Time for a Fantasy: The Art of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I’m processing the world through a lens of magic realism and fantasy these days- both in books and art. Just discovered the amazing myth and fantasy art illustrator-painter Stephanie Pui-Mun Law:

I’m processing the world through a lens of magic realism and fantasy these days- both in books and art.  Just discovered the amazing myth and fantasy art illustrator-painter Stephanie Pui-Mun Law:

See all the galleries on her website.   These are from the fairytale and mythology gallery, along with inspiring descriptions like this one, “Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore: she was wise woman and witch, bestower of gifts and curses, life and death, crone, grandmother, and goddess. “My white knight, bright day. My red knight, round sun. My black knight, dark night,” so she names her three servants.” From Red Knight of Burning Day.

The Sunbather.  This series, Cycles, has both light and dark companion pieces. Her zodiac pieces are gorgeous. But my favorites are illustrated from myth and legend.

Stephanie says, “Inspired by the short story Green Serpent by Marie-Catherine D’Aulnoy, a 17th century version of the old Psyche and Eros tale. However, Eros is replaced with a man cursed with the form of a green serpent.”  Keep reading here: Cradle of Life.

Am currently drawn to the breathtaking imagery of Stephanie’s Shadowscapes Tarot now:  animals, water, Music and musicians are everywhere in her images!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is working on a forthcoming Dreamdance Oracle and posts pieces from it on her Blog, along with poetry, jewelry, and cool peaks into her ever busy sketch books.

I have this theory that Oakland incubates more artists per capita (painters, poets, musicians, steampunk sculptors, etc.) than any other city. Of course she lives in Oaktown. 😉   She has a sale now- got this album cover piece for my studio.

Altars~ Household and Community~ for Day of the Dead Holidays

This is a good way to recap the weekend~ through altars and exhibits.  This art is from Oakland muralist-artist Joaquin Alejandro Newman,  who had a booth at Noche de Los Muertos on Thurs.  It’s the newest addition to our home alter this year.

Is she the Sunmaid Raisin girl, or a visitor to the altar- happy to receive abundant gifts, food, and drink?  😉

It was the Day of the Dead altar or ofrenda, that first got me hooked on observing Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead holidays.  An altar can serve many roles, and perhaps this, the ofrenda, is one thing that makes the holiday confusing or strange to those unfamiliar with the traditions;  in Judeo/Christian traditions, alters are for elevating and placing things you worship- gods and saints perhaps. But traditional Day of the Dead alters are both for creating a space for remembrance, and places of welcome for visiting spirits to come enjoy their favorite food, drink, and gifts- all when the ‘veil between the worlds is thin’.  I like reading the histories of the first Spanish accounts of the rituals; the Aztecs “mocking death” in dances and rituals led them to think the practices odd and barbaric. But the days were kept, folded into another Catholic holy day- All Souls day.

Source with a great key to the purpose of all items placed on an altar.

It was in college where I first discovered the holiday.  About mid-October my first year, roommates set up an altar in the living room telling all of us to feel free to place our own mementos to loved ones passed.  I had had a close friend die that summer, and had a lot of sadness around not being able to say good bye, etc., but I passed on participating, at first.   One roommate pulled me aside;  “You have some baggage around the death of your friend; it would be good to lay that on the altar.”  He suggested that I write what I didn’t get to say to my friend before he died- in a letter. “Leave it there, with his picture, next to his favorite beer- in case he comes visiting when you’re not home.  Then later, on Nov. 2, sit alone and read your words aloud to him.”

Doing this was complete cartharsis.  It gave me the release I needed.  Seeing things this way, completely spiritually was different at the time, but it got rid of my guilt in a day. I could finally move on.  I added his favorite beer nuts and climbing carabiners so I hope he was happy too.

Photo source:    (also tutorial for making papel picado).

The beauty of building an altar this time of year- is that you can make it whatever you want it to be:  a place for memories and remembrance; a space to quietly help heal and provide closure (my example above); a safe place to make light of any fears of or about death.  You can make it a hybrid- of old and new- with images of inspiring lives or statues that you believe guide spirits, whatever your beliefs, through obstacles.  It can be modest with symbols of the 4 elements:  candles (fire), salt (earth), a glass of water, and incense or copal (air). More resources to help you decorate your alter are here.

I’ve built home altars for some 20 years now, keeping them up for a month, until mid-November.  My personal alter this year honors my grandparents. It also makes light of all that I take so seriously now- so there are many musical calaveras on the altar, always.   I love how a visitor to my blog, Maureen so beautifully put it in her comment to my last post– about what her alter means to her:

“It was probably the calavera figures seen on one of my first trips to Mexico that caught my fancy. I loved how they remind us that death is really our constant companion, even as we go about our day-to-day life. Lively and meaningful ofrendas brought back real memories: her Pall Mall cigarettes, his favorite song played over and over… And the beautifully artistic altars whose symbols inspire further imaginings of life and death. Dia de los Muertos provides us the perfect opportunity to connect and remember in a loving way, with joy as well as the tears. It’s wonderful how it’s become part of my annual observance…”

This is the reason I keep little skeletons hidden all over the house; playful reminders of impermanence, and for me to make the most of life, now.

