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Art Does Not Stop For Turkey

I recently had a conversation via text with John Marcella Grant who I am acquainted with as a result of Facebook.  I can’t fault Facebook that much. Many friendships and connections have happened in this fashion over the years so I am grateful.  No, I don’t go on it too much because it would affect my creating if misused but it is a useful way to connect to other creatives.  John wrote “Discovering The LA Artworld”  with many of my fellow colleagues in it.  No, I am not in it as we just recently met virtually, but I look forward to receiving my copy.  He had contacted me to exchange ideas and more and then apologized for it being Christmas.  I told him “Art Does Not Stop For Turkey.”

Here is me at a gathering stopping for Turkey.  I am here with my friend of many years Dee Wallace.  She is a working actress (you may remember her as the mom on ET, the movie and she also writes books on healing)   Dee always does this huge gathering.  I bring the yam dish.   Most of our original friends have gone to that party in the sky but we are still here.  Just three of us left but she always finds new friends for the table.

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The Christmas Holidays is not an easy time to create.  I manage it as best I can. Balancing social media, websites, applying for grants (once in a blue moon I get one), and art business in general can be daunting.  My compulsion is to draw and paint so I only make time once a month for a computer web day like today.    I work until my dyslexia takes over.  At one time I thought I was allergic to computers.  My hair rose on the nape of my neck just going to my emails.

Today I wanted to work on this painting but needed to catch up on my art business responsibilities.  Remember that tomorrow will come!

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If I don’t draw or paint every day I feel heavy at heart.  I have this need to unload the images and thoughts in my head on a regular basis.  No matter how much drawing and painting I do, my head continually fills up.  The weight of my thoughts cause my head to unscrew and end up on the floor.  It is a bloody mess to clean up and I often feel a desire to  apologize at holiday gatherings  for being headless. No one notices but me.   I avoid mirrors at all costs just in case I see my headless reflection.

Here is Pickles reminding me that I am not “Headless”.

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Today has been a headless day spent updating this site and others, keeping my word to curators and galleries to “spread the word” for a number of exhibits coming up.   I am not a multitasked personality, so I meditate first, make a list and go one step at a time.  My writing of this blog was on the list and my determination to fulfill the list is based on my word and the goal that if I do my homework I will be able to paint tomorrow. My mantra is: Do my art business work today and tomorrow I am free to paint.

Pickles the laid back monk  with the dark glasses taught me this mantra:

I am only as good as my  word and keeping my word leads to freedom . This is truth: plain and simple.

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Today in the 21st Century artists are one man shows.  There are many who can pay for the luxuries of promotion, Facebook management, Instagram likes for hire and more.  I am not in that category but have shown with many who are. I, like many of my collegues  have been exhibiting and working on projects for decades and yes, we do get money for art.  No, It is not regular but better through the years.  I’m fine with that and happy for other’s successes.  Their great wins and  energy often overflows my way.   We are here to be purposeful and rejoice in each person’s successes.  If one has the money for promotion to help that along, then they should!  Remember if you are in a group show with that person, the overflow can benefit everyone, so be happy for them!!   Help each other succeed when ever possible.

The holiday is a stressful time for me and others.  We have all suffered losses of loved ones.  Some can’t help but go back in time for that nostalgia, especially if it was happy.   I  avoid  going back as my childhood was pain, loss and  chaos.  I do remember wanting to be a nun when I was 7.  I saw this old movie with Audrey Hepburn.  “The Nun Story”.  I was hooked.  She was a heroine , pure of heart and was my role model for that whole year.  Every time things were confusing at home I would close my eyes and imagine I was her.  Is there a movie that gives you hope? Watch it if you can.

If you find that  memory lane is a journey  down a dark path of regret then turn around and get off the freeway.  Binging on Netflix, and stale donuts will not lead to the studio exit.   Yes, a nice sweet is tasty but only in moderation.  There are remedies one can do.  Ask Pickles, the laid back furry monk!   If you are not mobile, coping mechanisms can  be trickier but determine to do your best, not my best- YOUR BEST.  I have had many surgeries through the years.  I use my sketchbook to hang in there. It is not  easy but if determined you can prop pillows in bed and sketch.  If I can do it, so can you.  Accept that  healing takes time and  will eventually bring you back to your old self.

Here are ways that might help:

Read a good book to keep you on track.

