Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not My Mission

...to go "green" or "organic" in any fragment of my life.  Yes, I consider the amount of garbage my family generates a day.  Yes, I think global warming is going to be the end of global life as we know it.  Yes, I avoid fast food restaurants at all costs.  However, I do not lose sleep over a taste treat tossed my way at a friends' house.  Until I read this article, which had me gagging as I read:
"The . . .  picture is what your raw chicken nuggets look like. And as if it wasn’t gross enough that the goo looks like strawberry ice cream, we then learned this:
  • The substance is called MSC, or mechanically separated chicken
  • It’s a sickening puree of the ENTIRE chicken including bones, eyes, feet, everything
  • It’s then treated with ammonia to destroy bacteria, and then because it tastes so bad, is mixed with artificial flavoring
  • And then dyed pink."
(from The Frisky at http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-trust-us-you-really-really-dont-want-to-eat-that-chicken-nugget/

On another note, my show at Upper Crust comes down on January 2 (sold six of twelve pieces!), at which time I'm off to new ventures.  Time to get these two books I have half done back on my desktop.  (Oh yeah, and two dogs, a cat, and a bird painting.  Forgot about that.)  I'm reinvigorated about making art for a number of venues again!  New ideas, new directions, new goals.... YAY!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Short note about the show..

Our art opening last night was... tough to describe...  Exciting for sure, educational...  gratifying...  inspiring in more ways than in future art making.  Still have much to think about:  Pat and Dick who bought a piece- Julie who is willing to talk about postmodern culture-  The need to form an art collective-  Participating with that group who is fighting to create a No. California arts museum-  (Going back to school?!)-

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Abandoned Theme Park Global Trekking.

Imagine if you would, the inspiration one could accrue with which to decorate a home!
Check this out~

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two More Just Finished for the Show at Upper Crust.

I'm SOOO bad and will never grow up.  I've still got two pieces to finish, mat, frame and string before we hang our show on Sunday afternoon.  I do think I can pull if all off if I stay up all night tonight and Saturday night.....
Never to learn.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Einstein's Wisdom. And mine.

Aren't blogs interesting things? I prefer telling my friends that my art et al. is posted on my website in lieu of admitting I have a (egocentric) blog. I do believe (hope?) that there are few (no one) out there who attends to this- to what I have talked about, thought about, acted upon, ignored....

But it does serve to force me to write, clarify my own thinking, consider, be articulate, collect and analyze a fraction of my web discoveries in a source other than "bookmarks." And occasionally, I simple must include a slogan, a thought, an image that reminds me, only me, of my often shelved convictions.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Show at Upper Crust Bakery

Two of twelve coming for a December show at Upper Crust, downtown Chico.

Totally revised that first one.  Hated it.  Been busy on the rest.

Reta Rickmers, my show mate and art teacher extraordinare, and I will be opening our show Dec. 1st with a reception Dec. 10 from 5:30-7 at Upper Crust Bakery in Chico, 130 Main Street.  (All this is to be updated.)

You are invited!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I am an atheist. Finally.

I'm ready to write about an intriguing teaching experience I recently completed.  It has taken me this last month to process it all, and while I was teaching, all of one period of art a day, I was nearly overwhelmed with my own processing of the... the... experience is all I can call it.

I was offered a job (desperate in that school started the next day) at a local Christian high school.  I must declare early in this treatise that I am not a Christian, nor do I subscribe to any faith of any color, although up till now I considered myself the yuppie version of "spiritual," ambivalent to landing on any particular "side."  I was told I didn't have to go to Chapel each Wednesday, for which I was clumsily grateful.  I did bow my head in prayer at the opening and closing of faculty meetings, staff of seven, and I did go to Play, Pray and Praise day and help run relays.  I presented really cool stuff at back to school night.  And all along I kept my philosophies and attitudes to myself, as I'd professionally done for the previous 33 years of teaching at a public high school.

I was stoked excited to be in a classroom again.  I started the year with my typical gusto and pizzazz... went shopping for supplies YAY!!  (had to have more than old Crayola color pencils, had to have some paper, and had to have some watercolor paint pans.   Indeed the room was a white room with 35 desks.  Period.  Not a thing more.)   Things were coming along swimmingly.  The kids were excited and challenged, the classroom was filling up with creative type stuff, art was on the walls, and we were considering an AP elective!  And then I got the teaching contract.

I was asked to sign a teaching contract and a statement of faith. I guess the contract was in there somewhere.  I couldn't sign it.  I couldn't betray my core beliefs, I couldn't lie, and I couldn't sacrifice my belief in absolute freedom of speech and thought.  I handed it back unsigned, markless.

