Category Archives: Art

Wear Your Art Collection

 

         

If you know me, you know that I am a non stop celebration of the Hundred Languages. Why just last night I was celebrating the language of food. I invented a Dutch goat cheese, peach, and honey quesadilla. Yes, corn tortilla. I know you were wondering. I was speaking food, and the invention perfectly fit my mood of wanting a dessert, but wanting a bit of savory as well. My family was very receptive to this spontaneous expression. It sounds like I am digressing from the above photos, but it is just that I think my synesthesia is breaking down the walls in my brain between food and fashion.

Both the artist, Copious Harvey Smith and I enjoy breaking down the walls between languages. We also both understand that each language has it’s own qualities that bring out a different aspect of the same idea. For me, my characters and stories have outfits, soundtracks and painted “storyboards”. For Copious I see how her messages of healing cross into her music, paintings, writing, and now fashion. With Lucid Designs, Copious allows art collectors to wear what they would usually collect as one of her canvases or sculptures. Artists collaborating with fashion designers has become common, but usually it is a highly literal application of the artist’s “visual quotes” onto a textile design. Instead, Copious is using the human body as a canvas for her messages. Each piece involves the thoughtful placement of symbols and words in meaningful colors. More than a message t shirt, each shirt or hoodie becomes a talisman, a healing stone, or a power animal when someone chooses the piece they need.

Gaining a quality from what you are wearing? Now we’re talking my language. Let’s just look at this one hoodie. Copious says the actual hood with the words “light” and “dark” is about “the recovery of self through claiming all parts of us in ourselves and in turn offering a reflection of either our dark or light shadows.” On the front pocket, “The bird flying represents the freedom of claiming our whole selves, and no longer being triggered by the parts of ourselves that we reject or suppress.” Oh my goodness. I’m feeling this! Reminds me of my talks with Lissa about Persephone. Seriously happy Copious speaks so many languages.

Collect one of these pieces now and benefit a great cause. See the full gallery of wearable art here!

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Kosmetikos

 Sparkle like the cosmos.

Cosmos. Order in the stars. Order in the universe. All of Earth. Orderly all of the things of the Earth looking up at the “starry firmament”. The Greek kosmos. Orderly ornaments of my dress. Kosmetikos:  arrangement of my dress and appearance, aligning with the spiritual energies of the day. (Thank you, Lissa.)

It was Oscar night, so I would play the red carpet game to a friend’s art exhibition opening. It was an art deco Spanish building with a just gorgeous front doorway that made us stop with the camera. Inside, stylish artist himself, Joseph Lee won “best host” with the most fun and stimulating conversations east of the 405, dreamy collage paintings everywhere. Artists, musicians, designers, space operators (new one), and more enjoyed each other’s company with the intervention of one silent walking meditator. Lovely LA.

Paintings by Joseph Lee. Dress vintage. Boots by Teva. Outfit photos by Evan Hartzell.

How to Be Weird

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It’s strange when someone I don’t know personally passes away, and my first reaction is “No. I need them to be in this world.” The way I react to different deaths fascinates me. With my two grandmas I was sad, but I didn’t cry – they were both so “grande”.* An older, influential artist I met once in college? Cried for a whole day. Didn’t expect that. With my cat, I cried for a week. My mom? Epic, of course with layers of emotion. So, people I’ve never met, but were influential on my life? Usually, I react with, “Aw. Really? Aw, that’s so sad. Wow.” I accept it and move on pretty quickly. I was surprised with how I reacted with Bowie. Impossible, I thought. Why? I think I got a clue within the first 24 hours of the news.

I completely underestimated the effect of David Bowie on my childhood. I know I am not the only one having this thought process in the last few weeks. As a preteen, 1979-84, I went from disco to The Go Go’s, Blondie, Rockabilly, and Big Band. It was my friends who bought Bowie records, and we rocked out to them in their bedrooms. These were “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”, “Let’s Dance”, and “Tonight”. I was in the awkward glaring light of those 11-15 year old years, but what made it more complex… I was weird.

Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions “soothsayer” as a definition for weird. Soothsayer? You mean “a person who predicts the future by magical, intuitive, or more rational means”? So Bowie. Cambridge uses the word “unexpected” when describing weird. I like that one, too. From Oxford, I picked out “supernatural”… of course. And then when you go to Oxford’s more archaic definition (Scottish, really), we find “a person’s destiny”. Now we’re talking!

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Blurry photo of me drawing around five years old dressed as a… clown?

