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Archive for the ‘Drawing’ Category

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Postcard from the Chagall Exhibit at the Palazzo Reale in Milano, December 2016 | Fountain ink drawing of Krishna’s silhouette on Muji thin sketchbook paper.

Art is a refuge from the busy hive of activity…and I’m lifted.

Sometimes I even float.

A fleeting instant, the diver coming up for air.

Digital painting on Sketches app. January 19, 2020.

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Istanbul. Hagia Sophia or Church of the Holy Wisdom. Digital sketch. Built by Isidorus the Elder  and Anthemius of Thrallos under Emperor Justinian in 537 AD.



Maybe Istanbul was the city in the sky where the people who were our reflections lived.
Burhan Sönmez

A quick trip to Ahmet Square in Istanbul on my way back from Italy, to visit Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. You can see my photos and a video on  @sketchbloom

These are my first architectural sketches using my new Ipad and the SKETCHES app.

( I had previously used drawing apps on my phone to sort-of draw a portrait, experiment with digital watercolor and collage).

Learning the tools and the limits of the app was really interesting, as was experimenting with all the different tools and lineweights. I completed these few days ago on the plane ride from Istanbul to Los Angeles- looking at photos i took. The first one took me 15 minutes, the second one three hours. No ruler was used, tracing or overlaying – just a stylus with different tips and a brush.

 

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Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.

This above all — ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.

[…]
A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity. In this nature of its origin lies the judgment of it: there is no other.

In this spirit I offer you, Reader, this poem and these images, stemming from one brief November visit to the city than never sleeps – and several months of correspondence.

 

 

In a New York Minute [Glissando]

 

“If you can receive it at the wavelength is is playing at, you may love it.”

From a review of the series “Forever”

 

 

We existed

in the ellipses between

words appearing on screen

and giving up

 

Suspended above the city

you loved how I used the word luscious

 

We kissed with our souls

on the tip of our tongue

this is from Spoon River Anthology

 

You are morse code

and I need continuity

 

–when I asked if we were ships in the night

and you said yes did you notice me wiping the water

on my cheeks? I barely noticed too.

 

But then you said : “Body and heart.”

Body and heart.

 

You spoke of fire between our souls,

as if you knew about souls.

You only know about fire.

 

My tears don’t fall

I do

every single time

— how many goodbyes did it take?

 

So elegant in your detachment, like it was an art form.

Precise in your choice of words,

I fell in love with your philosopher brain.

I still fall in love with it every time — liminal.

 

A New York minute.

You were the space separating

Love and reason

 

I was addicted to a city

giddy at the thought of walking her streets beside you

how do you fly and walk

at the same time?

 

Even if you don’t see her torn feet

the effortless dance of the ballerina

is a flower bloomed out of pain.

 

Take each sentence, rearrange as you wish.

This is not to scale.

The timeline is not linear.

 

To hear you whisper, half-asleep: “When?”

Zero things better.

 

I heard that New York is the heartbeat of the world.

In that heartbeat a part of me is marked by your passage.

 

We will never go to Tokyo.

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Today was a beautiful day of art and comraderie!

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

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

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

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

This was the official workshop prompt.

“Daydreams and Window Light”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Emily Peck

 

This is another novella.

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

William Wordsworth

 

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

 

Who more than the poets can speak about love?

-she said I contain worlds-

after six days his kisses stopped

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

he who brought the wind

he who said I talked too much

-but could not spell-

and taught me to stay

by being the one who left.

 

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

 

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

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

-or distract me-

my fallacy

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

 

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

a mind is sometimes a beautiful forest, and layered people

a cosmos

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

 

I have been running for seven years

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

We made fire in August. Consume.

We were southern blood, I was like sea.

To suffer for love is the greatest privilege.

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

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

 

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

I am impetuous, and impulsive – female like guerra

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

I never thought your tattoos could cut me

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

the person is just an excuse.

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

I belong to freedom, and my art.

I steal words from my travels.

 

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

 

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

the only ones who are not ashamed of being publicly immolated

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

they never explain them

– and that’s how they heal.

 

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

Travel and tell no one,

live a true love story and tell no one,

live happily and tell no one,

people ruin beautiful things.

Kahlil Gibran

 

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Digital drawing done on IPhone 7 Plus with Sketches app by Tayasui. June 27, 2018.

Napkin Sketch for fundraiser auction; poem La Ciudad by Octavio Paz. Fountain ink on Napkin paper. April 2018.

Yann Tiersen in concert at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, June 20, 2018.

Quick sketch using colored pencil and pastels. June 30, 2018.

My corner in the plaza of the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. June 2018.

One more post before the month is done.

This Spring was filled with intensity in and outside of my University.. the final stretch of the school year. Accelerated timelines, accelerated heartbeat. Stealing time between deadlines to go up to LA once more for a life-changing Yann Tiersen concert ( of Amelie fame), participate to sketching and art+Jazz events and jot down few lines to be shared later (after all, poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity).

