Category Archives: Retablos

Pushing and Shoving: Favorite Quotation

Pushing and Shoving

“If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

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I’m trying to set up for the art walk this weekend, but it is tricky when you are away from home without the usual display materials. I did a photo shoot this morning, but all of the photos mysteriously disappeared after I edited them. Hmmm. This is a quick shot of a display of retablos set up in the bedroom. I need to avail myself of all available surfaces!

I envy people who can throw things together with great flair, but I’m not one of them.  I need to experiment, nudge things around, walk away and come back and have another look, leave the room and walk back in to surprise myself and see if I really like it, seeing it as a stranger of sorts.

When my friend Patty had me come help her arrange things in her new house after her old house blew away in a tornado, she said, “I’m going to have to leave the room while you finish. It drives me crazy watching you fuss!” Ha!!!  I always think of this every time I am pushing things this way and that.

I blame this on my mother.  From the time I was little, we would wait until my dad went to bed and then rearrange the living room furniture.  We’d sit with our backs against big heavy pieces like the piano and push with our legs and backs against the heavy beast to budge it without risking popping a muscle or tendon.  Then we’d sit and survey our work, move one thing or another.  I think my mom in this way made me a collage artist before I even knew the meaning of the word.  It was performance art where we could actually walk around in the assemblage and tug it around.

When I work in the art studio, I usually work on 12 to 20 pieces at a time.  I arrange them, then come back the next day and take out one thing, add another.  Pieces can take a week to come out right or a year–or, after a year I sometimes take them all apart and start over.  I don’t know why a piece finally feels right.  I just know when it does.

Yes, when it comes to art, decorating or setting a table–I think “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

The same goes for cooking!  If it doesn’t taste right, I just start adding things until it tastes right.  I like lots of flavor in a dish.  Subtle just doesn’t do it for me in either decorating or cooking.

The Prompt:  Do you have a favorite quote?  Tell us what significance it has for you.

Passing Time

IMG_1162Detra de las Puertas Cerradas (Behind Closed Doors) One’s own living room can become entirely too comfortable. Shutting the drawers to the past may open the doors to the future. (retablo by Judy Dykstra-Brown)

Passing Time

The means of our escape from life are numerous and various,
and there is nothing wrong with getting thrills that are vicarious.
Movies, sports and novels are fine for entertainment;
but if you’re only viewing, there is no sense of attainment.

Looking back on your own life, like opening a book,
isn’t really living life, but just having a look
at the life of someone who you no longer are.
You aren’t really living life by viewing from afar.

Escape is necessary and our choices for it vast,
but there’s no satisfaction in living in the past.
Life is to be spent, not to be hoarded and rethought.
Better just to live the rest of the time that you’ve got!

Fond memories are something that I’m sure none of us lack,
but there’s no time of life to which I’m yearning to go back.
The only thing to do with time’s to live it and to love it.
I have no wish to turn back time, I only want more of it!

The Prompt: If you could return to the past to relive a part of your life, either to experience the wonderful bits again, or to do something over, which part of you life would you return to? Why?
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/if-i-could-turn-back-time/

Retablo of the Patron Saint of Poets and Musicians

Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of poets and musicians.  This retablo evolved before I did any research on her at all.  I had bought this wonderful oil painting in Peru and just let my mind go in building a retablo for her.  I had no idea who she was–thought she was just another madonna.  When I had finished, an artist friend, Eduardo Xilonsochitl, was at my house painting and building a sculpture for me by the pool and he saw her and said, “Ah, Santa Cecilia.”  I then Googled Saint Cecilia and discovered that all of the symbolism of the retablo did in fact tell the story of her life.  Some things just want to belong together and so it was with her portrait .

