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Taliesin Turns 100

March 1, 2011 Comments off


I was born in Wisconsin in a small town between Madison and Milwaukee. My folks moved my family to SoCal in 1959. I have been back to WI only twice. I hope to go a few more times before I die. It is a beautiful state. Green and lush. My great-grandparents helped settle Horicon where the great Horicon Marsh is located. I lived in Madison for a short time when I was nineteen. Some years later I came onto the work of architect of Frank Lloyd Wright while visiting Oak Park, Illinois. Wright is another example of a man whose creative genius surpassed his personality – Wright, like Picasso, was a completely self-absorbed man. I doubt I could stand to be in his presence, but I absolutely love Wright designs. I was fortunate to visit Taliesin in Spring Green WI about eight years ago. A couple years later, I visited Taliesin West in Phoenix AZ. Both are inspiring. I hope to visit each at least one more time.

PBS Reports Taliesin Turns 100 — view slide show click here

In the spring of 1911, architect Frank Lloyd Wright began constructing a cottage for his mother on a property she’d purchased west of Madison, Wisconsin. Though already well-established as an architect, it was a lean period for him professionally. After working with the architect Louis Sullivan in Chicago, Wright had gone out on his own and built the first of his prairie homes. The designs brought him international acclaim, with their long horizontal lines, broad roofs, and spacious interiors.

But despite early success, Wright’s commissions dwindled after he became involved with the wife of a client, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, and left his wife and six children to visit Europe with his new lover. He returned to Chicago with a reputation and without a studio. His mother, Anna, commissioned the cottage, but offered it to him before a final blueprint was complete, realizing that he needed a place of his own. The house became the first project on the Taliesin estate, where Wright would develop one of the nation’s foremost architectural apprenticeships, and which would serve as a laboratory for the innovative designs that would make him the most famous architect in America.

A hundred years after Wright embarked on Taliesin’s construction, it can be hard to believe that some of his designs are as old as they are. The buildings remain stunning and unusual today: the square jaws of the Robie House jutting across a flat Chicago lawn, the Guggenheim Museum’s white helix nestled into upper Manhattan, the cantilevered rooms and walkways of Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, which extend both peacefully and perilously across lichen, rocks, and rushing water.

These designs remain relevant in part because they continue to respond to contemporary concerns. How might an architect build homes that are both beautiful and environmentally attuned? Of and for local communities? Affordable? Before discussions about greening the American lifestyle pervaded public dialogue, Frank Lloyd Wright was leading (by today’s standards and terminology) a relatively “sustainable” life, farming with his students and scouting the area for natural materials to use to build his home.

The story of Taliesin and Wright’s time spent there is being celebrated this year with months of tours, receptions, photography, concerts, and a number of exhibits including artifacts and archival photos.

This past weekend saw the opening of a retrospective of Wright’s career at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century focuses on Wright’s philosophy and legacy, showcasing drawings, photographs, and models, some built by Wright himself. It also features drawings for some of his lesser-known projects, including several plans for suburban developments, never realized, that highlight Wright’s pragmatism and imagination.

Located just outside the town of Spring Green, and close to the area where his mother’s Welsh family settled after arriving in America, Wright built Taliesin on a site he knew intimately, having spent his boyhood summers with relatives nearby. His affection for the region and his familiarity with its characteristics influenced the building’s design; he would construct it into — and not atop — the hillside, and without gutters so that in the winter, “icicles by invitation might beautify the eaves,” a feature he described in his autobiography. Wright built the foundations and many of the walls with limestone from a nearby quarry, and he mixed sand from the Wisconsin River into plaster walls, giving them a golden color. The house was largely self-sufficient, boasting a generator, garden, and artesian well. On Sundays, its residents held church service in their own chapel. He named the building Taliesin, Welsh for “Shining Brow.”

The house embodied a philosophy he termed “organic architecture,” characterized by designs that reflected nature and interacted with it, both in form and in its materials. Wright identified three components in an ideal building: time, place and humanity.

