15 April 2014

recollection :: one

i have been feeling an urge. an urge to illustrate and narrate my small stories. the little moments that have somehow shaped who i am as a person. i keep noticing what seems to sink in with the little; what moments end up suspended in her brain; the things she wants to re-live, repeat, share. it's always been fascinating to me what s t i c k s. it's not always the things that you might think. it's not the graduations, birthdays, or the big things [although they are there too]. it's often something overlooked that actually makes an impact. [oh our curious brains]. so i started a list. a list of things that i remember from my childhood/growing up. some of them actually feel like a series of things that have become a singular movie that i see in my mind [fuzzy]... some of them link to an overall feeling of safety, or family, or belonging. some of them are, naturally, painful. i keep coming back to the idea that there is usually an image that seems more prominent than others as i recall these things [sometimes there's a few]. like the cover of a novel there's a signature front... and i keep wanting to draw them.

i also realize that our memories are not necessarily accurate. and in the end that doesn't matter. it's not rocket science to admit we make our own reality.

if there's one thing i've learned about myself and these urges - i should follow them, or else they start to haunt me and actually just might prevent me from doing other things.

so... let's start at the beginning. my first clear memory [i'm 2 - so it's really not that clear, but there are flashes that i can see, and really feel if i close my eyes].

we are not home. it's just me and mommy. she is in an all black robe [kimono] - with white that peeks out where it crosses her chest. there are white emblems on the collar too. 

we are in a room. it's square. no one is wearing shoes. we sit on the floor [tatami]. there are other people in the room. some of them are in black robes too. 

there is a man. he sits in the middle of the room - the rest of us surround him. he has no hair. he is chanting. endlessly. 

my legs hurt. they are cramped. but i sense i shouldn't move. or make much noise. 

the chanting. it goes on for what feels like forever. all the faces, but none i recognize. when we get up my legs are unsure. wobbly.

...   ...   ...   ...

this was my obasan's funeral. i don't really remember people crying. or my mother being sad. which i know she was. i don't remember who else was there, or any other part of that trip, really. i know what others have said. i think when we flew to japan my mom and i were late... she was running down long airport hallways with me [but i've heard this story so many times i don't know if that's my memory, or my remembering people telling me]. i think someone held up the plane for us. i know i was trying to reassure my mom [so she tells me]. 

i do know i haven't been to another funeral quite like it. that the smell of tatami, particular incense, and certain kinds of wood transports me back to japan. that if i see an image of a buddhist priest sitting from a certain angle, this comes back. 

i also know that i would not want to be a newish mom traveling 1/2 way around the world with my toddler child to say goodbye to my own mother. i think about how strong [and young] my mother was. how until i was a mother there was no way to understand the depth of resources and reserves a mother seems to develop. or that the gratitude you feel for your own mother is magnified 1000 fold when you become one. 


i'm so grateful for all the responses i'm getting re the french knot and doily projects ! please please keep spreading the word. i'm sure i will need MORE. ;)

i wanted to pop in, though and clarify a bit as i've had a few questions.

1. please make each doily you draw ONE color. you can make multiples [up to 10] and make each one a different color, but please only use one color/one media per drawing. 

2. i received a doily the other day, and sadly i can't use it because it's not the right doily. i really only want the doilies pictured here [and drawn/pictured in the post]. this piece will be in dialogue w/ the 1000 doily installation, so i want all the doilies to match. 

3. i've had some people who are going to "collect" doilies from friends or students and mail them all at once. HURRAH. this is brilliant. i just request that you get the names of all the people who are making them so i can give credit to all my helpers [of course if you don't want credit then you don't have to tell me who you are - and if it's kids helping me ages might be fun too]. 

4. when you send your doily drawing - please do NOT bend/fold it. if you need to fold your paper to get it in an envelope, see if you can fold around the drawing? or use a bigger envelope and a piece of cardboard ??? you can make tiny ones 3"x3" so they fit in a regular #10 envelope.

if you have a question - PLEASE don't hesitate to ask. 

