Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

whoa.  must say something.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Learning about New Worlds, and about Me.

We returned from two weeks in Ecuador and the Galapagos.  I can not provide more interesting photos than those published in National Geographic magazine or on PBS documentaries (but several of my own, taken with my little Lumix point and shoot, can be found HERE, along with images from Quito and the surrounding Andes).

The animals, the birds, reptiles, fish: all were shocking to our sensibilities, and perhaps the best thing one can do is just take lots of pics.  Today, as I reflect back on my own images, I begin to adjust to what I really saw, experienced, where I've been.  Truly, the Galapagos adventure was life-altering, should I choose to continue to consider it; perhaps more so as time passes.  The best testament to this visit may be a short blurp I wrote to/about our tour guide, Jose:

We all watch curiously as he lightly touches leaves, shells, and cactus trees trunks with the care a mom gives a newborn; each piece of nature a most precious gift given to each and all of us.  In his actions and speech, he offers to us a new, subtle, mindful approach to our earth as home.  Georgia O'Keeffe once said, "I will paint big, so people are forced to look," and so she did brilliantly.  Our guide does the same, not with paints but with time and patience.  Few of us tolerate this measured pace well, but we experience and thus are forced to learn a bit about it in the Galapagos Islands, with Jose.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patti, Robert and Just Kids

Just finished reading "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, about her long standing love/relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. 

The book has had a profound impact on me, personally.  I don't know if it's generational, geographical (being from New York, the setting of the memoir), or simply the artistic beauty with which Patti Smith writes and shares her passions.  

While Smith concludes with her personal rationale for writing the story, as I reader I find the inherent value so much deeper.   During the reading of the book, one is immersed into the many intimate moments, as witnessed in these images.  And the 1970's were that time when I was evaluating the same issues: drugs, fashion, homosexuality, music, poetry, and friendships/love.  

If you read and love the arts, you can't miss with this story, one poetic, historic, romantic, soulful and artistic. Brilliant, inspirational and sentimental without a touch of the maudlin. A must read and on my top ten books ever.  Might be the only book I read again, and again.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nice Watercolors... Nice.

I recently connected with an old friend, actually from almost 25 years ago, who I always thought of as a horse/business woman, and who I just discovered is painting and selling her watercolors.  Now, how is it possible, in this small town of Chico where every artist knows of every artist, that I have never heard her name bandied about?  How is she selling her artwork (I surely am not making buckets of dough) and I've never seen her work on coffee shop or gallery walls?  How is it that she is teaching watercolors in Mexico and we haven't crossed paths here in the Chico art scene not one time?

A watercolor painting by Mel Stabin.
Absolutely bedoggling.

How much of this has to do with painting what the public LIKES. Back to that "public likes" thing, ya know.  I think I hate it.  I know what it's about, but I don't know what I want to do with it.

I think I need to study the art of Zen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Urban Sketchers on Facebook

Been following Urban Sketchers on Facebook for some time now and am incessantly jealous and personally miffed that I'm not DOING THIS.  So how dumb is this: I write about it instead of getting out my NEW MOLESKINE book and actually drawing.  Oh... and Law and Order is on in a bit.

All that aside, filling this sketchbook is on my bucket list.  I did just finish one, not a Moleskine but one with so so many ideas.  Saving the new one for pure sketching.  (Is there such a thing?)

Jazzed tonight by the work of Paul Heaston on Urban Sketchers Facebook:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

For Lauren. A Site to Explore and Add to.

the Warhol.
Be sure to check out the tab called "Artists: Past and Present."  Note: Paul Wandless was the instructor at our Mendocino workshop.....

New Creative Endeavors... Enough to build a raku kiln?

Just home from an absolutely glorious week long workshop at the California coast town of Mendocino.  Paul Wandless from Chicago taught us printmaking on ceramics; SO inspiring.

We worked from Monday thru Friday, ten hours a day, on speed- ten of us, sharing, laughing, inquiring, experimenting and learning- probably my dreams come true.  What can be better than creative learning?

More on my website here.

And so much more to come!

Learned about a wonderful website/magazine for those of us ceramic newbies:
Ceramic Arts Daily.  

