Justin, Customer Service Manager and Artisans Market Director for the Tucson Museum of Art, connects with me in July. He’s thinking to have a few things made for the museum store. #Merch #MuseumMerch
“A black T-shirt and a magnet using the Neuron Tucson image. A set of postcards using the brain-scans. A small 200 piece puzzle of “Handstand”.”
When I arrive to the museum on the day of the opening, I have to go see what Justin has set up. #Fun!
When you go see my exhibition → Nothing In Stasis, stop in and visit with Justin.
(The museum store…has a whole new look, too!)
I could write about the benefits of making a puzzle. Or you can make one and experience it for yourself. #ItsGoodForAllOfYou
Eddie has really enjoyed the whole experience so much, that when we are complete with the Handstand puzzle, he points to my jaguar painting on the wall, “Let’s do that one, next!” What does he think, I materialize puzzles?
I spent the whole morning talking with Dr. Julie Sasse. She is writing about my work for my upcoming solo.
Oh hey…You’re invited! Come join us at the Tucson Museum of Art. Nothing in Stasis will include another variation of my human life-size studies along with 34 new brain-related artworks (I’m calling Constellation).
WHO:Tucson Museum of Art WHAT:Nothing In Stasis WHERE:The Kasser Family Wing: Modern and Contemporary Latinx Art WHEN:Thursday, September 1 – April 23, 2023 MUSEUM HOURS:Thursday – Sunday, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM → MORE INFORMATION
Initially, I can’t get straight on the name nor the spelling of each of these cells. Certainly, writing this post helps!
I recognize a Purkinje neuron by its branching dendrites. This tree-like form holding space and presence, is named after Jan Evangelista Purkyně.
The Purkinje cell body is one of the largest in the human brain. I call this one ↓ First Born, because aside from being the first neurons identified, I also learn they are born during the earliest stages of cerebellar neurogenesis (in an interesting location of the cerebellum that connects the 2 hemispheres).
I spend the entire morning in the studio before hearing something I think is a bird, pecking at the window.
The sound comes and goes. I look up several times, see nothing and return to my work. It’s rare but for whatever reason, I’m in a very quiet studio this morning, except for this occasional distraction.
Finally, I see it! A very LARGE WASP, perhaps trying to make its way out of the studio! it’s loud and it’s BIG!
Right then, Eddie calls. There’s a huge wasp at the studio window, I say loudly. How do I get it out! Calmly, he tells me to open the door. It’s nowhere near the door! It’s by my drawing table! I can’t go open the window, it’s a ginormous wasp! It’s so big, it might be a hornet! Again, with a continued ease, Go to the window, don’t look at it. Do what you have to do. Open the window, remove the screen and let it fly out. Close your eyes, if you have to.
I don’t believe what I am hearing. I can’t remove the screen! Don’t open my eyes! WTH!!
Long story short (hours later), I manage to open the window and watch the giant wasp exit. It takes its big ole, sort of cool-wasp-self, and flies out the now, unscreened window.
I haven’t worked insect anatomy in a good long while. I have a panel. Oh, why not!?
I lay in the usual area map that places the subject into the location where we meet. Though not exactly setting it into the right area this time, as I don’t want it to find its way back!
The work starts out dark and menacing. Once I organize and paint in the creature’s anatomy, the whole picture changes.
I don’t know how to feel about it. It doesn’t resemble what I saw or how I was feeling. #ControlAtItsFinest #ItWasFrickingBig
Invited to participate in an Augmented Reality (AR) workshop hosted by Hoverlay and Scottsdale Public Art (SPA), I arrive looking forward to learning about this new technology.
Co-founder Nicolas Robbe, introduces us to Hoverlay Spaces and the experience, followed by talks from artists Roy Wasson Valle and Casey Farina. In general, Roy covers a more 2D set up while Casey discusses a 3D approach. Each of them share their work (which I am familiar with) and cover basics in how to integrate AR into one’s own art.
