Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Parent and Art at A.I.R.

If you were to ask me where I heard or read about Jennifer Wroblewski's call for art created immediately following a pregnancy or the birth of a child, I couldn't tell you. Perhaps it was on Twitter, possibly I clicked on a tinyurl or otherwise shortened web address that linked to a Website. You know how that goes. At any rate, I arrived at a place on the Internet where entrees could be uploaded. Easy does it. At least that's how it seemed at first. I had some material that answered to the call, I could upload that no problem. Instead of entering merely my favorite, a pen and ink collage, called "Starlight" (which was used for the cover of my book Creative Acts of Healing), I scanned pages from my Analytical Journal 1997.

In the required essay I mentioned a pen and ink series, "In the Eyes of the Gods we are Ants" drawn on the handmade paper I created, tearing up art-business correspondence that no longer mattered to me, after the delivery of our beautiful daughter Ariane Eira.

I was sure the curator would receive more entries that spoke of grief related to motherhood, but it was the first time that I encountered a call for art-work that spoke to me as a bereft mother. Perhaps that was the reason that I spaced out during the upload of the images —I didn't enter half of the work I had described.

Whether my work would make the cut or not, I was content I responded to the call, which allowed me to reconnect with the how and why et cetera.

Next thing I knew I received the message that my work had been selected for inclusion in the Mother/mother-* exhibition at the A.I.R. Gallery. To my great surprise Jennifer Wroblewski had picked not my number one choice, but one of the images from my journal.
Why? I wondered. Reading later on what the curator wrote about my drawing reinforced what I have known all along, but rarely apply to my own work, that each and every viewer adds significance to a piece. When your work remains hidden for view, when you keep your drawings in a portfolio that you never share with others, when you keep your writing as files inside folders on your computer, you not only deprive the world of your work, you deprive yourself of the responses of others. Responses that at times can bring tears to your eyes.

Jennifer Wroblewski: "Judith van Praag's 'Bird Armor' drawing, a breathtaking testament to the inherent strenght of maternity and the anguish of losing a child."

This said, written and read, I had to look up the page before the one with the Bird Armor drawing to understand where I was coming from twelve years ago. Earlier I showed the notebook at an Open Studio event, and I had taped pages together to ensure that visitors wouldn't start leaving through the book. For the first time I saw what had triggered the making of Bird Armor, it was HURT.

"When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: There will be earth to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly," by Anonymous.

Mother/mother-* Curated by Jennifer Wroblewski,
On view at A.I.R. Gallery until January 3, 2010
111 Front Street #228, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Gallery hours Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Phone 212 255 6651

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Judy Shintani's Healing Family Trees Grow on History and Hope

On June 27, 2009 the ArtXchange Gallery offered a free, hands-on "Remembrance Art Workshop" presented by Judy Shintani. The event was organized in conjunction with Legacies of War, which in turn is a project of the National Interest Project (PIP), a New York based 30-year-old nonprofit. The "Legacies of War National Traveling Exhibit" creates awareness about the bombing of Laos, and campaigns for removal of unexploded bombs that remained in the ground.

According to statistics ±10,000 Laotians make their home in Washington State, of those ±7,000 live in Seattle proper. The local chapter of "Legacies of War" received a Grant to collect the stories of Laotians here. In 2010 the resulting project "Our Shared Journey" shall be shown at the Wing Luke Museum.
Sakuna Thongchanh the Legacy of War organizer in Seattle said, "This will be an important moment in time, since no other museum so far has been willing to give the Legacies of War Exhibit a home."

Judy Shintani shared images and stories of her work as a "transformative" artist. Thus presenting the notion that turning painful memories into art is a healing action.
Nametags hanging from Shintani's "Family Tree" for instance are reminiscent of those worn by her relatives on their way to the internment camps. Adorned with portrait pictures however, those same tags are the leaves on the branches of the family tree, a way to honor her heritage.

During the June exhibit at the gallery, visitors were invited to write their thoughts on strips of rice paper that they could add to Shintani's "Remembrance Shrine". Those comments were the inspiration for the "Remembrance Tree" that Shintani created especially for the workshop on the 27th. This "extended family" tree will become part of the Legacies of War National Traveling Exhibit.

On that Saturday afternoon, the scrawny chicken wire body of the tree was dressed with memorial "leaves", created by those present. After a short meditation, everyone —outfitted with scissors, glue, markers and natural elements reminiscent of Laos, such as tamarind pods, banana leaves, flowers, medicinal bark and herbs— embarked on the art project. Memories surfaced and were put into words or visualized.

