Friday, February 19, 2010

GOLD or GAY? What is the question?


Remember ELVIS STOJKO the stocky little macho Canadian who just never could seem to get it fully together and finally ended up with a silver medal or two?

His KUNG FU inspired programs and garb just didn’t add up to gold and his vocal swipes at other skaters being effeminate and how disgusted he was (is) about judging that forces male skaters to be ballerinas didn’t make him beloved in skating circles.

I guess because they couldn’t get anyone better YAHOO decided to make ENVIOUS---ooops I’m sorry, ELVIS their figure skating expert-there was a truly stupid move.

Almost before the ice was frozen STOJKO was already grousing about the judging and effeminate men and taking shots at Johnny Weir (outspoken, flamboyant and openly gay).

He also made it clear that the new judging rules made it impossible for any MAN to compete without compromising their masculinity (blah blah blah).

Last night in Canada the first American since Boitano took the Gold Medal in Men’s Figure skating.

I didn’t love his over starched gel ridden hair, I could have done without his rhinestone snakes but at the end of it all there was no doubt in my mind that Evan Lysacek was the winner hands down and the hip pumping Viktor Petrenko wannabe, Evgeni Plushenko, who threw off a sloppy quad, wasn’t the winner.

Figure skating has changed over the years-2 time gold medalist Dick Button doing his late 40’s routines in today’s Olympics would not even be in contention.

Singles and doubles have been replaced by triple, triple combinations, the school figures which used to always win the Soviets the medals are gone and artistry has ranged widely and caused the International skating commission to change rules and scoring-they even outlawed “dying on the ice” to help bring the sport back from being too Avant Garde.

Some skating fans will remember Philippe Candelorio a French superstar skater, who did everything including stripping down to a dance belt in his routines-happily those days seem to be gone.

The argument became an issue of the two camps of skaters-the jumpers and the artists.
The former spends a lot of time wandering around the rink between their jumps and jump combinations the latter try and tell a story with their choreography and work the jumps into the routine-there are also bonuses for doing jumps and difficult moves later in the program rather than “front loading” (doing all jumps in the first 2 of 4 ½ minutes).

Last night there was no doubt that Pleshenko had front loaded the program and much of what he did between the jumps was sloppy and a little tasteless-trying to cash in on Viktor Petrenko's sexy ice persona.

Petrenko at his best was not only handsome but skated like a ballet dancer; Pleshenko will never live up to those standards.

After losing the gold and settling for silver he vocally jibed that the American winner wouldn’t even try a quad and made the loss versus win all about that particular jump rather than a complete program.

Backed up by Stojko the jumpers have been unanimous in attempting to ruin Evan Lysacek’s win. Moreover they claim that this win has now reduced men’s figure skating to the status of a dance performance and no longer a sport.
WHY is this important?

Because it once again shows how thinly veiled machoism and homophobia continues to be, how insidious hate and misinformation, and how many will join in when it comes to discrimination and ignore inclusion based on what?

FEAR.

When it comes to any explanation about WHY any of these stupid short sighted comments and the acceptance of homophobia is so easily tolerated it always comes back to the Bible.

Under the separation of church and state which the drafters of the U S Constitution so vigorously fought for Biblical references are irrelevant.

Yet they continue to be the scale by which such arguments are debated.

ALL male skaters are not gay, all gay men are not effeminate and all effeminate men are not gay.

I don’t know what Evan Lysacek’s sexuality is and I don’t care the point is when the dust dies down and the epithets stop flying he didn’t win on artistry-he and Pleshenko we tied on that score he out jumped and out spun his rival and won on the very battlefield that is being challenged.

Evan deserves to enjoy his win without having to qualify anything but the amount of work and personal investment he put into training for the triumph of his career thus far.

This then goes for ANY artist who excels and is recognized for their accomplishments.
We are so repressed in this country especially- we live for conjecture and we want to know what celebrities are doing behind closed doors---look at how they speculated about George Clooney-he’s the Rock Hudson of today-some people will never believe he isn’t gay and the women around him merely beards.

