Category Archives: Art

A look at local, regional, and global art – and of course, the art I create too!

Whidbey Island Getaway

We’re lucky in Seattle. It is a city surrounded by natural beauty. Mountains, lakes, forests, the Puget Sound, and islands.

I recently took a much-needed break and escaped the city with some friends. We took a ferry to Whidbey Island, just a few miles away.


We stayed in a rented cottage on Cultus Bay. So idyllic! We saw amazing birds and had deer grazing outside our window.


The town of Langley has a educational whale museum and cute shops and pubs. Definitely worth a stop.

A fun and unexpected highlight of the trip was visiting the recycling depot. Yes, that’s right. It was a stop on our way home, and we had to drop off our recycling anyway. The depot was also a wonderful, artsy, collection of junk. It would look horrible in my yard but was so interesting at the recycling depot.








We had lunch at a state park before taking the ferry home. A tired bee crash-landed on our picnic table so we revitalized him with some maple syrup. It worked!


If you’re ever in the area, be sure (no pun intended) to visit Whidbey Island!

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Filed under Art, Travel

Women Artists at the SAM

Last year the Seattle Art Museum had an exhibit of women artists. People like Frieda Kahlo and Tamara de Lempicka. Of course photos weren’t allowed in the travelling exhibit. Fortunately SAM also curated a collection of women artists’ work from their permanent collection–and I took photos of those.

I wait for the day when artists are artists, regardless of gender and we don’t need a special event just to give women the opportunity to have their art seen. However, male artists still seem to dominate galleries and I was grateful for the chance to see so many talented women’s creations who would otherwise be in the shadow of their male peers.

Suzy Frelinghuysen

Suzy Frelinghuysen

Maude Irving Kerns

Maude Irving Kerns

Maude Irving Kerns

Another Maude Irving Kerns

Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner

Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell

Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler

Ghada Amer

Ghada Amer

Charmiond von Wiegand

Charmiond von Wiegand

Alice Trumbull Mason

Alice Trumbull Mason

Abie Loy Kamerre

Abie Loy Kamerre

To say that these artists are similar to Rothko, Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, Gris, or others doesn’t serve these women. They are all amazing artists in their own right, regardless of their male counterparts.

Some, like Abie Loy Kamerra and Ghada Amer are working today. Others, like Suzy Frelinghuysen and Joan Mitchell, painted in the mid- to latter part of the 20th Century. They hail from France, America, Egypt, Australia and beyond. If some of these jump out at you, I encourage you to look up the artists online and learn more about them. There’s a treasure trove of great artists to discover!

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Filed under Art, Events, Feminism

Studio Museum in Harlem

One of the first things I did when I went to NYC last summer was head to West 125th Street to the Studio Museum in Harlem.

The museum is a contemporary art gallery focusing on African-American works. It offers an artist-in-residence program too, so it not only reflects and showcases art in the community (and for the community) but it gives artists a space to practice their craft.

In addition to an impressive permanent collection, there is a constant rotation of exhibits. Here’s what I saw.

Robert Pruitt’s exhibit Women featured a collection of large-scale conté-on-butcher-paper drawings of women. There are pop culture and political themes in the work, which feature models of women in Pruitt’s life. They’re embellished with gold leaf.

wall of Robert Pruitt's drawings

Robert Pruitt framed drawings

Robert Pruitt woman

Robert Pruitt drawing

I saw a high school photography exhibit featuring wonderful snippets of student life, from family and home scenarios to perspectives on high fashion. Here are just a couple of the 30 or so images from the collection.

I enjoyed Jennifer Packer’s work, which was varied in theme but related in its textures and painterly-ness.

Eric by Jennifer Packer

Jennifer Packer

Cullen Washington Jr.’s Untitled (Mondrian #6) echoes the geometric aspects of Piet Mondrian, only Washington’s are created entirely with found materials.

Jennifer Packer

Another geometric piece was nearby, this one by Steffani Jemison.

steffani jemison

Shooting without a flash indoors is limiting, but I did capture a few other pieces, including these from the Body Language exhibit.

