Magical Moments...!

Amidst this wave of excitement for 2010's countdown, I wonder what happens when you juxtrapose visual artists, sculpture artists, best pyrotechnicians, ace composers, dancing neon lights, pulsating sound tracks and of course high-spirited people? A friend from India sent me a link to First Night 2010, and I am so glad he did so :) First Night events seem a great medium to participate and celebrate creative communal spirit and richness of Boston's cultural landscape.
As I head out to Boston tomorrow to seek pure inspiration, I hope to meet interesting people adorning those trendy FN buttons (they are still available at Shaws!), exchange some radical ideas, watch the parade, take snaps of ice-sculptures and join other turbo-charged folks in countdown to 2010 at Copley Square.

Meanwhile my best wishes to everyone for a fantastic year ahead. A year full of hope, tremendous success (both on personal and professional fronts), uninhibited love and those magical "Ahaaaa!" moments!

"Reason is powerless in the expression of Love"~Rumi
[Image Courtesy-© Ekua Holmes]


Almost Christmas :)

It's that time of the year again. On one hand we want to look back at the year and start assessing how we measured up against our goals, but on the other hand we are are reminded of a splendid festive season ahead. Well choice rests entirely on the individual but this sure is a perfect time to practice gratitude, connect to those who fill you with positive thoughts and spread joy around!

And as you try your best towards infusing holidays of your 'special' acquaintances with a splash of vivid energy-check out MUJI for some incredible ideas (Aesthetic, eco-friendly, affordable, non-labeled & simply irresistible products)!
~~ Happy Holidays ~~
"Great art picks up where nature ends."~Marc Chagall
[Video © MUJI]


Creative Embrace...!

There are days when upon reaching home from work, all you want to do is grab a cup of hot coffee, switch on TV and just immerse yourself in whatever media wants you to; and then there are days when as you get home and toss your keys on kitchen table-things just seem so different and pleasant. Well-today was exactly such a day or should I say one of my best days of 2009.

Danforth Museum Of Art had their weekly 'Docent Meeting" today and it turned out to be be an wonderful experience. The meeting started with "New Docent Graduation Tours". One could easily identify the new docents, whose faces were marked by performance anxiety & awe of meeting veteran docents. The new docents and their instructors stayed in close proximity of each other, which was a clear indicator of the affectionate bonding between them in the past 3 months of training at Danforth.

As Ellen (new docent) commenced her graduation tour, the David Aronson gallery echoed with lots of questions, discussions about artwork and of course with the applause that followed her very well delivered tour. The viewers were asked questions (VTS Style) to:

  • Identify colors, shapes, patterns, art media, metaphoric meaning of artwork etc.
  • Let them decipher artworks thorugh active looking and critical thinking.
  • Find personal or cultural associations to artworks.
  • Make points of reference that other viewers can refer to as well.
  • Come up with simple logical answers to seemingly dense artworks.

After the tours, we headed towards meeting room and tour plans were made for upcoming exhbibits and "name-the-turtle" game was announced. Next we met surprise visitor-"Santa Claus", who handed admirable presents to everyone and wished us all Merry Xmas. As I was taking quick notes at a corner table, I wondered why don't people in the outside world tune-in to frequency of these people atleast once in a while!

'New Danforth Docents'

Speaking of these people, this team at Danforth comprises of people who in real world have diverse opinions in matters of religion, politics, science, economy, human rights etc. but elements common in them are-willingness to learn new things, utmost respect for each other, open-mindedness, amazing critical thinking ability and a deep rooted passion for ART!

While the media and society urges us to spend phenomenal amount of time buying presents, decorate our homes from outside and overload ourselves in never ending holiday obligations in this festive season, here are these people who carry true festive spirit in their hearts, get together for celebrations, crack few jokes, shower each other with generosity & goodwill and cheerfully give community gift of personal time! No wonder why some of feel a magnetic pull towards Art galleries and museums :D

On behalf of all the new docents, my sincere thanks to Julia, Judith, Lee, Ellen, Doreen and Danforth for developing our perceptual skills, listening skills & visual vocabularies and for being inspiring mentors!

"After a half-century of hard work and reflection the wall is still there."~Henri Matisse

[First Image Courtesy-©Danforth Museum by artist Gerry Bergstein]


Rise, Awake and ...

[Image © Thomas Totz]
Blossom !
While I was picking up books at Framingham Public Library today morning, I observed an elderly lady who seemed so engrossed as she was knitting a little sweater (lucky grandson ;)). What caught my attention though was this array of peacock blue flowers in the yellow sweater she was knitting - the pattern had such an amazing appeal ! As I was walked past the lady and took a closer look at the pattern of flowers-I uttered Sahiiiiiiiiiii! (translates to fascinating or amazing) to myself and felt quite elated inside.

