Posts Tagged ‘art’
It’s become a tradition for me. I love, love, LOVE welcoming the New Year with art in the form of costuming, dance, music, and theater. NYE 2011, I was in Las Vegas watching pole dancers in the Hard Rock Hotel before kicking up my heels. While I’ve never been a huge fan of Vegas as a city, I have great respect that it curates some of the best concerts, theatric shows, modern dance, and art in the nation. So you all wouldn’t be surprised how NYE 2012 went down, would you? I’ll never get tired of ringing in the New Year with art.
BREAK IT DOWN
8:00 AM Pancake breakfast with the Man-Geek (and NYE day strategy time)
10:30 AM – 12:00 noon Costume strategy time. I worked up a devilish unitard get-up with a slinky dress that made the best of the best of what it means to have a backless outfit. But sorry folks. If you didn’t see it and take a picture, there is none for you. Some moments are meant to be taken in with the brain and archived off the server, you dig?
12:30 PM Lunch at Thai Ginger, aka “what part of no peanuts do you not understand? [Man-Geek caught the peanuts in the dipping sauce and sent it back to the kitchen before I could finish checking-in on Facebook].
1:45 PM Life of Pi in 3D. This is only my second attempt at watching 3D film. Some of you might remember I experienced nausea and dizziness during the film Avatar in 3D. While the unnatural eye movements 3D movies demand do not cause nausea in everyone, I have figured out how to diminish this unhappy side effect: blink faster than the normal rate, and watch the edges of the film screen to provide a frame and ground for eye movements. No nausea, just images of animals swimming in the raging ocean.
4:00 PM Standing in the window dressing area of Williams-Sonoma, pretending to be happy cooks while people passed by and laughed. Naturally, I was using all Le Creuset cookware.
5:00PM Frans Chocolate on 1st Avenue. Because you know you are going to want some choco bon bon noms after dinner, with a little caffeine to get you through the night.
5:15 PM Japonessa Sushi Cocina for din-din, omikase style. The colors on the plate are artful, the sashimi was fresh and satisfying, and the sparkling sake made for a wonderful photo on my iPhone (check out the unexpected reflections in the glass).
8:15 PM The Paramount Theater. Who doesn’t like being greeted at the door by circus people on stilts and Circus Contraption playing happy music that makes you feel like you’re in a French movie?
8:30 PM Lynx takes the stage. She gave us the unexpected pleasure of particularly DJ-perfect beat boxing that left the small but growing crowd scream for more. The link is from an SF duet performance several years ago she gave that will astound you. Check it.
9:15 PM Y La Bamba takes the stage. Again, I had the feeling I was in a movie, with world tunes that between the houses of some backcountry South, South America, and CoCo Rosie. Loved it.
[To the people who keep smoking pot in indoor public venues: you suck. After helping you decriminalize marijuana smoking, I wish to help create legislation that fines you TRIPLE for smoking that same pot in an indoor space with people who are allergic to your smoke, you selfish little pigs].
10:15 Beats Antique takes the stage. Zoe Jakes comes out in costume #1, channeling one of India’s 300 million Hindu gods. I realize that this is one of those times I must make an artistic decision to turn the phone camera off and just enjoy the show. We’re pressed up against some completely wasted revelers, one of whom is large enough to break my toe if he were to stumble backwards. As soon as one of the triad looks like she’s going to yak, a few of us eagerly take their place, and we’re one deep in from the stage.
Beats Antique has been a band and performance group I’ve followed since the early days when Zoe Jakes, choreographer, bellydancer, and music director was still performing with Miles Copland’s Bellydance Superstars. Her intense gaze matches her equally intense focus on every movement she makes, allowing her to complete multiple fast turns while removing and placing a mask on her face, to moving in sync with two other dancers with sharp isolations and flirtatious glances at the audience. The band consistently composes and performs electro-acoustic sounds borrowed from the far ends of the earth, giving a little something to everyone.
