Monday, November 16, 2009

What I learned on the Flight to San Francisco

This weekend I flew up to San Francisco for a brief, unplanned, whirlwind weekend getaway with my two best friends: my husband and my creative accomplice.

We got a great deal on flights on Virgin America. This was actually my first time flying with them, I usually go cheaper chicken if I get on a plane at all. For those of you who did not know this about me, I would love to travel but just can never find the funds or the time to do so. Therefore this trip was a much needed change of scenery.... But more on that in another post. For now, the topic is: "What I learned on the Flight to San Francisco".

Virgin America has so many things going for it. In air wi-fi being a huge plus. Su was tweeting from above the clouds, while Dust and I watched TV on our personal screens (sharing a head set).

One of the channels offered was boingboing TV. This is a channel based upon which is host to all kinds of quirky news stories, commentaries and interviews with artists, techies, innovators, activists and all things alternative. Some of it really fascinating, some of it just plain odd. Though it did introduce me to an artist I had never heard of, whose work I find truly inspired.

Cassandra C. Jones is a San Francisco based artist who works with found photographs to create collages or animations that take something we see everyday and turn it into something completely new. Her 2D works are trompe l'oeil collages that are never what they seem... ugh. cheese-ball. You know what? Just watch the video.

Thank you Virgin America. If I had not flown on your plane this weekend, I would have never been exposed to such a fine artist with interesting perspective. And now, I want to share it with all of you...


Monday, November 2, 2009

Deadly Murals

This past Sunday we participated in the Dia De Los Muertos Festival in Canoga Park. There was music, food, arts, crafts, altars, custom car show, and of course, street painting.

Dia De Los Muertos (aka: The Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated in Latin and North American countries. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have passed on. There is a common misconception that Dia De Los Muertos is the "Mexican Halloween." Actually, it is believed to be a fusion of an existing Native tradition of honoring the dead with the Catholic holidays All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls' Day (Nov. 2). And although face painting and dressing as skeletons is a part of the festivities, it is intended to make light of the very serious subject of death and loss and to celebrate our short life in this realm. Traditions include building offrendas (or altars) honoring the deceased. Offrendas are usually decorated with sugar skulls, marigolds, photographs, favorite foods and beverages of the departed.

At this particular festival, all the street painters / muralists chose artworks in the spirit of Dia De Los Muertos: from paintings of deceased family or pets, to skeletons, to representations of Latin American culture. We chose to do a reproduction of a Sylvia Ji painting. Ji is a California artist whose portraits of beautiful women in calavara face painting have gotten much attention in the low-brow and urban art scenes. In fact, many people at the festival immediately recognized her work, which made it easy for festival goers to approach us and talk to us about the original artwork.

At the end of the day all the artists voted for their favorite street murals under the following categories: "Funniest", "Scariest", "Most Beautiful", and "Best in Show" There were so many amazing and diverse street paintings so it was a very pleasant surprise when we were announced as the winners for "Most Beautiful."

Thank you for everyone who came out and supported us! It was a great time. The event staff were friendly and helpful, the children were so enthralled with the artwork, there were thousands of people, we reconnected with some street artists we hadn't seen in a while and we even got our photo in the Daily News. All in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dia De Los Muertos

Just when you thought you heard the end of street painting... The Dia De Los Muertos festival shows up. You know what that means. Susanne and I will be painting the Streets of Canoga Park Sunday November 1, 2009. Come and see the altars, the car show, the crafts, the food, and us!

More info at:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Santa Clarita Festival of the Arts

It was a successful weekend for Susanne and I... but rather than blather on and on about our adventure, why don't you just see for yourself!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Painting the Streets

The first weekend in October means it's time for me to hit the streets! No, I haven't found a new career in the world's "oldest profession." It's time for the Santa Clarita Festival of the Arts! (formerly The City of Santa Clarita Street Art Festival) where Susanne and I will spend 2 days knelt down on the burning asphalt of Old Town Newhall, chalk in hand as we re-create a beautiful work of art by Taiwanese artist, Der Jen (Dezhen).

Also, for all you Santa Clarita locals, a poster of Susanne and our artwork from last year (Oiran by Audrey Kawasaki) is featured at the bus stop in front of College of the Canyons. This was taken last year by the talented, Ryan Resella ( ). This was one of ten artworks that won the honor of being an official advertisement for the festival.

