Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Suzi Blu - The WWW Artist's Life.

I'm a little late to the party on many fronts, and certainly in regards to Suzi Blu. I've just discovered Suzi via a friend's blog and I was immediately taken with her enterprising chutzpa and on camera charm.

Ms. Blu is a self-promoted mixed media artist who has painted and videoed a way to make a living with her art. She sells her mixed media paintings on eBay, maintains an online journal and offers short art and journaling video lessons on her YouTube channel, Suziblutube.

Her art is charming, some of it a little cute for my taste (not all, some), but I just admire her whole approach to living the artist's life.

She claims that she wants to be the "DIY Internet Queen". And I think she may hold that crown at present.

Good for you, Suzi Blu. Long live the queen.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Henry Leo: September 9, 2007

From: Fraction, Matt
Ks in labor since 7 am, spirits high, epi just kicked in, 100% effaced, 7 cm dilated, kid should be here later tonight.
Sept. 9, 5:19 pm

I've been wanting to write something about the birth of Henry Leo for some time. He is the son of Matt and Kelly Sue, two people who have entered our lives in an unconventional way and who have not surprisingly found a place in our hearts. Not surprising once you meet them. Spend just a few minutes with either of them and you'd understand.

These are special peoples. And we love them. But I wasn't exactly sure what to say, until now.

Because they live smack-dab in the middle of the country and we live on the left coast, our contacts are mostly electronic. Once a year, there's the opportunity to share the same air, but it's not enough. Again, once you met them, you'd understand.

I once told Susan that Kelly Sue is the kind of woman I wished could have been another sister. After Susan met her and spent time with her she disagreed. "Kelly Sue's the daughter you never had," she revealed.

And it struck me that she was so right. It's not that I wanted to be KS's surrogate father, it's merely that she is the kind of strong-willed, intelligent, creative, talkative, beautiful and funny sort of woman that would have been the perfect daughter for me. If I would have been lucky enough to have one, I would want my daughter to have been seasoned with several pounds of KS's genes.

From: Fraction, Matt
Much love to you guys -
more soon
Sept. 9, 5:31 pm

Taking that a little further, I imagined that her amazing husband would have been the perfect son-in-law. Creative, supportive, intelligent, talented, a protective and loving and caring partner to his wife, inquisitive, good looking and able to hold his own during a debate - these are the kinds of things I would want my daughter to find in her husband.

I know I've said some of these things before, but I don't mind repeating myself when it comes to people and things that matter to me. I repeat myself often, just ask Susan, my patient wife.

And so it was that in the afternoon of Sept. 9, 2007 I got a text message from Matt that Kelly Sue was in labor since the morning and that their son, Henry Leo would no doubt introduce himself later that day.

From: Fraction, Matt
Henry leo 7 lb. 11oz. 19.25" Mother & son totally awesome.
Sept. 9, 11:16 pm

I've saved those text messages and look at them now and again, refilling the mind of our reaction, (immediate tears and cheers) and how happy, incredibly joyous we are for...Henry.

Yeah, we're happy for KS and Matt, that should be assumed from the outset - but I'm really pleased that Henry has been blessed with amazing humans for parents. Pardon the gushing here, but that little fellow has got some good things going for him from the beginning.

No silver spoons, but platinum parents.

He won't be spoiled (at least by them) but he will be listened to. And taught how to speak to and see the world with a voice that cares and with eyes that see beyond the obvioius.

He'll be taught to think for himself and encouraged to create.

He'll learn respect for those who deserve it, insight into those who do not, tolerance for those different from himself, understanding why those differences exist, and compassion and love people for what is inside.

He will also love dogs, learn to trust cats - some of them anyway, and always seek out new things and new ways of interacting with the world.

He'll learn to laugh, mostly at himself.

He'll read comics and his mother won't throw them away, unless they're old issues of "ANT".

He'll probably raise hell, ignore his parents when he's 16, get early bad grades in math (if that part of his brain is from his father) but do better later on because he is determined to do so (if that part of his brain is from his mother), wreck their car (not an original prediction, but I support it), leave his putrid socks in the hallway and generally be a kid who learns that "play" is as important to life as work - but balanced with responsibility.

To Matt and Kelly Sue, congratulations and solar flare warm hugs to you both.

To Henry Leo, welcome and count your blessings little fella.

To all three, we hope to see you soon because we miss you terribly...and love you even more.

Photos by Laurenn McCubbin, used without permission. I hope she doesn't mind.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

10 Years and Counting

My wife, Susan, and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this week. The other day we were talking about the last 14 years we've known and loved one another.

