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I like liberty!

1 Apr

“Why don’t you guys come up for dinner?”  Karen asks.

“Oh, that would be great, ” I say.  Karen’s Dad is in town, and it will be nice to see him. ” What can I bring?”

“A ring.  You can bring a ring. ” says Karen.  “A solid gold ring, with the Bells of Canterbury on it.”

“Piece of cake,” I say.

“And I want the bells LIFE SIZED–“

“Oh honey, I was going to run to Canterbury to get you the ACTUAL bells, and mount them right on the ring for you.”

“Well,” says Karen, “that would be nice!”

I am thoughtful when designing my pretend, ridiculous jewelry.

“Or!” I say,  “Or!  Maybe the Liberty Bell, instead?  It’s closer.”

“Ohhh, I like liberty,” says Karen.

“OK, then.  I’ll go get the Liberty Bell, and I’ll mount it on a ring for you and bring it to dinner.  Anything else?”

“Yes,” says Karen, “I want the word ‘LIBERTY’ written on the ring.  On the outside.”

“No problem.  In big letters?”

“Yes, an inch high.  And, I’d also like the poem from The Statue Of Liberty inscribed on the inside of the ring.”

“The ‘bring us your poor, your huddled masses‘ poem?”  I ask.   I need to be clear about what poem it is that I’m inscribing.

“Yes.  That one.  The whole poem.  On the inside.”

“Sure!  I can totally do that!  Anything else?”

“I want all the ‘i ‘s’ dotted.  With diamonds.”

“OK.  So.   Gold, Liberty Bell, the word ‘LIBERTY,’ the huddled masses poem, diamonds for the dots over the ‘i ‘s’, by dinnertime tonight. Is that all?”

“Yes,” says Karen.  “And I’d like you to deliver it on a white horse.”

“Naked, a la Lady Godiva?”

“Yes.”  Says Karen.

“And your price range?  What’s your budget?”

“Five dollars.”

I think that’s fair.

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Lara Logan

17 Feb

I have a girl-crush on Lara Logan. I have for ages.

Growing up, it never occurred to me that I might ever be limited by my gender.  I was a Title IX girl, raised by a mother and father who were the type of people who firmly believed in such things, and I don’t ever remember being told that one thing was more or less appropriate than another because I was a girl.  Both my parents pushed themselves physically and intellectually, and my sister and I were encouraged to do the same.  I’m not sure if what was expected of us would have been any different had we been boys.

Believing there was nothing a girl could not grow up and become,  in my teens I narrowed my options to pursuing: A) The life of a globe-trotting, beautiful,  impoverished and yet wickedly chic artist going city-to-city, lover to lover, leaving brilliant artwork and broken hearts in my wake when the spirit moved me to move on with no apologies or excuses. OR, B) The life of a globe-trotting, gritty and yet impossibly feminine hard news reporter, going war zone to war zone, lover to lover, traveling light, throwing  back whiskey with the boys, leaving broken hearts and a reputation for top-notch journalism behind me when I left without warning to pursue my next story.

This all seemed so very reasonable,  and yet at every turn my gender pushed me towards the path I walk today.  Just because options are available for women doesn’t mean it’s easy, or even in our nature, to pursue them.

And that’s why I admire Lara Logan so:  She’s doing what the reckless, badass, fearless side of me boldly imagined it would be doing if I were so much less me.

Since the first time I saw Lara Logan interviewed by Jon Stewart –me, sitting surrounded by the accoutrements of my very gender-based choices– I’ve thought she was impossibly cool.  When I see a picture of Lara Logan pop up in a news feed, I almost always stop and read up on what she’s doing, mentally cheering on a woman who makes living a fearless life look easy; who has used her brains, kept her femininity, and set her own limits.   I’m sure her success hasn’t been as easy as she makes it look.

The news of her attack has stuck with me in a way that other, similar stories have not.  I don’t want to believe that men–men who went home to their wives and mothers and daughters after sexually assaulting Lara Logan–could visit such violence upon someone simply because they can, because their victim was a woman.   No woman should have to suffer such brutality, but I don’t want this to have happened to her in a way that’s a bit different from the way I wouldn’t wish this type of horrific attack on any girl or woman.

In a public square with her news team, doing her job, she paid a price for her success no male reporters did, and I didn’t want to believe that a barbaric sexual assault could be one of the hurdles of success she’d have to jump.  Sure, bad things happen, but she’s Lara-F***ing-Logan, living my young woman’s Title IX dream life, and my dream of being a gritty, sexy, hard news reporter did not include “and maybe getting gang raped while doing your job” in its description.

