Monday, December 29, 2008

Bow Street Gallery in Cambridge

Back to Cambridge we go! The weather warmed up for me to take a lengthy stroll one afternoon, and I explored areas outside the square I hadn't discovered before. I stumbled on a lovely little contemporary art gallery called the Bow Street Gallery. It's in the kind of space that I dream of owning for a gallery one day - funky old building, flooded with tons of natural light from tall windows, and high ceilings. It also happens to show the kind of art that I love - contemporary work by artists I've never heard of before (although I'm sure they're better known in the region - my knowledge is pretty limited to Southern California).

The gallery was in mid-installation when i visited, so I didn't get a good gander at the works, but I love the photo on their site of the current installation, Lumos by Stacy Parks (who is perhaps the owner of the gallery?). I could just move into that beautiful room! One day I'll have my own little funky space to fill with the art that I love!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nasher in Dallas and ICA in Boston

Falling behind again, so here's a double entry. We did our holiday travels early, first to Dallas to visit my family then to Cambridge to visit Eric's. We had the great fortune of hitting two stellar art museums on our journeys.

In Dallas, our friends Anne and Ashley escorted us to the Nasher Sculpture Center. I first tried to visit the Nasher when it opened five years ago, but the line was so incredibly long I went to my ol' stomping grounds, the Dallas Museum of Art, instead. Anyway, this time was a success, and I'm now embarassed that it took me so long. I won't go into the history of the Nasher, you can read that here, but I do remember when Ray Nasher announced that, rather than giving his amazing collection of modern sculpture to one of the dozens of institutions worldwide that courted him for years, he would build a site dedicated to showcasing it in Dallas. What a coup for Dallas!

Back in college when I was an intern at the DMA, I would have LOVED to be able to stroll next door to the Nasher - it is so tranquil, and the sculpture is really, really stunning. Picassos and Modiglianis, Moores and Miros. I was in Modern Art Heaven. I'm always happy when I can see a Calder sculpture (above, framing Eric in the background), and although Anne is not quite as pregnant as Picasso's muse here, I'm certain she's just as inspiring!

The following weekend, Eric's brother Jack, his wife Linda and their son Nick took us to the Institute for Contemporary Art, another relatively new building that is a true gem for Boston. Located right on the Charles River, the ICA is, like the Nasher, basked in natural light and clean, simple lines. The current exhibition of works by Tara Donovan is amazing. Donovan uses common, everyday objects to create sculpture and installations that are amazingly organic looking. The ceiling installation above is made from styrofoam cups! Her other creations with plastic straws, windshield glass, paper plates and other humdrum items are equally stunning.

This shot is Jack, Linda and Nick in the ICA's Poss Family Mediatheque, a digital media center in a vertically stepped-out space suspended from the underside of the building's cantilever. You can barely see the snow drifting down on the water outside. What a week of art! Thank you to our tour guides!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Virtual Rembrandt in SoCal

Thank you to the LA Times for highlighting a really terrific resource for us Rembrandt junkies - a virtual exhibition of works by Rembrandt in the collections of Southern California museums. You might be surprised to know that outside NY and DC, Southern California has the largest number of Rembrandts in the US.

So this virtual exhibition of 14 Rembrandts from the vaults of the Getty, Hammer, LACMA, Norton Simon, and the Timken (in San Diego) is really exciting! The site offers an online exhibition guide, a printable exhibition guide, and an audio tour by Getty Curator Scott Schaefer.

Reading about this made me think of when we visited Amsterdam and went to Rembrandt's house! It's so amazing to me that, almost 400 years later, you can view where the master slept, painted, ate, fought (and now, you can have a wedding there!?). I'm excited to now check out the web site of the Rembrandt House Museum! I don't think I've ever looked at it before now. It has some amazing virtual tours, so you can check out this historic space on your own. Again, kudos to the internet for making these cultural treasures available to people around the world!r

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Save Pharmaka

I've written here before about one of my favorite LA galleries, Pharmaka (click here to read my last Pharmaka entry). Not only does Pharmaka show some challenging and quality contemporary art, it is actually a non-profit institution with a mission very different from the typical commercial gallery: to "actively pursue an intellectual and verbal dialogue with painting and its place in history and today's society."

One of Pharmaka's founders, Shane Guffogg, has been very helpful to me in the past, helping me find terrific artwork for an art auction (at which we purchased this gorgeous piece - his work is amazing).

