Posts Tagged ‘Linda Schroeder’

Chihuly in Denver’s Botanic Gardens

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Summer Sun

Summer Sun

Blue and Purple Boat

Blue and Purple Boat

We recently explored Denver’s Botanic Gardens which currently has Dale Chihuly’s art glass sculptures incorporated with the water ponds and flowers. Around every bend is a new group of glass creations which are part of the flowers, grasses, or ponds. They are surprising and exciting.

We were there on a gray morning, not too many people, and the light was perfect to catch the glass pieces without glare. I’ve seen other Chihuly sculptures but these were so much a part of the different “gardens,”  Asian, Plains, rose, etc., that they blended and added at the same time.

Yellow and Black Herons

Yellow and Black Herons

The glass is lighted at night for a totally different experience.

Purple reeds and Yellow sculpture

Purple reeds and Yellow sculpture

Do not miss this if you are in Denver.

Bicycle as art

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
My Bike by  Amos Robinson

My Bike by
Amos Robinson

Amos Robinson created this whirling bicycle in 2008 for the San Diego Port Authority’s Urban Trees project. The  Urban Trees lined the waterfront for several years but the various sculptures have since moved to private settings or other public places. This “tree” is now in Coronado along a different waterfront but still part of the Port Authority’s domain. It sits along a path the rental bikes and walkers frequent and you have to stop and look up into the sky to really see it.

I think the bicycle probably was a bright red before the years of ocean air muted it.

Amos Robinson's bicycle at Scripps Memorial Hospital

Amos Robinson’s bicycle at Scripps Memorial Hospital

Robinson has another incredible cycle in front of Scripps Memorial Hospital and I saw it when it was shiny new. Occasionally he appears with a new sculpture on the lawn in La Jolla to photograph the new piece before it goes to a home.

We saw the Coronado bike on the last day of the 2014 Comic-con gathering across the bay at the convention center so Spider Man, Men in Black, and a ninja of some kind were walking by on their way to the harbor ferry to take them across the water to the convention.  And real bikes whizzed by as well and one Harley.

It was also a rare day for weather; we had rain drops and thunder but no one seemed to care. “My Bike” blended into the gray but it still was impressive.

I always enjoy Robinson’s pieces. They capture the sense of wind and freedom that comes with the ocean–and a bike ride.

Outdoor Art: Murals and Trash Cans

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Mural by Irwin and Rittermann

Mural by Irwin and Rittermann

Irwin and Rittermann Mural

Irwin and Rittermann Mural

I try to keep up with the Murals in La Jolla but the last one popped up several months ago and I went in search of it.

Searching is not as much fun as discovering outdoor art unexpectedly.  Outdoor art often is  a destination, like monuments and murals.

The La Jolla murals (now twelve) have been up awhile and each one is remarkable but not all provide a sense of wonder as in “wow!”

Robert Irwin presented an installation in London and Philipp Scholz Rittermann photographed it. The result is a relatively new mural in La Jolla. It’s a visually challenging play of objects and perspective, mixing real elements, i.e. palm trees, cars, and streetlight, with the stretched vinyl reproduction of the photograph. It’s hard to walk by without trying to figure it out.  That sets it apart from some of the murals which require only a quick glance to sense the artists’ subject. But like most, it is impossible to photograph without the environmental elements—hence, outdoor art.

On a smaller scale are this car seat and trash can on the waterfront in Moro Bay.  We definitely just tripped upon this art on a walk around the small bay.  Both pieces are fun.

Car Seat

Car Seat

The car seat looks real from a short distance and seems to be abandoned junk that didn’t make it to the landfill. And it is impossible to look at without seeing the boats and wharf. But when you get up close, you can see a plaque in memory of a friend and we can read a little history into the torn car seat and the tools. No doubt it was placed here for a reason. We don’t need to know the reason or the person. It is a tribute.