Stealing time from time… to be and to feel alive. Sketching (almost) everyday is doing wonders for my spirit- and glow!

Single reader, I hope you have time to disconnect and renew. Happy Summer.

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

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

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

1) discovering your own graphic “voice”

and

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

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

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

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

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One has to start somewhere…

After finishing my sketch I ran into two dear friends who had come to the cafe.

Perhaps the cafés can be the new piazzettas somehow.

Here’s to spontaneous gathering and holiday cheers.

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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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Piazzetta Basilone e Civico 1845. Little Italy, San Diego.  Graphite, ink, and marker. September 2016.

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Northern Hemisphere,
June 19 and June 20, 2016.

Strawberry Moon and Solstice, an event that occurs every seventy years.
Full moon as the Sun stops to take Her in; the union of the masculine and the feminine. I hope you  have been casting spells, and were looking skyward.

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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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You might remember this drawing from November.
I finally finished at the beginning of January, on a cold (for San Diego) night, sitting in front of this 100-yearY building, under a portico.
Balboa Park always takes me back home. This entire drawing was done plen air and took me few sessions over several months to complete.
It will be on its way to San José, Costa Rica soon.

This is a quick photo, but i have a piecemeal scanned version ( sheet too large for my scanner, and the wide format at work is not very kind to graphite).I will try to compose the image and sub for it soon – but it has already been a whole week since this post languished in the draft purgatory and i want to get to my next night photography post.
Clouds make nocturnal old San Diego heartbreakingly beautiful.

By the way, i hope you all had a fantastic Holiday Break.
I just got back from another trip to México, and i have Mayan pyramids,cenotes, colonial towns and caribbean waters to share. I cannot believe i haven’t had the chance to share my two trips to Ciudad de México D.F from last July and November (¡Frida!) ..yet.
So next there will be a series of posts on México “lindo y querido”.

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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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Here is my Judith, a stunning model with a stare that would make anyone burn.

Perhaps influenced by the book I am in love with reading, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.

 

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Another month of quickening days, of white skies, of scorching heat, of California monsoons has gone by.

The weather in San Diego has been positively schizophrenic.  Life has been full (I dislike the word “busy”), heartbreaking and healing at turns, magic, adventurous, challenging and with an overall trend of daily progress towards balance, harmony and mindfullness. Things are good.

I have been blessed to have crossed paths with soulful fellow travelers.

Since the beginning of 2015, the posts here at Sketchbloom have been so sparse…it’s embarassing. I miss my days before my professorship where I had the luxury of being an artist full time. Yet there were, of course, different struggles at the time.  I always heard that with privileges come responsibilities, and I felt those, so much, this past school year. Although the school year ended, culminating with Graduation at the end of June, I feel I am only (sort-of) beginning to breath now.

I completed my six-week five-credit Arabic course yesterday. I signed up for the class on what must have been an adrenaline rush from the tough Spring I had. The course started during Finals week at my University, which meant a seamless, yet intense/insane transition! I have some calligraphy to share from the course, and I am happy to say I can finally read and write in Arabic!

This month also saw me in Ciudad de Mexico DF for few days. I will post soon  some photographs  and recollections from that city of thousand faces. Alas, no drawings. (no time)

How to sum up a whole year? Only through recollection in tranquility. I am finally on break, and I plan to catch up with all the posts from my travels. I have notebooks full of thoughts and words, that might become verses, once distilled. Yet, this is also the time to make. I read that, a year from now, you will wish you had started today. SO I am starting, again, today. Every time I post here it feels like a new beginning. For those of you who have been following this blog (more than a thousand!), thank you for your patience and for the kind forgetfulness, and forgiveness, of promises not (yet) kept. I started running behind in 2013….no comment. My art and this blog can hardly catch up with my life and travels. I guess that is a good problem to have. Maybe you want to wander here, and see why time flies.

Annnyyyyhow…..Here are the rest of this spring’s nudes from Monday nights at the San Diego Arts Institute.

I noticed, going through the various drawings done there, that I tend to experiment with a different medium and paper each time. I guess I really miss my collages. I had the time to scan these drawings (i always feel quick and dirty when I post shots from my phone), and, well, what a difference.

One good piece of news is that I will get back my art studio in the Fall. I was part of the Brokers’ Building Artist Colony from 2003-2008 and I cannot wait to have a special place for my art again.

This summer – this year, really – feels like the long backward run, the gathering momentum

overdue

of the pole jumper.

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First experiment in Digital nude painting on my Android HTC ONE phone, using the Paint Commander App and the Sensu brush.

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Two months to the day of my last post, I return.

Like a lover who walks into the door surreptitiously, I offer no explanations.

Just Kidding.

This quarter saw me teaching three courses with a total of 120 students, so, dear Single Reader, the reason for my hiatus is self-evident. It was a ten-week long journey into different periods of History of Architecture and Urban Design, Urban Issues and so. much. more.

