Category Archives: Art

Treasure Hunt

 

 

 

Treasure Hunt

At Rudy’s Scrap and Salvage, you’ll find the junk of dreams.
Sewing machines with treadles and pants burst at the seams
that you can mend upon them.  Dining sets with mismatched chairs.
In his clothing section, shoes seldom come in pairs.

Lovely one-eyed dollies and lop-eared careworn rabbits,
uniforms and costumes, surplices and habits.
Little pails of misplaced parts like nuts and bolts and widgets.
Chairs fit for a giant and little chairs for midgets.

Crankshafts, axles, handlebars for 50’s era Schwinns.
Housegoods by the bushel and tools by the bins.
Whoever was responsible for making all these things
would barely recognize them with their scratches and their dings.

It’s a place for dreamers, for artists or inventors—
those a few steps out of time who lack corporate mentors.
Those bent on handing back our junk with which we tried to part
as startling new inventions or else objets d’ arte.

Taking worthless bits of junk and making priceless treasures
is, I must admit, one of my most primary pleasures.
You can keep your Bergdorfs, Neiman Marcus or your Saks.
I prefer my treasures in orange crates or gunny sacks!

 

The prompts:

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/rdp-56-salvage/
https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/responsible-july-26-2018/
https://fivedotoh.com/2018/07/26/fowc-with-fandango-dreamer/

Objectification

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Objectification

Objects are dependable. Objects are the best.
Objects do not leave you. They remain there at rest.
They soothe the eye with beauty or operate as slaves,
for objects have served us since humans lived in caves.
Since the first stone hammer or flint carved to a point,
objects have helped to feed us or to pretty up the joint.
Carved into a cave wall, a bison or a bird.
Art lasts for millennia. That’s why I find absurd
those who say things don’t matter, for what I have to say
is that it’s art that lingers. People just pass away.

 

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Fandango‘s prompt today was object. Before you start exclaiming in protest, I’ll issue the disclaimer that this is written a bit tongue-in-cheek. Albeit, I love art. Wouldn’t want to live without it.  But I do realize people are more important.

Fandango‘s prompt was object.

Wood, Paper, Stone

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Lately, several people have asked to see what I as doing before I moved to Mexico and started making retablos and writing this blog.  When I searched for the word “study,” today’s prompt word, in my blog files, this blog published four years ago was one of the posts that came up and since it fulfills both purposes, I’m going to run it again.

My story begins in 1985 when I went to a coffee house in Santa Monica, CA for a poetry reading. It was an interesting situation–a dual reading between a local poet I’d never heard read before and his ex-girlfriend who also happened to be pregnant with his child.  Although they had broken up and she had gone back to her estranged husband, the two of them were reading love poetry they had written to each other!!!  Need I mention that it was a packed house?  At any rate, if you’ve read my book, you know that it was love at first sight on my part.  I not only thought he was gorgeous,but his poetry was smart and funny and real and I felt I knew him from the first time I saw him.

A year and a few months later, we were married and moved to northern California where the living was cheaper and where I intended to get a teaching job to augment his early retirement (from teaching) income so he could finally become the full time artist he’d always wanted to be. Prior to moving northwards and actually prior to our marriage, when I experienced writer’s block, the man whose poetry workshop we both attended had suggested that my problem was that I “knew” too much about writing. (I had been teaching literature and writing for 10 years prior to moving to CA to write myself.)  He said the  cure would be to try an artistic discipline other than writing that I knew nothing about–in my case, art.  But I couldn’t draw or paint, I protested. So, he suggested I go to the dime store and buy a bunch of “stuff” and just play around with collage.

So, this is what I did, assembling a half dozen or so collages out the the most unlikely of materials–rubber mice, cut up thin metal jam and butter lids I’d collected on a European vacation, confetti,  paper sculptures I’d cut out of pages of old poems.  I know. Weird.  I remember one of the titles was, “Party mouse wants to come out to play, but can’t.”

Jack, our writing guru, had said to bring my results to show him at the next workshop, but I was embarrassed and so left my collages in the car when I came up to class. When it was my turn to present, he asked if I’d done as he instructed and I admitted I’d left them into the car. “Go and get them,” he directed and because he was our God and because no one ever didn’t mind Jack, I went to get them.  They were well-received, to my great surprise, and one woman who worked in a downtown L.A. gallery even offered  to exhibit them.  No, way, I protested, but I have  continued to do art of one sort or another ever since.