The grown-up part of me empathetically wants to cry when I think of any woman having to suffer in the way she must be suffering, but another part of me feels differently.  The idealistic part of me left over from childhood–the part that my parents nurtured to believe girls can do anything, and women only have the limits they take upon themselves– that part is really pissed off because….well, girls can do anything boys can do, damn it.

Put both those parts together, though, and I’m rooting for Lara Logan more than ever.   She’s Lara F***ing Logan,  and she’s just cool. I hope she shows the world that she will continue living her life on her own terms, because yes, girls can do anything.

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New painting: up from below

15 Feb

Here you go.

I’ve just finished this, and my wee little brain is too fried to talk about it.

 

up from below, 36 x 52 inches. Acrylic and graphite on paper.

 

www.vakadesign.com

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Today in the studio

31 Jan

Working on this painting (below),  listening to this,  headed to Mass at 12:15. This afternoon I’ll finish some custom pieces, and maybe post photos of how the painting is progressing.  Maybe, blogosphere.  I promise you nothing.

I’ve temporarily given up on the last painting (here, here, and here… see the problem?).

Sometimes a painting flies out of me (figuratively not literally, because that would really hurt.  In fact, if paintings literally flew out of me then I’d probably stop painting, because ew. ).  Sometimes a piece deserves abandoning: once you get started it just does not pull together, and the concept or idea is weak and not worth pursuing.  And sometimes–like this time– the concept is deeply compelling, yet the piece is really hard to get.

The newly abandoned painting was a progression of the one I did for Vinnie.

One night, Vinnie and I were talking about the nature of the universe, and I said that trying to understand the universe made me want to cry.  It was too much, too big, too complex, too indefinable.  Vinnie said that understanding the nature of the universe through string theory made sense to him, and that he found it quite reassuring and beautiful.  Curious, I set out to understand string theory.  And because I am me, I felt the need to process this concept visually.

“But you can’t draw string theory,” said Vinnie. “It’s a concept.

Oh Vinnie, concepts are meant to be drawn, painted, sculpted.  That’s what art is: visual communication where words fail.

Vinnie’s painting, then, was about connectedness; about emotional string theory.  It was about the almost spiritual feeling of being gently connected to another entity within endless planes and dimensions within endless time and space.   To paraphrase Rick in Casablanca,   “of all the gin joints in all the world…”  What are the odds of that connection? What an amazing thing, and yes, how very reassuring and beautiful.

In the second painting  I wanted to explore the multi-planed individual components of Vinnie’s painting further, but……  but I can’t f***ing make it work, blogosphere!    Honestly,  I think the subject is just too emotionally loaded for me at the moment; my feelings about it change day-to-day and moment-to-moment, and so I can’t find clarity in either my head OR this work.  Confused and yet compelled to clarify my thoughts and the work,  I’ve gone at the painting from every direction, and to no avail.

And so……  that painting is out–placed out of sight and out of my mind– and this one is in.  Interestingly,  today’s painting is one I abandoned in frustration once before.  Perhaps there is something for me to learn here:  understanding and resolution will come when they will, and not a moment sooner.

I hate life lessons.

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Bad. Ass. Mo. Fo.

19 Jan

Adele, live.

And seriously,  no one has anything to say about my whale joke?  That was an awesome whale joke, blogosphere.  If you can’t show a bit of appreciation for a good whale joke, then no more whale jokes for you.  That’ll learn you.

But listen:

It’s Rat Pack Tuesday

21 Sep

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dino, Sammy and Frank:

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And this one….hmmm.  What do you think of this?


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www.vakadesign.com

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Wucius Wong Wang Wuxie

9 Sep

One of my favorite things about Valerie and her husband, Jim, is their curiosity.  Everything peeks their interest.  Perhaps it’s because they are both geographers, and geography, at its most basic level, is the study of the world, its systems, and its phenomena. Val and Jim are professionally curious.

It didn’t surprise me when Jim returned from a recent business trip, excited about a work he had seen in Hong Kong. Jim took this picture of the piece with his cell phone camera:

detail of lower right corner


We searched and searched,  and while we found other works in Wong’s “Valley of the Heart series,” we never tracked down this piece.   Information on Wucius Wong, one of China’s greatest living artists, was hard to find.  I blame China.   Because if there is one thing I’ve learned from my children, it’s that pinpointing who is at fault and assigning blame is very, very important.

