Monday, December 31, 2012

Tar Mosaics of Moonstone Beach

Oil and water do not mix.  But one thing water does is facilitate the mixture of oil (or some form of it like tar) and some other substance available in the near vicinity.  Anywhere in the coast of Central California, one will see patches of tar was ashore.  Yes, there is oil off the California coast and all one needs to do is look out in the water and count the offshore oil rigs that dot the western horizon.  There's tar as far south as the beaches of Ventura but I took these photos at Moonstone Beach in Cambria.  I found these mosaics very interesting and what I was looking at are works of art created by random processes of nature.  These are in the truest sense, very temporary installation that will soon wash away at the next high tide.  At which point, it's time to make new one.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Remember Clifford Brown

He only lived 25 years.  Car crash on the way to Chicago from Philadelphia.  In some parallel universe, Clifford Brown lived another 50 years to make music and Miles Davis will always be compared to the man known as Brownie.  What's really eerie about this is when Clifford died in 1956, another great American artist, Jackson Pollock also died in a car crash that same year.  And when my 12 year old son, who had never heard any of Clifford's music says he likes this kind of jazz, you know the music is something special.  It had been a good music week when I found these two Clifford Brown CDs at Boo Boo Records in San Luis Obispo.  His first release Memorial Album (1953, Blue Note) and his last one, At Basin Street (1956, Verve) both kept me company during the drive back to Rancho Cucamonga yesterday afternoon.  Music this good is like a drug that opens up your mind.  Unfortunately, it is in limited supply as Clifford only released 4 years worth of music.

Speaking of Boo Boo Records, no visit to SLO is complete without a stopover.  Here's a nice article in Record Collector News.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bubble Gum Art

Our annual post-Christmas trip to the Central Coast always includes a stop over at Bubble Gum Alley in San Luis Obispo, just between Higuera and Marsh.  I always find something new in the alley and this one (above) is one of the best I've seen in a while.  On a 35-mm negative is the word "ART" spelled out just above a miniature origami -- yes, just like Gaff from Blade Runner!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Funny Quote

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.”

-Desmond Tutu

Monday, December 24, 2012


It's been about 10 years since I last wore a wristwatch regularly.  A month ago, I started wearing one again but the strangest thing is I recall looking at it to check the time maybe once a day -- at most.  Why? Too many other devices around me that tell me the time? Maybe, I have this internal clock that gives me a rough idea of the time.  The pragmatist in me says if I don't use it, I don't need it.

Speaking of time, the current issue of National Geographic poses the question of how long it would take mankind (using current technology) to travel to the nearest star Proxima Centauri.  It could really mess up your mind if you think at that scale.  17,000 years.  Given this, I think we're forever (in relative human timescale) confined to our solar system.  If ignorance is bliss, it would have been better if we didn't know of the theoretical limit of the speed of light.  Damn these physicists.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Corona Del Mar Sunrise

The price of having to take one of the kids to a diving certification class at Corona Del Mar Beach includes having to wake up at 6am on a Saturday to do the 55 mile drive from home.  Thank goodness I brought my point-and-shoot to capture the sunrise on this 2nd day of winter in Southern California.
The only thing I wished for this morning (besides being on my bike riding on PCH) is maybe be on a kayak in the Newport marina.  Being on the beach this close to Christmas is probably most ideal since all the tourists are gone by now and all the locals are way too busy elbowing each other at the mall.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blues for Smoke (2012)

I must be getting old.  For the first time in a long time, I went to MOCA and really had trouble absorbing what on earth was in front of me.  I scoured gallery after gallery of seemingly disjointed themes, media, messages and eras.  Some of the stuff is disturbing in a foreign way -- the rest of the country is exposed to the plight of black people in this country based on what mass media chooses to show and on what message the powers at be want you and I to hear.  Some of the work is equally depressing depending on what your context is in life.  I suppose I went in to the Geffen today thinking a typical afternoon of modern, uplifting art and after I add in the hour I spent going through Taryn Simon's "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, I-XVII", my mental state was pretty down.  The work is brilliant but I guess I'm just not in any mood to think about serious stuff today.  The holiday season is hard enough as it is and a barrage of blues in visual and audio form is a little too much.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moonstone Beach