What were the first signs of weirdness? Oh, it’s hard to tell because like my friend, Maureen, I liked to talk to rocks as well when I was six years old, but that is usually thought of as… being a child. At about that age my parents asked me if I wanted to go to a “special school”. Because I talked to rocks? I don’t think so, but I remember I thought it was because I was really, really good at drawing swans. Seriously. I remember wondering why I had been chosen for such a privilege? To be taken away from all of my friends, my brother, and my mom who worked at my school? Must have been the swans. It had to be. No more neighborhood school. No more friends. And I actually wanted to go? That’s just weird.

Maybe I was a soothsayer! Because at the new school some of my really good friends had come as well. Also, at the new school we had more field trips, emergent curriculum, painting, music, projects, and Shakespeare. It was radical. And taking the bus was an Adventure.

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That’s me on the left side of the group, “observing” from outside the track. First day of school in home made alphabet jumpsuit. Little did they know what they were in for…

But still, my little ten year old self thought the new school wasn’t weird enough. The weird department was clearly lacking at this otherwise fine establishment, and my efforts to improve it landed me in the principal’s office with my new best friend.

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Clockwise from left: Samantha, Cori, and I. Yes, I’m wearing a Shaun Cassidy t shirt. And, yes we are creating some kind of singing ritual around french fries. I mean, our teacher took us on a field trip to CARL’S JR. We HAD to mess with it.

My new best friend, Cori was one of those Bowie kids. She had all kinds of music playing at her house that I wasn’t hearing anywhere else. They had relatives in Europe, so they had ACCESS. Her slightly older brother was basically Ziggy Stardust’s little brother. Cori wore tuxedos to school. I wore jumpsuits my mom made me with the alphabet all over it. For us, a fun playdate was reading some random play aloud to each other.

So, one day we decided that we would offer lessons on how to be weird. The lessons were free, and would be conveniently located in the girls’ restroom during lunch recess, right next to the sinks. I recall there was a nice big mirror there. We were bright sparks of color in a whited out restroom. It looked like we were filming “Life on Mars”.

The lessons (which were really just the early days of performance art education) were going well until one day we were discovered by the authorities. Someone who spotted in us the signs of a weird revolution must have told. I don’t blame them. This special school was inside of a TRACT. Who can blame those local kids for being scared? We were bussed in from outside the tract. What was the administration thinking?

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1940’s pattern.

Fast forward to the world of surf punks and skaters in middle school…  I continued my exploration of weird. I decided I was born in the wrong decade so I started dressing like it was the 1940’s. This was when I started designing and making my own clothes as well as picking up treasures at yard sales. I also started learning about the darker side of American history, reading about slavery, Native Americans and listening to my cousins’ stories in Mexico about missing journalists and what our government was doing in Latin America. Around this time, I remember singing Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” over the bar b q at a family get together which of course, concerned my relatives.

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My blue eye shadow matches my AMAZING 1940’s blue velvet dress I found for graduation at the swap meet. You just. Can’t. See. It. Under my robe. I realize these years were before camera phones, so there were no fun outfit photos. Waah.

“Let’s Dance” marked the beginning of high school, and I wanted to dance… if only with the English boy who had the locker above me and dressed up like Bowie in “Blue Jeans” for Halloween. Yeah, even the metallic makeup. Meanwhile, I was only scaring my friends and others. For me, everyday was Halloween. A memorable outfit was my dad’s red 60’s hawaiian shirt tucked into my mom’s long, pleated, electric blue, wool skirt. African elephant necklace and black combat boots completed the look. For some reason I was very comfortable making every day an art performance… but I had encouragement.

Looking back on those formative years, I could say that was when I really needed Bowie. He was my first “Teacher of Weirdness” that I needed in homogeneous Orange County. He taught me to do the unexpected, to express myself through music, art and style with abandon. To not only dress up to clean the house, but make songs about it… choreographed of course. He taught me to stay in touch with what we come into this world as – “real humans”. Because we’re born as real humans. We’re born as artists. Capable of talking to rocks and traveling to Mars.

Jump almost thirty years ahead, and I am riding in the car early on a Monday morning staring at the news on my phone. Next to me is an artist driving the car that also inspires me every day since I fell in love with him when we were 18. Behind me are two incredible teenage artists who are my sons. For one of them – the song-writing one at the moment, “Ziggy Stardust” is one of his favorite albums. We’ve always made music. We’ve always made art. We’ve always been the best kind of weird – together. And whenever I had those moments as an adult when I thought, “Oh, my goodness. Who do I think I am? What am I doing?” Bowie was one of those people I would think of. I would think, “But… Bowie.” Always looking for encouragement, he was the example to me of acceptance of oneself, calling the bluff of artistic boundaries, and risking the approval of others for the sake of the possibility of discovering something new. So, I needed him in this world, and that was why.

