of architectural sketches (i also found this and this at the Museum of Contemporary Art store in the airport) reminded me that flawless execution is not as important as

1) discovering your own graphic “voice”

and

2) developing the trust, consistency and playfulness needed to making it heard.

Other books looked as delicious as desserts in a literature bakery.

That’s what a book is, a single serving of story and ideas you can carry with you and devote yourself to, like listening with intention to one speaker. Attention is, after all, the best form of generosity.

Sometimes the tabs of my internet browser become a cacophony. Sure all of the books of Rizzoli, William Stout and Hennessey + Ingalls too, could be contained in a thumb drive. But what those people that consider bookstores obsolete don’t understand that bookstores are not just purveyor of books: they curate selection, there is a mind at work.. one that reads and knows about books. Perusing books on Amazon versus holding these portable maps in our hands is the difference between buying produce at a Walmart superstore or handpicking heirloom tomatoes in a farmers’ market. Bookstore owners are the farmers of knowledge. Once bookstores are gone from a city, soon will civitas and intellectual discourse ( see San Diego. the only one of the major 6 cities in US without a bookstore… panem ( or rather vinum) et circensis is what fuels downtown.. when it should be the arts and local businesses. Books like these in your satchel could make the difference between being a tourist or being a pilgrim, and inspire to sketch the city playfully.

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Carillon. December 16, 2017. San Diego, California.

Carillon. December 16, 2017. San Diego, California.


They had put together a delightful album with the postcards that Pietro Crespi received from Italy. They were pictures of lovers in lonely parks, with vignettes of hearts pierced with arrows and golden ribbons held by doves. “I’ve been to this park in Florence,” Pietro Crespi would say, going through the cards. “A person can put out his hand and the birds will come to feed.” Sometimes, over a watercolor of Venice, nostalgia would transform the smell of mud and putrefying shellfish of the canals into the warm aroma of flowers. Amaranta would sigh, laugh, and dream of a second homeland of handsome men and beautiful women who spoke a childlike language with ancient cities of whose past grandeur only the cats among the rubble remained. After crossing the ocean in search of it, after having confused passion with the vehement stroking of Rebeca, Pietro Crespi had found love. Happiness was accompanied by prosperity. His warehouse at that time occupied almost a whole block and it was a hothouse of fantasy, with reproductions of the bell tower of Florence that told time with a concert of carillons, and music boxes from Sorrento and compacts from China that sang five-note melodies when they were opened, and all the musical instruments imaginable and all the mechanical toys that could be conceived. Bruno Crespi, his younger brother, was in charge of the store because Pietro Crespi barely had enough time to take care of the music school. Thanks to him the Street of the Turks, with its dazzling display of knickknacks, became a melodic oasis where one could forget Arcadio’s arbitrary acts and the distant nightmare of the war.”

“Habían hecho un precioso álbum con las tarjetas postales que Pietro Crespi recibía de Italia. Eran imágenes de enamorados en parques solitarios, con viñetas de corazones flechados y cintas doradas sostenidas por palomas. «Yo conozco este parque en Florencia», decía Pietro Crespi repasando las postales. «Uno extiende la mano y los pájaros bajan a comer.» A veces, ante una acuarela de Venecia, la nostalgia transformaba en tibios aromas de flores el olor de fango y mariscos podridos de los canales. Amaranta suspiraba, reía, soñaba con una segunda patria de hombres y mujeres hermosos que hablaban una lengua de niños, con ciudades antiguas de cuya pasada grandeza sólo quedaban los gatos entre los escombros. Después de atravesar el océano en su búsqueda, después de haberlo confundido con la pasión en los manoseos vehementes de Rebeca, Pietro Crespi había encontrado el amor. La dicha trajo consigo la prosperidad. Su almacén ocupaba entonces casi una cuadra, y era un invernadero de fantasía, con reproducciones del campanario de Florencia que daban la hora con un concierto de carillones, y cajas musicales de Sorrento, y polveras de China que cantaban al destaparlas tonadas de cinco notas, y todos los instrumentos músicos que se podían imaginar y todos los artificios de cuerda que se podían concebir. Bruno Crespi, su hermano menor, estaba al frente del almacén, porque él no se daba abasto para atender la escuela de música. Gracias a él, la Calle de los Turcos, con su deslumbrante exposición de chucherías, se transformó en un remanso melódico para olvidar las arbitrariedades de Arcadio y la pesadilla remota de la guerra.”

