Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday shopping

Okay, it snowed yesterday so I guess I have to face the fact that fall is a soon to be distant memory and it is officially "the holiday season." Blah, I spend the next 4 months wishing for spring. But there are some really fun things to do during this next month. This is the season for artists' to show and sell their crafts....Luckily we have alternatives to the old style Christmas holiday bazaar where the crocheted toilet paper cozy is on sale in too many garish colors.

One of my favorite events is coming up shortly — "Bazaar Bizarre" the place where creative hipsters sell their outside-the-box handmade wares. Two years ago I bought a pair of Virgin Mary earrings (loved them) and my friend bought a purse made from an old Parker Brothers game box. Much of the inspiration for the items showing is retro/vintage/camp. Artist's raw materials are things that were near and dear to our parent's hearts which now become fun to send up in a trendy, whimsical and fresh way. Don't miss the heartfelt, ironic, and extremely unique items at this craft fair....after all maybe you know someone who is looking for a bracelet made out of old vinyl 45's or you could have a friend would love a computer bag made out of duct tape?

The sixth annual version of the counterculture Bazaar Bizarre kicks off from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, December 12, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, December 13, with more than 75 local artists and vendors. Each day will feature different artisans. The vibe is cool, the prices are good and the selection is nothing you would ever see at your grandma's craft fair.

Same location as last year: 78th Street Studios: 1300 W. 78th St to 1305 W. 80th St., north parking lot, north entrance (behind the building) -- accessible from W. 78th OR W 80th St. Map link for directions: You can also become a fan of the event on facebook at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MOCA 30th anniversary

This past weekend The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles marked MOCA's 30th anniversary with a lavish party and the opening of "Collection: MOCA's First Thirty Years". This is a two-part collection which features the largest-ever installation of the museum's permanent collection. MOCA is actually located in 3 different locations in Los Angeles. The first location is called MOCA Grand Avenue and this is where the first part of "Collection" is being shown.

  The second location for MOCA is called The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA which was originally opened as an interim exhibition space called the "Temporary Contemporary" in 1983 and is where part 2 of "Collection" is on display.

  In 2000 MOCA's third location is MOCA at The Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood was opened to present new work by emerging and established artists.

  The art featured at Grand Avenue traces the path of contemporary art starting during WWII and runs the gamut of art movements from abstract expressionism to pop art to minimalism to the conceptual art of the 1960's and 1970's. As society changed due to wars, politics, social values, definition of family, home and morality artists reflected these changes in their works. Interestingly specific movements of the art world are very clear but, there are many examples of the same artist deviating from that movement and going to a whole new level of creation because they were stimulated to produce new pieces based on what was happening in the world around them.

  The artwork featured at Grand Avenue is produced by the more traditional mediums of painting, sculpture, drawing, and collage. Several artists are spotlighted for their bodies of work — are the pieces from Diane Arbus, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko. (Seen below left) is "Untitled" 1954 by Robert Rauschenberg. It is the first piece from his "Combines" series. These were a series of works that were 3 dimensional and a hybrid of sculpture, painting, collage all assembled together. The structure invites the viewer to look into and through the spaces, openings, and reflect on the layers and objects. (Also included in the collage are two drawings by contemporaries Cy Twombly and Jack Tworkov.)

  The second part of "Collection" is art created since 1980. This line was drawn in the collection because this is the period when a multitude of new ways to create art came into being with the advent of the computer and video. Also the as the world became more of a global society the art world became decentralized. Decentralization helped more new artists emerge and their works then found their way to the public, museum curators and art critics. As technology moves forward, new ideas and movements are being championed and collected by museums like MOCA, Los Angeles (and Cleveland's own MOCA.)

I've included some other examples of works on display....
First is "Untitled (Faceless Faces) 1963 by Wallace Berman.
Berman made this collage of images of couples photographed together, like all married couples (moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas) seemed to think was important to do in the 50's and 60's. He the reproduced the collage using the Verifax (an early copy machine) which turned out inky reproductions that were still wet, which then allowed Berman to smudge or erase the faces and identities of the people in the pictures. I love work done with copiers.

I have also included this work by one of my favorite artists — Jasper Johns which is also on display as part of this MOCA anniversary exhibition. This piece is titled "Map" 1962. This is a piece that was inspired by mimeographed maps of the United States that artist Robert Rauschenberg gave Johns. The mimographs became John's medium at this point. He painted on them, did renderings on them, drew on them, and cut them up to make new collages to copy. He made 3 of these maps in this style. This was also the beginning of John's use of monochromatic colors mostly grays and blues. Everything Jasper John's does fascinates me. Several years ago The Cleveland Museum of Art mounted a retrospective of John's work which drew large crowds. I went back 3 times.

Friday, November 6, 2009


A few years ago one of my friends who is artistic and was searching for a new way to express herself discovered the tranquility of mandalas. For those of you unaware about mandalas, it is a concentric diagram having both spiritual and ritual significance in Buddhism and Hinduism. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and  trance induction.

My friend started designing and coloring many, many, many mandalas. She was going through a rough patch at the time and the drawings gave her peace and a place to engage her mind at so she could have a few moments of respite. Before I knew it, she had me and our other friends hooked on coloring the mandalas that she made or downloaded from the web. One Thanksgiving we were all together and about 6 of us spent our time after dinner happily coloring these mystical drawings and proudly showing off our work to each other.

Mandalas have been with us forever, they are considered sacred spaces. They can be drawn or created out of most anything. Buddhist monks make amazing ones out of sand like the one shown here at the right. They spend hours and hours creating them, the process is fascinating. People have constructed mandalas in their garden out of plants designed to form images with the bloom's colors. Mandalas are created out of tile on floors and walls out of fibers in material or made into hypnotic and stunning rugs. Artists are now making intricate and amazing images on their computers and uploading them. Go to google images and type in the word "mandala" you could look for hours at all the different interpretations and creations people made.

This one pictured at the right is called "Mandala Dementia" which seems fitting since mandalas are considered in Tibetan Buddhism representing the nature of experience and the intricacies of both the enlightened and confused mind, or "a microcosm representing various divine powers at work in the universe." Mandalas are even used in certain Jungian based theories as a method of helping to unlock information stored in unconsciousness to bring about transformation and healing. 

There is even something called "The Mandala Project". It is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peace through art and education. The project offers a visual demonstration of people coming together to create something larger than themselves while maintaining their personal uniqueness. Check it out at

So, if you would like to experience the wonderment of making your own mandala go here to download printable pages of mandala outlines all ready to be colored in by you.