rivers i don’t live by

In early March I receive a request from poet Kelly Nelson. She won a chapbook contest, she explains. The small collection of 18 poems will be published in the fall by Concrete Wolf, a press in Washington state.

Kelly writes:

I love the anatomy series you’ve been working on – both human and animals.

My chapbook is called “Rivers I Don’t Live By” and deals with themes of place and dislocation. I would love to have a detail from your work “You Are Here” or from another map-like piece of yours as the cover art. I think that would fit beautifully with the title of my book as well as with the theme.

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I receive 10 signed copies this week. The cover includes a detail shot of a work titled It’s All Intimate.

Naturally I make associations to the way I experience an art exhibition and how I might relate to Kelly’s chapbook. It’s a small book, with an appealing cover. I like the way it feels. I think of each poem like a painting, together they are a series – a connected body of work. I open the book and look at Kelly’s words.

The Practice of Female Dispersal
Abstract
Two million years ago, males stayed close to home, females radiated.

The first poem and its first line catch my full attention and I go sit and do a full read.

Congratulations Kelly!

Thanks for inviting me be a small part of this. I understand now why my maps and studies caught your attention.

Rivers I Don’t Live By is available through Amazon and Concrete Wolf Publications


About the Author
Kelly Nelson’s poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net and have appeared in 2 River View, I-70 Review, Watershed Review and elsewhere. She’s the recipient of a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and was a Visiting Artist at the Regional Cultural Center in New York Mills, Minnesota. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University and teaches Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State University.

For more info visit → Kelly’s website.

 

studying a tarantula hawk

10653809_10152734901582298_1046389924362837580_n My friend Patricia gives me this tarantula hawk for my insect anatomy series. She finds it dead inside her home. I learn it’s the official state insect of New Mexico. After what I read about the wasp I wonder why the Land of Enchantment would adopt such a creäture. Ironically there are a few animals that will eat a tarantula hawk wasp – the road runner, New Mexico’s state bird, is one of them.

The tarantula hawk is a spider wasp with a metallic blue body and rust colored wings. This one here has large, silvery graphite eyes (very New Mexico if you ask me). The striking appearance is aposematism  or warning coloration that benefits predator and prey – the wasp has a most painful sting. Despite these qualities it is relatively docile and attacks only when provoked.

The female wasp hunts tarantulas. When she captures one, she paralyzes and drags it to her nest where she lays a single egg in the spider’s abdomen. The larvae will feed on the live tarantula until it emerges as an adult to continue the life cycle.

The day Patricia gave me this bug, my husband saw one while on his bike ride in the Phoenix dessert. By his description, which included a newly caught tarantula, I knew what it was immediately. It lives in warm climates and here in the US is mostly found across the Southwest.

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a wandering nerve

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Vagus – Latin for wandering. The Vagus Nerve is known as the wandering nerve.  To understand why and where it wanders, I decide to draw out its path and the organs affected. The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve – CN X (there are 12 cranial nerves).

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It extends from the brainstem (Meudlla Oblongata)

The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex of the cranial nerves and has both motor and sensory fibers. It extends from the brain stem ( the medulla oblongata)  through the face and thorax to the abdomen.  It forms part of the involuntary nervous system and helps to regulate heart beat, control muscle movement, keep a person breathing, and to send a variety of chemicals through the body. It is also responsible for keeping the digestive tract in working order, contracting the muscles of the stomach and intestines to help process food, and sending back information about what is being digested and what the body is getting out of it.

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CN X moves from the brain stem and the neck, through the thorax, lungs, heart …

 

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…. and through various parts of the viscera


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and continues to the digestive tract

In this study I learn through the work of Kevin Tracey MD, there is a direct connect between the brain and the  immune system via CN 10 – in regulating the body’s  inflammatory response to infection and auto-immune diseases.

The body is more complex than I can ever really understand, but the glimpses and connections I make are exciting to me.

The images posted here make up only a small area in the upper right hand corner of a new figure composition.


autonomic

A few years ago before I began my current full body anatomy studies, I drew out all the  individual organs.  I collage many of them into small compositions. This one above is my best guess at the autonomic system.

Today as I better understand the Vagus Nerve, I realize this is some of the area I was trying to formulate through this early study.

celebrating insects @ the i.d.e.a. museum

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The i.d.e.a. Museum presents Jeepers Creepers: BUGS In Art
A Celebration of Insects (for children and adults)

The gallery will be filled with fun, artistic bugs that are inspirational and informative for all ages. Put on a bee suit and do a waggle dance or step into a make-believe world with giant bugs! You can even compare your size to extinct Paleo bugs and experience over 40 artworks made of all types of materials including video, watercolor, mixed-media and fabric by 10 different artists.

