New Releases from Brilliant Artists who are Guest Speaking for Jan Term Course “The Art of Race”

Image result for invocation to a daughter

Yours truly is  thrilled to have just confirmed three brilliant artists as guest speakers to visit my Saint Mary’s College of California’s Jan Term 043-01 course “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Literature, Art, & Pop Culture.

Each of these artists have recently released new work, which I have no doubt will engage and inspire my students.

I met our first guest speaker during my residency at MacDowell Arts Colony. Carlos Soto Román will be video conferencing from Santiago, Chile to discuss his new chapbook Bluff (Commune Editions), which you can download here.  He’ll discuss with the class his poetics and process of erasure or redacted poetry and the use of found text. As with my students, I invite you to challenge your pleasures by having a go at his work with the selections below: 

Image result for carlos soto Roman
 A Bad Penny Review:

 

Image result for barbara jane reyesOur second guest speaker is long time friend and deeply inspiring poet, professor, and community advocate (I owe so much to her!), Barbara Jane Reyes, who will be visiting our class on campus to discuss her new book just released from City Lights, Invocation to Daughters. Have a taste of her words here, courtesy of Poetry Foundation.

 

Our third guest speaker, who will round at our term is long time fellow Angelena, who I met lifetimes ago at the L.A. based Wide Eyed Workshops,  musician and artist Marjorie Light. Video conferencing from the City of Angels, Light just released her latest album Bundok. Give your self an aural treat of her latest tracks here and find out more about her work with KCET’s feature article.

Image result for marjorie light

I also need to give a shout out to all the crew of SMC’s ITS who have been working with me to get all the tech ready for the video conferencing to Santiago, Chile, and Los Angeles, CA. Fingers crossed that all the equipment and connections sync for the big dates!

I’m in awe of all these artists and am truly grateful to each of them for taking the time to share their work and inspire my students. More to come about “The Art of Race” and our guest speaker visits, so stay tuned…

Have to share this fabulous cover art for Bundok by Gingee

New Year, New Course to Teach: Jan Term 043-01: “The Art of Race: (Re)-Imagining Ethnicity and Identity in Literature, Art & Pop Culture”

 

After years and years and years of research, writing papers, presenting at conferences, not to mention living and breathing these topics in my every day life, for this January term 2018,  I will be teaching for twenty-six undergrads at Saint Mary’s College of California:

The Art of Race: (Re)-Imagining Ethnicity and Identity

in Literature, Art & Pop Culture

COURSE DESCRIPTION

How do writers and artists such as Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich, Beyoncé, John Coltrane, Kara Walker, comedians like Key & Peele, and the creators of the show Broad City, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, subvert, de-center, and make new notions of race, identity, gender, and sexual orientation? How do they challenge cultural otherness to incite as writer Pankaj Mishra calls “a bolder cartography of the imagination”? In this class we will explore how writers, musicians, artists, and comedians make stylistic choices of form and content to challenge dominant narratives and put center stage traditionally marginalized voices, neglected histories, and sub-histories. The aim of this course is to discover how art can complicate and challenge some of our greatest public narratives: race and gender; and how these narratives serve as writer Kaitlyn Greenridge says as a “collective and imagined space that exists only as a metaphor, rhetorical argument, figurative language, in short, as a fiction, though that does not mean that [they are] not real.”

Reading from diverse authors and viewing other artistic forms, we will consider the many different ways art and pop culture help us understand and challenge identity and politics, and conversely how we can interrogate notions of identity and politics to create art that incites a world awareness.

REQUIRED TEXTS

  • Barbara Jane Reyes, Invocation to a Daughter
  • Junot Diaz, Drown 

READING LIST

  • Media Selections from Beyonce’s Lemonade and Key & Peele 
  • Art Selections from Kara Walker, Ramiro Gomez and Jennifer Wofford

Poetry and Essay Selections:

  • Carlos Soto Roman, selections
  • Harryette Mullen, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, “Imagining the Unimagined Reader: Writing to the Unborn and Including the Excluded”, “Kinky Quatrains: The Making of Muse & Drudge”, “Optic White: Blackness and the Production of Whiteness”
  • Kevin Young, The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, “The Shadow Book”, “How Not to Be a Slave: On the Black Art of Escape”
  • Dorothy Wang, Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry 
  • John Yau, “Please Wait By the Coatroom”
  • Diane Glancy,In-between Places, “July: She has some potholders”
  • Zadie Smith, “Brother from Another Mother”, The New Yorker, 2015.