The anniversary will be a quiet time, just us at dinner, enjoying one another's company. I told her if anyone asks how long we've been married, I said we should simply tell them, "30 years."

"Why, because it seems like that long?" she retorted.

Looking down and then back up to her face in all seriousness, I said, "No, because it should have been that long."

Monday, April 30, 2007

If Art speaks to you, talk back.

“Yay, let’s hear it for ART COLLECTORS!”

We heard this as we were leaving “Artwalk” the annual art festival held in the Little Italy section of downtown San Diego this weekend. No doubt, the tip-off to the commentator was the arms full of paintings and prints.

The art collector cheerleader was a fellow artist keeping watch over her booth, and the cheer went up from other artists and spectators. Though the shout out was nice, it certainly wasn’t necessary.

We just like art. It looks good on the wall and most of them make me smile, feel or think. Art that somehow speaks to you should do one or more of those things.

Our “art collection” is not extensive but expanding in styles, subject matter and sheer numbers. We’re striving to rid the house of all litho’ed posters and similar pieces by replacing them with original works or limited editioned, signed prints.

None of the work is overtly controversial. Some of the wood block prints are of Dia de los Muertos skeletons and I’ve got some allegorical works but nothing too political or overly shocking. It’s not that I don’t like shocking, but I’m not so sure I want to wake up every morning and look at it. The mug staring me back at me from the mirror is shocking enough.

“Piss Christ” didn’t necessarily offend me or cause me to blanch, and I can actually appreciate it on one or more levels, but I think I’d rather have a plein aire hanging above the fireplace.

But that's just me.

It was maybe 4 years ago that I first saw Kirsten Francis' work while a part-time printmaking student at the Art Academy of San Diego. The mythological and allegorical elements of her wood block prints grabbed a hold of me and actually inspired me to start a series of crow imagery. I was pleased to see her work at the festival and really pleased to pick up one of the prints I had admired a few years ago. Kirsten’s been doing this for a while which is doubly surprising when you find out how young she is. Her considerable talent truly belies her age and foretells a long, creative career.

Plein aire paintings make me feel good. They seem to calm my spirit and dammit…I just like looking at them. Michael Gulewich’s paintings immediately created that sense of peace when we walked into his booth. His settlings are familiar to me as I have traveled to many of the places he paints. Although he paints larger pieces, these three small paintings are little moments of serenity.

My favorite piece purchased was a simple but striking painting of a dove. Artist Ed Arambula is proof that life is unfair. Most of us would be happy if we were relatively good in just one art form or could render an image in one style or another. Ed however can do it all. Ed not only paints in various styles (from contemporary to figurative to expressive to impressionistic) but the talent-greedy bastard also sculpts. He’s probably a good cook, plays three instruments and sing too.

Maybe his feet smell.


In all, five modest but appreciated works made it home. They will join the others that either hang on walls, sit on shelves or are otherwise displayed with love. Do yourself a favor, buy some art this week. Your soul will thank you and an artist (an endangered species for sure) will survive until the next art festival.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tampon Crafts

I truly believe that this is the perfect example using what's close to you when creating your "art".

If you ever get tired of making things out of popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners, try tampons.

Yeah, tampons.

This spooky ghost is a perfect example of Tampon Crafts - For any time of the month.

A little glue, two google eyes and faster than you can say "Boo!" you've got a Halloween decoration anyone would be proud to display. I think these would be perfect for Cub Scouts, don't you?

Other, more complex projects can be found on the website including a Menorah, a New Year's Eve ball and one of my favorites, the Blow Gun. There's even "You Tube" footage of the thing in action.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the Heart Earrings. They are very special.

No part of the tampon goes unused. The applicator tube lends itself to myriad ideas and I don't want to rag on these folks but I think the creative souls behind the website have opened the door barely a crack to the possibilities of this media.

Not only for each holiday season, I think they should have a project for each month. God forbid if they would ever miss one.

Perhaps they could do things like "tampon toys" too. I envision little trees, villages and frontier forts with cannons. Think "Lincoln Logs" but with an emphasis on Mary Todd.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Art Festering


Art camp. Yeah, that’s what it’s like. Only there’s no little nose pickin, socially awkward, geeky little kids to deal with. We were all geeky grown ups.