The Studio Museum is a gem and I highly recommend visiting if you’re ever uptown.

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Visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass

I recently visited Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibition, garden and theater showcasing the life’s work of Dale Chihuly.

chihuly glass and space needle

The exhibit is new to the Seattle Center. It’s a permanent collection housed in a new building under the Space Needle–and it’s worth a visit. I was impressed with the size of the collection and with the variety of styles.

When I see a chandelier like these (Beneroya Hall has a couple, and there’s one in the foyer of Lincoln Center in Bellevue), I recognize it immediately as a Chihuly. I was lucky to see many of these pieces at the exhibit, and I got to see a film about how they’re made.

The neutral vessels in one room were delicate and subdued compared to what I imagine a Chihuly to be. They fit in perfectly with woven baskets.

The glass garden was a sight to behold. Chihuly’s work is organic and imperfect. These pictures can’t show the scale. The glass balls were about three feet high!

This breath-taking display was also larger than life. In the film about Chihuly, I saw him and his staff throwing similar floats into the water. Amazing! Floats were originally made to keep fishing nets afloat, so I know they must be durable. Still, it seemed so reckless. Great fun though. The beautiful floats in the film were sent downstream for an art installation on a small island and under a bridge.

boat and floats

Chihuly’s work fits into the natural environment and that’s probably why the glass garden was so mesmerizing. It was hard to separate the artificial from the living. In summer, this garden will be stunning!

I got to walk around Chihuly’s work, and even under it. The glasswork in the ceiling cast colorful shadows. I saw a similar installation in Tacoma, where a glass bridge welcomes visitors to the Museum of Glass.

Similar vessels were on display in a room where I got up close and could appreciate the variations in the glass colors and patterns.

I’ve taken a couple of glass-blowing classes and I have a true appreciation for the art and craft of glass art. It’s an amazing combination of creativity, physical labor and chemistry.

Jean at the museum

Have you been to a glass museum? I highly recommend Chihuly Garden and Glass if you’re ever in Seattle.

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1950s Lucite Purses

One of the nice things about travelling with my parents is that we meet lots of people. I tend to “mind my own business” when I go out; for my parents, everyone’s a friend they haven’t met yet. Even in the Big Apple, they proved amazing people are around every corner. We met cabbies, waiters, artisans, shop keepers, designers, restaurateurs and celebrities.

So it was no surprise that while I popped into a pet supply store in SoHo, my parents were making friends with a shop keeper across the street. We were treated to a history lesson and tour of mid-century American style. Deco Jewels is an antique specialty shop dedicated primarily to vintage Lucite handbags. This tiny store boasts the world’s largest collection. The owner even wrote a book about it!

purse from the book

Carry Me

Lucite, sometimes called acrylic glass, is a modern-era material. It was first used for windshields and submarine turrets in WWII. Designers started working with it because unlike other types of plastic, it doesn’t yellow over time. You might have seen iconic clear Lucite tables and chairs. Lucite can be tinted too and is a great vegan alternative to tortoiseshell and mother of pearl.

lucite bags

Many were embellished with glitter and metal clasps.

gilttery purses

These two were made to look like caramel squares.

caramel purses

Holding a Lucite bag made me want to change into a fitted blazer, pencil skirt, and kitten heels.

Jean and purse

mom and purse

black lucite purse

The boxy nature of the handbags made adding secret compartments an option. This one came with its own lipstick and powder!

purse with makeup compartment

From Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy, high-profile, fashion-minded women in the 50s carried Lucite purses. By the mid-60s, fashions started to change. A proper, ladylike look was replaced with a relaxed, boho vibe. Despite not being a common purse today, people still collect Lucite bags. They’re museum-worthy, but they’d make a great fashion statement.

lucite on the shelves

The handbags range from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand. In addition to Lucite, Deco Jewels carries vintage earrings, necklaces, cufflinks and other American goodies from the mid-20th century.

more lucite

The store is small, but not cluttered. And despite its size, you’ll find yourself enthralled for a long time.

rows of lucite

If you’re ever in New York, pop by Deco Jewels at 131 Thomson Street (btwn Houston & Prince).

