I painted this Alchemical Bride in honor of one of my sheroes. Luchita Hurtado outlasted all her naysayers, and all the gate keepers who kept her work from the public eye. The Venezuelan artist didn’t get a museum solo show until she was 98 years old, but her 80+ year career as an artist is marked by deep and profound expressions of universality especially as seen through a woman’s experience of the body and of the landscape.
She was still active when she passed away at 100 years old.
She who laughs last laughs best!
They say copying is the greatest compliment!
The only way we know about Helena of Egypt is through copies of her work.
Little is known about Helena, because, well, she was a woman living and working under Greek rule. And for the ancient Greeks women were not real people. They couldn’t vote or own property, and their male relatives could sell them as slaves.
Thankfully Timon, Helena’s father, was an artist and didn’t sell her, teaching her instead. She became so well known that her work was even copied! That’s how we know of her today. A reproduction of her mosaic, The Battle of Issus depicting Alexander the Great defeating Darius III, was discovered in Pompeii.
She may have been a contemporary of Alexander the Great, as a document from 4th c BCE attests, but of course, this attribution is disputed because she’s female, and no other work by a woman of this period has been uncovered.
I wonder when a clear narrative of women’s contribution to our culture will ever arise, when despite all our advances, women are still so underrepresented in museum collections or even art histories?
Alchemical Bride 100 is here!
Can you believe I’ve completed 100 paintings in the Alchemical Bride series? I have been so inspired on this journey of excavating women’s histories!
In honor of the amazing artist, activist, and teacher who devoted her creativity to fight for Chilean freedom.
It may seem like art is a luxury, but don’t be deluded…in the hands of an artist activist, it is a weapon for social justice.
Luz Donoso, was one of the most prominent muralists supporting Salvador Allende’s presidential campaign. A prominent painter and graphic artist, Donoso taught at the university of Chile…until Pinochet’s coup d’etat. As is common in dictatorships, dissenting voices get the axe, and Donoso was lucky she just lost her job at the university, and not her life.
Splash Splash – New Watercolors
This summer I went for some cool studio action with large scale watercolors. You may have heard that global warming heated up the otherwise cool summers of the Pacific Northwest with killing temperatures.
No kidding. At one point it was 108F degrees in the studio with only a window fan to help!
Sometimes you just have to find a way to keep your cool…like by splashing a wash of palest blue over 6 feet of paper. Believe me, every time I stepped up to this piece, that cool splash of underpainting helped me keep on keeping on despite the dangerous heat.
If it looks like I haven’t been active, just know that I’ve been using Instagram as my blogging site, but since the algorithms are choking who can actually see my posts, I will be returning to my own site as a space to update you on my practice and life.
So do keep coming back. I hope to begin engaging here, not just on IG.
Why the scale? After winning a 2021 Artist Trust Fellowship I was able to buy at supplies for large scale projects. These six pieces are the first forays into work I can literally enter.
Her Kind opens on Tuesday at the Sarah Spurgeon Gallery in Ellensburg, WA. The gallery is open to CWU campus and the community, though making appointments is encouraged to ensure safe social distancing.
Not only was Theoclea a Delphic Priestess, but she was also a scientist and philosopher. Pythagoras learned all about the natural sciences and moral doctrines from Theoclea, his sister. She is also known as Aristoclea.
We all heard about the Pythagorean theorem in geometry class…but we never heard about the amazing woman who schooled him!
Painted in my signature Cubism 3.0 style that blends Analytic and Synthetic Cubism with Feminism and Pop, the Alchemical Bride series celebrates extraordinary women from human history. Stretched and wired, ready to hang. Signed in the back.
There’s an inspiring teacher, philosopher, or mathematician who needs this painting in her life! What a beautiful gift for her. You can get this beautiful piece for yourself or as a gift, on Saatchi: https://bit.ly/38ayxUv
I love this piece so much! For some reason, this is the one painting in the series that I danced with the most, weeks on end. I kept doing the easel to mirror hustle, back and forth, changing this then that, until I got it just right! She’s up in my Saatchi portfolio ready to go from my studio to your wall! Click the link below to make this bride and her inspiring story yours.
Agnodice is the first historical midwife of Athens. She had to practice medicine disguised as a man and was so good she took business away from other doctors. I guess way back then, just like now, some women prefer a female doctor…like I do!
