Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Mona Lisa

[part 3 in a series of pieces inspired by my dreams]

The Mona Lisa
dreamed October 15, 2006

7" x 5" paper, acrylic, glitter and resin on canvas

I dreamed that I was walking by myself down a cobblestone street in Clonmel at night. I peer into the window of an empty grocery store with a big candy display. I walk further and see a dark window framed by burgundy velvet curtains. I look closer and see that the Mona Lisa is set up on a stand just inside the window. I smile at what a cliche the great painting seems in such a demure setting.

I hear a heartbeat and look anxiously around me. I am still alone. I look back at the Mona Lisa and she has started to glow. I press my forehead against the windowpane. Her face changes into a skull, the skin on her fingers peel back and show bones. At the center of the subtly smiling skeleton is a beating heart, straining to escape its ribcage.

Read/see the other dreams in this series, The Angel Singers Visit Me and The Feather and the Butterflies.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Angel Singers Visit Me

[part 2 of a series] Every 4-6 months, I have an epic dream. These are dreams that are like journeys charted to my internal map that feel like salve on my soul. They are aptly timed and make my blood course through my veins. I suppose there is a part of me that feels like dreaming this sort of dream is like having a spiritual experience, or at least receiving a message bigger than that what a fortune cookie can deliver. The next piece of art that came from my recent class based on my dreams is an Epic Dream.

The Angel Singers Visit Me
dreamed August 10, 2008

8" x 8" acrylic, glitter and xylene transfer on claybord

I was at a bar with my parents, siblings and cousins that is near my cousin Layla's house that has pictures of heav metal bands all over the walls. I am surrounded by loved ones and about to eat a delicious cheeseburger named after Mötley Crüe.

I look up and see a small group of people in front of me; Neil Young is standing among them. I gasp and slowly move towards him. As I approach him I beckon to him to come in close so I can tell him a secret. I whisper in his ear

"You are one of my angels."

He looks into my eyes and says back, "because of my voice?" I nod. He then grabs me and and spins me around him in a giant embrace. He is beaming. I ask him

"Do you want to know who else are my angels?" He nods. I start listing

Asdru from Ozomatli, Jerry Garcia, Perry Farrell, the Porcupine Singers... most importantly, Tom Waits..." Neil interrupts me and whispers close in my ear and says "Well, you're in luck then, darlin'."

I look up and on the little built-in stage Tom Waits himself is getting ready to play. My hands fly to my cheeks; I can't believe it. He plays two songs for us. He starts with "Cemetery Polka" and I just stand there staring at this madman 5 feet from me. I think he played a trumpet at one point which I don't think he really does in real life. My family is looking over at me smiling, so happy to see me so thrilled. My dad takes a picture of me.

Then Tom starts on "
Who Are You", one of my very favorites of his vast repertoire. This song includes lines like "I fell in love with your sailor's mouth and your wounded eyes", lines that I have often thought if any man ever says to me I will marry him then and there and live happily ever after.

Tom was singing directly to me and he sings the line "I did my time in the jail of your arms" and its like a skipping record, he repeats that line 3, 4, 5 times just staring intensely into my eyes. I can feel Neil behind me with his hands gently on my shoulders. And I smile through the tears that are spilling down my face, because now I know why we were whispering- this is our secret.

After he finishes the song, Tom mumbles something incoherent into the mic but I swear I can make out that he says something like "you heard the important part," and I know he was talking to me. And he ambles offstage and Neil follows him.

I bite my lip and start walking towards my smiling family.

Read the first dream in this series, The Feather and the Butterflies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Feather and the Butterflies

[part 1 in a series] I took a wonderful class at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center this summer called Photo Collage Your Dreams. I was drawn to the class because I have chronicled my dreams for decades in journals. Now, instead of writing in journals I contribute to a blog of dreams that my sister and I founded, the One Second Time Machine.

I have dreams that range from the magical and sublime to the bizarre and silly. I have dreams that chill me to the bone. I have always wanted to try to depict them as art pieces and never felt like I had the right tools to even attempt it. Finding and learning new techniques for visually depicting my dreams is what made me so excited to take this class. Now that it is complete, I couldn't be more pleased with the experience.

The class was taught by a lovely woman who is a wonderful artist, Elizabeth D'Angelo. Beth taught us techniques of transferring images onto canvas and claybord using xylene and spoons, layering them with washes of paint, embellishing by carving and even covering the surfaces with resin (which involved a superfun blowtorch!). She is a warm and thoughtful person who encouraged our writing as much as the visual art, and created a space where we easily and openly shared about our dreams - which often can be quite intimate.

