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Archive for the ‘digital collage, photography, writing, architecture’ Category

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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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Song of the Open Road, IV

Walt Whitman



The earth expanding right hand and left hand,

The picture alive, every part in its best light,

The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,

The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?

Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?

Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,

You express me better than I can express myself,

You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,

I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,

I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,

I think whoever I see must be happy.

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Digital experiment using layers from the Tayasui Sketching app + Procreate app on IPhone 7. Excerpt from the novel Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore. November 15, 2016.




For lifelong companionship, it’s not necessary to live together.

We have gone as far as we had to go.

From here, our paths diverge.

It’s better for both of us.

I will atone for my mistakes by serving other people. If you settle down, I swear, I will be really happy.

Now I have no grievances in this life. Life has done us a big favor by bringing us together again. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to resolve our grievances.

I was at fault, but you didn’t let your love for me wane.

Your Binod will learn to live with the help of this thought.

Before leaving, all I will ask is that…

..in our next birth, you should only belong to me.

Don’t belong to anybody else.


From the last letter of Binodini to her beloved Behari. 

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Mission Beach, San Diego, California. 19th of June, 2016

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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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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We are the Stargazers,
We are the Memorykeepers

We are the stargazers,
we are the memorykeepers
the nightwalkers
the moonseekers
we are the solitude dwellers
we pause, head lifted to look at clouds
moving fast through the night skies
like steam raising from hot coffee
in a makeshift cafe.

[ stop looking at your phone
and look at the stars ]

We are impractical madness.
We are the timeconjurers,
propelled through dark hours
chasing follies
– we pause to take photographs when we’re late; we always answer the muse
and she comes at the most inopportune moments.
We are the harbingers,
we are the jesters.
We sit on street corners in the cold, listening to the banter of clochards.
Our hands hurt
we write poems no-one will read.

We are the stargazers,
we are the memorykeepers
we are the storytellers.
We are the art warriors,
we battle against the loss of words,
which come unexpected and vanish so quickly, like the tendrils of love in the morning.

We fight against time which consumes.
We succeed – and steal one verse or image from the frenetic chasm.
We indulge in vain attempts to capture stars.

We are the dreamers,
we are the songcollectors
we are the last romantics.
Our job is to always have innocent eyes.
We are the wanderers.
Our job is to remember and coalesce.
We preserve life’s gossamer fragments of beauty, we keep them like strands of lights in a jar.

We are the butterflies,
we are the petal priests,
we run red lights.

We wander at night and are consumed by fire.
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

San Diego. January 18, 2016

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Sunset and stars, for Martha. Acrylic paint and Encaustics. San Diego, 2003.

 

I finished this painting with encaustics (wax dripping) in 2003, for Martha, my oldest and dearest friend in San Diego.

This is how the painting looked for years:
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I was dissatisfied with it.
It just seemed an ‘experiment’ with golden acrylics, was too heavy on the left side and just, in general, looked like a 90’s Dave Matthews Band CD cover gone wrong.

While there were some reedeming moments ( the night sky/ starry side had a loveliness to it) the demarcation line was too abrupt and the piece as a whole did not make sense
.
So, I took it back sometimes in 2010 to ‘work on it’. Poor Marthita..who does that? Thank you, ever-patient friend.

This untitled ‘thing’ sat on an empty wine rack in my kitchen for years, becoming mine again, in a way, a de facto piece of furniture.
I was at a loss…I knew I had to give it back at some point, yet had no idea how to fix this obvious statement on dichotomy that just looked wrong.

Enter Beverly. One night, a couple months ago, my very eclectic, ageless, artist neighbor Bev was talking to Mingus, her black cat ( I am pretty sure it’s a familiar 😉 ) on the walkway we shared.
It was one of those rare days my place was guest-ready, so I invited her in for a glass. She was interested in the painting on the easel, still turned the ‘wrong’ way. I shared my conundrum with her. She just walked up to it and said ‘What if you turn it this way?.
Now, “thing” was a fiery California sunset. She found the sea in the paint, and it took 12 years.

Something like this gives me faith that everything comes into its own in time.
That timing is always right.
That years are necessary.
That the right person comes in and points to you what has being staring you in the face, what you could not see.
Thank you, Bev.

….
Below, a flipped, filtered version I think
it really is what this painting wants to be, in its dreams.

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We’re Always Under Stars

 

You took me star-gazing
the first night
I was looking for Orion.

(when i went home
I found him,
hung low over my window
at 5 am.
I could never sleep
after you.)

You shared the impossible poetry of Hikmet, which nobody in their right mind should reveal to someone they just met.

On the second day
you came with your convertible,
the passenger side devastated
by an accident.
I had to get in from your side,
for a month.
Climbing in, crossing over,
my body awkwardly tilted while trying to maintain grace in my version of
a courtship.
I did not mind, not one time – though I always forgot.

I should have, maybe, read the sign.
Instead, I thought it was endearing
it meant you had your wounds, too.
I did not feel so bad about my messy house, my scars.

We drove to the beach,
California style.
It was a semi-deserted nudist beach, and we had to hike a steep cliff
to get there.
There was always a sense of the
unexpected
with you.

We talked while girls with bouncing boobs
and men with various appendages
were too away for us to really see
–I was, at once, at ease with and acutely aware of the french strangeness of the situation–
another would have thought about
how progressive it all was.
Unaware until later that that was a choice, I kept my top on.
In hindsight, perhaps,
you were testing my boundaries.

