Saying good bye to David Bowie

“The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” — David Bowie

I was going to write about my lovely weekend as part of my usual Monday update, which included a surprise visit from my amazing aunt and a walk among the redwoods, but right now my heart is all caught up in the world’s loss of an astounding artist and man. A lot of people have reached out and shared their tributes and feelings about this loss already, so I’m not going to repeat the same sentiments, when there are so many people who have done it better.

“Bowie provided us with a soundtrack for our alienation,” wrote Charlie Jane Anders in David Bowie Made The World a Safer Place for the Alien in Us All.

Emily Asher-Perrin describes Bowie as the The Patron Saint of Personal Truth. She writes, “We talk so much these days about how representation matters, and here’s some more anecdotal evidence to fuel the fire; I’m not sure I ever would have realized that I was queer if David Bowie didn’t exist.”

Buzzfeed also has a roundup of the ways People Are Mourning David Bowie On Twitter, which is both moving and humorous and heartbreaking.

For me, my awareness of Bowie was less through his music than through his film performances, most notably Labyrinth, which both dazzled and frightened me as a child, with Bowie as the goblin king being likewise both creepy and attractive. Along these lines, Peter Bradshaw has a nice piece on Bowie the film star: “Pop singers from Sinatra to Elvis to Madonna have dabbled in the movies, with varying results, but David Bowie always convinced his public that every role he accepted was an artistic decision and an artistic experiment, governed by his own idealism.”

I also want to point to a well rounded piece by Aida Manduley, in which she asks Time to Mourn or Call Out? She writes, “We should not simply dismiss David Bowie’s artistic legacy and the impact he had on many AND we should not dismiss the allegations of rape and the realities of how he had sex with a 14/15-year old when he was a powerful and revered adult.”

Prior to reading Manduley’s article, I had no idea that Bowie had been accused of rape, which adds another layer of disheartening to his loss. No one wants to believe their heroes are flawed, especially if those flaws are to the degree of something as awful as the accusation of rape. However, it’s important not to ignore the full picture of pop stars and actors and other famous individuals, which is why I’m including Manduley’s article here.

Artist Spotlight: Jill Allyn Stafford

Jill Allyn StaffordJill and I have been friends for a number of years and her work has delighted and inspired me from the start. Using a combination of magazine clippings, tissue paper, newsprint, and photographic transfers along with modeling paste extender, pumice gel medium, and other mediums, Jill Allyn Stafford creates richly textured mixed-media art the expresses conflict, love, humor, and loss. Her style and techniques have evolved and grown over the years and am excited to announce that her work featured in her first solo show.

In addition to making art, Jill is a mother and a legal assistant in a small health-law law firm. She actively works to fund raise and increase awareness for children’s literacy and for breast cancer research. She donates art to multiple non-profits and charities and attempts to coax other artists into sharing their work with the public. Jill also helped form the nonprofit arts group Vox Sacramento, and is a current board member of 916 INK.

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What got you interested in creating art? What draws you to mixed-media art?

I stopped making art when I was in the 6th grade. I became so disillusioned with my inability to draw anything realistically, and so threw in the towel and labelled my self as “not creative.” Fast forward to my 30s when I felt this urge to create. I still couldn’t draw, but I could cut up magazines and put the images together. It just fell together that way. And that’s also why I enjoy mixed media art — you can have no drawing or painting skills, but if you have an eye for putting things together, you can!

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Blood Swept Lands and Seas – Poppies at the Tower of London

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During my trip to London, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Tower while the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies was on display. Each of the 888,246 poppies that fills the moat represented a British military fatality during the WWI.

The view of the poppies pouring out of one of the Tower windows and filling the moat with bright red is inspiring, whether you know the meaning or not. It’s an installation to make passersby stop and take pause, and it’s no wonder that every walkway surrounding the Tower was thick with people doing just that.

The moat has since been emptied of the poppies and I am grateful for the lucky timing that allowed me to witness this spectacular remembrance of fallen soldiers.

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Imaginary Architectures

When I walk through an art museum, I seek out works that move me, pieces of art that resonate in some way or in some way make me stop in my tracks and consider it further. The art that moves me is not always the most famous or most popular art. It may capture my imagination, sending me off into a story, or it may provide and emotional gut check.

I especially look for this in modern art museums, such as the Tate in London. I’m drawn more to modern art (much of the older art prior to the 18th century can sometimes all look the same to me no matter how beautiful), so local modern art museums are always a must when I travel .

The Tate has many great works of art in a variety of styles, from cubism to minimalism and everything in between. There are a few Picassos there among other well known artists.

However, one set of pieces that stood out for me were the imaginary architectures from the Projects series of Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin, which presented dreamlike architectural imagery in old style etchings that had me imagining steampunk landscapes and Victorian industrial and fantastical cities. I would love to post some images of the art here, but I’m not sure what the copyright rules are. You can see one of the intricately detailed images on the Tate Modern website.

More can be found posted here.

