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Archive for the ‘Collage’ Category

Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 15, 2020. 9” x 12”

I return.

With some scraps pasted on watercolor paper, with a draft of a poem. Like a pater familias who periodically abandons the domestic domicile and neglects his duties to answer the siren, wearing only a backpack.

Wanderlust. It’s in my blood.

Five minute Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”
Ten minute response Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 14. 2020. 4”x 4”
Ten minute response collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 14, 2020. 4”x 4”
Three element collage . Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 14, 2020. 4”x 4”
Five minute collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”
Five minute collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”

So, before they shut down California and closed all her beaches ( I can just see the headline of Italian newspapers: California Surrenders), I attended a mixed media workshop taught by an empowering teacher, Crystal Marie.

These are the outcomes ( and voyages ) from Collage and the Intuitive Voice — A Collage and Writing Collaboration , hosted at the idyllic Way Art Yonder Studio, owned by my friend Jana Freeman. My heart rejoices when we take the right turn to the house on the hill, where my spirit can sing, where it is okay to play.

My station at Way Art Yonder Studio ❤️
Taking shots for the ‘gram.
By the way, you can see more process photos, work from my fantastic colleagues, read the quotes I collected – aaand follow me and my wanderings live – on Instagram : @sketchbloom
Laying down the pieces from the “piles of possibilities”. This collage prompt came from our morning pages.
Finished piece! It is very joyful to me.
How to grow an artist. How to grow SketchBloom, my digital studio. A process that requires support, mindfulness and grafting, as in growing a new type of fruit.
“ How To Grow An Artist.”. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 15, 2015. 9” x 12”

I was able to join Crystal last year for an encaustics and collage workshop last February , with exciting results and exposure to new techniques. I posted my work from that workshop on Instagram and will feature it here next.

This time the experience was deeper. I came away with sooo many lessons, quotable quotes and insights: the journaling/writing aspect of the workshop was incredibly soothing and therapeutic in personal fraught times ( Italy was preeminent in my mind). I love returning to writing, my first love. Most importantly, I was able to reflect and share and CELEBRATE what it means to be an artist.

Redacted morning pages. Quedate con lo bonito = Only keep the good. Quotes on being an Artist.
Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 9” x 12”
A small tribute to the most beautiful country of the world, now mortally wounded.

Now, I could berate myself for only producing artifacts at this intense levels once a year when I attend these workshops, but let’s not do that. Other duties and career and life commitments vie for time..I just enjoy the return each time. Like a soldier returning from war, knocking on a door— as as they say in Mad Men.

Dichotomy: my architecture world vs. my art world
Response Collage (10 minutes) Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”

Each day is a new beginning, like the title of the little book I found in the alley of my building, full of smoke and the story of a recovering alcoholic. Each breath. Each spring.

These are the days of stasis — the dormant days or deepening ones.

Collection of 5- minute Collage. Mixed Media, Golden matte medium and glue. March 13, 2020. 4”x 4”
A work in progress, beautifully unfinished.
My wonderful teacher Crystal Marie!
One of Crystal Marie’s motto : Just Glue It.
What I see of my work/myself ….
How other people see me/ my work or … what I let people see…
Here my work and my desk — all cleaned up— on Final Presentation Day ( pardon my archi-speak).
Ciao Way Art Yonder Studio! See you soon!

Before I leave you to my draft poem ( upcoming post ) and artifacts from my latest retreat — and a retreat it was, from life and obligations…Art is always a refuge…before I push publish on these collages of words and paper and sticky stuff, I just want to say that this is the time to finally read ”La Noche que Volvimos a Ser Gente”or “The Night We Became People Again” by José Luis González, inspired by the big New York blackout of 2014.

The night will be longer this time.

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I finished my visual journal a week after Roxanne Evans Stout’s beautiful workshop, but left right away to Oaxaca, Mexico ( photos forthcoming 😊). Here are some photos taken outside of Jana Freeman’s fabulous Way Art Yonder workshops (above) , Day 2 of the workshop ( details from Roxanne’s teaching table and my work area with “preparatory piles”) and, finally, my completed journal.

At home, I had to co-opt my kitchen ( I need my studio back 🤪)… but thought this would make a nice tableau, so I’m sharing it here. This is how things looked deep in the night, two Sundays ago..

And finally…c’est fini! My first art journal – and first video posted here on SketchBloom.

All of the lovely journals from the workshop:

A closing plen air celebration at the end of the weekend. Can’t wait for my next (February) art workshop…

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Today was a beautiful day of art and comraderie!

I attended the first day of Roxanne Evans Stouts’ workshop at Way Art Yonder in Jamul, California. This was my second workshop in this wonderful art studio – and another opportunity to spend a day fully with my art, exploring mixed media and collaging.

Today’s workshop involved learning foundations and advanced tools for making an art/visual journal. I learned countless new ways of using acrylic matte medium along with pastel, plaster of Paris, Golden high flow acrylic, distress stain and different papers/ glazing uses to achieve translucent effects.

Then there were demonstrations on how to use plaster of Paris with stencils and ink pads.

We made the background pages of what is going to be a visual journal based on the concept of windows and daydreams.

This was the official workshop prompt.

“Daydreams and Window Light”

A book of expressions in mixed media and collage about the changing seasons with Roxanne Evans Stout

Imagine creating a handcrafted artist book in which every page is a window into the story of you… either symbolically, or perhaps even a literal window that we will make out of metal, plastic or cardboard. Our covers will be made of plexiglass, that we will sand, texture and glaze. Our inside pages will include vintage photo frames, mica and distressed metal sheets, all of which I will provide. Join Roxanne and she will guide you in creating beautiful books with pages that are rich in color and texture, and pages that sing of the light and magic that is uniquely you!

Some of the keywords of the days were texture ( of course), story, China marker, gesso,wax paper, deli paper, parchment, distressed, embossed, awl, hole punching, tacky glue, gloss and matte medium, layer, pan pastels, high flow , tracery, filigree, aluminum, gold and copper foil paper, plexiglass, sandpaper, etching, unfinished/open, assemblage, vignettes, patterns, glazing, negative space, russett and burnish.

It was really interesting to know that my professor was a botanical artist before coming into the world of mixed media/collage- she used to draw photorealistic flora and fauna for publication, but found mixed media and it re-lit the fire of art in her soul, a fire that was lost in the technical precision required of her former profession.

These are some of the background pages I produced today- tomorrow we will work with collaging and creating our windows.

And finally, some observations around the studio: photographing a a stack of stencils, and a single well-burnished ones. Washing the stencil, stenciling water on concrete.

The last three pieces are from my talented and formidable art-friend Carla Bange 🙂

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Butterfly Closures (a type of band-aid for deep cuts and stitches sold in the U.S). Mixed media on paper, ink and graphite. Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, Mission Beach, San Diego. September 22, 2018

 

The belief that women talk too much is rooted in the understanding that women should be silent.  “The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence,” is how well-known feminist Dale Spender explained her reasoning in her book Man Made Language written decades ago. “Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”

Emily Peck

 

This is another novella.

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”

William Wordsworth

 

Angel comes from the Greek angelos, the messenger, the sent one.

 

Who more than the poets can speak about love?

-she said I contain worlds-

after six days his kisses stopped

he who told me all my no’s became yes’s

he who brought the wind

he who said I talked too much

-but could not spell-

and taught me to stay

by being the one who left.