We will be kicking off the semester with pre-assignments that include reading Robin DiAngelo and Özlem Sensoy, “Leaning In: A Student’s Guide to Engaging Constructively with Social Justice Content”, Radical Pedagogy, (2014) , Syreeta MacFadden’s  “Beyonce’s Formation reclaims America’s black America’s narrative from the margins” The Guardian, (February 8. 2016) and watching Beyonce’s “Formation” from Lemonade. Even more exciting is a class visit with poet and professor Barbara Jane Reyes to discuss her latest book from City Lights, Invocation to a Daughter. With luck, I’ll be able to confirm more guest speakers.

Some of the questions I have to start, with hopefully many more to come, so the research, the writing, the living, and breathing can grow:

  1. How does art, literature, and pop culture help student understand their own positionality?
  2. How does art, literature, and pop culture help students understand the collective and individual racial imaginary? Male/Female imaginary? Class imaginary?
  3. How do students navigate, transform, challenge collective (public) and private (individual) narratives?

I’m of two hearts and minds about the course, since I probably won’t get much writing done myself, but instead will be discussing topics that fuel me and drive me with purpose and heighten meaning, hopefully not just for myself but for the willing students. Let’s see what this new adventure holds. Ready. Steady. Go!

The Shadow Craft: Riffing off of Kevin Young’s “On the Blackness of Blackness”

From Kevin Young’s The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness

The Shadow Book: One

Lately I have been thinking about the idea of a shadow book–a book that we don’t have, but know of, a book that may haunt the very book we have in our very hands. I have even begun to think that there are three kinds of shadow books in the tradition, and hope to provide a brief taxonomy of them. Like to hear it, here it go—

First there are the kind of shadow books that fail to be written: the Africana Encyclopedia by Du Bois the second novels of Jean Toomer or Ralph Ellison that never appeared, at least in recognizable form…As readers eager for such shadow books, we search among the fragments of a life unlived…(11)

Started reading Kevin Young’s Gray Album (Gray Wolf Press, 2012), and all I can say is “what took me so long?!” What should be required reading for anyone who studies history, politics, art, culture, music–anyone who enjoys reading, period– has me thinking of all the shadows we writers and artists of color were born into, continue to live in not necessarily by choice, but have made these shadows our own, the shadows we desperately try to push out to the open.

The mind is spinning with shadows we seek, shadows we’ve prodded, shadows we claimed as spaces to play and produce, shadows such as:

shadow pedagogy
shadow curriculum
shadow reading lists
shadow craft
shadow theory
shadow panels
shadow colloquiums
shadow seminars
shadow readings
shadow communities
shadow networks
shadow social media
shadow transactions via IM, email, FB, tweets, etc.
the shadow canon.

In my dream shadow craft course, I would teach this shadow work-in-progress reading list:

Diane Glancy, Inbetween Places
Kevin Young, The Gray Album
Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously
Gish Jen, Tiger Writing
Trinh T. Minha, Elsewhere Within Here
Anis Shivani, Against the Workshop
….

I would assign this shadow supplementary reading list, also a work-in-progress:

One of the shadow assignments would be to research a writer or artist and how s/he practices social action. Students would investigate: What does social action mean for that writer/artist? How does s/he define community, identity, and craft through social action? How does community, identity, and craft define social action for your chosen writer/artist?

Just some shadow dreaming as I continue the shadow craft of writing.

Save the Date: “Life After the MFA Panel” @ SMC 11/20/13

Interested in writing fellowships and residencies? Yours truly has been booked in advance to talk about recent fellowships at The MacDowell Colony and the International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland UK for Saint Mary’s College of California’s MFA Creative Writing Program Panel: “Life After the MFA” Wednesday, 20 November, 2:35pm, location on campus TBA.

Hope to see you there!

1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga, CA 94556 (925) 631-4000

Past the Halfway Point

Colony Hall in the snnow
Colony Hall in the snow

Just past the mid-way point at MacDowell, a lot can happen in the space of a week and change. The second week has brought snow, snow plows, a visit with family from Maine, and sightings of one turkey, much bigger, blacker and more shy than California turkeys, a squirrel, which are fuzzier and have white bellies, and finally an interlude of birdsong during a freezing truncated walk through the woods.

