20 August 2008

New Music & Bike Rack Design

David Byrne in Times Square with an idea both artistic and practical. James Estrin/The New York Times

David Byrne is an installation artist, author, blogger, recording executive, photographer, film director and PowerPoint enthusiast. He’s even been known to dabble in music. But in certain New York neighborhoods he may be most visible as a bicycle rider, a lanky figure pedaling around the Lower East Side.

In recent years his interest in bicycles has expanded from riding them to thinking seriously about the role they play in urban life, as he has started making connections with politicians and international design consultants keen to keep cars from taking over the city. So when the Department of Transportation asked him to help judge a design competition for the city’s new bike racks, he eagerly agreed — so eagerly, in fact, that he sent in his own designs as well. On Friday nine racks made from his own whimsical designs were installed around the city. “They immediately responded, saying, ‘If you can get these made, we’ll put them through,’ “ he recalled. “I was kind of shocked.”

His Manhattan gallery, Pace/MacGill, along with PaceWildenstein, agreed to have the racks fabricated in exchange for the chance to sell them, down the line, as works of art. But for the 364 days that the racks will be out on the streets, Mr. Byrne doesn’t want them to be admired as artwork, he said; he wants them to be lashed with heavy chains, banged with Kryptonites and scratched by gears. He wants them to be used.

To avoid confusion, he kept the same square metal tubing used in the familiar U- or M-shaped racks — which Janette Sadik-Khan, the city transportation commissioner, unlovingly compares to “handcuffs chained to the street.”

The results? In addition to “The Jersey,” “The Wall Street” (the dollar sign) and “The Hipster” (the guitar): “The Chelsea”, a man; “The MoMA,” a modern abstraction; “The Coffee Cup,” by the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights; “The Villager,” a dog, for Greenwich Village; and “The Ladies’ Mile,” a single high-heeled shoe, cooling its heel outside Bergdorf Goodman.

This all comes at a strange moment for New York cyclists, when they are being depicted as both the scourge and the promise of the city. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg seems to have transferred his bets to cycling as the next best way to reduce automobile traffic. Green bike lanes are appearing all around the city. Serious people are discussing a bike-sharing program. And the Department of Transportation is making way for thousands of new bike racks around the city.

Mr. Byrne’s will be the most visible, a fact that may position him as the symbol of the civic virtues of cycling. He’s even writing a nonfiction book called “Cycling Diaries,” scheduled to appear in 2009. But soft-spoken, curious and culturally omnivorous, he’s never quite been the celebrity spokes-model type. Besides, he said, “I don’t think people are going to switch over to bikes because it’s good for them or because it’s politically correct. They’re going to do it because it gets them from A to B faster.” He has a similarly plain-spoken explanation for his own riding. “It’s a little faster than walking,” he said. “It feels good if the weather’s O.K., and if you see something that interests you, you just stop.” Every day he rides his folding Montague hybrid bike (with bell and basket) from his home in Midtown, down the Hudson River bike path to SoHo, where despite working in a very bike-friendly office — his own — he locks up on the street below.

He calls riding “a pleasure and a convenience,” but it seems to be more than that: an essential part of the way he lives in and interacts with the city. His blog, at journal.davidbyrne.com, is full of observations he has made while tooling around on two wheels. Mr. Byrne isn’t anticipating a revolution, but he does sense a shift in the wind. Riding a bicycle, “used to be completely uncool,” he said. “Now it’s cool in different ways: for some people it’s cool if you have an old junker. For other people it’s cool if you have a racing bike.

David Byrne and Brian Eno have released their first collaboration in 30 years, an eleven song album called Everything That Will Happen Will Happen Today.

Eno is quoted at The Celebrity Cafe: "I was surprised by how little attention Americans paid to their own great indigenous musical invention: gospel. It was even slightly uncool - as though the endorsement of the music entailed endorsing all the religious framework associated with it. To me gospel was a music of surrender, and the surrendering rather than the worshipping was the part that interested me."

As one might expect from innovators of this level, the album is being released in a very 2008 fashion, with help from TopSpin, a company that allows premiere artists to release stuff online.
Eno had been working these tracks for eight years until he decided that he needed "a professional" to do the vocals. When he ran into Byrne a few years ago, he played him the tracks and Byrne agreed to add vocals and a bit of music.
"For the most part, Brian did the music and I wrote some tunes, words and sang," says Byrne on the album's website. "It's familiar but completely new as well. We're pretty excited."

11 August 2008

I am the Bubble, Make me the Sea

I am in Encinitas California, once known as "The Flower Capital"

It is an incredibly beautiful coastal town, the Hwy 101 in Leucadia is an exquisite grand lane lined with 3 story Eucalyptus Trees.

I was fortunate to catch 11am Sunday service and meditation at the Self Realization Fellowship Temple. We sang and meditated before listening to a mesmerizing talk. A vibrant group of international devotees present as a contingent from the Annual Convocation held in Los Angeles. The website ananda.org has lyrics and audio if you are interested for further listening.

Yogananda was a 20th century guru on the west coast for many years. His teachings draw from the wisdom of a number of saints and sages of all religions including Jesus Christ. There is a lovely hermitage garden and pond on the cliff's edge in Encinitas.

Bob Naninnga is running for one of the seats on the Encinitas City Council this yea. As a Leucadia resident, native Californian and successful business owner, Bob is an active member of the Encinitas community. Experienced in City Government and civic activities. Bob is concerned with preserving the quality of life shared in the Encinitas region. Register to vote and give your support at Bob's Campaign Website!