When her true gender was discovered, Agnodice was taken to court. Her rivals wanted her in prison which was even more serious then than now, but Agnodice’s trial divided the city. Women protested and refused to go to the men doctors. Mayhem ensued. Anyways, she was released!
Painted in my signature Cubism 3.0 style that blends Analytic and Synthetic Cubism with Feminism and Pop.
I am an award-winning artist with pieces in museums, but my paintings are affordable art. Perfect gift for her, for the new homeowner or new collector. Of course, the best gifts for the bride are celebratory paintings!
If you love classical art, if you love European easel painting, this series is for you.
Please share this post with any hard-working woman in the medical profession. She will like to know about Agnodice, how she rose above the restrictions of her age to become the most celebrated midwife (obstetrician?) of the 4th c BCE.
So honored to be the featured artist in their October issue. I love this painting, which commemorates Marie Curie, the ultimate alchemist! She won not one, but two Nobel prizes, the first in 1903 in Physics, the second in Chemistry awarded in 1911. The only woman to ever be awarded two Nobel prizes, and the only person to be awarded two prizes in DIFFERENT scientific fields.
Seasoned painters know that it pays to have a plan, an organizing principle to guide creative decisions at the easel.
Even stream of consciousness artists start off with an idea or feeling in mind. And a conceptually driven artist, even one like me who is working from Fluxus boxes set up in the studio, has to have an idea on how to build an image from the ground up.
Here’s how I got from the box still-life to my finished painting, Alchemical Bride 24 (Sojourner Truth).
Firstly, I reversed the bride, so the small figure was in front and the large portrait in back. The picture still bent in half, but now I had an all-seeing eye looking at me. Cool!. After a number of sketches, I zeroed in on the green reflections from the plants in my studio as a color prompt.
With green as my anchor color, I picked out a quadratic color scheme to complement the hues I saw in the box, and nudged others to fit my chromatic key.
I believe in organizing principles to guide my brush. But I don’t think artists need to become goose-stepping fascists, mindlessly following some art historical rule. That kind of rigidity is for theorists, not for those who actually practice. The easel is where the rubber meets the road, and any painter worth her salt won’t give up what will best serve her painting because of a rule!
Take the Rule of Thirds, a universally appealing way to distribute focal points in a painting, for example. To find my true thirds, I diagonally divide my painting in half in opposite directions. I then divide each leg in half, to find the “eyes” of my thirds. In my composition, the “eyes” are marked in red.
I wanted to create a strong movement from the bride’s vigilant and actively staring eye, to her hands, folded and waiting for action. A narrative suggested itself in these two gestures as I thought about the historical figure of Sojourner Truth. So I stressed the top right and lower right “eyes” softening the other two with shapes, moving with the rhythms of a Fibonacci spiral.
Now look here, I free-handed my Fibonacci spiral, so it’s not a mathematically correct spiral. No doubt, there’s a theorist out there clucking tsk-tsk with disapproval. Know what I say to that? Jimmy-crack corn and I don’t care! My painting is alive and bristling with color, textures, values, and implied narratives. And it moves with the rhythms of the spiral despite the organic imperfections of my hand.
I use chromatic keys and compositional devices as organizing principles like an artist, not like a fascist. Discerning mathematicians and art critics need not freak out.
I have been a professional artist since 1985, and was recruited to teach right out of college. For me, teaching has always supported the healing and activism at the heart of my studio practice. In turn, my commitment to service is at the heart of my pedagogy.
Last year I took a substantial pay cut to go on sabbatical (our school district is poor and we get docked for research). I took professional leave to create a documentary for use by the arts departments in our district and in our feeder schools. I looked at my partial salary as a grant to explore documentary film-making. I have no training in film, but I am an experienced visual artist and an educator. I knew from consuming films of various genres across different platforms, that audiences will gladly overlook rough edges if the content is good.
My husband joined my efforts, becoming my cinematographer, without any monetary compensation for his time or for the wear on his equipment. I researched, scripted, directed, edited, and produced not just the contracted hour-long educational film, but eleven additional shorts.
The purpose of the films? To reverse the white supremacy that blights the art world. And it is a blight. That’s not an opinion but a quantifiable fact.
In March of this year, The Smithsonian analyzed more than 40,000 works of art in 18 major U.S. museums’ online catalogs. What did their research find? Predictably, 85 percent of artists featured are white, and 87 percent are men.
