Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Morning

Sparks beneath plow truck as it passed on the left,
Heat of hands pushing polls into snow,
Beautiful, ominous, marble slate sky,
Crackly orange leaves hanging on old oak trees,
Breath in the chest by the top of the slope,
Toward untouchable expanse of mountain and lake,
And quietude in the thick of it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More on what books are

 More book notes from Johanna Drucker's "The Century of Artist's Books"

"The book's ability to functon as a conceptual space. This is done either by presenting a conceptual piece or by using the book conceptually to duplicate a function normally served by a real space of performance or exhibition" (309)

Miles Deloster: "Television" 1981 "a blend of history, creative writing, documentary evidence and original insight"

"In works like Sol LeWitt's book 'Brick Wall' sequence is mainly a matter of time, which makes the temporal extension of the work into an experience of reading" (258)

'Maximilliana - Max Ernst and Iliazd "Maximilliana is a veritable catalogue of the possibilities of invented and conventional writing. Iliazd takes typography into many constellations and configurations to produce an effect of astronomical phenomena under observation" (231)

"Dieter Roth's book production was the outgrowth of experimental work in graphic design combined with concrete poetry" (73)

This book lists so many books that I need to go find and look at...

"Its sequential regularity and its stable finitude. Order and binding, relation and containment; these are the basic principles of the book whether amplified, resisted, or transgressed." (218)

"The vision becomes a book which is able to pass into the world with the fewest obstacles between conception and production, production and distribution." (88)

That quickness between vision and conception...

"The mobility of the book is one of its most unique characteristics, as well as its capacity to be preserved through that mobility (imagine a painting which had passed from hand to hand, been carried on the subway for two weeks, and then ended up in the pocket of an airline seat only to be rediscovered and enjoyed again.) (88)


I asked Mom for a book to read. While searching the living room, she exclaimed, "Oh, Hildegard of Bingen. That's where that book went." I didn't think anything of it other than, oh, good she's found a book she's been looking for. But what about a book for me to read? A few minutes later, from her bedroom, she calls out, "Have you read Deepak Chopra's 'The Spontaneous Fullfilment of Desire?'" I told her I hadn't and she said I should because its along the same lines of what I've been talking about recently. Seeing the word 'Desire' on the title, I ask "You mean about relationships?" Mom laughs. "No, I wasn't thinking of that, though it could help." 

I began reading the book and quickly realized its about coincidences. On the 4th page there is a quote by the 12th century saint,Hildegard of Bingen. Well, that's a coincidence right there - the second time I've heard that name tonight, never having known it before in my life. And now Mom is re-reading that book right now.

Looking back on the day, as the book requests, I recall another coincidence. I ran into my brother's ex-girlfriend from high school. She must be the 10th person I've talked to within the last month who just did or is going to teach english in another country. In Bree's case, she just returned from a year in South Korea. Apparently there are no training courses required, anyone can go and they pay for your return plane ticket, food and accommodation. Hmmmm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Out of Place or In Place?

Today, on my walk through the blueberry barrens, I noticed a pair of sneakers, shoe laces knotted together, suspended high up on a telephone wire. 

Friday, December 19, 2008


Fresh haddock fried in Indian spices and cornmeal.
Baby spinach frozen from the summer garden.
Grated raw beets with ginger and lemon juice.
Home made 1/2 buckwheat, 1/2 spelt bread with hint of molasses and raisins,
spread with thin layer of honey.
Well water. 
First meal home.

clothes, cats, and Moser

My sister has taken my pants, the silk ones Erika gave me from Guatemala with intricate batik patterning and hung them on her rocking chair for room decoration. She stuck a cantaloupe colored sweater in my closet that she doesn't want anymore. Mom found an acrylic painting I did in a high school art class and left it on my dresser. The pants I forgot in August are still sitting on the back of the washing machine. 

The cats are new. Two are fairly wild. They only come for food and they flee when they see us. The 3rd was someone's pet. Tortoise-shell with painted egyptian eyes. She meows to come in from the snow, but Pop's allergic so Mom is trying to find her a real home. The cats all came this winter because their owners left them. People are abandoning not only cats around the state, but horses too because they can't afford them anymore. When I owned horses, hay was $1 bale, grain $8 bag. Now hay is $4 + a bale and grain $16 + a bag.

Moser is new. Mom bought him in October. He's sooooo cute. Welsh corgi. Black, brown and white. White stockings. Brown eyebrows. Big head and ears. Long back. No bark. Such a respectful, quiet small dog. He rings a bell on the floor when he wants to go out. I like him very much.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

cars and politics

Driving with my aunt Laurie today (she took me to get my 2nd ever massage thank you thank you thank you!)...the black mercedes in front of us had a bumper sticker reading "I'm for McCain because he's not a socialist" Laurie said shaking her head "Thats a $65,000 car. I feel like bumping into it."

Speaking of cars and politics, I watched meet the press at the gym this morning (because I don't have a t.v. and my mom informed me Obama was on) There was a toyota commercial at the end of the interview I thought very beautiful. Its the one where a hybrid car is built from earth, straw, wood, leaves amidst a New Zealand looking setting, peaceful, pretty music... with the scene filmed as if moving in a circle and then the car is unbuilt with all its parts vanishing in sunlight and storms to a voice saying something like, "the best way to impact the environment is to have as little impact as possible." Can you imagine seeing that commercial even 5 years ago?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tiff's Treats

I went in Tiff's treats for the first time yesterday. Its right near my house and I always see a group of students hanging out at the picnic tables at night eating cookies. Its such a tiny place, step in, order cookies, step out. And 8 people just happened to show up to buy when I did. Well, I thought there would be more cookie choices. For a place that specializes in cookies, it didn't have anything unexpected or exciting. Cookies are on the small side. The cookie part of Butterscotch chip is exactly the same as white chocolate almond, m&m, etc. Its like soft serve vanilla ice cream with different toppings instead of different flavored ice creams. Ah well, its comfort food. 

