Oakland’s Spring and Robert Raushenberg at the SF MOMA

Perfect for spring; blooms in Oakland and inspiration from the SF MOMA…large and memorable, the Robert Raushenberg retrospecitive.

Happy Spring Everyone!!

Here is what’s ‘growing on’ in the garden.

I know, some of you may be rolling your eyes, fed up with the blustery winds, sleet, and snow of this week where you live. But allow me just a few photos of the Northern Pacific Coast to cheer you up; this is what is soon coming your way: warmth, Sun, and color!!

And ever so spring-like, I’m happy to say that inspiration is also coming round to my studio lately, especially for writing and poetry (which is always the precursor, the sister Muse to my musical inspirations. Whew!)  I do have projects to finish this Spring. I think I alluded to the lull earlier; family stuff last year kind of drove things quiet for a bit. I’m not one to to make art in times of intensity or drama. Not for public consumption anyway. So hopefully my Muses will honor me with some quality time this month.

But I’m excited by one major spark to my world lately- seeing the art  retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules at the San Francisco MOMA last month. It roused my artistic doldrums with curiosity about other art mediums, got me dusting off pens and ink wells, and has me journaling lots of late. Woo Hoo!

If you are close to San Fran, you must go see Raushenberg’s work: It’s wonderful! Big color, wild textures, giant works and small zippered pieces, a feast of artistic styles, photography, and sculpture.  I just love it when a museum is filled wing after wing, room to room with the chapters of an artist’s life. Those are always the most powerful exhibits.

Artwork image, Robert Rauschenberg, Port of Entry

In the MOMA’s words “From the 1940s until his passing in 2008, Rauschenberg worked with everything from photography to items scavenged from New York City streets to vats of bubbling mud. More than 150 of Rauschenberg’s artworks, including prints, sculptures, paintings, and Combines (works that incorporate painting and sculpture),” are on exhibit. And he was a rule-breaker of sorts. He “broke down boundaries between disciplines, anticipated many of the defining cultural and social issues of our time, and redefined what art could be…”   Exhibit details.

And give yourself a couple of days to enjoy it all; this really is one of those exhibitions where multiple visits benefit; the shear magnitude of offerings is huge. I know I’ll catch things I missed the next time I see it.

Oakland Drummer- I

We hear him first

two blocks away, past Grand Avenue

the din of a parallel freeway, his bass and back up.

Loud, small, young, maybe 14       he plays     alone,

nested in a 5-pc kit, on a throne, sidewalk street corner 

while hundreds run, tightrope-walk-balance, drive

play soccer around him.

 

Hard hitting and lush

his tempos tame time in waves that roll 

connecting our smiles from inside out before moving 

across the Lake      into open windows and back through

the Farmer’s market and up      on beyond blue where

hungry stars and planets await this little gift

of rhythm.

 © Tara Linda 2016

 

INspired in Oakland-dog01421-SML

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Rain Lilly

rainflower8152Lilly-8144m lilly8158-L-tall-S lilly8137-M rainlilly8136-mHappy Spring everyone!  El Niño rains have brought us early blooms and thriving gardens here in Northern Cali. Except for a little unexpected flooding of basements and such, excess rains have been the greatest gift.

These happy lilies were transplanted from San Fran to Oakland some 30+ years ago. Taken in early morning light between storms.

Poet Rescues Song: Abducts Musician

I’m writing lyrics now for at least 5 of our new songs, and wasn’t quiet finished with 3 of them by last night. This is ONE fun thing about writing poetry (and one great thing about writing more often in April): As a poet, you get into the habit of seeing poetry everywhere…

Last night, I did something fun.  I played a small show, our first in Oakland, with new project “Fistful of Stars”.  We’ve played radio spots, making ready.  We go on tour next month to Europe- so it’s all coming together fast.

I’m writing lyrics now for at least 5 of our new songs, and wasn’t quiet finished with 3 of them by last night.  This is ONE fun thing about writing poetry (and one great thing about writing more often in April): As a poet, you get into the habit of seeing poetry everywhere; in couples drinking coffee, overheard conversation, positing scenarios from across the room, and just plain imagining things. And if you don’t have that gene for remembering lyrics (I don’t), or you haven’t quite finished the words-no worries: Poet-in-You will deliver, often taking you utterly over, hijacking your body, setting sail in your soul, borrowing  your lips to say things you never dreamed before ;). This is pure bliss, of course.

