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The French poet Paul Valéry said that all things are generated from an interruption. I learned this from my favorite Italian thinker, Alessandro Baricco, here in en español, whose lectures – to be found only in Italian – I listen to to learn about literature, writing, and life.

There were many interruptions this year, and not just personal. I can think of the devastating Hurricane Irma in my beloved, beautiful Puerto Rico, or the September 19 earthquake in my favorite city this side of the Atlantic, Ciudad De México – which occurred on the 32nd Anniversary of an earthquake that killed more that 10.000 people.

My personal earthquake and hurricane happened on August 21 of this year, when my dad passed away. I can now finally begin to write this sentence, and about it, without being swallowed up in the chasm that this loss left in my life. I know his spirit went back to his sea, where he returned, and I feel he is near, both inside my heart and dancing around in freedom and light. I like to think I can take him with me wherever I go now, and share my life in a more immediate way. I like to think his energy was transformed into waves of the sea. The sea can hug you, yet you can’t hug the sea, his immensity. I like to think he is in a butterfly, sometimes in a song. A friend of mine wrote “I heard your dad went back to the Universe”. I like that.

My dad loved the Old Man and The Sea, drawing boats and fish, Jonathan Seagull, reading, Venice, watching documentaries on nature, fishing, and working on his boat. He loved his friends and he loved me. He is the reason art is in my life. He is the reason I read One Hundred Years of Solitude in middle school (I used to raid the books of his youth unbeknownst to both my parents). It became my favorite book, it still is, and magical realism, anarchy and arcane literary worlds shaped who I am.

I thought about coming back to SketchBloom with a post on Van Gogh, and the film Loving Vincent, which I saw this month. The movie reminded me of my dad, of his love of painting, his simple bedroom , and his fisherman shack on the beach, La Baracca Del Bucaniere, which he lovely composed for the last ten years of his life here on the Earth school.

That post is in the pipeline, and I took new photos of his sculpture when I was last in Calabria –  but I wanted to return with a sketch, a return to art.

I just got back from Mexico (that is how the locals call it, Mexico…no need to use “Ciudad de”) yesterday, where I finally got over my protracted artist’s block.

Here, a simple sketch (above) and some photos/vignettes/stories I bring back from my trip.

Walking in Coyoacán – Frida’s neighborhood:

Scenes from Roma, one of the neighborhoods of DF:

This is Barba Azul, a cabaret from another era, where salsa is danced from midnight till dawn, where there is an altar upstairs (I have seen them in parking lots, too) and where the exit is a tiny rectangle carved into a decorated garage door- something out Pinocchio’s Paese dei Balocchi (toyland)…or a circus in a Fellini movie. One of the many surreal vignettes of this metropolis.

Unfortunately I could not take a better photo of it (with the usher emerging!) but it is on my list for next time. I also learned about the ficheras , the ladies of the establishment who sell a dance for a token (and more, at their discretion).

The obligatory photo of the Palacio De Bellas Artes, November 2017 version:

Where I had the chance to see Diego Rivera’s murals…

…and learn about the Rojo Mexicano (the red pigment from cochinilla bugs found inside the cactus fruits in Oaxaca, which was utilized in paintings around the world from the XV Century to the XIX) and see Van Gogh’s Bedroom At Arles with my own eyes (!!!).

I also visited Cuernavaca, La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (The City of the Eternal Spring), where i completed my yearly self-evaluation for #work in a garden within Jardines de Mexico, surrounded by butterflies. Talk about INSPIRING.

Italian Garden at Jardines De Mexico (my favorite, obv)

In Cuernavaca, I stayed in a copy of Unité d’Habitacion (but if you follow me on Instagram you already know this).

I want to close with a poem by Octavio Paz — who is considered the greatest Mexican poet and thinker — and, of course, was a native of Mexico City.

This is his poem Hablo de la Ciudad | I Speak of the City. Below the text in the original Spanish and the translation in English.

This poem perfectly encapsulates what Mexico City is. I have more posts on La Ciudad to craft, from my previous visits, and more poetry- but this shall suffice for tonight.

Here is to more gentle earthquakes and hurricanes in 2018, inner ones to bring soul renewals, and to a kinder year.

For the Aztecs, this was the bellybutton of the Moon.

Nos vemos pronto, Tenochtitlán.

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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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No se trata de velocidad
Si no de resistencia
Para lograr lo que se quiere.

To achieve what we want
It’s not about speed,
But resistance.

I wish you a Glorious 2016.

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The sacrificial lamb- an old leather jacket already repaired twice.

The sacrificial lamb- an old leather jacket already repaired twice.