Benchmarks such as the ArtReview Power 100 in 2018, tell a bleak story: 62% male/38%female, 60% Caucasian, 20% Asian, 6% Black, 6% Mixed-race, 6% Latino, 3% Middle Eastern. You might think, but that’s big art business, what does that have to do with education? A great deal, as it turns out. Classroom demographics reflect an equally disturbing dearth of minority voices in the arts.
But this story of white supremacy isn’t set in stone. It is in flux. If last year 60% of the Power 100 were white, the previous year it topped 70%, and just fifteen years ago it was an appalling 87%. This increase in diversity, while slow, is a direct result of efforts from the art world’s most dedicated individuals– people like Thelma Golden who support the health of our cultural ecosystems by challenging racist policies.
As a Latinx intersectional feminist, I felt strongly I had to do something. And my husband joined my crusade. The crucial question was how could we convince young creatives and their parents to fund a college major without established pathways to success? How could we entice young creators to lend their voices to our greater cultural ecology? Societies are judged by their cultural legacy. In the age of political crowds chanting “send them back”, of #BlackLivesMatter, of Latinx children dying under ICE custody, what does it say about us as people that minority creatives are silenced before they even have a chance to contribute?
Block-buster exhibits such as Kehinde Wiley’s A New Republic at the Seattle Art Museum create visibility for success stories. However, they do little to disclose how aspiring artists break through institutionalized racism and market obstacles to become financially soluble professionals.
The purpose, then, was to bridge the gap between the young creative doodling in their sketchbook and successful arts professionals. The film was to uncover the pathways to success established by municipal institutions and funding sources as Artist Trust, 4Culture, and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and introduce students of color to recent equity programs and initiatives. The documentary also introduced students and recruits to a number of successful established artists of color in the community, as well as flourishing emerging talents entering the Seattle marketplace. At all times, I kept my ideal viewer in mind…that young creative who wants to follow their dream but thinks that it cannot be done.
The first short dropped nearly ten months ago, the most recent, was uploaded this Spring. Currently, I only have anecdotal evidence that it’s working. I am seeing more students of color enrolled in the nine art classes I teach in the Fall, and my colleagues report similar demographic shifts. My college hasn’t yet collected enough data to render a clearer picture, but already the feeling is that this project is reaching it’s intended audience, one download at a time.
Below are the links to the films. I hope you will enjoy and share them liberally. There are eleven shorts, all under 10 minutes, that faculties can use to introduce lessons, and one class-long film. All the videos are available for free streaming on YouTube.
Artists of Color in Seattle, documentary shorts:
Humaira Abid, A Life in Art, 8m36s:Features the internationally renowned sculptor and installation artist talk about overcoming challenges and becoming a success right out of school. Abid just won the prestigious $25,000 WA Artists Innovator in Art from Artist Trust in 2019!
Lisa Edge, A Life In Art, 7m49s: The last dedicated journalist covering art in Seattle and the region. All other arts reporting in the city is done by INTERNS or journalists who cover everything, from finances, politics, sports, food, shoes, whatever. Not any specialized training! Can you believe it? Features the arts reporter discuss her trajectory from anchoring the news to writing art reviews and artist features. She specifically talks about where she discovers talent and who she chooses to highlight in features.
Aramis O. Hamer, A Life In Art, 8m03s: Features the art entrepreneur and 2019 Neddy at Cornish $25,000 award winner discuss how she successfully left a career in nursing after matching her salary through art and the many creative income streams she cultivates.
Philippe Hyojung Kim, A Life In Art, 7m37s: Features the young artist during his residency at ReCology discussing how he makes connections to curators and critics, teaches, and motivates himself to make it happen.
Gabriel Marquez, A Life In Art, 7m11s: Features the young graphic designer and public artist/muralist discussing his successful careers and interrupting his studies to work after his daughter was born. He shares about his initial difficulties after moving to Seattle from Texas. Latinx artists still find it hard to make it happen in Seattle, And Marquez has recently moved back to Texas with his young family. He is currently painting one mural after another.
Sarah Meranda, A Life in Art, 7m20s: A graduate from Seattle Colleges art programs. Features the young jewelry designer discuss taking classes, juggling bills, and doubling what she makes in her full-time corporate salary through her “side-hustle” art business. Since publishing this video, Sarah has become a full-time jewelry maker and hired more assistants.
