Archive of ‘art’ category

at up on writers’ night 2010

The University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Arts and Letters hosts a gathering called Writers’ Night every December for professors, students, booksellers, sellers of other things, the general public, and writers. Last year (2010) it was held on December 10, the week before Lantern Parade, and it was well-attended.

I took my eldest daughter Alex and her friend JM along with me that day. They are students at De La Salle University. It was JM’s first trip to UP. He suffered profound culture shock, first of all with the size of the campus. Next, with my matter-of-fact statement that anyone could say anything to anyone at anytime, even in class, to a professor. He said, “You mean you can give your actual opinion to your teacher and she won’t get mad?” I told him, that is the gift of UP to its students – the license, the encouragement, to think free – something almost impossible at a school with a religious or other agenda. He was suitably impressed.

We had lunch, then off I went to a creative writing class with Dr Jing Hidalgo. While I was in class, the two went exploring.

We had dinner after – I took them to that old standby at UP Shopping Center, Rodic’s, where we ate off metal plates. Then to Writers’ Night, held at the rooftop of the Asian Center’s Hall of Wisdom, which we kept calling (by mistake) the “Hall of Justice”.

Typical Rodic’s meals of rice-and: spamsilog, bacon-si-log, long-si-log – with side of itlog na maalat  at kamatis.

The pictures I took that day are soft and fuzzy, kind of how I feel about UP itself – the present experiences of my PhD days mixed with the nostalgic memories of my undergrad years, like photographs superimposed upon each other, merging, blurring, almost becoming one.

The facade of AS (Arts and Sciences building), properly called Palma Hall. All general subjects are taken here, so everyone from UP Diliman passes AS in their early years.

The campus has always been green. I am glad that this is so.

The Sunken Garden, with its soccer goals.

That’s the College of Business Administration. It’s across the Sunken Garden. Fabric in the school colors binds a tree.

At the 2010 UP Writers Night. Tents and chairs on the rooftop, with food and books and singing.

The elderly gentleman with his back to the camera is National Artist for Literature Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera.

Me, in the center, with my hands on Alex’s shoulders. With us are my classmates, writers Triccie Obligacion, Vivien Labastilla, and Hammed Bolotaolo.

With a former classmate,  writer Carljoe Javier (“The Kobayashi Maru of Love”).

At the back are professor J. Neil Garcia and writers Doy Petralba and Hammed; front, a couple of friends, me, and writers Jenette Vizcocho, Triccie, and Vivien.

After the event, I took the kids to my college – the UP College of Mass Communication. The giant iPod on a cart was our college’s entry in the annual Christmas Lantern Parade. It was a wonderful moment for me – seeing my daughter and her friend, both college students themselves, in front of the steps I sat on when I was an undergrad myself. I didn’t think, back then, that I’d be seeing this in a couple of decades.

A closer look at the college’s float. The front of the “iPod” is woven from strips of magazine pages. I heartily concur with and support the sentiment displayed on it.

I will most likely be attending this year’s UP Writers Night – it’s the usual reunion date for past fellows and panelists of the UP National Writers Workshop, and it’s also the launching of Likhaan 5, the UP-CAL journal. My essay “The Turn for Home: Memories of Santa Ana Park” has been included in it, and I look forward to receiving my copy.

taste more:

pop goes the world: language and identity

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 5 May 2011, Thursday

Language and Identity

In a multi-lingual country such as ours that has been colonized by foreigners, language and its use are inextricably linked to issues of national identity and geography.

Tagalog, or “Filipino”, is used as the country’s primary language, and is taught in schools along with English, embedded in the culture during the forty years of the American Occupation. Spanish, spoken by families of the elite during 400 years of Madre España en Filipinas, has sunk into obscurity.

The Philippines, center -the green group of islands that looks somewhat like a dinosaur. Image here.

At different times over the years, either Tagalog or English has been the main medium of instruction, a matter that has always heavily been debated, even fought over.