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With my pattern and leather in the Materials Lab, to trace images in Illustrator and experiment with the laser cutting process. “The object feels good if the process feels good.”

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The laser etched leather swatches. Fire drawings…scars…tattoos and cattle branding.

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Preparing for night surgical cutting, tailoring and riveting. And documenting. The whole project came about in three days (Friday to Sunday), but was months in the making (and in the thinking, and in the promising).

 

 

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The prototypes are done!

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Laying out this graphic board illustrating the process took longer than I would like to admit. In the end, it was a process of elimination…which is the secret to design, really.

 

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Exhibit time. Board layout #2 with Illustrator patterns :).

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Project fini. Ready-to-wear, custom-made temporary leather tattoos....by yours truly.

Project fini. Ready-to-wear, custom-made temporary leather tattoos….by yours truly.

 

 

Idea #13: Temporary Leather Tattoos

Experiments with recycled leather, tattoo patterns and the laser cutter in our Materials Lab for the Action/Reaction Faculty show, where students react to faculty work.

I chose to explore these tribal tattoo patterns I drew long ago and finally turn them into ‘temporary’ leather tattoos – since an actual tribal armband tattoo is out of the question (#italianmother).

In the process, I learned how to make leather-on-leather tattoos, used the laser cutter for the first time, hand-cut till my hands were sore, learned how to put rivets, and was taught about vector lines and patterns in lllustrator by my wonderful, patient students.
Thanks to student feedback/critique (which was extremely positive about the artifacts :)) the board could use one more ‘pass’ as far as fonts and background, but I wanted to post this now, as the show is coming to a close.

While researching case studies, I was astonished by the amount of cool accessories, arm bands and earrings made with recycled bike tires and inner tubes.

Etsy, here I come.

 

Here are some photos from the Action|Reaction opening, by Donn Angel Perez, the curator of the show (and author of the beautiful paintings shown), along with student Chuck Wilson

For the opening- in keeping with the recycled/sustainable theme, and to save time 😉 – I projected my board.

 

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littlescreenshot <<<and this, this little guy on my desktop just makes me happy.

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Thom, one of my past students, showed me his project during our school’s Finals’ Exhibit –where the best projects from each year were showcased.
He had found a silhouette that happened to look like me and placed it in his final rendering. 🙂

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Don Draper: As much as I would like to join all the ads making fun of the ubiquitous San Francisco hippie, let’s try to trade on the word ‘love’ as something substantial.

– I don’t think that it’s possible in this context.

Don Draper:
So why are we contributing to the trivialization of the word? It doesn’t belong in the kitchen.
” I love this.”
” I love my oven.”
” You know what I’d love ?
I’d love a hamburger.”
We are wearing it out.
Let’s leave it where we want it.
We want that electric jolt to the body.
We want Eros. It’s like a drug.
It’s not domestic.

What’s the difference between a husband knocking on a door and a sailor getting off a ship?

About 10,000 volts.

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Above, my Christmas presents from my students.
The ‘one hundred small books’ were a project for the Advanced Presentation course I taught.

To start the conversation on small scale binding, I brought some of my mini books to show.
How did I end up with these? 😛


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My students could choose their own narrative and learned how to bind books using different techniques and materials.
We covered layout through a discussion on portfolio graphics and blog and website design –and used some color palette tools–
so for the final project I wanted to do something different and strange, inspired by an artist in the 70’s who created one hundred little books.

Some of them are portfolios, some poetry, photography…a couple are on love and music 🙂


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There is even Dostoevsky’s novella ‘White Night’ and a book entirely on coffee and quotes, both done by Anastasia, a fellow artist (someone knows me!).

You can follow her beautiful work here.

I will post more pages from the little books once school resumes. I also (shocking, I know) have a little book on coffee quotes at home, bought in Italy few Christmases ago. I’ve been meaning to write a post about it, and now I will share it with you – and Anastasia 🙂

Also there were lots and lots of sketchbooks from my History of Architecture students (!).

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I. love. them.


Before I go (get coffee), some coffee quotes from my little coffee book:

If asked: ‘How do you take your coffee’?
I reply : ‘Very Seriously’

Unknown


Coffee is a language in itself

Jackie Chan


Wake up!

Drink coffee…

Then think.

Unknown


Coffee is the favorite drink

of the civilized world.

Thomas Jefferson


Black as night,

Sweet as sin.

Neil Gaiman ‘Anansi Boys’


Deja Brew:

The feeling you’ve had

this coffee before.

Unknown Coffee


It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to

wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.

Dave Barry


Black as the Devil,

Hot as Hell,

Pure as an Angel,

Sweet as Love.

Charles Maurice De Talleyrand


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My Bounty. Merry Christmas.

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