Monday, July 29, 2013

News on Monday

I am super duper uber excited to announce that my designs are now available at a great little concept store in the city center! Garbage En. This cool little space is run by three funky gals with a big love for art, design and fashion. Just like me!  Giuliani and Serena work in collaboration creating a handbag and accessories line, while Sandra has become a fundamental part in helping them to create and launch their brand. Together they support both new and emerging as well as established designers from all over Italy. They have now invited me to be part of their collection. I am very thankful for this opportunity and I am most definitely looking forward to developing and making the most of this new relationship. If you are in Florence or planning a visit soon you can stop in and check out this lovely space on Via Cimatori 2r.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family Time

So where do I begin? It is incredibly hard to put into words how amazing the past two weeks have been. When you live far away from your family you start to accept the distance over time. I won't say you ever get used to it, but it does become a significant part of your relationships. Then something happens when you finally do get to see them again. It's like you miss them more the closer they are to you. Maybe its because you realize that the time will go by so fast and even in all the fun and discovering that is going on, you ultimately know that they will have to go back to their lives and you to yours. Or maybe because you get used to being without them in your day to day life and learn to love them from a distance and then all of a sudden there they are, right in front of you and it's more joy and excitement than you can stand! It's a bittersweet sensation that you want to hold onto for as long as possible. My only consoullation is knowing that she will be back. It may have been my sister's first trip but I know it won't be her last.
Of course I have seen my sister over the years when I returned to California for visits but this was so different. She is the first of my three siblings to come and visit and while my parents have been here several times, having my sister was incredibly important and special for me, not only becuase we were able to reconnect and bond as sisters but also becuase she now completely understands why I am here and how this beautiful, crazy, and grand little country feeds my soul. She truly knows me now and I know something more about her too.  It's an unspoken understanding that explains why I am here and not in LA. And knowing how much she loved it here makes me happier than I know how to explain, not for me, for her.  I know that this trip changed her in many ways too and probably in ways that she hasn't even realized yet and will continue to discover over time. 
We had the greatest time discovering and rediscovering not only Firenze but also Rome, Venice and Milan. Luigi was so fantastic too and I feel like he and I were able to reconnect and bond as well, the three musketeers rompin' and stompin' around the peninsula taking tons of photos and sippin' lots of Spritz! One big happy little family!  She didn't want to leave. I knew that was going to happen! I guess that just means she'll be back really soon! Now its time to get my two brothers over here! 
So here are some of my favorite photos of Bella Italia from our adventure! I hope you enjoy them! (If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen many of these already, sorry, I'm a little addicted to Instagram these days! ) 

              There were many of these going around!
           I absolutely love Venezia! It's a magical place!
                                                 I love you sister! With all my heart! 

I will now be spending the next five days with the other side of my huge international family! My brother in law lives in Australia with his wife and daughter and they're now here until Sunday, then L and I will be off to Calabria for some much needed beach time! 



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Advancing women artists

On Tuesday night I had the extreme privilege of viewing the Florence premier of the Emmy - arward winning PBS documentary Invisible Women based on Jane Fortunes book of the same name. I had a lump in my throat the enitre time.

The Advancing Womens Artists Foundation is an incredible organization founded by Jane which raises funds for the restoration of the forgotten women artists of the Renassiance as well as throughout the history of Florence. But not only do they raise funding, they also raise awareness and recognition of these extrodinarly talented women whose works have been sitting in the deposits of museums and churches for hundreds of years, some without so much as a coth to cover them and protect them from the elements. Forgotten and discarded simply becuase they were not seen as worthy as their male contemporaries.

The incredible work of Jane Fortune and foundations project director Linda Falcone have finally received their long awaited spotlight and the documentary will now be shown on PBS networks thoughout the United States. The exact dates have not yet been announced but in the mean time you can check out their website and read about all of the fantastic work they are doing.  They will be announcing dates and times as soon as they have the infomation and I will be doing the same here and on my facebook page. 

The lovely Jane Fortune (center) and Linda Falcone (left) and Sarah Morrison (US Consulate general, right) 

As a women artist myself the topic is near and dear to my heart and the dedication of Jane and Linda is truly inspiring. I get choked up just thinking about all that they have done. As soon as you hear them speak their passion is both evident and contagious.