Here are snapshots of my bimonthly art dates. I have quite a few drawings, but could not conjure up the time and mental space to scan and post them. Ideally, these will be scanned version soon..but here they are.

I embarked on an Arabic adventure as of Monday, and this will be a spectacular summer, I feel and know.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”


Anne Bradstreet

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On Saturday, I participated to Dr. Sketchy San Diego, a fun artistic encounter involving life drawing.
This month’s event was centered around ‘Animal Instinct’ :).

We had a very fun model.
I realized I need these ‘art dates’ to keep me engaged with making art as I find my way back… back to my art studio.
Also, I may just, finally, have found my tribe.

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Camilla and I ( and watercolor ). Drawing by Gianni.

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Ta-Da! I want to walk this city with you.

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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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San Francisco, Samovar @ Yerba Buena Gardens, April 6, 2014. Drew Fish (left) and Miti Aiello (right) . Ink, Watercolor.

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I went to my Sunday practice at the Self Realization Fellowship yesterday, and during the retreat we did some visualization exercises – which was perfect because one of my goals for this long weekend was to do art and post here…since…ehm… we are almost at the end of the month (yikes!).

Below, a project I (finally) completed yesterday…the manuscript for my second book of art and poetry.

Here is the first…planning to put both on blurb.com after some design decisions are made.


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Off to a good start …happy, vibrant and loving 2014.



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

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



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

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

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

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

All credits to benjscott.com

All credits to benjscott.com

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

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

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

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


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

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


Hearing his name caused him to turn back again

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

how could you not push open the door

see what lay inside?

And that door seemed to open a little.

and the glimpse he had beyond the door tortured him

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

It wasn’t a question of language.

He doubted the words existed in any language.

He  forced himself to look away from her then.

It was like prying a magnet off steel.

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

And then there was her.

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La Baracca del Bucaniere - Fisherman's Shack - The Kitchen. Graphite and watercolor. Calabria, Italia. September 18, 2013.

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Black and White Figs. Graphite and watercolor. Calabria, Italia. September 18, 2013.

The fastest drawings, right before leaving.
So many watercolor sheets to fill, and beautiful travel magazines to cut up for my collages.
I had to leave them behind and go…
Until another summer.

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La Baracca del Bucaniere, Cucina. Graphite. Calabria, Italia, 2013

Few days ago I started this drawing, which I am hoping to finish in the morning. It’s time to pack and head back to my California.

I take with me many images, sounds, voices, messages…my metaphysical bag is always full after such extended trips to Italy, my home.

As a promise of things to come, I have been working the past few days on many posts that will feature the work of my father, my father the fisherman, painter, drawer, sculptor and designer.
My rugged, difficult, wonderful, talented father.

Then I have few posts on Calabria, my beloved and challenged Southern Italian region- sorting through three years of photos has been both grueling and rewarding.

Lastly, dispatches from my travels to Buffalo, New York City and Santa Fe.
The whole organizing effort has been quite the task.
This is the price for not posting enough this summer ;/

I always like to alternate drawings and artifacts to photography, so I offer today this humble work in progress which will become a watercolor.

Yesterday I was talking about sketchbloom to my friend Annamaria, who is a an apothecary with a lovely herbal store (erboristeria) in my little Southern Italian town.
Her store is called Radice Nuova or
New Root.
I was telling her that the days I do not share and make my art I feel I am neglecting a fundamental part of me…
‘as though you are not watering the plant’, she finished my sentence.

In fact, behind the stage,  in darkness and silence, seeds are growing and blooming…thoughts and ideas are taking roots. Philosophy lessons, Japanese pillow books. Russian classics, Italian troubadours of the anarchic 60’s…this is the water I have been drinking this summer.
And time, alone and together, time for many coffees with my father, time for night yoga by the sea, full moon, with my mother, time to pick figs and grapes, time to work and to rest, time to spend with beautiful friends of youth and the soul, family time with my people, time to fish, time to swim and soak, meditate, in the sun, time to write, think and renew, time to listen to Italian music and reconnect to my roots, time to love hard, time to read.
Time to finally have time.
Always time that processes, metabolizes and purifies..time that brings strength and clarity.

Above all, I am thankful for the time this summer to be, think, live like an artist, to make and organize art, storing things for the winter of the soul.

Leaving California is exciting, especially when I get to use my passport, but returning, having filled my eyes, mind and spirit elsewhere, always means new beginnings.

I travel to remember (Southern California is light, has neither memory nor regret…nothing like the weight of the past felt in Italy), and return to forget
— and live in the Now.

I always said it,
the year starts in September.

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Today is my mom’s birthday, she didn’t want me to buy flowers, so I painted her some…

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Ink on Hand Book paper and digital manipulation. Berkeley, California, 2010.