And now I need to start another list of artists on my blog: Artists who Handbuild Ceramics.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lori Stevens Dot Net

Yep.  I finally succumbed to creating a website using a Weebly template; it was so dang easy.  So now you can find my ART here- www.LoriStevens.net.

Moving away from the education platform to the art.. is it the right or wrong thing to do?  Dunno, but now I have the time to explore.  I'm still so passionate about art education (blew a friends' ears right off last night, poor guy!)  But new involvement in the Chico Art Center is switching up my focus a tad.

Just a tad, for just a while, maybe.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eberhardt and Me

Enrolled in an open studio figure drawing (non)-class last month.  In so many years of teaching art, in painting with acrylics, molding with clay, drawing with charcoal, it appears I've forgotten how to "see."  Point and blatant reminder?  Teaching technique does not equate to translating observation to paper.  So, these three hours on Thursday morning are kicking my butt, and I'm intrigued and immersed in the process.

These sessions have prompted me to revisit the incredible life drawings of those I'd admired in the past, particularly Alice Neel and Eberhard Huckstadt.  They have also intensified my love/hate with time at the computer looking at life studies done by so many with the brilliant eye.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

For me to do: Research Enrique Chagoya

Saw a piece by Enrique Chagoya at the estate and collection of Rene DiRosa in the "Tuscan" hills of nearby Napa Valley.  Must learn more about this artist.

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Tangents.

Written by George. com
Last night S- and I saw Open Source, a Jake Gyllenhall film loosely about using computer source code in human brain mapping to recreate, revisit, and reevaluate an event (a terrorist attack).  Worth knowing now is the fact that we are both liberal, democratic, bleeding heart types with a pension for a challenge.  Add to that the fact that neither of us know a dang thing about computer programing.

At the end of the film, I turned to her and asked, "Was that film logical even assuming suspension of disbelief?"
She answered, "Jeez, Lori.  It's all about quantum physics."
from MIT Technology Review online
I  laughed for how incongruent the comment was.

Best part of not working 40+ hours a week is the gift of pursuing random tangents as they present.  So here I go: what the hell are quantum physics?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Preaching to the Choir, New Tack

Educations circles are rife with discussion about the detriments, the frustrations, the looming threats of mandated testing.  I am infinitely flabbergasted, overflowing with disbelief, that legislators, governors and our President (who on every other platform I adore) continue support for the manner (test scores) with which we fund our schools.  So is every other educator I have spoken with.

My pedicure dates with a girlfriend are a blast.  And so random particularly for me.  Wonderfully full of gossip and girly chit chat.  Until a "neighboring pedicure client" overheard us talking about school and classrooms.  
"You guys are teachers, right?"
"Well, yeah, mostly."  (I am retired, but forever a teacher.)
"Can I ask you a question?  My kids go to B--- school and I'm concerned about their AYP and test scores.  I'm considering moving them and driving to C--- schools, but it's so far.  But I want them in the best schools of course."
Pregnant pause here.  What to say?  Scary that this is even a consideration.  Of course we attacked with the value (less-ness) of test scores, the quality of teachers and small schools, the power of public community schools, ad nauseum infinitum and etc., etc.
We were silent when we left the shop.  And in such despair.

Thoughts:  before we continue to flock in support of independent, private and charter schools, and before we abandon great public school classrooms filled qualified and passionate teachers, we must consider the quality of the teachers, the education, the connectedness, the hard work, and all the implications of democracy that our public schools offer.  If parents and community worked as hard at maintaining quality education at their local schools as they give to starting and supporting independent schools, I dare say current concerns would be moot.  And to base the quality of education on the inaccuracy of what test scores actually measure is inane.  The public needs to be advised about what test scores specifically measure AND what the actual aims of standardized testing are.

Please read Diane Ravitch's articulate and well researched book: 

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education 

I have a dream.  I dream that education and learning remains as rich and rewarding as it was during the many years I've been involved.  I dream that our neighborhoods once again become places of community, of sharing and caring.   I dream that our public schools receive adequate and active support from all community members.   And I dream that the administrative and legislative focuses on mandates and accountability loosen their death grip and return the passion of teaching and learning to the teachers and students.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Am I a Feminist?