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16″ X 16: Santa Cecilia: Mixed Media Retablo, Wood, Metal, paper, dried flowers and leaves, Gold Leaf, Feather, Bone, Abelone, Antique Toy Rocking  Chair, Oil Painting on Canvas, Acrylic paint. 16″ X 16. Click on picture to see details.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/mad-as-a-hatter/

Dreaming A Path

Dreaming A Path

Dream, Fri. Oct 18, 2013

We were at a booth in a café. It was a huge room with booths on every side and each booth had a clock, or at least I thought they did. I don’t think I ever looked. Our alarm started going off and there was no way to turn it off. It was by me and I tried and tried but couldn’t get it off. I said I was just going to unplug it, but Patti said perhaps it was timed with all the other clocks at tables and then it wouldn’t match. I said couldn’t they just reset it when we left? Someone agreed, but still we didn’t unplug it and it went on and on and on. Very annoying. Our booth came equipped with a little dog. It was tiny and light with long very curly white hair that was in loose corkscrew very long ringlets. It was so adorable and affectionate. I held it most of the time. It had legs like wires that went straight down..very skinny…and it jumped a lot. When the waitress came, we told her about the alarm and she said yes, she’d noticed that it was going off…but she didn’t do anything about it. We told her how cute the little dog was and she said yes…but then it seemed like it was the little dog who had the alarm that was going off. We ordered and afterwards I was wanting a dessert but thought I shouldn’t order one. Patti was to my right and I suddenly realized she was eating a very rich chocolate dessert—a sort of fudge flan or very moist slippery cake that was hot with a hot fudge sauce over it. She offered me a taste. It was a very small rectangle…not very big…but I tasted it and immediately said I’d have one, too. It was incredible. Still, the alarm went off. It was driving me crazy! Then I woke up and realized it was my own bedside alarm. I reached up with my eyes still closed and tried to turn it off, but couldn’t find the control. Finally I picked it up, opened my eyes and found the control. It was 8:10. The alarm had been going off for 10 minutes!!!!

My interpretation:

I found this dream in a folder on my computer. I have no memory at all of having dreamed it, and perhaps that distance makes it easier for me to interpret it. In a few weeks, I turn 67. For the past year, I’ve thought repeatedly about death and the fact that if I’m lucky, I probably have only 30 years left. For some reason, that awareness is very stressful. I feel a need to finish everything I’ve started and never completed. Earlier, that consisted of a lot of sorting, construction of storage spaces and weeding out of the contents of my house. That effort is ongoing. What also happened, however, is that I have an incredible drive to get everything published that has been lying around in file cabinets for many many years as well as a need to write new work and somehow disseminate it. My blog is part of that effort, as are my efforts to get all my books on Amazon and Kindle.

Seeing this dream as if for the first time, I clearly see that theme of time running out coupled by a sense of alarm that I need to do something about it. The little dog shows the attractive quality (adorable and affectionate) of finally dealing with all these loose ends—(note all his corkscrew hairs). Those wiry little legs that kept him always active certainly reflect the urgency I’ve been feeling to write write write.

One aspect of this awareness in my real life for a time consisted of my fear that I will stop breathing. This often gets me up gasping at night to run outside to try to breathe. For some reason I haven’t had any of these panic attacks since I started writing every morning. What I interpreted as a growing fear of death and a dread of ceasing to exist was perhaps a fear of not living and creating while I am alive.

I think the interplay between my sister Patti and me in the dream reflects a number of things. One is a difference in our approaches to life. I think in a way, she is more of a rule-follower and since she was my immediate pattern for most of my earlier life, I think a part of me feels this same need, but this is coupled with an equal and stronger need to create my own path in a direction unique from my two older and very competent sisters and to break a few rules to do so. At a very early age, much as I admired and imitated my sisters, I felt the need to prove myself. To find something to know that they didn’t already know. I found this route when I started venturing out at an early age to find new ground where they had not gone before me. It led me first into the homes of friends and strangers where I saw life being acted out in a manner entirely different from my own home. The road led further—to summer camp where I was a stranger to all and vice versa. I loved being the stranger. In choosing a college, I fell back on the reliability and comfort of attending the same school my sister had attended, but in my Jr. year I took my first big leap—a trip around the world on World Campus Afloat. That early adventure in seeing dozens of new and strange cultures set my life path. I’ve been traveling ever since and have been living in Mexico for the past 13 years.

