Before Organic Farming Was a “Thing”

a page from my sketch book

Before organic farming was a thing, there was ital cooking by Jamaica’s Rastafarians. Here is an 8-minute video on hillside farming in Nonsuch, Portland (Jamaica): natural eating.

If you ever get a chance to visit Portland, Jamaica, try to visit the Nonsuch Cave, a system of  nine chambers of stalagmites and stalactites. Inside this cave you will find seashells and other fossils embedded into the walls. This is quite amazing since the cave is high atop a hill! This area must once have been undersea. A favorite place to stay when on this end of the island is Trident Castle: here, peacocks greet you from the rooftops at evening time.

 

This is Not a Prequel!

2
Playing

My previous post, “Another Fairy Tale” is now a feature of my art blog. The story started out as a drawing, developed into text and has become the basis for my painting, “They Played to Their Hearts’ Content.” For the pre-story (the actual drawings that led to the story), please visit my art blog at KayRodriques.com.

Another Fairy Tale

photo 2The wind rustled ever so slightly, gently bidding the little creature, “Come, come hither. Quick!” But the little creature was afraid to leave his hole in the canes. “Come on!” urged the wind. “Do you not hear the rumbling? Now’s the time to run. Run little one, run!” The little creature sniffed the air timidly. Something was amiss but he didn’t know what.

Story in progress … stay tuned for more in upcoming posts.

photo 1

Water Story (Fairy Tale, Part II)

4 -life in a bromeliad poolLife on Bromeliadia Island

In the beginning, there was just the rain – rain all day and rain all night. Water ran along and beyond every hill and every canyon. On and on it ran until sea and sky merged together and became one. This is when Slender Bromeliad gave birth to River Mumma. Unlike her brothers and sisters, the ginger bromeliads, River Mumma, from her very inception, refused to stand still or to remain in one place.

When all of the ginger bromeliads’ water tanks were filled to capacity and brimming over, they would call out to one and all, telling us to come live with them in the cave. That is how I got there. Oh it was a magical place, filled with forests and rare understories. It was a perfect home for iguanas and mountain river fish and bromeliads.

Day and night, night and day, the ginger bromeliads and Slender Bromeliad collected rainwater. In the void, the chasm, the abyss of the caves, they all worked hard to keep Water Table level. While River Mumma roamed up and down the mountain and back, her mother and siblings stayed put, replenishing subterranean springs upon which Water Table balanced.

Life in Castle Cave

Rain collectors, as bromeliads are also known, arch their gutters into curves until they overlap to form tight, protective bowls. This is no easy feat and in fact, is really hard work. In a good year, they amass so much water that the creatures of the forest cannot help but find new ways to enjoy the bounty. Some of them even make their homes in the bromeliads’ slender stalks.

The first time Red Crab visited Slender Bromeliad’s castle, Slender Bromeliad was busy sunbathing. What seemed to be shutters to the castle turned out not to be shutters at all, but windows. And far from being closed, the windows were flung wide open. Red Crab climbed across the roof and down the wall near Slender Bromeliad. “Anybody home?” she called out. Slender Bromeliad ignored her. She inched closer sideways. “She can’t hear you,” came a voice from the gutters. Red Crab moved closer. “Are you a tourist or are you looking for a home?” “What?” responded Red Crab. “Are you looking to live here too?” asked Blue Damselfly, trying not to sound too hopeful.

The luxurious blue creature with iridescent wings was happy to see Red Crab. She knew she could count on her to provide nutrients for her larvae. She had, in fact, been waiting and hoping for company to arrive. When Blue Damselfly first made her way to the cave, Slender Bromeliad’s tank had been under the control of miscreants. Damselfly quickly put an end to that and all the miscreants disappeared. Now Blue Damselfly needed a new source of food for her larvae. Her host, Slender Bromeliad, was oblivious to all of this. She was too worried about her wandering progeny, River Mumma, who she heard, had taken the reflection of their cave and placed it firmly in Gold Mine for all to see. No good could possibly come of that.

The Troubles

River Mumma had become a main source of worry for Slender Bromeliad who no longer, if ever, had control over her last born. First there had been the business of all the fish children she spawned with iguana. Now there was the matter of her goings and comings and her late returns home. That had been okay during the rainy season. Now, however, a second season had arrived on the island and like River Muma, it too, seemed to be up to no good. The fish children that lived in the mountain streams were starting to talk. They said the sun was getting jealous of iguana and was getting hotter and hotter under the collar. They feared he might stop River Mumma from returning home one day. What they really were afraid of was that she would dry up, wither away, and then they too, would disappear. Worse yet, if she took the castle with her, the underground springs would dry up too.

5- magical, enchanted Pan IguanaThey blamed it all on iguana for having tempted River Mumma to flow on out of the cave. They said iguana had tricked her into spawning fish in the lower rivers and even further below, in the salt laden sea. Lately, they claimed, he had taken to running pipes along her banks just to keep her close. It was he, they said, that kept her tethered to the golden table that shimmered and glowed and threatened to capsize any day now. He put her at risk and now she was in everybody’s crosshairs. River Mumma, of course, didn’t see any of this their way. She was merely charting her own course and beating her own path. And as for Pan, where would he find pipes in a land without pipes? None of this made sense, unless of course, the place ahd been bewitched by the fairies. Had it?