The next goal of the foundation is to find these women a space of their own. A space where the works that have been restored can be put on display, shown to the public, travel the world and finally receive the recognition they deserve.
Irene Parenti Duclos

Copy of the Madonna del Sacco by Andrea del Sarto

Giovanna Fratellini, Self portrait 1720 circa,
Vasari Corridor, Florence
Artemisia Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba
And while we have come a long way as women aritists, we still have much further to go and this foundation supports women artists of today in this journey as well. 

                                            A packed house at the Odeon premier! 

If you are in Florence and would like to contribute in any way, including volunteering, (it was mentioned during the Q&A that volunteers of all kinds are needed, from help during events to website and PR work)  you can contact them and let them know you are interested.  You can also receive info about their current restoration projects, publications and events though their website or by liking their facebook page. And be sure to spread the word! You don't have to be in Florence to take part in their efforts either!

You can also find them on Vimeo and Amazon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Eye of the Beholder: How artists View themselves

On Wednesday I conducted my first studio visit for a group of fashion design students from Johnson & Wales University in the US.  I had a great time. The students were fantastic, enthusiastic (even though it was 38° C (100°F), they were champs in my little studio space!) and they completely inspired me. I hope I was able to do the same for them, even if it was just a little bit. They had great questions, some of which I am still thinking about even now a few hours later. And they even took notes! 

When the professor contacted me, I must admit I was a bit surprised initially. I was humbled to think that she felt my work and my story were interesting enough to share with aspiring fashion designers. Me? Really? I guess I just thought of myself as a beginner, a struggling, starving artist. What did I possibly have to offer these students? I remember when I was studying at Art Center College of Design, there was a required class called 'studio visits' where we would visit a different LA artist every Saturday for 14 weeks. I mean, how cool is that? So cool in fact that when I had an elective space two terms later I decided to take it again (different instructor, different artists) We would get to go to their studios and see where they created the work and ask them questions. It was great! 

I always remember being mesmerized, inspired and humbled and always thinking of them like rock stars and that it was something I would never be. But I would always try to soak up their insight and expertise and dream of getting to that level. But I think somewhere inside of me, I doubted myself and didn't know if it was possible. I still don't. I know I've come a long way. I know that I have grown and changed as an artist since those days of visiting their studios but I don't know that I every thought I was 'good enough' to actually be one of them. 
Sometimes as artists we start to believe we're worth only as much as someone is willing to pay even if they don't truly understand what we do or how we do it. We never think we're really quite 'good enough' and we are always struggling to 'explain' ourselves and why its worth what we are asking someone to pay for it. Even last summer when I had my first solo show and sold two pieces, I was almost surprised that someone was willing to pay (a decent sum of money) for my work. Maybe this is our way as artists of never letting our guard down so to speak or never letting ourselves get comfortable. Or perhaps its because we know there is still more to say. 

I know that I have a long way to go and I always tend to think that I will get there one day, but not necessarily that I am here. I will never stop growing and challenging myself to create new work but the point,  I suppose is, that we need to value who we are now. At this moment and how far we have come. And while answering the question of 'where do you see yourself in five years' think about where we were five years ago. Personally, I was working on a tiny single table in a tool warehouse without heat in the winter with paint chipping off the walls surrounded by  hammers and concrete mixers, to this amazing space that was nothing more than a sogno five years ago. 
One of my best girlfriends, Laura Josephine, very graciously reminded me of the process and compared it to my half marathon training. 

"Compare it to when you started training slowly for the half-marathon and one day you realize how far you've come but since the process takes a while you don't always notice until you see an end result. You've been consistent and true and haven't given up. You just cant see it yourself, but there are days when we see some jewelry (that for you is just other piece you've been working on) and it's like Whoa!!!" 

My intention is not to toot my own horn, but to possibly help other artists to know that they're not alone in feeling this way. We just need to make sure that WE are the ones who value what we do and not let what someone who may not know the first thing about the creative process undermine not only the work but the passion that goes into each and every object that we create. When we really stop and think about it, art and design are all around us. Someone thought about each and every thing that we use in our daily lives and that deserves our reflection and recognition. 

I am lucky that I get to live in a culture who still values the handmade and passion for design and craftsmanship. One of the students asked me Wednesday morning is if running a business in Italy was different to running a business in the US, and this is one things I didn't mention but I feel it is essential to what I do. And one day, metaphorically of course, (or maybe not, it could happen) I hope to run a full marathon and then maybe even an Ultra - Marathon! (that is definitely a metaphor!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Color Theory

To paint or not to paint, that is the question. Should contemporary gallery and museum walls be painted any color other than white? Should the 'white cube' as its known be abolished for good?  It's a long running debate in the art world and has been addressed by many artists, myself included. In fact for my senior thesis show I painted the gallery walls bright pink and added big painted flowers, but that was the work, not the back drop and was a direct statement on the white cube. Another student made a white cube piƱata and as a performance piece beat it until colorful confetti came spilling out all over the gallery floor. Fabulous piece. Seriously great work by Rocio Mendoza. 