 

“Never gift a book to someone who doesn’t understand vowels.”

 

I’m just removing the pebbles I’ve had in my shoes for two months, yes tonight- yes he was sweet, boiling ice. Yes he was heartless.

It’s the light in your eyes I cling on to save me

-or distract me-

my fallacy

the shine of yet another city – and i am the magpie with butterfly wings.

 

Of eyes i like when they tighten to focus like the lens of a camera

a mind is sometimes a beautiful forest, and layered people

a cosmos

he was my mirror, but you are on the other side of this screen

 

I have been running for seven years

but i was never more beautiful than the night we first went out – that glow was hope.

Seven years is what it takes for all cells in the body to renew

therefore in November I am, molecularly, a whole different person than the one she knew.

 

In July the old woman asked me why I was not married.

“God has to send me an an angel.” I replied. “An angel.”

 

We made fire in August. Consume.

We were southern blood, I was like sea.

To suffer for love is the greatest privilege.

In the morning the sun would wake me up by warming my feet; at one the vendors made their way back from the beach. We passed black bodies picking tomatoes in the fields of Sardinia.

They started pulling the umbrellas from the sand in the clubs in September. The light in the house was always crepuscular, like Tara in Gone With The Wind.

 

I guess it boils down to a lack of belief, a lack of patience

I am impetuous, and impulsive – female like guerra

if two pieces in a puzzle are too much alike, they don’t lock

I never thought your tattoos could cut me

I followed their path : they taught me the root of the word “seduction”

your eyes stopped seeing me, and it felt like violence.

 

Poetry is making pain elegant, and writing with broken hands.

Cruelty is not giving the beautiful words you say you have- to someone who lives by them. Mercy is never knowing when the last time comes.

 

“What we initially fall in love with is what hurts us the most in the end; he dressed really well, he was early, and his hair spelled trouble.”

I ran away to the ease of palmtrees and terracotta tiles (a cop-out)

because you cannot heal where you got sick – and I know you take yourself wherever you go, but 7,000 miles in between help.

They say it’s enough if only one of the two loves

and we know that i’m in love with the feeling,

the person is just an excuse.

it is not you who i missed- but what came with you;

I belong to freedom, and my art.

I steal words from my travels.

 

I can tell you in real life (IRL) men do not come in the middle of the night to tell you they don’t want to lose you- no matter how pretty or intelligent you are. nothing is fought for any more, and stories end for a nothing, for fear, on cloudy mondays.

 

Poets are one soul in the end, share one collective heart

the only ones who are not ashamed of being publicly immolated

but on the contrary, they show their wounds to the sun

they never explain them

– and that’s how they heal.

 

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Ink and graphite on hand.book paper. Sardinia, August 5, 2018.

Travel and tell no one,

live a true love story and tell no one,

live happily and tell no one,

people ruin beautiful things.

Kahlil Gibran

 

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Paintings by Suanne Summers

On Sunday I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at my friend Jana Freeman’s Way Art Yonder Studio for one of her monthly open studio days. I met Jana at my school, first we were friendly colleagues then mischievous friends, and now she is living the Dream running her own art studio and hosting incredible workshops with Mixed Media artists the world over…

Here is a sample of the work I was “curiousing” on on Sunday ( yes, I am making up this word). Most of the vibrant work I photographed is by Suanne Summers, then there is the dreamy stitch/ fabric art of Shelley Watkins and the layered collages of Krista Jarrard. Jana, the studio owner, can be seen completing one of her exquisite pieces. This is my Art tribe, comprising of Carla Bange who could not make it this time.

Paintings by Suanne Summers

Collage in progress by Krista Jarrard

Jana in the process of assembling one of her captivating mixed media works on small square canvases, painted black.

This cool collage is by a sweet lady from Minnesota (!) . I will find out her name 🤔[[[[[[

Fabric/stitch art by Shelley Watkins. She dyes her own fabric 😮

Above, Jana and her regal ring touching one of Shelley’s distressed samples of fabric. She uses a process involving peroxide to “ eat through” the fabric. We named this “ Dickensian Orphanage, or the street urchins.”

Here is more of Suanne’s work:

What can I say, these ladies have been at this a long time and I need to up my game and get back to my collages instead of collecting drawerfuls of materials (but if I say so my self I have lots of exciting materia prima from my travels).

But first I want to finish my “flower portrait”- here is the work-in-progress ( which will include poetry and mixed media). The

The original was GORGEOUS, made for me by a very special person who ” painted” my portrait with handpicked flowers. {swoon}

Work in progress, acrylic on canvas.

Jana and I at Way Art Yonder, my happy place!

Thank you Jana!

I will soon be back under the portico with my bags 😉

This is one place where I don’t feel bad lugging all my stuff with me- as all the other tribe members do the same. I think I found my people.

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Love is On | Or When the Rose Showed its Thorns. Paint, found objects, fabric, dry roses. March 2017.

My friends,

I had to choose between sleep and Art

Between clear eyes and Poetry

So I chose to get lost in Divine intoxication

Now Hafiz and Rumi while away the small of the night with me

I drink their wine

Frida winks at me and snaps her fan

I took leave of the land of the measured – now I only visit-

I shall follow my heart and the Muse

(she does not come to those who run their life like a business – and  a clean easel is the saddest sight you will ever see)

Now my hands are tinted blue

I hear the birds praying each dawn

The crickets come in through the open windows.

San Diego, March 6, 2017 

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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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La Mujer Que Lee ( Woman Who Reads ). Pastel, Paint, Newsprint Collage on Board. 2004

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Picture the two of you lamp-shopping at IKEA, orchestrating a from-scratch dinner, and generally being capital-T Together.

Refinery29.com

No Te Enamores De Una Mujer Que Lee.
[Do Not Fall in Love With A Woman Who Reads]

By Martha Rivera-Garrido

No te enamores de una mujer que lee, de una mujer que siente demasiado, de una mujer que escribe… No te enamores de una mujer culta, maga, delirante, loca. No te enamores de una mujer que piensa, que sabe lo que sabe y además sabe volar; una mujer segura de sí misma. No te enamores de una mujer que se ríe o llora haciendo el amor, que sabe convertir en espíritu su carne; y mucho menos de una que ame la poesía (esas son las más peligrosas), o que se quede media hora contemplando una pintura y no sepa vivir sin la música. No te enamores de una mujer a la que le interese la política y que sea rebelde y vertigue un inmenso horror por las injusticias. Una a la que le gusten los juegos de fútbol y de pelota y no le guste para nada ver televisión. Ni de una mujer que es bella sin importar las características de su cara y de su cuerpo. No te enamores de una mujer intensa, lúdica y lúcida e irreverente. No quieras enamorarte de una mujer así. Porque cuando te enamoras de una mujer como esa, se quede ella contigo o no, te ame ella o no, de ella, de una mujer así, JAMAS se regresa”.