I came home that night not so much in a quandary as, yeah, maybe... in a quandary.  I'd been asked what I believe.  On my feet, I said I believed in the power of compassion in a classroom, in education as being the "savior" of the human race, and in professionalism.  But I knew I believed way more than that.  I came home and voluntarily wrote an agonizing couple pages of "core beliefs."  It was so hard!  I sent it to the principal, the vice principal, and I'd like to think it was forwarded to the the board of directors.  I received no reply.

A week later, five weeks into the semester, I wrote a letter of resignation and submitted it at the same meeting during which I was released.  The root reason was "precedence."

During this fascinating adventure, I was challenged, appalled, and learned that there was nothing "spiritual" about me, thank god.  haHA!!  Clarification had rained down on me!  I embrace the words of critic and curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens, in his book God is Not Great, when he compares atheists to Christians:

We [atheists and Christians] may differ on many things, but what we [as atheists] respect is free inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake....  We are not immune to the lure of wonder and mystery and awe: we have music and art and literature, and find that the serious ethical dilemmas are better handled by Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Schiller and Dostoyevsky and George Eliot than in the mythical morality tales of the holy books.  Literature, not scripture, sustains the mind and- since there is no other metaphor- also the soul.  

Although I hate the title of his book, Hitchens' (hit and miss) eloquence rocks my world.  Great book.  My thinking is finding a resting place.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art

The absolute highlight to our trip to Japan this September was our visit to the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art.  On display was a group of works called The Avant-Garde of Nihonga: 1938-1949 from the museum’s collection. I was most fascinated by the break with the formal Japanese art forms I’d seen and studied in the past.  

From the museum pamphlet, and what we English speakers were provided in entirety was this, copy and pasted (sorry.  It's all I have!):
Shinoda Toko
Hokuto Tamamura
Traditional aesthetics in "Nihonga" used to be depicting beautiful scenery of nature on the earth. However, an artists' group,"the Rekitei Bijutsu Kyokai" established in 1938, started developing a new art form in the world of "Nihonga" against the creation of traditional aesthetics. Although the activity did not move forward smoothly due to the expansion of the World War 2, they tried to associate with western-style painters and add the elements of abstract expression, surrealism and compositions introduced by the Bauhause to "Nihonga". After the war, they established "Pan Real" as a re-birth of the Rekitei Bijutsu Kyokai, and continued to pursue new expressions.
Insho Domoto
Yamaoka Ryobun
That the contemporary Japanese painters  were looking to the west, not just Europe but to America also for inspiration sent me spinnin'!  The work I saw was incredible.  Lines and blends had serenity and sensitivity of past Japanese sumi painting, but now with new composition and subjects.  Impossible to describe nor photograph; I bought the collection book which so typically sadly lacks the richness of brush strokes, color blending, line....  So off I am on a new learning venture and oh, what a challenge!  It is so hard to find reference to these artists; indeed I can barely find them on the web but for a few of their images.  I'll be working to search them out.

I'm totally stealing some of these images from around the net, but perhaps you may enjoy them as I continue to, and as I research this generation of Nihonga painters further.

OMG.  I just found The New Modernism: Japanese Modernist and Avant-Garde Poetry, Translations, Explorations, a blog.  Shoot me now.  Can I possibly reconcile this stuff with the Modernist novelist I just finished reading (in Japan)-Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle?  (Recommended reading!)  My head is hurting simply in that it's ALL so wonderful.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thick but mind tweaking blog about art and art education.

I post this blog, "Thoughts on Art and Teaching," for me to go back to, to read and reflect upon.  You are welcome to join me.  I don't want to forget these conversations in my retirement.

Mr. Hamlyn's last post loosely discusses the disconnect between the theoretical approach to teaching art as taught in University, and the teaching of art according to the standards in our public schools (and my experience that private and charter schools are worse).  I heard this same disconnect when attending grad school, but also discovered that an art teacher has so much personal influence in the way he or she approaches the teaching of art.  University clarified for me something I'd discovered in my final years of teaching- that classroom teaching can become less explicit in terms of elements and principles, and more holistic in terms of interpretation and social justice.  Foundational skills in art are relatively simple to teach and learn in the context of teaching those hermeneutic skills of interpretation and meaning, dontcha think?  (I'd heard an art academy instructor once suggest that the meaning and appreciation of art is essential to learn before college, particularly in those elementary classes and that "one" required art class most students take before h.s. graduation; that continuing art students will study value et.al with the necessary depth they need at the university level.  The mastering of value or texture is NOT important to students who are not to become artists.  Interesting concept here.)