It snowed the third night, and the next morning they were plowing the road with such industriousness that yours truly

Eaves Dormitory
Eaves Dormitory

could only think how grateful I am not to live in Russia. Witnessing such hard labor in contrast to the virtually immobile exertion committed in my studio made me consider the usefulness and practicality of this skill I’ve been bent on honing at MacDowell, but that worry was struck down pretty quickly when I turned back to the projekt at hand, and I have no doubt about the urgency of this piece. For a small moment of time, I almost compared the work between plowing snow to revision, trying to clear the path, for others to journey is arduous, sweaty, nerve-wracking, labor, and there is always plenty to plow.

a snowy day in the studio
a snowy day in the studio

One of the many traditions practiced at the Colony is for fellows, or colonists as they’re called here, to give presentations of their work, whether it be a reading or an open studio, you’re encouraged to share your artistic endeavors. The idea wasn’t that appealing, really, until a fellow explained that its best to present earlier rather than later during residency so that other fellows will have much needed context in terms of why you’re here and what you’re doing. This context cements a substantive foundation to conversations at dinner, breakfast, random encounters on the hallway or on the way to the studio. The whole purpose of the colony is not just for individual, solitary work but to be a part of the community, and being a part of a community means sharing. So, yes, there was a reading, and it was gratifying. In explaining my work to this crowd, I have a better grasp on how to explain what I’m doing, which not only helps keep me on track but also helps clarify the concept, so I can share with other communities as well.

Prometheus up in here
Prometheus up in here

I’ve heard it said that the artists who step through MacDowell are the “cultural matrix” of U.S. Arts & Culture. A fellow colonist, over dinner, urged us to imagine all the different figures who have stepped through the doors and walked these grounds. The idea is over-whelming, frankly, and something I will have to sit and live with long after my time here is said and done.

If its possible, the projekt seems to be instructing me on what needs to happen next with revision. Its as if the manuskript is teaching me how to write. How is that?

With ten more days left, I’m trying to prepare myself for the return to someone else’s fantasy that I participate in, which I refuse to call “reality” because, as far as I’m concerned, living in this artistic mind and physical space is my reality.

More to come on the last week. For now, its steady and deliberate work on writing. Though I haven’t nearly gotten as much reading done as I had hoped, which is something I would like to work on, the art of reading, but there’s still time. One can always try.

snowy night at the colony
snowy night at the colony

Big Island Love 2012, Part II

Mamaloa Highway heading to Hilo

To read earlier parts of this adventure check out the posts: “Can I Wade in Your Waters, Kaua’i” and “Big Island Love 2012, Part I.”

The drive from Kona to Hilo/Volcano on the Big Island is a long stretch of country highway. The first leg winds through a volcanic moonscape. You’re surrounded by endless lava flows with a slice of ocean to your left. Along the Mamaloa Highway, we spotted three wild goats huddled together, posing for the sun. As you head makua, climbing the mountain slopes, the land changes on you, growing green and thick. Suddenly you find yourself in cattle country, and nothing works up an appetite more than sight-seeing ranches.

We stopped for lunch at the Hawaiian Style Cafe in Kamuela, which has blown all other mom & pop lunch plate diners out of the water. They’re special, kalua pork moco loco is enough to feed a family. It’s big flavor for big country. If you’re on the Big Island, there’s no point in visiting without stopping here. Really.

me and my aunties

Our real purpose and mission on the island of Hawai’i was to visit near and dear family. With two lovely aunts who live in and near Volcanoes National Park, and cousins who used to be Big Islanders, its really embarrassing to say we hadn’t been here before. Under the directive of our cousins, soon as we pulled into the little town of Honoka’a, we picked up a box of malasadas at Tex Drive In, who specialize in chocolate, lilikoi, strawberry, mango, and cherry filled malasadas. They are sweet doughy pillows of goodness though, again, nothing compares to Kauai’i Bakery in Lihue. Just sayin’.

