Archive for September, 2010

Sign Post

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Signs are not art, but they are outdoors.

Universal Truth

Building ad in Cripple Creek, Colorado

And sometimes they are deeply philosophical.  How else to express the quirkiness of a universe which can instantly change good fortune to bad. Or to remind us that daily toil has some relief.

And leave it to the animal kingdom to comment on all of our ego-centered ideas.

Wild Burros in Cripple Creek

Colorado Fall

The aspen are turning yellow and orange in the Colorado mountains, and a little snow fell on the Sangre de Cristo mountains last week.  A sign of summer changing to autumn. A sign of recurring natural beauty.  No words needed.

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Lotus Variations

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The lotus is a useful as well as a beautiful flower. When I eat sticky rice at my favorite Chinese restaurant, the rice comes wrapped in a lotus leaf. I have, on occasion, taken the leaf home, washed it off, and used it in a collage. The Chinese waiter finds that odd.  It’s a wrap for food, not a potential art medium.

Chinese artists often use the lotus symbolically to represent, among other things, purity and high aspirations since it rises beautifully from a muddy lake bottom and stretches elegantly above the water towards a noble place.  The lotus is a recurring symbol in Buddhism, as it is in other Eastern religions.

For centuries, brightly colored lotus boats in China have drifted through the lotus “fields,” providing poets, painters, and scholars the opportunity to reflect on beauty or, in another function, the chance to drink and dally with the opposite sex.  The popular songs from ancient taverns differed from those of the imperial courts in many ways and were called the songs of the lotus boat.

Of course, the lotus in a painting doesn’t symbolize anything unless it symbolizes something to the painter. It may simple be a lovely flower the artist wishes to capture in paint so it can be viewed often in a place far removed from its watery origin.

Doreen's Lotuses

Pam's Lotus

Doreen Leverette painted these lotuses with watercolor and a delicate brush, carefully layering on vibrant colors. The flowers mingle with the leaves and the water and fill all of the space on the paper.  What we see first is the abundance of color.

Using a contrasting technique, Pam Auerbach painted this single lotus with a Chinese brush using free, exuberant strokes, catching the essence of the flower and leaf and letting the white paper be part of the design. She added that flitting living creature, a bit of animal chi, which we know will soon be zipping off, pollinating as it goes. What we see first is the life force in the flower.

Symbols or representations of nature?  Ask the artist, who, if she could explain the emotions which the lotus evokes, would be a writer rather than an artist.

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Tall Ships and Treasure

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Tall ships are in San Diego this weekend, September 2-6 for the Festival of Sail 2010. Actually we always have the Star of India, the Californian, and the Surprise which is a replica of the Rose built for the movie Master and Commander.

Figurehead on the Surprise

Pilgrim in Festival of Sail

But during the Festival of Sail other tall ships arrive and can be toured.  There are mock cannon battles in the harbor as well as strolling pirates and poets.

Tall ship in San Diego harbor

Richard Henry Dana wrote the definitive up close and personal look at sailing on a tall ship, the brig Pilgrim, in Two Years Before The Mast.  It is his account of sailing from Boston in 1834 around Cape Horn and up the western coast to cram the ship with hides to sell back in Boston. Reading it is a tour through the vocabulary of working a tall ship, the hard life of sailors who used those words,  as well as a glimpse at the coast of California when it belonged to Mexico.

Kimberly Alderman is follwing the high  seas adventure happening now in court between the treasure hunters of Odyssey Marine Exploration and Spain. In 1804 a Spanish war ship sank 3600 feet to the sea bottom 100 miles west of Gibraltar. She was carrying 594,000 Spainsh coins minted in Peru.

This modern cannon battle in the courts is three way:  Spain says the coins belong to it as the sovereign nation who sailed the warship. Odyssey claims salvage rights, and Peru wants the coins returned to it.  Quite a tale. See Kimberly Alderman’s Cultural Property and Archaeology Law blog at

Oh, for the life on the rolling sea!

sailor on tall ship