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December 5, 2009

Holiday Roundup

The Smithsonian has a fun exhibit showing many artists' holiday cards from seasons past.

The example above is a Mario Carreño holiday card to Enrique Riverón from 1930. Highdie ho and happy trails to one and all.

October 5, 2008

Wind-Powered Art

Aeolian Electric is the name of an art project that explores the power of wind and had its outdoor opening reception this Saturday at the East River Bank at 23rd Street in NYC.

Wind Powered Art

“The Wonders of Nature” by Cade Peterson

Eliott Montgomery from the Industrial Designers Society curated the show and had an inventive piece in it too (see below). The six creative designs are currently displayed on East 23rd Street at the East River Bank at a space called Solar One. The pieces were created to trigger focus, awareness and imagination surrounding the subject of renewable energy sources. Much is talked about these days regarding solar power, renewable energy and sustainable resources. This show aims to present a playful curiosity about this technical subject and to help bridge the gap between engineers and end-users. Heavy-duty sponsors include O2NYC and Toyota. It's a nice way for artists to voice their thoughts through their work.

Wind Powered Art

“Wind Tree” by Elliott Montgomery — the record (Winnie the Pooh) spins faster or slower depending on the power of the wind hitting the top of the “tree,” causing the voice to speed up or slow down too.

October 1, 2008

Street Art and Time Travel

Kirchner at MOMA Here's an upcoming show at MOMA that looks beautiful: Kirchner and the Berlin Street.

One of my favorite aspects of great art is that it has the power to transport you to another time and place. These seven colorful paintings look very contemporary to me but were created between 1913 and 1915. Go on an easy time travel and jump into an artist's vision from another time.

September 23, 2008

Color and Critter

One more fantastic piece of artwork by my client, Liz Ward.

Kitty in colorful room

Detail of painting by Liz Ward

Between the color, the kitty and the scribble art, I am in love with this painting. It's a great mixture of reality and imagination, as art should be. I love the blue on the kitty; my kitties will have to follow suit now.

September 22, 2008

Life Imitates Art Again

Color-drenched artist Liz Ward is my client; her website is just being completed, needing only the final shopping cart to finish up.

Sheep on a velvety night

The image at left is significant for me because the small beach at the end of my block has similar aspects. I love to go down there late at night and take in the peaceful view, which changes depending on the tide, activity in the water, the weather and nature's mood. It has looked like navy blue velvet to me lately, the color of the night sky in this painting. There's a piece of rock on one side that looks like an old judge's profile, the kind who wore wigs in British courts and it also looks like a sheep's face. I think of it as the sheepy judge. I like to point it out to people and sometimes they have their own nicknames for my sheepy judge.

Above, Sheep by Liz Ward

August 24, 2008

Everyone Loves Van Gogh

Van Gogh is apparently the world's most popular painter.

Agostina Segatori in the Cafe du Tambourin by Van Gogh MOMA is hosting a new Van Gogh exhibit this September, called Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night.

For art lovers and Van Gogh afficianados, this show is sure to be a welcome fall event.

Van Gogh's universal appeal is all the more touching considering he was a pauper during his lifetime and never achieved financial security, let alone riches. His story is one of those that makes you shake your head in disbelief and at the same time gives confidence to artists of all types struggling to make their way amidst uncertainty and anonymity.  

Above: “Agostina Segatori in the Café du Tambourin” painted by Vincent Van Gogh

August 18, 2008

Magical Children's Books

Children's books are a great canvas for creative illustrators and thinkers/writers.

Zin, Zin, Zin, a Violin

The book pictured at left is currently being made into a DVD by my friend, Jacqueline Gordon and a newly formed company called Little Symphonies, Inc. headed by Lisa Cohen. The DVD voiceover is by Angela Lansbury, with a combination jazz/classical music track by noted musicians. I happen to own a copy of this book in my collection of children's books, which I unwittingly compiled over the past approximately 10 years of graphic design work, being captivated by the color, creativity and imagination in the best children's books. This type of picture book seems to be an ideal framework to allow imagination to run wild while keeping concepts spare and simple in humorous and inventive ways. The field is blazingly inspirational to a designer and lover of words cleverly paired with artwork.  

