A Country Cried     

light a fire edit 2


She took everything she could carry when she left Japan

She didn’t know where she would find it

But she knew where she was going

On her way back to the islands

It had been a rich experience living in Japan

Lots of experiences

Too many to think about

She keeps flashing on the image of Junji

Yakusa Boyfriend


She said good bye

Without emotion

She had become very Japanese after four years

Living outside Kobe

In a small fishing village

She reached the islands

Came looking for a some brand new music

Something was out there

She could feel it drawing her there

This country and the people had become part of her

It was hot in Manila

Everyday it was hot

She was still living in Japan when he was killed

He was returning home

He was going to run for President

Democracy would return at long last

They really did believe in our democracy

The people embraced our values

They were thankful to us for saving them

She read about it one morning in Suma-ku

He was gunned down as he was leaving the plane

By some lone gunman

The gunman was seen in all the newspapers

Laying on the tarmac

Laying in the hot sun

For 12 hours

No one moved the body

But she knows that is not the truth

She was her way back to the island

He was walking down her dream path

When she saw him walking by

No glance

No look

He walked on

She took her dreams

Down to sea

And she dove in to the water

Her skin turned to bronze

Her hair turned golden blond

But he walked on

She saw his silhouette

As he sat beside the cave

His flute carried his feelings on the wind

And as his eyes secretly watched her

She took off all her covering

And she dove down

Into the sea of dreams

The girls began to gather around the fire

But still he avoided her

Until they told him of her music

Then the pain began

She watched his defenses grow

But on that first night

After the moon was full

They walked on down along the sea

They both lacked the strength

To leave it alone

And in their hearts

They pledged to all the stars above

That the music was their way

Of turning all that love on

They dove down

Into the sea of dreams

She brought the music back to the city

A Country Cried

When Ninoy Died

He was just trying

To right what was wrong

Put his people back on track

To where they once belonged

To where they once belonged

But they wouldn’t accept the changes

So they quickly rearranged it

When they killed this man

They thought it would

Be over

And done

Oh what a shame

Tell me brother

Who’s to blame?

A Country Cried

When Ninoy died

The recording was done in a studio in Manila

Upstairs the producer was meeting with the

Chief justices

Of the Supreme Court

To discuss the truth

Around Ninoy’s death

He would prove

That it was not Galman

Who shot Ninoy

But rather Galman

Had been killed the night before

And placed

In a refrigerated truck


Then he was thrown out

Onto the tarmac

Frozen son

Who killed Ninoy?

For 12 hours Galman lay there

After Ninoy’s death

12 hours

To allow him

To thaw out

It was surreal

All of it

The song was banned on government radio

But they played it on opposition radio

She had to leave the country

She was passionate

About his death

About the people

About the fact that

We were about to send


In military aid

To Ninoy’s country

She came back to her country

Everybody looked at her

Like she had already died

No one wanted to listen

She heard they were going to try and defeat him

So many candidates running

It was a circus

And in the end

It was Ninoy’s wife

Who was elected


People Power!













She left not of her own choice, but because it was the safer choice.

Following the movement of the people after Ninoy’s death, there was an effort by the govenrnment to frighten the people. Each individual or group of individuals that participated in this People Power Movement, was subject to their homes and businesses being burned down.

The oppressed rose up, fought back and won their country back.

The readings this week we raise the questions about the price of ART. About how we are  schooled in art and how our creative content is marketed and we become embedded in the contemporary art market.  How much is a painting worth? Who decides this?  How do we as aspiring artists, who have committed to the higher education degree that will certify that we are professional artists, manage the art market? What connections do we need? Who are the collectors? And for those of us who are not partaking in the dance, where does that artist who creates for the sake of creation, fit into this market?  Does art have meaning if it remains hidden from the rest of the world?  And how is the market structured, who fuels the prices?  An interesting story is the art of Kazuo Shirage.

The Art Market has rediscovered the work of the Japanese artist Kazuo Shiraga, pushing the market prices for his work from $300,000 in 2003 to over $1,000,000 in 2007, after a group of collectors visited Japan in the last few years (2005)  and purchased every piece of art they could find on Shirage. His work is now sought after, due to the collectors and their desire to make their own purchases of his work more valuable.


Kazuo Shiraga Kazuo Shiraga  Shodo Shiraga Shodo28shiraga-baumgardner-3-articleInlineAction Painting Shiraga23_a0211.019highresnoframeKazuo Shiragaimgres-2 Kazuo Shiraga