Cebuanos have contended in the past that there are more Cebuano, or Visayan, speakers, and that it should be the primary language. Tagalog is said to have been designated the national language only for purposes of convenience, being the language spoken in “the center” of the country, where the seat of the national government is located. It’s a case of a language being in the right place at the right time.

We are in a period where Tagalog is the medium of instruction, but many schools are placing an emphasis on the practice of English conversation, giving gold stars and other incentives to class sections that use it. Colegio de Santa Rosa in Makati, which my two daughters attend, is one such example.

Schools are said to be doing this to increase the chances of their graduates obtaining jobs in high-growth sectors such as business process outsourcing, where English fluency is a must, and overseas, because in the past couple of decades the Philippines’s number one export has been human labor.

However, the issue of language has been linked to national identity, and that is another source of contention. As a writer in and speaker of English, I have faced discrimination from native Tagalog speakers, including writers in Tagalog and other Philippine languages, for being “colonized”; I am perceived as somehow unpatriotic.

I write in English and speak it fluently because of circumstances of birth and because I grew up during a time that English was the primary medium of instruction. My sister and I were born and grew up in Manila speaking English, not Tagalog.

My parents were not unpatriotic, it was just that they were not originally from “the center”. My mother is from Bacolod City and speaks Hiligaynon, English, and Spanish; my father was from Cotabato City and spoke Chavacano, English, Spanish, Tausug, Hiligaynon, and some Cebuano and French.

Neither of them spoke Tagalog well; I never heard them speak it at home until I was in my teens. When I did, they sounded barok.

Was it any surprise, then, that they decided to teach English to us, their children? My father also felt it would give us an edge in school; back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the medium of instruction was English. How could they have taught us Tagalog, when they did not speak it fluently themselves and were not comfortable using it?

In 1993 a romance novel of mine in English – Fire and Ice – was released by Solar Publishing, which put out other titles in that series. This was during the heyday of the Tagalog romance “pocketbook”.

Around this time a writing workshop for romance novels was given at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I eagerly signed up. The main speaker was an established writer in Filipino who shall remain nameless. When she learned that my published novel was in English, she said, “Hindi ka Pilipino.” And glared.

I replied, “So you’re saying Nick Joaquin and F. Sionil Jose and Jose Rizal are not Filipino?” And walked out.

When my marriage fell apart because my ex-husband fell in love with someone else, my former in-laws told me, “Kaya ka iniwan ng asawa mo dahil Englishera ka.” Like it was a bad thing, that fluency in English was an evil thing, a right and proper reason for breaking up a family.  That made no sense, and all I could reply was, “But you knew that from the start!” It was in fact a matter of pride for them at first that I and my children have an excellent command of English, and we were paraded around to their family and friends in a Laguna town.

You can say that language plays a big role in my life.

So I read with great interest a Facebook Note posted by broadcaster Rico Hizon, now based abroad and working for BBC World News. It was the speech he gave at the Toastmasters International District 75 Annual Conference, and it was titled, “Being Proud of our Own Filipino-English Diction.”

Hizon said:The Filipino diction is clear, simple, neutral, easy to understand. The Filipino enunciates clearly, pronounces every syllable in a pleasant, even, and non-threatening tone modulated for every ear to capture its essence. And when we speak English, for instance, it is neither American nor British English. It is a Pan-Asian diction. It does not pretend to sound western but both Asians and non-Asians can easily comprehend what is being said.”

He went on to say:  “Speaking in English is not unpatriotic. We are not less Filipinos for mastering another language. We are only making good use of our gift for languages to forge ahead. English should be the medium of instruction in schools.”

I agree with Hizon. I too have the fluency and clear diction, trained as I was by my broadcaster father, who belonged to the old school and insisted on clarity in enunciation. He would have been appalled to hear the squeaky voices and mumbling indulged in by a great many TV and radio broadcasters today.

Pops and me at the ABS-CBN employees’ family day picnic, c. ’70s.

