1. There’s nothing ho-hum about Oregon-based ceramicist Sara Swink’s work. She creates human and animal figures that tease our thinking and beg interpretation. She takes something familiar and gives it a dreamlike, bizarre, or even humorous twist. Her distinctive pieces definitely compel us to take a second or third look.
Her love of clay began when she was eight, with the encouragement of a neighbor who was a potter. She learned to throw on a potter’s wheel, hand build and mix glazes in high school, even buying her own wheel with money earned cleaning houses.
Some twenty years later, she began taking ceramics classes, then studied art history, printmaking, drawing, and foundry work at several universities while teaching. Studying with Coeleen Kiebert (whose approach is to fuse artmaking with the psychology of the individual) was pivotal in shaping Sara’s work. Sara’s pieces can be seen as expressions of her inner psyche; there is a personal narrative that runs through all her art.
Sara opened Clay Circle Studio when she moved to the Portland area in 2006 and continues to offer workshops. Find out more about her classes at her official website, where you can also view a wonderful archive of available and past pieces.
“There’s a melody in everything. And once you find the melody, then you connect immediately with the heart. Because sometimes English or Spanish, Swahili or any language gets in the way. But nothing penetrates the heart faster than the melody.” ~ Carlos Santana
Just as there are celebrated rock singers whose vocals are instantly recognizable (Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks), there are electric guitarists whose signature stylings and timbres we’d know just about anywhere.
Carlos Santana is rightfully ranked among the greatest rock guitarists of all time, alongside such masters as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When you hear the pure, piercing tone of his guitar as it caresses a melodic line (oh, those amazing solo riffs and sustained notes!), there’s no mistaking whose fiery, impassioned “voice” you’re hearing.
Santana pioneered a unique fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin, African and Cuban rhythms in the late 60’s and early 70’s — a distinctive sound that continues to electrify audiences today. With early hits like “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways,” the rare addition of percussion instruments (congas, timbales) to guitar and organ flavored the music with an old world, positively primal feel. The aptly named, strictly instrumental “Soul Sacrifice,” with its driving polyrhythms and rousing solos, pulsates with an energy that fairly inhabits the listener, taking him/her on a transformative musical journey.
Though I’ve enjoyed Santana’s music since college, I knew very little about Carlos Santana’s childhood, so I was especially pleased to see that New York Times bestselling music biographer Gary Golio had recently published Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World (Henry Holt, 2018). Illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor and Américas Award recipient Rudy Gutierrez (who created Santana’s iconic Shaman CD cover), this captivating picture book describes Carlos’s early years in Mexico as he seeks a personal, authentic mode of musical expression.
“The land created me. I’m wild and lonesome. Even as I travel the cities, I’m more at home in the vacant lots.” ~ Bob Dylan
Since the man is turning 77 today, we’re gonna sing a little birthday blues by featuring some of Dylan’s “bluepaintings” paired with bits of his song lyrics.
Did you know that besides being a 12-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, poet, author, small-batch whiskey entrepreneur, metal works artist, and Nobel, Pulitzer, Medal of Freedom, Oscar, and Golden Globe winner, Dylan is also an accomplished painter?
We first saw his work gracing the covers of two 70’s albums (Self Portrait and Planet Waves), but he didn’t start seriously exhibiting and selling his paintings until 2007. Like many extraordinarily gifted creatives, his output benefits from the cross-fertilization of art forms.
Dylan is that rare person who can move effortlessly between music, word, ink, paint, as if he’s just futzing around with a few different instruments in the studio. Yet again and again he reflects life back to us with a truth and simplicity that defy words . . . seemingly unworried about how something looks, he’s not after artistic perfection, but something larger, a moment, a feeling. The effect is enthralling.