Sometimes it takes finding a portrait you do not remember drawing….a sketch you do not immediately recognize as your own- yet find intriguing and technically correct, to remind you you are an artist, you can do these things.
You, in fact, do these things- it is your work, a beloved toil- your ink on paper is like rubber on the road for others.
Days with no art are never complete, nor true – or honest, as Papa Hemingway would say.

I can’t help but thinking one should not need such reminders….

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Fountain ink pen on Moleskine paper. May 2013

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The process…

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The story behind the collage base :

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

Excerpts from the San Diego Museum of Art Membership magazine:

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

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

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

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

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Gifts

…from my freehand drawing students.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Collage, Buffalo, NY. April 2013.

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Ink and lipgloss on hand. book paper. November 2012.

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Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

I am posting the first of a series of samples of student work from the exhibit  History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes. Moving chronologically, today we start with the Beginnings of Architecture.  This body work was completed for the Graduate History of Architecture sequence, comprising of three courses, which i taught during the 2011-2012 school year.

I will also post some photos from the Exhibit.

These visual notes are by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

Drawing by Jackie McDowell.

And here is the  paper abstract summarizing the project objectives and research purpose.  The full paper will be presented and published next Spring. 

History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis Through Visual Notes

Miti Aiello, Full-Time Faculty

NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, California

The need to update and make relevant the study of History of Architecture in an evolving profession and academic environment has never been more urgent: our discipline demands not only an expanded scope (mandatory inclusion of global or ‘non-western’ traditions and architecture of the vernacular), but new methods of delivery and course projects that are interdisciplinary, that bridge the divide between studio courses and history and that educate the young practitioner in reading history utilizing the same
methods learned in design practice.

Spiro Kostof, the legendary UC Berkeley architectural historian, advocated giving students “something tangible to carry away to the drafting table”.

It is possible to adopt an educational methodology that questions monumental architecture of the past and the traditional, vernacular “architecture without architects” in the same way as students approach a design problem in studio. Hans Morgenthaler’s “Chronology versus System: Unleashing the Creative Potential of Architectural History” – which served as this paper’s catalyst- denounced the inadequacy of relying on the chronological organization of history and suggested designing the History course as a series of design problems or buildings/events, illustrated through architectural drawings (the language of our profession) and not photos. History of Architecture instructors are encouraged to “occupy themselves simultaneously with the study of the past, with critique, and with invention”.

The argument for learning history through drawing, in this case in the form of student-generated visual notes based on textbook reading is related to the ‘invention’ mentioned above and supported by Morgenthaler: “This approach derives from the understanding that a drawing is capable of communicating information about buildings impossible through other means. In addition, as a subjective record, drawings could become part of the history of ideas, as opposed to photographs, which are only evidence. Moreover, drawings express the “belief in architectural precedent and typology which gave relevance to history.” Rachael McCann in her “Exploding the History Survey” also introduced ‘graphic summary pages’ as active inquiry in her course at Mississippi State University, breaking down her large lecture course in smaller sections which would investigate a question brought forth by a particular building, through visual analysis. It is clear that History of Architecture lecturers are seeking novel, more critical models to articulate the course, and better narrate “a story of architecture”.

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On my way to Roma but wanted to share my latest project.These are the prep sketches and the charcoal outline on the final canvas, which measures 5.5’X2.5′.
This painting was commissioned and I am lucky to have a very lovely client : )

The last photo is from the Princeton Architectural Press catalog, which just came in my office.
I would love my studio to be like that one day…
Ciao!

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This photo was taken by my dear friend and photographer/artist extraordinaire Maha Comianos.

She is currently exploring the creative side of architects in her Archi * Artist Series, among many other artistic endeavors.

Check out her inspired work at:
http://www.studiomaha.com

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Ink drawing of the sculpture “The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet” by Yinka Shonibare, MBE. Drawn at the San Diego Museum of Art, 2008. 



There are particular nights, small time frames, where everything you want, and, yes -everything you need- is given to you.

You watch your life unfolding perfectly, like a well-written screenplay of a comedy of errors, where the characters, after a series of ‘harrowing events’ and near misses, find each other at last. These nights you believe in signs, and that there are no coincidences.

I am not saying that life or love have a happy ending, but some days do.

Last Friday, the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park hosted an extraordinary event, part of their Summer Salon Series (inspired by the tradition of French literary and cultural salons). This event was a 36 Hour ‘continued’ Salon taking place in the museum’s galleries (open consecutively for 36 hours…I will never forget contemplating Egon Schiele at 2 in the morning), auditorium, and outdoors in the sculpture garden.

Needless to say, the collection of happenings taking place ranged from the superb to the surreal. Wandering in the museum galleries in the wee hours of night with other artists, revellers and cool types felt very subversive and….Big City.

A Yes Men lecture, an avant-garde play on self-loop for four hours, museum tours, German Expressionist Cinema, ambient music with obligatory trippy visualizations, live bands, a napping station plen air, stargazing on the lawn of the sculpture garden, drawing dreams and nightmares and, my favorite, a marching band in which us, the audience, were given a makeshift instrument and played (and marched) directed by the one-man band’s crazy frontman.