Darasavanh "Dara" Kommavongsa Craven wrote about her father's sugar cane orchard, raved about the perfume of papayas, then spoke of having been taken from her mother by her Freedom Fighter father when she was 6-months old. Mother herself of a Kindergartner she hopes to be re-united with her mom some day. She posed for the camera, holding up a picture of rice paddies and one with U.N. helmets and weapons.
"Perhaps someone will recognize my features and maiden name, and bring us together," she said with a brave smile that belied her emotions.

Khamsavart "KV" Saengthasy drew rice paddies and pole houses, and probed added an elk-like bison and a line with drying clothes. Just a three-year-old when he left Laos for a refugee camp with his parents and sister, he mostly recalled the smell of rain and mud. He grinned remembering cousins falling from the elevated floor into the muck

KV's father Khampaeng Saengthasy penned his account of fleeing his homeland, illustrating the memory with a drawing of a fort-like refugee camp and passport size pictures of his wife, himself and their two children.

"That's the prison I was in, as a small child," KV said pointing at the watchtower on a corner of the encampment. He shrugged, "I hadn't done anything wrong."

Meanwhile female relatives of the gents created artistic blossom holders and collages using banana leaves and photo copied family pictures; filling in the empty spaces on Shintani's Healing Art tree.

The aim of Legacies of War is: "to provide space for healing the wounds of war and to create greater hope for a future of peace." People such as artist Judy Shintani and gallery owner Cora Edmonds help the organization reach that goal.

Previously published in the International Examiner Volume 36, number 15, August 5-18 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Forecast Public Art Umbrella Benefit 2009

Yes, I am painting an umbrella for this benefit event, see for all participating artists the list below. Visit Forecast PublicArt Umbrella Site for tickets

Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Paul Made The Beatles The Beatles

A few years back someone posted a For Sale ad on Craigslist for a Gibson Les Paul studio guitar. At the time Gary was working full time for the Seattle Opera and in the middle of tech week for La Bohème I believe. Meaning there was no "after work" opportunity to drive up north to take a look at the instrument and be back in time. He'd get stuck in traffic for sure. So at lunchtime I stood waiting at the curb with our pick-up truck, the engine running. Pushing the pedal to the metal, we flew to Everett, past the Boeing factories, up a winding country road to an unassuming track house where the seller was waiting for us.

On the way there we'd discussed the situation.
Why would anyone want to sell his Gibson Les Paul? That was a question that needed to be answered. Don't go for the asking price, you need to bargain, I said. If he doesn't want to give it for the price you have in mind, ask him if he has a case and is willing to throw that in for what you're offering. Remember, don't give in too soon.

The man showed us in, he'd just returned from work and his honeymoon in Asia where he had met his bride. She, a stunning foreign beauty, was an exotic fresh flower landed in a musician's bachelor's pad. The living room was nothing more nor less than a rehearsal space; the furniture minor elements, just there to crash on between sets. I wondered how she'd add her touch, or whether she'd consent to live that way, or whether that perhaps was all beside the point.

The moment the man handed Gary the burgundy guitar, I knew he was sold on the instrument. No matter that she was beaten up, abused and in great need of loving care. I saw love in his eyes, recognized it in the sudden blush on his cheeks.
He mentioned the asked for price. The man nodded, and Gary nodded as well. He managed to ask why the owner would let go of the old guitar, with which he must have gone through a lot.
"I got it second hand myself, he said, "Got myself a new one."
He pointed at another Gibson, brand new, shiny and without a blemish.
"You want to hold it," without waiting for Gary's response he handed him the old girl.
Not that either man used the word "girl", it's what I thought. It was and still is so obvious. Hadn't Les Paul modeled his first electric guitar after the shape of a woman, breast waist and hips, just the way he liked her?

Gary held the old body, stroking the neck, strumming the strings. The way his fingers touched the missing chip, I knew our bargaining rehearsal was lost to the wind or rather to the strings.

"She needs some work," the seller said, "but other than that she's fine."
"Ehuh. Do you have a case included in the price?"
"No," the man said.
"Okay," Gary said. He leaned the guitar against the couch, pulled out his wallet and without looking at me, he handed over the cash.
"You're a pushover," I said as we drove off the lot.
"I know," he said, grinning all the way back to work.

He polished her and made her look beautiful for her agean elderly dame. Turns out he doesn't really like to play her that much, he's really become an acoustic guitar man and finds the weight of the solid body prohibitive. But, having her in his collection makes him feel good. Every once in a while he takes her off the wall and plays the songs he used to play when owning a Gibson Les Paul was still a dream.