Thanks to VTS training at Danforth, I asked myself right away-"What makes you say that?". Is it the use of cool colors?, Is it the hatched pattern in the sweater?, Is it the expression on lady's face?, Is it the marked outline of flowers?, Do you associate a past experience with this pattern? And bingo-that was it. The floral pattern reminded me instantly of an arrangement by a master floral artist, who I met at Gorakhpur while I was in India earlier this year. This mental association happened in split seconds-I don't know how or why but I was certainly intrigued to the core.

Upon reaching home, as I took my journal out-an overwhelming flood of memories comprising of my QA session with this floral artist rushed past me in rapid succession. I collected my toughts and decided to pen down the interesting story of this floral artist and share the same here.

In real world, this floral artist has a tough engineering job, a caring family and like rest of us he faces usual set of challenges. But come lunar month of Bhaadra (Many Indians consider this month auspicious and celebrate goddess Radha's birthday), no matter in which part of India he is residing in, he rushes towards Gorakhpur to do his floral magic (localites call it Shringar) and he has been doing this fascinating exercise since 1974! I observed him closely for couple of hours & I could positively conclude that in this case motivation wasn't tied to related to money/fame or any materialistic gain.

I was so impressed with this floral pattern he created on that memorable night 26-AUG-2009 and more specifically with his style that I ended up asking him a plethora of questions. Some of the QAs (translated into English) are as under:

Q> How do you envision what pattern you are going to draw?
A> I usually make a rough illustration of the pattern using sticks or fingers on this area towards left under this Bael tree. Since the ground here covered with sand, drawing becomes quite easy.

Q> I heard that this floral decoration takes around 4 to 6 hours to complete. Why do you spend so much of energy knowing the fact that this pattern of flowers will last for not more than few hours?
A> While I do keep a conscious track of time during the process, but this decoration does take good amount of time for it needs to be perfect from all viewpoints. Regarding your concern about short life of this decoration-isn't everything in life ephemeral? (Smiled)

[Slide Show - Floral Design]

Q> Hmmmm, you mentioned viewpoints - can you pls elaborate?
A> Sure, the pattern must look symmetric and aesthetic from all directions - front view, side view, view from the top and even the isometric view. And then there are other perception related points I keep in mind such as-the flowers will appear smaller as an observer moves away since the visual angle an individual flower makes on the eye decreases. Also, contrast, harmony, space need to be kept in mind. It is all quite systematic like an ED-you did study ED in your engineering right?

Q> ED (Gulp!) -Oh yes I had that course in my 1st year but I assumed that only architects use it on a regular basis. Anyways moving on (pls don't ask me those esoteric ED concepts :)) - what are the materials you use for this decorative pattern?
A> Well - it's usually leaves and flowers. I prefer gulmohar leaves and petals of flowers such as marigold, rajnigandha, jasmine, sadabahar, champa (plumeria), red roses etc. I used to go pick them up myself two decades ago but I get them from local flower sellers these days.

Q> Why flowers and not the electronic lamp lights or any modern media for decoration?
A> Flowers invite genuine emotional responses, which are universal and not culture specific. Everyone-a child, a man,a woman, a couple, group of friends can relate to flowers. Let me put it in simpler way-While a single red rose always conveys love, a dozen daisies convey friendship, a garland hung around a person's neck conveys respect and a bouquet of mixed roses conveys shared sorrow-think about it. (Smiles again)

Q> Awesome!! You mean flowers are like universal messengers of emotions?
A> Absolutely. Chalo Chalo (Time to go)- there are so many things pending and it is quite late now-you should leave. Good luck young man and remember the lifecycle of a flower- "Uthoo, Jaaago and Khilooo" [Rise, Awake and Blossom] as you explore the world.
Upon waking up next morning, I raced to the spot with my camera to see the aesthetic floral arrangement. I could hear so many "Wowss", 'Ahaass", "Superbs" & "Sahiiiiss" from observers around, who sure admired the floral arrangement a lot. When I analyzed the snaps later, the artistic pattern seemed so symmetric exactly as he had said.

I hope to visit India in the month of भाद्रपद sometime again to see him do his floral artistry, which I can best describe as an "Organic marvel of flowers & leaves and joy & delight"!
"Sweet flowers alone can say what passion fears revealing"~Thomas Hood


Free Weekend Pass :)

[Image Courtesy-MuseumsOnUs]

Looks like some of the folks around me have started jotting down some super exciting resolutions for the year ahead. These include - planning a family trip to Nicobar, learning that cool foreign language, learning how to play a saxophone, going back to grad school, finally chasing the childhood passion or just being a responsive community member!