The subject matter of the pieces I made was strictly dreams I have had and written about. Some of the dreams are detailed and complex, others are sound bytes and brain flashes. In the coming days I will post the images along with their corresponding dream here. Today is the first.

The Feather and the Butterflies
dreamed October 5, 2008

5"x7" acrylic, resin, xylene transfer and feather on claybord

I dreamed that I woke up and realized that the beautiful blue feather that Jill recently sent me - that I hung on my bed above where I sleep - had been eaten away. It was skeletal but for a few wisps and the silver spiral remained. I showed it to my mother who said "Looks like the butterflies ate it. Those butterflies eat everything."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm Super Human for You - the Flaming Lips visit Atlanta

When you come to a party at my house, you can count on there being a big ass spread of delicious food, the cocktails will be flowing, good music will be playing and there probably will be (at least) some glitter-based decorations. Expect no less at my house. I was raised right by the Queen Hostess, the lovely Louise Totonchi.

Similarly to my party philosophy, the Flaming Lips know how to throw a rock n roll show. From the moment the first note was strummed at Chastain Park tonight, confetti, smoke and balloons filled the air. A quick glance around me revealed dozens of giggling, joyful people awaiting excitedly their chance to hit one of the fifty balloons up in the air. Oh and there was even a man in a Space Bubble:

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne projected love and joy from the stage, declaring that despite the heavy Georgia air in August, "I'd wear a polar bear jacket, I'm super human for you." And he wouldn't have stood out at all in such a fur- the stage was filled with costumed lovlies, boy and girl bunnies, King Kong (who wielded Wayne on his shoulders for a whole song), a giant butterfly, a giant catfish- all dancing nonstop. An ingenious feature was a video camera mounted on Wayne's microphone; watch this footage of Fight Test both on stage and with the mic cam view projected behind the band:

I should mention that the Lips know how to treat their party guests. From the moment tickets were bought, we received a link for a free download of three songs from their yet to be released album which included Covinced of the Hex, my highlight of tonight's show. A few days later a link was sent to three b-sides. And if that weren't enough, they also promise to send a link to a recording of the entire show we saw tonight. Nice hospitality!

It was a terrific show tonight. We were grateful that the sky waited until we were in our cars to open up and shower, but that the lightning didn't hold back its contribution to the spectacular light show.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It Felt Like What I Wanted

I wrote this piece during an exercise in a memoir writing class I took this year. Each week we would write vignettes based upon phrases offered by the teacher. In this case, the phrase wound up being the opening line.

It felt like what I wanted. The tang of sweat above his lip lingered on my tongue as he pulled away. My lips felt bruised from careless contact with his facial hair. "He probably only shaves like, once a week," I spoke with great authority to my girlfriends that evening.

It was the sort of midsummer's day that made you wish that you lived at the beach rather than in the suburbs. As the sun baked my shoulders I sucked down every last drop of the fountain cherry cokes we bought at the corner gas station, then crunched each piece of ice left.

I could taste the cherry coke on his breath, too. He was older, 16 to my 14 and I knew it was fate when I learned his birthday was four days after mine. He loped down the street next to me like he had a guitar slung across his back. His red hair was between stages - him wanting to grow it long, his mother wanting it cut. He was tall and thin but I could see the definition of his muscles as he grasped my elbow.

We sat under a maple tree on a stranger's lawn just blocks from the building where we both took ceramics. Each day prior to today I had meticulously chosen my outfit in anticipation of seeing him: babydoll dresses with leggings, always black but sometimes small flowers to be feminine. This day though after sleeping through the alarm I pulled on beat-up, cutoff jeans covered in bleach stains - the rock n' roll equivalent of tie dye - and sharpee drawings of Led Zeppelin symbols. Of course it was this day that he announced that we should leave class and go for a walk to escape the clammy room of clay.

As we strolled down the neighborhood streets he'd ask me questions and then laugh too hard at my answers. We would halt momentarily to allow the occasional breeze to tickle our skin and the leaves above. In one smooth move he sat down cross-legged. I followed suit and felt grass and tree roots under my legs. I couldn't take my eyes off of his freckles and his blue eyes.

He smiled as he kissed me. The butterflies that had been dusting my stomach walls lifted up through my lungs and out through my shoulder blades.

Years later I would see him at a show where his band was playing. He shined when he smiled as told his friends gathered at the bar "This is the girl who taught me to kiss." I rolled my eyes, nudged his shoulder and announced that I would buy the next round.

As I turned toward the bartender I smiled and closed my eyes for a second. He was the one who gave me what I longed for. My first kiss.

Written of course, for Mike.