Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Ring Out, Solstice Bells"

The Green Man - Digital - 2009, Dia Sobin

Well, my friends, it's that time of year again, and for those of us of paganistic persuasion, this is a day of celebration... the winter solstice.

The Green Man - my interpretation above - is not normally associated with this day, but, instead, is generally associated with Beltane festivities in his guise as Jack-in-the-Green. But the Green Man is also an ancient symbol of death and rebirth... as is the Yule season. In Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness With the Earth, William Anderson writes:

"There are legends of him (Khidr) in which, like Osiris, he is dismembered and reborn; and prophecies connecting him, like the Green Man, with the end of time. His name means the Green One or Verdant One, he is the voice of inspiration to the aspirant and committed artist. He can come as a white light or the gleam on a blade of grass, but more often as an inner mood. The sign of his presence is the ability to work or experience with tireless enthusiasm beyond one's normal capacities. In this there may be a link across cultures, …one reason for the enthusiasm of the medieval sculptors for the Green Man may be that he was the source of every inspiration."

So my wish for all us is, may this season inspire wonder and magic in our psyches despite the onslaught of winter.

Let's face it, 2011 was a rather brutal year... so, let's have some fun! And, I can think of no more festive song than this blast from the past, "Ring Out, Solstice Bells", from an old Jethro Tull album (and a personal seasonal favorite in the days of vinyl), "Songs from the Wood".

For a further exploration of the solstice, see: Hail Winter Solstice Deus Sol Invictus.

A Green Man found at Gloucester Cathedral

For hundreds of images of Green Men - as architectural details - found around the world, try these pages.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Faux Wood Carvings - Updated 11/18/11

(Click to enlarge.)

It was a fairly dreary day here at the homestead... the image I've been laboring over for the past few days is about to hit the proverbial quicksand, the rain that has been persistently falling for 3 days has made just about every other enterprise impossible, and the migraine I've been battling for 24 hours is never far enough at bay - what's not to love?

Well, one thing I definitely do love is (as we know) creating "reality" from scratch... after all, "reality" can be quite ugly... or worse still, uninspired and quite the bore... but as a creative person, this should never be the case. It is your duty (I say) to embellish the walls of hell with transdimensional postcards from your inner paradise. And, while beauty is, perhaps, "only in the eye of the beholder", I'm hoping there are some things we can unanimously agree upon... for instance, the beauty of carved wood!

Actually, I've never attempted to carve wood... but one of the joys of digital manipulation is that all things are possible on a flat screen canvas. Sadly, faux objects have no tactile presence, any more than a type of dream... but, well, we can dream, and, perhaps, in some dimension, that's all that really counts.

So, here are 3 examples of carved wood I created to brighten my own day, and hopefully yours. The first panel was composed with a computer scan of a small plaster piece I carved a decade ago - the lid of a box I eventually cast in casting stone - superimposed over an actual scrap of wood also scanned into the computer. The middle panel is composed of a scanned-in-seashell, along with another tiny plaster snake-carving of mine, superimposed over the same chunk of wood. This was the original detail used (in modified form) for Tatiana's throne in the "The Dragon & the Pearl". (Note: an ironic little twist regarding this throne, is that the back cushion - and presumably the seat - was created out of an old snake-skin handbag!)

My last faux wood carving uses the same wood, only this time I've superimposed one of my  graphic images - Doors of Perception - over it.

What do you think - steam-punkish furniture?


(Click to enlarge.)

Note: The lithograph above (my first and last!) - Chimera - was the inspiration for the 3-headed bird image incorporated into the faux wood panel shown at the top of the post. The original plaster carving of the image has been placed on the sidebar of this blog, shown in its original size (I had perfect eye-sight in those days!). My "Chimera" had nothing to do with the original myth. And this lithograph was not actually my first representation of this image... the first being a sculpture created with self-hardening clay (which eventually broke into a number of pieces!).