As Paul McCartney himself told Les Paul the inventor of the electric guitar, he made The Beatles The Beatles. And of them, my Piedmont Blues picking PHD is still a great fan.
And that's that.

Thank you and R.I.P. Les Paul (1915-2009)

By the way, you don't want to miss the fantastic Last Word documentary by Matthew Orr.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fort Lawton Bus Stop

Construction of the bus stop at Fort Lawton dates back to 1949. The morning I shot this picture I got all turned around running through the damp fields with Mocha. The fog made it impossible to detect the cliff that hangs over Puget Sound, other land marks, or even the sun. Not until I ran into another wanderer near the officer's row, who pointed me in the direction of the church, was I able to find my bearings.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

café muller pina bausch rare

Rare performance of Pina Bausch and segment of interview

Remembering Icons of Arts & Entertainment

A week of public remembrance. Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Pina Bausch. The coverage of Jackson's life and death by media is as outrageous as the subject's public persona was. To Fawcett we said goodbye after watching the first few minutes of the documentary made to share her fight with cancer with the world, aired not a week before her death.

"Why did they do that to her?" PHD pointed at the cover of The Stranger, one of Seattle's free weeklies. The caricature of a female in hot pants, with Fawcett's famous hairdo to me undoubtedly sports Jackson's sorry excuse for a nose. Michael's face on Farrah's body. Ouch! Am I seeing spooks?

I'd rather keep on watching the videos that show Pina Bausch talking and performing. If dancers speak with their bodies, Bausch said it all with those incredibly articulate arms. The videos on YouTube about Pina Bausch and her Dance Theater are classy memorials to a grand lady of Modern Dance.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pina Bausch 1940-2009

In the early 1980's a coach, destination Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal left the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. On the bus modern dance lovers and prominent figures of the arts in the Netherlands. Among them Benno Premsela, the godfather of Dutch Design, his partner Friso Broeksma, and Arthur van Schendel, the founder of AUB UitBuro. I remember these gentlemen so well, because I got to sit right beside them in the first row of the theater. A great place to watch the ripple of every muscle, catch every spray of sweat, and hear the rhythmic panting of the dancers who performed in Café Müller.

Bewildered by the brutality of movement on the dance floor, seeing a female dancer climb back into the arms of her partner to be dropped on the floor, over and over again, I felt the assault. And slight embarrassment. Seated between an older and more seasoned audience I was struck by the notion that those around me as well were stunned— or mesmerized.

The lack of costumes —the dancers appeared to be wearing street clothes— drove the forceful, obsessive or neurotic behavior of the "players" home with more force than stylized costumes could have done.

In memory of the great innovative German choreographer Pina Bausch I'm watching a few videos on YouTube, intermittently writing a word, a sentence or two. Sitting through the stylized domestic violence pays off, Bausch herself speaks and then performs in the video posted by Malou Airado.

Seeing Bausch —the aged Pre-Raphaelite with the chiseled features, the pale skin and long hair— will the limbs of her achingly thin body in movements that are part of her very own vocabulary in Café Müller, is an extraordinary experience.

Remember Me, from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, which Bausch chose for this 1978 piece is a touching and appropriate song to listen to on the day of her death.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Not Your Average Baker's Dozen: Thirteen American/Asian Artists Visualize Their Stories

Last year the five dedicated curators of the ArtXchange Gallery sent a call out for artists whose work exemplified the theme of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Out of hundreds of responses thirteen artists were chosen.The words American/Asian seem to jump at you, off the windowpane, as a newfangled combination. Yet in the Arts as created in the Pacific Northwest it is not.

At a recent gathering of Asian American writers, poets and artists at Elliott Bay Books, Art Historian Kazuko Nakane stated: "Unlike Asian American artists in different regions, who introduced Asian aesthetics to the United States, Asian American artists here developed their own American art, or should I say, the aesthetic of the Northwest, and some of them bridged the art of East and West. The Asian American artists of the Northwest were not marginalized but equally prominent as other Northwest artists of their time from the turn of the century, which is unique to this region."

Taking these words in account, it seems the groundwork was done for the artists showing at the ArtXchange Gallery. Yet, growing up in the aftermath of World War II, younger generations have a different situation to grapple with than their elders, and newcomers land in a culture already affected by sensibilities and esthetics of "new" Americans.

Rather than being mere exponents of the melting pot of yore, the artists of "New Cultures" stand for a freshly steeped infusion of the East and West. Their work a reminder of ancient and modern history, forged by great intent and new media.