When you touched me,
you touched me
the sun kissed me
another star, on our second date.
We dipped in Mediterranean warmth.

I looked at you
like Sicily looks at Calabria
over the Strait.

I thought this time things would be
different, because we shared the same language.
I forgot stars rise and set at night, too.
And we are always under them.

 

San Diego, November 2015

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San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. Graphite on paper. 24"X30". August 2015.

A commissioned work in progress.
One more plen air session and lineweight application and this baby is traveling to Costa Rica.
[Gracias por la Pura Vida]
I was asked to draw something that, to me, was intrinsically San Diego.
I love this building, and Balboa Park.
This is my neighborhood, my California home.

The buildings in Balboa park were chimeras, they were not supposed to last. They were stuccoed renditions, built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition.
It was San Diego dreaming of a past it did not possess, recreating its version of Spain, a classical city of porticoes, fountains and piazzas. Balboa Park represents both a stage and utopia.

My mind knows i am looking at façade architecture, in some cases as authentic as a movie set. It also knows none of the hundreds of plants and trees in the park are native. Yet, i am seduced.  I indulge in a state ‘suspension of disbelief’, as Wordsworth  asked of his reader.
This is my Romantic ruin.

Balboa Park today enchants as a beautiful urban park, the cultural heart of San Diego with more than twenty museums, gardens, landscaped vistas and hikes through the natural canyons (and, always, street artists).

When I see the blue-tiled dome and its storied tower, emerge like a hazy dream across a bridge that translates in elegant modern forms a Roman aqueduct, i escape.

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Balboa Park, the 'Crown Jewel of San Diego'.

No. This photo was not ‘shopped. The sky really looks like this all year-round here.
And you should see the sunsets.
Don’t hate. We pay for this in other ways.

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In January I collided with two splendid creatures in Balboa Park, Lila’Angelique and Thoth, which together form Tribal Baroque.

I wanted to share some portraits I took of them, in order to share some of the magic of their presence and music.

Nothing prepares you for the beauty that is Tribal Baroque, but here is a taste of what’s in store if you can make it to one of their prayformances in the park.

This is the Facebook page of Tribal Baroque, so you can catch these fairies who are here in San Diego for a limited time.

{more to come…see below}
…….

Four days ago, I spent two hours crafting the perfect posts on my muses, full of links and perfectly ( to me) worded prose.

When I went to publish the post, I LOST everything. It is the first time that this has happened on WordPress, which is usually excellent at saving drafts in progress.

I have been too heartbroken to come back and re-craft my post, but I have new art from Saturday and tonight – yes i started sketching and painting again (!) – and new photographs that I want to share, and life must go on.

Enjoy this images for now.. I will come back in the morning, refreshed, and tell you its stories…
…….

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Thank you for bringing the *triple* rainbow and pink sky 😉 :
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California Building Tower. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. January 2015.


In the past couple of months, we’ve had the most spectacular sunsets – the most magnificent skies, really.

In addition, balmy, magical nights.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but San Diego and Southern California are becoming more and more lovely and precious each day.
It is like falling in love, all over again.

Tonight I want to share some night and sunset shots, reserving the day skies for another post.
These photos have all been taken and corrected on my HTC One camera, hence the sometimes annoying light ‘spilling’, low res and graininess.
I will start carrying my Panasonic camera again, and correcting on Photoshop. I realize that my photos look better on a small screen…
One day I would like to invest in a proper Digital DSRL, but for now accept these artisanal shots.

I have taken to making nightly pilgrimages to our Balboa Park.
This is our cultural park, with more than twenty art museums and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. The pairing of Spanish architecture and tropical greenery take me to Cuba, to Puerto Rico…to the Caribbeans. Balboa Park was built in 1915 for the Pan-American Exhibition, and is celebrating its Centenary this year!

The central plaza, Plaza de Panama, is now restored as the living room of the city.

To my eye, the park is more and more beautiful each month that goes by.

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View from Cabrillo Bridge. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. January 2015.

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Night view from Cabrillo Bridge. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. January 2015.

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View of Plaza De Panama. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Arboretum. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Sculpture Garden. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

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Museum of Man. Balboa Park, Uptown San Diego. March 2015.

And here are other end-of-day scenes from San Diego.

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Normal Heights, San Diego. January 2015.

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Bankers' Hill, San Diego. January 2015.

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Hillcrest, San Diego. February 2015.

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University Heights, San Diego. February 2015.

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Hillcrest, San Diego. February 2015.

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Downtown San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza. December 2014

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Downtown San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, Horton Plaza. December 2014.

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Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego. Cafe' Sevilla. January 2015.

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163 South Highway towards Downtown San Diego. View from Cabrillo Bridge, Balboa Park. March 2015.


And now, two poems to the Night.

The Night is Still

by Edith Matilda Thomas


The night is still, the moon looks kind,
The dew hangs jewels in the heath,
An ivy climbs across thy blind,
And throws a light and misty wreath.

 
The dew hangs jewels in the heath,
Buds bloom for which the bee has pined;
I haste along, I quicker breathe,
The night is still, the moon looks kind.

Buds bloom for which the bee has pined,
The primrose slips its jealous sheath,
As up the flower-watched path I wind
And come thy window-ledge beneath.

The primrose slips its jealous sheath,—
Then open wide that churlish blind,
And kiss me through the ivy wreath!
The night is still, the moon looks kind.

….