We dropped down to Waipio Valley next, and when we say drop, we literally mean “drop.” The road to Waipio is steep, poorly paved, and full of twists and turns. In fact, its the U.S.’ longest, twistiest road, and you won’t, probably can’t, attempt it unless you have four wheel drive because even after you survive the wicked incline, you still have to face some monster pools of muddy water at the bottom to get to the beach. Technically, the park signs warn that visitors aren’t allowed into the valley unless they’ve been invited, but we figure with so many local family urging us to check it out, its invitation enough. The valley, like most lush, fresh-water filled hollows in Hawai’i was basically a metropolitan for the Hawaiians. There are many sacred sites to ponder and taro farms still thriving to this day. Tread this beautiful land with respect and care.

Before climbing up the volcano, we headed into Hilo to hunt for the ever elusive Tropical Dreams Ice Cream shop, which is supposed to have the best shaved ice on the island according to our trusted guide Hawai’i Big Island Revealed. We don’t go to the Hawai’i without the aid of Andrew Dougherty. Unfortunately, Hilo’s Tropical Dream had been converted into a center for Krishna devotees. Once we arrived at the address, we found a circle of dread-locked singers chanting praises to Krishna and shaking their tambourines. No frozen treats but plenty of samādhi to go around.

We stayed at Bamboo Orchid Cottages, a clean, cozy, and friendly B&B in Volcano. Our room had a little patio that overlooked the tropically wild backyard. Our hosts were friendly dog-lovers, who made a deliciously simply breakfast of fresh papaya boats filled with golden pineapple, dried coconut, and yogurt.

The Kilauea Iki Trail in Volcanoes National Park is part of the Kilauea volcano formed in 1959 (yes, the same year when Morrissey was born!). The crater’s rim, lush, filled with wild ginger and ferns, book ends this trail.  Riddled with deep cracks and fissures, the crater, like the rest of the Big Island, is a lunar landscape filled with volcanic rocks and formations. This trail ends at the Thurston Lava Tube, so you get to see the inner workings of a lava flow.

Never in my life did I ever think I’d see an active volcano, especially at night with a sky full of constellations wheeling above. Like a massive campfire, the Kilauea plume mesmerizes in the evening dark. Though the wind blows chilly, seeing this spectacular phenomenon reaches back to primordial existence.

We couldn’t have asked for better guides to the Volcano, my aunt who works at Volcano’s elementary school and her partner, a former educator and local. They met us for breakfast at the Kilauea Lodge, which serves guava and taro pancakes and some tasty eggs benedict. The Lodge also has an impressive gift shop, and the restaurant features all local artists’ work. When we were there, halfway through our breakfast, a mighty wind storm cut the power lines, which made for a real adventure.

Lucky enough to get a glimpse of local life, my aunt took us to her ukelele group’s potluck hosted by a wonderful couple who share a rich history on the Hawaiian islands. The uke group, comprised of thirty players, not only made some mean BBQ, macaroni salad, coffee cake and chocolate brownies, but hearing them play was an extra special treat.

Our guides took us on the Chain of Craters drive, which follows the different lava flows of the volcano reaching all the way down to the coast, where the lava continues to gently build earth. Honestly, you could spend weeks or months exploring all the different sites, trekking the many hikes offered on this road, but some of the highlights are the Lava Tree Formations, Devil’s Throat, a spectacularly dangerous crater that is not for the foolish or weak at heart, and the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs. The hike to this plateau that contains about 20,000 petroglyphs is scorched by the sun and chafed by the wind, but well worth the effort since you get to meander and mull over an ancient place where native Hawaiians made offerings to the legacy of their family and their homeland.

The end of the road leads to Holei Sea Arch, where the coast clashes against a wall of lava, and, if you hoof it, about 11 miles, you meet with an active flow. Despite the ocean raging just below the cliffs, it can feel like you’re walking through a furnace, a strange sensation.

Later that evening, we enjoyed the special treat of meeting with my nina, who works for the National Park, in her hometown Pahoa, which must be the sister city of Berkeley, at least in spirit, since there’s a raw earthiness to this funky place.

As expected, time flew by, and we wish we could have enjoyed more days with family in this mystical spot. Ever grateful for the chance to explore and eager to visit again, soon, big thanks Auntie L, Auntie M, and Uncle G, who served as our Virgils on this otherworldly journey. Much appreciation to our cousins T&M who shared their great knowledge of their island, and ever grateful to Vince & Vangie for their sage counsel on this trip.

