Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shells, and Words of Wisdom

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shell Art by Alla BaksanskayaShell Art by Alla BaksanskayaWords of Wisdom to Drive ByTiny Zen Rock SculptureTiny Japanese Zen rock sculptures which resemble pagodas  have been springing up in on the Mainline .  I have counted  about 5  different sculptures so far.  There is a rock sculpture in front of  The Hamper ( a thrift/consignment store) which keeps getting knocked down ( I’m assuming by angry  youths who have nothing better to do than be destructive).   But the sculpture always  magically get  re-assembled- sometimes in a matter of hours.  Who  ( or whom) is behind this wonderful subversive, quiet public art? Every time I discover another rock sculpture, I get happy. I appreciate this anonymous art.  I wonder if the artist will ever step forward.   It is an art mystery which is bringing me joy.

  Last month, I attended the Philadelphia Craft Show.   It was huge and overwhelming.  I had been to the craft show only once before about 12 years ago.  While there were so many amazing and talented craftspeople, I definitely picked out my 4 favorite  booths.  The first booth I loved was Roberta and David Williamson  ( jewelry).   They are  famous and were featured in the PBS documentary about Crafts in America. Their creations are incredible.  I wanted EVERYTHING  they were showing- especially their Victorian inspired magnified glass bauble necklaces and insect pieces.  I also loved Betsey Youngquist (  She makes amazing beaded sculptures and wall art- some with baby faces, toys,  hands, hamsas, and eyes.   Her art is truly fantastic!  I am a sucker for dioramas, and was thrilled by  the work of Christine R. Schukow (  Her dioramas  were full of humor.   Some of them light up.  AWESOME!   My favorite artist at the craft show  was Chris Roberts- Antieau

( .  She is a self taught outsider artist from Michigan ( everyone I mentioned is famous as is Chris).   She takes fabric to a whole new level.  She cuts and stitches  people and animals and  with text.  Her art is hilarious, uplifting and sublime.    I think my favorite piece she created was  a cartoon like panel piece about  “what if I owned a monkey?”   Her sense of humor is offbeat and quirky ( very me!).  I also  chatted with her briefly.  Very nice person.   I am in awe of all the artists I mentioned.

This past Saturday, an event I had been anxiously awaiting  happened.  It was the3rd annual Book,Paper, Scissors  artist’s book faire sponsored by  the Philadelphia Center for the Book( This past Saturday, an event I had been anxiously awaiting  happened.  It was the 3rd annual Book,Paper, Scissors  artist’s book faire sponsored by  the Philadelphia Center for the Book and held at the Central library.  I  stumbled upon the faire last year while looking for something else on the internet.   I  became conflicted about even blogging about the  event  because it is  such  a magical and intoxicating experience, that helps me fuel my own personal art obsessions and explorations.  I am also a paper and ephemera junkie.  Always have been.   This is why I was so ecstatic over the James Castle exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art last year.  My heart races at the thought of using an IBM Selectric typewriter.  I have decided to now share this great annual event.  Last year I spent 6 hours at the event.  I talked to many of the artists and really stopped to look at the work.  The  fair is not  like a flea market.  It requires you to go up to each table and  interact with the hand made books, paper and prints and engage the artists in dialogue.    The artists range in age and in education.  Many art students from the University of the arts who are studying book making but there are other artists who are self taught, graduated, or teachers.    I   scored  a few awesome handmade giant disc  lucite pendants with Superman comics on them from artist Lesley Mitchell (   I  bought some cool tiny notebooks from from egg cartons and margarine boxes from Tara O’ Brien- a  multi talent book artist who also knits.   I was in heaven as I looked at the collage books by artist Rebecca Kelly.  We talked about our love of artist  James Castle and she pulled out a book she made as an homage to him.   I also loved the  tiny hand  shaped  Victorian paper love tokens  made by Jennifer Rosen.  The story she told me about how she discovered the  love tokens was  very interesting.  Love token preceded valentines and were given to family members and friends.    The ones Jennifer Rosen made and were selling had an  intricate woven pattern with a heart in the middle of the hand.

Speaking of  Valentines- A few months ago I attended the Philadelphia Shell Show at the Academy of Natural Sciences.  I found out about  the event the night before and my gut feeling urged me to go.  I like shells.  I love the ocean but I couldn’t understand what compelling force was pushing me to attend a shell show.   I thought it would just be a room of over zealous shell collectors buying and selling seashells.  Well, yes there was a room of sea shells being sold but the shell show was so much more.  It was a combination of education, art and discovery.  The shell show had entries for shell art and sailor’s valentines.  It was the first time  I had seen or heard about sailor’s valentines.  What are sailor’s  valentines you ask?   Answer:  Sailor’s Valentines were originally souvenirs they brought home to  their loved ones after being away at sea.  Composed of  octagonal glass , these fronted  hinged  wooden boxes ranging in size   from 8 to 15 inches in width .  Inside they display  intricate symmetrical designs composed entirely of small sea  shells of various colors glued onto a backing.  Patterns often feature a center piece such as a compass rose or heart design . Some of the valentines have small shells spelling out sentimental love messages.  Sailor valentines were  originally popular  from the 1830s to the 1890s.    This  form of folk art  has been revitalized and  there are many artists and shell enthusiasts  making them today.    The shell show had entries of these Sailor’s valentines from all over the country; many from the Cape Cod area.    But my happiest discovery at the show was the shell art sculptures by Alla  Baksanskaya (  Alla  is originally from Azerbaijan but  has lived in Brooklyn since 1994.  Her 3D paintings and  shell sculptures are whimsical, naive, playful  and like the Sailor’s valentines, border on kitsch ( which I LOVE!).   Her art made me smile.  I love it.Shell Art by Alla Baksanskaya Sea Shell Sculpture by artist Alla Baksanskaya

For many, many months now,   I have been seeing these fantastic signs with spiritual messages on them in Wynnewood.  The signs  sit on a  grassy curb outside a large home and are designed  to be read and contemplated.   There are two sayings ( one on each side ) so cars going in either direction will get a message.  It almost reminds me of a suburban fortune cookie fortune.  The messages change about every two weeks.  A few weeks ago,  the sign was temporarily gone and I panicked a little.  I enjoy  seeing the messages.  I want to say a big THANK YOU to the family who has had the guts to post these  sayings which  are about treating others with kindness, love and looking at life  in a deeper and more profound way.  By having these signs up especially on the Mainline, I think it gives people a mini jolt.  I see so much unconscious behavior  and selfish acts driven by materialistic greed.  I ‘m so grateful there are at least few other people here trying to  raise  the consciousness of the Mainline.   Blame my frustration on being from California.  Happy Holidays.Excuse the  double photos. I am having issues with word press.  I will be writing another blog  in the very near future.



Words of Wisdom to live byWords of Wisdom to live by- the other sideWords of Wisdom to live by- the other side

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