Saturday, 12 July 2008

A Rose Life

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. "

~Lewis Carroll

On a beautiful day not more than 3 months ago I was given wonderful news. This news followed the not so hot news that a) I might have cancer b) the chance of survival for someone in their twenties was "fair" and c) I shouldn't worry.

The beautiful day that came was the "all clear" - negating a) and b).

I also realised that a) and b) were simply wake up calls. Loud, clanging in your face, don't forget to write wake up calls. It didn't teach me much about myself, but it did encourage a 180 back to my original course. Thank God.

If I can share something else that is intensely personal, it reminded me that my mild mannered self is not bad in a crisis. If this could be called that. I don't panic or raise my voice, I don't even cry. Except for a brief moment walking back to the car, when I consider for the first time whom this news might affect; c) I did worry for them.

The world opened up for me when several days after the op, my doctor gave me the wonderful news; a reprieve, for God knows how long this gift will last for any of us.

So, before you finally decide to follow/change your dreams and your journey. Do give another loving hug to those near to you and take time out to look at all sides of the rose.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

"Acres of Books", acres of minds

This is a short post about the bulldozing of a huge used book store in Long Beach, far away from me. "Acres of Books" has served the community for so long and it is being removed to make way for a mall / other non-unique development. Used book stores (or secondhand book stores) are delicious, cramped, welcoming and most of all islands of knowledge discovery. The big book sites we know of are primarily for books that made the bestseller cut. Not the independent small books or the gems that are hidden away in shelves, waiting for that reader, that mind.

There is something beautiful about the passing down and sharing of wisdom, knowledge and also whimsy, dreams. Ray Bradbury, writer, has taken it upon himself to champion and support them. His words are succinct and passionate. I know that others have blogged about this so I hope that in some small part, a little more attention can come to this olde shoppe:

What is Punk?

"Family values, unity, spirit, community. All these things they try and steal away from us. That's punk,"
Johnny Rotten

Punk started a little before I was born but there was something resilient, truthful and gritty in it that appealed to me. The Sex Pistols were raw, independent and true to themselves. Little wonder that they were considered "dangerous to the very fabric of society and banned across the country". A bunch of teenagers wielding more influence and independence than arguably, The Beatles. I say this because although they weren't as prolific or easy to listen to as the latter, they were open, unabashed and not stuck on being the top, but simply the best.
I was surprised to hear Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols on the radio a few years ago, not because he was swearing, loud and brasher than a foghorn, but because he discussed lucidly and concisely how much he believed in marriage, traditional values and the family unit. It was touching and pleasing; he had no pretense of the rock hard musician with flagrant tastes, opinions and of course the cliched lifestyle. This is a man who knows himself.

Johnny and friends enlivened a generation. Young boys just went out to Woolworths, grabbed an instrument, started a punk band and played for themselves. On the other side of that, he grew up and is now more of a person to be listened to and admired than before.

Here follows a link to a new Reuters article about Johnny, Punk with a bit on their DVD titled "There'll Always Be An England".

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Julian Beever- Optical Illusionist and good fun

This London artist makes completely flat on the ground images appear 3-dimensional, these surprising images also make one smile and have something to say.

Julian remembered his school teacher telling him that although he was a good artist, he stayed safely within his boundaries. That hurt at first and then helped define him. This humble and peaceful character soon developed into a street artist who pushed himself while still maintaining a playful smirk.

Julian begins each work with the location, think Mel Brooks's crack about the vampire's stake through the heart: "Location, location, location". He chooses busy city walkways and pavements were a) people are walking towards a well known and established gallery (Tate Modern) or more simply b) people are leaving their concrete cages for their 1pm lunch. They mill around him throughout the process, sometimes lasting days. This encourages the artist, the open companionship with the crowd. He also has to watch out for the sometimes less charming council employee who can legally order him to stop his "graffiti". This has driven many artists underground and sparked their notoriety.

Julian soon chooses the landmark or subject he will reproduce and the angle of distortion. Very important in creating an illusion. He then chalks it, think art class and Vermeer, pulling a chalked piece of string and then pinging it on the ground like an elastic. The lines are now formed which will be the skeletons of his perspective.

All the while, the idea is bearing fruit in his head and driving him, along with, I suspect, his eagerness to please an audience. This is not lost on them either as he sets up his camera (every artist should carry a camera) and examines the bare scene through the frame. Modestly, he will not feel above asking passersby to look through the lens at the chalked marks:

"Does that look like a perfect circle to you? Are those lines matching?" He will spend at least an hour(s) getting the perspective just right, enough.

Julian is a street artist although he sounds a lot like my former well spoken Geography teacher, Mr. Lardner. He draws you in, but nicely, you expect him in his smeared jeans and cap to break off and offer you a cup of tea. Instead he wields his chalk and colour, chatting away.

He does stop though to have a jibe at the Tate Modern artists. Again, as my old art history teacher did (he has struck a cord here). Conceptual art in it's, pardonez moi, bull manure sense is not "cool" with him. I must interject here that while I don't disregard conceptual art, I do find his irreverence amusing. Placing a stretch of tarpaulin on the ground to protect the work from the rain, he quips that that ought to be enough to get him into the Tate Modern.

There is something about him, his experience coupled with his very vital street art that hints at the outsider. He is not establishment, then again who wants to be? He is also not the normally praised street artist with a "hip hop, rewind, choon, selector" flair now rampant in London. If the above combination of phrases have confused you, please check out the urban, which deserves a post of it's own at a later point.

The one thing we need to realise about art of this kind is that it is free, it is neither corporate nor appeasing the masses, nor dumbed down. It is truly independent art. Anyone can do it! This is both expansive and down to earth. Street-level down to earth. I hope you have enjoyed this foray into Julian's pieces and that you enjoy more art in your street soon.