Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Santa Barbara as art project, take one

Downtown, there's this weirdly Tuscan-looking building, home of Meridian Studios. Its painted in three or four different colors of blue, pink, lavendar, cream and green. On rainy days (today: some rain, some sun, all weird weather) it appears to be slowly melting away to reveal an undershell of white.

The building is covered in bright green vines, honeysuckle or some other sweet-scented creeper. Whoever owns it keeps them light enough so that passers-by can enjoy the elaborate paint job. It is actually built around an historic adobe, the Lugo Adobe - which was built somewhere before 1868 and was originally the home of a Spanish soldier.

When we pass by it, I invariably think about the people inside. Are they fabulously creative as a result of the neat paint job on the outside of the builing they sit in? Do they realize the history right around them? Or is it a novelty, a detail they enjoy once in a while, and all TPS reports and PC lode-letter jam inside? Doesn't everyones' environment affect them and their creative output? Really, if you consider, of course it does - Tolstoy wouldn't have wrote Anna Karena in Jamaica or Japan, would he?

I'm not talking about having a perfectly cleaned or decorated or landscaped dwelling. What I refer to is the area in which you live - here I'm surrounded by a huge amount of natural and manmade beauty. There's the ocean abutting our "mountains", all kinds of beautiful beaches next to great art and architecture, perky, pretty college co-eds and plenty of plastic surgery. The sun shines about three hundred days a year, but it rarely breaks 80 degrees. Does this make the average native or local Santa Barbarian a bit happy-go-lucky and maybe a teeny bit lazy? I think so.
Here's just outside of De la Guerra Plaza - Aloes galore! De la Guerra plaza is smack in the middle of downtown - a pocket-sized park studded with palm trees and, frankly, a fair smattering of our local homeless population. All around it, there are businesses - the paper, City Hall, a bunch of eateries and shopping opportunities by the pound.

Yesterday (when I took these pictures) one of the many local plein-aire painters' groups were out en masse (wow! look! two accidental French phrases in one sentence!) Despite the drizzle of rain and the overly-fragrant park denzions, these people go out regularly and watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastel, whatever...their little hearts out. I was thinking about that as I walked by them, trying not to stare. Would I, could I, ever go out and paint in public without seizing up with stage fright? I'm far from good, and I haven't touched a watercolor palette in so long that I should just go to my local "Art 101... Introduction to Watercolor" class.
At any rate, if I ever do get the guts/skills/materials to go out on the town with my paints ... I'm going to attempt this building for sure.

Meridian Studios, take two - followed by part of the Presidio Chapel.

Onward, now. Good writing, like great art, is certainly fueled or inspired by reading and seeing great work, we all know this. I've been firmly in the "book nerd" group since age four, no doubt about it. Lately though, I seem to be reading what I think of as comfort foods for the mind, with a few more meaty bits on the side. For instance, my current bits are Eva Luna by Isabel Allende and The Poisonwood Bible (again). I'm about halfway through reading The Wind in the Willows aloud to S., which has been really enjoyable - he has specifically asked me to "do the voices".

The voices, of course, not in my head, but of the made-up sort when one is reading aloud and attempting to put life into the characters. When I read to myself, all the characters have 'voices', so I was wondering, do you do this while reading? Do you picture them based on their descriptions, or just on their actions? Could you draw them (if you can/could draw)?


Chiada said...

I really don't understand why you said in an earlier post that hearing S. play the guitar makes you wish you had talent of any kind. Um, excuse me?? That statement, coming from the mouth of Miss Decoupage (spelling?) My Coffee Table, Nah, I'll Paint A Nekkid Lady On It? LOL, you're hilarious! Of course you have oodles & oodles of talent! From the painting to blogging to photography to weddings, HELLO, WEDDINGS!, to flowers, etc. etc. Anyways, that's just my two-bit cent piece or whatever. As for reading with voices, yes, I always hear a particular voice in my head as I read and when I read out loud, I like to give the characters their voices. I've read out loud to E.T. before and he at one time told me that I was going over the top with the voice and it was bugging him. So, now when I read out loud, I have to do it without such inflections as I would like, same with accents. Oh well, can't please everybody. By the way, (this comment is turning into a book!) I finished reading Daughter of Fortune. After the first 80? pages, it totally rocked! Now I'm on Breath Eyes Memory. Thanks for the books. You should start your own book club! :D

Meepers said...

Thanks - I looooved Daughter of Fortune as well (I've read it about five times, lol) I meant muscial talent when I was talking about wishing I could be like S. The furniture is more or less copying images - not hard at all, honestly. I should start a book club, huh - wanna join? What should we call it?

Chiada said...

Ya, I'll join. It'll be like NetFlix, only with no fee, hehe. You mail me a book, I'll read it and mail it back. As soon as you get it back, you mail me another one. LOL :D

How about something the reverse of BINBY? Like, YBNIB (Read: EEB-nib): Your Book Nook Information Buddy. LOL Or something classier like...Hampton-Taylor Classics. :D I've got some I could send to you too, though probably not nearly as many as you have, nor as good as yours.

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Meepers said...

YBMIB! Eeb-nib! Love it! We're gonna have to call it that just because! Love it! And by the way - do I have to go back to the comment filter to get rid of old a.nonymous up there? Grrr!