The single most important thing you can do for your health

Don’t know why I didn’t know this right away! For a year I have been practicing and my asthma is pretty much gone now.

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Satyagraha: truth force

Philip Glass and Lou Reed occupied Lincoln Center last week, after a performance of Glass’ opera, “Satyagraha,” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

The artist’s secrets, creating the Pearls Left Behind installation

My process of creating still surprises me even after a few years of art making. This year I have taken another route – proposing work to galleries before creating it.  This is an interesting and more collaborative way of working with curators. I propose ideas and get feedback from them on fit with the theme and other work going into the show, taking into consideration the site for the exhibition.

Most recently I created an installation for the Re-Claim Exhibition for the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. I proposed 2 different directions and they selected the idea of expanding the Remembrance Shrine I created 3 years ago.

The newly created Pearls Left Behind installation is a collection of reactions to memories of Japanese American Internees featured on the Remembrance Shrine Over three years viewers wrote their responses on white strips of paper and tied them to the shrine at seven exhibitions throughout the Bay Area and in the Pacific Northwest.

I had not looked at the reactions until 2 months ago. As I removed them from the hanging raffia on the bottom of the shrine, I counted 133 responses. I was very moved by these thoughts about the “camps”, peace, apologies, war, and shame. A discussion about this painful time in US history does not often happen and here were 133 people who had something to say about it. I could see each written expression as a pearl of wisdom, as gifts to be shared.

I transcribed all the handwritten reactions, typing them into my computer. I felt almost as if they were prayers and confessions and wishes to convey to the internees. I selected 1/3 of the writings to feature in the new installation. By the time I completed the piece the actual number of “pearls” I ended up with was 41, apropos since the war started in 1941.

I knew I was going to incorporate cardboard pizza rounds into the installation but I had not exactly figured out how. I started playing around with cutting the circles. I knew I did not want to just write on them as they were. I began hand cutting the circles into rings, getting 3 rings out of each flat. Next I applied tracing paper to each ring. The translucency took on some of the same quality as the Shrine’s rice paper and Noguchi’s lanterns that were an inspiration.

I thought I was going to transfer the typed text by using adhesive lettering. When I spoke to the signage company they were not able to work with the thinness of the font. As a result I ended up tracing printouts of the text, using different thicknesses of sharpie pens.

Some people asked me why I did so much handwork instead of using laser cutting for the rings and getting the text printed on large architectural printers. In my prior occupation, I directed retail merchandising campaigns, creating banners, store displays, and signage. I did not want to use mechanical production methods with this installation. An organic treatment was applied to the material to give a handmade look to the original machine punched out cardboard pizza rounds. The hand cutting, painting, and handwriting of these selected 41 responses became my meditation for the last two months. I really wanted the making process to be part of the honoring of the viewers’ thoughts. I added gold paint to the rings, allowing some of the cardboard to still peek through. I used simple hemp string to join the circles together. The honesty of the materials was something I did not want to cover up.

The final part of the installation was the structure from which the pearls or thought bubbles would hang. I knew I wanted to incorporate the mulberry branches pruned from the tree in my childhood backyard in Lodi. We drove around with these on top of our van for a couple of weeks and everyone thought our car was a moving installation. Perfect since I named the old ‘80s van Babar after the storybook elephant. My partner came up with the idea of wrapping the branches with barbed wire and how we came upon a bunch of it rusted to the right color is another story.

There were 3 meanings to the title Pearls Left Behind. Pearls were selected because of the saying “pearls of wisdom”, because of the shapes of the circles, and also as a tip of the hat to my father’s family, who lost their oyster farm in Washington when they were interned.

It is my hope that some internees may see these words on the installation and find them healing. May they see that there is some understanding about what happened, and that what they experienced still matters. We must not forget because unfortunately some one else may be on the hot seat of persecution next time.

Introducing The Purpose Prize, winners 50-70+ years old

Unwilling to stuff envelopes or go off quietly to the sidelines, thousands of innovators in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond are combining their creativity and experience to address big social problems. These change-makers are taking matters into their own hands and fashioning a new vision of the second half of life, one in which the expertise and talent of a lifetime is refocused on finding solutions to challenges in our communities, our country, and the world.

The Purpose Prize, now in its fourth year, provides five $100,000 and five $50,000 awards to social innovators over 60 in encore careers. It is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life. Rather than a lifetime achievement award, however, The Purpose Prize is a down payment on what these 60-plus innovators will do next. Read more by clicking here.

David Lynch’s Interview Project

I think I first heard about the Interview Project on twitter. I finally went to check out the website and found the whole thing really interesting. Basically the site has a series of interviews conducted on a road trip across the United States. The interview team traveled 20,000 miles over 70 days. I’ve only begun to check out the 121 videos they have posted so far. I hope you go and check it out too, so we can twitter or talk FTF about the folks we met at http://interviewproject.davidlynch.com/www/

Artist colony arises out of the economic downturn

A small colony of artists is cropping up in Detroit, taking advantage of the bottomed-out property prices, buying houses for as little as $2000 – 100.