The general feeling of anarchy, and being caught between confusion/freedom/disbelief/engagement made this event very Dada, or something the Situationists would have conjured up…

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During a lecture, I drew one of the pieces on display {above}. you can find a photo of the piece here.

From the museum’s literature: The Age of Enlightenment – Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breuteuil, Marquise de Châtelet, is from a series of five figures depicting notable philosophers from the eighteenth century. The marquise, fluent in several languages and an accomplished mathematician and physicist, personified the “enlightened” person. Her lasting legacy is the translation and critique of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica that is still used to this day. Despite the fact that the Marquise de Châtelet was a leading mind of eighteenth-century France, much of her work was overlooked because of her gender. Her most famous lover, Voltaire, described her as a ‘great man’ whose only fault was being a woman.

I like to think that the Marquise is headless because she has never been recognized for her work and her name is virtually unknown.

She has been deliberately omitted in the annals of His-tory.

The fabric of her dress also tells a fascinating story of colonialism and the fallacy of ‘tradition’.

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Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. July 16, 2012.




Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. July 16, 2012.

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El Templete, Habana Vieja (with water from the Malecon).
Ink on hand.book paper. Habana, Cuba. April 2012.


Example of Moorish (Mudéjar) Architecture in Habana Vieja.
Ink on hand.book paper. Habana, Cuba. April 2012.



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Music is a total constant. That’s why we have such a strong visceral connection to it, you know? Because a song can take you back instantly to a moment, or a place, or even a person. No matter what else has changed in you or the world, that one song stays the same, just like that moment.”

Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

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The girl with the ukulele. Oakland, Feb. 19, 2012. Ink on hand.book paper





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Crocheting Cathedrals. Il Duomo with parasitic architecture (stage for New Year's festivities). Ink and watercolor on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Aperol and Spritz. Most of the older ladies in my neighborhood are incredibly fashionable, decked in the latest trend winter coat. Here's two enjoying a mildly alcoholic aperitivo at 11 AM. Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Santa Maria Presso San Satiro. The obligatory pilgrimage to the second Bramante's church. Last year I drew Santa Maria Delle Grazie, which is near to my place. I am always amazed by the playfulness and modernity of the oculi (round windows) on the Northern Romanesque facade. I found out that the space in front of the church is called 'Largo Jorge Luis Borges'. Can it get better than this?
Ink on hand.book paper. December 31, 2011.

Window of the Pio Albergo Trivulzio. In an act of Flanerie, I got lost trying to reach the Roseto, and found these whimsical, almost Gaudi-like windows on a palazzo I had not seen since my childhood, painted in the typical warm 'Milanese Yellow' (think saffron rice and add a patina of melancholy, smog and time). Ink on hand.book paper. January 1, 2012.

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Dream before Nonno died. He was a fisherman. Ink on notebook paper, 2003.





Fragments {and a cashmere wrap}


The cashmere wrap finally arrived in the mail

so much weighs on this stole

‘opportunity a thief makes’

he said before giving me homework

— how we love.

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep”

Saul Bellow

A lot weighs on this stole:

conversation is rippled with diamonds

they tumble , heavy, they are words, quotes

…out of the mundane…

a pearl – grasp it and keep it.

Wisdom is the only jewelry I wear this season

and my greediness awaits

meaning.

He who grasps more than he can hold, would be better without any.

If a house is crammed with treasures of gold and jade,

it will be impossible to guard them all.

Lao Tzu

Did you hear the sound of wisdom, Heart?

The message you sought.

My only wealth is my memory.

Like a mendicant I gather precious words,

fragments of light that I bring back,

puzzles I spend days composing.

– You, collector of spirit, feeder of souls.

Everyone wants to go to Heaven, no-one wants to die.

The falcon, scarred wing, alighted the sill.


– the magpies, once they have caught the prey,

lose interest

and look around for the next creature to pursue-



Yogis come and go,

grasp their message

Catch leaves in the wind

take them home, make a nest.

Heaven is simple:

let go of anything that is not love or peace.


San Diego, December 15, 2011


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The Spoiled

Ink on Paper. November 19, 2011.

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Ink drawing, Watercolor. 16 November 2011.

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

I was recently reunited with luggage lost 45 days ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before you read, keep this in mind:

Fire in Arabic is ‘Nar’.

………….

My Orange

by Michele Foyer


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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Thoughts set free. Ink on paper and trace. November 9,2011.

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time,

then I’m neurotic as hell.

I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another

 for the rest of my days.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 8

 

I have to thank my colleague Alan Rosenblum for sharing the concept of thinking with one’s hands and the visual poetry of The Mystery of a Murmuration. His advice is to watch this in silence.

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Ink on Miquelrius paper + Digital collage. October 2011



I want to share these two poems by Ilyas Abu Shabaku, which were given to me as a gift. Poetry is a candle in a dark room: our job in this life may just be to burn as bright as torches, as bright and as alive and loud as we can, for each glorious day we have left.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened,

Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Buddha



YOU OR I?