Santa Clarita Festival of the Arts
Old Town Newhall
Oct. 3 & Oct. 4

Come visit us!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Adventures In Art: Downtown Art Walk 04/09

There are hundreds of thousands of excuses for not doing a follow up on the Art Walk show of April 9. I will not use a single one of them to appease you. I just didn't do it, and that's all there is to it.

The show was nice, just on the outskirts of the main thoroughfare for art watching. Although, not an official DAW affiliate, Motion LA / Gallery X had plenty of drop ins. The bright inviting colors of the space itself, and the music pouring from the adjoining performance room was enough to entice passersby into the gallery to view the modest collection of up-and-coming artists. Two of my three peices were hung. Unfortunately I think that there were fewer submissions, or perhaps more wall space than anticipated. The show seemed sparce and spread out. I was expecting all of the peices to actually have been in the 12 x 12 format and assembled to create a wall of art. Unfortunately the actual exhibit was more traditional. Maybe I just misunderstood. But I think that would make an awesome show! Anyone want to organize it? I've got a slew of 12 x 12 canvases to work on!

I have shown pretty regularly over the past year in Chinatown near the art walk. However, this was actually my first time experiencing it. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this is what I got. Los Angeles opens her doors to all walks of life on these monthly events. Galleries mimic night clubs, Night clubs mimic galleries, and there is music and art pouring out from every crack in the sidewalk. The wealthy in their designer suits rub elbows with the barely surviving city dwellers and creative types discussing, admiring, or sometimes mocking art and sipping their free wine; becoming intoxicated with the buzzing urban atmosphere.

I definitely think it is a successful event. I would have loved to spend more time in the heart of it, but my stomach had other plans. Just a few blocks from the venue is my favorite noodle house / diner dive in all of Los Angeles: Cafe Suehiro.

The no frills, no sass of Suehiro and the cheap eats that never disappoint keep me coming back for more. Just look at how amazing this Curry Rahmen with tofu looks! Make it a meal with vegetable gyoza and bowl of rice, and TRUST me, your tastebuds (and full belly) will thank you for it. My partner in crime ordered the Shrimp Tempura Udon, but got a little extra excited with the special spices that we almost had to uncap a fire hydrant!

There was also Happy Hour all night at one of the hotel lounges in Little Tokyo, but we decided that we would skip it this time. We had some art to see, and free wine to sip.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Art Show: Strength in Numbers

While at the Downtown Artwalk this Thursday, duck into Gallery X for a group show that should not be missed. Artists were asked to interpret the theme Strength in Numbers in their own artistic view on a 12x12 inch surface. The varied artworks will be arranged in a way that creates a cohesive installation that speaks of the theme, as well as the heart of the Los Angeles art scene.

Thursday April 9, 2009

Gallery X presents
Strength in Numbers
Motion LA /Gallery X
129 E. 3rd Street
Between Los Angeles and Main
Los Angeles, CA 90013
6pm - 12am

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Composer Is Dead

The Composer Is Dead The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first time I ever heard of Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead, was before this book was ever published. Mr. Snicket and his dear old friend, and composer, Nathaniel Stookey, had been commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony to create a theatrical orchestral piece to encourage youth to become more involved with classical music. A sort of Peter and the Wolf for modern children.

This piece landed at the LA Phil ( and I promptly took my budding cellist of a daughter to see it. Delightful, witty, and a wee bit macabre. It begins with the discovery of a dead composer, in a coffin, being carried off stage. An inspector arrives on the scene and tries to discover who has killed the composer. He interrogates every section the orchestra, every very suspicious instrument. It really was well done. We were only sad that the book was not published yet and could not snatch it up that day. Although there were promises of a picture book and an audio CD to accompany it in the very near future.

Now the book is out, and the moment I saw it I bought it and played it for my younger child, who was much too young to join us for the live performance. She found it just as delightful. The illustrations by Carson Ellis wax nostalgic with their simple lines and muted colors. It looks as though it were meant to be pulled from the pages of a 1930s comic strip. Of course, the colors used as well as the water color technique are far more sophisticated than the printing capabilities of that time, making the illustrations simple and lovely. In my mind I saw something more along the lines of Edward Gorey, but perhaps his use of dark black lines would not be quite as appealing to younger readers, and I should not impose my vision onto those who are at least 20 years my junior. Afterall, this is for them, not me.

