Inspiration at the Pasadena Art Center

Above: My third completed art piece under the direction of Clara Berta!

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I always said to myself that I would go back to school once I found myself perched in one spot again. A quick little visit to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena stirred those sentiments. I was tagging along with Clara to pick up a few supplies. While there we gushed at the student art on display. I managed to snap a few shots with my camera phone before being instructed that photography wasn’t allowed… oops!

Mindscraps: D’Cache to the Artwalk at the Miracle Mile

It appears the Flamenco restaurant will be my home away from home. Friday night I organized a girls night out and took them all to D’Cache for sangria, chocolate souffle and live Flamenco! This time I tried various tapas: empanadas, pinchos de carne, mushroom pizette and fried yucca… exquisite!

The restaurant was a hit with the other six women who joined and we all end up showing off our sultry Flamenco moves along with another all female birthday group.

I’ve decided I need to work there. The romantic ambiance of the candlelit restaurant, the savory food, the sweet sangria and the live Flamenco music infect me with an utter sensation of feeling alive with magic! I’ll be calling the restaurant tomorrow… informing them they have a new waitress… in lesser words. 😉

After dinner, I felt like I had stepped back into Central America as we hit a latino club for some reggaeton! The night was a blast and the women were fabulous… we can’t wait to do it all again!!

Saturday was all about expression. Art class with Clara Berta and her two other students was a spirit-lifting success… smashing glass, white-washing a painted canvas to begin anew and adding the final touches to a third. All three pieces I’m currently working on look promising… promising enough for me at least! I’ll post when they’re complete.

I met with Clara again in the afternoon after she clued me into the autumn artwalk at the Miracle Mile. We discovered a great new gallery Art Space Ware House, which opened just three weeks ago. Some photo on canvas modified with texture and paint has inspired me to experiment with modifying my own photos soon!

In one of the galleries I picked up an informative magazine about The Julia Dean Photo Workshops. Apparently the artist is going to begin offering workshops in Guatemala. I just about died. I’m going to contact her in the mere hope that somehow I can convince her she needs me to help with something… anything!! I’ve certainly got plenty of photos and connections in Guatemala!

The highlight of our Miracle Mile exploration though would have to be Colleen French and her Renegade Dinner Club. Owner of two restaurants in Portland, OR, Colleen lives in LA after falling for an Cali dude. Consequently, no longer cooks in her own restaurants, but still relishes in her passion for cooking by offering to cook for anyone willing to buy the food. She and friends had just recently traveled out to have a gourmet dinner in the desert. They trucked in a beautiful hand carved table made from shipping pallets, strung together sheets and fabric for a colorful, make-shift canopy and dined in the desert! I LOVE the concept. Colleen even has her truck set-up to be a rustic, portable kitchen, complete with two propane-fueled burners. We spotted her outside the gallery that featured the set up from the dinner in the desert an old record-player accompanied her slow cooked pulled-pork and chicken… all served from the back of her truck. Both were a savory surprise!

Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance

Lately, I feel as if I’m caught up in a never-ending game of pin the tail on the donkey…

The nearly non-existent trickle of income is my blindfold. Short on funds, the hunt for a decent wage is a constant distraction from my true goals. I can’t seem to see past the “no cash” dilemma. So I focus on trying to make ends meet, instead of focusing on what my heart calls me to do. And that’s the irony. The more I allow myself to stray away from my true heart’s desires… the less success I find. The more I give away my time, energy and talents to outside aims, the more I find them used, abused and under-valued. I’m so eager to help. But in my eagerness, I’m learning, that “take advantage” seems to be the law of the land. I must be more wary of where I decide to invest. Lately, it feels as if my “investments” have only been sucking me dry.

It is the mysterious adventure of life that is constantly spinning me, whirling me, sending me in somersaults. I LOVE it. I LOVE the commotion. I LOVE the thrill. I LOVE her, life. But, at times, when I come up for air, I end up dizzy and confused. I know what’s written upon my heart… but which way was it that I needed to go? Which way is forward and which way is backward again? What step is the right step toward achieving my goals?

The hope? Despite the blindfold and the dizzy dance, the donkey – representative of the longings of my heart – is still there, whether I see her or not. Grasping at capital can momentarily obscure my vision. Life and her wondrous, thrilling adventure can disorient me. Yet, nothing can rob me of what lies upon my heart.

So, with the naivety of a child, I still believe and I will still try… to pin that tail on the donkey!