Don´t fall in love with a woman who reads, with a woman who feels too much, with a woman who writes… Don’t fall in love with a cultivated, magician, delirious, crazy woman. Don’t fall in love with a woman who thinks, who knows what she knows and also knows how to fly; a woman sure of herself. Don’t fall in love with a woman who laughs or cries while making love, who is capable of turning her flesh into spirit. Don´t fall in love with a woman who loves poetry (those are the most dangerous) , who could spend half an hour staring at a painting and can’t live without music. Don’t fall in love with a woman who is interested in politics; one who is rebellious and suffers enormously because of inequality and injustices. A woman who enjoys football matches and ball games but doesn´t like to watch television at all. Don´t you dare to fall in love with a woman who is gorgeous no matter her face or her body – an intense, playful, lucid and irreverent woman. You don’t want to fall in love with a woman like that.  Because if you do so, whether she stays with you or not, whether she loves you back or not, from her, from a woman like that, you´ll NEVER EVER return.

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Collage. Graphite, Ink, found printed material. December 2013

Collage + Digital manipulation. Graphite, Ink, found printed material. December 2013


These are visual notes of a different kind.

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I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.

I found and lost myself inside of that night. Collage. Graphite, fountain ink, found objects. San Diego. December 9, 2013.



These collages are starting to need a change of byline for SketchBloom: Art Therapy. Oh well;)

Above, a work in progress (and, darling aren’t we all?)..not sure which way it will go.

In the midst of nude painting to be done from memory (and I have started sketching, too bad the final product won’t be posted here), there’s been art and feelings on fire.

In the quest for ASCII hearts ( yes, lots of hearts are needed ) I found these lovely images.

All credits to benjscott.com

All credits to benjscott.com

The image above is from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to more exquisite ASCII art images and his program.

The ascii art images above are from http://www.benjscott.com/artscii/. Click to be taken to his program.

This is a program called ASCIIART – which goes beyond recreating images in characters to delving into typography…and…this had me at hello.

I cannot wait to experiment with some black and white art.


Also, a return to poetry, literature and tender music. Maybe a new poem will blossom soon…the ingredients are there once again.

Some quotes from a book I am finally finishing (quotes that became a poem): The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
Freedom and loneliness overlap, look in the mirror, my face, these words reversed.


Hearing his name caused him to turn back again

looking into her eyes was like standing by a door slightly ajar

how could you not push open the door

see what lay inside?

And that door seemed to open a little.

and the glimpse he had beyond the door tortured him

he wanted to say more, to say everything on his mind, but he couldn’t.

It wasn’t a question of language.

He doubted the words existed in any language.

He  forced himself to look away from her then.

It was like prying a magnet off steel.

It was as though, outside of that room, there could be such a thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

And then there was her.

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Found material and quotes from Tolstoi's Anna Karenina. Collage. San Diego. December 2013.

Found material and quotes from Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina. Collage. San Diego. December 2013.

Untitled-1web

Collage part I.

Untitled-2web

Collage Part II.

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before…

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after…

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still waiting after three days for the glue to dry on the rosebuds ….

“We will never walk along the river again,
So walk with me in this poem.”
Eric Jirek

The night shift belongs to the poets.

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Muji paper bag, found material. Milano, Italia, January 2012.


As Stephen King used to address his imaginary interlocutor…

Dear Reader,

Conscious of my erratic posting frequency lately and sudden absences and reappearances, I feel it is right to append few words to this latest image and not once more slink out without, if not an explanation, at least a taste for things to come.

To the handful of Sketchbloom aficionados, a reassurance that this digital sketchbook has many pages yet to be filled.
This hiatus was a leavening and not the intermittent sputtering of an engine about to give out.

I have been traveling and working within and without, intensely, compiling new travel material and unearthing little gems to share from the past four years.
Call it a spring cleaning of many, many drives that was long overdue and undertaken in the mind first and, secondarily, going through storage media in different geographies.

It’s going to be a long, luscious end-of-summer, of images like frames of a wanderer’s life-movie , of odes to my father that will live next to art made by hands, of necessary, daily making, of teaching…and thoughts, words and warmth that become memories and  poetry.

I finally (finally!) feel caught up and organized,  ready to knock out creative projects I have flirted with for years. Along with the biggies, a lot of posts ready to be shared.

My cardboard suitcase is always packed,  and I’m taking you with me.

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The process…

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The story behind the collage base :

When starting a new collage, I find I always need a catalyst, an incipit.
In order to tell the visual narratives of my collage I always like to continue an imaginary dialogue started by another artist, graphic designer etc.
The base of this latest collage is the very sparse cover of current San Diego Museum of Art Magazine. I knew the wooden carving was of a monk of sorts and I was immediately drawn to the work’s piety and devotion. I only found out the identity and the story behind the sculpture once I was ready to post the collage…it held unexpected surprises and even reinforced in my mind some of the creative choices I made while composing the collage ( the heart held in the sculpture’s hands).

Excerpts from the San Diego Museum of Art Membership magazine:

The sculpture depicts San Diego de Alcala’, otherwise known as Saint Didacus, who was born around 1400 near Seville.
He became a lay brother in the Franciscan order and worked at monasteries in the Canary Islands, Spain, and Rome, before finally.settling at the Convento de Santa Maria de Jesus in Alcala’, where he lived until 1463. He worked in the infirmaries of these monasteries and is said to have brought about miraculous cures to those in his care. Accordingly, the earliest depictions of San Diego following his canonization in 1588 show his healing miracles.

The San Diego Museum of Art has acquired this remarkable sculpture by Pedro De Mena (1628-1688). Mena worked in his native Granada and in Malaga, and from there produced works that were sent to.patrons around Spain, including the Royal family in Madrid.
Although relatively little known today outside of spain, Mena was the most prominent sculptor of his day. It has been said that he is unsurpassed both in the beauty of his woodcarving and in his ability to capture the expressions of religious emotions.

Mena’ sculpture depicts a miracle that came to be the standard form of the saint’s iconography. Diego was devoted to the poor and often took them bread from the monastery table. During a shortage of food at the monastery, Diego was forbidden to do so, but continued to take bread to the poor, hiding it in the folds of his monastic habit.

On one occasion, the superior of the monastery caught Diego in the act of taking bread and challenged him to show what he was carrying in the bundled robes. When Diego looked down, the bread was transformed into roses, a miraculous confirmation of his charitable works. As was often the case for sculptures depicting this miracle, the roses are not carved, for the faithful would place real or silk flowers in the lap of the sculpture.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

004md

Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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You have to keep breaking your heart
until it opens.
Rumi

Without the use of a camera Portland-based artist Jim Kazanjian sifts through a library of some 25,000 images from which he carefully selects the perfect elements to digitally assemble mysterious buildings born from the mind of an architect gone mad. While the architectural and organic pieces seem wildly random and out of place, Kazanjian brings just enough cohesion to each structure to suggest a fictional purpose or story that begs to be told.
Reblogged from here.

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Just completed a watercolor/collage on a drawing by my father.

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A beginning of a collage over my father’s drawing.

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San Diego, November 25, 2011. Third Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.

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San Diego, November 25, 2011. Third Avenue bridge and context (canyon).

Bridge, De-constructed.

” In recent years , the modern understanding of social responsibility as functional program has been superseded by a concern for context. But contextualism has been used as an excuse for mediocrity, for a dumb servility within the familiar. Since deconstructivist architecture seeks the unfamiliar within the familiar, it displaces the context rather than acquiesce to it. What makes it disturbing is the way deconstructivist architecture finds the unfamiliar already hidden within the familiar context. By its intervention, elements of the context become defamiliarized. In one project, towers are turned over on their sides, while in others, bridges are tilted up to become towers.”

Mark Wigley

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Ink drawing, Watercolor. 16 November 2011.