As for the three-headed bird... well, after doing some research on the web, apparently other artists have been inspired by the idea of 3-headed birds, but nowhere can I find a description of it as a symbol. It seems like there should be an alchemical equivalent, but of this I am not sure. One clue to this possibility, however, lies in this image found carved onto a cathedral... alluding to a possible Masonic symbol. It occurs to me that not long after I carved my image, I had a dream of this bird. Contrary to what you might expect, this odd avian could fly!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lemkovyna (annotated & reconsidered)

(Retitled: "Easter Sunday at Grandfather's House")

Well, I was going to enter the MOCA competition, and the image above would've been my entry - had there been no "Alfred", the recent freak snowstorm that blacked out all of Connecticut the Saturday before Halloween (my town remained in the dark for 5 days)... and the day before the competition ended. Was it a simple twist of fate... or just too much tweaking of an image - and rampant procrastination - on my part? Does it matter? Not really. As you can see by the winning entries, "Lemkovyna" would've appeared like a total anomaly. But then again, it would, as it's focal point is, in fact, a total anomaly... that is, a trans-figure!

Where do I and my muse come up with these things? This was, if you must know, my operative question all the while I was creating it's central, glutinous motif. At its completion, however, there was that magic moment of recognition, when I knew just what it was on a personal level... Why, it's obvious, I thought to myself, this strange organic mass is a clump of Easter egg mushrooms - what a marvelous find! But why Easter egg mushrooms? So, I continued creating this image... housing this strange organism within an almost Faberge-like egg - albeit rustic - realizing I needed an antique fabric as a background for this little treasure. It was the antique fabric which, in the end, was the give-away... for it was, I think, a swatch of fabric that belonged to my grandparents I had stashed away.

All those Easter Sundays at my Grandpa's house when I was a small child... and that mysterious hole which represents my familial history... Lemkovyna, (pronounced "lem ko VEE na", or "lem KO vee na"), an/or Lemkivshchyna in the Carpathian mountains - specifically in Galicia - where it seems - though I'm not quite sure -  both sets of grandparents emigrated to America from at the turn of the 19th/20th Century. They were Russian/Ukrainian - or, more appropriately, Rusyn... but, by the time their grandchildren arrived on the scene, America was in a "cold war" with Russia... and, hence, my heritage was "disappeared". No one, certainly not my grandparents, ever spoke of that place from whence they came... not to their own children - my parents - and certainly not to their grandchildren.* I 
distinctly remember my father saying to his father that he'd better not let it be known that he continued to write to a brother in Russia... hence, a relation I'll never know.

So, the only bits of being Russian or Rusyn to be found came wrapped in the guise of religious holidays - specifically the Byzantine Catholic (Russian Orthodox) version, and specifically Easter. Lemkovyna - my image - then, was an unconscious ode to that lost identity... and Easter Sundays at Grandpa's house. For a child, it was a rich, darkly mysterious place... and there I am in the photo below, in my Easter bonnet at my grandparent's home... sitting in the only patch of sunlight I could find, and snapped into eternity by my Dad's old Ansco camera.

* Later note (4/14): Adding to this mystery is an interesting fact I recently discovered... that is, my great grandparents might have been alive and in Galicia at the time of the 1846 "Galician Slaughter." ** This was, apparently, the last peasant uprising in European history. And, it's somewhat troubling, as I have no idea of their class or status, and there are no elders left in the family to question. I believe most Americans have held on to their history more tenaciously than those of us of Eastern European descent, but, I can't help but wonder why this might be so.

Eater egg mushrooms (Detail, Lemkovyna) - 2011, D (click to enlarge)

** Actually, it's unlikely that even my great grandparents had been born before the 1860's... but, all of this is probably moot. The reality is that I have no real knowledge of exactly where my grandparents emigrated from, or, for that matter when. A great deal more research would have to be done before I could determine  the reality of the family history. As a child, I was told I was of Russian descent. Period. Only much later, after reading about the history of my parent's Russian Orthodox church did the word "Lemko" surface. My father's father belonged to a Lemko organization... but, I don't know about my mother's parents or my father's mother.

Then, too, there's the unbelievably confusing history of the area itself. Lemkovyna - and/or parts of it - seems to have passed hands from one country to another... Moravia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, etc. Meanwhile, the Lemkos are themselves divided as to what country or to what ethnicity they belong. More alarming, there's a history of massacres, deportation, "ethnic cleansing", and the whole nine yards connected with the Lemko people. I suppose it's no wonder that any descendants - specifically Americans, should have little conception of their heritage.

I'm aware of only one celebrated American Lemko, who actually embraced his heritage, and that was, believe it or not, artist Andy Warhol (Andre Varhola, Jr), whose Lemko parents hailed from an area now in Slovakia.

