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A Thousand Churches (Your Eyes). Graphite, Watercolor, India Ink. August 12, 2017.


Dear Single Reader,

You might have thought I had disappeared, and would be the third person in a week to ask me what happened to my sketchbloom…but I’m back for the summer.

An international conference in Hong Kong , research writing /presentations and academia have absorbed me until the end of June…not to mention that thing called life, and heart, and two moves in two months ( apartment renovation). It has been CRAZY. 

I just got back from two amazing weeks in Puebla, Mexico where I was part of ArtFest17 and went to teach at UVM (Universidad de la Valle México) a workshop called Myth of the City.  

Here you can see all the work done with my students and read about Puebla, the “Second” city – the first being of course, Mexico ( Ciudad de). It was an incredible experience, after having co-taught the course in Santa Fe, New México in 2013 and 2014. One could say I went from New Mexico to “Old” México with this.

In Puebla i was surrounded by “my people”, migente, artists, intellectuals..the bohemians and the romantics, and got back my creative juices!  Now, a new beginning…

I have lots of travel photography and new poetry to share so stick around 🙂 

Thank you for reading me and not forgetting about me ❤️ your support means everything to me, as art is and always be my first love- and the true love of my life. 

I am on an art-recovery program but I don’t know what to do about those pesky writing deadlines…#thestruggle. Life is so full, and exciting new design opportunities –like being a juror for Orchids and Onions in San Diego and a Pecha Kucha presentation on Storage Cities — keep presenting themselves. It’s accelerated, beautiful life…yet art needs the half-time of dreams.

Well, wish me good luck, there are some posts in the pipelines so I will see you soon and… work in progress as usual! 

I do hope you are having a glorious summer.

Below are some photos from lovely, lovely Puebla… two of my students’ models and the City that is home of so many incredible riches. A true treasure of humanity/ patrimonio de la humanidad. 

PS: I have been posting on Instagram but have to confess I always feeel guilty if I don’t post drawings/sketches/watercolor/collages… after all it is called Sketchbloom not Photobloom ( but you can follow me [@sketchbloom] there and it would make me so happy😊.) 




Puebla, Estado de Puebla, México:

What a magical city: Baroque churches where Tllaloc and Quetzacoatl are venerated, the fusion called Barroco Indígena ( San Francisco de Acatepec and Santa María de Tonantzintla – Barragán’s favorite church), Aztec temples and cities, 400 year old stone buildings, the tallest church towers in Mexico and the greatest covered stepped pyramid in the world ( Teocalli de Cholula)…finally the oldest public library of the Americas. Puebla is where the battle celebrated during Cinco de Mayo took place and where the Mexican Revolution started. Wow. 

Take a look…




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


My friends,

I had to choose between sleep and Art 

Between clear eyes and Poetry 

So I chose to get lost in Divine intoxication

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

I drink their wine

Frida winks at me and snaps her fan 

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

 I shall follow my heart and the Muse 

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

Now my hands are tinted blue 

I hear the birds praying each dawn 

And I smile. 



San Diego, March 6, 2017 

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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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Bassam's Café , the post-art hangout

[ Updated, more crisp scans.
I hereby promise not to post phone photos when I can provide scans. ]

On the evening before the Winter Solstice, I rejoined the group that meets in the lower level of the San Diego Arts Institute {The Museum of the Living Artists} in Balboa Park, for “One Last Hurray”– tonight was the last night Live Modeling will be hosted in the Gallery . These rendez-vouz became scarcer with the passing of the last few months, from every other Monday, to one Monday a month, to a late summer hiatus, to this…the end.

Once more I am reminded that the only constant in life is change. I will miss these evenings of art, self-paced, the bodies of the models always surprising once translated into the page. The outcomes always tell me more about myself than them. I had not attended these Live Modeling sessions since October, when the school year resumed and I found myself teaching First Year again on Mondays and Wednesday evening (which was exciting, and cyclical at the same time…because as things change they do, occasionally, repeat).

It was nice to say goodbye tonight. I pushed colored water with brushes, with no expectations, reminding myself that I am a painter more than a drawer, and reciting my farewell to painting/drawing nudes. My interest lies in making (collages and pantings that do not involve bodies) and these ‘art therapy’ sessions did much good in helping me find time for art, but it is time to move on and find the discipline within me.

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

Speaking of discipline, this time physical, this Fall I was also pining for my old Wednesday night zumba/dance class, taught by one of the best teachers in town and, lo and behold, that class is also no more. Everything is telling me to let go and let myself be unmoored because routines, and certainties, are only illusions of the mind and of time.

I am reminded at least few times a day that, since I became Assistant Professor, a title that I longed for and a milestone for me, the time that I used to have for Art and SketchBloom has vanished, leaving me with scraps, and occasional posts during school breaks. It is bittersweet, because when I had more time, I also had different challenges.  On the plus side, I feel that my classes are getting stronger and that all the energy put into what I do is bearing beautiful fruit, and my travels a re translating into lectures, thoughts, incipits of papers. My students have been blossoming , and what I offer them, though intangible, is perhaps my greatest art…the words and the stories shared in the intimacy of the classroom.  My favorite part of this Fall was new lectures on Native American Architecture and the Empires of the Sun (Aztec, Maya, Inca), along with those for Hindu and Buddhist Architecture. It was wonderful to share my travels to Teotihuacan and Mexico City, DF (July and November) and various museum visits. All these will be documented here in the coming days.
I am going to visit new Mayan sites soon 🙂 and I feel blessed that what I love to do (travel) also makes me better at what I do. One of my students wrote me that what I shared from my travels was her favorite part of the History of Architecture and Urban Design course, and that made me smile inside. Another told me that I am, indeed, a ‘collector of legends’, what I knew I wanted to be at 6 years old as I was put in charge of our classroom’s bookshelf.

I have been reading a lot on Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and there is a whole section of advice on, basically, doing your best, and letting go. Letting go of what you think is the idea of perfection, because life is already perfect, in secret ways that we will only understand in time. SO many ways to convey a message that I run into again and again.

I swear at least once a day in the past few months I have encountered and recorded places, people, feelings, stories, books, quotes, readings, images  that I wanted to share here but pressing obligations and life prevented me. I trust that what I have been collecting (the speed and quantity of memories accumulated akin to hoarding for its sheer size) will be shared and enfolded in time. The thought of living hard and traveling harder to make memories for my old age has crossed my mind. One thing I did not do is draw  or paint, but I believe, now, there are other ways to make art.
Photography is one. Or writing.
Also, creating the space and conditions that allow art to emerge: clearing your life and decluttering, physically and emotionally, to make room for art, for the NEW.
Is not prepping the canvas also part of the painting? Then I have weaved that canvas fabric with the threads of days full of wonder, struggle and discovery, primed it with an unshakeable faith, and strengthened with tireless service, resilience and endurance.

Please forgive me, it is the end of the quarter, and the end of a stupendous year …and I am waxing poetic. Time to sum up the past 12 months. I wanted to count all the things I was grateful for in 2015 and I counted 41. How many things are you grateful for? Every difficulty came with a breakthrough and a blessing for me, a strengthening lesson. I hope the same for you, Reader.

I know it is not the end of the year proper yet, but for me it already has come, with the close of another quarter and the time, silent and special, to calculate grades, my students’ and mine. I wish all my readers and visitors a great journey in 2016, untroubled by worldly events and guided only by that ‘light that never goes out’, our own.

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

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Watercolor on the wrong paper- Strathmore Bristol. San Diego, December 21, 2015

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We’re Always Under Stars

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

San Diego, November 2015

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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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