Author sara genn

Letters Fallen Star, 2012
steel-frame house, concrete foundation, brick, chimney, garden, lawn chairs, table, hibachi-style grill, bird bath and bird house
approx. 180 x 215.98 inches
by Do Ho Suh (b. 1962)

Over a recent 48 hours, an intimate group of tail-waggers embarked on a treasure hunt of public art. Our gang, like an itinerant, vibrating organism, scrambled up and down the hills and in and out of the eucalyptus groves to identify creative miracles, dotted like superstars among the natural wonders of this coastal oasis. Like an Easter egg hunt, the expedition signalled a kind of exultant celebration of worship and quiet human endeavour.

Letters Fête, 1989
screenprint on paper
 53 x 76 cm
by Bridget Riley (b.1931)

Recently, I quietly conducted a personal experiment in streamlining my art life. Like a big purge, after almost three decades of living a philosophy of multi-tracking, flexibility and expansiveness, I narrowed the scope and range of my activities to see if it would intensify what was most creatively meaningful and satisfying. The process came with terror, guilt and a fear of loss and failure.

Letters The Oxbow, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm (1836)
oil on canvas
by Thomas Cole (1801–1848)

This morning, Janet Morgan of Brooklyn, N.Y., wrote, “My husband Gregory Frux and I will soon be leaving our jobs to become full-time artists. We’ve been doing some brainstorming. We both have projects and trips in our wish-books. We’ve done residencies and will most likely do more. Have you any thoughts on changing from having very little time to having lots of time for art?”

Letters Toni Morrison in New York, 1979.
Jack Mitchell photo

When asked about her writing process, Toni Morrison described a ritual of rising early — a habit she developed by being a mother. “I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark — it must be dark — and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come,” she said. “Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process. For me, light is the signal in the transition. It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.”

Letters “Mont Blanc”
pen and ink sketch
by Edward Abela

One of the fun things about Blackberry co-dependency is the ability to send and receive emails pretty well anywhere. Up here in the Rocky Mountains, however, the little darling is as mute as a dead gopher. Missing those soft vibrations of the pocket, I sent my unit with a day-tripping friend who was off the mountain overnight. The machine came back fully revived, her tiny cheeks bulging with fresh seeds.

Letters Claude Monet (1840-1926) in his studio at Giverny, 1920.

“If you can’t paint, paint big,” said American photorealist Audrey Flack. My dad, a student of the classical school and reducing grand themes onto 8 x 10 mahogany panels, quoted Audrey when he visited me at art school and noticed a syndrome of sizes going up and quality going down. We discussed how size could have its merits, and I reminded him that Monet’s most ambitious and groundbreaking work was huge — work he didn’t begin until the apex of his creative maturation when he was in his 70s and 80s.

Letters Notebook sketch
by Samuel Adoquei (b.1962)

On a boat there can be a cargo of wisdom. I’ve brought along some marvelous books. Ghanaian-American artist Samuel Adoquei’s How Successful Artists Study is an up-to-date, practical guide for the transition from art school to the professional world of art. In it he talks about the “Five worlds of artists”:

Letters Dolls
Solid pine wood, hand-painted with mixed media, including feathers, twine, etc.
Designed by Alexander Girard (1907-1993) and manufactured by Vitra

When Alexander Girard and his wife, Susan, moved to Santa Fe in 1953, they finally had room to properly display their massive collection of folk art. Mexican Day of the Dead papier mâché dolls, Japanese wooden kokeshi dolls, Hopi beadwork dolls, Eskimo miniature dolls dressed in sealskin parkas and every other kind of doll from every corner of the planet had served as inspiration to Girard’s career. As a textile designer for Herman Miller, furniture and industrial designer and what is now known as a “total concept brand identity designer” for restaurants, an airline, private homes, corporate offices and museum installations, Girard worked from the magic of colour, graphics and expressive, anthropomorphic forms to spark joy in his signature worlds.

Letters As Above As Below
by Bearcloud

I’m walking a labyrinth in Sedona, Arizona. I’m repeating the words, “My higher self is guiding me.” As well as thinking of something else, I’m wondering if there’s “something else.”

Sedona is one of those spiritual hot spots where visitors come for all sorts of body work, yoga, self-improvement, or guru-inspired transformation. In the USA, this kind of stuff is a $10 billion-a-year industry.

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