George Rodriguez, A Life In Art,6m09s: Features the well-known ceramicist thriving as a sculptor and teaching artist. From representation at blue-chip art galleries like Foster / White, to commissions from the Mexican Consulate, Rodriguez makes a Life In Art inevitable! He is currently living in Philadelphia.
Resources for artists in Seattle, documentary shorts:
Artist Trust, A Life in Art, 5m40s: Features Brian McGuigan, AT Programs Director enumerating numerous training opportunities, resources, grants and fellowships open to all artists and steps the organization is taking to prioritize equity.
4Culture, A Life In Art, 9m21s: Features Executive Director Brian Carter discussing King County’s funding programs and his own career trajectory from founding curator of NAAM, to Burke Museum and finally to arts administration. Carter is bi-racial, didn’t see himself or his family reflected in the arts growing up, and comes to arts funding as a critic and catalyst for equity.
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, A Life in Art, 5m23s: Features Director Randy Engstrom discussing the importance of building up the cultural ecology of our communities and the many different programs Seattle funds. He explores how specific programs are helping artists of color break into public art. The office has moved to the new King Street Station and is now more accessible than ever!
CoCA Seattle, A Life in Art, 8m27s: Features Nuura Ibrahim (who was a student at SCC not too long ago) and Judy Rayl discussing the Center on Contemporary Art’s commitment to all artists, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
Making It, A Life In Art, 54m40s: The narrative arc invites creatives to conceive of a career in the arts through studio visits and interviews. 4Culture’s Executive Director speaks about how broad the field is and invites the young creative to lend their voice to our culture. Participating artists share how they created plans to develop secure incomes in the arts, how they overcame resistance to their work and even personal losses. They share how to deal with rejections and prevail in their careers.
The last time I team-taught the Coordinated Studies class, The Power of Myth, I had a series of Big Dreams such as those that Carl Jung described in his writings. I was reading his autobiography, and studying the Red Book. I would teach during the day, and after grading and reading, was working on 50-foot long drawings until late at night.
I was reading about Chinese Alchemy and acupuncture one Saturday when I fell asleep. I dreamt the image that would become Full Immersion, one of the mural scale drawings from the MetaCorpus series. In my dream I rose out of the water, felt the flooding water recede from my body, which in turn transmuted into mercury.
It was the weekend, so I went downstairs to my studio upon awakening, only to discover that it had just flooded! We hadn’t had any rain in weeks. Where did the water come from?
I’d been reading about this in mystical alchemical texts: As above so below, as within so without. Jung himself experienced such strange occurrences– the internal life projects outward and manifests in material observable reality. Woo-woo mumbo jumbo. Nonetheless, it happened for real. I had many archetypal dreams during this time of my life, as I was undergoing all kinds of personal transformations.
Some weeks later I had the most memorable dream of all. It unfolded not in the weird spatial and time distortions typical of dreams, but like a neatly edited film. It had a cinematic quality to it, mostly because it was symmetrical, had mirrored language, followed a narrative structure. In fact, when I describe the dream to others, I often call it a film and have to correct myself.
In the dream, I was tagging a castle with red spray paint, and yelling, “Burn the king’s castle!” over and over again, leading a mob carrying pitchforks, spades, guns, not unlike the storming of the Bastille.
I clambered on top of the castle, where Marcel Duchamp asked me to marry him. I agreed and we flew off together, floating above the melee below.
In the dream, I am back in my studio when a friend comes to visit and asks, “Hey Tati, what’s new.” I tell her I married Duchamp. I say “DiDi and I got married and he lives in the shack.” I am so delighted to take her to meet him. He is spotlit, cutting out tin figures and placing them on a chess-board. We watch this careful orchestration for a bit, when suddenly music plays and we begin to dance. It is a polka and we bounce off of walls, ceilings, floors, in what could be an infinite space even though the actual room is quite small– we’re inside a cardboard box.
When the music stops, DiDi goes back to his work, and I turn to my friend, who is laughing, breathless, and I exclaim, “Isn’t he a riot?” I woke up laughing.
It’s taken so many years for me to understand this Big Dream. It’s come back to me a number of times but has always been undecipherable. I get it now, as it unfolds daily in my studio. I think in some ways, I could never have conceived of the Alchemical Bride series, of storming Picasso’s castle with my Cubism 3.0 if I had set out to do so directly.