Ruud Van Empel

I found the name Ruud Van Empel written in my notes too. He is a Dutch artist born in 1958. I came across one of his pieces on the last page of Museum News magazine last spring and I remember being mesmerized by its otherworldly-ness and just beauty as image. Looking up the name again today, I found more of his work on his website,  Equally surreal in the digital manipulation of photographic images. It makes me think also of what something could be.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

random notes

"If a book comes from the heart, it will continue to reach other hearts" - Carlyle

If discovery was a color, what would it be? gold maybe? 

How to be seriously ambitious about something without being serious?

There are always more things that things can be.

"In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do - like reading a dull, but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you, think mystery, not mastery" (Cameron, The Artist's Way, 21)

This is how idea for daily practice came about. The only thing that makes sense right now is keep this sense of peace and play in process. Every time heaviness, anxiety, doubt come along be aware and empty mind. Time doesn't matter today. The best times are when I don't count time. 

"Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seed sprouts? When everything turns to compost? The notion of completion has no basis in Wabi Sabi" (Koren, 50)

That completion insight is so interesting, true. If you just get rid of the notion that something can be completed, you relieve yourself of a lot of anxiety and pressure. And rather think of something as coming from and going towards, of connecting and continuum...

"Each of us has some area of competence no matter how small in which we feel confident - poetry is a way of treating with the rest about which we are unsure - hence the great body of the poetry of love" Carl Andres, from the exhibit "Words" in Marfa

random notes

I love this quote by Leonard Koren from his book "Undesigning the Bath":
"Discovery means that, in one way or another, the bath is 'found' or 'revealed' to the bath-maker. This is the opposite of busy-busy, hyper-goal oriented approach to creation...Hunting for mushrooms while simultaneously enjoying the sights, sounds, smells offers a good analogy. Though you never know what you're going to end up with, you have a pretty clear notion of what you don't want...While moving about, you are intent, but not obsessively so. All of your sensory and intellectual apparatus are alert and receptive, but you're not in a hurry." (76)

and this one:
"Poetry is a short-hand way of choosing intuitive insight over rational methodolgy...It is simplicity, not as the reduction of meaning, but as its consolodation...what you don't say is as important as what you do: the mysterious and the unfinished can evoke, expand, and reveal much more than the unambiguously clear." (85)

Hearing from so many sources, creation comes from
- stillness of mind
- through making
- through absorption
...not through intellect
More easily said than done, but something I have observed and am working toward

Natalie D'Arbeloff in her book "Designing with Natural Forms"
"I am suggesting that the 'what' and 'how' to do come out of the process of seeing itself, provided it is a kind of seeing which is a persistent focusing of the whole attention on only the subject for an extended period of time...opening out and relaxing of the attention...allowing it to play freely with any idea which hovers in the vicinity of the subject...receptive and inquistive frame of mind...ignore the boundaries which put limits on perception" (11)
"We do not aim to master the subject, but simply to abandon ourselves to it" (48)
"Sometimes, the profusion of unexpected links can be overwhelming and frustrating. You feel that you will never be able to cope with it all. My solution is to take from my evergrowing stock pile of reference material only those items which I can use directly: that is, those which provoke questions or ideas which I can pursue with my own methods, in my own language" (86)

From Uri Shulevitz's book "Writing with Pictures:
"When working on your first book, you may ask: Am I happy with the book? Am I happy with the illustrations? A happy book will make a happy author. Therefore ask: Is the book happy [peaceful] are the illustrations happy? Is the story told with clarity? Is the book's form an organic outgrowth of its content? Are the size, shape, and scale of the book most suited to is content and mood? Are the pictures accurate and readable and do they capture the content and the mood? How do they relate to each other? " (11)

"Originality does not consist in saying what no one has ever said before, but in saying exactly what you think yourself." - James Fritz-James

Random notes

So, I've been looking back over my note books from the semester (3 of them) and realized I neglected to post some observations along the way. Not sure how much sense they make, but they are more pieces to put in the puzzle. 

Read in several books, how word and image together is often seen as either a comic book, a children's book, or for advertizing/marketing. Why is that? Does anyone else like seeing pictures when reading? even a little color and attention to detail can go along way in making a word book different from other word books. I understand, it would be weird to add pictures to some text books whose authors never intended them to be illustrated. In these book I'm finding myself intrigued by, the authors seemed to have the insight/intent to have pictures as well as words or the artist has decided from the beginning that words will accompany the illustrations. 

The Telephone Book
Ronnel writes about telephone technology and its related psychology. Book designer, Eckersly plays with content, resulting in a book where no 2 pages are the same and may take some extra looking at the page to understand/read it. Many ideas packed into every spread. Telephones and psychology and the design  both about communicating...recieving and giving information. Some pages are blank, some words "reflected" on the backside of the page. Page numbers numbered like an address book (black tabs in different locations on outside edge of page) some pages are backwards, some seem to be in code, expiramental, on the edge of readability, as one reviewer noted, a book that holds attention even as it frustrates.

"When the need for belonging is not met, discomfort arises, including feelings of depression, disorientation and hostility. The sense of belonging - that is, the feeling that we are part of a whole greater than ourselves, with which we are physically, mentally, and spiritually involved - is a necessary factor to our well being." (The Power of Kindness, 70)

"a book is seen in full after the act of viewing" "The page and its imagry exist and then the do not exist. This is ironic because it is also such a physical object requiring touch to experience it." (Keith Smith, 17)

Exhibits often do not allow that touch. I guess I am more interested in the book as it can be read intimately pretty much any place, any time by anyone.  Vaster audience, less expensive and wasteful, read over and over, the passing of book from one to another generation to generation. Viewer determines the pace.

