Category Archives: USA

Making Life my Bitch

You know how I said I was gonna grab life by the metaphorical balls?! Yep. I’m doing it and so far it appears I’m doing it right!! I decided earlier this year that I was going to choose different in life. Well not really different. Just to not be afraid of certain things and outcomes that may never be. Choose to live fearlessly perhaps, which was more my natural state when I was young. We condescend the young and tell them they are naive. I don’t know that it is a wise thing to be condescending! The battles of life have left their mark, to be sure, but I am determined to not allow them to rule my life. After having come out of a marriage that can only be characterised as abusive, I fell into a funk that I just didn’t know how to get out of. Looking back on it, hindsight being what it is, there were times I didn’t even know I was in a funk! I would often see these annoying quotes: choose happiness bla bla. It’s not that simple people. Grief is a necessary emotion. You have to go through all of it to be able to get to the other side and to the point of deciding that enough is ย enough and that you are able to see it (whatever ‘it’ is for any given person) as a choice (which, mind you, is often not even a conscious decision at the time). Either that or you make the same mistakes all over again, which I will NOT do. Well, after 5 odd years I think I’ve finally arrived at that place and am thinking I might just make it my home!! One day at a time though. Trusting in people again does not come naturally anymore as it turns out. Humans can be so cruel and there are many a day when I wonder at human nature. But I’m still here and I have to live in Life. I think I finally understand that with all of my being (brain AND heart AND everything in between) and once again can see that there is such beauty lying there too.

A few years back I discovered some street art that I instantly fell in love with. In fact, the way I described my reaction at the time was “totally, completely and utterly besotted!!!”. I’ll admit that I don’t always see art that makes me feel. Truly feel something, anything! Understand, too,that Canberra has a very singular idea of art and public art in particular. After having lived OS for a number of years, in particular San Francisco, and having resided in the Mission District where (great) art was on every surface pretty much, returning to Canberra was a real kick in the gut in the sense of colour, fun, amazing, wonder was concerned. Anyway, I would come across this artist’s work and get excited. Like, excited-excited, butterflies excited. I always thought how cool it would be to collaborate – since their designs seemed mosaic friendly but pretty much left it there and enjoyed the moments when I discovered another piece out in the world, getting cranky when they’d get “cleaned” up and thinking how cool and how pure (for wont of a better word) that street art can be. Sometimes it’s such a gift and the artists are not asking for anything in return. As a series of fortunate events, I happened upon their work on the interwebs earlier this year, discovering at the very least the name they went by. Abyss .607. Hmm… I like it… Gimme more… FB page and yesss… An in! It took me almost a month to work up the courage to email the artist and ask if they might be interested in a potential commission where I would then mosaic their artwork. It’s a BIG ask and a lot of trust to allow someone else (you don’t know) interpret your work in another medium… In all honesty I probs would have said no (I was expecting a no) but he said YES! I picked up the work the other day… Am just a li’l excited (read: frikkin’ over the moon baby!). It’s massive. WAY bigger than I expected!!

Sometimes it really pays off to put yourself out there.

And now I have a responsibility to do another artist’s work justice. It’s pressure. I hope I don’t disappoint! He mentioned he’d like to come over once completed and spray some finishing touches on the tile. Does it get better than this? Nope. Not at the moment.

All of a sudden the Universe is conspiring to get my creative juices going again. Yes. When I am not being my cynical self, I’m some crazed new age freak (not really) who believes that there is a reason for everything (really)!! I’ve been very conscious of just how uncreative I’ve felt these last few years. Where once I was quite prolific in the work I put out, I suddenly lost my mojo. It is an incredibly disturbing thing to happen. But it’s back it seems and I do intend on having a love affair with it. I have the mural with Abyss to fabricate, as well as another mural that I sketched out one afternoon while in hospital with my Dad. Designs never come so easy. Designs are often my achilles heel – they take me weeks, months… It’s ready to go. Ready. to. Go!!! Not only that but the finishing touches is about to be applied to another mural – yet another collaboration with my gorgeous sister of one of her beautiful mermaids. She’s adding fish and an octopus to it. Then it needs to be scaled and enlarged and all the other stuff that goes into fabricating murals. Three murals yeah? And to top it all off? I have an assistant! Not to mention all the sculptural stuff I wanna try out. My house is gonna be the best on the block yo!