‘If I have ever practiced alchemy, it was in the only way it can be done now, that is to say, without knowing it.”- Marcel Duchamp
Last academic year I went on sabbatical to storm a different castle. A white castle. I set out to film documentaries that shone a light on PoC artists in my community who are making a living in their chosen art profession. They prove that you can have a good life doing what you love right here, in Seattle. Mind you, I’ve never studied film-making. I make films as a part of my interdisciplinary inquiry, like a Fluxus artist more interested in experimentation and experience than product. In this case, I wanted my films to topple the notion that only white European males can make a living in the visual arts. The videos were posted on YouTube and links sent to high schools with the hopes of encouraging the young creative to follow their hearts, and pursue careers in the arts.
I released them in the spring, and this Fall term I am already seeing more brown and black faces in my classrooms. I’m yelling “Burn the king’s castle!” hoping all the emerging talents coming to SCC will kick and stomp and tear down the walls of art’s gated community
Another Bastille– All during 2018 I often wore a beard in the studio, assuming my trans persona, Puer, the Eternal Man Child. I painted a series of landscapes, taking experiential trips to various landscapes using an Aleph (in actuality, my iPhone). I think it interesting that the only time that the city of Seattle has purchased one of my works for their portable art collection, was when I painted as this male persona. Things that make you go Hmmmm.
Puer, is a purely performative persona for me. I am cisgender, and comfortable with my skin. But by wearing a beard, I claimed for myself the privileges awarded only to gendered males. I gave myself permission to play at the easel, without any political agendas. Maybe giving myself that permission was psychological gold for me.
True alchemy, in psychological and philosophical terms constitutes tearing down the conflicting male-female duality, uniting Puer and Puella in the individuated Self, integrating the personality like a symbolic Gnostic Anthropos.
I realize now that DiDi and Tati sound very similar. That the fabulous recurring Big Dream that has always made my pulse quicken and brought laughter to my lips is none other than my feminist art practice. That the Alchemical Bride series is me, tagging the castle, getting ready to checkmate the king.
I cut out well over 1000 brides for my series, so I think I’ll be playing chess inside my Fluxus cardboard boxes, those little alchemical ovens known as Houses of the Chick. I’ll be dancing off of all those reflections and refractions, brush-stroke by brush-stroke fr some time to come.
I am so honored to be participating in this interactive installation at Neplanta Cultural Arts Gallery. Sponsored by @la_sala_seattle The Concentration Camp, an interactive exhibition curated by Juan Carlos Ortega is part of the 2019 La Cocinita series sponsored by La Sala. 😍
Come discover the stories behind the incarceration of undocumented immigrants and the racist policies that target the most vulnerable among us. The opening reception is tonight, September 14, 6-9pm! I can’t be there because we were rear-ended and our car and we shouldn’t be driving it until we get it to the body shop.
The exhibition runs through October 9. 🎞
Five of my films will be a part of the show, which features written material by Juan Carlos Ortega, sound installations by Camila Jade, and my videos.
This is such an important topic, I hope everyone has a chance to go to Neplanta as participate in this wonderful interactive exhibit!
I recently read Tracie McMillan’s riveting book, The American Way of Eating, which was published before Trump’s draconian immigration policies took effect.
In her undercover investigation, which took McMillan to work at a California farm, a Walmart, and an Applebees where she was drugged and raped, the author tried but inevitably failed to make ends meet on the money she earns.
The backbreaking work that McMillan describes while picking garlic, peaches, and grapes doesn’t even earn minimum wages, since workers are paid by the bushel or box rather than by the hour. No surprise, she was the only white face on the fields. The reality, McMillan discovers, is that only desperate undocumented workers will work for such miserable wages, wages which won’t even let them afford the food they pick.
Despite poverty, uncertain and often over-crowded unsanitary housing options, her fellow workers, mostly Spanish speaking Mexicans, are generous in advice and help. These are not the bad hombres and rapists that Trump describes.
I’ve been thinking about how I can disrupt the language of Us vs Them that dominates the anti-immigrant movement in this country. So I’ve started with a series of drawings that recall the style of Toile de Jouy, featuring images and statistics that point to the interdependence between our broken food systems and the undocumented farm-workers that feed us.
For example, Americans spend less of their annual income on food than anyone in the world. Partly because our farms stay afloat by hiring underpaid unprotected undocumented workers.
What will happen to our food budgets when ICE succeeds in rounding up all the undocumented workers? We already know from McMillan’s reportage, US workers won’t take such low wages. Who will work on our farms?
