My sake, a print

“It’s not art for art’s sake, it’s art for my sake. “
– D.H. Lawerence

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Of Course, A Watercolour

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.” 
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Look closely and you will see a heart.

This Valentines day, as I contemplate love, fear, risk and all that spring and winter brings me, l’ll take Mr. Saint-Exupéry’s advice and accept (stay open to) them all.

valentine painting

Terribly Understood, A Charcoal

Because with alarming accuracy

she’d been identifying patterns
I was unaware of—this tic, that
tendency, like the way I’ve mastered
the language of intimacy
in order to conceal how I felt—

I knew I was in danger
of being terribly understood.”

– Stephen Dunn

Below is my representation of intimacy. I love charcoals and although I’ve been working more with acrylics and watercolors the last few years, charcoal is my very first love – it was the medium I found at age 12 or so and remains my favorite…like an old friend who understands me..

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Faith, A Watercolor with Leonard Cohen

On three different occasions this week, with three different people, conversations led to thoughts on love, belonging, our past and what we keep from it, as well as the rational and irrational mind (the heart and the head that is.) After considering all the conversations combined and all the different opinions of those I’m close to, I decided that for me personally, it comes down simply to faith.

My own idea of faith doesn’t encompass religion either, and in fact I don’t believe in religion or the church and mostly organizations of any kind worry me. I do however, have a strong faith in humanity, in something greater than myself, in love and even in the irrational mind.

I had had the idea that I would write about the subject, but instead I sat and painted my depiction of faith, both in something greater, and something deeper than the rational mind might allow. The drawers of the chest represent all the little places and files we keep within our minds. Those places that challenge our faith.

And who better to speak of faith, but the great Leonard Cohen, with one of my favorite songs ever, Hallelujah..

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I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well, really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Modern Love

I’ve loved design and architecture for the whole of my adult life. While a Fine Art major in college years ago, I had considered studying design instead of scientific illustration (I ended up with a degree in Literature and Writing in the end…go figure..)

There are many different types of architectural design I like, but none so dear to my heart as Midcentury Modern – Desert Modernism to be specific. Brought on by a mixture of both the International style and Bauhaus Movement, each building has function, style and a grace that makes my heart go pitter patter.

There is nowhere else in the world you can find more mid-century marvels than in Palm Springs, California. Recently the Art Museum of Palm Springs (a fantastic place to visit if given the opportunity) opened the Architecture and Design Center in the historic Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan building designed by renowned modern architect E. Stewart Williams.

Palm Springs itself (one of my favorite places to visit in the United States) has managed to keep its Hollywood flare. It wasn’t a place stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the likes went to bask on the beaches. It’s where they went to have dinner parties, lounge by private swimming pools like desert lizards. It’s where the cocktail hour was serious business…and still is.

I’ll not forget the residents of today though. They are as contemporary and modern as the architecture itself and I adore their flamboyancy. I’ll write about them in another post though. This post is strictly architecture and design.

I was salivating at the idea of the new museum so naturally this week I headed to Palm Springs.

Being a small city, I was able to walk to most places although I did rent a bike (a lovely city cruiser with a basket and bell) for three house early in the morning. This helped me cover more ground on my tour of homes. It was a sunny 75 degree and not a cloud in the sky. I had headed into the neighborhoods and downtown. I had wanted to view my favorite house – The Kaufmann Desert House. The Frey House II (designed by Albert Frey, another favorite of mine) sits on a hillside and is private so I was unable to see one of my other great loves..but oh well.

After my long ride, I showered, changed and set out on foot to the museum. First I stopped by the Art Museum to do some Christmas Shopping and see the exhibits. I then headed to The Architecture and Design Museum – saving the best for last.

Deep sigh….

It was quiet inside as it was mid-day and everyone else was having lunch or just waking from the last nights partying (they party a lot there.)

I was in heaven. The current exhibit, An Eloquent Modernist: E. Stewart Williams, Architect, showcases Williams’, as well as his sons, dedication to both good city planning and even better modern architecture.