A quiet moment with myself: Let the dizziness clear. Realize the blindfold is a blessing in disguise. Use not the eyes of illusion to make out the way, but the inner eye of faith, wisdom and intuition.
Continue reading “Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance”

Flamenco: Kristelle Monterrosa

Saturday night was a night of dancing, madness and magic. Kristelle and I connected on the web through Couchsurfing.com. Both new to LA, it was Kristelle who reached out and contacted me first. Saturday night I invited her to join my boyfriend, some of his friends and I for dinner. Kristelle crackled with a vibrant, magnetic energy from the moment she first slid into our car. This woman is full of life and spirit… an absolute breathe of fresh air. She is here in LA to further her acting career after studying and acting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At dinner, the pure-heartedly passionate and compassionate Kristelle managed to move me to tears…

After dinner Kristelle suggested we hit a hot, new Spanish tapas restaurant for dessert and sangria. What a treat we were in for!! Live, flamenco music greeted us at the door and Kristelle and I quickly hit the dance floor to get our flamenco on! The sangria, with a splash of cinnamon and nutmeg proved to be a burst of succulence in a cup. And the chocolate souffle she recommended? Rich and divine!

As the night progressed, we found ourselves left with an intimate group of 16 after hours in the restaurant. One of the other 16 turned out to be the lead singer for the Gipsy Kings and he, along with the other musicians, delighted the rest of us a to an impromptu, private concert. All I can say is WOW!! This was definitely one of my most magical nights since my arrival in LA.

Kristelle is planning on offering flamenco classes here in LA. I will definitely be among her first students!

Below you can see a video of her dance flamenco:

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A play she helped develope is also currently hitting the stage in Buenos Aires: Medea Tango

Mixed Media Art: Clara Berta

I found Clara Berta and her art classes thanks to a ‘Google alert’ for “Los Angeles.”

Curing With Los Angeles Painting Lessons | Comparing Fashion

By Clara Berta

Los Angeles Painting Lessons may cure you. Those who are weighed down by negative thoughts but cannot convey them in thoughts and words might be able to come across curing in art therapies…

When we create something, we give it our complete undivided attention. We immerse ourselves within the process. The music or the paint or the wood and the cake flour or the patch of fertile ground in the back garden lifts us over the difficulties we have and takes us away from ourselves, despite the fact that what we may be producing is incredibly internal. Producing art offers us something to look forward to and will take us outside of ourselves. It offers us hope…

Clara Berta is a globally renowned combined new media artist who focuses on painting lessons los angeles, classes and everything else. Interior designers simply adore this modern art and she is also most desirable for her popular collage painting in Los Angeles. For anyone who loves art, she surely does not let down!

Further delving into art has long been an objective of mine so I eagerly contacted Clara. She invited me to a free introductory class, where I discovered how much I LOVE to throw paint and whatever else onto a canvas. Perhaps I’m not making anything worth anything but I don’t care… just the creative process… the journey of turning a blank canvass into well, something, if not art… is utterly liberating!

I’m so grateful for Clara’s mentoring and her willingness to share her creative expertise with me along with her creative workspace in her own home. Clara is a most welcoming woman who takes joy in sharing her passion with others.

I will definitely see her again next week!

Trail Yoga by Deborah Bezanis

My friend Deborah, whom I met at the 2010 Copper Canyon Ultra-marathon in Urique, Mexico has just recently published a brief commentary that answers a common question about running…

Congrats Deborah!

Trail Yoga
One runner’s answer to the age-old question: what are you running from?

By Deborah Bezanis

One of the last things a runner wants to be asked is, “What are you running from?” Only someone who presumes the role of teacher or psychotherapist asks such a question.

A little more than two years ago, a senior teacher at a Zen center—a woman who claimed to know what running was about because she’d done it herself—asked me this very question. This is not unlike saying you know why a fellow sails, having once toured a ship. Or what it is like to write a novel, having once written a letter.

I am not a “fitness jogger.” I trail run. Therefore, to give trail running a frame of seriousness among dharma teachers and psychotherapists, I?ve decided to call it Trail Yoga.

Back to the question posed by the Zen teacher, consider running’s dualistic nature. As if one can only be running to or from, and that there is a what in the first place. The question reveals a hierarchical view of human activity and one that confines us to dualistic choices from the outset.

The nature of running depends on the intentions and practice of the runner.

What is Trail Yoga?

It is a combination of awareness of breath, body, terrain, air, sound, scent, objects and a focus on footing. It is attention to these environmental aspects that move in circular currents. When I begin to think through a matter, my running slows until I finish the thought or let it go. Then I resume running, watching my footing, breathing fluidly, noticing body tension and alignment, balancing of strength with fluidity, feeling the movement and temperature of the air, noticing scents, opening my ears to sounds and appreciating all I see.