At first glance Jonathan Wakuda Fischer's Great Wave looks familiar, traditional even, but his layered paintings are far from that. Combining old and new methods, he honors past and present. Deborah Kapoor changes the visible in her search for a visual language that connects cultures.
MalPina Chan delves from a literal paper trail to deliver a visual narrative in familiar collages. Barry Wong's reverent photography is an ode to his heritage. Dean Wong is the photographic chronicler of the International District. Frederic Wong, inspired by the Daoist notion of "non-action" provides the media, and then lets nature take its course. Tenzin Mingyur Paldron hopes that her 2008 documentary "Q&A: Ramifications of Identity" opens up discussions about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Asian Pacific Islanders.

Where language and image is already interwoven from the first brush stroke, Hiroshima-born Chiyo Sanada adds experimental gestures to traditional Japanese & Chinese calligraphic imagery. Conceptual artist June Sekiguchi explores otherness and connectedness, familiarity and the unknown, and the beauty of it all. Arun Sharma exposes his Chinese Australian wife to hundreds of rotating floral images from Western works of art. The effect of his, "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend …" (from Mao's 100 Flowers Campaign), is a mesmerizing lightshow. On another plane his fractured teacups allow room for thought.

The meditative quality in William Song's paintings expresses what making art means to him. In Joseph Songco's photos of Pike Place Market, Asian American farmers look almost timeless; generations in pursuit of the American Dream. Judy Shintani's Remembrance Shrine is the gift that keeps on giving. By inviting visitors to add their own memories or dedications to the shrine, it becomes more than personal; remembering together creates community. Her work is (as she herself states) "polite, very Japanese". Still, underneath black pebbles in her installation "The Quiet American Hero" one suspects a silent scream.

Come to the closing reception June 27th and you can participate from 1-3 p.m. in a free hands-on workshop Shintani presents in conjunction with Legacies of War, about "Remembrance Art". The resulting object d'art will become part of Legacies of War's traveling exhibit.

"American/Asian: A Tale of New Cultures" is on view through June 27.
At the ArtXchange Gallery, 512 First Ave S, Seattle.
Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
For more information call (206) 839-0377 or visit www.artxchange.org and www.legaciesofwar.org

Due to error this article did not appear in the International Examiner print issue of 6/17, it is archived on the website

IE Contributor Judith van Praag is a bilingual Dutch writer, author and artist. She lives in Seattle with her husband Gary and their pooch Mocha www.dutchessabroad.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sense of Smell Recovery - Peace of Mind

Last year May I discovered my sense of smell was gone. A month long battle with a virus I picked up shaking hands with the Washington State Poet Laureate Sam Green ended with total alienation from the world the way I'd known it before. "My nose is an empty house," I wrote, "Totally defunct of any smell."
Slowly and not steadily at all, a bit of sensory experience comes back to me. Little by little I've found my way around not smelling. Burned toast, blasting fire alarms, fastidious cleansing of refrigerator shelves and drawers and still, yes unbelievable but true, still cooking up a pretty good meal. My sense of smell gone, I, the one who could tell you what was in a dish by smelling and tasting am flying by the seat of my pants. A dash of this, a dash of that, never too much, just right and yes, more than edible, tasty, as always my sweetheart and friends assure me.
As for the roses, faintly, ever so faintly I detect a sullen perfume, a hint, no more and if I didn't have my nose burried between the petals, if you just let me smell with my eyes closed, I doubt I would smell anything, but with my eyes wide open, taking in the subtle hues of buttery yellow and shocking reddish pink, I know: A rose, is a rose, is a rose, no matter how faint the perfume.

Art Contest Joan Miró Foundation Mallorca

Visitors of the Baleares know that these isles off the Spanish shore have more to offer than just sandy beaches. Hippies loved Formentera and Ibiza but I've been more interested in Mallorca, the cradle of many different cultures.

That those early visitors left their mark becomes apparent when you stroll through the island's capital, Palma. The first time I did, a good 30 years ago, I was so taken by what I saw, I promised myself I'd come back often. Which I did. But now it's been too long, and there are plenty of reasons to plan another trip to Mallorca.

Throughout the ages artists have landed on this large isle, which is only a boat ride (and these days a short flight) from Barcelona. Frederic Chopin and George Sand stayed one winter at the Carthusian monastery of Valldimossa. And in the last century locals saw creatives such as Robert Graves, Joan Miró and Mati Klarwein arrive to make their home in the hills, mountains and valleys of the largest isle of the Baleares archipelago.

An added attraction is the possibility to visit the Cultural Centre in Palma, created around the studios of the admired Catalan sculptor, painter, print-maker, and more, in other words the most versatile Joan Miró.