With daily practice, as response, happens naturally, not striving for certain methods, processes, not forcing, over-thinking, trying to explain, critique...finding something beautiful in the ordinary, the human-made - when extraordinary added to...light, possibility of what they could be

Saturday, November 29, 2008


There are 64 acorns my grand mother has collected, sitting in a small white dish. There are 64 different acorns. (And not one looks the same as an acorn from our oak tree in Maine) Some have holes, others cracks, a few are semi-crushed. Most are perfect. Some, with the stems, look like tiny goblets for fairies. I am surprised by how soft and smooth they feel. Cream bottom extends into brown upper and fine as hair lines wrap around. A large, oval individual  feels slightly waxy to the finger tips. The delicate and the humble with potential to grow into something lasting and grand amazes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rolling Stone

My brother and I used to subscribe to Rolling Stone throughout high school and into college, but stopped with loss of permanent addresses. Then, I'd just read one every once in a while - my aunt would pass hers along when she was finished sometimes or I'd pick one up for the plane ride. She just gave me the one with Obama on the cover, the October 30th issue, "if you have a chance to read over 'break" she said. 

So, obviously the design has changed. At first I had some nostalgia for the old design - how the former larger format made the magazine stand out from Spin and the others on the shelf. I missed the staples and remembered wondering how they held together those thick, thick anniversary special editions. After flipping through the new version and reading some, I actually appreciate the smaller format more. Its easier to hold, apparently saves on paper, and cuts back on splitting up long articles and having to continue them at the back of the magazine. Plus style and substance remain unchanged. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

whole foods

I walked over to whole foods this morning. Its not my favorite place to shop, but its the closest. It was very very busy today and it felt like Christmas shopping all ready. They were giving out more samples, holiday themed ones like cranberry apple pie, sugar cookies, mint brownies, sugar and spice tea. I'm always hungrier in the fall and realize I am noticing free food a lot lately!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday East Austin Studio Tour

I biked over from MLK and West st. with Jacqueline. We made a loop from 7th and San Marcos down to 2nd and Waller, then across to 7th and Tillery, then back. Hopefully more tomorrow, at least to see Beth :) 

I especially liked the work when it was in the artist's home. Inspiring and energizing. I really don't know this part of Austin very well. Neat, mixed media on wood canvas with grain showing through and incorporated in as part of image, which I like. 

There was a blue tin structure place with a goat that sticks in my mind. A chair made of cement stood near the entrance. We asked the artist how he made it: it was cast over an old school chair, he said.

I saw my friend Theresa Noyes' work at Fisterra studio (though most of her work was at her house instead). Fisterra was a cool house. Made me think of ideas for arranging rooms if I ever have a house. Fisterra was also serving delicious soup for warming up and refueling.

I finally got a chance to visit Iona handcrafted books. Beautiful. The photo albums are nice nice nice. I asked one of the book binders where they get the corner pieces for the albums (thinking this might be a good way to display my daily practice pages because I don't want to punch holes in the pages). He said they order them directly from the corner store company. Really. Someone's job it is to create corners. Oh, Iona had the best cookies (loaded with white chocolate, chocolate, and mint chocolate chips). Anyway, there were so many gallery clusters over there by Iona including a hand-made card studio that smelled like the letter press room.

Music Music Music

Conner Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band with The Felice Brothers. Sticker on keyboard reads: Mystic Valley Band for Obama. Music, Music, Music. Warms one up.  Waiting between sets, nose grows cold, feet get tired standing, lungs don't want to inhale any more second-hand smoke. But one forgets when the band starts playing. A stellar stellar show. Oh, and in between sets, some ideas came for daily practice.

Monday, November 17, 2008


How nice it is to sit in a coffee shop every now and then. To slow down and watch how fast the other people go.

"There is more to life than increasing its speed" - Mahatma Gandhi

I found this quote on a bench in a park in Santa Fe when I was wandering around with no set place to be. 

to walk slower

I agree, I am a fast walker. With my sister visiting last week, we had to strike a walking compromise because she ambles along.  She made me more aware of my pace. I realized that I like to amble along too if I am new to a place and taking everything in or when I don't have any where to be or when I have received enough excersize. I think I ambled a lot more in Santa Fe. But here, I tend to walk fast probably because I feel like I have less time and because walking is a main way of transportation and movement (after much sitting). So, even though, when my sister was with me, I didn't have to be anywhere and we did not have to get some place on schedule, it was hard to even notice I had a habit to break. By the time she left, I was walking a lot slower and she was walking a little faster than usual. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Night time percussion.

Drum Circle. Djembe. Hand drums. Somewhere down the street, the co-op perhaps? sounding close than distant. Louder, softer, excited. Voices joining. Laughter. "We should go over there," Vivian says. "I was just going to say that," I smile. We enjoy listening. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

about a honey bee

Some buzzing bug flew into my hair and I brushed it away. I thought it was just a fly. It landed on my pillow and I saw that it was a honey bee. I used a book and cup to capture bee and walked out on my balcony to release. I set book and cup on chair, lifted cup, and stepped back quickly, shutting the door between us. Watched. The bee took a long time to come out and then it didn't fly away. It just started crawling up side of cup like an ant until it clumsily fell off onto the chair. Then, the bee began walking around confusedly on the chair like a disoriented ant until it wavered on the edge and fell to the balcony floor. The bee tried to climb back up the chair legs, but the ascent was too steep. So the bee attempted to fly, but it only went a short way, like a chicken, before crashing near the balcony edge. The bee walked tentatively along the edge, until it ventured too close and disappeared over the side.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


My little sister arrived last night from Maine! and she'll be with me for a week. It is so fun to see Austin through someone else's eyes. She hasn't been to many cities before. On her way here, she had to take a taxi from bus station to airport and it was her first time in a taxi, which the driver found amusing and I find cute. Headed back to my house, she asked if I lived in the country. No! Right in downtown. She gets excited about all the little things, the tall buildings, riding a bike among all the students crossing, eating grapefruit from a tree down the street (which I am excited about too), going to Casa Columbia restaurant where most people were speaking Spanish, the grass blowers and lawn mowers in November. Its in the 20s at night in Maine now, 40's during the day.