Last night, for one amazing song written by guitarist Rafael- that I didn’t quite finish lyrics to- I called it Mesa Song, and strung together all of the poem pieces for my one poem called “Unravel”. I read/talked the words as a single poem over the verses instead of singing. For the choruses, I sang (moaned) like the wind. Yes, Unravel– the poem pieces I haven’t yet posted all here, beyond the first because I didn’t think they were finished enough. 😉  Surprisingly, friends said that Mesa Song was their favorite of the night: it had a story they said, some mystery, and they got lost in the poem. Yay!  I promise to post another piece of Unravel for my next  poem post. Not tomorrow though- off to a Pow-wow.

So- I usually do a wrap-up post for NaPoWriMo.  I have to say, this year, I wasn’t as engaged in publicly participating as in past years. In fact, if there was one word to sum things up for me this year, it would be a verb:

 

REBEL-OaklandBethE

 This time, I was loathe to do anything on cue. And I didn’t want to follow anyone’s prompts. Hahaha!  But I still wrote lots. AND best of all, I don’t want to stop!! And so I won’t. Yet another good rule to break.

 

You held us last night-

soft woods, laughter,

warm arms that offered sweet

champagne and love.  We drank it all

down, and from across the room

 I gave you a poem 

like a kiss.

taralinda c.p. 2014

Inspired in Oakland ~ Dancers by the Lake

On our bikes headed home, we happen upon this fun dance and drum troupe at Lake Merritt. The crowd gathers…

On our bikes headed home, we happen upon this fun dance and drum troupe at Lake Merritt. The crowd gathers…

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Not sure the cultural bent of these wonderful dances and music; the lyrics sounded Spanish, rhythms; African-Caribbean- mambo plus. This in itself is Oakland; a multi-cultured blend. The singers sang and called out, the dancer- moved in response, large flowing skirts and fluid moves- beautiful.

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New Public Art: Truck Mural- Oakland

I agree with some public art manifestos I’ve seen, how our urban spaces shouldn’t only be the providence of paid corporate dynasties. This all sits well for the true artists out there- with a talent to provoke, evoke, edify, beautify, or writers with something to say. But taggers? -just one selfish person writing their boring personal insignia? *yawn*

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This is recent paint job on a truck in our neighborhood. I love it!  Before this, like any small truck parked on the street, it was always tagged. This was especially inane, because this truck is used by a small non-profit, Urban Furniture, to collect donations for a store hiring single parents and folks trying to get on their feet. “Educate. Employ. Empower” is their motto.  The truck mural says “Make a Difference.”

TruckPainting

So we’re all happy the owners hired an artist to fill the space. (I will post artist’s name as soon as I can find it….). Sadly, taggers are getting more aggressive here, inching back over murals painted by even school kids, and other graffiti artists.  Is seems no space is sacred here.

I agree with some public art manifestos I’ve seen, how our urban spaces shouldn’t only be the providence of paid corporate dynasties.

“The people who run our cities don’t understand graffiti because they think nothing has the right to exist unless it makes a profit…. The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff…. Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours, it belongs to you. It’s yours to take, rearrange and reuse. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head….”
Banksy

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Banksy in SF- 2010

This all sits well for the true artists out there- with a talent to provoke, evoke, edify,

(artist Eddie)eddie1

beautify, or writers with something to say.

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chaos logic

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PKR accordion!!!

But taggers?-just one selfish person writing their boring personal insignia? *yawn*

To Banksy’s & Eddie’s public art manifestos, I would add that, alongside art, it is also our public right to see some space that is corporate label and tagger free.  But imagery, art, murals… different story: we need art everywhere. There is a move to incorporate taggers in mural creation around Oakland.  I will be featuring some of these murals around town in my “Inspired in Oakland” posts.

Yes taggers, put yourselves in the public debate; make some art.

