let's talk about books

It's time for another round of Let's Talk About Books. I have been reading lots of different things while trying to finish my thesis and I thought it had been too long since we talked about books here. Yep, I've said it before and I will say it again, I am bananas for books. 

This group of ladies love books as much as I do, and that is precisely why I chose them, not to mention the fact that they are seriously some of the coolest, most inspiring, and smart women around. 
Claire is a dear friend, and is the founder of Book Stand, an amazing online art book shop. It seems she is always digging up some book that I have never heard of, but am grateful for her sharing. Head over to her site to see her beautifully curated collection, or see a selection of it this weekend at Book Club!
I met Leigh about a year ago through Claire, and oh! am I so happy to know this bright and creative lady. She is hilarious, and sweet, and always on to some interesting, and ahead of the curve. Leigh is also the editor of the beautiful and thoughtful journal Synonym
Stephanie's blog Even Cleavland has been a long time favorite, I can always count on discovering something inspiring and thought provoking. It is nice to have blogs out there that are full of content that is smart and sincere. She also runs a monthly book club, which if I lived in New York I would be at regularly, I love people who are carrying on great traditions that have sadly fallen out of style. 

Read their book recommendations below...

-   C  l  a  i  r  e   -

Two Books That Will Change Your Life And One You Should Read

Maira Kalman and Karla Black's work is ferociously feminine but philosophically universal. Their perspectives on the world will change how you see it, art, yourself, hats, eye shadow etc. Roald Dahl is as fascinating as his characters. 

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman

"More tea. More stories.
There is nothing illusory 
in this tiny heaven. 

I am silent with gratitude.
I will go and bake a honey cake
and that's all." -Maira Kalman

It's Proof That Counts by Karla Black

"Black's paradigmatic palette of predominantly intermediate hues (such as peach, pink or beige) - mixed shades that defy classification - seems to remain in a state of suspension. " -Annette Hans, Heike Munder, Paul Nesbitt, Michael Stanley

Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock

"I took first weekend for a long time at Easter. Went to the most marvelous and lovely house. Owner is Millicent Rogers, a sort of Standard Oil millionairess, and it was all very fine. It was an old colonial house in South Virginia, and from the back verandahs, long smooth lawns sloped down to the James River, which went on rolling along between gardens of cherry blossom and daffodils. Millicent had ten dachshunds, and a great dane and she had a lot of other things. In the small library (which was huge) there were

a) Degas pastel 5' x 3. Very beautiful.
b) another Degas pastel, a little smaller.
c) A Gauguin 5' x 2'
d) A head of Renoir by Degas
e) Two Renoirs
f) Two Corots
g) One Monet
h) One Manet

In the next room there were twelve Boucher and one Fragonard. All very beautiful and carefully bought by M. I had an enormous bed with gold hanging all around it, and a Norwegian maid to wait on me. As I say, everything was very fine." -Roald Dahl

-    L  e  i  g  h    - 

i am a very rational person in every aspect of my life except reading. 
i expect every book i read to change my life. 
and while i know i'm setting the bar for disappointment, there have been instances in which a book has just felt right. like it was written for me; a perfect gift of right-place-right-time wisdom. 
here are three books i've read in the last year that were, for me, revelatory (for you, maybe not. but here's to the continued personal search).

1. letters to emma bowlcut by bill callahan
i've long been a fan of bill callahan's songwriting but have been happily enamored by this little book of stories. sad and sharp. sit down and read it in one sitting. 

2. i, etcetera by susan sontag
oh, susan! so ahead of her time. unconventional, rambly, sometimes really weird. i hate this word but it's effective here: raw. 

3. threats by amelia gray
one of my favorite working writers. i'm obsessed with the stories that come out of amelia gray's brain. 

