Look and See (and Listen)


Today is all about fun and games. Here are a few fun links for those of the visual and textural persuasion (that's you, right?)

Art Images from the Exploratorium: http://www.exploratorium.edu/imagery/art_images/index.html

Beautiful sounds from TED TALKS. Here, "Rokia Traore sings the moving "M'Bifo," accompanied on the n'goni, a lute-like Malian stringed instrument with a soulful timbre." from this TED site.


For making your own "BEAT BOX" videos: MAD PAD app for iPad and iPhone at http://www.smule.com/madpad


And, thanks to Valerie's recommendation, this is a great newsletter about creativity -- all phases and stages. Your can subscribe from the website here.

I found this about the site its originator from the ABOUT page:

"Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become."

Here's a fun example of a book review from the site:

"In there mere three weeks since we firstfeatured the delightful 344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment by ever-inventive designerStefan G. Bucher (of You Deserve a Medal and Daily Monster fame), it has quickly become the most popular book in Brain Pickings’ entire five-year history. The lovely pocket-sized gem, illustrated in Bucher’s unmistakable style, helps you flowchart your way to personal and professional happiness and figure out life’s big answers.


Let’s be clear: I want this book to be useful to you. There are many great how-to books and biographies out there, and even more gorgeous collections of current and classic work to awe and inspire. But looking at catalogs of artistic success won’t make you a better artist any more than looking at photos of healthy people will cure your cold. You’ve got to take action!” ~ Stefan G. Bucher"

Beneath the Surface


Quilts, Inc. has posted the online version of the Beneath the Surface exhibit, curated by Leslie Jenison and Jamie Fingal. Here's the link:


And here are some more photos and information about the exhibit on the curator' blogs. 


Other pictures on Leslie's blog http://leslietuckerjenison.blogspot.com/ and Jamie's blog http://jamiefingaldesigns.blogspot.com/


Something New. Something Old.

JUNE 4-6 

(optional Fri. night potluck)

Many artists have found inspiration in prehistoric and archetypal imagery from caves, cliffs and ancient ceramics. This is the first of a series of “creative study” workshops that will illuminate how you as an artist can take inspiration from the images and imagination of the past, while transforming the images into something uniquely your own. This workshop models a time-proven creative study process (based on that developed at Learning About Learning Educational Foundation and the Paul Baker Theatre)  that can be adapted to many inspirational sources.

We’ll go from collection through synthesis to creating, and explore textile and mixed media techniques that relate to the aesthetic and philosophical qualities and intent of the earliest art-makers. Use handmade brushes as tools, make pigmented paints with ashes, earth, rust and minerals. Learn to use two different techniques for transfering photos and sketches to fabric using a home printer/copier-- directly printing on fabric you  prepare with Bubble Jet Set and doing a transfer print with polyester film and gel medium.

We'll also have a chance to drum, share poetry and stories, and share a meal under the moon and stars. And, of course,  enjoy the beautiful early summer weather in the Texas Hill Country. We've added a sleeping porch to the house, so if you wish, you can even sleep (sort of) under the stars, though the airconditioned comfort of the bedrooms are also available. Only one $30 private room remains, otherwise, for $15 you can sleep in the studio, or for free on the porch or air mattress. Remember to bring swim suits and towels for the pool and hot tub! The workshop fee is $160 whether you stay two nights or one!

Art and Leadership: Bamberger's Selah


Photo from Bamberger Ranch website.

Art and leadership. Leadership through art. Artful leadership. Of my out-of-the-studio hats, I'm wearing one of them the next three days, teaching with a group of colleagues. The students are Central American highschoolers who are attending a two week leadership symposium, the first week in Washington, D.C; the second week here in Texas. We are spending the next three days together at Selah, the ranch/ecology and environmental center founded by David Bamburger.

David and his work was featured on NPR a couple of days ago, you can hear more about the ranch here. And check out the website, here.

As to our activities, I'll be working with my colleagues from Alamo College's International Program -- Julia Jarrell, Daniel Gonzalez and others (including the "hosts" for the meals, logistics and amenities, the ILS program participants who are 20 young professionals and community organizers from South America). We will spend some of our time touring the ranch (hopefully the rain will stop!) and part of the time in creative arts activities.  San Antonio highshool students will host the Central Americans in their homes over the weekend and take them to their highschools on Monday. Next Tuesday we'll go to Say Si, a wonderful arts education and pre-professional training center for young artists, and continue working to create a multimedia presentation for the hosts, community leaders and peers. The Leadership participants will be exploring the roles, voices and actions that their world needs in the future. Here's a excerpt from our activity outline:

ROUND ROBIN of three activities with group divided into three teams, ILS participants sign up to work with one activity, being trained to help and then taking over some of the leadership with subsequent groups. Each activity takes about 50 minutes  including sharing at the end of each. Facilitators and staff will take photos as the activities are done and at the end, take pictures of each of the Leadership student participants with their products, as time allows.  I will also have a flip video camera and try to take some short action videos clips, too.. All our staff who have cameras need to bring them.

