My Problem/Not My Problem … To Fix

In this two minute video, an MFA student makes a very wry observation about problems. You can watch it here. This statement is fraught with meaning — meaning about art, about life, about how you go about defining your place in this world.

Palette Scrapings

This post is part of a series on the current 2015 MFA Thesis Exhibition. Each post is authored by a graduate of Washington University’s Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. An interview with Addoley Dzegede is also featured in Class Acts.



plural noun: foundations

  1. the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level.
  1. an underlying basis or principle for something.

foundations_door.jpgI start with the beginning because it is the basis. I start with a foundation because of all that it may mean to you, and all that it means to me. It is something to build on, and something worth building. And then I pluralize it because there is no single source. There are multiple ways to tell the story. Foundations is meant to engage you in a process of discovery, but if you look behind…

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Landscape Painter Extraordinaire

I cannot get enough of Lois Dodd’s paintings! Here are some more of them. These images are from Hyperallergic’s article, “Beer with a Painter.” (I first introduced the artist here.)

Dodd’s cow parsnip painting makes me think of the works of Jamaican painter, John Dunkley, and also of Alice in Wonderland. I have a few sketches of cow parsnips in one of my early Bay Area nature journals. These plants are on many of the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space’s lands. They will probably show up in some of my future paintings.

“Millbrook Village, Fall”


“Cow Parsnip in Early Stage of Bloom”


“Self-Portait in Green Window”


Foggy, Windy, Point Reyes National Seashore

4 lighthouse Point Reyes
Point Reyes Lighthouse, view from one of the 300+ steps leading down, down down
Point Reyes National Seashore

Here is a wild, windy, foggy side of California. The lighthouse at Point Reyes is closed when it gets too windy. This part of California is said to be the windiest, foggiest area in all of the Pacific. It is also a great place to whale watch. When I visited several days ago, I saw grey whales (in the waters below the lighthouse), elephant seals (at Drake’s Beach and Chimney Rock), birds (everywhere!), native wildflowers (along the Chimney Rock Trail) and tule elk (down by Drake’s Beach and out by Tomales Bay). What a trip!

5 light house point reyes #2
Finally, an upright photo of the lighthouse. Still foggy though.
 Jamaican Connection

An old name from my Jamaican history books surfaced here; it is that of the old English buccaneer (pirate), Francis Drake. Drakes’ Beach, where I saw elephant seals, and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, the main thoroughfare leading into Point Reyes, are named for him. I wonder, do they know here in California, that he was an old pirate and slave trader and not simply, “the English explorer who landed off the Point Reyes coast and claimed California for the Queen?”


Check out the Chimney Rock section of Point Reyes Seashore to learn about America’s early Coast Guard program. You can also see elephant seals here. If it is a nice enough day and the fog lifts, you can see the Farallon Islands from the tip of the Chimney Rock Trail. (You will also see a lot of birds and wildflowers here.)

2 boat house pont reyes
Historic Life Boat Station at Chimney Rock



1-boat dock at Point Reyes, looking towards Drake's Beach #2
Boat dock at Chimney Rock, looking towards Drakes’ Beach










tule elk2









I saw several tule elk down near Drake’s Beach and an entire herd crossing over the hills by Tomales Bay near sunset. (This sunset crossing may end up being translated into a painting!) You can learn about tule elk by watching this short video. Something I learned is that the tule elks’ mating behavior is very much like that of the elephant seals’. Who knew?


Charcoal Sachet — What is This?!



I am continuing to teach myself to work with inks. This is just a doodle from my 2015 sketchbook. The paper, though of good quality, doesn’t allow me to completely capture the quiet energy of the piece. Still, it comes close, considering that this is just a doodle. Later on I will expand and expound on the subject matter on cold press paper (from either Strathmore or Arches). As of now the work is untitled but the three elements are a rosebud, an owl and several destroying angels (mushrooms) that I came across on a hike up on Russian Ridge, over by Skyline Boulevard and Alpine Road.

3I was thinking that maybe I could do the owl in charcoal, but am not sure yet. I may stick to using  inks only for this piece. Still, if you want to learn about the latest innovations in charcoal, watch this five-minute video about the charcoal sachet. I had no idea this thing existed, or that there were innovations in charcoal use! Thank you Rosemary & Company for introducing EdgePro and its products in your last newsletter.


Some Kind of Adventure This

UntitledSeal Adventures draws many visitors to Ano Nuevo State Park but there is a lot more to this park than the carrying-ons of elephant seals. Just the other morning as I walked towards the Cove Beach area of the park I came across the following scene:

2-oh boy, somebody's dinner

Oh boy, I’d say somebody had a lovely meal. Who? My guess is the bob cat who lives near the pond above Cove Beach, Here he is below. I wonder if he thinks he is camouflaged and we can’t see him? Nice try you; we see you.

Ano Nuevo bob cat, photo credit: D. Cruz

1/31/2015 – Update

Here is another photo of our Ano Nuevo bob cat. I think he’s saying, “What are you looking at?” And then, with real New York City attitude he is saying, “You lookin’ at me? Huh? You lookin’ at me, punk?”Untitled

Bob cat on Cove Beach trail, December 2014. Photo credit: Joan Teitler, Ano Nuevo Docent Naturalist

If you’d like to see some seal adventures online, visit Ano Nuevo’s Facebook page and watch this one minute video of an elephant seal in “the wallows.” Awww, look at his flippers!