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Interview with Jacquie Bird of SilkWire Jewelry

On my very first day in New York, I serendipitously met Jacquie Bird, the owner/creator of SilkWire Jewelry. Jacquie is a radiant woman who will draw you in with her smile. I brought my parents over to the booth she was running at a flea market in Harlem, just around the corner from where we were staying.

Jean, Jacquie and Carmen

I bought a ring from Jacquie that day (it’s been on this blog once already) and wanted to learn more about her and her business. She accepted my request for an interview, and here it is:

How did you get started as a jewelry designer?

It actually flowed out of an idea I had for hair accessories for locs. Didn’t have the energy or push to see it through at the time so I ditched that idea but had all this inventory. What to do with it? In a few days an idea was fully realized in my head, I just had to figure out how to do it, what was my voice? I had always worked with my hands from childhood and have worked jewelry in periods throughout my life but along the way in looking for my next passion, (I had a career as a dancer-singer-actress who worked on Broadway and the stage with a few trysts on TV and film in my first life) I was taken aback when I found it was creating JewelryArt.

ring

What are the biggest challenges of working in such a creative field?

There are ten baZILLION jewelry creator/designers out there—how do I get folks to pay attention to what I do, to hear what I have to say through my JewelryArt? When your stuff is a bit off kilter, it is a huge challenge to hold your ground in the field; when your prices are a bit higher because you are firm in what it is you do and offer, staying true to self comes into question a LOT. There is a spiritual aspect to what I create, it isn’t just about jewelry. Gemstones, Crystals and Copper have power and amazing properties, I write about this in A Bird Blogs About Gems using my own experiences and that of others, along with research. Some folks get it, some do not—they just wanna rock the jewelry and that’s ok too. But I know what I’m about and why I do it.

And the biggest challenge? To be patient and to keep the faith that I will find my audience and they will find me. When I can laugh about this part of the journey I think, “well Bird, you danced, sang, and acted for a living, getting discovered as a Jewelry Artist should be a piece of cake just chill, keep on pushin’ and keep your chin up!”

earrings

All your pieces are one-of-a-kind, but is there a certain style or stone that’s popular with your customers?

People dig the rings and the stones they are familiar with like Amethyst, clear Quartz, Moonstone, Rose Quartz and some not quite so familiar stones like Chalcopyrite (because of the rainbow colors and shine), Rhodochrosite, and Pink Tourmaline. Oh, almost forgot Amazonite which is what you have. The Stone of Harmony 🙂

I do value harmony! Can you tell me a bit about the jemstones you use and how they affect wearers?

Some who are aware notice the subtleties; I had one woman tell me she noticed the Moonstone ring she had amplified her moods. One of the properties is that it can amplify moods both positive and negative. But the negative comes out with the intention to show you where you can change it and not act recklessly when you are not your best self. She realized this and when she was feeling crusty and ready to lash out, she would check herself.

A man told me he noticed he was more hyper when he didn’t wear his Rose Quartz and Lepidolite Neckpiece. Now this was someone who was not at all interested when I tried to tell him about the properties of the stones so I stopped in mid-sentence. After about a month of owning the piece he told me his discovery that the stones calmed him down. Lepidolite has Lithium in it and both stones have calming and soothing properties.

necklace

When I visited your booth I had a hard time deciding on a ring. You told me to go with the one that first caught my eye. I did and it was a good decision. Do you make decisions based on what initially attracts you to something?

Tee hee I LOVE to hear that! And yes, I do ultimately remind myself to go with my first instinct whenever I find myself in the deluge of “what to buy, which one oh my oh my OH MY????!!!!!” When I don’t do that, I always end up asking, “now why didn’t you listen, you know better??!!” Lolol!

What do you have planned next? Anything you’d like to share with readers?