August 14, 2008

Jewelry from the Garden

Nature lends constant inspiration for artists.

Jamie Cassavoy Jewelry

Jamie Cassavoy is one of my favorite jewelry designers and she takes her primary cues from her garden. She says, “I try to replicate the strong, yet ethereal nature of the flowers growing in my garden. I strive to find nature's perfection in its imperfection.” Besides being beautiful, Jamie's jewelry evokes a strong mood, endowing it with an atmosphere of lush maiden-like grace. Many of her pieces are exceptionally light, something about which I care, as I won't wear earrings that pull down earlobes. She comes up with constantly inspired imagery, much like nature herself.

August 11, 2008

Cute Monsters

How cute is this guy?

Daily Monster

Clever, colorful, original, cute and fun, check out the videos on Daily Monster for your daily dose of imaginative make believe critterhood. 

August 1, 2008

Summer Garden Series

MOMA — the Museum of Modern Art in NYC on 53rd and 5th — is holding its summer garden series.

MOMA summer garden

Music sets go on at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. every Thursday night in July and August. Cocktails of a summer bent are served. Musical performances are eclectic. The setting is pretty. Outdoor summer events offer a special New York view; the weather and setting combines to produce memorable experiences.

July 31, 2008

Sonia Delaunay: Living in Color

Sonia Delaunay created dazzlingly colorful paintings, textiles and household items.

Colorful art of Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay was initially a painter but became increasingly attracted by color itself and designed fashion and other items, including a great deck of cards. Robert Delaunay, her husband, also created compatible beautiful paintings, viewable at the Guggenheim here in New York. Another great husband/wife meeting of the minds. They must have been incredible inspirations to each other.

Perhaps one of the first really modern designers, working in the early decades of the last century but active until her passing in 1979, Sonia unleashed her wild colors on dresses, cutlery and created the first neon sculpture. She was friends with great artists and supported by many art movements such as the Surrealists, Dadaists and Futurists. She collaborated with Coco Chanel and Sergei Diaghilev. Her fluid movement from everyday items to “high” art appeals to my sense that art should trickle into all aspects of life, making existence richer, more fun, more intense, more thoughtful and more colorful.

July 27, 2008

Blue Hydrangeas

blue hydrangeas

 

 

 

Artist Marisa Repeta painted this dreamy image of Blue Hydrangeas with beautiful color interplay. See more.

July 23, 2008

Life

“Life consists of what a man is thinking of all day.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

You are your thoughts

This is artwork created for and included in my business card. The background became my most flamboyant painterly rug, called "Think." The words were my version of a similar thought to Emerson's; I read the Emerson quote only recently. It's a distillation of a lot of interesting concepts I've read about the power of positive thinking and related ideas. But it's not just about thinking. It's the concept of how your thoughts become actions which become tangible things and experiences and ultimately your life. So be aware of what you spend your time thinking about. You have the power to direct your mind, although at times it can seem like your mind has you. And you can direct it to happiness and constructive endeavors or to negativity and circular thoughts that take you nowhere. I'd choose the former.

July 21, 2008

Business & Art Are Buddies

My instinct tells me that business and art are allies, not enemies. This has been proven true in my work in graphic design. This week at a lecture by Ran Lerner on his excellent product designs, the same message came through.

Products designed by Ran Lerner

Products designed by Ran Lerner: candle, cutlery set, salt and papper set, wine rack

Ran spoke about the process of bringing products “to market” and I was struck by how similar his working process is to my experience in graphic design. Not having designed mass market products yet, although my rugs are beginning to bloom, I didn't realize that many of the same principles apply in the day-to-day work challenges of product design as in graphic design. Ran works with manufacturers such as Umbra. When presenting to companies, you must take their market into account. So your design is not just about taste; it's about satisfying a company's vision and their client base. This is very much like graphic design where the client's subject matter, audience and goals are key. Learning to work with different clients and audiences challenges your sense of creativity and visual expression. It doesn't need to be a restriction in a negative way. It's certainly a challenge but constraints build new solutions.

