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SEEING DOUBLE: Words, Objects, Messages September 17 2019, 0 Comments

 

Our world is filled with double meanings and contradictions: in words, messages, and objects.


       
Things are not always what they seem. Accepting this can lead to questions, and this can lead to enlightenment. 

The WORD

The word green now has a new dimension and power. It defines the environmentalist, ecologist, conservationist, preservationist. Blue(s) is applied to music and melancholy; yellow is a coward; purple once worn only by nobility; orange is a citrus. 


        

The MESSAGE

Many messages have double meanings, hidden meanings. Some messages we understand even in spite of their contradiction. Some some are just baffling.

If we can appreciate the provocation of not understanding, we become open to investigating complexities.

Rene Magritte invited us to understand that his 1929 painting This is not a pipe is not a pipe, even though we identify it as a pipe. It's a painting of a pipe on a two-dimensional surface. We can't argue with Rene Magritte.

 

 

The Surrealist artist Merit Oppenheim might have asked questions such as: What are we drinking? Why do we willingly endure pain? What don't we want to see? 
She might have answered these questions by creating three wonderful surreal objects. Our lips would feel the fur without bringing the cup to our lips, and we have to ask what is it that we are consuming. Since shoes connect our feet to the pavement and enable mobility, we have to ask why we would choose walk in pain? We wear glasses to help us see, but what is it that we want to see?

 Billboard in Michigan

Political celebrity endorsements are powerful because the people we celebrate are remarkable and we want to believe them. Some politicians have falsely claimed that climate change is a hoax, and many believe them. But without our agreement to believe, messages lose their power. Questions must be asked.

The article  SURREALISM : THE SEARCH FOR FREEDOM talks about the importance of the surrealistic delivery of messages.

"The surreal moment, then, occurs when objects or ideas that do not ordinarily belong with one another coexist within the same context: "the resolution of those two seemingly contradictory states, dream and reality, in a kind of absolute reality, surreality, so to speak. Such a moment, however, is one of conflict rather than harmony and meant to throw the viewer off kilter."

The OBJECT

            
The Word: Green
The Object: A Bag
The Message: To make choices into a future where we will not be.
 
I've created these bags for you to use and reuse. They're available on Society6.

 

 

Hasta luego amigos.

Val


ANOTHER CHANGE April 25 2019, 0 Comments

 

I've always been intrigued with shape shifters, in nature and at cocktail parties. The natural world has given us some remarkable creatures who can disappear and emerge as 'an other' right in front of our eyes.

 

     
                CHAMALEONIDAE                        Truman Capote          black Australian harlequin opal

CHAMELEONS    This quick change artist has reasons other than camouflage to change colour:  to reflect their moods. These changes not only send social signals to other chameleons, they also to indicate temperature, health, communication, and light. Entirely like like our need to send signals

If a chameleon wore a black Australian harlequin opal ring, we wouldn't know it.

 

 

    

acraga coa                            Cendrillon                              Cerura vinual                            

BUTTERFLY     The Cinderella story is a loved fairytale about transformation and is a dream for many. But we can marvel at the exquisite pre-transformation-beauty of the acraga coa catepillar and the cerura vinula catepillar before they put on their ball gowns.

 

 

  

                                 TURRITOPSIS DOHRNII                              DRACULA - Andy Warhol 

JELLY FISH     The Earth's only immortal species is a tiny transparent jellyfish. It's the only known animal capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature stage after having reached maturity. Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely, effectively rendering the jellyfish biologically immortal.

The obsessive quest for immortality has followed us through time. It expresses itself in literature and in the movies. Immortality might be achieved, but there's a price to be paid--ask Dracula.

 

   

      THAUMOCTOPUS MIMICUS                        Alec Baldwin                    HYMENOPUS CORONATUS

MIMIC OCTOPUS  and the ORCHID MANTIS  are two of my favourite shape shifters.

The mimic octopus is considered the most intelligent octopus in the world and the ultimate master of disguise because it can imitate many other species. The genius mimicry of the orchid mantis is so complete it is sometimes impossible to distinguish the mantis them its orchid perch.

Many of the best stand-up comics have perfected the art of mimicry. Mimicry expresses itself not only at a party to make'm laugh, but also as a powerful political tool thrown at the White House, where they aren't laughing.

Inspired by these shape shifters, I've used a butterfly as a starting point for a new series of four images, utilizing my own shape shifting tools. They are available as prints and home decor on Society 6.  

