The Season is Here

This time of year I’m usually stressed by having to work as well as prep for the holidays: making/sending cards, decorating, baking, etc. But this is the first year – probably since I was 36 and freelancing – that I am NOT WORKING!! I love that sense of freedom from the double onus of job plus holiday to-do list, but strangely I am still moody…

I thought it may be Seasonal Affective Disorder – too-short days for a SoCal gal who loves sunshine – but I think there is more at play. I now realize that this is the one time of year that I become seriously nostalgic for so many sources of my joy: I miss my beloved parents, I miss having our children close, I miss my own sense of wonder that was always such a part of Christmas happiness.

I finished the Christmas cards today. I’ll begin baking tomorrow. Soon we’ll get the decorations down from the attic and make RED the operational color for the next few weeks. But tonight I’m sad, and maybe that’s part of this Season: remembering and missing people and Christmases past.

 

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Scorpio Birthdays

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Sam, Barb, Mercer, DK

We have a recent tradition of doing a weekend celebration of Mercer’s birthday, with cousin Sam and his partner Barb coming down from Palo Alto to cook for us! This has replaced our longtime habit of camping with them for Thanksgiving, and this year – like last – daughter Whitney also blew into town from Portland to enjoy the gourmet eating, and sister BJ drove in from the desert. This time Mercer requested steaks instead of the usual turkey, and we all feasted on Sam’s perfectly grilled rib eyes – yum!!

It was also a chance to see local friends who have participated in past camping adventures: Nick, Austin, and Joyce! Daughter Devon – also a Scorpio – wanted to come down, but they will be here for Christmas.

Great leftovers are finally about gone, and I mourn the chore of cooking reverting to moi…leek & potato soup, anyone??

Klimt & Rodin, oh my!

klimt_blogI did a short visit to the Bay Area last week, and was able to include a stop at the Legion of Honor in San Fran for their special exhibit, Klimt and Rodin. Devon and Fran and I enjoyed the color, pattern and beauty of Klimt, a Viennese painter, and the drama and texture of Rodin, a French sculptor. These artists who were contemporaries only met once, but died just a year apart (1917, 1918). Their approaches to art – both were exploring the modern and succeeding despite their turn away from the past – expanded the possibilities long predetermined by the Paris Salon system, and first rejected by the Impressionists.

lovejoysWe followed up our museum enrichment with a delicious English cream tea at a little spot Devon had sussed out, Lovejoy’s Tea Room. Fun antiques and all things teatime, the food was as yummy as the decor was delightful!

serraAnd our last stop on the way out of the city was Mission Dolores, the oldest mission still standing, where we wandered alone through the church and basilica, and read the 1800s tombstones in the cemetery as the shadows lengthened towards dusk.

I do love a city adventure, especially with peeps who share my taste in art and exploring!

Pacific Standard Time, first stop

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“Behind Closed Gates”, SUB photography coop, 2012

Lots is happening in our local art museums and galleries this fall as the city-wide Getty initiative known as Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA explores Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Many institutions are hosting a wide range of exhibits, and I’ve made it to a couple so far.

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“Lunar Typewriter”, Katz, 1978

The Getty Center has four separate shows on view, and the “Photography in Argentina, 1850-2010” is deep and fascinating. It is sub-divided into various genres and fills the lower level of the West Building. According to getty.edu,

“From its independence in 1810 until the economic crisis of 2001, Argentina was perceived as a modern country with a powerful economic system, a strong middle class, a large European-immigrant population, and an almost nonexistent indigenous culture. This perception differs greatly from the way that other Latin American countries have been viewed, and underlines the difference between Argentina’s colonial and postcolonial process and those of its neighbors. “

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“Evita” (detail), Santiago Porter, 2008

There is a strong social and political point of view to the majority of these works, and a whole room on their best-known celebrity, Eva Peron. I learned a lot about Argentina’s history and cultures from the detailed wall text.

Also at the Getty Center is a smaller exhibit called Making Art Concrete, featuring mainly 3-dimensional works. According to the website, this show…

“examines the formal strategies and material choices of avant-garde painters and sculptors associated with the Concrete art movement in Argentina and Brazil. These works of geometric abstraction, created between 1946 and 1962, are presented alongside information on the way artists pioneered new techniques and materials.”