When I was beginning to design things, I did some pro bono and low-paying work for broke musicians who needed materials. They had no budget. I had to produce ads, posters, invitations, tickets, CD packaging and business cards in black and white on whatever paper was around. And my creativity soared. I talked to my father about it and wondered why I couldn't be that creative (and cost-effective) for my own projects. He said that constraints are a great and eye-opening tool in all artistic work. The validity of this became evident to me from working on these very constrained projects that were deeply satisfying. Yet another of life's conundrums: sometimes less really is more and even leads the way to more.

July 15, 2008

Big Day for Modern Rugs

Today, I received a shipment of six rug designs for my business, my first full-size rugs with which to take promotional photos, show buyers the actual color and texture of the rugs and launch the business.

Modern rugs in unique colors

The colors came out beautifully and the rugs feel great under your bare feet. The rugs take a couple of months to make. Specifying yarn colors is, to me, the most involved and tricky part of the design undertaking, as what you see in a finished rug isn't always what you expect. You have to learn the translation process the same way you learn in graphic design work how printed pieces translate colors from the Pantone or other color matching systems. But hey, you get to play with colors for hours in the process, so not a bad task.

Modern Rugs in Artistic Colors and Designs

The Good Doggie rug design shown below is one of the ones that gets a big reaction from customers. There's nothing like a critter to get people all worked up. There are more animal themed rugs in the collection too.

Modern Rug Design

Rug designs are presented in four categories: Painterly, Graphic, Solids and Illustrative. Since color is one of my greatest design strengths, even the solid color rugs offer wonderful design options in colors that brighten your life, as shown in the long luxurious hall runner below. This color combination is called Blackberries.

Striking colors in modern rugs

The site shopping cart is not quite finished being set up so if you see a rug you're interested in, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Thanks! 

July 6, 2008

Paper, Patterns and Pleasure

Color is entrancing in many forms.

Colorful Paper

This gorgeous image is from a blog called Colour Lovers (thanks to Just Muttering). The blog is part of an overall site that focuses on color in many manifestations, from fashion trends to artwork to pretty much anything that employs color. Lots of good ideas and interesting topics.

July 3, 2008

Loving Your Job

This little guy loves his job.

Loves His Job Would we were all so well suited to our daily tasks. I found this cutie pie on Hula Seventy, which I found following an enjoyable train of links including the following interesting resources:

Coudal Partners

Gelato Baby

Jim Flora

Irwin Chusid

Wardomatic

Hula Seventy

Which is where this happy guy resided, under an orange-themed day. 

June 26, 2008

More Eyeball Jazz

Jim Flora, the artist mentioned yesterday, deserves plenty of air time.

Jim Flora angry pedestrian This angry pedestrian cracks me up. The website that has been created to honor his work is exceptionally beautifully designed. Flora's mixture of action, humor, style, color, childlike fantasy and lots of music imagery is right on. He was a successful illustrator in addition to creating dozens of album covers. He also designed many children's books, which is one of the first things I wondered, as his style is perfect for it and reminds me of the children's book illustrators who have been my favorite designers since I first became entranced with graphic design and started working in the field, such as Richard McGuire.

Jim Flora illustrations

T-shirts with some of his great art on them are available. Fine art prints of some images are also available and worth owning.

June 25, 2008

Mambo Kitties Do Eyeball Jazz

What could be better than groovin' kitties in jazzy colors doing the mambo? 

Jim Flora, Mambo KittiesHad to share this fantastic art posted by Moderncat.net, as it's so up my alley(cat). How interesting that this artist, Jim Flora, was working mid-century when his art is so contemporary looking. Everything old is new again, as they say. Or more accurately, great art is timeless. And kitties doing the mambo rule forever!

Great Record Album Art

Here's one more teaser image of Jim Flora's great record album designs. One critic calls his work “eyeball jazz.” I think many current illustrators have been influenced by him, even unconsciously, in which category I would include myself, without having known it, based on the style he put out there.

June 21, 2008

A Banner Day for Froggy

This super colorful frog is an amazing product of nature's design.

