PEDALS IN THE WIND
“Stop putting graffiti on that box,” yelled a lady as she was driving through the traffic light. This was the second day of painting my third utility box: “Pedals in the Wind.” I tried to explain to her that it was part of the city’s utility box beautification program called “Project Paint Box.” She didn’t buy it.
Her comment made me think about art versus graffiti. Is graffiti art? Is it always vandalism? What is art? What is street art? What is graffiti?
Banksy, an anonymous English graffiti artist, uses stencils and spray paint to spread messages of art and politics on crowded city streets, walls, and bridges. His name and identity remain unknown – graffiti is a crime. However, in 2010, Time Magazine featured Banksy as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Utility boxes have flowered into some of the best showcases for public art. To deter them from graffiti, cities around the world are asking local artists to use them as a canvas for artistic expression – with council prior approval of the design.
The lady that thought I was defacing the utility box with graffiti did return to apologize. She was trying to be a conscientious citizen. That was very brave of her. Street art will continue to spark debate: Is it art? Is it graffiti? I would love to hear Banksy’s take on it one day.
On behalf of myself and the city of Pleasanton, I'd like to thank Bob and Joanne Rossi Becker for sponsoring another box. Kudos also go to Robbie Helms at Valley View Elementary School for coming up with the awesome title: “Pedals in the Wind.”
Meet Lintilla, our newest member to the "Artful Animals" family. Can you guess her favorite color?
Lintilla is a much loved cat who lived a relatively quiet life up until a number of years ago when a small dog was adopted into her home. Forget about sleeping on the big bed. Forget about curling up on the couch for a mid-morning nap. Forget about lying on the window sill to bask in the late afternoon sun. The only safe place in the house, high enough, turns out to be the bathroom sink – her favorite hang out place.
The original photograph is of Lintilla enjoying her perch on the sink vanity; however, this unattractive background has been exchanged with a wash of her favorite color – purple.
This is a portrait of Klara, peaking from behind a tree. The photograph was taken by a friend while on one of our many camping trips. She didn't wear glasses yet but pink and purple are still her favorite colors.
Below is a 2-minute time lapse of me painting Klara's portrait. Enjoy!
Spring air -
and plum scent.
- Matsuo Basho (Japanese Poet)
This portrait is of a Japanese bride, wearing a simple, floral kimono and a delicate flower-motif hair ornament, kanzashi, made of silk plum blossoms. The plum blossom holds a special place in Japanese traditions: it represents spring, a time of new beginnings, and is associated with beauty, purity, hope and the transitoriness of life.
Many came to celebrate the launching of The Red Lantern and viewing of the oil paintings, the basis for all the illustrations in the book, at the Firehouse Theater. Thank you Judy at Towne Center Books for suggesting and offering your space for the book launching party; thank you Julie at the Firehouse Theater for showcasing the oil paintings all month long; and thank you to all my dear, dear friends for coming out to support me this morning.
60" X 48" OIL ON CANVAS
I’m ecstatic. It’s finally here. Seeing my book officially displayed on Amazon, sends ripples down my spine. Thank you to the many friends and colleagues in the teaching and book business profession who read and critiqued The Red Lantern. It has come a long way and I’m proud of the final version.
The idea for this book started with an antique ginger jar. A former student of my had spent the summer at her grandfather’s antique shop in Hong Kong. When she saw the ginger jar, it reminded her of me and she kindly brought it back as a gift with a note: “Ma chère ancienne professeure.”
I had hoped to set the story in Hong Kong with a ginger jar genie. Turns out there are no genies in the Chinese culture. Eventually, the ginger jar got replaced by a red lantern; the genie by the Jade Emperor’s daughter, and the genie’s three wishes became three lantern riddles. It was very fitting to tie the story into modern day Chinese New Year and the lantern festival.
This book is the perfect gift for young children, teachers interested in celebrating Chinese New Year in their classroom, and grandparents who need a souvenir to bring home to their grandchildren after visiting San Francisco’s China town.
Please order a copy of The Red Lantern and take a few minutes to rate it on Amazon.
My first art exhibition was in Middle School when three different projects of mine were framed and hung on the school’s hallway walls. You never forget that feeling of pride, knowing someone liked your work enough to hang it on a wall for all to see.
Soul Searching is not my first exhibition as I’ve been part of group, solo, juried and non-juried shows in the past. However, The Spirit of Africa and the Diaspora feels like my first “coming out” show.
The four African portraits I painted, managed to take me back 30 years, when a college friend, who grew up in Kenya, introduced me to the Swahili song “Jambo Bwana” on her cassette player while cruising through downtown Vancouver. We thought we were being really cool.
I fell in love with Africa the first time I saw the movie Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. This was followed by receiving my first A+ mark for an English composition based on the novel by Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness. Not many years later, I found myself traversing the African continent on our honeymoon, camping in some of the most incredible spots in the world.
My hope was to capture that young, free, adventurous spirit in these portraits.
The Maasai warrior represents strength and ownership. He reminds me of an experience where we met a group of local Batu men while traveling the Serengeti. These hunters were on their way into the desert, carrying spears and poison arrows, dressed in business suits while riding their bicycles – some had doubled up. Maasai had taken their cattle the night before and it was time for revenge. The Maasai believe that God gave them all the cattle in the world; hence they were just taking back what belonged to them. However; the park warden stopped them, at least long enough until we were out of sight.
The Maasai bride symbolizes passage and union. She is on her way to marry, a passing from youth into adulthood, to new beginnings. She is also covered in red: beads, cloth and mud mixed with goat’s blood, a color that signifies union.
The two portraits of Catherine reinforce the importance of friendship. Given today’s political climate, with the rise of tribalism in the West, it’s friendship that crosses all borders, languages and cultures.
Come see the exhibit Soul Searching: the Spirit of Africa and the Diaspora if you haven’t already. Even better, if you have time this Saturday, come and take part in “A Taste of Africa” Festival to strengthen our global community in Pleasanton through dance, music, arts and food.
The Independent Newspaper: 'Soul Searching' Exhibition Opens at Harrington Gallery