And now, this terrible economy has struck Pharmaka. Their funding has been cut by 70%, and they are in need of all our support. The good news is - it's a relatively small institution, and even a few thousand dollars will make a big difference. I know, we're all pinching pennies, but I bet you have a spare ten bucks to help keep a quality arts organization around, especially now that you're done donating to Democratic causes (for now)! Click here to help. Thank you!

Monday, November 17, 2008

"The Green Season" by Donna Hilbert

Our dear friend Donna Hilbert is an amazing poet - her work is insightful yet mirthful, defiant yet vulnerable. She has published a new collection of her work, The Green Season, which also some short fiction.

It's fun to hear Donna read her poetry. Her reading voice sounds like a ten-year-old Donna, mischievous and innocent.

Click here for information about this and all of Donna's books.
This is one of my favorite poems from The Green Season, a touching and hilarious take on the crazy things we do for love. I can hear her little voice....


Sorting laundry
I come across
my black sweater
still thick after two days
with the smell of you.
Though the morning
is much too hot
I put it on.
At Trader Joe’s
I talk on my cell phone
telling every juicy bit
to my best friend
while I buy your
favorite Chardonnay
and shape of pasta.
I stop at Barnes & Noble
and a buy a book
that you might like to read
while I cook for you.
We watch American Idol
because you want to
and I pretend
to care who wins.
I do this happily.
I am a girl again.
All that I once knew
of love and men has shed
like an old skin.
I operate on instinct now
my lizard brain in charge.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blue Texas

For posterity I had to post this image of a Blue Texas on election night, when returns first started trickling in. I know one day it will be a deep sapphire blue! Thanks to DogFoodSugar for this.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Free Obama sticker

Leave it to to come up with a clever and cheap way to commemorative this week's amazing Obama victory - free stickers! These commemorative stickers mark Barack Obama's historic victory and were designed by groundbreaking artist Shepard Fairey—the same artist who designed the world-famous, iconic "Hope" poster for Obama.

You can get one sticker for free, or five stickers for a $3 donation, or 50 for $20. What a deal!! Click here to get yours.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


They're so beautiful, I can't stand it! I could eat those little girls up with a spoon. I must say, I didn't give this country enough credit. I truly didn't think a country that voted for Dubya twice would elect a black man with a funny name who's half Kenyan. I've never been so happy to be so wrong! I am sending every positive vibe in my body to Barack - I hope dearly that this is the beginning of real change that we have needed for so long. Thank you to Barack and Michelle for the sacrifices they're making to make this country a better place!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jack Long on Tiny Showcase

I just had to share our most recent Tiny Showcase acquisition, a lovely little fantasyland by Jack Long, entitled "The Two Intertwined." $250 of the sale of this print benefited Center for The Working Poor. I think this one sold out in record time - 100 prints in under 25 minutes. Gina and I both secured one, lucky ducks that we are!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Terry Andrews

Back to Austin we go...we visited our friends Greg and Angie one day, and their living room walls were covered in the most gorgeous paintings. Rich and delicate, with lustrous insects in luminescent colors. I was floored when I learned they were by Angie's father! I didn't know her dad was an artist, must less such an accomplished one.

Turns out he lives in Houston as is the Preparator at the MFA. He's also represented at McMurtrey Gallery there. It was funny to discover that he's shown at Froelick Gallery in Portland - Eric and I met Charles Froelick (the gallery's owner) years ago on our honeymoon in Palm Springs, and visited him on a trip to Portland. The world continues to get smaller....

Although the images on the gallery's web site are more figurative than those at Angie's house, they're just as lovely and hypnotic, like this oil and graphite on panel piece shown above, titled "Broken" from 2007. I love discovering new work just when it's least expected!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Debbie Cook VS Asteroids

I can't help it, I must give some of the blog over to politics in these last few weeks of the campaign. I've been really involved in the campaign to elect Debbie Cook in my Congressional district. Not only is she my dream candidate, our incumbent is pretty much my worst nightmare. To wit:

Friday, October 10, 2008

More thoughts on Ike from Kate

I know I'm a little dated with this post-Hurricane Ike coverage, but you can read some really great first-hand account from my Houston friend Kate. She has such an eye for a photo and a story. This lovely shot is of some blue tape they tore off their windows (okay, they taped the windows for Hurricane Rita and are just now tearing it off, but it's still Hurricane-related!). Check out her awesome blog at

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Coastal Dreams B&B: Hurricane Ike Survivor

Last Thanksgiving, we spent a couple of nights with my mom at a really fabulous B&B in Galveston called Coastal Dreams (click here to read my entry about it). During Hurricane Ike, I was so worried about that beautiful old house and its gracious hostess, Lana Lander, and her trusty sidekick Mz. Pokey, but hoped that since it survived the big 1900 hurricane, it survived Ike, as well.