I love the book “Do It” by Peter McWilliams and have re-read it many times as there are many pearls of wisdom I wish I had when I was young.

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See how worn this is?  Each page is a gem.

Create everyday .  You can’t just “want” to be an artist.  Being an artist is not romantic.  It is a job  so don’t wait for that “feeling”, just do it.  Wanting doesn’t mean anything.  You have to contribute your abilities while you are here. This is your purpose. That purpose will keep you alive.  When I was pregnant with my son, I had to stay in the hospital from 29 weeks on. I drew in bed and knew I had to be patient and get past my fears.  I made a decision that my purpose was to have my son as safely as possible and to do what ever was required even if it meant being hooked up to an IV, not moving around, and being washed by nurses every day.  I was weak and was given an “option” to not have him. They said he was fine but I was not.   I knew he and I would be alright.  I listened to my heart.  It was  a leap of faith.   I flatlined during delivery but am still here.  We both are fine.  He is 28 now and very dear to me. What does this have to do with art? Everything!   I made a hard decision not knowing the outcome. Art is not an easy road.  You finish an exhibit and move on to the next.  If you are lucky, someone writes about you.  There is no real ring to grab on the merry-go-round.  You go round and round.  Once a project is done, the next one begins.  Fine Art careers are fluctuant.  Be wise and  accept this.  It is easy to give up and give in but this is not what makes life worth living.  It is the compulsion to keep doing even with the knowledge of uncertainty.

Waiting for inspiration leads to expiration.

This painting was months in the making.  I never look at time when working.  Sometimes it was just 5 hours at the canvas that day and sometimes 15 hours with little brushes.  The people in the work are dear to me.  Some I know and love and others I sketched while riding the metro train.  They are all dear to me because they exist even through their struggles.

Gary Brewer (artist, art writer), his wife Aline Mare(artist)  and son Cyrus(amazing chef) are in the forefront on the left.  Truly they are dynamic artists and freinds. This is a magical family that I am blessed to know.  Who do you know that brings a smile to your face or a tear of gratitude and joy?  Think of them when you need to smile.  You are not alone in this life.

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“Mutable Delirious Confluence”, 48″ x 66″, oil on canvas, 2018

Art does not happen if you have to be in the mood. I have often sat all day just doodling and then “ZAP”! Those doodles have gone into that wonderful zone.  You don’t have to matter anymore.  It just is.  You are there, doing it.

This is a small section of a large painting.  The model is a dancer in the Heidi Duckler Dance Company.  The patterns develop as a result of “doodling”.

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Shower, brush your teeth and floss twice a day. “What!” you say.  Yes- take time for hygeine.  The first sign of fading from this life is a lack of hygeine or worst, the inability to bath due to financial burden.  If you have a room and a shower, and a job that pays the bills,  you have been blessed.  I have lived in the worst of places during my youth but felt happy.  Some places were not bad at all.    I had basic jobs but could pay the rent, and had a place to sleep and a shower.  I was grateful always. You must look at each day as an opportunity.  The main battle faced is you.  The battle of your thoughts are your enemy so make your bed, clean yourself up and have your armor on. And don’t forget to tie your shoelaces.  Each decision you make will have an outcome. Make the bed that you want to sleep in, make wise choices when ever possible.  Habits are your friend, so make good ones.   Structure is everything.  Even if you feel awful, the structure of doing will help.

And if you are really depressed, see a doctor.  There is no shame in getting help and there is also a possibility that you might need to balance your hormones.  Sometimes there are true medical reasons why you can’t get out of that dark place.  The author of “Do It” openly admits that he uses prescribed medication for episodes of depression.  He had written dozens of books and was successful outwardly  but realized that he needed help.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get things done as you planned.  Forgive yourself and begin again tomorrow.

De-Clutter a drawer every day.

Clean up a room each day.

Draw and video tape your art process and post it on instagram.  Inspire others in this way.  Help them the way you want to be helped.

Take a walk or exercise every day, even if it is only 30 minutes.  It will raise your endorphins and that affects moods.

Do a good deed and don’t tell anyone.  Then it is truly good.

