Art in the Family

I’m pleased to start the New Year by sharing new work of mine, my children’s, and of my friends I invited for a holiday open studio. In preparation for the event last month, I designed and installed a drought tolerant garden. The project was expedited because of an early morning shock when I discovered the construction workers, building a house directly behind mine, were tearing down my border fence. In a panic, I ran out to ask them in my best or worst Spanish what they heck was going on. After learning the fence and all my bamboo, most of it dead, would be torn out to make way for a concrete block wall, I pushed forward with my re-landscaping plans.

With grass no longer a viable ground cover in Los Angeles, I had long imagined a secret garden of sorts with pathways and lily pads meandering through native plant species. As it came to fruition, several people have described it as a mini-Getty which I take a huge compliment since I am a big fan of Robert Irwin’s garden design for the Getty Center in Brentwood. Like me, Robert Irwin is a fine artist who designed a garden. It’s conceivable we don’t know what we are doing from an architect’s perspective or knowledge, but maybe that makes our visions strangely unique and possibly wonderful. We create things that make our eyes sparkle and there is no other philosophy which lends itself to a better source of creativity.

Here is an image at the beginning of the project with the old grass and some dead trees removed and the concrete lily pads installed:


The lily pads mimic what already exists in the driveway so it was a way to tie in all the spaces of the yard. Next, I selected the plants and laid them out. I was admonished by the worker at the nursery to take pictures, go home, do more research then return to select my plants. As I pulled the ones I wanted, he began to see my vision and started taking pictures of my choices saying how great they went together.

Each planting space was mapped out as a square or rectangle to create a geometric pattern:


And finally, rocks were laid out, also in geometric shapes, to connect the lily pads and create walkways that join the house to the studio, the playhouse and the pool. Sadly, I learned that my favorite building supply store in Hollywood was to be demolished to make way for a condo building. The “store closing” discount I received on my rocks hardly tempered my disappointment for losing another great business in Hollywood to developers. I’ll miss the friendly faces of the same guys who have worked there ever since I have been shopping now for over a decade.

I documented the entire process over many weeks and it is still a bit of a work in progress as the new trees along the property wall still need to fill in. Now greeting clients I no longer have to apologize for the dead grass but instead can show how a low-water garden can be even more beautiful than a flat slab of non-native ground cover.


All that effort made it especially rewarding to host Alyson Iwamoto Ceramics, Jen e Ceramics, Boyce Studio, Juniper & Fir, and Cheryl Lee Scott at my studio.

OpenStudio4ArtistsClockwise from the top left image: Alyson Iwamoto Ceramics, Jen e Ceramics, Juniper & Fir, Boyce Studio


Cheryl Lee Scott’s Chainlink line of jewelry

I also invited my good friend and RISD and SMFA, Boston alum Jimi Vieira to hang his amazing rocker drawings. One of the three he displayed show Jim Morrison collapsed on stage in a mock breakdown:

JimiVieiraJimMorrisonJimi Vieira, Jim Morrison, 2015, pencil and charcoal on canvas, 36″ x 72″

I displayed six new nursery art paintings. It’s always nice to take a break from my large scale fine art and focus on something small and whimsical.

NurseryArt3Nursery Art 3, 2015, acrylic and paper on birch panel, 10″ x 10″

But the best was having my two daughters participate in the open studio. My almost eight-year-old made some beautiful bird drawings:


And my twelve-year-old hand-knitted doll scarves. She used her time on the bus to and from her middle school to knit and focused really hard on producing enough quantity to meet her perceived demand:


What a better way to reemerge myself into the art and blogosphere than by encouraging my own children to create art and have the experience of making and selling work as I do. It was a great lesson for them to understand what it is like to work for many weeks if not months ahead of an exhibition, think about marketing, displaying the work, and ultimately sell the work. Then in the aftermath, how to deal with the highs of a sale and the lows of not selling and the disappointment of anticipated guests who did not arrive. I hope it gave them a taste of what my life is like as a working artist. It’s a lot of hours working alone and not always a big payoff when the body of work is completed.

But now that the nursery art is out of my system, I have started working on new ideas for my next series of work about recent traumatic events in my life over the last six months and beyond. I’ll be making some large-scale wall pieces for the first since my year as a sculpture major at RISD.

Here is some of the music I have been listening to since my last post: Hermitude, Ta-Ku, Jamie Woon, Big Grams, and Disclosure





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