A Gift

by Leonora Speyer


I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
Her moon-song,
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.

 
Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.


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Luminaires- Café Lulu. San Diego, May 9, 2014. Ink, marker, digital collage.

Luminaires- Café Lulu. San Diego, May 9, 2014. Ink, marker, digital collage.

 

 

On Being an Artist

Noelle Kocot

 

Saturn seems habitual,
The way it rages in the sky
When we’re not looking.
On this note, the trees still sing
To me, and I long for this
Mottled world.  Patterns
Of the lamplight on this leather,
The sun, listening.
My brother, my sister,
I was born to tell you certain
Things, even if no one
Really listens.  Give it back
To me, as the bird takes up
The whole sky, ruined with
Nightfall.  If I can remember
The words in the storm,
I will be well enough to sit
Here with you a little while.

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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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Builtculture logo. Digital Manipulation. October 2013.

Happy November!

If you have been wondering what I have been up to, I have been here.
Builtculture is a project I have started last year with a graduate student, Samar Sepehri. It is finally taking off.
(If you are so inclined, and feel like Liking our page, please do so!).
I designed our logo, starting from an image of bukhoor, and overlaying over an image of San Diego.
The creative juice have been applied to community outreach, still I was happy to be making something art-like.

Related to this, I have been working on bringing speakers and workshops in the field of community and activist design, such as this:


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Also related to this, I went over the border, to Tjiuana to work on an international project, make connections and do a bit of wine tasting and cultural sightseeing.

I also went to Deer Park Monastery for a Day of Mindfulness.

Photos coming soon.

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‘Habana is very much like a rose,’ said Fico Fellove in the movie The Lost City,

‘it has petals and it has thorns…so it depends on how you grab it.

But in the end it always grabs you.’


“One of the most beautiful cities in the world. You see it with your heart.”

Enrique Nunez Del Valle, Paladar Owner

Habana’s real essence is so difficult to pin down. Plenty of writers have had a try, though; Cuban intellectual Alejo Carpentier nicknamed Habana the ‘city of columns,’ Federico Llorca declared that he had spent the best days of his life there and Graham Greene concluded that Habana was a city where ‘anything was possible.’

ARCHITECTURE

Habana is, without doubt, one of the most attractive and architecturally diverse cities in the world. Shaped by a colorful colonial history  and embellished by myriad foreign influences from as far afield as Italy and Morocco, the Cuban capital gracefully combines Mudéjar, baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau, art deco and modernist architectural styles into a visually striking whole.

But it’s not all sweeping vistas and tree-lined boulevards. Habana doesn’t have the architectural uniformity of Paris or the instant knock-out appeal of Rome. Indeed, two decades of economic austerity has meant many of the city’s finest buildings have been left to festering an advanced state of dilapidation. Furthermore, attempting to classify Habana’s houses,palaces, churches and forts as a single architectural entity is extremely difficult.

Cuban building – rather like its music – is unusually diverse. Blending Spanish colonial with French belle epoque, and Italian Renaissance with Gaudi-esque art nouveau, the over-riding picture is often one of eclecticism run wild.

Brendan Sainsbury


















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Click to see my architectural shoots over at ArchistDesign | Studio. All projects by Architectural Concepts in San Diego, CA.


Apparently this is my year. The year of the Water Dragon.
I am happy to say, I am finally completing my architecture website.

This other digital studio has been on the back burner for about a year , but it looks like 2012 is the antithesis of  procrastination.

A year that quickens…like a strong sun that vanquishes the fog.

I have added some photography work for my friend and mentor Margit Whitlock at Architectural Concepts. Photographing these well-executed design projects was a joy.

Still few portfolio items to add to the site (and three new projects on the boards!)
Will keep posting updates as they happen, and hope to finish in few weeks.


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“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” 

Vincent van Gogh




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image

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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Fill in the blanks. Ink on Miquelrius paper. October 2011.

This drawing was inspired by this one , by my blogsister Ghadah Alkandari.

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Image via deliglam.com. Click for more.

Scenes from Parapluies de Cherbourg

Thank you Dianna.

Here's to us (Paris is a state of mind) . October 2011.

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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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Entry for ONE LIFE | An International Photography Competition.

I decided to participate ( characteristically last-minute) to ONE LIFE, an international photography competition, in the ‘City Imagery’ category.

Click here (or on the image above) to see the entry at a higher resolution and, if you like what you see, vote and share my photograph.

The prize is $10,000 or a trip around the world. Guess what I would pick.

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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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View from Central Park, Manhattan. Lumix camera + Digital Alteration. Summer 2011.

 

The Greeks had two different interpretation  for the word “Utopia”.

The first one  (pronounced U-topos) meant “the good place”.

The second, pronounced Ü-topos, meant “the place that cannot be”.

 

Paraphrasing  Mad Men.

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In Tea Veritas. New York City. June 2011.

Well, this is no good! August is almost here and once again balmy summer days flew by with traveling, urban escapades and some R&R…while the postings have been mighty sparse.

I have been a curious tourist in my own city and state, and, in between summer courses,  the roamings included a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, Much Ado Abouth Nothing, a tour of the Getty Villa in Malibu, an evening dreaming of Cuba and its Architecture and finally, a retro movie under the stars. There have also been some further experiments with jewelry design. And many caffe’ shakerato’s. And many of foreign movies.  And declutterings, of tangibles and intangibles. I have been busy.