Back when I was growing up, a “golden voice” was required for one to be on radio and TV. Think Harry Gasser, Rey Langit, Orly Mercado. Who do we have on now and what do they sound like? You tell me.

I have parlayed my English fluency in writing and clear diction in speaking into skills that have gotten me work in media when my marriage broke up and I had to support my children. My writing and my voice put food on the table. Would I have been able to do this otherwise? I don’t think so.

In addition to English and Tagalog, I also speak Hiligaynon and some Spanish. I am grateful I grew up the way I did, speaking the languages I do. But just because I am more comfortable using English and Hiligaynon rather than Tagalog, does this make me less Filipino?

If you think I am, then them’s fighting words; say it to my face, so we can step outside and duke it out. If we identify as Filipino, live as Filipinos, and anticipate dying as Filipinos, then we are Filipino, no matter the language we speak, the color of our skin, even the nationality of our birth.

Because love of country resides in the heart and mind, not on our tongues.   ***

Nick Joaquin here. Rico Hizon here. Orly Mercado here.

taste more:

a writers’ coffee shop

If I won the lottery I would open a coffee shop for writers, where writers can caffeinate and dream and write in peaceful, aesthetically pleasing, and food-and-coffee laden surroundings.

It will open its doors at 1130am, perfect for late lunches of pasta, sandwiches, and hearty soup. After that, you can settle down to write, with a potful of coffee by your side and your choice of dessert beside it. Waiters will only murmur gently when they take your order, and then leave you alone, not to disturb you again except when you summon them for a refill or another slice of pie or to give you your bill when you ask.

Brewed Benguet arabica and apple pie at Hill Station Cafe, Casa Vallejo, Baguio City. 13 April 2011.

They will never ask you to leave, even if it’s late. The manager will merely dim the lights gradually as a signal for closing time, which is at 430am, just before sunrise. Then you can move to a breakfast place for eggs and bacon or arroz caldo and go home and sleep. Most writers are more productive at night and the wee hours, anyway, because then there are no more interruptions – phone calls, meetings, and excited people rushing up to you to gab about one thing or another, that may or may not be interesting. Usually it’s not.

There will be free wifi with the strongest possible signal obtainable, and plentiful sockets for Macs and netbooks and mobile phone chargers and tablets inset along the baseboards and on the floor. The password for the wifi will change everyday: “tolkien”, “nickjoaquin”, and “arabica” will be some of them. Because the owner is a writer, and knows a great many words, no password will ever be used twice.

A cozy corner at Hill Station Cafe, where I wrote my Manila Standard-Today column for that week. 13 April 2011

For those who prefer to write in longhand, bottles of Waterman ink in blue-black and South Sea blue (a lovely turquoise) will be offered on a tray to refill a fountain pen, on the house. Other inks of different brands and vintages – J. Herbin, Diamine, Pilot Iroshizuku, Private Reserve, Sailor, Noodler’s  - will be listed on a special menu, like fine wines. Notebooks with guaranteed fountain-pen friendly paper will be offered on the menu’s reverse side – Clarefontaine, Rhodia, Daycraft, Green Apple.

Regulars will have their own personal reserved spaces in quiet corners. My friends will have their own personal chairs with nameplates affixed to the backs, and no one else would be allowed to use those chairs.

Writers Yvette Tan (“Waking the Dead and Other Stories”, a short story collection) and Clarissa Militante (“Different Countries”, a novel) chat at the BenCab Museum cafe in Baguio, 10 April 2011.

There will be a few paintings and photographs on the wall, but most of the space will be taken up with books on shelves, wall-to-wall. Anyone may read them on the premises. There will be memorabilia from writers – one of Butch Dalisay’s baseball caps or old Macs, Jing Hidalgo’s lipstick, a book of poetry by Gemino Abad, with the poet’s annotations in the margins.

At night, around six o’clock, the place will turn into a bar, with beer and nuts and sizzling sisig, so that writers so inclined may get drunk and maudlin and reminisce about the good old days, or raucous and combative and rehash old grudges, as they are so moved. Maybe over the kibitzing a story or poem idea may be born, collaborations made, and money-making schemes hatched.