I could go on and on here and I can’t recommend the exhibit enough. So for anyone interested, you can find more information at http://www.psmuseum.org/architecture-design-center/

With regards to my favorite Kaufmann Desert House, I was hoping the house, designed by Richard Neutra (http://www.ncmodernist.org/neutra.htm) would be open to the public in February during Modernism Week (February 12-22nd) but I believe it wont be (insert sad face here.) I will, however, be viewing the Frey House II (insert happy face here.)

Below are a few photos I took while on my cruiser. I’ve chosen not to convert them to black and white as I believe the desert colors are quite lovely. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.
-Frank Lloyd Wright

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Exceptionally Quiet, A Charcoal Sketch

“I have often wondered whether especially those days when we are forced to remain idle are not precisely the days spend in the most profound activity. Whether our actions themselves, even if they do not take place until later, are nothing more than the last reverberations of a vast movement that occurs within us during idle days.

In any case, it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy. The days when even our hands do not stir are so exceptionally quiet that it is hardly possible to raise them without hearing a whole lot.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

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Lunar Moon Mood, A Painting and Poem with Robert Creeley

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A Form of Women
by Robert Creeley

I have come far enough
from where I was not before
to have seen the things
looking in at me from through the open door

and have walked tonight
by myself
to see the moonlight
and see it as trees

and shapes more fearful
because I feared
what I did not know
but have wanted to know.

My face is my own, I thought.
But you have seen it
turn into a thousand years.
I watched you cry.

I could not touch you.
I wanted very much to
touch you
but could not.

If it is dark
when this is given to you,
have care for its content
when the moon shines.

My face is my own.
My hands are my own.
My mouth is my own
but I am not.

Moon, moon,
when you leave me alone
all the darkness is
an utter blackness,

a pit of fear,
a stench,
hands unreasonable
never to touch.

But I love you.
Do you love me.
What to say
when you see me.

Still, A Watercolor with Pablo Neruda

“Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.”
– Pablo Neruda
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Imperfect, A Painting

“We worship perfection because we can’t have it; if we had it, we would reject it. Perfection is inhuman, because humanity is imperfect.”
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

While an art student many years ago my professor told me that none of my pieces were ever quite finished.  That if I wanted them to be perfect, I’d have to finish them. I would explain that I was indeed “finished” and had no more to give to the piece, much to his frustration and dismay. On the occasion that I would return to a piece and try to make it “perfect” for him I would end up disliking it. Although there are some paintings that I take months to work on and continue to go back to, it isn’t to make them “perfect” – on the contrary, it’s just because I’m not done and still have something to contribute to it that is quite real. I have considered that I am simply not a perfectionist, although maybe I just find beauty in the imperfect things.

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Dreams, A Painting

“I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake. In dreams I have achieved everything.”
– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Dream, Jennifer Allison

Two Women, A Painting

“There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.”
― Anaïs Nin

I’ve spent the last several days working on a series of paintings using new mediums, techniques and colors. It’s been unseasonably warm and sunny the last week or so here in the Northwest. Not wanting to forgo painting, I’ve spent a great deal of time in front of the open window, trying to get the best of both worlds – the outdoors and indoors…
Jennifer Allison

Autumn, A Painting

self portrait

Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  Originally this painting was to be my representation of the Red-Light district in Frankfurt, Germany.   Although for some odd reason it morphed into a painting of fall, or autumn, with all of the reds, yellows and browns – which I happened to finish on the first day of Spring.  Odd..

I’ve had multiple conversations lately both here on One Street Shy and in private about Rainer Maria Rilke, who happens to be one of my favorite authors of all time.  Sometimes feelings are lost in translation so I have posted Rilkes thoughts on Autumn in both his mother-tongue and in English.  Seems fitting.