The book really cannot be read without the audio accompaniment. Lemony Snicket's narration is very funny. The music, which borrows heavily from the great masters, is dramatic and wonderful. Each instrument is a character in the story and the audio serves to highlight the personalities and duties of each piece of an orchestra. Allowing the listeners to really connect with the instruments and learn what it is they do individually that creates the enormous sound of a music piece.

I do appreciate that the CD that came with it has narrated tracks and then just the music. This allows for theatrical read-alongs for the family. Who gets to narrate as the Inspector next? Daddy? Mommy? Sister? Fluffy?

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From the Archives: Rembrandt

Rembrandt’s Late Religious Portraits
The J. Paul Getty Museum 2005

I arrived at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles around noon on a Sunday. The air was clear from the mountain top facility and a cool summer breeze swept across the grounds. With a six-year-old clutching my right hand and an infant strapped to my chest, I ascended the glistening marble staircase toward the third floor exhibition room that held the late religious paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn.

Rembrandt is one of the world’s most renowned painters. He was and remains to be an inspiration to artists with his use of color and blending. I have read that Rembrandt studied and mastered chiaroscuro, the Italian method of modeling light and dark paints to give artwork tridimensionality. His paintings of life in 17th century Amsterdam and his famous portraiture were said to be luxurious; his brush strokes bold and elegant, his use of color astounding, and his ability to render depth of emotion in his subject matter unparalleled. On paper, Rembrandt was truly a master, in person, he was simply breathtaking.

I stepped into a red room that housed 16 portraits, and was awe-struck. I may have seen these images in textbooks or postcards. I may have read of Rembrandt’s mastery and yet, as I stood before it I was dumbfounded. I approached each painting and breathed heavily. I could taste the linseed oil in the back of my throat and I felt as though I was devouring genius.

My eldest daughter fiddled with her audio tour and found most images to be only slightly interesting, that is, until we came upon Christ. The portrait of Christ with brown hair and beard was a more conventional image of Christ, but the eyes were arresting. His skin was painted with light, rich colors that caused his face to glow. The broad strokes of reds and brown in his hair complimented the fine detailed lines of grey in his eyes. Rembrandt had captured a depth of emotion in his masterful strokes. There was an intensity, yet a gentleness in the eyes of Rembrandt’s Christ that made an impression on even the youngest of viewers. The use of dark neutral colors and subtle blending around the figure made the bold, bright flesh of Christ glow like hot embers in a dark fireplace. Christ appeared very human. Unlike many other images of Jesus, this one seemed to be grounded in reality. Christ looked as though he were living, breathing flesh; a person that one could touch.

As we stood silently admiring the portrait of Christ, I noticed some discoloration. At first, I thought that at some point in time something had spilled on the painting, or perhaps it was once hung in an oval frame, or it may have been an effect, such as a halo, to illuminate this religious icon. However none of these scenarios seemed right, the discoloration and distortion created a jagged oval around the center of the painting and Rembrandt hadn’t used effects to illuminate heavenly figures in any other painting on display. I consulted the little pamphlet I was handed upon entering the exhibit, “… the central portion of the image was cut away and removed by thieves and later reattached.” Mystery solved.

My daughters and I slowly viewed the rest of the exhibit. One of the last images we saw was a portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels, Possibly As the Sorrowing Virgin. This work seemed to glow more than any other in the room. The warm yellows and pinks in her face contrasted with the cool green and muddy violets in the shadows of her chin. Rembrandt had also done something bold, it appears as though he took the end of a bristle brush with a dab of bright red and lightly tapped it on the apple of her cheek to cause a slight blush. He rendered her dark, ebony eyes to radiate intelligence and sadness.

Although the portrait of Hendrickje Stoffels was listed as possibly being the sorrowing Virgin, I couldn’t help but wonder if she may have been a depiction of Mary Magdalene. I have seen many prints of historical portrayals of Mary Magdalene in similar poses, garments and facial expressions. Both the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene have been depicted throughout art history as being melancholy women who carry the weight of divine love upon their delicate shoulders. Another reason the portrait reminded me of Mary Magdalene was because of the model’s costume of furs, and gold in her hair. Usually Mary Magdalene is shown wearing jewelry or flashy clothing to depict her former life as a prostitute, while the Virgin is usually shown as being simple and pure, untainted by materialism. Regardless of which Mary this portrait was intended to be, it was a magnificent, realistic, and stirring work of art.

