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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wonder Bread

Imagine Bravely, Recycle Wonder

I have the nineteen year old daughter of friends visiting from Italy this month. The daughter is absolutely wonderful----funny, charming, happy, willing to clean and cook. Without even being asked, no less (“I love to cook”). Amazing.
So when, during week one, she requested that I buy her some “square bread” (a direct translation from the Italian/French “pain carré”), I took a minute to compose myself before clarifying: “Do you mean white bread?”
“Yes, yes, that’s it. Can we get some white bread?”
O.k. I’m having a full-circle moment about now. My 50’s-60’s childhood meant white-bread sandwiches every day for lunch. Although I grew up to be a connoisseur of all recipes SPAM-related, the very thought of white bread and baloney, white bread P & J, white bread and anything except possibly bread pudding, makes me cringe.  Unlike so many other foods from my youth, I came to hate the stuff, and vowed when I went off to college, never to eat another slice.
Yet here is sweet Marta, recently arrived from one of the world’s most fantastic bread-producing nations, asking for something so simple, so blah, and apparently in her family’s cuisine, so rare. This darling teen from Siena wants her some American white bread, yes-sir- howdy, and so, she shall have it. That evening she showed me how she makes toasted white bread melted cheese sandwiches. Rather good, actually. Then later in the week she suggested Nutella on white bread and that was amazingly lip-smacking, too.  Could it be that Wonder has changed the w.b. recipe? Upped its game a little??? So I gave it the classic test and sure enough, you can still take one whole slice and squeeze it into a round ball smaller than a robin’s egg.  Ain’t that something.
Go Italia!!!!
TTFN,
Renée

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Art and Recipes

Freight 445

I have become a pickling diva.
Two weeks ago, I held a paste-paper making workshop. If you read my blog, you already know this. Here’s what you don’t know unless you were there!!!  While we were working on our award-quality papers, we got to talking about pickling. Yep, as in sweet, dill, using cukes, watermelon rind, green tomatoes. Pickling, a skill I’d been saying for years I wanted to learn to do from scratch.
On-line, I could never get past all the Department of Health-type instructions about canning the pickled product.  Way to much fuss for yours-truly.
So as I was saying, we’re talking, and Oliver tells me the simplest basic recipe for pickling juice:
One part vinegar + two parts water + spices to taste
Fill glass jar (yes, glass, you want your pickling to taste like plastic?) with prepared item to be pickled.
Pour juice over items until they are completely covered. Put on lid; skip the whole canning thing--> store in fridge.
Pickling, who knew it was just that easy?
Since then I have made some good pickled watermelon rind, some totally delicious sweet and spicy pickled eggs and some over-the-top Brian’s Mustard-pickled cantaloupe. Isn’t thinking like an artist amazing? “Spice to taste” becomes whatever the heck we want it to be. Yummy.
Now 4 more about the art.
I’m all for making stuff from scratch. Except when I’m not.
A few years back, wonderful artist Helen Schaffer Garcia taught me to make my own paste for paste paper using corn starch.  She whipped up a batch right there on her kitchen stove. Rockin’. I knew I’d never do it. I never would have ground my own lapis lazuli to get a Vermeer blue, either. Just saying.
Still, I love the paste paper effect, so when I found a workshop with another wonderful artist, Al Rodriguez, I signed up. “Give it another try”, I told myself, “Maybe you’ll be more inclined to cook your art supplies this time,” I posited. Well, Al had it goin’ on in a way I could fully embrace. No cooking, just mixing. The rest is history…
Al’s recipe for paste-paper, plus tips from me
One part pre-mixed Universal Wall-Paper Paste “For all wall-paper and all wall surfaces”
One part pre-mixed tempera, color of your choice
Mix well (now here come my tips) in small batches, no more than a cup at a time, no more then 3-4 colors at once unless you’ve got lots of other folks partaking with you.
DO NOT EAT this stuff.
S’long ‘til next time,
Renée

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Me and the New Blackberry

Cellie Installation-will go on display with other tributes to recycling in Oct, 2011