So what did $1,900 buy? The run-down bungalow had already been stripped of its appliances and wiring by the city’s voracious scrappers. But for Mitch that only added to its appeal, because he now had the opportunity to renovate it with solar heating, solar electricity and low-cost, high-efficiency appliances.Buying that first house had a snowball effect. Almost immediately, Mitch and Gina bought two adjacent lots for even less and, with the help of friends and local youngsters, dug in a garden. Then they bought the house next door for $500, reselling it to a pair of local artists for a $50 profit. When they heard about the $100 place down the street, they called their friends Jon and Sarah.

Admittedly, the $100 home needed some work, a hole patched, some windows replaced. But Mitch plans to connect their home to his mini-green grid and a neighborhood is slowly coming together.

Now, three homes and a garden may not sound like much, but others have been quick to see the potential. A group of architects and city planners in Amsterdam started a project called the “Detroit Unreal Estate Agency” and, with Mitch’s help, found a property around the corner. The director of a Dutch museum, Van Abbemuseum, has called it “a new way of shaping the urban environment.” He’s particularly intrigued by the luxury of artists having little to no housing costs. Like the unemployed Chinese factory workers flowing en masse back to their villages, artists in today’s economy need somewhere to flee.

via boing boing

New power plant at Half Moon Bay landfill turns methane into energy

Just saw this on InsideBay Area:
The Ox Mountain landfill is full of oddities. Goats graze along a fresh green hillside in the hulking shadow of a flare stack, which burns off the garbage-fed gasses that lie under the grass they’re snacking on. A few steps away, in an uncovered portion of landfill, plastic shopping bags blow through a ravine that offers a pristine view of the ocean.

Watching the landscape from a certain height, it’s easy to miss the thin orange wells that do one of the most important jobs of all: mining deep stores of buried garbage for methane and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions, which are then flared off before they reach the atmosphere.

But it’s hard to miss the shiny new plant built at the top of the landfill. Starting this spring, the gas it collects will leave the landfill in the form of electricity — enough to power as many as 10,000 homes in Palo Alto and Alameda.

When it goes online in two or three months, the plant, recently completed by Ameresco Inc., will be able to capture and convert more methane than any other Bay Area landfill. Its six engines will operate 24 hours a day and generate up to 11.5 megawatts of electricity, more than twice that of most local landfills, which produce about 5 megawatts. Read more at: http://tinyurl.com/9qo786

Two pieces on immigration

I (Judy Shintani) just finished up two pieces which had to submit today to the Women Artists on Immigration Show. The show is organized and presented by Women’s Caucus for Art with the Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

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This piece is called Motion. I am conveying the push pull nature of immigration. Events which may push some one to move to another location are: natural disasters, wage rates, war, genocide, abuse. Education, relationships, jobs, self expression are things that could pull one to move to another country, state, town. I wanted to convey these different motivations that cause a stream of people to move small distances or around the world. I think about my grandparents who moved from Japan to the USA. People have been immigrating for a long time and they will continue to do so. The deteriorating propeller gives that sense of time.

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This piece is called Bottom Drawer. While I was working with my friend Carla to remove overgrown plants from their pots, all these lovely, crawly, dark, roots appeared. They were completely root bound and had to be pried out. They had grown around and around into a big ball in the bottom of the pots. It made me think of unsaid, unseen things. For example what were the experiences of my grandparents immigration? I know some of their hardships. I know they were imprisoned on American soil during the war, but these experiences I did not hear about from their lips. They either died before this could be communicated or were not discussed. Bits and pieces have been expressed by their children but I do not have the whole story. My life goes on and I acknowledge I am here because of their desire to leave their homeland and explore something else. I don’t think about it that often. We put a lot of things in the “bottom drawer” and they see the light of day when we decide to pull it open.

Thousands of clay figures in Aptos cemetery memorialize dead Americans and Iraqis

Standing in a sandbox on the lawn of the cemetery at Resurrection Catholic Community in Aptos are thousands of figurines representing Americans and Iraqis killed during the war that began in March 2003.

The 4,190 small white clay figures, each holding a U.S. flag, represent dead American soldiers. The 92,000 dark clay figures, behind the Americans like a shadow, represent Iraqis.

The installation’s creator, artist Kathleen Crocetti, started the project 41/2 years ago, and thought it would be an appropriate memorial on Veterans Day.

“I’m doing this to help people visualize the number of people killed in the Iraq war. We need a physical connection to that number,” said Crocetti, a Watsonville resident. “I thought we went into the war under false pretenses, and I can’t sanction pre-emptive war.”

Each figure is handmade and fired in a kiln that Crocetti, an art teacher at Mission Hill Middle School in Santa Cruz, has at home.

The war memorial will stay up at Resurrection until Dec. 7.

Read more about it by clicking here.

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