Fantastic Colorful Tree Frog

This gorgeous critter was photographed by my friend's talented father, Marty Sobel. Marty gave me permission to use this and more of his beautiful nature photos for a client's environmentally-oriented website. (The client loves the photos.) That's how froggy became a banner. He is miniscule, by the way, so don't ever doubt that great and astounding things can come in small packages. Creative in other ways too, check out Marty's main business venture: Han-D-Cut — ingenious streamlined cutters for signmakers and designers.

June 12, 2008

My Favorite Bald Movie Star

Bruce Willis and Telly Savalas have their appeal but you guessed it; it's Caspar the Friendly Ghost for me.

The Fabulous Caspar the Friendly Ghost

Besides being captivatingly adorable, Caspar is a very interesting character. The still at left above is from a 1940s cartoon where Caspar is crying because everyone is scared of him and he just wants to be friends with people. Finally, this little baby fox, named Ferdie by Caspar, shows up and immediately loves Caspar. There's actually a lot of drama and emotion in the story. 

Caspar is the CutestCaspar doesn't want to just be like any other ghost, going out every night to scare people; he wants to be nice; he goes against the crowd and it ain't easy. Like many great heroes, he takes the path less traveled and it can be a lonely, scary road. The fact that he looks like a little baby makes him even more hilarious and lovable. I always loved Caspar as a kid and I would guess that subliminally to me as a tot, part of the reason was likely because of his determination to forge his own way. Another reason to love him is his unfailingly upbeat nature. He is a brilliantly drawn character, inside and out.

June 8, 2008

Eye Opening

Small portraits of a lover's single eye were carried by people in the 18th century.

Eye Portraits

 

 

The eye portraits were symbolic of “keeping an eye” on a carefully guarded love, as well as a warm reminder of the person's presence. The watchful eye suited jealous suitors, male and female. These paintings were tiny and set in lockets, brooches, rings or small boxes. Eerie and cool both.

June 7, 2008

Ways of Seeing

This beautiful abstract art is the development of artist Amy Stillman's vision of human couples and their interactions.

Gorgeous Abstract Art from Portraits

On view at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. and titled “Directions: Amy Sillman, Third Person Singular,” it's interesting to see how different artists come to their results. For this series, Ms. Stillman starts with realistic portraits of couples and then creates multiple sketches from memory until she arrives at these thought-provoking abstract paintings.

May 29, 2008

Music, Food, Hardware & Art
Amp Up in Brooklyn

For those who love artistic things that function well, the upcoming Crest Hardware Art Show in Brooklyn with a fun opening celebration June 7th and running until July 11th hosts a satisfying concept.

Crest Hardware Art Show

Here's what store manager Joseph Franquinha says about the recurring show:

“As manager of Crest Hardware, I am thrilled to provide a unique, non-traditional atmosphere to showcase the artwork of the creative and vibrant community we service. I have such a love and appreciation for art and I am fascinated with seeing the transformation of basic hardware materials into something other than what they are intended for.”

Hardware as Art at the Crest Hardware Art ShowThe celebration offers music and food as well as hardware and art. Great hardware really is art anyway but in this show, they get carried away.

One of my talented musician friends, Bill Bell, is performing. Bill's musicianship is superb (he plays pretty much every instrument and plenty you've never heard of) so stop by Saturday, June 7th if you can.

May 17, 2008

Picasso Face

Cats like Autumn, whose faces have markings that cut across the two halves of their faces, look like “Picasso faces” to me. They almost make you think you're seeing their profile and head-on view at once.

Picasso Face

Picasso, as seen in the painting above left, was the first artist to show a face in both direct and profile view at the same time. This looked odd to people at first, as it's not what we literally see. However, it is something the mind can see and an artist‘s job is partly to provide us with new ways to see. Picasso did this more than most artists. Painterly kitties like Autumn are an example of “life imitates art” with their graphic faces. Look how she's imitating Picasso's yellow swatch down the middle of her face. It's an expression of God's sophisticated and cultured artistry that no man can exceed but which we can celebrate, honor and enjoy.

May 6, 2008

Self and Shadow

Conversations between dark and light, shadow and person take place visually and psychologically in the intriguing art of Nadine Gordon-Taylor.