Don’t know about you, but I learned as a young child it’s better not to bite the hand that feeds you. If only our politicians had learned that lesson too.
Three of the Mourning Embroideries from The Lamentations series are included in Threaded, an exhibit of new works by 34 artists from across the USA who are engaging with fibers in new ways. Hosted by the MCC Art Gallery, the show runs September 3 – November 7, 2019.
My three pieces feature veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan posing as martyrs, saints, demons, and dead from Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Last Judgement. Embroidered from hair and tears onto military netting, the small clusters of hair define soldiers and join single strands to create explosive debris, dust clouds, and lyrics. No matter how full the composition, the embroidered contours are practically invisible from a distance– a visual parallel to private yet communal sorrow. Pure, simple, restrained.
Juried by María-Elisa Heg, curatorial fellow at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and Mark Newport, fibers artist and Head of Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Want to read more news? Download my Summer/Fall Newsletter here.
I’m getting my summer reading on! 📖 Three of my Book of Hours collage drawings are published in the new Vastarien! Now in bookstores.
Get your copy of Vastarien Vol 2 Issue 2, and see my art on pages ii, 96, 150, right next to the juiciest short stories and poetry ever written. I’m just gonna curl up on the deck and enjoy my readings. There are some awesome art and spine-tingling writing in here, y’all!
I’m so honored to have been asked to show Shadowboxing just in time for the Seattle Art Fair. Woot!
The High Wall at Inscape is such an amazing program, and I couldn’t be more excited to have my animation paired with Amir Sheikh’s new film.
The outdoor projections have been visible after dark since August 1st, and tomorrow we will have a sunset reception with the two films, plus music, and a cash bar. There’s a suggested donation of $10 to raise funds for Shunpike’s ACES: Artists of Color Symposium, which is the absolute most amazing program. It was completely transformational for the community to be able to come together and stand witness to each other’s talents and stories. I have never experienced anything quite like it. So if you can support ACES, please do.
That said, you can get in for free with the code “High Wall 2019” is the $10 sets you back too much, because we all want for these programs to be accessible to everyone. oxox
For those of you who can’t come, here is a copy of the print interview that will be available at the reception. I get preachy, but you know, I’m not anything if not earnest and passionate. I discuss Trump’s election, deracination, what it means to be a LatinX in the PNW, and give insights to my process and animation set up.
Curated by Seattle Art Commissioner and artist extraordinaire, Juan Alonso-Rodríguez, the exhibit features select paintings from my Migration series along with work by Arturo Artorez, a Mexican artist, and the Cuban-born Hugo Moro. This is the curator/artist’s second exploration of the Latinx diaspora, and it promises to rock!
At the opening reception, enjoy light bites by Tarik Abdullah. I’m bringing my hunger. Are you?
You are invited, so bring your love of art and fun company! Do come by the Paramount Theater this Sunday for the opening reception of Re:Definition 2019: The Latin Diaspora.
Special Guests: DJ J-NASTY & SHESGUCCI Bites by Chef Tarik Abdullah.
Sunday, July 28, 2019 Doors at 5:00 pm Event ends at 9:00 pm
FREE! All Ages / Bar with I.D. Put it on your calendar!
The show continues through January 20, 2020.
The Re:definition gallery space is open to viewing during public performances in the theatre and special events. If you would like to view the exhibit outside of these times, please contact email@example.com to schedule a visit.
Take a cue from Tiffany’s lounging reader and put down your device. There’s something delicious about reading actual books. And you can get them totally free from the public library! Thank you Benjamin Franklin for getting the public library started. I think of you every single time I check a book out.
2. Go to the beach
Some scientific studies show that a trip to the shore is good for us, reducing stress and making us feel happier and more creative. Surf and sand. ‘Nuff said!
3. Take a hike on your favorite trail, or a new one.
The leisure time default in the Pacific Northwest…hiking! In Japan they have forest bathing, here, we go hiking a favorite trail and get the benefits of lush trees and amazing scenic views. Oh, there’s the fresh air too.
4. Go to a free concert in the park
Hang out with your fellow citizens and reap the rewards of your tax dollars in one of the many free concerts scheduled for the summer. Nothing can make a sunny weekend sunnier.