I am planning to get my jewelry on someone like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, India Aire, Esperanza Spaulding, Drew Barrymore, et. al.  And also on TV shows and film—the gemstones would really sing on a show like American Horror Story, Coven. So if there’s anybody out there that can help me do that, contact me please! 🙂

In all seriousness, one of my missions is to let folks know there are many natural ways to healing, peace, energy and balance; that working with gemstones, crystals and copper are gifts of Mother Nature that have power and can assist us greatly. They are made up of the same things we are and they took millions of years to cook. We place value on the foods we eat but lump these beauties into “oh they’re just rocks! Oh it’s just copper and it tarnishes!”

My copper JewelryArt is easily cleaned by dropping it in lemon juice or vinegar. And our body needs copper, which it doesn’t produce therefore we must get it from our diets and wearing it also helps. And “rocks” are energy which vibrate on frequencies. Just like everything else in our Universe. It’s ALL energy and vibes.

Thank you, Jacquie!

You can learn more Jacquie’s work in several places:

Jacquie Bird

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Filed under Art, Crafts, Fashion

Art, Albums and Vintage Clothing

A couple of weeks ago–I can’t believe it’s been that long–I had two invitations for the same evening: One for an art show and the other for a store opening. Never one to miss out, I went to both. First hubby and I went to eat at an Indian restaurant in Issaquah, a quaint town just east of Seattle. I dressed for dinner, the art show, and the grand opening. orange and caramel

Fox Sweater: Old Navy
Skirt: Forever 21
Boots: MIA
Cuff: Rogue City Killers
Bag: Snap Designs

After dinner, we headed over to ArtEAST, an art gallery that also offers art classes. I’ve taken a couple of classes there and really had fun! On this occasion I saw a whole new batch of paintings, sculptures, and photos.

I enjoyed a lot of the works, along with a glass of wine, and then we had to leave.

The next stop was Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood, where Beats and Bohos was having a party. My friend and fellow blogger Citizen Rosebud sells vintage apparel on consignment from this shop and it was great to see her. Our mutual friend, stylist and blogger Catie Beatty was also there and we chatted and sipped on bevvies while we perused the displays.

art at Beats and Bohos

Last stop of the evening was a nightcap at a well-known Seattle institution: Carmelita’s. This vegetarian restaurant is closing because its owners are retiring. I’m going to miss it so I said good-bye with a glass of sangria.

I’ve linked up with Lena B Actually, Rachel the Hat, and The Life of the Party. Have a look at what everyone else is wearing!

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Spending the Morning in Morningside Park

During my trip to NYC, my parents and I had the chance to visit a famous landmark: The restaurant from Seinfeld.

Tom's restaurant

Of course the show used only the exterior shot; the inside scenes were shot in a Hollywood studio. Still, it was fun to stand in such a famous place, and the location of so many funny scenes from my favorite show.

We popped in to Tom’s (or Monk’s as it was called on the show) for a New York bagel, and walked through the Columbia University campus and watch new students moving in.

walikng outfit

olive and black

Top: Charlotte Russe
Skirt: Target
Shoes: Target
Purse: Flea market in Harlem
Sunglasses: Shop in Santa Fe
Necklace: Herbivore Clothing

 I also walked through Morningside park, a long, treed strip of land that runs between Morningside Heights and Harlem. From the top of the park you can see a great view of Harlem.

morningside park

My stroll took a serious turn when I happened upon the cathedral St. John the Divine. I don’t normally stop in cathedrals but this one was having a photo exhibit called Hidden Lives: The Untold Stories of Urban Refugees. I read about people who endured terrible hardships, such as war, violence, natural disasters and how they moved to safer places. I learned that across the globe, over 40 million people are displaced and that half of them are living in urban centers. The exhibit challenged my perception of what it means to be a refugee. It’s not just “someone else” in “another place.” They are our neighbors too, and often we walk by without knowing their stories.

The exhibit is over but you can read the featured stories online.