But here is the crazy thing. With my mom, the moment I found out she passed away, I felt her rise up like a super hero. I was so proud of her. I was so beyond impressed. Within a few hours, I felt the same thing with Bowie. I didn’t even know him, so how do you explain that? I could try, but I’d rather embrace the mystery. Mysteries can be so beautiful. Especially when they are made of stardust and metallic makeup.

 

 

*While the Spanish word, “grande” can mean big or great, it also can mean old – but it’s a big, great kind of old… of course.

Grown Up (Over 40 Everything)

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This post was about an exhibition, but the exhibition – which was phenomenal – is long gone now.  Today, looking at these photos I remember how I had recently attained this new haircut when we went to the Turner show. I remember how hard it was to commit to the cut I long wanted because I was afraid the style was too young. Would I pull it off with my white hair? Would I look silly? Was it okay for a mid forties mom to have this haircut? And most importantly did I even know what a mid forties woman was supposed to look like?

The question of what it means to be a grown up in “Hollywood” is something I’ve been pondering since 1997 when I wrote an article about it for Artweek. Back then, in my mid twenties I observed how both the three year olds and mothers on the west side of Los Angeles dressed like they were in The Spice Girls. It wasn’t just about women; people across all genders and ages seemed to be under the hypnotic power of  “adolescent LA” which I linked to the film industry’s obsession with teenagers.

Since the 50’s, when the teenager was invented here in the U.S. for marketing reasons, it’s playground headquarters have been Los Angeles. The campaign may have started by targeting these youths, but it ended up creating a whole population of wanna-be teens at almost every age – especially on the west side of LA. As the American Dream’s price tag rose, the pressures of being an adult attaining this dream rose. So why not be a teenager forever  – or at least dress and act like one?

I talk to women friends all the time who are trying to figure out how to dress like a grown up. They, like me, want to express elegance, femininity, strength, and unique style – all, while being happy with their age.

So, where do we find inspiration? When women complain about getting older I say, “Oh, just be French!” Catherine Deneuve, anyone? In the UK, the over forty fashion blogger scene even has their own conference! However, now you can find style direction in your very own country. Look up “Advanced Style” and you will find how the mature lady’s style is coming into the spotlight and giving us some inspiration. These women and men are on fire. They accept themselves and see everyday as an opportunity to live life as art… And that is good to do at any age.

First outfit:  Pants by Pamela Barish. MIT rain jacket by MIT. Rose necklace by Mingle. Shoes by Tsubo. Haircut by Scott at Don’s Cutting Edge. Photos by Evan Hartzell.

Second outfit: Marc by Marc Jacobs Dress. Photos by Aristotle Hartzell. 

Lora Norton

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Ooh, I’m so excited. I’m making my dreams come true. After the warm up post about the Artist, I am so thrilled to finally be that Clothes Story reporter about town I’ve always wanted to be AND to finally be turning the camera on my many stylish friends across the globe. Yay! First up is my treasured friend of many years, artist, Lora Norton. Lora is my kind of artist because she encourages me to continue to break the boundaries between the many languages of art… while raising a family. Yes, she not only expresses herself through her dynamic outfits (which include some pieces made by herself), but she also paints, draws, writes, designs t shirts, flyers, and sings in a band.  Stories and characters also seem to drive her many art forms. See why I am so inspired? And her house? Oh, vibrant house plants, tropical wall colors, chunky textiles, and fascinating collections create a home that reminds me more than a little bit of some of my favorite houses in Mexico. In Lora’s house, however, the epic record collection and baby doll still lives make it her own.. and her musical family’s own.

When I visited with Lora, we never discussed her outfit which was partly the reason for my visit, but in a way we were discussing her outfit the whole entire time through our many topics of conversationHere are seven topics that I think were secretly really about her outfit.

1.  Her enthusiasm for Youtube videos of older Japanese women folding laundry.

2.  Her Pinterest dreams for her garden (The outdoor one. The indoor one is obviously thriving.).

3.  The wonders of Moroccan oil.

5.  Her ability to attract people with the most fascinating diets. Ha. Um, she has a good sense of humor, by the way.

6.  Her anticipation of seeing the Samurai show at LACMA.

7.  The tempting, oh so tempting lushly printed fabrics found on Etsy that would make more great pillows for her couch.

No, but seriously, here is some solid background on her outfit… straight from Lora. (Once I showed her the list above a few days after our visit, she was forced to give me this top secret info! ;)) Her top is made of a Japanese fabric called shibori. Shibori is a kind of tie dye often done with indigo. (If I could count the number of times different people have said “shibori” to me in the last six months! What is going on??)  Lora says she loves historical clothes and clothes of different cultures. Her “Clothes and Hair” Pinterest board shows a lot of the styles that influence her. For example,  her amber necklace is similar to Tibetan and Nepalese traditional styles and her kimono style top is sort of Japanese. 

