Today I’m going to share one of my very favorite bands with you, the amazing Flobots. I heard the Flobots for the first time because the cute husband and I forgot to turn our alarm clock off, and the Flobots were being featured at 7am on a Sunday morning on our local radio station. I heard this song and I’ve been a little in love with them ever since. The video is also amazing.

The Flobots do some amazing work for social justice, through their music and a lot of other things too. The last I heard, they regularly invite local non-profits to table at their concerts so the attendees have the opportunity to take the inspiration the music gave them and do something with it right away. I love that, and I love their music. That is actually important to me, because there are a lot of people who have great messages in their music (ahem, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis), but the music really lacks quality, which is only half the story to me. I respect and enjoy the Flobots because they combine a great message with a impressive musicality and poetry.

*Disclaimer: I enjoy some of Macklemore’s music, but their song “Same Love” falls flat for me on an artistic level, even though I love the message.

Mama is…

It’s been a long time since I posted any of my own work here, and since I’m feeling super lazy today, it’s the perfect time. I’ve written many, many poems about motherhood, but it’s a tough needle to thread. There are so many opposing forces: cynicism and hope, exhaustion and joy, and the ever present precipice of cheesiness. But this is one of my favorites, I hope you enjoy it too.

Mama is in the kitchen
slicing two pounds of grapes in half
on a lazy Sunday afternoon

Mama is weeding the side yard
As the moon rises high
with a sleeping baby on her back

Mama is in the nursery
rocking a sighing sick baby
in the small hours of night

Mama is cradling a cold cup of coffee
scouring the internet for ten minutes of adult thoughts
before nap time draws to a close

Mama is tapping her foot
under a cafe sidewalk table
trying to listen to a saddened friend
and calculate the hours she’s been gone

Mama is playing London bridge with her feet
laughing at toddler squeals
wrist deep in dishwater
apologizing to the bank man
she’s got on speaker phone

Mama is staying up late to fold laundry
sneaking under soft baby snores
to deliver clean clothes to squeaky drawers

Mama is speaking prayers
over a silky, wiggling head
dodging yogurt slimed hands
Asking for peace
and also that this wiggling head will know
that with every move and sleepless night
with multitasking tired fingers
with long slow breaths amid shrill screams
with a heart wrung out and ever full
Mama is blessing her

Emma Van Leest

And then there was the marvelous world of paper cutting, displayed most elegantly by Emma Van Leest.

Emma Van Leest

Her creations put the word “intricate” to shame. I wish I had a better one. I love how her creations are not just a beautifully detailed picture of one thing, but a whole world created in the confines of a piece of paper. They are truly wonderful, and I hope you’ll check out some of her other images as well. Her artist statement is really beautiful too, and I love what she has to say about the feminine world of handicrafts.

Jim and Connie Grant

There was a period there where I was looking at a lot of vases. A lot. Of vases. I don’t know why, but the form just caught my eye and I couldn’t see enough of them. I got over this eventually, but this piece by Jim and Connie Grant just stuck with me.

Jim and Connie Grant

I keep searching it out so I can look at it just a little longer. I love the innovation of combining blown glass with copper wire sculpture. The form of vases like this always do make me think of a woman’s naked hip, and I think the copper wire really brings that imagery out with it’s skirt or necklace-like shape. In any case, I love it, and you could love it too. All of the Grants’ work is really great, and you can check out their artwork on the Celestial Art Glass website.

Anna Kubinyi

I don’t stumble over fiber arts all that often, which is probably my own fault. I find it unusual to discover a fiber artist who escapes the trap of craftiness, cuteness, or just plain lack of innovation. I say this as a practitioner of fiber arts, and with the full knowledge that my own small work falls into all three of those categories. But today, Anna Kubinyi has defied all my expectations for fiber arts, bringing to the genre a multi-layered complexity and depth of meaning I was frankly stunned to find in a tapestry.

Tree Snake

This was the first piece to catch my eye, but all of her work I find just thrilling and deep. The website linked here is in Hungarian, but Chrome will translate it for you like it did for me. Although the font is hard to read and the translation isn’t perfect, I was still really impressed at Kubinyi’s beautiful expression in her writing as well as her artwork. I really loved reading her autobiography, which reveals so much (to me) about her spirit of strength and discovery. So now you have to check it out, just to see what the heck I’m talking about.

Artist Profile: Matthew Hamblen

Matthew Hamblen, the wonderful surrealist that I featured last week, has agreed to do an artist profile for me. I am really enjoying getting to hear from all these artists about what inspires and drives them, and this one is no exception. I hope you enjoy this look into Hamblen’s artistic world, as well as the lovely images he’s generously agreed to display here.

What do you love about your medium?

Everything. I can’t really state anything specifically here. I guess I was just born to paint, as it’s my #1 thing in life since a very early age.

Matt Hamblen 1

Describe one piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

You know when you go into a modern art museum and you see a huge wall-sized painting that’s just one color (usually white) ? Yeah, I’m with you on that, as I just don’t get it either. I mean, minimalism is one thing, but…. (??)

When did you first call yourself an artist and why?

