Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red letter day

Years ago, I bid on an Ebay auction for a vintage sign letter. Above, the photo that accompanied the listing. I didn't win the letter, and sadly, all the letters were won by separate bidders and shipped far and wide. But for one magical afternoon, they sprouted boldly and miraculously from a lawn, overseen by a mysterious gent. The randomness and absurdity of the image; that the letters spell nothing, and the figure turns away from the camera threads a story.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

--Albert Einstein

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Creative Habit

I just finished reading this straightforward and insightful book.
Creativity can be a delicious romp, or a challenging commitment.
Tharp contends to consistently create, discipline is key and includes a series of interesting exercises that nurture productivity.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Maira Kalman

As an artist, I’m reporting the big things and the small things.
And sometimes you don’t know which is which.

--Maira Kalman

An exhibition of Maira Kalman's work opens at the Skirball Cultural Center on November 16, 2010. Additionally, on opening night, Maira will be present for an informal discussion of her work.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A few against many

The highly anticipated new AMC series The Walking Dead premieres Halloween night. Based on Robert Kirkman's comic book series that follows a group of survivors amid a sea of zombies, AMC launched its first trailer at the recent Comic-Con to the delighted crowds. Maybe the genre has gone in every direction possible, including satire and comedy, but zombie fans are in for a treat. The trailer looks great.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wim Wenders

I love the moody photographs of filmmaker Wim Wenders.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The end

M. is one of a rare breed: someone who insists on watching the entire film including all the end credits. Following are the end titles of several Alfred Hitchcock classics. The end title is usually when the bulk of the audience leaves; those who don't need to read the names of the caterer, grip, assistant to the stars, that no animals were hurt during filming and any character's resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Dial M for Murder


North by Northwest


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Landscape of desire

Will Cotton, Untitled (2003)


Munchkinland, Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz)

Wonderland, Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland)

Monday, August 23, 2010


Black, white and red combine brilliantly in Sameness, a book by Alex Fuller and Gabe Usadel.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Too cool

Robert Mitchum

Jean Paul Belmondo

Sean Connery

Recently, Frank Chimero was asked what advise he would give to a graphic design student. Among the many practical pointers he includes, Stop trying to be cool: it is stifling.

The way Jean Seberg and Virginia Huston are looking at Jean Paul Belmondo and Robert Mitchum? Coolness is seductive.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Clyde F. E. Roper is a senior emeritus zoologist in the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. On his bucket list: to be the first person to see a living giant squid. He has organized many expeditions and is the world's foremost expert on Architeuthis (geek speak for giant squid). Of his lifelong quest he has said, "We have the tools and the know-how. Now all we need is the squid."

Friday, August 20, 2010


From a vintage German book (no translation necessary!); electrical shock is an everyday threat.

Herbert Matter

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
--Henry David Thoreau

The first sneak peek of the Herbert Matter documentary film will be shown late August in San Francisco. I'm really looking forward to seeing a film that explores the stunning work of this talented and influential artist.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Jean-Jacques Beineix's 1981 (debut) film, Diva, made an appearance on cable. Nearly thirty years have passed, yet the film remains as visually lush, stylish and daring as it was when newly released.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sometimes I am

In her 2009 book Sometimes I Think, Sometimes I am, Sara Fanelli combines the wit and wisdom of favorite quotations with her unique drawing, collage, and painting. I read this late and night and was immediately inspired to sort through my supplies and start making art.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Excuse me while I kiss the sky

Marjorie Gestring won the springboard gold medal for the USA at the 1936 Berlin Games, becoming the youngest-ever Olympic champion. She was just thirteen years old.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mangia bene

You can't get a bad meal in Italy (that has been my experience); every city and town has its specialties. I have vivid memories traveling with G. down the Amalfi coast and tasting seafood freshly caught mere hours before. We ate gelato every day, infused with delightful flavors like cantaloupe and rose. In Bologna, a waiter brought a tiny cruet the size of a perfume bottle, which held precious balsamic vinegar so potent one drop would suffice. The marbled Parma ham, paper thin and delicate in flavor has ruined me for other meat. I remember the fried zucchini blossoms, the creamy risotto, the fish stews, the braciole, and all the incredible pasta dishes.

In Eat, Pray, Love, the new movie based on the bestselling book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Roberts travels to Rome and Naples to gorge on the world's finest food. What does she order? Pasta with tomato sauce, and Pizza Margherita (fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese).

Luckily, the plain and simple food of Italy is equally beautiful and delicious.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Before the revolution

I love the serious expressions and muted colors of Zhang Xiaogang's paintings.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


S. is the happiest person I know. Her infectious optimism is generous and welcoming, and not a bit insincere. She is not without stress; there have been health scares, she's raised children, she has seen family and friends through job changes, moves across the country, marriages, divorce, illness and suffered the loss of several loved ones. Still, none of life's challenges or pitfalls changed her basic nature of being outgoing and joyful. If there is anything different about her, one quality that might stand out in a crowd, I'd say it's her ability to give her full attention. By doing this, by being present, whether she is reading the paper or listening to music or spending time with others, she is engaged and connected and fully living her life.

In his pursuit of happiness, filmmaker Roko Belic has spent four years, traveled to over 14 countries and gathered stories from around the world exploring the jewel of emotions. His film, Happy, is near completion.

HAPPY - How It All Began from Wadi Rum Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, August 13, 2010


London's Strata Tower

London's Strata Tower received the 2010 Carbuncle Cup, Building Design's dubious annual award given in recognition of the most alarmingly hideous building erected in the United Kingdom in the past year.

Philip Johnson's drawings and photographs (thoughts on paper)

In other architecture news this week, a large collection of design sketches, drawings and renderings from Philip Johnson's architectural practice are headed to market. Philip Johnson's Glass House (built in 1949), is considered to be one of the world's most beautiful examples of modern architecture, and is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.