Trash Can

Trash Can

The interesting trash can is obviously a way to spruce up an ugly container for, well, trash. It’s a mosaic with a waterfront theme–a surprise. Definitely site specific, definitely part of the setting, a human comment on the harbor.

Trash and art. That about says it all.


The Surfing Madonna

Monday, November 18th, 2013
The Surfing Madonna

The Surfing Madonna

She’s back!

First location The Surfing Madonna

First location The Surfing Madonna

When Mark Patterson first bolted his 10 x 10 foot mosaic, The Surfing Madonna, to the support arch of the railroad track in Encinitas, he did it quickly wearing a hard hat and disguised as a construction worker (he had help from other “workers”). But, in addition to being a religious subject on public property, it was, broadly speaking, graffiti. No one knew the artist. No one gave him permission. We loved it. But it couldn’t stay.  That was in 2011. It resided on another wall for awhile but it wasn’t very visible.

Now it is on a private wall, hence legal, and we are grateful to be able to see her again as we drive down Encinitas Boulevard.

I really liked the first location better, thought, because it was approachable. I walked up to the mosaic and almost put my nose on it. The tiles are beautiful. The silver and gold and the blue have deep color and shine even in the shadows. People even brought flowers to that first location. It was a fun “happening.” And mysterious because Mark Patterson didn’t admit to creating it for some weeks.

Now it is official, outdoor art. Still colorful. Still with an important message, “Save The Ocean.” But it’s rather aloof now, up from the sidewalk. It is still visible from a car as you drive by and you can walk along a sidewalk to get in front of it. The wall of the Leucadia Pizzeria is much better with art on it.

The graffiti artist Bansky just finished a three week blitz in New York. The fun of that, in addition to the art itself, was that no one knew ahead of time on which wall or truck door his spray paint might land. That element of art-on-the-fly is what The Surfing Madonna had.

She’s more secure now. I hope she stays for a long time. Considering all she’s been through, she still sparkles.




Gajin Fujita and Fred Tomaselli: Murals in La Jolla

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
Fujita's Tail Whip

Fujita’s Tail Whip

Tomaselli's Learning to Fly(for the Zeros)

Tomaselli’s Learning to Fly(for the Zeros)

There are two recent additions to the murals in the village of La Jolla.  Gajin Fujita’s Tail Whip and Fred Tomaselli’s Learning to Fly (for the Zeros). And they are widely different and both sort of alarming at first glance.

Fujita’s is on a wall on Fay Street which used to have Anna Gallaccio’s electron microscope picture of a sand grain Surf’s Up on it.  The last time I saw Surf’s Up it did look a little faded but I really have no idea why it’s been replaced. The official webpage for the murals offers no explanation and in fact Gallaccio’s name is gone from that site.  I thought that was odd.

Fujita’s piece is on a black background and looks very “urban graffitti.” There is a dragon swooshing through it, although from a distance it’s hard to pick out. A passerby said it was very controversial but I think anytime you put something on a wall it’s controversial. This, more than the other murals, requires a certain suspension of OMG IT’S GRAFFITI.  It is not the only mural in La Jolla that causes instant opinions.  Thankfully.  We hardly need art that nobody notices.

Detail, Tail Whip

Detail, Tail Whip

Fred Tomaselli’s piece is very noticeable. It’s at the intersection of the major road into La Jolla, Torrey Pines Road,  and the major shopping street, Girard. I was in heavy traffic slowing to the intersection and glanced up and whoa, there it was. This naked guy falling through space. Tomaselli’s explanation of the piece involves considering the wall as a stage and his nod towards the “punk scene” of his earlier time in L.A. (see the writeup in The La Jolla Light). But that is not the instant impression.  It reminded one of my friends of 9/11.  And at the intersection, in traffic, it is a little scary.  Up close, butterflies and insects can be seen in the black space and the body is filled with internal organs.

Detail, Learning to Fly

Detail, Learning to Fly

So, what does it all mean?  Go figure. I think both pieces are great murals because each gets an instant gut reaction from the viewer. That’s a lot better than nobody noticing. A large wall and seconds to make a point—the challenge of murals.