St. John the Divine

I’ve joined The Pleated Poppy, Transatlantic Blonde and Style Elixir today for a blog link-up. See what everyone else is writing about!

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Two of a Kind: Matching Pink Tops

When I was a kid, my mom would dress me in outfits that matched hers. I was her Mini Me. Well, I’ve since developed my own sense of style and prefer a unique look, but we do still like some of the same things. So when my aunt sent us a care package all the way from Germany, you can imagine my mom’s delight when she saw two matching tops.

matching pink tops

Tops: Clockhouse via gifted
Bottoms: Thrifted
Shoes: Target and Old Navy
Cuffs: Wrecords by Monkey

My mom brought the tops to New York and we had an impromptu photo shoot. Thanks to my Tante Marion for the pretty tops! She always manages to find things that I really like!

I paired my top with dark denim Bermuda shorts. They were perfect for my trip and went with the flats and wedges I’d packed.

Jean, seated

Jean, standing

My mom wore her top with lighter denim capris. We both have on metallic ballet flats. Hers are pewter; mine are gold.

mom seated

Mom, standing

We even have coordinating cuffs. When we were at the Brooklyn flea market, we met a local designer who was selling bracelets made from upcycled records. My mom’s has a peach-colored NYC skyline on hers. I went a little grittier and chose one with pigeons, rats, coffee cups and trash bags. I like to keep it real!

record cuff

After the shoot, I changed into a different outfit. Don’t get me wrong–I love the top, with its Grecian styling. I just don’t want to match anyone else! We went to Harlem Tavern and treated our photographer (aka my dad) to a delicious peach hefewiesen and sweet potato fries.

harlem_tavern_collage

Do you prefer a unique look or do you sometimes coordinate with a sister, spouse or friend?

I’ve joined Style Elixir for a group link-up. See what everyone else is wearing!

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Building Castles in the Sand

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Savannah was going to the north beach on nearby Tybee Island and checking out a sand sculpture competition.

SCAD hive

The competition was part of the Sand Arts Festival and participants were all student from SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design. SCAD is a big part of the Savannah landscape, with buildings, shops and art peppered through the city. Savannah is a beautiful place and the college enriches it even further, adding another layer of culture.

sand bee

It’s was really hard to pick my top sculptures. I took a lot of photos, and a few things stood out. This life-sized merman takes the cake! I wasn’t the only one who thought so. It took first place in the sand sculpture category.

merman

I have a feeling that mermaids have a higher standard to live up to and, just like us people, the mermen can get away with being a little soft. At least he’s buoyant!

PBR on the belly

Using the natural environment and creating a realistic sand mold was a good move. I liked this guy. He was so big that if he were real, he’d have been able to pull me right in!

mole

What a croc! No really, he was quite something. It’s easy to forget that those sharp teeth are made of sand. It’s such a tricky medium, but the sculptors executed their designs flawlessly.

croc

Speaking of dangerous critters, look at the teeth on this one! I think it’s an angler fish.

toothy fish

This sand chicken is sitting on her nest of sticks and twigs found on the beach. Her beak, comb/wattle, and feathers are color-coordinated shells from the beach. Love the mixed media in this sculpture!

sand chicken

The students had only a few hours to complete their masterpieces before professors and SCAD staff judged the entries. I was amazed by this dino/seamonster/dragon.

dino

Speaking of dinosaurs, look what this group unearthed. At least it looks like an excavated dinosaur skeleton. It’s really just a fantastic example of relief work. That’s probably why it got first place in the sand relief category.

dino fossil

I liked this one. He looks so sad though.

sad guy

I really enjoyed the competition. These pictures are all that remains though. My nightfall, the tide and winds probably took them all away. So fleeting.

castle

The beach was a beautiful place. I liked how close to the water, the sand gave way to broken shells.

shells on th ebeach

The pretty birds running along the beach reminded me why it’s good to get away. It’s easy to forget everyday worries when you’re at the ocean.

sea birds

Have you ever been to a sand castle competition?

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