Hasta luego amigos,

Val

 


APRIL - INTREPID April 11 2019, 0 Comments

April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks Go.  Christopher Morley

It is no surprise that Spring inspires us to begin anew, to take risks, be different, and fearless. The spirit of April expresses itself in many remarkable women.

 

"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." The French fashion designer Coco Chanel is credited in the post-World War I era with liberating women from the constraints of the "corseted silhouette." But Wilhelmine didn't wait for a clothes-change to begin her adventures.

Wilhelmine Reichard (April 2, 1788 -1848). On April 16, 1811, the  balloonist Wilhemine made her first solo flight from Berlin.

 

"The beginning is always today". British writer and philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft  knew that every day is new, filled with possibilities. The spirit of adventure and a view of horizon is irresistible to the soul.

Hélène de Pourtalès (April 28,1868 -1945), was a Swiss sailor who sailed on the wind. She competed in the 1900 Summer Olympics and became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal.[1]

 

"Knowing what must be done does away with fear." The strength and energy Rosa Parks offers in her quote can be seen as the engine for those who wish to engage in its truth. Sometimes, in the dark, it is whispered, like a prayer.

Odette Hallowes (April 28, 1912 - 1995) was an Allied intelligence officer: a spy, during the Second World War. Odette was one of the most celebrated members of the Special Operations Executive, the British sabotage and espionage organization, and one of the few to survive Nazi imprisonment.

 

  "Done is better than perfect." Sheryl Sandberg has a simple and profound belief. And when you're hiding, on the run, getting a job done is the only answer.

The Dutch resistance fighter Geertruida Wijsmuller (April 21, 1896-1978) was a war hero. Geertruida risked her freedom and her life, saving over 10,000 children during the Second World War when Germany had invaded of the Netherlands.  

 

The question is how to get things doneMany intrepid women have asked this question, got inspired, and got things done.


The pillows I've created are now available on  Society6. I hope you get inspired.

     

 

The pillows I've created are now available on  Society6. I hope you get inspired.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val

 


SPANISH HEARTS March 15 2019, 0 Comments

I've just returned from Mexico to Canada. In Mexico City I moved through history every day, on the streets and in the museums and the galleries. There are extraordinary works of art in Mexico, ancient and modern. Strangers smiled and warmly greeted me. Food invited me. There were earthquakes somewhere, but they were far away.

In Mexico, colour expresses itself everywhere. And it made me feel happy.

Colour is in the streets, in mercados, the food and in love potions, the clothing (ask Frida), fine art, and folk art,  ceramics in dance, and in Day of the Dead celebrations. The  Museo de Arte Polular is an especially joyous colour riot.

I brought some of Mexico's colour back with me. I've arranged many colourful hand-painted mirrored tin hearts on my wall. I see them first thing in the morning, then I look out my window, and look back to the colourful wall.

 

 I leave you with this song about the Spanish Heart by Chick Corea.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val

 


TIN HEARTS FROM A WARM CLIMATE February 21 2019, 0 Comments

I’m going down to Mexico City soon, with side trips to Zacatecas and Puebla. I’m looking forward to seeing again the fabulous art and architecture, ancient and modern, the food of course, and the music.

One of Mexico’s most appealing expressions of its culture is its folk art.

         

Although I love all Mexican folk art, my favourite is the hojalata (in English tin), the colourful charming tin art. Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead  and  Christmas with tin folk art.

In Mexico, the hojalata goes back to the 16th century to Spanish colonial times. Today, in Mexico, many people have tin folk art displayed in their homes, while other places such as cathedrals have symbolic religious tin art displayed.

Sheets of tin are cut, shaped and embossed with a pattern, then bright lacquer and enamel paint is applied. All tin folk art is handmade by Mexican artisans and craftsmen and craftswomen, who create with a sense of humour and imagination.

 

The mirrored tin heart is my favourite. Here are some hearts I brought back when I last visited Mexico.

I'll be wandering through mercados looking for more tin hearts. They'll soon be available on my website for your enjoyment and purchase. They are joyful things.

 

Hasta luego,

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


WILD IS LOVE February 05 2019, 0 Comments

 

 

       

Georges Bizet                                           Nina Simone                                           Billie Holiday

Music is one of the most exciting ways to express wild love. Georges  Bizet's opera Carmen is a tale of seduction, abandonment, jealousy and murder, which began with the wild gypsy Carmen. Nina Simone compares her love to the wild wind.  Her fierce rendition of  Wild is the Wind soars to meet that wind.

 

Billie Holiday reminds us that Comes Love, nothing can be done.