Nadine Gordon-Taylor ArtAt left: “IMAX Shadow” in oil

Ms. Taylor places her own shadow in all her art, giving a new dimension to the work. I love the additional layer of the painted frame in the image at left, something she did in one series.

I had the good fortune to meet the artist at the Flat Iron Gallery this past weekend. She is as interesting as her art. I confessed that I love the images that show cats too and she told me about her cat, Matisse, pictured in the two acrylics below. She currently has five cats and I think one dog.

Technically adept, her work is influenced by concepts of how we hide and show our dark and light sides — very interesting and thought-provoking, besides being visually stimulating — a substantial creative journey.

Art by Nadine Gordon-Taylor

L to R: “99 & 100% Pure” and “To Sleep Perhaps to Dream” by Nadine Gordon-Taylor

 

April 27, 2008

Art is Everywhere

Spontaneity is not my strong suit; I like planning so I can be prepared. Nevertheless, yesterday my friend Susan took me to Peekskill, New York for a spur of the moment visit to get us out of our too-familiar routines. The right kind of spontaneity can renew your faith in the world's unforeseen opportunities and shake us out of our limited views.

Art in Peekskill, NY

Above, L to R: “Theatre in the Streets” photograph by David Small, Kevin Kall Oil Stick Painting, two of the many fine artists whose work is on exhibit at the Flat Iron Gallery in Peekskill, NY

Peekskill is a town that is on the comeback trail, having recently witnessed an extensive renovation of their main theater, which was host to a concert by opera singer Jesse Norman last night and will present a concert by jazz/pop singer Phoebe Snow in May. Coffee shops, a tea house and several art galleries are nice places to peruse nearby. We had an amazing concoction of fresh scones with home-made whipped cream (nothing like the canned kind) and a mountain of fruit at Kathleen's Tea Room (she doesn't want a website). Then we were lucky to wander into the Flat Iron Gallery, which houses hundreds of talented artists. Proprietor Wendy Garber eagerly showed us around. Without her, we wouldn't have realized half of what was there. My friend and I were both inspired. It's great to share ideas with other creative people; it leads to new thoughts and possibilities, both personal and artistic.

More art in Peekskill

Above, L to R: “Floral Pastures and Cows” in oil by Steve Frim and “Thumbnail” from Sanguine Nudes by Andrew Lattimore

April 23, 2008

Elephant's Memory

Elephants are large-brained creatures and are reputed to have good memories, besides being really cute. When I was a kid, I used to repeatedly make elephants in Shop class (aka woodworking class).

Charles & Rae Eames' Playful Elephant

The Eames Plywood Elephant is considered a legend by collectors. Only two prototypes were produced in 1945, both of which were subsequently displayed in an exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Charles and Ray Eames were fascinated by these gentle giants.


While I really love my Shop class elephants, I have to admit that they weren't quite as cool as the charming and graceful Charles & Ray Eames elephant pictured above. For my non-designer friends, the Eames are a famous design couple (Ray is the woman) who worked mid-century and whose furniture and useful accessories are adored for their beauty, chicness and smart functioning qualities (lightness, comfort etc.). I had never seen their adorable plywood elephant before but they did delve into toys and other fun accessories besides furniture. Plywood is famous for its grace, beauty, flexibility and strength in fine furniture design and came into its own in that era with new construction techniques.

Another example of a couple who worked passionately together (my ideal), design doesn't get any better or more imaginative than lots of the pieces turned out by the Eames, whose masterful creations are still considered the height of modern interior design. See many beautiful Eames designs at Design Within Reach, Hive Modern and The Vitra Design Museum.

April 21, 2008

Color Optimism

New client Liz Ward creates stunning mixed media collage paintings with colors that elicit extreme optimism to me.

Liz Ward, "Bliss" It is such a pleasure to work on her site handling her images. I often say how much I love graphic design work because it exists not just to be "art" but also to communicate. While that is true, art like Liz's communicates to me emotionally at a glance. Many of her works are available as high-quality prints and greeting cards so you can share in this beauty without forking over your whole bank account.