-   S  t  e  p  h  a  n  i  e   - 

Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban. Turtles somehow became a recurring theme for my year. I spent January and February reading Platonov (soulful tortoises with mournful eyes appear in several of his stories), and set a personal best in terms of red-eared sliders (an invasive turtle species) spotted in NYC parks this spring and summer. Happening on this book was ordained thanks to rule of threes, I think. It is the story of two strangers who come together through an unlikely plot to free sea turtles from the zoo. As is often the case with books of destiny, it felt though it had been written for me alone. Bookstores, white sharks, aquarium light, water beetles, Donald Crowhurst, sad seaside resorts and turtles, of course. I liked it so much I made it the September pick for my book club.

JR by William Gaddis. The story of an 11 year old who turns a few lessons in how stocks work into a corrupt financial paper empire. I've been reading this all summer. It's a massive book, told entirely through dialogue. Gaddis creates layers of stories that fit into a pattern that's hilarious and horrifying. Reading it is like standing on a corner in Midtown Manhattan and listening to the snatches of conversation all around; an epic cacophony of voices. 

Lapham's Quarterly. I spent childhood summer visits to my great-grandmother's eating Italian ices and reading through stacks of comic books my aunts and uncles had left behind in the 1960s. The backs were full of advertisements for Charles Atlas strength systems, sea monkeys, and sets of easy-to-read books that promised to give you a grounding in great literature or world history in record time. I'm still playing catch up on the great books and world history, soLapham's Quarterly is an essential read. Each issue tackles a single theme through literary and non-fiction excerpts, factual tidbits, maps, poems, photographs and art. I read the latest edition (on the sea) cover to cover.

Right now, before bed, I have been reading Wayne Kostenbaum's new book My 1980s and Other Essays, there is a great write up on it here. It's really amazing, I love his writing.
Other books I have been reading and some I am re-reading for my thesis are: Foucault's The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2 : The Use of Pleasure, Proust's Swann's Way (this is the translation you want), Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, T.J. Clark's The Sight of Death, Andrea Fraser's essay Why Does Fred Sandback's Work Make Me Cry?, Beauty and the Contemporary Sublime, dissertations on crying, and more essays and interviews with artist than I can name. Looking forward to being done and I can get back to other kinds of reading... soon.     

Happy reading!

A big thank you to Claire, Leigh and Stephanie! 

be sure to check out the first and second LTAB!

one: if you like, please post in the comments your favorite books and 
two: if you buy any of these books I encourage you to purchase them from your local independent bookstore.

photo by Claire



book club


I am so excited for the first Book Club this Saturday in my favorite spot in Los Angeles, Cedar Grove. 
You can read more about it below, along with Claire's usual assortment of amazing books on the Book Stand 
blanket I will have a new Guide all about night time: night blooming flowers, a star map for fall, and
 info on moths and owls! I will also have Volume One and Two of the Guides, some raw organic 
sugarless mixed plum, and apricot jam, and some other goodies as well. I'm also making the custom totes for the event! I 
am so excited to be involved in such a great idea with such wonderful and inspiring people (thank you Claire and Jordan). 

hope to see you there!

photo credit: Jordan Sullivan
BOOK STAND founder Claire Cottrell and photographer Jordan Sullivan present BOOK CLUB: a series of occasional get-togethers celebrating contemporary photography publications and printed matter in beautiful outdoor spaces around Los Angeles.


Fruit from friends' backyards
Herbal sodas
Wildflower weavings

Saturday, August 31st
4PM - Sundown

Cedar Grove, Griffith Park


from around

- saw the Beyond Brancusi show at the Norton Simon, so good. I love that museum

- kind of loving this show in this space !

