Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blues Portal in Progress

Another Portal
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

I make these mosaic works using my own handmade porcelain tiles, glass shards that have been remelted in the kiln, dish fragments and repurposed microwave turntables.

I usually decide what my border will be, set it, and the design takes off from there. I don't have a plan. However, I'm influenced--I love Central Asian tile work patterns and colors.

I like creating them in microwave turntable plates because it allows the light to shine through the glass tiles, plus, I like knowing the old turntables haven't become trash but something valuable again. I also fire the majority of my tiles only once, to conserve energy.

These are lovely for display, or as insets for a tiled wall, portal, or table.

This one is in process, partially set and still ungrouted.

15" Diameter

Sunday, November 30, 2008

San Francisco from Berkeley, Panorama

San Francisco from Berkeley, Panorama
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

I took this from a seventh floor window, on Thanksgiving Day. Well, not just this one...I took many as I stood there watching the clouds move and light change, as the sun sank lower. It was an amazing spectacle...hard to describe, only for the eyes and not words.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping the Power in Few Hands

I'm going to come back to work on this piece, believe me. What's got me provoked is the idea that the nation's education problem can be fixed by investing resources (excellent teachers, money), in our lowest schools.

I agree that this would be the remedy.

However, I don't think we can get there from here. There needs to be an intermediary step, and that step needs to be a recognition of why we are invested in poor education in the first place. We can say we want it to improve, but our actions, as evaluated by our persistant results, reflect a much stronger will to keep it low. Somewhere, there's an incentive to maintain poor education, otherwise, we'd have continued the upward march.

In counseling, when you meet someone who knows what "the answer" is, yet doesn't pursue it as a solution to their dilemma, you start asking what function "the wrong answer" has in their personal system---what are the incentives, and most times the very real needs, being realized through a less than adequate, and often destructive, course of action? This makes me ask what the hidden incentive is in maintaining poor results in the area of education.

The conclusion I come to is that if you educate everyone rather poorly, the only people who can make up the difference, through tutoring, parental involvement, and enrichment activities --are those who already have means. Everyone else is stuck with what the public schools offer, nothing more.

This guarantees that those in power stay in power, and that those who do not have the means but are nevertheless able to vault into power, will be very few and probably not well-equipped enough to compete over the long haul. Poor education is about guaranteeing the place of the haves, and making sure the have-nots do not get a voice.

Take a look at the places where poor education rules and then take a look at the history of power in those places. I think you'll find an enduring history of high disparity between haves and have nots and maybe some history of conquest, as well--an enduring gap between the wealthy/powerful and the poor/not powerful that is almost impervious to narrowing, without the contribution of a quality education.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Crossing paths with yourself

Sometime within the last year I lamented to a friend that my interests were so disparate that there was probably no chance I'd ever have an occupation that would integrate them and, by extension, really satisfy me. Two of the most disparate interests have been art and technology. Yes, I know it's easy to assume, "Oh that's easy: graphic arts!" But, graphic arts doesn't grab me, even though I do a lot of it. What grabs me is ceramic. And, I was marching right along with computer app's, programming and database fun (yes, I mean fun...I thought programming was a riot).

Last year, my "real job" disappeared with the state budge crisis and it did not come back this year. By summer, I came to the conclusion I might be better off looking in other directions. I've been freelancing since. And, three weeks ago, someone called and offered me work in the art department at the local community college. This ended up being a half time job, as a tech, in ceramic. But the big surprise? They had a huge brand new gas shuttle kiln with microprocessor controls for temperature and oxygen. And, nobody knew how to run it.

I programmed it and we fired it successfully this last Thursday and Friday. This morning, we unloaded a treasure trove of student work.

I couldn't have found this job if I'd have tried. I'm not sure when they would have found someone who understood the kiln.

That's the art of getting there.

Now, where are the central asian history, and the languages, going to appear? ;P

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain, War, and Paint

ok, so this is supposed to be my art blog and I've not written tiddly. On top of that, like other artists, I want to write about what's happening here in the US, but wonder: if I don't agree with my art fans/followers/buyers, will they still love my work? Can I write an opinion without alienating those who disagree? It makes me feel bad to even ask such a question, to hesitate, because I'm reminded of "state artists" in oppressive regimes who only make "nice art" and keep their mouths shut, in order to preserve their livelihoods and profession. I hope I still live in a democracy where civil debate holds an edge over punitive disagreement.

So, why write about anything but art? Besides being an artist, I'm a few other things. It's the few other things that go into my work and make it what it is. I've been a central asian history buff since childhood, odd but true. Actually, fascinating and true. So, unlike many, I haven't been "learning geography via invasion" and I've had a ton to think about (and say) since we went into the area.

Only one thing stands out to me from last night's debate, and I cannot shake it. McCain focused on our "success" in Iraq and implied we'll do just as well in Afghanistan. I was blindsided to hear that from him. He sounds like Viet Nam era politicians who supported the war. He sounds like the voice of regimes we disrespect--those that have voiced victory as their wars, and countries, swirled down the drain. Earlier, I respected him and considered him a serious contender for my vote. When he picked Palin, he lost my vote. However, with these comments, he's lost my confidence and a good portion of my respect for his honesty and integrity, as well. I'm shocked at what he said, to be honest.

I'll bullet my points:

--At this point, "success" in Iraq or Afghanistan is propaganda. There are no facts to support it.

--His proposal to get Waziristan to behave is jaw-droppingly ignorant. If you know the history, you know why. If you don't, you must before you take his comments into consideration. (I'm not sure Obama did any better on this point. However, there's certainly more point to, and more chance of, arm wrestling Pakistan into more cooperation than there is of taming Waziristan-- and there is a point to putting Pakistan "on notice" before he potentially steps into office. Good strategy to plant that concern in the minds of Pakistan's leadership in advance? However, I question whether we even have the resources to follow through on engaging Pakistan, at this point.)

--We are overextended both financially & logistically (manpower & equipment)

--Financial and military overextension in Afghanistan, and economic disarray, preceded the disintegration of Russia's standing as a world power. They didn't call it Perestroika (restructuring) for nothing.

--Because of our strategic weakness, Russia is no longer in check, is moving aggressively, and is not likely to respond to any of our threats. Remember: they invaded the Baltics when we started the first Gulf War. Sabre rattling at Russia, on our part, is a joke: we would ruin ourselves if we committed resources in any third arena, at this point, and they know it.

--Historically, this is the point ("we're winning because we BELIEVE we're winning and anyone who says otherwise is an antipatriot") where adolescents are tapped for war. We're already tapping emotional adolescents (criminals, mentally unfit) ; where do we go from here? More seriously impaired recruits? Heavier recruitment among female students? Older soldiers? Move the age limit down to 17 or 16? Heavier use of the National Guard? (Is anyone thinking about the thinness of our National Guard?)

--"We are winning" is the same line that got us in past the point of redemption in Viet Nam and it is grievous to hear McCain, in particular, chanting this slogan. The cure for the shame of Viet Nam is not another Viet Nam.

What do I want, instead?

I want to hear someone provide a balanced truthful assessment and propose a thoughtful believable course of remedial action.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Inaugural Posts

are like the first dent in a new auto. Once you've done it, there's no worry you could ruin a perfectly new car--just drive and enjoy the ride.

And maybe roll down the windows and whoop a bit.