On weekend nights there will be poetry readings, or open-mic nights, where anyone who wishes can strum the guitar, sing the blues, or perform stand-up comedy.

A dream coffee-shop? A sanctuary of the mind? Who’s to say it cannot come true?

I will buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.

taste more:

pop goes the world: choosing the light

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 28 April 2011, Thursday

Choosing the Light

My first “Pop Goes the World” column came out April 29 last year, and was about David Byrne’s “Here Lies Love” rock opera on the life of Imelda Marcos.

Has it been a year already? Time speeds by at maximum velocity when you’re enjoying yourself, and writing these pieces do count as fun.

I initially envisioned this column as touching upon matters related to cultural studies, and over the past year I’ve opined on a wide range of topics – the serious, such as the BP oil spill and the trifecta disasters in Japan, and the personal, on the multiculturalism of my sister and children and on relationships.

Do they all have to do with culture, though? Yes, because culture is the context in which human activity is embedded. You can’t throw a stick without hitting something to do with culture, which in its broadest sense has been defined as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group,” or, as I’ve read  elsewhere, “the way we do things around here.”

As a social constructionist, it’s interesting to see how different people create their societies based on mutual agreement, notwithstanding the opposition of any vociferous minority that may exist, since the majority prevails – unless we’re talking dictators (a minority of one), and that’s a whole ‘nother thing entirely.

“Far Side” cartoon by Gary Larson here.

We can see the construction of culture within our society happening before our very eyes. An example? Jan-jan’s “macho dancing” on Willie Revillame’s “Willing Willie”. I wrote in a previous column about how I deemed it obscene for a six-year-old to be made to gyrate in that suggestive manner on national television.

After it was published, I got several comments saying, in effect, who was I to judge what was lascivious or not for a young boy to do and where to do it, and that different people have different tastes and just to let each other be. “Live and let live,” they said.

In my not-so-long-ago youth, such a dance would never have made it on TV. Such a dance would never have been taught to young children. Such a dance showing the sexualization of minors would not have been tolerated in the wider society.

Now, however, it is disconcerting to read how a great many people see nothing wrong with Jan-jan’s teary performance, with his parents even suing the sundry people who have taken up the cudgels for their son and others who might be exposed in a similar manner in the future.

Our culture is changing before our very eyes, even as you read these words. For better or for worse?

The good thing is that in this society, we still have a choice. We can choose not to allow our own children to be sexualized prematurely by not teaching them suggestive dances and by not exposing them to such activities. We can choose not to watch “Willing Willie” nor any other show Revillame may be on. We can choose to create a better life for ourselves and our loved ones.

The sad part is that when our culture changes around us, there is no way we or our children won’t be affected somehow, eventually.

But we can try, and rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Since this is still a free country (more or less, the last time I looked), I will, within my jurisdiction as a parent, pro-actively shield my children as much as I can from what I personally consider negative influences. That means a block on Internet porn sites and no shows featuring Willie Revillame.

I will encourage my children to read more. We started way back when they were toddlers, when I read Dr Seuss aloud to them, which resulted in both my girls being able to master diphthongs in 24 hours. This was followed with childrens’ classics such as “Alice in Wonderland”, and we memorized the hilarious poem “Jabberwocky” as an added bonus. Right now they are into Eoin Colfer and other young adult books – no “Twilight” in our house, thankfully.

The John Tenniel illustration of the Jabberwock.

I will take them to more art exhibits and book launches and other similar events. Last February we saw the paintings and multi-media art of Bea Lapa, Chris Dumlao, and  Rebie Ramoso. We also nearly got Neil Gaiman’s autograph the last time he was here but were turned off by the long lines, something we regretted after.

I will take them regularly to Baguio, where creative self-expression is a part of many residents’ lives. I was up there the week before Holy Week for the 50th UP National Writers Workshop (as a Fellow for English) and was blown away by how vibrant and sincere the art scene there is.