After we moved to the Santa Cruz area, Bob did art full time until his death 14 years later.  I never did get that teaching job.  Instead I studied metal smithing and became a jewelry maker and paper maker.  We made our living doing arts and crafts shows for the next 13 years, each doing our own thing–me, jewelry and him sculpture and ikebana vases–but in addition, we collaborated on art lamps that were constructed from river stones, bamboo, willow, basket making materials and my handmade washi paper.  Bob did the wood and stone work. I made the paper from mulberry bark and applied it and in some cases designed and constructed the entire lamp of liana, bamboo, my handmade paper and various natural materials. Some of those lamps are pictured below:

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We sold hundreds of these lamps, each one totally unique and although we sold every one we ever made, they were extremely time-consuming and hard to transport. We were not becoming rich, but we were doing exactly what we wanted to and making art exactly according to our own esthetic, not catering to fashion or what would sell. Eventually, I started to make my own lamps as well as doing all of the paper and application of paper for his and continuing to design and make jewelry.

At one show, a man actually came in and bought our entire booth.  Every lamp, ikebana vase and every piece of jewelry!!  That, I must say, was the highlight of our joint careers.

When Bob died and I moved to Mexico, it was the end of my lamp building career. I let each of his kids choose a lamp and sculpture, I saved two lamps for myself, sold the rest, and went on to the next stage of my life.  But, since we did so many  shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I developed this very strange compulsion which consisted of looking for our lamps in every TV show and movie that I’ve watched since then.  I had this feeling that one day I would see one of our lamps as part of the set for a movie.

Bob died in 2001, but, still, my eyes sweep the background of each movie scene.  I must admit I do the same with magazines, and actually, thirteen years ago when I thumbed through an issue of House and Garden that had a friend’s garden on the cover, I suddenly had an overwhelming sense that one of our lamps was inside.  I looked and looked.  Nothing.  Then, I concentrated on a many-page spread of the gardens surrounding a house outside of Santa Fe and when I looked closer, I realized it was the house of the man who had bought out our entire booth in Tucson–so although they didn’t show, the house pictured as the backdrop of the gardens actually was filled with our lamps!!!  I know.  Stretching it, but still.

Anyway, we are about to come to the end of this very wandering tale.  Last night I watched a movie I’ve been putting off seeing for years.  My friend and I had just spent two hours trying unsuccessfully to link my MacBook Air and my Samsung Smart TV.  I was exhausted and decided to just watch Netflix on my computer. Not feeling like scrolling through a hundred different films, I  clicked on “Life of Crime” with Jennifer Aniston.  The movie was actually rather engaging and not the slapstick comedy I had envisioned, and I stayed the course.  And it was in the very last scene that it happened.  As the antagonist female was heading for the bathroom, there on the back wall was what looked like –ONE OF MY LAMPS!!!  Four different times, I got glimpses of it.  When the movie ended (great ending by the way) I replayed the last 5 minutes.  Tried to freeze frame.  Scrunched my eyes up.  Yes!  I was so sure it was one of my own small lamps–not one we’d collaborated on, but one of the first I’d done where I’d done my own design, execution and even the wiring.

Of course, I told Forgottenman, who happens to live 1500 miles away but whom I talk to at length via Skype each day.  A few minutes later, he Skyped, “Is it this one?” with a perfect screen shot of the  lamp.  Yes, indeed it was.  I remembered thinking I should cover the cord up with something.  I remembered hand drying the paper with a hairdryer so it would shrink over the willow branches.  I remembered binding it tightly with wax linen and spraying it with fire retardant.  I remember making the handmade label and where I tied it on–at the bottom where the willow branches joined.

So, though I may have flaked out and quit the actor’s studio I attended while I was in L.A. studying film production and film writing—retreating  with my tail between my legs as soon as casting directors actually started coming to see what we were up to—there was one of my lamps, bravely rising to the occasion–hanging securely on the wall and facing up to the camera like the star I knew it would one day be. Like a proud parent, I bask in its reflected glory.

It is one of my humble little lamps, non-assuming and plain, but here it is below, for all the world to see:    

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As well as a few  more elaborate lamps by Bob Brown & Judy Dykstra-Brown made of Stone, wood, handmade washi paper, waxed linen and willow.

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The prompt word today is study.

Carve

I’m at the beach and my friend Rachel is leaving soon so we need to go to breakfast, since I turned the fridge up too high and it froze everything–eggs, milk, butter. With no time to do a new post right now, this is a reblog of a piece from three years ago that is appropriate for the prompt today, which is carve.