Here are a few samples of some of the artwork:

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Barrett Klein, Damselflies, , Digital

 

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Barrett Klein, UnEarth, modified globe, soil, salt and paint

 

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Andrea Uravitch, Cicada Shell, Mixed media


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Andrea Uravitch, Orange Cicada, Mixed media

JEWEL BEETLE OPEN LID 2

Jeanie Pratt, Jewel Beetle Teapot, Sterling silver, fine silver, 18K gold, jewel (Buprestid) beetle wings, ammonite, peridot, Mexican opal, dichroic glass beads, stainless steel

Jewel Beetle Teapot

Jeanie Pratt, Jewel Beetle Teapot, Sterling silver, fine silver, 18K gold, jewel (Buprestid) beetle wings, ammonite, peridot, Mexican opal, dichroic glass beads, stainless steel

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Georgette Rosberg, Purple Hairstreak, (butterfly) Color photos

 

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Georgette Rosberg, Blue Dasher (dragonfly), Color photo

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Joan Danziger, Honey Beetle, Metal, glass, acrylic paint‏

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Joan Danziger, Patchwork Beetle, Metal, fused glass, frit,dichroic glass

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Monica Aissa Martinez, House fly, Mixed media collage on panel

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Hawkmoth, Mixed media collage on panel

Edgar Cardenas includes video work that focuses on understanding the backyard as an ecological space just like any other environment. ↓

There will be plenty of opportunities to test your knowledge and learn all about bugs through fun and challenging puzzles, games and art-making activities or you can take the challenge to debunk myths about bugs and insects while learning facts like:

  • How insects help us and are beneficial to the environment
  • The different parts of insects
  • What insects eat
  • Insect homes
  • Life cycles of insects
  • How insects communicate
  • Insects that are edible
  • Insects that are extinct and newly discovered species

Featured artists:

Edgar Cardenas, Phoenix AZ
Eric Carle, Key Largo FL Courtesy of the Eric Carle Museum
Desi Constance, Phoenix AZ
Denise A. Currier, Mesa AZ
Joan Danziger, Washington DC
Wesley Fleming, Ashfield, MA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Joel Floyd, University Park MD
Elaine Hultgren, Phoenix AZ
Tara Jaggi, Pleasantville PA
Barrett Klein, La Crosse WI
Mindy Lighthipe, The Villages FL
Monica Aissa Martinez, Phoenix AZ
Karen Paust, Wellsville PA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Jeanie Pratt, Nipomo CA, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Andrea V. Uravitch, Washington DC, Courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge
Georgette Rosberg, Tucson AZ
Emelee Van Zile, courtesy of Mobilia Gallery, Cambridge

Specimens and fossils:
High-resolution images, exhibition activities and content & specimens from Frank Hasbrouck Insect Collection, Education and Outreach department at Arizona State University
Arizona Museum of Natural History, collaborating to loan insect collections, insect fossils and bugs preserved in amber

WHO: i.d.e.a. Museum
WHAT: Jeepers Creepers : Bugs in Art
WHERE: in the Whiteman Family Exhibition Gallery
WHEN: Oct 9 to Jan 25

 

For more info about exhibition, events, admission fee, hours of operation → The Idea Museum

* One photo from each artist posted here will direct you to their web site.
Do take the time to visit all the artists listed and their websites – the work is varied and wonderful!

state of the art, discovering american art now

Crystal Bridges Museum is a venue dedicated to American art and artists, a place of learning and community.

10527760_10152614355222328_3207376333857859767_nI arrive into Bentonville, Arkansas to attend opening events for the State of the Art exhibition. The show is extraordinary in that it truly does display my contemporaries – working artists from across the United States. I receive a glimpse of where I sit in the grand picture.

My goals for coming days: Enjoy. Experience. Learn. Though I don’t ignore I’m in the show it’s not the only focus. I want to know the bigger picture. I go with artist friend Carolyn Lavender. My sister Elisa (artist), my nephew Alfonso, his wife Ethel and their daughter Pilar join us in Bentonville.

The 4 day visit to the museum begins with a private reception – 70 of the 102 artists come together along with their invited guests. Talk about a celebration. I run into 2 of the 4 Arizona artists represented, one whom I meet for the first time.

IMG_6648 The crowd moves from reception to exhibition.  I love looking at people look at the art. Here are a few highlights from the evening.

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John Salvest, Forever

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Audience looking at Jawshing Arthur Liou‘s video – Kara

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Male Torso – Anterior View

Remember my goal is to enjoy myself – I do in fact enjoy this moment ↑ seeing my work for the first time.

All of the video and sound work pulls at my attention. If only I didn’t love my brushes and paint so much. Below ↓ is a Kedgar Volta. The piece hangs a few feet from my own work. He places his audience in the role of voyeur.  I look carefully at all the people and environments in the large interactive work.

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Kedgar Volta,  False Belief that the Control Resides in Me

Across from that video I enter an installation titled Reflecting Room ↓ by artist Dan Steinhilber. The mylar installation initially makes me think of melting ice caps. The next day I sit in there a longer time and get the image of a lung – inhaling and exhaling slowly. There is a Venus of Willendorf – like figure in the space. I want to bring this environment home with me.

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Carolyn Lavender photographed in Dan Steinhilber‘s Reflecting Room

More photos from days that follow….
I  look and wonder what I’m supposed to feel, other than uncomfortable – with eyes that seem to keep following me, from a work titled Fracking Fields. ↓  Eventually I settle into and enjoy viewing these video portraits by Susie Lee.