Hooded you move       after dusk

leaving your name       so much trash

painted, sprayed, scrawled dark,

initials, misspells, neon…smiley faces..??

Now you are     just another fugly splotch   self-

serving     like    fox, exxon, clear channel, BP-  so

hooded we follow          in every color

erasing your face            by dawn.

Prompt:  Poems- 52:365.   Mindful Writing.

INspired in Oakland-dog01421-SML

What do you think?

What is the debate on public art in your neighborhood?

Most Memorable Holiday Gift: The Accordion Babes Pin-up Calendar and CD!

Your friends will always remember you if you…Give the gift that keeps on squeezing, and help us transform the image of the accordionista! Your friends and mates will never forget you for this crazy fun gift: a calendar that features 13 ‘Accordion Babes’ AND bonus CD with songs from each of the musicians; from folk to sea shanties, Baltic dance, experimental cabaret, and French Rock. Only $15! Order here before it’s too late.” This year’s theme: “Heroes, Villains, and Divas.”

Pardon my pitch… just taking a short break from shipping music and calendars (new jewelry next post:)) to let you know about a fun musical gift…

Give the gift that keeps on squeezing, and help us transform the image of the accordionista!  Your friends and mates will never forget you for this crazy fun gift: a calendar that features 13 ‘Accordion Babes’ AND bonus CD with songs from each of the musicians; from folk to sea shanties, Baltic dance, experimental cabaret, and French Rock. Only $15! Order here before it’s too late.”  This year’s theme: “Heroes, Villains, and Divas.”

AccordionBabes Collage

We had our first sold out “Accordion Babes Pin-up Show” last weekend (yes!), at the Rhythmix Theater on a very rainy night. Thank you friends for coming out ;-).

JTs- Live at Rhythmix 12-12

I book this night as a cabaret every year to feature multiple accordion players, all women- who front a plethora of bands around the Bay, and Paris too ;), and/or who are in this accordion calendar.  With the revival of roots music and our continued global cross-pollination, we too are enjoying the comeback of those historically maligned instruments: the banjo, theremin, saw, ukulele, and accordion. Interesting, eh?  And we’re writing lots of new music with them, in new ways, across more genres.  Personally, I want the world to see beyond the cabaret kitsch (will that ever go away?!), and show that the accordion can be downright cool, even sexy at times: it can have you dancing (Zydeco & Celtic stomps), make you swoon (tangos & boleros), make you cry (think The God Father score), or transport you across borders (rancheras & Norteño, Baltic & French rock).  That’s what these shows are all about: to show the world what’s new with accordion, and to help us celebrate the next big one…  The 2013 Accordion Babes Pin up Calendar and companion CD! Can’t believe this is our 5th year. Renee de la Prade is the mastermind, producer, editor of the babes calendar every year.  A group of us help her out with sponsorship, fundraising, and such.

New accordion joke! What’s the definition of optimism?  ……………………

An accordion player with a publicist.  😉

This is my 2012 pic for this year’s calendar- I sat out 2013.  Previous years below. (Photos: J.Tinger, & Tony R.)Tara Linda 2012 Final 5_15 Small-tl2

taraLACCPinUP Collage

So, If you need a highly unusual and Über affordable gift this year– make it this 2013  Babes Calendar and CD: diverse music, unusual pics (rated PG/R), and you will be supporting the Arts for 13 female musicians featured in the calendar.  Geez; we should have charged more… 😉

Check out more COOL accordionistas:

Favorite Baltic musician:  Nada Lewis

Entertaining! French Chanteuse:  Jet Black Pearl

Songstress  Ms. July   Onah Indigo

Irish Jigs and Celtic:   Maggie Martin

Sassy Folk-Ms. August  Amber Lee Baker

Zydeco & Celtic: Cover Grrl:    Renée De La Prade

Ms. January:  Diana Strong

Canadian Cool & Ms. November:  Katheryn Petersen

Time for a Fantasy: The Art of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I’m processing the world through a lens of magic realism and fantasy these days- both in books and art. Just discovered the amazing myth and fantasy art illustrator-painter Stephanie Pui-Mun Law:

I’m processing the world through a lens of magic realism and fantasy these days- both in books and art.  Just discovered the amazing myth and fantasy art illustrator-painter Stephanie Pui-Mun Law:

See all the galleries on her website.   These are from the fairytale and mythology gallery, along with inspiring descriptions like this one, “Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore: she was wise woman and witch, bestower of gifts and curses, life and death, crone, grandmother, and goddess. “My white knight, bright day. My red knight, round sun. My black knight, dark night,” so she names her three servants.” From Red Knight of Burning Day.