Good news - the house is still standing, thanks to its location at 20 feet above sea level. But for a time Lana suddenly had oceanfront property, and is still struggling to help her devastated community repair itself (coverage of this has been completely drowned out by the election and economic meltdown, but the Galveston area has indeed been completely devastated). Lana's accounting of the storm and aftermath are so poignant and harrowing (they waited out the storm in the house!), I had to share her Sept. 28th email (cut down just a bit):

"Hello All,
I am sorry for the delay in responding to everyone's emails; electricity just came back on a couple days ago and things are still real hectic around here. My mother, my sister's three dogs, Mz. Pokie and I all stayed here at Coastal Dreams for Hurricane Ike. As crazy as the decision may have been, we all had flashbacks of the 2005 Rita evacuation (the dogs included) and decided to take our chances with this one. For the Rita evacuation, there were 2 million people evacuating the Houston area in 100+ degree heat and it took us 32 hours to make it to Waco (about 200 miles away). There also was not a lot of warning with Ike; it was only two days prior to the storm that the projected path was for Galveston.

This was a Category 2 storm in terms of wind (110 MPH), but a Cat 4 storm surge. I went outside during the eye of the storm (which lasted about two hours - really weird!) and the water was one step from my porch (my house is about 20 feet above sea level). My street is about four feet above the seawall (which is 17 feet high), and the house is three feet above that. This area of the island does not even require flood insurance, although I do have it, thank goodness. It was such a surreal scene, having oceanfront property. It was also very scary. I gathered up my Mom (snoring), the dogs (also all snoring) and we moved everything upstairs. I was sure that the second half of the storm would bring more water. The winds seemed to be much worse in the second half, but the water receded and never reached the first floor.

The adventure began the next day when there was no electricity, no gas, no water, no sewer, and a typical hot humid Gulf Coast day. We had plenty of food to grill (I ate better the first week than I have in a year!). Everything you do takes so much more thought, and three steps more than it would if you had all those amenities. Having four dogs around took a lot of work also, making sure they didn't fall in the pool (nasty, nasty!), or start chewing on things that had washed up into the yard. FEMA was here within 48 hours, handing out water, food, and ice. We also had the Salvation Army and Red Cross giving out hot meals.

We drove around the day after the storm with our mouths hanging open. Houses, trees, power lines, boats, cemeteries, fishing piers, streets.....just torn up and ripped apart. There was a boat at 43rd and Broadway, which is a good 2 miles from any marina. Driving down the Seawall, the debris from the Balinese Room, the souvenir shop, and Hooters took up all five lanes and was spread from 25th to the Hotel Galvez and probably 12 feet high. It was so strange to look down there and see nothing. Nothing is on the beach side of the Seawall anymore. The 61st street pier is gone, the big one across from the miniature golf place is all torn up and barely standing. Driving down Broadway, there were downed live oaks every block. Tombstones are knocked down or floated away. We have beautiful cemeteries here and it was heartbreaking to see this.

More heartbreaking of course, are the homes. I've watched things like this on TV many many times and of course, felt sympathy for what they were going through. But this is so... overwhelmingly heart wrenching. Personal belongings piled as high as their house, making trip after trip to the curb with soaking wet clothes and furniture and anything that was within 3-5 feet of the floor. Mold set in at my sister's house (which received 3 feet of water) within 5 days, and that was with carpet ripped out as soon as we could get over there. A lot of these people weren't allowed back on the island for 12 days after the storm.

Galveston is a wonderful city, with beautiful people, and we need our tourists to come back. Please don't think there will be nothing here for you to visit for. They didn't give up after the 1900 Storm and we won't give up either. This is just another page for the history books and something to talk about over the breakfast table at Coastal Dreams!

God Bless You,
Lana Lander"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

First Thursdays on SoCo

When I lived in Austin my world kind of orbited around South Congress, home of funky shops and cheap Tex Mex! While the area is certainly more snazzy now (I remember when the San Jose was overrun with prostitutes, and now it's the hippest boutique hotel in the region), it's still totally eclectic. Wandering around South Congress, doing nothing in particular, guarantees some excellent people-watching and, most likely, some excellent music-listening.

