Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. - Rumi

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Being a Collector - the perils of Being a Mixed Media Artist

Close up mixed media

Everyday Angel
paint, stamps,pearls on wood
close up
I have always loved collecting things, small pebbles, bits of string, papers.  One of my first jobs was at a company called Banana republic.  I worked in the mail order department opening up orders.  I noticed that stamps came from all over the world.  They were like glittering jewels to me.  France, England, Africa, Japan, Canada, they were each like little art works.  At that time, American stamp series included one on seashells and I was in love with that as well.
Soon, it spread that I loved collecting the postmarked stamps and I received envelopes full of the most beautiful stamps from around the world.  I began collaging with them. Figuring out what patterns worked well together, flowers and portraits (the Queen was a favorite).

My House
Mixed Media
close up
Flash forward to now.  I still had my envelope, it moved wherever I moved.  My present day experience with collecting is expansive.  I love buttons, beads, pearls, clippings from magazines, wire, fabric, recycled soda cans.  Oh, I stumbled upon the soda cans when my son had to do a recycled art project.  He wanted to use Hansen’s soda cans to create a pyramid.  It was awesome.  Then my children were graced with Hansen’s soda to drink in many flavors for the colors of the cans.  I got some really good cutters and cut up all these cans and then cut the pieces into strips I could use to collage.  I was in heaven.  The only challenge was I couldn’t stay up all night doing art. But I did have and still have some great ideas for using the cut up cans.
Papers, there is something about looking into the window of a store with a huge variety and selection.  The Paper Source makes me salivate.  The greens, reds, blues, oranges, purples.  The patterns, the textures, all lend themselves to wanting to be used in some extremely creative way.

close up
So, I am a collector of stuff.  And you have to have stuff to make art.  At lease to do mixed media collages.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  It takes time, to layer a good mixed media piece, there is the paint to dry, the layers of paper to dry before adding another thing.  I love Rauschenberg and Bettye Saar and any artist that mixes words and paint and fabric and found objects. Oh and I am unequivocally in love with the Watts Towers.  We are so lucky that this is where Simon Rodia did his thing. 
Sometimes it is frustrating to have so much stuff, I try to keep it organized, say No to stuff, but then when the ephipany hits
I have to have stuff - materials to express my ideas and hence,
I have alot of art stuff.
What is Love?
acrylic,pearls, paper on canvas

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Mitzvah at a time

In the early 1990’s there was a show on TV called In Living Color.  It was a mixed race comedy show, poking fun at everyone and anything.  In LIving Color was hip and current, even edgey for it's time.  It reminded me of the 60's show Goldie Hawn was on (Laugh In) and Flip Wilson and Red Skelton (okay I was little then, but I remember). It used to make me laugh so hard, my head hurt.  At the same time, I had a part time job working in a department store.  There I made a good friend and we used to laugh and joke, using the new “slang” created by rap – like “bust a move”, hip hop jargon that would also just make us roll with laughter.Some how or another we coined the phrase “it’s a mitzvah”, meaning a good action.  
Recently I began watching re-runs of In Living Color and laugh at the skits again.  Then I remembered my friend and how we used the word “mitzvah”.
I still love the word mitzvah and the idea of doing good deeds, even though I am not Jewish.   It was a mitzvah at the gym when the guy who made me feel fat offered me a bottle of water and a Snickers bar.  He doesn’t know his friend made me self-conscious about my body, but the bottle of water assuaged my discomfort.It was a mitzvah when my uncle said I didn’t have to pay him back the money he loaned me to pay my son’s tuition. It is a mitzvah to me when my family helps me out with getting my son through college. It’s a mitzvah when a friend who knows I am struggling with changing my body image offers me an eating plan to help me get jump-started. It was a mitzvah when I loaned my sweater to my friend when she was chilly one day.  When folks were sick in my office I went around making my lemon and honey special. 

The thing about a mitzvah, like an act of kindness, is there is no expectation to receive something back.  It comes from the heart, it can’t  be planned, it just is.
I like making people happy with no concern for what I am going to get from it. There is a little preschool song:

Love is something if you give it away, it’s just like a magic penny, hold it tight and you won’t have any, lend it, spend it, you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor, love is something if you give it away.

One little bit of caring at a time. One little bit of laughing at a time.  One little bit of sharing at a time....it all adds up to some big time love.