Isn’t it time we stopped judging people by their sex lives and started appreciating them for their talents?

I recently took the time to reread LEVITICUS and let me tell you-if you haven’t read it you should-it’s the part that the Christian Right and the Mormons use to support their HATE SPEAK on homosexuality-I hope when they make those speeches they aren’t wearing silk and wool or a poly-cotton blend because if they are they have committed a sin that is the same as the one they are rallying against-if they go out and eat lobster afterward they are most certainly destined for hell---according to Leviticus every picture of Jesus Christ shows a sinner since he is seldom depicted with the proper non sinful hair style the Bible allows.

People don’t consider these and many other ludicrous laws in the Hebrew (old Testament) Bible but they quickly latch on to the one’s they like and chose to support.

HYPOCRIT is the term for that and I think it’s also a sin-and perhaps the worst one in MY book.

TALENT, ARTISTRY, CREATIVITY…gifts, great gifts and those who own them and excel in them should be lauded not slandered.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SLIDESHOW

My current slideshow features hand drawn or painted art I have done in the last year or so; mostly in the last few weeks with some digital enhancements-I have limited editions available of most of these drawings as ATCs-the originals are either already sold or up for sale...I will be opening an ETSY store sometime in the near future with custom greeting cards, my original artwork, prints etc.
Thanks for keeping track of me via my BLOG

Rick

KA Why? CUTE or Crap?


Kawaii…

I thought it was some weird hybridization of Kona and Hawaii---but no---it’s a Japanese thing about cute.

You may or may not know that I worked for sometime at Disneyland as a Leather Writer.
The leather booth is in Frontierland across from the old Davy Crockett Frontier Outpost and shooting Gallery tucked next to the door into a large gift shop that used to be an arcade and the Pendleton Wool shop.

Basically you engrave leather objects with the guests name using a high speed engraving tool-the friction removes the tanned surface exposing a lighter colour (or sometimes removes a light coating exposing a dark colour).

It takes an ability to judge space and a style of hand writing that adapts well to a space about ½ inch by 2 inches---I haven’t done leather writing now for about a year but they have replaced the hand done items with a computer cutter.

Okay, so the reason I bring this up is that the cute metallic stamped key rings and colorful bracelets hand engraved fit right into the world of KAWAII and I met MANY Japanese guests because of my job.

The chorus of squealed KAWAIIs when I had finished their items was like an ovation…
Japanese people for the most part-and I’m speaking of people visiting from JAPAN as tourists-are surprisingly outgoing and friendly.

The young ladies who travel in posses are giggly and fun and have an interesting charm in their effervescence…I always wondered how different they are at home?

The clothing and makeup belies the repressed Asian woman that was the image of my youth-these are fashion forward young women who combine riotous colors and styles to make the street fashions which are so popular in Japan today and which influence the fashions of the world.

The language barrier (which always surprised me-I thought all Japanese spoke good English-not so) prevented me from an empirical research project on WHY the Japanese have embraced KAWAII so fervently.

Food with faces, bright colors, and big eyed characters…KAWAII has gone far beyond Hello Kitty and Animae to become its own spectrum of art forms that are combined seemingly randomly but appreciated from a distance one discovers a pattern in the randomness.

Pink, red, purple are all Kawaii-a group of Japanese girls can strip a display of anything in those colors immediately and they will be looking around for more…Pink encompasses magenta, fuchsia, heliotrope, the entire range of dilute reds.

There is also a baby element to KAWAII.

Things have to have a certain naive innocence, a wide eyed open quality that makes one smile or do that AWWWWWWW sound that inevitably comes with little fluffy bunnies and kittens.

The art and architecture of Japan has an elegant rigidity that would seem to eschew KAWAII as bad taste.

I believe the Japanese KNOW that the cuteness has a “too muchness” about it and frankly don’t care.

In a world of Tatami mats and Shoji screens, Kimono and Kabuki there is room for a more relaxed art form that doesn’t require reverence to enjoy it.

