Tag Archives: Venice artists

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