Category Archives: miscellaneous

MAKE stuff ~ it’s fun!

Being a consumer is one thing ~ having the cash to sport those new Dior sunglasses can certainly be satisfying. Most of us gain some kind of positive feelings from the purchases with which we adorn ourselves and our lives, however fleeting

Making stuff is altogether different.  Because the payoff is internal, rather than external.  At least that’s my thinking on the subject…

And in the spirit of making stuff, I want to give a brief plug for the Maker Faire this weekend, despite its distance from Oaktown. This incredible DIY-inspired event (think family-friendly Burningman meets Exploratorium) offers a mind-blowing array of opportunities to “MAKE, create, learn, invent, CRAFT, recycle, build, think, play & be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology.”

If you haven’t been, it’s well worth a trip down the peninsula.  I’ll be there!

* * * * *

On a separate but related subject, I thought I’d share the product of my Mosaics 101 class last month at IMA. It’s the first mosaic I’ve ever created…

IMA Mosaics 101

I had planned to take pictures throughout the class and do a post on the basic techniques involved, but the project was so engrossing (snipping all those little pieces of tile can either be a calming meditation, or can drive you crazy!) that I forgot to take pictures until we were grouting at the very end. Oh well…

The design for my piece was inspired by an incredible painting by Margaret Chavigny I had seen the night before during my April Art Murmur adventures…

Mercury 20, Mercury 20 gallery, Margaret Chavigny Family Ties

I had a great sense of satisfaction completing my little work of art. It now hangs in my office where I can admire it and remind myself of my desire to make more stuff, especially art.

My next mosaic project will involve tempered glass… Since my car was broken into in West Oakland a couple years ago, I saved all the broken glass (yes, it’s been sitting in a box for 2 years and I even moved it to my new house!) I figure rather than sending it to the landfill, I’ll reconfigure it into something fantastic.

When life give you broken auto glass… make ART!

A bit of housekeeping…

cute kitty picture

It’s a busy busy workday and while I thought I’d take a short break in my series on Mosaics to give you a snapshot recap of April’s Art Murmur since it’s already come around again, I can’t. Waaah.

Instead I’d like to update you about a few small items of note here at Oaktown Art…

  • I’ve updated my Upcoming Events with some cool stuff to do in the next couple of weeks, including something new from Rock Paper Scissors Collective called Oakland Art Ride, which is a new alternative to Art Murmur (who many feel has become more about the party than the art) – you can read all about it in Ellen Cushing’s Shouts and (Art) Murmurs. Sounds pretty cool and I hope to cover one of these monthly rides in the future.
  • I’ve added a Contact Page where you can contact me directly with ideas for future posts and/or upcoming events, getting linked on my blogroll, advertising or sponsorship inquiries (yes,  yes, I would like to “buy in” and actually have this thing at least pay for my time – has anyone seen Morgan Spurlock’s new film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold? check it out, it’s good), or anything else.
  • I reactivated my Find me on Facebook button (below the RSS subscribe). If you are a Facebooker, please connect with me there and/or share with friends. And if you see/read something here that resonates, I’d really appreciate it if you would pass it on through links at the bottom of the posts. I’m trying to grow my audience and last week’s experience with Freshly Pressed gave me a bit of inspiration.

Let’s see… what else?  I think that’s it for now.  Unfortunately I can’t attend tonight’s Art Murmur or tomorrow’s Oakland Art Ride so if anyone has any interest in doing a Guest Post on one of these topics, please please contact me.  I’m still very much interested in having guest bloggers, though my last attempt at this failed, and unfortunately, I can’t pay you (but of course will link to your own web/blog/flickr sites, etc.)

Thanks everybody. Have a great weekend!  And I’ll be back next week with more on mosaics…

Freshly Pressed – Wow!

So I’m placing a brief pause on my mosaics launch (I will get there, I promise) to point out that I was “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress yesterday, and all I can say is holy cow!

The traffic poured in like I’ve never seen before.  I surpassed my highest traffic day nearly 10-fold, and the comments were a steady stream that was enough just to publish let alone respond to.  Jeeezzz, now I know what it feels like to make the big time, for a day anyway.

If the sampling of comments I received are representative, folks from all corners of the globe (excluding Antarctica and Greenland) took a peek at Oaktown Art yesterday.

I put together the little Google map below which cemented a few things in my mind:

  • My geography knowledge is seriously lacking – like where the heck is New Caledonia? (now I know) And who knew there was a Wartburg, Tennessee??  There really is, I swear.
  • My Oaktown Art map is woefully overdue for an update (internship anyone?)
  • I wish I had more time to travel to exotic and distant lands (Costa Rica, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, the list goes on and on…)
  • And lastly, this internet thing is simply amazing 😉

Thanks to the good folks at WordPress for the kudos.