Both artists are “paper architects” who created seemingly impossible designs out of paper. I plan to follow up and learn more about both of these artists and their work. But in the meantime, I think I’m going to have to go back to the Tate later this week and buy a print from their Projects series for my wall.

St. Michael's a jerk and other paintings at the National Gallery

The National Gallery in London holds oodles of amazing paintings across many centuries, from the medieval religious works (including a piece by Leonardo Da Vinci) through to Renaissance to some expressionists (with some works by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gough). But here are a few paintings I found amusing beyond the quality of the art. I admit that this post is partially inspired by Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History, which is far more hilarious than I am capable of being.

Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil (1468), painted by Bartholomé Bermejo, in which Saint Michael comes off as something of a dick.

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Germany Wanderings

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The sun is setting in Quedlinburg as I step out of my hotel in search of an ATM and food. The ATM is easy. I have a clearly marked map and even in the fading light, the streets are easy to follow.

I turn toward where I think the city center is an start walking, figuring I find somewhere to eat along the way. It’s a tiny town after all.

A shouting, laugh conglomeration of teenagers ambles down the street. Two ride rattling skateboards on the sidewalk.

A man sags past alone and lonely.

Then, a family of three generations, grand parents, youths, children rolling forward in strollers.

Other than these few encounters, the streets are quiet. Empty. The cobblestone are black and shiny with reflected streetlights. I am beginning to think every shop and restaurant is closed in the entire tiny town, when the image of Frida Kahlo in a window stops me. I adore Frida and feel a warm glow at the sight of her.

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Local Sandman Art!

So, apparently the Cartoon Art Museum is hosting a special exhibit of original artwork from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, such as paintings, sketches and other rarities in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the comic book series.

I may be freaking out just a little bit. You know, or maybe A LOT.

First, I ha no idea San Francisco had a Cartoon Art Museum, which is awesomeness in and of itself.

Second, it’s a FREAKING M-F-ING Sandman artwork exhibit!!

Sandman is not only among my favorite comic book series, but among my list of favorite books of all time. The myths and tales that Gaiman weaves together combined with compelling characters and amazing artwork is just… so… fantastic I don’t even have eloquent words for it at the moment.

I am ridiculously excited to go to this exhibit.

Of course, I’m still going crazy with NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo and work crazies and other challenges this November, so my visit to the museum will have to wait until December. But when that day comes — GLEE!

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From Action Comics Vol 1 #894 “The Black Ring, Part Five”

Wonderland Lettering Completed

I’ve been avoiding writing. But since I’ve been avoiding writing by doing something creative, I don’t actually feel too bad about that fact. I spent much of my evenings last week and part of my weekend finishing the “Sienna in Wonderland” art work for my niece’s room by adding layers of paint to each panel. I always kind of kick myself when I do super thin lines in the forms of spirals like this, because I don’t have great brushes for that kind of detail work. It turned out fine, though, and I’m happy with the final product.

Sienna in Wonderland wall art

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Sienna in Wonderland wall art

I have also painted the frames, so that one will be bright blue and the other bright purple. It should make a great addition to my niece’s bedroom.

The wood cutout of a teapot will be painted by my sister Pilar (aka, Auntie No. 2), so once it’s all complete and hanging on my niece’s wall, I’ll be sure to take a final picture to show you guys.

I’m not posting a goals list this week and probably won’t next week either, since it’s impractical to expect myself to complete a big long list of to-dos when I’ll be traveling both this and next weekend. The first weekend trip with be half for work and half for play with me spending a few days on the Pensacola, FL beach. The second weekend trip will be to Washington, DC to meet up with some of my tumblr buddies, and we’ll be checking out the local museums and other fun stuff.

Still, there’s opportunity over the next couple of days to, as Pilar says, “get sh!t done,” so we’ll see how it goes. Mostly I don’t want to overwork myself, because I want to stay healthy for my trips.

"As human beings, we have a natural compulsion to fill empty spaces." – Will Shortz

One submission was made last week of a previously rejected story and I finished the sketch stage of creating my niece’s wall art, which you can see below.

Wall Art – Part I
Wall art for my niece

Wall Art – Part II
Wall art for my niece

In between these will be a wood cutout of a teapot with the word “in” on it (which my other sister will be creating), so it will read “Sienna in Wonderland” once it is all completed. The next step with these pieces will be to add paint in yellow, teal, purple, and/or blue. I will probably do some test patches before deciding.

I have been out of the groove with writing lately and I’m having a hard time getting back into it. I need some deadlines I think, or at least a schedule to kick me back into gear.

To be accomplished in the coming week:
– Finish second half of Chapter Six of Under the Midday Moon
– Submit something (poem, story, whatever)
– Workout at least three days with two workouts being running training (0/3)
– Do three morning yoga workouts (0/3)
– Practice my Spanish
– Do color testing and final paintwork on niece’s wall art

– Make Progress on Organization (do one or more of the following):
• Buy shower curtain hooks for organizing scarves
• Find a way to better organize shoes with double shelf or slots
• Buy a tie hangar for necklaces and create rack for earrings
• Shred papers and dispose of them
• Measure pictures and buy frames