Roy comments that AR is a disruption to the senses. And he’s not kidding! #Space #Time
What a surprise to experience artist Carolyn Lavender’s first try at AR! Mary Shindell doesn’t have a clue what we see. Point up, Mary! I capture this ↑ photo to show her.
I go home with my notes and an idea and start to work/play.
I begin by finding images. I can’t really understand what exactly I’m doing until I get something anchored into space. Well then, it feels science-fiction to me! I am thinking original Star-Trek, sci-fi. I could be (am) on the bridge looking out into…space.
I set some parameters, create a QR code, and send it out to a few people. #SeeingIsBelieving #SeeingIsNotBelieving
I keep changing things and note the changes on the other end too.
The illusion is magical ↓ especially at night!
All of the bugs I set up are troublemakers (to the human body). This one ↓ might be the worst. Naturally, I isolate it. (EBV study (Gene with a Protein Coast).
I’ve been playing with the software a few days and discovering things…like…it’s an illusion and yet it manages to cast shadows! #RealNotReal
A special thanks to Scottsdale Public Art, Hoverlay, Casey and Roy!
My solo exhibition was installed last week. I feel sort of like I am returning from a long break and things are unfamiliar. Though, I’ve been working steady. Truth is, I don’t remember protocols anymore. Do we still send out a press release? Who are the press people? What year is this?
Let the record show this post acts as PRESS RELEASE and INVITE! This exhibit has been 2 years in coming. Whew….COME JOIN US!
For the last decade, Phoenix-based artist Monica Aissa Martinez has been researching and depicting the intricate structures and complex diversities of living organisms. From humans to microorganisms, Martinez masterfully captures the physical, mental and spirit of our biological world. Nothing In Stasis features Martinez’s latest body of work of more than 30 colorful physiological and anatomical drawings.
* Monica Aissa Martinez is a 2019 proposal winner.
WHO : MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ WHAT: NOTHING IN STASIS – A SOLO EXHIBITION WHEN: APRIL 8 – August 7, 2022 → ARTIST RECEPTION: MAY 13, 2022 (7-10pm) WHERE: MESA CONTEMPORARY ARTS MUSEUM – SOUTH GALLERY
FREE and Open to the Public Musical Entertainment by Djents Numerous Art Exhibitions with Artists in Attendance Light Refreshments and Cash Bar Mesa Arts Center is located at One East Main St., Mesa, AZ 85201 → Driving Directions Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum: (480) 644-6560 Hours: Mondays: Closed Tue – Sat: 10 AM – 5 PM Sun: Noon – 5 PM
“I’m not sure if i mentioned it, but I’m launching a new project at The Show: SOAPBOX.” Amy explains, “it is directed toward the news of the day — a mix of essays and graphics. I’m wondering if you’d like to be part of the inaugural collection! The theme is LOST and it does need to tie into the last two years.”
I can’t recall exactly what I said though I remember thinking I’d lost a lot the last 2 years.
I had 9 panels to tell a story. The final image ↑ is based in the last 2 years though the story comes from remembering conversations with dad that were based on a book called Space, Time and Beyond by Bob Toben and Fred Alan Wolf (in conversation with theoretical physicists).
I really enjoyed pulling up and sitting with a memory from long ago.
My graphic memoir ↓ is titled Truth Unfolds…cause that’s how it goes.
It’s October, when I open this email from Ms. Porter:
I am the art director for the HastingsCenter Report, the leading academic journal in the field of bioethics. Our journal uses fine artwork to illustrate important articles about ethics in the fields of medicine and biotechnology.
Her introduction is followed by a long list of the wonderful contemporary artists whose work has appeared in the journal.
I am writing to request permission to reproduce your collage Fly (detail), as is shown on the “Today I Am a Fly” page of your website. I would like to use the work on the cover of a special report “Gene Editing in the Wild: Shaping Decisions through Broad Public Deliberation,” which will accompany the November-December 2021 issue of the HastingsCenter Report.
