Nowness: Great Garden Series

Over the last few weeks, on Tuesdays, I’ve been heading over to the website Nowness to see their Great Gardens series. While I don’t always like what Nowness puts out, this series has struck me as particularly charming and interesting. The last one is up today, so I would encourage you all to go and watch it. I include the links to them all, starting from the first one, below. Happy Tuesday!

The Gardener’s Garden: Great Dixter

Fantasy Island: Tresco Abby Garden

The Secret Garden: Ford Ranch

Trees Company: Cotubin

Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage

 

Advertisements

The Time is Nao.

A Tale for the Time Being

I love getting book recommendations, especially from trusted friends with similar reading habits but perhaps different bookstore browsing patterns. Quite awhile ago, a friend recommended Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, which was only out in hardcover. I don’t like hardcover, so I waited patiently and finally bought it in paperback.

I read it. I read it again almost immediately after I finished it the first time. Now, I must admit, I have to stop myself from just picking it up and reading it once more. You might find that a bit odd – most people don’t read books two times in quick succession, however, it is something I do with almost all books I love. Why? Well, let’s start with this – if I had to name my one talent in this world it would be speed reading. I devour books. Whole ones for dinner. Perhaps because I grew up with no television at all, not even a device for movies, I became quite good at ingesting my one major source of entertainment: books. While my reading comprehension is just fine, because I am a speed reader I sometimes don’t get to live with the books long enough. They are over too quickly. I don’t linger for weeks with concepts like some of my friends do. So, I read it again.

A Tale for a Time Being is awfully human. Suicide, sex, quantum mechanic quandaries, coming of age, Alzheimer’s, it has it all. At first glance I thought, great, another book that tries to deal with everything, but Ruth Ozeki creates an incredibly raw, yet lyrical tale of what it’s like to be human. As Nao, a lively Japanese teenager in terrible circumstances, recounts a story to Ruth, a displaced, forgetful, and currently uninspired author on a remote Canadian isle, they both discover how to finally live. Yes, we have had these types of “many worlds” tales before, Sophie’s World comes to mind immediately, but this one really goes beyond it’s premise to deliver a thing of beauty. What the author is truly making us experience are the struggles of these two women, which naturally deals with all things human.

This might sound like a whole sale endorsement with no reservations, and to some extent it is, but I would be wary to recommend it to everyone. It deals with difficult and distressing topics, and I must admit that I sobbed, SOBBED for parts of it. I might be a sap when it comes to movies, and books often make me shed a tear, but I can’t say I have cried like this for very many books at all. However, I wasn’t depressed when I finished it – quite the opposite in fact.

Finally, the last, masterful stroke of Ruth Ozeki, is that she interweaves reality so well within her fiction that I ended up learning amazing things because of it. I have countless little earmarked pages where I researched gooseneck barnacles, the “anti-imperialist terrorist” Kanno Sugako, the Japanese literary genre I-novel, the Sliammon culture, and the list could go on. This is my favorite type of novel – the type where I learn amazing things about the world around me.

So what am I saying? If you are in need of a good book, and haven’t had time to do your own research on what to read next, read this. Or just read it in general. Because I said so. :P

Graffiti: SoMa Adventuring.

In between 6th and 5th on Howard, I found this gem. I had to share. I hearts it. One of the panels is very close to the great work I photographed on Hemlock. I still don’t know the artist… sorry guys. Just enjoy the visual eye candy and burst of colors <3 By the way, Insanity Wolf should really learn a thing or two from these wolves – they are fierce!

Illustration – I’m practicing.

This semester I’m taking an illustration class. Let me just say this to start – I am not an illustrator. I was never one of those kids who could whip out a cool drawing and make all the adults proud. That just isn’t me. However, I do love to draw, as difficult as it can be for me. I also want to get better at communicating my ideas for design, for anything really, in drawing. Hence, an illustration class.

The kids I’m taking this class with are those kids who can whip out amazingly adorable drawings that make all the adults proud (wait a minute, the class is full of adults, I think I’m giving the wrong impression). Regardless, I’m the only non-illustration major in there, and it can be tough. I’m powering through though. So, I thought I’d share some of my budding work with all of you.

First up, we have my second week homework assignment. The prompt? Draw four flour bags to illustrate the concept of stretch and compression. We could characterize our flour bags if we so desired. I so desired. My flour bags are basically stuffed animal flour bags, and I’m pretty happy with them. They are kind of cute.

For good measure I threw in a few drawings from in-class as well. These are short drawings, from 5-10 minutes, so I don’t always get the details, but they are fun nonetheless. I hope you enjoy my fledgling illustrations.

Graffiti: The Mission

Yesterday, on a walk with another visiting nephew (I have two <3) I found myself once again on Mission St. Really, the concentration of graffiti/street art there is quite high, as any San Franciscan knows. At some points, every small alleyway is lined with murals, tags, etc… In such a plethora, I often find myself unable to really photograph anything, and usually just stick to one or two things I find most interesting that day. Well, that happened again. Overwhelmed by color and pattern, I just captured a very few sections that particularly struck my fancy.

The first mural, by Max Ehrman, really grabbed my attention right away. I’ve posted some of his work before (as Eon75), but I can’t say I recognized it right away. Which is cool, since he changes up his art style a bit. However, now that I know, I can see the similarities in the elaborate backgrounds. I think that aside from the huge, sparkly-eyed cat, the intense swirls, shades, and colors of everything around the cat really drew me in. Very beautiful.

Right next to the cat, just a few paces down, is that gorgeous, swirling, snake skeleton. Or snake-like creature I should say. I have no idea who the artist is, but I love how it swirls around a window. With its very simple color palette, it couldn’t be more different than it’s neighbor, but I found it quite striking, and it held it’s own.