09 April 2014

I NEED HELP ! [[again]]

remember last year ? i had this show ? it was all about the number 1000 - i asked [well BEGGED] for help from all of you on the wild wild internet and my doily miracle came true !

part of what made the whole thing really really remarkable was connecting with all the people that helped me. some i knew. many i didn't... the outpouring from around the world - all these women chiming in. gladly giving up time in their day to make doilies. it melted my heart. [see the progress using the #1000doilies tag on instagram - although the hashtag did get co-opted once instagram blogged about it. some of the photos are not relevant. boo].

i have an exhibition in the fall [at walter maciel gallery] and actually i have a project this summer [which i can't really talk about yet - but it's EXCITING] and i've been thinking a lot about doing another grand installation. the 1000 doily piece is going to be installed in both these venues, in 2 different configurations and i'm so very thrilled about this [although my fingers will be very unhappy with me]. 

so... i actually have TWO ideas i want to try and fulfill. i have no idea if they will work. but they both involve the number 1000. and i need many many hands to help me. i swear, though, this time i need less of a commitment from people - so if you are game... you can do BOTH, or one or ??? if you remember i started my 1000 quest based on seninbari - 1000 french knots. often 1000 women making 1 knot each.


i want to collect 1000 french knots

please use a 3x5, 4x6, 5x7 inch piece of fabric, and using a monochromatic color scheme place 1-10 french knots. you can place them on the center axis, you can cluster them somewhere on the fabric... pick a number that is significant to you. a lucky number - the number of people in your immediate family. the number of pets you have... when you send the french knots to me, please tell me where your number came from.
I HAVE 2 rules [if you please]

1. the fabric must be PLAIN - it doesn't have to be white. i don't care what kind of fabric it is [cotton, poly, wool, blend] but please don't use any patterned fabric.
2. the knots must be in the same color family. all red, all blue, all green, all white - whatever color you'd like. they can be different tints/shades [dark/light], but keep it monochromatic please. NO pink + green. you'll see in my sample i did a gradient of reds. 

if you want to put your knots in a line down the middle like i did then you can fold your fabric piece in 1/2. and then 1/2 again. 

and rub hard with your fingers. you'll end up with this:

and then you can use the guidelines to place your knots. 

if you have a method of making french knots. yay. but if you don't then there's a really almost foolproof way to do it. sublime stitching has illos on how, but you can watch me to it [and struggle to pull the thread thru ;)] here:


i want to collect 1000 doily drawings. actually more specifically drawings of the doily used in the 1000 doily installation. 

this doily.

if you want to do this one and want an even larger version of the doily pictured above to gander at - i will email it to you !!

here are the steps... it's really easy. but you can make up your own steps too.

THESE DO NOT NEED TO BE PERFECT !! [yes i am yelling. i am yelling at you who say i can't draw. i don't think i can... YOU CAN. you can indeed. see how wonky the drawing is above. that is FINE. more than fine. BETTER than fine. these are SUPPOSED to be wonky. hand drawn. messed up. not perfect. imperfect. divinely not rendered well. is that clear??]

use ANY color you want.

ANY almost media you want - pencil [colored or otherwise], watercolor, paint, pen, marker - i do ask that you stay away from "messy" things like charcoal or oil stick - they won't really allow you to get the fine lines.

make anywhere from 1-10 and send them on over... [your 10 do not have to be the same size/color - although they can]. 

I HAVE 2 rules- again [if you please]

1. please draw on WHITE/PLAIN paper - just printer paper, or smooth bristol, sketchbook paper. NOT watercolor, textured or any colored paper.
2. please draw on a square sheet up to 6"x6" in size. smaller - fine. bigger... not so great. if you don't want to make a square first you can send it to me and i'll turn it into a square just keep in mind i don't want any bigger than 6"x6".

maybe this will inspire you....

ok? can you help me spread the word? pretty please?

i can't promise art for everyone this time, but i do promise a postcard of my work in return for anything you send me. and my undying love and devotion and gratitude. [and i will have a list linking to everyone who helped me at the exhibitions and here on the blog]. 

i really really hope this works again. i know i'm asking a lot, but dear internet you didn't let me down last time. 

if you have any questions - EMAIL ME [lisasolomondotcom [at] gmail [dot] com] - if you are raring to go and want to send them off you can send them to my po box
PO BOX 99534 
Emeryville, CA 94662
or if you email me, i'll send you my home address which would be a great place for you to send them too.

i need these by the end of june. possible? 

THANK YOU. 1. for being interested. 2 for helping me make this happen. 3 for trying to get everyone you know to help me too. the more the merrier. if i am by some miracle able to collected 1000 doilies from 1000 different people i might just keel over. 