 

Image: Bliss © Liz Ward Art, Mixed Media
(note kitty contributing to woman's bliss)

April 18, 2008

Go to Bed

These colorful, fanciful and funny sculptures, all supporting a bed theme, are by artist Jane Kaufman, available for purchase through Greenjeans in Brooklyn, NY (highlighted yesterday).

Jane Kaufman Bed Sculptures

L to R: Flower Bed, Day Bed, Bedtime Story

Part of a show on small quilts called Under Cover sponsored by Greenjeans this February–March, these adorable sculptures remind me a little of Maira Kalman's illustrations too (see recent entry). They tell a story as well as being pretty to look at. Art that gets your imagination going is so healthy, I think. It's like turning on several burners at once and really making a feast. 

April 17, 2008

Visual Jazz

Romare Bearden's art is filled with color, light, life, music and cats. He is one of my favorite artists and one whose approach fascinates me. His definition of visual jazz is:

“You put down one color, it calls for another. You have to look at it like a melody.” — Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden, Of the Blues

Above: Of the Blues: Kansas CIty 4/4

Bearden is known for collage paintings and subjects often show the relationship between music and visual art. There's a gorgeous children's book with his illustrations called "I Live in Music." Bearden also loved cats, as is evident in this great portrait. He was an avid reader and wrote his own books and articles. Turns out my father knew him, which makes sense given their great minds and artistic interests.

Artist Romare Bearden Loved Cats

Above, L: The Artist with One of His Very Comfortable Cats
Above, R: Of the Blues: At the Savoy


A Craft Store Grows in Brooklyn

I've been frequenting a pretty little high-end craft store in Park Slope, Brooklyn called Greenjeans, run by Amy Shaw and Jae Kim (wife and husband; I love it when couples work together).

Some of Greenjeans' Wares

Some Greenjeans products I really like: maple cutting board, original toy animal, scented soap

Greenjeans carries an eclectic and selective mixture of jewelry, toys, artwork and housewares. All are made in the U.S. by hand, a requirement for their merchandise. Amy and Jae quit their corporate jobs to start the store a few years ago — more power to them. I found them while looking through Park Slope and am very glad I did.

More Greejeans Brooklyn Goodies

More nice things: graceful earrings, chic metal evening bag, toasty handmade socks

Taking a drive down to the store for an unplanned outing is a reward for me. The part of Park Slope in which the store stands is a bit at the edge of what I'd known previously. The store is located on 7th avenue between 15th and 16th streets.

Fanciful Greenjeans Angel SculptureSmall casual restaurants and stores dot the area in Brooklyn and although the main section has gone well past emerging, outer areas are still stretching their legs. It's like boutique shopping, which I have always found more satisfying than department store shopping, although naturally the selections are more limited. Today, with online shopping resources so grand, you can have the best of both worlds. Go online when you're driven to find something specific and go strolling to a store like Greenjeans for the pure pleasure of it. Amy and Jae, you'll be seeing me again soon.

 

April 16, 2008

Art for Your Eyes and Mind

Artist Maira Kalman has an interesting approach and took part is a wonderful blog art/story series sponsored by The New York Times.

Maira Kalman Illustration 



I feel a kinship with her, as I care about words as much as images. Her beautiful artwork is enhanced by the fanciful and thought-provoking little tales she winds around them. A well-known artist, Ms. Kalman has created numerous covers for The New Yorker.

She has also designed very successful products sold at the Museum of Modern Art, among other places, such as the umbrella with the sky on the inside. Sky Umbrella

 

 

 

 

Stay Up Late by Maria Kalman

She has published many children's books and has another book forthcoming from her blog column called The Principles of Uncertainty, from which the image above left is taken.

At left, one of the artist's children's books — I love the title, as anyone who knows me would understand. 

Below, one of Maira Kalman's great covers and a whimsical photo of the artist.

 

Maira Kalman Cover and Photo

 

March 5, 2008

Frozen Fun

Watch an original approach to art, life and fun that took place recently in New York's Grand Central Station.