Community altars are the other amazing wonder of Day of the Dead holidays.  Community ofrendas and art exhibits held in most large cities museums, galleries and art walks this time of year, are powerful showing everything from shrines built by children to large installations by professional artists, sculptors, and painters.  And there is nothing like working out your grief as a community, be it local losses, or national- like lives lost in war.  I can never forget the alters of September 11th made by artists and children in galleries and warehouses throughout the City of Sacramento 10 years ago.  They really did provide solace, as I’m sure community alters in cities across the country did during this time.

Right now, the Oakland Art Museum’s exhibit is dedicated to all of the people and cultures who made California what it is today.  There are memorials to grandfathers, and Oakland’s youth,

and one dedicated to Filipino culture, and lore in the after life.

Celebrating October

October activities include, planting tons of flowers, camping, Fall purging (like spring cleaning), building my Day of the dead alter, and making special jewelry for the holiday. I love October so much, I could marry it. And this just might be the dress I’d wear.

If you’ve been following my blog for at least a year, then you know of my love affair with October;   hands down the best month for celebrations!  On the list to celebrate are:  Fall, an anniversary, my birthday, my self-appointed New Year’s, Halloween, and Dia de Los Muertos– which carries the joy into November by a week.  October activities include, planting tons of flowers, camping, Fall purging (like spring cleaning), building my Day of the dead alter, and making special jewelry for the holiday.  I love October so much, I could marry it.  And this just might be the dress I’d wear.

It’s made out of paper!- wood block prints and papel picado.  I like it because the dress looks both Indian and Mexican in design.

What is there not to love about this, the tenth month?  The minutia of the change of seasons is fascinating enough; the colors of change in leaves and landscape everywhere you look- from the ground to the trees and sky.  The winds come, the first rains and storms of the season along with cooler and shorter days, and with it all comes that desire to pull in— to conserve energy.

This year, I feel a need to un-scatter, to nest and read more—in short, to slow down and make ready for the encroaching cold and darkness.  To some this may all sound dismal and macabre, but I feel the natural resistance of inertia- just before the inevitable turn of the wheel; the spiral on its way to something new.  Thus, my need to clear some head space, to simplify, to un-clutter my studio and make room for it. Whatever “it” will be.

Source

October holds my ‘New Year’s day’ because I tend to tether down my dreams into goals and plans around my birthday, instead of in January.  So when the birthday comes, more than tripping about age, I check in (sometimes reluctantly) about whether I got anywhere in the dreaming department.  If not, no worries- I have about 75 days before Jan. 1 to do something about it; to either jump start, finish, or fine-tune what I hoped to do.

We’ve been planting lots lately.  Thankfully, Oakland is temperate; bulbs are confused and are coming up again, and we can plant winter gardens now. In preparation for Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead festivities, I plant as many marigolds as possible, inside and out of the house.  Besides brightening up the place- they will decorate my alter again this year.  Why marigolds for the Day of the Dead holiday?

“Flowers, symbolizing the brevity of life, are massed and fashioned into garlands, wreaths and crosses to decorate the altar… The marigold is the most traditional flower of the season. In Aztec times it was called the cempasuchil, the “flower of 400 lives.”  The fragrance of the cempasuchil leads the spirits home… (www.mexconnect.comhttp://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1427

Other links to explore:

Embellish Yourself! Calavera Style

My Love affair with October begins with the wonderful Day of the Dead practice of decorating oneself as Calavera.

This happy custom comes from traditional Dia de Los Muertos celebrations back in the day in Mexico, where people would paint their faces and dress as a skeleton (calavera), and pretend to be either themselves or someone else- in plays, parades, and publicly performed skits.  I love this tradition! To come back as your skeleton self to the world of the living, means a slightly altered perspective no doubt- and helps create the funniest parodies of life and all our petty concerns within it. Of course, politicians and famous folks were the favored personas to target and enact.   Wouldn’t it be awesome to have this low-brow entertainment again! Every year in your local town plazuela!! It seems like it would bring release, and instant perspective into an often silly too-serious world.  So I start with myself, sing into a skeleton, add marigolds, swallows, and a few tattoos…

And its just ONE-more thing to adore about PicMonkey.  I think they must have these features seasonally- So I’m going to doll up everyone I have pics of. (heeeheee- beware my friends…;)

You can make yourself scary too. Especially if the photo is out-of-focus, your eyes were closed and you need to open them up with bright, orange, cat eyes!

A few fun things I’ve slipped into the timeline of late, between working/ touring/ performing:  is getting my recording gear spinning again, redesigning my studio, and making a few new jewelry bits.  Yay!!!

First, I’m finally on Pinterest.  I got on to figure out how to bring together different ideas for the studio I want, and a new artistic vibe in my space.  Of course Dia de los Muertos and mermaids will always reign supreme, but I’ve decided to let my scientific roots show a bit too within my artistic world.  In my previous incarnation, I studied marine biology, researched and raised fish, and moon lighted as an environmental scientist- all while playing drums in punk and power pop bands on weekends.