As colorful Tibetan prayer flags flutter above them, 50th UP National Writers Workshop panelists and UP professors Dr Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Dr Gemino Abad, and Dr Jose Dalisay (back to camera) sit awhile at the BenCab museum cafe.

Anthropologist Dr. Padmapani Perez’s Mountain Cloud bookshop at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, is the place “where your soles touch the ground, rumbling in your tummy, dancing where your heart pulses and your breath moves, filling the space between your ears,” as their slogan goes. It’s right beside Hill Station café, and you can move back and forth between the two, settling in the bookshelf-cum-chairs of Mt. Cloud with a coffee or beer from the café.

It’s a small place with a big heart – Mountain Cloud Bookshop in Baguio City. Books are not wrapped in plastic, inviting browsing. The bookshelf/chairs are cozy.

A view of the Mt. Cloud bookshop counter from the loft above.

I participated in a Poetry Slam event there and loved how welcoming and warm the audience and other contestants were. They will be having the third edition of that event in June – do go, and witness something special!

A quiet corner at Hill Station.

VOCAS on Session Road is where you will find food and drink with art and interesting interiors, and where a drumming session might begin – or not. There is no pressure to do, everything simply flows, and one goes with it, flowing in and out as moved by intuition and desire.

Inside VOCAS (Victor Oteyza Community Art Space).

It’s a good way to live, peaceful and meaningful, and I look forward to applying in Manila the lessons learned in Baguio. I choose to fill my life with art and books and love, because I have the right to live my life the way I want to, as long as I do not break the law.

I will create my personal culture while remaining a part of mainstream culture, an individual yet still Filipino to the core.

And as I celebrate my first year on MST’s op-ed page, I invite you to continue along with me on this journey together, as we explore more of Filipino and world culture and society.   ***

taste more:

pop goes the world: poets driven mad by love

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 14 April 2011, Thursday

Poets Driven Mad by Love

Baguio City – Steeped in words, simmered in rhythm, cooked in sound – twelve writers baked in a literary pie serve a taste of Filipino literature at the milestone 50th University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop.

The week-long workshop for writers in mid-career is taking place at AIM-Igorot Lodge, Camp John Hay, April 10-17. It brings together twelve Fellows – six in Filipino, six in English – invited by UP’s Institute of Creative Writing, to receive feedback from their peers about their work, and suggestions where to take their works-in-progress and future projects.

The panelists are a Who’s Who of Philippine literature and academe – National Artist Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, UP-ICW director Dr. Jose Dalisay Jr., workshop director Prof. Jun Cruz Reyes, Dr. Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Dr. Gemino Abad, Dr. J. Neil Garcia, Dr. Rolando Tolentino, Dr. Mario Miclat, UP-ICW deputy director Prof. Conchitina Cruz, Prof. Charlson Ong, and Prof. Romulo Baquiran Jr.

According to Dr. Hidalgo, the workshop began many years ago, for beginners. Workshops then burgeoned at different universities after that, so UP decided to up the ante by shifting the National Writers Workshop focus to being a homebase for established writers who might need a little encouragement and direction.

The twelve Fellows for 2011 are: Genevieve Asenjo, Ronald Baytan, Khavn de la Cruz, German Gervacio, Nerisa Guevara, Clarissa Militante, Allan Pastrana, Axel Pinpin, Yvette Tan, John Iremil Teodoro, John Torres, and myself.

50th UP National Writers Workshop Fellows 2011. Axel, Gen, Jie Teodoro, Yvette, JennyO, Clarissa, John Torres, Nerisa, Ronald, German, Khavn, Allan. Image here.

This historic event brings together a diverse collection of souls, whom I would not have met otherwise, nor whose works I would have encountered. My first taste of protest literature is through activist-poet Axel Pinpin’s short story which hides pain behind humor. Gay lit is represented in the prose of Ronald Baytan and poetry of John Iremil Teodoro, who could well be a stand-up comedian.