imgres-3Action Painting images-1Jackson Pollackimages-5Jackson Pollack

The work of Kazuo Shiraga and Jackson Pollack are linked together by their common desire to incorporate the entire movement of the body in the work itself.  Jackson Pollack’s style of painting,was referred to as  ‘Action Painting’, Abstract Expressionism.  When we study the work of both artists, we see a connection both in the methodology and execution of the paintings.  The images of the back and white works, side by side, reflect the commonality of their work. Finding the books of the art and practice Kazuo Shiraga in Jackson Pollack’s studio, after his death, indicates that Pollack was interested, and perhaps very influenced by the style of the ‘Gutai’ artists in Japan. Shiraga was part of this group, and was also interested in the work of Jackson Pollack.  “Gutai’ refers to the post-war art movement of abstract artists in the Osaka area, in the 1950’s. Inspired by the Japanese style of ‘Shodo’, a version of Japanese ink painting, using very large brushes, and using the art of meditation to ‘find’ the image in the blank paper, bith artists work intuitively.  Working on the floor like Pollack, these paintings are very reminiscent of the work of Pollack. Shirage was sometimes suspended from ropes above his work, using only is feet to paint the image. These two artists, East and West, have a connection that I find very interesting.and each of them has seen a huge rise in the value of their work, after the deaths.


Truth or Fiction?

We encountered para fiction in many different practices in our readings. I begin to think about the idea of truth, fiction, deception, exaggeration, and the LIE.  In thinking about these concepts in creative work, I am thinking about how to create something that is not quite either…but perhaps both.. with TRUTH embedded within the work…

The Art Institute of Chicago


“Woman and the Painted Spirit”

An Exhibition of Women Painters 1910-2010

100 Years of Art


Marion Mahony-Griffin

Georgia O’Keeffe

Judy Chicago

Alice Babers

Patricia Rain Gianneschi

Hilma af Klint


Special Lecture


Sylvia Rohr

Art History Professor

The School of The Art Institute of Chicago

Thursday September 2, 2012

6 p.m.

New Women’s Gallery Theater

Marion Mahony-Griffin Wing


We begin this evening’s lecture tour by looking at three women featured in this exhibition.

Why these women?

Each painter featured, in this exhibition, pioneered a life-style and a style of Art that was, either rejected, misunderstood or left unrecognized by the establishment of the so-called Art World, with the exception of O’Keeffe. Why?

   This is what we will investigate this evening.

Perhaps the greatest dilemma we have is coming to terms with the forgotten artist, Marion Mahony-Griffin. Dying alone, in Cook County hospital, Marion was cremated and placed in an unmarked grave in Chicago.

Until the late 1900’s, Marion lay forgotten in Grace land cemetery, in Chicago. It was the work of a fellow artist in this exhibition, also a Chicago artist, Patricia Rain Gianneschi, that helped to establish Marion’s place in this museum as the genius behind the Prairie School Style of Architecture. Gianneschi brought to light her story, creating a performance Art piece that combined, ballet, drama, painting, historical research, and a bit of revelation, with the students of George B. Armstrong School of International Studies in Chicago’s Roger’s Park in 1999. The piece will be performed for the first time since the children’s performance, this evening as part of the opening of this newly built theater, honoring the artist, Marion Mahony-Griffin.   This Performance Art piece, a two year collaboration between The Art Institute of Chicago, The Chicago Public Schools, The Chicago Conservation Center and The Polk Brothers Foundations was part of ‘The City In Art Project “ from 1999 – 2002, and was mainstreamed on the web site of The Art Institute in 2000. It remains there today, as one of the highlights of early technological advances in Museum Education at the turn of the new millennium, prior to the creation of the Art Institute’s New Modern Wing. I was the coordinator for that project. This piece featured one of the only surviving murals by Marion Mahony-Griffin. It is the feature painting of this exhibition. It was restored in 1998. It features a nest of blue heron, being fed by their mother with several woodland fairies assisting. In the second panel, we see the father heron “winging his way”, with more fish to feed his babes, while two water fairies assist him. Marion’s belief in fairies captivated Gianneschi and her young students, and it was through her research she discovered an unpublished manuscript here at the Burnham Library entitled “The Magic in America”. Here Marion described her mural at Armstrong,

“standing on a table in the hallway to paint it”, and her belief in fairies.

Gianneschi eventually wrote a children’s book, and some of these some of the paintings are featured in this exhibition. One painting in particular, created in the summer of 2002 at Ox-Bow in Saugatuck Michigan, where she was Artist In Residence, was used as the illustration for the page that told of the year of Marion’s birth, 1871, the year of the Great Chicago Fire. Instead of a cow, as the story goes, we see a horse, as the animal who “kicked the lantern and started the fire”. Upon closer examination, we see that the horse in the painting was inspired by the Mexican Muralist, Diego Rivera. It was after the painting was completed that she realized she had confused the story and remarked,

“It was the horse who kicked the cow, who kicked the lantern, that started the fire! We’ll tell a new story!”

The painting is full of images reminiscent of Kandinsky. Rain studied the writings and paintings of Wassily Kandinsky both as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a graduate student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His writings compliment the writings of Rudolf Steiner, and together these spiritual artists influenced the early development of her work. She is a spiritual painter with influences from Rudolf Steiner, and Arthur Dow, to Peter Voulkos and Hans Hoffman. Two of these influences we know O’Keeffe shared, Arthur Dow and Rudolf Steiner.

