The weekend after

This morning started with ease, first reading a wonderful letter from Angela in Toulouse, France sharing her Saturday morning activities and filling me in on her calligraphy group that I had asked about. With the weather outside sunny along with a chilling breeze, I remained in bed, contemplating today’s entrée, while a reply to Angela needs to wait just a little longer.

The day after thanksgiving was spent emptying the dishwasher, washing the remainder of the dishes, finding room in the refrigerator for all the leftovers, putting the dinning room back to the way it was prior to the festivities, and then a trip into the garden to collect the many piles of leaves that have fallen in the last two days. There were also the remains of a twelve-foot tree, which needed further cutting up. The smaller pieces liked twigs and small branches were recycled with the rest saved to the woodpile for use in the fireplace on cold nights.

During my time spent outside, the weather was like an unpredictable card game, with dashes of grey clouds sprinkling a fine rain now and then. Before the heavens opened up again and reveal a warm sun against a blue sky, it would disappear only to reappear twenty or so minutes later. When the work had finished and front door closed, I sat at the kitchen table looking out the window at the bird feeders hanging from our cherry tree. I watched the bird’s social interaction with each other, when our returning scrub jay made a racket and chased the other ones away.

While picking at the feeder he continued to sound off a warning that was only broken up by a sudden loud rolling thunder. Within two minutes, a torrential downpour began drenching and flooding our neighborhood. It lasted several minutes before passing on, returning our area to a peaceful calm in the remaining ten or so minutes of dusk before the sky was cloaked in darkness.

Now the sounds of crows are heard as fresh morning air enters through the open sliding door, awakening the spirit and I embrace a new day. I reach for my small buff coloured Moleskine notebook that is the size of a 3 by 5 inch index card, the one I carry with me at all times. I flip through its pages of scribbled down thoughts, potential ideas for a post or a few lines of a possible poem that rests between a to-do list or two, until I come to my pages of lists.

Only two posts ago I was languishing adrift without direction on various levels since my post ‘General Update’, which now feels like a distant memory. It helps to write things down, working out obstacles or the lack of direction and along with a little patience, ones own writings offer possibilities. My list of potential topics emerges over the days and begins to define the blogs goals and eventually its purpose.

There are still other things requiring my attention, such as selecting a noteworthy blog to recommend for the month of December, along with a museum exhibit by Sunday. Then there is the phone call that I received last night, asking for my help with a family matter in Southern California that would require my driving down in a couple of days. It seems that when one thing is completed, another challenge emerges, for now I will enjoy an early afternoon winters day visiting with neighbors and in the evening site down and answer a few emails before retiring for the evening.


A Thanksgiving Day remembered

Over the years I have accumulated my share of enough memorable memories of Thanksgiving Day feast, but there are always a few that remain dear even for all the wrong reasons. The earliest I remember goes as far back as 1957 and I happened to be eight years of age.

The table was nicely set with a tablecloth and I recall there was a candleholder with four white slender candles that bathed the room in deep warm amber tones. There was a small ceiling lamp that filled in the darker empty areas and the only reason I remember this particular Thanksgiving Day was that I could not stop talking.

I was certainly a chatterbox that evening and even after repeated warnings to button it up, I just would not listen. When all of a sudden out of nowhere, my mother’s hand struck my left cheek, but her astonishment and mine, my father’s hand had struck my right cheek at the same time I felt the burning sting on the other side of my face.

There was a momentary silence as my parents looked at each other in a bewildered surprise, while I turned my head from one side to the other looking at each of them with my own shocked expression before all three of us busted out laughing.

Now I cannot recall if I did finally keep quiet and paid attention to dinner or continued talking, I can say that it was that the following month my father won in a raffle a huge unabridged Webster’s Dictionary, which was presented to me on Christmas Day.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you are
surrounded with the sounds of laughter
and the fragrances of good food set
among family and friends on this
Thanksgiving Day.



General Update

My not posting as often should not be considered that I am losing interest in either of my blogs or for lack of something to say. Rather I have been preoccupied as to the direction my art is taking me, along with another reevaluation of both my blogs.

Since blogging these past five months, I have come across numerous incredible creative artists and their amazing artwork. This has had a profound impact and influence as how I view my own solitary art but also the roll of my blogs and the purpose they are to serve.