By Ilyas Abu Shabaku, Lebanese poet (1903-1947)

This beauty, is it yours or mine?

In you I see a person beautiful in love

Like me. And which of us has given me life?

Is it your shape or mine that i love so?

When in my dream I see love’s images

Is it your shadow in my soul or mine?

Love, all of love, dwells in all I see

Whence all this light? Your universal soul?

Did I create you in the world of fancy

Or are you my creator?

Am I the first whom inspiration blessed

Or was it you? Who writes this verse?

Did I write it for you or you for me?

And who in love can be dictated to

And who dictates? Our imaginations blend,

Your soul within my soul, your mind in mine

When things appear obscure to me I see

A doubting shadow dawning in your eyes

When we met first I found my beginning

As if you were a lost part of my being.

Translated by Adam Haydar and Michael Beard




I LOVE YOU


By Ilyas Abu Shabaku, Lebanese poet (1903-1947)

I love you more than human heart can bear

More than a poet dreams or lover feels

You are the perfumed cloud from heaven sent

To rain upon me your enchanted dew;

I feel your heart, your veins flow into mine,

No gap to let the impure world creep in;

My heart confronts your heart, finding its twin,

As two cups meet in one eternal vow;

In us when wine is made to mix with wine,

A blend of perfume, breeze, and dew combine;

My inspiration dwells within your eyes,

And swells when lip on lip instructs my art;

For us the fire rages, though unfed,

Though we are calm, a storm erupts within.

Translated by Adam Haydar and Michael Beard

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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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Ink on Miquelrius paper. October 2011.

Halloween: A day of rest for those who wear a mask all the time.

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Ink and Graphite on Paper. October 2011

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

MENDING WALL

Robert Frost


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

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Orsetto

Orsetto. Ink on Miquelrius paper. October 2011.

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Ink on hand.book paper. Paris, 2011.

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Chez Miti @Sea

Ink on Paper. Calabria, Italia. September 29, 2011.

Someday, somewhere — anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.

Pablo Neruda

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Ink on paper. September 2011

In Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Borges, we find the description of a hrönir.

In the most ancient regions of Tlön, the duplication of lost objects is not infrequent.

Two persons look for a pencil;the first finds it and says nothing; the second finds a second pencil, no less real, but closer to its expectations.

These secondary objects are called hrönir and are, though awkward in form, somewhat longer.

The methodical fabrication of hrönir (says the Eleventh Volume) has performed prodigious services for archaeologists.

It has made possible the interrogation and even the modification of the past, which is now no less plastic and docile than the future.

Curiously, the hrönir of second and third degree –the hrönir derived from another hrön — exaggerated the aberrations of the initial one;

those of fifth degree are almost uniform; those of ninth degree become confused with those of the second;

in those of the eleventh there is a purity of line not found in the original. The process is cyclical: the hrön of twelfth degree begins to fall off in quality.

Stranger and more pure than any hrön is, at times, the ur: the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope.

Things become duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten.

A classic example is the doorway which survived so long as it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death.

At times some birds, a horse, have saved the ruins of an amphitheater.

Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges

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Ink on Miquelrius paper. September 20,2011.

Ink on Miquelrius paper. September 20,2011.

You can write anytime you like,

But you can never reach.

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Thinking of Valerie. Ink on paper. August 10,2011.

From 'Art and Anarchy', Edgar Wind. 1965

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Marker on paper. August 3, 2011.


Il Nostro Canto

by Silvia Signorelli

il tuo passo a Milano

di cento stagioni

presso di me ha colorato l’aria

di silenziosa neve

d’inverno il calore

dell’estate abbracciata

di luce loquace

gazzelle

azzurre di mitezza

nostro canto

di bene grande

raggianti

Nuestro Canto

tu paso por Milan

de ciento estaciones

junto a mi ha llenado de color el aire

de silenciosa nieve

de invierno el calor

del verano abrazada

de luz locuaz

gacelas

azules de masadumbre

nuestro canto

de amor grande

radiantes

Our Song

your stride in Milano

of a hundred seasons

colored the air around me

with silent snow

warmth in winter

beheld by summer

by loquacious light

gazelles

blue with gentleness

our song

of a great love

radiant

From: La Tua Voce Sonora | Tu Voz Sonora

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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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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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Book: Eros e Thanatos; sketch, ink on paper. April 2, 2011



History of Coffee

 

Ethiopian sheperds

discovered coffee

when they realized

their goats

began to dance.

 

Michelle Ramadan

 
 

 
 

 

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Ink on Paper. January 2011.