“Zu keinem anderen Zeitpunkt (als Herbst) bewegt sich die Erde lassen sich eingeatmet werden in einem Geruch, der Reife Erde; in der Geruch ist in keiner Weise eine Verschlechterung an den Geruch des Meeres, bitter wo grenzt es an Geschmack und vieles mehr süss wie Honig, wo sie das Gefühl haben, dass sie den ersten Tönen. Mit Tiefe in sich, Dunkelheit, etwas von der schweren fast.”

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”  – Rainer Maria Rilke

Tertiary, A Photograph

“GEOLOGY, n. The science of the earth’s crust –to which, doubtless, will be added that of its interior whenever a man shall come up garrulous out of a well. The geological formations of the globe already noted are catalogued thus: The Primary, or lower one, consists of rocks, bones or mired mules, gas-pipes, miners’ tools, antique statues minus the nose, Spanish doubloons and ancestors. The Secondary is largely made up of red worms and moles. The Tertiary comprises railway tracks, patent pavements, grass, snakes, mouldy boots, beer bottles, tomato cans, intoxicated citizens, garbage, anarchists, snap-dogs and fools.”
– Ambrose Bierce

Bed, Jennifer Allison
Bed, Jennifer Allison

 

 

Janus, A Painting

“Sensual and spiritual are not easy words to use; that there are, perhaps, not two
Aphrodites, but one Aphrodite with a Janus face.” 
– E.M. Forster, The Longest Journey

I am preparing for my first one-woman art exhibit in June at a local gallery.  This particular watercolor painting is rather large in size for me, but was always one of my favorite little sketches.  I tend to paint and draw sensuality as exhibited here in “Janus.” With this show preparation comes an opening of insecurities, moods of every shade and a sweet time of self-reflection.

Janus - Jennifer Allison
Janus – Jennifer Allison

Grace, A Charcoal

“The light of love, the purity of grace,
The mind, the Music breathing from her face, 
The heart whose softness harmonised the whole —
And, oh! That eye was in itself a Soul!” 
– George Gordon Byron

I have very few regrets in life, although I have had many blunders.  The one I do have is related to a purchase of all things.  A purchase I put off, thinking I would return and find it still….

For a few years I would visit Rome every three or four months or so.  I didn’t stay in the touristy places, but outside of them, in a neighborhood in which I often found myself lost – the only English speaker.  Near this neighborhood (I wish I could remember the exact area name) there was a flea market.  The gypsy’s and bric-a-brac vendors would sell their wears.  Three times I visited the same antique booth and three times I coveted a large alabaster statue of The Three Graces.  It was beautiful.  The woman selling the piece wanted 120 Euros for it and I never had the funds to spare.  All of my money was spent either on travel or on entertainment while I was there and even then, entertainment often consisted of low-budget stuff.

Each time I saw it I’d tell myself that it was overpriced and the next time I’d return to Rome, have the money, and maybe, just maybe, the woman would lower the price.  The very last time I visited Rome over a year and a half ago my intuition told me to just buy the damn thing…although it would have taken all of my money for the week…so again I told myself, “Next time.”

There was never a next time as it turns out.  I’ve come across many statues since then of the three graces, but none as lovely as the one in Rome.  I’d like to think I’ll find it again someday, if not in Rome, then another flea market somewhere far away…

Three Graces - Jennifer Allison
Three Graces – Jennifer Allison

Ridiculous Beginning – A Photograph

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.  Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.”
-Albert Camus

Street Art, New Orleans - Jennifer Allison
Street Art, New Orleans – Jennifer Allison

 

Woman Dream, A Watercolor

“Sometimes by a woodland stream he watched the water rush over the pebbled bed, its tiny modulations of bounce and flow. A woman’s body was like that. If you watched it carefully enough you could see how it moved to the rhythm of the world, the deep rhythm, the music below the music, the truth below the truth. He believed in this hidden truth the way other men believed in God or love, believed that truth was in fact always hidden, that the apparent, the overt, was invariably a kind of lie.”
– Salman Rushdie, The Enchantress of Florence 

Woman Dream – Jennifer Allison, watercolor