This report examines the ethical challenges of so-called “gene drives.” These are scientific interventions that would alter the biology of certain pests, such as mosquitoes and other insects, to drastically reduce their populations in areas where they are harmful to people and the food supply. Are such human interventions ethical, and how much say should the people in these areas have about whether they should take place? What is the best way to accurately inform the public about the positive and negative effects of such interventions?
Ms. Porter informs me, distribution is worldwide.#TodayIAmAFLYWorldwide
A sincere thank you to the Hastings Center, for including my work on the cover of this fine publication.
I spend time with the journal and I pull this quote from an essay titled Giving Voice to the Voiceless in Environmental Gene Editing, on page S66.
If the river could talk, it would say to us, “Let me flow; let me splash; let me do what I should do. This is my blood; this is flowing through my veins. I’m part of an entire environment, and I have a part to play in that.”
—JoAnn Cook, former Grand Traverse Band Tribal Council member1
It’s early December when I receive this email from Julie: By any chance do you have any small works of just the brain? My sister is looking for a present for her son (my nephew) who is a neuro surgeon and I wanted to tell her about your work. If you had a small drawing of a brain, send me an image and the price and I’ll forward it on to her. Thanks! Happy holidays! -Julie
You could guess things played out well. As I prepare to write, I ask Julie for story.
The way it came down, Julie explains, was that my sister asked in passing, Do you know by any chance an artist who paints or draws images of the brain? We want to give our son (Steven) and his wife Mary (also a surgeon) a gift that would be near to his practice (a neurosurgeon).
Julie’s reply: Boy do I have an artist for you, and I just so happen to be organizing a solo exhibition of her work at TMA! Her work is wonderful and I think I saw a few brain images when I visited there recently.
Julie Sasse is Chief Curator at Tucson Museum of Art. She’d made a studio visit in early November. We were going over the artwork for my upcoming September exhibition, in the museum’s → Kasser Family Wing of Latin American Art. Wendy Carr, is Julie’s sister.
Julie continues, I really like my nephew (and his wife!). He and I went on a three-week trip to Chile the summer before he entered med school so we have a special bond—went to Easter Island as well. What a great trip that was. He is so smart and I love to hear about the lives he has saved.
Friday, I send 4 images, along with the information she’s requested. Monday, Julie tells me to hold one particular study. Tuesday I speak with Wendy.
I enjoy hearing about her son, Dr. Steven Carr, MD., an Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Wendy notes Steven’s creative side, He enjoys working with his hands, wood in particular. He made a toy box and a rocking horse for his son as well as a train set and a trolley car.
I tell her about an exhibition of my work at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. I recall how I especially appreciated the medical students and faculty talk about my work and point out the details. I didn’t say much, mostly I listened (and learned!).
Here ↓ is the small brain study Julie asked me to hold. I paid extra attention to details with this image. And I was using mylar for the first time. I discovered both graphite and casein paint love a mylar surface! It’s a favorite material and I continue to use it.
The brain and its cells have become the focal point of many of my works since my father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve had time and opportunity to learn about the brain, including visiting the brain bank, in Sun City, AZ.
This artwork showed with phICA, in a container space in downtown Phoenix as well as the University of Arizona Medical School, also in downtown Phoenix.
Now it’s yours, Steven and Mary! This gift of art is in recognition of becoming a Board Certified Neurosurgeon, Steven. Congratulations to you.
Wendy and David, thank you so much. I’d like to extend a personal invitation to all of you. Should you be in Tucson, come and join us for the opening of my solo exhibition, on September 1st! Amongst other things, I plan to have a wall of brain anatomy, including microanatomy study, on display. #UrBeautifulBrain
Thanks again, Julie!
The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.
A new work is in progress. I’m painting a newborn, more specific, a preterm baby.
Organizing this study, I began with one focus, shifted to another, and then still another. Finally, I started painting at what was supposed to be the bottom of the composition, only to eventually make it the top.