With attention and compassion, I believe art education can be all we, as good educators, can make it.  Mandatory testing, Explicit Direct Instruction, and schools designated as failing- the labels and demands made by the state of education in the nation today- haven't quite wheedled their ways through the closed doors of art classrooms yet; the art room may be the last vestige of teaching thinking.  Good art educators need to grasp the power they have, albeit with sly and sneak, with every last inkling of hope that the state of education will turn around soon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leaving our kids. I'm so sad.

Chico, Wakako, and Tedo
Benjamin Franklin was proved wrong by a few days, but not so many.  Almost three weeks with six of us in Ted and Wako's small but comfortable house has tested each of us, but everyone has done so well.  That being said, not a one of us isn't ready to settle home. 

Off to a long work week for our favorite couple, and off to our long travels for us.  We will leave here at noon today, that is noon in Kyoto, and arrive home at dinner time.  (Funny.  Leave noon on Monday, travel for 23 hours, and arrive in Chico at 6 pm on Monday, exhausted.  How is this NOT time travel?)

Update today,  9/27.  Took a full 36 hours door to door.  So why do I dread doing this again?

Update today, 10/ 3.  Still jetlagged.  WTF.  I hate this.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Osaka Human Rights Museum and Human Rights in Japan.

Ripped illegally from some website: Burakumin were
in charge of dealing with corpses.
Learned a lot after a visit to the Osaka Human Rights Museum today.  Many of the same discrimination issues we face in the states are paralleled here in Japan, including gender bias, gay/lesbian rights, and the rights of those afflicted with HIV.  Equally interesting was the discrimination against Okinawans- who many be compared to our Hawaiians, the Aian's from northern island Hokkiado- who live similarly to our indiginous Alaskans and the Koreans and Taiwanese, who were brought to Japan years ago, used as cheap labor, and are today discriminated against in many ways.

Most fascinating was the chapter about the Burakumin.  For this I could find no parallel in the U.S.  In the early 1600 s Japan established a caste system of four classes, and the Buraku were below the lowest, the outcasts,  being those who dealt with death- undertakers, butchers, executioners, and leather workers.  Although this feudal system was eliminated in 1871, those labeled as buraku have not been able to thwart the stigma placed on them by an extremely class conscious society.  Do read more HERE if you're interested.  This is fascinating stuff particularly in that is so prominent today.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kyoto has KILLER humidity.

I am ready for California Valley DRY.  Arghh.

Take me out to the Ball Game, in JAPAN!!!!!!!!!

Ted decides the whole family should go to the Hanshin Tigers
vs the Tokyo Giants game in Osaka. 
Dad wants to wear his SF Giants hat; that gets vetoed big time.
The tickets Wako and Ted got required a purchase to a meal at an Osaka hotel, so we are forced to eat at a Chinese full course dining room.  Each meal probably cost $85.  That, times all six of us?-  $510 holy crap.  It was hard to believe we were stuffed- each plate was so small- but there were 6 courses.  Unbelievable meal!  And so much fun!  Thank God for Wako who could tell us what we were eating! (oh. The tickets weren't nearly that expensive.  Puhleeze.)
In the train station.
I love the random graphics everywhere...
CRAZY fans!  95% of the whole crowd wore Tigers jerseys,
hats, towels, hand bands and had the plastic clackers. 
OMG so over the top, but such a blast.
 Each section had a cheerleader, trumpets, and every one in the crowd
 knew all the songs and chants. 
We were SUCH gaijins!

Right fielder from the U.S.
Matt Murton, who looks almost exactly like Ted,
or Ted looks like him, hits a home run. 
Could have been Ted with the response
he got from our portion of the stands.

Seventh inning stretch.  No one sang no dumb "Take me out to the ballgame." 
Every single person in the stands blew up balloons. 
Again, SO over the top, and ridiculously fun!

Some fans dressed up for the occasion. 

Those with these wide "Japanese worker" pants
were the MOST  avid fans of all.

In spite of the fact that the Tigers lost,
Murton had a good game, so Ted and Hobie (aka Matt Murton)
were the stars of the exiting crowd. 
We knew none of these people, but they all wanted photos with our two "Murtons." 
Our jaws were hurting from way too much laughing.

Japan is SO Japan!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Franzen, Roth, Lethem, Hitchens, McCarthy, Updike, and Amis

Retired again thank god.
TIME magazine and Charlie Rose have me all excited again about good American literature (even that written by British expats.) And these guys ROCK at the top of my list!  Can't wait to read all of all of them. 