Here’s a partial list of visitors (those who commented or subscribed) for those who don’t want to click around the map:

Versailles, Ohio, United States

Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Shanghai, Shanghai, China

Los Angeles, California, United States

St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

Chicago, Illinois, United States

New Berlin, Wisconsin, United States

Miami, Florida, United States

Wappingers Falls, New York, United States

Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Seoul, Kyonggi-do, Korea, Republic Of

New York, New York, United States

Auckland, New Zealand

Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia

Reno, Nevada, United States

Redondo Beach, California, United States

Sakiai, Marijampoles Apskritis, Lithuania

Legaspi, Albay, Philippines

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

San Jose, San Jose, Costa Rica

Collingswood, New Jersey, United States

London, England, United Kingdom

Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Katowice, Slaskie, Poland

Huntington Beach, California, United States

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina

Boca Raton, Florida, United States

San Jose, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States

La Canada Flintridge, California, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Denton, Texas, United States

New Delhi, Delhi, India

Miami, Florida, United States

Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Mexico, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Hempstead, New York, United States

Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Kuwait, Al Kuwayt, Kuwait

Noumea, New Caledonia, New Caledonia

Canton, Ohio, United States

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Davao, Davao City, Philippines

Paris, Ile-de-france, France

Moreno Valley, California, United States

Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia

Melton Mowbray, England, United Kingdom

Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand

Carson City, Nevada, United States


Amherst, Massachusetts, United States

Gilbert, Arizona, United States

Killeen, Texas, United States

Santa Barbara, California, United States

Flagstaff, Arizona, United States

Oakland, California, United States

Wartburg, Tennessee, United States

Fallbrook, California, United States

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Post Falls, Idaho, United States

Cullman, Alabama, United States

Surabaya, Jawa Timur, Indonesia

Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Edmonds, Washington, United States

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Torrance, California, United States

Southfield, Michigan, United States

Makati, Manila, Philippines

Dayton, Ohio, United States

Sycamore, Illinois, United States

United Kingdom


Austin, Texas, United States

Milford, Michigan, United States

Norman, Oklahoma, United States

Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Jacksonville, Florida, United States

Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

Portland, Oregon, United States

Omaha, Nebraska, United States

Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico

Austin, Texas, United States

Dusseldorf, Nordrhein-westfalen, Germany

Vigo, Galicia, Spain

Brandon, Florida, United States

Portland, Oregon, United States


Beijing, Beijing, China

Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tarrytown, New York, United States

Imola, Emilia-romagna, Italy

Geneva, Illinois, United States

Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

Wilmington, North Carolina, United States

Pretty cool, eh?

What I learned while walking backwards…

moon at dusk, oakland hills, winter branches

Last night I had a strange experience. I took an evening walk in my neighborhood, the lower hills above Dimond & Laurel (we’re right on the cusp), and decided to walk a different way from my usual route.

I walk frequently in my neighborhood because it’s sooooo damn pretty… extensive exotic gardens and established trees & landscaping, native creek habitats (we’re bordered by two… Sausal and Peralta), and sweeping views of the lowlands, bay, and beyond.

I’ve come to know the various blocks and individual houses, mostly by their gardens… oh, here’s that amazing succulent garden with dwarf japanese maples; or the fenced-in fruit orchard with its citrus, figs, apples, & peaches; the stunning palm & cacti landscape perfectly complementing the mid-century condos behind; the tiny craftsman cottage with an explosion of dahlias filling its front yard; and the bird lover’s paradise, with no fewer than 7 bird feeders hanging from the ancient oak tree in front.

Much as I love these regular stops, and witnessing the transformations that come with the changing seasons, I was craving a change; and feeling comfortable enough in my now-not-so-new neighborhood to explore where I had not gone before… to try a new street, to turn left instead of right, to wander without a particular destination in mindHow often do we allow ourselves the time & space to do this? Not enough I would say.

I walked along unfamiliar streets noting new gardens, houses, and points of interest as the light of day faded and deep blue crept into the sky above the hills.  Despite my exercise in free exploration, I did intend to find my way home before nightfall…

As I continued up a curving road, one I thought might head me back in the direction of home, an elderly asian man approached from the opposite direction. I decided to ask him for directions (at my age, practicality often trumps reckless abandon).  He didn’t speak much English (and I, no Chinese). But he pointed in the direction I was headed and said something about 35th, which needless to say, is not where I wanted to go.  But I trudged on thinking something would become evident sooner or later.  It’s hard to get too lost in the lower hills with the beacon of the Mormon Temple visible from most vantage points.

As I made my way up and around the bend, it seemed I was in a familiar place, yet everything looked so different. I’d never seen that house before.  And look at the gorgeous intricate brickwork on that patio… I surely would have noticed that before. It was like I was walking the same path but somehow the reality around me had been altered. And when I hit the top of the hill I understood why.

I reached the junction where I could turn left and make my way down the closed road that runs along Peralta creek.  This was the way I typically walked, but I had approached it from the opposite direction. And somehow that made all the difference.

I think the effect was magnified due to the hills… when you are walking down a slope, you see what’s below you… and when heading up you see what’s above you. It’s different than walking on flat ground where you can see all around.

So I wasn’t really walking backwards… but the choice to take a different route than usual, or even just a different direction, had a dramatic effect on my perception.

It’s easy to get into our routines, to do the things we’ve done so many times we don’t have to think about them, or pay attention at all because we already know what to expect. And when we anticipate what we are going to see/experience, that’s pretty much what we see/experience.

So shake it up peeps… take the road less traveled. Try something different. Change your routine. Explore. You just might discover something amazing.