 

If you wish to read Part I of this tale, please click on this link.

Seed Pop

seed pop
“Non-native Breadfruit” (from the Jamaica Series), Pen and inks on paper. 4 x 4 in © 2015

Recently I’ve been doing research on the plants of Jamaica. This is for a series of artworks that I’m working on. Many plants that are now on the island were actually introduced by its two colonizers, the Spanish and British. This drawing is of the breadfruit; it was brought to Jamaica to feed the slaves. The plant has no nutritional value whatsoever. As a cheap food source, it served its purpose of keeping the slaves alive at little to no cost.

On another note, there is a Bay Area company that is doing its part to save the bees. It creates and sells seed bombs. The idea of seed bombs comes from Guerrilla Gardening,  a method of planting begun by environmentalists who would simply throw balls of seeds and fertilizer into fenced-off neglected spaces like brownfields or land that was in zoning limbo. Hmmm, I’m looking at you, fenced off lands near BART stations! Read more about seed bombs and saving the bees here: Save the Bees With Seed Bombs

Jamaica, One Love/No Love

20141129-051131.jpg
Jamaican Iguana, from the Indigenous Fauna series, watercolor on paper 2014

I have learnt the warmth of the sun
A million adventures not yet begun

Heartbreak and poetry
…deep blues …

Now i know this is lonely country
It leads me only back to the sea

… Once there was beauty here for me
Once there was magic here for me ….

-words from Dido’s, “Northern Skies”, from the Safe Trip Home album-


I’m working on a series of artwork inspired by Jamaica, its history, its present. That includes reading the early texts and drawings about the island. My readings and research take me from the cave drawings of the Tainos to the writings of the Spanish, based on Columbus’ arrival in the “New World,” on up to the present. So many things, are done in the name of the church, the holy trinity, god and nation. 3 -in the name of the holy trinity

Video – Jamaica, a terrible place to be gay:

 

Oh, China! Oh, Water!

Extinguished a dolphin species? Check.

Displaced millions of people? Check.

Flooded archaeological sites? Check, check and check.

This is the story of China’s Three Gorges Dam.

Yallahs River valley
Yallahs River valley, Jamaica (photo credit: Claude Fletcher)

This is also the story of water and how we both manage and mismanage it. From Hetch Hetchy, to the Colorado River, on to the Salton Sea and the Yallahs River, what have we lost and what have we gained?

Now comes this, China’s Three Gorges Dam.

For more on my “River series” see my past posts:

The River Road, Part One

The River Road, Part Two

Writing an Artist’s Statement Is Hard!

Posing2For the past six weeks I’ve been slaving over my artist’s statement. It turns out you’re not a real professional unless you have one. I looked at other artists’ statements, and didn’t see any that I liked. They were so hifaluting (spelling?), filled with art-speak and treated me as if I was too much of an imbecile to figure out what their work was about. It was maddening.

An honest explanation of why you do what you do takes real brain work. You really have to turn your noggin on and think, think, think.The best analogy I can think of is the genius of a small child caught in a lie. You call them on it and ask, “Why did you do it?” And what do you get from the kid? A little face all scrunched up as (s)he tries to think up yet another lie to cover the first one. You watch that little genius face at work and you just know that you are about to get a fantastically unbelievable story about how they didn’t actually do what you just saw them do. It takes that kind of brain power to write you own artist’s statement. No easy task that. So here now, is my explanation of why I create and how and what I create. Your comments, suggestions, criticisms are all welcome.

*****          *****          *****

Color is My Personal Symbolism

Jamaica’s Blue Mountains did it and now the Bay Area’s ridges and valleys are doing it again! Colors unfold, vibrant and vivid, take hold and send me rushing to my studio where I feverishly squeeze paints from tubes, freeing images I have conjured up during my mountain and coastal hikes.

      Often you will find me sketching atop a grassy mountain knoll or on a dune at Ano Nuevo. From my perch I draw things I encounter during my hikes — plants, insects, birds or the scenery before me. If I sight a coyote, badger or mountain lion, I sketch as quickly as I can, trying to capture it before it heads for cover in the woods.

      In the studio, sketches transform into paintings: there are today’s golden California poppies, ruby throated hummingbirds and green, brown and gold Bay Area hills; and there are yesterday’s women ambling through Blue Mountain towns. The outcome is my highly texturized process paintings and detailed miniatures.

      Recycled bits of metal, scraps, feathers and straw are given new life in my works. I fold them into gessoed surfaces then bathe them in paints, pigments and inks. Some paintings are whimsical; others move from the realm of the real to the unreal. A woman, for example, can be transformed into a California Quail.

      Unsurprisingly, the unifying thread throughout my works is the sun infused colors of  the Caribbean and California. I could not have created these paintings without these two muses. I nod in appreciation to both.

 

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