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Cutting Remarks

May 27, 2014


Inertia can be defined as “the state of being inert; inability to move or act”. This perfectly describes my own state for the last month as well and is responsible for the dearth of posts here. I apologize for being a bad blogger but I have a good reason: On June 19th I’m embarking on another course of spinal surgery. More extensive than the one I had a year-plus ago, this one will again involve my lumbar area but include the installation of titanium rods, among other wince-inducing niceties. I put off my neurosurgeon for over a year but after enduring new and different pains in both my lower back and legs, and trying a number of remedies, I had to face facts. I’m sorry that my blogging duties have been derailed but I seem to need lots of time these days for just, er, being … visiting with friends and family and just plain resting before the big day. Unlike my other surgery, which I approached with virtually no trepidation, this one truly looms large in my mind. I ask your indulgence as I take this time before the date.

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Attention, Succulent Shoppers!

May 5, 2014


The annual show and sale sponsored by the Gates Cactus & Succulent Society will have a new home this year! Previously held at the Jurupa Mountain Cultural Center, this year’s venue will be Landscapes Southern California Style in Riverside. Local vendors — as well as growers from New Mexico, Arizona and San Diego — will be offering thousands of plants for sale. The Saturday-only juried  Society Show will feature hundreds of exotic specimen plants, and children 12-and-under can create a take-away succulent garden at the Kids Table for $1.00. This is a unique opportunity for Inland Empire succulent lovers to purchase, view and enjoy their favorite plants … you don’t want to miss it! Read on for websites and details:

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Whatta Pair!

April 26, 2014


Riverside is home to many attractions, including the Mission Inn, UCR’s Botanic Garden, the Fox Theater and Mt. Rubidoux. But the one I return to most is Tio’s Tacos Mexican restaurant … and outsider art installation. I love the food and drink at Tio’s of course, but more often I go there just to view the always-evolving collection of structures and figures made of basura (refuse). Martín Sanchez, the man behind Tio’s garden of trashy delights, saves what most restaurants would waste and transforms it into sculpture. Towering over downtown’s Mission Ave. are two recent additions I call Adan y Eva (Adam and Eve). They stand at more than two stories, dwarfing passersby and cars alike, and stare wide-eyed in a northerly direction toward … San Bernardino?! Unlike their famous namesakes, this striking duo is naked from the waist up only. Waist down, they both sport snazzy patchwork bell-bottomed trousers and cowboy boots. Tasteful? Yes, the guacamole’s to die for!

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Under Deadline, Finale: Lights Out

April 15, 2014


NOTE: The final in a series of projects completed for a new local newspaper publication. To read the first post in the series click here.


LIGHTS OUT: Last stop on our 6-part Rancho tour is the area I used to call The Temple. I called it that because it had a symmetrical, altar-like presentation (click here) made up of classical-looking bits of this and odd-looking bits of that. But, if it was anything, it was a shrine to collecting; I loved tracking down pieces and plants to insert into its whimsical mix. In 2011 and ’12, I sold most everything that made up the garden and the Temple was not spared. With everything gone, I decided to turn the spot into an elevated concrete lounge pad (click here), keeping its existing salvaged factory windows and gate as backdrop. I was fine with the completed pad, however my lounge idea stalled … I seemed unable to make a seating/eating/chilling/lounge space materialize. I added a multicolored salvaged wood wall on one end, then dissatisfied, I turned it into a floor … I added, then subtracted, furniture; it seemed exposed and forlorn perched atop the stark concrete. Thinking the pad’s face needed softening, I added stacked cement block planters on either side of its step-up; still not content, I placed white stalagmites in front of them, their organic irregularity finally giving me the softening effect I craved. A bizarro rusted steel BBQ/smoker came next; I centered it on the painted wood floor where it would hold its own and have pride of place. Then: Inertia, brought on by my spinal issues, surgery and recovery … until that fateful editor’s call last month that shook me back into action. Forced to look at the pad as it stood, I decided that what it needed was a sense of enclosure, a wall to finish off the end that looked toward the Evergreen Cemetery. As in the past I searched Craigslist for a solution, finding it in the form of vintage galvanized carts. Complete with plastic liners, these carts probably once held wet uniforms on their way to an industrial laundry … I saw them planted with grass-like succulents, finishing off my outdoor lounge in style. I bought all carts offered and they worked out perfectly! I got my lounge wall without blocking sight-lines to the view beyond (see next photo) …

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Under Deadline, Pt. 5: Style Snaps

April 4, 2014


NOTE: Another in a series of projects completed for a new local newspaper publication. To read the first post in the series click here.


STYLE SNAPS: Think of them as supporting players; these are the moments between the larger — more “important” — designed areas at the Rancho. But that’s not to say these spots are any less essential to the Rancho’s overall look. They’re just as quirky, just as creative, and just as necessary in the overall scheme as those others. True, some may not be as overtly functional as, say, the seating areas, but they are useful … They may not seem like big aesthetic statements at first glance, but all of them sprang from an artistic impulse … Lastly, none of these spots are any less “Rancho” than those others; I lavished the same focus and attention on them and their creation as on all the rest. Like a parent referring to his children, I love them all the same. I hope you will, too!

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Under Deadline, Pt. 4: A Bright Spot

March 28, 2014


NOTE: Another in a series of projects completed for a new local newspaper publication. To read the first post in the series click here.


A BRIGHT SPOT: Above is Point A. Also known as the deck off the kitchen, this seating area is the first stop when one enters the Rancho’s garden. Site of numerous costume changes, it’s been dressed as a dining room, a party zone, a chill-out area, even a succulent pop-up shop. I love greeting new visitors at the gate here, as they never fail to express surprise at the space … I love it even more as they move past it and realize it was just the beginning of the surprises in store. I was happy that the deck was dressed so colorfully for the editor and photographer’s visit(s) and they seemed delighted as well; here’s hoping the photos taken here capture it well. I was pleased that the photog wanted to return and take some night shots as well; I love when it’s lit for night use. It’s just so festive!

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Under Deadline, Pt. 3: Suspended Water

March 21, 2014


NOTE: Another in a series of projects completed for a new local newspaper publication. To read the first post in the series click here.



‘Zuni’, in a photo from 2009

When I finished my “portable mural”, ‘AGUA’ (‘WATER’), at the end of last year, I did so hoping to sell it. But somewhere between its completion and its presentation at the Long Beach Flea Market, I began hoping that no one would buy it (Paul had already expressed that very sentiment early in its creation). Still, despite my ambivalence, I was determined to test the strength of the piece’s appeal; its sale the ultimate positive response. At the flea, reactions to the piece were positive but I don’t think many people bought the idea of its portability … even those who expressed interest in it were heard to wonder how they might get it home. It appeared that even though I’d made the calculated decision to paint the mural on four separate, easy-to-transport panels, it was too large/heavy/unwieldy for its admirers (a fact my booth-mates probably wouldn’t dispute, either). Anyway, it didn’t sell and we brought it home. Weeks passed and it languished in the garage; Paul and I discussing its possible location and display with no great urgency. Everything we came up with seemed overly-complicated, not to mention expensive; his desire to include a water feature a sticking point. That changed once I’d gotten the two-week deadline call. I made the decision: It would take the place of ‘ZUNI’, the rapidly deteriorating painting that had hung outside, and over, a built-in planter since we’d moved to the Rancho (see inset). Now, I just needed a mode of display.

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