 

Comes a rainstorm, put your rubbers on your feet
Comes a snow-storm, you can get a little heat
Comes love, nothing can be done
 


The 1992 novel The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje's is a tale of  undeniable wild love which in the end we understand that only the great wound of  doomed love.                                                       

 

Thinking about hidden love and wild love in this post and the last, I was inspired by images in nature. Here are some designs interpretations I've created which are available for your home on Society6.

 

 

Wild love! It's a wild ride. Is it worth it? You can only answer that yourself. After.

Hasta luego,
Val

  


SECRET LOVE - REVEALED January 28 2019, 0 Comments

To burn with desire and keep quiet about it
is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.    

 

Experiencing impossible love is stressful. We're motivated to savour and maximize positive emotions, and hide negative ones. So, why do we hide love? In a revealing article What does it hide, we're informed of the many reasons we choose to keep our love secret: disinterest in your gender, taboo, forbidden, illegal, religion, incapable of returning your affection, attachment to another, geography. And we begin to fantasize.

Secret love is chaos. The rules are different. We hide. A special language is created. We find the language to express this complexity in The Arts.

    

Rene Magritte   The Lovers                                                    Artist Unknown Stolen Kiss

Viewing the surrealistic painting by Rene Magritte 'The Lovers' can arouse complex emotions in us. We are invited to look closer for hidden meanings. The unknown creator of 'Stolen Kiss is surely conveying secret feelings of love.

 

     

Films about secret love such as Damage (1992) and Her (2013) remind us that some kinds love need to be protected in a secret world.  

 

 

Notes on A Scandal               You Don't Know Me

Although stories about secret, hidden, forbidden love saturates literature, Suzanne Gardner, in her article: Literary love affairs: 6 novels about forbidden love, tells us about six love stories. A New York Times Book Review article asks What Are the Last Literary Taboos?

 

Here's a heart breaking list of songs about secretly being in love. The seemingly simple words have power because we understand, without wanting to, the fragility of having a secret love. "You Don't Know Me" sung by Ray Charles, can break your heart.

 

One way to overcome the agony of being unable to express your love openly is to send a card, any time, but especially on Valentine's Day. During the 1700s in England, people started sending Valentine cards anonymously, simply signed "Your Valentine." Today 150 million Valentine's Day cards are sold. That's a whole lota love! These cards and others are now available on my website. It's never too late to express your love. Valentine's Day is coming soon...

Hasta luego amigos.

Val


THE HEART ENDURES January 21 2019, 0 Comments

 

What do we know about the history of the image of love?

In an article about the origins of Valentine's Day, we discover that the image of the heart as an expression of love had a dark and bloody beginning in ancient Roman, was sweetened and romantized during Shakespeare's time, and commercialized in the 1900s.

 

                                               

                                          How did we get from here to here?

I'm creating a series of blogs over the next few weeks which will explore images of the heart as an expression of love in history. The blogs will explore how the graphic heart shape became the ambassador of love.

 

                                   

If you are yearning to express love in graphic form, here are some heart-themed greeting cards, now available on my website.

We know that love will always endure.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val


I'M BACK AT THE MOVIES December 18 2018, 0 Comments

After last week's post, I just can't stop with these movie quotes. Here are three more of my favourites. They're available on Society6.


I LOST AND FOUND MYSELF AT THE MOVIES December 11 2018, 0 Comments

   

Casablanca

The movies offer many creative ways to occupy time: escapism, complexity, humour, mystery, connection, inspiration. Great movies transport us to a different time and place.

Why should I care what happens to fictional characters? Because I identify with them, I see the characters as versions of myself, their fates matter to me, and I get wrapped in their stories.

    

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_of_the_Jedi 

When I want the luxury of escapism, the right movie can transport me to a time and place I've never been--like Alice going through the looking glass into a fantastical world.

The theme of cinematic voyerism appeals to my curious nature, and in the movies, I experience voyerism from the comfort of my armchair. How I interpret what I see is up to me. And I'm inspired to try new things.

  

Some Like It Hot

Great movies comfort me and make me laugh. The world is knowable, and I feel safe. Especially when I'm viewing Some Like it Hot, for the twentieth time. It's a great movie, and it stands the test of time: all great movies do. I believe that there are movie fans somewhere out there like me, who laugh like me. I'm connected to strangers. 

  

Toy Story


Great movies create a powerful sense of emotion and engagement. I'm inspired to become a bigger better version of myself.