Alice Neel
I'm in a quandary again.  The local community art center is sponsoring a show: "Women's Art."  A number of us are trying to define this and have been incapable of settling on even a large view:  Is it art by women?  about women?  with women as subject?  The art center has not offered up a definition to the community, so it's upon us to decide...
Alice Neel

Anne Harris. Alexandre Gallery
Of course, the problem complicates further in our middle class philosophical minds.  Is or should this be a feminist agenda?  Is this a tribute to women, or women artists?  As there appears to be no lucid agenda, what do we as artists want it to be?  Or what do I want MY art to be?  And ultimately, I rassle with  the off chance that I'm over-thinking this in all my retired time?  Most likely.

Anne Harris. Alexandre Gallery
But then I sit with my sketchbook and stop, regroup, and circle the same dang jam again.  The fact that I was a champion for "girl power" when teaching forbids me to make "art by women."  Hmmm.

I'm too young to be a first wave feminist, was raised and voraciously read about the second wave feminists, and probably don't quite identify with this third wave.  Maybe I'm just an old girl. My articulate nature says Crap.

That all being unnecessarily said, Alice Neel and contemporary Anne Harris are brilliant and today rock my boat.  Love, love, LOVE being inspired by such great artists.  Now to jive my clear-as-mud thoughts with my inspiration. This is such hard work.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Culture, culture, culture, edrants.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Art Lessons for the 21st Century: A Postmodern Curriculum

          With nervous fingers, I sealed and kissed my book proposal goodbye and good luck, and dropped it in the mailbox today.  I'm feeling a bit like a five year old.  Jeez.
Barbara Kruger
          That being said, I'm SO committed to getting this curriculum "out there."  If anything can save the arts in public as well private schools, it'll be revamping the intent and outcomes of the arts.  Yes, art education should remain expressive, meaningful, creative, and should allow for imagination to free flow.  But current financial and  accountable times are drastically requiring the continuing existence of the arts to also benefit the academic, core subjects.  (Yeah, art is a core, but not according to to many state and federal mandates, hunh?)
          So what to do?  Raging against the machine isn't working- not the most articulate among us who write, speak, blog, paint, organize, or simply cry.  
          My proposal summary begins:
Some say public education is going down the tubes, art education leading the pack.  Switching it up, explicitly adding meaning, language, and sociology, may make the art room important, visible, and crucial to the students of the 21st century, as well as to administrator and politicians running the budgets.  And adding a postmodern twist and new considerations to the old elements and principles of art might just shock the ground upon which old art education moseys.
          I believe it's time, in our schools under the contemporary restraints and attacks, to look deeply at art education as we know it.  Many among us are doing this.  Most are not.  The old paradigm of art education is shifting radically.  With power, passion, and meaning, art education can enhance individual and communal health.  Attention to a social justice and postmodern curriculum may just be the ticket, eh?

         So much to think about, and more to share.  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Black Out Poetry.... Thirty Decades Later

Just discovered Austin Kleon's Blog, Book, Store, Speaking Engagements.... guy knows how to market himself, not that I'm jealous!!  I insert that 30 years ago, in a rural high school English classroom, my students were creating poems using this same method of subtraction.  To think that a BLOG could make this old lesson plan of making poetry go viral... amazing and somewhat laudable.

Kleon's site includes a plethora of sketchbook ideas, which incidentally is one of the avenues he took to get here.  Might be a good consideration for art education and language integration!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Postmodernism: What it is and how to include it.

Our presentation went swimmingly, and thought I'd post it here for those who wrote down my blog "spot."
Perhaps next year I'll be toting and selling my curriculum book~  (  Hope, hope....  )

Sunday, March 13, 2011

National Art Ed Assoc Conference: Seattle~~ Here we COME!!!

Four of us fifty-somethings (sixty?) reserved a suite in a B&B at Pike's Place in Seattle for the national conference this week- SOOO exciting this is!  We just might even go to the conference.  haha.   Museums, galleries, Seattle coffee, walking and shopping, and yeah, all the workshops, keynote speakers... what a blast.  I'm exhausted already.