Located just outside the town of Spring Green, and close to the area where his mother's Welsh family settled after arriving in America, Wright built Taliesin on a site he knew intimately, having spent his boyhood summers with relatives nearby. His affection for the region and his familiarity with its characteristics influenced the building's design; he would construct it into — and not atop — the hillside, and without gutters so that in the winter, "icicles by invitation might beautify the eaves," a feature he described in his autobiography. Wright built the foundations and many of the walls with limestone from a nearby quarry, and he mixed sand from the Wisconsin River into plaster walls, giving them a golden color. The house was largely self-sufficient, boasting a generator, garden, and artesian well. On Sundays, its residents held church service in their own chapel. He named the building Taliesin, Welsh for "Shining Brow." The house embodied a philosophy he termed "organic architecture," characterized by designs that reflected nature and interacted with it, both in form and in its materials. Wright identified three components in an ideal building: time, place and humanity.

Read entire article and view slide show

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Power of Thoughtforms

January 25, 2011 Comments off

A thoughtform is a manifestation of mental energy, also known as a tulpa in Tibetan mysticism.

I couldn’t have said it better. I have practiced Tao (not an ism), and Zen for many years now. Within the ancient chronicles and texts are hints of how we can manifest a life where our authentic self can live harmoniously and happily in the world. Using thoughtforms is one way of doing it. In Western thought, we might say, if you would only put your mind to it then… the desired result will come. Possibly. Not probably. It takes more than intention, in fact…, it is not even a matter of more or less intention, or some comparative. This can be illustrated by people who think if they work harder, they will reap more benefits, particularly money. If they have more money, they will live a better life. If they live a better life, they will be happier, and so on. Of course, we know working harder, making more money, and living better does not always translate into lasting harmonious, happy lives. It often leads to poor health, short lives, divorce, disharmony and unhappiness. It is the modern existential crisis that is fairly widespread these days. So how then can thoughtforms help us along the path to well-being?

The rudimentary idea of a thoughtform is if we take our mental energy and direct it thus, the logical outcome is we will manifest what we desire. In psychology, that is called wishful thinking or magical thinking, as it is not rational. It is one of those things that sounds good on paper, but it is pure illusion. In Buddhism and Hinduism that would be called Maya. Maya is the veil of illusion. It keeps us from seeing reality. In fact, it is a diversion of the real power of thoughtforms. In Tibetan beliefs thoughtforms are Tulpas, or creations of the mind. They are extensions of being. They are said to have power and they can travel, as in astral traveling. That is an ancient way of viewing creative thought. Advancing the concept from ancient to modern, we find it is more like vivid or inspired imagination where we can direct our thoughts, and through intense focus, manifest our ideas in three dimensional reality. It takes more than intent – it takes discipline and willpower. I would have to say as a creative person, this is what artists experience when they are creating a piece of art or music. The result is the thoughtform becomes creation born into reality.

Entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, and artists alike share this process. We imagine how something could take shape. We challenge our minds to develop a process – how do we get from here to there – how do we make it happen, and voila! We make it happen. This is the power of thoughtforms and it is alive and well all over the world. We are challenged today to individually and collectively manifest thoughtforms that will benefit our well-being. The conditions of our world prompts us to contribute to the betterment of our communities and help restore our environment and life around us. In astrology we are told this is the cusp of the age of Aquarius where we will break old paradigms and think and live in new ways. As Robert Wilkinson has said:

We have a much greater future than we suspect, but we must organize into thoughtform building groups to bring forth a better world by negating the destructive thoughtforms that pervade our psychic atmosphere. Thoughtforms must be crafted with great precision if we are to bring forth the desired effect with a minimum of unintended consequences. And of course we must have faith in our power to bring forth desirable manifestations, if we just align with Spirit. Works here are the demonstration of our faith.

Just as I have written in my first book, we must turn away from selfishness, narcissistic behavior, and controlling people, and pursue a life beyond those negatives. It can be done through constructive and well thought out means. The power of creative thinking and thoughtforms lies in this simple equation: When we join together with other like-minded persons who are manifesting their positive ideas for the betterment of others we create multipliers of energy and this will be the energy that drives innovation, invention, and artistic endeavors collectively to successful ends. And those ends will be the legacy we leave to the next generation and beyond.