Great movies inspire memorable quotations. Just a word or two or three and we know the movie source, and memories begin. A few words can instantly transport us to Casablanca or Paris, to Infinity and Beyond with the toys, singe our funny bones with Some Like It Hot, and know the power of a little furball.

I've created some home decor items which display quotations from the movies. They're available on Society 6.

ESCAPISM amigos, is ultimately why I started going to the movies. Discovering somethings about myself is why I'll always return.

Hasta luego,

Val

 


SHADOW LIFE - THE OTHER BENEATH October 24 2018, 0 Comments

 

In my continued investigations into duality, I've found myself exploring the concept of the shadow.

The shadow is a unique form of sculptural art. There are many creative expressions of shadows out there which are exciting, exquisite, highly individualistic, playful, sublime, exciting, and provocative.

On another plane, the shadow exists within us...the shadow is an "other" of us.

                          

Olafur Eliasson

The Icelandic artist Olfur Eliasson employs the use of light, wind, waves to explore the workings of human perception, as seen in the exhibition "Your Chance Encounter".

 

Herbert Baglione

The artist Herbert Baglione's creative renditions of shadows in abandoned buildings add a narrative to the architecture and the souls who once inhabited those spaces.

      
                                         
Kumi Yamashita

 

                             
Rashad Alakbarov                Funny Funda            
These shadow art pieces here show just how creative artists can be when light and shadow are their medium. 

 

The use of shadows as a creative expressive form is ancient. Shadow Play, also known as Shadow Puppetry, believed to have originated in Central Asia-China or in India in the 1st millennium BCE, is still enacted today. It's the prelude to cinematography.

                               
Chinese shadow theater figures          Chinese puppet theater

We're In Our Other World

Carl Jung formulated the concept of the shadow, that part of our life that is relegated to the darkness of the unconscious.  The article: Carl Jung and the Shadow: The Hidden Power of our Dark Side on the Academy of Ideas website, offers insight into the power of the shadow. 

In Robert Louis Stevenson's book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde we are immersed in the shadowy overpowering dualism of a man. It's a dark one-way journey into a nightmare.

Peter Pan is one of the most famous shadows in literature, having lost his shadow when it was locked away in a drawer. He'll have to talk with Carl about how he needs his shadow to become fully human.

Further investigation into the role of the shadow and duality is presented by Gregg Henriques in his two-part blog which asks  the question: Can you see your Shadow? 

 

Hasta luego amigos. I'm off to find a flashlight.

Val

 

 
 


PALIMPSEST - One And The Other October 18 2018, 0 Comments

As a twin, I'm interested in duality in its many forms. The 'twin' being the obvious one, but there are so many other examples. One of the more interesting aspects of 'doubleness' is the palimpsest.

Palimpsest is a manuscript or piece of writing material on which later writing has been superimposed on effaced earlier writing. It is something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.

Lost ancient text recovered - Previously unknown classical Greek mythological and medical works, newly discovered classical scientific texts preserved only in Syriac translation, religious writings in extinct languages, an ancient Christian poem describing Old Testament figures in Homeric style and detailed illustrations of plants, buildings and people have been found.

The Sinai Palimpsests Project contains 74 palimpsests totaling some 6,800 pages in 10 languages and containing erased layers of writing from the fifth to the 12th centuries. They are accessible to students, scholars and the public at sinaipalimpsests.org

 

           

Ancient Manuscripts from Greece, Rome, Early Christianity, Medieval Europe, enrich our understanding of the past and reveal information which we thought was lost.

 

David Alesworth and Jim Dine

       

Many contemporary artists employ the concept of palimpsest to express their creativity using a variety of materials.

 


Two songs by Billie Holiday express in lyrical form the emotional palimpsest dwelling in her heart:  She's Painting the Town Red while  Ghost of Yesterday surrounds her.

Another expression of palimpsest is luminol used by forensic investigators to detect trace amounts of blood at crime scenes. When luminol is sprayed across an area, trace amounts of an activating oxidant make the luminol emit a blue glow that can be seen in a darkened room, revealing a hidden story underneath.

A dark expression of palimpsest appears when Alzheimer arrives, when an existing life is overwritten, and we watch as an original work of art begins to disappear, leaving only traces of the original.

 

Hasta luego amigos,

Val


GREETING CARDS WILL NEVER DIE October 03 2018, 0 Comments

"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart."

-Phyllis Theroux

Greeting cards are great way to receive and send a heart-felt thought. October 6th is World Card Making Day. Why not take the time to make a card the old fashioned way with paper, scissors and glue, OR check these three websites below where you can make your own.    