I am back from my adventures for good now, just in time to be blindsided and crushed by Amy Winehouse’s death (more on this later).
I have some shots to share from my travels, the challenge now is not to turn this into a photography blog (after all it is called *sketch* bloom) so i will be back tomorrow with more sketches and plan to alternate photos with drawings and collages for the next few posts.

It’s good to be back, renewed and energized.  I hope this month was good to you too.

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The Fabric City is finally finished! Yay! Back to collages and sketches now.

From this…

…to a process of cutting and puzzle-making…

to this:

The Invisible City|La Gitane. Fabric and colored yarn, sewn by hand. June 24, 2011.

Tomorrow the ‘city’  will be cut and applied to a presently plain backpack and signed.

I also want to share this impromptu jewelry design, my second, kindly modeled!

Earth and Water. Ceramic beads and yarn. June 24, 2011

Finally, work inspired by New York in form of a guest post:

Winter Kisses. Ink and Watercolor on translucent Yupo watercolor paper. By Amina Alkandari. June 2011

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Connecting|Disconnecting over the New York Post. New York City Subway, Line 5 Uptown, June 21, 2011.

Presently and present in New York City.

Conference sessions, museums, walking walking walking. Design, Architecture, Art.

The energy of the City. Ideas like kites move slower than the city moves. Slower than pedestrians at a busy intersection, slower than subway trains with their human cargoes.

A musical: Death Takes a Vacation.

Absorbing and consuming the city, which becomes a commodity. Getting lost in the city,  a bus to New Jersey, a ride to the Bronx.

Will post few dispatches, I have been absent with no written excuses.

………………………….

My fabric city map is almost done, it took almost a month. I have the utmost respect for seamstresses.

Until next time, with a summer-light heart, looking forward to sharing more experiments.

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Tinted orange by the morning sun, a soaring dune is the backdrop for the hulks of camel thorn trees in Namib-Naukluft Park. Frans Lanting/National Geographic

 

…but a photo taken in Namibia by Frans Lanting for a story in National Geographic’s June issue.

From wbur.org

Lanting explains how he did it in a Nat Geo Q&A:

It was made at dawn when the warm light of the morning sun was illuminating a huge red sand dune dotted with white grasses while the white floor of the clay pan was still in shade. It looks blue because it reflects the color of the sky above. … The perfect moment came when the sun reached all the way down to the bottom of the sand dune just before it reached the desert floor. I used a long telephoto lens and stopped it all the way down to compress the perspective.

What a breathtaking world we live in.

Time to travel again.

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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.
 
—————————————————————————-
 
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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Photography and Digital Manipulation. March 6, 2011.

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The Creative License by Danny Gregory. Click for his blog and links!

Everywhere I turn these days i see the word Creativity..could this be a sign …cause I have not been posting that much???

This post is more like…four…but so be it.

The back of the book. Do you dare to be creative?

A dear student let me borrow this fantastic book: The Creative License: Giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are. What a wonderful title. So this post, like the book is dedicated….

From Danny Gregory's book The Creative License.

This book is full of helpful suggestions, assignments and encouragements for artists, wannabe-artists and artists-to-be.
There are helpful tools, techniques and a great section on negative space. The style reminds me of Michael Nobbs and his ‘Start to Draw Your Life’ [find link to download his e-book here]
I love this quote:

I believe in the energy of art, and through the use of that energy, the artist’s ability to transform his or her life and, by example, the lives of others.

Audrey Flack

Inspired by the ‘sketch your life’ vibe,I finally got around drawing something that has been giving me JOY lately:

Ink and watercolor on paper and tracing paper. A bit of digital manipulation. Feb. 09,2011.

Yes! These magnific Illy concoctions have come to a freezer near you…I love these babies.
I also picked up the Oprah magazine…i do enjoy this publication…as a reader said ‘it brings a little magic into my life’. I devour news and ‘serious’ books ( I love novels, but have started a stack of non-fiction and architecture-related books in the past four years …and I am determined to finish it by the end of the year)…so sometimes Oprah reminds me to feed my spirit. Go ahead and judge:P
This month’s issue caught my eye, for the focus was creativity.
This is the un-quiz I am taking…designed by filmmaker Miranda July and Artist Harrell Fletcher, creators of the website Learning to Love You More. Click for creative assignments!
The results will be uploaded at oprah.com.
If you are so lucky to have an Ipad, you can check out Oprah’s own sketchbook app, SketchBook O.
Here are:
7 WAYS TO SPARK YOUR CREATIVITY:
(from designer Anna Rabinowicz)
1. Read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
2. Go Outside
3. Start a collection
4. Touch Stuff
5. Travel Solo
6. Go Analog
7. Grab every opportunity
(read about this on this month’s issue of O, the Oprah Magazine)
One of the things I am always reminded of when I read Oprah is to give gratitude. It has been difficult lately, between my hypercritical mind, a full-out technological meltdown and a string of missed yoga classes. Nonetheless, I would like to give a shout out to these three creative individuals who are an inspiration!
1. Ghadah Alkandari @ prettygreenbullet: my blogsister, who elevates blogging to a religion, source of daily inspiration. I love you, woman.

Ghadah Alkandari, Goddess of Daily Goodness. This is her post from February 5,2011. Click to Ghadah.

2. Abbey Ryan @ abbeyryan.com

From Oprah's February Issue: the blog abbeyryan.com. She has posted an oil still life every day since 2007. WOW! Click to find Abbey.