Wucius Wong is Chinese, and was born in 1936.  He has lived in the United States and Hong Kong, and his works are sprinkled in collections and museums around the world.  In addition to painting he is a graphic designer, and has published several books on design.  In Pinyin, his name is Wang Wuxie.   He is a very, very big deal.

Let’s look at the work of Wucius Wong / Wang Wuxie, shall we?

Because it worked so well before, I won’t say a word.  I won’t explain, or tell you of the artist’s intent.  I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Deep in the Mountains, 2005. Ink and color on paper, 79 x 79 cm.

Deep in the Mountains no.6, 2005. Ink on paper, 92 x 93 cm.

Converging Waters no. 2 , 2002. Mixed media on synthetic fabric, 83 x 180 cm

Valley of the Heart no. 9, 1998. Ink and color on paper 94 x 213 cm.

Waterfall Dream no. 1, 2000. Mixed media on paper, 66 x 68 cm

Waterfall Dream no. 2, 2001. Mixed media and collage on paper, 74 x 57 cm.

Water Melody no. 5, 2008. Ink and color on paper, 82 x 123 cm.

The artist at work: Wucius Wong.

And…..go!

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www. vakadesign.com

Sea Creatures

14 Jul

We’re headed north today, and there’s no time to post.  I have so much to do.   Gag and bind the children and tie them to the roof of the car, drug the dog….. There’s no end to my travel preparations, is there?

Karen will be caring for The Damn Cat.  Bless her.  We were going to bring the cat north with us because…..well, because I’m insane.  TDC isn’t litter-trained, however, and so we purchased a harness and leash for him, so that he could safely go outside while we traveled north.    It went about as well as you’re imagining, and my only regret is that we didn’t record the fabulousness that was Matt’s already slightly unhinged cat flying completely off his hinges.

When I called Karen to see if she could keep an eye on TDC while we are away, her words were:

“Sure.  I’ll take the cat.”

I took this to mean that she wants to take the cat forever, literally.  She quickly clarified,  insisting that she only meant she would “take” responsibility for caring for TDC while we were gone, but I didn’t hear her because I didn’t want to.  They will be so happy together.

Also, you might notice the new header.  It was a quickie I threw together from this painting, which was a collaborative piece I did with Matt several years ago.  While I worked on a series related to mapping, Matt drew his own maps of Lake Norman, complete with fish and the underwater mines for which the lake is famous.   I cut up those drawings which weren’t precious to him, and collaged them into a painting.  While I’ve had several offers for this painting, I will never, ever sell it.

I love this piece, and it hangs above my fireplace.

Sea Creatures (collaboration with Matthew Stein), acrylic on paper, 30 x 42

Well, he told them

5 Jul

Crazy-hair scientist guy sets the record straight.

One point on which I disagree:  Crazy-hair science guy says that were the trophy made of 24k gold, it would bend in half when lifted.   No, no, no, crazy-hair science guy!  Lifting it would not cause it to bend, but it would bend more easily under pressure.

My take on this?  FIFA says the trophy is solid 18k gold.  Crazy-hair science guy rightly takes this to mean solid all the way through. Because solid means, well, solid.

But FIFA is not selling or trading this cup, and so they would not be subject to the laws of the precious metal trade and its tightly defined terminology.   And they don’t seem to be subject to common sense definitions either, but that’s ok.  They are really good-looking.

FIFA has just used the wrong word, and I think what they are trying to say is that the trophy is made of metal which is pure 18k gold; the only metal used in this trophy is 18k gold.  From the weight measurements given, it is obviously hollow.

The World Cup has given us such joy; we’ve enjoyed weeks of watching beautiful men run around being muscly and sweaty,  and so I could not care less how FIFA describes their trophy.    Bless them for the good work they do. They make the world a better place.

Lenny Kravitz. How cool?

29 Jun

How cool is this?  This made me smile.

On June 25, 2010,  The Voice of Praise Choir from First Baptist Church in Lewisville was perfoming Lenny Kravitz’s  “Fly Away”  on the streets of New Orleans. Sitting nearby, having a drink on a terrace, was….Lenny Kravitz.   Hearing his own song,  he rushed over to join the fun,  turning a small concert into the moment of a lifetime for these choir members.

Kravitz commented on the video, saying the amazing moment really happened as described.

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