Two years before his death, Miró (1893-1983) bequeathed his four studios among which Son Boter and the surrounding garden near Palma de Mallorca as well as his work to Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca with the intention to protect his property from the destructive force of project developers.

In 1958 Miró won the International Guggenheim Award, which allowed him to buy Son Boter a 17th-Century country house near Palma opposite the house he and his wife Pilar already occupied. Initially his intend was to use Son Boter as a sculpture studio, but eventually this space became the place where he worked on large size paintings. His charcoal sketches can still be seen on the interior walls. Other buildings on the lot contained the lithograph and etching print-shops.

Five years after the Fundació was started and three years after Miró's death, his widow Pilar Juncosa, realizing that the organization needed more space, announced that the grounds of Son Boter, the other studios and the surrounding garden were the perfect place. She gifted the Fundació with 39 gouaches and three oil paintings by Miró to be auctioned by Sotheby. The money from the auction would be used to create a new space and run the organization. Architect Rafael Moneo (who would go on to win the 1996 Pritzker Prize) was hired to design the building that would hold the headquarters of the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca.

The complex exists of the original studios of Miró among which the painting studio designed by Joseph Louis Sert, workshop, and exhibition spaces, a library , a gift shop, an auditorium and an (avant-garde) art-installation space. The Cultural Centre is a place for artists to create, meet and exchange ideas, as well as a residency for writers, visual and performing artists. A place where Mirós philosophy on the arts is carried out. Since the opening in 1992 the grounds and buildings are open to the public to visit or take courses.

De museum collection of the Fundación exists of work by Joan Miró.
Since 2007 the Fundació invites artists to enter yearly and bi-yearly contests.
The work of the prize winners becomes property of the Fundació and will be exhibited at the Cultural Centre in Palma.

Artists who see fit to come up with a proposal for an on-location garden project before August 31st are invited to enter the Pilar Juncosa & Sotheby Award contest.
In 2007 Susan Philipsz from Glasgow became the very first winner of this Award with her sound installation: "More Than This".
The First (and only) Prize amounts to €30,000 of which 10 thousand is meant as honorarium, the remaining 20 thou for execution and other expences.

For more information see pages 24 - 34 of the pdf on the Website
(click on 2/06/2009).

For more information on Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró a Mallorca see the comprehensive Website.
As for IRL visits, keep in mind that the lines may be long, so plan to be there early!

The above is a slightly different version of the original Dutch text published one day ago at Cultureel Persbureau

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Linkin Park's Brad Delson has got more to say than Golden Globe winner James Franco

The actor James "Gucci Face" Franco is so busy with a new film, that he's let go of the opportunity to present the commencement address at his Alma Mater UCLA. At least that's what we are made to believe.

Apparently a group of UCLA students argued that someone that close to their own age, and a one-time fellow student can't have anything worthwhile to share with them. After all, Franco was a drop-out, who only after his successes in the film bizz went back to school to get a degree in Creative Writing.

Franco, who received a Golden Globe Award for best actor as the lead man in Mark Rydell's Bio Tv-film James Dean, can also be seen in Milk. Earlier he became known for his role as Harry Osborn in Spider-Man films.

Some of those fellow students gathered on FaceBook to spew their dismay.
UCLA Students Against James Franco as Commencement Speaker has 646 leden. But that doesn't mean all of the 646 were against Franco's appearance as speaker at UCLA. After all, in order to post (pro or con) on The Wall of a FaceBook group you have to become a member.

The mouth piece of the Bruins expresses his appreciation of Franco as an actor, but stresses that a peer doesn't have enough experience to share, if only because most Bruins are not aiming at an acting career.

The founder of the contra opposition group Students Against UCLA Students Against James Franco as Commencement Speaker (149 leden) thinks it's all a bunch of nonsense: "Those UCLA students should show more respect for the arts, and not be so pretentious about it."

And now, who are the Bruins to listen to? Instead of James Franco, Brad Delson lead singer and guitarist of Linkin Park will now be the one to present the commencement speech.

Is BigBadBrad a better choice?
Kelly DiProspero, founder of another FaceBook group "People Against UCLA Students Against James Franco" doesn't think so. She writes, "Really? The lead guitarist from Linkin Park would be a better speaker at your graduation than James Franco?"
Capitalizing her words, she virtually yells, "REALLY!?!?!?!?"

The members of the contra opposition group think the whole thing is based on envy.

This article was published earlier today at the Dutch het Cultureel Persbureau

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Borrowed Landscape

Borrowed landscaping is great, until the rightful owner takes the source of your delight away. I've been cringing, weeping, seething and so on over the brutal removal of a "snowball" plant in our neighbor's backyard. Until now sweeping branches abundant with cascading blossoms beautified our side of (our neighbor's) ugly old fence.