It would be interesting to see BUNRAKU puppetry meet KAWAII in some new art form that outdoes the old Sid and Marty Kroft Puffenstuff/poupee de Paris shows.

Since my initial encounters with KAWAII it has become far more complicated and I simply don’t have the interest to really explore it beyond a passing knowledge and my own peculiar KAWAII pieces.

I recently did a series of collage cards that featured intricate Japanese inspired backgrounds and colors off setting Kawaii (or some version thereof) sticker characters.

I am waiting for the reviews-they satisfied me but how will they play with true KAWAII devotees?

While I still don’t get it I know I am able to produce it because I have that stamp of approval from my Disney days making the Kawaii bracelets and key rings for the Japanese schoolgirl/tourists.

The obvious question to me is from here, WHERE?

Where will the Kawaii movement go next? They have discovered, done and abandoned cupcakes, they have humanized both sushi and Tofu and now they are into the intricate variations of styles that all fall under Kawaii as an umbrella but are on their way to being separate entities and branches on the great celestial plum bough that spawned this insanity in the first place.

Love it or hate it KAWAII is here, but will it stay?

That remains to be seen.

I just hope the west can stay out of it and leave it to the east-we don’t need any more plastic junk cluttering up our already Wal-Marted civilization.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Innocent or Subversive-you be the judge...


Funny thing happened the other day-a swap hostess dropped me a note that she had received my cards and was concerned about the one with the nudity…

???

I checked back through my digital library and I had used the central figure from Bougereau’s painting NIGHT as part of a digital collage---you can see the figure in my slide show on the NIGHT card or above this post on the card in question.

She does have (obviously) exposed breasts…I think it’s quite tasteful and you see as much or more on cable television less artfully presented.

I wasn’t offended in the least-rather I suggested we offer the swappers a choice of a G rated card-you know one of those syrupy sweet pink and blue things with a smiling Victorian girl with a puppy or kitten and forget me nots - I actually DO those sorts of compositions…occasionally.

Americans (especially) need to get over the prudish puritanical attitudes and come into a new century with the rest of the world.

We all have the same bits and pieces beneath our clothes-what exactly do we find offensive about showing it artistically?

The famous impressionist painter Mary Cassatt painted many mother and child paintings some of them showing breast feeding-that was back in the early part of the last century.

Nudes are fairly integral to much of the painting and art in the 1700s---ceilings, nymphs and satyrs, various Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses cavort artistically draped in silken, diaphanous veils.

DAVID…the supersized marble biblical hero carved by Michelangelo…NUDE…and we see that he is not so supersized in one area especially.

When they put up a copy of it some years ago here in Orange County they had to add a fiberglass fig leaf-that would have been in the 60’s---are we nuts???

Pagan fertility statues used to have very obvious male members protruding from them until the Christian missionaries went around and broke them all off with hammers---they didn’t bother with the fig leaves they just left the disfigured fellows maimed and embarrassed for the ages.

SO….here we are in the second decade of the 2,000’s and we still have a problem with NUDITY---and especially nudity that has been around for over a hundred years?
In discussing this with the swap hostess apparently someone in the past had gone ballistic about a similar image calling it “PORNOGRAPHIC”.

If you want to see pornography look at pictures of dead and maimed soldiers from the useless wars we fight, starving children in a world where the average McDonalds throws away the equivalent of a quarter cow a day rather than give perfectly good food to the homeless.

I guess my views on pornography are a bit slanted.

To me put any human in a degrading position that they don’t want to be in and you have a questionable image---there doesn’t have to be any nudity involved.

There are slim lines between art, erotica and pornography and they are transient lines that change all the time...often with the political party currently controlling the White House.

Women go bare breasted on beaches the world around but you can go to jail for wearing a thong on the beach in parts of Florida.

It seems that people don’t understand that when you are less puritanical and you take the snickering and leering out of nudity and sexuality things go better in society.

The more repressive you are as a civilization the more violent rapes and sexual assaults become common.

I think good taste dictates that we don’t march about genitals to the breeze while we do our grocery shopping or dropping the kiddies at school.