How Beats Antique moved from India goddess opening number through tribal bellydance trio into cantering horse head drill team flag dancing and even an Animal Farm-like production, no less an encore involving a giant air squid fighting dancers who were minutes ago Mayan worshippers whilst alien robots raised their arms in victory is just a journey that you really can’t experience from in front of a screen. I felt like I was in a high school play, watching people walk cardboard trees onto stage, hold screens to project shadows, and skitter on stage with a variety of props, costumes, and other things that close up reveal all the things you don’t see in a KeyArena show — bras, undie lines, Go-Go girls vulgarly shaking bottoms like dogs, circus performers hopping out to the audience and pouring champagne into the throats of the lucky in the first two rows [I was two people away from getting a sip of bubbly from Zoe, dammit!].
While I’m waiting for reviews to show up online about the show, I’ll say that Beats Antique did not disappoint. Every show I’ve seen of theirs is different, and while the energy of the musicians was perhaps a bit subdued for NYE (they have had a grueling tour around the world), they still delivered a massive show that left the stage full of confetti, a air-squid, balloons, cables and bellydance costume pieces, feathers, an audience crying out for more. When the stilt walkers and animal-head performers took the stage, I felt like I was at Burning Man. Welcome home, they say.
12:30 AM Spilling out into the streets with the rest of the New Year’s Day revelers. Apparently, they all congregate at the 3rd and Pike bus stop, waiting to go to Tukwila. This was my least artful moment of the entire evening. Being too short to comfortable grab the overhead bar on this standing-room only bus back to the Old Rainier Brewery in SODO (where my comfy bed and two even more comfortable kittehs await me), I spent half the trip feeling like it might actually be normal to stand at a 45 degree angle.
[To the person who's hand kept trying to creep up my dress: I was wearing a f*cking unitard. Ha ha! You get nothin' but spandex].
2:00 AM In bed and wearing the musician’s earplugs to ensure a good night of sound sleep.
8:30 AM Pancakes and chocolate for breakfast. Oh yes. And happy kittehs, who cuddle like the little masters of the universe that they are.
11:30 AM Make a resolution to take down the LED Christmas tree hanging from the fire extinguisher water pipes before Jan. 9 [when wicked bellydance stuff begins]
PUTTING IT BACK UP
So we break it down, and then we put it back up again. More art! More art! MORE ART!
What I have in store:
1. More instructional time, both learning and teaching.
2. More costuming: innovative and non-traditional dance costuming with one-of-a-kind construction
3. More short choreographed pieces with bellydance, bollywood, and butoh/modern.
4. More video. Like the one here, performed live at the Beasts show at Tin Can Studio Dec. 1, 2012.
5. More photography, including a hosted photo walk with Jacob Lucas through the Old Rainier Brewery (more on this soon).
6. A return to playing and creating music (I’ve had to take a break until I finish writing my book).
Oh yes, there will be a whole hot mess of art in 2013. It’s what I do. It’s what I love. Keep following me here and on Hips for Hire on FB, even though my posts are fewer than I would like (writing the book, I am). You’ll hear about more stuff, including my new launching page, The Veil Whisperer. <— you can click here for a teeny tiny peek at this project.
Be All You: How to Be An Authentic Artist
One of my favorite things to hear from friends and fans of my work is the phrase, “You can totally pull that off because that is so you!” It is a spontaneous affirmation from those who have observed your path and find that even a new work in progress has a strong trace or element that is strongly tied to your character, a past piece of work, a progression or outflow of your energy and interest, and your obvious skill set and experience. As I have mentioned on my blog in a previous post, I’m a fan of Julia Cameron’s description of finding one’s “vein of gold“; that is, not just a project, product, or performance that results in a high monetary gain, but one that uses the artist’s craft and technique in such a way that converts towards brilliance. My argument is much more simple. Do you want to put out credible, honorable, creative, provocative work? Rather than just imitating (and I have little against good imitation), my simple mantra has been this: BE ALL YOU.
The “be” of “be all you” is really about presence. Just show up and shut up. Bring your attention to your work. Don’t come to it distracted and encumbered with other sh!t. Leave that at the door of your studio or place of creativity. Stop yaking about your kids or your kitties. Put on the headphones and block the world out if you’re working by yourself. Turn off the damn cellphone, and shut down computer notifications. It’s time to just “be.”