Well, I grew up with a Father who’s an oil painter, and the family lineage is all about art on his side of the family for many generations, so to me it was no big deal, I guess.
I’ve always felt that no one grants you “permission” to be an artist. You have to call yourself one at some point. Precisely when that happened to me, I’ve really no idea. I think we all have it within us, as a lot of it is psychological, as are many things in life.
We’re taught to believe that to be an actual “artiste” one must be a certain “something” that’s oh-so-special, or have a list of accomplishments that would make jaws drop, and I just don’t buy into any of that, nor do I buy into the whole “art world” game, really, as it’s all about “who you know” and “where you’ve hung” which inherently rubs me the wrong way.
Art is about creativity and perhaps quite a bit about rebellion as well, so that’s my POV on the whole thing.
When I was young, an artist I admired advised me to just go and paint if I wanted to be an artist, so that’s just what I did. Simple.

Matt Hamblen 2

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

This might sound terribly egotistical but it’s not meant to be. To get fresh ideas on what to do or where to go next, I actually go back to my own older stuff nowadays. I’ve always referred back to what people want of me, and what they’ve purchased in the past, as I enjoy painting what others like, and I enjoy making people happy with my artwork. The inspiration is just melded in there automatically, as I love what I do, and it always inspires me on it’s own. I used to glean inspiration from tons of artists and various places, and still do on odd occasion if I see something that just blows my mind, but nowadays, I mainly stick within my little niche.

Matt Hamblen 3

What is your unique purpose for creating work?

Just making people happy, and hopefully inspiring others to create. I’m grateful beyond words to be in a position to do that.

Matt Hamblen 4

Zadok Ben-David

There truly are days when I feel like I can’t find anything I really want to post here. Or I find one thing I’m kind of excited about and spend the next hour trying to find the artist’s full name. then there are days like today, when I look up and an hour has evaporated, and I realize I’ve pinned about a hundred new images. Then I have to decide which one is the one for today. It’s tough being me.

This is a phenomenal artist named Zadok Ben-David, who does these distinctive metal sculptures that range from intricately miniature to soaring larger-than-life. I love them all. His depiction of nature and especially the human form is so delicate and yet so inevitable in it’s execution. As always, I’m just posting this one image, but you really should check out his website because everything he’s done is worth seeing.

Patricia Arribálzaga

I’m always on the lookout for new types of art that I haven’t featured here, and today I have found a breathtaking pastry artist, the wonderful Patricia Arribálzaga. The exquisite detail and beauty of her work would be phenomenal even if it wasn’t edible, but there it is in all its eatable glory. Her anise cookies first caught my eye with their gentle sculptured look.

Springerle German Anise Christmas Cookies

Now those cookies are amazing, and I can only assume delicious, but they honestly pale in comparison to some of the unbelievable work I found on the Cakes Haute Couture website. For example…

Romantic Toile de Jouy

Just because Arribálzaga’s company likes to show off, their pastry creations use only natural ingredients (no preservatives or additives), absolutely everything they use is edible (including ink and gold leaf), and they decline to use any natural flowers or prefabricated items in their work. All of their decorations are made exclusively from sugar paste, marzipan, or chocolate. You just have to know that before you look through all the amazing pieces on their website, so your mind can be appropriately blown.

As with a few other posts, Arribálzaga owns a company that makes a great deal of this amazing artwork, so I can’t guarantee that these particular pieces are her sole creation. I feel confident though, having read how she trains pastry artists in her unique methods and standards, that her spirit and efforts are behind these pieces.

Matthew Hamblen

Today I’m leaning a little on the angsty artist side. As I was scrolling through page after page of Angry Birds fingernail paintings, hoping to find something that expressed my particular brand of ennui, I stumbled across the sweeping surreal landscapes of Matthew Hamblen.

I love the mood of this painting, especially today. Matthew Hamblen manages to capture this subtle sense of beauty, risk, and otherworldliness. Most surrealist artwork depicts a world that I would immediately want to escape from. This piece is a world that intrigues me even as I sense its danger and strangeness.

There is a great Etsy store here with a lot of Matthew Hamblen’s paintings if you’d like to peruse.

Cheryl Sorg

I’ve been known to say that the novel is my favorite art form, because a novel is art you can rub your face in. While most visual artwork captures one feeling, or a moment in time, a novel encompasses an entire narrative, which you can see from the point of view of any character. Every important word, thought, scene, sound, taste, is included in a novel. I eat this up, and one of my greatest aspirations is to create a work of art like that.

The rub with writing an art blog is that it is hard to convey my particular art form in a palatable snippet. The nature of the novel, it’s breadth, interwoven structure, subtle and towering plot arch, resist being reduced to a blurb. Which is why you won’t find novel excerpts on this site, even though I love the novel above all other art.

Today I found an artist who loves words and stories the way I do, but whose work expresses wordy art into a visual form. I give you Cheryl Sorg. Don’t be fooled by the magazine cover on the homepage, the website is written in English.

Booklover Thumbnail Portrait

Cheryl Sorg physically deconstructs books and makes them into visual art, both 2D and 3D. If you check out her website you’ll find not only wall hangings, but sculptures and furniture made from the actual printed words of great books. I’ve seen some word art out there, but this is the first kind of word art that I feel is so faithful to the original art form (literature) without sacrificing any of the beauty or simplicity of visual art.

Another fun fact about Cheryl Sorg, is that these thumbnail portraits are custom made for each buyer. So you can order a portrait like the one above that utilized the pattern of your actual thumbprint, as well as tailoring the words and titles to your particular interests. I just love that, the infinitude of a project like that, and the idea of having a piece of artwork that is not only beautiful, but deeply a part of who I am.