I knew I was in for it when I opened the instruction booklet on my new Blackberry and the font was size 8—if even.   I’m thinking I’m gonna need adaptive equipment just to get started.
O.k. I was born smack in the middle of the baby-boomer years, and I do feel a certain sense of demographic entitlement. I’ll admit it. Font size 8? Come on—I thought 12 was marketing industry standard.
Marketing? Huh? This is an instruction booklet, right?  Ha! 
I open the teeny booklet and realize that T-Mobiles’ priorities are to sell me more apps. Hello, 411-connect, please: I can’t yet use the ones this gadget already has!
Forever, I’ve been adamant that I want my cell phone to be just that: a phone. No apps, no internet-connection.  Hold the camera, please, don’t need it.
Texting? Had my current phone for 3 years before a family emergency pushed me to learn the texting feature it contained.  Did ya notice I just wrote 3 years? Not a typo.  I’ve now had the same cellie for 6 years, and maybe I should have been upgrading all along as my cell company’s been suggesting, but why? My cellie works fine and there are already enough of other peoples’ old cell phones taking up space in my art studio, waiting to be transformed into the next Great American Sculpture.
Back to the Blackberry. I have been assigned one as standard equipment needed for my work. All well and good. But the training component (also standard) hasn’t caught up with the delivery of the hardware. I’ve got this new puppy. Haven’t been able to make a phone call with it—or answer one either, for that matter.  Would love to enjoy it’s “awesome” features as much as my co-workers are enjoying theirs. Maybe next week?
TTFN,
Renée

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How “Bout Them Juried Art Shows?


I’ve juried an art show or two in my time. I’ve entered  them too. Being on the juror end of it is really fun, though sometimes a bit wild. Being on the juried/inspected/judged end is another story.
Let me back up here. If you don’t know what a juried art show is, I’ll explain (and if you do, skip this part): the producers of an art show send out a call for art submissions. It costs money to produce the art show, so the producers charge a small fee for you to submit your artwork. The fee helps defray some of the cost of the show, you get to have your work looked at and evaluated by professionals, and maybe you get into the show. I said “maybe”. There’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted into the art show. You pay the fee up front either way. The person who decides if your work is in or out is the juror. 
Since there’s no guarantee that the art will be accepted, why do I enter juried shows? Short answer: SALES, baby!!!! Longer answer: Sales.  Recognition.  Recognition that leads to sales.
Recently I entered an example of work similar to the image above into the Southern California regional Art + Science* show. Happy to say, the work was accepted and even received an honorable mention from the juror, Ruth West.  I love to display my work at the gallery that’s holding this show, and I highly respect the juror, who is, like myself, both an artist and a person who works in the sciences. Gotta love that combo.
One thing about entering a juried show that the artist best  keep in mind: don’t take it personal. Easier said than done, but it’s true. The work that didn’t even get a passing nod from one juror, may receive an award from another. This really happens. All the time.  And let’s not discount the work that was rejected by a juror, went back to my studio where a private collector saw it and paid 4 figures for it. Buyer with cash trumps juror’s opinion. This happens, too, yee-ha! And last but not least, there’s the juried show I entered because it was annual, well known and well-attended by collectors. My work was accepted. And I sold two pieces to my first public art collection. What’s that I said earlier about sales and recognition? If you take a juror’s rejection personal, you might stop entering.  If you stop entering…you get the picture, n’est-ce pas?
So go to your studios and make stuff. Then take a chance and enter juried shows. You won’t be sorry, and who knows, you might get rich!
TTFN,
Renee
*The exhibit runs August 9-September 30, 2011. Go to www.escondidoarts.org for gallery days and times. Entrance is free, as is the artists’ reception on September  10th.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finger-Painting, Anyone?


I was teaching a paste-paper workshop several weeks ago when one of the attendees said “This is just like finger-painting.” I don’t think she meant it exactly in a good way. But her comment got me to thinking. Paste paper is like finger-painting; only with much better materials and tools other than your fingers that you can use to make the designs.
Way (way) back in the private Quaker school I attended in the 60’s, we did finger-painting now and then, and we learned that the coloring material we were using was called “tempera” --ringing any bells with you artists and teachers out there?  Tempera was cheap, came in great colors, washed off hands and clothes, and we kids didn’t much like the taste of it, so were not inclined to eat it. All really great “must haves” on a materials-list for kids.
Now-a-days, paste paper colorant can be acrylic, water color, food color---all good. But the least expensive and least fussy to clean up after remains good ol’ tempera, from a bottle, pre-mixed, and in a large variety of colors, including glossy versions.
For the work in this image, I decided to step out of my personal box a little and try applying the paste-paper medium and technique on a sheet of recycled paper I’d made. Ingredients for the recycled paper were cold water, shredded medical records, a page from an old American Airlines flight manual, and a used Lake Hodges kayaking pass. For the colored paste, I used undiluted wall-paper paste and acrylic paint. To make the designs in the colored paste, I used a Speedy Cut rubber stamp and various foam brushes I had around. My fingers stayed mighty tidy.
I think my friend was right in making the finger-painting connection. I’m guessing paste-paper has its roots there.  Just another reason to restore art classes to the early grammar-school curriculum.
Finger-painting, bring it on!!!
TTFN,
Renee