And now on First Thursdays it's even crazier down there, with musicians, artists, food vendors and other local denizens filling the sidewalks. It's like a six-block-long party. This video isn't the best representation, but at least I know when I need a quick fix of a Austin on a balmy night, with a lit-up live oak, rambling music and a piece of pizza from Home Slice in my immediate future, I can return to this scene from this month's First Thursday.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Flip Happy and Sweet Leaf in Austin

One of the things I love most about Austin is how locally-owned businesses seem to thrive. Our old friend Andrea opened Flip Happy Crepes, a creperie in an airstream trailer - you read that right - and now that are overflowing with business! I hear they even made it to the Food Network.

We went to their new location (how easy is it to move your business when you're locate in an Airstream?) on a recent Friday lunch hour, and they were totally slammed. It's definitely not for the in-a-rush diner, but if you have a little time and want an amazing, homemade crepe under a beautiful canopy of trees, this is your place. I had a crepe stuffed with chicken, taragon mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes, and it was so fabulous.

Here is Andrea. She makes all of the savory crepes with her own little hands (there are a few sweet crepes, but the menu is mostly full of savories). I caught her with her eyes closed, so thank you Piki Pimp for helping me with the blingy shades!

Crepes under a tree canopy - ain't life grand? I love all the random card tables and chairs.

Here's me, modeling another Austin business, Sweet Leaf Tea, which is very proud of its organic family recipe (real cane sugar, no hi fructose corn syrup), and their tea is so yummy.

Can I vote for Austin for President?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Austin City Limits

I think it's safe to say that I'm officially too old and crotchety to attend big music festivals, particularly ones that are really packed, on a really really hot day, in a really really really dusty field. I still love the Austin City Limits Music Festival, but unless someone gifts me a VIP pass, I doubt I'll attend again! Look at us, all happy to be there, and unaware of the dust-stormy pressure cooker that awaits us.

At any rate, the five hours that I spent there (yes, five hours and I was done!), was fun, although between fighting the crowds and texting my friends, the only band I was able to tune into was Erykah Badu, who never disappoints. But I can share highlights....

Our friend Eric from NYC discovers the thrill of riding a giant Jackalope, which runs wild throughout Austin and the Texas Hill Country. He's an honorary Austinite now for doing this. Yee Haw!

Those poor souls, clinging to the "Mister Station" like their lives depended on it (probably did). These "Mister Stations" and the water taps to refill your reusable water bottles were some very smart additions to the festival. Now if they could make some shade-providing old growth trees magically appear...

Pouring water into your hat was a brilliant idea (wearing water-soaked bandanna around your face was another).

More to come on the Austin trip...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Art for Obama, Thursday, Sept. 23

Art for Obama
Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 6 - 9pm
Bert Green Fine Art and LA Center for Digital Art.

Nice blend of visual art and presidential politics here. In Downtown LA, these two art galleries at 5th and Main Streets are doing some clever fundraising for Barack Obama. For one night they will host a $20 per person fundraiser, with 10% of all art sales going to the Obama campaign. This is in association with Art for Obama, a national series of fund raising events founded by Bruce McBarnette to benefit the Obama campaign.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Last Train" by Bas Waijers

My friend Bas Waijers (pronounced "Boss Wires") is a really incredible artist and designer. He speaks fondly of his love of Disney characters as a child in Holland, and now creates his own, fantastic characters. He a freelancer and always looking for awesome clients!

He recently sent me this new, gorgeously spooky illustration. In his words, this is the description of this piece:
"The other day I was thinking about war and global warming, and I got the ominous feeling that we're all heading into the wrong direction. It inspired me to make this piece 'Last Train.' Luckily, it seems that a lot of people are waking up to this problem, I hope we can turn this around!"

He and his wife live in NYC and are expecting a baby, making this work even more poignant.

Click here to view Bas's blog.
Click here to check out his awesome characters.

Monday, September 15, 2008

BCAM & Lazarof at LACMA

Gina and I played hooky on Friday and kicked around LACMA for a couple of hours. Actually, we were mostly at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (which has a spectacular elevator, check it out!), which is kinda sorta part of LACMA but not totally. It's complicated. BCAM is full of contemporary masterpieces, but I'd say my faves are Robert Rauschenberg's. I so love his "combines." It's always a treat to see Jeff Koons's monumental, mirthful works, like Balloon Dog (Blue) and Cracked Egg (Red), shown at left. You can view a pretty nifty slide show of each floor of works at BCAM, just click here.