If the holidays are painful put that in your creating.  When I was young and all through my  20″s, I endured difficult years.  My parents and many others close to me died early and I was plagued by depression and losses experienced early on.  I lived in awful places and felt like broken glass.   I got through it by creating art.  I eventually formed friendships that became family.   I married and had a son and made amazing friends. I am not rich in money but am richer then most in my relationships.  I know that many never marry or have children but form family bonds  from friends and furry animals in need, .  You do not need to have children to be whole.  Conception is the great misconception if it is for the sole purpose of helping a relationship. I wanted it with all my heart but that is my experience.  It is the greatest pain and joy one will ever experience if that is what you really desire. I grew tremendously and love being a mom  but it is not meant for everyone.

Treat each day as if it is your last. BE  PRESENT in each moment.  Be kind to who ever you meet.  If you can make someone’s day better just by a smile or by listening to their story, do it.   You are meant to be here for what ever time you are given.  That time is precious.  Be a leader in your garden and take care of the weeds.  The best treatment you can give to your family and friends  is to stay here and fulfill your purpose for yourself and others. No matter how difficult that purpose is, your job is to stay.  Rome was not built in a day and the Mona Lisa took time.  Be good to yourself, be good to others. And don’t stop pursuing or allow your thoughts to take you down.

I wrote a statement in a post recently and a friend (we see each other at art gatherings) and gifted curator  Jillith Moniz  thought it was a wonderful prose.  I give this to each of you with my heart.

“How great is each person.” 

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My friend Genie Davis on the right always greets people with her heart.  Her love comes from the inside out.  She makes me smile.

January 18, 2020- SoLa Contemporary “Women By Women” Curator Sharon Allicotti Group Exhibition

January “Drawn to Dance” -Sharon Allicotti Curator. Collaboration with Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre.  Dates to be announced

April 2020- Mash Gallery 98% Curator: David Rubin- Details to follow

February 2022  Solo Exhibition MOAH Cedar , Lancaster CA- Details to follow

Where You Goin Ricki Starr?

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Ricki Starr was my hero.  My mind is a little hazy but as I remember it, I saw him in 1961 in a wrestling match against Don Duffy at the Olympic Auditorium.  I was an 8-year-old scrawny, irritating, scared of everything little girl.  I jumped at any sounds and cried every July 4th.  July 4th. was a miserable day where I climbed into small dark hiding places as the first signs of twilight emerged.  I would sit in the dark,  hoping NOT BE FOUND till morning.  So my dad being my dad was always on a mission to figure me out and decided that seeing a wrestling match might be fun for me.  He took my brother Rick, a year older who had to put up with my idiosyncrasies and paid me back later during childhood play.  We now have the best relationship ever.  I’m sure my mom and older brother Ron were there but the only person I ever saw was my father Julian, who I worshipped.  When ever he tried to make things right, he’d lower his glasses, smile and gaze down at me with his large liquid brown eyes and raise his eyebrows to make it right.  This tall, paunchy in the middle, pre hippieish guy was my superhero.  Teary-eyed from the car trip over (yes, I was terrified of cars) I remember him carrying me down to our seats, junk food in his pockets.  Shortly after being seated the lights dimmed and an announcement was made.  Ricki Starr against Don Duffy.  Everything was slow motion as I watched the magic.  This beautiful man emerged from the back walking down the aisle towards the ring, escorted by beautiful blonds in glamorous gowns.  I was mesmerized.  The fight began and I was doing fine.  Maybe in my mind he was a superhero fighting the bad guy.  I sat forward cheering his name as he danced around the ring.  He was known for his elegant ballet moves)  He was killing it!  I was smiling from ear to ear, screaming his name. “RICKI STARR!! RICKI STARR!!”  He was winning.  At his high point I repeated the crowd’s words.  “YEAH, GET HIM RICKI, YOU GO RICKI STARR!!”  He moved eloquently, twirling his perfect body, me yelling, “Get him, you get him Ricki!!”  At that point, I knew that Gumby was out of the picture.  I would someday marry Ricki Starr.  We would have 20 little Ricki and Jodi Starrs and travel to different planets, in pursuit of justice.  At the moment of my highest prediction the tables turned.  He was now being pummeled and Don Duffy took the lead.  I became anxious and my dad’s triumphant victorious smile turned downward.  I felt that first tear threaten to drop from the outer corner of my eye.  Everyone in our section heard my scream.  That chilling high pitched musical note that reaches out and grabs the attention of every irritated adult within range.  Ricki Starr was bleeding.  In my mind that monster Villian (that Don guy) was beating the crap out of my future husband. I wailed, “THEY’RE KILLING RICKI STARR!!”  My dad struggled to “politely” carry me out.  I fought with all the strength I could muster, scratching my dad, twisting to try to see, even arching my back till I was upside down, as my wonderful sensitive father, smiling and making jokes, carried me out.  I do remember him saying, “Upset stomach, too much candy, and other lame excuses as the angry faces turned to gaze at this crazy little girl.  I could not stop crying.  When I was able to get a modicum of control, my tall patient father (who never put me down for fear of me running away and hiding somewhere) continued to hold me.  Two formidable characters in black with gold badges walked with us.  As I stared at the badges they seemed to morph into  crawly stingy sticky tentacles.  I quieted.  I was thinking, “Where is RICKI STARR?”  By this time, in my world, we were married.  Ricki wasn’t dead or bleeding  and now it was my turn to be the hero.  I was sure that he was being held on one of the planets.  I was already devising a way to figure out where he was.  My father was now a huge creature fighting alongside me.  My many children, each in their mini capes were devising a second plan, incase my plan didn’t work.  In my head we were all wearing the same Ricki Starr outfits and I had long hair and a magical sword.  At that moment in my story, I heard my father’s voice quietly in my ear, “Hey Jodi, look who’s here.  My dad turned me around in his arms and there he was, Ricki Starr!  Glittering light surrounded him.  He  was all dressed up and wore a beautiful shiny black cape. I couldn’t breathe.  Black shiny hair, dark eyes, fair-skinned, gorgeous Ricki Starr.  In my mind, music played as my future husband stood before me.  Ricki Starr grabbed my hand and I held tight onto his finger. All I could do was stare at him.  Ricki Starr smiled down at me and said, “Well, aren’t you a pretty little thing.”  I suddenly cried,  “I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!!”  I looked for the blood as my tears began to fall.  Ricki smiled, “Hey beautiful” He said, “You want to see a trick?”  He pulled out this little packet.  He soothed, “Now, don’t cry, look.”  I watched as he opened it and red blood dripped out,  He said, “It’s not real.”  I asked,