   

Society6 - This a great website to make your own cards, custom clothing and home decor.

Shopify - If you think you've got the chops for it, you can not only make your own cards, but sell them on line.

Canva - For the beginner, this site will help you choose custom backgrounds and text to produce a beautiful custom-made card.

. . . . . . . . . .

If you don't feel like making your own, you can order from me. Here are a few selections, and more on my website.

      

Hasta la próxima mis amores,   

Val  

 

 

 


MIRROR MIRROR Off the Wall September 27 2018, 0 Comments

“The desire to see one’s own reflection – more conveniently than kneeling at the waters’ edge on a sunny day – appears universal."  The art and neuroscience of mirrors
Broken Mirror House in Austria
The mirror is a powerful creative means of expression which invites us to explore the "double", the "other", because the other image helps explain a concealed meaning.

Mirror reflection is exciting, delightful, and it instantly unleashes our desire to play. Mirrors are so common in every day life that their captivating and enchanting expressive qualities are sometimes paradoxically unseen. They take us away from the every day, the known, the ordinary, the expected, and in the hands of artists, into an topsy-turvy, distorted, other world. Creativity is unleashed. Wonders abound.


Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoorn Chicago


Leandro Elrich installation London

Yayoi Kusama - Infinity mirrors

 

Expanded Fear - Ryan Everson
Catoptrophobia is the fear or mirrors. Some people are afraid of their own reflection, others of reflected words, and still others of the mirror's potential link with the supernatural. I don't think that Ryan Everson is one of those people. Or maybe he meets his fear boldly.

                                

                      Nude Descending Staircase - Marcel Duchamp                  Daniel Rosen Broken Red Mirror

How often do you get the opportunity to become a reflection of a Duchamp masterpiece? But the following article, by artist Lawrence Lek, asks if using mirrors is "cheating"?

In an EPPH article,  Art's Masterpieces Explained, we see how important mirrors are in the world of art. Symbolism of mirrors in literature is a whole other avenue we go down. Go ask Alice and Sylvia Plath.

Want to know how to create a mirror? It's easy. Reflect on it.

Hasta luego amigos,

Val


THE DARK ART - Ancient and Modern Forgery September 19 2018, 0 Comments

We believed. We were betrayed. We were conned. Experts were fooled. Our trust stolen. Our commitment challenged. From Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece, the Roman Empire, through the European Renaissance to Modern Art, the art of forgery endures.


The Meidum Geese painting, called "Egypt's Mona Lisa" purportedly painted between 2610 and 2590 B.C. and found in the tomb of Pharaoh Nefermaat, might be a fake. It could be nothing more than an elaborate forgery, created in the 19th century.

The authenticity of the bust of Nefritti has been called into question.

                    

It's understood that the ancient Romans copied ancient Greek art. One empire did not forge another empire's art work. Comparing Greek art to Roman art, Rebecca Warner concludes in her article in Quora that “Greek art was more sophisticated in form, and much Roman art consisted of copies of Greek art". Fortunately, for posterity, the Diana of Versailles is a marble statue of the Greek goddess Artemis (Latin: Diana), and is a Roman copy (1st or 2nd century AD) of a lost Greek bronze original 325 BC.The Jennings Dog is a 2nd-century AD Roman copy of a Hellenistic bronze original, probably of the 2nd century BC.  

La Bella Principessa

In A Forger’s Tale, convicted forger Shaun Greenhalgh’s memoir, he reveals that he drew Leonardo da Vinci’s La Bella Principessa, which has been valued upwards of US$100 million. With commitment and talent, it seems that art forgery isn't difficult to do. Many have been duped.

   

                     
authentic Giacometti -  Le Nez                                                       forged Giacometti - Walking Man

Robert Driessen, forger of Alberto Giacometti  reveals how he became an expert in replicating the artist's works.

Forger John Myatt, was imprisoned in 1995, but not before he sold 200 works in the style of Picasso, Van Gogh and Chagall as originals to auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's. In 2008 after his release he launched an exhibition at Harrods of his  "Masters-inspired" paintings.

Forgery is an immense global enterprise. The court case which led to the downfall of the 150 year old Knoedler Gallery, revealed forged art works of Abstract Expressionists Rothko, Pollock, Motherwell, Diebenkorn and De Kooning. An article in ArtNews exposed the behind-the-scenes activities of the New York gallery.

in Sotheby’s scientific research department

In a New York Times article by Anita Gates, Where Art Forgeries Meet Their Match
we understand that forgers should never wear synthetic fibres, and they should know how to sign the artist's name correctly.

