Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Roxane Gay

The other night I had the great pleasure of seeing Roxane Gay speak at City Arts and Lectures. And she was just amazing. The power with which she faces head-on the dreadful toxicity of our world, while at the same time making a passionate clear-eyed case for the need to cultivate joy, is beyond inspiring.

In the absence of a transcript (god, I wish there was one, I would quote from it for days!) may I recommend the full text of her recent speech at the American Bookseller's Association's Winter Institute which includes the following highlights:

"The word diversity is, in its most imprecise uses, a placeholder for issues of inclusion, recruitment, retention and representation. Diversity is a problem, seemingly without solutions. We talk about it and talk about it and talk about it and nothing much ever seems to change....

I am done having the same conversations over and over while very little changes. People don’t really want to hear about diversity and inclusion. They don’t want to do what it takes—the investment of actual money, for a sustained period of time, to change the make-up of this industry....

I am not going to give you the answers you seek or provide absolution or do the work that you are eminently capable of doing. You’re smart, passionate book people. You can forego the distance of needing to be taught what you can learn through trial and error. You can figure out how to be more inclusive in all ways. You can get political. You can get uncomfortable. You can remember that you are not just selling books. You are providing sanctuary. You are the stewards of sacred spaces. Rise to the occasion. Rise."

top image source is here

Big Girl Big Chair

Gah! This adorable munchkin person! I just can't get over it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Leap Before You Look

What an amazing book this is! Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 reveals the astonishing array of modern art made by an astonishing roster of artists at this particular place in this particular time period. Here's but a fraction of the very best stuff:

Ruth Asawa

Jacqueline Gourevitch

Kenneth Noland
W. Pete Jennerjahn

Robert Motherwell

Elizabeth Jennerjahn

Elizabeth Jennerjahn

Ilya Bolotowsky

Jacob Lawrence

Willem de Kooning

Ray Spillenger

Ruth Asawa

Eini Sihvonen

Josef Albers

John Reiss

Lyonel Feninger

Josef Albers

Anni Albers

Jean Varda

Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence

Elaine de Kooning

Elaine de Kooning

Robert Rauschenberg

Joseph Fiore

Esteban Vicente

James Bishop (x2)

Ruth Asawa

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Color Poem #1

wavy on the rain-slicked sidewalk
two long glowing streaks of green

one reflected from a neon parking garage sign
bright clear lime

the other from a you-can-go-now traffic light
underwater teal

image source is here

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I Got This

Today we pair the above brilliant political carton by Cynthia Sousa and Sam Machado with this encouraging New York Times article on how bookstores are becoming centers of resistance.

photo by Christian Hansen

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ladies Drawing Night SF Continues

Had a gathering of the SF chapter of Ladies Drawing Night last night. We drew in our sketchbooks and it was quite lovely. And here, below, are a few images from other recent iterations of this ritual.

Having a Bottle

It took some doing, back in the day, to convince baby Mabel to start drinking from a bottle. I feel this fact is reflected in the skeptical glance she's giving the me behind the camera, here, as she does so.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Freeman Lau at Civic Center

The other evening I happened to stumble upon Freeman Lau's installation of enormous lit-from-within lantern/vase hybrid sculptures on Civic Center Plaza. They were a thing to behold. I love it when there are these art installations there (like Hung Yi's Fancy Animal Carnival a few years back, or those giant light-up bunnies everyone was talking about but which somehow I missed out on seeing, drat). Large numbers of people just amble around soaking art up with their eyeballs in public. It's grand. And in this case it didn't hurt that City Hall was all decked out in red and gold lights for Lunar New Year in the background. Or that even way off further behind that we had Venus winking at us, top of frame.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Poem Mystery

Taking a tiny hiatus from my own current poems project this week, I was going to regale you with an old favorite poem of mine that I swear to god is either by Frank O'Hara or e. e. cummings. Snatches of it are clear in my mind, but after ten solid minutes of googling I've come up empty-handed. I'm almost positive it contains a reference to someone (proper name) hitting someone else (proper name) "with an uppercut" and either the whole thing ends, or perhaps only a stanza ends, with something very similar if not identical to: "and everybody I suppose thought Lucinda looked like Rose." If anyone on this green earth knows this poem and can tell me what it is I would be hugely grateful!

image by Melanie Biehle

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


I can hardly overstate the power and inspiration contained in March books one through three, by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, art by Nate Powell. Though we all know about most of the historical events depicted here, the evocative impact of having them told in the first person by someone who lived them, and illustrated in graphic novel style, can hardly be overstated. Time and again in recent weeks I've heard people who did not live through this era report what I myself experienced: that these books bring things home in a way no previous account of the events of the Civil Rights Movement--and the abominable conditions that precipitated it--has done. Read them. Read them immediately.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Every year a few weeks before Valentine's Day we host a little party for Mabel's Grandpa's birthday. At this party we (Mabel and her parents and her grandparents) make a particular type of collage valentine that my family has been making ever since I was a little kid. The physical form is set, but each person has evolved their own style, with new ideas and departures cropping up each new year. It is great fun. Here are this year's results, plus a scene of creation, plus some valentine-color-scheme ranunculus just to send you extra love today.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Vashti Harrison

I'm pretty obsessed lately with Vashti Harrison's illustrations of cute, slightly nerdy girls of color living disney princess lives.