Actually, one of my father's cousins once had the Sobin family tree drawn up, and it appears that branch of the family originated in Romania around the time of Vlad the Impaler! Oh joy. In any case, I think we see the problem by now.

But, after reconsidering all of this, I've decided to rename the image that inspired this post. I am now calling it "Easter Sunday at Grandfather's House"... because, in the end, that was what the image brought to mind, and, ultimately, is all I really know. It may represent the mysteries of heritage, specifically mine - and, as a Transfigure, may represent something beyond - but, currently, no other title seems genuine.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Beyond Infinity"

"Beyond Infinity" is designed as 'a mystical journey, in which the visitor progresses into the reflected layers of dreams endlessly nested in each other.' Salat notes specifically: 'Entering the work is also entering the world of the dream of the red mansion transposed to the 21st century', referencing the classical Chinese novel by Cao Xueqin."

What transpires when an architect/conjurer throws fractals, 3-D space, and M.C. Escher into his top hat (besides more eye-candy)? Well, something like Serg Salat's "Beyond Infinity", an installation that appeared in Shanghai this past September, a feat performed literally by light and mirrors. For more amazing photos and a video go here.

Serge Salat is an architect, author, and the founding director of the CSTB’s Urban Morphology Laboratory. An interview can be found here.

(Hat tip to Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza and his article: Serge Salat's Menger Sponge!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Of Mandelboxes and Mandelbulbs

"Cave of Lost Secrets" - Daniel White - via Skytopia

I've decided to break away from the "Patron Saints" series for a bit, and fast-forward to the present, specifically addressing some wonderful aspects of the new technology now at a digital artist's disposal. This blog, Trans-D, theoretically has Trandimensionalism at its core, so, what better way to illustrate the possible expressions of this idea than to display the kinds of "dimensionalizing" innovations already available in digital formats and formulas?

Benoit Mandelbrot, of course, is our demi-god in the field of trans-geometry. He was the man who single-handedly pulled those Euclidean cobwebs from our eyes, allowing us a new view and a new terminology of geometrical possibilities. From the dull wasteland of mathematics, Manedlbrot presented us with the lovely and enigmatic Julia Set, and a dizzying array of fractal dimensions leading eventually to a new art form - via the computer - never before conceived of. For example, there are the fractal "quilts" created by artist Rose Rushbrook, and the mind-blowing fractal worlds of Krzysztof Marczak - whose work also appears below, and on this site - and the amazing work of Daniel White shown above. His site, Skytopia, is both a treasure trove of information and examples of new fractal forms. 

Fractal forms have, indeed, evolved in recent years, enabling us to view the multiple dimensions of fractals enfolded in 2-D, thereby explicating the visual aspects of mathematical equations and setting them in motion. The techniques used to create the wonderful videos below are found under two key headings; Mandelboxes and Mandelbulbs. Observe the two videos below and hold on to your proverbial hats!

The first is entitled "Like in a Dream II" and is the work of Jeremie Brunet from France.

The second is "Trip to the center of a Hybrid Fractal"  by Krzysztof Marczak.

Apart from the sources already mentioned, Mikael Hvidtfeldt Christensen has a blog, and there is also this informational resource, and a forum.

Can't get enough? I have just posted a series of videos (up to and including those shown above) on the sidebar of this blog under "Mandelbox Videos". I have also posted two more - "Alien Hive" by David Pearson, and "A Journey Through Fantasy - Vorticity" -  on Post-Mac Blues (my other blog) here. Meanwhile, if you happen upon this post and feel that you might have suggestions, corrections, or information worth sharing, then please comment here or email me, Dia, at:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Selections from The ShadowBride....

ShadowBride graphic - 2007, DS

A sampling of a few recent (1999 - 2010) poems, most appearing originally on one of my former websites, "The ShadowBride."


Lost Tales of Anonymous Women

Because she was not treasured, 
Time took over,
(And Time treasures no one)
And Time had its way with her;
Worse than serial killers, 
Worse than evil stepmothers, 
Worse than wild dogs. 
Like a disease, like a grub, 
It ate, and ate outwards, 
Till her skin hung like dried fruit 
Off a brittle stalk, 
Till all that was pink and white 
And frilly as Cinderella's slipper 
Blackened like an eel but
Would not slough off.