Marion Mahony-Griffin was a Theosophist, and a follower of Rudolf Steiner. Her architectural genius is evident in the work she did in Australia and India, illustrating their common belief in the spiritual aspect of architecture. The work that is included in the text, ‘THE GRIFFINS IN AUSTRALIA & INDIA”, by Turnball & Navaretti, documents her architectural genius. She did in fact, create the first modern architecture on the continent of Australia. Her renderings of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Architectural drawings, most of which have not been seen until this exhibition, are executed on silk. These beautiful renderings lead one to believe, that she too was aware of the teachings of Arthur Dow and his compositional exercises known as Notan, a concept in Japanese Art. Notan is a Japanese word that means, “dark, light”. It refers to the quantity of light reflected, or the massing of tones of different values. Notan beauty means the harmony resulting from the combination of dark and light spaces – whether colored or not – whether in buildings, in pictures or in nature. Certainly we can make a strong argument that Marion was aware of these concepts, and that after Frank Lloyd Wright visited Japan, these concepts influenced the development of The Prairie School Style of Architecture. We know today Marion is the second most important founding member of The Prairie School. The idea of enclosing sacred space, of being in harmony with nature, utilizing the elements of ‘Notan”, and a search for spiritual truth, are themes that are repeated in the work of all three artists in this exhibition of many, we have chosen to focus on this evening.

What was different about O’Keeffe that allowed her work to be seen and her success celebrated for most of her artistic life. Was there a struggle for O’Keeffe? Unlike Marion, O’Keeffe enjoyed success at an early age, and certainly was not forgotten. Was Alfred Steiglitz the reason for her success? Would O’Keeffe’s work be as well known had it not been for her association with the most important curator of early Modern Art?   We can never know. What we do know is that she was fortunate to have the luxury of a rich artistic career, with the time and money to focus on the development of her artistic philosophies. She had no children, but did teach in her early career. Marion Mahony-Griffin, like Gianneschi, spent her later years , after the death of her husband, in the nurturing and raising of children. Marion took her three orphaned grandnieces and nephews in, and raised them as her own, donating the materials documenting her career to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Patricia Rain Gianneschi, raised two adopted children and taught Art at the same school as Marion Mahony-Griffin’s sister taught art in the 1920’S, the home of “The Woodland Fairy Mural we looked at on this evening’s tour. Their choice to become the caretakers of children, certainly affected the time spent making art and the time spent developing philosophies of their Art. But both artists managed to develop strong platforms based on their mentors and the philosophies set down by the spiritual artist, Rudolf Steiner. O’Keeffe’s spirituality was enriched by her life in the high desert of New Mexico and the spiritual environment surrounding her in that Native-American landscape. Her love of polished bones and smooth rocks, which she collected and are still on display at her home in Abiqui, New Mexico, I feel, connect her to the spiritual beliefs in early Japanese Shinto. Gianneschi lived and worked in Japan for four years, and all three artists had a connection to the spirituality of Japan and the art-forms developed from eastern spiritual belief systems. We know that Gianneschi was influenced also by the work of Hilma af Klint, and the work of her teacher Alice Babers, wife of Paul Jenkins. She also studied with and was mentored by Peter Voulkos at University of California Berkeley, where she earned her first degree in Art.  Her connection to Judy Chicago was during her studies at UC Berkeley where she Judy at the opening of “The Dinner Party” in San Francico in the mid-1970’s. The influence of Klint, led her to investigate many of the symbolist painters and the era of the Spiritualists in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in America and around the world.

These women painters were responding to their environments and the influences of modernity and the spirituality of the times.

images  Marion Mahony Griffin


Alice Babers “Through Sleep to Orange”


P. RAIN Gianneschi The Great Chicago Fire” 

Chicago Fire 1873

okeeffe_series_i-no.3_479Georgia O’Keeffeimages-2



Hilma af Klint (October 26, 1862-October 21, 1944) was a Swedish artist and mystic whose paintings were

amongst the first abstract art.  These were painted 1902-1907


Judy Chicago

“The Dinner Party”

One of the most, if not the most, important creative work done on the history of women.

In the 1970’s Chicago was part of the founding of “Woman House” in L.A.

She was at the forefront of the Women’s Movement.

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“I & I”


My work is a desire to bring the viewer into a space where they become open to the forces IMG_3001of Imagination and Spirit. I believe Art can transform us, Art can awaken in us a new awareness, create new sensations, and even new revelations, through Color and Form. For me, the act of painting is an act of spiritual practice, because I enter the painting with body and mind, searching for the images as I wander through the Canvas.

In my effort to create an environment that would induce AWE in the viewer, and in myself, I have not yet abandoned the figure. In my desire to elicit a response from the viewer, I employ the basic compositional elements of narrative, in Abstraction, inviting the viewer to “take in” Color and Form, Creating a visual vocabulary, allowing the viewer to form their own narrative, and there by gaining an insight into my investigation of the Spiritual in Art.