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Susie J Lee, The Fracking Fields ( to the right)

There is so much work I want to get up close to and touch. The surface is so well executed, like these collages below.

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Mark Wagner, Overgrown Empire

IMG_6658 There are 102 artists and over 200 artworks. Two artist’s stand out even as I write this: Vincent Valdez and Vanessa L. German. ↓

Valdez’s larger than life works on paper are based on the lynching of Mexican-Americans in the state of Texas, up until the 1930’s. Think historical image placed into current structure. As a native-born and raised Texan ( I now live in Phoenix ) you can imagine how I feel learning about this in a museum, in Arkansas. I sit in front of the triptych-like display and return several times. I am familiar with Valdez and his work, but not this series.

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Vincent Valdez, The Strangest Fruit

I spend a good amount of time with the sculpture of community activist/artist Vanessa German – though not enough because I can’t sit in front of them to really be with what she calls power figures – and they are powerful, no doubt.

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Venessa L. German, White Naptha Soap or, Contemporary Lessons in Shapeshifting

Friday evening the museum hosts a lecture with curators Don Bacigalupi (now president of the museum) and Chad Alligood. The energy of the evening is high-spirited, to say the least. I recognize their connection and nature immediately upon them being introduced to the crowd.  After hearing them tell of their travels, the exhibit and their intent – I understand why I respond the way I do, to the majority of the work. At some point they take a moment to introduce artists and my sister says, as she is looking at my head, that she swears she sees it grow an inch – funny Elisa.

IMG_6676  IMG_6684 IMG_6680The New York Times article that featured a photo of my studio comes up onto the screen ↓. The image takes me back to the beginning of all this. Because of that cover my studio visit was made public – coast to coast. I received emails from across the country – and still do. John, a neighbor, reads the article and makes copies for all the other neighbors. Now they understand why they never see me outside, I’m always painting.

IMG_6681During the lecture I sit behind a young man named Anthony. He’s one of the people who contacted me during the NYT activity. Since then he’s purchased a small work. It’s kismet – so pleased to meet him in person.

Alice Walton is present and sits nearby. I take a moment to introduce myself, shake her hand and thank her.  I see her the next day in front of my artwork. It is at that time that she tells me she hopes artists stay connected – and from across the county, support each other. 1233986_10204751911428207_5102319597070244831_n Within 24-hours of returning to Phoenix, and my routine – I join an on-line group for the artists and curators from the State of the Art (SOTA).

It’s happening Ms. Walton.

The exhibit runs to January 2015, and includes many events. I hear exciting rumors but I don’t know all the facts. I will return in November.

For info about the work,  the artists, the studio visits, the curators and the organization visit The state of the Art Website.


A postscript : I planned to post a few critique links here but  I’ll let you google the info if you’re inclined. They have started coming out and as usual, opinions vary. I am enjoying reading all of them. IMG_6714 I travelled to Bentonville with an artist friend. We maneuvered though the small town and had interesting experiences with the landscape and the local community. To people whom asked, and many did, we mention why we are visiting.

On our return to the airport we make small talk with an employee of the car rental agency. The next day I receive this email (I share only some here) :

Hi Monica, … I took your advice and my wife and I went to Crystal Bridges today to see the State of the Art exhibit. It is great!!!! The contribution of each artist is so good and so creative. I liked your painting and your approach to the topic! And to think that your painting made it to the cover of the art exhibit brochure is an honor for you as well. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more of your pieces, maybe at Crystal Bridges?! I hope so.
The mylar room was really unique. What a cool experience to see the room deflate and then expand. So creative!

Sincerely, David

Martinez_MaleTorsosmThanks Don and Chad for visiting my studio.
Thank you Alice Walton.
Thank you Randy Kennedy (writer) and Ruth Fremson (photographer).
Thank you Julie Sasse, for your support.
And special thanks to my husband who couldn’t attend the opening with me.
Thanks to everyone (including artists) who’s made it so incredible.

el paso times

martinez11Ramón Rentería Sept 6, 2014
Former El Pasoan’s work selected for prestigious exhibition

Monica Aissa Martinez calls the national attention that she’s receiving “a little bout of success.”

Martinez, an El Paso native living in Phoenix, is among 102 artists from across the United States selected for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” a major exhibition opening Saturday at the prestigious Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art → continue reading

hand-eye coordination

There is a region of the brain important for maintaining the calibration between visual and motor systems necessary for accurate eye-hand coordination.

Presumably, recalibration of the eye-hand coordination takes place continuously throughout our lives.  - Lorri Preston

IMG_6565 copyI’ve sketched the hand, eye and brain before. I draw them all again this week while at the same time I prepare syllabi for Drawing classes this Fall.

The study is direct and only focuses on the three parts of the body at the start. And this morning in Yoga, my teacher Meg talks about the heart. Naturally I make time to draw out and consider that connection as well.

I show the small grouping to Thomas, who is also an artist and had been wanting me to include the heart. He says … these four body parts … I consider them the four basic elements of an artist’s existence – bridging the internal and external, the subjective and objective.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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I consider the process a week long meditation – natural and organic.

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