There is a grapefruit tree two blocks from my house. One morning this week I was walking by and I noticed these round yellow/green fruits, rather dirty from road dust and stuff. I wasn't entirely sure what they were, but I picked one and decided it could be a grapefruit. So I took one home to try. Bright pink inside and good with agave syrup.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


yesterday was not so much about observation as it was about experiencing! being a part! of history! Last night I updated my facebook status to: "Jeanne is so moved, grateful to be living at this moment! Shared! Beautiful!"

Now I can reflect a little. When I woke up this morning, a friend I hadn't heard from in a while had posted a comment on my status: the simple symbol of a heart. I enjoyed reading the status updates everywhere, mostly reflecting such solidarity. (not everyone of course). 

Facebook turned out to be an exciting place to look. They had a poll at the page top keeping constant track of those on facebook who voted. Last I looked, the count was up to 5,447,875. Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and Ben & Jerry's all advertized on facebook free products for those who came in and said they voted. After my Spanish class (in which no one could concentrate and my teacher kept jumping up to check her computer) my fellow classmate and I stopped by Ben & Jerry's for the aforementioned free ice cream. 10 minutes to 8pm (when the freebies stopped) and the line was out the door and around the building! The owner came out to assure everyone "We have plenty, don't worry" It was such a festive atmosphere already. We sat by the fountain with some kind and familiar strangers in their obama t's and buttons.  They told me they were headed to the Driskill hotel, I should go. 

I went home first, but then I did go to the hotel and was there at 10 when CNN announced the election projection. Amazing! Still can't believe we found out so early. Had an exciting walk home. Waiting at every cross walk with others downtown, cars honking, capitol metro buses honking, people waving and sticking signs out the window. As I moved away from downtown, walking alone now, an african american woman cheered out her car window at me, to make sure I knew, "Hey! Obama won!" Watched the acceptance speech and aftermath online live streaming from CNN with my housemate. Caught up with my family a few hours ago on their experience watching at home in Maine and our experiences seeing so many happy people today. 

like earth and water

Museum exhibits and books do share John Begg's definition of the book as "a three dimensional container of ideas." Museum exhibits, books, the internet, and many other forms of expression can share the definition "container of ideas."

I am fascinated by the relationship between container and ideas - particularly the substance of both. The substance of the message, material, and means. Is the message meaningful? From where is the message, the idea coming? From joy? From questions and curiosity? From answers and rules and conventions? Out of respect for that which it impacts? Do the materials enhance and reflect the message? Sustainable? In a manner that gives more than takes?

Why am I suddenly interested in the book as the container to express my ideas as opposed to museum exhibits or the internet?

I don't know the answer. Probably it is not about choosing one form over the other. More about finding a container that suits the message and is within my means at the moment? About the expression of ideas. Container and idea aren't fixed anyway. I should look at them as earth and water. Earth as container; water as idea. One always informing and altering the other. Imperceptibly and perceptibly mixing along the way. Running inside and throughout. Dialogue and communication. Conversation.

Books For Our Time

I am reading Books For Our Time. This collection, published in 1951, presents essays from well- known book designers (from the first half of the 20th century) on what a book is and can be. Book design examples follow the essays. The examples still look relatively traditional compared to today, but they show glimmers of page expiramentation to come.

Book designer John Begg, defines a book as "a three dimensional container for ideas." He goes on to say, "It was devised as one of the prime means of conveying ideas and images to others in another time or place. In it the desire to communicate has been given enduring form."

Book designer, Ernst Reichl writes similarly, "Not type and paper, but words and pictures and ideas are his [or her] materials, and the space in which to coordinate them. The purpose of a book is not to be well printed, but to be well comprehended. Le Corbusier calls the house a machine for living. Let me call the book a machine for the preservation of ideas." Afterwards he amends the term "machine for the preservation of ideas," by calling books instead, "the memory of [hu]mankind"

Architect, George Nelson, contributed the outsider perspective in his essay. He sums up the evolving definition of the book by saying, "what has changed is the feeling about what one should do to a page, a spread, a binding."

Monday, November 3, 2008


I enjoyed a few hours at the Texas Book Festival. Yesterday was such a beautiful, warm, calm day. Friendly looking families with kids milled through white tents filled with books or sat with snow cones on the capitol lawns. I bought one book because I liked its images and content. Its a tiny red and black book that a man wrote and designed about the passing of his dog. Memories about the dog are spread out in one sentence per page narrative. A black silhouette of the dog has been printed on the bottom corner of every page, but as you flip through the book, this silhouette moves off the page until it disappears. I think I'll give the book to my mom who is still grieving the loss of our little pug Buda who died in the road recently.

2:00-2:45 sunday afternoon
The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and how it changed America
Talk given by David Hajdu. "Hajdu is the music critic for The New Republic and a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism." says talk description. 

The title of this lecture attracted me more than it would have last year since I recently read Understanding Comics. I learned a part of history I never knew before. Apparently this part of history has been forgotten or left out in a lot of peoples memories. Neither of my parents had heard about the comic book scare in the 40s and 50s either. Although my dad recalls how much his mother disliked his reading comics and wonders now if that was the reason.

What I learned from this journalist/author lecturer who collected stories from 800 people for his book: 
Comic books were the #1 form of entertainment in the 50's. American comics were a major export at this time. Comics were passed down from hand to hand and reread until they fell apart. This is part of the reason, comics from that era are hard to come by. The real reason comics of this time are rare is their mass burning.