 

As designers, architects, artists, we use the ability to first visualize then communicate  a desired outcome. Implementation means having the courage, discipline and perseverance  to  bring that vision into the physical realm. I love to write, and to write lists, but this year I am doing something different with my 2011 resolutions. I am drawing them. It sems to be working. On good days, and they are abundant here in San Diego, you can find me in the park, chasing the sun and reading. An old-school physical book.  The previous specifications is now necessary due to the variety of reading options we have (what is your pleasure, or rather, your poison: smartphone, kindle, ipad, TMZ on your laptop?). These are my immediate, must-finish charges: 

Ink on paper. February 2011.

Books:

Inchoate: An Experiment in Architectural Education. Angelil, Marc and Liat Uziyel, eds.

The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession by Spiro Kostof

Sketching and meditating. Two resolutions, perhaps one and the same.  

Ink on Paper. January 2011.

 

Pondering on drawing, as opposed to writing, resolutions led me to think about visual vs. written and oral communication.

While drawing-or diagramming-a goal may help provide us with clues, visual or other, that help us actualize it, I don’t buy the argument that ‘visual’ people can only best communicate their intent through images. This is also known as ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ syndrome. By the same token, I refuse to accept that ‘visual’ people only understand material if it’s accompanied by images and therefore should be excused if they are poor readers or listeners. That is plain laziness. There are notions and topics  in this world that cannot be boiled down to neat Powerpoints (even though, heaven knows, we have tried to even run wars through the ubiquitous slide application), but require flight of the imagination, suspension of disbelief, and the ability to follow (picture-less) complex arguments. In trying to explain critical thinking, images run the risk of appearing like obtrusive clip-arts, obfuscating rather than enlightening.

The tyranny of the visual often lets us  get away with having inferior written and oral communication skills. I don’t buy the ‘visual’ doctrine (or fallacy) with my students or my architecture colleagues. Maybe it’s because I come from a linguistic lycaeum, was an English Minor, and come from Italy, but the way a person speaks or writes is more important to me, or revealing of their character, than any imagery or composition she or he can conjure up on a board. And here I need to say that, lest I behave like a whitened sepulcher, I know I have failings when trying to communicate: typos due to late night writing, listitis (I make too many lists), lectures that tend to go on a tangent and probably what is called mild A.D.D in this country (or severe A.D.D…depending on what day you ask my students;)). Lastly the fact that, no matter how many years I live here, my soul is Italian and so is the way to express myself, and we do use lot of what here are called ‘run-ons’ in writing, and perhaps even talking. We are peripatetic, scenic-route communicators.

Ok, so I am not perfect: let the flawed still admire and aim at beauty.

I ask the person I listen to to paint a convincing, even seductive picture with their words, to evoke the sense and meaning of their process. Of course exact,clear words go well with exact, clear drawings and diagrams, but seductive images without substantive explanations or clear, logical statements leave me dry. The literary arts are for the most part lost to modern architecture students, beyond the required ‘humanities’  and enticing (but seldom frequented) advanced elective courses. The result is professionals who are literate in CAD, codes, building, or even ‘architecture’, but illiterate in the sense of the global collective written word, and therefore culture. Shouldn’t the designers of shelters for the human race understand its most lyrical expressions?  Shouldn’t they design for man and woman’s highest aspiration, rather than the lowest common denominator? We ask architects to create places of Beauty, places that inspire, to design poetic aedifices. Without knowing what poetry is, without at least having been exposed to it, that is an impossible feat. If architecture is the Mother of all the Arts, should it not contain them? Literature, philosophy, liberal arts, music…Where are you Muses in our curricula? We have modified –and are moving towards transforming–the academic requirements for the make-up of the future architect based on the needs (vocational at best ) of field practice, a large number made up by corporate building farms, where architecture is just a sign on the door. Of course we aim for graduates ready to enter the profession, but hopefully we are also aiming for critical thinkers, whole individuals who can inspire, not just perform.  What should lead, follows. The trend can only go downward. I am talking about cad monkeys, or people who are paid ‘to draw, not think’ –I was actually told that many years ago. Call me irrational,  but I call for mandatory poetry courses (mandatory poetry! an oximoron). Call me utopian, but world literature should be as much part of an architecture curriculum as world architecture. When you know, you cannot unknow. I always say that. When you are exposed to possibilities and ‘big questions’ you cannot accept passively that things are just the way they are because they have always been. Poetry and literature are democratic expressions, highly dangerous to the status quo. And therefore highly desirable.

In my quest, I ran into this book. I am collecting a body of critical readings (for myself!) and this book will definitely be included.

Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in 20th Century French Thought, by Martin Jay

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Bjarke Ingels came to speak to our school Friday night.

The venue was the Museum of Natural History in scenic Balboa Park.

I am still blown away by the lecture and, more importantly, the message.

It was truly (r)evolutionary.  The fact that BIG’s insanely brilliant concepts not only get built but a) give back to the community in terms of urban interaction b) are socially and ecologically responsible and c) are giving him fame and making him a household name is galvanizing.

Expanding the collective idea of what is possible through architecture: this is the optimism we need after years of gloom, in face of all the naysayers and ‘pie-in-the-sky’ disablers.  Something is blooming in the state of Denmark.