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“Concretion 58”, Luiz Sacillotto, 1958

I liked the simplicity of some of these objects, as they appeal to my graphic design sense and were a relief from the somewhat heavy mood inspired by the photography show!

Autumn nostalgia

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White-trunk Sycamores at the white marble Getty Center, in that lovely California light

Shorter days, chilly mornings, pumpkin patches – these trigger in me a certain nostalgic mood. Couldn’t sleep last night and spent 1:35 to 2:50 a.m. reflecting on what my views are on “God”…triggered by a question posed to me yesterday: “do you believe in God?” I grew up going to church every Sunday, youth group Sunday night, and sometimes weekly choir practice. But I always felt my father’s take on religion was truest: church is about fellowship with people who try to do good, not the afterlife or earthly rewards. We didn’t talk about God at home – just did our best to follow the Golden Rule, and said grace before dinner!

However, I have always said that I have an angel watching over me, because my life has been mostly free of pain, tragedy and loss. I had terrific parents who lived into their 90s, and siblings who have always been my first line of solidarity. Being the middle child had a magical quality to me, a “safety-sandwich” of having an older sister to smooth the way, and a younger brother who was always large for his age, and thus our “protector”. Both our parents were middle children – Mama of five, Daddy of nine – and they endeavored to treat we three evenly.

This autumn is just the second since Mama left the planet, but memories of her – and of Daddy – make this annual transition to winter fill me with nostalgia for the carefree times of childhood. Maybe we adults should go leap in a pile of crunchy leaves!

 

East Wing, NGA

Back to my Artventure journal entries from August on the Right Coast! Today’s pages are from a morning at the recently renovated East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. I grew up in the Virginia suburbs of D.C. and have always considered the Smithsonian and NGA to be my hometown museums. I love visiting them whenever I can find time on a trip to see my family and friends.

Since my flight back to L.A.wasn’t until afternoon, Pat and I took Metro into town and spent the morning exploring the new East Wing’s well-curated galleries. I saw so many favorite artists and works that are familiar, as well as some new discoveries…

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I enjoy the handmade nature of this journal – a balance to the digital creativity of my blog!

Female-driven films

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(images from IMDB)

We’ve watched three recent movies in the last week (at home) that each revolved around a strong female lead character. All the films had merit, but I wasn’t blown away by the one I expected to like the most, based on reviews from both critics and friends. And the one that disappointed at the box office was my favorite. The third was what I expected, and I liked it because of previous associations.

Wonder Woman” was visually spectacular, had a good message about powerful females bringing love and caring to the world, but for me was dragged down by the standard superhero formula (violence, explosions) and necessity to connect it to the comic book franchise. I was disappointed because I really don’t like superhero movies, so mine is a prejudiced review. (My husband didn’t care for it either, but that’s because he’s prejudiced against female superheroes).

The movie that I liked because of all the connections it presents was the live action Emma Watson “Beauty and the Beast” film. I enjoyed the 90s animated version, and as the mother of daughters who were the right age when it came out, I approved of the focus on Belle as a bookworm and independent woman. I also did research into various retellings of this fairy tale for a lesson when I was an art docent for our girls’ elementary school. There are many terrific illustrations for different fairy tale books about Beauty, and the new movie is sumptuous and gorgeous like those fantastic illustrations! It worked for me, but may not have been as enjoyable without the background I brought to it. (My husband fell asleep).

Here’s the surprise: my favorite of the three was “Ghost in the Shell“, a sci-fi thriller starring Scarlet Johannson that was panned by many critics because it “white washed” the lead (Johannson is by no stretch Asian) and changed a key part of the story from the source material, a Japanese manga and animated film. I had read a bit about the controversy when it came out, but was unfamiliar with the story line. I found the film to be involving, from the fantastic CGI environments and special effects, to the gradual reveal of the back story of the lead character, “Major”. It worked for me as an exciting diversion precisely because I didn’t expect much from it. (Ditto from husband)

All of these were big budget pictures about female characters, but I prefer independent smaller films just because they focus more on storytelling than on effects – and often have strong female leads. Still a favorite of mine from last year is “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” – the females have supporting roles and are rather caricatured but fun – look for it and let me know what you think!!