Quote for Today: Bill Bryson

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Among the many thousands of things that I have never been able to understand, one in particular stands out. That is the question of who was the first person who stood by a pile of sand and said, “You know, I bet if we took some of this and mixed it with a little potash and heated it, we could make a material that would be solid and yet transparent. We could call it glass.” Call me obtuse, but you could stand me on a beach till the end of time and never would it occur to me to try to make it into windows.

Bill Bryson

Image: Sand from the Gobi Desert © Siim Sepp with CCLicense

Quote for Today: Austin Grossman

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Some days I spent up to three hours in the arcade after school, dimly aware that we were the first people, ever, to be doing these things. We were feeling something they never had – a physical link into the world of the fictional – through the skeletal muscles of the arm to the joystick to the tiny person on the screen, a person in an imagined world. It was crude but real. We’d fashioned an outpost in the hostile, inaccessible world of the imagination, like dangling a bathysphere into the crushing dark of the deep ocean, a realm hitherto inaccessible to humankind. This is what games had become. Computers had their origin in military cryptography – in a sense, every computer game represents the commandeering of a military code-breaking apparatus for purposes of human expression. We’d done that, taken that idea and turned it into a thing its creators never imagined, our own incandescent mythology.
Public Domain Image via Pexels.com

Owning Aggression: Sonya Tayeh’s Baggage

Many believe art should always emphasize the beautiful and balanced. Can art help us understand and heal our dark side?

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Photo © Sara Krulwich at The New York Times

 

Sonya Tayeh is best known as a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, but this brilliant dancer, dance teacher and choreographer is enjoying a tremendously varied career, premiering works with the Los Angeles Ballet and the Martha Graham Dance Company, choreographing musicals such as Spring Awakening, The Wild Party, Kung Fu and The Last Goodbye, as well as creating moves for Madonna, Florence and the Machine and Kylie Minogue, among others. You might not realize that this is a career that very nearly didn’t happen.

 

As a teenager, Sonya was a house dancer. House dancing grew out of the party scene in large cities of the American Northeast, and involves intricate footwork and fluid torso movement that follows the rhythm of the music very closely, punctuating much smaller, subtler details than many forms of dance. It is often improvised and can require a great deal of skill, but it isn’t recognized as a formal dance style. When Sonya realized she wanted to continue dancing in college and beyond, she applied to dance schools, only to be rejected six times on the grounds that she was too old to begin training.

Sonya did not give up, despite the voices that told her she was wasting her time. She graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Dance, blending her previous skills with a knowledge of art history and anatomy as well as new skills gleaned in formal dance performance. Over time, this blend solidified into a new style, one she calls “combat jazz”. Combat jazz retains the intricacy and intensity of house dancing, combining quirky, often aggressive, non-classical movement with elements of more formal dance. It is a striking union, as you can see in her short piece, Baggage.

 

 

What is so shocking about this work is its honesty. We see these partners are sometimes baggage for one another, heavy and difficult to move. In turn, we see them treat one another like baggage, slinging each other around and asserting control. How many people, particularly women (but not exclusively), can see this piece and walk away gratified that someone has noticed their struggle?

The jerky, house dance derived movements that are Sonya’s bread and butter highlight the conflict. As opposed to the more refined lines of ballet, they connect with our emotions at a visceral, non-intellectual level. When we look at these dancers, we don’t see performers using their technical skills. We see ourselves.

There are those who say that the aggressive, abusive relationships portrayed in Baggage have no place onstage, that we should spend our time looking at things that are more positive and harmonious. There is value in order and beauty. There is also value in truth. If we are unwilling to see that there is much in human relationships that is controlling and aggressive then how will we confront and deal with that behavior? Performance, with its suspension of reality, gives us a place to work through difficult situations and to recognize and identify human darkness, within and without. It can also give those who have lived through abuse a voice to tell their story, creating opportunities for catharsis, empathy, and healing.

The danger in turning away artists who don’t fit the mold and in censoring art that doesn’t conform to predetermined standards is that we will lose voices that we need to hear, or even worse, that we will become unable to hear at all.

