Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Love New York and All That Jazz

As a child I spent the summers in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn visiting my grandmother. In her one bedroom apartment, walking distance from Coney Island, my sister, my grandmother and I would bunk together in the living room. Almost the last stop on the F train, the dishes would rattle and the seventeenth floor shimmy as the nearby subway traveled the one and a half hour distance to and from Manhattan.

New York was the most different place from New Mexico I could conceive of as a child (as an adult as well). But I loved it. Sojourning into the city each day, my father would act as tour guide (as a relocated Bronx boy he claimed ultimate authority on everything New York). Worrying my sister and I would wander off, my dad made us memorize the entire F train route and study city maps.

Thus, I can navigate New York pretty well for a western girl reared on the Rio Grande. Recently vacationing there, I felt at home despite many years absence. A movie I saw in college came to mind. The Cruise, a black and white documentary, celebrated both the city itself as well as a quintessentially New York Gray Line Tour bus guide. In one scene, the guide, with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York culture, recalls literary giants, artists, politicos, criminals and silent movie stars as the bus whirs past their former residences. So much spark within such a small space. The energy is real; the buzz almost tangible.

I love New York. Therefore, you may imagine my excitement at a mention by the New York Public Library in an article entitled "All That Jazz". So thank you New York from a most grateful gal out west.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Art Nouveau Wedding Invitation & An Appreciation for the Handmade

I love to write. As in cursive. Or calligraphy. Maybe even a nice block alphabet. In eighth grade my Social Studies teacher, Mrs. McIntyre (who, by the way, wore a bouffant), had a post of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence. I would spend class period upon class period perfecting my proverbial John Hancock.

When I got to college, I would laboriously recopy notes as to both allow the knowledge to sink in and to practice my penmanship. Thus studying became a process to be somewhat enjoyed (and my notes became a much sought after commodity).

Now I create wedding invitations, many in an Art Nouveau or Art Deco style. Each and every letter I forged by hand from my own stylized Art Nouveau alphabet. Much to the chagrin of graphic design buddies, I do not draw my alphabets on the computer nor do I scan them in. Rather each letter is unique unto itself, an organic creation based on the letters both before and after and with special attention to the layout of the whole; an entirely holistic creation rather than a series of computer generated text.

Plus, I enjoy creating fonts (especially those from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Please see the matching RSVP card for this invitation!). Although my labor would be cut down exponentially by using a computer for text, my enjoyment level would proportionally decrease. Many tell me that only I can tell if an alphabet is created entirely by hand, but I beg to differ. Although the average person may not be able to discern hand-wrought lettering, there is a human, organic, emotionally charged feeling emanating from only that which is handmade.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Constant Hustle

My daily life can best be expressed as a constant hustle. Either creating or promoting, I seek to find a niche for myself. However, I find that what interests most is the personal: anecdotes that tell of a self-styled bohemian existence. In celebration of this, and in gratitude to Hadley and Tangobaby, here's a bit more....

1. I live in Portland, Oregon. Today is a particularly Portland day: grey, dark and rainy, but lusciously green, perpetually forested. I love it here. The rain is most romantic--like strolling through an Impressionist painting. It is on these dreary days I am creatively prone and rather productive.

2. I love to go to old cemeteries. In Oregon there are random Pioneer cemeteries throughout both the cities and countrysides and I find nothing more relaxing than walking through the decaying stones, each telling a history all its own.

3. I spent my honeymoon in Paris, London and traveling through Morocco. Looking through the pictures this morning provoked a yearning for adventure to the exotic. Backpacking through cities and ruins, I want to explore places unknown and wander through cultures foreign.

4. I do not drive. I walk or take the bus. This affords me the opportunity to create specific routines on my outings. Each and every day I pass by a handmade sign nailed to a street lamp. Its painted words read, "Loafe in the grass with me." No matter my mood, I smile and give a wink to Walt and a nod to Portland.

5. I love buffets. I like to have an unlimited amount of exactly what I want. Rather telling, I must say.

6. I love Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. But I am unhappy with their new format. I don't really need to hear Allan Cummings or Gillian Anderson wax historical. Plus, a modernized theme song? Please. And the new Mystery format also sucks; only snippets of Edward Gorey's drawings and the original music remain. A travesty indeed.

7. I need to get out more. I am comfortable to remain in my house, putter around my studio and only go to the dog park for socialization. Maybe a concert this week. Or a dinner party. We'll see.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Hat and Gloves at the Supermarket

Everyone has two outfits: the one they see themselves in and the one others see. In my mind's eye, I am in evening gloves and a ball gown; my hair swept up to perfection, each curl in place. My makeup impeccable, I float through the air on exquisite four inch heels. This is how I see myself. In reality, my New Mexico roots show through as each and every day I don a pair of jeans, a white tank top and cowboy boots. This is the oufit others see me in.

I hearken to the day when ladies wore hats and gloves to the supermarket; when weekly salon appointments were the norm. Yet, I know that practically speaking, I am averse to such nuisances as manicures (I perpetually have paint and/or ink on my fingers and under my nails anyway) and labor intensive hair-dos (my curly hair seems to have a mind of its own).

Both my grandmothers dressed up when they went out. Neither would have been caught dead wearing the paint spattered college sweatshirt, ripped jeans and mud covered tennis shoes that I wore this morning to the coffee shop. No matter, for while others see an outfit sure to be called out by the fashion police, I see myself in a red, full length Valentino gown with heels to match.

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