Tracy and Teesha Moore produce a very unique art workshop event each year they call Artfest. Each year is a little different and it is now in it’s 7th year to be held at Fort Worden State Park located in Port Townsend, WA. Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport located on the Olympic peninsula, not real close to anywhere. An hour and a half from Seattle via highways and ferries, it almost seems secluded in a “no Starbucks in these here parts” kind of way. Well, there is one located at the local Safeway supermarket and there’s a McDonald’s but the locals prefer proper espresso in a chipped demitasse, thank you very much.

The workshops that are offered are generally one to two day affairs, just enough to whet an appetite but long enough to provide basic foundation skills for future study. The teachers are respected experts in their respective fields from artist jewelry to artist books to painting to printmaking to assemblage to deconstructions.

This year I chose to take classes rather than teach. It was a brief respite from the real world as Susan and I took a break from laundry, lawn work and long commutes. I really enjoyed the change from teacher to student.

Susan focused on creativity exercises and book arts while I brought my attention to dimensional work. Certainly, three short days is not enough to assume any proficiency but if nothing else, it recharges the artistic juices as you share the air with like-minded spirits and creativity is the order of the day. Fortunately that energy seems to be lasting until I reach the threshold of my own studio in a few days.

After getting home, I had to immediately repack the bags and hit the friendly skies again for the work that pays the mortgage. As I dragged my sorry ass onto the plane Monday morning, I longed for the smell of cedars, the greenness of ferns blanketing the wet hillsides and the feeling of doing something important for no one but myself. Jobs may fill the belly, but art feeds the soul. It really does.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Lifetime Ago...

Once in a while I will be reminded of things I did and people I knew from many years ago. Even though they may be missed dearly, for one reason or another, those things and those people are part of my past and not my present.

As mentioned on occasion, I performed as a mentalist for a good portion of my life. For a short while, I did this professionally. And every once in awhile, I would stage "spirit theater" or seances for special gatherings, friends and clients. And again, for one reason or another, I don't do the mentalist thing much anymore.

In that time, I would write articles for some of the magishing trades, including a quarterly magazine dedicated to spirit theater, entitled "Seance" published by Scott Davis. Scott was an enthusiastic and supportive follower of all things theatrically magickal. One of the issues focused on me as a performer and an elaborate seance I scripted and staged which was entitled "An Evening with Anna Hastings."

The script told of two lovers, separated in life but rejoined in the afterlife. Very sappy, very corny, very melodramatic and very commercial. The seance was relatively successful as a bit of spirit theater performed at fancy schmancy parties in Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Hollywood.

I was honored that Scott would dedicate an entire issue to me since I never held that I was very good at this stuff. But, that's another entry altogether. However, in all, it is a damned good issue and is often referenced by other, much more talented and creative magical practitioners.

The magazine had a moderate following and was certainly Scott's labor of love for several years. Anyone who has or had an interest in unusual and theatrical magic presentations referred to or hunts down old issues of "Seance". There really wasn't anything like it before and nothing like it since. In some professional circles, "Seance" magazine has become as legendary as "The Jinx" or "Magick" magazines of old. It was a bright, mysterious light in the darkened room of spooky magic.

But eventually Scott said all that he and his writers apparently had to say on the subject so he closed publication in the early nineties. Likewise, I lost touch with Scott as I moved onto other pursuits and places in my life.

So it was not but a few weeks ago, that I came upon a reference to the magazine on a magic history website. It mentioned that the rights to the magazine had been purchased by another publisher and that all of the issues were being bound together into a single volume. The combined material would have a new foreword written and publication would be limited to 1000 copies, a true collector's item. All copies had been sold within a year of publication.

Since I had gladly submitted the material to Scott almost 20 years ago willingly and with many blessings, the only regret I had when I found out about the book was that I didn't have an opportunity to buy a copy. My regret turned to discovery after turning to eBay, where I found occasional copies being sold for many, many dollars.

Last week, I bid on a slightly worn copy for more money than I should have spent...and won. It will be delivered to me in a few days.

I'm not sure how I will feel about seeing and reading it, however. Will it be like meeting a former lover for who you've always carried a torch? Or will it be like looking at pictures of your high school prom which cause you to shudder because at one time, you thought leisure suits and white belts were the hottest thing? Ever?

If nothing else, it will be interesting to look back and reminisce a bit and recall the spirits of times and events that seemed so very important and probably were on some level. I know I won't be haunted by those memories, but certainly enchanted. I'll probably read the book a few times, laugh at the audacity of inexperience and naivete and then give it to a friend. I may even think of the young girl to whom the seance was secretly dedicated, Donna Hastings, the very first girl I ever kissed as a very young lad. I'll let you know.