That triggered an idea in my mind-How about setting a goal of pushing oneself in the "creative zone" atleast once every month in the year 2010? The central idea is to creatively channel our energy towards tasks we find engaging, challenging and meaningful to our life's bigger goals. Listening to music, attending a concert, engineering a new toy, designing a greeting card or exploring new places-the activities would vary from person to person but my guess is that such "creative outlets" should leave one feeling good and turbo charrged up inside.

And in case you admire aesthetic creations by fellow homo sapiens, you and your loved ones might wish to check out this FREE weekend pass program by BOA for reasons such as i, ii, iii or even iv. I am off to explore DeCordova Sculpture Park tomorrow. Meanwhile have a terrific weekend ahead :D

"Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it."~Salvador Dali


World AIDS Day...!

[Image Courtesey - Topnews]

A friend from India sent me an email today with the following statistics (Source UNAIDS):

(a) Currently ~33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide.
(b) Of this about 31.3 million are adults and 2.1 million children under 15.
(c) Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the US gets infected with HIV.

While these numbers certainly look disturbing but the bigger question is whether as individuals can we do something to help? Plenty of things I'd say:

  • Share Inspiring Stories like this.
  • Support Grassroot Campaigns like this.
  • Spread AIDS Awareness in your family and in the community your live in. link
  • Get creative and put a Red Ribbon on your T-shirt/Blog today.

Support World AIDS Day

"Make a good use of the present."~Horace


Speaking Of Visual Thinking...!

What's do best athletes, best entrepreneurs, best musicians, best graphic designers, best curators, best software programmers and ofcourse ace artists have in common? Other than the fact that they are well known (though that's now always true with s/w programmers :)), they all utilize their Visual Thinking skills for problem solving, idea generation, improving themselves and delivering near perfect performances when required. Well have a look at the following pitch-hope you like it. And good luck with solving everyday challenges visually.

"One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself"~da Vinci


Mathematics and Aesthetics...!

[Image Courtesy - Digikamera]

I've often wondered what is it that makes certain objects so appealing to us despite culture or geographical variations amidst the viewers? In general our attraction to another object increases if that entity appears symmetrical, proportionate and consistent.
Thanks to Judith (our teacher at Danforth's Docent Training Program), recently I learned that some of the best artworks do follow precision mathematics. The historical masterpieces have been proved to follow 'Divine Proportion', commonly known as 'Golden Ratio' in artworld. When Judith showed us the handouts, which explained how can one make a golden rectangle from an simple square, I was so thrilled ! We also learned that the ratios of distances in simple geometric figures such as the pentagon, pentagram, decagon and dodecahedron is a constant and is denoted by Greek letter phi. When I reached home and did my own research, I found some interesting facts, which I thought would be worth sharing:
  • The symbol ("phi") was apparently first used by Mark Barr at the beginning of the 20th century in commemoration of the Greek sculptor Phidias, who a number of art historians claim made extensive use of the golden ratio in his works.(Source WA)
  • One of the first programs people write when they learn Computer Programming is to write a code that generates Fibonnaci Series. They are told that one of the best ways to efficiently pack things tightly together is using the Fibonacci Sequence. This is reinforced by so many examples in nature such as poppy seed heads, flower petals, leaf arrangements etc.
  • The Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence are intimately interconnected.
  • Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of the human body emphasised "divine proportion'.
  • So many aesthetically pleasing and structurally reliable objects around us (Amazing Watches, MP3 Players) follow golden ratio rule.

When I did a good amount of reading about golden ratio, I got this crazy idea while driving home fro work. Over this weekend, I carved out squares from few sheets of white paper, rubbed charcoal on them and then made a small star out - it somehow seemed interesting and nice! Try designing something say a cardboard candy box, a small rug or a study table using the "golden ratio" rule when you have some free time. Believe me you'll be totally amazed! Oh and yes you might find these tools handy for this exercise: Golden Ratio Calculator & Golden Section Gauge - Happy Creating :D

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."~Henri Matisse


Sub Surface View with Trisha Barry

[Image Courtesy-©Trisha]

Ever since we learned to communicate, we look forward to occasions where we can share our experiences, express our true emotions, connect to great people and be a part of something bigger than our own perceived selves. Over the course of history we have devised several innovative ways to communicate - language, gestures, music, dance, art, writing, emails and even SMSs and we'll certainly keep evolving on that front but the basic communication drill hasn't changed much.

All our efforts are usually aimed at sharing stories - about ourselves, about our extreme life experiences, about the super nice people we meet in our lives and about our sources of inpiration. And as listeners (if one is hearing a story) or viewers (if one is viewing the pictorial representation of a story), when we see reflection of our true selves in characters / plots of stories - "Ahaaa-I see!" moment comes and a related impression gets carved in our minds for ever.