It's just mind-boggling how quickly earth seasons can pass by.  Next thing you know, you're looking at a past, not quite so distant but you sense that it's getting smaller in your rearview mirror each passing day.  Next week, we make our annual after-Christmas trip to Cambria to visit Maura's most treasured place on this planet, Moonstone Beach.  Above is my favorite photograph taken in 2007 that somehow gave me a glimpse of how things would be today.  When in Moonstone Beach, all we need to do is look at the beauty, strength and vastness of the Pacific to see Maura in our midst.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Geeked Out

I'm actually surprised I avoided it for so long.  I've been playing guitar, both acoustic and electric for as long as I can remember and not once did it occur to me to put together my own custom effects pedal board -- until last week.  Ever since the kids and I started playing, it was a struggle to get particular sounds like Tom Morello's guitar in Audioslave and Rage, and some surf guitar music as well.  When I found the GIG-FX Chopper last week, I knew it would be the central to getting most sounds I cared about.  However, there's also the 3 other pedals I used regularly and it became just a major pain to lug all 4 effects from room to room and having to plug in 4 separate 9-volt adapters.  A Saturday trip to Guitar Center and I'm officially all geeked out with my custom gear.  Ready to groove!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Untitled Linocut

I had this 8"x10" linocut print stashed away for the past 5 years in a blanket chest along with some -- well, blankets.  I only tried linocuts for a year in 2007 and I'd like to do a few more at some point.  The image is inspired by a small photograph I found inside a used copy of Sontag's "On Photography" from some yard sale in Altadena.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wanting for More

For the first time that I can recall, I woke up from a bad dream to go to the bathroom and as soon as I fell asleep again, I picked up where I left off?  Yes, a continuation of the same bad dream, just the next chapter over.  Isn't that the whole concept of waking up from a bad dream, to end the damn thing?  The dream was as lucid as it gets, in a bad way -- so why on earth would I want from more?

Photograph: "Gas Mask for TEOTWAWKI" taken with Fuji Instax camera, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Windsurfer In The Bay (2012)

Language...has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone.  And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.
-Paul Tillich

I  took this photograph earlier this year of a lone windsurfer in the San Francisco bay.  Late May, overcast, and I was comfortably sitting inside a boat that traveled across the bay to the Golden Gate bridge and back to Pier 39 when out of the corner of my eye, I caught this white sliver of a sail over to the north.  The wind was as cold as late spring gets and I can't help but think how liberating it must be to hear only your heartbeat, your breath and the wind.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Enough To Frame?

As soon as I finish a drawing, trying to decide what to do with it is usually not that simple of a process. Since most of my art is drawing nowadays, putting a piece of paper away is a lot easier than stashing canvas.  I finished a 4-panel drawing recently and a friend asked if I was going to frame it and only then did I really think about the question as to what is good enough to frame.  For the most part, I think it's a subjective filter that gets applied, one that I admit could be as arbitrary as how I'm feeling that day when I make the decision.  The good thing about framing drawings is the fact that it's not permanent.  Should I change my mind at some point, it's easy enough to replace.  So I went through my storage closet and pulled all the drawings that I had framed over the years but haven't had enough courage to hang on my walls.  As typical with my indecision, good enough to frame doesn't necessarily mean good enough to hang.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

8-Yr Old Print

Photograph of Santa Barbara Harbor taken in December 2004.  Printed and framed and sat in my closet for 8 years.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monomorphs (2012)

What seems like shapeless blobs are actually monomorphic in nature.  There is a certain invariance between every figure in this 4-panel drawing.  Each panel is actually the inside of blank Thank You cards I have sitting around.  What I want the viewer to see at the macro level is distinctly different than upon closer examination.  I represent the inner structure in terms of movement of the monomorphs, inspired by the dynamic interplay of the molecules that make up life at the cellular level.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Joshua Tree Obsession

I've been fascinated with Joshua trees for a while now so when I found this postcard from 1947 at the PCC Flea Market today, I didn't think twice.  Back then, what is now Joshua Tree National Park was just a national monument.  The front of the postcard says:

"It is believed the early Mormons gave this giant Yucca its name, seeing in it's grotesquely extended arms a symbol pointing tot he promised land they were seeking."

This time of the year is the best time to visit this part of the desert and given the date stamp on the postcard of Dec 29, 1947, it gives me an idea of maybe a day trip during the holiday break.  Below are some image of Joshua trees I've taken over the years, typically somewhere in the high desert in California.  I would never hesitate to stop the car and stand next to these towering Yuccas.

