Monday, April 26, 2010

a grapefruit moment

My spoon digs into three perfectly cut wedges of grapefruit
The grapefruit lovingly prepared by you
Waiting for me in the refrigerator
In a white bowl covered with plastic wrap.
As I slip the spoonful, distractedly into my mouth
While reading something about art
I experience the burst of pure cold sweetness.
I put the book down and savor this moment.
This is all I have right now
And it is enough.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


34 years is a long time. As evidenced by the outpouring of genuine sentiment at the current exhibition at Northlight Gallery, James Hajicek’s tenure at ASU has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

The three rooms of the gallery are filled with work spanning four decades. Both photographs that James created and the work of past and present students who he worked closely with grace the walls along with heartfelt and poignant statements about how they were impacted by him.

In many of the statements, you get the sense that “The Captain”, which he is lovingly referred to, has given the gift of process to students hungry for the tactile, the physical and a certain reverence for “the object”. Yet, there is this other less quantifying aspect of Jim’s influence that resonated in each statement; a belief system in which to enter into the realm of art making, an understanding of the ineffable and sometimes terrifying process of being an artist. Beyond that, you get the sense that his influence has gone above and beyond the world of art but that his guidance in how to navigate life is immeasurable.

Filippo Tagliati, a former graduate student from Italy, expressed it the most succinctly:

“Jim, first time I entered your office I was sick and you healed me. You taught me how to teach. When a band of thieves stole everything from my house, you taught me what the power of community is. When I was looking for direction in my work, you taught me how to create a research project. And when I was looking for a job, you convinced them I could walk on the water. Right now, I can really walk on the water just because you taught me how to believe in myself.”

When you look around the rooms of Northlight you cannot help but notice the attention to those two dangerous words in our post-neo-post modern world- Truth and Beauty.

There are many people to thank for making this exhibition possible- Liz Allen, the director of Northlight who saw this entire thing through to the 11th hour, the students in the exhibition class who framed, typed and hung it all, the students who dropped everything and sent work from all corners of the country, and to all who came to the opening to support Jim, another testimony to the power of community.

Lineage will be open through May 3rd

Northlight Gallery

Matthews Hall


Monday night 7-9

Tuesday 10:30a-4:30p

Wed-Thurs 10:30a-4:30p

Saturday 12:30-4:30p

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Buona Pasqua

Every year, at Easter, I make a special bread. I’ve been making it since my father passed away almost 18 years ago. My father made the same bread every year after his father died 35 years ago. My Grandpa made that bread for as long as I can remember and who knows how many previous generations in some village in Italy my ancestors were preparing what we call Easter Bread.

It’s a rich yeast-raised bread, full of butter, eggs, and sugar that is braided much like a Challah. I am sure that each generation modified the bread to suit more of the American palette. I do remember my grandfather adding a dyed hard-boiled Easter egg in the middle.
When my father took over the hard-boiled egg disappeared but I’m pretty sure I have the same recipe that my grandfather gave to my dad.

The rituals and practices that remain connect us to something sacred.
I cherish making the bread each year as a tribute to a tradition that has managed to stay alive through the generations of my family.
Today, we will break bread together and with each sweet bite I will cherish the privilege of all of it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Balancing Act

All of us struggle with balance. In yoga, this is my greatest challenge, keeping myself upright while standing on one foot.
In life, balance is essential. Through trial and error I have learned how to cultivate a life that maintains a proper weighing in of, for lack of a more accurate term-yin and yang.
One of my strategies in balancing out the more cerebral activities in my life is tending to my plants. I probably have close to a hundred potted plants at this writing, and each one is lovingly cared for from agave pups to my most prized orchid pictured here.
I’m not an orchid aficionado but my daughter gave me this plant last year and I was very proud of how I had managed to keep the blooms alive for almost 6 months.
Once the delicate flowers died and fell off poetically, one by one, I contemplated putting the plant in the compost since the notion of getting it to flower again seemed remote at best.
But, I just couldn’t do it. So, I put it in a sunny place inside the house, watered the roots with filtered water and sprayed the leaves with orchid food-whispering encouragement throughout the winter months.
Today the first bloom broke open. Standing alone in celebration of rebirth and renewal.
Teaching me so many lessons-patience, perseverance and self-care.