Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Good Things Happening in Cleveland: Introducing the Artist Known as Peso


We live in turbulent times, it's easy to lose faith in humanity. When this happens, it's important to get out and talk to young people. It's a mistake to underestimate them. A renaissance, similar to the one we saw in the 60s, is taking place. And it's welcome and needed. The youth today have seen the servitude their parents lived under. They've seen their parents work themselves to death, barely able to support their families only to lose their dreams, passions, pensions, health and often their lives.

Young creatives want no part of this out dated, imbalanced way of living. They have refused to play the game. They are not fearful, and are taking the lead building a brighter future. As such, it is up to the older generations to nurture them.

Photo by LhuD

Last week, I had the honor of meeting one such young Renaissance Man. He goes by the name of Peso. At a mere 21 years of age he is possessed of a deep wisdom and intellect.

Cleveland is host to many undiscovered fine artists. It's part of my mission to provide needed exposure for some of these artists. I am grateful Peso, generously and patiently, took the time to sit down with me and discuss his inspirations and philosophy, as well as the journey he is taking with his art.

Peso's art is not constrained by the over-intellectualizing of scholarship. It's visionary, unspoiled and emotional.   Incredibly prolific, it's hard to believe Peso began painting only a year ago.

As he tells it, one day he was sitting on the sofa with his girlfriend and he knew he needed to paint. He never looked back, he painted on everything he could get his hands on, including tables and doors.

It is rare that a fully-formed aesthetic appears in the first work of an artist, but that is exactly what happened with Peso.

The devil is a charmer in his first piece. It is evident from the get-go that Peso is incredibly self aware for his young years.

His themes may appear dark at first glance, but upon closer examination, you see that the work is all about balance, harmony and love. Dark themes are juxtaposed with bright colors. Seemingly contradictory constructs of good and evil coexist peacefully - even blissfully - in a swirl of bright color. Peso's form of dreamy surrealism reminds us there is nothing to fear. Indeed, the erotic movement of his protagonists/ antagonists demonstrate that a constructive way to channel pent-up passion and rage exists.

Peso bravely confronts issues of mental illness.  Indeed, like many of the great tragic, brooding artists, Peso readily admits that sometimes his art emerges from a place of suffering. As such, Peso allows the images to reveal themselves, he never sets out with expectation and doesn't know what a painting will look like in the end. Even though his journey sometimes takes him through a brave confrontation with suffering, he points out - like a Zen master - that suffering is not to be avoided. Rather, it is a tool to be used to arrive at the joyous freedom one achieves when not constrained by rules.

Peso is to be admired for living an authentic life, and is in tune with the consciousness of youth.  If he had one wish for young people, it would be that they find themselves in creative careers without fear, and without succumbing to the lies and servitude of previous generations.

I believe it is the responsibility of artists to take part in the political process in whatever way they feel comfortable doing. Artists are deep thinkers and are capable of helping raise the consciousness of the nation. Indeed, art is politics and politics is art. This is a sentiment that Peso echoes in his philanthropic work.

He and his partner formed a collective called Feed the People Music. At events where they rock the mic, admission is the cost of canned food or maybe a toy for the kids.

Peso has a love of psychology and pays attention closely to his dreams. He loves both the lovers and haters of his art, believing it is important for art to provoke a response.

Among his many influences are: artists Frida Kahlo, Max Beckmann, George Baselitz, Ralph Steadman and Graham Hancock.  Other influences are Roger Waters and Pink Floyd, Jim Morrison, Stanley Kubrick and Hunter S. Thompson. He is also influenced by African, Native American and Mexican Shamanism. He refers to his belief system as panpsychism, noting that everything is connected.  I told you, dude is deep.

Without further adieu, I present the work of Cleveland fine artist, Peso:

I'd like to thank Peso for being an inspiration and for sharing his world with me. Stay tuned for subsequent posts about Peso where I hope to share more of his philanthropic work, his music and a film project he will be working on this Spring.

Remember to support emerging and local artists. Peso can be contacted at Instagram, here and here.

All photos by Peggy for Creative Influences, except where noted.

Friday, January 26, 2018

My Apartment - For Today

It's taken some time, but my apartment and I are having a love affair. My personal space is very important to me. Here's a quick peek at how she looks today.

I love color, especially pink.

I'm a big proponent of color psychology. I got the knock off Middle Kingdom vase at a thrift store for $4.00. If you need cheering up, try a pop of yellow.

The chandelier is a work in progress.

Yep. I've got vase addiction.

My Humble Abode: Loving Pillows

Happy Friday dear readers!  I hope you are enjoying your day. I am working on an exciting writing project. The coffee is brewing and during my stretch breaks I putter around the apartment - my favorite procrastination tool!

I enjoy moving things around to get a different look in my place. That's why I like vases and pillows. They can be moved on a whim. And they don't have to be expensive. The Goodwill and Salvation Army have plenty of lovely vases. When you're done with a vase, you can redonate.  Throw pillows are a great way to experiment with color.

Wanna add pink, but hubby doesn't like pink? Try a pillow.  Need a little sophistication for a dinner party? Add black pillows.  Reasonably priced pillows can be obtained at Marcs, Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx and Amazon. Careful with Amazon, though. It's addicting. When you tire of a pillow, Etsy is a great place to buy artisan pillows covers.  Many are even washable.

