Can you believe I have a secret admirer? Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s Day…and I have a secret admirer. For the last ten years or so I receive a plain white business envelope with printed address label to: Mrs. John J. Fetterly.

A decade ago I wasn’t plastered all over the Internet, so I wasn’t concerned about a stalker. I’m still not.

I think someone is “goofing” with us. I choose to think of them as creative in their attempt at humor.

As long as the Valentines are still with cute kittens and we don’t move on to Chucky dolls I’m fine.

So here’s what came in Monday’s mail.

Secret Valentine

There’s something very special about an unanticipated gift. But I’m not sure this qualifies.

However, I did receive a lovely gift from a good friend.

I’m the event planner, tour guide, point person in my family and friendship groups. Others love to  join me and come along on my field trips, but typically all the responsibility falls to me. In fairness, I’ve probably been the one to be most vocal, expressing what I want to do in such clear terms that no one else need apply for the position of team captain.

I do have strong leadership capabilities…but sometimes I really do like to follow!

When my friend Linda called to ask if I’d like to join her in a trip to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to catch the closing of the Caravaggio exhibit (we’d talked about it for three months) I didn’t hesitate.

She purchased tickets and SHE coordinated our moves for the day! It was such a lovely experience to just relax and follow along, moving freely in and out of exhibits with no attention to a clock or schedule.

It was the perfect gift!

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio only lived 38 years (1571-1610), and was quite the  controversial figure in his day. A frequent street fighter, he killed one man and was known to war with others he believed copied his style too closely.

I couldn’t take any photos, but the exhibit, “Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy,” included eight rare paintings together for the first time in California, and 50 other works by artists influenced by the artist.

I loved the Caravaggio’s and many of the others, but I can’t say it was my favorite. Still…

I do love just soaking up the flavor of art and creative expression. It is ALL there to inspire.

Whether 16th century oil on canvas or a modern installation, the human spirit cannot suppress the need to create. And the diversity of expression is what excites me the most.

I do enjoy installation art.

I was able to take photos of Walter De Marias: The 2000 Sculpture.

What optical illusions! Plaster rods impressively laid out in 20 rows over 164 feet present varying patterns, viewed differently from points around the room.

The artist said of the experience, “No matter how pure I try to be, at that point where warm meets cold, action meets inaction, that’s what interests me. And what goes on in people’s minds.”

I’m also very interested in what goes on in people’s minds and this work of art reinforced my impressions. I love differing perspectives and different points of view. It’s a good thing to change one’s position from time to time and to remain open and flexible to new ideas. Creativity can also be an exercise of the mind!

We even bumped into creativity while having our lunch.

As Linda took the folder with the bill, she looked a little puzzled and then showed me the contents.
IMG_1779

My goodness! Do I have admirers everywhere I go?  Let’s ask our server.

Kevin, our server, explained he enjoys expressing himself and sharing the creative impulse with hand-painted cards,  offering favorite quotes and small artworks to his patrons.

After we thanked him for the unexpected gift he left us for just a moment then returned with another lovely token.

IMG_1780Now I keep my little card close to where I’ll see it every morning. It’s a reminder to live each day appreciating the gift of creativity–each of us is made to embrace and enjoy self-expression.

Perhaps it’s because I am of “a certain age,” but I love this quote from the ageless Sophia Loren, and I share it as my Valentine’s gift to each of you.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source you will truly have defeated age.”

Curiously following the path of the boulder…the BIG one!

Let’s just start with this declaration: I can never run for political office. I change my mind entirely too often, so go ahead and call me a waffler. I know I previously indicated I thought the traveling shrink-wrapped boulder was a little over-the-top, even by Los Angeles standards, but after learning a bit more about the project, I reconsidered my previous skepticism.

It’s been impossible to ignore the hype…and there’s been a lot of that! Crowds have followed the boulder from city to city, and by the time it reached the Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach on Wednesday somewhere close to 20,000 people came out for a street festival in honor of the rock. Is it silly? Well, maybe a little, but then another way of looking at is people gathered for some good, clean fun! Given the cares most people are carrying, I’m for it, silly or not!