Just the other day I looked down at the veil of green on green,from the kitchen window, knowing that the green spheres would soon burst into bright white balls.

But no, a man for hire —not a gardener, but a whackedy whack wacko— came with giant cutters and wiped-out the spring beauty before it could truly blossom. Mocha was the first to notice something was wrong. She barked her head (and mine) off. "Something amiss, something amiss."
Already enough of the green had been removed for me to have a clear view of the man in the adjacent yard. I greeted him, and realizing what he was doing, I exclaimed, "Oh, no, you're cutting the blossoms, they haven't even come to bloom."
He laughed. "Yep, it's all coming down, making room for something new."
Thinking of what my neighbor had promised me, to leave something I asked, "Can't you leave the part that's coming across the fence?"
"Nothing will be left?"
"Only the memory," he said.
"Oh, but then I better get my camera."
To my surprise he stopped whacking momentarily, but then I saw him retreat with his cell phone, it must have rung.
I shot some pictures and then I retreated. If there's something I can't stand it's something of beauty being ruined or killed.
After the man was done one lonely tall branch remained.

That sad flag sticking out above the busted fence reminded me of our other neighbor, who (as if cutting down fifteen (15!) trees in her backyard hadn't been enough) took the shears to a gorgeous giant gardenia in her front yard.
At first I thought her pruning was getting along quite nicely, but at some point she couldn't reach the top of the bush, I saw her standing on tippy toes, performing an awkward dance, stretching her arms up as far as she could. She must have grown frustrated, for when I passed her house later that day, she'd cut down the whole plant, leaving a stump, and one lone branch as a sorrowful reminder of what had been, her yard waste bin filled beyond capacity.

What was a rustic corner of our yard before, now shows only a rickety fence behind our ancient green chain linked. The gaps between the fallen planks take away all privacy, and the view into the other yard isn't pretty. Plastic garden chairs, the waste bins, a blue tarp. From our kitchen window you can see the miserable heap of what was a joy to the eye.

The borrowed landscape was gorgeous while it lasted, but it is no longer. Opportunity awaits, it's time for something new, our own.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Justice is Served James Paroline Murderer Sentenced

Ten months after our friendly neighbor James Paroline was murdered while watering the traffic isle at the cross street in front of his house, a few blocks south of ours, Brian Keith Brown, the man who caused "Jage" Paroline's death by delivering a single blow to his head, was sentenced to eleven years and three months in jail.

Source The Seattle Times

By the way, so far I've read elsewhere that Paroline was a mortgage broker, but to me he is the Missouri School of Journalism educated writer and storyteller who was always willing to engage in a meaningful conversation.

Rest in Peace Jage.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Ton Lutz I.M.

Yesterday one of the theater greats of the Netherlands, the eminent Ton Lutz died, he was 89 years old. Born into a family of theater makers, he started acting when he was twelve. Ton Lutz was an important actor and director, whose work spans three quarters of a century.

A photo of Ton Lutz and his stage and life partner Ann Hasekamp, taken by Hans Joachim Schröter in 1969, can be seen at Wikicommons.

For me Ton Lutz will always be the teacher who taught me THE lesson a young stage designer needs to learn.

In 1982 Ton Lutz was invited to take on the role of teaching director for the duration of one term at the Gerrit Rietveld Art Academie. We students were required to design the set and costumes for "De Getuigen" (The Witnesses) by Flemish playwright/author Hugo Claus.
I perceived three out of the four characters in the play as despicable, real asses (or dick heads). So I designed latex fake bald heads with an accentuated fontanelle .

Ton took one look at my drawings and said something I've never forgotten. If I told the audience that much with my designs, there wouldn't be much left for the actors to say. So, it was back to the drafting board for me.

Possibly his remark would eventually lead to me choosing studio art over stage design, but as long as I worked in the theater, Ton's remark rang in the back of my head, and whenever my designs (or I) wanted to take center stage, I knew to take back this or that.

I learned all I would ever need to know about upstaging from the best.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Painting with Plants

"All gardening is landscape painting," said William Kent. Couldn't agree more. And that's what we've been doing all day long. The moment I stepped outside to get the newspaper, early this morning, I was at it with clippers and HoriHori (my favorite garden tool).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Show Your Support for Bidder 70

Tim DeChristopher aka Bidder70 is sued and indicted, but keeps his head level, and his feet on the ground and maintains as
Woody Guthrie wrote: This Land is Your Land.

