The photographs in this article are from an installation by artist Fumio Tachibana. The photographer is Yasuhide Kuge. This exhibition was the first time I had consciously experienced the artist, his inspiration, materials, work, and working space as inseparable. Tachibana is someone who has mastered the art of evocation. The re-purposing and re-imagining of “fragments” woven or arranged into a new whole is a important concept in my own work.

Fumio Tachibana

His subject is Clara, a fashion institute for western style dressmaking in Japan, founded and run by Motoko and Shiro Koike in 1923. They also published a fashion magazine called Yosai Shunju. The building was demolished and the magazine banned during World War 2 in 1944. I’ll take a wild guess that anything to do with western culture was not at all popular in Japan during that time. Motoko revived the institute as a classroom studio in the 1950s. When the studio was dismantled, Fumio Tachibana collected and reorganized the fragments of Motoko’s work and materials (drawings, sketches, dressmaking patterns, postwar Japanese handbills, wrapping paper, silk thread, and printing equipment) into a large scale installation of new artworks and arrangements in their own space so that the classroom itself was part of the work. There is something powerful going on here in that Motoko’s presence is strongly felt in the photographs.







Source: Communion W, 2001 Curator: Can Wong

For Meate or Medicine

The Fourth Book of Distillations containing many singular and secret recipes.

While sorting through the old books at the Horticultural Center, I picked up a musty old tome which I thought was a history of gardening. It turned out to be a book about alchemy and the construction of various types of stills. Most chapters focus on use of plants by the Puritans of New England for herbal medicines and tonics. However, it does occasionally veer off into herbal lore and “the chemical art” of the early alchemists. The book was in rough shape, water damaged and falling apart so the scans are not so nice. Of course, I had to offer up a few bits of it, since this blog threads together the subjects of my fascination – art, old books, gardening, and alchemy. Included among these tattered pages, is a hand drawn map from the 1600s of the area where I now live and work. Sadly, it was too faded and ink smeared to scan well.

Three Bees

“The fifth chapter deals with the sum total of background knowledge applied by the settlers to their task of growing, distilling, and preserving all they would need for both meate and medicine. The sixth deals with ‘the meate’ and the seventh with ‘the medicine’ for which they felt sure so many plants were intended”. – Anne Leighton

The embattled Alchymia among her limbecks and furnaces.
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Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

This quote scrolled past me today, somewhere in my travels. I liked it and snagged it. Now I forget who said it. Bill Cosby?

Sometimes inspirational quotes are thought of as hokey. I think they are helpful. Besides, it’s okay to be hokey. Why not? Fear literally is the mind killer. It can also be a mind virus that is spread around to others. What I observe is that the media and various authorities in our lives attempt to keep us in a constant state of anxiety and fear. Why? Sometimes it is a bad habit and not deliberate. There is quite a lot of subtle peer approval awarded for negativity and cynicism. We become trained to police each other in this manner.

Sometimes though, it is part of a design to keep us in a state of mind that is dis-empowered, more easily controlled, and perhaps more accepting of injustices and absurdities. One certainly can not be audacious if the mind is kept focused on fear and failure. As always, I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone else when I write up this kind of thing. Expel the “bad fairies” from your mind.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

From the Air, of the Earth, and by the Sea

Here are two of my favorite things combined, art and the beach. Discovered the work of Jim Deneven and thought I’d share. He does this freehand with a stick. There is something so beautiful about ephemeral art. It emphasizes the experience of the art process without concern for object. It is being in and of the moment, something important about art and self that is so easy for us to be distracted from or to simply just forget. In a way, the ephemeral speaks to us of the the importance of memory and mindfulness.


There are more images on the artist’s website.