Because she was not nurtured, 
She could not live, 
She could not die...
While the briars wound around her 
Like New Year's resolutions 
And tore, like meathooks 
Into her eyes, her heart, her spine. 
And. all the time, the blood fell, 
Perpetually, chronically, 
Drop by drop,
Like an ocean 
Filtered through a water clock, 
Like scabs in the desert sand, 
Like tears on an iron pan, gone
Hissing into oblivion.

Because she was not honored, 
Her mind became a morgue, 
A silent hallway lined with silent drawers:
Each a keepsake box 
Stuffed with muffled accusations. 
And these, in turn, 
Became her windows, 
Blank as prison doors, 
Dull as an Arctic horizon,
Where a ship 
Would not appear, 
Where a dove 
Would not alight, 
Where she'd not
Let down her hair.

Because she was not pleasured, 
The ghosts moved in to stay. 
They rustled in the wallpaper, 
And groped between her legs. 
She let the dust accumulate 
In snowy landscapes on the floor, 
And let the mold grow on the ceiling, 
Its constellations hovering there
Like spells, like curses,
Like soot, like ashes, like dirt;
While, cast in the corner, 
Blackened and spent ,
Each one her heart's desire 
Or next-to-last lament, lie
A life's supply of wooden matches.

- 2000, Dia Sobin

Port of Dreams

It is always dusk

Behind the moon’s bloodless mirror

The skin is cast off
Layer by layer, submerged,
The pulse ebbs, the airs thicken

And so the blind swimmer
Sets forth
Across the border
To where a starless sky slants
Into a water, slack,

W/ the moon’s toneless melodies

- 1999, DS

The Others

They cannot penetrate the aluminum air 
where souls lay sleeping...
migrant birds,
mute and flockless,
in a perilous density.

I am hollowed like a gourd,
a Chinese lantern.
The Others brush the walls of my interior 
like moths within a globe 
but I am blind, flameless.

Only hymns remain
encrypted in my bones,
worn as epitaphs on Martian tombs,
the heart's own hieroglyphics
hermetically sealed...

And though a memory might stir 
of the initial fracture 
or a featureless twist emerge 
from beneath this dull fabric,

I circle alone 
transfixed, wingless.

- 2000, DS

These Walled Cities

These walled cities 
They are yours 

The minarets the domes 
Patterned windows 
Frameless holes 
Streets cobbled with skulls 
Of both the faithless
 and the faithful 

Now ground beneath our heels 
Anonymous as stones 

I am the anchorite 
In the catacombs
The woman in the wall 
Skin mouldering with self-betrayal 
Brain embalmed with lamentations 
Incantations I can't recall 

Glass nails scimitars 
Nothing penetrates 

Still a light swells inside of me 
As prayers resonate in the citadel 
Bell-like tones enticing me 
But forbidden to me 
Always forbidden 

Yet, some things come to me 
The eye of an owl 
Snakes in the courtyard 
A star's detritus 

Some things come to me 
Memories of rain the wind 
Sensations in the silken skin 
A scent a bead a feather 

(But I came for love 
I came for love only)

Now I lay 
Beneath the walls 
I lie outside them 
The terrible baying of dogs 
spreads blood red on the horizon 

It is your city 
It is always your city

- 2000, DS

Mystica Femina

I know where the burning woman goes
I have seen the ashes.
I have seen the skies darken w/ her cries,
The scarlet tides,
Blackened with denial.

Oh, yes, I know what was done.
My mother was once her friend...
Whether on the corner
Or in the market-place,
Or in a burning bed.

But, even she did not love her.
Nor did all the others.
They could not even see her
As if their eyes were singed shut
By her blazing hair.

What of the ashes then?
Fire by fire consumed.
I see her dancing
Upon the ashes of a Father
That was not, in fact, her own.

After the procession,
They (all) moved on.

- 2010, DS

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Of "Demonic Creativity"... and other things (Revised)

Yes, I've taken a short hiatus from this blog, in order to attend to another project. That is, finishing the tale in which this character will appear.

Meanwhile, there are a few things happening in cyberspace that have recently come to my attention and that I'd like to mention in this post...  one being an elaboration of my previous Trans-D discussion regarding that tricksy, enigmatic collaborator, the muse.