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The World's Still Spinning


I wasn’t raptured yesterday, but I did find the week I seemed to have lost.
I try to convince myself that I’ve got a memory for upcoming dates and times that’s spot-on AWESOME. Really, who am I kidding?
Earth to Richetts: If it’s not on your Microsoft calendar, it doesn’t exist.
All last week I was counting the days until the first week of June, when my month of art, fun, more, art, more fun begins. Small detail, though, I was counting 7 days too few.  Phew.
Ya, ya…like you’ve never done this.
This is not exactly a bad thing because I’ve been so crazy-busy, then I got sick and slept for about 3 days. So the 7 days I wasn’t counting are greatly needed and appreciated.
With this “extra” time, I’ve been hanging art and making up recipes involving beer. The art’s in the image above. Hopefully it’ll be juried into the “Mine the Chatter” show that opens  June 10th in Escondido.  This piece is so long, there’s no ceiling at my house where I can hang it without it hitting the floor. Probably shoulda thought that through a little better.  
No matter, on to the beer recipe:
Take three 16 ounce glasses, fill one with the biggest-baddest-darkest ale you can get, fill one with diet coke, fill one with ice. Pour equal amounts of the badass beer and the diet coke into the glass of ice.
Drink it in good health, while enjoying Cruisin’ Grand in Escondido on Friday evenings. Be sure to have a bratwurst with it, too.
Renée

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Proud Mama Keep on Burnin'

"He'll Go Far" from the 2009 ART + SCIENCE exhibition by yours truly.

It’s official, and I officially get to announce it: the absolutely awesome Escondido Arts Partnership/Municipal Gallery, one of the last non-profit city galleries left in California, has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  And I am feeling like a “proud mama” right now.
In announcing the awardees, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “NEA research shows that three out of four Americans participate in the arts. The diverse, innovative, and exceptional projects funded in this round will ensure that Americans around the country continue to have the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts.”
I could not agree more.
Receiving an NEA grant is a huge honor. It’s also a ton of work getting to the point where an organization can even apply. I know this because I chair the EAP/EMG’s Board of Directors and have watched the organization expand and grow, even as the local economy has tanked. Last year, the BOD knew the organization was ready to apply for an NEA grant, but it was still a daunting thought. To make a first-time NEA grant application takes about 40-80+ hours. Yet the EAP/EMG has only one full-time employee, the amazing Executive Director Wendy Wilson, and one paid Volunteer Coordinator, The equally amazing Kellene Nguyen (who works less than 10 hours per week).  The other 1000+ staff hours needed per year to run the Gallery and all its programs come from volunteers.
For a non-profit gallery to receive an NEA grant the first time it applies speaks volumes about the credibility and high esteem in which it is held at our city and county levels. It directly reflects the City Council’s support of its Municipal Gallery over the years, allowing the EAP/EMG infra-structure’s growth and financial stability to reach this level where our municipal gallery can manage a federal grant confidently and responsibly. The EAP/EMG was eligible to apply for this grant in its role as the City of Escondido’s official arts agency and holder of 501 (c) 3 non-profit status.
Per the conditions of the grant, the $10,000 which the EAP/EMG will receive for Federal FY 2012 is to be used towards the Art + Science exhibition, Aug. 9 - Sept. 30, 2011, and the Recycled Art & Runway Event, October 7 - Nov. 4, 2011. Both these exhibitions will be sending out calls to artists over the next few months. If you want to enter either of them, go to www.escondidarts.org  and click on the EXHIBITIONS tab for more information.

TTFN,
Renée

Monday, May 9, 2011

How ‘Bout That Face Book?