And if I decide to host a seance to bring back the spirit of Anna Hastings, you're invited. You can be the 13th guest...

P.S. I recently found out that "Seance" has been reprinted beyond the 1000 copies originally sold a few years ago. Current price is $75.00 each and is available at only the finer magic shops in your home town.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

It's too late now, but...

I've been wondering if I shoulda had kids. Or a kid.

There have been times, many times that I was really glad I did not. But now that the years are bumping into me, I have begun to wonder. Again.

This is totally self-indulgent, I know, so please forgive.

In the last year or two, I've actually looked into adopting but dropped it without discussion with anyone, including Susan, as an idea that was probably selfish and desparate to begin with. The topic would come up in a round about way, and in the end decided that if it were to happen, it should have been at least 15 years ago.

I've been told I would have made a good father. Probably. Hopefully. But it's a waste of time and a bit selfish and self-focused to ponder that for too long. Maybe I am writing this to let it go? Hmmm.

Some of my younger friends are having or trying to have babies. I am really happy for them if it happens. It makes my heart sing when I hear of it. "Joy" is a good word.

To their little ones, I'd love to become a surrogate uncle if I could and I'm sure the parents will appreciate an easy mark for a baby sitter now and again. The only downside of allowing me to be a baby sitter is that they will be spoiled beyond reason. Fair warning.

So, young friends, have them babies, okay? There's some Uncle-ing to do!

And forgive an old man if he gets a little weepy around babies.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Put Another Candle on my Birthday Cake!

To all the Sheriff John Deputies out there who are sharing this day with me, let's sing the "Birthday Cake Polka" together.

Birthday Cake Polka

Put another candle on my birthday cake
We're gonna bake a birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

I'm gonna have a party with my birthday cake
Come on and take some birthday cake
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

We'll have some pie and sandwiches
and chocolate ice cream too
We'll sing and play the day away
and one more thing I'm going to do

I'll blow out the candles on my birthday cake
and when I do, a wish I'll make
Put another candle on my birthday cake
I'm another year old today

(repeat above choruses)

Happy birthday to you
I'm another year old today.

A few years ago, I received a letter from John Rovick, KTTV's Sheriff John and my lunchtime companion when I was a little tyke. The letter was as gentle, kind and warm as I hoped he was when I watched him, constantly in the 1950's and early 60's. After I read it and remembered that time, I felt very, very old. But appreciative. He was especially appreciated when I was a very sick little boy and spent much time under doctor's care or in bed.

It made me think of much simpler times, filled with an innocence that was held in earnest and without embarrassment. I thought of my brother and the days and nights we shared in those days. Truly, those days were and remain a blessing beyond description. He is and was a great brother and I love him dearly. One of the best birthday presents I could get is to be able to spend more time with him. Well, I am grateful for the times we do have and the phone calls that come without reason.

Sheriff John, nay, Mr. Rovick, was kind enough to send a cassette of the "Birthday Cake Polka" he would sing each show to all those who sent in their names to the television station. As I woke up this morning, that silly song began to play in my head. I also remembered that as a young boy, I thought it odd that someone would have pie and birthday cake at the same event.

When asked if I felt any different today, I said to a friend, "No, just as worn out as I did yesterday."

Honestly, I am doing pretty well. Back at WW and the inches are shrinking...slow but sure. Also working out and taking care of this old husk a bit better these days. I may look like hell, but I feel a wee bit better than that.

To all the other members of Sheriff John's Lunch Brigade, Happy Birthday to You! Let's have some pie and sandwiches! And happy birthday to me. I am many "another year old today".

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Simple Valentine

"I love you," he said.

He thought it inadequate to tell all he had to say. He wanted to say more, tell her how deeply he cared.

But it was enough, she thought.

Well, he recited his poetry and picked up his socks. Mostly. Some of the socks went missing for weeks and she hated it when he did his own laundry because he did such small loads.

That was enough, she thought. But there were other things.

He made dinner each night. And made extra so that when he traveled, she'd have some home cooked meals. He snored, but he made good chicken marsala.

He made her laugh. A lot. He listened to his gawd-awful music much too loud and couldn't carry a tune in a large pail, but he made her laugh everyday.

He liked to feed birds and grow flowers, both of which he did for himself. He tracked dog poo into the house, but his "garden of birds" was a place of solace, peace and beauty.

He kissed her for no particular reason. And rubbed her back without being asked. Both of those were nice, real nice.

And he lowered the lid on the toilet.

Yeah, that was it. He lowered the lid after he peed. She got hot just thinkin' about it.