Down By the Bay, East Palo Alto Way

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From bay to landfill to garbage dump, to boatworks and now, back to bay.

Efforts are afoot to restore the area in front of Cooley Landing in East Palo Alto. Cooley Landing was once a wharf in the now defunct town of Ravenswood. The entire landing is made of landfill and is owned by the City of East Palo Alto. It was opened/reopened in 2012.

The area directly in front of Cooley Landing, was held for quite some time by POST (the Peninsula Open Space Trust); it has now been entrusted to the MROSD (Mid-Peninsula Open Space District). Only recently opened, this section of Ravenswood Preserve is also a part of the Bay Trail. Restoration continues on this area and will continue for years to come. In the meanwhile, the Bay slowly heals itself: marshes, tidal flats and wildlife are returning to the area.

To enter this section of Ravenswood Preserve and Cooley Landing, take Bay Road in East Palo Alto. Drive past an industrialized zone. The road here becomes riddled with potholes but once you enter the preserve, the roads are paved and in excellent condition suitable even for wheelchair access.

These open spaces, Ravenswood and Cooley Landing, include portions of the Bay Trail. The view here is incredible. Signs of wildlife, especially birds, are evident. So too, are remnants of garbage, including discarded tires. Still, revitalization of the space continues. This is not just a boon for flora and fauna. It also provides more open space for the residents of East Palo Alto and beyond.

Additional Information:

Welcome Back to the Bay!

5bWe are ten years into a 50-year restoration project along the San Francisco Bay — Salt flats are being returned to their natural state (0r as natural as we can make them). Wetland restoration continues on an area the size of Manhattan island. All of this is in the middle of Silicon Valley. There are three areas, Eden Landing, Ravenswood, and Alviso, on the South Bay, two of which I’ve visited. Here are some photos from yesterday’s visit to Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge (in Alviso) where I saw numerous birds including several phalaropes.


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Follow this link for some really good photographs of Drawbridge.

Sunrise, Sea Caves, and Low Tide

South Point & Cove Beach on 5/18/2014 (tide, -1)

The things you see when the tide is at minus one is simply amazing: life in tide pools; life, shells and fossils on rocks and in caves; a fossilized whale vertebrae atop a rocky promontory; and huge rocks and logs pushed up against the back of walls inside of caves (that you know will some day undermine the foundation of the cave and then the whole thing will come crashing down!). Simply amazing.

The first four photographs are mine. The slideshow set is courtesy of fellow docent, Cindy Rocha. She uses a professional camera; my photos are from my trusty iPod 4. Enjoy!

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Oh Bay Area, You are Crazy!

1Beaches with tsunami warnings? Check! Building with furniture hanging off  of it? Check and check! Kids texting with post its? Check and double check! Homeless people encamping at City Hall? Check, check and check!

There’s nothing quite like going to the beach and seeing an “in case of tsunami” warning by the steps leading down, down, down! Go to Cowell Ranch Beach (south of Half Moon Bay) and that is what you’ll see. Sure, it’s a beautiful beach with lovely views but why dig steps down a steep cliff to create beach access in what is a potential tsunami zone? Crazy!

Then over in San Francisco, South of Market Street Area (SOMA), there is this, a building fitted out with sculptural installations called “Fenestration.” I love the arm-chair on the roof. My imagination takes me to nightly happenings with ghosts fighting over who gets to take a ride in it and the red chair too. Can’t you picture the famous (infamous?) Bay Area fog rolling in and completing this picture? Wooooooooooooooo.

Photo credit: BalderdashNYC

Recently, there were the kids sending “text messages” across buildings to one another and playing hang-man too, with posts-its. I especially like this post-it building message, “Leland Yee is my uncle.”

View image on Twitter
Photo credit: SFGate, 4/4/2014

The last time I was over by City Hall in San Francisco was when I was waiting with the Quiet Lightning guys for Chicken John’s bus. There we were, congregating on the sidewalk, when a homeless lady came up to us and said, “I’d like to get by but you are blocking the sidewalk. Shame on you!” The homeless in this area are a bit colorful, to say the least.

And finally, here is a draft of my poem about the Fenestration sculpture/building. I wrote it for my Kearny Street Workshop class about the area South of Market Street.


Out the windows

down the walls

atop roof

mid-air, they wait.

Decaying, distorted

levitating above graffiti

by sidewalks busy with

homeless denizens

Together they hang,

numb, waiting.

When darkness comes,

green couches, orange tables and chairs

join with grandfather clocks

and set themselves loose

from windowsills and roof

take flight from walls

into the night.

Along skies they walk

upon foggy air

toward water they fly

on darkened wings

free of Howard and Sixth

and fenestration.

South Park Graffiti


There is a little square in the SOMA (South of Market) area of San Francisco. It is called South Park and it reminds me of the squares in London and also of  some of the squares (Tompkins Square Park and Washington Square Park, for example) in the Village (New York City). In a little back alley behind the park, I found these lovely graffiti:

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