But being a Modern Art junkie, I really LOVE the new Janice and Henri Lazarof Collection, an incredible treasure trove of modern masterpieces that the Lazarofs donated to LACMA late last year. How lucky we are to have this collection in a public space!! With dozens of works by Brancusi, Degas, Giacometti, Kandinsky (like this one at left), Klee, Picasso, Pissarro, this fractional and promised gift of 130 is truly a gift to the public. Hats off to the Lazarovs for the generosity.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Massive Art Heist in LA

Wow, this would be impressive if weren't really heartbreaking. An art thief walked right into the unlocked door of an elderly couple's home - while the couple was in another room and the maid had stepped out for a moment - and stole more than a dozen works of art valued at many millions of dollars. Click here to read the whole story in the LA Times.

The stolen artworks include Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Séance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman with Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (Blue Bottle), 1947, authorities said.

What's really interesting to me is the unusual nature of the collection, worth millions of dollars but including several lesser-known artists instead of the usual mid/early 20th Century art superstars. The couple, who has not been named, clearly had really refined and particular tastes. I do hope that if/when these works are recovered, the couple will commit to eventually leave them in the safe hands of a museum so they can be enjoyed by the public. One can only hope that while the works are missing they will be well cared for - the thief must be some sort of art lover, right?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Paul Paiement at Peter Blake Gallery

Boy, politics sure can be distracting for the art lover. It has been far too long since I've stepped foot in a museum or gallery - but I did walk a precinct for the first time yesterday, espousing the fabulous-ness that is our Congressional candidate, Debbie Cook!

But I digress. This blog is supposed to be my escape from maddening things such as politics. So, if I were to have gone to an art-related event in the last few days, it would have been to an opening at Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach, to see the beautiful works by Paul Paiement. I love Paul's work so much - Eric and I were lucky enough to have acquired one of his watercolor's last year at the UAM auction that I coordinated. He continues to fuse nature and technology in his "hybrid" series, as you can see in this piece CALCOLEPIDUS SATELLITERADIUS. Click here to read more about the hybrids and check out the cool catalog of hybrid pieces.

Only 60 more days until I can have my art life back...

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Grandpa Ray Marshall

My paternal grandfather Ray Marshall was an incredibly calm, sweet man. In all my memories of him, he's calmly doing something for me - spreading icing on a toaster pastry for me, fixing my bike tire - always with utter mellow-ness, and always, always with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. I actually liked the smoky smell that always permeated him - the only person whom I can say that about!

Grandpa was a total salt-of-the-earth guy, grew up on a Kansas farm and knew how to work hard. He went on to work for decades at Braniff Airlines, and Braniff was the total center of the universe for him and Grandma. At 95, Grandma still talks about all the gardening clubs and card games that were formed with her fellow Braniff brides. Working for an airline allowed Grandma and Grandpa to travel more than the average couple during the 1950s and '60s. I loved hearing their stories about South America, Hawaii and beyond.

This photo from 1951 shows Ray with some Braniff colleagues...that must be an important document! Even though this was taken 20 years before I was born, this is exactly how I remember Grandpa - wearing a shirt and tie, totally patient and unflappable, and probably plotting his next smoke. He's been gone for almost 20 years now, but I can still smell his sweet smoky-ness.

Thanks to the internet, Braniff is able to honor its former employees. Click here to read the bio that my Grandma Vada wrote about Grandpa.

It's a great place to check out the airline's history too - this is one of the airplanes painted in a design by Alexander Calder. Groovy!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Todd Brainard, take me away!

Well, Todd Brainard's painting, that is. I'm so frustrated by so many things right now - my small-thinking city trying to close the Main Library, my inept congressman working his good-ol-boys machine against his incredibly worthy opponent, and another 116 days with this buffoon of a president - but I can always count on artwork to take my mind to a happy place. I haven't seen this painting in person yet, but even the digital version is so gorgeous I can't take my eyes off of it. The painter is none other than Long Beach denizen Todd Brainard, whose work has always reminded me of a 21st Century Edward Hopper. The incredible detail, acidic colors and mysterious viewpoints are truly hypnotic. Thank you, Todd, for reminding me of the beauty in the world!

This painting is part of a group show right now at Gallery 33 in Long Beach.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My mother the daredevil

My mom has always been open to trying out new things, but she's not exactly a daredevil. But she's always up for a challenge, and when my cousin Jason announced he was putting together a family sky-diving trip, my pint-sized mother signed up!