~ Marisha Pessl, New York Times
I love his frequent use of blues, and of course how often he depicts eateries. It’s fascinating to see the world through Dylan’s (blue) eyes 🙂 — he’s drawn to back streets, alley ways, country roads, bridges, train tracks — landscapes and urban scenes “unpolluted by the ephemera of pop culture.” There’s a noted absence of people in most of these paintings, conveying a sense of loneliness and a nostalgia for simpler times.
1. It’s Poetry Month, so why not celebrate with a cool handmade magnet by Robyn Hood Black of artsyletters? This beauty with the one and only Edgar Allan Poe features an authentic postage stamp issued to commemorate Poe’s 200th birthday in 2009. It’s collaged onto a 2″ x 2″ painted canvas board with a magnetic disc on the back. Imagine Poe’s eyes following you from the fridge! 🙂
Nevermore for Poe? How about a lovely Emily Dickinson magnet, which features an 8 cent stamp issued in 1971?
I also love this OOAK Found Poem mixed media/collage piece. The image is from the May 2015 issue of Woman’s World, and features a lovely lady from a 1915 talcum powder advertisement. Two vintage topaz-colored glass hearts dangle from the bottom of the fancy vintage dark bronze color metal frame made in Italy. There’s a chain attached to the back for easy hanging.
Read more about these items and check out all the other goodies at artsyletters (gift packs, bookmarks, cards, prints, jewelry, etc.). Treat a poetry loving friend (or yourself) to a special gift this month!
This fascinating and whimsical nonfiction picture book uses humorous comparisons and playful artwork to teach children the unusual ways that a variety of animals–from woodpeckers to snakes to bats–use their tongues to find food, eat, and clean themselves.
In this nonfiction picture book, kids will learn about the woodpecker, which uses its tongue to burrow for insects under tree bark; the okapi, which can wash its face and ears with its tongue; and the octopus, which uses its tongue to drill holes in shells. Through debut illustrator Jia Liu’s bright, playful collage artwork, readers can imagine what it would be like to have a tongue like a sword, like a straw, or like a party blower, among many other silly and illuminating comparisons. The back matter expands on each animal tongue’s unique abilities and includes information about other fun tongues, too.
Sounds like a fun book on a fascinating subject. Washing your face and ears with your tongue is quite a feat, and I admit I wouldn’t mind having a tongue like a straw: efficient and ecologically responsible. 🙂 Can’t wait to see this book!
It’s talent show time at school, and eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is excited to show her stuff. But as she thinks about her strengths―tree-climbing, mochi making, collage―none of them feel quite right to perform on-stage. Jasmine’s friends already have a talent: Tommy yo-yo’s, Daisy dances, and Linnie plays piano. Plus, Maggie Milsap (aka Miss Perfect) is saying she’ll have the best talent.
When Jasmine’s mom introduces her to the taiko, a traditional Japanese drum, Jasmine finally finds an activity that feels just right. But will she be good enough at taiko in time to beat Maggie Milsap?
Join Jasmine as she discovers her talent―and the difference between being the best and trying your best.
* Check out the special Jasmine Toguchi Swag Bag Drawing!
For a chance to win all these goodies, simply email a copy/photo of your sales receipt for Drummer Girl to: jasminetoguchibooks (at) gmail (dot) com by April 25, 2018. Earn an extra entry by sharing your Amazon review link on social media.
Happy Pub Day, Debbi and Elizabet!!
4. I don’t know about you, but I am wildly excited about the upcoming royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. I think the entire world is craving a happy occasion for a change. When it comes to breathtakingly beautiful pageantry you can’t beat the British, and this time the bride is American. WooHoo!
Why not feed your anticipation with a Harry and Meghan Coloring Book or Paper Doll set? Oh, how I love to play . . .