Comics began by young people for young people. Those creating them were "outsiders" maybe because they were Jewish, female, Asian, Black, different in some way from the status quo so they found ways to express themselves in comics since magazines and publishers of the time wouldn't hire them and posted help wanted ads that had in tiny letters at the bottom "A Christian Company" So a group of people created this new art form, trying to create meaningful work, trying to challenge the status quo. Comics had this unconventional, subversive, outsider sensibility that the status quo felt threatened by. They realized something defiant was going on and that children were the ones learning these new ways of thinking and values because they were the ones reading comics. At the time 99.5 % of children read comics. 

The video clip the author showed, which stated the severe harms of kids reading comic books, got many laughs because of how old-fashioned and aburd the arguments sound today especially compared to what kids have at their disposal now. Comic books were banned from Canada - no superman comics could cross the border! Comic books started being restricted and banned across America, condemned as "harmful to young people and the cause of violence and crime." Comics were gathered up everywhere and burned and these public burnings lasted 10 years. The comic industry nearly died completely. It was later revived when the generation who were children during the scare grew up and some of the illustrators among them decided to continue the mission of people who started the genre. Its hard to believe that something like this happened at the beginning of my parent's life time and has so quickly been lost from many people's memories. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008


another trip to the library, returning some recalled books and picking up some new ones. Actually pretty old ones. 1936. Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain & Perfect Pronunciation. The even older, original version was created in 1836. I'm surprised the fine arts library has a copy for take home use. The HRC houses a copy too. So, this book came into being through play and collaboration and willingness and funding. "The artists, designers and printers, whose delightfully diverse solutions to a common problem appear on preceding pages, were invited to redesign an allotted page in any manner they pleased. Each was furnished with a photostat of the original page, each was free to do the page without restriction in style or technique, and without hampering suggestions...That this was a labor of love—both for the delight of children and for the interest of those within the Graphic Arts—is patent by the result." (A Note on This Book, 74). (I must insert here that I adore their style of writing, which I sense, seems to possess an infinitely higher level class and intellect than the present day) None of the contributers knew what their fellow collaborator's designs looked like. In the end of the book, all 41 designers, printers, and illustrators involved are listed with a short biography. No one received pay. All remarked similarly that this opportunity temporarily freed them from their actual paid work which they were tired of. Since all the designers used linotype and black ink plus perhaps one other color, the book looks visually cohesive, but each solution has its own style and approach. Fasinating to see all together.

I like this one:
"Oliver Oglethorpe ogled an owl and oyster: Did Oliver Oglethorpe ogle an owl and oyster? If Oliver Oglethorpe ogled an owl and oyster, where are the owl and oyster Oliver Oglethorpe ogled?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

45 flavors of popcorn

About a month and a half ago, I wandered into Cornucopia, a tiny store on Guadelupe behind Veggie Heaven that sells 45 flavors of popcorn. (The place is located near Dobie Theater - convenient for sneaking popcorn into the movies) I discovered that the store recently opened in August - although it was also a popcorn place under different owners and name beforehand. Although I noticed a popcorn shop last year, I never wanted to go in until the venue changed names and signs. Funny. Looking in through the windows, I saw a brighter, fresher atmosphere with lime green walls and inviting tables with a few people talking.

The first time I entered, the girl behind the counter asked if I had ever been in before. I said no. Then she started handing me different flavor samples to try like Sopapilla (which I was curious about - since I just tried this form of puff pastry in Santa Fe) green apple, sweet corn, pesto. It was nice to be greeted with such welcome and the popcorn is delicious so I bought a bag of pesto and signed up on their email list. The girl behind the counter, actually one of the owners, punched a hole in a card and handed card and popcorn to me. Six punches = a free medium sz. bag of popcorn, she informed.

Because I signed up for the newsletter, I received an email today advertizing a breast cancer awareness fundraiser. All proceeds from popcorn balls sold during the event go toward a breast cancer charity, plus the event offered complimentary popcorn, cocktails and a movie screening. I stopped in today to support that cause and sample of course. This time I talked with the friendly owners and their friends. All wonderful people. One owner is the girl I met the first day and the other is another women in her 20's. I'm happy I noticed the store and went in.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bear likes beer.

Today, I met a dog who likes to drink beer. I was drinking from a tall, green, glass bottle a flavored carbonated beverage called Topo Chico [Twist of Lime. With a twist of natural flavor. Imported. No Refill. Lime flavor. NET CONT. 11.5 OZ. Made in Mexico. Please Recycle. Ingredients: water, carbon dioxide, citric acid and lime essential oils.] Bear, the dog, kept sneaking over whenever I put the bottle on the coffee table. His owner told me she rescued him from the streets. He belonged to homeless people. Once, she took Bear to the Dog & Duck Pub and he guzzled down her beer as soon as she turned her back.


This is a poster for a paper show designed by Ikko Tanaka and photographed by Nakamoto Noritoyo in 1988. Why do I love this? 
- light and shadow, texture, colors
- integration of word as image
- word doing what it says/relationship of form to content
- composition: neg/pos space, straight and angular lines of letters with crinkly and random lines of paper
Interesting - I mean I can look at this image again and again without growing bored

Saturday, October 25, 2008


The sun rose this morning
and I was up to see it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Just returned from Spanish. I am sooo enjoying absorbing new words with familiar meanings. Spanish sounds much more musical and well organized than English. Even having four classes by the time I went to Chile would have been immensely beneficial. Learning another language requires a receptive mind, play, observation. In fact, the more present I am, the more comes and stays. An added value of learning a new language is just that: the presence required. Interesting how I pick up some words right away, while other ones click for the first time in the fourth class. Being able to speak another language is obviously so valuable. Provides an understanding of and appreciation for those who can speak English in addition to their mother tongue. The process of learning and using mind in such a different way than accustomed to aids in maintaining play in design. 