“Avevano fatto un grazioso album con le cartoline postali che Pietro Crespi riceveva dall’Italia. Erano immagini di innamorati in parchi solitari, con illustrazioni di cuori trafitti e nastri d’oro sorretti da colombe. “Io ho visto questo parco a Firenze,” diceva Pietro Crespi sfogliando le cartoline. “Stendi la mano e gli uccelli scendono a mangiare.” Certe volte, davanti a un acquarello di Venezia, la nostalgia trasformava in tiepidi aromi di fiori l’odore di fango e peoci marci dei canali. Amaranta sospirava, rideva, sognava una seconda patria di uomini e donne belli che parlavano una lingua da bambini, con città antiche della cui passata grandezza restavano soltanto i gatti tra i ruderi. Dopo aver varcato l’oceano alla sua ricerca, dopo averlo confuso con la passione nei brancicamenti pieni di veemenza di Rebeca, Pietro Crespi avevo trovato l’amore. La ventura portò con se la prosperità. Il suo magazzino occupava allora quasi un isolato, ed era un semenzaio di fantasia; con riproduzioni del campanile di Firenze che davano l’ora con un concerto di carillon, e scatole musicali di Sorrento, e portacipria di Cina che se aperte cantavano temi di cinque note, e tutti gli strumenti musicali che si potevano immaginare e tutti gli artifici a molla che si potevano concepire. Bruno Crespi, il suo fratello minore, dirigeva il magazzino, perché lui non aveva tempo che per badare alla scuola di musica. Grazie a lui, la Strada dei Turchi, con la sua abbagliante esibizione di cianfrusaglie, si trasformò in una gora melodica per dimenticare gli arbitri di Arcadio e l’incubo remoto della guerra.”

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And, suddenly, you are gazing at the eternal sublime. Venice’s borders are the dream realms. This is a city that starts on water and ends in the soul. Venice is a portal between reality and myth. A city that is real, but also impossible. My little cousin declared, at ten years old, that ‘this is the most beautiful city in the whole world.’ In no other country man-made and natural Beauty is so entrenched with the national psyche and identity. Beauty is elevated as the greatest national virtue, privilege and asset. Beauty is Italy’s doctrine and her true religion. We are, after all, Il Bel Paese.
Venezia, Italia, January 1, 2017.



‘There is still one of which you never speak.’
Marco Polo bowed his head.
‘Venice,’ the Khan said.
Marco smiled. ‘What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?’
The emperor did not turn a hair. ‘And yet I have never heard you mention that name.’
And Polo said: ‘Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.’

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities





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Cafe'-inspired ink drawing and collage. San Diego, June 2016

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Café Lulu, Sun and Moon. San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, June 2016.

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The Reader. Café Bassam. San Diego, June 2016.

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Rosa de Tijuana 1/15 . June 2016.



A Mi Tijuana

Milton Ríos

Spanish | English


La olvidada, la 100 por ciento criticada!..

A la que puedes dar mil opiniones sobre ella

La única que es coherente con su equilibrio

Entre las cosas buenas y malas!

La ciudad malvada… la maravillada,

La llena de narcos!

Artistas, multicolores y muchos tantos…

Esta ciudad… ciudad de paso

Y paso a ser mía,

Mi ciudad! Mi metrópoli confundida

Ayer la mas violenta

Hoy el ejemplo de paz!

Pero solo en mi Tijuana se puede vivir esto!

Balazos, teatro… buena música, cineastas en acción

El party el revolución! La que ya no es nada

Por que nació la calle 6ta.

Donde se junta lo subterráneo,

Las culturas urbanas, donde no ahí negros ni blancos!

Ni mexicanos ni gringos…

lo que importa es la noche bohemia,

algo de baile y alcohol

que viva la diversión…

la ciudad de segunda!

De segundas oportunidades

Donde caen los deportados

Donde comen y duermen los emigrados,

Donde se respira libertad

Donde ahí policías buenos y malos!

Y aquí te preguntas? Para que ir al otro lado…

Si acaso nomas de compras,

 a conocer lo bien planeado.

Pero para dormir a gusto! Para respirar a diario…

Con la adrenalina constante,

De Tijuana ahí que ser amante.