25 March 2014

coming up for air

oh hello you sad sad neglected blog

life of late has barely left me time to think, let alone type.
but i feel the tide is shifting. the kitchen is ALMOST done.
my taxes are close to being turned into the accountant.
i actually even had a few hours in my studio - now that one wall is almost cleared of stuff. [see proof above].

a few things of interest:

this says "crayola" - i made it to go with the 16 colors. the whole lot went off to an exhibition entitled optic chiasm - the crossing over of art and science - which opened last week at the Oglethorpe Museum in Atlanta... this piece blind people will actually get to touch. so my concept will actually be realized ! so cool !

INTERWOVEN - the online class i'm teaching with katrina - starts MONDAY. care to join us? [you can use the coupon AWESOME10 for 10% off. yes. yes you can]

and finally - have you been to musee mechanique?  it's really a gem of a place -

 photobooths [the little's first time]

 all kinds of mechanical delights that cost 25-75 cents to make them run.

and you can get your fortune told [by multiple machines]. what more could you ask for?

and... i'll be needing some help for a project soon.... anyone game to embroider and draw for me?? more on this very shortly.

13 March 2014

needlepoint anyone?

when you think of needlepoint - do you think of the above?? i bet you might. and while traditional needlepoint definitely has it's place, would you like to make something that feels a bit more contemporary?

i bet you might. 

want to paint your own canvas? something abstract? something modern? something geometrical? something like a helen frankenthaler or brice marden canvas? or something else entirely?

if you answer yes to any of the above - come join me next week at brushstroke studios in berkeley
it's a two part class. on march 20th we'll paint our own needlepoint canvases. then you'll go out and buy yarn to match what you paint and on april 3rd i'll show you some stitch options and how to get started. 

$30 per class. 7-9:30pm
call or email to sign up.
(510) 528-1360
would love to see you there !

28 February 2014

the temple of turrell

my first encounter with james turrell was at ps1 - where i stumbled upon the piece meeting [which is sadly now closed for repairs]. at first i thought it was a projection of the sky. then suddenly i realized it WAS the sky. and thought how simple. how perfect. what is better to watch than clouds across the sky. and here's a room that is dedicated to that task [with massive gorgeous benches to boot]. 

image by giffen clark ott
someday i dream of swimming in a turrell pool. this is a far-fetched fantasy. but a girl can dream right?

so part of my impetus for going to LA last weekend was to see the turrell show at lacma. luckily my hostess and fantastic friend bri came with. it would have been an amazing experience solo, but it was definitely more fun with a likeminded art pal. 

Raethro II Green, 1969 - from turrell's website. 

turrell is just so in tune with his medium. light. it's astounding really. i mean i knew he was quietly intense [his art21 segment proves that]. but the exhibition included ephemera - letters and instructions to other institutions and it was like poetry. intense focused prose. the most pure, heartfelt, serious exploration of light i've ever had the joy to read.

when i look at a piece like the above - done in 1969 - so forward thinking - i can't help but wonder - how did ellsworth kelly feel OK with making paintings after viewing a turrell piece. i mean i like kelly's work - some i REALLY like - but sitting in a room with a green glowing shape that feels like it's hovering, or sitting in a room with a green painting shape ?? hmmm. 

to me turrell's work is of course about color. our visceral, internal, gut wrenching reaction to colors. it's also about color theory - how one color leads to another - how we interpret colors and after images and what happens when we are "lied" to by our eyes via color. 

but mostly it's about whatever it is you bring to it. for me it's breathing. i breathe differently when the light changes. i slow down. i feel the light - it enters me and then i breathe it out. it sounds hokey. but it's true.

it's also about precision. absolute confidence in placement, shape, height, depth. the paring down to absolute essentials so that a viewer is allowed to focus. to become one with what they are encountering. 

Akhob, 2013 Louis Vuitton, image from turrell's website

lacma had a similar piece to the above, but it was more of a square pyramid. you had to line up to enter. then you put on surgical booties [to keep the floor clean] and waited. the whole time a group of people in the piece at the top of the stairs is visible - they are walking around in a glowing atmosphere. at one point there was a little girl dancing [that was pretty magical]. it shifts from white, to blue, to hot hot pink... from outside the color is incredibly intense. we were forced into the corners of the room [later we'd learn that it was because if we sat in the middle of the bench our little heads would be visible from inside the room]. when we were up on the stair waiting to enter i spied the boxes of booties for all the visitors:

it felt very warholian. very much a behind the scenes glimpse of what it actually takes to put on a show. so. many. white. surgical. booties. 