Murals of La Jolla-Richard Allen Morris

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Applied by R. A. MorrisDetail, "Applied"

Detail, "Applied"

The eighth mural of La Jolla is on an accessible wall and is printed so well on the large Miroflex cloth that the texture of the impasto looks three dimensional. Richard Allen Morris uses texture and vivid colors in his paintings; this mural is called “Applied” and is printed from a photo of the original eight-by-eleven inch work. The mural is surprisingly clear and the textures pop. This is easy to relate to,  easy to walk up close to. It reminds me of scoops of ice cream–maybe because it was especially warm on the day I walked by.

A couple of the murals seem a little worse for wear in the bright sunlight–Anya Gallaccio’s electron microscope image of a sand grain seems to be fading–the dark valleys are not nearly as dark as they used to be and Ryan McGinness’s “53 Women” is not quite as vibrant–the primary colors are just a little less startling. Of course, maybe it’s not the sun’s fault. Maybe I’m just used to seeing those two.

Baldessari's SeaScape & Brain Cloud with Palm Tree

I had lunch at George’s of the Cove and sat next to John Baldessari’s brain cloud and it is just as weird as ever. That third floor terrace is about the only place you can really see the whole of Baldessari’s mural. From the walkway below by the sea,  the top part is visible but not the deep blue of the ocean below the brain cloud.  It takes a while to get used to Baldessari but the brain cloud is my favorite Murals of La Jolla.
There will be eight more murals in the next months.

Richard Allen Morris’s Applied is fun.  It kind of sneaks up on you as you walk up Fay Street. It seems more “universal” in that you only need to appreciate the artist’s use of color and the movement given the color with the use of texture and not ponder what the deeper meaning might be. It’s a great swirl of energy.

Murals of La Jolla-Robert Ginder

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013


Robert Ginder's "House"

Detail, Robert Ginder's "House"

Robert Ginder’s House is the seventh mural to find a home on an empty wall in La Jolla, California.

And it is the most accessible. It’s on the wall of a former art gallery right on Prospect in La Jolla. And it is between two buildings that you can walk through. And no cars can park in front of it.  So it was easy to get up close.

The original painting is oil on wood and uses 22-karat gold leaf in addition to the oils. The details show up very well on this enlargement. The reflections in the windows and the shadows on the “stucco” make this very realistic and a good reason to walk up and peer at it.  If it wasn’t printed on a large piece of vinyl and attached to a large wall it would be easy to miss as a painting. There are a lot of houses in San Diego that look like this. Unfortunately, when I was there in mid-morning not one passerby looked up at it.  That might be the case with all of the Murals of La Jolla. Maybe they only get, at best, a passing glance. But this one is so easy to examine and appreciate the details. If you can find a place to park, be sure to walk up close to this.


I’ve blogged about the first six in previous posts. They represent a wide variety of artistic viewpoints, from clean design such as   Kim MacConnel’s tall ribbons of color, Girl From Ipanema and Roy McMakin’s ceramic tiles, Favorite Colors.

Anya Gallaccio’s electron microscope photo of a sand grain, Surf’s Up is getting hard to see. It seems to be fading or maybe it’s just hard to get a handle on what it is. Close up, the unusual shapes are more interesting than the whole.

Ryan McGinness’s  53 Women causes a lot of comments. I always hear one or two similar to “Holy Cow.”

John Baldessari’s odd pairing, Brain Cloud with SeaScape and Palm Tree is not easy to see. You have to look way up from the sidewalk by the cove on a wall facing another high wall.


But Ann Hamilton’s at sea is easy to see on the CitiBank wall which is directly opposite 53 Women and it is an image we can recognize.


Donal Hord’s “Morning”

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Donal Hord's Morning

"Morning" showing fangs and corn on base

Donal Hord lived in San Diego most of his life and his large outdoor sculptures are placed in very well known locations.