My explorations into the concept of "the Other" in the history of art continues with this blog post, and the next...

 

 
 



ANDY WARHOL - ANDY WARHOL September 12 2018, 0 Comments

Andy Warhol was a legend in his own lifetime. He mastered the art of repetition, mass production, irony and overuse colour for his artistic creations of the Double, the Other.

   
 Andy Warhol Double Self Portrait                            Mickey Mouse Double

Andy's World

Pop Art, which began in the 1950s, replaced Abstract Expressionism as the new vital face of art in the New York art world.


Andy brought imagery into his work. He became a Pop icon who envisioned Pop Art images that would glorify and criticize consumption.

Double Torso

The technique of silk screening allowed Andy to create double and multiple images of movie stars, soup cans, flowers, Brillo boxes. The visual shift from one image to its double creates appealing visuals of movement and excitement.

 

                

Rachel Small article on Edvard Munch and Andy Warhl highlights the similarities that that the artists shared in their understanding of the value multiple image in the art market.

 

In Elvis Presley we see the never ending glorification of imitation, freedom, the thrill of becoming an Other, any time.

        

Double Elvis  and more Elvis

 

Duality and Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol portrait

It’s impossible  to know the truth about the life of Andy Warhol. As his fame grew, and demands made on his time, Andy was represented by a double: Allen Midget, and hardly anyone noticed. A robot was created in Andy’s likeness for a Broadway show, but limited technology could not complete the vision. He wanted the robot to go on the road and make public appearances in his place.

Andy skillfully used contradictions and veils to create mystery around his public persona. The private Andy was a shy, religious man who went to church on Sundays, and lived with his mother in New York. In contrast to the chaotic atmosphere of the Factory, the front parlor of his home was tidy and tastefully decorated--but the other rooms were packed to capacity. Andy was a hoarder of epic proportions.

If you'd like to know more about Andy Warhol's life, let me suggest the biography, Holy Terror, by Bob Colacello. The Andy Warhol Diaries is always an entertaining, yet semi-fictitious read. Andy Warhol: A Documentary is a good primer available on YouTube

A dual image, the Other image, allows one of us to hide and be anonymous. You can go anywhere when you’re somebody else.

All of this research about Andy Warhol has inspired me to create some graphic images which I'll share in my next post.

Until then,

Hasta luego amigos

Val

 

 


TWINS LOOK TWICE September 06 2018, 0 Comments

I'm Beside Myself
I’m a twin. Virginia is my counterpart. There’s a second set of twin sisters: Patricia and Donna. Twin nephews and twin aunts appear along my family line. It’s no wonder that I’m inspired to create designs based on the Twin motif, the Double, the Other.

  

Girl Before a Mirror - Picasso                 Las Dos Fridas - Frida Kalho

 

Twins appear throughout history and in mythology, in literature and the visual arts, in science (Einstein’s “twin paradox” explains his special theory of relativity), and in modern culture (Elvis Presley was a twin). Syriac traditions recognized Thomas, “Didymus,” as Christ’s twin. In Roman mythology, twins Romulus and Remus founded the ancient city of Rome.

 

       

In the visual arts, the twin image appears in many guises, but not always recognized as such. The Double appears in a mirror, as reflection, in a shadow, as imitation, in optical illusions. The idea of twins invites us to look at the familiar in a different way. To think twice, to think again, and explore.

 

I'm working on some new designs and they'll be available soon on Society6. More information soon. Until then...

Hasta luego amigos,

Val

 

 

 

 

 


LA CATRINA FINDS YOU August 15 2018, 0 Comments

La Catrina is an icon of the Day of the Dead in Mexico. Even though she is a skeleton, La Catrina is a tradition full of life wearing her elaborate somberero and elegant dress.

     

Death is not feared in Mexico: offerings, songs, respect and humor are common Mexican expressions towards death, and Catrina, the Grande Dame of Death, is admired and respected. Her beginnings as Mictēcacihuātl go back to the Aztec era. During the twentieth century, in the creative hands of artist Jose Guadalupe Posada, Catrina's image was transformed. She gained political importance and became a cultural icon.

 

In Diego Rivera's satirical political mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central, Catrina dominates the centre.

 

                                                    

Catrina's image is seen all over Mexico:  on the streets, in the parks, and in the tiendas/shops.  El Museo de Arte Popular has a fantastical collection of Catrinas. A search on the web shows the many forms Catrina takes: tatoos, makeup, chocolates, candy. Clothing such as dresses, hats, headbands, shoes, baby and children's clothes, dog clothes, display her image. She appears on the top of cakes, as a bride, and as a pregnant woman.