Wish learning a language could count for credit. On the other hand, informal classes at instructor's abode in Travis Heights allows for meeting people outside academia. Two elderly judges give me rides back and forth to class. One, S, told me about her difficult hearing today. The hearing regarded a massage therapist whose ex-husband charged her with offering sexual favors to clients. S's job is to judge circumstances like that. Two nights a week, S and I learn Spanish together. S's motivation to learn is Anyyi (pronounced Ahn-gee), an 11 year old Columbian girl who speaks no English, whom she will adopt in January.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


My aunt is a hair stylist in Austin and she recently relocated salons. The point is, she gave me a stack of magazine's she'd had lying around for her clients. I came across an advertizement in national geographic  which rearranges plastic bags into a new image, in this case a flower, to make the point about eco-friendly plastic. A conceptual response to an object. Then, I came across a magazine spread in The New York Times Magazine which clearly draws on the concept from A Humument and illustrates ideas about health with sentence/word fragments and collaged image. Recognition is fun. If I had not checked out A Humument this semester, I would not have known.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I went to half of the informal talk about curating at the Blanton last night (before heading back to school to TA). A lot more people showed up than I expected. Some things I learned from the curators (Jade Walker of the CRL, Risa Puleo & Christina Hiett):

Christina: I like doing alternative showes where artists are working with non-traditional media that I don't know anything about—particularly computers. I also like curating shows that are collaborations between two very different artists.

Finding space is key.

There are process based shows and project based shows.

Risa: When coming up with a new exhibit, I think primarily about Who do I want to work with? Whose work am I most excited about? What do do I want to read about right now?

There are so many different ways of curating...different perspectives come from curators with studio art backgrounds vs. art history backgrounds vs. curatorial backgrounds or museum studies backgrounds. Curators have to be a little bit of everything...a lot of behind the scenes politics, licenses, budgets, technicalities to deal with.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts on discovery

I'm realizing, I am following a bigger condition than exists only in the out of place or only in the study of shadows or only in what is always here, but not always noticed. The condition is discovery. Focusing too specifically on one thing can limit discovery by resulting in too much planning and thinking. Changing the focus continually, or changing it when it looses its newness, illicits a fresher, rawer response in many cases. Its about having a curiosity to find out what a thought will look like, feel like, manifest and not just as an idea. I am interested in that new experience where discovery lies and expectations don't exist yet. So, responding to the same thing as long as the results are fresh and than moving on, when they aren't. Sometimes discovery also lies in returning to the old after having a series of new discoveries elsewhere. In life, this just happened to me when I returned to D.C. In design, this can happen when I take a break from a subject for a while and do other studies, then return to the old study -  How do I keep responding like new to the same thing? Is that even possible?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Painting Number 9

As I was looking at the rest of the Philips Collection, a women informed us she would be giving a short talk in the next room about a paintings. Every morning and afternoon an education department member will give a 15 min. talk about a painting of their choosing. The painting she chose was Piet Mondrian's Painting Number 9.  I noticed the painting as I passed through its room earlier and the initial feeling it gave me was tight and measured and I prefer loose. The talk changed my feeling of the work. 

- first of all, what do you see when you look at this piece? the educator asked
one women said a city grid or a map. I said looks like you're looking down from above 
- abstraction of space
- part of theosophists, interested in mysticism
- He was asking what are the elements of painting that get to the spiritual essence?
- barest essentials, primary colors
- I like his earlier work that is passed around on a pamphlet, "Pier on Ocean" more organic, oval, brown/tan/black/white
- he was influenced by NCY grid system
- assigned emotions and spiritual values to colors...yellow=buoyancy and introversion, something higher that's why yellow box is at top of painting
- he was writing constantly as he was painting
- interested in balancing space with flatness effect
- tapping into something more visceral/spiritual, a sensory experience...How does it strike you before the intelectual kicks in?
one women says his paintings seem like restrained passion
the speaker says he was a very passionate person, a great tango dancer, and she says the women's perception is correct about the paintings


I'm glad I saw the sign in the metro and decided to go at 10:30 am


Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Over the River October 11, 2008 - January 25 2008
The Philips Collection
Dupont Circle, go left on Q street to 21st street. Museum 1/2 way up on 21st on the left. Open 10-5. $10/students

"An exhibition of more than 150 photographs, collages, drawings, and maps will chronicle the artist's process as they prepare to assemble and suspend massive silvery fabric panels horizontally over the Arkansas River in Colorado. The Philips exhibition will trace the development of this ambitious project over the past sixteen years by displaying the process and materials that will be used to accomplish the artistic and engineering feat."

a river had to be chosen that had high enough banks to attach cables to
exhibit designed by and exhibit text written by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Text is narrative like, often humorous, more personal b/c of this I think.

love collages, esp. texture created by fabric
"Over the River, 1992: pencil, wax crayon, charcoal, and fabric on paper"

Christo and Jeanne-Claude both born on June 13th 1935! Christo in Bulgaria; Jeanne-Claude grew up in Paris, Tunisia, Morrocco, Bern, Switzerland.

photos of C & JC at community meetings and schools answering questions
- meet w/BLM
people in photo look to be enjoying the meeting

- prototype test pouring 20k gallons of water on fabric, goes right through

- Arkansas river most rafted in U.S. 300,000 people/year

- french tour group, tv people, photoshoot, Christo and Jeanne-Claude are at the entrance posing for their picture and then getting on elevator! 10:30 am. The second time I see them, the first was at The Gates. 

like blow-up sections of maps accompanying drawings...combining photos with drawings and fabric!

- life-size tests in Grand Junction, CO...its neat how you can see the clouds through the fabric
- wind tests in man-made wind tunnels in Guelph, Candada

- photo of Christo's hand drawing a mark on an arial photograph... interesting within photo

- soooo many people involved

-even have steel anchor used to test cable prototype
- samples of fabric with carabiners and pully...looks like so much weight just in one sheet of fabric, thick, metalic, technology

- like how the exhibit organized as timeline, exit 2007 room

- interesting to read comments in guest book
"brilliant! I get it already...
"another waste of time and money...excessive
"Can't wait to see it
"will have to visit Colorado
"another example of man thinking he can improve nature
"I'm glad materials are being recycled...