Ink drawing, Watercolor + Digital Manipulation. 16 November 2011.

I was recently reunited with luggage lost 45 days ago.

Three items were missing: a bottle of Cinema Eau De Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent, a beloved collaged orange umbrella bought in Barcelona and a pair of Sketchers shoes. Go figure.

Immediately i set out to substitute my lost umbrella. As said in one Law and Order episode (I paraphrase): “Hardheaded Calabrese: the people there are very stubborn… once something is taken away from them, they don’t rest until …they get it back.”

My mind went back to the orange umbrella I bought for my mom in Milano last Christmas (probably with her money;)), from one of my favorite stores: Muji.

In my quest, I ran into this glorious essay on a particular shade of orange.

I have a box of orange objects in my house that I have been meaning to combine into a series.

Tomorrow seems like a good day for it, and orange thoughts are perfect for winter-short days and too much yin.

Before you read, keep this in mind:

Fire in Arabic is ‘Nar’.

………….

My Orange

by Michele Foyer


If we lived during the time of the Dutch West Indies Company, I would tell you that the color that so captured me was the child of paprika and chocolate. The world no longer swoons over spice willing to risk a sail beyond the end of the known. And yes, sadly rape and pillage in its desperate greed. I had only to pass the window of the Muji store in Manhattan’s Chelsea to discover this color in an umbrella.


What is it that grabbed me? Is it a vibration for which the color is only a foil? Or is it something about the color itself lodged between memory and desire? This redder orange infused with luxurious chocolate yielded a strangely jazzier yet muter tone than orange. But if we are mapping out its terrain inevitably the orange relation comes up.


My “Muji Orange” is a distant relative of the neon orange of warning, as well as a “tangerine streamlined baby” of sixties psychedelic abandon. Its crazy older paternal cousin might be the Tang of astronauts or maybe the impossible orange of orange Crush soda, or possibly even Blake’s Tyger burning bright, but its doting grandmother, is definitely — yes, most definitely — a bittersweet French marmalade.


There is some mystery to orange. Orange is the only color in the seven-color spectrum besides violet that originates as a noun, naming a particular thing. It refers to the berry fruit of the orange tree, something very concrete and specific and not as abstract as the other colors. Was the experience of the orange fruit so strong that it came to stand for the orange experience?


The Old English Dictionary (OED) states that in Medieval Latin “the forms ‘arangia’, ‘arantia’ (Du Cange) whence ‘aurantia’ have “popular association with ‘aurum’ gold from the colour.” Perhaps, the OED postulates, there is an etymological relationship between the Old French “orenge” for “arauge” after “or” gold. The OED traces the “loss of the initial ‘n‘ in French, English and Italian” as “ascribed to its absorption into the indefinite article” resulting in “narange” absorbing “une” and “narancia” absorbing ”una.”


Also from the OED we understand that the “native country of orange appears to have been the northern frontier of India, where wild oranges are still found and the name may have originated there.” In Late Sankrit the word for orange is “naranga;” in Hindi it is “narangi” (OED, p. 2001)


Is “orange” related to the color of the fruit and/or to gold and the word “ore” (OED, p. 2001)? Are both these not only things, but also perhaps experiences of light? More questions arise as we consider other correspondences that I call “rhymes and ricochets.”


In Persian the world for pomegranate is “nar” (OED, p.2001) which echoes the nar of narange. Is this coincidence or relationship? The OED states it is not certain. Was the “nar” / pomegranate the fateful fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden myth? It is possible because the pomegranate rather than the apple was the indigenous fruit. If the pomegranate was the tree of knowledge, what was the knowledge that this golden ball embodied? Might it have reflected a relationship of light to dark?


Is there anything other than coincidence to the resonance of the pomegranate which also figures in the myth of Persephone who spends half her days in a descent into Hades when the earth experiences the dark of winter and the other half above ground when the earth experiences the light of spring – alternations or gradients of light and dark?


In one narrative color is dependent upon history and culture. The OED by definition is a history of the English language, tracing the history and values of the western world with its migrations and roots to the East. Today we think oranges are synonymous with the warm climates of Florida and California. We often believe they are indigenous to North America. However, they were planted by conquistador sailors who needed to create supplies of vitamin C to take with them to guard against scurvy on their long sea journeys.


What is orange in cultures outside of the European? In other cultures closed off to our own for so long by the migration and exchange of trade, say the Japanese or Chinese, what is the etymology of the word orange? In Cantonese Chinese (but not in Mandarin), the word for orange is related by sound to the word for gold. At New Year’s the Mandarin orange embodies good wishes for prosperity. Are “gold” and “orange” a conflation of all these color experiences of light?


What about other earlier societies? I wonder whether orange might “rhyme” with “fire.” Fire had the life-giving power that made a large difference to a culture. If gold wasn’t the commodity of value, it might make sense for the word for this experience to be “fire.” Might gold be in part only an imitation of the light of fire?


These richoceting ruminations about gold and fire are vital, because it is precisely the light of gold or fire that starts to go missing in “my” Muji Orange. It is that chocolate brown in addition to the red of the orange that makes the color “step back” toward the shade. Muji Orange recedes from the saturation and almost clear brilliance of an ordinary orange that lags just behind the brilliance of yellow—whether the origin is the light of sun, gold or fire.


Muji is a Japanese company and that perhaps contributes and infuses a measure of its aesthetic into that of the west. The store’s name is related to “mujo” which evokes “transience” in Japanese. I once heard about Japanese “killed colors.” These colors had a little bit of death in them, fading from their original brilliance and glory. I couldn’t find reference to them again but only to the rikuyu colors made from graying. In Muji Orange the quality of orange steps away from the brilliance of the sunny orange into the shade, holding a note of something that is darker. It is not a sinister dark to be avoided but one to be savored like a fine chocolate.


Is my “Muji Orange” so beautiful to me because it captures the life of light and its brilliance — and the life of dark and its recession? To me “Muji Orange” is a kumquat color par excellence. First like the sweet rind of the kumquat there is a “taste” of brilliance and then immediately, almost simultaneously, just as the fruit yields a sour taste, my Muji orange bursts with another very different moody, darker earthy “taste.” Does Muji Orange with its paprika jazzy zest want to dance the tarantula? Is it death or lack of light that gives my Muji color its kick?
I have questioned whether it was the vibration of the color that pulled me into the Chelsea store — the umbrella an extraneous element. But I wonder if the precise color of orange might also be a “rhyme” with the function of “umbrella”? Are the form and the vibration related in the poetry of memory?


Recently I recalled an earlier encounter with umbrellas. When I studied in Madrid in my 20s, I would often take the subway to go downtown to the Turner bookshop. I’d climb the stairs of the appropriately named Sol subway stop that spilled out onto Jose Antonio, emerging more often than not into a scorching sun.


On my way to the bookshop I would pass outside the window of a store that made confectionaries of violets sold in white and purple miniature hatboxes. But my favorite was the neighboring shop entirely devoted to umbrellas with a placard handwritten in a swirly old-fashioned cursive script in the window that read “Manana llovera.” Both its whimsy and its sales-minded craft were not lost in the English translation — “tomorrow it will rain.”


Last December, many years after my sunny Spanish sojourn, when to me it is now irrefutable that night and day, death and life are folded into one another and that Persephone must braid both dark and light — the Muji Orange color caught my eye. Manana llovera. Tomorrow it will rain. Dear Reader, I bought the umbrella.