Still Tim needs all the help he can get.

When: April 28, 2009 11:45 am
Time Zone: (GMT-6:00) America: Denver
Location: Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse, 350 South Main St., Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Three years ago we came home from a road trip to Texas, and were thrilled to find that watching Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Three Burials of Melquiades Estradaallowed us to prolong our memories of the Texan-Mexican borderlands.

This time it's the duo Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen in AppaloosA that take us back in memory to the prairie we so recently crossed.

If you loved Mortensen as Strider in The Lord of the Rings, you will hardly recognize this clearly versatile actor in the West Point trained right hand of the marshall portrayed by Harris. An odd duo if there ever was one, they discuss affairs of the heart the way no Western hero ever did.

As is often the case, the special features offered with the DVD add understanding and appreciation of actors and folks behind the scenes. Ed Harris who also had the director's role is most generous in pointing out not just the accomplishments of the cast, but of nearly every crew member. The IATSE must be pleased to get more than bugs in the movie's credits.

This said, I shouldn't forget to mention the amazing Jeremy Irons, whose classy English act makes for an utterly charming but unpleasant bad guy, or the lovely but cunningRenée Zellweger who surprises, albeit mostly the men (both in the movie and those in the audience with her ulterior motives.
Btw did I mention we just returned from a road trip? We drove by Ms. Zellweger's home town, Katie, TX. (nah, no link, the only thing that makes the town memorable is that Renée was born there).
The rest of the cast is equally splendid, if you take time to listen to Ed Harris talk about their involvement you'll appreciate them even more.

The scenery speaks for itself. Big Sky, prickly bushes, sand and no doubt rattlers waiting to attack …

Home Security

Opening shots show nice neighborhood in Houston, TX. with large homes on large lots surrounded by gated fences.
A security specialist set out to prove how easy it is to break into a home, is seen leaving a ball park where a whole family has gone on a Saturday morning to watch the young son participate in a Little League game. In the parking lot the Security man (from here on the perp) steals the family's SUV (apparently that's easy to do).

The GPS device is programmed to get the driver of the vehicle 'home' from any given location. The perp opens the gate with the help of the remote control, that's "hidden" behind the vizor. The garage door is opened the same way. Once inside the garage, the perp finds the door to the house unlocked.
He quickly walks through the house to look for valuables and rounds up a few items he deposits in the stolen car, he'll be able to depart in. If he wanted to do so that is. Instead the honest burglar calls the family, just as they're entering the parking lot, looking for the car that isn't there, to tell them he's got it, at their home.

What did you learn from this? the Security man asks the family members.
"That I should listen more to what Jim says about locking doors and so on," the wife says.

Eh, well there was more to learn of course, and the Security man makes that clear in a voice over.
Lock your doors and windows.
Don't keep your remote control in your car.
And don't keep the GPS in the car.

Used to be you only had to make sure you didn't show your name and address on your key chain. An honest finder might return it, but a dishonest one might check whether you're home and take advantage of your absence when you're not.
But now we have other things that are dead-on give-aways (no pun intended).

Bloggers with some fame —local celebrities— who announce they're going out of town, are inadvertently letting burglars know they won't be home. People who are active at social or professional platforms share their travel plans without giving it a thought. A nice way to show how many miles you've been on the road or in the air, but …

While you hope you can trust people in your community, the internet community is larger than life, and the 6 degrees of separation bring people into our circles who may be interested in more than just our chatting, twittering, and other forms of exclamation.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Finding Love in Poetry Performance

Click on photo for larger image.

Seventeen years ago my sweetheart came into my life. He literally walked into a performance I was presenting in the court yard of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, that is.

"You're working against the wind," he whispered in my ear.
"I know," I looked at the pile of calculator paper at my feet, on which I'd hand written the poetry I recited from my laptop.
"Let's do something about it," Gary said.
"All right."
While I continued with my Lunch Break poem he wound the calculator paper around the four palm trees cornering a Roman style pond.

Lunch break

Eating chicken with my hands brings back memories/ in the metro
thoughts of others brush aside my own/ my brain like a station's steady flow of new and old/ my fingers slippery from chicken fat the words are mixed and I get a line down on paper marbled with stains of grease and watercolors/ pictures blend/ my tongue is locked behind the eager lips/ the key I swallowed after I learned to speak/ in refuse mingled with delicacies/ I see at the bakery the pastries he offers on his anniversary/ or was it ours my 21st his 3 rd/ or was it a birthday I forget/ or is it the melting pot the pot au feu the ever-boiling contents of the bowl I carry on my shoulders/ when at ease it looks like fruit my body a fruit-cake/ and otherwise a volcano a factory/ and I the off-key hand/ every other delivering/ and/ all I hear/ are bells somewhere next door/ in my mind/ on the night-table/ someone who needs to say that one singular important thing/ in it goes and then I need to add some/ to delete/ to lengthen/ to offer more or many/ and even the one and only/ the television has no power no use for a plug/ I need my words in print to eat chicken in peace.