When I started painting in 2000, I had two views; and two directions I wanted to go, traditional and abstract. After attending several college courses in 2008 and a contemporary art history class in the spring of 2009, my creative perspective was shaken up and since then, it has been in a continuous state of transition. During this evolutionary period, it appears I am languishing motionless, adrift without wind to move me ahead, when in fact this period is being spent reflecting inward about my current state and my art.

Progress on the distressed canvases has been slow. One, the largest of the set, 20 x 20” (50.80 x 50.80 cm) finally saw movement with the addition of two beer ads. When I originally came across the German beer ad from Spaten and the American Ale from Budweiser, I thought I would have some fun. The idea was to cover over the Spaten glass of beer and then rip off portion of the American Ale, revealing the Spaten underneath. Now that this has been accomplished, the collage can be considered finished, though deep down I feel one element is still needed to truly consider this painting finished and ready for my signature.

Newsprint on canvas, 20 x 20” (50.80 x 50.80 cm)
Stage 4, layer eight

Newsprint on canvas, 20 x 20” (50.80 x 50.80 cm)
Stage 5, layer nine

Close-up of the beer ads
Stage 5, layer eight and nine

On the other hand the smallest of the canvases, 12 x 12” (30.48 x 30.48 cm) has seen progress that is fraught with mixed emotions. I see the drawing being successful, I also see technical failure, and now I come to a crossroad, having to decide if I let it go or make the corrections.

Untitled — in progress, 12 x 12” (30.48 x 30.48 cm)
Stage 6, watercolour pencil over graphite pencil drawing

I view failure as success if one learns from the error. What I am referring to is the illustration of the acorn squash, which should have had a white under painting in order to cover the newsprint from showing through and influencing the illustration and its spectrum of colours. As I keep finding it a visual distraction and the fact that the colours appear not pure, I must now decide if I shall go ahead and carefully cover up the drawing and redo all the pencil and watercolour work.

On a more positive note, it was ten days or so I started two small canvases, both 8x8 inches (20.32 x 20.32 cm) and instead of going for a distressed background, I opted for a typographical composition. As for the next step or layer, well that to is like being the ancient mariner adrift on a still ocean with an albatross for company.

Untitled — in progress, 8 x 8” (20.32 x 20.32 cm)
Stage 1, 4-5 layers of newsprint

Untitled — in progress, 8 x 8” (20.32 x 20.32 cm)
Stage 1, 4-5 layers of newsprint

In less than one week it is time to celebrate the day that brings friends and families together, around a table decked with decorations and packed with wonderful dishes, while at its center is a roasted bird, a turkey.

There were well made plans in the works, that in a few days I would go on my last photographic expedition for the year and accompanying me would be Bruce and his son Kevin, both of whom I had not seen in almost a year. I would share with them my previous explorations by returning to two of my favorite finds, discoveries made after taking my daughter back to Santa Cruz, then traveling the long way back home along the Pacific coast on the Cabrillo Highway, Highway One. However the day we choose was simple too close to the American holiday Thanksgiving Day and after some contemplation, we decided to postpone the trip for another day.

Until my next post I wish you my dear reader and fellow follower all the very best,


The Berlin Wall gets a facelift

Construction on the Berlin Wall began August 13, 1961, separating families and a nation; it remained in effect until September 11, 1989. Six months later on March 10, 1990 German reunification took place. Today, twenty years later, Berlin and the German nation celebrates a memory when the two were apart.

Tourists pass a painting on a segment of the reopened East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. The 105 wall paintings of the former Berlin Wall were restored for the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall in Nov. 2009. The same artists from 21 countries who created the paintings in 1990 repainted their pictures in the world's longest open-air art gallery after the concrete surface of the Wall was replaced.

Geir Moulson, Associated Press Writer; Photo: AP Photo/Gero Breloer

When the wall broke open, the influx of East Germans into West Germany was not necessarily all that welcomed, as both sides struggled to form a new alliance and coexist with the historical luggage either side was burdened with. However in recent years Germany began healing its wounds and started taking pride once more in itself as a people and as a nation.