What an event. My friend Alan Rosenblum told me it would be as if  ‘Lady Gaga came to San Diego’.

And. It. Was.  The students loved it. Three days later, and we are all still giddy.

I could not agree more.  Thank you Mr. Ingels.
You intensified the dialogue between students and educators, and showed us how the ‘crazy’ ideas that are developed in studio and propose new typologies for the city are not only possible but timely and welcome. This creates a better learning environment, where pragmatism actually means being part of the solution, not propagating the problem.

I had the same dilemma when working in traditional, corporate offices and found refuge in academia. BIG showed us that there is a third way, the ‘Bigamy’ way. You can have it all. You can be good and successful. You can be extremely famous
and not be arrogant. He spoke of pragmatic idealism, and hedonistic sustainability. He demonstrated how to create building that are fun to experience as inhabitants and city neighbors and yet are sustainable. He showed us the intellectual approach and use of hybridization of traditional typologies to achieve new functions and forms. To wit: the Garbage to Energy plant in the middle of Copenhagen, which will be the city’s tallest structure and will house a ski slope (!) and blow smoke rings each time one ton of CO2 is burned. These are usually ‘crazy’ projects that we see coming from the upper studio division, when we ask the students to ‘dream big’ (pun intended) and question the drab, anti-interactive reality of center cities such as San Diego. The students, deep inside, try to dream but are conditioned to think that projects such as the one we saw in the lecture could never be built due to various factors such as financial interests or politics of control, or even lack of relevance of our role as architects.

We have been liberated from all of this because we can now point to BIG’s projects. Here it was demonstrated that the only limits we have as architects and human beings are those self-imposed, or those we feel ‘reality’ has burdened us with. I know that as faculty we felt validated by BIG’s successes ( does it make sense?). The music and videos, the whole presentation and BIG’s  infectious enthusiasm, warmth and positive energy were, in the words of a student ‘AWESOME’. Another student told me he learned a lot about diagrams from the lecture.
The lecture also was a model for engaging presentations. I have been toying with the idea, but now I am committed to use music and pop references in my History of Architecture classes; I ran the idea with few students and they were all for it. 🙂 I will quote Ingels when he says that we need to ‘cease to consider the building as objects but focus on what they do for the city’ : this informs and generates a new approach to ‘sacred architectural monsters’ and teaching history of architecture (or as I like to think, architectural stories).

A big thank you to Allen Ghaida, the AIAS and all my colleagues at the NewSchool Arts Foundation for making this dream of an event a reality.

I sketched feverishly- and took down all the provocative quotes. Here are my hybrid/computer-augmented notes.

I will add all of the proper building names and location as soon as possible.

click to enlarge

…..and this was my present 🙂

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The Flâneur: A Radical-Chic Icon

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

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



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

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

The  Flâneur

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

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

Rumi

 

Baudelaire writes of the flâneur:

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

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

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

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

 

A Process of Navigating Erudition

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

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

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


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

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

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

Hmm…Sounds like The Situationists.

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

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

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

–Guy Debord

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

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

Cornelia Otis Skinner.

Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals, 1962

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

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

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

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Ink on paper. February 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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Santa Maria Delle Grazie with Bramante's apse. Milano. Pilot pen on paper. January 2011

 In the monastery adjacent this church, just a few minutes’ stroll from my house, one can find Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’. The apse (widely attributed to Donato Bramante, and dated around 1490) is significant as it signals a crucial transition from the Late Gothic style of the nave to a splendid Northern Italian Renaissance in the apse, the choir and cupola.

.25 technical pen on cardstock. January 2011.

Photoshop manipulation of pen drawing. January 2011.

MITI’S RECIPE FOR SKETCHING:

Day One: Look. (First Encounter)

Day Two: See. (Visual Analysis;walkaround…resist the urge to take photos. Training your eyes will not only lead to better sketches, better lessons learned from the Architecture itself, it will lead to–if you are so inclined–even better photography in the end. Notice, examine and mentally record -on the exterior- connections, details, rhythms, proportions, materials; on the interior: spaces, rituals, light, sequences, apertures, passages…)

Day Three: Sketch. (even quickly…by now you learned the lessons, you acquainted yourself with the building. You begin to understand.) Use the verb ‘to draw’ as in drawing water from a well, draw information (this last advice comes from Travelling the World with an Architect’s Eye)

Tips for cold-weather sketching: stop when your legs fall asleep. Wear half (I call them ‘homeless-style’) gloves to keep the hands free. Listen to warm music on your ipod. Bring a thermos or mug with hot, organic, unsweetened english breakfast tea.

And…

for impromptu urban sketching, carry your pens with the very handy penholder by Muji (did I mention before that I love Muji?)

Sketchbook by hand book, penholder clip by muji.

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Marker on paper, digitally modified. December 2010

Think better, and multiply- The Vedic way. Thank you for existing, Open Culture.

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