Friday, February 26, 2010

Effie Yeaw Nature Center Fundraiser and Adventure California

Attended the Effie Yeaw fundraiser last night at the iMax downtown. Effie Yeaw is a nature center that cares for injured animals located in one of Sacramento's greatest jewels - Ancil Hoffman Park. The fundraiser had a screening of "Adventure California" which was pretty breathtaking in parts. They had aerial footage of air surfers (something that I hadn't heard of before) as well as some beautiful and moving footage of a woman scientist who helps endangered sea otter orphans return to the wild by modeling sea otter behavior with them. The narration spoke of California as a place of reinvention and innovation and it reinforced my awe and appreciation for this place. The nature center also had a King snake and a young orphaned possum for people to meet at the theater, and tho the snake didn't seem to mind, the possum wasn't exactly friendly. It was amazing looking tho. Very intense with a somewhat bizarre kind of beauty. Quite different to Australian possums which are much higher on the cuteness factor, tho this one in the picture above is pretty darn cute.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Powerful William Kentridge animation

William Kentridge is one of my favorite artists. His drawing skills, intellectual ideas, and aesthetic are inspiring. I saw this video at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art last year (or the year before)and watched it several times. It's "dark," powerful, and moving. Having made some short animations I am in awe of how much work went into this. Kentridge's work makes me reflect on the power and potential of art and the ways that artists use art for healing on personal and social/political levels. Makes me feel very humble. Here is the blurb from the YouTube video. "History of the Main Complaint is the sixth film in the series and is based on twenty-one drawings. It was made shortly after the establishment in South Africa of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission." You can find out lots more about him on the web if this piques your interest. Hope you enjoy.

A tale of a mouse, snail, and hamster and other workshop stories

No-one had signed up for a class I was teaching on felting totem animals. Perhaps it was the long weekend, perhaps it was that people here don't really know how wonderful felting is, perhaps it's Sacramento, or time, or the economy. So, I thought I was going to cancel it, which was also OK, when I got an email from 12 year old Julia saying she and her friend wanted to come. I was impressed by her initiative and that she really wanted to take the class. Plus there's something so magical about teaching friends and Julia's mum ended up coming too, which made it even more special. We talked a little about totem animals and they each chose an animal. I had them write some qualities that they either felt their animals had or that they themselves wanted. Interestingly, most of the qualities that they wrote were qualities that they already had themselves. Julia ~ Mouse: shy, intelligent, resourceful. Nina ~ Rabbit: curious, playful, cuddly, loveable. Anne ~ Cat: fun, athletic, lazy (which Anne loves to be when she can), independent. They all also had many other qualities such as ~ smart, amazing, and fabulous!
I showed them some of my animals, and then introduced them to the needle, the roving (wool) and its different qualities, and some techniques. We then spent 3 very focused hours together. I was very happy to be their teacher. Julia had the simplest animal, plus she was just really fast, so she ended up making her mouse, 2 snails, a hamster and a finger puppet. I was amazed at how experimental she was and delighted with the results.

Nina worked slower and more methodically, felting densely and securely to make a lovely bunny which she held tenderly.


Anne's was also impressive and she too had great focus. Together they made quite the menagerie.

 From left - my beginning baby abonimable sowman (not quite a totem animal) Nina's bunny (the photo doesn't do it justice), my little kitty, Anne's big kitty, Julia's 2 snails, mouse, finger puppet, and wee hamster.

Because Julia finished way before the rest of us, I asked her to write a story about her creations. She asked the name of my pig and I told her along with the story of what "treyf" means (forbidden or non-kosher). Here is her story.

One day, Piccolo the mouse, Humphrey the hamster, and Arnold the snail took a walk. They heard an odd noise coming from behind a bush. "What is it?" they cried. They had never heard anything like it before. "Help!" they heard a voice cry. They cautiously peeked around the bush. They saw a little pink pig stuck in the brush. "Oh no!" screeched Piccolo. "Please help me!" begged the pig. The threesome helped him out of the brush. The pig told them that his name was Treyf. They all became friends.
The End.
Moral: Don't play in bushes :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fabulous free blogging backgrounds

This woman, Itkupilli (she's Finnish) is wonderful. She has a bunch of free background patterns like the one I am using and of course you then wander over to her etsy shop where you can't help but buy a bunch of her fabulous vintage images for collage. Here's the free background link

Here's her etsy shop Above is one of the sample images from her shop for those of you who like vintage mermaids and octopii.

The Vintage Moth - wonderful free vintage ephemera

There is so much (almost too much) amazing stuff out there on the web including tons of free stuff. I will try and start posting things I come across here. Vintage Moth is a great site of free vintage imagery for mixed media and other artists. I had way too much fun and spent way too much time looking at it. Below is the link. Enjoy!