My piano teacher Mrs. Hahn would often have me listen to a piece of classical music after we had studied it together for some time. We would take the sheet music in hand, and sit with it, hearing the music without striking a key. Today, I often come to choreography this way, having listened to the music for weeks — and sometimes months! – before I attempt to place the movement upon the work. I take a moment to breathe, to attune to where I’m “at”, and then to remove anything that might pull me away from sitting with the work and just being with it. It’s not some mumbo jumbo magic juju. It’s presence.
I would find out many years later that the principles built into my study with Mrs. Hahn share similarities with Mindfulness Mediation. From John Kabut-Zinn:
“Mindfulness means paying attention
in a particular way;
in the present moment, and
Without being completely reductionist, it appears to me that much of Mindfulness is about intentional attending and focusing, with no agenda to jump ahead and criticize. Just be in the moment.
Bringing all of yourself to the creative process is actually tougher than it sounds. I assume everyone is busy. Life is full of the mundane, the tyranny of the urgent, deadlines and day jobs, and health challenges. Bringing all of yourself requires you to plan ahead, to take care of your responsibilities, and to set aside your best hours — not your worst! — for your creative projects unless you don’t care about quality.
While I’m not saying you can’t write a decent piece if you’re tired, or you have children, or you have day job, I’ve seen good writers put out articles rife with grammatical errors and missing words. I’ve observed dancers with hunched shoulders and ”heavy” legs (low-level leg extension) who didn’t make time to eat properly and rest between performances. Many of us have attended rock concerts where the lead singer still looks like he or she is recovering from a night of bus travel and heavy drinking. How can you bring your all if you didn’t plan ahead for your all to be available to you?
An example of planning for my “all” to be available to me was to surrender my Sundays and a part of Monday morning to balance my busy schedule. I found that if I stopped accepting performance gigs on Sundays and did not spend time writing for hours on Sunday night, I had energy and “pop” for Tuesday through Saturday, which are the busiest days of the week for both my professional work as a psychotherapist and my artistic endeavors as a writer, dance artist, choreographer/instructor, and budding amateur photographer. I needed “downtime” more than ever, and while sleep is some of that downtime needed to recharge my batteries, having waking time that isn’t drowning in sound, motion, and phone calls is important to my creative process. I reinstated the 10 pm cut-off hour as the final hour of the evening that I cannot respond to emails and phone calls, no matter what the time zone of the sender, until the following morning at 8:00 AM.
Those of you who work a corporate job will roll your eyes at me. It’s just not doable, you’ll say. Those of you with small children will smirk at my naivette. OK. Fine. But you get my point. If you can’t bring your all to your work by creating the space for your all to show up, then you should not be surprised if your work does not produce the results you were hoping for, whether that be innovation, improvement, joy, fans, making a difference in this world, or money. Even if you are an accomplished artist with past success upon which you glide upon with golden apples coming out of your a$$, I can tell when you are slipping. If your all isn’t into your work, it shows.
With all the Social Media platforms changing their TOUA’s to include language that may make it easier for them to share your work without crediting you or owing you royalties, I stand on the boundary between hypersensitivity to the issues of privacy and stealing, and the marketing aspect where you as an Artist has to give away a lot of your work — books, photos, music, workshops — in order to get something back in return. But besides the monetary act of stealing someone’s work, such as “fauxtographer” Megan Kunert‘s actions against wedding photographer Amber Hughes [HT to Jackie Baisa Donnelly for bringing this story to my attention], my point is that your art should be a representation of you: your work, your life, your beliefs, your intentions, your hopes for the world, your vision of beauty or violence or ugliness or joy. It should have “you” written all over it.
When I first started collecting pictures from my point and shoot cameras, I wondered what I should be shooting. Some people are great at shooting nature, and they travel to the ends of the earth for it. Others are good at shooting food and architecture. For me, it made sense I would start with two subjects I know something about: performance art and my cats. By practicing on two things I love, I could use them to gain experience on lighting, setting up the shot, posing, and patience! But a third subject that naturally arises in my shooting is emotion, and while I would never think to start painting faces, I have found it irresistible to shoot faces and bodies with a camera to express the vulnerability found in the changing landscape of the human body. I’m so excited to share with you very soon my professional project uniting photography and psychotherapy. You’re going to love it!