 

“Tibetan Losar 2014” by Mr. Sith, from Lora’s Pinterest board

Example of Shibori from Dharma Trading Co.

Check out more of Lora’s unbelievable art here. Check out her transcendent music here. I have barely begun to unearth the wonders of Lora in this post. I have a feeling there will be more of her on Clothes Stories in the months to come.. maybe even a guest blogging post? Wink, wink.

Poster for Chuck Dukowski SEXTET by Lora Norton

Portal to Barcelona

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Looking at these photos a few days ago, I had several ideas as to what the Clothes Story is. Gluten and sugar free experimenting? Reminds me of my obsession with this Spaniard’s Pinterest board about his favorite shops and cafes? There are still artists living in Venice? (Great interview with the artist, Diana Garcia, who did the wheat pasted mural here. Check out more of her art here.) My favorite food on Abbott Kinney? Dressing for texture? Can we take a vote, here?

Okay, I’ve tallied up the votes and the winner is… Barcelona!

Wait, Barcelona wasn’t even on the list. How did that happen? 

Well, I did have the word, Spaniard on the list, so…

Yeah, but a Spaniard-made Pinterest board is very different from the city of Barcelona. I want to see the math. Who voted, anyhow?

Who am I talking to, by the way?  Hello?  Hello? Oh, I hate it when that happens. A perfectly nice inner dialogue disconnected because I asked too many questions. Again.

So… Barcelona. The city with the same Mediterranean climate as Southern California. Home of a Picasso museum and Gaudi sculptures and La Familia Sagrada. Where they speak Catalonian by the sea side and sip a cortado.  I have clearly dressed to go back to Barcelona, where I am clearly from… okay, maybe in another life. But this post is really about something deeper – acceptance.

As a Los Angeles-based artist, I have made my peace with identity and belonging. It took years, but these delicate processes always take longer in a city where there is increasingly more and more traffic, no? Growing up in the O.C., of course I wanted to fit in, but I was still wacky (insert crazy outfit here) and proud of my Mexican roots. I learned pretty quick that I was never going to look like the Miss OP Pro or whatever that was. The splits didn’t work out for drill team try outs (It was all about the outfit, and luckily I made the cut to wear a kilt on the field hockey team). Even though I was one hundred percent Mexicana, every trip to visit relatives in deep Mexico was met with people telling me I was Americana. I’d even buy my clothes there and wear them, but it didn’t matter. My cousin said it was how I did my make up and the way I walked. Fascinating.

In college I was met with “I can’t believe your Mexican.” or “What is your background?” at the Westwood ice cream shop on trips to LA. I joined MECHA, took Spanish for Spanish Speakers, and even played in a cumbia band a little bit. My “gringo” boyfriend got me in because he was the drummer and having grown up in Venice, was in some ways more Chicano than me. That’s a whole other story…

After college, the Chicano art scene was supreme in Los Angeles, and I found other wanna-be Chicano artists – gente that grew up in Mexico and were addicted to low-riders and La Virgen de Guadalupe. I met Chicano art scholars that sounded like me and didn’t speak Spanish at all. I met Jewish Mexican artists, artists that spoke Spanish, French and English, and Spanish speaking painters from the Caribbean. I learned about living in the border, where you don’t really fit in on either side. That idea right there did it for me.

Eventually, I found my tribe, and it continues to expand as I meet more amazing, diverse, and creative people. Even now, my beautiful friend of only a few years, Byron is half Hungarian/Euro mix, half Latina. She listened to a recording of me singing in Spanish, and asked, “What is that accent?” “What accent?” I replied, innocently. We finally figured it out. It was ORANGE COUNTY-accented Spanish. When we go order tacos together, Byron with her limited Spanish, has a gorgeous accent and gets all this Spanish thrown back at her. I order completely in Spanish and all I get is English back. It continues…

So, I’m good. But, Barcelona. If I ever wanted a moment where I was completely and easily accepted, if I ever wanted to know what that felt like… it was in Barcelona. I traveled with my Euro American boyfriend around Europe in college. In England, they thought he was Irish. In Germany they asked him for directions. Austria? Check. In Italy, I think he got by as Italian. France? No problem. He could swing some local conversation anywhere it seemed. Me? No directions asked. No one knew what to do with me. No one… until we got to Barcelona.