the room itself was amazing. you are engulfed by light. you sense a beginning and an end, but it does sort of feel all encompassing. at certain moments the shifts are so intense that i felt my heart pound. my eyes flickered. my body responded viscerally. it was out of my control. if you faced one way - you'd confront a rounded corner scrim covered abyss shape. no way to tell how far away it is, or how deep. light emits, not really pulsing, but slowly fixating, alternating, changing. if you face the other way you see a hard edge rectangle - through that the top portion of wall of the room in which you just sat is visible. this rectangle is surrounded by another rectangle - made of light. maybe 1 foot wide [maybe less]. it pulses its own light - sometimes matching the rounded corner shape light. sometimes not. 

i ended up doing 180's. facing the abyss, facing the rectangle. watching how the light inside changed my perception of the wall outside the room [a room which i knew to be white]. the blue light forced it's compliment - orange/yellow. the hot pink forced a green/yellow. so simple, so scientific, so explainable, but still. still so mysterious and breathtaking. it literally took my breath away. 

Jump Start, 1990, from turrell's website

also on view were hydrocal models for works. in and of themselves they were stunning objects. if i could have found alice's drink me potion i would have gulped it down and climbed on in - any of them.

Present Tense, 1991 - from turrell's website

but really. the absolute best part. i mean the really fantastic thing that happened - the thing that thank goodness bri was with me to corroborate - is this [it's a long tale - ready?]:

so. i always try to be very pleasant to museum guards. most of them have to stand all day in a room, telling people to to stay away from the work. trying to be "invisible", but also present - as in don't even think you can mess with anything in here. the above isn't the piece that was in lacma, but it's the closest image i can find to it. the one at lacma had rounded corners and only one light on each side instead of 2.

we arrive. there are people on a bench strategically placed [like watching TV - a TV with nothing but color]. we take the wall. just allowing our eyes to adjust to the light. figuring out that the cut out in the wall was changing color. slowly. cold white to warm white to light blue to slightly more intense blue... the two lights facing the walls adjacent making round ovals of whiter light on the walls adjacent...

i turn to the guard. she's right next to me. she smiles. we make small talk - bri asks questions too, but i can't remember all hers, so i'm sticking to mine.

her: you know it's changing right?
me: oh yeah - definitely. slowly, but it is.
her: many people don't stay long enough to notice it.
me: do you get stuck with the same piece every day?
her: no. we rotate. i get this one on fridays
me: so you know this show really well. which piece is your favorite?
her: this one
me [excited]: why!?!
her: i just love how it changes. everyone should have one of these in their living room - to just sit and chill and listen to music with
me: so does it always stay in this colorway - different shades of white/blue?
her: oh no.
me: so what's your favorite color it turns then?
her: this red. this really crazy red. and then it's a pretty orange after. it's so cool. [she's gesticulating. she clearly really likes it].
me: how long does it take to get through the whole cycle?
her: i think about 2 hours
me: so you never know when it's going to be red?
her: not really. it just shows up.

by this time i'm wildly grinning. i mean isn't this the best testament to art? here's a woman who has a job that could in many ways be called boring. in reality - she probably knows the show better than anyone else. even turrell. i doubt he sits with his work week after week, watching it for 8 hours a day. and she loves it. clearly. she GETS it. more than me. more than art historians. more than most. i'm so excited that she's excited. she pulls an earbud from her ear and admits that she listens to music while she works. we continue:

me: so - do you know how the piece was constructed?
her: sort of - it's a cut out in the wall
me: yeah - i get that - and there's a scrim of some sort right?
her: yea.
me: but the shape - the way the light comes out of it - it's not just a hole...
she looks around. the space is empty.
she turns to me and bri.
she walks up to the front.
she waves us up. she says stick your hand/head in. look at it.
we are speechless. we've been told all day - stay 5 feet away.
we peer in. after the immediate hole there's a slope. the slope is key and then 2 feet? [???? maybe 3???? you can't tell - the light is sooo eerie] there's the scrim. the lights are behind it - doing their thing.

we then slink away.
given such a gift.
such a gift.
i bet turrell would want to kill us.
but it only makes me love it more.

we sit there. maybe it's now been 30-40 minutes total. it's still shifting. but we have the whole other 1/2 of the show to see.
her: you get to go in a room that's like this in the next half. it's so cool
[the room i described above].
us: we really should go.
me: sad we don't get to see the red. but THANK YOU. thank you so much for talking to us. and for sharing your story.
bri introduces herself [smart lady]. i do to.
matricia shakes our hands. big smiles all around.
i feel more enthused than ever about the show.