Bibliographic Note The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume I, AO, (Oxford University Press, United States, 1982).

Copyright Michele Foyer. Web: http://michelefoyer.com/news.html

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Namaste. Ink on paper, digital manipulation. October 2011.

MENDING WALL

Robert Frost


Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn't it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

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Digital Collage. October 2011.

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The funambulist. Ink drawing + digital collage. August 2011.



Nets

To Rietta Wallenda

Tightrope acrobats dance above safety nets

(or not)

Nerves taut like violin chords

Pulsing on neck, tendons stiff.

/

The fisherman spreads his father’s nets

Repaired a thousand times, damaged again

He sews his wounds on the beach

Fastens the corks

The old man with the young eyes

who listens to Mina and

–faraway look toward his sea,

a cigarillo in his mouth–

dreams of America.

/

Or, once a young girl

with a butterfly net

out to catch impossible sprites on hilly fields

Between highways

On the outskirts of the city.

You don’t know where I have been

and what I have seen.

/

The spider crochets his architecture

His gothic cathedrals

With divine geometry

With infinite patience

Behind the mirror.

 August 2011

From British Pathe':'This 1931 video shows a woman dancing on a high wire suspended 300 feet in the air. We think this was shot in an American city possibly New York. Click to vertigo.'

 

Addendum September 5, 2011:

A search on the term ‘funambulist’ and inquiries about Moussavi’s “Function of Ornament” led me to find an incredible blog and post:

 The Funambulist [Architectural Narratives]: Computational Labyrinth or Towards A Borgesian Architecture

The editor is a fellow ‘literary architect’ interested in theory, film, art, books.

Won’t you join me down the rabbit hole of Borgesian architecture for a read of ‘Aleph’?

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Various Graphite Media, depicting 'Dwelling for Imaginary Civilization of Little People,1998' by Charles Simonds. Made in clay, adobe, paint and housed in the New Mexico Museum of Art. August 2011.


Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

It is a beauty of things unconventional.


From
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers


Photo via minecaching.tumblr.com. Click for source.



Charles Simonds began building clay villages, ruins and what he termed ” dwellings for imaginary civilizations of little people” in the 70’s, in New York.

His microscopic urban interventions at one point could be found, among others, in Paris, Venice, Shangai, Dublin.

They are now housed as prestigious artifacts in art collectors’ homes and museums (like the Whitney in NYC).

Photo via whitney.org. Click for source.

Photo via whitney.org. Click for source.


Click for more Charles Simonds’ dwellings

Watch the video: Dwellings 1972

.                         .                         .                       .                          .                          .                       .



Simonds and Sarah



Salmon kisses,

I knead  essays at night

dream perfect poems–

lost silver strands become your hair.

I make collages of languid bathroom quotes,

images and cities.

Night drunk with words,

your eyes are full of them–

nestled in the cup of your arms

like Simonds’ tiny city in a new york warehouse.

A word thief,

of raspberry essence–

the poetry of portugal:

“Your toes are

little ducks

Sita to Shiva…”


You say I’m used to you like my mandatory doppio cappuccino,

Sarah’s velvet voice,

heaven in Corcovado nights.

You say my poems always have three words:

almonds, apricot, oil.

Here you go:

Downtown is on fire

Your almond eyes float like moons

Your skin is oil on water,

Apricot lips.


Berkeley, August 2011

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Embrace All Your Selves. Digital Collage. August 16,2011.

Embrace All Your Selves, Exhale. Digital Collage. August 16,2011.


 

The title of the book began as a very sophisticated literary joke, an allusion to John Donne’s “Meditations on Emergent Occasions.” But as sometimes happened in O’Hara’s poetry, the joke turned out to have a surplus of meaning. His poems are meditations — but not the kind that comes after hours of quiet thought; they proceed from the heart of noise; they are written on the run, in a hurry, on a lunch break, in a perennial emergency. O’Hara’s poems perfectly capture the pace of a New York day in 1962. He is a master of the art of gentle self-laceration: “Now I am quietly waiting for / the catastrophe of my personality / to seem beautiful again, / and interesting, and modern.”


Meditations in an Emergency

Frank O’Hara 1926–1966

Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were
French?

Each time my heart is broken it makes me feel more adventurous (and how the
same names keep recurring on that interminable list!), but one of these days
there’ll be nothing left with which to venture forth.

Why should I share you? Why don’t you get rid of someone else for a
change?

I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.

Even trees understand me! Good heavens, I lie under them, too, don’t I? I’m
just like a pile of leaves.

However, I have never clogged myself with the praises of pastoral life, nor
with nostalgia for an innocent past of perverted acts in pastures. No. One need
never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes—I can’t
even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record
store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It is
more important to affirm the least sincere; the clouds get enough attention as
it is and even they continue to pass. Do they know what they’re missing? Uh
huh.

My eyes are vague blue, like the sky, and change all the time; they are
indiscriminate but fleeting, entirely specific and disloyal, so that no one
trusts me. I am always looking away. Or again at something after it has given me
up. It makes me restless and that makes me unhappy, but I cannot keep them
still. If only i had grey, green, black, brown, yellow eyes; I would stay at
home and do something. It’s not that I’m curious. On the contrary, I am bored
but it’s my duty to be attentive, I am needed by things as the sky must be above
the earth. And lately, so great has their anxiety become, I can spare
myself little sleep.

Now there is only one man I like to kiss when he is unshaven.
Heterosexuality! you are inexorably approaching. (How best discourage her?)

St. Serapion, I wrap myself in the robes of your whiteness which is like
midnight in Dostoevsky. How I am to become a legend, my dear? I’ve tried love,
but that hides you in the bosom of another and I am always springing forth from
it like the lotus—the ecstasy of always bursting forth! (but one must not be
distracted by it!) or like a hyacinth, “to keep the filth of life away,” yes,
there, even in the heart, where the filth is pumped in and slanders and pollutes
and determines. I will my will, though I may become famous for a mysterious
vacancy in that department, that greenhouse.

Destroy yourself, if you don’t know!

It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you,
beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It’s like a final chapter no one reads because
the plot is over.

“Fanny Brown is run away—scampered off with a Cornet of Horse; I do love that
little Minx, & hope She may be happy, tho’ She has vexed me by this Exploit
a little too.—Poor silly Cecchina! or F:B: as we used to call her.—I wish She
had a good Whipping and 10,000 pounds.”—Mrs. Thrale.

I’ve got to get out of here. I choose a piece of shawl and my dirtiest
suntans. I’ll be back, I’ll re-emerge, defeated, from the valley; you don’t want
me to go where you go, so I go where you don’t want me to. It’s only afternoon,
there’s a lot ahead. There won’t be any mail downstairs. Turning, I spit in the
lock and the knob turns.

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C'est fini! Here is the Fabric City on a backpack. The writing was done with 3D Fabric paint. June 25, 2011.

Back of The City. Fabric and thread. June 2011.

The reverse side of “The City” reminds me of a Situationist psychogeographic map. I toyed with the idea of letting go of all the work on the map and apply this abstract work on the backback. This would have been the gutsy thing to do but, in the end , i couldn’t let go of the work.

Guy Debord, c. 1955. Psychogeographic guide of Paris.

 

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City of Salt by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. Image via amazon.