The Sunbather.  This series, Cycles, has both light and dark companion pieces. Her zodiac pieces are gorgeous. But my favorites are illustrated from myth and legend.

Stephanie says, “Inspired by the short story Green Serpent by Marie-Catherine D’Aulnoy, a 17th century version of the old Psyche and Eros tale. However, Eros is replaced with a man cursed with the form of a green serpent.”  Keep reading here: Cradle of Life.

Am currently drawn to the breathtaking imagery of Stephanie’s Shadowscapes Tarot now:  animals, water, Music and musicians are everywhere in her images!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is working on a forthcoming Dreamdance Oracle and posts pieces from it on her Blog, along with poetry, jewelry, and cool peaks into her ever busy sketch books.

I have this theory that Oakland incubates more artists per capita (painters, poets, musicians, steampunk sculptors, etc.) than any other city. Of course she lives in Oaktown. 😉   She has a sale now- got this album cover piece for my studio.

Altars~ Household and Community~ for Day of the Dead Holidays

This is a good way to recap the weekend~ through altars and exhibits.  This art is from Oakland muralist-artist Joaquin Alejandro Newman,  who had a booth at Noche de Los Muertos on Thurs.  It’s the newest addition to our home alter this year.

Is she the Sunmaid Raisin girl, or a visitor to the altar- happy to receive abundant gifts, food, and drink?  😉

It was the Day of the Dead altar or ofrenda, that first got me hooked on observing Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead holidays.  An altar can serve many roles, and perhaps this, the ofrenda, is one thing that makes the holiday confusing or strange to those unfamiliar with the traditions;  in Judeo/Christian traditions, alters are for elevating and placing things you worship- gods and saints perhaps. But traditional Day of the Dead alters are both for creating a space for remembrance, and places of welcome for visiting spirits to come enjoy their favorite food, drink, and gifts- all when the ‘veil between the worlds is thin’.  I like reading the histories of the first Spanish accounts of the rituals; the Aztecs “mocking death” in dances and rituals led them to think the practices odd and barbaric. But the days were kept, folded into another Catholic holy day- All Souls day.

Source with a great key to the purpose of all items placed on an altar.

It was in college where I first discovered the holiday.  About mid-October my first year, roommates set up an altar in the living room telling all of us to feel free to place our own mementos to loved ones passed.  I had had a close friend die that summer, and had a lot of sadness around not being able to say good bye, etc., but I passed on participating, at first.   One roommate pulled me aside;  “You have some baggage around the death of your friend; it would be good to lay that on the altar.”  He suggested that I write what I didn’t get to say to my friend before he died- in a letter. “Leave it there, with his picture, next to his favorite beer- in case he comes visiting when you’re not home.  Then later, on Nov. 2, sit alone and read your words aloud to him.”

Doing this was complete cartharsis.  It gave me the release I needed.  Seeing things this way, completely spiritually was different at the time, but it got rid of my guilt in a day. I could finally move on.  I added his favorite beer nuts and climbing carabiners so I hope he was happy too.

Photo source:    (also tutorial for making papel picado).

The beauty of building an altar this time of year- is that you can make it whatever you want it to be:  a place for memories and remembrance; a space to quietly help heal and provide closure (my example above); a safe place to make light of any fears of or about death.  You can make it a hybrid- of old and new- with images of inspiring lives or statues that you believe guide spirits, whatever your beliefs, through obstacles.  It can be modest with symbols of the 4 elements:  candles (fire), salt (earth), a glass of water, and incense or copal (air). More resources to help you decorate your alter are here.