Of course, the most famous Joshua tree of all is the one from "The Joshua Tree" album by that Irish band as shown below on the inside cover.  Yeah, back when music was actually packaged in somewhat decent artform.  The U2 images were taken by photographer Anton Corbijn.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Running To Stand Still

I'm doing it because daylight savings time ended a month ago and my riding during the week is already extremely limited.  I'm doing it because the only thing I probably dislike more is riding my bike in the rain.  I'm doing it just so I can run with Sam on weekends.  For cyclists, running is one of those necessary evils of the off-season.  You do it to maintain some level of fitness over the winter.  Pound, pound, pound.  Foo Fighters on the iPod helps.  Quads aching for hours is bad.  Run. 30 minutes. Shower. 5 minutes.  Done.  Move on.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Is It, Really?

Chai is of Persian origin generically meaning "tea".  So Coconut Chai is, by definition, coconut tea. Yet, the subtitle says Green Tea.  To confuse things even more, the other description says "Assam Green Tea".  Assam is typically strong black tea.  Add ginger to the mix and I got my head spinning.  So what kind of tea is it?  It tastes closer to chai than any of the other flavors on the label.  Nonetheless, it is good. Bought from Sprouts Market for around $6.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Purple Homestead"

Something about this 8ft x 8ft painting by California artist Deanna Thompson appeals to those who love the desert (like me).  "Purple Homestead" is showing at the MCASD lobby under Acquisitions Highlight.  The piece seem to break every rule of composition -- subject smack in the center of the image and the horizon dead-center in the frame as well.  Yet it works in its simplicity and portrayal of the vastness of the landscape relative to the living structure.
Standing between 5 to 10 feet away from the painting, you cannot help but take a closer look to see what's inside the house.  Sure enough, there is a lot to see.  A simple horizon is interrupted by a beat down house so life-like in detail, I could see the way the wall studs are put together.  Abandoned or in the process of construction?
 ... the museum lobby's open, bright layout is the perfect way to show the piece.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quick, Find Some Paper!

I don't get bored easily with work-related discussions.  But on rare occasions, an all-day meeting is enough to push me over the edge.  By noon, I would have sat through at least 4 hours of discussions and I'm either looking for an excuse to get out of there or find a way to entertain myself while listening to all dialogue.  So I scrambled to my office during a break and looked for something to doodle on.  

Fortunately, I found these unused Thank You cards by Papyrus made of some textured card stock (and of course, I had my ever trusted gel pens).
Unfortunately, the meeting extends for another 8 hours tomorrow.

Fortunately, I have a stack of another dozen or so of these unused cards.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Have Pen, Will Doodle

Spent Thanksgiving weekend in Vegas with family and for the first time in a while, I forgot to bring a camera.  On previous trips, I would spend evenings in the hotel editing some photos taken during the day.  It's hard to suppress creative output for 3 full days so I had to make do with what I had in the hotel room -- a 4"x6" pad of paper.  As the kids were winding down Thursday evening, I started drawing and by Saturday, I've done about six of these doodles.  Thank goodness, I have several gel pens in my backpack.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vito's Playhouse

When I wandered into the gallery, the first thing that caught my eye was the set of 4 American flags, framed with window cuts and thought, ok, another Jasper Johns variant.  After all, the American flag is the most recognizable and often, hated icon in the world today.  But I saw the system of pulleys as well and rope and swing.  Still, it didn't quite register.  I've seen these post-modern symbolic installations before -- yet another one, I thought, all subject to interpretation.  Holes through the flag in strategic areas.  I sat there for a few minutes trying to find a decent photographic angle.  The MCASD museum guard stood there watching me, as if wanting me to talk to him on this quiet Monday during Thanksgiving week.  So I asked, "Does it work?"
Heck yeah. Start by sitting on the left, he said and then rock toward the right and magically, each panel will start rising.  But little did I know what was really on the outside -- thinking it was just the reverse image of the stars and stripes.  Nope.  Hammer and sickle.  That's strange, the Soviet Union had been dissolved for at least a couple decades, so what's the relevance of the piece.  Of course, I didn't read the description of the piece until after I finished playing around with it.  Built in 1980, at the height of the Cold War, Vito Acconci's "Instant House" was a throwback to the days when everyone took sides, either inside or outside.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

La Jolla Beach in Late Fall

This is why I live here in California and not on the East Coast or in the Rockies.  While the rest of the country is pondering what the start of winter brings in about 3 weeks, we are enjoying 70 deg weather here.  I drove down to La Jolla on Monday to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and not only was the weather perfect, the availability of parking right on the beach was also a welcome change from how it typically is during the summer months.
The photo above was taken from the 2nd floor of MCASD overlooking the area where the sea lions sunbathe just around where the rocks are.  I cannot think of a more beautiful setting for an art museum.  Below is a shot of the Pacific Ocean from a window opening inside MCASD.  This window is actually the 2nd of 3 pieces by artist Robert Irwin titled 1° 2° 3° 4°.