5. Turn your lunch or dinner into a picnic
I know, it’s weird not eating in front of the T.V., but hey, it’s a time-honored tradition. Get your picnic on and rediscover the simple joys of going screen-free. After you read this post, of course. Grab your munchies and head outside while the weather is good. Bring a towel, blanket, or yoga mat and voila, you set the tale for your picnic.
6. Play a game
If you’ve been watching Stranger Things, you might decide to swear off the D & D for a while just in case it attracts demagorgons. But you can still hang out with your besties and play some games. I’ve got my dominoes ready!
7. Hold a dance party at home
I know, you’re thinking it’s expensive to host a party. But it doesn’t have to be. One of my most vivid memories growing up as a Cuban refugee/immigrant is that people dropped by all the time. The adults would have some cafecito, and then, push the furniture out of the way, put on a record (yup, back when vinyl was cheap and not a trendy collectable) and we’d all dance our hearts out. By the way, Ernie Barnes based his famous painting on an actual party he snuck into as a teen.
As a visual artist I’m totally into communicating ideas through color. It probably comes as no surprise that advertisers have spent millions of dollars researching which colors they should use to make you feel a certain way about their products.
Here is a list of four things you probably didn’t know about seeing the color red.
1. Red makes you hungry
It’s why restaurants use it in their decor, their table linens, and their menus. In fact, after looking at this picture I feel the need to eat some chips.
2. Red makes you faster, stronger, and more competitive.
Teams in the NBA and NFL with red in their jerseys are at the top of their league. And in a controlled scientific study during the 2004 Olympic Games, competitors were randomly given either a red or blue uniform for their event. 55% of the winning athletes were wearing red and when the event was closely matched, the competitor wearing red won a whopping 62% of the times!
3. Red is sexy and grabs attention!
Ever heard of the Red Light District? Okay, maybe not exactly like that! But we definitely see a correlation between wearing red and sexual interest and scientists proved it! A study run in by a German psychologist with collaborators in the U.S., found that college women who expected to meet an attractive man wore red 57% of the time, but only 16% of them wore red when they expected to meet an unattractive participant.
Meanwhile, a 2010 study published by Psychology Today reported that researchers showed men rated the same woman as more attractive when they saw a photo in she was wearing red. The men who saw the same woman in a photo wearing blue rated her less desirable.
4. Red is really lucky!
In China, the color red is considered lucky, and the red color of the money envelopes brings you good fortune. I know for a fact that this tradition translates very well across cultures. Just last year, when my brother met his bride’s family in China, he kept receiving little red envelopes stuffed with money. He already felt super lucky for winning the heart of his sweetheart, but the generosity of those red envelopes made him super lucky with the in-laws as well. Turns out red is lucky after all!
Jungian psychologists believe that the universal longing for paradise is a disguised search for the Mother archetype. This archetype is our primal landscape– Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Eden. At once the source of all life and also innumerable dangers, the longing to become one with this primal home is at the core of myths and origin stories all over the world.
I usually think of my camera lens as a sketching tool, one I use often enough for painting and drawings. But in this series, I use it to document how we frame and interact with animals, ecosystems, and each other in parks, museums, and other commons.
How can we reconcile our love and desire without at the same time destroying what we are grasping for? For example, there are only 50 recorded Blue Karner Butterflies left in the world, but I found countless more in a bin of unrecyclable plastic tchotchkes.
During this critical time, in which we are facing the mass extinction of countless fellow species due to the unchecked expansion of patriarchal systems of industry and global economies, I feel the need to record our communal impulses to reunite with nature, even as we dominate and destroy it.
Sometimes I purposely go out with my point and shoot Cannon. Other times, I seize the moment and just use my smartphone lens. You can see more of this series here: Biophilia
If you’ve been looking at trends, trying to get a sense of what in the heck is going through the minds of contemporary artists, here is a list of five things that they just can’t resist.
1. Their own damn self
What, are you the only one who takes selfies? Nope. Artists do it too. The quintessential photorealist Chuck Close hasn’t let his disability or confinement to a wheelchair keep him from creating this nearly nine-foot high painting of his own damn self! Uh, notice that he’s ever so slightly above our horizon? That’s how he communicates his superiority. He’s making eye contact too, in case you wanted to ignore that fact, he’s gonna make you acknowledge it.
2. Cool People
Again. Do you think you’re the only one obsessed with cool people on Instagram? Nope. Just so you know, I think Barkley L. Hendricks started the whole thing. He made his entire career out of painting coolness itself. I mean, will you look at this painting of Steve? You WANT to be him! What I love about Hendricks is that he made black cool, even in the face of art world racism. Yeah!