- clever... the chart of famous eyewear 

- a wonderful piece on Leonora Carrington, her book The Hearing Trumpet is one of my favorites

- found this on one of my favorite blogsSaskia Moore's Dead Symphony - "a contemporary symphony, comprising many documented accounts of music heard during near death experiences." Amazing right? I so wish I could have experienced this

- this past week I have been super into this song, and this song (swoon), and humming/singing this song nonstop 

- been working hard on finishing my thesis, and a little blue this week (end of summer blues, or... something... it's really something else, but i am pretending it's related to summer ending), and I stumbled upon this doing research, watched it again, and nearly fell over laughing. It's so hilarious I can hardly stand it. I needed a good laugh  

Pieter Bostoen


full moon // august


Grain Moon
Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, Aquarius, 6:45pm PST

The energy of this Full Moon feels really activated, and it wants to be in motion, it is a really good time to get your body moving! Energy around Full Moon's is always active, volatile, and emotional, and this one seems to be gathering extra emotions. You can imagine it visually that as the Moon holds more light it is also holding more emotion (usually emotions that are more extroverted, New Moon is more about going within), and since we are so effected by the pull of the Moon it is really pulling all of these extra emotions into our energy field, or pushing up ones we have been ignoring. And the best way you can process and transform emotions is through moving. It's not the mind (like the Air Aquraian sign wants), you can't think your way out of your emotions, you have to feel them and move them in the body (it's the fire of the Leo, fire is all about transformation). The body is amazing in this way! It has the ability to transform and move through all of this, so be active! Ask what feels right for you, maybe it is a night time walk or a morning hike, a new kind of exercise, or dancing (my favorite), or perhaps working in the garden, whatever it is get a move on. Also, when you are feeling extra emotional... move!

This Moon is also a Blue Moon, which means that we have four Full Moons in the season instead of three, and is rare (hence the phrase, once in a blue moon...). This month we have our second Full Moon in Aquarius (i just heard a hawk outside!). With the Sun in Leo and the Moon in Aquarius it is a time to align our true heart with dreams of our future. Imagine it like Leo as the arrow, now is the time to draw back the arrow in the bow and point it in the direction we are aiming, using our Aquarian mind to see into the distant future. Think about your future, what does it look like, how is it different, the same... don't be afraid to dream as big as you possibly can. Actually, I want you to think about the most radical, exciting, and outrageous dream you have for yourself in your life, go ahead... now make it bigger, really reach... work towards that, that thing you just thought of. Think about how your life will effect the community and the planet, how do you hope to help those around you in your community or tribe. This is really about feeling into your heart and finding what your true calling is, what mark do you wish to leave. This is the time to go for it! Run towards it!

ps - did any one else have crazy dreams last night during the full moon? i did! whhoooooa

Sol Lewitt



So, ya know how you have those secret fantasy jobs, that if you weren't doing what you were doing you would do x...? Mine consist of doing preservation work at the Met (like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters), being a professional break dancer (is this even a thing?), a water ballet star a la Ester Williams, and being the color specialist for the fiberglass shell chairs at Modernica. When I was at their warehouse a few months ago I stood there mesmerised watching the chairs being made. I talked to the guy in charge about working there and coming up with and perfecting their colors, and he informed me in a you-need-to-simmer-down-ma'am voice (that i get all too often) that they had a man who already had this job. 
Anyway, all this to say that Modernica is having a Color Contest right now for a new limited edition run of shell chairs. My head spins with how many things I love about this. But, the important thing is that I submitted my color, which is called Gérôme Pink and inspired by one of my favorite paintings at the Met (above). I am in love with this color (and is second to my favorite shades of "non color" colors, and this shade of faded yellow, which I have a tube of Sennelier paint in the studio that I covet, but yellow is such hard color to reproduce, so.... here we are).

Here is what I ask of you kind reader, give me a click and "like" this shade! I would be oh so grateful!



a visceral eye

This morning I came across the work of Sylvia Sleigh and am blown away.
I'm not usually a huge fan of portraiture, but her work is revolutionary, and complicated, and beautiful.
It's something to bump up against and I like that.
While researching her I found this amazing exhibition from 2012 of her work and was totally in love with the exhibition design! It's so exciting to see something like this, someone paying attention and taking a risk. The two photos above are from that exhibit, see more here, they are not to be missed. 