Above is a photo of the access steps to the breakwater to get to the sea lions, just below a lifeguard tower.  I can't even imagine how many times this wall had been painted and re-painted as it is exposed to sun, wind and salt-water 365 days a year.  Below are some skimboarers riding the afternoon waves.  The water still seemed cold enough so they had wetsuits on.  The only indicator one would get that this is not a typical summer day is the empty beach in this world-famous tourist town of La Jolla.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Peterson and Sundays

I can't even being to tell you when this tradition started.  It couldn't have been more than 3 years ago (which is when I bought that tea cup by Colorado ceramicist, Cristine Boyd.)  Jazz had always been the most freeing form of music I've ever heard in my lifetime.  But the late great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, holds a special place in the way his music fills my house every Sunday morning.  Can't play a piano to save my life but I know timeless jazz piano when I hear it.  Oscar Peterson on vinyl, in particular.  Something about being mindful of when the music stops and taking the time to flip the record on the turntable every 20 minutes -- is what Sunday morning should be like, a time to slow down and reflect.  Being secular as I am, listening to Peterson while drinking a cup of green tea with roasted brown rice is as religious of an experience as it ever gets.

Skull Mat

The coolest bath mat ever designed! It's actually a Halloween item but I've adapted it to my man-bath for year-round use.  Target had matching towels but nothing is cheesier than matching bathroom accessories so this is all I got.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Mullet Christmas

1984 was the year.  The 80s was the decade.  The decade where the most popular music artists would get together, record a song or two or an entire album for a good cause.  In this particular case, proceeds of this Christmas EP went to assist famine relief in Ethiopia.  It was also the height of the popularity of bands like Duran Duran, which has several members pictures in this cover photo.  I was at Dr. Strange Records looking for some punk vinyl but instead found this while scouring the 25c pile.

Check out John Taylor's (Duran Duran bassist) mullet right next to Paul Young's competing mop.  Just to the right is the mullet-in-growth of Tony Hadley (of Spandau Ballet).
Good thing about losing your hair in the 80s like Phil Collins is that you can honestly say you never had a mullet -- ever.  Next to Phil, however, is Irish musician and political activist, Bob Geldof, who had a mullet/grunge hybrid and is the brain-child behind 80s gigs like Live Aid and Band Aid.  Geldof also produced this record.
Rick Parfitt of Status Quo also didn't do the mullet but keyboardist Nick Rhodes (who is 20% of Duran Duran circa 1984) sported not just a mullet but also the whole eyeliner thing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Can We All Just Get Along?

I did this collage back in 2006 after finding an old LA County Thomas Bros. map for $1 at a yard sale.  I thought that despite our claim of a diverse Los Angeles, we, as a whole are still segregated demographically and economically who live in neighboring cities.  This completed collage (shown above) was about 3 ft x 10 ft but over time, the glue I ended up using didn't last too long and soon enough, my notional neighborhoods fell apart.  In general, only a true Angeleno will fully understand the pairings I did.  I titled the piece "Lost Angeles (Can We All Just Get Along?)"
 The neighborhoods of Bel Air, Temple City and some unincorporated parts of LA County.
 The neighborhoods of Bradbury, Baldwin Hills, San Pedro and El Monte.
 The neighborhoods of Montebello, Brentwood, La Habra and Inglewood.
Since El Segundo always had this long-standing issues with LAX, I thought it might be fun to put more airport (add Palmdale Airport) around them and replace the their coastal access with the city of Rosemead.
 The neighborhoods of Sierra Madre, Hawthorne and Hollywood.
 The neighborhoods of North Hollywood, La Canada Flintridge and East LA (Boyle Heights).
 The neighborhoods of Manhattan Beach, just west of Northridge and north of Lynwood.
The city of San Marino bordered by the cities of Maywood and Huntington Park.