So off to Iowa she went, and strapped her 95-pound body onto a burly tandem jumper. Surely he thought she was the easiest tandem jump ever, she's so little! Here she is landing; look at her little legs! She said it was the most thrilling sensation ever. The family group included my 19-year-old cousin and my 76-year-old great aunt! Jason was the only fella in the group, so apparently it's the ladies of the family who got the risk-taking genes. I hope to make it to next year's jump - I'm convinced the vast expanse of Iowa's cornfields are the perfect spot to float above.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Steven Kwon in the LA Times - and Afghanistan

Apparently Eric and I are of a dying breed of people who actually read the newspaper with our morning coffee. I guess I got the habit from my parents - the newspaper has been a part of my morning routine since I was a teenager, and I still cherish that part of my day. Since I went on to get a degree in Journalism I truly appreciate the work that goes into pulling off the task of a daily paper, and the Los Angeles Times, despite all its struggles, still impresses me.

So, even though print newspapers are fighting for their lives, I still glean valuable information from them every day. A couple days ago the LA Times ran a great story by William Lobdell about Steven Kwon, a Pasadena man who has single-handedly introduced introduced soy bean crops into Afghanistan. It's a great story, and Kwon is clearly a courageous and brilliant man. In 2005 Kwon's non-profit organization Nutrition and Education International, provided 2 tons of soy seeds to Afghan farmers, and in the last two years 4,400 farmers in 15 provinces planted 80 tons of seed, resulting in a harvest of 2,000 tons. Kwon's group provides the seeds, fertilizer and training - and it also guarantees to buy the harvest.

Not only does this simple plan provide farmers with an alternative to growing poppy, it addresses the wrenching malnutrition problem in this poor and war-ravaged country. I'm so thankful for people like Kwon, who sees a problem and tries to solve it, and to publications like the LA Times, which continues to provide readers with nuanced coverage of the pressing matters of our time.

William Lobdell, who wrote this piece, is part of the recent wave of layoffs at the Times. Such a loss. I hope the continues to be published there as a freelancer. It has made me seek out his web site: He's a very interesting guy who has reported extensively on religion in the U.S., transforming from an evangelical Christian to an atheist.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Amtrak from San Jose to Berkeley

I recently took a quick trip to Northern California, spent a night with friends in San Jose then took Amtrak to visit family in Berkeley. The train ride was only about 1.5 hours long, but it was such a great mini adventure. It's amazing how much the landscape changes in such a short trip. Here are a few little videos from the ride, in progression heading north. From beautiful landscapes to rusty railyards, it felt more like a cross-country trip! All this for only $14! I have no idea if this is of interest, but I know I love the sounds and view from a train, so for you train voyeurs...

San Jose to Berkeley 2

San Jose to Berkeley 3

San Jose to Berkeley 4

San Jose to Berkeley 5

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Help Save Self Help Graphics & Art

I first heard of Self Help Graphics & Art more than ten years ago, when I was an arts writer in Austin. Artists and gallery owners frequently referred to the stellar work being done at the LA-based Self Help Graphics; it was widely known as a hotbed for contemporary artmaking, particularly by emerging Chicano and Hispanic artists.

In the eight years since I've lived in the LA area, the reputation of Self Help is even more reverential, continually providing an outlet for new and emerging artists, who use the center's facilities to create stellar contemporary prints.

To make it more interesting, SHG was founded by Franciscan nun Sister Karen Boccalero more than 35 years ago. Sister Karen is gone, but the building is still owned by the local Archdiocese. Alas, it appears that the massive property sell-off by the Catholic Church, to pay off their enormous legal bills of late, has put SHG on the chopping block. The Archdiocese shocked the art community last week by announcing they were selling the building to a local developer without telling SHG.

The Archdiocese' actions are completely outrageous, as it is unthinkable that the Board, community leaders and members were not given fair notification or the the chance to place a bid for the building. Given SHG's years of service to the community and carrying on the legacy of beloved founder Sister Karen, it is only just that whatever agreement has already been signed off-on, be revisited and renegotiated with all invested parties having a place at the table.

For more information on this situation, and to see how you can help, click here. Please help!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sage Brush Retreat in Palm Springs

June seems to be slipping by at an extra-fast clip, and I've yet to post! I must give a shout out to this vacation rental in Palm Springs, CA. It's a fabulous 3B/3BR house with a really spectacular pool - and look at that view of those glorious desert mountains.

