Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paxton Gate

Paxton Gate describes its wares as "treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and the natural sciences."

I hesitate to call it a shop. It's more than that. It's an experience.

It's like entering a secret cave, where a wizard lives. 

Here are all the magical stones, herbs, crystals and plants that the wizard uses in his sorcery. 

There are also lots of taxidermy animals, skeletons and fossils. Creepy and fascinating, yet also funny.

The most memorable display was the flying fairy mice, each one outfitted with a fine costume. These enchanting little mice tell many stories. Frozen in mid-flight, it's easy to imagine that they are under the wizard's magic spell. 

Sadly, this display is no longer there, replaced by some punk rock, bride and groom, and priest mice.

If you have a love of the macabre and bizarre, and you are not afraid of the wizard's magic, this is a wonderful place to explore.

Paxton Gate is at 766 Valencia Street in San Francisco.

There's also a Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids at 824 Valencia Street.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Inspired by Agnes Martin

mini paintings by Rosa Phoenix

I've returned to the desert where I grew up, in Phoenix, Arizona. 

The desert of the American Southwest has always attracted artists, 
who are drawn to the open skies, raw landscape, sculpted rocks and dazzling light.

A couple of years ago I visited the Dia Arts Center in Beacon, New York. There I encountered for the first time, the works of Canadian-born artist Agnes Martin (1912 - 2004).

Her paintings couldn't be simpler: stripes in the palest colors, painted on a pencil-drawn grid.

by Agnes Martin

In concept, it seems one-note and one-dimensional, but actually, to be in the presence of these paintings is a transcendent experience. It's not something that translates as a reproduced image. 

Paintings emanate with the energy and intentions of the artist.

A painting is a lot more than just colors on a surface.

photo by Bill Jacobson

I still keep Agnes Martin's paintings in my heart.

I learned that she lived and worked in Taos, New Mexico, just like another of my favorite artists, Georgia O'Keefe.

The desert is a harsh environment. 
It is a huge, open space that makes a person feel 
very small, insignificant and vulnerable.

How do you capture that sense of space? 

The desert invites a different kind of artistic approach.

Lots of decoration and embellishments don't work. Ornate patterns don't work. Realism doesn't work. 

I think the maxim "Less is more" applies here.

Agnes Martin had a particular genius for this.

Agnes Martin

Here in the desert, I'm clearing my mind.

As an exercise, I created my own works, inspired by my desert surroundings, and Agnes Martin.

Using some small, square canvases, I used masking tape and latex paints to create a series of striped paintings. Here are some in progress, with masking tape on:

mini paintings in progress 
by Rosa Phoenix

I used desert colors.

When I put them together as an installation on one wall of my room, I was pleased with the result. It is a suggestion, rather than a literal interpretation, of desert beauty. 

I wake up and see the colors of the desert. I see the sky, the clouds, the earth, the light. I see Indian blankets. I see the striated colors of the rocks. I see sunrises and sunsets.

 This wall of mini paintings keeps my mind clear and creative.

I like the rhythm of the stripes.

wall of mini paintings by Rosa Phoenix

I feel so inspired by the beauty that surrounds me. 

Like Georgia O'Keefe and Agnes Martin before me, I find myself challenged to create in a whole new way.

Here is a video interview of Agnes Martin, where she talks about the painting process. It is quite enlightening.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mini Minimalist Paintings

grouping of mini paintings 
by Rosa Phoenix

The desert whispers:

Strip away what's non-essential.

Embrace space, sunlight, solitude, silence.

There is peace and beauty in simplicity.

Find the rhythm and the harmony.

Take time to live. 

*more about these paintings in this post here

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Food for Thought: Blog Action Day 2011

Carlos Candelario was born without arms and legs. 
His mother had been exposed to a cocktail of toxic pesticides 
whilst harvesting tomatoes (photographer unknown)

Today is World Food Day, and it is also Blog Action Day. This year's topic is food. 

We all have different experiences with food and we all need food for life.

As I've been working on being a more conscious consumer, I have questions about food, and what it means to all of us.

Please feel free to respond in the comments!

Questions for you!

Where does your food come from?

Is your food a world traveller? Did it come from an exotic locale? Did it fly on a plane, sail on a boat, ride on a truck?

Or is your food a native, or a local? Did it come from a nearby farm? Or your garden?

Nopales cactus
at Mexican market in Phoenix, AZ
How long is its life cycle?

Who grew or raised your food?

What is it? Animal? Vegetable? Fruit? Fungus? Spice?

What's in your food? Is it GMO (genetically modified organism)? Was it raised with pesticides or chemical fertilizers?

Right 2 Know March
to Washington, D.C.
is a group of concerned people
who want GMO foods to be labeled

How does the food you eat affect your body?

Does your food cause disease? Does it lead to sickness and early death? Do you eat the "Standard American Diet (SAD)"?

Does food give you life energy? Does food heal you?

Do you have a favorite market?

Do you like to try new things?

Or do you like to stick to what you know?

What's your favorite food?

What attracts you to food? Color? Smell? Presentation? Package? Price?

This is my 100th blog post!

I'd like to celebrate with you, by sharing some recipes I like.

Enjoy in good health!

1 small can chickpeas, with 1/2 of the liquid 
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
salt and pepper if desired

Blend ingredients in a blender. Serve with warm pita bread and raw vegetables like carrot, celery, tomato and spinach

Massaged Kale Salad

Wash kale and remove the stems. Tear it into small pieces and put into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and squeeze lemon juice on top. With clean hands, "massage" the kale by squeezing and pressing it. Do this for a couple of minutes and the kale leaves will start to wilt and turn dark green in color. It will release a beautiful floral fragrance!

Enjoy the kale like that, or you can add raw, cut-up vegetables and salad dressing, to make it into a mixed salad.

Green Zinger Smoothie

1 apple, cut and peeled
1 banana
1 celery stalk
1 slice of melon
1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut
handful of baby spinach leaves
small piece of ginger root, peeled and cut
coconut water or filtered water

(these ingredients are suggestions, use whatever you have available)
Blend all ingredients together in a blender. If the mixture is too thick, add water or coconut water. Drink immediately.