Winning at life biyatches!

Well. Sort of. I need to get busy and actually start. Ha!

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Building, Collaborations, Design Concepts, Emerging, Graffiti, Inspiration, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Murals, My Home, My projects, Rant, Round the World, San Francisco, Urban, USA

Tiki Tom

How lucky is the mural by Laurel True at Tiki Tom’s in Oakland CA? It appears to have survived the blaze that burnt down the restaurant. Hope they manage to save the mural in the clean up/rebuild.

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Building, California, Community Projects, Laurel True, Mosaic, Murals, Oakland, Round the World, Uncategorized, USA

Artist in Residence at IMA!!

After the conference it was onwards and upwards to the Bay Area – my former stomping ground and one place I keep going back to. I always feel like I come home when I go there…

Laurel True was kind enough to let me do a stint at Artist in Residence at the Institute of Mosaic Art (IMA).ย  When I inquired about perhaps helping out with something at IMA, I wasn’t expecting an ‘Artist in Residence’ tag at all, but was more than happy with it ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Laurel had mentioned the kitchen backsplash which piqued my interest,ย  amongst many other possibilities. I was worried that time pressures and other personal pressures may prevent me from finishing it, so I left myself open to anything. I had mentioned it to Susan Crocenzi – looking to collaborate with her cuz I thought it would just be fun! When I arrived and went over, I thought to myself the backsplash would be the perfect thing to do. Yet again proof of working well under pressure ๐Ÿ˜‰ With no design ideas in mind and no inkling, at that time, that I would be surrounded by fellow artists a laย  Linda Martin, Kelley Knickerbocker and Rachel Rodi [who are waaaay awesome!!! ;)] to help finish the installation I set about doing the kitchen backsplash direct (knowing that I had 4, maybe 5 days to get it all done)! – simply because I had no design in mind and worked it as I went. I knew that if I sat down and drew stuff out, it would not get finished.

Susan came in on the last day (all the way from Nevada City!) and added her tempered glass and polymer clay accents, all of which I think make the installation! Some of the polymer clay pieces she had made many moons ago and they just fit with the theme – colours, shapes… it was just perfect! Like it was meant to be somethin’… We finished just in the knick o’ time.

I have to say designing this was a little scary… 1 because I had no ideas, 2 because it’s in Laurel’s business, 3 because that business is IMA and 4 because how many mosaic artists go through there every year?! Laurel was way cool about it though and just let me go for it. I very much appreciate her support. I figured that she wouldn’t mind a walk on the wild side and wouldn’t necessarily need/want/prefer a traditional backsplash, so I went with something else and I think it fits with the spirit of IMA…

By day 2 I was starting to get just a tad panicked that I wasn’t going to be able to finish what I’d started! I was leaving to go back to Australia and not quite like I could pop in at any time… Mentioned as much on either Flickr or Facebook (don’t remember which) and Lovely Linda came to the rescue!!! She drove up from Santa Cruz to help me on the Saturday. How cool is that?! Kelley was there, having driven down from Seattle the day before, hanging her art for a show she’s got going on (go see it if you are close by – her work is amazing!!!!). We roped her in at some point in the day and when Rachel finished teaching her class… well we just had that glint in our eyes and she couldn’t say no ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last day of installation and the name for the piece hadn’t even cropped up… Susan and I decided to call it Reach.

Have I mentioned how FUN it is working with fellow mosaic artists?!!! Spreadin’ the love is good in numbers!