Our friends purchased and remodeled this house last year and are ready to rent it out! I stayed there with five girlfriends (our annual Palm Springs outing!) and had such a great time, grilling, cocktailing and girling it up. The hosts have thought of everything - from the iPod hookup to the wide variety of suntan lotions to the fully stocked kitchen. With all the gay marriages going on in California - particularly Palm Springs - this house should be booked non-stop right now!

For more info, visit

Friday, May 23, 2008

Diary of Anne Frank by Long Beach Opera

As I've written before, I love the Long Beach Opera. Their unique productions really resonate with me - not typically an opera lover. I'm so proud we have this creative little company in our city.

Their next production is "The Diary of Anne Frank," and it's being presented in, of all venues - parking garages! Having visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, I think the garage is a brilliant metaphor for the dank surroundings that Anne and her family lived in for so long. And apparently the acoustics are quite stunning.

The opera is offering discounted tickets: 10% off single tix (code AFEB1) and 20% off groups of ten or more (code group20). In addition to the June 8 performance in Long Beach, there are two shows in LA at the Sinai Temple in West LA. Please help spread the word! Tickets available at

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ah, Austin....

I'll preface this by saying that I used to live in Austin and often fantasize about moving back there. I sing its praises so often that my best friends are sick of hearing about it and the Austin CVB should be sending me a paycheck. So if this entry is overly-effusive, forgive me. I left my heart in Austin (fortunately I took my husband with me).

My mother also loves Austin, so we planned this little journey and thought we'd stay at her favorite hotel, the iconic Austin Motel. Alas they were booked, so a quick search led me to the Park Lane Guest House, and it's now one of my all-time favorite B&Bs! Tucked away under some meandering oak trees in my old neighborhood Travis Heights, this lovely little getaway is an absolutely perfect place to stay if you want some true hippiefied Austin flavor, with Tibetan prayer flags strewn across the yard and an overall blissful zen vibe, and it's walking distance to everything I love to do. We stayed in the Garden Cottage, which has a separate bedroom and a full little kitchen. But if I return I'll opt for the uber-cool Carriage House, which is like a grown up version of a tree house and was recently built and installed by a neat little outfit called Tiny Texas Houses. They build customized little cottages and sheds out of reused, found material. It was so lovely!

For two days we basically shopped and ate our way up and down South Congress, including the obligatory stops at Guero's (see mom and me with mariachis!) and Jo's Coffee. Since we were staying in such a great little home, we were able to invite my Austin amigos over for poolside wine, which we bought at a great little grocer called Farm to Market.

A shout out here to my friend Marla, who's the publisher of a must-have magazine for you foodies out there (whether or not you live in Austin). It's called Edible Austin, and it's a terrific resource for learning about seasonal and sustainable foods. Check it out! There also might be a version that caters to your area (Edible Portland, Edible East Bay, etc.).

I did discover some new additions to Austin. The restaurant Mars (pictured here), which for years lived over near UT, is now located on South Congress and has a really fantastic patio, again shaded by those amazing old oak trees. They have a terrific happy hour and the setting and people-watching can't be beat. That was where we celebrated my anti-birthday (you grow younger in Austin), then set off for a downtown bar I'd never heard of called Lambert's. It's actually a restaurant serving fancy-fied comfort food, but all I can attest to is their quality martinis, and their choice in artwork and music. A band called Pink Nasty played that night, and I just loved them! They reminded us a bit of Cowboy Junkies, but they really made me think of Madder Rose. Thoughtful, melodic, rockin', and a slightly twangy female vocalist. I bought two CD's!

On the walls of Lambert's were gorgeous paintings by a local artist named Gerardo Arellano. This one, System Trap, is from 2006. His work was so vibrant and full of energy, it even captivated me in the dark bar.

In was the quintessential Austin evening - yummy inexpensive food on a shady balcony, followed by stumbling on a terrific band and local artist. Austin, you don't make it easy on me, do you!?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dallas and Austin, my old stomping grounds

Again I'm relying on memory in writing this entry...if any of you daily bloggers have recommendations on how to actually write on a daily basis, please share! I keep letting time pass but I obsess on spreading the word about these great places and things, so I guess it's better late than never.