Time to indulge.
And draw.
And paint.
And write.  


Monday, August 23, 2010

KYOTO! Here we come~

To see our most favorite couple, Ted-o and Wakako!
Can't wait.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Simple Pleasures- Twice!

Image grabbed from triathalontrainingblog.com

In all our blessed yuppiness, Mike and I are traveling now in a bonafide motel (cab over camper); we have chosen sleep over youth.  I was the big hold back, but was won over. Why is it I still don't feel like I'm one of all those others traveling in RV's?  Today I learned that I need 30, not 40, amps for hookup, that we have grey water and sewage (what the hell is grey water?), and when we park our "rig" in an RV park, we don't have to listen to other RV generators (like we did in campsites with no electrical hookups.) With glee, I get wifi on my picnic table, and when we buy our little flat screen tv, we'll access 50 cable channels.  Oh dear Lord, help me now.

On a slightly different note: tonight we parked our white behemoth in Gold Beach, Oregon. We watched the hundred or so charter fishing captains motor boat their passengers up and down a half mile the Rogue River estuary. (I love fishing but this did seem a bit more like conveyor belt trolling.) I chose a simpler route and walked the miles long beach.  Knew I'd made a winning choice on this beautiful, slightly sunny day, when I paused to see the sea lions poke their heads out of the waves, follow swells, and body surf! This picture is JUST what I saw! Jeez I love nature!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Black-Eyed Peas Belong in Every Classroom

Image grabbed from http://soulbrotherv2.blogspot.com
Probably one of the most interesting and inspiring posts I've ever read was on a blog I follow by This Brazen Teacher, a blogger and teacher of fourth grade art. She (I think) is wonderfully articulate about art, art education, and education today and, while navigating her meanderings in this edu-world, has gathered and shared warm as well as chilling insights. With dismay from this small corner of the educational community, I read that she is leaving her Ohio classroom for graduate school. (Makes me sad that the best of the best so often tend to escape, readily FLEE from the classroom for so many obvious HELLO! reasons.) Yet as the public so often reminds us, we are overpaid for the long vacations we get. So GO,  Ms Brazen, and with providence we shall get you back, stronger and louder, in these miserable yet loving trenches where the kids so call for you.
OK, so. With that long digression, I now give credit to this same educator for sharing the Black-Eyed Peas song "One Tribe" as combined with a lesson needed in all classrooms. DO visit This Brazen Teacher's blog  to see what she has done (scroll down to the image with the "play" button on it), and consider what YOU may do with this same jingle in your classroom, workplace, home, studio, ad infinitum.
Between her creation and this one on You Tube, I'm thinking we can not let this one go:
JustSayNo2Hate and "One Tribe."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Art House Co-op

I was just introduced to the Art House Co-op website; the link is in the list to the left, but the site needs a special recognition here.  So many ideas are to be gleaned from this site!  Again, if I were still in the classroom.....

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

If I could dig straight down, I would eventually get to... . . . . China?

Nope.  I would get to the middle of the Indian Ocean, somewhere off the tip of the African continent.  Where would YOU show up?

StumbleUpon.com is a technological black hole.  Found this incredibly postmodern quote (above) by Jim Jarmusch, film director.  (Click on it and the quote becomes readable; I just had to include this stolen image because I liked it.)  This is the attitude we should be imbuing in art classrooms today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bill Owens. Photographer.

It was in the mid 70's that I first learned, and laughed, at the photography Bill Owens included in his book Suburbia.  I remains on my bookshelf today, and I still giggle when I browse through.  If you don't know Owens' work, take a gander at his website and most recent work. It's absolutely wonderful.  Consider the power of a lesson on cultural anthropology in an art room, and maybe one of student learning - how to laugh at ourselves.

I love the art of pun, and no photographer does it better than Bill Owens.   (I also think this is the neighborhood I grew up in~~)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Couple of Shout Outs....

Must post a two images for a few most special people in my life.

I told hubby Mike that I want to live life fully, and that before the end as it is, we are going to both get tattoos.  (If you know him, there is no way he'll do this.  If you know me, you'll know he has no choice.)  I'm liking the first image here for him, and yeah, I can do that too, maybe on my legs?  He will absolutely not appreciate this.

The second is for my son Ted and daughter-in-law Wako in Japan. I miss them so much. I also just found out that Wako reads my blog.

HEY WAKO!!!! Is this YOU?!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remember Outsider Art?.. How about Outsider Use...