A. Leaders of the Future Badges

Badge making in pairs. Students and participants interview each other about their concerns, hopes and dreams for their future and the the future of the planet. What kind of important roles and careers and viewpoints and values are needed (environmentalist, activist, balancer, peacemaker, visionary, inventor, etc) The partners learn a bit about each other in the present, too. Then make colorful badges with magazine pictures and words (ENGLISH LABELS ON LABELS.doc attached. Please reproduce about 10 copies per page on colored paper if possible. Translate or do similar labels in Spanish and make copies of those too. Cut apart ahead of time if someone has time to do so, other wise we can do at the ranch)

B. Voices from the Future Masks

Students will think about who could be the “spokespersons” of the future – animals, plants, natural phenomena (like the earth or the ocean or reefs) and people. They will design and make strong graphic masks with paper bags, black construction paper, newspaper and white paper cutouts. If time, students will in small groups do some improvisation of what these voices from the future will say. Possibly make cartoon bubbles that go with the masks.

C. Recipes, Remedies and Cures

Starting with some brainstorming, create skits and write about the problems they see that must be solved to have a peaceful, sustainable, healthy future. Students will write, individually, then adding in groups, about the recipes, remedies and cures for these current ails. They will be in the form of recipes, etc. (ex. Recipe for Safe Cities: add  3 parts healthy sustainable infrastructure to 2 parts excellent schools, mix well with imagination, invention and technology. Do not forget to add concern, equality and love for one’s neighbors. Mix well, Let season. Do not put in too large a pan. Smaller batches may be more successful.) Begin work to make these into small group skits that could be part of presentations.


Star Party if weather permits

Continue nature program with Bamberger staff and ILS


Intermission: Altar Show Opens

The Celebration Circle silent auction of altars created by local artists goes up today at Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall, 4522 Fredericksburg Rd.. "The Sacred Art of Altars; One People, Many Paths" is the sixth annual such fundraiser for Celebration Circle, an organization near to my heart. When we lived in the city, we were weekly circling on Sunday morning with a wonderful spiritual/artistic community. Now I continue to participate as I can, and that includes contributing to this event.

Welcome to the Celebration Circle!


"We are an open, inclusive, inter-faith community with a creative approach to spirituality. We learn from many faith traditions as we celebrate the sacred together through uplifting music, meditation, movement, discussion, art, poetry and laughter."



Silent auction bidding is open all month with the exhibit on display free inside the lobby during theater hours, Sept. 1- Sept. 30. A closing reception and auction closing, with a special screenin gof "Happy-Go-Lucky," Mike Leigh's film will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 6 pm. the closing reception and film costs $15 in advance (see the CC website for details) or $20 at the door that evening.

Here's a link to last year's Sacred Altar exhibit, beautifully photographed by Gary O. Smith. This year's postcard above features several of those altars -- (l to r, top to bottom) Jane Appleby,M.D., Joan Frederick, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Laurie Brainerd, Susie Monday, Edward Sagebiel, Miriam Moor, and Cindy Palmer.

Just a few artists who are participating this year: Pam Ameduri. Bernice Appelin-Williams, Sue Cooke, Alejandra Diaz-Berrios, Lisa Kerpoe, Jai Medina, Zet Baer, Alice Fermin, Martha Prentiss, Regina Sanders, Thom Ricks, Sharon Shelton-Colangelo, Sarah Burke, Laurel Gibson, Martha Grant and many more -- 55 in all.


Speaking of Celebration Circle and like events, our Spiritual Director Rudolf Harst will be among those performing at a special memorial concert on Sept. 11 at the Mennonite Church.


September 11, 2009, 7:30 p.m. (doors open 7 p.m.)
“An Evening of Remembrance, Transformation and Beauty”at
peaceCenter at the Mennonite Church of San Antonio
1443 S. St. Mary's Street
San Antonio, TX  78210

This evening is a remembrance of the events of 9/11 and acknowledgement of the Obama Administration’s launch of National Day of Service.  Ruby (Erika Luckett and Lisa Ferraro) is the featured artist; they will be joined by Rudolf Harst, singer and Spiritual Director of the Celebration Circle of San Antonio.  This event is co-sponsored by Celebration Circle, peaceCENTER and Urban Campfires.

For information/reservations: (210) 533-6767 or  circle@celebrationcircle.org  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Suggested donation: $15

Your Path, Content and Themes

I have a cousin who when young would go take on a topic and do it to death -- several years, it was trains -- he not only had a train-themed bedroom, he knew the whistles and engineers on the train routes that went past his rural home. Another year, he decided to dig, starting with a root cellar under the house and then went onto a swimming pond in the front yard. No kidding. This kid had a knack for content and theme. His life, though not that of an artist in the traditional sense, has been rich with exploration and investigation, taking him through careers as varied as archeologist, chemist, political organizer.

