Category Archives: Art

Artsy

Last weekend was the fall Bayou City Arts Festival. It happens twice a year – fall and spring. The spring one is OK, if a bit small, since it’s held in Memorial Park. Fall is by far my fave – downtown, spread out, and full of wonderful art. Here are some of my finds this time around:

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Filed under Art, Bayou City Arts Festival, Downtown, Houston

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I must be on a roll – this is my second post today. Hopefully I’ll keep it short, since it’s been a long day and I’m tired. But I have to get this off my chest. It’s been bugging me for a really long time.

I am Anti-Pinterest and Proud.

There. I said it. Me, the one with conformist tendencies. I am rebelling. I refuse to get involved.

When I first heard about it, I was intrigued. Lots of crafty ideas in one handy place. Coolness! And then it hit my workplace worse than the parachute pants fad of 1984. Worse than Silly Bands. I mean it.

Where’s the creativity in pretty much just copying something that someone else has done? There isn’t any. It really hit home at Christmastime, when I saw at least twenty Elves on the Shelf doing exactly the same cutesy little things every day on Facebook. Mommies proudly tagged Pinterest as their source.

Our elf is boring. He moves from the fireplace to the fridge to the hallway and back. He’s a creature of habit. Period.

I felt guilty and substandard in my parenting and decorating skills for about five minutes. And then, with all of November’s greatness (insert much sarcasm here) I got over it. Where’s the great skill in simply copying others? Nope. I’ve always been a nonconformist with my decorating ideas, and I’m proud of that. Matching? Not in my house. In fact, my house is the one place where I have deliberately done the opposite of what the decorators say, just because it’s my house, darn it!

I don’t need some cutesy, handmade calendar to tell me who goes where on what time and day. We have our own color-coded system on a white board that has worked just fine for ten years. I have an eggplant-colored dining room with a red rug. It looks great and it was our own idea. Design and craftiness should come from internal inspiration, not someone else’s pin board.

I’ll step down from my soapbox now. I’m looking at new colors for the walls – from actual paint chips, thank you very much. And I’ll probably -gasp- pick two from completely unrelated swatches and color families. Just because I can.

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Filed under Art, creativity, decorating, inspiration, non conformity, Pinterest

A Jaunt With Jung

So, on the hunt for something interesting to do out and about this week for my Artist’s Date (mandated by my new guide, The Artist’s Way, I happened upon a Facebook post from the Museum District. At a loss, I clicked and started to read – and was immediately sucked in. I had heard of Carl Jung. Wasn’t he one of those early psychological types we had to study as part of child development or educational psychology? Scanning the foggy depths of my brain, I had only the vaguest recollection of Freud/Piaget/Jung as quickly memorized facts for a distant midterm exam. So I was surprised to learn that Houston actually has a Jung Center. More than that – this place actually offers workshops and sessions, the latter being the topic of the earlier-mentioned Facebook post. The Jung Center offers Feldenkrais sessions on Tuesdays. That’s right, Feldenkrais. I admit, I had to Google that one. ‘A somatic method to movement instruction.’ Wh-at?! Sounded interesting, so off I went.

Since the highways were parking-lot free, I arrived down in the Museum District with plenty of time to spare this trip. Imagine my surprise when the Jung Center was open for business – and I discovered a Jungian art gallery just inside:

Ironically enough, this first piece is titled ‘Alone.’ Which exactly described my feelings at the moment. Surrounded by a bustling city in the midst of an art gallery, I felt alone and a bit out of place. Almost turned tail and went back home. But, Feldenkrais I had come for and Feldenkrais I was going to get!

At the back of the Center there is a small movement studio. Mary Beth, the instructor, soon arrived and gave me an overview, set me up with a mat and gently reminded me that sensory stimulation is to be minimized in the movement room. Hint taken. IPhone put away and silenced. After two other participants arrived, we began.

What followed was an hour of sensory introspection. Lying on a soft mat covered with a warm blanket, the lights dim and the only sound that of her voice, Mary Beth led us on a journey of minimal movement but maximum results. Instructed to focus on breathing and tiny movements of the joints in my left hand and fingers, I became aware of the jerkiness of even the most simple bend of my fingers. The movements gradually progressed up the forearm, elbow and into the shoulder. Slow, simple progressions accompanied by intensive thoughts and awareness of how each movmeent felt versus how it looked. At the end of the hour I can honestly say I felt more relaxed than I have in months – and the usual pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders was completely gone on the left side. I felt lopsided. Unbalanced. Desperately wanted to stay another hour and repeat the movements on the other side – which I couldn’t do but was able to complete later at home, thanks to the handy informational card we got as we left. It detailed the sequence of movements and the purpose of each. Nice – now I have a tool to use next time I am feeling pain.