“Did you get it from the monsters?”

“Yes.”

“Did you have to fight them?”

“No, we are all friends.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Ricki gave me a packet to play with.  Leaning forward, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and whispered conspiratorially, “I’m going to go now but I want you to keep fighting the monsters.”

I didn’t cry, fascinated by the packet, and also sad, knowing that my future with Ricki had gone away.  I made my next decision to become a nun because I liked the clothes.  But that’s another story for another time.

I’m an LA artist but sometimes I think about my growing up and this was a memory I wanted to share.

I was born at the Queen of Angels Hospital in Downtown LA.  My maiden name was Feldman.  We originally lived in Boyle Heights and then moved to the Fairfax district where I grew up.   I’m a Los Angeles artist and have had an art practice since 1991.  I doodle and sketch and paint the stories I hear and the life I live. Sometimes I write when I feel like it.

This is a pencil drawing.  I used myself as a little girl.  I was always holding my finger to my lips, apprehensive about everything, always on the verge of tears.  I have since tamed my monsters or just put them in paint.  This piece sold at an LA Gallery three years back and  is in a beautiful home.

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Enjoy Your Trip

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I took an art break to go to an art talk of a friend of mine recently.  When asked about her work, she mentioned that she wasn’t into sketching.  There was a time that she had used small brushes, and a lot of detail in her work. During that time, she realized that the art process wasn’t fun for her and that she dreaded going into the studio.  A friend gave her a palette knife and her experience changed from dread to rapture.  I raised my hand and said that you don’t have to draw to be an artist. That if you find passion in the way you create your art, then do it. A few people spoke to me afterwards, surprised at my comment.  I love to draw and doodle and this continues into my work. but it is not for everyone.  Many times, before I begin a session, I doodle into my sketchbook.  I have many books.  I doodle, draw out of my head, and also use parts of photo images I have taken while out sketching.  This is my way.  My head is crowded with images and if I don’t draw everyday, I go down a rocky cliff, a low feeling that can’t be described.  I also walk Pickles, my dog, my trusted sidekick who stays with me while I paint.