Making Art Out of Life

Thanks to my friend, Jack, who told me about this. There's a talk about this wacky and well-planned event at the New Museum Friday at 7 p.m. for eight bucks. The museum just opened this winter on the Bowery — an area that used to be terrible and is now thriving, so appropriate and consciously chosen for this reason for the site. The New Museum is sponsoring art that goes in new directions. How great. 

November 21, 2007

Winston Churchill, My Cats' Favorite Celebrity

Having been captivated by what I've heard in bits and pieces about Winston Churchill, I am now learning more about him.

Winston Churchill Great Sayings

A dashing young Churchill and a quote by him that helps me laugh in hard times

My reasons for being intrigued by the man are more for his inspiring and witty statements and the unusual aspects of his life than for his seminal role in British and world history. However, as a person is the whole of what they are, I have become more interested in his political actions as well. For instance, Churchill foretold the Nazi threat when English politicians and citizens ignored the seriousness of Hitler's insanity.

Churchill is inspiring in many ways. Descending from an aristocratic family, he was the absolute bottom of his class repeatedly as a very young boy. He loved his foreboding parents but they didn't have much time for him. (His father, Randolph, was a climbing successful politician and his mother was a beauty, whom Churchill adored but who was distant to her children.) Slowly but surely, he ended up first in his class in many subjects. Born two months premature, he coped with uneven health throughout his life (childhood scares, a later heart attack and stroke) but lived to be 90. He overcame a speech impediment. Churchill confronted depression most of his life and called it his "black dog." He drank alcohol daily but wasn't considered an alcoholic and won a bet that he could abstain for a full year.

Serving as Prime Minister of England twice (in the 1940s and 1950s), Churchill was passionate about painting and took it up professionally in his 40s. His paintings are good enough to be in the permanent collections of some of the world's most prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was a prolific, great writer and mostly earned his living that way. He won a Nobel Prize for literature. As a politician, he was known for — and annoyed people by — changing his mind. (So I guess it's not just "a woman's prerogative.") Maybe that's what they mean by a man needing to "get in touch with his feminine side." :)

Winston Churchill Inspirational Sayings

Churchill loved cats and brought his cat to cabinet meetings (I love a man not afraid to love his cat). His ginger (orange) cat, Jock, is written in his will to be taken care of and maintained with his estate and now Jock III happily resides there. I have also heard that Jane Austen was Churchill's favorite writer and that he recognized her uncanny ability to portray the personalities, foibles, prejudices and nuances of people. I am in accord with him about cats and Jane Austen.

September 2, 2007

Tex Avery's “Red Hot Riding Hood”

1940s animator Tex Avery's “Red Hot Riding Hood” deftly mimics human foibles through exaggerated cartoon characters.

Wolfie Hot on the TrailRed Hot Riding Hood

Cells from “Red Hot Riding Hood” with an excited Wolfie and a provocative Red 

The short starts out to tell the “Little Red Riding Hood” tale with typically drawn characters. The cast starts complaining that the story has been told this way a thousand times. The narrator relents and unveils the risque new version “Red Hot Riding Hood.” Red is a sexy lounge singer, Wolfie is a debonair “dog” and Grannie is a hot-to-trot after-hours club owner. Red is based on several leading Hollywood glamour girls of the time (Betty Grable's body, Heddy Lamour's hair, moments of Katherine Hepburn's voice). Wolfie wants to devour Red but Red fends him off, liberated as she is; Grannie wants to devour Wolfie and cartoon hijinks ensue. Cute and silly, the cartoon still represents a morality tale of sorts. Wolfie is overtaken by his passions and dies trying to conquer them. Poor Wolfie.

September 1, 2007

Lenny Bruce's “Thank You Mask Man”

Voiced and written by Lenny Bruce, the animated cartoon, Thank You Mask Man, follows the adventures of a masked hero. Mask Man's fans are trying to thank him but he keeps galloping off so they start to get mad. Then he decides to bask in their adoration and misses helping out on a crime. Then he decides to check out homosexuality and the fans are grossed out. It's very cutely drawn.

