Expecting To Fly-16 by Lorraine García-Nakata

There’s been a lot going on this year. One of the most interesting events for me was the fact that Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, took interest in my artistic work in the areas of visual art and literature. Being a member of the Royal Chicano Air Force since 1973 (RCAF-a renowned artist collective based in Sacramento, California) further peeked their attention. As an artist that navigates three disciplines, the scope and depth of Cornell’s interest in my work was important to me on several levels. 

Professor Ella Díaz, Cornell University and artist in lab coat, Lorraine García-Nakata 2013

In the Spring of this year, I was contacted by Professor Ella Díaz, with Department of Literature at Cornell University. Professor Díaz informed me of an exhibit she was curating and asked if I would agree to lend for this exhibit two specific larges scale drawings of mine, a diptych entitled “Facio Nova Omnia: Indigena/Colonial” and "Facio Nova Omnia: Indigena." 

Son, Kanichi García-Nakata assisting installation of "Facio Nova Omnia" diptych, Photo: 2013

As the exhibition curator of “If Gender Is A Kind Of Doing,” Professor Díaz focused on exploration of the female form and only included the work seven female artists: Regina José Galindo Lorraine García-Nakata, Deborah Roberts, Rye Purvis, Laura lucía Sanz, Ana Teresa Fernández, and Elizabeth "oscar" Maynard. Unlike large group exhibitions that establish a broad theme and involve many artists, Professor Díaz explored our work in more depth and in relation to the curatorial theme she had established. I particularly appreciated her astute curatorial statement that was grounded in areas of her research. This is often absent in many exhibit curatorial statements. So, I agreed to lend these pieces.

Artists included: Regina José Galindo, Lorraine García-Nakata, Deborah Roberts, Rye Purvis, Laura Lucía Sanz, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Elizabeth "Oscar" Maynard April 9-May, 2013 Mission Cultural Center Galleries, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco, California

Exhibiting artists: Elizabeth Oscar Maynard, Lorraine García-Nakata, Deborah Roberts, Ana Teresa Fernandez, (Not Pictured): Rye Purvis, Laura Lucía Sanz, Regina José Galindo. (Artwork of Lorraine García-Nakata in photo)-Lorraine García-Nakata Photo Album 2013

Later in the year, Professor Díaz decided to initiate a Cornell University Graduate Seminar solely dedicated to studying my work, both literary and visual art. In just a few weeks, this graduate session will result in nine separate academic research papers that have been authored by participating Cornell graduate students. To support their research, I committed a significant amount of time this summer compiling materials on my work and forwarding this information to Professor Díaz for reference (images, descriptions, writings, and other reference materials). Soon I’ll begin to see their writings and I’m excited by the prospect. It isn’t often that an artist’s work is explored within an academic setting and with this depth.

Recently, I received Professor Díaz’s own writing about my work. In this writing, Professor Díaz reviewed the various artistic stages and related series that I’ve created from the early period of 1970’s through 2005. In a note to Ella I shared that it was remarkable to finally have someone really see, experience, capture, and communicate important aspects of my work. I know the subject of academic writing may seem dry, but to an artist, to me, it’s an important moment.

Specifically, the graduate research papers will be published electronically as part of an upcoming on-line solo exhibition entitled “Lorraine García-Nakata: Navigating By Hand" and organized by Betsy Miller Andersen, Director with the Museo Eduardo Carrillo. This exhibit was organized in collaboration with Cornell University and will include examples of my work, a curatorial statement authored by Professor Díaz, and will also offer a link to the Cornell graduate research papers. I’m thrilled that these papers have been written and that they will be available for public view. Along with Professor Díaz's Curatorial Statement for the "Navigating By Hand" exhibit, the additional research papers will provide an interesting lens upon which to view, digest, and experience my work over time.

My next post will provide a link to this solo exhibition "Lorraine García-Nakata: Navigating By Hand." For now, I share two excerpts from the curatorial statement written by Cornell University Professor Ella Díaz:

"Having addressed childhood, adolescent rites of passage, familial lines of descent, and the socio-historical diaspora, Lorraine’s artwork also engages the spiritual realm and her faith and hope in it, despite the unexplained and unknown factors of the afterlife."

“An introspective body of work on the components of identity that comprise one’s world and make it worth living, 'Navigating By Hand' offers viewers the story of Lorraine García-Nakata. And if viewers look closely and deeply, they will also find pieces of their own life stories reflected back”

Will chat with you again soon,


music site:



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Copyright ©2013 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, altered, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly-15 by Lorraine García-Nakata


I had to think a long while before writing this entry and why it's been a while since chatting with you. It wasn’t for lack of what to say, it was how to share observations about the annoying rhetoric we’ve all witnessed, especially during the recent election, touching on issues of gender, race, and class. There’s been a lot of really ignorant stuff thrown out into the public arena, and while that's not new to our national forum, the level of escalation became hard to bear. I’ve concluded that it’s an “interesting” moment in time we’re living. That’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

As I swam along with others in our national petri dish, there were moments I was stunned and repulsed at the level to which public interaction had sunk. It became a troubling contest of immoral athleticism. It’s as if some sketchy permission had been given to act out behavior and language mirroring disturbing earlier periods of our American history. It’s been a long time, decades, since I’d witnessed such malformed and purposefully hateful assertions directed at targeted populations. When humans behave badly or make ignorant comments and claims, I’d learned, that because you pick your battles, often there’s no point in trying to make sense out of their non-sense. But, when it’s particularly ill and regularly overt, it’s hard to let it slime by.

Initially annoyed and disconcerted, I then found myself intrigued and curious about the phenomena of extreme ignorance and how it partners with denial. There are so many recent examples to point to of overt bigotry, gender phobia, and attempts to bifurcate economic classes in this country. Too many to note here. If folks only knew how much they reveal their own insecurity and impotence as they expel this retro-hater waste. It can be witnessed as some folks of non-color call for an all white leadership in the "White" House and phrasing it in language I will not mirror, or the race-baiting of immigrants through false economic windows, and all the anti gay and female gender phobic assertions. It's been a very thick and sticky layer of smelly stuff adhering to the national note board.

With that foaming-at-the-mouth-hater rhetoric playing as back ground music, I also found it curious how some folks of color forwarded badly scripted formula emails that in some cases were fundamentally in conflict with and in denial of their own culture and immediate family history. I usually just roll my eyes when receiving this type of correspondence, but what stood out for me was receiving an email chastising illegal immigrants. While I have a very different view of immigration than that of anti-immigration folks, the stance itself is not my point here. My point is that it was profoundly curious and odd that some folks of color, professing anti illegal immigration chatter, somehow in their minds magically divorced themselves from the fact that one or more of their parents entered the country with an illegally purchased last name and papers. As these confused folks of color regurgitated angry anti immigration words and phrases given to them, it took all I had to keep myself from replying to their emails or Facebook posts reminding them of their own family beginnings.

These are some examples, among many, of the “magical thinking" delusional reality that's been witnessed. It is clearly ample and fertile ground for studies on "curious" human behavior and how easily folks can be manipulated. I hope several young researchers will run with it and compile revealing studies about this point in time. As a result, the whole paisley mess could become very interesting.

However, before arriving at this level of curiosity about humans and their actions, I was very troubled by the level to which our national “discourse” had degenerated. As you know by now, I often turn to drawing, music, or writing to work through challenging life experiences and to arrive at a useful perspective that pushes along my own personal or creative growth. In this case, I was moved to write a protest song. I know, it sounds corny and that's how I initially felt about it. But one morning, as the sun slid sideways across my desk, I began writing old school, pen on paper. In a very short time, this protest lyric spilled out, but I was surprised by the outcome. I’d expected to write an energetic, somewhat in-your-face lyric, but instead the message was steady, purposeful, and resigned.

The lyric I wrote, in response to the helter skelter public dynamic I just discussed, is entitled,

We The People

. I wrote it without over thinking it. What came forward began with the “voice” of our First People (that also includes ancient Indigenous Pre-Conquest/Méxican cultures whose empires resided in large sectors now occupied by the U.S.). Not everyone came to this land by choice, so it was important to also acknowledge the people who were "stolen" and forced into slavery.

We The People

also acknowledges the many others who came to this land "hoping for more."

Probably the most important message is shared in the second verse of the lyric:

I may not look like you, at all

I may not think like you

Or even like you

But, we the people

Was what was agreed

Words written, in blood

Copyright ©2012 Lorraine García-Nakata

So, in effect, I’m saying that we need to get over ourselves and remember the premise upon which our country was founded. It doesn’t belong to any one faction, gender, culture, or economic class.

Once the basic lyric was scribed, it was introduced to a guitar line I’d been fooling with for a while. Working them together, it seemed to be a good marriage. Singing it for the first time, I was startled by the emotion that welled up for me. I could barely sing it without my voice cracking. It was then that I knew, that as a woman of color, who’d seen some of the worst the 1950’s represented, then experiencing important human rights changes initiated in the 1960’s, and now witnessing attempts to roll much of that back, well, it was clear just how troubling things had become and how it had all unsettled me. This next part of the lyric is also important:

I dream, just like you

I build this “house,” just like you

I have family, just like you

Copyright ©2012 Lorraine García-Nakata

Recorded in October, it seemed important to share with you what prompted the song's inception as I also share this newly created work of mine. Also, since last chatting with you, my original music was launched on Bandcamp, a site designated for independent musicians. I was nervous about putting my work out there, but now appreciate having a place that hosts my original music, protects copyright, and also offers a professional platform to promote and sell it. I want to thank my friend and great bassist, Alphonza Kee who really liked this song and pushed me toward pragmatic actions in order to make it public and protect it. Again, special thanks to my other great bassist friend, Jim Kerwin, for drafting the music chart of this tune. I also want to thank my son Kanichi García-Nakata for helping identify the launch site. I especially extend great appreciation to my colleague and dear dear friend Lee Parvin who continues to record my work and who had a musical conversation with me, via his piano, now captured in this recording of

We The People


Let me know what you think. It’s definitely a new venture for me so feel free to share this site with friends and colleagues. Here is the link to

We The People

and other songs currently on my Bandcamp site:


I’ll close with an observation. What has become apparent to me, is that our country is in its puberty phase. It’s that phase where one can dislike their own face, hair, parents and long list of self-critical items humans navigate on the road to accepting and ultimately embracing who they are. From this vantage point, all the reactionary, angst-driven, and even hateful rhetoric many of us have and continue to witness, is no surprise. It's the cry-baby, I don't want to grow up phase. Yet, as with puberty, self-acceptance is necessary to reach maturity. It can't be skipped. Clearly our country is having trouble facing and accepting its own cultural reflection in the national mirror. However, that reflection can’t be denied if we are to reach our full potential. I remain hopeful that our country will realize that what some currently perceive as a liability, is in fact our country's greatest national and international asset.

I’ll envision a country, a world, and its "people" raising the bar on human potential rather than attempting to assert control. Artists tend to push back on overly controlling frameworks, and why, writing a song pointing to basic human tenets, was important, to me.

I’ll leave you with that for now and envision a more creative and inspired flight.




web site:


Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly-14 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Lorraine Channeling "Smithers"
At three years old and several years following, my son Kanichi, now 21 years, would agree to go to bed at night if I made up a story on the spot. Tucked next to me, lights out, and my daughter Monica also joining us, I'd say, "Ok, give me two facts." Informing the story were facts he provided such as: name, gender, location, circumstance, or anything else he wanted to drive the improvised tale. I never taped them, but each time I finished, his eyes now closed and Monica not far behind, I'd think, "Hmm, that was pretty good." I guess I should have taped them, but I didn't. The story arch was always compressed and drove itself. I'd open my brain and just follow where the character(s) or plot felt like going. It's a similar process and territory I enter when I draw/sketch images or play the guitar sometimes creating a new piece of music.

Recently the name "Smithers" stuck in the front of my brain and hung there insisting on attention. It came forward after writing my recent edgy post about imaginary companies and their services. I first heard the name "Smithers" as a child, when I was busy navigating the 1950's. That was a trip in itself. I always liked that nerdy, quirky name. For me, the "Smithers" persona is intelligent, understated, a bit recluse, and most definitely underestimated. A complex person however, Smithers has the personal power to pull you, unknowingly, into his world or to his view of things. Smithers operates much like an event horizon (the last port of call before matter gets yanked into a black or white hole). Smithers is also the name of a town in British Columbia located on highway 16 in Northern BC. I wonder if the people are decently nerdy there? If so, I should make a point to visit. Smithers is also part of a responsible sounding business: Smithers Quality Assessments, a quality and environmental management systems registrar. You get my point.

The "Smithers" piece, I share below, was intended to be an expansion of the imaginary business name, description, and tag lines I created for my last blog post called "iKeep." Here it is as a reference and refresher:

 iKeep: When you can’t trust yourself to protect important things.

People vary in their ability to control urges. They gamble, drink, cheat, steal, insider trade or “appropriate” museum relics that really belong to another country. The list is long and crosses all sectors of society. You know who you are, and in some cases, so does the FBI. Denial is a daily structure you afford yourself when in fact it’s weight-bearing capacity will fail during the inevitable inspection. iKeep will store and lock away items that legitimately and ethically belong to you so that you can’t borrow money against them. iKeep will also help you identify items that you cannot be sure were ever really yours. Know what’s yours and protect them from your vices. Return what’s not yours without doing time.
Trust us to make you honest. Give it up, get, or get out of the country!

However, the Smithers character, that had been hounding me, and that I share in the following short story, decided it would follow a very different angle.This is what was was birthed as I again opened my brain, invited my heart to come along, and let the typing begin:

Author, Lorraine García-Nakata, June 2012 
Copyright ©2012

The name Smithers brings to mind trust. Smithers can be trusted to see that lint on your coat will never see the front door, shirts will be perfectly starched, pressed, and laid out for you on time, and that the stack of coins you leave on your chest of drawers will be organized in order of their value.

Brought up recognizing the invisible but clearly marked line between him and the gentleman he serves, Smithers is never summoned by his first name. As the headmaster’s butler, he prefers it that way. “Smithers!,” the Master of the house calls out. It is a house of few words, and Smithers is the most regularly used proper noun. In fact, Smithers would cringe at the thought of serving wealthy, “new money” Americans. They would disconcert Smithers. In his well-oiled mind, he knows they would likely address him on a first name basis to offset their silent conflict regarding how they came to have their fortune. Smithers believes a first name summand would diminish his worth and station. He’s old school this way. Formality to Smithers equals respect. Informality to Smithers is chaos. Smithers does not like chaos.

Not a tall man, Smithers stands perfectly erect, which gives him the appearance of additional inches. He believes swallowing is greatly aided the straighter the line is from his throat to stomach. He’s probably right. This upright posture also helps to avoid wrinkles in his own white starched cotton shirt that he smoothes flat before his outer black jacket is layered on top.

With great care Smithers notes detail both at home and during weekly excursions into a life that’s just his own. Sidewalks and doorways are a particular fetish. As Smithers walks down neighborhood streets, and to other parts of the city, he notes what dwells in cement sidewalk cracks. Items, both new and old, are wedged there. Besides small pebbles that have a way of rolling in, Smithers observes lost earrings, tiny precious stones, and residual droppings peculiar to Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter seasons. A man not inclined to bend or stoop unless absolutely necessary, Smithers never retrieves these items. Instead, he derives pleasure from recording them in a mental archive that spans forty-three years. In this way, it’s not surprising that the names Smithers and the Smithsonian are similar.

Slowing his walk, Smithers also scans doorways. They tell a particular story about its residents. Wide windowless heavy doors, painted black or stained dark with highly polished brass fittings indicate formality. A large brass knocker, stationed higher than usual, is used only by someone who’s received a clear invitation to visit. Recessed wood stained doors of standard width, set within a graceful arch, indicate residents whose hearts intend to beat warm. They invite, but also enjoy unexpected visits from sweet friends. Doors painted red, attempt to be auspicious, maybe because their former financial luck lost its luster. Doorways whose fittings are not snug and with paint chipped here and there, suggest a much older resident that has long since lost interest in unnecessary expenditure or first impressions. Doorways laced with iron bars are clearly fearful and attract few warm-hearted and lively personalities.

There are several doorway entrances to the Master’s house where Smithers resides. He is one of three servants to the Family. As the headmaster’s butler, the maid and cook look to him for direction. Smithers visits the front door of this home only when opening and welcoming invited guests or colleagues. The service entrance is where he enters. This intentionally well-manicured single door is recessed and well positioned to one side of the two-story brick building. French doors to the rear of the house, announce a small but expertly crafted garden. Here the sun finds poppies, many small well-placed shrubs, and white lilies that prefer the softly lit corners. When the Family is not resting there, those serving the house can also enjoy this space during off duty periods.

The life Smithers leads, at least the life most people see, is well-ordered. But, Smithers is a complex human. To every expected downbeat tick of his watch, there are equally regular, counter ticks. In the spaces occupied by these counter ticks, Smithers dreams, desires, imagines, and even wrestles with all the order he has created. The counter ticks of his pocket watch pay close attention to and attempt to sync with the natural rhythm of his heart. His heart is very aware of the list of dreams and desires. Smithers thinks of his heart as a muscle that pumps blood and keeps him alive. His heart thinks otherwise. As his heart pulls and pushes vital red liquid through Smithers, it considers the best way to send him a message.

Each morning Smithers wakes before the sun emerges. No need for an alarm since he has long since counted on an internal cue. At exactly five a.m., his eyes open. He rests for a moment working to remember the progression of events experienced in his sometimes very active dreams. In one reoccurring dream, he often flies without aid of a plane. Because Smithers considers himself a pragmatic, scientific man, these dreams puzzle him. They puzzle him greatly.

Days pass, weeks pass, months and years pass. Smithers moves through his finely tuned life in the service of others. He has trained himself to find comfort in knowing what each day will bring. Smithers knows his private room is exactly one hundred square feet, that there are twenty-three stairs between servants residence and that of the main floor, and that with seven white shirts, one will always be starched and ready to wear. Smithers is deliberate and considers the economy of both words and motion as he performs his clearly defined duties. Smithers, believes that he’s content and has all that he needs.

As the chill of winter acquiesces to the hopeful warmth of Spring, Smithers takes note of a troubling item about himself.  Smithers sometimes buys two items when his Master only required one. This is a recent development that even Smithers does not fully understand. In fact, initially upon review of his own accounting, Smithers identified these anomalies. The duplicate items ordered were modest and not readily noticed such as extra bars of finely milled soap or a coat brush with hand carved walnut handle. As Smithers noted these duplicate orders, his senses recalled the sensation he’d feel when opening the individually wrapped soap bars and inhaling the light spice of their scent as he’d place them carefully in the Master’s bathroom. Also, his thumb and forefinger slid across each other as he considered the perfectly crafted walnut handle and how it fit his hand as he’d whisk the finest of sable hairs across his Master’s collar.

It was later the first evening of this discovery, as Smithers finished his duties for the day, that he entered his modest room, removing his jacket and placing it in its proper local. Pulling open the top draw of his dresser, his fingers unexpectedly meet the texture of tissue. “What?” is the only word that escapes from his now-tensed mouth. A closer inspection, his hand discovers a tissue wrapped soap bar and also the smooth hairs of a sable-haird coat brush. At first Smithers is confused. Very confused. Now holding the coat brush in his right hand and soap bar in his left, Smithers steps back and sits on the edge of his bed. He pauses there for a long time. As his watch ticks, Smithers begins to recall, as if recalling a fleeting dream, his own pen in hand adding extra items to his monthly supply orders. As Smithers sits and remembers, he is disconcerted about three things. First, that the orders were made by him, and only him, secondly that he’d taken the items to his room, and lastly, that he’d entirely misplaced the memory of these acts. The later troubled Smithers the most because he normally remembers, everything.

Placing the items down, Smithers stands and walks to a modest sized mirror that finds home over his dresser. He studies himself, looks into his own eyes and asks, “Who are you?” And as if speaking to a stranger, separate from himself, he asks, “How can I not know all that you do? What is happening?” Smithers continues to stand there for a long time. An exceedingly long time.

As the days, weeks, months pass, Smithers continues to find items in his room. At first distressed, he is now accustomed to these discoveries as well as their record in his accounting. No matter how hard Smithers works to be more alert to avoid repeat of this recent quirk, duplicate items continue to be ordered and appear in his quarters. Initially, Smithers tries making sure he sleeps longer, he also walks outside often to breathe in fresh air, and asks for his tea to steep longer. But, the small duplicate orders keep appearing and soon he realizes this new part of him is just that, a part of him. What else can he do? If he can’t change this pattern, he  must manage it. Yes, manage it. Clearly, sharing this tick with his Master would result in his dismissal. After twenty years of service, this will not do. As long as the items remain small, and Smithers continues to place them in a storeroom, he believes it can be explained if, and when, discovered. Normally trustworthy, Smithers has no experience operating in a secret fashion. Also, not prone to denial, Smithers knows that one day he will definitely be discovered. Yes, most definitely.

Spring blooms, then summer stretches through. It's mid morning, and as the leaves on the trees give up their hold and fall, the maid drops a dinning room crystal candle stick holder as she works diligently to remove a spot of wax. “Oh, oh no,” she releases a hushed exclamation. Knowing the cook’s heart beats warm, she gathers up the two crystal pieces in her polishing rag and makes her way to the kitchen. Entering the brightly lit and aromatic room, she doesn’t have to speak before the cook can see what has happened.

Placing her spoon down on a central wooden counter and walking over to the young maid, the cook soothes, “Now, now, luckily those are not the finest pieces. It’s not the first time they’ve been broken. Because of that, I believe we have extras somewhere.”

Inhaling again, the young maid places the broken candlestick on a nearby counter and followes the amply-shaped cook through a rarely used walkway, toward a rarely visited storeroom. Smithers took her there once when another candlestick met a similar fate. The cook knows it will be easy to locate the extra candlestick holder because she recalls that this small storeroom only hosts a few items. Flour still on her hands, the cook’s right hand works the sliding door latch, then pulls the painted wooden door open in one quick motion. Wedging herself into the narrow door opening, she stops abruptly and blinks twice. She scans the five tiers of pantry-like shelving from left to right. The cook is speechless. The cook is never speechless. The maid waiting just behind her and observing the change in the cook’s expression, raises herself up onto her toes in order to peek over the cook’s shoulder. “What..?” was both beginning and close of her comment.

“Lord in heaven!” the cook finally comments. “What, on earth, is all this?”

In this moment, as another leaf on a nearby tree drops, the house ever so slightly shivers on its foundation. Smithers, sitting at his work desk, in his tiny office, on the same floor, raises his head. He isn’t sure what he just felt, but both the tick of his pocket watch and his heart seem to pound more loudly than normal. Placing his pen at a diagonal onto his pad of paper, he leans back, his spine still straight. Suspended there, he knows his orderly world, the one he’s known for over twenty years of service, is about to shift off its axis. All he can think of is a phrase in a Lewis Carroll book he’d read many years before, “The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things.” As the words repeat in his head, Smithers feels a strange combination of both dread and relief. 

Now, in the orderly and clearly defined life of Smithers and the man he serves, there are no middle areas, no gray hues. The lights go on, the lights go off, doors are opened, doors are closed, there’s the upstairs and the down, servants are trustworthy or they are not. Words from the head of the house are not, “Oh dear Smithers, I know this is not you. Though I am disappointed, I believe we can look ahead to making things as they were.” No, in this house, this time, this situation, there is no training, no precedent for breathy forgiveness. No training on this line at all and why choices, decisions, consequence now lurk and insert themselves.

Time could be spent sharing what you already know. The cook immediately waddles down another hall to report the contents of the store room to Smithers. Not being a liar, Smithers cannot explain the many duplicate items in the store room. Being the head servant, Smithers reports himself to the gentleman he serves. While the Master’s breathing is temporarily stalled, he straightens in his evening jacket. Looking at Smithers, he begins to relay, with an economy of words appropriate to his station, “Smithers...” But, Smithers interrupts, the only time he has ever interrupted his Master, and relieves him of what he knows his Master must say. Standing erect, Smithers states, “Sir, I will be on my way mid morning tomorrow.”

The next morning arrives. Smithers has packed twenty years of belongings into a suitcase and one shoulder bag without need of any items he duplicate ordered and squirreled away. Luckily Smithers also stored away his modest salary and can now count on this for an extended period. For the first time in many years, Smithers is not at all clear as to where he will go or what he will do. But, as the bright morning light and crisp air brush his heavy wool coat, felt hat, gloved hands, and not yet mid life face, Smithers feels unusually light on his feet. No longer noting lost items in sidewalk crevices or considering the relationship of doorways to the lives of others, Smithers walks looking directly ahead. And in the spaces of living, that dream and hover in the counter beats of his heart and pocket watch, who by the way are now close friends, Smithers finds a new pace and walks, deliberate, toward a yet unknown terrain. Smithers knows he will be fine. He is, after all, Smithers.  

I’ll leave you with that for now,

Lorraine: Here my heart & "pocketwatch"
beats unite!

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly-13 by Lorraine García-Nakata

My New Water Specks

Water and creative process are both fluid. As an artist that “navigates between three artistic disciplines” I’ve also taken up swimming laps. Well, actually I’m pushing myself to finally stroke properly so I can eventually do laps, many of them. I guess that has some relationship to navigating. I never really learned to swim on the water's surface on my belly. Instead, I'd flip over on my back. Yet, I loved holding my breath and diving into the deep end of the pool or quiet ponds. Right now my water surface swimming form is pitiful, but just the same I rose at 4:30 this morning and headed to my local 24 Hour Fitness, that stopped being open 24 hours years ago. I figured if I got there when it opened at 5:00 a.m. that I’d get the pool pretty much to myself. This way if I exhibited questionable swimming form or now and then gasped loudly for air, I could do it in the privacy of my own panicked world without good swimmers rolling their goggle-covered eyes. I figured wrong.

The sun not yet around the bend and a sliver of a moon stationed above, I arrived to see one other person already there and waiting in the car. The still empty Ingleside K-line tram sped by, cutting between my view of the gym and where I also sat inside my VW Bug. It was chilly at that time of the morning. As the last minutes ticked toward opening I jumped out of the car and headed toward the still locked front door. Men and women, who had migrated there, stood acknowledging each other as if they’d been coming to this gym for some time. I received a warm, who’s-this-new-early-bird, greeting. Doors opening, folks clipped toward their respective gym areas and I was swept along not having yet figured out why the hurry. Entering the women’s dressing area, it didn’t take long to rip off my outerwear and slap on my white Speedo skullcap and blue tinted goggles. However, as I entered the pool area, I realized I'd taken just long enough to discover the four lap lanes were already taken. I learned later that these folks come every morning. So much for peace, quiet, and avoidance of embarrassing moments on my part.

Geared up, I walked over to the hot tub located to one side of the pool and dipped my legs to keep warm. Standing, my brain played back last night’s viewing of instructional swimming Youtube videos. I revisited the need to keep the head down in the water so your butt lifts and stays close to the surface, breathing out air at that time, and only slightly tilting the head to grab a breath in the natural trench that’s created as you propel forward. Lifting your head causes your hips to drop and drag. I guess not wanting your butt to drop and drag also applies here. Then, there’s keeping your head center to your body mass and mentally thinking about cutting “through molecules” instead of just going up against water to grab and pull it. It’s a lot to think about. It reminds me of when I learned to drive a clutch. Eventually it became second nature, which I’m also counting on to kick in with swimming.

Still waiting, I stay loose by shaking my arms and legs to loosen them. Then, I realize I’m behaving as if I’m a real swimmer and don’t want to raise anyone's expectations only to have viewers visibly repulsed as they actually see what I can’t yet do.

A lap lane finally vacates as a tall elder man, with a heavy Russian accent, steps out of the pool. I kick off my “professional” looking lime colored pool shoes accented with three very corny rhinestones. Entering the pool I chat up a lady in the next lane who’s taking a very quick break. She lets me know she swims on her back because she doesn’t know how to swim on her belly. That makes me feel a little more like I could belong here. No more stalling, I push off and start. Face down, my arms and legs extend as my brain is working to calm me down. It says, “Remember to breathe out when your head is in water.”

You see, I tend to be a person that holds my breath, so I have to very earnestly “intend” breathing out at as I’m actively swimming. Breathing properly while swimming is everything since we aren’t fish. My Speedo-capped brain still working to calm me says, “Cut through molecules, instead of working the water." My hands do as told and slice, turning and then going flat to keep that forward motion going. “Roll the head with only one goggle out of the water to take a breath,” my brain continues. I intend it, but obviously still have to work on this to even have rudimentary timing of my breath and head turn. My brain also says, “Focus on you, not anyone else in the room.” So, as I fully-intend myself from one end of the pool to the other, I realize that this is the first time I’ve managed to do one full lap on my belly, break, then another, and another, as funky and raggedy as they are right now.

Yesterday, I had one lesson with a young woman named Lynette who gave me some pointers. I've scheduled three sessions with Lynette. Now and then, I'd “loose it” mid-lane and flip onto my back to breathe full, settle down, then flip back over and continue. And, I did continue because I’m stubborn that way. I was tempted to stay longer, but realized I could easily burn out all this good intention if I over did it. Instead, I'd note the progress each time I entered this chlorine and saline-saturated H20. As a germ-a-fob, I also had to blank out any thought about all the stuff that swam with me in this artificial pond. 

Today, I found that instead of taking a breath every third stroke, or every stroke like some folks do, I am a little better off taking a breath every fifth or sixth stroke. It seems to reconcile with me since I’m used to being under for longer periods of time. Yet, stamina is another challenge, especially since I’m burning up so much energy thrashing. Once the timing of everything comes automatically and I’m not thinking so hard, I’ll be more efficient with my energy.  We’ll see how it pans out as I go along. Key thing right now is to show up and swim. 

My very patient instructor also suggested working out on the rowing machine. I need to build stamina. I’ve always enjoyed rowing, canoes in particular, so the idea of this machine works for me. Also, once finishing with the pool, I spend time in the dry sauna and cook there for a while. In the sauna I settle down, then my lime green flip flops make their way back to the women’s locker area to shower off all the saline, chlorine, and questionable micro-organisms and dress for gym-floor-success. I’m more an outdoor exercise person, but since San Francisco isn’t an outdoor-pool-climate-kind-of-place, 24 Hour Fitness is the next option. 

Walking out onto the gym floor, a sea of well-kept equipment gives off a collective sound, as if there were large metal insects clicking and rubbing their legs together. Working my way over to Lynette, my patient instructor, I follow her to various machines I need in order to build strength. I commit to one of only two rowing machines that sit in the center of a huge room surrounded by arms and legs working over fifty stair masters and jogging machines, some of which have built in TV monitors. High above, on the wall, five or more flat screens snag attention and memorize viewers so that they work out longer.

The rowing machine sits low, facing away from the flat screens, which is fine with me. I like the smooth sliding motion of the seat because it allows my legs to fully extend then come in tight so my heals meet the seat. The arm piece, linked to a counter-resistance chain, provides as much resistance as I want. I like that. I fool with the settings until my particular carrot comes up. This carrot measures how long I’ve rowed and how many calories I’ve burned. It’s simple. It’s an incentive. I close my eyes and begin picturing a huge lake and imagine that the industrial-sized fan nearby is a strong breeze blowing in my face. Taking a peek at the machine settings now and then, I track progress toward a goal of forty minutes that Lynette suggested. So, I make that goal and this machine also shares happy news that it’s deleted, dismissed from my physical person, three hundred calories. That works for me, along with the idea that muscles needed for swimming are on their way to better strength.

So, this is a proposed a new regiment. Swimming, the dry sauna, then the rowing machine for forty minutes. All in all, it’s about two hours in the gym. The plan is two or three times a week. Now, what does any of this have to do with navigation between music, visual art, or writing? I’m not entirely clear. Increasing stamina can’t hurt. To draw large drawings requires climbing up and down ladders, and generally is very physical. Singing definitely requires good breath support and control. Writing requires a clear uninhibited brain. So, as the kind of artist who creates by entering into unfamiliar territory and being outside my comfort factor, I believe this swimming business fits that bill and will have some benefit. At the very least, I’m looking forward to eventually doing laps without struggle as it can provide another way to clear my head, leaving room for creative stuff to blurt out. 

Jean Paul Gualtier's Swimsuit Creation
On a related art and swimming vein, I made my way back to the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion retrospect exhibit at the S.F. De Young Museum. Loved a good part of his work. So, quirky. When I came upon this swimsuit with attached head cover, arm length gloves, and rubber high heel flippers, I swore he'd channeled me and my fashion sense. I wanted to take the whole getup for my pool time. But, since I couldn't do that without ending up reported to folks I know that work there or my colleague Dede Wilsey who's a primary donor on the Museum Board, I decided instead to take this now-museum-legal-flash-free photo to share with you. Those of you that know me well, will see the connection. Imagine the time I could save and get into the pool sooner without having to fool or struggle placing that swim cap on my head. One zip and I'd be good to go. 

The gloves, well, guess they could deflect unwanted micro-organisms, but I'd have to give substantial thought to the material so they don't create drag, slip off, or inhibit movement. Also, gloves and/or high heel rubber flippers might be a bit over dressed for our local 24 Hour Fitness gym unless I planned it as an art performance piece. I'll have to chat with my art friends Réne Yañez or Guillermo Gomez Peña for some T.A. on this. Either way, I got a kick seeing this Gaultier design given my current swimming activity.

So, I’m relearning the timing of my breathing, in and out, as I swim. Timing of breath is critical in swimming and also important as one moves through life in general. I have to master this. Recalibrating the timing of my breath also seems a good metaphor for this period in my life where I’m initiating several changes. Since small, I learned to hold my breath so I could dive into the water and swim around beneath where only legs, rocks, or sand lurked. I could stay under a long time. It’s quiet down there. However, since I’m not a fish, and instead human, I'm coming to terms with that by learning to breathe and take regular breaths at the water's surface. It's also a kind of affirmation–-one that allows me to imagine counting on things to be there when needed, instead of holding my breath and storing up air. Counting on things can also include mercurial things such as inspiration and people....and some fun, stylish, effective swim gear.

I am an artist relearning to navigate in water with the intention of regular breathing, while also creating, and planning to enjoy life much, much more. Go dive or dip into something mercurial or fun today.

I’ll leave you with that for now,


blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly-12 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Lorraine with new specks, new view 2012

Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, my lap top out, I took the lowercase letter “i” and began creating names of imaginary online businesses and services. Like products as the ipod and ipad, I combined “i” with letters in the alphabet beginning with “a” and going through to “z.” Very quickly I arrived at names as: iAm, iAlias, iBet, iCare, and so on. I know, it’s kind of odd but I had time on my hands and, as you know, I enjoy messing with words. So, I’ll share with you what derived from this especially long doctor’s waiting room experience.

As I plowed through the alphabet creating on-line business names, for example “iCare,” some of them made me grin as they came forward. So, I went back and drafted two tag lines for each of the more interesting ones. I was in a quirky mood, so the tongue and cheek writing that was produced reflects this.

Tag lines augment the company/business name and are the marketing bait designed to entice a potential client. You see them all the time on TV commercials. They’re very short, must be easily understood phrases defining the company and/or product service. Here’s an example of a business name and tag line I created and combined: “iCare: Because others don’t.”

I enjoy the process of describing complex things with very few words. It’s a challenge I can’t resist. These business names and introductory tag lines came very quickly with a secondary tag line also emerging. Here is how the business name, first and second taglines work together:  
iCare: Because others don’t.
Caring takes time. Time they don’t give, but we do.
This secondary tagline alludes to the desired outcome and benefit a client could derive from using the product or service. It’s the tag line a client sees or hears last then hopefully acts quickly to contact the company.

This word game I created was fun and a little addicting. Once the tag lines were laid out, I then went back and drafted very short descriptions that further outlined the company’s “service.” Clearly, the services I outlined were meant to be irreverent, poke fun, editorialize, and inject social commentary via a combination of very colloquial and also business language. It’s a fun vehicle to say what you normally wouldn’t about all the goofy stuff we each might experience during our daily lives. 

I got carried away. I admit I did. So feel free to check some out now and then come back. Also, the entries below aren’t necessarily in the order they were created. In short, this is what derived from my recent, very long, doctor’s office wait.

iCare: Because others don’t.
Life is busy, very busy. So, when family and friends don’t have the time for you iCare steps in. We can help with big and small life matters including changing your will noting who’s been there for you and those that think they deserve your assets, but at your end, they’ll have to get a job. We care, 24/7.
Caring takes time. Time they don’t give, but we do.

iWill: Edit your life, edit your will.
Whether you own a lot or your assets are modest, people will be sniffing around after you kick the bucket. iWill provides disinterested professionals who will set things straight. We’ll comb through your wishes, identify decisions you should make, clarify who will benefit, and create a firewall between your assets and those thieving-relatives/hangers-on who’ll try to run the table.
Nouns and verbs that work. Rest in peace now…and later!

iJest: I’m kidding, but I’m not.
Throughout history there’s been a need for telling “truths” so that the pressure of oppression or inequity can be tolerated. History has also shown that just blurting out “truths” can get you, and those near you, ruined or deleted. Court jesters walked that fine, but necessary line. Without court jesters, comedians, satire, or “tongue and cheek” comment, we’d all have hives, pimples, or revolutions would happen with greater frequency. iJest will outfit you with a bullet proof vest and help you to be effectively sarcastic and witty. We’ll give you the tools to hone your craft while also minimizing your overall risk liability. 
Truth hurts, but it’s time they knew.

iCan: Because others can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t.
Even under the toughest circumstance, humans split in two groups: those that figure out how to get through it and those that whine––“expecting” answers from someone else. It’s just the way it is. iCan makes it easy for you to get it done through a pre screened list of experienced and highly motivated individuals that never learned to spell “can’t,” “scared,” “tired,” or “whine.”  
Get the best. Get it done.

iCool: Know your assets because others don't.
Life isn’t always fair. We know that. If you hunch because you’re tall, clog around in high shoes because you’re short, or try to hide or avoid ridicule by “blending” to fit in, iCool can help. Being cool equals attitude and confidence. Wear plaid pants, rolled down white socks, remove your implants, or wear white after Labor Day if that’s what you want. Make it cool because it’s you! Most folks are just followers anyway.
Know who you are, what you like, and screw the rest!

iBet: I bet if I did this, or that.
How many times have you heard or said, “I bet if I had ____I could ____.” If you want something bad enough, it’s time to drop the lame excuses. iBet will you pin you down, won’t let you wiggle away until you’re walking toward door #1.
Time to cut the crap. Go for it!

iBet: When it counts, guessing isn’t Ok 
There’s a whole lot of guessing going on in the world. Some by design, some because a whole lot more people are just plain ignorant. If you really want to know, iBet will get you the information you need. If you’re one of those taking huge liberty with untrue facts and figures that you think folks won’t notice, iBet will set you straight and maybe sue you.
Guessing costs. Knowing is better.

iHeck: Being responsible all the time sucks. Give-a-flying-heck only now and then.
In groups, there are leaders and followers. Most real leaders don’t want the job, but step up because the group is lame, going in circles, or in denial as they walk straight for the cliff. Being responsible, you step in when you’d rather focus on your own needs for a change. iHeck helps you do that. We’ll give you the tools and situations to say, “f..ck that! You’re on your own,” “I don’t give a flying-heck,” or “Not this time buddy.”
Let them do it. Gone fishing!

iDo: Time’s a-waisting. Either you will or you won’t.
Some folks are definite and act without hesitation. Others have to ponder the universe before spitting out what they know they want to do or say. iDo will help cowards say what they want to say and do what they really want to do.
Feel better! Say it for Christ sakes!

iLip: Be edgy, peculiar, and irreverent when it counts.
How many times have you said, “Dang, I wish I’d said that!” Under pressure or under attack it’s common to freeze up. iLip gets you ready. The next time some idiot tries to feel bigger at your expense, be ready to deliver razor sharp lip that can maim. We’ll make it reflex.
Smile and get the last f--king word.

iJustice: Justice for some and less for others.
Tired of witnessing injustice? Tired of seeing those with money, size, nice guy cloaks, and access avoid consequence? Tired of lying bullies that lurk in all areas of human experience? iJustice can help. iJustice delivers super volunteers with ethics, genius, and their own cash to swoop on your problem. iJustice will check it out, strategize on foot, then set it right. Those well-positioned jerks will never know what hit them.
Make them pay. Justice for all!

iJust: Excuses, halfsteps, I just can’t.
I know, life is complicated and can be tough, for some more so than others. Whether you’re at the top of the food chain or catching the scraps, excuses are always in full tilt. It’s annoying. “If I could just ___,” fills the air ways and clogs up everyone’s chi. If you’re going to take any step at all, take a full step or why bother. If you want it, pretend the word “can’t” doesn’t exist. In other words, excuses are lame and tired. iJust will snatch away the fear of flying and boot you right out of a nest that no longer fits. You’re grown. So, act like it.
Sure you can. Don’t cry, fly!

iKeep: When you can’t trust yourself to protect important things.
People vary in their ability to control urges. They gamble, drink, cheat, steal, insider trade or “appropriate” museum relics that really belong to another country. The list is long and crosses all sectors of society. You know who you are, and in some cases, so does the FBI. Denial is a daily structure you afford yourself when in fact it’s weight-bearing capacity will fail during the inevitable inspection. iKeep will store and lock away items that legitimately and ethically belong to you so that you can’t borrow money against them. iKeep will also help you identify items that you cannot be sure were ever really yours. Know what’s yours and protect them from your vices. Return what’s not yours without doing time.
Trust us to make you honest. Give it up, get, or get out of the country!

iKnow: Ask me because you don’t know. Go ahead. Ask me.
Some people retain information like a computer. They read a lot, observe, pay attention, care about the world when the rest of the population further dulls its mental faculty with electronics, reality TV, malls, and all the distractions meant to keep them “in check.” For those that want to step away from all that, even for a moment, and know something, anything, iKnow can help. iKnow let’s you actually talk to another human that either already knows, or can find it out for you, then engage you in a quality human conversation. Loose the inflatable adult doll, pause Siri and all that blood spattering gaming, and try thinking and speaking in real time with real humans. Living for real.
Snap out of it! Ask me, ask me. Let’s talk!

iKnew: “I knew that!”
How many times do you hear "I knew that!" when you know the fool doesn’t have a clue? Don’t be one of those obvious and lame folks. Know what the heck you are talking about and if you don’t know, cop to it. iKnew will give you the tools to avoid faking knowledge. Instead, you’ll have the confidence to say, “Oh yah?” “Didn’t know that,” “Really?” or “That’s interesting.”
Don’t fake. Be confident about what you don’t know.

iKnew: Hunches, signs, patterns. Do you want the truth or do you want to stay “happy”?
Many people know deep down when they’re being played or lied to. They just don’t want to know. They wait for some “clear” sign instead of watching their checking accounts, confidence, or circle of real friends get smaller. iKnew will sit you down, back-hand you, then layout the facts while holding your head still so you can’t turn away. You’ll admit that you “knew” it all along, just didn’t want to see it. We’ll get you through it. We’ll get you to the other side.
Now you know. So, move on!

iLapse: Brain choking, memory slipping. Tools to remember this or that ‘cause no one else will
Whether your equipment is old, you’re in denial, or just hung over, remembering can sometimes be a problem. Taking vitamins, getting enough sleep, being vegan, and living well can help, but brain slippage may still persist. iLapse will size up your particular situation and help you do the best with what you have. Shore yourself up.
What more do you have to loose? Enjoy and remember as long as you can!

iLarge: Take only what you need. Leave the rest.
In a country whose assets are out of proportion with the rest of the globe, we’re addicted to wanting more. Bigger cars, boobs, genitals, heels, bank accounts, the list is long and obscene. “Supersize me” is the tag line for an insecure culture that is never full yet often swollen and sluggish. iLarge can help. Leave it to us to set you right and leave you satisfied with what you have or much less. Professionals will assess your unique situation and possibly have you pack your bags and sent to an undisclosed adjustment vacation site. We guarantee you’ll see things differently when you return.
Enough of that for you. More for everyone else!

iLoan: Need money quick? We’ve got it.
Got people making rude calls, threatening mail piling up, and parking your car where it can’t been seen and hauled off? Burned all your bridges and no one left to ask? Well, yes you’re in a mess, but we can throw you a line. iLoan can hand over a bundle quick, but it’ll cost you. Miss payments and it will really cost you.
Sell your soul and live. Have it when it’s due, or die.

iManners: Gauche is a deal breaker.
At dinner, the person sitting across from you looks good until mouth activity begins. Talking loud and eating at the same time, salad and fish parts shoot across onto your plate, some particles landing in your water glass. Oblivious, the person makes it worse by raising an arm, loudly snapping fingers for the waiter. Gross. If you or someone you still care about fits this profile, iManners can step in. We’ll corral that gauche behavior, lay it out, and transform that goat.
From the barn to better…so you can take them anywhere.

iMean: Mean what you say, say what you mean.
People that waffle are annoying. Boxed in they’ll say, “Well, what I mean is,” or “I didn’t mean that,” or “I was meaning to.” Christ, take a stand! Figure out what matters to you, take a position, and follow through. iMean can shore up the flimsiest of spines, even yours. We’ll make you stand up straight and look a person in the eye. We’ll scare the sh-t out of you if you don’t.  
Speak up. Put yourself out. Feel better.

iMoved: We’ll help you move without certain people knowing.
We’ve all know folks that are a bummer, are maybe even scary and just won’t go away. Yet, when you move and don’t leave a forwarding address, they make a point to find you. iMoved will step in and take care of it. We’ll pack your stuff, find you a great place, and confuse the hell out of that someone that won’t go away. If that person persists, doesn’t get the message, we’ll break some legs. Then we’ll break some arms and go from there.
I moved. See you later. Come over? Oh, I don’t think so.

iWreck: I’m a wreck. You’re a wreck.
Have you put some miles on your patience, given too much of yourself and received way less in return? Are there spoiled 30-year-olds that still think they're 20-year-olds in your life that suck your energy and feel entitled to have it? Are you just getting hip to the concept of personal boundaries? Well, Christ, you’re probably a wreck. It’s time you pull an emergency brake and hop off that train. Those of us with iWreck have been there. We know the signs and what it’ll take. We’ll slap you silly until you change your ways. Then, we’ll remind you what it’s like to give up that flip chart and have fun.
Be reckless. Unwide. Slap the first sucker that tries to pull you backwards!

iWent: I went so you didn’t have to.
If you're spoiled, feel entitled, and only want to do what you feel like doing, iWent is here. If you have the cash, iWent will take care of it. We’ll go in person to break up with your latest girlfriend, attend your kid’s piano recital, wash your wife’s car, or fulfill your jury service. You can check it off as “I went” without ever leaving the premises.
Don’t go. We’ll go. Stay spoiled.

iWas: Been a junkie, crooked banker? We’ll create a new you.
You’ve popped pills and shot up, burned bridges, been ruthless and unkind, and broken a long list of laws? Well, it’s not too late. iWas can step in, hack you a new identity, and clear your slate. What you “was” can disappear. By becoming an iWas premium member, we will clear your slate up to three times. After that you’ll probably screw up royal, loose all your dough, and will no longer be able to afford us.
Was that once. Now I’m not.

iWanna:  Things you wanna’ do, but are too scarty-cat to do it.
As you look in the mirror can you see your lips still sucking on that pacifier? Do you regularly use words that are just too phonetically close to “mama” (I wanna’, ain’t gonna’)? Are you still living with your parents at 40, but not taking out the trash? Are your to-do Post-its your only colorful friends? iWanna will drag you outside, tell your parents to rent your room, and show you how life is lived. We’ll push you down and get that knee scrape out of the way, get you lost and not feed you till you find your way back, and generally fast-forward your adult maturity to match your age.  You won’t want to go back. You can’t anyway because your room is rented.
Do it, hurt yourself, fail, and eventually succeed.

I had a good time crafting this edgy bit of writing. Did me a lot of good. My mood is up, I'm swimming early in the morning, and not that interested in eating any stuff with questionable ingredients.
To close:
Yes, I did finally see the doctor and wasn’t at all grouchy about the long wait because I was so heavily engaged with these nouns and verbs.
Yes, I’ll copyright these business titles, taglines, and quirky descriptions.
Yes, Maybe I’ll further develop this work and write something that expands on the overall idea.
Yes, Even looking out over the (sometimes frustrating) terrain of our group process called “society,” it did help to write this stuff as a kind of pressure release and truth telling vehicle.
Yes, You should also try having some fun with words. At the very least you may go from a frown to a grin and maybe even laughing out loud.

I’ll leave you with this for now.
As always, best to you,
blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly-11 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Yikes! Spider bite month!

In early April, I was bitten by a spider. It was the same night of a happy occasion, the celebration of my son’s 21st birthday. I’ve been bitten by many things in my life: bugs, dogs, cats, horses, very young humans, and certainly other spiders, but never a spider bite like this. In this way, the life of an artist, one like myself that “navigates between disciplines,” is the same as that of other humans. We've all had experiences that have abruptly altered our plans and then we've had to deal with it.

In my case, I was bitten by a seemingly benign spider of gracefully simple design, like that of an XKE Jaguar of the early 60’s, the car acquired as part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I remember studying the small but perfect oval of the spider’s little body. As an artist you appreciate shapes. He was brown with legs long in proportion to the torso. His entire circumference, including legs, was the size of a penny. At least this was what was going through my head as I walked to the bathroom to gather some toilet tissue to pad my hand as I picked him up and also to ease the pressure on the little guy as I placed him safely out the door. I’ve been doing this for years. Since the back doors were swollen from the rain, my left hand had to work hard to pull it open causing my right hand to release slightly allowing my little friend to wiggle free and crawl up and over my right thumb.

I noticed absolutely nothing at that time. It wasn’t until late that evening, after guests left the party, I’d cleaned the kitchen, mopped floors, said good night to my brother Carlos and his friend Kathleen who stayed over, that I decided to play my new guitar. I do that to settle down. I’m a picker, so my right hand was very busy as I played my own songs and those written by others. Working up the blood flow in my hand, I noticed that my thumb really hurt as I finished, but didn’t give it much thought. Then the night came and with it a pain that filled my hand with heat causing my thumb to expand to the volume of an internal organ. I didn’t sleep much. The next day the swelling and pain migrated to the rest of my hand. It was then I browsed the Internet viewing hundreds of spiders finally locating this nicely and humbly designed one. It was a brown recluse.

While the experience was and continues to be intense, and yes I did see a doctor, I was spared the part that disintegrates your skin cells. So, the bad news came with good news. Life is like that. The result, however, meant that the “waters” I’d been navigating as an artist between writing, drawing, and music had to temporarily pause. Not being able to have these creative outlets left me a bit lost.

It was especially hard not being able to write, but obviously my hand is now better. The thing about pain is that you don’t sleep much, so the day blends into night, early early morning, early morning, afternoon, and then it starts all over again. My twenty-four hour periods became an infinity loop. Sleep interruption and random extreme pain has other side effects. For example, I began to leave the house very little, didn’t engage many people other than events I either planned or that had a clear beginning and end. Food was not interesting and creative ideas could not be realized because my stamina was that of a nursing home patient. It was as if I was imploding into a little black hole of brown recluse migrating symptoms. I won’t go into what it does to your thought process, but it further fogged my faith in human development as a species. In other words, I was bummed.

What has prompted me write to you this particular morning is the inspiration derived from viewing a foreign film entitled Sidewalls and directed by Gustavo Taretto. Young urban protagonists Mariana and Martin are terrific and played buy actors Javier Drolas and Pilar López de Ayala. The screen writing is particularly genius in its descriptions, insight, detail, gait, voice, use of metaphor, and relevance to our contemporary lives. It mirrored so much of what I’d been experiencing as a borderline recluse. I enjoyed witnessing the various steps the protagonists took to resolve their sense of isolation. The movie Sidewalls is wise, humorous, witty, believable, and most importantly, made me laugh which made me elastic again. I’m elastic again!

I can guarantee that you’ll love the film. If you’ve felt knocked off your center or feeling alone when you are right next to other people, it will give you a shot in the arm and faith in the larger scheme of things. Yes, I’d been bitten by a brown recluse and had to deal with the pain and funky mess it made in my head, but this movie kicked me out of a thick fog. Check it out. It will grow in the open wedges of your senses and take sprout. It’s on Netflix. You’ll be left smiling and inspired.

In writing this I’ve also just realized something. In helping the spider outside instead of squishing it, I suffered for nearly a month. That was a puzzle to me. You see I have a belief system grounded in Indigenous knowledge that does not place humans in a hierarchy above other living beings, including spiders. This belief system also accepts that these other beings may have a message for you, and when obvious as this painful month-long spider experience, the significance of that message is elevated and not to be ignored. It took me a whole month to receive a simple but important message from this potent little messenger. He basically shared that when I go to help people, or little beings, I must make sure I protect myself a bit more from a “bite” that frightened folks can make as I help them with challenging transitions. Given my former and recent experiences with other humans, whether family or work, this nudge from my little spider friend was particularly relevant. Understanding this also allowed me to avoid developing a of fear spiders and to use more protective tissue padding when assisting them out of harms way. Even though my hand still feels some pain, I smiled once I figured this out.

Tonight I played the guitar after a long-month pause. Tomorrow I hope to hang some paper to begin another drawing. Below is the recent portrait I completed of my son Kanichi. It was a gift for his twenty-first birthday and finished the day before my spider visit. It will feel good to be up on the ladder again and working a new one.

Portrait of my son Kanichi (approx. 5 feet x 4.5 feet)

Message and inspiration were the quirky gifts in April. We'll see what May brings.

My best to you and don’t forget to check out the movie Sidewalls.

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 10 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Lorraine "Looking Up, Not Down"

Writing about creative work links to what happens in a person's day. Since my last post, inspiring things have occurred such as my recent presentation of terrific singer Nicolas Bearde, acquisition of a special guitar helping me to raise the bar on my technical playing, and arrival of 72" width cotton/archival paper allowing my wings to spread more as I draw. Since my last post, we have also become aware of troubling events. By now we are very familiar with the name Trayvon Martin, a very young American Black male shot to death. Within the context of a country long since in conflict with its own reflection in the national mirror, it's even more disturbing and discouraging. For many, Trayvon's death hovers in our thoughts because it's not a new occurrence and we know it can easily happen to any of us, our children, family, and friends. Over the decades I've wondered how long it will take for our country to develop beyond its puberty stage (i.e. common identity conflicts: "I wish I were someone else, I hate my hair, I don't like my body, my family is weird") and finally accept what this country has always been, culturally diverse. Cultures are assets not a "condition" to correct.

Since issues of American identity are complex, long standing, and pervasive, the idea of "answers" or responses is daunting. Even to approach the subject, there are stages to be met and faced as individuals and as a group, in this case as a whole country. Recovering alcoholics know, there has to be a shift forcing an individual to "admit" there's a problem, own it, then commit to stages toward a healthier existence that are lifelong and an ongoing daily navigation. Racism/sexism is an orientation we've all been exposed to, like airborne infections. As children, we did not choose to be exposed, but we all were in one form or another. "Treatment" can only begin with acceptance that an "illness" exists and that none of us is outside the circle of exposure. As a country we're still having difficulty admitting a problem exists. So, given all this, it's no wonder the brain can seize up as it considers what actions, big or small, to take that can have any meaningful affect.

What seems to be true throughout history is how powerful creative/artistic work can be in helping to realign away from fear and loathing, toward more positive aspects of our human capacity. Because creative artists respond from more than the brain center, artistic work can break the spell of "looking down," instead experiencing creative work can lift our line of sight and our spirit. I imagine it as an "alignment" that's regularly required in order to feel and see more clearly. "Joy brings miracles," a line in my recent song More Than One Way To Get Home, makes this point. Here's the link in case you want to revisit it with these thoughts in mind: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWQuvSgGjsU

So, as I write about Nicolas Bearde, my guitar, or my drawing, you are also aware of what's been hovering in my mind and heart. As you know by now, for me, life and art are not separate functions.

Nicolas Bearde, Singer/Songwriter
About Nicolas Bearde, I very recently had the pleasure of presenting presenting him. He's a vocalist and songwriter I've admired for sometime. A founding and current member of Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra vocal ensemble, Nicolas Bearde is recognized internationally as an adept and fearless improviser. I enjoy the fearless aspect of his singing. A jazz recording artist, Nicolas combines jazz, pop, rhythm and blues. A primary member of the McFerrin acapella group, he has also created a notable solo career. Much can be said about him, but what is evident when he sings is that he is doing exactly what he loves and there's such power in it.

Concert Introduction, Lorraine
During his warm up and sound check, Nic asked, "Do you think I'll need a mic?" I'd been upstairs during his vocal check but could hear him well and said, "Hey, your voice fills the room just fine. Don't think you'll need a mic at all." How fortunate Nic is to have a voice that carries like it does. Even with William Beatty's electric piano going and the full sound of Aaron Germain's acoustic bass, his baritone voice still takes center position in more ways than just volume. He's been singing a long time and has a relationship with his voice that he can count on. As we watched and listened to him during his performance, he seemed to do so from a place informed by many experiences, life experiences. That came through and sailed in our direction riding on notes, phrasing, expression that snagged us and triggered connection to our own individual histories. I also love it when other established and seasoned musicians choose to be present and whose attention is held by a performance. At one point well known bass player Jim Kerwin leaned over to me and shared, "He's really a stand up guy and quite the musician." I couldn't have agreed more.

Nicolas Bearde, Lorraine, Aaron Germain, William Beatty
Musicians as Nicolas Bearde also surround themselves with equally impressive colleagues. William Beatty, on keys made that clear. For five years, William honed his skill as a member of a group led by Jules Broussard and also toured throughout the U.S and Europe with band Indigo Swing. He met Nicolas Bearde when working a popular San Francisco night spot. Also a composer, his work is captured in a CD entitled, Songs of Unconditional Love. Since the early 60's I've embraced the concept of unconditional love.

First Set: William Beatty, Aaron Germain, Nicolas Bearde
Bass player Aaron Germain, a Massachusetts native, cut his teeth playing jazz, blues, funk, reggae, Senegalese mbalax then entered the world of Afro-Cuban, Brazilian forro, and other Latin music forms. He'd performed with artists as Yusef Lateef, Stanley Jordon, Andy Narell, John Handy, Mary Wilson, Melba Moore and others. In bass player style, he released music drawing from his broad musical palette, pulling you into a vibration he articulated with such effortless mastery. Days after the concert, Aaron mailed me his CD entitled, Before You Go. I haven't told him yet, but I listened to it as I began cooking the day it arrived. When I cook, it's quiet and I can concentrate. I expected to just hear a few cuts, but with it's opening, he had my attention. What I heard, cut after beguiling cut, was complex, sophisticated, dynamic, nuanced, purposeful, and masterful down-the-center jazz. I was very impressed. We'll probably have a conversation soon about having him back to play some of this work. This is one aspect of presenting I enjoy. Great musicians bring great musicians that open up additional possibilities.
Intermission is always a pleasure. Guests enjoy the figure food, each other, and have a chance to connect with musicians performing and those in attendance. Here are some photos I took to share.

Fun and diverse group in conversation
Love that at each performance there are at least one third in attendance who are new to my concert series and others that have returned because they enjoy the genre of music occurring that night. Nicolas Bearde drew an eclectic group of young adults, seasoned jazz supporters, and those interested in the funk end of the musical spectrum.

Ani and Cynthia
Here, Cynthia Bates and Ani Boursalian shoot a smile during intermission. Even though Cynthia is a San Francisco resident, we met in Arizona while there working on a cultural project. Glad that we remain in touch. This is Ani and Cynthia's first time to this concert series. Looks like they'll be back.
All the rooms are full and buzzing with conversation during intermission. Concerts have allowed me to introduce musicians to folks that haven't heard them, fans to support them, friends to see each other, and for people attending to meet each other for the first time. Love that combination and the entire dynamic of a concert evening. People keep coming back and new folks make a point to be there, so it seems the whole package works. I never tire of all the smiling going on.

Noam and Nicolas

Photo on left: Jim Kerwin, master bass player in attendance, chats with William Beatty during intermission. They look relaxed and enjoying the moment.

Dinorah, Nancy, Emilio
Also a really nice surprise to see long term friends and colleagues Dinorah Salazar and Nancy Obregon. Here they meet and connect with equally interesting cultural worker, Emilio Banuelos, founder of Black Boots Ink an international online photography site. He and his wife Elena arrived early to help me set up and welcome people at the door.

After a leisurely intermission, the lights flick on and off noting that it's time for the second set to begin. As everyone files toward the downstairs door, Nic and the band begin working their instruments in preparation. The entire set is generous on many levels. I find that musicians connect with the audience in this venue and give so much of themselves in terms of set length and their performance. Those present know it and feel a close connection because the musicians are right in front of them and it's more personal than they'd normally experience. Also a vocal educator, Nic finds moments in the set to encourage audience vocal support of a song or two. People love an excuse to sing and this warmed up crowd was no exception.

Nicolas begins 2nd set/Aaron Germain in rear/photo: Lorraine García-Nakata
Here is a link to a very informal video I shot of a song I very much enjoy hearing Nicolas sing entitled, Wild Is The Wind. Even though it's a rough hand held video capture, it gives you an idea of the warm full quality of his voice and how it fills the room without a mic. Aaron Germain's bass solo was an added plus. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-UmxGprKRA

During intermission, Nicolas and I spoke. He mentioned that he'd be interested in conducting a vocal workshop if I was up to hosting it. I've taken his vocal workshops before and they are so inspiring and terrific in terms of vocal technique. Several others overheard and so we moved forward on this endeavor. It's scheduled for Saturday, April 21st, from noon to 4:00 p.m. If you are interested in having more information on this workshop, shoot me an email note and include your email address so that I can send the invite. I'd been in conversation with several musicians about beginning a workshop series, so it appears that the Nicolas Bearde vocal workshop is my inaugural 2012 Master Artist Series. Love the way things unfold when it's time.

It can be tempting to consider presenting this series in a larger venue for many reasons, but what I've found over the years is that this small venue model works on many levels. I've presented in big professional venues and know how to get it done, but I also know the overhead and logistics required to make it successful. For me, this smaller venue keeps it pleasurable, makes room for quicker decision as to which musicians to present, and affords a unique experience for those attending that prefer hearing terrific groups in an intimate setting. For now, I'll stick to what works. It seems to reconcile with guests and performers because musicians are introduced and supported, guests experience wonderful talent, and all present find a few hours to pause all the worries, stress, and pressures.

I hope it wasn't too much beginning this post with what has hovered heavy in my mind. It's hard to scribe things about my creative work and activity without also sharing some elements of what drives the work. It also has much to do with why I've always enjoyed presenting other talented artists. At these intimate concerts, people of various ages, genders, persuasions, and cultures come together to simply enjoy the moments. It seems a simple thing, but in the scheme of all that goofy stuff going on out in the public arena, it's something I enjoy and it makes sense. It's a small act I believe helps shift the axis toward a healthier human condition––a creative attitude alignment and spirit lift. We need lots of them.

Today, I started drawing a piece as a gift to my son, Kanichi, who turns twenty-one this week. So, I'm up on a ladder, pushing that charcoal and pastel around on a large sheet of 100% cotton rag archival paper. I'm also enjoying playing my recently acquired Martin OM guitar. I can share more about that later. There's so much to do when moving between music, writing, and drawing, but I'm the happiest I've been for a very long while.

I'll leave you with that for now. My best to you,


Thank you Emilio and Elena Banuelos for your help on the concert!!!

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly-9 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Lorraine García-Nakata playing guitar

Today, the wind blows firm over the San Francisco terrain as I write from a favorite nook that looks out over public trams and people migrating on foot zipping up coats and flipping up collars. We’ve had four inches of rain that spilled long and even over the last five days. 

The rainy week gave me time indoors to focus and complete a music task. I’d been fooling with a guitar line for a long while, just waiting for a lyric that felt right. Once the nouns and verbs pushed forward, it only took about twenty minutes to layout the story. Lyric usually comes more quickly once I land the guitar music, but this particular tale had its own timeline. I realize now there were some events I had to experience first.

As an artist that navigates between three artistic disciplines, there are other creative outlets to keep my attention until a lyric or music line decides to appear. Finally the lyric arrived, so I worked together the vocal and guitar soon after calling Lee Parvin at his recording studio, “I think I have a couple tunes I’d like to nab before that ‘first love’ moment passes.” He laughed because he knows exactly what that moment is and why laying a track within that initial lust period is a good idea. It’s similar to the period when you first meet a love interest, your excitement level elevates and you’re feeling that part of your brain smoothing out life’s wrinkles. It’s a thrill and a new song can also work that part of you. As writer and performer, Lee knows about how fleeting that window of time can be to capture it in a recording. “Work it up, get it ready, but just don’t play the song too much before we record so we can catch that wave while it's still feeling really live.”

I’m around seasoned musicians, both as close friends and because I also present them. As I reignite my music life, it’s set against a backdrop of terrific musicians who have lived and breathed their work for decades. So, working to avoid feeling inadequate is an expected challenge. I negotiate that territory and developed a way to keep myself from getting in my own way. Getting in one's own way happens when an internal critical sergeant starts up in the head. To offset all that, I do something similar to “pretending.” It‘s a mind game. I tell myself that I am already what I am working to become. It works better at times more than others, but it's a way to relax enough to deliver what you already have the capacity to do, instead of choking.

So this last week, on a rainy afternoon, I drove down Highway 1 to Pacifica, California to Lee's studio. Guitar in hand, I begin to roll the pretend thing in mind. Lee directs me to my seat, plugs me in, gets my headset working, wires me for sound, and works the settings right for my voice and guitar while I work to keep that strip of confidence front and center. From the booth and into my headset, Lee says, “We’re rolling.” And in that second of silent live space before you start, I pull it in, focus, and begin.  During this “live” period of recording time I’m able to keep one foot in “pretend” territory while the other lifts slightly off the ground but doesn't commit to the insecurity pad. I’ll be glad when I put in more time so that I can count on a level of confidence that I have in arenas of visual arts and writing.

I'm all geared up for sound. During a pause, Lee's granddaughter pops in.

One of the songs I recorded was my own and titled, More Than One Way To Get Home. The other is a 1966 cover song written by the late Fred Neil. I have always loved his material and voice.

Working up the songs and recording them was it’s own right of passage, but in order to include the recordings in this blog to share with you, I had to create a URL. That meant working with imovie and finding an appropriate still photo. That fried a few brain cells. Once creating my YouTube account the songs were uploaded. Until that moment, I'd been focused on meeting challenges of finishing, arranging, preparing, and recording the songs, but then it hit me they were now out there and public. I had a moment of silent, middle-of-the-night panic. My stuff was out there, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.

Photo of me in NY, Times Square I worked up to accompany YouTube posting of song I wrote,
More Than One Way To Get Home

I’ll share a little about my tune More Than One Way To Get Home. Several things seeded the lyric, but as with my other writing, I let it sail out without over thinking. Later reviewing the lyric, the theme became more apparent. In this life you have choices and you may even have a general road you want to travel. We often get in our own way of pursuing our passions. It’s not unusual that we give up before we really start because of a whole host of fears. As humans we regularly default to fear instead of heading toward things that make us joyful. That list of fears is long, yet the list of things giving us joy is much shorter. Why is that? Words like being “responsible” are socially acceptable words often used to describe giving up on a dream. We are oriented to default toward fear in this business of living and it’s good to be aware that we are constantly in recovery from that lens. In my case, even though later in life, I decided to hop back on the passion bus and I'm glad I did.

Lee Parvin and I have discussed many times how it’s not only responsible for an artist to create, it’s a duty. Art has the ability to create joy, which I see as energy that lifts rather than pulls down. Physics, philosophy, Indigenous understanding, and some less dogmatic religious perspectives have helped me to understand the interdependent relationship between actions of a single entity on that of a larger system. In other words, creative work has the power to shift things. As I shared with Lee, "The 'universe' is counting on us to follow our passions, and to not follow it, is irresponsible."

I sing, write, create work with my hands and it opens me up to unexpected territory. It’s like the event horizon of a black hole, a place at the opening of the vortex where gravity is pulling in and out at the same force causing something to hover for a bit, neither in nor out. I always loved the idea of that. I once read that the event horizon is where dynamic life and creativity can linger and give birth. It's another way to describe the place creative/improvisational artists step into.

More Than One Way To Get Home also shares that you can take a direct or “scenic” route toward your passion. I mention baking because I also love inventing/creating meals to share. So, I didn’t sit down and try to mesh all this together in a song. Instead, I had feelings/thoughts that hovered and they injected themselves in the lyric. I'd also been looking out at all that goofy stuff going on out in the public arena and re-visited writings including Shakespeare’s Mercy Speech and thoughts by Leon Foucault (1819-1868) and historian/philosopher Michael Foucault (1926-1984). All of this insinuated itself into my song.

My goal in birthing More Than One Way To Get Home was to finish a musical line I’d been having fun playing, give it life, and possibly cause the listener to spark a smile. Here’s the link to this new tune. I hope it suits you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWQuvSgGjsU

One of my guitars and finger picks I use for recording
Steve Green was my performing partner in 1965 and gave me my first finger picks. A terrific guitar player, master picker, he could play any style and vocally we married well. He was about five years older than me and drove around in his yellow Fiat wearing black rimmed glasses that are in vogue again. We sang together when I was barely in my teens, traveling to the Bay Area from my home in the Central Valley.

During that period, I was fearless with my voice and could do most anything with it. I trained for an hour every Monday through Friday morning with instructor Richard Hull. A jazz musician, he was a stickler and I really appreciated that he cared so much, enough to get really earnest and sometimes shout. He shared once that he'd get excited because, "we were so close" to nailing something difficult. Also, being perfectly in tune wasn't optional. The result was my ability to have a broad vocal range, develop an appreciation for dissonance, incredible breath support, sparing use of virbrato, becoming one voice with other singers, expanding and contracting emotion, and moving from a cresendo into the power of pianissimo then suspending a note for a very long time giving it life till the end. When Steve and I'd sing, I loved finding the right moment to let a note hover at length this way at the close of a song, stunning folks into silence before a burst of applause. You get the picture, I was fearless because of what my voice could do. So, decades later, I'm getting to know a new voice, its assets and limitations, and music that suits me at this point in my life. It's like getting reacquainted with a long lost best friend from childhood. Tough at first, but since I wasn't successful in ignoring this passion, I'm doing the hard work again and taking a risk of sharing it with you.

1968: Me/white shirt, Steve Green/white shirt, sister/Eva, my partner Craig Hinkley/hat and friends

One day Steve noticed that when he'd play his guitar my fingers would automatically move, tapping a surface to his picking tempo. He showed up one day with metal finger picks that he placed on my fingers and told me to pick while he changed chords. Smiling he said, "You're a natural picker and should start playing." So, not long after I ended up with a guitar that he handed me and I began learning to play songs like Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind, Donovan's We Stood In A Windy City, and others with simple cords. I never played when we performed but I'd play for hours on my own toughening up the tips of fingers that hold down the strings. It hurt a lot at first but I was so excited about playing and getting better that I just kept going despite the pain. What I still like about picking with my right hand and hammering with my left, is that it allows you to expand or contract the emotion of a song even more. It also makes simple cords sound more complex. I have very small hands, so keeping cords simple or playing in open tunings helps me, especially since I sing and play at the same time. When I turned twenty one years of age and was living-on-the-land in the Pacific Northwest mountains, a friend of mine named Ed Rapp had a special pair of picks hand cast and fashioned out of solid sterling silver. They each have micro sized imprints of an eagle and are still one of my treasures. They're my dress up picks.

YouTube image I selected to accompany song, Faretheewell

The second song I recorded at Lee Pavin's studio is Faretheewell, a 1966 piece by Fred Neil. He is a writer and singer I have admired over the years. Born on July 7, 1936 and leaving us on March 16, 2001, he released three albums in the 1960's yet shunned anything relating to fame and celebrity. He preferred playing privately for friends and refused requests for interviews. Singers of the New York scene during that period, such as Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and many many others, speak of his influence on them. Positioned to have all the fame others would know, Fred was a recluse. For me, his songs were often haunting, simple genius, and drew emotion. His unusual voice range, especially his lower register, snagged my senses even more. It also made his songs a challenge to sing. The first time I heard Faretheewell, I was hooked. I'd always wanted to sing this song, but it wasn't until recently that I worked out an arrangement that I could play in the style I know and in a key allowing me to approach and sing this beguiling song. I certainly enjoy singing it and hope I did it some justice. Here is the link if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=err3qaBjqy8
In previous blog posts I've been chattering on about the three artistic disciplines I hope to continue to navigate. I can't seem to let any of them go. They are family and part of who I am and also becoming. I knew I'd eventually have to take the risk of sharing with you the progress I'm making in a discipline I dropped for over thirty years, then decided to reengage again. I did beat myself up for a long, long time about calling a halt to making music but have come to realize we do what we do in our own time, and that time is the correct time for each of us. Buddah helped me with that. So, I now take the risk of making bare this musical part of my life, the joy it brings and all its imperfection. Also, as I write this, I'm smiling at the non-intended parallel between the song Faretheewell, that speaks of flying, and my blog title and metaphor for living to the fullest, Expecting To Fly. Do what you came in this life to do. I'm certainly trying.

My hand cast sterling silver picks, gift from Ed Rapp in 1971

I'll leave you with that for now.
My best to you,


blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 8 by Lorraine García-Nakata

 Artist:  Lorraine García-Nakata
Detail of larger self portrait drawing (alter ego"Lucy")

As with drawing sketches,  "sketches" in written form also require letting go. The more you let the words come forward without too much thinking, the more you'll trust the process. The more you trust the process, the more you'll see what ends up on the page is not stupid stuff. Letting go leaves room to really hear yourself instead of being intimidated by, what I refer to as, your self-critical "sergeant." That sergeant doesn't leave very easily, so I just tell her to take seat at the bench and let other parts of me have a turn. Knowing I'm not asking her to leave altogether, she begrudgingly takes a time out. These days my "sergeant" doesn't have to be asked to leave when I write. She does it automatically because she knows there are so many other hours in the day to nag me.

When I write, I call on more than my brain to drive the words, phrases, and thoughts that step forward. Again, I sit, wait, and the process begins. Like meditating, you're both conscious and unconscious at the same time. What I mean is, you relax the brain and let other parts of your body, your history, your future, your present, help pick the nouns and verbs.

I have a general idea of a writing format as I begin whether it's a short story or chapter of a larger work. In 2006, I initiated another format that I coined as my Children's Stories For Adults. It is also the title of this collection of writings. Scribed with adults in mind, these written sketches mirror a children's book format and the honest simplicity of their speech. The approach utilizes very basic vocabulary, repetition, short sentences, and simple punctuation. Also, the entire arch of an adult tale is laid out in a very limited number of words. Getting to the point with less, is key. At first, writing this way was an exercise yet I began to enjoy what came forward because it was revealing and often very accurate.

On December 18, 2006, I wrote the first of these tales. This initial one was about a fellow writer named Tony Long. "Lucy,"my alter ego, represents the person I was at about ten years of age. A tomboy, she is direct, authentic, and doesn't mince words. Tony and I would kid about her. When he'd ask me a tricky question, I'd reply, "So, do you want Lucy to answer or another?" He liked Lucy, so he'd get a straight-down-the-middle answer. I read the following piece to him over the phone. He said that I'd "definitely nailed him." I thought so too.

Here it is:

My name is Tony.
I write in the morning.
I write at night.
Words are not always my friend.
Sometimes words hide from me.
Sometimes words fill my head and I can’t sleep.

On warm days, I write about cold lemonade.
When it is cold, I write about hot soup.
I live in a neighborhood I hardly ever leave.
I need to get out more.

I met Lucy.
Lucy lives in my town, but not in my neighborhood.
Lucy writes and I like to read it.
Her stories make me smile.
Her stories make me wonder about other places.

Lucy likes it when we sit together quiet.
Lucy likes to hear me laugh.
Lucy makes me want to know more about her.
Lucy likes science, music, and dancing.
Lucy makes friends easy.
Lucy said she likes me.
It scared me and I don’t know why.

I write in the morning.
I write at night.
I write near windows.
I write at work.
I write and write.
It is what I do.
I write and write.
It is what I do.
I write and write in my neighborhood.
I really need to get out more.
I wonder what Lucy is doing?  

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

Usually I write three or four of my Children's Stories For Adults in one sitting. In this way, written "sketches" share a similar pattern as drawing sketches. In both, the element of surprise is fun. I wrote about my son and daughter. When I read these word "sketches" to them, they chuckled and felt I'd captured them. Sometime in either 2009 or 2010, I was invited to be interviewed as part to the national Storycorps program. I wanted to have my son Kanichi and daughter Monica, included. During the interview, I read the pieces I share with you below. It was fun to hear their comment and have it captured.

From the time my son Kanichi was two years old, he showed interest in both science and music. I like to read about physics and one day as I was reading about black and white holes. Two-year-old Kanichi begged me to read to him out loud about these vortexes. So I did. Between three and five years of age, he was almost obsessive about anything that formed a funnel, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, water going down the drain, and of course black and white holes. Earlier, when he was three months old, he liked the piano and would get very excited when I'd hold him on my lap so he could play the piano keys. I was glad to see he had a special attraction to music. Kanichi also retains information in a way most humans can't. So with all this in mind, I wrote the following "sketch" about him on December 18, 2006. Again note the repetition, as is needed for children's books, as well as the short sentences with simple vocabulary.

My name is Nichi.
My real name is Kanichi.
I live in a city that does not get hot.
I don’t like hot weather.

I like to know how things work.
I watch water go down the drain.
I watch clouds make shapes.
I like volcanoes.
I like tornadoes.
I know what to do when earthquakes shake my house.
I leave notes for everyone about the frost.

My friends ask me about the weather.
I sometimes know.
I like history.
I like to read about the Middle Ages.
Back then people were scared about what they did not know.
People get scared now about what they do not know.

I like music.
I can hear notes.
I play the piano.
I play the clarinet.
I play the saxophone.
I am learning to play guitar.
I like to write music.

I sleep well at night.
I like to sleep long, because my brain works hard.
I like to know how things work.

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

There are different ways writers scribe. Some prefer pen to paper. I feel the most freedom when all ten of my fingers are participating on computer keys. Maybe that's because I'm calling on more than the brain to create.

I wrote a piece about my daughter Monica the same evening that I wrote about my son Kanichi. From a very young age, Monica had poise and navigated with people very easily. Her name literally means, "an adviser," which is true to her nature. As a two-and-a-half-year-old child, I observed her in an outdoor day care play area. It was her first time with this new group of kids. In the center of the play area sat a small house structure with windows and small table with chairs inside. Walking out onto the play area, Monica entered the little house, climbed up on the table so she could look out the little rear window opening. What she did next told me a great deal about her inclinations. Leaning out she asked without hesitation, "Does anyone want to talk?" Two little boys, who'd been running about, stopped in their tracks obviously taken by the question. Curious, they entered the little house structure, found a seat, then proceeded to sit and chat with Monica for some time. I knew then that she would do well at this day care, and more importantly, I became aware that she would be good at getting others to take important time to stop, open up, and consider things. This is an important aspect of what she now does for a living. 

As a young child, Monica revealed many things to me. In her teens, she expressed her love of the Spanish language. I payed attention to what Kanichi and Monica both revealed to me about themselves and their interests. At one point, I felt that in their lifetime, they would be called on to do something together that would be important and needed. I have shared this with them on several occasions. With all this in mind, I wrote the following piece about my daughter Monica, which also references her younger brother, Kanichi:

My name is Monica.
I live in a city.
The city is what I know.
I like to be with people.
I like the quiet.

I listen to people.
They listen to what I have to say.
They think I can help.
I am not always so sure.
I listen to people.

I speak two languages.
It is my favorite thing to know.
If I don’t practice the words.
They start to disappear.
That makes me sad.
When I speak two languages,
There is more room in my heart.
When I speak two languages,
It makes me happy.

I have a little brother.
I like him more now that he is older.
My little brother has a good brain.
He learns things fast.
He learns to play music.
He wants to learn two languages.

When my brother and I are older,
My brother will help me.
When my brother and I are older,
I will help my brother.
We will do something together,
To help other people.
This is what our mother sees.
We will speak two languages.
We will have happy hearts.

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

Capturing people in written form is a challenge. Writing a piece about yourself can be difficult, especially when being very economic with words.  It requires letting go for sure and not over thinking.

The written sketch about me again references my alter ego "Lucy" who is depicted, below, in my large drawing. There is a reason Lucy is important to me at this later juncture in my life. Calling her forward these days gives me permission to not mediate for others so much, to let others know what I'm thinking and what I need, and to have more fun. I also mention Wayne Williams in the written sketch below. He was my best friend during this period. Wayne moved away and I didn't see him again. We shared a lot of time together making potentially boring days, very interesting.

 Artist: Lorraine García-Nakata
Self portrait drawing (alter ego"Lucy"), 7' x 41/2'
I wrote several self portrait sketches. This first one was written on
December 21, 2009:

Lucy likes to climb.
Lucy sees a tree. She climbs it.
Lucy sees a hill. She climbs it.
Lucy sees a rock. She climbs it.
Lucy likes to see things from up high.
It is quiet up above.
Up above, Lucy is still.
Up above, Lucy is quiet.

On the ground, Lucy is busy.
Lucy runs.
Lucy catches baseballs.
Lucy studies.
Lucy draws.
Lucy sings.
Lucy laughs.
Lucy makes things happen.

Lucy is not so sure at home.
Lucy’s mother works and works.
Lucy does her homework.
Lucy helps sisters with homework.
Lucy cleans dishes.
Lucy watches Twilight Zone.
Lucy puts bandages on knees.
Lucy breaks up fights.
Lucy wakes up first in the morning.
Lucy flies in her dreams.

Lucy has a best friend named Wayne.
Lucy and Wayne plan adventures.
Lucy and Wayne plan shows.
Lucy and Wayne catch lizards.
Lucy and Wayne build forts.
Lucy and Wayne watch cells in a microscope.
Lucy and Wayne wander over seven levees.
Lucy and Wayne crouch down as a gun shoots overhead.

Lucy coughs today.
Lucy cannot breathe well.
Lucy’s skin has red welts and itches.
Lucy’s doctor says she should go to camp.

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

My mother was a nurse, so seeing a doctor was a little easier for us. When I was about ten years old, I had a period when when my stomach hurt. I'd get hives, and once in a while my airway would clamp up. One symptom would lead to the other. Luckily that ensemble didn't continue to plague me indefinitely. Mom took me to see the doctor. After his examination, he pulled my mother aside to ask her a few questions about my home life. He prescribed some medicine for immediate relief, but also pushed her to send me to camp. People just didn't go camping in our neighborhood. Time, money, and equipment were needed for that. Also, I didn't understand why I was going to camp. I was too young to know the doctor really meant that I needed to get away.

 Artist:  Lorraine García-Nakata
Detail of larger self portrait drawing (alter ego"Lucy")10 years of age
Anyway, I found myself at Bear Valley Camp which was a distance from my Central Valley home. I had a borrowed sleeping bag, my clothes, tooth brush, comb, and few other essentials. I was used to being out roaming orchards, river bottoms, railroad tracks, climbing up trees, and generally exploring, so camping wasn't a huge adjustment. It was just more structured and having three meals a day was something new. Here is a written sketch about that two week get-a-way:

Lucy is at Bear Valley.
Lucy does not know why she is here.
Lucy stands in line with a sleeping bag.
Lucy will be at camp for fourteen days.
Lucy signs up for archery.
Lucy signs up for hiking.
Lucy is in a tent with kids she does not know.

Lucy uses a flashlight.
Lucy uses bug spray.
Lucy must sing prayers before she eats.
Lucy sings, “Come to the church in the wildwood.”
Lucy hikes.
Lucy steps around cow poop.
Lucy likes shooting arrows.
Lucy sits near a fire.
Lucy feels at home.

Camp teachers see Lucy as a kid.
Teachers show Lucy an inchworm.
The worm stretches and lifts.
Teachers wait.
Lucy thinks.
Lucy says, “Oh, my goodness.”
Teachers say, “Did you hear her say ‘Oh, my goodness’?”
Lucy and the inchworm roll their eyes.

Lucy has camp friends.
One friend is Allie.
At home, Allie lives in a very big house.
Allie is sometimes sad.
Lucy makes Allie laugh.
Allie comes to camp each summer.
Allie must stay thirty days.
Lucy leaves camp.
Allie must stay thirty days.

A car brings Lucy home.
Lucy walks inside the house.
Lucy’s family sits on the couch.
The family looks the same.
The family looks different.
Lucy feels different.                         

©2006 Lorraine García-Nakata

I'll close with one last sketch of a friend of mine, Jim Kerwin, who is well known for his terrific playing on his upright bass. We had the occasion to hang out a lot in 2010 and during that period I wrote the following piece that describes him in this short writing format. When I read it to him, he tilted his head back, lifted his brow, and smiled. It was scribed on August 25th, 2010. Again, writing about someone else is easier than writing about yourself.

My name is Jim.
I play notes.
I stand and play notes.
My fingers pull big strings.
My fingers move up the strings.
My fingers move down the strings.
My brain smiles when I play.

I see Lucy.
Lucy hears my notes.
I see Lucy.
Lucy only hears my notes.
I see Lucy.
Lucy sees me.
Lucy sees me in spaces between the notes.
My notes and spaces make her brain smile.

My name is Jim.
My face pinches when I play notes.
I stand and play notes when I worry.
I stand and play notes when I am glad.
I stand and play notes when I imagine.
I dream in spaces between notes.
Lucy sees in the spaces between my notes.
My notes and spaces make Lucy smile.

©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata

In outlining this abbreviated writing format, I realize I've shared a lot about myself, probably more than intended. Yet, that is both the strength and reward that comes with sitting down, clearing the head, and letting the writing carry you, rather than holding back or over controlling the nouns and verbs. That's not as interesting to me. I like the element of surprise that comes with relaxing, trusting yourself, and letting go. So, you might want to try writing a quick sketch about any subject that suits you.
You might enjoy it.

Best to you, from me!

YouTube (music): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWQuvSgGjsU
blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 7 by Lorraine García-Nakata

1/23/2012 Moment Between Sketches
What I enjoy about diving into sketch mode, whether a drawing or in written form, is the freedom of letting go. It's between you and the blank space. Sketches unfold and entice you along from one to the next and I like not knowing what's coming next. All the years of living, developing your skill, your surroundings, and expectations for tomorrow, fuel what steps forward in each sketch. A musician might experience this during improvisation.

When I begin, I try not to think. Instead, I check in on how I feel. When working to represent or render another person or subject, I notice what I sense or "see." Either way, this takes a moment to register.  Other times an idea hovers around for a few days in the form of an emotion, texture, or something vague. Once I decide to begin, I look into the blank paper, waiting until I eventually see that first line. Ink pen in hand, that line is confirmed. When writing, it's not that different. I stop, then the first words or phase migrate forward.

My brain isn't the sole driver of a quickly rendered image. It's more dynamic and a little hard to explain. Imagine your hands, head, heart, body, history, desires, environment, and skill all logging onto one site and becoming an ensemble that together move the whole process forward. It's very democratic and not in-the-head-colonial and why surprises happen. It occurs to me that during the Dark Ages, a time of great ignorance and fear, simple minds would've burned me at the stake for this description. Human nature prefers the control of knowing where it's going, yet a truly creative process takes you into unfamiliar territory. This process makes you stronger, sharper. I highly recommend it.

The following, are several samples from 30 or more recent sketches. I often do 5 to 10 in one sitting as they happen pretty quickly. I enjoy ink line sketches the best. Ink lasts a little longer than felt tip drawings which eventually tend to fade. Either way, the simplicity of sketches require getting to the point with less. From one to the next rendering, an idea changes. The following sketch is the first one in this group. 

(Just a reminder that any sketch is not to be downloaded, copied, or reproduced without my consent as outlined in copyright note indicated below). 
Points to share about this first sketch: In the early 70's, I began drawing women viewing them from the back. I was interested in what could be communicated about a person without facial cues. This recent sketch was drawn as I was dealing with an annoying pain affecting my spine. That came through. Here spinal points connect to an ambiguous power source. While drawing, I was leaning up against a heating pad, so it is easy to see how your immediate environment can insinuate itself into your work. Dates mark years where a change or move occurred (not necessarily a painful change). 

Another sketch with same view of the person (Click on images to see them more clearly).

In this drawing, the spine is still hinted in the upper neck area. Hair strands have become cords with plugs or connectors at the end of each hair strand.

Right:  The hair as cord idea evolves as an integral part of the body. Here the hair itself  has also changed. The spine no longer shown, is represented by bodice laces which cord-connect to the end of hair strands. Cords also begin to attach directly to face, throat, upper chest, and other areas.

Left: This person seems relaxed and moves about as if power-source cords are the norm.

In 1973, I began to utilize the extended and open hand in my work. The hand has continued to be present in many of my sketches as well as finished drawings, prints, and paintings. For me, the open hand represents an ability to connect, give, and receive. In the recent sketch below, cords are still present and now attach to center of the palm. Also, a note about the attire. When I was a very young girl, I had repeated dreams about a woman who wore a long cream colored dress with royal blue lines that moved across the shoulder and down each arm, also followed down the body center and circling the waist. She never spoke, but I felt different and things illuminated when she made herself present.

You'll also witness direct or indirect reference to the blue vertical or horizontal line appearing in her clothing as shown in several of my finished works. Below, is an example of a direct reference to this attire in my finished pastel piece, entitled The Alchemist.

Along with royal blue lines and creme coloring of her garment, there's reference to an open palm, a back view of the woman, and hair following the direction of her spine.

Right: Clearly, the main character in this recent sketch is now in the most relaxed mode because she's doing what she loves. There are now few references to plugs or connectors at the end of her hair strands.

Below: In viewing an older sketch book, I came across one of my 1979 felt tip sketches depicting three women singing. I rendered this one during a two-week stay in New York and thought it might be interesting to compare with the recent sketch of the woman singing.

In order to know this persona  a little more, I came in a little closer. 
Left: While her back is to you, she turns to take a look at the viewer. 
Right: She looks down at something that has caught her attention, yet she doesn't seem sure about what she's viewing. Reference to connectors at the end of hair strands, remain.

Here, she casts a long look. It could be a long seductive look, one just sizing something up, or just a moment to let a thought privately savor in her head. Ether way, she's not effusive at this moment.
Many artists, myself included, have many sketch books that have been compiled over the years. I hope one day to scan them for a digital archive because they can fade, paper ages, and changes color. In my case, it takes several sketches before one is selected initiating a painting, drawing, or other finished work. 

As quick impressions, sketches have an important place in the life of an artist. In my next blog I'll share a few in written form. Whether a sketch is a drawing or literary, they can keep the mind agile and open. An open mind allows room for intriguing things to step forward and that can be very interesting, revealing, and rewarding.

I'll close with a quick note. The time between entries to my blog may vary because I make choices between writing about this process of living and creating work, and the time it takes to actually do the work. I'm glad you're there and taking this flight with me because the creative process, creative living, can lead toward what I refer to as "home"––and there are many ways to get there. I've elected to make that trip with nouns/verbs, voice/guitar, and as shared today, paper and ink. I'll leave you with that for now. Best to you, from me.

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 6 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Whitney Houston
I've had my hands all over my sketch book, letting them explore and reveal things without my brain getting in the way too much. I do this as I'm initiating a new series of large scale drawings. When in this mode, I focus and why I've been away from writing. Thought I should share this with you and that  a sneak peak of a few sketches is coming.

Before jumping into that "conversation" with you, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge who is in mind. Whitney Houston, I'm not ready to say "was" just yet, is remarkable. Her voice, we will continue to hear because much of her work has been captured. There are not many with her physical vocal skill and range or how she taps her emotion to lead the way into and through a song. Great musicians know this is key, no matter what instrument they marry.

Whitney has had some tough times. I think of my other vocal hero Phyllis Hyman and how her remarkable vocal life was cut short due to a great sadness. Many that publicly judged Whitney, now "sing" their praises. It seems it would have been helpful to let her know this level of praise on Friday, February 10th instead of waiting till Sunday 12th. This can be troubling to witness, but I also realize it's "human nature" to shift gears like that when a person is gone. It's just the way it is and I'm reconciled with how that works. It's not one of our finer human traits.

My intention here is to share what is in mind and to honor Whitney Houston before going into anything else about how writing, visual art, and music provide a compass for my own life.

For now, dear friends, I leave you with this little bit of her music. It's my hope that we each commit today to do one thing that we love without telling ourselves it's not really important. Do that in honor of Whitney and yourself. Let it fly.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ysu1SqtKJMs

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 5 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Lorraine/RCAF Artist Residency, SF De Young Museum
I’m getting ready to start another series of drawings. I get strong nudges to draw if I've been spending a lot of time with music or writing. Each one is a relationship, and as with other types of relationships, you make time for each. It can be a challenge, but I'm working to adjust my life so that I have more time for creative work.

My work can be large, so the process of drawing is very physical.  Large rolls of sturdy rag paper are laid out, fastened to a twelve foot wall, with rendering requiring that I navigate up and down my ladder. I begin with a general idea and let it unfold. It’s not that interesting to me to have a piece planned out too much because the process of letting it come forward, is much more intriguing. Also, this approach is more truthful.

Below, a seven foot high drawing evolves. At this point, general position/figure proportion is laid out. The detail image below shows the charcoal texture. Texture has always been interesting to me whether I'm working in charcoal, painting, or in various sculpture materials.

The color pallet begins to come forward in the following images. I try not to over think when drawing and once I begin, a rhythm takes over. Both hands directly working the large surface, I wear close fitting surgical gloves so that I don't wear my finger tips raw. I've done that in the past.

Here, I begin to negotiate what face will come forward as it moves away from the starting sketch.

I work for a while, then step down from the ladder moving back from the drawing to get a sense of where it's going and if it's working. Over the years I've found the need to wear a mask otherwise my lungs begin to struggle with charcoal/pastel dust.

The drawing begins to warm in pallet. At this juncture, I'm not sure whether to move in this direction, but then decide to follow that instinct. Also, it's at this point that I begin thinking about the identity of this woman. Her skin tone, expression, position of hands, and attire adjust to follow that realization.

Title: Lamar   
Creating this piece was important on many levels. Without going into a long story, she represents the adult a small infant might have become had she not passed away unexpectedly. I was surprised she surfaced after several decades. But then, the creative process takes you into unexpected territory. I've become used to that.

This image does not show the entire length of the drawing, but gives you an idea of the finished work. More importantly it depicts her as a fully realized person. She is wise, powerful, present, and purposeful. During two days of working, she came forward. Once completed, I sat with her, got to know her, and thanked her for making me aware that she was just fine. Diving into the creative pool, without all the floating gear, can give the life we are living some clarity. I count on that.

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 4 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Photographer: Bryan Caldwell

Venue full, guests seated, musicians holding in the green room, the house lights dim. Moving from rear of the room to staging area, is a moment I've lived many times. From the age of eight years to present, the experience of mounting a performance has been much the same. After all the prep, the program begins. Mid staging area, you stand ready to set it in motion as you look out over familiar and new faces, all having made a decision to answer your call to gather. Guests, musicians, and I prepare to engage multiple senses and receptors in a one time exchange, a "happening." Even before that word was coined in the 1960's, I was drawn to creating them, I guess because some events leave you pleasantly altered. 

In my earliest years, the goal of mounting a "show" was to  shift from being a bored kid to one that's having fun. Those that attended the performance came along for the ride. These days I'm more conscious of all the smiling going on when people attend the concerts. During the performance, intermission, and at evening's close, people, in close proximity, invest in dropping twenty pounds of mental weight, lifting just a little, in direct defiance of gravity.

So, this last Saturday, January 14th, I kicked off my 2012 concert series by presenting a group called the Curios. Band lead, Nancy Hall, opened with her original songs Never Stopping and Starlite. Band mates Lee Parvin on keys, Jim Kerwin on bass, and Michael Tyler on guitar moved our collective senses through a nine song set that included Lover Man of My Dreams, Always Be, Let me Sleep, Crashing, Cherries, White Summer, Love Is Alright. Nancy and Lee interchanging on lead vocals, the room hummed in satisfaction. I really enjoy watching that happen.

Left to right: Lee Parvin (Keyboard/vocal), Nancy Hall (guitar/vocal), Michael Tyler (guitar), Jim Kerwin (bass)
Photographer: Bryan Caldwell

Breaking for intermission, guests and band members connect over beverages and figure food. Even with the food, there's time, care, and attention given before it's set out for guests. It is worth it to ensure a full experience. Three upstairs rooms packed, the mood elevates a few more notches.

Photos: Lorraine García-Nakata

Intermission is also a time to introduce people. Here Nancy Hall meets young author of We The Animals, Justin Torres. It's an inter-generational connection. Guests tend to be of various ages which keeps it interesting.

Nancy Hall, Me, author Justin Torres

Signal given that the second set is about to start, guests work their way downstairs to once again nest. As is often the case with second sets, the satisfaction level lifts even further as the Curios take us with them through tunes as Dancing By The River, I'm Your Villian, and Utopia. Several songs spark the audience in a particular way such as Zeitoun with Lee Parvin taking lead vocal, another tune highlighting Jim Kerwin's 'fiddle bass' approach stirs an eruption of applause at it's close, and my personal favorite of the evening's musical flight, Everything Makes Me Cry as Nancy Hall stuns us into long slow breathes. There are always one or two songs in concerts that step forward in this way and beguile faces into very broad smiles.

Nancy Hall takes flight
Photographer: Bryan Caldwell
Jim Kerwin digs in
Photo: Lorraine García-Nakata

Experiencing live music is more than it appears. Even as a kid looking to spice up my afternoon, I knew coming together for music gave us, and some parents, a "recess" from extreme money worries, hungry stomachs, and the loud summer buzz you hear when there's not much to do. What I knew was that at the close of an afternoon performance our individual problems would still be there, yet I also knew we would be a little more able to deal with them.

The very live performance by the Curios this last Saturday had a similar effect though our individual challenges and circumstance are varied. Just the same, our unspoken hope and expectation as guest, presenter, and musician, was that a pleasure source, we each carry, would be tapped and refilled. Being inspired or joyful can also be referenced this way. As guests helped to stack chairs, gathered belongs, and bid farewell at the entrance, their faces registered that a "shift" had occurred. It is when the musicians are equally beaming after loading gear, as we hang a while, and as they head out the door, that you know it has been a good night, a very good night.
Special appreciation goes out to my two helpers who are visiting San Francisco from Puerto Rico and Brazil.
Igor Carvalho (Brazil), Glenda García-Melendez (Puerto Rico)
Photo: Lorraine García-Nakata

blog: lorrainegarcianakata.blogspot.com
web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 3 by Lorraine García-Nakata

Music is in mind tonight as the moon hovers full over this clear San Francisco sky. I'm a little jazzed about two things. One, I'm looking forward to a concert I'm presenting this Saturday kicking off my  2012 Lorraine García-Nakata Concert Series.  I'm also still feeling electric from singing tonight with a group of women that meet in nearby Pacifica, California. Here are several of us just after one of our performances (Sanchez Center, Linda Mar, Pacifica, Ca.).

 Noami Harper, Dinah Verby, Melinda Garrett, Nancy Hall, Me (big hair), Vicki Abrahamsohn, Tina Schuler, Amy Hanley

As shared earlier, music was an early passion that I let go of in response to advice received as a teen urging me to focus on one artistic discipline. I did and visual arts became that focus. For this reason, drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media have had more time to develop and why I refer to this discipline as the "older sibling." Writing, however, claimed space in my life sometime ago and I was hooked. Scribing has had time to season and why this artistic passion is referenced as the "middle sibling." Now that I'm circling around and reclaiming music (who has had the least of my attention), she is less developed and why referenced as "younger sibling." Sure, I get insecure about my musical level as I look around at all the terrific musicians in this area that have long since honed their craft, but my goal is to reconnect and do the work because I'm miserable not doing it. Humility is good.

My concert series, I dropped that in out of nowhere and should explain. The Lorraine García-Nakata Concert Series was initiated in 2003 for three reasons: I love good live music, musicians should be supported, and since I continued as a working mom (with intense work schedule and I didn't want to be away from family anymore than I had to), I decided to bring music to the house. That worked. Genres of music I've presented include: lots of jazz but also classical, blues, R&B, Latin, folk new singer song writers, bluegrass, jazz/flamenco, and more. San Francisco/Bay Area offers so many talented musicians to invite, yet musicians from Los Angeles and as far away as England, have also come specifically to perform for this concert series. More and more I am approached by musicians about performing here as the word has gotten out that this is a good venue. So, I suppose I will continue this habit as long as I can make ends meet.

A little back story. I actually began presenting when I was 8 to 10 years of age. Our Central Valley neighborhood and its residents were not "well endowed" to say the least, so activities such as camping and dance lessons, were not an option. When boredom set in, I'd tell my best friend Wayne Williams, "Let's have a concert." We'd get the word out that at a certain hour that day, at a certain house (one with ripe fruit in the trees for reception snacks), a performance would happen and that the entrance fee would be three empty soda bottles. In those days you could take pop bottles to the store and cash them in for three cents each, on the spot. So, kids went to work picking up soda bottles that were dropped along the side of the streets while Wayne and I negotiated with the parents (whose house we picked) to set up chairs, to allow access to their fruit trees, and also asked if they could cut fruit and place on platters for intermission. Next, Wayne and I would hang a sheet as a backdrop, decide on the staging area, then run through a series of songs we planned to perform. I remember one song we sang was Palisades Park by Freddy Cannon. www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYDSFKLu-TA - Cache Everyone sang along to this favorite and a string of other songs before breaking for intermission as fruit was distributed to everyone attending. After intermission, we'd sing a few more tunes, then the show ended. Everyone was happy and no longer bored. Wayne and I cleared the area, thanked parents, filled a couple shopping bags with pop bottles we'd earned, then went straight to the neighborhood store (owned by our landlords Marvin and Pernell Tindel). We bought fist fulls of black and red licorice then promptly climbed up our favorite tree, became anonymous again, and watched people walk by for the rest of the afternoon while eating our performance payment. It seems my love for presenting began early.

So, singing tonight raised my energy. Thinking about the concert this Saturday also continues to elevate my mood. It's still a pleasure sharing music with friends and other guests who will fill this house. Here are bios for the Curios ensemble performing here this weekend:

Nancy Hall (vocal/guitar/dulcimer/ukulele/percussion): Curios' bandleader, prolific songwriter, accomplished vocalist, & musician. I personally admire Nancy's vocals and know you'll very much enjoy the Curios performance of her original music. Several CD’s under her belt include: Everything Knows You, Songs and Stories, and recent, Pillow Book. A career highlight: vocals for Neil Young as part of Crazy Horse year-long tour.

Lee Parvin (vocals/piano/accordion): played/recorded with Michael Bloomfield, played/provided vocals for Taj Mahal. Also at age 13, band member with Main Attraction who opened for Eric Burton & The Animals. Co-wrote for Hall CD, Everything Knows You & continues to help arrange her work. Engineer for Merl Saunders, helped produce Johnny Mathus record. Lee has recorded greats as David Grissman. Also, recorded/produced Gaylord Birch & Vicki Randall, to name a few.

Jim Kerwin (acoustic bass): since 1985, member of David Grisman Quintet. Renowned for playing musical traditions (bluegrass/swing/Latin) has played/recorded with greats as: Stephane Grappelli, Sven Assmussen, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Del McCoury & Jerry Garcia. His work with Garcia-Grisman Band produced many albums & documentary movie Grateful Dawg. Jim has performed on six Grammy-nominated recordings. "Bass fiddle" music is a new endeavor–a term/style he has introduced & coined. 

As you see here, there are so many ways to feed and inform your artistry, your life, no matter what discipline(s) you happen to embrace and/or other interests you enjoy. My artistic life and approach is not particularly conventional, but it works for me. I share this with you so that maybe you'll trust those "additional" inklings that stir inside you. You know very well what they are. Let's say that you do pursue that additional something, then you can spread those wings of yours just a little bit more. 
It's like stretching. It feels great.

web site: http://lorrainegn.com/

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly 2 by Lorraine García-Nakata

I often work on two of my three creative disciplines during the same period (visual art, writing, music). They feed and inform each other. I've been scribing a collection of writings about my early years, not all of them were charming, yet they provide a back story for who I am and what is important to me in my public and private life.

As I considered writing about my early years, I reflected on how fortunate it is that historical works are being published and produced in film documenting key segments of California and U.S. arts/cultural events and movements. We've only just scratched the surface, and even on this historical level, there's much be told. Yet, as I've looked over my own years, and those of others in the arts/cultural arena, it occurred to me (that as a third generation woman of color, whose mother was born in this country in 1920 with me to follow), that our experiences, predating cultural moments of the 60's and 70's, are an important part of the historical record.

In a recent conversation with Justin Torres, (author of We The Animals (www.amazon.com/We-Animals-novel-Justin-Torres/dp/0547576722 ), we discussed our mutual approach to writing chapters as they come forward instead of imposing a timeline order. It made me relax to know this approach also worked for him. Justin's novel is fiction yet fundamentally biographical. I hope you'll pick it up because his back story is important in the way I just shared. 

So as I wrote about my early years, it made sense to also explore a series of large scale drawings depicting the child/young woman I was at related time periods. Below is a detail image of a larger drawing of me at ten years of age. That was an intense period in my life and I wanted to make sense of an often chaotic environment. 

Visit my website to see more work: http://lorrainegn.com/

I'll share a few excerpts of my writing that reconcile with the self portrait series. Excerpt breaks are indicated with (......)

Title: My Name Is

MOM gave me the name Lorraine. I don’t let anyone call me Lori. I’m not sure why really, maybe because calling me Lori takes something away. Small children sometimes can’t say my name, so they call me “Rain. That’s the only time I answer to a shorter name. My last name is García, but it really isn’t my last name.....

This Saturday, Mom and I are the only ones home, moving around doin’ our own stuff. The “kids” are all outside playing, scattered like mice in all directions. I call my younger sisters and brother “the kids.”  I guess because Mom and my older brother drew that line to distinguish the older kids from the smaller ones. I'm ten years old and one of the older kids.

Right now, I don’t’ feel like going outside in the heat and kind of like the quiet, which is rare in this two bedroom house, a house hosting six girls, two boys, and one parent. My mom sleeps on the couch in the living room. She’s usually tired after a ten and twelve hour cycle that includes working a full shift at Rideout Hospital, then going back later for the migrant night clinic.  They need her because she’s the only nurse that speaks Spanish and this way the patients are understood and will know how to take their medication. Kind of important. Once we’re in bed, Mom props up two small pillows on the living room couch while watching Johnny Carson on our black and white T.V. His voice is the only male voice that puts her at ease at night and makes her laugh. She listens to him until her eyes close.  Later his voice disappears into the salt and pepper static buzzing till one of us gets out of bed to turn off the TV.

We don’t see Mom much and most of the time can’t wait to hear her enter the house. Screen door squeaking and slamming behind her, “I’m home,” she enters, her face quickly shifting into a scowl, “Wow, this house is a mess. With all these girls people are always telling me ‘Ms. Garcia, your house must be spic and span.’ So much for that,” she finishes. As mom moves across the wood floor, her frustration cuts through several kids lined up with eyes all big and looking up at her. She’s right. We should be better at keeping things clean. Looking around at dishes in the sink and glasses on the table, I wish I could remember to think like an older person and remember these things instead of doing homework then running out to play.

So, on this Saturday, having time alone with Mom is like having a person catch you without notice in the middle of your regular day, and then sticking a microphone in your face giving you the one and only chance to say or ask things that sit inside you. Stuff that is right in the middle of you, like thick little blobs, things that are used to being swallowed and not said.....

Pushing my crayons aside, I move toward a bookcase, dragging along a chair to climb so that I can reach the big red dictionary. Balancing, I bring it down and onto the smooth wood living room floor. The floors stay shiny because mom encourages us to wrap towels around our feet, which we all do, then we slide laughing and slipping across floor paste wax until we’re exhausted and the floor is super shiny. Mom is also a creative problem-solver.....

My small finger slides over thin worn sheets and I find the letter “L.” Finger stains on the pages show which letters are more popular. Flipping pages, there it is, my name waiting between “lorn” and “lorr.”  My worn overalls press flat between my rumbling belly and the floor as I prop my head up with a small hand. My elbow braces against the slick floor surface. I don’t know any other kids named Lorraine and have been wondering why Mom decided on this name. I figure if I understand my name, then maybe there’ll be some clue as to what Mom imagined I could do to help out. My chipped nail follows each line and shares that my name is “a region and former province of eastern France, ceded to Germany in 1871 and returned to France in 1919.”

Blinking twice, I go on reading, “The origin of ‘Lorraine’ is Latin: Lotharingia from Lothair, the name of a king (825-869). It is a French name having moved in and out of fashion in the few hundred years since it has been used as a girl’s name. It is also influenced by alternate name Joan of Arch––Saint Joan of Lorraine. In German, Lorraine is referred to as Loth-ring-en.

Sitting up, the ends of my black braids swing over my palms, palms whose life line starts out clear then breaks up mid-course. My lips pinch down against each other in disappointment. I don’t’ know these places or the woman Joan and there really isn’t any clue here helping to explain why mom gave me this name. If I could just understand this one thing, why I was named Lorraine, then maybe other things could make sense, other things about this family, my father, or maybe something, anything, about what mom wants me to do. She worries a lot and it seeps through her nurse’s uniform, white stockings, and shoes like invisible radiation. She doesn’t know that I notice and can feel this......
I'll leave you with this for now. Just know that when I write and draw, I don't struggle. I used to think that was necessary. Instead, my hands find their way over computer keys and large rolls of 100% rag paper. I've gotten used to trusting that may hands will continue to find their way.

Copyright ©2010 Lorraine García-Nakata protected under U.S. and International Law. No part of this site maybe reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of the copyright owner and artist, Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García. This includes all rights now in existence or which may hereafter come into existence, including but not limited to authorship, documentation, lectures, or any other creation or presentation by Lorraine García-Nakata/Lorraine García in any artistic medium, print, audio, electronic, video, CD ROM, photographic, digital, film, and any other medium.

Expecting To Fly by Lorraine García-Nakata

At five years old, during the 1950's, I knew I would be an artist. There was no question about it and probably the only thing in my life that was clear. Singing and drawing were important "company" for me. Like a friend, parent, or guidance counselor, information was handed over to me as I'd dive into that place you go to create and grow the skill. If you are reading this, you probably know about the place, that ambiguous creative territory visited when your mind is both in and out of focus at the same moment. It leaves room for things to slide in that aren't over-thought.  I found out about this place early and was hooked.

In my case, I was in serious love with music and visual art at the same time, which was not advised. Even though skilled in both, as a teen I followed the advice to drop one, in my case music, because I didn't read music.  Decades later, I realized a decision of the brain does not over ride a genuine life's passion. It's that simple. Being young, I didn't know this and while developing my drawing, painting, sculptures, my writing, my life and family, community work, my view of things, the love of music sat there, waiting, and periodically poking me like a thistle perpetually stuck in my sock.

So, I am circling back and doing the hard insecure work of rediscovering who I am in relation to music, as I also continue with writing and visual arts. When I share this story, about being advised to choose, many musician and artist friends shake their heads because they know this was not particularly good advice for me. But, I have also learned that we become aware of things in an order that can't always be driven. I'm reconciled with that.

At this point, it feels as if all three "siblings" have found each other, big sister visual art, middle child writer, and youngest music, and they are helping each other. My family is reunited, and as with reunited families, it takes work, readjusted expectations, disappointments, and sweat. Yet all this rests on a foundation that my three passions will remain together and cared for. This is my quirky artistic life and why I speak plainly about living without making it so complex...yet, still expecting to fly.