 Matt Cardin is offering a home course in "Demonic Creativity"
 - available as a free PDF document - in which he discusses the muse, and its many different aspects, both from its historical and psychological standpoints, as well as ways in which the muse enriches our lives as well as our art, and techniques one can use to discover and/or commune with ones own unconscious intelligence(s).

I was initially put off by Cardin's use of "Demonic" in the title, but, ultimately, he was referring to the Daemonic, which originally referred to more benevolent human guides, and ones inner, hidden genius, before it was corrupted, and, well, demonized by Judaeo/Christian mythology.

I've just started reading it, and although it's addressed primarily to writers, I feel safe in recommending it to anyone interested in a thorough discussion of the muse and its many facets.


And then, over at Scientific American, we have the flip-side of the same discussion... that is, the drier, mechanistic, neurological theories dealing with the eccentricities of the artist and/or creative.

"People who are highly creative often have odd thoughts and behaviors—and vice versa.
Both creativity and eccentricity may be the result of genetic variations that increase cognitive disinhibition—the brain’s failure to filter out extraneous information.

When unfiltered information reaches conscious awareness in the brains of people who are highly intelligent and can process this information without being overwhelmed, it may lead to exceptional insights and sensations."

The above quote is found in the article... but to read the rest, you have to fork over $8, so be advised.


 ATTENTION ALL DIGITAL ARTISTS! I've just been notified that MOCA is holding a competition in its Salon. Video artists may also apply. You may or may not have to be a member.

Should I enter? I don't know, as I can barely afford the $30 fee... but I'm thinking on it.

Meanwhile, the deadline is October 30


Lastly, I've came to the realization that this blog is not appearing as it should in many cases - up to and including to myself! Apparently, Google Blogger has these disagreeable moods, when it decides it can't bear to load the page as it's been told to.

The example shown above is how Trans-D looks on a good day (and yes, that brownish text box should blend right in to this brownish text box). If GB has PMS, however, or is suffering a migraine, you may be seeing all sorts of anomalies... weird fonts, weird colors, a blank background, or little question marks where images might be. If this is the case, my advice to you is to reload the page, and you may have to reload it more than once. If you're still getting something other than the provided swatch, then I can't help you - your internet program might need upgrading, or your computer may lack certain fonts... meaning, I'm too lazy to change my template!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Patron Saint #6: Sakiko Ide, an Artist Obsessed

Sakiko Ide, Untitled - Oil on canvas, 1973 - Azuma Gallery

"If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums."

(a Chinese philosopher)

"To dream that you gather white chrysanthemums, signifies loss and much perplexity; colored ones, betokens pleasant engagements. To see them in bouquets, denotes that love will be offered you, but a foolish ambition will cause you to put it aside. To pass down an avenue of white chrysanthemums, with here and there a yellow one showing among the white, foretells a strange sense of loss and sadness, from which the sensibilities will expand and take on new powers... Often death is near you in these dreams."

- From an online Dream Dictionary found here.

Scene: New York City, Time: 1975. Police are called to an uptown apartment by the building's superintendent who, upon entering said apartment - to turn a tenant's water off, which apparently had been running for some undeterminable amount of time - is met by an unpleasant discovery. When the police arrive on the scene, they find "large canvases... stacked against the wall, reaching almost to the ceiling in the small apartment." Strangely, these canvases seemed to hold images of chrysanthemums exclusively. "A narrow path led through the giant chrysanthemums to a bed, a kitchen and a bathroom." It also led to the lifeless body of a middle-aged woman, apparently the artist. Her wrists and stomach had been slashed in such a "brutal" way, however, the police were initially inclined to describe it as homicide.

Shortly thereafter, or so the story goes, the verdict is changed as the police are tipped off by one of the woman's "male co-workers" - at a company which reproduced antique Asian-motifed screens - that the artist had recently inquired about "the best way to commit suicide".  It couldn't have helped that she had suffered a nervous breakdown five years hence to remove any suspicions regarding her death.

But, I can't help but wonder why a few warning bells didn't go off. regarding the fact that not long before her death, she had "received" a life insurance policy, and having no one to claim as a beneficiary - as, apparently she had no family - one of her afore-mentioned co-workers was chosen "almost at random", so that the necessary forms could be filed.