When this idea presented itself in October, I’d been spending so much of my time in my head (Pun intended, I was trying to lay out neuron structure). When I got done, I was so ready for some grounding. In this way, I guess it’s natural to land in conception (it couldn’t be that complicated, I thought. Ha!). #It’sComplicated
At some point, I wondered if I could imply those that had come before. It felt natural to want to indicate those that protect and guide. I wanted ancestral presence. #biological #intellectual #emotional
I contacted Gila, a friend who is a Yoga and massage therapist, as well as a doula. We have a fun conversation. I returned to the studio and worked an ovum onto the bottom of my canvas. #grounding
This human reproductive cell ↓ is one of the largest single cells in the body. It’s much bigger than the sperm (about 10,000x larger). And it holds loads of mitochondria.
Gila commented on the ovum …..as a sound/vibration she sings a song to the sperm, which is the carrier of light : sound + light = creation that’s how the universe started and we are the same
Meanwhile, I’m reading sperm cells are haploid (single set of unpaired chromosomes). This ↑ haploid will connect to the egg, also a haploid. (Sperm’s midsection holds lots of mitochondria too!) In humans, only their egg and sperm cells are haploid. Together, egg and sperm will form a diploid. #Sound+Light=Creation
Things get more interesting as I learn about cortical reaction, a process preventing any other sperm (other than the1) from fusing with the 1 egg. #GotAllMystical #TheCreativeProcess
I connected with my friend Dominique who is a cancer biologist. She clarified: Sperm and ova are haploid, germinal cells. They undergo a special cell division called meiosis, that renders them haploid. As soon as fertilization takes place that egg and all the subsequent cells are diploid, as you point out in humans that means 46 chromosomes.
It’s complicated. I wanted to redirect.
Meiosis is very important, Dominque continued, because the 4 daughter cells each have independently assorted chromosomes. Like shuffling a deck of cards. One way to ensure a random assortment of genes, the other way is recombination which also takes place during meiosis!!!
O.k. I’m in here! What about mitosis, Dominque?
Mitosis happens when any plant or animal cell divides. It has a series of steps in which chromosomes are copied and condense as they become tightly coiled. This allows them to them to pair up and align in the center of the cell. Then there are little organelles called the centrioles, these move to opposite sides of the cell and produce the spindle. Think of them as making thin filaments like spider webs that attach to the center of the chromosomes, called centromeres. And now comes the magic trick: half of the copied chromosomes are pulled towards each centriole, exactly half. Then the cell divides and each daughter cell has a full genetic instructions for its function!!!
I like magic!
Well…ok. I’m rolling now…
And without anymore delay, I’d like you to meet Vañya Victoria Jacquez.
Vanya made her appearance at 32 weeks. Jeorgina (mom, who happens to be a Pediatric ICU nurse) had a C-section and tells me Vanya came out screaming! Which I gathered was a good thing.
Vanya is Victor’s (my nephew) and Jeorgina’s daughter. Tomorrow she will celebrate 3 months! Congratulations Jeorgina and Victor. Clearly, your little girl was eager and ready. #soonerratherthanlater
Let’s see where this composition takes me next… #workinprogress
A few years back, curious about mula bandha, I asked Tara, a neighbor, to tell me about the area I understood as an important root lock. In my many years of Yoga practice, I’d studied the 3 bandhas: jalandhara bandha (chin lock), uddiyana bandha (stomach lock) and mula bandha, in which muscles are contracted at the center of the perineum. Tara was not a Yogi but was (and still is) a pelvic floor specialist.
We had an informative conversation about the general pelvic floor as well as the center of the pelvic floor, the perineum. I had no plan to paint these compositions until the next day when she brought a medical model for me to better understand. ↑ (Ps. Since then she’s brought even more interesting models to my studio that have influenced various works.)
Fast forward to this year, late October, when Tara asks if she can drop over and see pelvic art. Sure, I say, but I’ll have to look for the them, give me a bit.