Compute This One

I have a niece who is so funny when she tells a story, she could go into a five-minute rift about changing her toddler’s diaper that would leave you wishing you’d slipped on your Depends.
A little while back, when she was a professor at a local private college, she had me side-splitting over the come-to-the-table talk she gave her students regarding the appropriate use of emailing/texting one’s professor.
Examples on the “Don’t do it list” included the student who’s T-Mobile addiction had her texting updates every 30 minutes on how her assignment was going. And the one who wanted to know if Wikipedia would be an acceptable source-reference for his paper on global warming.
O.k.  I exaggerate.  But not much.
All this got me thinking about some people “Who-Shall-Be-Nameless” and their griping that they don’t like FB because there are so many hits on their walls from people who:
a.       they don’t know
b.      post trivial stuff such as how their day’s going, gonna go, or has already been--feel free to borrow that sentence for the next time you’re teaching a class in irregular English verbs
c.       want to be friends, but Who-Shall-Be-Nameless has never heard of them, and the friend-seeker already has 3,281 “friends” but no profile picture (cautionary note: don’t freakin’ accept!)
Still, there’s good stuff a-plenty on FB. Like the efficient way it processes one’s use of the DELETE button (uh, hello!!!). Or the pics of your relatives who you love. And their kids who you never see in-person but once every 5 years. And your aunt, who’s nearly 80 and posts great stuff on her/your wall.
Ah, but wait! I believe Who-Shall-Be-Nameless has experienced an epiphany! What has brought about this amazing 180? Could it be the May 8th showing of Nature’s mixed-media performance art masterpiece, the arrival of WSBN’s grand niece, Adeline Rose?!?! Why yes, I think that’s it.
Oh, so now the every 30 minute posts are of use. And the “how the project’s going” updates are awaited with breathless anticipation.  What, you say you’re trying to send Adeline a “Friend” request, and she’s not accepting? Hum. Perhaps in another 14 years…
Until next week,
Renée

Saturday, April 30, 2011

ECHO Totes--Sometimes it's Easy Being Green



In my experience of trying to "live green", I find free or very low-cost art supplies everywhere. That cellophane bag the microwave popcorn came in? A perfect bag for water-proofing the beautiful Artist Trading Card you made from your last batch of junk mail. Need adjustable straps? A quick trip to the thrift store and you’ve got a selection of them---they used to be belts. Using paints for a project? Keep a soon-to-be-re-purposed shirt nearby. Before you clean the brushes, wipe the extra paint onto the shirt. Soon you’ll have a snappy new item for your casual wardrobe, AND you’ve just put that much less paint into our water supply.
I began making ECHO Totes as a way to re-use ephemera I’d been collecting, especially bags I was given at conventions. I couldn’t see tossing the bags into the landfill after one or two days’ use, but their original “look” wasn’t very trendy. I sew the ECHO Totes on a vintage 1940’s portable Singer sewing machine. If you’ve ever seen one of those, you know this means I keep the stitching aspect s-i-m-p-l-e.
The easiest way to make an ECHO Tote for yourself is to start with a used bag made from at least 50% post-consumer materials. An example would be a re-usable grocery bag sold by stores, one that’s out-lived its intended purpose. These are great because the material has already been rendered water-resistant and is easy to sew. Cut the material down to the size/shape you want. Before you stitch the sides and bottom together, add embellishments, paint on designs, draw in words with a Sharpie, just add any elements that will personalize your Tote and make it more fun to carry. Next, stitch all sides together to form the bag part of your Tote. Pick sewable re-purposed materials (cloth belts work very well for this) to make the bag’s strap.
Pack it up, put it on: I'm off to the art gallery.
Until next week,
Renee

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No Peeps Before Their Time


Have the makers of Peeps changed its formula? I only ask because they seem, well, different this year.
You may already know that I’m a fan of SPAM (all capital letters) and can wax on way too long about its history in the world food chain. But you may not know that I am also inclined to toss up an annual shout-out for Jell-O and Peeps. In fact, I fully believe that the springtime holiday menu should contain at least one dish each of Hot & Spicy SPAM garnished with pineapple and cloves, a side salad of Jell-O Surprise complete with good-for-you fiber from nuts and celery, and a dessert of properly-aged Peeps. This is probably sacrileges coming from a west-coast gal, but See’s candies are an option. Peeps are a must.
Hence my small dilemma this year.
To paraphrase from an old wine commercial, I will eat no Peep before its time. And in the past, I could always count on my Peeps being nicely dried, shrunken and chewy if I opened them to the air (be free, little Peeps, be free!) a week before I wanted to serve them. It’s already been two weeks so far and they are still just as puffy and fluffy as the day they were hatched. What gives? I fear the worst: stronger preservatives. Sigh.
Segue alert
The metal artist book in this photo was begun at my last Paris art retreat in December. Note Les Frites from MacKy-D’s? And the cut up Orangina can? Got those both on-site in Paris.
Note also the Hot & Spicy? I brought that with. Told you I was fan.
Take care. Until next week,
Renee

