Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant"

Martin Luther King said so much more than "I have a dream". "Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant" were his words that spoke to me most strongly when I visited the Martin Luther King Memorial recently in Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco. The visitor follows a path behind a waterfall flowing from high above, actually getting misted depending on the direction of the breeze. Behind the waterfall are several large plaques, beautifully carved with quotes from Dr. King in English on the top. Each plaque has a translation into a different language below the English. Reading the quotes literally from behind the rush of flowing water was a powerful experience.

As we are entering a New Year with yet another tragic assassination, that of Benazir Bhutto, may we take hope anew from the words of Dr. King: "Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Missing Peace Project

I was fortunate to see The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on my recent visit to San Francisco. It is a multi-media art exhibition that brings together 88 respected artists representing 30 countries. With the full life of the Dalai Lama as inspiration, the intention for this project is to shift the world's attention towards peace.

Check out their website at, for a virtual tour and further info!

One of the most uplifting pieces for me was a continuous video loop by Marina Abramovic called At the Waterfall. Between the years 2000 and 2003, Abramovic collected 120 video portraits featuring the prayers of monks and nuns representing five Tibetan Buddhist traditions. All of these videos are projected simultaneously on a large wall with the sound of the overlapping prayers from different monasteries resembling a huge waterfall. Low red canvas chairs face the wall, so the viewer sits close to the floor, in a room darkened except for the wall of looping video. May I never forget what it felt like to be enveloped and transported by the cascade of sound...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Over the Border

It was a relief that yesterday's bus trip to Tijuana and Rosarito, "Artists of the Border," sponsored by the Atheneum Music and Arts Library,, wasn't cancelled because of the fires. My daughter and I had been looking forward to it, and now it was even more welcome. The high winds, falling ash, and poor air quality of the last week had no respect for national boundaries, but the worst was behind us. I had not been to the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) in several years and was amazed by the building boom in the whole surrounding area, including now McDonalds and Starbucks. Fortunately it also includes a new building going up at the Centro that will house an International Gallery built to museum standards, putting Tijuana on the international circuit of traveling exhibitions. Amazingly, this is sponsored by the National Council for Culture and the Arts: the government!

We also visited the Instituto de Cultura de Baja California, a state sponsored gallery which promotes the work of emerging, even edgy and controversial artists, as well as established artists. My daughter expressed a desire to purchase a small print. The gallery Director took her name and email address to pass along directly to the artist. "You can do business directly with each other" he said. It took me the whole day to wrap my mind around that. The gallery didn't take a percentage of sales, because their overhead is paid by the government. Not worried about survival they can take risks in who they show. As far as I can tell, their role is to provide exposure for the artists, be a cultural resource for the public at large, and connect potential collectors up with the artists. WOW!

I took the photograph above through our bus window, showing a section of the border fence in the upscale gated community where one of the artists we visited lived and worked. The neighboring home had a tree house in the backyard from which one could see over the fence into the United States. My understanding and appreciation of what it means to be part of this vital and rich border culture was deepened on many levels. The dance of inside/outside, who influences who, and just what is a border anyway, became more intricate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I thought I would be writing about having pieces in two wonderful shows. Our San Diego Chapter of Women's Caucus for Art is having a show together with the Women's History Museum,, - hopefully a first annual event. And Studio Maureen/Next Door Gallery,, is having its fabulous annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit. I am happy to be participating in both shows.

The raging firestorm throws this into quite a different perspective however. We are evacuated, camping out at my daughter's house, who fortunately lives in a safe area. When packing up the car, after selecting photos, videos of family, hard drives, legal & financial papers, and my grandmother's Sabbath candlesticks, which had survived twenty moves in two years in the Old Country before making it to America, I realized I hadn't packed any art. I quickly threw in the CDs of all the digitized slides of my work from 1984 to late 90's. There wasn't room for much. I had no hesitation about packing the wonderful collage by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith which has hung over my work table for many years, giving me joy and inspiration. It was a vote in favor of new work to come, made on a new work table, if necessary. Of my own work, I grabbed the photo etching "She Came to me in a Dream", which includes passages of the Kaddish prayer along with an image of my grandmother. It was close at hand, not too big, and two dimensional - easily packable. And it deals with loss...

Newer work not yet photographed, our collection of other peoples art - mostly friends, some of it trades, and our folk art collection - hopefully will all still be there awaiting our return home. I have complained in the past about my limited studio space - one bedroom chock full of supplies, old work, new sketches. To others it may appear to be a jumble. To me, I know exactly where things are, organized according to my own quirky catalog of visual images. All I have to do is putter in it, attempt to clean it up, and new sketches spring to life. The thought of losing it all is horrifying. I cherish my limited work space, not to be taken for granted. If I had larger space I would enjoy doing larger work, but I have never cherished what I do have as fully as now.

I also packed a piece of melted glass from James Hubbell's former studio which was destroyed in the fires of four years ago, along with a slender book of watercolors he painted after the fires. These amazing watercolors embody the continuity and resurgence of an artist's creative impulse despite losing so much, and his ability to see beauty even in destruction. Some of them were exhibited at the Oceanside Museum in 2005:

A plastic container with my journals from the last three years or so managed to fit in the back seat. Amazingly, it also included my very first journal, from 1971. All the rest, continuous during the intervening years, are in a box back in the garage. I had been reading a book called Harvesting Your Journals, by Rosalie Deer Heart and Alison Strickland, which makes me appreciate my years of journaling in a way I hadn't fully before. Furniture and clothing can be replaced. Thirty-five years worth of journals can't.