In any event, that was the end of investigation. Death by seppuku, also known as harakiri, a form of ritualistic suicide originally reserved for Samurai warriors, and, in this particular case, a method generally reserved for males ("the best way..."?).

Sakiko Ide, Kikusui VI - silkscreen with hand coloring, 1973

The artist's name was Sakiko Ide, born in February, 1927, in Japan, and relocating to America to study art in Chicago during 1965 at the age of 36. After her graduation, two years later, she moved to New York where she became a member of the Japanese Artist's Association. She painted in oils as well as made serigraph prints, which were delicately hand-colored with pastels and inlaid with gold and silver leaf; some of which were bought by the Museum of Modern Art.  Others were exhibited at the Azuma Gallery, which, after her death, held a posthumous one-woman show.

I was introduced to Ide's story from an article - "The Chrysanthemums of Sakiko Ide" - written by Tricia Vita, appearing in the now historical rag, The Feminist Art Journal, (Spring issue, 1977) (from which the two B/W reproductions above originate). I even made a pilgrimage to New York to view her work. In my impressionable (and theoretically suicidal) youth, I was drawn to Ide's story like a moth to... well, a moth. There is a certain romanticism surrounding suicidal artists and poets, a tradition that flourished from the mid 19th century leading up to its end in Fin de Siecle culture, that "ominous mixture of opulence and/or decadence", Death, and especially suicide, was an obsession amongst the Romantics and their future incarnations, the Symbolists. One might say, the Pre-Raphaelites wouldn't have existed otherwise. Paintings like "The Death of Chatterton" or Millais' "Ophelia" are just two cases in point.

As a young artist - and "Goth" before there was such a thing, the Fin de Siecle held a peculiar fascination for me, and stories like Ide's fit into my personal paradigm like a calla lily in a narrow black vase. But, as a middle-aged woman, and an admittedly failed romantic, I am no longer so sure that Ide took her own life. Certainly death did not help her career in any way. Apart from that one posthumous exhibit, many of her works were destroyed. And, after that exhibit, all mention of Ide seemingly ends. For instance, in researching Ide online, I came up with zip, nada, and nothing. That is, apart from what I imagine are a few of her lesser works up for auction... and even here the artist is referred to as male!

Sakiko Ide - found here

So, perhaps this is the real tragedy. A woman bravely comes to this country alone with hopes of a brighter future and winds up anonymously dead, without warranting even a truncated Wiki entry. So, yes, Sakiko Ide is Patron Saint #6 of Trans-D, but I think my real motivation for this post is to ensure that, at least, there is one article about her online.

In the last analysis, I'm haunted by Ide's chrysanthemums to a greater degree than I am haunted by her suicide, if suicide it was. What did she mean by all these Zen-like constructs, that floated on oceans and hovered in skies, clustered amid fluffy, almost child-like renderings of clouds? In Japan, the chrysanthemum is considered a symbol of the sun and perfection. A Chrysanthemum Festival is held each each year, which is known as the "Festival of Happiness". Ide's last paintings were of single white chrysanthemum "those flowers which faithfully bloom after all the rest of the fragrant species have departed.'" Of these last four canvases, only one remains. A friend recalls that "she bought four large tubes of white paint. I think she was trying to do more."

I think so, too. And this is why I don't necessarily buy the suicide angle. Artists who are obsessed with a subject do not declare "the end" quite so abruptly. Then, too, she had won an award earlier that year at the Silvermine New England Exhibit, as she had the two previous years. It wasn't as if she had no future as an artist, and, as a mature woman in her late 40's, I would suspect that she'd come to terms with the solitary aspect of her life.

One may argue that Sakiko Ide is not to be placed amongst "the greats" - examples of her chrysanthemums hanging alongside Van Gogh's or Monet's is an imppossible occurrance - and that her legacy is of no great loss. I feel differently. "An artist obsessed" is an artist with a voice, with something urgent to say and to which they dedicate their lives in the saying. Relevancy is relevant only to what any single one of us needs to know at any given moment. In the end, an artist can do no more than present a vision, a vision that exists with(in) or without the "eye of the beholder", but a vision that will continue to exist, despite the demise and interment of its creator.