I believe this dream depicts the sense of urgency I’ve had my entire life to “do” something with experience. My art and writing allow me to turn off the alarm for the hours in which I practice them. That small dessert might symbolize the rewards of doing what I need to do to do so.

P.S. An interesting insight I have had just as I started to post this: (And, interestingly enough, wordpress will not accept my blog entry. Perhaps it is insisting I add this P.S. before it does so.) I just got back to Mexico from a visit to the states wherein I visited my oldest sister Betty who is now in the depths of the world of Alzheimer’s. While I was there, she seemed increasingly distressed by the fact that she can no longer communicate, but one day as we were sitting in the living room portion of her small apartment in a managed care Alzheimer’s wing, she motioned to the middle of the floor and said, “Look a that cute little white thing there—that fluffy little white dog!” This was the first incidence that I know of of her actually hallucinating visually, and for some reason it popped into my mind in relation to the little dog in my dream. All of these images—of our dreams as well as our daily life—remind us to live while we can and to do what is most important to us. In my case as well as my sister’s—to communicate. Too late for her, although she continues to try. Not too late for me.

P.S.S.  By the way, the instant I completed the above P.S., the wordpress page that had continued to not allow me to post this blog entry flashed the message:  What do you want to post?  Text? Picture?  I chose text and and you have just read it.

The prompt: Freudian Flips. Do you remember a recent dream you had? Or an older one that stayed vivid in your mind? Today, you’re your own Freud: Tell us the dream, then interpret it for us! Feel free to be as serious or humorous as you see fit, or to invent a dream if you can’t remember a real one.

Note in response to this prompt: (When I think of dreams, I think of Jung, not Freud, and he continues to influence my thoughts and actions much more than Freud ever did.)

 

What Do You See? (Please Comment)

Please help me name this newest retablo, just finished today. (Think of a retablo as a box containing a story.) What story do you see?

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(Click on this second smaller image to increase size of picture. You should then be able to Zoom in and use your scroll bar to see different parts of the image close up. Use + and – to zoom in and out.)

Dichotomy

Someone on a social site I post on once stated that he couldn’t understand the contradiction between my statement that I was an agnostic and the fact that a number of my retablos made use of images of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

One side of the Mexican coin as well as the Universal coin.

One side of the Mexican coin as well as the Universal coin. (click on images to make larger.)

I answered that for me, she was a symbol of that gentle, loving, peaceful, motherly, female side of Mexico that balanced the macho, warlike, violent male side. He didn’t understand this and actually ended our correspondence—a perfect example of that force I sought to counterbalance. I have just finished a retablo entitled “Macho” that demonstrates the male side of the dichotomy.

 

My newest retablo deals with the dichotomy between the masculine and the feminine in both Mexico and the world.

My newest retablo deals with the dichotomy between the masculine and the feminine in both Mexico and the world.

I also have a sculpture I completed over a year ago entitled, “Anima/Animus.”

ANIMA/ANIMUSSHADOWED ANIMA

Since first reading Jung 32 years ago, I have been almost constantly engaged in examining that force which seems to drive the world—that shifting between anima and animus that the I Ching might call yin and yang and that religion might classify as good and evil. Not that either the anima or  animus is purely good or evil, but certainly all is a matter of trying to balance.  This is a simplistic statement of a very complex matter, but one I often deal with in my work.  This statement is being made after the fact as I very rarely have a concept in mind when I begin a work.  I like to see where each piece leads me and I’m as surprised as the viewer may be at where I am led by the process.

ANIMA/UNSHADOWED

ANIMA/UNSHADOWED

ANIMUS/ANIMA CLOSEUP

This detail symbolizes the shattering of the male side of the ego by a feminine consciousness.  The gold object in the glass case is a small replica of the instrument used to sever the head in sacrificial prehispanic temple ceremonies.  The hammer shattering the glass is meant to symbolize the gentling effect of the feminine on the msculine.

This detail examines the shattering of the male side of the ego by a feminine consciousness. The gold object in the glass case is a small replica of the instrument used to sever the head in sacrificial prehispanic temple ceremonies. The hammer shattering the glass is meant to symbolize the gentling effect of the feminine on the masculine.