In Mexico you don't have to look for Catrina. She finds you. She is an extraordinary example of how the Mexican people embrace the reality of death and bring it into their every day life. La Catrina is educating me.

For now, and only now,

Hasta leugo amigos

Val

 

 


AM I SEEING THINGS? August 07 2018, 0 Comments

 Earthquakes and Other Surprises in Mexico City

  

Mexico City aftermath                                                             Second Tower of Arcos Bosques Mexico City

The Mexican people live with the reality of earthquakes, too often. And they are brave. My explorations have shown me that although this catastrophic and destabilizing event destroys edifices, a surprising number of buildings in Mexico City seem designed to echo some of the effects of earthquakes. These bold and daring architectural creations exist in many cities in Mexico.

      

Cineteca Nacional  Mexico City                                                     Roberto Cantoral Cultural Center  Mexico City

A common feature of urban Mexico is a circle called punto de reunión - meeting point - which appears on sidewalks in the city. Each circle marks a predesignated evacuation point for a nearby building.

   

 

Their usefulness is debatable. I wonder if this symbol is an attempt to give people a sense of safety and control in the middle of a crisis. They need it.

 

       

       

I like serendipity, and it finds me sometimes just walking down the street. An afternoon's meander has taken me past rooftop guardians, through the grounds of a modern art museum with its giant ant installation, past an auto parts store with velvet sofa, and delivered me to a tranquil garden with a sculpture shouldering its tiny burden.

 

When you visit Mexico, you must stroll through these parks. You'll be delighted with what will find you.

Bosque de Chapultepec
This sprawling city park is nearly 1,700 acres and features many attractions.

Parque Hundito

Low-key city park set below street level featuring walking paths & an off-leash dog area.

Alameda Central
Alameda Central is a public urban park in downtown Mexico City. Created in 1592, the Alameda Central is the oldest public park in the Americas.

Parque México 
The Parque México, also known as the Parque San Martín, is a large urban park located in Colonia Hipódromo in the Condesa area of Mexico City.

Desierto de los Leones
Desierto de los Leones National Park is located entirely within the limits of the Federal District; it stretches between Cuajimalpa and Álvaro Obregón boroughs.

Until next time

Hasta luego

Val


  


 


Art of the Paper Cut - Papel Picado August 01 2018, 0 Comments

 

Papel picados are elaborate decorative cut paper designs found all over Mexico. Although commonly on display during secular and religious occasions, papel picados are seen in abundance during the Day of the Dead ceremonies. The history of this art form, as with all of Mexico's artistic past, is very interesting. Mesoamerican cultures such as the Otomi and the Aztec created images in their designs for use in rituals to combat disease, misfortune, dangerous spirits, and for protection.

     

                          Joanna Koerten, Amsterdam                                     Vtynanky, Ukraine

Cut paper artistry is found in countries world-wide:  China's long tradition with this artistic form began in the sixth century. Since the 16th century in Germany it's been called scherenschnitte.  In Amsterdam during the 1650s the artist Joanna Koerten created landscapes using this artistic style. And in the Ukraine the art of vytynanky began in the fifteenth century and became an integral part of the country's decorative arts during the 19th century.

 

   

During the  final decade of his life, Henri Mattise created many wonderful works of art using cut-out paper designs. 

                            Peter Calleson                                                         Lisa Rodden

The art of paper cutting is not confined to the past. Today, contemporary artists continue to create exquisite elaborate works of art using cut paper. The article by SA Rogers "15 of the World’s Most Creative Papercraft Artists" tells us that the art of cutting paper is still a vibrant form of artistic expression. In Hannah Shaffer's article "A Cut Above: 10 Incredible Papercut Artists, we see a remarkable range of imaginative creative works when artists are most experimental with simple tools: paper and blade.

 

 

Some of the colourful Mexican papel picado designs can be seen on my Society 6 webpage. They're exuberant and fun to have around. Hope you enjoy them.

If you liked sugar skull designs, there's more to come...

Hasta luego

Val

 


 

 


VANITY VANITAS July 25 2018, 0 Comments

SKULLS IN ART

          
        Symbolism of Chance (Fortuna's Wheel)                      16th-17th French ivory pendant
Skull symbolism is the the attachment of symbolic meaning to the human skull. The most common symbolic use of the skull is as a representation of death and mortality. This iconic image populates the history of art.