3. St. Loup and his Secrets and Lies
Always thought-provoking…my virtual literary cafe’.

From St. Loup's Secrets and Lies: Maurice Ronnet Le feu Follet - Luis Malle (1963)

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Milano, where window shopping is elevated to an art form. Here is a Louis Vuitton window inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, with paper lanterns shaped as luggage. The inspiration comes from the Indian Festival of Lights.


El Prestin Del Cantun: a paradise of focaccine and pizzette...dreams do come true.

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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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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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Steel frame poetry. Click for more info ore read below.

Choi+Shine, a Massachusetts-based design studio has recently received the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture Award for their creative concept Land of Giants™, transforming the generic steel-framed electricity pylons across the Icelandic landscape into unique, individual humanised forms.

Read the World Architecture News article here.

In contrast to the poetry of the unbuilt, and whenever I see vision in design and architecture, there are the missed opportunities of the city around me. In my History of Architecture class I like to tell students that Architecture is built politics. By this I mean that the architecture of the civilizations we study, even the built environment around us, is the embodiment of a people’s values, belief system, socio-economic conditions (or agendas). Architecture can literally be considered ‘the body politik’.
During a recent conversation with a colleague the meaning of absence came up, that is, the absence of benches or piazzas in downtown San Diego. America’s Finest City enjoys the perfect temperate weather, is gifted with a beautiful natural setting, and yet its downtown does not invite enjoyment, people watching, outside of commercial establishment. This is a city that is, peculiarly, not urban at all, but fragmented, servile to cars, at times alienating. In the heart of its historical quarter, the Gaslamp, the city does not yield; no place to sit and pause to take it in.

There could be such place: Horton Plaza.

Downtown San Diego. Horton Plaza is in the 'Core'. Balboa Park is visible on the upper right corner. from onlinesandiegohomes.com

Horton Plaza/Fountain Side is a potential piazza whose use is twarthed by the deliberate use of ‘discomfort’ tactics: rough landscaping and the absence of benches, or seating at human-being level. I see tourists crouching down on curb edges everytime I walk by. There is a plan by the CCDC to ‘reenvision” the public park to make it more attractive‘.

Horton Plaza, facing the U.S Grant Hotel. San Diego, 1910. Fountain and plaza design by Irving Gill, who proposed four tiled walks (the city approved two, not tiled). Notice the cordoned-off lawn, and the absence of benches, even back then. sandiegodailyphoto.blogspot.com

Horton Plaza before 2008, with fountain still operable. It is flanked by a mall by the same name ( I love when malls appropriate the names of public space they displace, names such as 'Plaza', 'Avenues', 'Boulevard' etc.). Tall, unattractive plantings and no benches make the use of this piazza impossible. From http://sdhs1960.org/photos/yesterdaytoday.html. Adding ugliness to infamy, the fountain has remained fenced and inoperable for two years with no immediate plans for restoration. From signonsandiego.com

Horton Plaza/’Farmer Market’ Side is an open space eager to be a piazza, yet at the stage of ‘Piazza. Interrupted’. Why? The absence of seating, appropriate lighting, or a focal point in this location (a fountain? a modern sculpture?) renders this an open space to be traversed as quickly as possible, day or night, where spontaneous gathering is not encouraged (except for the commercially-viable weekly Farmers’ Market half-days or the inescapable ritual of the holiday ice-rink).

Horton Square, between the Horton Plaza Mall and the NBC building in Downtown San Diego. From shindohd@ flickr.com.

But Horton Square has potential, at least it’ s not a permanently-in-shade, unusable ‘public space’ such as those found among high-rises in financial districts nation-wide. You know what I’m talking about.

Wells Fargo 'Plaza', Financial district, San Diego. from frwl @ flickr.com.

Upon reading ‘ Why Public Spaces Fail’, it seems like San Diego has used this article as a blueprint to eschew its public responsibility and alienate the public sphere.
Of course anytime public space is brought up, the issue of the homeless is dragged out like a decaying corpse from the cellar, to once more make an appereance in trite arguments. The refrain goes ‘ We cannot have any public space in San Diego because of the homeless’. Meaning, if you build it, they (the homeless) will come. And we can’t have that. It’s as if the city, to paraphrase Ani di Franco’s words, instead of curing the disease, is bent on suppressing any evidence of the symptoms.
Of course we have the public, but touristy, Seaport Village and our cultural, manicured, Balboa Park. Both are not integrated with the urban fabric of downtown San Diego, that is they are destinations, not generators (can I say incubators?) of urban moments within the streets/flow of the city.
Balboa Parkis a wonderful (or maybe just pretty, depends on the days and my mood) public space, also designed by Irvin Gill,  and yet it is a place apart, an idyllic, bucolic, museum-filled oasis . I have not tried to go there at night, but I suspect that, in addition to dangerous, the park closes at night (like most American parks, something that doesn’t happen for public spaces in Europe). There are no night activities encouraged in Balboa, except for going to eat at The Prado restaurant, which stops serving food around ten. This could also says something about San Diego early bird ethic, and limited vision when it comes to cultural events. Balboa Park could be made an integral part of Downtown by better, more frequent transportation and by its transformation into a cultural hub, with stores and museums open at night. There are already good news: the main plaza of the park, originally designed as a public space and made in recent decades into an ugly valet parking lot is to be restored to its original use (!!). San Diego will finally have a true piazza (hopefully with seating opportunities) and I for one plan to go there sketching as often as possible.