For me another part of personal voice has to do with content and subject matter. Many artists who are just starting out jump around from one topic to another, one genre to another --  this is an important part of learning. Sooner or later though the time comes to get beyond the surface of a topic or interest, whether it is rural landscapes or flowers or political activism or portraiture. Or how oil paint goes onto a canvas, or the way couched lines of yarn take on contour.


Committing to solving the same problem different ways has a real benefit In the process of finding one’s voice. Perhaps this is where series comes in. (And, to respectfully disagree with artists who defend their unwillingness or disinterest in working in series) have you ever known an artist whose work really took them somewhere who did not have serial work that built one on the other? I don't.

Your series may be connected to content and subject matter or it may be a more formal approach with color or line or a particular attack in the realm of stitching that comes into play. For example, Lisa Call's structured series has a content that not only relates to her perception of land and fences, but a theme of stitch and intersection. Geography can provide a thematic content, as is does with Virgina Speigel's Boundary Waters series. Even a shape takes on a thematic weight if it's used often and explored in depth. Darcy Love's amazing art cloth and fiber art always returns to the animals and plants in her world and in her travels. Jane Dunnewold's work at Art Cloth Studios is often grounded in her study of Zen concepts.


How do you pick? Start with something that holds some passion for you – something with enough personal interest that you might have a chance of making it interesting to someone else.

Sometimes the content of one’s work is directly related to “formal” interests (for example, an artist interested in rhythm, might find a study of African mudcloth patterns particularly inspiring and influential, or maybe exploring the visual idea of windows would appeal to an artist who likes spatial concepts.) For others, a theme or content is something important because of experience, story and memory – journaling can help you identify these kinds of themes. Themes and content lead one to develop personal imagery, ways of handling materials and tools, narrative content sometimes.

I have a number of recurring themes in my work -- mermaids, iconic spiritual figures, angels, prickly pear cactus and other plants around the land, my own handprint, the colors and actual materials of Latin America. All of these come and go, layered and justaposed in my work. I come and go with them, with these series, since my particular way of working in one that honors my own need for variety and improvisation. But I keep them alive, adding perhaps along the way, dropping one or another and then circling back around. These do become the elements and approaches that make my work recognizable -- and that IS important to me. Both as an artist and a one who wants to sell my work to collectors and institutions.

What about you? How is recurring content, interesting themes, important to your work? Have you ever committed to doing something more than once?

Around the World in 40 (or so) Blocks.

After a successful and productive Art Cloth Network meeting in New Brunswick (with a day-long Manhattan museum adventure on Friday) Susan Ettl and I returned to the Big Apple today and took a whirlwind trip around the world -- from Penn Station we went first through (eating at a Japanese/Korean cafe of course) Korea Town, then bused down to Washington Square, taking in a park filled with sun-loving tennis fans watching the live action on a big screen. Then we walked down through Soho (now the land of glitzy boutiques where once my artist friends and I slept on sleeping bags in big unfinished lofts), stopping in at a wonderful Indian import store, then  to Canal, perused the bag and pashmina vendors over to Tribeca, back to China Town (dollar stores and housewares, joss paper and interesting items for soywax batik) anda small park on Bayard -- I think Columbus Square  -- which was just about as close as one can get to China without crossing an ocean (two live Chinese operas, simultaneously, martial arts practice and many, many tables of card and game players),  then back north through Little Italy to catch a little Latin Jazz improv back in Washington Square, and back on the bus to Penn Station. Once back in New Brunswick, we ate dinner at an elegant Ethiopian restaurant, a first for both of us. (injira, the flat crepe-ish fermented flour bread is amazing).

We experienced at least five distinct cultures, not counting the tennis and jazz, the youth culture of our college campus bus ride back to the inn, and the almost overwhelmingly melange of languages, fashion, faces that are the "culture" of New York City. I ran out of battery power for my iphone camera about half way through, but these shots will remind me of the inspiration of this big, beautiful, American city.

Postscript:  I recently promised my brother-in-law Chai (Dr. Israel Cuellar, PhD, noted scholar, research psychologist, novelist and Chicano activist/scholar) that I would be "tasting" for him, as his ALS had made it necessary for him to give up the pleasures of "real food." All the flavors of today -- the physical, the emotional, the tactile, the movement and light and space, the visual feast -- I dedicate to his memory. Chai left his body late this afternoon, after the most valiant, brave and powerful encounter of a relentless disease that I have ever witnessed. I had the privilege to work with him as an editor for his novel (soon to be published), The Barrida Cure, that he wrote as his final creative challenge and accomplishment over the past four years.

My prayers are with his soul and spirit, at last free from suffering, and with Linda, his sister, and with all the family.