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And, suddenly, you are gazing at the eternal sublime. Venice’s borders are the dream realms. This is a city that starts on water and ends in the soul. Venice is a portal between reality and myth. A city that is real, but also impossible. My little cousin declared, at ten years old, that ‘this is the most beautiful city in the whole world.’ In no other country man-made and natural Beauty is so entrenched with the national psyche and identity. Beauty is elevated as the greatest national virtue, privilege and asset. Beauty is Italy’s doctrine and her true religion. We are, after all, Il Bel Paese.
Venezia, Italia, January 1, 2017.



‘There is still one of which you never speak.’
Marco Polo bowed his head.
‘Venice,’ the Khan said.
Marco smiled. ‘What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?’
The emperor did not turn a hair. ‘And yet I have never heard you mention that name.’
And Polo said: ‘Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.’

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities





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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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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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Timing Is Everything Exhibit Poster- digitally modified.

Timing Is Everything Exhibit Poster- digitally modified.


An apropos message from the Universe tonight- in form of a collage.

This is a promising exhibit at the UCSD University Art Gallery-
up until December 6.

In my non-teaching/working hours (very few since October) I have turned from an artist to a professional architecture/art/urban design event goer, organizer, supporter, disseminator and even instigator.

I was even called a ‘charming mistress of ceremony’ yesterday {blush}.

I miss my art, poetry languishes, yet I am galvanized by the many opportunities for interconnectedness between the non-profit sector,art,architecture and public space. The potential for a seachange in the urban landscape of San Diego is finally palpable.
It is so exciting to be contributing from the Academic angle, and involving my wonderful, patient students.

Yesterday Milenko Matanovic of the Pomegranate Center spoke about the difference between cleverness and creativity, and of being an artist, and an artist who is a community organizer.

Being clever involves prioritizing one goal above others, often the furthering one’s artistic vision. It is a solo flight.
True creativity contains a collaborative element, and is welcoming and sensitive to the goals of others. It is Mindful of the collective good, of timing, and rhythms.

Creativity is like farming.

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Jason De Caires Taylor. Underwater sculpture.
Reblogged from Cosmic Machine. Click to view more.


Staccato II

 

‘We should be so anchored in that stillness of the ocean,

so much so that waves do not bother us.’

 

‘Avoid the bridge, he says.

We need all the poets.’

One last brilliant morning, and watch,

I become seagull.

 

Has poetry ever brought back a lover

except in dreams

Has it ever changed one heart

Have words ever mended

That is a job for Time.

 

My poems are songs for no-one, you see.

I sing them on a street corner

For the wind, for the rare passerby

There is no hat on the pavement,

You can keep your change.

 

Respectability will not keep you warm at night.

All these books, my house is made of them,

their wondrous stories

they are but paper and weight in the dark.

 

The sun kisses me and I fall asleep

in a room bathed in golden light

the sunsets are getting longer these days

– look at this cloudless sky, the heat of summer in January,

how can one not be happy?

That is not what I came for.

 

There are constellations on my skin

You will never see

Here is Ursa Major,

Orion’s belt.

 

Yours was the final, absolute silence

Of deep space –

I was tethered

 

Night stars are beautiful to look at

But, oh, they cannot warm you

Diamonds are heartless

and perfect.

 

In the dark,

He speaks  a tongue I do not understand.

During the day he absolves me.

He says

When Life gives, take.

She is a miserly landlady, sometimes

And this is not a kind Winter.

 

When the thick walls of the city are besieged,

they absorb the injury of cannons,

fiery arrows, climbing soldiers.

To a point.

A fortress, like a ship, like a dam,

is still made by human hands.

Lo, the smallest breach and the tiniest rivulet

Bring down civilizations.

 

 

San Diego, January 2013

 

 

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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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One of my most cherished books.

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Lord Byron’s handwriting.



Stanzas Written On the Road Between Florence and Pisa



Oh, talk not to me of a name great in story;

The days of our youth are the days of our glory;

And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty

Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.

What are garlands and crowns to the brow that is wrinkled?

‘Tis but as a dead flower with May-dew besprinkled.

Then away with all such from the head that is hoary!

What care I for the wreaths that can only give glory?

O Fame!—if I e’er took delight in thy praises,

‘Twas less for the sake of thy high-sounding phrases,

Than to see the bright eyes of the dear one discover,

She thought that I was not unworthy to love her.

There chiefly I sought thee, there only I found thee;

Her glance was the best of the rays that surround thee;

When it sparkled o’er aught that was bright in my story,

I knew it was love, and I felt it was glory.


George Gordon, Lord Byron

November, 1821




Romantics, for more on the lives of the Poets, you might hide here for a few days, and spend the evenings at your local cafe reading poems accompanied by a well-tempered clavier.  For my part, I have ordered Ugo Foscolo’s Le Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis (The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis)–and  look forward to sinking in its lyrical, poignant song that so well describes the passion and contradiction of the Italian spirit (and carries me back to the Halcyon days of Literature and Poetry studies in high school).  A presto, more watercolor portraits await…

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