Cast in Potato Salad, Carved in Stone

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Cast in Potato Salad, Carved in Stone

The last thing I ever thought I would do would be to pose for a nude sculpture, but when I married a sculptor, I guess it was inevitable.  Since I never had children, this probably marked the longest period in my life that I ever lay nude being observed by a second party.  I remembered having no reservations about doing so, in spite of the fact that I am really rather modest–that is about revealing myself physically. Words are another matter all together.

My husband first sculpted me in plasticine clay. (No, not the ubiquitous Sculpey, but a very dense artist’s clay used to make the originals for bronze casting.) He then made a plaster mold followed by a rubber reverse mold that would enable him to make further plaster molds once he destroyed the plasticine original so he could reuse the plasticine.  After mastering the intricacies of wood carving, bronze casting, welding, clay, sandblasting, paper making and stone carving, he was in a difficult spot.  A tool junkie, he had already purchased or made every tool necessary for working in these media. How could he justify buying any more tools or building another studio addition to add to the seven studios he had already set up?

The answer came when our artist friend Diana moved to town.  Her medium was cast glass and Bob soon became fascinated with the process.  Of course, this necessitated the purchase of dozens of large jars of different colored glass casting pellets as well as books, chemicals and other supplies necessary for the process. Unfortunately, we already owned a large kiln, so he couldn’t justify buying a new pristine kiln to be used only for the melting of glass.  True, some molecules of clay might permeate the glass castings, but he decided at least for his first project, to use our existing kiln.

I can’t remember what his first few castings were, but after a few experiments, he decided that his first large glass project would be–ta da–a glass casting of his recumbent nude wife!

The thing was, this necessitated ordering a good deal more glass, and in the meantime, he had this wonderful rubber mold just sitting there unused!  He tried to busy himself with carving stone and wood, but meanwhile that mold beckoned!  Enter fate in the guise of the next show at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, where we were both members.  And the next show was—Edible Art!  In addition to food-centered art themes, there was to be a cookbook of artists’ favorite recipes and the piece de resistance was an edible category, to be consumed at the reception!!!  Thus it was that I came to be cast in potato salad–first molded in “the” well-washed and disinfected rubber mold  and then fine-sculpted by Bob’s hands.

I must admit I felt some trepidation about first being viewed nude, then being consumed by my fellow artists and friends.  This smacked of the Donner party or some sort of sixties orgy, but how we suffer for our art.  I requested Bob not reveal who his model was and all went well.  Later, the judge told us that he would have won first place for edible art if I had not forgotten and used some of the water I used to boil the eggs to add moisture to the potato salad. I had forgotten that I always put a half cup of salt in the water to seal the eggs in case they cracked during the boiling process and that addition made the potato salad totally inedible.  The judges could do nothing but award his sculpture fourth place prize in place of first, right ahead of a jellybean mosaic in the Byzantine style, but behind my third place for my “Garden of Earthly delights!”

Yes, the glass grains did arrive and yes he cast the sculpture, but what happened during the further fiasco of my chain of nude effigies must be left to another time and post lest this one grow too long for certain (unnamed) friends to read.    Suffice it to say that once cast in potato salad, twice in glass, it seems only appropriate that my grave be marked by my magnificent if inedible body rendered into stone!!!  It will be the sensation of my little town, I can promise you.
daily life color084 (4)Version 2(photos and copy above taken from the Valley Press)

 

Paying Homage

Paying Homage


A “retable” or “retablo” was originally a frame or shelf enclosing decorated panels or revered objects above and behind an altar. It has since come to also designate the painting or other image it encloses. In Mexico, it is common for families to have smaller versions of the larger pieces seen in churches in their homes. At the time I moved here in 2001, I could buy the undecorated, unpainted ornamental metal frames for retablos in a local artisan market and I started making retablos myself that paid homage to saints, Mexican legendary figures, artists, family members and friends.  Over the years, my subjects have grown, as have the retablos.  Here are a few of the hundreds I’ve created over the past 16 years.  Recently, as the metal frames get harder to find, I have started using simpler boxes which I have constructed for me.

 

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Jugetes (Toys)

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“We’ll Always Have Paris”

IMG_5362Santa Cecilia (Patron Saint of Poets and Musicians)

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Self Portrait

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Hidden Kiss 


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Sunrise Madonna


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The Circus

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Sunday Afternoon Sala


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Creativity

 

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judy8Homage to Picasso

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Rainy Season

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Macho

 Our Lady of Notions

The prompt today was homage.

What Can We Do to Improve our Town?

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This is what the kids at Campamento Estrella (Camp Star) in San Juan Cosala, Mexico had to say today about saving their world:

(Please click on first photo to enlarge all.)