Friday, March 11, 2011

HOLD Your Horses

This may be old news, but it deserves to be posted.

As does an instructional version with the original paintings identified.

What a fantastic way to learn a snippet of classical art history!

Never Letting Go

Monday, February 28, 2011

Multicultural Shift in California

During my thirty plus year tenure teaching at Orland High School in Northern California, I was blessed with what I considered a diverse classroom; a room of as many Mexican American children as white.  When I first began teaching Art in the mid 80's, I would divide my teaching class hour in two: half in English and half in Spanglish/sign language. Although I found this difficult and considered it unfair to both groups, I loved the challenge as I loved the kids.

Today, L-, my ex-student-teacher-now-teacher-extraordinare, sends to me a website, about the British/Indian Singh twins, that is pertinent to HER classroom, forty miles from her own high school art room, where she was my student.  She texts me tonight, on freaking FIRE, about Anthony Bourdain's travels to Haiti, and she is now determined to "change the F--ing WORLD."  Yep, quoted directly.

We concluded our conversation cogitating a visit to Cambodia.

Multicultural education has taken on new dimensions.  As I'm writing the introduction to my (hopefully to publish) book of postmodern education in an art room, I'm recall the silly lessons we presented just a few decades ago- Mayan masks, rock hieroglyphics, totem poles- and fear that these lessons are still the foundation of too much "multicultural education."  L- is teaching about Afghanistan war rugs, feminism, and the Venus de Willendorf, and the value of artistic appropriation to social justice.

I wanna go back and do it all again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fascinating Times

What with Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, China, New Zealand, and Wisconsin, I reflect we live in unsettling times.  Why do the conglomeration of these event seem more radical than so many of the near past disasters?

I share a post about Education on Momma Politico.  All heady stuff, all the same but different.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Biological AND Imaginative AND Whimsical

Every now and then one runs into an artist who isn't necessarily profound, yet so IS.  Ashley Williams speaks  (video on the right side here) of her thinking when blending history, biology, and geography.  I find this to be so clever and quite divergent from much of what is studied today in the visual arts.

See more at Aerofauna.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not a typical art post, yet one of passion.

I'm fascinated and a not a bit frightened by the goings-on in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, ... .  I've also been paying close attention to news of the Cairo Museum, a place to visit on my bucket list.  That local community members found it imperative to create a human chain around the building in order to save the artifacts is humbling to me, one who lives in the U.S. where we are cutting funds for art programs, art classes, city wide art activities, etc.

Human Wall to Protect the Cairo Museum

I am embarrassed to admit that Egypt and the middle east seem so other-world to me.  I barely understand unemployment, disaster, hunger, hopelessness but from what I witnessed in small hands on doses when teaching for 32 years in public schools.  
But how vivid it is to read and hear about the revolution in Egypt when a recent tweet offered up this article about 100 year old Manshiyat Naser aka Garbage City with accompanying pictures.  I had to follow a link to verify the truthfulness.  That these slums exist and that, I suggest, there is not a one of us who can even contemplate a life in such squalor is equally both embarrassing and horrendous.  We need to look deep before we pass judgment on the current protests in the mid-east.  
I wonder how long we, in America, would accept this state of affairs.  These stories and images also force me to contemplate the issues we complain about.

Garbage City  in Cairo

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drawing. Back to Basics.

I'm inordinately impressed with the design that can be rendered with a simple pencil.  I LOVE to draw.  Always did, but thought I needed to grow up and get color on my palette, so to speak.  Think I'll drop back for a while.

(stolen and unable to find artist, sorry.)
Nina Roos Online

BECA Galleries at becagallery.com

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Wanna Doodle for Google

With the coming threat of career tech education, art educators need to blend art "career" education with teaching the elements and principles of art and design.  Infinite lessons address this blend, but I must post the Google Doodle Contest.  I want to make one!

A thousand more can be found HERE, the Google Homepage.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Will Wilson of San Francisco

I just discovered Will Wilson.  His work is brilliant.