Underneath all those cleverly protective, water-resistant, aerodynamic, heat-retentive feathers, there is indeed a lot of down. Oh, sure, it’s insulation. But I think it’s largely for snuggling little ones.
I also suspect there is good reason for all our bird-related child-rearing terms: we say that expectant mothers possess nesting instincts, that a careful parent is a mother hen, that being protected is taken under someone’s wing, that when our off-spring grow up, they spread their wings and fly away, leaving their parents to be empty-nesters. Birds are good at this mothering and rearing stuff. And back in the day, most people had backyard chickens to look to as examples.
In my chicken-keeping friend’s backyard, I see all that and the wonders of feathers’ beauty and function. I love white on white (and oh, that perfect touch of black in just the right places!) And then there’s all those layers overlapping and enfolding each other. Like an embrace.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind being taken under a wing now and then. Warm, protected, and downy underneath… .
In a friend’s backyard flock, there is a plain little hen who lays the most gloriously blue-green eggs. She also turns out to have this other glorious color trick: in full sun, her humble black feathers transform into iridescent jewels. Optical wizardry.
The astonishing thing is that she is such a very under-appreciated genius. This unsung color hero is the beleaguered lowest girl in the pecking order. She has to be fed separately to make sure she gets enough to eat.
I will not make the obvious comments about social injustices and the blindness of gallus gallus domesticus (or the rest of us). I will merely say that over and over again I have been made to see that things I thought ordinary are in some way most extraordinary. Keeping eyes, ears, mind, and heart open are hard to do, but the rewards can be astounding.
Bless you, “Vinnie,” for both your avian beauty and your patient perseverance. Look carefully, friends. Good things often come in plain-seeming packages.
Talk about nostalgia! This terrific show is the most serendipitous thing that’s happened to me for a while: As part of the celebration of the centennial of San Diego’s Balboa Park (and “The Panama Exposition” that occasioned the development of our famous park), The San Diego History Center reassembled a show of San Diego Landscapes that appeared at the 1915 expo, and there they hang once more. I mentioned this to my mother recently, and she told me something I never knew: that her parents came to San Diego to spend their honeymoon at The Panama Exposition. I got all goosebumpy, knowing that my grandparents had seen this very art show on that honeymoon trip. And here I am exhibiting my work right next to it… .
Noel-Baza Fine Art, formerly a brick and mortar gallery in Little Italy, has taken up residence as a sales gallery in the History Center, and are exhibiting a sister show of contemporary views of San Diego. My two pieces above are just a couple of the many they are showing. I am in the wonderful company of a big group of excellent San Diego artists:
Alison Haley Paul
Truly a bit of history, and some lovely, exciting painting. If you haven’t made plans to help celebrate our city’s jewel of a park, this is a great excuse. It’s a diverse eyeful of places you will recognize and appreciate differently after seeing them through these artists’ eyes – from the perspective of then, and of now.
Have been doing my own private rain dancing lately. Meteorological fact: California is in a severe drought. Every bit of humidity fills me with hope that drops will form and come to earth. Maybe that’s why I have begun this new series, Rain on Water. It feels like wishful thinking, an expression of hope. With the dearth of drops, what is a painter of rain to do? Call in reinforcements… .
Take one cloudy, dark day. Recruit a kind friend with a talent for photography and a good camera. Toss in a squirt bottle, a bucket, and a watering can. Add one beautiful Reflecting pool in Balboa Park (one of San Diego’s jewels.) Proceed to spray, drip, squirt, dribble, flick, sprinkle, and broadcast water drops onto the surface of said pool, snapping photos madly. Process photos, cropping, zooming, focussing, tweaking, until images emerge that grab the imagination.
But here’s the really magical part of this invocation: the most miraculous little surprises emerged when out of those big, encompassing images, I zoomed in on details. This circle of little koi, dancing up to the surface of that ripple, was a revelation. I had not seen them at all, either at the time, or in the bigger image.
Life and hope are everywhere. Keep your eyes open, and Think Rain… .
Cecilia lives in a straw bale house in Arizona, way out in the desert. When she looks out her bathroom window, she sees a big patch of cholla cactus covered in spines and fruit or flowers, depending on the season. Often it sports added charm in the form of a cactus wren. These speckled birds have figured out how to navigate some of the meanest, most aggressive cactus spines there are, and to nest and feed and rear their young amongst them. Talk about making lemonade out of a potential lemon; they represent a kind of existential optimism that I admire, and so does Cecilia. She wanted to look at her wall and be reminded of that everyday, and so this painting was born.
I love being able to make a small dream come true like that. Thank you for trusting me with your vision, Cecilia, and for the challenge that was this painting! And I mean that–those spines are not only a tactile challenge, but possibly the most complex visual I’ve ever executed. And that’s saying something!
Merry cholla one and all. Keep on keeping on, no matter what your personal spine factor may be… .