My overall feeling about this exhibit is that Christian icons have never looked so human, so approachable. They seemed as though they had lives and secrets beyond the stories that are written. The sheer beauty of these artworks moved me deeply. Not only did I want to meet the men and women depicted in these sixteen canvases, but I wanted to meet the man who could breathe life into oil and pigments.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



Les feuilles rouge
Tes cheveux
Ta bouche


La cannelle
Taches de rousseur
Ton souffle


Les étoiles
Tes yeux
Ta peau


Mon amour
Mon coeur
Ma vie


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Archtype


That’s what we are. Hard-working, dedicated folk, who believe that les beaux-arts enrich the soul and broaden the mind.

I’m so tired of the stereotype that artists are romantic and bohemian. Some of us, NAY, most of us work regular jobs during the day and hustle for shows on the evenings and weekends. We keep ridiculous hours to hone our craft, market ourselves, and strive to be better artisans. We do thankless, oftentimes free, gigs for exposure and experience, to pay our dues and climb our way to the highest peaks of the highly unstable art volcano.

We may seem a little quirky, heck, we may even seem downright alien, but many of us have families, homes, multiple jobs, and school.

Artists work hard.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Art Show: Strength in Numbers

April 9, 2009
Downtown Art Walk

Gallery X presents
Strength in Numbers
Motion LA /Gallery X
129 E. 3rd Street
Between Los Angeles and Main
Los Angeles, CA 90013
6pm - 12am

Artists were asked to interpret the theme Strength in Numbers in their own artistic view on a 12x12 inch surface.


I'm currently sketching out my entries. I plan to post some process photos as I go along. Keep an eye out within the next week or so.

Posted by ShoZu

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Art Show: The BaRoque Era

Due to the economic situation Urban Canvas felt it was time to do a show that
reflected current events.

Thursday March 12, 2009
@ The Mountain 475 Gin Ling Way
Los Angeles, California
9pm – 2am
21+ / FREE

In the spirit of being penny wise, all artwork is $80 and under. There will also be vendors selling jewelry, t-shirts, etc. And a slew of talented musical guests to keep your feet moving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The tales Neil Gaiman weaves are often macabre and fantastical, The Graveyard Book is no exception. It is the perfect combination of suspense and whimsy.

My recommendation is that his book should be read by ages 8 and up. There are moments of very real danger in this book. And the lovely illustrations by Dave McKean enhance the moods, and the very visual style in which Gaiman writes. The beauty of his story telling is that it is visual, whimsical, dangerous, thought provoking, and it leaves much unsaid. The gaps in the story are gaps that could not be explained in a child's book, it would take volumes of folklore, religious texts, and cultural studies. Much of it is left for the reader to ponder and make sense of. Just as the main character, Bod, must make sense of his existence and place in the world.

Congratulations to Mr. Gaiman for winning the 2009 Newberry Award. I have been a fan of his work for a very long time, and am pleased to see it honored.

View all my reviews.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Adventures in Art: The Getty Drawing Hour - February

Sunday I waited in a 35 min. line of cars into a parking structure. $10 to park to visit The Getty Center. The iconic museum on the hillside. The most wealthy art establishment in the world, and the collection of the estate of oil barron, J. Paul Getty. Not only are the views of Los Angeles breathtaking. But the architecture and artifacts are some of the worlds greatest treasures.

I have been taking advantage of a structured monthly drawing lesson they offer for free entitled The Getty Drawing Hour. So far it has been a fun refresher course for me. Since I will be not attending school until Fall, I thought it best if I did something in the meantime to keep my drawing "chops" up.

The Getty Drawing Hour theme for the month of February has been Gesture Drawing. Gesture is generally used as a warm up or a way to get the overall action or expression of a piece down in a short amount of time. Or it can be extended and layered upon to create a more in depth study. For this particular session none of our drawing extended beyond a 15 minute study. Instead of using models and/or live studies as is the standard for most art classes, we got to draw from the Getty's exquisite European Renaissance gallery.

The one piece I kept coming back to was the lovely sculpture Female Figure by Giambologna, Florence, Italy 1571 - 1573. Although it was easy to be seduced by the lucious colors of Titian, or the melancholy angles of El Greco, it was the subtle light and shadow that played upon the lovingly carved marble that caught my fancy. I plopped down on the floor and spent a few precious minutes beneath her. Gesture drawing and building up layers. An exercise in structured freedom.

It was so nice to be in class again.