There is also a show up right now of her work in Bordeaux


imi knoebel

right before I fell asleep an idea for a drawing I'm finishing this week popped in my head, 
and questions were swirling around about the show I am working on, 
and when I woke up, I woke up thinking about the work of Imi Kenobel. I love his work!


new moon // august


Grain Moon
Tuesday, August 6th 2013, Leo, 2:51pm PSD

First, I want to send a very loving happy birthday to my mum, today is her birthday, and where ever she is in the universe I hope she is celebrating.

Today I want to talk about how we get in the way of ourselves. I think about all the posts I have written about new moon wishes, and all the lists I (and maybe you) have written that include the same wishes. I write these lists every New Moon, but then admittedly let them go after I have written them, thinking someone else will do the work (the universe), or thinking as I write, hmm, I have been writing this same wish for years (which doesn't mean that it isn't still coming to me). I think we all have a tendency to self-sabotage to different degrees with different things. It is for lots of reason that we don't allow our selves to have the things we want most in life, and do lots of unconscious things to prevent our dreams from becoming a reality. 
I have been finishing up writing my thesis this past month (talk about procrastination and self-sabotage, it's due in September!) and I can say that if you really want to learn about yourself all you need to do is just watch how you write (or do anything really, because how you do one thing is how you do everything). Oh me? Ya, I am a master at distracting myself. I noticed I was doing it so often while writing and started to watch myself as I felt the need to stop and pick up a book to read someone else's theories, or check my email for the fiftieth time (I hardly get any emails). Why was I doing this so often? I started to notice I was doing it when I would come up against all the moments where I was risking something, sharing something that was personal, doubting what I had to say, or perhaps proposing an idea that would no doubt push lots of buttons. Distraction is fascinating. It can be a great teacher. And distraction and resistance can take up a lot of your energy, imagine if all the time and energy we spent distracting ourselves went into accomplishing the thing it self! Image what we could get done!
So, my dear readers, I propose for this month, to go back to your wishes from June's New Moon. Read them, and then really ask yourself how you are doing with them. Ask yourself about the ways you might be self sabotaging or distracting yourself. Don't go too deep into asking yourself Why, that will reveal itself in time. But, be honest. It's only when we are risking that we feel like we have something to loose. But, I think that you have everything to loose if you aren't risking at all. It's all about learning how to navigate through resistance. 

So, that was my side tangent, but it relates to our wishing and to this New Moon, as both the Sun and Moon are in the sign of Leo! This sign is also ruled by the Sun, so it is time to let yourself fully shine! No holding back! Use the imagery of the Lion and the Sun to channel your inner Leo, we all have one. Think of the qualities of these two symbols: power, energy, courage, generosity, determination, fire, confidence, stamina, strength... life! Think about the Sun in our solar system, it is at the center of it all, shining brightly. How can you show up in your life like the Sun (no hiding, no fear, no playing small)? Leo's also have a strong need to share and express themselves creatively and express from the heart! That is key! How can you do this in your life? See if you can tap into a little, or a lot, of this for the next two weeks. It is strong with both the Sun and Moon in the sign of Leo. 

And ,it is also our time of New Moon wishing. You are allowed ten wishes maximum and they must be hand written on paper. The most potent time for wishing is in the first 24 hours of the New Moon, but within the first 48 will do. This month, while wishing, think about the things you can do in your life that will support your wishes. It could be by making changes in your daily routine, putting yourself out there more, giving yourself more permission, asking for support... the biggest might be getting out of your own way! I guarantee the universe wants to send you what you desire, but you have to get out of the way!

Now is the time to shine!
Shine on my bright stars!

Happy New Moon & Happy Wishing! 

ps - a thank you to all of you who read these Moon posts. I had a sweet conversation last night with someone about them and it meant so much to me. Thank you Leigh and everyone.


stendhal syndrome

Stendhal Syndrome

A psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world. The illness is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.

Although there are many descriptions of people becoming dizzy and fainting while taking in Florentine art, especially when it was described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, who observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence.

Ad Reinhardt
Frederic Edwin Church’s 1865 Painting, “Aurora Borealis” (at the Smithsonian)


for so long

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, 
loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image. 

- The While Album, Joan Didion

the amazing Robert Ryman