I’ve built home altars for some 20 years now, keeping them up for a month, until mid-November.  My personal alter this year honors my grandparents. It also makes light of all that I take so seriously now- so there are many musical calaveras on the altar, always.   I love how a visitor to my blog, Maureen so beautifully put it in her comment to my last post– about what her alter means to her:

“It was probably the calavera figures seen on one of my first trips to Mexico that caught my fancy. I loved how they remind us that death is really our constant companion, even as we go about our day-to-day life. Lively and meaningful ofrendas brought back real memories: her Pall Mall cigarettes, his favorite song played over and over… And the beautifully artistic altars whose symbols inspire further imaginings of life and death. Dia de los Muertos provides us the perfect opportunity to connect and remember in a loving way, with joy as well as the tears. It’s wonderful how it’s become part of my annual observance…”

This is the reason I keep little skeletons hidden all over the house; playful reminders of impermanence, and for me to make the most of life, now.

Community altars are the other amazing wonder of Day of the Dead holidays.  Community ofrendas and art exhibits held in most large cities museums, galleries and art walks this time of year, are powerful showing everything from shrines built by children to large installations by professional artists, sculptors, and painters.  And there is nothing like working out your grief as a community, be it local losses, or national- like lives lost in war.  I can never forget the alters of September 11th made by artists and children in galleries and warehouses throughout the City of Sacramento 10 years ago.  They really did provide solace, as I’m sure community alters in cities across the country did during this time.

Right now, the Oakland Art Museum’s exhibit is dedicated to all of the people and cultures who made California what it is today.  There are memorials to grandfathers, and Oakland’s youth,

and one dedicated to Filipino culture, and lore in the after life.

Celebrating October

October activities include, planting tons of flowers, camping, Fall purging (like spring cleaning), building my Day of the dead alter, and making special jewelry for the holiday. I love October so much, I could marry it. And this just might be the dress I’d wear.

If you’ve been following my blog for at least a year, then you know of my love affair with October;   hands down the best month for celebrations!  On the list to celebrate are:  Fall, an anniversary, my birthday, my self-appointed New Year’s, Halloween, and Dia de Los Muertos– which carries the joy into November by a week.  October activities include, planting tons of flowers, camping, Fall purging (like spring cleaning), building my Day of the dead alter, and making special jewelry for the holiday.  I love October so much, I could marry it.  And this just might be the dress I’d wear.

It’s made out of paper!- wood block prints and papel picado.  I like it because the dress looks both Indian and Mexican in design.

What is there not to love about this, the tenth month?  The minutia of the change of seasons is fascinating enough; the colors of change in leaves and landscape everywhere you look- from the ground to the trees and sky.  The winds come, the first rains and storms of the season along with cooler and shorter days, and with it all comes that desire to pull in— to conserve energy.

This year, I feel a need to un-scatter, to nest and read more—in short, to slow down and make ready for the encroaching cold and darkness.  To some this may all sound dismal and macabre, but I feel the natural resistance of inertia- just before the inevitable turn of the wheel; the spiral on its way to something new.  Thus, my need to clear some head space, to simplify, to un-clutter my studio and make room for it. Whatever “it” will be.

Source

October holds my ‘New Year’s day’ because I tend to tether down my dreams into goals and plans around my birthday, instead of in January.  So when the birthday comes, more than tripping about age, I check in (sometimes reluctantly) about whether I got anywhere in the dreaming department.  If not, no worries- I have about 75 days before Jan. 1 to do something about it; to either jump start, finish, or fine-tune what I hoped to do.

We’ve been planting lots lately.  Thankfully, Oakland is temperate; bulbs are confused and are coming up again, and we can plant winter gardens now. In preparation for Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead festivities, I plant as many marigolds as possible, inside and out of the house.  Besides brightening up the place- they will decorate my alter again this year.  Why marigolds for the Day of the Dead holiday?

“Flowers, symbolizing the brevity of life, are massed and fashioned into garlands, wreaths and crosses to decorate the altar… The marigold is the most traditional flower of the season. In Aztec times it was called the cempasuchil, the “flower of 400 lives.”  The fragrance of the cempasuchil leads the spirits home… (www.mexconnect.comhttp://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1427

Other links to explore: