Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Last Open Studio in Cincinnati

Big News!!

Me and Lian Xin, the Painting Chihuahua, are moving back to New York state! June 27th & 28th will be the last Open Studio at the Pendleton.

Please join us on Friday June 27th (6-10pm) or Sat June 28th (11am- 3pm) to celebrate Lian's 3rd birthday and take advantage of some great studio moving discounts. There will even be a drawing for a free Lian Xin original painting! If you live out of town, you are still eligible for the free painting!

We hope to see you then!

DoAn & Lian Xin

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cicada Spring

For the last two weeks certain areas in Cincinnati have had a mass emergence of 13 year locusts (periodic cicadas).

First they come from the soil, a million or more crawling out and up tree trunks. They are strange-looking little brown creatures, silent, except for the crunching of millions of tiny feet marching over the ground.

Then an amazing transformation occurs as the little brown creature split down the back and a new winged cicada emerges. It starts out pale then darkens to a glistening blue-black, detailed with bright orange legs, orange-veined wings and large red eyes. Each adult cicada is between 1-2 inches long.

Once the adult cicada has finished its transformation, it begins its courtship. The males sing and the females wait to be impressed. It is a loud courtship, with a million voices singing, one over the other. It is an amazing spectacle to experience, as the world is literally a-buzz with these loud, yet docile creatures. They cover the trees in the area and if you walk by many will land on you and begin singing. Singly, one cicada has quite a powerful sound, but stand under a tree and the sound is almost deafening.

After a few weeks, the cicadas mate, the females lay their eggs and the adults die. Then the cycle begins again, the area is silent for another 13 years.

Many people feel creeped out or disgusted by cicadas. I find them fascinating. They are noisy, yes, but they are also gentle and harmless. They do not cause damage or than a messy windshield if you happen to drive through an area where they are flying around. The young feed on tree sap by sucking on the roots, but the adults do not eat. When the adults die, they decompose and add nourishment to the soil. Basically, they give back to the trees what they took. I think this is a great lesson for us. Perhaps we can start thinking about how we can be part of a complete cycle and learn how to give back in equal measure to what we take. Rather than look at the earth as an endless resource from which we take take take, we can remember to return and give nourishment in equal measure.

I was glad to have had this experience. I may not ever see a mass emergence again in my lifetime. It will depend on where I am and the timing of their cycle. 


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Taking a Break...

The last two weeks have been particularly draining to me. It is one of those times when the events of the world just seem to be taking a toll on me. I need to take a little time to sort things out and find my center once again. A lot of changes on the horizon and I want to be in a frame of mind and spirit to welcome and move with grace through the transition. I am going to take a little break and resume blogging next week.

Below is the address for Mr. Angel Torres, the man who was paralyzed as a result of a hit and run accident. I wrote about this incident in the previous post, where cards and donations can be sent. Thanks to Jennifer of Catalyst Art Galleries for doing some detective work and getting this address. I hope you will send something to show Mr. Torres that there are still compassionate and caring human beings out there.

Angel A Torres Relief Fund
c/o Webster Bank
108 Farmington Ave
Hartford, CT 06105

(photo by Yu-Chung "Johnny" Ku, digital manipulation by DoAn)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

It is Time to Wake Up!

On May 30th in Hartford, Connecticut, Angel Torres, 78, was struck by a speeding car as he was crossing the street. The car that struck him appeared to be participating in a car chase, ran a red red light, struck Mr. Torres then continued in chase of the other car. Mr. Torres is in critical condition and now paralyzed from the neck down. What is more shocking about this incident is that there is a video from a surveillance camera that shows many pedestrians standing by and doing nothing. Mr. Torres lay in the street, while cars and people moved on by.

This incident makes my stomach turn. It is a very sharp picture of what our society has become. In one of the articles about the incident, a witness said that he didn't want to approach Mr. Torres because he was bleeding heavily and didn't feel skilled enough to help him. Other people said they called 911. But, no one approached him. No one came over to him and comforted him while professional help arrived. The video is graphic, but the most disturbing and upsetting image to me, is when a crowd of people eventually approach Mr. Torres cautiously, as though he might carry the plague. No one bent down to him to assure him that help was on the way. Someone interviewed said that he didn't approach Mr. Torres because he could see he was conscious. Can you imagine how Mr. Torres must have felt? He was conscious during the whole incident, which meant that he was likely aware of all the people just standing there, with cars driving by, while he lay bleeding and probably believing he was dying. You can see the video and read one of the many articles here. Please watch this video, as disturbing as it might be, it is important to see how we have allowed our society to disintegrate. We can no longer ignore that this kind of thing happens all too often.

Things have to change. Normally, in my writing I try to focus on the positive aspects of life, as there is so much sensationalizing of the negative. But, I believe this incident cannot be ignored. It is time to start thinking if this is really the world we want to be living in. It is the world we are creating. Are we satisfied with a world where people are so desensitized and demoralized that an injured person goes ignored? Some might argue about fears of getting involved, about the possible repercussions of helping. I say it is time to get over them. It is no excuse.

Last year, while walking home me and some friends witnessed someone fall in the street. I ran over to him and realized he was having a seizure. I admit that I don't know a lot about how to handle the situation, but I immediately called 911. The operator began instructing me on what to do, when a person drove up and told me he was a part-time paramedic. He explained what to do and helped the young man while we waited for the ambulance. I stayed around until the ambulance came, just in case I could be of help. The experience was terrifying. At one point the young man turned blue and stopped breathing. I thought he had died. But, I stayed, despite my discomfort. I didn't want this young man to be alone. I left only when I knew he had professional help to take over.

There are ways to help, even when we "don't feel skilled enough". Sometimes it is just being there that makes a difference. I don't want to live in a world where we are so self-absorbed or so afraid of other people that we forget our humanity. I am afraid we are fast approaching that reality.

Recently, my art has been focusing on nature and exploring its beauty and mystery. In my work with mythology, I wanted to avoid using figures to represent the different qualities of the Irish deities. I thought there was too much human-centrism in representing the spiritual energies of nature. When I completed Boann: Transformation of a Goddess I was surprised to find a figure appearing. Now I realize that there needs to be a balance. We need to see humanity integrated with nature, rather than superior to it. It seems we are at war with everything right now. War with other cultures...war with other humans...war with ourselves...war with nature...and on and on. It appears, in our pursuit of superiority of nature, we have become divided from ourselves. We are in desperate need of balance and compassion. I will continue to develop this idea through my art, with the hope that it can be a vehicle for transformation and healing.

But art is just one method to instill change, it needs to be extended in all aspects of our daily living. Everyone of us has the capacity to contribute to changing society. I hope that we can be more mindful of just how to live our lives in way that is positive, balanced and compassionate. Maybe we need to extend more gratitude for what we have, even when we may think we don't have very much at all. Maybe we need to have more compassion for ALL living things, for our neighbors, our friends, the strangers on the street, ourselves, and the plants and animals that share the same living space. They don't have to be big changes, sometimes the smallest acts can bring about the most profound results, but we need to be doing something and we need to start doing it now.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Butterfly Show

On my birthday I like to spend time outdoors enjoying nature. I had planned to visit the Cincinnati Zoo, which is also a botanical garden, like I did last year on my birthday. Those of you who know me, know that it ALWAYS rains on my birthday, and last year, when I went to the Zoo, it poured most of the day. The last two days, the weather here in Cincinnati has been pretty tumultuous, with violent thunderstorms and threats of tornadoes. So, I decided against the zoo and instead visited the Krohn Conservatory, which had an exhibit of butterflies from China.

This butterfly was so tame, it crawled right on my 
finger and stayed there while I got this close up shot!
I waited out the tornado warning and then headed out to enjoy the plants and butterflies. It was a pleasant experience, though it was a bit darker than I would have liked. The sun didn't actually come out until I got back home! The butterfly exhibit was really interesting. It was exciting to have butterflies of all colors and sizes flying around you and occasionally landing on you.

The conservatory itself is very beautiful. There is a Rainforest room, Tropical room, Desert room and orchid room. The plants are all well-cared for and the range of species is impressive for a small conservatory. If any of you live locally and haven't visited Krohn Conservatory, I highly recommend it. It was a nice rainy day activity, but would be worth a visit on any day. The Conservatory is open everyday of the year and it is free. (The butterfly exhibit required a small fee, but well worth it).


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