I do have to say this was a nice change from yoga, Pilates and some of the other types of movement I’ve dabbled in over the years. By focusing on the unconscious as well as feeling the movemetn I was able to identify areas of stress, tension and pain – then work to resolve them. And the mandated time lying in a dark room was just an added bonus…

As I left I took one more lap around the small galleries:

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Jung Center also has a library and bookstore if you are so inclined. I do have to say that the H-town lunch hour traffic was more manageable than ever before thanks to my heightened relaxation! Check it out – you just might find yourself Feldenkraised!

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Filed under Art, Carl Jung, creativity, Houston, Pain Management, Stress Relief, The Artist's Way

Murder and a Museum

I ventured out of suburbia twice this week – once to the Museum District and again to West U. Ironically, these places fall within a few blocks of one another yet are drastically different. The Museum District is full of (duh) museums of all kinds. Literally. From the fine arts (my destination this time) to natural science, contemporary art, Jungian psychology and other Big Topics to the lesser-known (who knew H-town possessed a small gem of a Weather Museum?)

First off, my trip to the Museum District began with a bang. Well, not really a bang. More like an implosion. See, I was on a schedule. Apparently leaving the suburbs at 4:45 for a 6:00 meeting at the MFAH is not thoughtful planning. Perilously poor planning, in fact. See, after navigating two of three freeways successfully, the third turned into a parking lot. Not just slow-moving. An actual parking lot. Third time’s the charm, right? Must have been opposite day. Forget the fact that the Soccermobile was almost out of gas. My Type-A-ness was more concerned about being late. Late. The mere mention of the word and I hear my high school band director’s voice in my head: ‘To be on time is to be late.’ So there I was, in a panic, and completely unable to move. Nothing to do but wait – not my strong suit. But wait I did, arrived at my destination, parked the car and signed in at 5:58. Really.

So exciting – Volunteer Orientation. My career-driven life has been so jam-packed with work, preparation for work, school, kids and off-the-clock responsibilities (for work) that I’ve never actually pursued volunteer work outside of those avenues. So exciting! The MFAH has over 1,000 volunteers who work in so many capacities in and behind the scenes. An entire new world opened up in front of me! I’m embarrassed to admit that the mere suggestion of working in an art library or archives had me secretly salivating. Really. And film screenings! The idea of actually promoting the arts while getting to see really cool art films (with a guest) for FREE had me chomping at the bit. Oh, and I met some really artistically-inclined people in the process. Actually got to see the ‘secret passages’ used to transport art in and out of the building. I took a trip back to 5th grade into the pages of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler with that one. Can’t wait to go back – and here’s a bonus: I learned that Thursdays at the MFAH are FREE!!!! ALL DAY!

Side note: I apologize for my choppy writing style today. I really do have lots to say, and this entry was perfectly formed in my brain yesterday. But as I’ve said before – my head can be a scary place and there are considerable cobwebs in there. I’m just not feeling the flow today, folks. Bear with me…

OK, second trip – the Murder! Since we moved to H-town nearly thirteen years ago I have been fascinated by the idea of this place. Murder By the Book. An entire bookstore devoted to mysteries! Again, the mere idea has me drooling. For some reason I always found excuses not to venture ‘all the way’ down to West U from my suburban cocoon. But not this week. New year, new journey – and out of my cocoon! So off I went during the (thankfully) traffic-free time of the day.

Even though West U is only a few short blocks from the Museums, this burg has a totally different vibe. Historic houses converted into apartments, stately brick homes-become-student housing, lots of trees, quirky locally-run shops. Oh, and Rice University. Academia. With a capital A. I could easily spend the day just walking around – hey! next time! – soaking in the architecture and exploring the shops in the Village. Maybe I’d come out of there smarter. Hmmm…

So, back to Murder By the Book. I’ve always been a mystery lover. From my first experiences with Nancy Drew in second grade to my longtime love affair with Agatha Christie, I love a good case. I’m in the midst of Steig Larsson at the moment – rereading bits of Dragon Tattoo while devouring Played With Fire on the side. So it’s not like I’m a newbie. I practically ran into this little shop in anticipation of discovering lots of old favorites. And was stopped dead in my tracks. The only comparison I can make is the feeling a Boone’s-guzzling college kid would get upon walking into a wine warehouse. Holy. Cow. Overwhelmed. An entire store of mysteries. Subdivided, mind you, by country. British, French, German and American mysteries each had their own section. Shelves upon shelves. Not to mention the used book wall and pulp fiction cases. After thirty minutes of browsing, perusing and reading bits here and there I did manage to find a book. Will let you know how it is after I actually read it. Oh, and did I mention that this place also sells signed copies of certain books, has a deliciously tempting case of rare first editions and hosts regular book clubs, signings and lectures? No? Well, consider yourself enlightened. The book-lover in me can’t wait to go back and spend an afternoon.

So there you have it folks – my week’s adventures into murder and museums. On deck this week – I have no idea – and I’m trying really hard to encourage my Type-A self to embrace the spontaneity!

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Filed under Art, Houston, Museums, Mystery, Volunteer opportunities