Sunday, April 17, 2011

{{{{{{{{{{{{TAXES}}}}}}}}}}}}


Yeah, baby. That got your attention, didn’t it?
I was audited once. But I’ll save that for the end…
Tomorrow’s the Big T day, and I’m not talking about gobble-gobble, here. Hopefully, you’re one of the forsightful Chosen who got $$$$ back, plopped directly into your bank account like electronic manna from heaven. How sweet it is.
I’m  in that crowd, now more than ever since my marriage to Mary Jo in California was upheld by the courts, and the fact that we live in a community property state. Who knew that would matter? Seems the Federal Gov is trying, really trying, to stop discriminating against married gay couples, and ruled that even though we still can’t file jointly, since we live in a community property state we can “share” our deductions-of which I had many and MJo had few.
Like I understand this? Not a chance. And that, my friends, is why I don’t do our taxes. Nope, it was the wondrous Janice, CPA, who researched this and brought it to our attention. Long story short, Instead of MJo paying about $1200 on her Federal taxes, she pays $132. And we both hit the ol’ tax-o-rama jackpot with the state since in California we can file jointly.  Of course we both would have hit the Federal jackpot, too, if we could have filed those jointly, but don’t get me started. “Baby steps, Renee, baby steps”, that’s what MJo is always telling me.
So about that audit: the word surreal comes to mind. The dude actually spent time re-adding up all the little Michael’s and Aaron Brothers’ receipts. I kid you not. He told us he normally did corporate tax audits. He was into detail. Me too. Haha. He didn’t find a thing. AND I got the inspiration for this altered book made from an old tax manual my CPA had on hand. It’s called “I’d Rather Visit the Dentist—and Have a Root Canal”.
I sold it to a retired dentist’s wife. And yes, I declared the earnings. All $75 of them.
Take care for now,
Renée


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Art and life: the ultimate mixed-media

I few blog posts back, I made a glancing reference to Pam Carriker’s book Art at the Speed of Life.  Now that I’ve re-read the whole book cover-to-cover, including the Editor notes at the beginning, “glancing” doesn’t cut it.
Side trip down memory lane:  years ago, I was learning to make artist’s books by hand. I was reading books about making art, books about making books, books about making books about making books. Enough, already. Then I was given Innovative Bookbinding by Shereen LaPlanz, and knew I had received the ultimate, show-stopping, look-no-more book on making art. The techniques were all about hand-binding books, but the book was about art, being an artist, ethics, generosity, community, passion, and, and, and…again, enough already—you get the picture. No books on making art that I’ve come across since have grabbed my imagination, pushed me to take new chances and to create to the degree that LaPlanz’ book did.
Then I got Carriker’s book, and realized that I was holding the best book of its type published in 15 years, and welcome to the 21st century to boot!
Art at the Speed of Life rocks it on so many levels, not the least is Carriker’s beautiful writing and the incredible visual impact of the art: pure eye-candy on every page.  Compelling? Believe it. I hit my studio hard after my first reading. Along with Carriker’s own art and writing, she has included work and words from 18 other mixed-media artists, rendering a treasure-trove of thematic ideas and process suggestions.  Advice ranges from the hysterically mundane (how to translate “latte-speak”), to flat-out brilliant. The book is organized around the concept of 7-days of art journaling, with each of the 7 chapters providing ideas/inspiration from the various contributing artists, and ending with a suggested exercise that will result in a completed journal page.
Back in that blog of last month when I made the glancing reference to her book, I cut to the chase and said “Just check the whole book out.” Let me cut to the chase once more: get this book, read it, go to your studio and make stuff.
Take care,
Renée

 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Loves Me Some Free Art Supplies

My niece, paint-morphed, holding her baby grrrl's ECHO Bear and matching ECHO Tote