My grandmother's 95th birthday took me to Dallas last month (she's doing pretty well, thanks for asking!), so I was delighted to be able to see my ol' peeps and visit some new spots, including Fireside Pies, which had terrific pizza and is clearly a hot spot. It's in my old hood near I-75 and Henderson. Back when I lived there many moons ago it was not exactly the hippest neighborhood (okay, we regularly heard gunshots) but now it's like total Hipsterville. Too funny. My cousin Diane and I made our way to Turtle Creek one day and explored a bit of the Katy Trail , a 3.5-mile pedestrian and bicycle path, traces the greenbelt along which the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT or "Katy") Railroad. Oh how I would have loved that little trail back in the day!

After a few days in Big D my mom and I hit the road for Austin but made some delightful stops along the way, including darling little Waxahachie. I don't even want to know the price on the amazingly huge and gorgeous Victorian homes lining those old streets, it'll make me want to pack up and become a Waxahachie housewife. The old town square is so cute! We stopped for a milkshake at Trinity Pharmacy, which was built in 1913, smells like your grandmother's attic, is lined with dusty apothecary bottles and offers Campbell's Soup on the menu! Look how cute mom is at the soda fountain!

We made our way down the back roads to Forreston in search of one of my all-time favorite shops, Bon Ton. It's been almost ten years since I found my way to that dusty old place, and we did at last find it, but alas it's closed on Tuesdays! But for all you vintage-loving shoppers, put this on your to-do list one day. It's am amazing huge old place and the owners are delightful and always have fantastic old jazz music playing. And oh my I just realized they have online shopping now! That's very dangerous.

Next up - Austin yee haw!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beatriz Milhazes in my dreams

In a recent home design magazine (I can't remember which one, I was under the throes of my hair dresser), I saw a home with several paintings by this artist, Beatriz Milhazes. I said to my hair dresser "Look over there it's a bright shiny object!" and when she glanced away I ripped out all the pages with Milhazes' work. And I think I've been dreaming about them ever since. The colors and energy...well, if you've ever read my blog before you know that super-energized work paintings of vibrant bursts of acidic colors are right up my alley!

Wouldn't you know it, she's not a starving student selling her work on the cheap. A quick Googleing showed me that she's clearly an established an accomplished artist and is represented at James Cohan Gallery in NYC. Beatriz, if you ever happen to read this and really want to make a fan's dream come true - call me!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

48 hours in Denver

Two days is definitely not long enough to explore a major city, but we did our best. We hunkered down in Downtown Denver and explored by foot, trying to get the flavor of the mile-high city.

We stayed at the Curtis Hotel, a cool modern place where the motto is "Stay Happy!" We kind of missed the intimacy (and the breakfast!) of the Boulder B&B, and it was kind of party central (in a loud, drunk voices in the hallway sort of way), but it was cool and walking distance to all points downtown. They also have a lovely martini happy hour every day.

On a very cold morning, we set off to find breakfast, heading in the general direction of the Denver Art Museum. It was a Sunday and downtown was really dead. And it was really cold. We circled the Museum and just as we were about to give up and walk back toward the hotel, we saw a breakfast beacon called Dozens. It smelled of crispy bacon and dark roasted coffee. It also had a long line. They told us we could wait for a table across the street (more on that below). When we finally did have breakfast it was so worth the wait - I believe I had some sort of eggs benedict dish and a small pot of French press coffee. Bliss!

The place where waited for our table is Pint's Pub, an awesome smelly old English pub that claims to have the largest collection of single-malt scotches outside of Scotland. Easy to believe from seeing the selection. It was a great place to wait on a cold Sunday morning, with terrific bloody marys and steaming coffee. The restaurant called when our table was ready - and we actually put them off to hang out at the bar longer. We even returned later in the day for some microbrew and potato chips. Good stuff.

Nice microbrews and a lovely old dartboard can be found at Breckenridge Brewery.

Out on the town
There has been much to-do about the new Libeskind-designed Denver Art Museum. I can't say I think its unusual architecture provides the best way to view art - with odd angles going to and fro - but from the exterior it's certainly a beacon. And the Museum's exhibitions and collection were small but impressive; of course we went straight to the modern and contemporary galleries, where a stunning Anish Kapoor piece greeted us. The Museum also offers unique and clever ways to engage visitors; just walking down a hall from one gallery to the next is fun, with opportunities to sketch or write poems about your experience. They also have a pretty terrific web site, with lots of interactivity.

You can find all more than you thought you'd ever know about the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" at the Molly Brown House Museum, the grand old home where Molly raised her kids before becoming a jet-setting feminist (or, rather, ship-setting?). And then there is the lovely Colorado state capitol, with a top painted in 24k gold (it's true - this is mining country, and the gold rush is legendary!).