“Here is a splendid volume from the Terry Gillam school of fictional photography… The book comes in a sturdy slipcase and features complex landscapes, painstakingly created, and digitally peopled by actors playing out scenes which conjure up a mystical Middle Eastern civilisation. Enigmatic, but beautiful.”
AG Magazine

“This is a beautifully structured text with an imaginative use of words and photography. This wondrous book of tales is a complex work of art that will be read throughout our generation.”
Focus: Fine Art Photography Magazine

“City of Salt… creates and documents alternate realities in miniature, accompanied by narratives inspired by Sufi tales, Italo Calvino and more.”
Michelle Wildgen –Publishers Weekly

 

The City. Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

Suspended! Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

 

Two Streets. Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

 

The Flyer. Image via kahnselesnick.com. Click to enlarge.

 
From Amazon:
 
Panoramic photographs of fantastical landscapes make a bizarre Baedeker to alternative realities in City of Salt, by Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. The second volume, after Scotlandfuturebog, in an intended trilogy of such otherworldly guides juxtaposes those scenes with similarly inspired texts: Sufi tales, the writings of fabulist Italo Calvino, and parables by the artists themselves. The strange deserts, marshes, sandy shores, villages, and fields are often traversed by wandering figures, frequently in peril or precariously alone. Kahn and Selesnick’s process combines sculptural and photographic media. The artists first construct the intricately detailed worlds in three-dimensional miniatures and dioramas, then digitally photograph the scene and populate it with characters in allegorical, though intriguingly puzzling, tableaux.
…………………………..
 
I ran into this gorgeous, oversized, substantial book few years ago while visiting UCSD’s excellent Architecture library. Words and images weave imaginary tales and create an escapist landscape. May days verge on the surreal, time is suspended, perhaps in a cruel, paradoxical loop. To travel through time, for once forward instead of backwards…to harness the days as though wild horses, bridle their energy. May seems to slip through my fingers, each time. I am lulled by the calm (before the storm? No, before more tense calm.)
Dreams and collages await. I find the only cure for restlessness is mindful awareness, in brilliant execution of each undertaking- as small as it is, as humble as it is. Ambition can paralyze you in May, when mid-year approaches and mental harvests take place. Each day we need to reconcile heaven and hell within us. Refusing to attemp the feat, or lack of acceptance of our opposite instincts,  is the only way the battle is lost. In numbness lies defeat.

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The Screen Woman. Digital Collage. Text from "A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke.

 

 

Photo from Inspired Goodness.

 
Founded in 2008, Inspired Goodness is a custom invitation and paper goods studio
located in Brooklyn, NY.
 
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Notable books:
 
 
 
 

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Digital Collage. May 16, 2011.

 

Ink drawing and digital manipulation. May 2011.

 
The Pretty Parking Lot
 
I have dreamt of perfect poems
faded like dewdrops upon awakening
 
About mice and buildings
built by men
 
Cities are sentences that haunt me
 
Book thieves, foreign movies…
the line is thin between memories and reverie
 
The fog has lifted
the rain felt soft (like a blessing)
yet I am in a pretty parking lot.
 
You left your eyes as you passed me by.
 
May 2011
 
…………………………………………………………………..
 

                     Where can I run? 
                    You fill the world. 
                   The only place to run is within you.

                        From Agata e la Tempesta| Agata and the Storm

 

 
……………………………………………………………………..
 

They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”—
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”

               William Stafford

 

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Marrakesh. From ‘Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region’.

 

 

 

 

 

From 'Domestic Architecture of the Arab Region"

Digital manipulation. Commissioned artwork.

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The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

The Flâneur. Ink on trace paper. February 26, 2011

The Flâneur and his turtle in the streets of Paris. Digital collage. February 26, 2011. Background photo from San Francisco’s artist David Blumin. Click for his website.



Then I heard the phrase ‘Walk with a turtle’ on NPR, during an interview with Council of Dads’ author Bruce Feiler–and had an epiphany: I, too, had been a flâneuse in my early years. When I was 9 years old I used to tie a red ribbon to the shell of my turtle Stefania/Stefano (we are still not sure) and take her for ‘walks’ around my building and in the field of olive trees nearby. This cannot just be explained by mere coincidence or a sense of equanimity (i would take my giant schnautzer Zorro for walks- or rather, he would take me- and treated Stefania/Stefano to the same). By walking the city (ok , in my case the field of olive trees) at the pace of a tortoise, we are bound to pay attention to life around us, to read the city–not just skim it from the wheel of our car or glancing up from smartphones while we traverse sidewalks. Having a turtle as a guide nudges us to stop rushing. I am reminded of the buddhist monk in the documentary ‘Baraka’, slowly pacing the street with small steps , at the sound of a bell–in the midst of a hyperactive Japanese metropolis. The realization of possible multi-layered readings on the figure of the flaneur prompted a small research.

Historical evidence of The Flâneur? Or just man waiting for his wife? Undated image from: storify.com/virtualdavis/flaneur

The  Flâneur

The term comes from ‘flâner’, which means to stroll in French. From this verb Baudelaire coined the word  flâneur, a person who walks the city in order to experience it.  The flâneur is driven  by an  insatiable  hunger  for  passion; he  seeks  the  streets and  the  city  life  for they  provide  inspiration  and  cure him of the malaise and loneliness  of  being human. He practices mindfulness, or conscious dilly-dallying. In US they would call him a ‘loiterer’, surely shoo him away…or perhaps fine or even jail him (I always tell my students there is no such thing as the word ‘loitering’ in Italian….what else would we do in Piazzas!?). My friend Bruce and I were discussing the flâneur few days ago and he reminded me of  the symbology of the turtle and this quote from Rumi:

The soul needs as much time to wander as the feet.

Rumi

 

Baudelaire writes of the flâneur:

 The  crowd  is  his  element,  as  the  air  is  that  of  birds  and  water  of  fishes.

 His  passion  and passionate  spectator,  it  is  an  immense  joy  to  set  up  house  in  the  heart  of  the  multitude, amid  the  ebb  and  flow  of  movement,  in  the  midst  of  the  fugitive  and  the  infinite.

To  be away  from  home  and  yet  to  feel  oneself  everywhere  at  home;  to  see  the  world,  to  be  at the  centre  of  the  world,  and  yet  to  remain  hidden  from  the  world

impartial  natures which  the  tongue  can  but  clumsily  define.  The  spectator  is  a  prince  who  everywhere  rejoices  in  his  incognito.  The  lover  of  life  makes  the  whole  world  his  family,  just  like  the lover  of  the  fair  sex  who  builds  up  his  family  from  all  the  beautiful  women  that  he  has ever  found,  or  that  are  or  are  not  -­‐  to  be  found;  or  the  lover  of  pictures  who  lives  in  a magical  society  of  dreams  painted  on  canvas.

 

A Process of Navigating Erudition

From Wikipedia: Flâneur is not limited to someone committing the physical act of peripatetic stroll in the Baudelairian sense, but can also include a “complete philosophical way of living and thinking”, and a process of navigating erudition as described by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s essay on “Why I Walk” in the second edition of The Black Swan (2010).  A Sunday Time review called The Black Swan  one of the twelve most influential books since WWII.