The moment we got close to Barcelona, coming from Italy on Euro Rail, something started to happen. My boyfriend said something first. “Everyone looks like you.” “They do!” I said, my eyes growing wide. It was awesome. We got off the train. “I” was everywhere. It was like a good Twilight Zone, in a way. We had the same complexion, facial features, hair, and height. We walked the same. We did our makeup the same. We had a similar STYLE. “Oh. My. Goodness,” I thought. “I’ve come home. I’m surrounded by family. We’re simpatico. I BLEND IN.” And I GOT ASKED FOR DIRECTIONS.

I still day dream about Barcelona sometimes, even though it was so many years ago. I day dream that I am walking around… and Barcelona, she envelopes me in her embrace, and I feel I am just a part of her. I am a missing piece of her puzzle that has come home. I realize that the trip happened at an important moment. I was only 21, and at that age I think some of us are still desiring to belong in that longing, urgent, adolescent way. We are still thinking, “Who am I?”, you know? Although since then I have realized I am so much more than Barcelona – and am happy with my individuality – it was an act of encouragement and acceptance. So, thanks, Barcelona.

Photos by Evan Hartzell.

Hat from Fedora Primo Hat Merchants, Skirt by J.Jill, Blouse by Marc by Marc Jacobs, Sweater by Moda, Boots by Teva, Bag vintage

 

 

Russian Fairy Tale

Illustrations by Ivan Bilibin from the book, Russian Fairy Tales

First, there was this book. It was a gift from a friend to the boys when they were younger. We read all of the Russian fairy tales to each other on the way to New Mexico one summer and back. You know, red desert landscapes, cold Russian forests. It’s only logical. The stories are scary and fantastic, the illustrations are art nouveau. I had not really had any exposure to Russian fairy tales before this book. I was hooked with the whole aesthetic and dark dreamy environment. I loved the animals that were really people, the three sisters where the youngest is always the heroine, the three brothers where the youngest is also the hero, and the discovery of salt. Salt? Yes, that’s a real gem of a story. Makes you appreciate salt in a whole new way.

 

Firebird by unknown Russian artist and photo by Kareva Margarita

The rich patterning on the textiles in the illustrations was what really attracted me. There seemed to be a mix of nature originating in the early Russian pagan beliefs and the richness of embroidery and attention to detail that became even more elaborate with the introduction of the culture of the Byzantine Empire to Russia. But before we get too Byzantine, let us just check out the nature influence…

     

All images: © Bryan & Cherry Alexander Photography / ArcticPhoto except bunny – can’t find a photo credit for the cute bunny!

The people above are all Russian Siberians. Looking pretty fairy tale to me. Hanna, anyone? Oh, and the Slavic pagan roots are so wonderful. Full of worshipping rivers, Goddesses of the grain (Marzanna) and of the winter solstice (Koliada), God of the moon who marries Dazbog and they have lots of little baby stars together, wind gods, and circle dances, and Easter eggs, and how women conserve the pagan rituals because they are excluded from real participation in Christianity. So fascinating!

Okay, now turn it up a little bit… Russian folk printed dress from Etsy (see the Mexican folk dress connection?) and image on right photographed by Andrey Yakovlev Art-director: Lili Aleeva Models: Ekaterina Soboleva, Julia Galimova Hair Style: Oxana Zavarzina Make-up: Zhanna Bilalova.

And now, it comes to this. Viennese designer, but you see the connection. Can barely talk about it. Don’t click on the link unless you have like a spare hour today. I warned you.

And now we come to the present present. Yes, I am going to be so latest runway shows here. I think Pre Fall 2015 is feeling pretty Russian fairy tale. What do you think?? This is Marchesa. Just stop me from posting every. single. dress. I’m a kid that wants to dress up like a princess at heart… a Russian fairy tale princess!

She will star in a Russian fairy tale any day. Alice + Olivia, pre-Fall 2015.

Always have to look at Valentino, when considering a current Russian Fairy Tale look. This is also Pre Fall 2015. Am I ruining the surprise? I hope not. You can still forget all about it and be surprised when you go buy your back to school wardrobe in August. Hee hee.

For more of my Russian fairy tale inspirations, check out my Pinterest board here. Follow me! If you are ever sad, you can just go look at the endless, decadent, rich, mossy images and you will feel happy again.