Their love captivated the world — now the royal romance will inspire your imagination! The engagement of dashing Prince Harry of Wales and beautiful American actress Meghan Markle made headlines and their wedding in May of 2018 is sure to do the same. You can be part of the excitement with 30 beautiful and ready-to-color illustrations that capture the magic of their heartwarming love affair. Plus, the pages are perforated for easy removal and display.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry at Windsor Castle in May 2018. With these paper dolls, you can cut them out and dress them up in their engagement outfits, the camping outfits they might have worn while hanging out in Botswana, what they might wear to a glamorous Hollywood party, the unicorn onesies we’re sure they wear at home in their cottage, and, of course, what they might wear on the big wedding day itself! Mix and match their outfits as you learn more about their whirlwind romance!
So fun! Both items are nice commemoratives for royal watchers of any age. Pip pip and Cheerio!
5. I know, I know. We’re just about mid-way through and I can hear your tummy rumblings. Food, you must have food! Do I know you, or what? 🙂
So, I happily present this: A Cheeseburger Made Entirely Out of Cheese created by Tastemade. Perfectly logical, so much so, I wonder why no one had thought of it before — and there’s an ultimate purpose to this dairy overload besides clever appearance — wait till the end to see what it is:
Now, THAT’S what I call cheesy fries. 😀
6. Pottery Fix: I’m in love with Hogben Pottery! Handmade in the UK, each piece is individual and unique. The colors are just luscious: cream, eau-de-nil, pink, denim blue. grey or primrose. There are a variety of decorations that are hand sculpted, hand painted, and then applied to the pottery (choose from mugs in two sizes and jugs in three sizes).
Dog lovers will be happy to see there are dalmatians, golden retrievers, black labs, fox terriers, and jack russells. Other sweet decorations include strawberry, pansy, sheep, hen, cat and leaping hare.
I’m attracted to the blissful simplicity of this line — lovely, understated, a bit whimsical and classy. You know you’re not going to get tired of these pieces and since no two are ever exactly the same, this gives them a certain character. They do ship to the U.S. (call for quotes). See more here.
7. I’m still thinking about Simon and Garfunkel after writing a review of When Paul Met Artieby G. Neri and David Litchfielda couple of weeks ago. Enjoyed this video of Art reading a note to his younger self as part of the CBS This Morning series “Note to Self.” Was good to hear the words of wisdom he offered at age 72.
Love the personal photos (his son was adorable), old S&G clips, and reflections on singing and fame. And did you know he’s a lefty?
8. Mice, mice, needle felted mice. Who can resist? Recently discovered Marta Pérez-Solero’s creations at her Etsy shop OliverBrie.
Her pieces have a lot of personality and I like the little accessories that come with. Great detail and you can’t help but imagine stories for these adorable creatures. Now I just need to find a wealthy benefactor to buy me one. 😀
9. Finally, another Poetry Month treat: check out this E. E. Cummings Quote Locket from Busy Beez and Chickadeez. “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)” is one of my fave Cummings poems, and what better way to keep this beautiful line close than in a personal locket?
The quote appears on one side, and a brass heart stamping appears on the other. There’s an ivory Czech glass bellflower and olive green leaf on the front of the locket. Pretty, no? More details here.
For our blue song, here’s Linda Rondstadt with “Blue Bayou,” her signature song which became a big hit in 1977. What a versatile songbird! Sad that she can no longer sing because of Parkinson’s disease.
*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. When you purchase something using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for your continuing support!
When it comes to Simon and Garfunkel, three things stand out in my memory: hearing “Homeward Bound” for the first time in a soundproof studio, waiting hours for them to arrive at the airport, and attending their 1968 concert in Honolulu.
I was a big S&G fan back in the day, belonged to a fan club whose sole purpose was to meet every rock group that performed in Hawai’i. We haunted airports and hotel lobbies, camped out overnight to score concert tickets, and sometimes got to meet our idols up close and personal at special events.
The Simon and Garfunkel concert remains in the top 5 of all shows attended in my lifetime. It still stands up against today’s large-venue extravaganzas with the big screens, sophisticated sound systems and light shows. There was just something pure, pristine and utterly transformative about those two voices and acoustic guitar. No need for any high tech razzle dazzle when you have good songs and soul-stirring, transcendent harmony.