I can't remember exactly what I wrote... just that I enjoyed seeing the exhibit about process and materials with text written by the artists and I especially like the collages combining drawings and fabric, that I am still unsure about the sheer amount of material being used...


Shoppers crowded the streets. It was a sunny columbus day weekend in Georgetown. We went just to walk and window shop. Jessica had been often, but this was only my 2nd time going. As we started our walk, I noticed a white gate partially open beside an old stone house. The house just looked different than anything else around, but it was easy to miss - sandwiched in by shops. If the gate hadn't been slightly ajar, we may not have stopped. A sign on the gate said the house was built in 1756! and this was the entrance to the back yard, one of the few remaining original house lots and only open to the public on weekends. Of course, we wandered back to see what we could. Tangled gardens, very english, a few benches, a birdhouse, a few people reading. Quiet. It was like a little mini-park/oasis we never would have guessed was back there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I think I'm just going to relay some quotes from the Ansel Adams/Georgia O'Keefe exhibition at the National Museum of American Art. This is a special, fasiniating exhibit to see, even more so, since I saw it a few months ago in Santa Fe. Beautiful to see Adam's Black and White, realistic, liquid and light silver geletin prints, beside O'Keefe's abstract, colorful, soft and bold paintings of the same landscapes, churches, natural elements. I enjoyed the show more in Santa Fe because it took place in the much smaller Georgia O'keefe Museum and the quotes from the artists were displayed large on the walls -and of course because it was in the terratory of the art-making. Only a few of the quotes were shown on the walls at the national art museum. The rest were on the labels. It is nice to see the quotes in any case to know a little more about the world views/perspectives of the artists.

"A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed, and is, thereby, a true manifestation of what one feels about life in its entirety" - Ansel Adams, 1882

"The west, in many ways, is the center of modern creative work in photography. Some would dispute that claiming New York and Boston should be considered first. In the east there is an emphasis on the social aspects of the medium; out here there is a fine balance between the social emphasis on the natural scene and on the abstract and expiramental" - Ansel Adams 1972

"I believe that the artist and his [her] art are only a part of the total human experience; the viewer in the world at large is the essential other part." - Ansel Adams 1988

I wrote down some quotes from Georgia O'keefe, but I can't find the receipt I wrote them on!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

noticing differences

Eastern Market. Since I was here last, a fire damaged the main building - the one filled with deli meats, cheeses, fruit and veg. Now all this produce can be found in the building across the street, while the damaged structure is being painted and restored. I used to work at one of the outdoor stalls every sunday. I could bring back all the fresh food I wanted for free. With all the changes, I'm not sure where to find the vendor with the best molassas cookies I've ever had, but I do find the canolis and we try yummy yellow indian curry hummus. Upon returning to where I lived, I notice a new organic food mart where the CVS used to be.

fall foliage

Just starting to turn in D.C., but, into Virginia, where I went yesterday, the colors are closer to peak. Drove along back roads. Lost, but did not matter. We cross one little, blue one-way bridge 3 times I think. So refreshing to be out in the country. Little ponds for each rolling farm it seems and the smooth water dotted with leaves on the surface and canadian geese on the shore. We see two cows chest deep in one pond. They just look at us like cows do and return to munching on water weeds. Stopping at a gas station, we hear country music from a truck and see camouflaged hunters eating chicken wings and fries at a picnic table. There are tour buses headed for the wineries. 

Every home is a mansion. We marveled at how long it must take to mow the lawns. (More McCain/Palin signs out here than Obama/Biden ones.) The blue skies look bluer because of the contrast between leaves and air. 

Arriving back home at night, the air has cooled sharply from the sunny high 70's of the afternoon. The scent of leaves and apple trees even though there aren't any apple trees near. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Staying with Clint and Emily

So, I am back in d.c. for the first time in 3 years. This is the first time I've been back to one of the places I lived and had an affection for (other than Maine of course). It is strange to come back to a place 3 years later. Some of my former discoveries (thrift stores, cafes, etc) are not here anymore. Some of the spots under construction then, look the same still! Same cranes and crater in Earth. People working just like then. 

Can I find my way along the same route from Union Station metro stop to Office of Exhibits Central by memory? How funny that when you get to the physical space, the memory kicks in. 

I went to the national portrait gallery. That venue was under construction, waiting to open, when I was here before. I'll have to go back again because I did not have enough time. Barbara Bosworth's silver gelatin photographs portray panoramic landscapes in 3 photos, leaving the black line between frames which forms during the process of making the images. A hip-hop/contemporary exhibit. Also especially drawn to silver gelatins taken at shows, blurred sometimes by D.J.'s moving hands. Posters as portraiture featuring Milton Glaser's Bob Dylan. Presidents. Who will be added next? A new exhibit opened this week "Women of our time"

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I rarely ever watch t.v. since I don't have one. Project Runway was on at a friend's house recently. We were flipping through the channels trying to find something satisfying from 8:30 - 9:00 waiting until the 9:00 runway slot started.  Amazing how little substance. So many reality shows with teary-eyed contestants. I don't know. The news channel kept grabbing me even though it too feels soap opera-esque, as if the stories gathered are arranged to fit a plot. I have to admit, project runway sucks me in too. Big personalities. Overdone, poofy costumes. Would you wear that wedding dress? No. Would you? No. Ridiculous. That one's pretty though. The creator even says her clothing line is influenced by architecture and waves. Thinking about Lisa's overlap of dress and architecture here. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I went in my back yard and sat down. There did not seem to be much to see. Construction machines were beeping obnoxiously across the street. I looked down at the ground and there under my nose, or feet rather, dispersed all around were red-hot sized white snail shells. I did not see any live ones though.