My attention moves gently among these, with little effort to coordinate or structure a sequence. It may bloom into gratitude for beauty, feelings of strength or joy, or it may be a day for carrying concern or sadness to the path. Thoughts pass, but the environment of my mind is an organic relationship of body, environment and being.

Like when someone strokes his dog or caresses a lover, running is a physical expression of love for the earth beneath my feet and all my surroundings.

See this article online in the Trail Runner e-newsletter by clicking here.

Visit Fresh Seed for Song for more original writings from Deborah.

World Map of Pollution

Wired has just published a world map of pollution, provided by NASA. Yikes!

Oh, and if your wondering why Africa and the Middle East has so much pollution… that would thanks to the Western World and China. We comprise the biggest consumers of oil, gold, diamonds and chocolate… all of which are largely mined/harvested from the region.

The map, as you can see above, shows a wide band of very high concentrations of particulate matter across the Sahara, Middle East, Central Asia and China, only interrupted by the Himalayas. Central Europe also shows a spike, including the south-east corner of England, and urban areas in North and South America stand out too.

The World Health Organisation’s recommended level is 10 micrograms per cubic metre, so anything on the map that’s green or above is cause for concern. Once in the lungs, the particles can cause asthma, cardiovascular diseases and bronchitis. Some very fine particles can even get into the bloodstream.

Read the entire blog entry by clicking here.

Mindscraps: Mourning for the Maya

Hector Tobar of the L.A. Times just published For Maya, A Paradise Lost. After reading the article, I’m left with a strong desire to help do something for these immigrants. Having lived 8 months in Guatemala, the country and its Mayan people hold a most special place in my heart. I’m not sure what I can do yet, but I’m posting this article as a reminder to myself to come up with something. There are no words to describe the love I have for Guatemala – so magical, so beautiful. It pains me to know that relatives of those who have welcomed me so warmly in their native land are suffering so much in my native land.

The article just briefly describes the country’s beauty:

He spent the first 27 years of his life in the town of San Pedro de la Laguna, which sits alongside the cool waters of Lake Atitlán, in a vast highland valley surrounded by three volcanoes. Patches of corn cover the hillsides like a quilt. For American and European backpackers, it’s a vision of paradise on Earth.

See for yourself. A couple of hundreds of pictures I have from that stunning country:

Police Assault Families in Honduras on Indepedence Day

I just received the following testimony from my friend Carlos, who lives in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Terribly disturbing and stomach-churning. Of course, I have yet to see ANYTHING about this in the U.S. news:

We, Montuca Sound System, respect every ideology, political view, religion, sexual preference, gender, and race, but we strongly condemn acts of violence such as those which occurred today, September 15th, at Central Park in San Pedro Sula. This violence occurred against an event of artistic expression in which citizens and artists were physically assaulted by members of the national police without warning or reason.

Carlos Roman, percussionist in Montuca Sound System, was attacked by three members of the national police, receiving injuries to his back, left hand, right shoulder and skull, the latter was sutured with five stitches.

Carlos, like many fellow Hondurans, had gathered downtown with family and friends enjoying the Independence Day Parade, and was awaiting the start of a Café Guancaso concert. He was conversing with the band members who were preparing for their concert, but he immediately fled the scene when the national police arrived and the first tear gas bombs were thrown at the stage. While running from the scene, he came across a woman who was weeping inconsolably because she had been separated from her 7 year old daughter during the commotion. Upon hearing this, Carlos immediately returned to the scene in search of the lost girl and it was at this point that three members of the national police intercepted him and beat him with clubs without asking a single question.

After the beating, one police officer finally asked, “What are you doing here, and why are you wearing that shirt?” To which he replied, “It’s Bob Marley,” thereupon receiving the final blow.

The park was almost vacant when Carlos came to. However, there were still members of the police lingering around the stage area where the staff of Eurosound, the company who was providing the sound equipment for the event, were working to protect their equipment. These workers were not downtown to watch the parade with family and friends or to be part of any demonstration, they were simply there to work. The police officers began to beat these workers as well, throwing speakers from the stage, and then finally bringing in a water truck to soak the remaining equipment, therefore destroying it completely.

We feel ashamed that the national police would use violence where people were peacefully gathered celebrating their country and perform such violent acts. They arrived with their wands and tear gas, leaving several injured (including children) and one dead – an elderly man who was selling lottery tickets on the sidewalk was poisoned by the gas.

The message that we, Montuca Sound System, want to send is that we do not belong to any political organization, but as Hondurans we want to make a call for tolerance, peace, and unity of the Honduran people who have already suffered greatly. Everyone is entitled to think and express opinions freely. No one can steal that right from anyone!

We want to know…

Who takes responsibility for this?

See a Spanish post and photos of the assault by clicking here.