Benjamin  in his Arcades further describes the flâneur utilizes the city,  which becomes an  extension of  his residence:

The   street   becomes   a   dwelling   for   the   flâneur;   he   is   as   much   at   home   among   the facades  of  houses  as  a  citizen  is  in  his  four  walls.  To  him  the  shiny,  enameled  signs  of businesses  are  at  least  as  good  a  wall  ornament  as  an  oil  painting  is  to  the  bourgeois  in his  salon.  The  walls  are  the  desk  against  which  he  presses  his  notebooks;  news-­‐stands are  his  libraries  and  the  terraces  of  cafés  are  the  balconies  from  which  he  looks  down on  his  household  after  his  work  is  done.


Some of the questions I have been thinking about are : Can the flâneur be a flâneuse? Must he or she always haunt the city aloof and alone, or is ‘Flâneurie’ an activity that can be enjoyed in small groups, maybe of separate actors, each with his or her own turtle?

The flâneur is enjoying immense popularity on the Internet and blogosphere, among the hipster and (pseudo)intellectual crowd.  He is radical chic, a gentleman stroller whose eccentricity is afforded to him by indipendent wealth. He is a man of leisure who can make a statement about the bondage of work and busyiness: he is above it and does not need it.
On the other side of the coin, we might re-evaluate the ‘homeless’ people, the figure of the clochard (sounds better in French doesn’t it) as flâneurs without means, but with the same intellect and intent.  They also make the city their living room and library.

In “American Flaneur: The Cosmic Physiognomy of Edgar Allan Poe“, James V. Werner describes how ‘ highly self-aware, and to a certain degree flamboyant and theatrical, dandies of the mid-nineteenth century created scenes through outrageous acts like walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris. Such acts exemplify a flâneur’s active participation in and fascination with street life while displaying a critical attitude towards the uniformity, speed, and anonymity of modern life in the city.’

Hmm…Sounds like The Situationists.

A new interpretation of the activities of the flâneur appear in the writings of Guy Debord, the dérive also being a protest against the processes of consumption and capitalism:

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

–Guy Debord

While the flaneurs practiced ‘aimless wandering’, the Situationists devised processes to purposefully get lost.

There is no English equivalent for the French word flâneur. Cassell’s dictionary defines flâneur as a stroller, saunterer, drifter but none of these terms seems quite accurate. There is no English equivalent for the term, just as there is no Anglo-Saxon counterpart of that essentially Gallic individual, the deliberately aimless pedestrian, unencumbered by any obligation or sense of urgency, who, being French and therefore frugal, wastes nothinincluding his time which he spends with the leisurely discrimination of a gourmet, savoring the multiple flavors of his city.

Cornelia Otis Skinner.

Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, 1962

Watching is the chosen pleasure of flâneur. He is an ‘urban stalker’, as Susan Sontag defines him in her 1977 essay On Photography.  Modern flâneurs, let’s arm ourselves with cameras or a moleskine . Let’s pretend we are all ‘The Sartorialist’ and many, many other envoys on particular missions. Would you enjoy the streets of your city if you thought you were spying on someone, an urban detective, privy to secrets no-one else can know? What would the intelligence gathered from today? What stories could you tell(or draw)? What stories would the city reveal to you. There is so much life out there. And buildings are lessons.

Let the urban voyeurism begin.
Here are some useful links:

And, finally, my very own books for Parisian flanerie.

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The Fortress of Lost Time. Graphite on paper and magazine cutouts. December 28, 2010. Miti and Gianni Aiello.

Genova. Graphite on paper and magazine cutouts. December 27, 2010. Miti and Gianni Aiello.

 

These collages start with a drawing my father sketches out on thin notebook paper; I then proceed to create possible scenarios.

And this is the conversation at the end of the day with my mother, a retired judge — which i have entitled:

Talking about art with my (practical, realist) mother

[Me , retiring for the night, putting my art paraphernalia away] I’m happy about the collage. It was a good day.

Oh, did you have fun?

Mom, I don’t do art to have fun (recalling an earlier conversation about not turning your passion into an hobby).

But, didn’t you entertain yourself while you did it? Didn’t you stop worrying about other things while you were making it?

No mom, that’s not the point. I am creative. I have to create/work on  something everyday.

But what’s the use? Something is useful only if someone appreciates it.

Mom, I appreciate it, then it’s enough. I do it to satisfy myself. The people who read my blog appreciate it. Art doesn’t have to be useful in the pragmatic sense.

Then it’s psychotherapy.

No, mom don’t diminish me, if you think it’s psychotherapy then that means there’s something wrong with me.

But if it benefits you it’s like psychotherapy. Ok, like fitness. Mental fitness…..It’s like writing books.

Mom, art is not about fitness.

But I don’t understand art.

Ok, how about this: I do it for something you don’t understand : for pleasure.

No, I don’t understand it.

It’s okay mom. The world is beautiful because of its variety. (Italian saying: ‘il mondo e’ bello perche’ e’ vario). [Exiting the room].

I love my practical mom! She keeps me and my father out of trouble 😉

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This has started to be a weekly blog, and I am not too happy about it. This Quarter has been so intense in a stupendous way: I am involved in a myriad of exciting projects at the school and became involved in new committees – and that has meant less free time, but an overall brand new meaning in what I do. And did I mention the books ? In my studio class we are talking about designing negative space and casting shadows and in history we are in the Golden period of Classical Times : Greece (what have the Greeks done for you lately) and Rome. Who could ask for more?

Throughout it all, we have ‘got to keep the heart’ as Wanda, my sweet ex-neighbor said. Brain food needs to be augmented by daily spirit-food, soul-food…heart-food. As fully-realized human beings we have to ask an incredible amount from each day, but I believe it’s the only way to go…or you could just go on auto-pilot and become numb. Art and what happens here is just that for me, an outlet and inlet of pure ‘heart-stuff’, to balance the facts and seductive theories I’m immersed in everyday. Could we say this is my Dyonisian to the Apollonian? The days that I don’t get to post or practice are somewhat overcast, a bit stuffy, as though not enough light or air was let in.

I finally completed my Viva La Revolucion post and a related ‘revolutionary’ piece {see previous}. It took FOREVER. I don’t know why I keep giving myself homework. But I hope you enjoy that line of thinking, always trying to put it all together in a somewhat cohesive way that has to do with the nature of this forum.
The Holidays are coming and I am looking forward to post more frequently and produce more work. And I have a long list of things/topics so definitely stay tuned!
I finally had some time to do a new collage today.

It all started with this catalog of this year’s Arab Film Festival in San Francisco, and an image of the Salk Institute in San Diego.

I knew I wanted to make a collage using the two for some time, and the inspiration came from a dream last night.

I did not know the word part would materialize. Using the titles of the movie in the Festival, I created a game for myself, a sort of stream-of-consciousness poem generator. Here is one of the early results.

Here is how it all came together, unwritten an unspeakable words, fragments of poems, figments of my imagination…

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Reissued Dec.10, 2010


From the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego site:
For the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lives in urban communities. The urban setting and its corresponding lifestyle are major sources of inspiration in contemporary culture. This is an historic revolution in visual culture, in which the codes and icons of the everyday—found on the streets in graffiti, signage, waste, tattoos, advertising, and graphic design—have been appropriated and used as an integral part of contemporary art-making. The urban landscape inspires and serves as both a platform for innovation and a vehicle for expression for many artists. The city itself, its buildings, vehicles, people, and advertisements, are not only the surface where the art is applied. The city fuels the practice.