This calls for an image, but it won't upload.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

water falling sounds like water falling

On the corner of Cesar Chavez and Congress Ave., I find a waterfall. Water falls from street level, down a man-made granite structure, to the holding area – in a business park. At the bottom of this fall, I am sitting on a bench. Benches face the water for the purpose of viewing - or sitting and eating one's lunch while viewing, or sleeping as someone else is doing. Benches complete a picture someone had.

The natural elements: water, sun on water, true-blue sound of water falling, knowledge that slick-cut granite was once rough: beauty. Structured, formal form used to bring these elements to the entrance of a 30 plus story glassy building: appreciated for room they make for light, water, sound on this street, but nothing in and of themselves. 

When I walk past the top of the falls at street level, wind sprays droplets on me: this initial captivation, the spray and the splash, drew me to sit at the bottom. Sound of water falling nearly blocks out noise of traffic. Not quite. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sense of Place

On another note, I walked through Pease Park today after some time away from the area. The stream is completely dried up. Those purple flowers I noticed that once, gone. A thin film of pale dust coats the stream-bed stones.

I remember another site changing as I watched. Much more closely I followed this other site. In my Ecology: Natural History class at College of the Atlantic, each of us chose a small site–no more than 15 square feet–to frequent for the term. Our teacher asked us to spend 10 minutes a day observing changes in the site: keeping a field journal of notes, sketches, photographs. I picked an abandoned lot, with remnants of an old house foundation, across the street from the house I rented at the time. Goldenrod, aster, dandelion, a rhubarb patch, a few sunflowers, timothy, clover, and vetch competed for space among other vegetation. Tiny young oak saplings tried to take root in the sunny far left. The snow, when it came and covered the spot, left some brown, dead weeds sticking up through.

The first day, I took note of as many different plants as I could find on my site. In September, many plants were still in flower, though past prime, and by October, most turned to seed, dropped off, browned, blew away. I lifted pieces of brick and bark and discovered earwhigs, centipedes, grubs, worms, ants. I noted different birds passing over and the stray cats in the neighborhood, the number of acorns that dropped from the parent tree nearby. The bumblebees–how the bees frequented less and less, disapearing altogether by mid-october. Bits of glass, metal wire, wrappers, rotten wood, rusty nails.

Its funny how I remember that site so well, 3 years later, because of how often I sat in stillness watching and listening. I can close my eyes now and feel I'm there. There is something to be said for observing one small place or one thing and sensing it change, room to grow a relationship between self and place. A constant space to observe change. My back yard here? Will do.



I suppose one act can also be the other, but not always. For instance, an observation might be an insight, but not all observations are insights. Like wise for judgments. I was curious about the definitions for these terms, so here they are. 

Observation is either an activity of a living being (such as a human), which senses and assimilates the knowledge of a phenomenon, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. 
Observations are statements which are determined by using the senses2 a: an act of recognizing and noting a fact or occurrence often involving measurement with instruments observations> b: a record or description so obtained 3: a judgment on or inference from what one has observed ; broadly : remark , statement

Opinion: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter

Judgement: 1 a: a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion b: an opinion so pronounced

Reflection:6: a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation7: consideration of some subject matter, idea, or purpose
Insight 1 : the power or act of seeing into a situation : penetration2 : the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bubble Tea Fix

Guess I can discuss observations evolving from bubble tea. I desired some bubble tea last night. So I was on my way over to Coco's cafe to get some when I noticed a venue two spots down from Coco's that I had never seen before. The Tapioca House, as this other place is named, does not stand out, sandwiched in a sliver of space between Chase Bank with their large, looming logo sign, a Vietnamese Pho restaurant also serving bubble tea, and Coco's Cafe on the other side of the Vietnamese place. 

The Tapioca House did not initially strike me as fun, playful, cool like Coco's does. Not much color or style. No outdoor seating. Not a particularly compelling sign. I would like to try a new place, plus the line is short. TH (Tapioca House) actually has more options, so TH I enter. 

In fact, now that I'm here, what do I choose? Coconut smoothie? What is in that? The girl behind the counter says, "I did not know we have coconut smoothies" Okay then, I will skip that one. What about seseme bubble tea, is that good? The girl behind the counter can't say - she has never tried seseme before. Okay, well, I'll have hazelnut. That will satisfy my desire for something new and seems a safer option than seseme or barley or avacado. 

Flavors don't often taste like their namesake anyhow. Taro tastes like milk left over from a bowl of Oh's cereal. Hazelnut could easily be coffee or grahm cracker. Delicious, yes, but I probably wouldn't guess hazelnut. 

How do they make tapioca balls anyway? and is bubble tea even good for you?

From Wikipedia:

Bubble tea
, also called "Boba" tea, is a tea beverage that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s and migrated to Canada before spreading to Chinatown in New York, then to various spots throughout the West Coast of the United States[1]. The literal translation from Chinese is pearl milk tea (traditional Chinese珍珠奶茶Hanyu Pinyin: zhēnzhū nǎichá; Tongyong Pinyin: jhenjhu nǎichá). The word "bubble" refers to "bubbling", the process by which certain types of bubble tea are made, and not the actual tapioca balls. The balls are often called "pearls." Drinks with large pearls are consumed along with the beverage through wide straws; while drinks with small pearls are consumed through normal straws. 

The distinctive characteristic of bubble tea is the presence of chewy translucent balls of pearl tapioca (that sit at the bottom of the glass). Usually the pearls are "large pearl," larger than the "small pearl" that is customary in tapioca pudding. Cooked, large pearls have a diameter of at least 6 millimeters. Occasionally, "small pearl" tapioca is used. Both sizes of pearls are available in a variety of colors. The pearls are prepared by boiling for 25 minutes, until they are cooked thoroughly but have not lost pliancy, then cooled for 25 minutes. After cooking they last about 7 hours. The pearls have little taste, and are usually soaked in sugar or honey solutions.

Bubble teas are generally of two distinct types: fruit-flavored teas, and milk teas

Good to know.