I feel calmer today, because of being with loved ones in a safe area, no longer wondering if or when we will get the order to evacuate. The air here is not too sooty and doesn't sting the throat and eyes. The grandchildren, who are bouncing off the walls with no school today, are a welcome diversion. It definitely beats watching flames on television.

Addendum at 9:00 p.m.: The winds have shifted and the evacuation order lifted. We are deeply grateful to be home again, smoky air and all. As I unpacked the car the first thing I did was hang the Jaune Quick-to-See Smith collage over my work table again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ride the Wave

What fun and what a privilege to participate in Create Change: the first annual Festival of Art and Imagination presented by The Expressive Arts Institute of San Diego, As promised, it truly was a five-day road-trip for the soul. How refreshing to immerse in multi-modal expression, alternating between movement, art (acrylics, collage, photography, clay), improv music, and poetry - all in the company of other playful souls. Risks taken, no judgements, batteries recharged, community created: joyfully juicy!

"Ride the Wave" is a detail of the acrylic I did at the Festival. When folded, it formed an eight-page book which was then elaborated with collage. Now that I'm home, I can't quite remember why I haven't explored acrylics more, especially since becoming allergic to oil-based media. Whatever was stopping me isn't there anymore. Hooray for atelier magic! I'm ready to ride the waves.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Remember the Magic!

“When you are creating there is an added energy that surpasses anything else” said artist Louise Nevelson, in a video that is part of her retrospective at The Jewish Museum in New York City.

Visual arts in the Big Apple, letting the nonverbal part of my brain take over, is my decompression chamber from the week of writing immersion at the International Women Writer’s Guild (IWWG) annual conference at Skidmore College.

In the audio to the Louise Nevelson exhibit, her friend Edward Albee said “she told me that every single piece she ever made was part of one big piece. She referred to herself as a weaver, weaving all the pieces into one huge piece.”

Looking at Nevelson’s sculptural walls, - each section having its own unique shapes, its own shadows and light, yet part of a whole, - made concrete for me what had happened at Skidmore in relation to each other as well as within ourselves.

There is a reason the conference is called “Remember the Magic”. Overflowing notebooks, pens running out of ink; work read, heard, critiqued; poems, novels, memoirs, screenplays; drumming, dream work, laughing, crying - the pieces wove together like Nevelson’s unexpectedly juxtaposed fragments.

The “added energy that surpasses anything else” was pervasive, contagious, exhausting, exhilarating. The "one huge piece" is the IWWG Archive at Smith College, which not only contains documents of the organization's thirty year history, but copies of all the published work of IWWG members.

Whether the art scene in the Big Apple or the array of classes offered at Skidmore, there is a normal human tendency to greed, the desire to sample it all. It is hard to prioritize, yet digging deep rather than wide is what reaches the underground water source... And after all, I'll be back next year.

On the Threshold

At the Albany State Museum, our respite after traveling from San Diego, my friend Ahouva and I came across the following Native American prayer:

The Threshold

Welcome my kinspeople. Let us refresh you after your long and difficult journey, and let us give thanks to the Creator that we are alive to see one another again.

To travel from Albany to Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs to attend the 30th Annual International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) Conference, "Remember the Magic," was indeed a return to “kinspeople". We were ready to board the bus. The magic had already begun.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cherish Each Day

As a member of San Diego Book Arts,, I wanted to paticipate in the upcoming cARTalog exhibit, which will travel to five San Diego area libraries from July 2007 through January 2008. The concept started with the University of Iowa. Thousands of cards from now-retired card catalogs were sent across the country with an invitation to create works of art from them. Of the cards distributed by San Diego Book Arts, this one, as it were, is the hand I was dealt. The synchronicity of this card finding me is beyond words. I completed the year of saying Kaddish (the prayer said in community as part of Jewish mourning practices) for my mother only a few months ago. The process was transformational in ways I could not have forseen.

Like the just-right writing prompt, this library catalog card opened an unexpected door for me. I am led to a new series of work called "Cherish Each Day," which views the simple, the ordinary, the everyday, through a new lens. My mother loved music - it was the last thing that remained with her. To be given a card of a record - this record, of Leonard Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony, - was magical.

"An Open Book" at BorelliSpace Gallery/February 2007

I was happy to receive the Juror's Choice Award at the Women's Caucus for Art/San Diego exhibition, "An Open Book", juried by Dorothy Annette of BorelliSpace. I am sad that the piece, "The Dow is Up" was triggered by a newspaper photo of a grieving Iraqi mother. The overlaid transparency creates a halo effect above her Iraqi Pieta...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Limbo Fine Arts / Recycled: third time's a charm

"Recycled: third time's a charm" at Limbo Fine Arts,, in September 2006, was a very exciting show to be part of, and was close to my heart on every level. I was happy to be among other artists who make use of flotsm and jetsam and funky found objects, - literally recycling. Then there is the recycling of experience. Pain? Make art out of it. Joy? Make art out of it...