we move onto the next piece. where you walk down a dark hallway and enter a very dark room - with a purple light piece 20+ feet away from you. we sit in the dark. pretty much unbelieving of what just happened.

about 5 minutes into this one - you have to let your eyes adjust to this kind of piece - we see a flashlight in the space. we hear a whisper: hey! hey! are you guys in here? you have to come see - it's turning red ! it's turning red !

we RUN out. we stand with matricia in front of the piece as it turns red. really intense red. you can feel it in your head. your brain hurts. i notice that the lights that were white are now green. DUH. they have absorbed all the red in the room and emit green - red's compliment. i'm excited now. it's a living color theory experiment. i turn to matricia.

me: hey hey - do you see the lights - the ones on the side?
m: yea - they are green !
me: yeah ! they are. isn't that cool?
m: i never noticed that before!
me: really?!
m: no.
me: do you know why they are green?
m: no. why?
me: green is the opposite of red on the color wheel. those are white lights, right? so all the red is being absorbed and all we see is green.
m: that is SO cool !!
she then turns to another viewer and tells them.

i smile.

i couldn't have created a better scenario if i tried. this is when truth is most certainly better than fiction. there's no way i could have imagined this happening. no. absolute. way. but it did. and i have a witness [and now we are forever linked by turrell].

i had one of those rare completely engulfing practically perfect art experiences.
thank you art gods.
thank you turrell.
thank you bri.
thank you matricia.

24 February 2014

a los angeles jaunt

i could tell you about my mini LA ramen tour. a bowl at tatsu, a bowl at silverlake ramen. about the friends i have down there who are so much more than genuine. who all do amazing things and think deeply and lovingly. i often wonder why i deserve such people in my life [bonus being i got to see a friend pregnant. which makes me giggle every time. we bonded over feeling like an alien was growing inside us].

i could tell you about the perfect weather. the smog tinged blue hazed sky. 80 degrees. a perfect palm tree sunset as i drove from the east to the west side.

i could tell you about the kidney shaped pedestal with too many legs at rebecca bollinger's show. i told walter he should keep it and make all of us artists respond to it's quirky intervention for awhile. 

i could tell you about my sew la class. how one 8 year old joined us and killed it. she was so good. how it was full of people in the film/magazine business who had really interesting stories. how sew la is so beautifully curated and a perfect place to drool over fabric. how the staff and owner there are so super duper kind and make me feel so welcome.

i could tell you about proof bakery [i've been before, but this time sampled a bunch of things. that candied kumquat tart in the middle was beyond amazing and mom if i could have brought you home a chocolate croissant you would have been in heaven]. i think proof just might be keeping butter producers in business. but who has time to care about that while eating it. i could also tell you about the gelato - where we sampled too many flavors [what a kind server we had] before settling on perfect authentic plastic cup and shovel spoons of goodness [coconut and salted caramel for me].

i could also tell you about french general, where ribbons and beads and ephemera of all shapes and sizes sparkle and tempt and wait for you to transform them.... oh.my.god. or individual medley  - another impeccably curated store. i could have scooped up one of everything and where the shop owner's mother was working for the day while they were on vacation and was so kind [and told funny stories].

but i definitely need to tell you about the museum of jurassic technology. dimly lit hallways leading to diorama treasures. things to peer at and take in with all your senses. delightful collections of odd, decrepit, miniature, historical bits of wonder and enchantment. there's a tea room - at the top - equipped with free tea from a samovar and a russian dog. from there you can escape to a solarium rooftop garden that is at once transporting and feels transported from another world. a world where tame doves coo, where water trickles as beautiful red breasted finches groom one another. it's a dream there. one long dream. in this dream i found an insanely small astronaut figurine for the little [who has lately been pretending to be one], and potentially the thematic course for my next series of art [it's ruminating. i bought a book.... perhaps perhaps i should be so lucky]. 

i need to also tell you about the turrell show. but i think that needs to be another post. indeed. i am so grateful for my quick escape - i feel tired, but in that recharged, soul full of good kind of way. in the adult oh i didn't have to make dinners or get yogurt at 7am or turn on sponge bob kind of way that makes me miss the little so much and allows me to eat up her gigantic smile upon coming home. 

and i must also show you this. last time i stayed with my friends i drew their dogs on their kitchen chalkboard. apparently i started a tradition. and this time their cat wanted in on the action.