Apr 272011

Kendall Square is the stop on the MTA closest to M.I.T.  I saw this Chime machine on a trip with Jacob to the Boston Anime Festival. 

First you pull on a handle:

Note the engraving “Kendall Band – Pythagoras” – Math is everywhere!

View onto the tracks – the Chimes sit between the outbound and inbound trains

 As you pull/push the handle, the hammers swing back and forth and hit the chime pipes – making a calming pleasant sound.  People look up and smile.  Sometimes someone goes to the handle on the other side of the tracks and begins a duet with you!

Little boys ran over to pull the handle when they saw how much fun we were having!

Pulling hard doesn’t hurt the chimes or make it sound bad!  Great design!

Jacob told me the MTA had put out an e-mail appeal to MIT for help  fixing the Chimes.  Students fixed it!  (see also http://kendallband.wordpress.com/about/the-kendall-band/)  I also only saw the Pythagoras part of the installation – there is also a Kepler part and a Galileo part.  I guess I’ll have to see them when I return.

Here is a movie of the Chimes taken with my camera.  Enjoy!
There are also videos on the Wiki page for the Kendall Band – originally designed and constructed by Paul Matisse, son of Henri Matisse.  Excellent work Paul – glad the students could take over care and repair.

There is so much public art in the US, and so little in China.  I wish for more public art in China – and more appreciation of public art  in the US.

Apr 222011

I spend time drawing.  I like to draw in restaurants – especially the Muslim noodle shop near my home.

Little boy at Noodle shop looking at my sketchbook

Noodle maker

I also enjoy drawing people sitting at the table while they are doing something else.

Cousin Beverly at Pop Pop’s table(detail)

Cousin Beverly at Pop Pop’s table

These are older pictures – when I look at them I see things I would do differently – things I’ve worked on – like getting hands and head proportionally better.

Hand over Greenland

Then I see where I took the time to develop a life drawing – usually of my hand (free model) and I remember that time is critical for drawing.  Long, transatlantic flights are a great place to attend to detailed drawings.

I know I need to divide my time between fast gesture and gesture like drawing and taking time to develop a drawing with more detail.

Girl in Spicy Restaurant

Bahamian Altarboy

Life is about balance.  I tell myself with each picture – ‘what do I LIKE about this picture?”  I note that feature and then turn the page.

Apr 202011
Long Eared Buddha, 2007

 Zhang Huang is a Chinese visual and performance artist who uses temple incense ash to make giant sculptures.

 I hope to see these in real life sometime soon.  Zhang Huan’s work is in the Shanghai Art Museum.  Zhang does make political art and he also has great visibility in the West. Given Ai WeiWei’s recent experience of being detained abd virtually disappeared in China, I hope Zhang Huan remains able to continue making art.

You can see his work HERE and a wonderful essay written buy Zhang about temple ash HERE

Apr 202011
I enjoy religious offerings in China.  In contrast, the western practice of collection plates in church have little beauty compared with the candles, incense and food offerings in Buddhist and Daoist temples.
A Candle inside an Incense Burner at Putoshan Island temple

The incense burners outside the altars are big, with a pile of fragrant ashes from all the prior burnings. There is either a oil lamp outside the incense burner or a candle inside the burner to help people light their offerings for prayer.

People light their incense or joss sticks, and then bow a prayer in all 4 directions, then put the sticks in the incense burner. 

I saw Once I monks carefully shoveling out the ashes into a wheelbarrow.  I wondered what use the ash has – compost? Even after burning it is still fragrant.

Baskets at Putuoshan holding the paper coverings of incense sticks

Things like the baskets of incense wrapping papers or a pile of used candles in a shed on the grounds of the temple show me the scale of use – the hundreds of people who come to the temple to pray and to petition.  Our friend Li, who traveled with us to Putoshan Island said that you pray to be relieved of your desire for things and actions.

Unusual offering of money at Guanyin shrine in Ayuang Temple, Ningbo

closer look – why set the coins on end?