Since I first posted,  I also learned a little bit more about the artist, Michael Heizer, a contemporary artist hard to ignore. He certainly captures the imagination! One of his other large-scale sculptures, Double Negative (Nevada) consists of a long trench, 30 feet wide and 50 feet deep, created by displacement of 240,000 tons of rock. Another major work, City,  is a piece of Nevada earth art, and is one of the largest sculptures ever created. Earth, rocks and concrete comprise five individual phases, each consisting of a number of complexes, some with structures reaching 80 feet high. Maybe I just respond to someone conceptualizing, planning and executing something this huge!

Well, no matter what we think of it, the street parties are over. The star of the show traveled through the night and arrived early this morning at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to eventually perch above a 456-foot trench as the centerpiece of Heizer’s Levitated Mass. I chuckled at one newspaper article referencing the daring of this suspended boulder in earthquake country, but there’s nothing about this project that strikes me as particularly practical.

Yes, it’s just a rock, but it’s a very big rock. My curiosity got the better of me and I have a very supportive husband! We took off on a short trip into Los Angeles yesterday just to see for ourselves. It was just too close to home not to at least check it out.  Radio and television news crews, amateur and professional photographers documenting the event and people of all ages stood, as we did, too, just gawking.  That’s about all we could do, but we did it for a good 30 minutes. Not just because of the rock itself, but the rig that transported it was as fascinating to me as anything else. A 196-wheeled transporter designed by NASA for carrying rockets was worth seeing. The rock is indeed “shrink-wrapped” and braced for safety making it difficult to see in its entirety, but we’ll make our way to LACMA this summer and give our final opinion.  I hope we’ll just have some fun with it.

I couldn't get a picture of the entire transporter, but can you envision this traveling on local streets?
The main event! Shrink-wrap and all.

Why not take some time this weekend to find out what’s happening at your local art museums! Spend some time in the galleries with artists you may not know well. What a nice way to relax and maybe breathe a little lighter!

…Debra

A Mindfulness Moment: Artist David Leaser

The practice of Mindfulness is just that– a practice. To me that implies that we will not be able to do it perfectly, and even if we do ‘it’ doggone good, we will still have to practice again. And, again.

It’s like a great basketball player or those wonderful ice skaters– hour after hour throwing themselves against the gravitational pull of the earth to dunk that ball or to twist in the air! Practice.

Sometimes that requires sitting in a relaxed, upright pose, and counting breath in, then breath out. Other times it’s looking at the sunset or a sunrise and simply saying “Thank You!”

Some people have found weaving, chanting, hand movements, watching a candle flame, petting a dog or cat, watching the fish swim–as a practice. But some people find practice in great artistic form. Artist David Leaser discovered that by going way, way into the depths of a flower he could exhale and click his camera shutter so that it would catch the smallest details.

I recently received notice that the Huntington Library & Gardens would be having a reception and gallery showing of David’s latest work. I saw the words ‘macro photography and flowers’ and knew I would do my best to attend. As I walked back to the Botanical Gardens and classrooms I was wondering if I would be seeing something new or not. Years ago with my own Canon and macro lens I would lie on the Mojave Desert sands and try to capture the smallest flowers that pop up every now and then after a desert rain. I know how difficult it can be to quiet oneself enough first to notice and then to coordinate the breath and camera.

David’s work is amazing! Large stretched canvasses filled the walls with super-intense close-ups of flowers. Dark-black-backgrounds allowed the bright details of pollen, stamens, inner petal colors and shaded outsides their royal stage of importance. Many of us stood or sat in front of each canvas and for me it was a Mindfulness experience. Slowing down from a hectic day, and watching—just looking, letting go of distractions.

David was very happy to share his story with me. While working for a large, well-known corporation he took a quick side trip to  Botanical Gardens to alleviate some stress. He engaged in  very unique and different photography techniques (he has published some excellent books on Palms and others plants).  He then started looking into the smaller flowers and he felt peaceful! Over time his technique has developed into these beautiful studies, and his life has also improved for the better–a change in jobs and focus, a lovely wife, and in the last year a beautiful baby!

And he also practices Mindfulness! He told me “Now I DO take time to smell the roses!”

I’ve included a link to David’s website and know you’ll want to learn more about this remarkable artist.  You’ll also find information about how to see his beautiful works of art on exhibit now at the Huntington Library.  David Leaser Fine Art.

And please enjoy another article about David’s work:  Los Angeles Artist Uses Space-Age Technology to Show Flowers in a Different Light (prweb.com)

Blessings, Beth