Me and the Lovely Linda
Me and Linda Martin

Kelley, Rachel and Linda
The Gang – Kelley Knickerbocker, Rachel Rodi and Linda Martin

Crocenzi waving her magic TG wand
The LOVELY Susan Crocenzi

Photo by Gib Robinson

Reach - glowing
Reach, *glowing*

Susan Crocenzi's Polymer Clay and Tempered Glass Creations
Detail of Susan’s work

Photo by Gib Robinson

Photo by Gib Robinson


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Backsplash, California, Community Projects, Design Concepts, Events, Female, Finished pieces, Flickr, Inspiration, Institute of Mosaic Art, Kelley Knickerbocker, Kim Grant, Laurel True, Lifestyle, Linda Martin, Meeeting of the Minds, Misc. Design Concepts, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Murals, My projects, Oakland, Ornamental, Polymer Clay, Public Art, Rachel Rodi, Rant, Round the World, San Francisco, Schools, Susan Crocenzi, Tempered Glass, Travel, Uncategorized, USA

SAMA San Diego 2009

I am back. Back from near 3 weeks of mosaic mayhem! I had a brilliant time – there’s nothing quite like immersing oneself in something you love, are passionate about and couldn’t live without. Needless to say the highlight was meeting all my e-friends, who I now can certainly count as real-life friends ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was kinda weird though because it didn’t feel like it was the first time we actually met, proof perhaps that making friends online and getting to know them without ever so much as hearing their voices or feeling their demeanour in person is, in fact, possible.

SAMA San Diego was a blast – to use an Americanism. I participated in 4 workshops – one of which was CRAP!!! And yes I did say so in the feedback. It was a relief to hear that most other people I met who did the same workshop had similar complaints. However, the other 3 were really great. I would have to say the workshop I benefited from the most was Sue Gianotti‘s Mosaic Design Basics. Basic principles I was not aware of, some that I even used in my work without knowing that I did… I am now a value-ho!

I am also now convinced that there is no business workshop that would do me any good. I think it must be a really difficult thing to teach (?) even arbitrary perhaps, but I havn’t done any kind of business class that has imparted any kind of useful information. Well I havn’t done Laurel True‘s class and I have heard it is a good one… I did do George Fishman‘s class, however. I must say that was useful – it was essentially dissecting the process of one of his murals. But it didn’t set about how to get that mural in the first place, if you know what I mean. I enjoyed going through the step by step of how the mural was made though, very interesting. In fact that class reminded me just how open I keep myself to my clients, in as much as I don’t cover myself with a contract ever… I know. The evil twin in me keeps whispering in my ear, waiting for the “I told you so” moment. Something I will change as of this year. I have been lucky enough to be supported by some wonderful fellow artists (Marian Shapiro being one) and am truly grateful…

I also did the 3D workshop with Sherri Warner Hunter and actually made something that looks like what it was supposed to (a snail!). I was quite chuffed ๐Ÿ˜‰ That was a really fun day.

Not sure what I would say the highlight of the conference was – it was all rather overwhelming… probably meeting fellow artists. Being surrounded by like-minded people. The only artist I didn’t introduce myself to (I will say embarrassingly enough!!!) was Laurel Skye. I was just a little too starstruck… ๐Ÿ˜‰ She is, after all, the sole reason why I continued to mosaic…

The Mini Salon was a great experience too. The work was amazing – all of it. Interesting to see all these pieces that I had seen online, in person. I’m happy to say that I sold my piece. It now resides in Tahiti ๐Ÿ™‚ That was nice actually. Marian Shapiro was the one that convinced me to enter something in all in the name of trying to recoup costs of getting there. That sale and that of my guitar, Swan Song, certainly helped and made it all worthwhile!!

My new fave mosaic artist: Jeannie Houston Antes. Check out her work. Of course, so much better in person… but I love her style + she’s really cool. Am hoping to write her up on this blog some time soon – so stay tuned!

For more pics, please visit my flickr site and also Crystal’s flickr set – she was quite the photographer at this event and took some great pics! These are just a few of my faves…

Flickr Fest – love this photo!!!