Is it silence you hear rather than words/ white not a color you merely perceive through the void against red blue and yellow and all that comes in between/ am I because you see me/hear me/feel me/if so may I be in your mind/can I be in the picture for me I exist because of you your space

Lunch Break © 1990 Judith van Praag
Performance photographs were taken by a graduate student of drama who followed me around campus.

The moment I read, and/ all I hear/ are bells the Kniker Carillon of the infamous tower of the UT campus main building started playing "Happy Birthday to You".
How about that?

My friend, (then) Associate Professor of Architecture Markos Novak said, "That was well rehearsed!"

Who, what, we? Do I know this guy from Adam?
It comes to show, love arrives in the most unexpected places and times, in this case during a poetry performance.
After the show Gary offered to take me grocery shopping. The next day he called to invite me for a ride in the country.
The rest is history.

My rambling poem Lunch Break was inspired by the 1990 reading of the poets Michael Warr and Luis J. Rodriguez at Shakespeare & Co in Paris (I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now). Click for larger image of photo George Whitman, unknown customer and dutchessabroad JvP
Photograph © 1991 Marjan Schelvis

Friday, February 13, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inaugural Bash in and around Seattle

Looking for a place in or around Seattle to watch the inauguration, or party down to celebrate the new era that starts on January 20, 2009?
You don't have to go far, there's something going on in practically every neighborhood.

If you're not in Seattle, go to the Move-on site and type in your zip code to find what's going on in your area.

In foggy downtown Seattle The Paramount Theatre opened it's doors at 7 a.m. By 8:45 the theatre was filled to capacity.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inauguration Day Celebration 5th Ave Theatre

Who cares the following is blatant advertising? This is America!
Next thing we (hope to) know there will be an advertisement announcing Health Care for everyone!
Meanwhile, let's celebrate and go to the theatre!

On Inauguration Day, January 20, '09 and in honor of Barack Obama, The 5th Avenue Theatre will sell tickets to the first week of their upcoming musicals MEMPHIS and HELLO, DOLLY! for just $20.09

First week of MEMPHIS: January 27 – February 1
First week of HELLO, DOLLY!: March 7 – March 15

Everyone can take advantage of this celebratory ticket discount by using the not-so-secret promotion code OBAMA.
Beginning at exactly 9:30 am on January 20th anyone can purchase discounted tickets in one of 3 convenient ways:

ONLINE: www.5thavenue.org –type in the promotion code online when signing in
PHONE: 206.625.1900 (toll free 888-5TH-4TIX) – say the code
BOX OFFICE: The 5th Avenue Theatre; 1308 5th Avenue, Downtown Seattle

Tuesday, January 20th ONLY
9:30 am – midnight (online only) and 9:30 – 5:30 pm PST (box office & phone)

5th Avenue Theatre; 1308 5th Avenue, Downtown Seattle

Monday, January 05, 2009


Hyper what? Hyperacusis is an oversensitivity to certain sounds.

Most people can't stand the sound of chalk scratching [kkkchchch] the black board a certain way, some have the same reaction to cutlery scraped across the surface of a plate. Add to that screeching children, barking that's loud, and high pitched, and even someone with sound ears will at some point say: that's enough.

With the popularity of clip-on microphones for telephones (worn at chest height, right over, say the sink or dish-pan), the hyper sensitive are subjected to more attacks on their ears then ever before. Sounds made thousands of miles away, can penetrated the ear of the person who suffers from hyperacusis in an extreme and concentrated way.

What is nothing but regular household noise (piling of dishes, clanging cutlery, taking plastic foil of a bunch of flowers) to one, may be an assault of the nerve system for the person on the other end.

Knowing of the handicap is crucial for sufferers as well as bystanders. Ironic that caregivers in Belgium offer better guidelines for sufferers as well as bystanders to deal with this phenomenon. Something that might call for another "Belgium Joke" in the Netherlands. But meanwhile Readers of Dutch or Flemish can read all about this Hyperacusis and learn what to do and what to avoid (translation may follow).
As is often the case, ignorance can create hostility and relationships may be saved by knowledge.

Happy New Year

Clover 4 New Year's card sent in 1910.