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I walk at night.
You can keep mornings, with the aftershave of salesmen, rush hour…with the Starbucks lines and hair perfectly
well done.

(Mafalda says that everything good in life messes up your hair)

You can have the morning with its blinding light, its lack of nuances…leave the night to blur lines, to hide and to reveal.

The morning of road warriors, weekend warriors, commute warriors, checkers of life’s milestones – I lost count, and it is not my race.

Leave me the profound night, let me walk at hours of my choosing, when empty streets whispher poetry lines, if you just listen.

This is my queendom, let me patrol my land of empty office buildings, of Mexican night workers, of quiet and shadows.

The night of orange streetlights, of vacant lots and sleeping churches.

Of red windows, where the artists burn.

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San Diego Harbor, October 18, 2014.




to my single reader:


perhaps one day soon
i will tell you about puerto rico, taíno heart, and driving into méxico at midnight
like two fugitive moths
the indio angels
perhaps i will share the secret tales
of a heart that keeps returning
to the south
and reading poetry as an act
of revolution.
i did not forget. i am not gone.
i never gave up.
artists cannot stop seeing and sharing beauty, no more than poets can stop feeling and bleeding ink.
it is not a choice for us.
understand that a pen lies dormant sometimes, oftentimes,
only to gather strength, and stories,
like our souls.
only to heal.
the vessel eventually spills over.
i will tell you about calabria, my tierra, my fisherman father, then new mexico, the beautiful natives of this country, their poignant song…and the lines i wrote
at ten thousand feet
they might make sense
once stitched together.
i will talk about
traveling as an act of infinite love
to heal, to forgive, to archive
yet never, never forget (i will never let you go, hold you into the light)
but i will never say a word.
there will be more photos than drawings, please forgive me.
there will be, more often than not, no explanations, and little context [as in life]
accept these scattered offerings.
what is the music that one hears
as we change skin?
i can only bring back
dispatches.
the giving of one’s self
receiving infinite blessings
and signs
i will find a way to share this
hiding my hands, covering my mouth.
breaking awful tiles on that grey vinyl floor ! and every instance that made me thankful
for a heart that was broke open
like a seed that could finally flower.
for a traveling soul
that will always eschew expediency
for narrative.


but not tonight.
tonight is not the night
for everything to be told.
it’s a start, a shy coming back
after months abroad.
the new world, the old world.
i return to the shuttered home,
look at these years
stacked in neat boxes,
wrapped with care, once.
a gift from ourselves, to ourselves.
it is time to return,
harvesttime is once upon us, and finds me stronger.
it is time to shake the dust covers, unpack
and finally, finally move in.
there is never enough time to do housework, single reader,
but i figured  you know
it is not the thought of unfinished laundry
that keeps me up at night.

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Gianni Aiello. Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 1970’s. Italy.

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Gianni Aiello (Papa’). Liguria, Italia. Possibly 1972.

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Gianni Aiello (Papa’) with cousin Giuseppe, next to the fishing shack La Baracca. 1972 (to be verified;))

As promised months ago (ehm), finally, the  series on my larger-than-life father, Gianni Aiello, begins.

My father is the son of a fisherman, and his life is the sea.  He is a true Calabrese, wandering about as a young man but returning to settle in his native land, by his Ionian shore.  After helping his father as a teenager, he became a policeman and an athlete.  At 22 he was shot in the line of duty during a hostage siege on the island of Sardinia.  A series of operations on the right side of his jaw left him scarred and looking like one of the bad guys.  Later, in his thirties, he and his Swiss brother-in-law, zio Marco, started a motorboat shop and storage plus Suzuki reseller.  Whenever i think of the officina each summer I smell fiberglass and see my dad, tan and shirtless in the sun, lifting concrete deadweights, putting outboards to water, and sometimes building boats from resin shells brought by the sea.

Always working with his hands, never far away from his sea, and returning to his passion off-season : fishing with traditional nets.

As a young policeman in Venice in the 60’s, my dad crashed art classes at the Accademia and hung out with artists and misfits.  I collected here the paintings from his youth that are still in the house where he grew up.  He lives there, beachfront, near the fishing shack his father built and that he turned into a work of art (more on this later).

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Gianni Aiello. 1970’s. Venezia. Italy.

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Gianni Aiello. 1970’s. Venezia. Italy.

Throughout it all, my dad is drawing boats, boats and fish, boats and fish and fishermen (my grandfather used to do the same on the edge of the newspaper). He is carving boats out of olive wood, making miniature fishing boats, and painting boats. He is constantly making or repairing stuff: cleaning and mending the nets, repairing the motor of his WWII Jeep ‘the Americans left’ , or adding to his living art installation, the fishing shack, or Baracca, of which I shared glimpses here (as it was) , here and here, and that stops tourists in their tracks. He is adding hand carved kitchen utensils for the house on the hill, or scavenging old farmhouses for vintage furniture, when he is not working on his fishing boat, Elena.

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Gianni Aiello. 1977.

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Gianni Aiello. 1978.

