Monday, May 22, 2017

Crow 31 Days: Getting to Know Thich Nhat Hahn


Be A Bud 


Be a bud sitting quietly on the hedge.
Be a smile, one part of wondrous existence.
Stand here. There is no need to depart.
- Thich Nhat Hahn

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Crow 31 Days: The Chopstick Table

I saw it before I knew what it was made of: when I looked at the on-line estate sale I stopped to study a round table with brightly colored lines radiating out from the center. Hours later when I walked into the studio of a good friend and renowned artist Pamela Nelson: I saw it again. 

Chopsticks. This table was made as an assemblage of brightly colored chopsticks. I walked over, breathless. It was everything: beautifully crafted: colors and lines cleverly placed just as Pam does best. She even painted the legs with a leopard print. It's such a special thing: bright and whimsical. 

I thought about Pam: collecting all those chopsticks over the years and bringing them to her whimsical studio in Downtown Dallas. I imagined her placing each one in layers of lacquer and brightly colored paint. 

Pam is practicing the art of minimizing as she begins a new chapter in a nature-lined area of Dallas: Turtle Creek. She is shedding years of furniture, sculptures, prints and paintings. It was easy to be overwhelmed. This was no ordinary estate sale. I am also dipping my toe into minimalist thinking, so I resisted the ease of bringing so many wonderments home: even the Chopstick Table, which by way of this essay, I am clearly still thinking about. 

I saw other moments of appreciation of Asian art and culture as I walked through the swell of Pam's life as a collector. A Chinese Dancer framed in the garage, two paintings in the hallway, lamp bases and prints. Asia was part of Pam's journey, but a journey that moves into a future as she continues to traverse the globe. This artist of the world brought home textiles from Honduras and inspired new ones via Honduras Threads . She commissioned couches for her living room in the Ming furniture style.  I noticed a textile from Egypt and glass hand blown in Mexico. She is a collector of culture. Asia is just part of her story. 

All of these experiences land in paintings and collage in future work. Pam's life is part of every assemblage. I saw it in large canvas murals in the halls of her home and studio, and in little framed works of art on the window sill. I saw it in the collaged tops of side tables and the button lamp I also can't stop thinking about. 

Piece by piece, work by work, Pam created a living space with her dear late husband that was, as it was assembled here in her home, composed. And through this weekend, friends, fellow artists are taking little bits of Pam's moments with them: like a big beautiful sand mandala, it comes apart, and all of the energy moves into a new existence: piece by piece. 

I studied this. Most people wait until after they are gone to have the big estate sale. Pam did it now--she packed up the items she loves most for her new apartment in the sky, and left. Left this life for a new one: I know no one braver. How brave and how light she must feel. I am so inspired by this minimalist mindset: what matters most is how we learn that which is most precious. 

I have a feeling Asia went with her, too. However, I love that she left the Chopstick Table for someone to discover and love. The new owner won't know all of her stories: chopsticks from this take -out place and that, but they'll make new stories (while Pam is making new works of art) around the centrifuge of color and chopsticks. And the beautiful energy of her creation is carried out into the world: back to the place it all came from. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Crow 31 Days: I Have a Few Rubies in My Closet

Her name is Ruby Bhandari. She is part lightning bug, part butterfly, part unicorn: you've never met anyone like her. Mysteriously she never sleeps, and miraculously she can draw something in Dallas, Texas and within hours, a sewing machine in New Delhi, India is bring it to form. Ruby is magic.

I met Ruby and her amazing husband Raj for the second time though their magnanimous offer to create a fashion show for our members at the museum over 15 years ago. We are convinced we met years earlier on the campus of the University of Texas as we both served on the Cabinet of College Councils. It is the kind of friendship where--when we met "officially" we all felt like we'd known each other forever.

Ruby is a dear friend, but Ruby is also an accomplished fashion designer and entrepreneur. She started her company Silk Threads while still as student at UT. She is the epitome of tenacity.

Ruby works two shifts for two time zones: telecommuting with India has it's challenges. She fills her day meeting with clients in Dallas, working on her many distribution projects, designing the next season and building the business.

Walking into the showroom is better than Alice in Wonderland. Ruby has a team of devoted employees--and she pops in and out between calls and clients to offer a style or a color: she knows how to create something ravishing.

Her confidence is magnetic: I've walked in planning just to stop by and say hello. I've walked out with mid-riff bearing sarees, jewelry, salwar kameez, gowns fit for royalty and two tunics commissioned for the opening of our sculpture garden.

She is a marketing genius, a talented businesswoman and simply impossible to say "no" to. Once you see the Ruby, you are part of a marvelous elixir: an intoxicating concoction of joy, glamour and fun. Ruby dressed me for an engagement party, several local galas, a fashion show and several evenings with the Asia Society at the Tiger Ball in Houston. She even dressed me for the opening of an exhibition we supported in New Delhi-sending her cousin to our hotel for a last-minute fitting. Ruby was thousands of miles away on the phone: designing by satellite.

Ruby's success has been earned: over 25 years of grit and courage. She is recognized as one of the first designers to bring Indian fashion to the region. Raj has been a guiding light in their partnership and in their business. This is one of my favorite Power Couples in Dallas.

A visit to the Silk Threads showroom will not disappoint. Plan to spend a few hours sifting through the gowns, and do not be afraid to try something bold. Be like Alice in this wonderland and drink it all up. I promise you'll walk out smiling. And you just might find a few Rubies in your closet, too.