Sakiko Ide - found here

Note: Pending permission from Tricia Vita, the author of the article found in The Feminist Art Journal - a magazine which I still possess and from which I have quoted extensively for this post (and of which there is no online resource) - I will insert page scans here in the future. I believe this article may be the only thing written about her, although, if someone out there has more information, I would be most happy to include it here.


UPDATE: For those interested, the PDF file of the article (text) mentioned can be viewed here.

Also, this photo of Sakiko Ide (to your left)  accompanied the article. Click on for a larger view.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Patron Saint #5: Vali Myers, Shamanistic Artist

"The center of life is female - we all come from our mothers. I've always drawn women or female spirits. I feel deeply about this - who gives a damn about some guy on a cross? My mother's creativity was smothered after she married and raised a family, but she was supportive of me - even my father expected me to carry on in her footsteps. I prefer to have no kids but lots of animals."

- Vali Myers, via an 1994 article by Alex Burns found here

After the relatively mechanical compositions of Louis Nevelson, we now arrive on the other side of the artistic spectrum, where we find Vali Myers, an Australian artist, who was born in 1930 and died several years ago, at the age of 73. A pale skinned, red-haired beauty, she was similar to Nevelson, however, in the way that she was known as much for her notorious style as she was for her art; tattooing her face and hands long before "tribal" was so radically chic, and dressing like the mad gypsy she was, dripping with beads and bangles. Legend has it that she also tattooed a thunderbolt on rocker/poet Patti Smith's knee in memory of Crazy Horse, the celebrated Lakota warrior.

She fostered numerous animals; some domestic, some wild. Her familiar or totem animal was the fox. Legend also has it that she owned a large indoor cage, but it was not for her four-legged companions; it was the place she went to do her art - works that were completed in pen and ink using an actual feather quill.

Born in Melbourne, and growing up in Sydney, Australia, she left home at 14 and gravitated to Paris where she struggled as a dancer, and struggled with Parisian authorities over the lack of a visa. After spending time in a French prison she was deported, and went wandering across Europe.

During a second trip to Paris, and now married to the son of a Hungarian gypsy, she befriended such notables as Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet and Sartre. She also befriended opium, and when this "friendship" turned sour, she relocated once again, this time to Italy, to the Positano valley. This became the turning point in her life for it was there that she bonded with an orphaned fox - a relationship that was to last longer than her marriage - and begin the body of work that she is known for today.

She took a teenaged lover at this time - possibly over 20 years her junior - artist Gianni Menichetti, who remained her close companion for the next 30 years, (Menichetti still maintains their original property). They lived for the most part in Positano, once again battling government officials in their efforts to have the valley declared a preserve by the World Wildlife Fund. (They succeeded.)

Meanwhile, in an effort to sell her artwork,  Myers began traveling to Manhattan, occasionally living in the infamous Chelsea Hotel.  She was to become the darling of many of the 70's elite... attracting the likes of Andy Warhol, George Plimpton, Dali, Mick Jagger, and Marianne Faithful, to name a few.

But, eventually she would come full circle and return to Australia where she lived and worked - and commuted to Positano - till she contracted a terminal stomach cancer in 2003. Hers, however, was not really a tragic ending... she died in a Melbourne hospital the same way she lived: fearlessly, and, at the same time, with a sense of humor. Her dying wish was to bequeath the remainder of her life's work to the "great... no bullshit... people of Victoria".

These and other examples of Vali Myers' work can be found here.
(For larger views of two images below, click on the images)

Unlike Louise Nevelson's spare, monochromatic, rectilinear structures, Myer's creations (samples above) were bold, colorful, neo-primative expressions which very often employed the spiral motif and intricate lattice patterns echoing her own tattoos. As it was, many of her images were self-portraits, or visions of herself amid her beloved animals; illuminations that were more informed by the ancient traditions of ritualistic magic than they were by the black-lit psychedelia of her time. Unlike the fashionista of today, Meyers reveled in her spiritualism, a spiritualism that welled up from her like fathomless spring. Had Aliester Crowely been alive, I think he would've turned to Myers to illustrate his famous Tarot.

As a budding artist, I remember first discovering her in the pages of a magazine - I don't remember which - and deciding at once that she was the sort of artist I wanted to be. Of course, when all is said and done, I could never be a Vali Myers... so effortlessly bold, so self-assured, so demonstratively passionate. Vali Myers was that one class act that can't be followed.