I first saw a Donal Hord sculpture in the late 1950’s when I was a student at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University). It is one of his works which he created especially for public places when he worked for the Works Progress Administration, WPA, in the late 1930’s. It is the seated figure of an Aztec warrior and it used to be in the main quad of the college, in front of the library and bell tower. Since the school’s football team is the Aztecs, that made sense. I hadn’t seen any other Hord pieces at that time. Aztec has been in several different locations at SDSU since then.

I found Morning in the Embarcadero Maria Park at Seaport Village the other morning. Morning is a good time to see it because the six foot figure is made from black granite and it is hard to photograph it in glaring sun. It’s a beautiful, muscular man, waking in the morning. The man sits on a base of symbols, the sun and moon, fangs and corn. The fangs are an Aztec symbol of man’s birth from the earth and corn is both a Mexican and American Indian symbol for the basic source of life giving food.

Donal Hord's "Morning"

It’s hard to get a picture of the whole sculpture because of the trees and water and buildings directly behind it. But the close-ups show the detail of the body and the wonderful power of the curving muscles.

Hord carved the piece between 1951 and 1956. He kept Morning in his own home. He died in 1966. The sculpture was not acquired by the Port of San Diego until 1983.

Donal Hord's "Morning"

About Writing: Sherlocking for details

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

November is National Novel Writing Month. If you are trying to get a first draft of your “I have this idea for a story” book, now is the time. You have only to write everyday in November in a completely free flow of putting stuff down on paper. Then for the next year you can rewrite. Or if you are really good, you can rewrite for six months. Me? I rewrite, put aside, rewrite more. And I need a critique group to prod me every week.

For this November, though, I’m doing some guest posts arranged by Pump Up Your Book. Today, November 6, I have a post on Workaday Reads.  I’m putting the same post here. But stop by Workaday Reads to see that site. You might need a review of your NaNoWriMo product.


Are you watching the new Sherlock Holmes, the one with Sherlock in rehab and Watson as a woman? It’s different. But no matter how current authors tweak the classic character, Sherlock remains the epitome of keen observation.

When I started writing Artists & Thieves I knew a great deal about observing language. My first Master’s degree was in English, my second was related to language disorders. I’d read literature biggies and dissected how they did what they did with language. I worked with children who had difficulty using ordinary language and I had to pinpoint what was missing. In both cases, I learned to observe.

So when I wrote Artists & Thieves, adding details to a scene to put the reader “there” was easier for me than adding tension or conflict to a scene. I’m always on the lookout for details. I don’t record them in a notebook but they pop into my head as I’m writing.

When I bought a new gas stove I was surprised to hear the pilot light clicking away before the flame started. My old stove didn’t do that. I was working on a scene with Angelo, an artist, moving him around in his loft. I gave that detail to him: “At the kitchen sink he filled the tea kettle with water, and when the clicking of the pilot light finally caught enough gas to flame, he set the pot on the burner’s medium flame.”

When I needed details to bring the setting of Fisherman’s Wharf to smelly life, I remembered a crowded market in San Francisco’s Chinatown: “He bounced down the rough, tarred surface of the wharf shoulder to shoulder with morning tourists. He passed raw sea creatures displayed outside the seafood market on his left, then crossed to the other side to catch the aroma of clam chowder steaming on the counter at Bernie’s, ready to be ladled into paper cups.”

Details are not just for describing a scene. They work to add tension or stress to a character. While I was working on the climax of Artists & Thieves, I needed to build suspense by putting obstacles in the way of my heroine, Mai, as she frantically rushes to find the bad guy. I remembered driving home late at nigh lost in fog so thick I had to stop the car and wait for the fog to break. No cell phones then. A spooky situation. I gave that experience to Mai: “The streets at the west end of Golden Gate Park were shrouded in fog and darkness. Mai couldn’t see the white center line on the road or the one at the edge marking the bicycle lane, couldn’t keep the Jaguar in her lane. . . . She leaned her head out the window, straining to see beyond the flapping windshield wipers. . . .’Where am I?’ She was frustrated, talking out loud.”