The Vintage Moth..: The NEW site is UP!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yiddish Class



I started Yiddish classes with Golde Block yesterday. Golde was a professional singer from New York and grew up surrounded by the world of Yiddishkeit (Jewishness). Yiddish was my first language but where I grew up, we were teh only Jews. As soon as I started school I wanted to be "normal." So when my parents spoke Yiddish, I would respond in English telling them that they needed to speak English in the new country. Like many immigrant kids, the desire to fit in versus the desire to please/honor parents was a constant battle. Flash forward many years and I've joined "Yiddish Club" at the Albert Einstein Senior Residence Center, organized by Golde who is also teaching or reteaching some of us younger folks. I have started collecting stories of peoples experiences with Yiddish also known as the "mamneloschen" or mother-tongue for a book I hope to make and went to the Einstein Center to do a workshop with some of the seniors there. We did both stories and art and it was quite magical. The only requirement was knowledge of a Yiddish word or phrase and then we developed the stories about how we came to know these words or phrases and of course the stories told us so much more than just what the word or phrase meant. The stories told tales of history, humor, culture, tragedy, family, community, loss, and love. Of course I fell in love the people and joined Yiddish Club and then I waited in line until Golde could fit me in as one of her individual students.

We met at her warm and welcoming house, not ostentatious - as she pointed out, but warm and comfy. I asked if I could take pictures of when she sang professionally and she said "sure - why not?" Learning Yiddish was more than just learning the words, grammar, alphabet or aleph bet. It was learning about Golde's life, history, and world, hearing Jewish and Yiddish jokes, and learning about Yiddish and Jewish culture. It was also remembering about my own history that I had tried for so many years to escape and sharing small snippets from that, amazed at how much Yiddish I remembered, tho reading was a big challenge. I love the idea that at some point I might be able to read Sholem Aleichem or I.L Peretz. I love that I will get to know more about Golde as I continue Yiddish class with her. I love that I am becoming more comfortable and at home in my Jewishness.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fair Oaks Sacramento - like Marin turned down to 2 but with roaming chickens

A meeting of the minds. Stumbled upon lovely Fair Oaks today not too far from where I live. It reminded me of Marin, the hills, nature, loveliness, (excessive wealth), artistic looking alternative types, but on a very small scale. Downtown was especially charming for many reasons including the free range chickens that have taken roost in the plaza there. Evidently they rule the place. I spotted a few Rhode Island Reds reminding me of when I lived in the Obi Obi Valley of Queensland Australia and my boyfriend and I kept chickens. We named them after my girlfriends and when they started getting killed off, it was especially upsetting. Turns out there was a massive carpet-snake slithering in to the chicken coop after dark and partially gobbling them up. Aark.  Boyfriend went down one night with a flashlight and gun and that was the end of the snake. Although we named the girls after friends, we named the rooster after Elvis for his impressive vocalizations  and sex appeal to the hens. Jump forward a couple of decades to Northern California. Went for a walk across the bridge over the mighty American River into some gorgeous park land. Truly stunning. Every day I feel grateful to be here although I do sometimes miss some of the many other wonderful places I've been fortunate enough to spend time in.

The pictures were taken by a lovely young woman from LA who was gracious enough to take them and email them to me via her iPhone (appliance lust here). She did a good job, although it wasn't too difficult considering how camera friendly these fowls were.

Friday, February 5, 2010

School visit, school transformation, One Health proposal, sea otters, raptor rescue: Dinner with Megan, Melissa, and Julio

Wondering how other people balance living a full life, being creative, and using social media like Facebook and blogging. There's the experience and then there's the experience of writing about the experience. Had dinner at fabulous Sacramento restaurant Tapas the World with some really interesting friends and ended up taking notes for my blog. Not sure if this is healthy. I've known Megan since she was little and became her fairy godmother. Now she's married and in grad school at UC Davis. I met her when her mom, an elementary school teacher, invited me to come do a school visit and 'show and tell' about my kids books to the entire school. It was in El Grenada California, near Half Moon Bay. I ended up becoming close friends her mom Melissa and Megan. Came back to paint some murals with the students. Thus began the process of transforming the school from institutional greys into a vibrant and exciting place of learning. They now have learning gardens, many more murals, and fabulous sculptures. But I digress.

The following is from my notes from a couple of weeks ago: We talked about Megan's experiences in Vet school - guest speaker from One Health where AMVA and AMA have finally gotten together to make a proposal bringing Human Animal and Environmental concerns/relationships together. Cars caused diminishing of vet schools as we were no longer so dependent on horses e.g. closing of Harvard's vet school. Julio's  work at the Natural History Museum and how Southern Sea Otters eat sea urchins which turn their teeth and bones light purple. How passionate Megan has always been about sea otters and when she was 15 she made and exhibited 2317 images that she made to bring attention to how few remained (Megan is a fantastic artist). It was a powerful show. Julio's volunteer work with the Raptor Center where he climbed a 50' tree to rescue a Red Tail that had gotten caught in a kite and couldn't escape. Pretty terrifying. Melissa's fabulous new student teacher. How great it is having her but the amount of extra work in training her. We also talked about the movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which we all loved. I especially loved the eating scenes. Delightfully feral. Also talked about much more such as the demographic differences between MySpace and Facebook (MySpace - high schoolers, artists, people of color), Facebook (White, middle-class, educated) and much more. But life calls and must go. Next to come - writing retreat in Santa Rosa.