Here’s our official “Next Time Wish List,” which we hope we can tackle someday soon:

  • Akaka Falls (Volcano/Hilo)
  • Hilo and Puna sights (tide pools/waterfalls/towns)
  • Blaine’s (Volcano)
  • Hilo Farmer’s Market ~ Saturdays & Wednesdays
  • Maku’u Farmer’s Market  ~  Sundays…towards Pahoa

Kona

  • Pawai Bay- snorkeling (Kona)
  • Golden Pools of Ke-awa-i

Along with cousins’ suggestions for next time. Thanks T!:

  • Flea market downtown on Wednesdays and Saturdays, lots of good snacks and a good day to visit Old Hilo Bayfront. Be sure to take a look in Dragon Mama, its a Japanese textile shop, mad handmade goods.

And once again, a big mahalo to our family for their love and guidance. We dedicate this song to you.

Aloha!

On To MacDowell

Out of my wildest dreams, 2013 starts off with a three-week fellowship at the nation’s oldest arts colony, MacDowell founded in 1907 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. If yours truly wasn’t also accepted to The Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland for June this year as well, I’d be suffering from a serious case of imposter syndrome. And below is why. A shortened list of some of MacDowell’s past fellows and the projects they worked on during their stay should give plenty of reasons for doubt and legitimacy. Sally Field, I feel you.

Marian MacDowell in front of Edward's log cabin, the Colony's prototype studio. Archival image.

Aaron Copland
Meredith Monk
Duncan Sheik
Nick Carbo
Amy Bloom
Lan Samantha Chang

Louise Erdrich (known to have worked on one of my all time favorite novels, Love Medicine)

James Baldwin (Giovanni’s Room)
Eric Gamalinda
Jessica Hagedorn
Garrett Hongo
Allison Landa
Rick Moody
ZZ Packer
Nzotke Shange
Lysley Tenorio

From their website:

The mission of The MacDowell Colony is to nurture the arts by offering creative individuals of the highest talent an inspiring environment in which they can produce enduring works of the imagination.

The sole criterion for acceptance to The MacDowell Colony is artistic excellence. MacDowell defines excellence in a pluralistic and inclusive way, encouraging applications from artists representing the widest possible range of perspectives and demographics.

So, what will this soon-to-be-fellow do at MacDowell? A game plan would be nice though a very near and dear writer friend called just days before departure with her advice since she’s been to Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and East Anglia. She was adamant about not expecting too much: “You’re not going to get everything you want done, but you will get what you need.” Echoing the wise words of Mick Jagger, she confessed wishing someone had told her that during her residencies.

The expectations thus far have waned and waxed with anticipation, and we’ll see which if any come true, knowing that as my partner’s ukelele instructor once warned during a music lesson, a creative person is never satisfied by their creation, prepare to be perpetually dissatisfied and to feed off your dissatisfaction.

With that in mind these goals may sound abstract but here they are: to tighten voice & style or at least have a stronger sense of each. Not that the entire projekt will be tightened but a firmer grasp on voice & style, and how it changes from character to character, from start to finish, just a keener sense on what each of them are and their evolution would be wonderful. Which leads to the question about structure. Does voice and style dictate structure? Is it vice versa or do the two really have nothing to do with the other? Perhaps that question will be answered on the Eastern seaboard.

More than anything a mental map of where this projekt needs to go is the ultimate aim, and that map needs explicit directives on voice, style, structure, and tone, knowing that all of this should evolve from one chapter to the next depending on character and progression of plot.

This residency is not only a good chance for the physical, mental, and spiritual kick in the arse as all good travel is since I’ll be clear across the country in a completely new and snowy environment. There’s also the mingling with other writers, painters, musicians, architects, sculptors, and who knows what these encounters may bring, but the relationship that is utmost in mind is the intent to gain a newer, closer, almost incestuous, yes, I said it, intimacy with the projekt. Even after five years, it still feels so much of a foreign beast. Is there anyway that the projekt might feel like a part of me, an extension of self? And in getting to know this piece better, getting skin close to it, is there a possibility of taking Writing to a different level? To not just make this art a second nature but first? That may be asking too much.

Satisfaction with dissatisfaction. If that’s one guarantee, I may just be ready.

If you have advice about New Hampshire, Boston, cold weather fun, what do and what not to do at residencies, and or creative-making, I’m all ears. Happy 2013. May yours be a healthy and bright new adventure!