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Gianni Aiello. 2000’s. Calabria. Italia.

He is a busy craftsman – I am sure by now you can gather Gianni is a character.  He is a fisherman, a painter, a drawer, a sculptor, a designer and a coffee maker.  Above all, he is a dreamer, even though his gruff side would balk at this. The whole library of my adolescence was made up of books that made my dad, and, in the frontispiece there would always be a page of his diary, part of his itinerant memoir.
Sometimes he would mention a woman, or life on the road.  Sometimes he would copy a poem, or write to himself.

One time he wrote to me, when I was one year old – he was (only) 30.

They were revolutionary books and novels of magical realism. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Bernard Malamud, the Anarchist Black Book, Roots, Black Boy, Mao Tse Tung’s Red Manual, Hemingway, Garcia Lorca…so on and so forth.

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Gianni Aiello. 1970’s.

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Gianni Aiello. 1975.

My father doesn’t paint on canvas or draw on paper these days, but his whole world is art, full of sculpture and artifacts.

Whenever I visit home, I ‘make’ my dad draw me something for my collages or prompt him to start on some art project. Inevitably, we end up collaborating…here, here and here  .  For years, these times were the only way we could spend hours together without arguing.  Even though my dad would tease me when he saw me with my sketchbook (do you make any money with that?) he was always happy do art with me.
Today, he is used to see me going to work cutting up magazines while we watch Italian drama…  and he even offers suggestions.

In December 2011, my mom, dad and I were in Milano for the Holidays and one day my dad announces: “Let’s go buy some paints!”. It was a happy hunt through the half shuttered down city. This is the result:

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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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before…

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after…

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still waiting after three days for the glue to dry on the rosebuds ….

“We will never walk along the river again,
So walk with me in this poem.”
Eric Jirek

The night shift belongs to the poets.

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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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Another month rushed by, seemingly accelerating towards the end, as though sprinting to the finish line. The year’s end. Another year.

This past month brought also new beginnings and renewals. Just like accountants, professors measure years differently from the general public.

So this, other, new year that starts with the fall -the harvest- brought Spring in October : experimental mixed media and history courses, new energy, enthusiastic and curious students, expanded involvement, new projects and many welcome social occasions…and always, the company and camaraderie of my gentle and wise kin.
I love my job and feel so blessed. (I have just been given a Service Award for Five Years of outstanding contribution to the school, celebrate good times..)

I hosted my very first reception for my Graduate students’ work in the History of Architecture course this last week. The title of the exhibition was

‘ History of Architecture: Analysis and Synthesis through Visual Notes’.
My past students’ critical, and sometimes lyrical and poetic work –their beautifully rendered drawings, sketches and diagrams–have been gracing the halls of my school and received much acclaim. This body of work and research into this alternative method for teaching history is the topic of a forthcoming paper, which I will present in the Spring.

I am also launching a project called Builtculture, which I will be editing. This is something I have been working on for few months along with a stellar Graduate student of mine, Samar Sepehri. Builtculture is a repository for lectures and cultural events happening in San Diego and the So-Cal region, for the architecture and urban design discriminating aficionados. It exists in form of a facebook page for now, but will soon morph into a simple yet useful calendar site–as soon as I can catch my breath.

Planning to post photos of the Visual Notes Exhibit next week -need to scan few more examples and ‘teasers’- and to share Builtculture when it is ready too. I am thinking about adding an Academic section to my work site, Archistdesign, for such endeavors.

All of this to say, really, is that my full-time job and volunteering [ for community build and garden build projects , I have learned to build a deck and plaster, aka architecture for social purpose … yes!] have taken ahold of my heart and days  lately, and my art has had to wait.
I also (also!) will have my poetry published. New poems have been brewing and blooming, maybe I will share one later tonight.

I know that there are few of you who follow these ramblings of mine , who gently coax me when I have not posted for a while, and wanted to reach out and declare that I do not want this to be a ‘ travel blog’ , a dalliance…but that I also have to make peace with the fact that I am nor cannot be a a full-time writer, poet or artist, (although I would embrace these lives and crafts in a heartbeat, teaching is my calling) and that I cannot post or work on my art everyday. Life itself needs to be explored, precious work completed, books need to be read, and body, soul, and spirit nurtured daily. Perhaps, I have been given too many passions for just one life. These are heavy gifts and Chet Baker sings ‘I fall in love too easily’…

Before biding my hopefully brief adieu, here is a poem that I recently found among old correspondence.
It is nice to be old enough to have that.. Speaking of correspondence, see ‘ Young Goethe in Love’. I died.


The Undertaking

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime .

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime .

There you are — cased in clean bark you drift through weaving rushes, fields flooded with cotton.

You are free.

The river films with lilies, shrubs appear, shoots thicken into palm.

And now all fear gives way: the light looks after you, you feel the waves’ goodwill as arms widen over the water;

Love, the key is turned.

Extend yourself —it is the Nile, the sun is shining, everywhere you turn is luck.

Louise Glück

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