Tag Archives: thoughts on creativity

Abstraction in Nature, a Tribute.

September 1996, Los Angeles, north east San Fernando Valley, mildly Mexican* neighborhood. The flat expanse with wide, uncrowded streets evenly lit by dry desert sun.

The place I rented, a garage of a little house, a loft-like mini shelter for me and my canine friend Sophia, stood next to a rectangle swimming pool the landlady tirelessly cleaned. Separated by sort-of lawn was a main house, with two rooms for rent, both occupied.
The other end of mi mini casa was a neighbor’s yard, where serious mariachi parties took place thankfully not too often, complete with a set of super woofer speakers you’d find in night clubs. How I knew? I snuck a peek tiptoed over a sloppy stack of cinder blocks stood between me and the fiesta.

Wave (1996) - a small wood sculpture with sea shells..

So, the place I rented. In one of the rooms in the main house, the one adjacent to the Mariachi’s, lived a petite lady, a tipsy intellectual. Told me she was a wine taster trained in France, in the kitchen we shared, in a stained XL tee, a stemmed glass in her hand, held as if she was standing under a chandelier.
Then suddenly one day she had a boyfriend. I recognized him from a 711 corner across the street, hanging with alert eyes, or in business transactions, the back alley type of deal. From there things progressed rapidly and it was not long before I found him in our kitchen, a new resident in the honeymoon phase. Soon after I took refuge in a living room at my friend’s nearby.

A Leaf (1996) - a small wood sculpture with a dried seedpod..

My friend, he lived on the Avenue Quiet only a few blocks from the Villa Mariachi, with his ailing wife and a lady who was there to help her out. Their generosity to welcome me in along with a rather large, wise but energetic dog into a full house is worth a mention, but it didn’t end there. He, a sculptor in hiatus, offered me the full use of his studio.
“You are an artist”, I wasn’t that convinced but he proclaimed anyways. “Artist makes art.”
That was the only string attached to the offer.

All his sculptures were made from wood, abstract with true substance. Used to exhibit, said he, did well for a long time. Something held me back from asking what changed all that.
The studio was originally, again, a garage. No light entered from the California sun but I could feel the heat. Tables, tools, wood scraps. Works half done, paused. All sat still gathering dust.

I was not certain of my ability to carve or to sustain my interest. Where is my fiesta? Besides, it was sunny outside. As I began to gather dust myself, a book, its title, caught my eye.
“Abstraction in Nature”
The three words made all the sense in the world. I knew exactly what they meant but had no idea until then it was something to write a book about. It was enough to get me started though.
Carve, sand, buffer. Shapes began to appear. As if there were ideas floating about waiting to be caught by the next available human.

Untitled (1996) - a small wood sculpture with dried sea creatures.

I spent about a month and a half at the Sculptor’s, before moving over the hill to Hollywood, the place I so missed all the while I lived in the Valley. The milder sun and some fiestas, but most notably, walks on Sunset with ever proud Sophia strutting past girls in 7 inch heels working the Boulevard. Strangely though, now in 2017, I get just as excited google-earthing the Valley, if not more.

The things I absorbed in the Sculptor’s studio seemed to have gone dormant for a long while after that but looking back, I think, maybe that wasn’t so. You see, those things never really quit on you.
In fact, I have reasons to believe they had gone ahead and nurtured themselves while waiting, years of waiting, of dropping hints, nudging with intrigues, for this human and her next available moment.

Untitled (1996) - a small carved wood.

I finished total of 8 pieces during my stay at the Sculptor’s, and got 3 more on pause. For this post I photographed four of them arranged with masterpieces made by someone else.

Lastly, I wrote this as a tribute, to my sculptor friend who’s passing I learned only several days ago, and to ‘Abstraction in Nature’ who definitely never quits, crystallizes into elements large and minuscule everything there is to life: the feast, the knife, and the whole enchilada.

Small Wood Sculptures, arranged with shells and driftwoods.

*In considering the current – as of March 2017 – trend of Mex bashing in U.S., I’d like to add:
“Colors” of the characters are intentionally unmentioned (hint: there are 4 in the post). I went to Angeles with no prior knowledge of Mexican culture, or how Chicanos (or Japanese for that matter) are positioned in the society. Mariachi blast landed on a blank canvas. Growing up in Japan I did not face discrimination based on color, nor do I have a strong inclination toward seeking my identity through the culture I was raised in, and that is where I am coming from, just an observer of the – our – human condition.

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Dried persimmons from Sado Island made me think of.

Sea gulls chasing a ferry boat at sundown, Sado Island, Japan.

Here’s a joke. Don’t feel offended.
A Turk
goes to see a doctor.
He tells him:
“When I touch my body with my finger, it hurts.
When I touch my head, it hurts,
my legs, it hurts,
my belly, my hand, it hurts.”
The doctor examines him then tells him:
“Your body’s fine
but your finger’s broken!”

    – Abbas Kiarostami, Taste of Cherry (1997)

Sea gulls chasing a ferry boat at sundown, Sado Island, Japan.

I decided December will be a movie month. I’m gonna watch as many Kiarostami films. Maybe not all though, save some for later, ‘cause no more coming from the maestro.

Photos are from my trip to Sado, early August 2003. Shot, with a single use camera I got in a hurry at a kiosk somewhere, from the last ferry boat of the day, my way back to Tokyo. On the isle time passed like a deep sea current, with the kind of depth that does not weigh. I watched for a long time the fading silhouettes, its picturesque rocks and the dark sea widening between us.