Other resources not previously linked to: 
A review of Gianni Menichetti's "Vali Myers: A Memoir" by Louis Landes Levi
The Outre Gallery page with more examples of Myers' work
Articles found here, and here, and here.

Note: I was amazed at how many blog entries I found regarding Vali Myers, while researching this post... many of them dated from earlier this year... a veritable Myers constellation!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Patron Saint #4: Louise Nevelson, Assemblage Artist

Louise Nevelson - photo found here

“Humans really are heir to every possibility within themselves, and it is only up to us to admit 
it and accept it. You see, you can buy the whole world and you are empty, but when you 
create the whole world, you are full.” 

- Louise Nevelson, via an interview by Arnold Glimcher “Louise Nevelson Remembered”

One loss that is unlikely to be mentioned during this 9/11 memorial weekend are the works of art destroyed at that time. Which is understandable... the loss of artwork can't really be compared to human lives. As one of the pieces was created by an artist I felt compelled to talk about these past few days, however, I thought it might be mentionable here at this time. The artwork in question was an immense wooden wall sculpture,"Sky Gate - New York" (below), erected in the World Trade Center in 1978. It was created by a Ukrainian, Jewish immigrant named Louise Nevelson who died 10 years later, at the age of 88. Despite her legendary contribution to Abstract Expressionism and contemporary sculpture, hers is unlikely to be a "household name". As one critic wrote at the time of her first exhibition: "We learned the artist was a woman in time to check our enthusiasm. Had it been otherwise, we might have hailed these sculptural expressions as by surely a great figure among moderns."

Nevelson - Sky Gate - NY -1975

Louise Nevelson's birthday is coming up. She was born the 23rd of this month in 1899, and died (you'll note the symmetry) in 1988. She was a late bloomer even by today's standards. She didn't begin exhibiting until she was in her 40's and wasn't really accepted in the art world until her 60's. Even then she was as at least as notorious for her strange costumes and mink false eyelashes ("a cross between Catherine the Great and a bag lady") as she was for her assemblages, which were once described by art historian Robert Rosenblum as being "junkyards of secular carpentry (transformed) into almost sacred altarpieces where light and shadow reign". Actually, this is an apt description... maybe she was unconsciously inspired by her father's ownership of a junkyard, but, in any case, her assemblages were created by found objects, and that which others discarded. She felt that, not only was she recreating the world but that she was likewise rescuing these objects and imbuing them with a new spiritual life.

I find her work enigmatic, futuristic and oddly refreshing; like something that might have lined the space capsule of Nicholas Roeg's "The Man Who Fell to Earth". Two of her works are featured below.

Nevelson - Case with Five Balusters, from Dawn’s Wedding Feast, 1959

Nevelson - Sky Cathedral (detail)

When I found the photo of Nevelson (above - top of post) I was dumbstruck by her powerful beauty and strength of character... I was also conscious of the fact that her variety of beauty is almost impossible to find in today's media circus, and we are all the more poor because of this lack. In reality, the youth of today are being indoctrinated to despise and marginalize the "elderly" and signs of aging in general, and aging women in particular, by the media. In part, this is hype generated by various corporations to sell cosmetics and other products. But, in the case of women, the tragedy is far deeper and more insidious than that. And nowhere is this more clear than in the case of creative, professional women. I'm not referring to the stars of television reality shows; I'm referring to real women who actually accomplish and contribute something enduring and meaningful to the history of human culture. To that end, and, as this is an art blog, I will be doing a series of posts about female artists in the coming weeks. And, like Louise Nevelson, they too, will be patron saints of this blog... courageous, full of beauty and character, and with a genius that is all too often overlooked. And, many of them will have lived and worked to a ripe old age, and not have been any less relevant for it.

Below is a video clip featuring some of Nevelson's works. For a glimpse of a music video inspired by her vision, try Nine Inch Nails'  "Me, I'm Not".
For a lengthy interview with the artist, click here.
The primary quote source for this post was Carol Diehl's Art in America article, "The World of Mrs. N".
Also, I've read that Dawns and Dusks is a definitive Nevelson resource.
And lastly, for those of you who'd love to own a Nevelson original, you might want to look into the work of her granddaughter, Maria... who, and I mean no disrespect, is either channeling her grandmother or is a direct reincarnation.