Common sense must prevail somewhere.

I, myself, never saw either of my parents unclothed beyond a robe.

I grew up in a fairly permissive environment, moderately liberal thoughts and views on art and film.

I am quite modest, I am also (I think) quite aware of what is tasteful and what is not…

Bougereau painted tasteful nudes he didn’t portray women as silicone enhanced bimbos in florescent thongs dripping sun tan oil and biting pearl necklaces (see Sports Illustrated Swim suit editions).

I doubt that anyone noticed very much that his work had bare breasts in them-it wasn’t a big deal in art back then it happened all the time.

I try to be sensitive about the whole business (as silly as I find it) and if someone makes a point that they don’t like nudity then I try and avoid it as my work concerns THEM but they also have the right of self censorship-everyone does.

I am astonished by people who complain about films that they saw and the nudity (seldom the violence which I think is much more damaging) and when asked if they walked out they say NO…well that was your chance to self censor-if you find it offensive turn it off, walk out, don’t go into a place where nudity is probably going to happen.

That is YOUR choice but don’t censor my tastes and everyone else’s to suit yourself.

Pornography (noun)
1. The explicit depiction of sexual subject matter, especially with the sole intention of sexually exciting the viewer.
2. (usually humorous) The graphic, detailed, often gratuitous depiction of something.

In The Four Pillars of Wisdom, he devotes a well-deserved chapter to the financial press and its weakness for "financial pornography"—lurid coverage of star money managers. (Seattle Times, August 4, 2002)


The above definition is from Wikipedia.

I don’t think Bougereau or Michelangelo or Rousseau or any of the great artists were painting their pictures (at least the ones they showed publicly) for the sole intention of exciting the viewer.

I do think that many modern film makers and photo journalists gratuitously depict violence in a graphic, detailed way.

If one is so repressed or unsettled mentally that a pair of breasts or a flaccid penis is sexually exciting to them---they need to be hospitalized and treated because NEITHER of those separately or together fulfills the definition of pornography.

My Mother loved what we lightly referred to as “Tits and feather” shows in Las Vegas-those productions dripping rhinestones and ostrich plumes with beautiful women elegantly strolling about the stage often bare breasted.

She and I saw MANY of them together-she said that with all the distractions she often forgot that the women were not wearing tops…she had been raised on Ziegfeld and Erroll Carroll shows and she understood the line where taste and elegance starts and stops…she, herself, was very conscious of her own modesty and would never have appeared in any less than what she thought was appropriate for her age and station.
She also explained to me in great detail once what the difference was between a “girlie” calendar and the famous Marilyn Monroe calendar-to her one was tasteless and the other art but neither one was, on the surface, pornographic.

I guess because she had education in fine art and had come from an environment of good breeding she eschewed the pedestrian morality of some.

I hope that we don’t as a society, slip back into being a repressed, censoring bunch of blue noses.

Often those who speak the loudest against a thing are the very ones who are most involved in enjoying that thing (see many evangelic/right wing Christians).

It’s time to just relax a bit and see things for what they are, innocent until proven pornographic.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A bridge to the WORLD...

I have been thinking about how amazing the world we live in is…

Could you have imagined 20 years ago that you would be connected to the world via a box in your home?

That you would have “friends” and “compatriots” around the globe and could access them at the speed of light?

I have the luxury of Wi-Fi so I seldom go near my almost brand new desk top PC with its fabulous wide screen and gigabytes of Ram memory-I do everything via my wireless hookup in BED…my laptop has become my best friend and is like some hometown newspaper that I can’t do without.

I may have recounted somewhere along that the letters had worn off the keys and I am a visual typist as much as touch so I had to have the keyboard replaced but couldn’t bear the idea that I would be without my laptop for several days so I got the dealer to send the keyboard to me and I carried it and the laptop into the shop where they fixed it while I waited.

A little obsessive I admit but priorities are priorities…

Email is one of those thing about which I am still quite ambivalent.

