Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Playing with Aztec Design

Aztec "Yin and Yang"

From my immense, weird notebook of symbols, collected some time in the past, I saw a primitive sketch of an Aztec symbol and decided to recreate it.  I do not recall what it symbolized (if I ever knew), but seems like their version of a yin/yang symbol:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old Postcard From Arcosanti

I understand why I found this old postcard while looking through files relating to indigenous Americans -- no doubt, placed there because of the design -- but now it is of additional interest as it is a message from my old friend, now deceased, Robert Minichiello AKA "Mad Zebra" AKA Brad Mitchell.  If you cannot read the text on the postcard, I repeated it in print at the bottom of this entry.  As the design was on pottery, I jointed the image a few times to make a more continuous line of -- dancers?  For a couple of summers, Robert worked with other architecture students from this and other countries on building Soleri's Arcosanti outside Phoenix.

The note on the postcard:  PREHISTORIC POTTERY DESIGN.  This design was used by the Hohokam Indians of southern Arizona during the Sacaton Phase, A.D. 900-1150 -- by Nancy Sciscenti

Dear Jim,
I'm staying at the Soleri studios and am very happy with the work and weather.  Los Angeles was dreadful except for Watts Towers which give off faith from every piece of it.  My room has a skylight to see stars with.

Love, Mad Zebra

Return address:  c/o Soleri Cosanti Foundation, etc.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Celebrating Alexandra Nehra

I am thankful that Alexandra Nehra once gave me this small embroidered circle from her native Hungary, and grateful for the sweet photo of her sitting in my lap and giving me a big hug -- and I am sad and shocked that Alexandra is gone from the earth too soon.
Some personal memories are below, but I recommend her fascinating life story that you can read if you click on the web address below, which will open for the right link to be clicked.
Below Alexandra's photo, I will add my poem for her, rewritten over the years.  Good-bye, dear Alexandra, and my good wishes to her husband Joe Bencharsky, and their long-time friend, Sharlene LaRusch.

It was sweet of Alexandra Nehra to let me participate when she directed a piano and flute version of LUCIA DA LAMMERMOOR at the Russian Center, featuring our friend Cynthia Strelkoff, with her four-and-a-half octaves.  My modest involvement, but a lot of fun:  I was the waiter at the banquet, painted sets, painted the cups gold, that were still tacky when I brought them on stage, serving the "guests."  She had said she wanted to cast me sometime as the drunk in DIE FLEDERMAUS -- "and I won't direct you," she said, "you will just be yourself."  Hmmm.  She, Joe, and Sharlene were such a loving household.  I emailed a poem that refers to the fact that there is a famous Hungarian novel about THEODORA that she had always wanted turned into an opera where she could play the main role:

For Alexandra Nehra
Just when you think she is diamond hard, she smiles,
and a bright bouquet explodes as from a comedian's gun.
Her ivory skin, in stage light, is intimate candlelight.
Her amber eyes are jewels set in the gold of her skin.
When she sings, the scrims dissolve, and Beauty begins
with notes of colored stone she places in an aural mosaic
of the woman she is but also longs to portray as an opera
not yet written:  "Flaming Mezzo Melts Theodora's Gold"

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Black Crowned Night Herons Can Be Noisy

When they are posted around a lake, ready to catch a fish, the black crowned night herons seem quiet, dignified sentinels.  I was surprised, therefore, to find the noise for part of the year, during the last three years, came from the offspring of those herons -- like the clucking of chickens magnified six times.  I guess it was their chicks demanding food.  Now they have taken over.  It is probably the fault of humans feeding them that they have boldly taken over the cars:


Monday, August 06, 2012

First Friday, Oakland, 3 August 2012

Oakland has the most diverse population, and they were out for First Friday, 3 August, to roam the galleries, the crowd sometimes almost in pedestrian gridlock, and to dance in the streets, whether that was planned or whether the cops had to resign themselves to it, blocking those streets from entry.  Many beautifully refinished old automobiles were drawn around one drive-in on Telegraph, one of several First Friday rituals, with groups of musicians playing here and there along the way.

Fashion Show on First Friday, 3 August 2012, Oakland

On the way to Oakland's First Friday on 3 August 2012, I stopped to photograph the models who were standing on the street, but would later appear in Mario's Fashion Show.  I then went on to look in a couple of galleries, and did not make it back for the Fashion Show until it was too late to find a place where I could take any decent photographs in the underground space.  The community spirit was high there, everyone delighting in the way Mario provided teenage girls a chance to "vogue" with a night of glamor.
Oakland still loves Obama, and there were signs of that in Mario's world, spilling over from the Obama headquarters next door.  Coming and going, I passed the Obama headquarters, full of a good spirit, including the presence of children, and so it was disheartening to learn that within an hour after I had taken these photographs someone had broken one of the two very large glass windows there.  We can assume it was wrong-headed white revolutions from outside Oakland, intruding in the loving atmosphere of Oaklanders.
When I walked by a couple days later, the graffiti on the huge plywood over the broken window was in blue letter, with loving wishes, and improvised blue flowers.  A willowy young white woman and a somewhat older African-American woman, well dressed and smiling were standing inside, and I could not resist ducking into the door way to say something.  I nodded toward the boarded-up window and said, "Sorry about that.  Not very loving."  Their response was sweet and friendly.

Watching Seagulls

Six of us (or as many as are in town) have done tai chi near the San Francisco Ferry Building for something like 20 years (with major renovations forcing us to move from place to place).  On the wharf where we have practiced for many years, we yearly watch two seagulls (I think it is the same male and female) become parents.  We see them copulate, then build a nest in the same corner of the wharf that runs parallel to ours.  We watch the seagull on her (his?) nest for weeks, then the birth of the little chicks.  One (the father?) keeps watch, chasing away seagulls wanting to harm the chicks; one (the mother?) upchucks food for them.  That abandoned pier provides a good runway for the young seagulls  when the start running with hopping leaps as they try their wings.  Last weekend, one rose on his wings  higher than the rail but it did not fly over and away (so long as the mother continues to feed it?)  I was there early, observing seagull behavior, and soon there were four men watching their behavior, and one of them shouted encouragement when one of the birds seemed as if he might take wing and fly away.