My point is this: it may not matter the medium you chose as much as the intention to bring the “you-ness” of you to the creative moment. And so while the first novella I attempted to write was all in the first person “I”, my current writing project will have as many third person stories because this is where I am at; that is, you will need to commit to being you — and no one else — even if you are writing about someone else. You can still apply craft and technique to get authentic renderings, but guess what? Even those renderings will have the trace of you that is as unique as your scent and your fingerprint.
In a couple of weeks, I will have performed my unique choreographies to two pieces of Latin-inspired music for a bellydance show. While I did not create the props nor the styles of prop use that will be featured in those works, I have applied the above principles of being, bringing my all, and sticking to who I am. The end result are two pieces that reflect not only where I’ve been as a dance artist, but the unique flavor to which I bring to the moment to express the stories found within both the music and the Artist.
This is my art. And that’s the kind of art we can own and be proud of.
When the economy tanked in 2009, many people began trading in their expensive vacations for closer-to-home weekend getaways. When the job has less PTO available, or your boss needs you to say on the line when it’s your time to take a vacation, there are some negative consequences to putting off the necessary R and R time too long: exhaustion, resentment, poorer performance, to name a few. After coming back from a restful weekend away, here’s some great ways to have an artful weekend getaway you can capitalize on anytime.
My weekend getaway was to my “happy place” on this planet, the San Juan Islands. Just because it is only a 1.5 hour car drive away and a ferry ride away does not mean it isn’t a beautiful destination worthy of weddings, camping, jogging, bicycling, nature viewing, and photography. I have made over a half-dozen trips to the San Juans in the past ten years, and I have never had a bad experience. To top things off, the San Juans also have a small but thriving artist’s community, with practitioners of Yoga, culinary arts, pottery, jewelry making, music, and painting.
PLAN YOUR ESCAPE
We started the weekend off with dinner and the ballet in Seattle on a Friday evening (taking advantage of HH pricing for appetizers and wine), and planned to be up early in the morning to catch the last morning ferry from Anacortes to Orcas Island. That ended up being a good plan, since any laziness on our part would force us to wait three hours until the next ferry. Therefore, there would be no late night cavorting, movie-watching, or socializing. Ah, the sacrifices we make for art appreciation!
Packing for a weekend is as tough as packing for a week if you don’t have a general idea of what you want to do with 48 hours on an island. I keep a couple of packing lists for travel handy, but my general rule of thumb is to pack as light as possible for the most amount of general fun. For a weekend, I include the following:
- two pairs of shoes: one for walking/running, and one for going out
- fitness clothing that can play double duty, and layers for changing weather
- one iDevice for entertainment, GPS/maps
- a pen and paper to write with (I keep a small notepad in my bag)
- a decent camera (I had one on loan)
You might not agree with this next part, but whether you’re traveling by yourself or with your main squeeze, an artful weekend getaway includes a limit on how much time to spend with your face in a screen. My personal tendency is to keep iDevices off or set aside, or you’ll miss the best moments. That included some moments where the camera needed to be set aside as well. A lazy lounge session on a park bench yields restful rejuvenation well beyond what any iDevice can give me. Plus, it’s free (unless you count the brain cell energy consumed).
FOLLOW THE NATIVES
The woman at reception at the Outlook Inn told us about a very special wine pairing dinner at their New Leaf Cafe, with Gonzalez Byass (Spanish wines) and Chef Gordon Terry as a part of their “Outlook University” [here's where I say I don't mind going back to school!]. She said one of the wines she tried was so good, “…it was like my mouth said, ‘Welcome, come on in.’” Whenever someone who lives there recommends something with that kind of enthusiasm and unfettered joy, you should ALWAYS pay attention to see if that’s something you’d like to try. And so we did.
Before the dinner, I asked permission to take photos before and throughout the dinner, and the hostess approved. Taking pictures during a meal with a flash made me feel like Press, but I was pleased to see out of a corner of my eye another young diner taking pictures with his phone camera. Food presentation is art!