The lack of piazzas or urban public spaces is not of course a San Diego phenomenon, or a Southern Californian one, but a North-American one. Why criminalize the act of spontaneous gathering, why call it ‘loitering’? We do not have this word in the Italian language, not with the negative connotation. What else but healthy loitering and thinking is done in piazzas in Italy? We can speculate, get political, be conspiracy theorists. We could talk about the privatization of public space. We could wax poetic about missing piazzas and the public consciousness of European cities.

Or we could-maybe- all agree on the beauty of (un)built poetry.

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Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

All images are from a research project completed by my student, Mariam Thomas, on Architects as Artists and their rendering/design techniques.

The relationship between architecture and art, and the study of practitioners who are also artists (with the mindframe of artists), whose design process transcends design practices and pragmatism to include enlightment, discoveries and art- wonderings is of immense interest to me. Not only because I come from Italy , where the greatest architects of ‘our’ Rinascimento where first and foremost artists, but because I believe Architecture (with the capital A) is meant to embody Art and , in the best cases, become visual poetry (or frozen music). The relationship between the word and the built, i.e, literature and architecture, and architects/artists who are poets and writers…all these are dynamics that not only fascinate me, but give me hope and recharge me. I would love to one day explore these themes through one of more courses.

It’s fantastic to see the relationship between Steven Holl’s initial sketches and watercolors and his buildings, which preserve intact the spirit of their inception. I saw one of his works on the water in Amsterdam: it was similar to an e. e cummings poem, minimal and undeniable.

The line is so thin between his grayscale watercolors (an obsession of mine lately) and his white-grey walls. Holl’s book ‘Written on Water’ is one of my favorite books in our library, I steal it often.

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful. I need to complete some collages soon, semi-architectural, archigram-style.

I have only been collecting ‘collage material’ for eight years. I hold on to fragments that could one day be part of a piece, it is time to justify these attachments.

I can hear the words in my future memoir:

At the end of the aughts, beginning of the twenties, there was no work. We were all doing collages….they were beautiful. We had time to think, sometimes not, but we still had books, and paper, and ink.

 

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum(1992-1998). Steven Holl

Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum(1992-1998). Steven Holl.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (2002-2009). Steven Holl.

Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture (2002-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Knut Hamsen Museum (1994-2009). Steven Holl.

Chapel of St. Ignatius (1994-1997). Steven Holl

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, CAD drawing. (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Simmons Hall, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1999-2002). Steven Holl.

Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

Toolenburg- Zuid. Steven Holl

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In the courtyard of Space For Art, Barri Logan, San Diego. Sept. 4, 2010.

Art installation by Curtis Bracher. Click on image to be taken to his website.

The studio of May-Ling Martinez. Click her to see her blog.

May-Ling welcomes us.

Some of her pieces. Like 3D drawings! There seemed a current of 'retro' inspired pieces at the Space for Art. May-Ling is drawn to black and white drawings, attention to lineweight and retro ads.

My friend/twin Richard (we are both born on Sept.12!) and one of May-Ling's works.

Gothic Cathedral. Crutches, Xrays, Pipettes, Test Tubes. 9'L x 7'W x 8'H Artist Statement: This piece addresses the 'illuminations'- the questions, convergences, and contradictions of spirituality and science...

Flying buttresses, crossing and apse.

Roof expression of the apse and crossing.

The nave and aisles, their paving beautifully detailed.

Another noir work by May-Ling, guarding the door to the courtyard.

Misgivings in Barrio Logans, ghosts stories, ominous hands that prey (still too close).

Misgivings II. The burnt witch.

Pardon the quality of the photos, my Panasonic camera is still out of commission, hope to get it back in working order soon!

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Ink (Pilot Pen) on paper. 2008

Felt Tip Pen and Sharpie on paper. 2008

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Platonic Solid Exercise. Graphite on Paper. 2007

Happy September. Post coming late today, but it is a new month and I hope this, my birthday month (yay) will be better than the last- and all summer for that matter.  Lots of challenges and growth but…they don’t call them growing pains for nothing.

In my classes today we shared links on artists, visual notes, wonderful quotes, and great books.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  Things are getting really exciting and we are all growing by leaps and bounds. Good stuff and a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of this intense summer quarter. 

Few unrelated topics that I have been mulling over lately:

1.  Working out shadows in axonometric settings, like solving algebraic equations, helps to solve ourselves and gives us mathematical certainties (certainties that cannot be so cleanly and clearly found in real life).  I always heard math is not an opinion, and I am appreciating its impartiality, its justice even. I know now its compassion.

Still, a solution is relative to the light angle  we construct a priori, a philosophical question if there ever was one.

Shadows, like math, are either ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ relative to the established angle of light;  no room for fuzzyness, approximation, guessing. How refreshing. How pure the solution.  These (platonic) objects exists in an utopian airtight chamber or world, and the light is absolute, the light of truth.

The ‘real’ world (and ‘real’ shadows), like all matters of architecture and design and their ‘solutions’, are much more subtle, nuanced, grayscale— as opposed to black and white.
And so even truth is relative in our confounded orb.

2.  I am thinking of ways to design the freehand drawing classes to transcend drawing as transposing what we ‘see’ and help it become a design tool (depicting what may be, or possible scenarios).

It is a challenge, because the basic drawing techniques still need to be mastered, but the course could be imbued with and define a research path, becoming not only a stronger vehicle for learning, but generating material for publication. Exciting stuff, now it’s just a matter of  tightening up my interest areas and plan for action.