Only when music started to ‘eat my lunch’, did I decide to choose my Master.  Occasionally, science would appear: a band call ‘The Succulents’; sea sirens, lyrics of deep-sea lovers, secret powers of cyanobacteria…

Now, coincident with Fall, I’m craving bathymetry, scientific illustration, & glasswork in my soon-to-be new Apothecary Studio!

Lost and Found in Oakland

New pit mix puppy!!

 

Meet Chula.   My new exercise buddy and heart-throb.

She’s about 6 mos old.   A week before I got her, she was found wandering the heart of pit fighting territory in Oakland, sad, skittish, and searching the gutter for food.  The girl driving by – stopped, watched her and decided she was a good one to grab.  The rest is just uncanny synchronicity, universe-working-to-hook-us-up kinda’ magic.   She called me! “I hear you’re looking for a dog?”

I didn’t want a pit. Or a female. Or a puppy.  But this creatura, with her kisses & obviously giant heart, won me over.

She’s very nervous around pretty much everything.  I don’t think her Karma was so good before.  But Chula’s got luck and love in her corner now, so I hope she will relax and chill and start acting like she owns the place.   Despite her puppyness,  yes G, she is living up to her name.  😉

 

Inspired in Oakland: Bloomin’ Beauty

“True beauty is a ray
That springs from the sacred depths of the soul,
and illuminates the body, just as life
springs from the kernel of a stone and
gives colour and scent to a flower.”
― Rumi

Things are beginning to settle now with the flurry of musical tasks almost done; band & I have been working hard on some new tunes, getting ready for my CD release at Yoshi’s next week. I have some radio left to do, some tour details, and then a short break.  Whew!!  This Banksy bird (in SF) sums up what I feel; it’s time to stop the town crier and save my voice now 😉

Meanwhile, Spring has been everywhere exploding these last weeks.

We have a tiny tree in our front yard. Until it bloomed, we didn’t know what it was. Dogwood, we think. 😉

I am not usually a rose grrl, but since we have a community rose garden not far away- it has been fun to see them a little closer. There are hundreds of them!

“True beauty is a ray
That springs from the sacred depths of the soul,
and illuminates the body, just as life
springs from the kernel of a stone and
gives colour and scent to a flower.”
Rumi

Inspired in Oakland- Napoleon

The San Francisco Silent Film Fest kicked off last weekend here in Oakland, with the US premier of Napoleon, showing at the Paramount theater. I’m not sure what of those 3 morsels was more exciting!- that Oakland is the premier US city; seeing the 1927 version newly restored (by Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola, Zoetrope & others); or going to the opulent Paramount Theatre. Add to this Carl Davis conducting the Oakland

I can’t shake the images, even 5 days past, of last weekend’s Silent film fest premier of Napoleon: the visual profile of an emperor; the imposing black, French commander’s hat; those intense blue (?) eyes deeply contrasted in black-and-white in both the child and the man; his unflappable presence; the women and clothes; that long nose that seemed to grow more distinguished with each country overtaken… 😉   It was all unforgettable.

The San Francisco Silent Film Fest kicked off last weekend here in Oakland, with the US premier of Napoleon,  showing at the Paramount theater.  I’m not sure what of those 3 morsels was more exciting!- that Oakland is the premier US city; seeing the 1927 version newly restored (by Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola, Zoetrope & others); or going to the opulent Paramount Theatre.  Add to this Carl Davis in the pit, conducting the Oakland East Bay Symphony performing his own original score.  He last conducted this in London, 1981, to Francis Ford Coppola’s shorter version.

If you are anywhere close, you must go; there are only 4 US dates, the last 2 are this weekend in Oakland- 3/31 & 4/1.  This is truly rare and once-in-a-lifetime.  It is interesting to read/hear how many film directors say that this film changed their lives.  Yes, it is long.  But the full 8 hours has been restored down to 5.  And I can’t believe how quickly it went by, perhaps due to 3 intermissions and a long dinner break.  This is a perfect date event that you will remember.  But with so many silent film lovers in this crowd of almost 3,000, even if you come alone- you will be steeped in the excitement.

I recommend making dinner reservations somewhere nearby (Mama’s Vietnamese on 19th is fast and yummy).  And if cost is a factor- ask about obstructed view seats on the first balcony; they didn’t look too bad from a distance.  But know, this show is worth the splurge.

For me, this version was fascinating in its 1920’s romantic view of an emperor; enlightening in telling a history I wasn’t taught; powerful in showing a genius military strategist with an iron will, and; gorgeous, showing the timeless beauty of the woman in his life, with a breathtaking 1920’s Parisian party life scene.  I’m not sure why there are no other US dates- except for cost.  Here is a sneak peek.

Here are SF Gate details on why the film and showing are so rare, and below- see/hear director Kevin Brownlow on the restoration.

I’ll post more pics from the Paramount’s interior next.