Clarissa Militante, long-listed for the 2009 Man Asia literary prize for her novel Different Countries (2010), delves into how the philosophical, social, and political are woven inextricably into a person’s journey. Genevieve Asenjo writes prolifically in Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, and Filipino – dense, rich, and thick tapestries.

Filmmakers Khavn de la Cruz and John Torres explore different territories in their scripts. German Gervacio plays with form in his pursuit of the epic; Nerisa Guevara seamlessly blends concepts of father, city, and home to craft lyrical prose-and-poetry. Allan Pastrana, rooted in the semiotic tradition, seeks to redefine the boundaries of poetry by playing with language.

Genre fiction finds a strong, distinctive voice in Yvette Tan’s short stories, which raise the bar for literary quality in Philippine horror fiction. Her “Seek Ye Whore” combines themes of enchantment, desire, love, and gourmet cooking in a lusty tale about alluring mail-order brides sent in pieces to America on installment. “Stars”, her piece for the workshop, is a tour-de-force of references to Lovecraft and ‘70s Eddie Romero B-movies of the schlocky persuasion.

My own work launches from my roots in sports journalism and dives into creative non-fiction via a memoir-in-progress centered on love exchanged and returned, unrequited and unredeemed, but which in itself is its own salvation.

Seven of the Fellows have had their sessions (mine was the first) with the other five scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Comments on the different prose and poetry texts brought up issues of form and structure, meaning and identity, with some panelists grounding their analysis in theory and philosophy, others emphasizing readability and literary quality.

One of the issues that surfaced in the discussions was the difficulty of marketing Philippine books. First, we are not a reading public. Second, local bookstores tend to place less priority on giving Filipino books prime display space. Authors have a sense of being marginalized in their own country; their books, regardless of subject, are crammed together on the Filipiniana shelves.

Why not also put works by Filipino writers on the shelves by topic, with those of foreign writers? If Philippine literature is to develop, the circumstances that will drive that evolution should be laid on a foundation created by the stakeholders in the publishing industry working in concert to create a win-win situation for all.

Meanwhile, still here in Baguio, enveloped by the aromas of pines and fresh-brewed Benguet Arabica, we immerse ourselves in the creative experience, reveling in our power as wordsmiths, our skill wielded deftly as we blaze new ground together.

After dinner last Tuesday night, we all went to Ayuyang Music Bar near Session Road, where over beers and weng-wengs we crafted a renga – a round robin poem. (Strictly speaking, a renga is a genre of Japanese collaborative poetry.) Each person was given only one minute to write a line of free verse, writing one after the other. This is the first time this poem is published. It is as yet untitled.

Our inspirations? Baguio, food, the chill of a summer night, the fire of lust, the thrill of creation, sin, desire, redemption, love unending.

Nangangagat ang malamig na pag-ibig ng Baguio

If then, why not leave the limning?

Nginangatngat ang lamig ng yelo ng lapot ng Baguio Oil

Walang sinasanto, walang pahinga

Walang sinisinta, sintas ng santa-santita

Sintas ng santa-santita, ipinanlatigo ng demonyita…

Ang gusto ko lang naman, magluto

Ang gusto kong laman, magluto

ng sisig. Utak, tenga, nguso, sizzling! sizzling!

Lumiliyab, umaapoy, umaalab  – ito ba’y pag-ibig o gutom?

Kung pag-ibig man o gutom, ang sikreto sa pagnamnam,

eskandalosa o kontemplatiba.

Awitin natin ang kasalanan nitong gabi!

Sing the pining needle to its thread, green, green!

Ganito, ganitong tumula

Ang mga makatang binaliw ng pag-ibig!

*© 50th UP NWW Fellows 2011*

I asked my fellow Fellows for one-word sound bites about the entire experience:

Khavn: “Wasaak!” John Torres: “Sex!” Yvette: “Panalo!” Axel: “Kumpisal.” Clarissa: “Contemplation.” Allan: “O—“ Nerisa: “Sanctuary.” Genevieve: “Resurrection.” John Teodoro: “Vongga!”