The Freehand Drawing and Rendering and Delineation classes will meet again next summer, and I have held some meetings to design its contents(more on this on coming posts) . Some words buzzing in my head are collages/assemblages, words, poetry, architecture, grayscale abstracts, visual notes/sketchnotes, inventories, data gathering quests, urban scavenging, pattern and in-formation.

3.   The more I grow as a passive designer- passive because I have been in an observing, absorbing mode for a while now…just storing information until the right moment comes- the more drawings i do, I am realizing that the challenges of design are not additive ones, but subtractive.

Learning what to remove, what to take away, leaving just the essential, is the challenge. Architecture is a matter of reduction, not addition.    Let me try to explain myself better. During our architectural education and pedestrian work experiences we are taught to include so many details, turn in complete drawings, complete construction documents sets etc. All of this is techniciams’ stuff. It is the drafter’s realm, or the CAD operator’s realm. It is not the Architect’s or designer’s province, which should aspire to loftier expressions. Design is abstraction of thought and ideas. It is reducing your concept to your most pure expression, cutting away all the fat and the unnecessary. Even the best art, I am finding, is painfully created by reducing your concept, feelings, ideas, to the most clear image, the prime number, the denominator. Significant work is created through ruthlessly leaving out all unnecessary data, information. Including too much is just self-indulgence; the disciplined designer pursues truth as she or he defines it and does not or cannot have time for self-indulgence. The purity of the idea is what one needs to be faithful to, everything else is interference by bureaucrats, technicians, pencil pushers.

Am I sounding like Howard Roark? WellI am in the process of defining a design philosophy and given the person that I am, this definition comes first in words , which will guide the action.  As my dear friend Lamees said, one is not to do without being first.  Be first–then do– then have…it all happens spontaneously.

Part of being an architect is accepting an elitist role, necessary not to set apart one from the rest of humanity, but to preserve the purity of the design idea, its drive and execution. Part of being an architect and an artist is learning to let go of many things once thought necessary and just rendering our work in the most pure, direct, potent way.

Finally, a quote that is driving my days, these days:


“What we think or what we know or what

we believe is, in the end, of little

consequence. 


The only consequence is what we do.”

 

John Ruskin

 

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Ink on paper, trace, digital collage. August 27,2010.

Ink on trace. August 27, 2010.

The spoils of Archangel Michael (the Archangel of Justice). Ink on paper. August 27,2010


From

St Loup’s secrets & lies:

All you have to do is take these lies and make them true…

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Let Me In. Graphite on paper. Image via Darrel Tank of the Five Pencil Methd

I ran into Darrel Tank’s Five Pencil Method  few weeks ago.  His work is breathtaking.

The site full of wonderful video tutorials, and in his blog, Darrel offers videos with step by step advice on submitted portraits. All I can say is I’m Jealous WOW.

I really just drew one portrait, my first — if we don’t count some self-portraits done as homework for drawing classes in college. And I don’t think we want to see that type of work here, or maybe yes, for giggles. Just so you know in one I was made-up like The Crow.  Oh yes there is also that whole other side of me

Just Go Grayscale And Call It ‘Art’

But all of this is just to shamelessly plug in this portrait that the photographer Dianna Ippolito took of yours truly last week. It will go on the Faculty wall of my school. And if a photo could ever make someone happy this is it, and I wanted to share it here, hoping you will overlook the fact that it is my photo:  it is the art of photography and catching a soul with a lens as well.

Moreover, I am losing my innocence and naivete’ as we speak, so good thing they were preserved here;)

Portrait by Dianna Ippolito

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A rare Renée Magritte. La Poitrine. 1961

Renée Magritte. Irene.

Renée Magritte. Le tombeur des lutteurs. 1960

Renee Magritte. Eulogy of the Dialectic.

Renée Magritte. Personal Values. 1952

In my search, I stumbled upon Myriam Mahiques, who shares some thoughts on Magritte, and Immateriality in Painting and Architecture.

Instances of Surrealist Architecture and Urban Design:

Click on the images for more details and to see source.

"39GeorgeV" is an urban surrealism manifesto. It sheltered the renovation of an Hausmannian building in Paris, during year 2007. It's a life-size photographic work based on the original building, printed on canvas, enhanced with bas-relief.

The Manifesto of the 39GeorgeV project.

Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Installation of the new Magritte Museum 2008/09

From the exhibition:Painting the Glass House: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture.The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum,Ridgefield, CT.

“]“]

Frankfurt's Bockenheimer Warte Subway Station. From '10 Of The World’s Most Impressive Subway Stations'

Iphone painting by Steve John.

Son Of Mac. Magritte-inspired Apple Macbook art vinyl decal.

Magritte-ispired art vinyl decal for Apple Macbook.

Book : Surrealism and Architecture edited by Thomas Mical



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After some meetings today I stopped by the library, Futo coffee in hand, and indulged in my favorite Architecture periodicals: Domus, Architectural Review and Harvard Design Magazine. An article on Surrealist Houses launched an expansive search on the Architecture of René Magritte; will share some of the findings here.

I've had Magritte (and collages) on my mind. Digital Manipulation on a photograph by Vijay Raghavendiran.

I am also thinking about watercolor these days: in both Freehand Drawing and Rendering and Delineation classes we are working with loose techniques. Here are some images that stopped me in my track during my quest.