There are some museums that are opting for colored walls, mostly for historic works and for specific shows that fit the mood and feeling of the work itself. But in the contemporary art world, white is still widely acknolowdged to be the best choice. There are some art critics such as Jonathan Jones who argue that anything but white is distracting and compromises the work itself and the only colors we should be focusing on are the colors in the artwork.

I happen to agree. I love me a crisp white wall to hang my work. I don't want anything pulling the eye away or changing the feeling of the piece. White is bright and cheerful yet goes unnoticed in a gallery setting. If walls are painted in any other color it is inevitable that this will somehow become a focus, mostly because it's not the norm and anyone who frequents art shows will be interested in the the chosen color and how and if it effects the work ultimately leading the discussion away from the art. 


When it comes to interior design my ideas are very different and while I still love a crisp white room with bright colorful furniture and pops of color I also love colored walls. My bedroom is chocolate brown and my kitchen is dark red. Which, by the way I later found out was the worst possible choice I could make since red is know to increase appetite. We now eat in the white living room. 
But art is not interior decoration and deserves to be the center of attention and the only focus in a gallery or museum setting. 

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let's discuss, leave your comment below. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rip Everybody Off

I'll never forget the first day of my TDS (trans disciplinary studies) painting class when one of the professors said to all of us that the best advice he could give us as young artists was, 'steal, steal, steal'. 

A few days ago an artist who I greatly admire posted a comment on her facebook page that was very interesting and thought provoking. The topic was in regards to teaching techniques to other artists and what those other artists then do with the techniques. Apparently some don't learn the technique and then use it to create their own work as the classes are intended but rather they copy the techniques step by step, pass them off as their own then turn around and teach them to others for a profit. Of course my first reaction to this was, 'how dare they?' But then I got to thinking about it, and I do think that trying to pass off anothers technique as ones own is dishonest, but I'm not sure that I necessarily think its wrong to re-teach the technique as long as credit is given where it is due. 

As you can imagine the topic received tons of comments and there are those who believe that since the teacher was sharing her technique and the student paid to take the class they are free to use it in any way they choose. Others believe that this is absolutely wrong and should never be done and that the offending teacher should be reprimanded in some way (and obviously quite teaching the classes.) 

When I worked as a tour guide and relayed information to tourists about the art and history of Florence I certainly didn't site the author of each book I read or professor who lectured on the subject and I was certainly working for profit. I this really any different? Why? How? 

Where is the line between copying and being influenced by other artists? And is there really anything wrong with copying in the first place? Is imitation the best form of flattery? Or is it immoral and lacking respect?

I know that I am always looking at other artists and designers for inspiration as well as their handling of space and materials, of course these influences are bond to come out in my work in one way or another. Every artist would like to think of themselves as one of kind and completely original but  influences and the world of imagery that we live in tends to creep in. What is the difference between influence and copycat-ing? And do we as artists have a moral obligation to each other? 

Manet clearly copied Titian's Venus of Urbino (above) and the Olympia became one of his most important works. Is it ok to copy as long as its not a contemporary? Is there a statute of limitations?*

I'm interested in what other's opinions are on this subject because I truly have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I understand the frustration of an artist who works hard to create new and interesting work in a field that is difficult to make a living in to begin with,  but is there really anything that hasn't been done before and can we truly claim anything as our own? As artists when we put our work out into the world we essentially give up control of what happens to it from that point forward. Personally, I try not to worry so much about people stealing my ideas and try to concentrate more on the work itself. I also wonder why this is such a touchy subject in the art/handmade world and not so much in the fashion industry? Or is it an issue there too and I just don't know about it?  A trend is generally started by one designer and the the rest follow suite and then there are knock-off's galore! 

Let's discuss. What do you think?Where do you stand on the subject? How do you interpret Picasso's quote about stealing? Please comment below. 

* I know that there is indeed a statute of limitations when it come to copyright laws, but I'm more interested in artist edict.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Musings

                              Inspired by bright Colors, bold patterns today! Happy Monday!



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