Way (way) back in the 70’s, I was introduced to the concept of “conspicuous consumption”, which it turns out, was coined in the 19th century by a sociologist to describe the behaviors of the Industrial Age nouveau riche, but which, by the 20th, had changed in meaning to:
"The act of buying a lot of things, especially expensive things that are not necessary”
O.k., so define “necessary”, will ya? Aren’t shoes “necessary”? What about kitchen utensils? And jackets? Maybe I am getting a little defensive here because when it comes to art supplies, I waver between my firm belief that all are “necessary”, and my hidden self-admission that I buy way too many.  
Let’s not even talk about the art collection I have bought from other people.
Conspicuous.  Consumption.  And proud of it.
In my own way, I try to curb my buying habit be being ever-on-the-lookout for FREE!!!! art supplies. I especially love the challenge of finding and using materials that were purposed for “single use only” (oh, pu-leeze!) then expected to go to the land-fill. So much of it everywhere, so little time to make it useful again. Like a daily treasure-trove of inexhaustible and fabulous components--of inexhaustible, fabulous arts and crafts (I'm coming frighteningly close to being mistaken for a hoarder, aren't I?).  Fortunately; I really do use what I find, as this picture demonstrates.  Except for the thread I sewed them with, the button I used for the bear’s mouth and the 5 zip-ties, all the materials in the ECHO Bear and its matching ECHO Tote came from one-use-only products.  Not sounding like “conspicuous consumption” anymore, is it?
I like to share the wealth and will be doing lots of sharing this June 27-29 at my house near Lake Hodges in Southern California. Along with Lisa Bebi www.lisabebi.blogspot.com and Pam Carriker http://pamcarriker.com   we’ve organized an art retreat to include creating art all day, eating delicious food and reflecting on the part art plays in keeping us healthy in our daily lives. Interested in attending? Contact me for more details.
Oh, P.S: Michael's is having a HUGE art supply sale today, so ta-ta for now. See ya in the next go-around.
Renee

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I’ve just finished reading The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a history of cancer and cancer research, written in a style that kept me engaged from the beginning. I knew very little about the subject going in, and lest you be thinking now that such a book would have to be more boring than mud, think again. The word I’d use to describe it (if I must stick to only one) is compassionate.  
In my teen years, my household lived with and in fear of cancer. First my mother’s mother, then my mom died from it. In fact, we know in hindsight that my mom already had brain cancer the spring and summer of my senior year in high-school when she was caring for her mom. As a young adult, I had so much anger about my mom’s cancer treatment.  I knew intuitively that the treatment was futile. I experienced directly the long-term mess it made of my family. This was the 70’s, and as I now know, cancer research and treatment was entrenched in its own version of suckville.  So imagine me, four decades later, finding a book in which early-on the author himself, an oncologist no less, describes cancer research and treatment of that era as having been plagued with, hubris! Wow, hubris as in “overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance”. My feelings exactly! How could I not be hooked?
Segue alert:  I have also finished reading Pam Carriker’s just-published book Art at the Speed of Life. Check out chapter 4, pages 80-81. Just check the whole book out.  There is a connection to what I wrote above. Trust me, there is.
Pam, Lisa Bebi and I will be holding a 3-day, small group art retreat this summer.  A major theme of the retreat is art as a vehicle to healing. The retreat will be in southern California near Lake Hodges on June 27, 28 and 29. It has been approved by the California BRN for 15 CEU’s.  Email me if you’d like more information.
Renée