Winter in Florence-La Pioggia- Watercolor and Ink. Professor George S. Loli, Dept. of Architecture, University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Starry Night over the Rhone. Vincent Van Gogh. 1888.

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Something eye-opening occurred at my school yesterday.

I attended the exhibit for SoCal -Ex : Exploratory Design Workshop, completed by Professor Hector Perez and his students.

Here are the specific of the Workshop:

6 Explorers

Andrea Benavides/Alfredo Melly/Henry Palomino/Charles Santamaria/Nancy Tariga

25 Days

July 12-August 5

10 Field Trips

San Diego/La Jolla/Del Mar/San Juan Capistrano/Los Angeles/Santa Monica/Culver City/Venice/Pasadena/Palm Springs

9 Progressive Practices

Daly Genik Architects/Eric Owen Moss/Estudio Teddy Cruz/Gehry Technologies/Luce Et Studio/Michael Maltzan Architecture/Morphosis/Sebastian Mariscal Studio/Smith and Others

15 Extraordinary Residences

Charles and Ray Eames/Craig Ellwood/Christine & Russell Forester/Albert Frey/Frank Gehry/Greene and Greene/Coop Himmelblau/Alberto Kalach/Ed Killingsworth/Sebastian Mariscal/Kathy McCormick & Ted Smith/Richard NeutraRudolph Schindler/Don Wexler

I spoke with Professor Perez and he told me that the analysis of the case study residences and projects were concentrated on the ‘crown’, ‘body’ and ‘feet’ of the aedifices.

Through collages, reminiscent of Superstudio and Archigram, the field trips become a venue for envisioning alternative architectural and urban scenarios (Design Workshops). I hope you’ll enjoy these images just as much as I did; each collage read like a miniature work of art, and the juxtaposition of architectural drawings and bold hand-drawn colors created fantastic, detailed, abstract constructs.  What a wonderful way to illustrate architectural drawings, and bring to life photographs.  The collages, done by hand, using cutouts, colored pencils and paint had a physical presence, a texture that a purely digital (photoshopped) images invariably lack.

I am inspired to create some more collages of my own and…can’t wait for the book 😉

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Happy August!

Ever the optimist, here is the first post of the month. I’m giving a shot at posting daily (again), we’ll see how it goes.

Here is the happy Nablopomo August Badge. The theme of this month is ‘Green’.  For me, it will mean renewal more than sustainability (a sort of spa for the mind), but I might find some interesting green homes to feature. Of course green is the color of envy, but we shan’t talk about that 😉 Here are couple of badges for good measure.

So as promised, here is my surprising discovery in the environs of Newport Beach (Costa Mesa): The LAB Anti-Mall.

I loved it! Local public art, local businesses and public spaces.

The Gipsy Den, which I covered in a previous post (it’s updated with photos now, yay), lies therein.

Enjoy, and I hope you get the chance to visit.
By the way thank you for all the views (dear readers :)), I am striving to post more often and it’s great to know this thing I do is being followed and shared.

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"How fine you look when dressed in rage. Your enemies are fortunate your condition is not permanent. You're lucky, too. Red eyes suit so few. " Cheshire Cat 2.1. Ink on tracing paper. June 30, 2010

From Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951).

Cheshire Cat: Oh, by the way, if you’d really like to know, he went that way. 

Alice: Who did? 

Cheshire Cat: The White  Rabbit. 

Alice: He did?

Cheshire Cat: He did what? 

Alice: Went that way. 

 Cheshire Cat: Who did? 

 Alice: The White Rabbit. 

 Cheshire Cat: What rabbit? 

 Alice: But didn’t you just say – I mean – Oh, dear. 

Cheshire Cat: Can you stand on your head? 

 Alice: Oh! 

 

  

It must be Halloween in July (seriously, wasn’t it Christmas?).   

I have material for three new posts and some serious  retroactive editing to do; have been drawing, reading short fiction, poetry, and fascinating stories about forensic art curating- all of which I will share with related art.  But let me start with saying that at times intense reading  (input) for the ambitious –or obsession-prone– designer/visual artist can be considered a passive-aggressive behavior, when so much needs to be in output mode, expressed, exorcised. Indeed, Julia Cameron in her Artist’s Way asks us to refrain from reading for one week, as we need to temporarily pause others’ voices and opinions to recognize  and strengthen our own.   

Lately my work, alas,  has been hindered: I had to hunt (and was haunted[1] by) a ghost with sixty-four  teeth. The wheels of karma turned and I , who once called someone-undeservedly- a ghost, have had to suffer one.     

Hello,  setbacks.    

So for today’s art, folks, this page is my canvas and my collage. This is where the work is done.  

Let me tell you about the Cheshire cat. He appears to di-sappear only to re-appear!    

All this to say (and yes, Art is process, it is a filter, it exorcises…it is a strainer, a sieve.  She is a savior):   

Ink on Paper and digital collage. June 29, 2010

I have been walking under a black cloud for three months   

Holding my breath   

Only it was not a cloud   

-though it hung like a pale, hungry moon-   

It was the Cheshire smile of a ghost   

Useless, hideous ghost that would not go away   

Spoke maddening riddles, multiplied hydra-like,   

Says I…. I….I….   

    

That single grin is fading again   

Waning   

And I, tethered, am starting to exhale.   

    


Thank you. How about how good it feels to finally forget forgive you.

   

 [1] Definitions from  The Free Dictionary:  

haunt // (hônt, hnt)   

v. haunt·ed, haunt·ing, haunts