A similar thing happened to me two months ago. On September 13th this year, I was at Danforth Museum to attend the museum's annual OPEN HOUSE. It was a very well organised event and thanks to Danforth, every participant had an opportunity to attend art workshops, meet art faculty, take a guided museum tour & most important of all meet ARTISTS! Long story short, that's how I met Trisha Barry, a fine art photographer, and I have to admit that connection was immediate. After I was done expressing my inquisitiveness about her "Pride, 2008" work, she smiled back and told me briefly about the setting and context in which photograph was taken. I was inspired right away!! As I ruminated about Pride, 2008 for weeks that followed, I realized that the meeting had stirred up many questions in my mind and I promised myself to do some research and find out answers to all my questions soon. Here's a snapshot of Pride, 2008:

The photograph was taken in "Nichols and Stone", which has been known to sell the finest solid wood furniture in America since 1762. As ace company was shutting down its operations in Gardener, MA in early 2008, most of us would have dismissed this event as the obvious fate of any company who is not doing well financially in business world. However, Trisha had a difference of opinion. She decided to venture into the factory, observe the factory craftsmen, spend time with them in their last days at factory and get a first hand experience of the situation herself. Most of the factory people she watched and talked to shared the following qualities, which Trisha has captured brilliantly in her photographs.

  • They were all ace artisans and exhibited perfectionist attitudes.

  • They took immense pride in their work.

  • They worked very hard everyday and for several years to deliver ace products.

  • They had boundless faith in each other.

  • They shared an extraordinary affectionate bond amongst themselves.

Take a look at the awe-inspiring description penned down by Barbara, one of the artisans at Nichols and Stone.

When life treats us with interesting challenges or we face ourselves in a Catch-22 situation, we usually tend to look for inspiration and drive in a variety of distant sources-people, places or things. Trisha's photographs illustrate that inspiration can be tapped from just about any environment and anywhere - one just needs to learn to see the sub surface view! If you cherished Trisha's photographs too, you might wish to check out the foll. links:

  • Nichols and Stone - link
  • 12 Months with New England Farmer - link
  • Trisha's latest stint with fishermen at Newport - link

Farmers >> Craftsmen >> Fishermen >> ? - I wonder what Trisha's upto next :D

"It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly."~Claude Monet

What is Art...

and why does it matter? I was asked this question on September 6th, 2007 when I visited YUAG to attend their Open House. Though I tried my best to answer the question logically (I answered-Art is perhaps representation of artist's thoughts and perceptions and it matters because perhaps it conveys a deeper meaning), I was quite intrigued and decided to do some research on this subject later. Come September 15th morning(next Saturday), I found myself drawn to YUAG again. This time there was a teen docent to take gallery visitors through the exhibits and as Mike (our docent) gave us a tour, things seemed so different and captivating! This visit certainly left an indelible impression about the subject "ART" in my mind and I've been trying to find the right answers ever since.

A quick lookup on meaning of "ART" on Visual thesaurus gives an interesting visual representation showing the related words too. When one takes a closer look at the four nearest nodes, their respective meanings more or less appear to be:
  • Creative representations of abstract things.
  • Unique Skill acquired through observation and study.
  • Outcomes of human creative ability.
  • Representations in a media as publications, artbooks etc.
Based on my observation of famous artworks so far, motivations of artists could vary per the following:
  • To understand how things work and find what's happening inside- Analytical Drawing
  • To reproduce accurately the appearance of a living / non-living object - Observational Drawing
  • To document an experience and communicate emotions/intent and to share their or others' life stories- Illustrative Drawing

Think about it-of all the living species on earth, only human beings create ARTWORKS which could range from near perfect portraits to captivating landscape paintings to architectural drawings to hilarious caricatures to dazzling conceptual designs to fabric paintings and so on...for some reason I found this observation very interesting.

Why another ART blog?

Well ever since I attended YUAG Open House two years ago, I have visited several art galleries and museums on the East Coast (Thanks to BOA's Museums On Us Program), have filled several notebooks, have met some really inspiring people (artists, photographers, curators, museums officials, volunteers at musuems) and I must admit that every such visit has provided an energetic lift to me. Based on suggestions of close friends, I have decided to pen down my thoughts/experiences/impressions abour "ART" and "ARTISTS" here in this blog and share my enthusiasm with other curious folks who feel equally amazed by ART! So let's take a plunge into this mystic world of art and artists right away and try answering the question "Does Art Matter?" over the course of time...

"I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate"~Vincent van Gogh