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This is life

I woke up last Friday morning to my usual drill of coffee and Face Book. That’s how I learned about the quake.  I have friends in Japan. Mina was on FB when it hit and she posted that her power was out. Then she posted that she could hear the evacuation sirens. A few more posts, then nothing.
This has been so flash-back. She and her husband lived in the house above us in 2007 when the fire came through. We woke them up and they evacuated with us to my art studio. My studio then was in downtown Escondido, and once we were settled in with their dog and ours, Mina and I went out for staples, water, toilet paper. I remember telling her to get cash-as much as her ATM card would let her take out. Those first 2 hours we still had no idea how long we’d be out, but news was not sounding good.  Back at the studio, we sat around our lap-tops and watched the constant-stream images of the fires. By that evening, the coastal freeway was back open and they went to stay at the house of their friends. The next day they watched their house burn to the ground on national T.V.
Our house was also on the national news. I got a call on evacuation day #5 from my cousin in New York that he’d just seen it. Our house was the “near miss” image, so incredible viewed from the air by helicopter journalists. All around us, every other house and lot had burned down. And there was our place, surreal as you please, looking like it could be on the cover of Home and Garden, roses and morning glories in full bloom. Unbelievable.
I learned yesterday (on Face Book) that Mina and her husband are safely evacuated to her in-laws. They were not harmed. They don’t know what condition their house is in. Tomorrow Mina will go to the hospital as planned to have their first baby, a little boy. Mina wrote me that at first, remembering the evacuation of 2007, they really didn’t want to leave their house and “risk losing everything again”, but then she thought of her soon-to-be-born son and decided to go.
This blog is intended to be about art. Life informs art. This is life. Believe it.
 Inside our house, winter season after the fires of '07.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Naming Art

I frequently have titles for my art before the work has even hit the studio table. Case in point, this artist book.
SPAM and Geisha existed in mi cabeza from the moment I bought the can of sugar-free Arizona green tea (with ginger). The tea was yummy; the image was a gotta-have-it moment. Yes, I do realize that the image is cliché, rather 19th century and all, but I am such a connoisseur of can icons, especially when they are printed directly onto the metal. And this one was a beauty in all its 3-colors PLUS metalics, PLUS black and white. Lovely.
Speaking of soda cans, did you know that you can cut them with a regular pair of scissors? They cut “like buttah”. The main trick is in not cutting yourself on the can edges. Regular scissors work well on metal food tins, too. Same note of caution.
Once you’ve used the scissors on metal, they won’t be good for fabric again until you have them sharpened. My motto is, keep a few pairs of scissors for each.
You can also sew the metal soda cans. As with the scissors, once you’ve used the needle on a soda can, it won’t be any good for fabric, so keep separate sets and change them as needed. The trick with sewing soda cans is that regular thread will break, so use metal or nylon thread. It’s made in nice colors for computers. Just saying.
Back to SPAM and Geisha. It goes on display this week at my art space in the Escondido Municipal Gallery building, 262 E. Grand Ave, Esc. CA 92025.
The opening reception is this Saturday, March 12, 5:30-7 p.m. All are welcome to stop by. Free parking and free eats. Does it get any better?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This blogging thing

Since I've joined the ranks of the blogger, I thought I should at least have some idea where the word "blog" came from. LOL. I'm just like that. Yep.
Anyway, I used the ever-excellent google search-engine, which took me to the Wikepedia definition.
So, so, BORING!!
Let me save you some time...Try this, say the words "web log" 10 times really fast.
Are we having an "a-ha" moment?
About a year ago, I donated this computer tower/art piece to the Escondido Municipal Gallery in S. California. http://www.escondidoarts.com/
The idea was to  raise money for its many excellent, usually FREE, programs. The piece was purchased by Victoria Huckins, an incredible artist who's on FB (so go check her out there).
Fast forward a year, and I'm donating again, one of my metal books this time. If I may share one thing that's on my bucket list with you, it would be this: to create more publicly-funded art galleries.
Art saves lives. I believe it. Support your local non-profit art gally. And if you don't have one, make one happen!
TTFN.
Renee

Friday, March 4, 2011

I think I've finally done it!

My Face Book artist friends have been telling me for years to get off my tuckus and set up a blog. Why's it taken me so long? No clue.
Today's the day. Finally.
About the blog title: Ever heard of The Book of Days? Google it, you won't believe the hits. Get yourself past the Enya stuff and the videos and narrow your search to the Essene Book of Days. This is right up my alley: take a strong historically-referenced title, and mess with it. "Days of Books". There you have it. You'll notice that the blog template I picked contains, what else?Books. On shelves. Go figure.
I plan to be posting a lot of my own books on this blog shelf.
About the font I've chosen: I just loves me some Helvetica. It's a "sans serif" font that supposedly looks nice on-line. (Note to all you public presenters out there, it looks great in Power Point, up on a big screen, too--so easy to read).
But I digress. From me. And my blog.
Notes to self->figure out how to insert pictures. Figure out how to "share" the blog posts with my Face Book page.
So much technology, so little time.
Oh, wait. I did it. This is of me and my mermaid art car, taken last week.
O.k. That's enough for now.