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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frida Kahlo Has Landed


I don't know how I managed to stay away from knowing more about the life of Frida Kahlo. I guess I could chalk it up to being too busy learning about the lives of other visual artists. I would look at her paintings and not see them, really see them. Why? Because I would be looking through a lens of over-saturation, of having seen too many times her brows and her 'stache, of knowing nothing but that there are Frida coffee mugs, Frida scarves, Frida matching hand towels.


For years her popularity kept me from going in whole-hog, but a couple of weeks ago I was visiting Seattle Art Museum and came across a book by Andrea Kettenmann filled with Frida's paintings, plus a good deal about her life, for only $15 (Taschen 2012), so I bought it (it's a gorgeous hardcover book. I can't believe it was only $15!).

And now I am afoot with her vision, her genius, and her passion, as well as her pain and suffering. What an amazing person/woman/artist/writer/inspirer of many.

On top of finding inspiration and learning much about Mexican history, I guess I'm also learning a lesson: don't dismiss artists who have cult followings.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Writing Marathon: Sunday, 11/4 at Beacon Hill Library, Seattle


On Sunday, November 4th I will be co-leading a Writing Marathon with local poet Drew Dillhunt. 

We will meet at the Beacon Hill Library (2821 Beacon Avenue S., right down the street from the Beacon Hill Link Lightrail Station) at 1 pm, where we will form groups and write together. This is not a writing critique group or workshop. No feedback will be provided. All you are asked to do is participate in the act of putting words on the page.  



Depending on what your group decides, you might hop the  light rail, visit SEA TAC airport or Westlake Center, or wherever else you can get to and from in about one and a half hours. 

We will reconvene at the library around 2:45 pm to debrief. 

All genres and experience levels are welcome. 

Details:
This is a low-pressure writing event for all levels, beginning to advanced writers. Please join us in a writing adventure convening at Beacon Hill Library, where we will meet and then disperse to write for 90 minutes. Groups can choose where they'd like to hop on the light rail enroute to a series of destinations, walk around the block, stay in library, etc. Groups will decide how long to write for (10 minutes at each stop is usually sufficient). After each timed writing, participants will share all or part of what they wrote.

Goals: 
To participate in a welcoming community of writers and go home with written work that has not been judged or critiqued. To immerse ourselves in the act of creation. To put into practice the belief that successful writing can only be achieved through unmitigated scribbling onto a blank page. To recognize that editing, if it happens at all, is a separate activity, when the writer is no longer dialed into the initial, often exuberant, act of creation.

This is a free event. For more information, email BeaconWritingMarathon@gmail.com or marthasilano@yahoo.com. Please share with your friends!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Inspiration Everywhere: Art Museums

Bring your notebook to an art museum. My daughter and I have been doing this the last couple of years. Here's an example of a haiku I drafted at the Seattle Art Museum's Gaughin/Tahiti show last spring.



Engage with the art in an un-intended way: Another thing we do (when we go to the Olympic Sculpture Park) is play elaborate games of Hide and Seek Tag using this Richard Serra sculpture:


My son says he doesn't like looking at sculpture, but he sures loves to run around these wonderful columns, staying just out of my view, then coming out from out of nowhere and racing me down. It's inspiring to watch children who say they don't enjoy art engaging completely with it kinesthetically. Small victory ... and he doesn't even know he's getting an art lesson. I imagine Serra smiling and nodding down upon us as we fully "get" his structures.

Express yourself without words: Another thing we enjoy doing is collages. Seattle Art Museum has an artist studio for kids to draw self-portraits, make art, etc.


It's free to use this art-making area, but we like to use it after we have gone upstairs to the galleries to get inspired by the paintings by Jasper Johns, Gorky, Pollock, Rausenberg, etc. 

I always return from these joints very energized, very excited to take what I've written or experienced and start to turn it into a more polished kind of writing (perhaps sometimes, if lucky, a poem will begin to emerge from my scribbles and jottings). 

Visit art museums as often as possible. In the past couple of years I have been lucky to visit art museums in DC, Denver, Philadelphia, Santa Fe, Portland, OR, and Chicago. This is how I stay connected to my creative self while the crazy chaos of living rages unabated all around me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Blog: Wendy Willis' On Pie, Poetry & Politics

I just learned of a brand new blog called on pie poetry and politics, commandeered lovingly and beautifully by Wendy Willis, author of the just-released Blood Sisters of the Republic.

Greg Glazner refers to her as a "wrangler with history, domestic confidante, disrupter of narratives, down-home story teller, linguistic fire breather," perfectly describing this writer I had not heard of until a few days ago.

I enjoy Willis' poems because they are domestic and political, not just in the "personal is political" sense, but in the "Republicans taking over the house of representatives" sense. They are also gorgeous tributes to the creatures we often overlook for the megafauna: bluebottles, jellyfish, frog's eggs, snakes, beetles, gnats, cockroaches, bees. And did I mention how she renders ordinary foodstuffs--strawberries and fruit cake and griddlecakes--into linguistic ambrosia?

But I picked up the pen (err, hastened to the keyboard) to share about her blog, in particular a recent post which caught my attention. In the entry Asymmetry & Humility, Willis relates a story many moms can relate to: a picture-perfect vacation weekend with the kids suddenly spoiled thanks to a bee. When Willis' daughter requests homemade apple pie to make it all better, Willis' first reaction is to recoil. Yet, in the end (albeit with corners cut), and after a long car ride home, Willis heads into the kitchen to produce that which serves to erase all memory of the sting. Without saying it outright, we get the message: serving food we've made with our own hands is how we take care of each other, one of the many ways we can, if we choose, not only show our love but bring happiness and restore calm to ourselves and others.

Reading this post made me want to head straight into my kitchen and concoct a version of my son's favorite pie: apple. Not that he's exactly been stung by a bee lately, but the first three weeks of middle school have been tough, tough, tough. What better way to reward him for making the transition than with a giant wedge of pie and a dollop of vanilla ice cream?

I can't wait to read her next post ...