Finally, one alleyway down, and I see a very interesting character high on the wall. Once again, I fail at the finding the artist thing, but thing wall personality is amazing. The asymmetrical eyes, huge lips, and misshapen head would make one think of the grotesque, but somehow I just found him very sweet.

Well, there you have it. I didn’t mean for it to turn into some art dissertation, but I hope you enjoy the photos nonetheless.

Graffiti: Sometimes it’s grouped together.

Around the corner from a very beautiful mural next to Flax Art and Design, and right next to some great patterning and color I’ve shot before, were these four script tags. As usual, even more than the overall impression, I love looking closely at some of the details. The closer I got, the more I felt like I was looking at old books from the middle ages but in fantastic colors. Similarly, I have no idea what they say – my script reading skills are poorly lacking. I did notice the tag “Froggy,” which I have seen before, but I haven’t had any luck finding out what/who it’s about.  Then again, Satan and Hell’s Angels are also mentioned, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t do it… but you never know.

Graffiti: A SoMa Bunny Kitty.

Technically this mural would be considered in SoMa, but I don’t know, all that central, downtown area around the embarcadero until 3rd St. feels like the Financial district. Probably hard core San Franciscans will be really mad at me now, but I can’t really help it. It feels financial in my bones.

Okay, with that little rant out of the way, here it is, a great multi-artist mural Ryan and I saw while walking in San Francisco last Monday (yay for holidays!!!!). Thanks to ZipgunI quickly found out four of the artists: Rime, Dave Persue (Bunny Kitty), Sever, and Ewok. I’m pretty sure Revok and Esteme were involved as well, from what I read above one of the doors, and I’m sure there were others too. It was fun to see the Bunny Kitty character once again, as I had previously took pictures of it in the Mission, and I love it! It’s kind of adorable <3 

The color, ever changing styles, and cool patterning work in this mural make it a standout. I always find it very interesting to see so many artists working on a single piece together. Hope you enjoy :3

Experiments in layers.

Last summer I took my first digital photography class and learned quiet a few things. All in all, I love photography, and it’s something that I want to continue doing and exploring. For my final project I did something a bit weird. I took (or rather directed) self portraits after being put in some rope ties (yes, that’s light bondage I’m talking about). In photoshop, I layered those images with photos of natural textures – something I love looking at all the time. Finally, after printing, I made a layer of architectural/structural photographs on transparencies and put that on top.

Of course, in order to share with people online, I then had to scan the two pieces together, but I think you’ll get the general gist. A bit dark, perhaps, but I really enjoyed the process and am reasonably happy with the finished result. I’ll share a few of them with you now.

Graffiti: A beautiful mural in SF

While heading to Flax Art and Design, I saw this beautiful mural in their parking lot. It’s a great store already, and this just made it even better. According to a small sign inside the store near the exit, this mural was painted in October, 2012 by the duo HERAKUT. It was supposedly painted as the 7th mural in a series to introduce characters from a series of children’s books they were working on in collaboration with Jim Carrey. Though I don’t seem to be able to find anything on a published children’s book, the idea is cool all the same. You can read about it more, and see more pictures, on the Flax Website. For now, here are the ones I took. What I especially noticed about this mural was the beautiful fusion of loose, suggestive drips and lines, with the lovely intricate, realistic work on the faces and bodies.  All around a lovely work of art.

Understanding the International Man of Mystery.

austin-powers-the-spy-who-shagged-me-cover-austin-powers-24335338-1470-2124-gif2

This was a weekend of exploration. New grounds. Breathtaking discoveries. I watched Austin Powers for the first time, and experienced the delight of Gosling. No, not Ryan Gosling, but the deliciousness of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. I thought sake was my only weakness, but it turns out even I’m a bit susceptible to the Gosling – Dark and Stormy. It was a great weekend.

Now, it might be hard for some to understand why someone of my age and disposition had yet to experience the delight of Austin Powers, but there it is. I hadn’t ever seen it. Really, I’ve been preparing for months (years even) for this event. First, we re-watched quite a few of the old James Bond movies when Netflix was about to remove them from their listings. Becoming well versed in the lexicon of the Bond universe will help viewers understand the subtle nuances of Powers, and it was nice to have them fresh in my memories.

Secondly, though perhaps more often neglected, we watched In Like Flint about a month ago. I had no idea why I was being subjected to such rot (a subtle play by my Austin Powers loving boyfriend I presume), but really, it’s an incredibly important movie to Powers. It’s his favorite movie. I still can’t really make up my mind whether or not In Like Flint was supposed to be taken seriously, but I was in hysterics from the sheer horribleness. However, when Wikipedia quotes a New York Times critic saying, “Although the film crawls with dime-store beauties, there is a noticeable lack of sexiness in it. Women bent on being tyrants evidently haven’t much time for anything else” I start to get the feeling that at the time (ha), the movie wasn’t supposed to be making fun of action movies. Action? Yes – Judo CHOP!!! That was the only thing really worthy of getting any screen time. Though, I must admit, the idea of ruling the world through mind controlling hair blow-driers is pretty tempting.

Finally, knowing your Mission Impossibles, Singing in the Rain, and a host of others I probably didn’t pick up on, can’t hurt- Powers likes them too. With this breadth of knowledge at my disposal, I was actually quite impressed. And instantly enlightened about a large facet of my boyfriend’s weird, unexplained quirks (“Are you feeling randy, baby?”). Honestly? I loved it!!! Especially because of how easily and naturally Mike Meyers subverted the masculinity of the spy, the man, the Man of Mystery. He was pretty damn feminine, and I liked it. So we watched all three. All weekend. Parcheesi, Goslings, and Austin Powers. Rinse and repeat. I’d do it forever.  But then, maybe it’s just the Gosling talking. (BTWs, I think the second one was my favorite).