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I also do a walking exercise on a strange machine called an elliptical machine 3 or 4 times a week.  After standing and sitting at an easel for 8 or more hours, I have to move.  I have these incredibly large earphones that I wear and I do the machine while listening to a DVD.  I love any kine of science fiction but am especially fond of superhero movies.  The length of the movie is my time on the machine.   This is what I do to ease all the stuff inside me.   All this “stuff” is a mix of memories from my growing up but it is also what makes me who I am.  The handling of the “stuff” is also who I have chosen to be.  It’s like choosing to sketch and use little brushes or picking up a palette knife.  We are always finding our way.  No one figures it out.  Some opt out but it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.   The life part, managing on that shoe string budget, paying bills,  raising children,  and getting out of the “stuff”, keeps it real.   It is not easy.   I know from my own life that each one of us is struggling and succeeding and learning. Our creative endeavors help to make sense of the meaning of life here on planet Earth.

The best part of my life was when I became a mother.  I have always created art but did not exhibit until after he was born.  He is 27 now.  Odd to even say it.  The time flew.  I felt love on a level I never knew I was capable of.  I love being a mom and even though he is a wonderful adult, I will always happily be his mom and am proud of that. Seeing Spencer grow up was a joy.  I connected with other moms, cried and laughed and learned about love, forgiveness, acceptance of the things we can’t change and appreciation of what we can do and of what we  have. Through my life, I have worked. I have done electrolysis, worked as a nanny, did a short stint of hospice care , worked as a waitress, sold shoes, worked with autistic adults for a time,  taught art to kids, done commissions,  handled life emergencies of my own and others, exhibited my work,  attended exhibits of artist colleagues and on and on.  My growing up was a strange experience.  Let’s just say it was surreal.  As an adult, I have lived in the worst of places and seen things in life that were probably not the best things to see.

I  once lived in a boarding house in Plainsville New Jersey.  I was born and raised in LA so was not from there.  I went to visit a relative but didn’t have enough money to get home, so I took a job at the Blue Star Shopping Center as a sales clerk.  I was 19 years old and trying to cope with a few things, lol.   I was probably the only young woman in the boarding house that worked.  I would come home each night to find the same 20 something tenant on the front lawn passed out.  I and another boarder  would help get him to his room. We all go through things and no one can understand another person’s life completely.  All one can do is appreciate the good things in life and do our best.

I am a loyal friend.  I have friends from all walks of life.  I know artists, writers, curators, and have kept my childhood friends as well as my amazing mom friends.  Our kids are grown but we still hang out.  I appreciate and love the people in my life because they are family and continue to teach me how to enjoy my time here on this planet.  When I lose someone, I grieve for them because their presence made my life  and other people’s lives better. Their stories fuel my work.  I have learned the strategies mentioned above to keep the nightmares at bay.   All this makes me who I am and creates my doodles, my paintings.  I appreciate all amazing moments. and love when others succeed.  Their success is mine.   IMG_3162

These are my “Moms”  I have known them for over 20 years.  Not in the art world but an important part of who I am today as a person.

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I know so many creatives that it would take pages and pages of pictures to post all the special people I am grateful to know. Instead I post “Miles” , 48″ x 24″, a mixed media painting about an artist  with a gentle and loving demeanor whose work I admire, Miles Regis.

I take great joy in little brushes and doodling small shapes for hours and hours.  I love sketching.  It is not for everyone so be true to yourself.  Paint, photograph, write, act, sing, dance, and shout out loud  but do it because you are driven to do it and break the rules and live life. Just be who you are and the creating will be honest. ENJOY YOUR TRIP!!

Shows coming up:

“PARTITA”, a postcard art show and fundraiser for Durden and Ray

Curators: Roni Feldman, Alanna Marcelletti, Valerie Wilcox

Durden and Ray, 1206 Maple Ave., #832, Los Angeles, CA, 90015

Reception Date: Saturday, December 8, 6-9PM

“Kitsch-In-Sync: Art and its Opposite

Coastline Community College Art Gallery,

Curator: Bradford J Salamon

Reception Date: Saturday, January 26, 6PM-9PM

1515 Monrovia Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92663

Torrance Art Museum’s residency project immerses visitors into the creative process – Daily Breeze

Torrance Art Museum’s residency project immerses visitors into the creative process – Daily Breeze
— Read on www.dailybreeze.com/2018/06/14/torrance-art-museums-residency-project-immerses-visitors-into-the-creative-process/