Literary Pilgrimage 2011: Londonium, 5-12 July

July 2011 hails as a month to remember with the trip of a lifetime, a literary pilgrimage honoring favorite writers from England, Wales, and Ireland.

London served as the first leg, where we pilgrims discovered that parachute pants have made a fashion comeback and the streets of the English capital are laced with joggers who prefer to sprint with small backpacks hitched to them. What was that about? A friend from Southampton explained that many Londoners jog to work. Could this be the reason?

Nestled between the Lords Cricket Ground, the Central London Mosque, and the London Zoo, in St. John’s Wood, we lodged at the Danubius Hotel Regents Park ( 18 Lodge Road, NW8 7JT, 020 7722 7722 Subway: Edgware Road), which was seated right next to a shisha bar, known in the States as a hookah lounge. Every time we neared, the lane was filled with the scent of cherry tobacco.

Leaving most of our time to whimsy, we sketched a rough itinerary using some of the following online sources as guides:

Soon as we arrived, we dropped off our bags, and, without even taking time for a quick shower after flying in from California, we dashed over to the British Library (open: Tues-Sat 9.30am-5pm, closed Sun). I broke into tears gaping over Charlotte Bronte’s handwritten manuscript of Jane Eyre, listened to an original recording of Yeats’ “Wild Swans at Coole” and bowed down before original manuscripts by Woolf, Beethoven, Conrad, Wilde, and so many more greats. Too bad no pics are allowed in the archives.

After wiping the tears, we stumbled onto an overwhelming collection of sci-fi from its European incarnation at the gob-smacking exhibit “Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not as You Know It” Talk about over-stimulation.

Day 2 in Londonium took us north on a Thames River Cruise to Kew Garden (earliest departure from Westminster:10.30, last boat from Kew: 16.00) accompanied by the Miss Marple crew. Apparently, our interests coincide with silver Centrum-aged travelers.

George Eliot lived in one of the pastel buildings
Cruising up Thames River

Sodden with rain, Day 3 was a perfect chance to soak up the sites at Highgate Cemetery (open 10 am weekdays, 11am weekends closes 5pm, last admission 4.30pm, $L3 )where I found myself empty-handed for any offerings to leave at George Eliot’s gravestone. We also chanced upon a headstone that had been blackened with tar. I’d love to know the story behind that defacement. Winding our way through the tombstones and markers, at every turn, I felt like I saw dark presences lingering in the corner of my eye.

The best scotch egg, and the only scotch egg I’ve tasted yet, was enjoyed at the swank pub The Bull and Last tucked on Highgate Road in the posh neighborhood of Hampstead Heath, Keats’ old haunt. Wonder if he’s ever had a scotch egg, which is a soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage which is then breaded. Its the Brits hand-held version of moco loco, and this one was perfection rolled into a beautiful oval. The sauteed greens were incredible as well. London knows how to treat their vegetables now. No longer boiled and tasteless, they give just enough heat to let produce stand on its own naked savoriness.

Before meeting up with our traveling companions, K&C on Day 4, we strolled through Portobello Market (Sat ONLY 5:30a-5p, shops open M-Sa. Tube: Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate, Pembridge Rd), which we missed on our first trip to London. After divulging in some retail therapy, we connected with K&C at Leighton’s House in Holland Park (10-5.30 closed Tu, $L5, 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ, Tube High Street Kensington) , which preserves the breathtaking abode of Victorian artist Lord Frederic Leighton. Highly decadent and sumptuous in its design and decor, the architect George Atchinson makes use of all the four life-giving elements. A Byzantine pool of water greets visitors in the foyer, decked with mosaic tiles collected from Leighton’s travels to the East. His library/study, paneled with wood, elicits contemplation, and his dining room is feted in fiery rich reds and a plush wallpaper made of fabric. Light floods the stairwell that boasts paintings from artists who gifted Leighton with their own work. The second floor opens to a carved out Turkish bed that overlooks the water fountain foyer. To the right of the bed is his studio, which includes a special door wide and long enough to move huge canvas paintings in and out of the room. Leighton had two studios, including a winter studio, overlooking a lush green landscape. The winter studio avoids the obscurity of fog and smog which hindered the seasonal skies.

After Leighton’s house, we found ourselves in London’s Chinatown, which is a small section of neighborhood that doesn’t quite meet the boisterousness of San Francisco’s Chinatown or the serene history of Vancouver’s.