Me & Crystal
Me & Crystal Thomas in Sherri’s 3D class

Spiritual Hands - My Homies, My Peeps...
Photo by Carol Shelkin

Christine Brallier and Suzanne Steeves
Photo by Crystal Thomas

Mosaic Marathon
Photo by Crystal Thomas

The Exhibition itself was located at the Museum of Man. Great setting, but I found it difficult to get through with 400 other people around – let’s just say I’m one of those annoying people who don’t do particularly well in crowds and much prefers to go at my own pace and let it all soak in… Nevertheless it was just awe-insiring to see a collection of amazing mosaics in the one space. My top 5 (in no particular order):

Waves Adrift by Sophie Drouin
Waves Adrift by Sophie Drouin

Dreamer by Carole Choucair Oueijan
Dreamer by Carole Choucair Oueijan

Stinging Colours by Roxana Nizza
Stinging Colours by Roxana Nizza

Paradigm Shift by Brian Felix
Paradigm Shift by Brian Felix

Day One: The Birth of Light by Bill Buckingham
The Birth of Light by Bill Buckingham

Carol Shelkin
In a Village by Carol Shelkin

OK so top 6! Though my top 5 should be a top 10, top 15… so many pieces I would have in my home ๐Ÿ˜‰ More pics can be found in my Flickr set.

Some of my faves from the Mini Salon:

Viscus Stimulus by Karen Ami
Viscus Stimulus by Karen Ami

Voices in My Head by Jeannie Houston Antes
Voices in My Head by Jeannie Houston Antes

Ulrike Martinez - detail
Venezia by Ulrike Martinez

The conference, for me, wrapped up with a tour of Niki de Saint Phalle‘s Queen Califia’s Magic Circle. Let it be known that I was speechless. It was really fantastic and a great end to the 5 days (daze?) of mosaic mania. Bring in capital punishment for those effwits who find the need to vandal the place, I say ๐Ÿ˜‰ More on flickr

Queen Califia's Magic Circle

Queen Califia's Magic Circle

Queen Califia's Magic Circle
With the beautiful Susan Crocenzi

Lynn & Susan
Susan Crocenzi and Lynn Adamo

Queen Califia's Magic Circle

All in all, a great time!! Don’t know about doing this again next year, but I highly recommend it to those of you who can go. Next year it is in Chicago, brrrr… I think I will opt for my trip to Spain, Italy and maybe Turkey & Morocco. I think I need to go to all these other places I want to visit versus visiting the US over and over ๐Ÿ˜‰

Any takers?


Filed under Events, Exhibitions, Flickr, Inspiration, Meeeting of the Minds, Rant, Round the World, San Diego, Travel, Uncategorized, USA, Workshops

Obama Mosaic Project

Just had to write about this as it encompasses several feelings I have right now. The obvious US elections… no I’m not a US citizen, but I still make my opinions heard as the damage done is widespread and does not just stop with the US. Also, I saw some photos by a photographer called Paul Quinn re the Iraq War a few months back and I was so disturbed by the images that it really made me question my art. He had photographed scenes he constructed of an actual even that occurred: three US military personnel raping an Iraqi girl. Think diorama – which in a way kinda heightened that surreal slap-in-the-face shock of it all. Here were these disturbing yet fantastic images that really told a truth about war and here I was making ornamental art… I felt shocked… at the fact that here I had a voice and a medium and wasn’t using it to its full potential.

Anyway… before I go off on a tangent, Mosaic Miracles on Flickr (I think her name is Amy?!) actually did something about her convictions. She began the Obama Mosaic Project by selecting 50 participants (one from each state, though it ended up being 52 people- 2 from Vermont and 2 from Illinois) who she found on the Obama website and sent them each a mosaic kit. What she did was create an amazing mural that is currently hanging at the Obama Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN and it is up for sale. Proceeds will go towards the campaign.

It’s amazing, gorgeous, giving-me-goosebumps material…

Here is the Artiste in question saying Thank You to all who participated…

Stacy Alexander recently sent this out to me and I must echo that it so eloquently states how I feel about what is going on right now… Let’s talk Obama!!! Let’s talk about what makes sense and not pay attention to the circus as all it does is project them onto a stage that they have no right to be on. Vote for your children!!!