Y así a donde vallas al decir soy de Tijuana

Obtendrás ese silencio! Que es un silencio ganado

De respeto por que para criticar Tijuana

Solo  nosotros los que la vivimos

Los que la hemos hecho nuestra

Y ser tijuanense, claro que satisface

Pero también pesa y cuesta!…




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Hello Stranger!

In case you are wondering what happened to me and why I’ve gone M.I.A during the month of February and most of March, the board above is one of the reasons. As it happened in 2010,
our school underwent an enormous accreditation visit, which meant preparing for months collecting, documenting and providing evidences.

One of the best things to come out of the work leading to the Accreditation was that Faculty was once more asked to prepare a record of what we have been doing – outside of teaching- the past five years.
It is a monumental task to audit, select and curate five years of life, work, art – yet I welcome the chance to take stock of where I have been, for it points to where I want to go. This process of self-evaluation is a privilege not afforded to many professions, and I was thankful for the challenge.
We were also asked to write a brief narrative. I worked on this more hours than I care to admit and I am happy to now share this with you: words, drawings and travel photography — some of which hasn’t been seen here yet! Hope you enjoy it.


“The French writer Daniel Pennac describes the notion of  the passeur, of the ‘transmitter’, as intimately connected to the ownership of culture.  He considers pedagogy as a branch of dramaturgy: a great teacher is a playwright, a vector of knowledge who instills curiosity, personifies her subject, and communicates passion. As an academic, designer, artist, and poet , storytelling is central to my work.

When I was six years old, fascinated by a book of folktales of Northern Europe, I decided I wanted to be a collector of legends. Though my path took me to Architecture and Fine Arts, teaching History of Architecture brought me to travel to Latin America, the American Southwest and the Caribbeans  where I began to record the history of place through the stories of its native people, These ‘stories of architecture’ become the framework of my courses. Through drawing, urban sketching, collages, photography, and writing, my preoccupation has been with collecting, documenting, processing and communicating narratives – while letting the spontaneous unfold.”


Miti Aiello, San Diego, March 2016

Writer Update:

My abstract on my research on Storage Cities has been accepted by one of the two main Architecture academic bodies here in the U.S for presentation at their International Conference! They are sending me to Santiago, Chile in June, and will publish my academic paper. Too excited for words. If you want to get a sneak peek and read my abstract check out my academia.edu page.

This is likely a hello/byefornow.
I wanted to update my blog now that classes have ended for the quarter, and before once again leaving for Mexico, this time in Baja California Sur for a week of volunteering. Faculty and students of my school are going to help build a healing center using natural architecture in a location that is three hours away by car from the closest road. It will be very remote, challenging and, I am sure, transforming. I will document everything.

Few weeks ago I wrote that, sometimes, we don’t have time to do art because we are too busy living a life that is art itself.
That is a true blessing, amidst the inherent challenges.

Although I have not posted here, I have not stopped taking photographs, seeing, collecting, thinking. My hope of hopes is to get caught up with my posts this summer…Promises we have heard before…

“You don’t need motivation.
What you need is discipline, young lady!”

Joe

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Beginning of a collage, or perhaps the finished piece. Santa Fe, Summer 2013.

The material you see here comes from that magical city, Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have been going through drawers as part of my decluttering project with The Life- changing Magic of Tidying Up- The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and found two collages, loads of beautiful art magazines and some cutouts.
As mentioned before, there are many moments of art in the past three years that never got recorded here.
The cutouts came to life last night:

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Snow Hare and the Reading Man. San Diego, December 25, 2015.

I have been inspired by my blogsister Ghadah at prettygreenbullet and her Eve silhouettes which inhabit nooks and crannies of her atelier.
Perhaps a (re)viewing of Nightmare Before Christmas at the San Diego Symphony on Halloween inspired the surreal. I dig it. I hope you do too.

It is too late to wish you a Merry Christmas so I will just say I hope the New Year brings a lot of art, beauty and wonder to us all.

I am finding a lot of presents through my decluttering process…a lot of things that are new to me again, books and gorgeous butterfly binders, for one!
I highly recommend it as a end-of-the year/new year resolution.

The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.

Marie Kondo

Clear your stuff. Clear your mind.

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Mixed media collage. Santa Fe, Summer 2013.

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Break my Heart in Three Hundred Words – Or Less


The light is lilac in the morning
Red at night
A blush of time
I was shedding skin
When I met you


San Diego, May 2014




….and that is the only thing I want.
And since I can’t have that, I don’t care about the rest.

I don’t care about anything, anything.

Anna Karenina

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