      

        

ivory Renaissance memento mori                                    ancient Tibetan citipati skull mask

In many countries memento mori is an object which serves as a warning or reminder of death. Images of death are portrayed in all cultures through the ages, from classic antiquity, medieval Europe, the Victorian era, Buddhism, Japanese Zen, Tibet, and in Native American culture.

   

      18th century was tableau Queen Elizabeth                                        early 20th century postcard

Anika Burgess in her article introduces us to some masterpieces of memento moriMenachem Wecker's article suggests that memento mori is one of art history's spookiest and misunderstood genre.

In the fashion industry today, skull imagery is glorified, and this has been the case since ancient times when people wore bone necklaces to show respect and as signs of power. Today we find skull imagery on jewellery, clothing, ceramics, home furnishings, on stationery, baby clothes, even doggie clothes. The skull also makes its appearance on outlaw biker gear, on vehicles, and in tattoos.

     

Sugar skulls appear all over Mexico for Day of the Dead celebrations. Mexican folk art abounds with fantastical images of the skull. 

Death was once defined as the cessation of heartbeat. But now without a functioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combination of life support devices, organ transplants and pacemakers. My emergency trips to the hospital for heart complications have saved my life. Early detection and state-of-the-art treatment for cancer have saved many lives. My life was one of them.

I know a truth: No matter one's station in life, the Dance Macabre unites all.

My near death experiences have inspired me to explore the symbolic depictions of death in art. My skull art collection had begun.

Hasta luego amigos.

Val


Amo México - Walking in Colour July 11 2018, 0 Comments

I’m inspired to create by what I see around me, and what's inside me. Exciting colours and complex patterns motivate me to explore. Artists, past and contemporary, influence my creations. I don't feel alone when I’m in unknown territory.

I see a lot while I'm walking though Mexican cities and villages. A spiraling Mexican cactus at the side of the road and colourful paper cutouts overhead in the mercado stay in my memory sketch book.

An ancient gold Aztec lip plug in the shape of a serpent's head offers the opportunity to explore mystery and the dark side. I believe that ancient creations have inspired many modern jewellery creations.

 

Rambling through the bohemian quarter in Condesa in Mexico City with all the  colourful casas simply makes me happy and playful. And I like to recreate those feelings in my own creations.

 
You'll find some of my creations on Society6. There's a colourful skull to tell you the time and a pillow to help you dream. And there's more....

While you here, you can visit my website to see some new card designs.

Hasta luego amigos,

Val


Amo México - Death Inspires Art July 05 2018, 0 Comments

Calaveras - Skulls in Art in Mexico

                     

Mexican art and religion celebrates death and uses images of skulls and skeletons as their motifs. That's because death in Mexico is treated differently than in other parts of the world. Death is a daily part of life. It is not mourned or shunned. In November, on the Day of the Dead - Día de Muertos, deceased loved ones are celebrated. Altars (ofrendas) are built and favourite foods and confectionaries in the shapes of skulls populate those altars.

Mexicanidad

Artistic representation of the skull began in ancient times, but was suppressed during the Spanish-Aztec War (1519-21), then emerged as a symbol of Mexicanidad after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. 

Famous Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) was known for his satirical and politically acute Calaveras. His skeleton images became iconic when they took on a whole different meaning socially and politically, and came to represent the feelings of the Mexican people leading up to the Mexican Revolution.

Famous internationally known artists Frida Kalho, Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo added their creativity in support of Mexicanidad.

                     

From sculptures and monuments in ancient times in Mexico to present day artists like  Damien Hirst,  people have been inspired to look death in the face, and create.

                                   

                    Aztec Calendar Stone                     Damien Hirst

 

In my next post I'll reveal new skull motif designs which are inspired by the skulls in Mexican folk art.

Hasta luego amigos, Val

 


Amo México - Inspired by Mexican Tin Hearts June 28 2018, 0 Comments

Something that has always been personal to me is the symbol of the heart. It represents, love, life, and faith. It's the symbol for February 14th, Valentine's Day, which is my birthday. Whenever I see the heart symbol, it reminds me of love lost and found, and of trips to the hospital with heart complications. On my many visits to Mexico City, I'm overjoyed when I see the beautiful tin hearts in the mercados.

For these reason, I want to share some joy with you. I've been collecting original tin hearts for some time, and I've created some designs based on them.  They are now available online, in different materials and objects for you to enjoy in your home.

 

Head over to my profile on  Society6.com to see my tin heart designs. For now, here are a few things you can buy.

 

Hope you enjoy these. More to come.

Hasta luego,

Val