3. A little skin…or a lot
Jenny Saville redefines nude figuration AND the female form in her work, no question about it. And boy, does she show some skin. This particular piece topped records in 2016 by fetching close to 9 million dollars at a Sotheby’s auction. Hmmm, cut off, recumbent female nudity, it’s not just for porn.
4. Life’s absurdities
Okay, so this is kind of a two-for…because Yue Minjun’s laughing men not only rub our faces in the absurdities of contemporary life, but they also happen to be self-portraits of sorts. On the forefront of Cynical Realism, Minjun’s work will make you simultaneously wince and giggle. Don’t you just feel like this piece could accompany every single headline about rising sea levels you have ever read? Cuz I do.
5. Big pretty patterns and colors
Oh, you thought contemporary painting is all about real subjects? Actually, quite a great deal is just about formal picture making concerns. Read abstraction. Beatriz Milhazes has made an incredible career painting bold beautiful colors and shapes, some geometric, some flowery.
I think if you look around at the art that is hanging on many people’s walls, you’ll realize that big pretty patterns and colors should really start off the list! It’s the kind of thing artists and art collectors can’t seem to get enough of. Sugar, for sure, eye candy indeed.
Carl Jung interpreted the process of alchemy to that of individuation towards the Self, and the Alchemical Bride series takes a look at this alchemy through a feminist lens.
Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s just the transition from teaching to time off, I haven’t much felt like painting in oils. Instead, I have been really enjoying the immediacy of making marks. To me that inevitably leads to drawing and printmaking.
Drawing with a brush, like in the three pieces above is a nice bridge between the layering of marks and medium that oil painting entails. This is different from engraving, where I take a sharp burin and gouge out the lines that will hold ink.
The speed of the mark as well as how hard I press determines the darkness and character of the mark.
Other factors that impact the resulting image include the color of ink and the paper used. For example, Alchemical Bride engraving 1 is printed in Lampblack on a rice paper that while very strong, appears fragile due to its thinness and translucency. By contrast, the bright red ink on the warm white paper of ALchemical Bride engraving 2 lends a sense of heat and pressure to the image.
In Alchemical Bride engraving 3, I mixed my own red and decided to push the heat of the image further by printing on a yellow/tan paper. I wanted the weight and temperature of the inks and paper to increase the squeezing effect on the smiling bride created by the dark marks of the hair above left and the refractions below right. Squeeze!
In this last image, I mixed red and green inks to create a chromatic neutral grey that left a plate tone in each chroma. This way you feel the green and red but don’t really see them creating a tension that alludes to the chemical processes in alchemy.
In this three panel painting, Wet Foot Dry Foot Dancer, I wanted to revisit the immigration exception that privileges Cubans seeking asylum in the USA. Just this week, the captain of Cuba’s soccer team defected to the USA, but is unlikely to end up inside one of the inhumane detention camps that caused the deaths of five children last year.
I don’t use the term asylum loosely when referring to Yasmani Lopez’s defection. While many will look at Cuba’s dire economic status to explain why 54,000 Cubans sought and obtained permanent residency, anyone willing to look past the Castro charm with public relations and revolutionary branding (frankly, I fail to see what is so revolutionary about a dictatorship), will recognize that Cuban citizens are still persecuted for their dissent.
Don’t take my word for it…just Google Tania Bruguera and read about how the Cuban government has detained, interrogated, jailed, and unlawfully seized her passport numerous times, simply for speaking, or inviting others to speak as part of her artwork.
My point, however, is that refugees and immigrants are desperate in their search for freedom, and in their search for a sustainable life. I had a student from Eritrea who routinely went without any food whatsoever for 3-5 days. Week in week out. That was (and continues to be the norm) in a land wracked by famine. When his family won the immigration lottery and was given entry to the USA, he was shocked. He was shocked when he went to school and saw that ALL the children ate lunch. Every. Single. Day. He couldn’t wrap his head around it. I can’t either. How is that kind of crushing suffering not considered an oppression?
I am super and forever grateful to have been granted asylum in the USA. To be a citizen. But this privilege doesn’t blind me to the fact that dehumanizing poverty is every bit as oppressive as a communist dictatorship like Cuba. I don’t think you can put a value of one kind of suffering over another, to say, one kind of immigrant is better than another.