10 August 2008

Soon to be published in Ashland Magazine

The incredible lightness of Joy


Lance K. Pugh

I was circling the Plaza some time ago in Ashland’s version of circle the wagons when my eye caught a vibrant peacock pattern of gold, emerald and black, backlit by the sun. The female wearing this silken number slipped into a shop while I kept searching for a parking spot. I wanted to ask the dark-haired woman draped in the striking diaphanous scarf about the long material she had wrapped around her, but in a flash of light, she was gone.

I kept the silken peacock lady in mind, but did not see her again until 2006, while attending the opening reception for Raku master Randy Warren. She appeared, draped in yet another striking scarf, as his collaborative partner for the exhibit. It was then that I learn she was Joy Light (her real surname, a designer and artist of hand-painted silk, who, though based in Ashland, sells across the country.

Joy moved to the Applegate area from California in 1989. Two years later, Joy decided to move to Ashland to pursue her creative work full time with her then ten-year-old son. Ashland had all the amenities she was looking for: a vital town with good schools, an emphasis on the performing arts, a vibrant artistic community and plenty of engaging people who were supportive of the arts.

On one of her first excursions downtown, Joy met Elise (McManus) Peters, who had recently opened Heart & Hands at 255 E. Main Street. Shortly after this meeting, Heart & Hands began carrying Joy’s work. In Peter’s words, “We have loved representing Joy’s hand painted silks since our inception in 1991. It’s been great watching Joy’s work evlove. Her artistic sensibility, creativity and gift with color has made her wearable art a highly treasured and valuable purchase. I have witnessed people return over and over again to add to their collection.”

Through Joy’s dedication over the years, her silks are now displayed nationwide in museum stores and women’s clothing boutiques. These notably include Denver and Phoenix art museums, Spirit of the Earth and The Santa Fe Opera House in New Mexico, The Real Mother Goose and Changes in Portland, Human Arts in Ojai, and La Jolla Fiberarts. As her national sales increase, we surely will be hearing more about her business. Joy is keeping her eyes open for a sales rep to bring her line to the East Coast.

A quick visit to Joy’s website, www.joysilk.com, will instantly fill the eye with visually seducing colors hand-painted on raw white Chinese silk. She does her magic on them here in Ashland and then ships each distinctive piece to numerous accounts

Joy’s studio will be a part of Southern Oregon Open Studios, Labor Day weekend sponsored by Ashland Artisan Gallery & Art Center. It is at this gallery where her scarves can be purchased and she also volunteers her time to support other Southern Oregon artists.

I have observed how a ruana or scarf instantly updates the “basic black dress,” creating a new fashion statement. Eyes turn and sparkle as one of Joy’s vibrant scarves adds dimension and color while capturing fluttering eyelashes like so many migrating monarch butterflies. Her painted silks are a truly powerful accessory to spice up a night on the town

“I have focused on accessories because they are always in fashion, no matter what the climate - environmental or financial - accessories are affordable and never go out of style.

“I have been producing these for 17 years and have sold nearly every piece I’ve made. My clientele consists mainly of women, but a few men who wear my accessories are interested in something personal and handcrafted. A tall European wears his ruana with his Armani suit. I work with a local tailor to produce custom silk jacket linings for men who appreciate having a unique wardrobe.”

When visiting her studio I immediately noticed her colorful line of iridescent stylistically captured peacock feathers hand-painted with rich classic hues on a variety of silk fabrics from charmeuse, jacquard, chiffon and crepe de chine. Each scarf is individually crafted by Joy, making a special, intimate gift or a self-treat for which you are overdue.

Her Ombre Collectionis her best selling line. It employs a “wet on wet” watercolor technique, resulting in the spellbinding colors that produce eye-catching fluid patterns. The popular Ruana, sort of a cape with open sides, is constructed lightweight, sheer and flowing chiffon edged and trimmed with a touch of satin, giving the finished piece enough weight to form the perfect drape.

During the most recent First Friday Artwalk I squinted into the sun as I strained to focus on a blend of dramatic color that refracted from two blocks away. I had an educated hunch on the nature of the emanation and approached the source with a keen eye.

I was right, it was Joy Light.

08 August 2008

Traveling by Train on the West Coast

I always thought that traveling by train would be sort of fun, adventurous, perhaps a bit mysterious....
Well - mystery solved! Traveling Amtrak in Coach is anything but glamourous! If you want a more upscale experience get a sleeping compartment, with that upgrade you can sit in the parlour car, have access to watching movies on a "big" screen, and the ever popular arcades.

That being said, the boys and I had a block of Coach seats from Dunsmuir to Oceanside last Saturday and we had a fun adventure on the 24 hour trip. I was being practical, the fare was 1/3 that of airfare for the three of us. The other alternative was to drive to Encinitas to visit friends and family.

One highlight of the trip was sunrise (which came all too soon after a 3:30am departure from the teeny tiny Dunsmuir Station)
Sunrise was just north of Yuba City, there were orchards and fields of gladiolus (I was too sleepy to get a picture of the flower fields)

The train slowed on this fantastic large curve of track and we could view the engine rounding the bend.
On other parts of the journey, we were warned about the "high speed zone" which meant the train would race to nearly 80MPH, walking the aisle at this speed required some agility!

The estuary near Monterey was very picturesque. The sun on the water and the blue sky made an effective commercial for another adventure to the Monterey Bay. We saw lots of birds as well as people in kayaks.

The best part however, was the sunset dinner we enjoyed in the dining car just south of San Luis Obispo
The sun dropping into the ocean, hurtling towards our South Coast destination. The delicious conversation as we recapped the day's and night's experiences, fueled our anticipation for the end of this leg of the trip....