Yesterday I closed my eyes and consumed a semi dried persimmon from the island. Sugar in the fruit spoke to me in Sado, and the characters I met there came to life again: silver-scaled sushi fishes in clear teal sea that gets cold at 3pm sharp, a crane with black and red design who had to nearly brush this tourist’s windshield, a coffee at the goldmine that came with a surprise gold flake floating.
Then I thought of the film, words between a man and his third passenger, the depth that doesn’t bind. And the director who passed last July, the way he used time as his medium, and the subtext that does not force meaning.

(The persimmon in question is sold under the name “Anpo”. Melty on the inside, look for the ones from the island.)

Creative Process, November 2016.

A spider lily petal, process, abstract, detail, acid dye on silk

November 13, 2016. While bed-ridden with a common cold, made a decision to drastically cut down my use of mobile devices and a magic called wifi. After all, my eyes are LED sensitive and the whole thing of me is now recoiling from EMF signals. Days of feeling slick and current streaming anywhere is over. Hard to part, surely will miss.

November 14, 2016. Super Moon Monday. A router in hand, called my provider, show me where the switch is, I gotta turn this necessary evil off. The support man was also lightly a comic, was so with zero malice and I noticed, after the call, my eyes were already hurting less*.

November 15, 2016. Woke up fairly fine after four days in futon. Maybe it was my mobile no longer zapping my zzz, or the highly anticipated Moon sending me its ‘super’ through streaks of dark clouds. Either way, it was the kind of night the only thing missing was wolf howls in the distance.

A spider lily petal, process, abstract, pencil on paper, studio

The photos are of a dyed silk dress series called “Spider Lily Red”, the 1st (top) and the 2nd piece, both in the making. I harbor an ambition to finish the first dress and open my web shop before 2016 is over, which may come to pass now that my smarty phone is nearly just a telephone.

Time seems to fly faster when I halve my attention. A hint astringent persimmons on the side of wild wolves’ grace alive in digital. Things that precious can get thinned down if consumed half-hearted. Was that an excitement of the world flooding through a device in my palm, or did I begin to let a gadget babysit my existential loneliness. In any case I think I downplayed to myself the physical, attentional, and emotional discomfort. Yes, emotional. It gets kinda hollow when I’m not really there.

So what now, what about your wolves? Well, wolf videos, only on cable-connected computer for now. Minimal mobile usage, most importantly never with my persimmons. As for my existential loneliness, will be kept under my care so I can nurse it in my palms as I would a wounded swallow. I’d like to think I got my TLC intact but sometimes, it has a way of slipping through my fingers.

* A little about the eye hurt I mentioned earlier, as this may not be uncommon: is a sensation of light-pulse drilling my eyes, felt at times more like a shallow headache.
I first took notice of this when I switched to iPhone 4s, my introduction to Retina screen. Within a week I was having a clearly noticeable increase in sensitivity to light, which I call iSquint. (LED sensitivity seems to worsen when coupled with their Retina screen.) Now with 6s, the symptom seems to reduce significantly when turning the airplane mode on.

Thank you for your visit, enjoy the last bit of 2016 and in any event, don’t drive and mobile :)

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Lily and her friends – June Studio Report

an early summer bouquet of Bell Flower, Honey Suckle and Hyacint

an early summer bouquet of Hydrangia and Spiderwort, with drawin

While teaching myself how to use fabric dye, I worked in a office translating mostly medical professionals’ scribbles. I’d carve out five minutes here, ten minutes there, to somehow get my art thing going, until eventually I became the only worker on self-appointed flextime.
On Mondays during lunch I’d walk past several cafes with too many tiny tables, on a cluttered Tokyo street down to a florist, and for a couple hundred yen choose just one flower to place on my desk, a beige-gray rectangle. As an ongoing art education I’d pause between each paragraph for a few moments and closely observe the blossom of the week.

Flower shop flowers always made me a little sad: straight stemmed, sterile, tagged. I eventually parted ways with the scribbles, but what I’ve seen in each flower stayed with me, it’s the remembering of a field somewhere outside their greenhouse, accumulated stories woven into their roots. Years later, they found their way into an enlarged flower petal about to be painted on a dress, on silk with the fabric dye, now my medium of choice.

an early summer bouquet of wild flowers and herbal leaves, with

an early summer bouquet of Herb-Robert, Polygonum and Haze-ran,

Despite the art interferences, I fulfilled my responsibilities at the scribble’s. Enough so that few years later the same people invited me back, flextime and all, which was very nice of them, but I had already made other plans, to give my all to the art thing.
The choice smart or otherwise? One thing I know, it was the only one, and I blame it on those flowers with stems too straight, and all the moments I shared with them.

an early summer bouquet of wild flowers, with drawing (photo cop

Belles in the bouquets, all picked in the wild, from top, Japanese name in brackets for accuracy sake:
– Bell Flower (Hotaru Bukuro) / Honeysuckle (Suikazura) / Hyacinth Orchid (Siran)
– Hydrangea / Spiderwort (Murasaki Tsuyukusa)
– Dame’s Violet (Hana Daikon) / Yarrow (Nokogiri Sou) / Oxalis (Imo Katabami – the pink in focus. They were “asleep” at the time of photographing, which was immediately after getting picked from under a shrub.) / Cherry Sage (Yakuyou Sarubia – leaves only) / Fennel (leaves)
– Polygonum (Hime Tsurusoba) / Coral Flower (Haze Ran) / Herb Robert (Hime Fuuro)
– Adenophora Gaudi Violet (Sobana) / Gooseneck Loosestrife (Tora no o) / Prunella Vulgaris (Utsubogusa) / Gymnaster Savatieri (Miyako Wasure) / Spiderwort

In blurry background is the various stages of the dress series “Spider Lily Red” in the making in chronological/ascending order, with photo copies of 2 large pencil drawings of a spider lily petal pinned on the wall.
Also refer to my previous posts for the actual size of the petal, and the daring demeanor of each petal and my earlier attempts at grasping some of it upon fibre.