Video via Sonya Tayeh Choreography on YouTube.
Tayeh Dance performing at the El Portal Theatre
Dancers: Cheryl Smith, Adrian Lee, Jill Chu, Will Johnston

 

 

Building Faerie Houses, Part Two: Faerie House Listing Gallery

Synkroniciti and FAE Realty present recently listed faerie houses, all built at our last synkroniciti gathering, In the Garden.

I hope you enjoy looking at them even a quarter as much as we enjoyed making them. My thanks to Kelly, Susan, Louis, André and Shanáy for their originality, creativity and friendship. I’ve enjoyed my stint as real estate editor over at FAE and hope the listings are all to your liking. Wink.

Listing One: Broken Pot House and Snail Guesthouse (Katherine)

These two low lying homes, designed to be perfect for small toads or frogs and stylish enough for fairies, nestle happily into the mulch. The main house is colorful, yet blends into the garden, while the guest house is a picturesque bungalow that would be a great fit for a single fairy. Style meets functionality beneath the crepe myrtle.

 

Listing Two: Pine Cone Garden Apartments for the Wee-est of the Wee (Susan)

Teeny folks will appreciate this lovely set of garden flats in a pine cone, artfully constructed for the artistic eye with a lovely view near the acanthus. Longing for the romance of Greece or the Mediterranean but don’t want to leave your tidy flat? This is your place.

 

Listing Three: Shell Basket House (André)

You’re not a sea fairy, but you’ve always wanted to live in your own sea shell. Now you can, as the rooms of Shell Basket House are just that. The arms of this house are flung out in celebration, imitating the upright attitude of the nearby calla lily. When the sun hits it just right the entire place has the feeling of an offering. Offering and celebration, not a bad way to see life, eh?

 

 Listing Four: Vine Gazebo (Kelly)

This delightfully crafted tall gazebo in our hottest neighborhood, between the elephant ear and the pink camellia, is a real stand out. Lounge in a romantic mood, as sun and shade drift by. The epitome of high flying garden elegance and airy sculptural form!

 

Listing Five: Yellow Cup House (Shanáy)

Just next door to Vine Gazebo is this gorgeous, evocative home for a big fairy family of sensitive taste. It recalls the essence of sea and forest, some of nature’s most holy places. At the same time, a variety of color, form and texture keeps the place from feeling too reverent. This is a place to make memories.

 

Listing Six: Feather Cup House (Susan)

This charming domicile is all about soft textures and luxury. For the sustainability conscious fairy, the feathers catch the morning dew and dry out nicely by mid-day. On the other side of the pink camellia from Yellow Cup House, it is a favorite with the local cat, a large half Maine Coon tabby named Yuri. The ideal resident is a cat whisperer and certainly should not be allergic. Fairies, if you would like a furry feline friend, look no further.

 

Listing Seven: Bark House (Louis)

Looking for your fairy dream palace? Near the ginger stalks and fern stands this stunning home made of bark and twine. Elegant and refined, it still looks completely natural on the wild side of the garden. Beautifully appointed and inviting, it’s already attracted attention from the creatures in the garden. CONTRACT PENDING

( Can you find our newest resident and happy customer? Bark House is Lizard approved.)

 

The process of making these Faerie houses was so much fun. We learned and were influenced by each other, and yet each piece has a completely different character and structure. As adults we don’t have enough creative playtime in our lives. Can’t wait to do it again sometime!

Building Faerie Houses, Part One: Synkroniciti “In the Garden”

Last Saturday, April 9th, synkroniciti hosted In the Garden. This time we moved away from prepared pieces to build Faerie Houses.

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We drifted together slowly. Anticipating that it might be a light night for poetry and art, I asked folks to bring along small natural items, the kind of things you might find beside the pathway while on a walk, the kind of things laying discarded in the yard. Some of us went out of our way, asking the neighbors for rogue bits of plant material and digging beads and feathers out of our closets.

We began inside, sharing a few stories of gardens and plants that were special to us. There was a grandmother’s bird of paradise plants, which didn’t bloom until she died, and native Texas bamboo and Japanese persimmons that failed to thrive after a grandfather’s death. There were gardenias planted at the four sides of a childhood home and a mother’s bed of violets in a country garden. Recalling these memories was, at least for me, calming and refreshing. Then we stepped outside into the cool late afternoon/early evening to construct our offerings for the toads, fairies  and small creatures of my newly planted garden.