The weather was extraordinary for Spring in the Puget Sound, a warm and lovely 72 Fahrenheit. I watched for when others who lived on the island were running outside, or where they were gravitating towards for after-dinner fraternizing. While we never did make it to the Odd Fellow’s Building (where Hejira World Band was playing!), a good amount of locals did recommend going there for a good time. You’d get your dance and world music fix, all at once.
I also noticed about seven book clubs were registered at the Danville Book Store in East Sound. Forgot a good book to read? Most of your local town getaway destinations will have a book store, complete with a discount table if you want a cheaper read. Some of the B&B’s will happily take your finished books for recycling to other happy weekenders.
A THING OF THE EYES
In the movie, “Sabrina” starring Julia Ormand and Harrison Ford, Sabrina says to Linus that she’s been taking photos all her life, only recently with a camera. It’s a quote that I feel has been true for me. I’ve always been framing scenes, imagining the finished photo well before the shutter has been pressed.
We took the camera everywhere except on the morning run. What I saw on the run anyways would likely not have been captured easily: three does crossing a road quickly, and an eagle flying overhead. Everywhere else — Mt. Constitution, Olga Harbor, and a variety of stops along the way — the camera had enough memory and battery life for the afternoon.
SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS
What would an artful weekend getaway be without supporting local artists? Well, for starters, it would be dull. Because local artists take the time and care to share their lovely environment with you as a visitor, these places can thrive with continued art. In a time when art programs are being cancelled from schools because of budget issues, it’s that much more important to spend some of your dollars investing in the arts.
Art entrepreneurs Scarlett and Tyra took advantage of the fine weather by displaying their matted prints in a makeshift booth by the road. I think they had a pretty good gig going, including a cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows. We think is an excellent alternative to the lemonade stand.
Teresa Greenway, mother to one of the young artists pictured above, has an eBook pdf out on Amazon, available through your Kindle reader. including tasty recipes for sourdough bread. I do have to mention that these girls were quite the little businesswomen. One of them kindly reminded us to please stand to side of her booth after making our purchase, since our bodies were blocking the view of the sign from the road! However, I do want to also mention that the little boy who chased after us for the dollar bill he felt he lost when we paid with a $5 bill for a $4 piece of art might need a little help with math.
Ever grateful for the new friends, venues, and destinations that have come from starting a Twitter feed back in 2009 that has grown to 1600+, our final stop on the artful weekend getaway was to Allium, a culinary gem on the island. I learned of Allium through my connection on Twitter to the restaurant, but my companion for the weekend had already vetted this gem on a previous visit. Its quiet view of the water, and Chef Lisa Nakamura’s tasty masterpieces made from fresh ingredients, Aloha, and an unpretentious setting made this meal feel like you were eating in her home (and in fact, she says that on her website). Her meals are works of art, including that chocolate pudding creme brulee with a candle for my birthday. [Super yum, and the eight paw salute from two sets of human hands and front paws from the kittehs!]
All good things come to an end. I sacked out on the ferry ride back to Anacortes, my mind and heart full of music, art, sunshine, and images. When I see a lot of beauty in a short period of time, my mind needs more sleep to start processing it all! After putting couple of sample photos post-editing on my FB page, I think I have a pretty good idea that people liked the photos. As always, I’m reminded that photography really is an art form, since it requires one to change the way s/he sees the world in order to render even the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Granted, in past trips to the San Juans, I’ve also camped alone, pitching a tent in Moran State Park, bicycling everywhere, and cooking my meals over a campfire instead of dining in a white-tablecloth restaurant [usually accompanied by a good bottle of Scotch]. An artful weekend getaway does not have to be expensive or fancy. And I can tell you, no one paid anything for the view of two eagles flying below the outlook on top of Mt. Constitution. Nor could we have ever paid enough to have selected the best weather weekend of April to travel. I’ve always said that some of the best and most beautiful experiences in life are the ones that cost little nothing, but transform us forever.
Want to plan your own artful weekend? What do you think need to do in order to make it happen? Share your best ideas for weekend getaways that put art in the center of your experience.