Kindred Spirits in orange-love requested an ombre background to their 3901 house number. Stratoz was telling me about studies of how the brain edits the world for us, filling in the gaps, making senses synchronous. Seeing is an action. I have gotten better at imagining how a mosaic will look once grouted, how the colors will flow. When I first started grouting the uncertainty was intense. What will happen once I slather the glass with grout? Will the design emerge or will it be fragmented? Ombre reminds me of Impressionist painting, where the artists let the eye blend the dots and strokes of color.
Another pleasure at the Keystone Quilters 2015 Show was coming across a Rainbow Log Cabin made by Dorothy Fravel. For my kindred spirits in Log Cabin Love, I just finished a Rainbow version of my own the week before, and look forward to sharing it with you.
Driving to the Keystone Quilters Guild 2015 Quilt Show, Stratoz and I got a bit turned around, but the leaves were gorgeous and snuck in when we weren’t looking. This Bright Star quilt by Jamee Pemberton caught my eye, with its autumn orange, those little sawteeth along the border. She made it for her nephew Shaun.
Here is a beautiful piece by pianist Catherine Marie Charlton called Stars Awaken from her Riversong album. I imagine an awakening star to look something like Jamee Pemberton’s Bright Star.
I have been experimenting with photographing my pendants on a white background to help the colors shine. I love my old windowsill, but sometimes the patterning in the wood competes with something small like a pendant. One of my favorite aspects of mosaic is that it changes with the light, and yet it makes for photographing challenges. I am always so happy that people say the work is even better in person. For the shop, I also tried out the FotoFuze app which makes the background practically a lightbox in its intensity.
I love how Stratoz describes our collaboration on this New Day Mandala(Early Bird and the Night Owl):
Orange and Blue are opposites that complement each other in this mandala to greet a new day. As refreshing as a night of rest this glass mosaic is a circle of hope for being renewed with the rising sun. Designed and started by a blue early bird and detailed by an orange night owl. . . “I like the sunrise ’cause it brings a new day, I like a new day, it brings new hope …”(Duke Ellington/Mitchell Parish) A sign that announces to the world that gravity will not weigh you down, hope is perched on your soul.
I am not a morning person, but the sunrise brings this Kurt Elling version of the jazz standard into my head and heart. Elling interweaves a Rumi poem in Mitchell Parish’s lyrics. Take a moment to read the poem and listen to this beautiful tune.
“Where Everything Is Music” (trans. Coleman Barks)
“Don’t worry about saving this music / or be scared
if the singing ends
or the piano breaks a string / for we have fallen to a place
where everything is music and singing /
everything is recovered and new / ever new and musical
and even if the whole world’s harp should burn up /
there would still be hidden there
the spirit of song there to linger on /
and even if a candle’s blown out by wind
the fire smolders on in an ember and then sparks again /
the singing is a drop / just a drop in oceans of seas /
grace keeps it moving through bodies like these
and the sound of a life sends an echoing out /
the poem sings willingly in each newborn’s crying shout /
but it’s growing slowly / and keeps many secrets /
stop the words and listen / feel the echo of it starting /
open a space in the center of your beating heart
and let spirits fly in and out . . .”
September is National Piano Month. This piano immediately caught my eye when Stratoz and I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show in 2009. The theme was jazz, and featured this amazing Steinway with orange keys and an art glass top created by Dale Chihuly. Witnessing glass art was one of the reasons I became an artist.
On a whim I searched for “orange piano” and the Orange Piano Tour appeared. German musician Stefan Aaron takes an orange upright piano to a different country each year, from the Great Wall of China, the Swiss Alps, the Munich airport in Germany, and the top of the Landmark Tower in Yokohama, Japan in 2015. Check out the Munich Airport Soca and the Magic Carpet.
Stratoz and I went on an excursion to Ithaca, NY, and one of our stops was the Johnson Museum at Cornell University. I was smitten with the James Siena: Labyrinthian Structures exhibit, and the intricate patterns of Siena’s prints. I have walked labyrinths, and the convolutions calm my mind. Siena says he hopes to take the viewer’s eye on a walk with his patterning, and it is a fine walk indeed.
It troubled my librarian heart that I couldn’t find gallery labels for the art, and it didn’t look promising online either, probably because the exhibit wasn’t officially open yet! I didn’t realize this fact until writing this post and saw the start date was September 5th, 2015, and we were there August 25th. I’d like to give a shout-out to Troy McHenry and his James Siena Print List, his wonderful “unofficial online print catalogue raisonné in-progress” (as he terms it). McHenry is a collector of Siena’s work, and any artist would love to have such a labor of love. Go explore it to see many more of Siena’s works.
Previous Orange Tuesday subject Cathy Vaughn mentioned she was watching Chef’s Table on Netflix, and she was blown away by Chef Niki Nakayama. Stratoz and I added Chef’s Table to the queue, and witnessed the artistry of Niki Nakayama’s food, and learned a new word, kaiseki. Kaiseki is a 13 course meal that originated in Buddhist Monasteries of 16th Century Japan. It was an accompaniment to the tea ceremony, and originally vegetarian, but has become a banquet of richness over the years.
Seasonality is a key to kaiseki, and respecting the integrity of the food, letting its nature shine through. These cherry tomatoes from the Lansdale Farmers Market remind me of the season of summer, of sweet yellow-orangeness. Stratoz is inspired by what we buy at the market, and it makes him happy to create with the palette of vegetables we choose.
The staff of n/naka have meetings to go through the reservation list, and look at what people have had in the past, what they like. Niki Nakayama doesn’t serve the same meal twice to someone. She keeps the element of surprise. Kaiseki reminds me of poetic forms, from my days of writing poetry. There is a sequence of cooking techniques, the ordering of raw, steamed, braised or grilled, and sequence of light and heavy, sweet and salty. Playing within this form inspires further creativity.
Watching Niki Nakayama in her kitchen is watching an artist at work in the studio with focus and expressiveness. She closes the rice paper windows of her restaurant n/naka while she is cooking so that she can simply cook and not deal with customers who can’t believe a woman is the chef, and also lets the customers focus on their food. As an introvert, I love the motion of her closing those sliding windows. As a woman, I feel anger that narratives are such rigid implements, like the customer who said her work was “cute” after he found out Nakayama’s gender. As a woman, I feel encouraged by Niki Nakayama’s process of choosing a restaurant that expresses her vision.
To make her mark she was searching for a material never before used. In grad school she had worked on rice paper, and made installations and books. “I didn’t want to use something you could get in an art supply store. I was experimenting. I would try and try until I could get a conversation going with the material. I would talk with the paper and it would talk back to me.”
That was when she started working with rolls of adding machine paper and cash register tape. She began with small spools, working flat, trying new things. Putting the paper in water, she discovered, expands it and creates new shapes. She added sumi ink to the pool of water, and the results looked like car tires. She was drawing not on paper, but with paper. WHYY Newsworks.
I love what sculptor Jae Ko did next ~ when the amount of water she was using became too much for her studio, she went to the ocean to see what the tides would do with paper. Stratoz and I saw her exhibition at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ, which will be there until February 7, 2016.
JK 437 Red and Orange was several feet tall, and bursting with ombre. Color gradation is one of my passions in the studio. I found Jae Ko’s use of the tightly wound rolls of adding machine paper resonant with the closet of arcane office supplies I inherited when I took a job as a hospital librarian in the late 1990’s, and admire her transformation that goes beyond the “I should do something with that.” Art as an alchemical process.