As much as I don’t love the idea I long for the day when video messages are easy and common because the voice and inflection and facial expressions are included…email is too precarious and I notice is often misconstrued and the cause of DRAMA.

If one is somewhat articulate and uses words deftly email can become a razor that wielded thoughtlessly can slash deeply.

One must be always aware of the line of a thought and be sure that the thought is well finished and correctly conveyed.

I have to admit that I am an easily annoyed curmudgeon when it comes to poor English usage especially “I seen…” and similar colloquial misusages…it takes my entire singular, self awareness not to correct people or worse shoot off an email that suggests a brush up course in English 1.

I thing “elitist snob” is the phrase that comes to mind and for that I am ashamed.
There is another frustration in the wired world of the internet-we touch people’s lives and they ours but only in a cyber sense way…to me that’s too bad.

I try my best to get to know people as much as I can via email-I have even arranged phone calls to get better connected but think how often it might be nice to call up an internet friend and run out for coffee or lunch and enjoy the luxury of an in person visit…alas they’re three thousand miles away, even three hundred…it makes that spontaneous interaction impossible.

At this point I am in touch with people on a worldwide basis-all of North America but also places like Australia and Finland…Malaysia…astonishing.

I have a great time taking my mail swap art trades to the post office where in my little world the postal workers know me and share my adventures via where are my cards (ATCS) off to today?

They are not connected to the world in this way and don’t understand how I can send off bits of my work to relative strangers…any of you reading this are probably nodding because you understand that it’s what we do, this is not foreign territory to those of us who mail swap and share e lists about our interests.

I send art supplies to and share my product finds with my friend Dian or add a little extra “Cast Member” flash to a package for Zoobekkah in Orlando…Aquarelle Dream is in Finland…there’s GrannyStamper, DJ4ART, so many more people…dear Kristal and RESI and my older friends ALLTHUMS (so special I made a trip across the friendship bridge to Canada to meet her and her hubby) and Francine (brushstroke) who I will visit in Yuma later this month…I drove to Las Vegas to have lunch with a group of these people some years back…

I guess the point to this musing in the dark cold early morning is we do touch each other’s lives and I suppose if it’s meant to be we do it via the ether or in person eventually but back to that sentence that started all this, “AREN’T WE LUCKY?”.

No one needs to feel alone if they are connected to the world but there is a caveat here as well-there are delicate people behind the bravado on occasion-shut ins, exiles, hermits who only have the internet by which to join the human race; either by necessity or by choice they are only capable of the tenuous contact that is the pristine sterile world of email and list posts.

We need to be aware that as damaged people we must trek carefully where our “kingdom” touches these people.

It’s a land of dragons and unknown traps and pitfalls - go there on high alert!
I have traversed those perilous places and survived ---barely.

I have also seen some succumb and fade away because of the lurking unexpected.

As lucky as we are we also put ourselves in the jeopardy of being disappointed, disillusioned…disheartened; I think it’s worth it in the long run but there have been times when I wasn’t quite so sure…

One last thought-I often become effusive and excited and that can be misconstrued easily as intrusive.

I have felt people draw back from a too soon offer of openness and honesty-some only want or can only handle the slimmest of contacts.

I watched a TV show recntly about string theory, physics, alternate universes and dimensions...things I find fascinating despite my decidely right brained tendencies.

There is an interesting theory that all the various alternate dimensions are located on membranes-infinate 4 dimensional planes that are seperated barely in the great void and somewhere in the distant past two of these "BRANES" happened to touch creating the BIG BANG where all sorts of stuff that hadn't been there suddenly flew from that universe into ours...thats a very simplistic explanation of a show that took 2 hours to unroll so just go with me on this one...

We are, each of us, a membrane in cyberspace amd where we touch information, friendship, personal hardships and triumphs, all sorts of stuff that wasn't in our various universes before flows back and forth...

Some of us have more room in our dimensional space than others so I guess at the end of the day we take that of what we are offered which we are able to accept and offer back what we can or what is acceptable, welcomed.

Maybe that's enough but, regardless, it's what we have for now.