The West German capital that was seated in Bonn since the end of the Second World War was moved back to the city of Berlin where it always had been. The city since has undergone a great change and continues to this day, evolving, reinventing itself as a center of intellectual and artistic importance.

“Test the Best” Trabbi who breaks through the wall, by Birgit Kinder.
Photo: Getty Images

As a reminder of a city divided in two, there still remains a 1316 meters (1439.2 yards) of the Berlin Wall, where 118 artist originally painted a section marking the historic event with a murals of their own design. To celebrate the twenty years since the opening of the wall, the East Side Gallery in Berlin has requested the original 118 international artists to return and restore their art to its former state. Not all artists took up East Side Galleries offer but 86 did and for their work were given 4000 Euro each.

Though I certainly applaud the East Side Gallery for their involvement these last fifteen to twenty years promoting the preservation and education of the remaining Berlin Wall, I do question who is taking part in the renewal of the wall. My concerns is that the remaining section of the Berlin wall is not reserved primarily for German artists, since they are the ones that have been affected directly by the walls prior presence, this would allow the German artists to leave a visual history. I should also note that not one former East German artist had been invited to take part in this event.

This picture was taken August 10, 1991 and artist Dmitri Vrubel 
begins restoring the mural in June of this year.
Photo: (dpa) Jan Bauer

The brotherhood kiss between Honecker and Breshnev by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel 
is defaced and covered full of graffiti. September 2008
Foto: (dpa) Arno Burgi

As I look at the images that are featured on the East Side Gallery website or other German news media, my personal view is that hardly any section of the restored wall reflects anything like what the wall looked liked when I visited Berlin in 1970 and 1974. What is missing is the graffiti, the political slogans and posters, the anti government remarks, personal messages and memorials to those who died trying to escape Communism. It all has been wiped clean, erasing twenty years of German history as if it never happened and mostly replacing it with contemporary designs.

This is what the wall looked like at Mühlenstraße back in March of 2009, 
having lost all traces of nineteen years of art.
Photo: (ddp) Michael Gottschalk

My views are only a single opinion and have no bearing on the events taking place. I personally do not wish to forget the former appearance these concrete walls held and therefore treasure the painting I painted in honour of the walls opening. You can see the painting at The Artist Within Us and read about my trip through the former East Germany by train.

I recommend a visit to the East Side Gallery website as they have documented the artists refurbishing the 4318 foot wall and you are able to see the individual sections as they are now.
All photographs featured on this post have copyrights belonging to the photographer and/or their representative agency.


A moment now cherished even more

It has been a most somber day and even the nature seems to grieve, as the sky remains overcast with only a few sporadic openings allowing for a little dab of manganese blue sky to show briefly before disappearing. Last night I learned from my son that a friend from his days in high school had committed suicide by hanging.

Though I had not seen Anthony in the last three years, he was a frequent visitor to our home for a number of years, as he and my son Armont played guitar together for hours on hours, filling the house with a lively spirit, which was to the delight of my wife and me.

Why the two never continued their friendship after graduation is not clear, but for me there is a memory I wish to share.

One day in February 2005 at Pinole Valley High School I walked around the campus waiting for our daughter Ariana, since Armont had finished his classes that I met up with Anthony and his girlfriend Sammy. She was leaning into Anthony for comfort and security and he stood tall, secure, with his arm around her. Neither spoke much. I said ‘Hi Anthony’ and he responded likewise, then Sammy in her soft voice, barely audible, also said ‘Hi’.

Sammy and Anthony Warriner

Original title: My Love – Sammy & Anthony, February 17, 2005, image #03091
Digital Duo-tone photograph

The next five seconds now appear more like a very long silence in which everything came to a standstill while the universe all around us all kept moving on. I remember taking one step back, raised my little digital camera to take this photograph of the two.

Even after taking the photograph and having lowered my camera, the silence continued a little longer before we entered into conversation and that Armont would join us. It was only then that our space once again entered into the reality that was happening all around us.

Looking back as I had a few times over the years whenever I came across this photograph, I felt Anthony and Sammy allowed me into a very private tender moment between the two of them. His trust permitted me to capture not only that moment, but also their vulnerability.

Anthony leaves behind a wife and a one and a half year old boy named Odin.

May your soul find rest and the 
peaceful solitude it is seeking.