I find the artwork and invite her over the next day. I show her each 2-sided study. There are 2 different works, one is female and one is male. One side of each study shows muscles and nerves while the other side includes bones of the pelvis. Hanging in space, I want the viewer to be able to walk around each piece and note the layers.
Tara looks at them and without hesitation says she wants them. I’m getting a new office and I want these in it!
And because they are 2-sided, she wants to know how she might hang them. You have choices, Tara! And quality of light matters too.
When everything is said and done with the artwork, naturally Tara and I talk anatomy. I want to understand more about how male and female pelvic floor’s differ. While there are differences in the male and female pelvis, Tara notes, there are not as many as one might think. She gets excited with explaining details (I think she should always carry a dry eraser board), Females, as compared to males, have 2 extra pelvic floor muscles, the compressor urethrae and sphincter urethrovaginalis! She goes on to explain. (And I should always carry a pen and notebook) #knowyourbody
Like so many events during the pandemic, Bar Flies moved into a virtual space. For now, their usual live productions remain on hold. They ask participants to illustrate a true story, based on a prompt.
I’m invited, along with others, and the theme is…FLY! We can work classic comic style, in photography, embroidery or any other form of mixed media. It can run with all text or even be a collaboration with another. #SoOpenICanDoThis
It’s July, I’m in Texas visiting mom, when I receive the invite. Oddly (or maybe naturally), I go to the family encyclopedia set of my childhood (…time flies or does it fly?). I pull the F, locate fly and make a copy of it. And I carry it ↑ with me as I fly back home, a few days later.
Back in Phoenix, I go into my studio, not having been in it for a few weeks. Looking out the door, to the side yard, I see a beautiful oriole. How long has he been there? He’s so still. #FlyNot
I gather a variety of material (cuz it’s all an experiment) and begin this illustrated study. Truly, #OnTheFly.
Oh…and here are design outtakes! Thanks again, Amy!
I’ve wanted to draw the Circle of Willis ever since I heard the name of this area of the brain.
Friday, I got going on what I thought was going to be a quick study. One thing led to another and I ended up with a network of the brain’s blood vessels. #lovelylinework
This weekend I painted the study.
Initially the composition was to be black and white (like an MRI). I got out my gesso, both the black and the white, 2 various shades of cadmium red, and then out came the gold ink. I brought gold in because as I drew out details and thought about the brain and it’s blood supply, I worked in wonder of life processes.
I recalled a conversation with my father, who years ago, suggested I stay away from using gold to indicate the precious or the sacred. He thought it too easy a solution. I agreed with him then and maybe sometimes, I still agree with him today.
Circle of Willis: Circle comes from the Latin circulus, diminutive of circus ( a little ring!). Latin circus relates to Greek kirkos, circle or ring. The Circle of Willis is named after Thomas Willis, father of neurology. The area, located at the base of the brain, supplies oxygenated blood to over 80% of the cerebrum. (It’s not the focal point here, but it is the starting point.)
Dear dad, about the the gold ink…It came in at the very end, after a lot of work and a lot of thought. Nothing easy about it. It’s so subtle, you could miss it if I hadn’t said anything about it. #urbeautifulbrain #circleofwillis #life
Jen contacts me in April: Hi Monica, I’ve been meaning to write to you. First, I’m so sorry about your brother passing, and I believe your father as well? I know you and I can probably relate on all the strange feelings that come along with this loss. I believe I remember you posting that your brother’s death was related to COVID and since you mentioned he was your dad’s caretaker, I made the assumption that this is what claimed your dad as well. I mention this because the project I’m working on is about grief and COVID deaths. Although I’m focusing on Arizona, with your permission I’d like to create a suitcase for your brother and dad to give to you, as a remembrance and way to honor them. You may have seen some of my posts about this project but if not, I can share some imagery of what I’m doing. I can give the suitcases directly to you or first include them in the exhibit at Walter Art Gallery in September.