Thank You Mask ManThank You Mask Man by Lenny Bruce

Stills from Lenny Bruce's co-created (with John Magnuson) hilarious animated film “Thank You Mask Man” from the 1960s

Lenny Bruce strongly shaped what we consider funny today. Leading comedians George Carlin and Richard Pryor credit him for influencing them. Lenny Bruce is famous for being funny in a groundbreaking way (bringing in current events and ideas), for using obscenities, for having a six-month trial (for obscenity charges but having also upset authorities in the Catholic Church, the police and elsewhere) and for dying young (age 40) of a morphine overdose.

Lenny Bruce appeared on TV only six times. In 2003, 37 years after his death, he was granted a posthumous pardon for his obscenity conviction by New York Governor George Pataki. It strikes me as ironic to see the small button at the lower right corner of the YouTube screen: "flag as inappropriate." I agree that it needs to be there but it's funny to see it sitting there calmly below this Lenny Bruce cartoon, which no one would call inappropriate today.

Still from Thank You Mask ManMask Man Character

More great stills from the original “Thank You Mask Man” Lenny Bruce cartoon 

August 27, 2007

Design by Color

Easily sorting by color is one of the things I love about shopping online.

Shopping by Color

Well-organized online stores such as Bluefly, Nordstrom and Zappos make it easy to shop by color and find just what you're looking for if they have it. This concept is at the center of InMyFavoriteColor.com. You will be taken to multiple retailers but you choose a color to begin. I think it's a great idea. I find that thinking in color categories gets the creative juices flowing. The ability of web stores to let you think this way is a tremendous capability. I no longer want to go to physical stores to plow through racks to find what I might like. It can be fun occasionally to meander with a friend and wile away an afternoon but then I'm really just hanging with that friend, not shopping. To find what you like quickly and plentifully, being able to sort by colors and other smart categories is a huge boon.

August 31, 2006

Capturing Life

Photo by Susan Farley

The summer has flown by. Fllllllpppp flllooppp -- there is goes. Luckily, it usually stays warm into the beginning of October so we'll be able to catch some late rays. Anyway, I love summer with its warmth, long sunny days, casual feeling. Here on City Island, we bask in the summertime and drink it in with special relish. I haven't made a blog entry since April because of being caught up with excellent work projects. One of those projects is a website for a richly talented local photographer named Susan Farley (website up within the month). Susan's specialty is people. She manages to capture people at great moments, with affection, insight and beauty. She recently took some photos of my picturesque boyfriend, David, and I tagged along. She snapped a few of us together and I prize them. Here is one. (Click here for larger view.)

November 6, 2005

The Color of Salsa

Salsa is a colorful Latin dance style that came into its own in my native New York City. It's a fiery but orderly dance that lets you cut loose and shine on the dance floor.

Eddie Torres is often considered the father of modern Salsa. Much of the order is thanks to him, since he formally documented steps (known as shines) and turns. He danced with the famous Latin musician, Tito Puente, who, incidentally, has a restaurant here on City Island. Eddie‘s dancers were at one time called the Tito Puente dancers.

It is my good fortune to be taking Salsa lessons with my boyfriend, David, at Morocco‘s Dance Studio with Danny Ramirez and Cindy Osorio (contact Danny or Cindy for info), amazingly great teachers. They take you through steps at a pace that allows you to learn without confusion. You also switch partners frequently, a technique that enhances the learning process. Their method is called “On 2.” “On 2” refers to the beat on which you step in this Eddie Torres-influenced system. You emphasize the second beat and this is key to proper technique and style.


Artwork, l to r, by Constructivists Lissitzky and Malevich

What color do you think Salsa is? You'll see lots of red and black in Salsa imagery and clothing. But I see it as a fiery orange or fuchsia. Interestingly, David has instinctively worn an orange shirt to class a couple of times. He must be seeing the same colors in this art form. I feel the orange impulse because it's definitely hot and red means many other things to me. Despite much great use of red in design, for instance, with Constructivist artwork, to me, red doesn't have the passion of either orange or fuchsia. Those colors talk to me more. Whatever color this dance conjurs up for you, I recommend giving it a whirl. It'll open your spirit, is good for your body, a ton of fun and is a civilized way to meet people.