Apr 192011
 In a Taxicab, a tea jar with flower tea
Outside a hotel window I watch people waiting for the morning bus

 The baozi vendor sets up in the morning and vanishes a few hours later
Sometimes it is easier and less obtrusive to draw the scene instead of snapping a photo.  Sometimes I just want the peace drawing gives me.

Apr 182011
In the C terminal of the Cleveland Airport – as you descend the escalator – this is what you see:
Giant Paper Airplanes!
One of faux yellow legal paper

I miss yellow legal pads

I spent so much time looking up – I forgot to watch the time and had to run for my plane

There are so many places to see public art in the US.  The problem with airport art is no one is looking at it.  Just my stopping and looking, and then taking pictures caused other people to look at these pieces.  I also was disappointed that the artist’s name was nowhere to be found in the area.

When I looked in Wikipedia I found the name of the piece is  Home, School, and Office (1999). The artist is Andy Yoder.  Here is his web site:ANDY YODER  I hope he knows there ARE people who look up and see his beautiful work.
Apr 122011
In 2008 I began a project with the Grand Bahama Heritage Museum to teach quilt making to a community in Freetown, GBI.  We dyed and printed fabric, took photographs and memorabilia from their lives, and made memory quilts.  I also photographed plants, animals and landscapes.  Eventually I produced a large art quilt for the Museum, Journey to Freetown.
These are photos of the final Commissioned quilt:

This panel (to the right in installation) is of the young people of the Freetown community.  It includes a rust dyed piece that was dyed using an antique iron .
This panel is of the elders of the community
Close up detail from panel
This is the Boatman panel of Journey to Freetown.  I wanted to honor the people who go to sea each morning in these little shallow boats with poles to fish or ferry all day. Difficult, dangerous work.  To not be too somber – I included the shot with a lovely little girl who attended the opening in Freeport GBI.
Details from the Boatman panel
I still think about the Bahama Project, the people of Freetown and how art can connect people and give them a common history.Next time I will show more about the project with the community.
Apr 092011

I love the art of AI Weiwei.

This piece, “Forever” Bicycles, 2003 seems to me to celebrate the hundreds of bicycles that everyone uses (though less now) in China and all over the parts of the world where gas prices are beyond most people.  I loved Ai WeiWei’s work before I moved to China; before he became the ‘next’ dissident to capture the short Western Attention span, and before he was arrested.  WeiWei’s concern for the materialization of Chinese Culture is thoughtful and does not blame so much as seek to understand and to incite CARE.

Han Dynasty Urn with Coca-Cola Logo, 1994
see also Philips ART expert from a show last Spring

  While I fear for his safety – I know he does not.  His fear is for the people – what will happen when consumerism and love of money are no longer enough to dull emotional pain of dislocation, disempowerment and de-culturalization.  This is also my fear for China, and for the United States, and for all countries.

My art changed in China.  I should say first, my art changes when I change location – I pick up new palettes, objects, fabric that are particular to the place.  For example, when I moved to Florida, I began to use green:

Buffy’s Forest, 2005 – using the palette of Central Florida scrubland

Buffy’s Forest, detail

Buffy’s Forest, detail
I did a year long project in the Bahamas making art and learning about their incredible history of Africans emancipated from Slave ships directly to Grand Bahama Island.  The palette there is clear blue skies and water, grey/white sand and deep jewel tone plants and animals.
 Journey to Water Cay, 2009

My China Palette seems to use red and brown with the face changing to reflect the people I see.

Ancient Gaze, 2009

 Ancient Gaze, detail
  Ancient Gaze, detail

 Ancient Gaze, detail
 She carries her own heart, 2009
 She carries her own heart, detail
 She carries her own heart, detail

 She carries her own heart, detail
Next time I will think about how travelling between places is also changing my work.
What do you think? Artists like to know – and I especially want to know which piece above do you like the best?