I should note Jen lost her sister Tina, to ovarian cancer, this last December of 2020.
We keep in touch. I watch as Jen shares on social media, her careful and thoughtful process of folding (with the help of family and friends) and installing over 18,000 suitcases, including a display of pop up suitcases, utilizing COVID-related obituaries.
I recall sending dad’s and Chacho’s obits to her. Not having looked at them in a while, I see new photos my brother’s friends added. I reread them and feel my sisters and I captured their individual qualities well. Jen tells me about writing her sister’s obituary. We share our individual experiences of losing a sibling and especially in this unusual time of physical distancing. I could see she related to things I was saying and vice-versa. We laughed as we shared some stories of our loved ones and cried as we shared others.
I know this was not easy for Jen, but she moved through all the various parts of this work with what felt like complete openness and care. Today she sends a ↓ photo and writes, your brother and dad, together. I’m touched as I recognize the words we wrote.
Thank you Jen, for holding space for life lost to Covid. Thank you for remembering my dad and my brother. Thanks for sharing your sister with me. I will remember her.
Public exhibition opens this Friday and your presence is welcomed. WHO: Jen Urso WHAT: Remarkable Presence WHERE: Walter Art Gallery 6425 East Thomas, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 WHEN: September 17 with a collective grieving event from 6:30pm-8:30pm → Facebook Invite Masks required!
Three more collective grieving events will be held across the valley: Sept 25, Oct, 9 and Oct 15. For information about Jen Urso, her installation and event details/locations visit the website → REMARKABLE PRESENCE
Postscript: Jen and I have talked about various rituals connected to death including the writing of the obituary and burial/recomposing rites. I want to make note we also lost my father-in-law to Covid-19. He does not have an obituary. Every family, each person, handles grief in their own way and in their own time. The experience of losing numerous family members is difficult, to say the very least. We manage because we know we are not alone. Across the planet, people’s lives are forever changed because of this pandemic. #yourremarkablepresence #wemissyou
I’ve known Haley, Art Specialist with the Phoenix Airport Museum, a few years now. She’s visited my studio as well as picked up and dropped off work. She’s also facilitated a couple of tours through airport exhibition spaces, which included back scene ventures with her and the art crew.
Considering Sky Harbor International Airport is one of busiest airports in the US, opportunities to associate with it and see it in a different manner are well…pretty cool!
Why am I talking about you Haley? Because I met Tim!
I am Haley’s fiancé. You may know her through your work together at the airport museum etc. Her birthday is next week and I wanted to reach out to see if I could purchase Bar Flies from you. She LOVES this piece and has spoken many times about buying it to keep and display in our own home. Is it available? Also, this will be a surprise! Thank you so very much. Timothy
3 things Haley… – Tim’s a great guy! – I didn’t know you loved this artwork! – Oh and hey, it’s your birthday today. This ↓ is yours! SURPRISE!!
I don’t know that I ever told you how this collage work came to be…
One of the founders of Bar Flies asked if I’d be interested in creating a sticker for them. (Shout out to Amy!) Bar Flies is a monthly reading series that pre-pandemic, was held at the downtown Valley Bar. (BTW, it will return, hopefully sooner rather than later.)
The show, always a good, midweek night-out with the friends, featured different themes, true stories, the tellers of those stories, along with carefully curated music (shout out to Deborah!).
And speaking of truth, every-single-time my friend Veronica and I went out there, we managed to get lost. Don’t ask why (no cell phone mapping could help us).
If I was going to create a design for Bar Flies, it was going to feature a real map that I would hope, could set into my brain, the lay of the downtown Phoenix land.
The work eventually makes its way ↓ to Sky Harbor Airport (for a map show, of course), where it crossed paths with you, Haley (or vice-versa). In the lower right area of the composition you’ll note a glimpse of the airport. #itwasinthecards
Thanks again, Tim! I do appreciate a good surprise. Happy Birthday to you, Haley! And many, many more!
The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.