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We brought out a card table and chairs and piled the table high with treasures: bits of bark, pine cones, spent bougainvillea blossoms, beads, shells, a feather boa, acorn cups, fuzzy pieces and leaves from a magnolia tree, Spanish moss, stones… these were just a few things we had collected and now shared freely. There were clay pots, scissors and twine to make things go together more easily. We didn’t have any glue, and I am thankful for this, because there is something very special about twining and stringing things together, like fitting together a puzzle. We didn’t necessarily know where we were going with our ideas when we started, but soon we produced our creations, rich in color and variety and surprisingly different in structure. It was a luscious, playful, Zen-like experience.

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As it grew dark, we each placed our offering into the garden. As the structures arrived in place, small communities formed. It was magical. All week I have been taking care of them, setting them back up after strong winds and covering them when the rain looked to be fierce. They won’t last forever, but they are precious in their own time. Yuri the cat loves Susan’s feathered pot and a lizard has moved into Louie’s bark house.

Part two of this post consists of galleries of our work, which I have taken the liberty to write up in the form of house listings. Thanks to Neil, André, Shanáy, Kelly, Susan and Louis. Each of you is an original and I am so moved by what you made! Can’t wait to do this again next year… or maybe even in the fall. The wee creatures will be wanting new digs.

Maybe you can come?

Love,

Kat

Quote for Today: Anaïs Nin

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It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications.

Image © Vladimer Shioshvili with CCLicense

Psychedelic Ecosystem: The Elephant’s Garden

Come take an artistic walk on the wild side where the sublime meets the brutal. Refreshingly honest, beautiful and whimsical!

The life of any ecosystem depends on the death and sacrifice of some individuals within that system, and this fantastic garden is certainly no exception. There are a few beasts here big enough, such as the amusing Pneumatic Behemoth who squeezes eggs from its nether region, to rest peacefully and quietly at the top of the food chain. If you wait a few seconds, someone will be eaten- the Behemoth itself has vulnerable young– or a fight will break out. Even the roses like to scuffle.

The Elephant’s Garden is a short film by animator Felix Colgrave with music by Anthony Calhoun, aka Red.M. You can take a listen to Red.M’s wonderful full score for the project, including music that was not used, here. Colgrave crafts a stunning world, full of marvelous, strange beings that often move in ways we don’t expect. This movement not only makes delightful sense, it is deftly choreographed to Red.M’s funky, rhythmic electronic score, which enhances the sensual beauty and dark wit of Colgrave’s work. There are many influences here, put together in a way that is uniquely Colgrave: Indian and and southeast Asian meet Peter Max, Terry Gilliam meets Miyazaki. It’s a colorful world.

A glance at Colgrave’s website will reveal a delightful and biting wit, cunning mind and a willingness to help and encourage others. You can check out his glorious video for Fever the Ghost’s song Source and the whimsically sadistic animated short Man Spaghetti, which is vaguely reminiscent of Ren and Stimpy. Colgrave produces clever animation that looks backwards while pushing the envelope relentlessly forward.

The Elephant’s Garden was a project Colgrave created at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia’s largest University and a global leader in technology and design. It was the winner of Best Australian Film at Melbourne International Animation Festival 2014. We cannot wait to see more from this talented young animator!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote for Today: Wendell Berry

And I knew that the Spirit that had gone forth to shape the world and make it live was still alive in it. I just had no doubt. I could see that I lived in the created world, and it was still being created. I would be part of it forever. There was no escape. The Spirit that made it was in it, shaping it and reshaping it, sometimes lying at rest, sometimes standing up and shaking itself, like a muddy horse, and letting the pieces fly.
Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow

Quote for Today: Charlotte Eriksson

Red Kayak, Red Sunset © Ken Bosma with CCLicense

Red Kayak, Red Sunset
© Ken Bosma with CCLicense

This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to.
This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,
and this is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
Infinite.
For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and means
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
through you.