Visit the workshop’s live blog at upworkshop2011.wordpress.com and follow the live Tweets until Sunday at@upworkshop2011. ***

taste more:

art nouveau, scots-style

From my bookshelves: Mackintosh, by Tamsin Pickeral (Flame Tree Publishing, London: 2005). Part of “The World’s Greatest Art” series.

Glasgow-born Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 to 1928) was a leading light of Art Nouveau design in the United Kingdom. With his wife, artist and designer Margaret MacDonald, he created a body of work that today is still admired for its lightness, airiness, and singular vision.

This is an art book, on each page a photograph showing some aspect of Mackintosh’s work, from architecture and interiors to paintings and textiles.

He designed homes and buildings from without to within, preferring to keep a tight control on all artistic aspects of a project. He often worked with his wife, whose style mirrored his own; some critics say she was the better artist and that she influenced him. It was Mackintosh’s gift to present the entirety of their collaboration as a package when working on projects.

Motto image here.

His style is unmistakable and enduring; a font that he designed for signage (as was used for the Willow Tea Rooms) is still as fresh and timeless as when he created it over a hundred years ago.

A design for a music room, with panels by MacDonald, that they entered in the “House for an Art Lover” competition in 1901, reflects the changing sensibilities of the period away from the dark and heavy Victorian aesthetic that had been the style for decades, towards a freer, lighter, more artistic trend.  The design duo favored white backgrounds, bright pastels, and florals, with a stylized pink rose their signature motif.

Music Room interior here.

The clean, simple lines, vibrant colors from nature, and organic curves paired with lines and angles represent the successful blending of art and logic, of  beauty and science, that was the zeitgeist of their world.

Glass panel detail showing the stylized “Mackintosh Rose”. Image here.

CRM portrait here. Caveat: these particular images are not in the book.

taste more:

till you love me

Sketch by Ju-chin (Justine Espinola).

Ju-chin is a very talented schoolmate of my Major Offspring’s at De La Salle University. She is majoring in Japanese studies and loves all things anime. She dresses mori (forest girl) style, is a fantastic cook and sketcher and sewer and more besides.

This is one of the many drawings in her notebook, and I wonder what it means. She says one day she wanted to design a wedding dress, and here it is.

But the quote that accompanies the sketch makes the girl in the wedding dress seem like a stalker lying in wait for her crush who doesn’t even know she exists or if he does he is staying very very far away from her because she is weird and persistent and scary.

Or maybe it’s just me. I don’t think Ju-chin intended for her drawing to have any such meaning.

But that is what art is – open to the beholder’s interpretation, to her or his individual frames of reference. Once the artist releases art to the world, it is no longer her own, but everyone’s.

taste more:

LA angst

This is the zeitgeist of Los Angeles, I suppose.

“LA Angst”, billboard at Citywalk, Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California. Photo taken 9 July 2009.

I haven’t found out who the artist is, but it’s got a very Roy Lichtenstein flavor to it.

taste more:

sweet doing nothing

There are mornings when I sleep in and wake up with the sun high up, with nothing more on my mind than to spend the day the way I want to – in unhurried Web surfing, writing, and reading whatever takes my fancy.

The Italians call it dolce far niente – “pleasant idleness”. Literally, the phrase means “sweet doing nothing”.

“Dolce Far Niente” (1904) by  John William Godward, English artist (1861 to 1922). Image at the Art Renewal Center gallery here.

Let’s not begrudge ourselves the time for the kind of idleness that calms and heals; not every moment needs to be filled up with the frantic scurrying that is merely make-work and leads to the stress that is the bane of modern society.

Sometimes we need to recharge, reconnect with ourselves and remember what matters to us most, in an afternoon of dolce far niente. Light a scented candle or burn a stick of incense; curl up in a favorite armchair or on a pile of pillows covered with white eyelet lace, book or Kindle in hand. Read, or allow your thoughts to wander to the happiest moments of your life. Dream for the future, for it can be as sweet as you make it.

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