Day 4 started with all 841 steps up to the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral (doors open for sightseeing 8:30, 11:30 last entry. Cafe 9-5, Afternoon Tea 2:30-4pm M-Sa; Cafe 10-4 S, Evensong daily 5pm). The fourth largest church in the world turned out to be one giant tomb for Britain’s military personnel, where the Suffragettes planted a bomb in 1913. The views from the top rival the London Eye.

During our stay, we also stopped at the Emirates Stadium for a peek of the Gunner’s home. Our traveling companions, K&C stayed at the The Rookery (Peter’s Lane, Cowcross Street, EC1M 6DS – Tel +44(0)20 7336 0931, Tube: Farringdon), and they visited the following sites:

All told, we sipped and dined in at least 21 pubs throughout the three weeks traveling, which included some of these London spots, but not all: The Harp, Covent Garden, The Seven Stars, The Old Cheshire, The Jerusalem Tavern, and The Bull and Last.  Our pub research came from the following sources, The Guardian’s Ten of the Best Pubs in London and View London’s Pub & Bars

We hoped to make the following but there’s only so much time in the day, so these little hot spots may just have to wait for the next trip:

  • Brick Lane – Sunday market til 2. Tube Shoreditch or Aldgate
  • Chelsea & Nottinghill Shopping
  • Camden
  • Grovsner Square
  • The Guardian’s List of “Top 10 London Outdoor Activities”
  • Tate Britain, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P with the show, Romantics Dates: 9th August 2010 to 31st July 2011, including paintings by Henry Fuseli, JMW Turner, John Constable, Samuel Palmer and William Blake, exploring the origins, influence    and legacies of Romantic art in Britain
  • Much Ado About Nothing  (16th May 2011 to 3rd September 2011) at Wyndhams Theatre with David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

For more writerly musings on this trip, check out the post “Writer as Traveler” at the salon and for more pics of the places above click on the following:

British Library

Thames River Cruise

Kew Garden

Radio, podcasts, and interviews on Art, Culture, History, Science, Politics, and more

Recently my Pa asked suggestions for good radio shows about Art. Here are some of my favorite go-to sites. These links always inspire my writing and teaching. Let me know what you think and help us add to the list.

In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg– he brings in top scholars and academics to discuss art, literature, science, and history. There’s an undeniable Western slant, but the discussions are always riveting and the participants often argue, which is entertaining.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/in-our-time/

Simon Schama on BBC 4– art historian who’s endlessly fascinating
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/programmes/people/VGVmL25hbWUvc2NoYW1hLCBzaW1vbiAoaGlzdG9yaWFuKQ

Terrence McNally– he doesn’t really cover art but his guest speakers are the leading thinkers and writers on politics, culture, environmental studies, global issues, etc, and the topics are always urgent.
http://temcnally.podomatic.com/

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Image from Web TV Hub

FORATV– I make my students watch videos of authors we’re reading on this site, looks like they have some good art interviews
http://fora.tv/subtopic/arts

TED talks– Hands down the most comprehensive site for interviews with all the leading international and national thinkers, movers, and shakers. This is an incredibly comprehensive and popular site. I subscribe to their weekly newsletter, which is worth it cause you can see what the latest talks are and click on any that you want to hear. This is an essential resource that I check regularly. Very, very inspiring.
http://www.ted.com/talks

And, just for kicks, here’s a clip on RSA animate, which I’m currently addicted to, with Slavoj Zizek’s First as Tragedy, Then as Farce:

Latest Muse: The Art of Mario De Rivera

Reading up on the Center for Babaylan Studies site, Babaylan Files, I stumbled upon the stunning art of Mario De Rivera whose work is reminiscent of Klimt and Kahlo. Someday, one of his pieces will hang on a brick and mortar wall of mine. For now, virtual admiration will have to do. For more on De Rivera’s paintings, check out the online thumbnails to his exhibit, “Fragments of Incantations” opening in June at the Hiraya Gallery in Ermita, Philippines.

 

Fragments of Incantation, 122 x 122 cm . Oil, Acrylic, Modeling Paste and Photo Transfers . 2003

 

Perfect Age: 121.5 x 121.5 cm . Oil, Acrylic, Modeling Paste and Photo Transfers . 2003