Books on Tap: Hermann Hesse

January 9, 2011 Comments off


As with Hesse, I am continually amazed at what I discover. For Hesse, life itself is discovery and in that journey it leads to one’s Self. This book is a series of astute essays on writer and artist, Hermann Hesse. As a lifelong student of Hesse, I enthusiastically endorse this book.

“Each one of artists, even if he has many self- doubts and thinks his talents and abilities are terribly minor, still has a purpose and a calling, and if he remains true to himself accomplishes something in his station that only he is capable of…. my dear son, both of us, you and I, are participating in a task that is as old as the world.”
– to his son, Bruno,

“In your writing….strive above all for truth, not for beauty. The latter will then come of itself.”
– to a young author, 1951

From School Library Journal
Grade 10 Up-Winner of the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature, Hesse is revered internationally by readers who share his views on pacifism, individuality, isolation, and spirituality. Influenced by Benedict de Spinoza, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche, as well as by Indian and Chinese philosophy, his writings covered a period of disenchantment with his native country (Germany) as well as his life during two World Wars. Essays here include discussions of Hesse’s personal life, writing style, themes, characters, philosophy, and influences. His novels Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund, The Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, and Demian are analyzed as is some of his poetry. Similarities of Hesse’s writings with those of Andre Gide, Marcel Proust, and James Joyce are discussed in several essays. Excerpts of his poems are included in both German and English. This scholarly book will help advanced students of literature better understand the writer’s works.
Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Our Pick for Man of the Year: Gustavo Dudamel – Viva La Musica!

December 30, 2010 Comments off


If have not heard of Gustavo Dudamel you have been missing something and someone very special. The Venezuelan born musical conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is revolutionizing the classical music world. He is doing it one concert at a time and one child at a time.

“It’s something that I need. It’s like the air. It’s like water. It’s like food. I need music,” he told “60 Minutes” correspondent Bob Simon. “I have to be, you know, always around the sound and the magic.

CBS 60 Minutes story
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/14/60minutes/main6483731.shtml

And last night I watched Tavis Smiley interview Dudamel and was inspired all over again by his passion, articulation, and musicality.

Dudamel is a product of the Venezuelan musical education program, El Sistema: “By 2010, the program, known formally as the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras, is nationwide, has impacted more than 4 million students, includes 200 youth orchestras, 60 children’s orchestras, 270 music centers and currently reaches about 400,000 young musicians.”

“Our goal is to make citizens. It’s not to make professional musicians,” Berkowitz says. “As Maestro Abreu put it, the orchestra is a really unique community, because it’s the only community that comes together for the sole purpose of agreeing with itself.”

View full story here…

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Simon Bolivar Orchestra at the Proms Festival.
One of the most exciting renditions of this mexican piece of music composed by the great Arturo Márquez that I´ve ever heard. Indulge yourself with this excellent piece of music.

In February 2010, bassoon player and Abreu Fellowship alum Dantes Rameau co-founded the Atlanta Music Project. The program is an after-school youth orchestra and choir program, which operates 5 days a week to bring music education to metropolitan Atlanta’s underserved youth.

And the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston is unique in that music is built right into the school curriculum, making it the first U.S. public school to make El Sistema a mandatory part of the school day. Students receive ensemble-focused instruction in music in a school day that is extended from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

This is just a sample of several community-based programs that are part of the growing El Sistema USA system. Other U.S.-based programs include:
# Corona Youth Music Project or Núcleo Corona (Queens, NY);
# Harmony Program (Brooklyn, NY);
# Imagine Syracuse (Syracuse, NY);
# Juneau Alaska Music Matters;
# KidzNotes (Durham, NC);
# ORCHKids (Baltimore, MD);
# People’s Music School (Chicago, IL);
# Tune Up Philly (Philadelphia, PA);
# Verdugo Young Musicians Association (Pasadena, CA);
# Youth Orchestras of San Antonio Music Learning Center (San Antonio, TX).