Lifted here from fellow blogger Kevin Kelly, who compiles images of how people around the globe customize their "stuff" to create an optimal use, or as KK says, here are images of "personal modifications, folk innovations, street customization, ad hoc alterations, wear-patterns, home-made versions and indigenous ingenuity." See more on his site called Street Use.

Again, I'm thinking classroom curriculum. What a blast to laugh and create. Goes straight to those 21st Century Skills (remember? those archaic skills that politicians and administrators are removing from schools with the arts?)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Making Art. The Quandary

The work of an artist is surely fraught with conflicting purpose. I love drawing, painting, writing, creating in general, but that purpose? yeah, pretty big sticking point. Do I really paint just for ME? How many pieces, framed in glass, painted large on deep canvases, do I amass in my studio, and for why? Because I like to make art? How much do I struggle to show, to sell, to "get rid" of this (what has now become) stuff? Do I donate it to a local charity (so it will sell for $20, or not sell so I may bring it home?) Do I lay it out flat on the driveway at the yard sale? give to to friends who someday may find a place for it in their home? or just allow it to continue to pile up? Do I paint work that "people will like and so it may sell"? (Shoot me now.) Or continue the exploration (and pile) of my own style and statement? Or do I just make car decals and greeting cards for fun.

Just finished 4'x6' acrylic Tennessee dog and Maui kitty for a good friend. There ya go.

Think I'll go read a book this afternoon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How are YOU dealing with the daily media images of the gulf coast wildlife?

I'm doing rather poorly.

I've been researching what I might be able to do to help- from the opposite coast for better or worse. A few hours on the computer have offered up many avenues, including how to help at the gulf with time, materials, money, and actually, how to become a "first responder" for future devastation, particularly on our own Pacific coast.

I write this blog post so I may offer out a letter the Audubon Society has suggested concerned and sickened people send to our legislators. ALL legislators. I have modified it so it sounds most like me; use it, modify it some more, or check out the original letter and other info here.

Dear Whoever,
The oil spill and images I see daily make my heart hurt, so I am writing to urge you to support President Obama's $35.6 million budget request for Coastal Louisiana restoration projects. While not a lot of money, it will begin the important work of rebuilding Louisiana's wetlands and marshes.
A healthy coastline is better able to withstand a variety of threats, whether from the damage the oil spill will certainly inflict or costly storm damage. Communities in Louisiana that haven't fully recovered from the devastation of Katrina are now facing a second economic blow as a result of the spill. We have an opportunity to create jobs, work to mitigate the impacts of this tragic oil spill, and again rebuild the critical coastal marshlands that nurture a significant Gulf of Mexico fishing industry, and buffer the Louisiana coast and its communities from storms and other threats.
PLEASE, please, please support full funding for Coastal Louisiana restoration and support the President's budget request of $35.6 million. With all my being, I believe we must do everything we can to alleviate the potential destruction of our singular, precious environment.
Thank you for your attention,

Thanks for reading this post. It's all I can do today... we'll see about tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Girl Effect

I can't believe I never saw The Girl Effect before; tell me this is new. So, I’m copying this straight off the page that has floored me tonight:

Here’s the thing: Girls living in poverty are uniquely capable of creating a better future. But when a girl reaches adolescence, she comes to a crossroads. Things can go one of two ways for her- and for everyone around her.
One: She gets a chance, gets educated, stays healthy and HIV-negative, marries when she chooses, raises a healthy family, and has the opportunity to raise the standard of living for herself, her brothers, her family, her community, and her country.
Two: None of these things happen. She is illiterate, married off, isolated, pregnant, and vulnerable to HIV. She and her family are stuck in a cycle of poverty.

It’s no big deal.
Just the future of humanity.

Sometimes I want to write. Sometimes others have already written so eloquently, there is little left to do but share.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Art, art, art, I love you.....

On YouTube by Andrea Dorfman.
Sit back and smile for 2 minutes.

Sir Ken Robinson Strikes Again: TED Talks

Attached is a new speech by Sir Ken Robinson, who several years ago addressed the TED audience with How Education Kills Creativity. Just posted is a new address, Bring on the Learning Revolution, in which he challenges the old paradigm of linear, industrial education and supports an organic, agricultural approach, one that emphasizes individuality and community. He ends with a poem by W.B. Yeats, suggesting that as educators must tread softly on our children's dreams:

"He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven"

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wash a Pelican?

Surely don't know how much "fun" this would be, but I have this hankering to help these birds. I started reading about the wherefore and how-to. Maybe a few weeks or a month of help in Louisiana....

Lauren. Wanna go?