From NYT Best Selling author Anne Lamott:
Sept. 16, 2008
I had to leave church Sunday morning when it turned out that the sermon was not about bearing up under desperate circumstances, when you feel like you’re going crazy because something is being perpetrated upon you and your country that is so obscene that it simply cannot be happening.

I sat outside a 7-Eleven and had a sacramental Dove chocolate bar. Jeez: Here we are again. A man and a woman whose values we loathe and despise — lying, rageful and incompetent, so dangerous to children and old people, to innocent people in every part of the world — are being worshiped, exalted by the media, in a position to take a swing at all that is loveliest about this earth and what’s left of our precious freedoms.

When I got home from church, I drank a bunch of water to metabolize the Dove bar and called my Jesuit friend, who I know hates these people, too.

I asked, ‘Don’t you think God finds these smug egomaniacs morally repellent? Recoils from their smugness as from hot flame?’

And he said, ‘Absolutely. They are everything He or She hates in a Christian.’

I have been in a better mood ever since, and have decided not to even say this woman’s name anymore, because she fills me with such existential doubt, such a sense of impending doom and disbelief, that only the Germans could possibly have words for it. Nor am I going to say the word ‘lipstick’ again until after the election, as it would only be used against me. Or ‘polar bear,’ because that one image makes me sadder than even horrible old I can stand.

I hate to criticize. And I love to kill wolves as much as the next person does. But this woman takes such pride in her ignorance, doesn’t have a doubt in the world about her messianic calling, that it makes anyone of decency feel nauseated — spiritually, emotionally and physically ill.

I say that with love. As we say in Texas. (Also, we say, ‘Bless her heart.’)

We felt this grief and nausea during the run-up to the war in Iraq. We felt it after the 2004 election. And now we feel it again.

But since there are still six weeks until the election, and since the stakes are as high as the sky, which should definitely not be forced to endure four more years of the same, we have got to get a grip. There are millions of people to register to vote, millions of dollars to be raised. We really cannot go around feeling flat and defeated, with the need to metabolize the rotten meat that this one particular candidate and the media have forced upon us.

One of the tiny metabolic suggestions I have to offer — if, like me, you choose not to have her name on your lips, like an oozy cold sore (I say that with love) — is to check out a Web site called the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. There you can find out what she and her husband would have named you if you had been their baby. My name, Anne, for instance, would be Krinkle Bearcat. John, her running mate, would be named Stick Freedom. George would be Crunk Petrol. And so on.

First of all, go find out what your own name would be. Then for one day refuse to use the name of these people who are so damaging to earth and to our very souls — so, ‘I don’t have to understand anything, it’s all fuzzy math. Trust me. I’m the decider.’

From now on, when working for Obama, talk about Obama, talk about his policies, the issues, the economy, the war in Iraq, poverty, the last eight years, Joe Biden. You don’t have to mention Crunk Petrol, or his sidekick, Shaver Razorback. And you sure as hell don’t have to mention Claw Washout — she is absolutely, hands-down the most ludicrous person ever to be nominated. She’s a ‘South Park’ character. There was a mix-up. Mistakes were made.

Everything you need to know about how to bear up during these two months is already inside you. Go within: Work on your own emotional acre. Stand still, and hurt, and feel crazy. Then drink a lot of water, pray, meditate, rest. Rest is a spiritual act. Now, I am a reform Christian, so it is permissible for me to secretly believe that God hates this woman, too. I heard God slam down a couple of shooters while she was talking the other night.

Figure out one thing you can do every single day to be a part of the solution, concentrating on swing states. Money, walking precincts, registering voters, whatever. This is the only way miracles ever happen — left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe. The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world.

As my anonymous pal Krinkle Bearcat once wrote: Laughter is carbonated holiness. It is chemo. So do whatever it takes to keep your sense of humor. Rent Christopher Guest movies, read books by Roz Chast and Maira Kalman. Picture Stick Freedom in his Batman underpants, having one of his episodes of rage alone in one of his seven bedrooms. Or having one of his bathroomy little conversations with Froth Moonshine. (Bless their hearts.) Try to remember that even Karl Rove has accused him of being a lying suck.