A multifaceted exhibition that explores the dialogue between artists and the urban landscape, Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape features works both in the Museum’s galleries as well as at public sites throughout downtown San Diego.

The exhibition includes a diverse range of 20 artists from 10 countries that are linked together by how their work addresses urban issues — Akay (Sweden), Banksy (U.K.), Blu (Italy), Mark Bradford (U.S.), William Cordova (U.S.), Date Farmers (U.S.), Stephan Doitschinoff [CALMA] (Brazil), Dr. Lakra (Mexico), Dzine (Puerto Rico), David Ellis (U.S.), FAILE (Canada), Shepard Fairey (U.S.), Invader (France), JR (France), Barry McGee (U.S.), Ryan McGinness (U.S.), Moris (Mexico), Os Gemeos (Brazil), Swoon (U.S.), and Vhils (Portugal).

Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape is curated by guest curator Pedro Alonzo and MCASD Associate Curator Lucía Sanromán.

Bologna-based Blu took 10 days to film the stop-motion graffiti film 'Combo'. If you enjoyed the opening animation of the Monthy Python movies, you will LOVE this.

If you only see TWO works from this show, lucky you, they are only a click away. You MUST check out these videos. Guaranteed to blow your mind.

1. Blu. Combo. 2009
2. Blu. Big Bang Boom. 2010


Thursday, December 2. Thursday always seems a good day to start a revolution. And we are already in December, so why not set to flame this problematic year?

I have taken an unjustified leave of absence for sketchbloom, but life and the mind have been in a state of ‘good’ intensity. Lots of good words, good books…hopefully good thinking… GREAT conversations.

So I missed Nablopomo, Nanowrimo, annhilated my phone (hence no internet)…but I am still here. New replacement phone is here, and I am plugged in.

There are lots of possible revolutions. There is one going on right now (subject of next post), maybe I was waiting for just this.

I am going for a revolution of the mind.

Two weekends ago  I went to see ‘Viva La Revolucion’, the incorrectly titled but intriguing show at MCASD. That is our museum of contemporary art in downtown San Diego. GO.

This show will last till January…then it will be gone.

SO what is it all about? Well, the relationship between urban (graffiti art) and the built environment. SO here you see, there is a nexus of what I am trying to do (or say) occasionally.

What do you think of the Space Invader project?

The Space Invader Walk. Video. 10 Minutes. Invader, best known for his use of ceramic tiles to recreate the Space Invader video game. The walk in downtown San Diego, once mapped, reveals the outline of a Space Invader. A sort of Urban Etch-a-Sketch. The artist uses GPS tracking technology.


Here is a trailer of the Space Invader Walk.

Banksy. West Bank barrier, Bethlehem. 2007

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the uber-famous Banksy. Always eye opening to see his provocative work.

Just really wanted to poke my head in and say ‘ I’m back, have a nice ‘night’- because more than two weeks of silence (and silent art) pain me.

Then leave.

 

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Made on Illustrator and Mac

My second board for the faculty display wall. I now have a list of new art to add to my portfolio tabs, as this was a great opportunity to curate my artwork.

It feels great to be done (for now). Happy Halloween!

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Practice+Pedagogy. October 28, 2010. Made on a Mac. Click to enlarge.

The board is done and up on the faculty display wall.

In the process, I refined my skills with Illustrator, pondered philosophy, practice, pedagogy,and  crystallized what I am, do, stand for — in a tangible format.

A welcome tall order.

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The beginning of an urban scenario collage. Oct.19, 2010.

I have been thinking and wanting to explore collages again since this summer, when I was so inspired by Hector Perez and his students’ work with SoCal Ex–but not until today I finally acted on that impulse. I have two works done and one almost complete. Two to share, and one part of a larger, more ambitious project that will have to wait for a bit.

What I love about collages is their sustainability (this below was made for prints that were to be thrown away), and their serendipity. There is a magic about collages, finding enough materials or copies of subject to bring a piece to completion, or that sudden inspiration that constitutes the ‘aha!’ factor of the collage. I am referring to old-school paper, scissors and exacto knife collages, glue-messy ones….there is nothing like digging through your collage material container and unearth and reassemble a work you didn’t even know existed or could compose.  The root of the word collage is the same as the  French verb ‘coller’ or to glue (a latin verb, in italian ‘incollare’). Collages are associated the the Cubist and Surrealist art movements in the last century. Picasso and George Braques are said to have coined the term. In Surrealism, we find more three-dimensional assembly/collages that resemble nonsensical machinery. There is a very fine line between sculpture made of found objects and three-dimensional ‘collages’. The key being, in my opinion, the spontaneity and uplanned process leading to the finished product, which, really, is never meant to be finished.

The exploratory aspect is the most attractive component of the collage process to me, the element of surprise, play, even psychological discovery that all contribute to give life to a work. It is quite extraordinary how when the mind lets go the art takes over (you can call it soul), and such a welcome relief from too much art that is planned and executed like a project. Collages keep the wander, let us, like sketching, solve ourselves. There is no right or wrong because the destination is never known in collages. How utterly liberating.

Yet the best collages, like the best works of art, appear undeniable in the end, as if the piece just ‘made sense’;  they acquire layers of meaning with passing of time, age well, even acquire a certain patina. More than anything, they became more lovely or intense with each time your gaze falls on them. The personal fragments embedded in the collages will echo throughout the years; they will forever signify a time, place and emotion captured, crystallized, amplified.

In architecture, collages are extremely useful right-brain experimentation, and we see the Situationist using them to chart new maps of possible cities. We see collages in the 1960’s and 70’s in the works of  Archigram, Superstudio, Coop Himmelblau and others.  Richard Meier is a starchitect and collager. Whether or not you favor his brand of architecture I think that we all, as architects and academics, ought to have, like him,  a way and time  to let our innate sense of creativity develop, A time to use our hands (not the mouse, not the tip of our finger)and remember how to let our mind play and discover itself. Build something with our hands, an alternate reality, even if  paper-thin.  Collages are where we can dream, using pieces of reality. I suspect that regular collaging would open us (and our art/design)  to  inspiration, mental flexibility, maybe even brilliance. 

Richard Meier’s collages complement his architecture. Unlike his architectural drawings, they are nonrepresentational; like these drawings, they record process.  Like his architecture itself, they study relationships in space and seek difficult reconciliations of the opposed conditions of “found” discord and ideal order.

“A single collage is not begun and finished by itself,” says Meier. “On the contrary, works in various stages of evolution are left in notebooks and on the shelves of my studio, left sometimes for months or even years to await their own period of development.  A collage is often the result of many revisions.  Each must be seen as an element in my total work; they are, for me, an adjunct and a passion related to my life as an architect.”

“Meier has an eye, and a mind to use it,” the architect John Hedjuk has written.  “He doesn’t create all those collages at night at home for nothing.  The collage making is his midnight boxing ring.  It keeps the hand and the eye trained.”

This is what I have been working on, all material from extra pages from printing this blog for my mom in Italy (I send monthly installments via mail because she refuses to make friends with computers. Mamma, when you read this, know you killed a tree ;)).

I applied an ‘antiquing’ crackling glaze to the glazed canvas so we’ll see how it develops. I dig the diagonal/chainlink texture which resulted from the juxtaposition of the pieces. The celling adds an architectural/design reading to the piece. What do you think?

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