Book of the Year: Botanica Magnifica, a Glimpse into Creation

December 27, 2010 Comments off


I had the distinct pleasure of meeting photographer, Jonathan Singer, at an exclusive exhibit of his work, Botanica Magnifica, here in San Diego this past summer. Mr. Singer was gracious to personally speak with me for about 20 minutes about his work – “a glimpse into creation” – and share with me some of the photo techniques he has developed over years of capturing images of plants with unparalleled fidelity. His generosity of spirit was humbling; his work is inspiring and fine. While original prints are well out of my price range, he does have a book of plates in high quality reproduction. I bought a copy and Mr. Singer kindly inscribed it. I highly recommend this collection available here through our book image link or the Asheham Press bookstore under the category of, ART and Aesthetics.

Book: Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs of rare and exotic plants and flowers by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer.

The original prints are in double-elephant folios at the Cullman Rare Book Room at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Find out more on how he developed his project in the CBS April 2009 story, view here:

Summary of July, 2010 San Diego Exhibit:

For the first time on the West Coast, Symbolic Collection (www.symboliccollection.com) will be unveiling an exclusive world-class exhibition of photography by Jonathan Singer. Signer is known internationally for his exquisite large-scale prints in his five-volume compilation Botanica Magnifica, which features 250 photographs of the world’s rarest single blooms. His collection was created and presented exclusively for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Singer is the recipient of a Hasselblad Prize Laureate, and was also honored with the 2009 Carl Linnaeus Silver Medal. Copies of Botanica Magnifica will be available for purchase. This is truly a distinguished and unique opportunity not to be missed.

I highly recommend this collection available here through our book image link or the Asheham Press bookstore under the category of, ART and Aesthetics.

Imogen Cunningham Exhibit

December 27, 2010 Comments off


UPDATE: FEBRUARY 14, 2011
I went to see this exhibit over the weekend. It was simply excellent. I also joined the museum as an Art Alliance member. Click here on a related LA Times article to provide some more information. If you are in this area, don’t miss this wonderful exhibit. There is also a tape recording of the artist plus her Graflex 4 x 5 cameras and Rolleiflex on view. One other note: there is in an adjoining room a small 1935 original print by Ansel Adams taken in Yosemite. It is an early print as to his print style and not one you would usually see these days. Most prints shown are indicative of his high contrast print style. So, this is small jewell to behold. Enjoy!

ORIGINAL POST:
Sometime in the 80s I attended an exhibit at the San Diego Art Museum by photographer, Imogen Cunningham. I knew little of her except her connection to Ansel Adams. It was a moving exhibit. The excellence and fine touch to her work has remained with me. Her style has influenced my own work in close-up photography, flowers, still-life, and black & white. I have the opportunity to view her work again but this time at the Oceanside Museum of Art:

BOTANICALS: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF IMOGEN CUNNINGHAM
January 9 – May 22, 2011

Preview Reception
Saturday, January 8, 2011
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
$10 Nonmembers
Complimentary OMA members

Visit our Calendar of Events for special programming with this exhibition.

A pioneer of 20th century photography, Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) played a pivotal role in the acceptance of the medium as an art form and the growth of modernism. She began pursuing photography in 1901 and throughout her long career, maintained an interest in portraiture and nature. Unlike other members of the Western School of Photography who also emphasized nature, such as Edward Weston (1886-1958) and Ansel Adams (1902-84), Cunningham created intimate compositions which call attention to the abstract qualities of nature. This exhibition will feature her black and white botanical photographs from the 1920s-1930s.

Authenticity and the Artist

December 18, 2010 Comments off


Can we ever get to where we want to be? Yes, by being true to ourselves. Artists cannot help but be true to themselves. It is not in their nature to do otherwise — and it is a ‘doing’ not just a kind of being. I wrote a piece a few years ago and said, art is the doing of one’s being. It is the outward expression of inward experience of life. All the facilities of what makes us human are at work: observation, impression, reflection, passion, inspiration, expression, celebration. We give faces to human experience. We extend ourselves right into the substrata… the paper, board, canvas, marble, or clay. We create new idioms. We explore. We consummate our innermost with the outer to create something anew. As with all of life, we learn from others – but what comes of our efforts is our own. The work must stand or fall on its own. It will either endure or fall into obscurity. To be sure, we will die, but it is the hope of all artists that our work will live on. Is this not truly the universal hope for all humans? That that which we are, our transient authentic self, will live on in some way? And in that kernal of truth, perhaps are we not all artists creating the grand legacy?

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