Reread everything Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower ever wrote. Write down that great line of Molly’s, that ‘freedom fighters don’t always win, but they’re always right.’ Tape it next to your phone.

Call the loneliest person you know. Go flirt with the oldest person at the bookstore. Fill up a box with really cool clothes that you haven’t worn in a year, and take it to a thrift shop. Take gray water outside and water whatever is growing on your deck. This is not a bad metaphor to live by. I think it is why we are here.

Drink more fluids. And take very gentle care of yourself and the people you most love: We need you now more than ever.


Filed under Art, Community Projects, Events, Female, Flickr, Fundraiser, Global concerns, Inspiration, Mosaic, Murals, Politics, Portraiture, Public Art, Rant, Round the World, Signage, Uncategorized, Urban, USA, Wall Hanging

Nola WOW Mural – Laurel’s Renegade Mosaic Mural Part II

Here is the second part of the earlier post on Laurel‘s mural in New Orleans… S’beautiful!


Here are some of the finished pics of the mural in New Orleans. It is located in the Bywater neighborhood on Clouet at Dauphine.

The large circular empty spots are for other artists to come and add something to the mural and has lots of donated special items from people in the area, including these blue and white tiles that are in the sidewalks spelling out the street names. One set says OK and another spells out WOW. So I decided to call the piece “Nola WOW Mural”.

Lots of healing hearts and guardian eyes and general circus theme ๐Ÿ˜‰

Check out the second to last photo. A graffiti artist whose tag is a cassette tape already participated and added his/ her tag. The owner of the wall is really a cool guy and he posted a flyer we made up on his property explaining that people were invited to add something. People are already putting their names in the circles to hold the spaces!


Sounds like if it’s not already too late, get down there and grab a space!

Thanks for the update Laurel! We all think it’s fabulicious!!!

Nola WOW Mural by Laurel True

Nola WOW Mural by Laurel True

Nola WOW Mural by Laurel True

Nola WOW Mural by Laurel True

Nola WOW Mural by Laurel True

Nola WOW Mural by Laurel True


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Community Projects, Female, Flickr, Laurel True, Mosaic, Murals, New Orleans, Public Art, Round the World, Uncategorized, Urban, USA

Laurel True’s Renegade Mosaic in New Orleans

Wihoo! Check this out… Felt the need to share this with all of you, some of whom I’m sure have already seen it. Laurel True‘s latest mosaic mural is a community project down in New Orleans. She mentioned she was heading down after the mural intensive I took part in. She has such energy, I love it… Needless to say I felt the need to leave this post in her own words, so here it is…


Hey there!

I just wanted to send a few pics of the mosaic mural we are working on in New Orleans! I got hired to do a renegade mosaic wall mural and involve community members/ neighbors in the process.

We are finishing the background tomorrow and grouting on Saturday. All the places inside the giant circles will be left blank for other artists to come later and paint/ collage/ mosaic/ whatever to make it a kind of neighborhood conversation in visual art.

My friends Tai, Theo and Danit (all visiting) had a hand in the mural. Tai and Theo made graffiti- style inclusions with me and Danit jumped into her first mosaic project (in all the years we have been friends) during her visit and even mosaiced on her birthday. She really knows how to nip now ๐Ÿ˜‰

As you can see, the Jackster is working on being a good job site dog and the pink truck is ok in place of a pickup..

I am headed back to Oakland, leaving Nola on Sunday or Monday.. Boo hoo!

But will be glad to get back into the studio to tackle all the summer projects.


Almost all the materials were locally sourced, donated by neighbors and/or recycled or purchased at Habitat for Humanity Reuse Center… Yay!

How cool is that?! Check out these pics, it’s gorgeous and she’s such a Swirl-Ho ๐Ÿ™‚

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

The Renegade Mosaic Mural

Fun, huh?!


Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Community Projects, Female, Flickr, Inspiration, Laurel True, Mosaic, Murals, New Orleans, Public Art, Round the World, Travel, Uncategorized, Urban