And on a more poetic note, I’ve seen a red tide twice in San Diego. The waves fluoresce at night in moonlight. A fellow writer in my critique group suggested that I use a red tide to add mystery to the setting for the climax. My memory helped: “Long bands of glowing light stretched up and down the coast, eerily luminescent in the fog hanging over the waves. The red tide’s tiny organisms sparkled, ebbed and flowed in the ocean’s easy motion.”

Observation is a writer’s necessity as much as it is a detective’s. For me, plotting and character development require a lot of rewriting. That is a long and tedious process.

But I can Sherlock descriptive details quickly. And that’s the fun of writing.

About Writing: Using Real Details in Imagined Settings

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

November 3, 2012 was National Authors’ Day. I had a book table at the Oceanside library. There must have been twenty local authors and there were ten speakers. It was a good chance to meet and talk to other authors.

November is also National Novel Writing Month. To celebrate, I’m doing some guest posts on literary blogs. The schedule is on the Pump Up Your Book site.  But you can read the first post here. It was on Sapphyria’s Book Reviews:


Writers fill their fictional world with details from their real world. That’s why we believe their stories. I think this weaving together of the real and the imagined makes for strong settings.

In Artists & Thieves I consciously placed the character Angelo in Monterey’s Cannery Row because it is a well known place. But the restaurant I invented for him is straight out of my head. I called the restaurant Sardines because Cannery Row used to be a cannery now, think John Steinbeck, not a tourist destination. And the main fish packed in those old canneries were sardines. A reader doesn’t need to know that but it helps with the pun: “Sardines was packed. Angelo nudged his way into the bar area of the performance space, reassured a little by the odd mixture of elegance and crap which its owner, Max, had assembled. The metal and brick walls were bleak, the lighting exquisite.”

I don’t always consciously use details from a real place in a scene. The other day I had lunch at a restaurant which is built around an old trout fishing lake. It has fish water spouts on the eaves, fountains spraying cones of water in the middle, and ducks. There is a long path which winds down from the parking lot. The path is cool even on the hottest day because bamboo lines both sides of it, thick bamboo, almost three inches in diameter. As I walked down the path the other day I thought, Wait a minute. I know this place. Well, of course, I know it, I’ve been here dozens of times. No, that wasn’t what I felt. I knew the path from somewhere else. Then I realized that I had used this path as a setting in Artists & Thieves. It popped into my head as I was writing a key scene towards the end of the novel. The memory of this real place unconsciously provide the perfect setting for a chapter. The chapter is titled The Bamboo Grove. The main character, Mai, is in the hospital with her grandfather who has been shot. I’ll just pull a few sentences here as examples:  “Mai walked outside to the coffe stand. Came back in with coffee. Walked outside for a muffin. Came back in. Sat. Picked up a magazine. Couldn’t read. Couldn’t sit. Paced. Sat. Outside, wisps of fog flowed in currents of evening air. Mai wandered away from the hospital down a path to a grove of bamboo which screened the cement parking structure. The thick bamboo stalks offered a sturdy comfort. . . . The gently curving path wandered through the bamboo. She walked slowly, feeling hopeful. . . .Along with the rustle of the bamboo leaves, the bowl’s song played in her head. . . .”

Since I study Chinese brush painting, I know that bamboo is a symbol in Chinese thought for resilience. It survives the snow of winter, bends without breaking, and remains green in the heat of summer. That image was perfect for this crucial moment in the story when Mai needs to pull herself together and find the person who shot her grandfather. Even if you as a reader do not share the knowledge of the symbol, bamboo works throughout the chapter.

Sometimes I deliberately choose certain places for my characters to be, sometimes the details of a place pop unexpectedly into my head as I write. Both ways help create a good story. Artists & Thieves won the 2011 San Diego Book Awards in the action/suspense category.