Here's a couple of ways I have used pillows in my place.  I don't care that I am breaking the rules by using too many pillows. I love the cozy bohemian feel of pillows thrown all over, even on the floor. A contradiction for a striving minimalist, I know.

Do you have home improvement projects scheduled this weekend? I'd love to hear about them.  xo

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pink City

Pink City I, digital photography and editing.

Pink City is a series I've been working on for a long time. It is influenced by my love of Cleveland and the Lake Erie sunsets.

As a child, I was thrilled when my dad drove us to Cleveland. This was in the hey day of Cleveland's steel production. The sky was literally pink. I didn't realize it was toxic, I just thought it was beautiful. Little did I realize that years later the dilapidation created during this time period, would also become an influence in my art.

I hope to put together a retrospective showing of this work soon, which will incorporate photography, paintings, slideshows and music from local artists.

See more of my Pink City series on my urban photojournal, here.

Pink City: Evolution of a Painting

Pink City II

Pink City IIa

Pink City IIb, 16x20", acrylic, marker and pencil on canvas

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I wasn't supposed to be shopping...

Restraint. It can be difficult. Balancing the love of beautiful objects with the desire for an uncluttered home. This time of year is difficult for me when it comes to restraint. The cold weather creates a desire to create a cosy nest. Coupled with the after holiday sales and the ease of internet shopping... Well, you know how it is.

So...I had been watching this beautiful vase on Etsy. When it went on sale, it was time to take the plunge, and welcome this divine vase into my home.

This vintage glass vase was designed by Diane Love for Mikassa. It fits perfectly with the retro mod vibe I'm going for in my apartment. It's made of frosted glass, and it's remarkable how it glows in the light. It's also fascinating to watch how it changes color with the changing light of the day.

I purchased the vase from Modern Specific. I can't stop moving it and photographing it! Humans sure make beautiful things don't they?

Design ADD: The Story of a Little Bookcase

Here's a little secret:  I love puttering in my apartment so much that I move something almost everyday.  Even if it's just a vase or a pillow.  It's taken a while for this place to evolve. I've been really lucky, all my furniture was donated by friends and family.

My talented brother made me this sweet little bookcase.  I intended to paint it gloss white, but my bro told me to check out the mistake section of the paint department. A happy discovery indeed!  I bought a pint of satin enamel by Clark + Kensington for $1.00!  Yep, no shit. $1.00.  After sanding (which I hate) the paint went on smooth.

Bam.  I love it.  I placed the little bookcase on my focal wall.

The chair is a gift from my mom.  It's a little chunky for my taste, and I wasn't sure I liked the sage green.  It sure is comfy, though and did I mention it was free?

After studying this wall for a couple of weeks, I began to go through a familiar stage in my decorating. Panic. I love beautiful things, but I panic when I have too many.  Maybe it comes from growing up in a hoarder home (the subject of a subsequent post).  I decided the focal wall needed to be cleaner.

Yep. That feels good. It's hard to photograph my place, it doesn't get much light. But I kinda dig its cave like feel.  So where did the little bookcase end up?

In the bedroom, where it is the perfect nightstand.  Now that's what I call form AND function.  BTW, I hate making my bed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Painting

Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20". Inspired by the Northern sky, and Mark Rothko, of course.

Sometimes I like to change the orientation of a painting.  All the art in my apartment is by me. Sometimes I worry that I am arrogant. One thing's for sure:  feels great to be painting again and I adore pink. Oops, I guess that's two, lol.  xo

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Paintings

I'm happy to announce that I started painting again!  Here's a couple of my new paintings.

This work is still in progress.

Untitled, 16"'x 20", acrylic on canvas.

This painting is deceptive. Simple, but not easy. It may look like a solid color, but the color is actually achieved in layers.  Inspired by Mark Rothko.

 Pink City II: Underwater, approx 8" x 10", acrylic and pencil on canvas. Was part of a larger canvas that I didn't like, so I chopped it up.

All the art in my apartment is by me. More importantly, it's all pink -- which makes me ecstatic.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

And the winners are..

After much deliberation, these are my favorite colors du jour.  And, oh yeah, if I haven't said it a trillion times...I love color blocking.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Feeling Blue

A few of my favorite colors are: periwinkle, cobalt blue, berry pink and hot pink. Paolo Lenti is skilled at using these colors. I dropped my jaw when I saw these divine spaces.
Omigod. I love the idea of a monochromatic space, with a dark cave-like feel. These blues feel so rich, and are a great alternative to gray (which I still love, but is getting a little played out).

Reminds me a of Prada's use of jewel tones.  (See my previous post featuring one of my favorite rooms of all time featuring Prada fabrics, here.)  Dig that fabulous crochet rug by one of my favorite designers, Patricia Urquiola (another of my designed by Ms. Urquiola can be seen here). Makes me want to take up crochet again...almost. The last thing I need is another obsession. I mean, have you been down the yarn isle at Pat Catan's? It's heaven, but I know that damn yarn would sit in the closet and taunt me about how much money I've spent, lol.  Also dig that living wall, but..I have a brown thumb.

Swoon. One of my favorite color schemes.  Berry pink and light blue (see previous post here).  Their use of color is divine. If you love color, you will love their instagram page, here. Of course if I went this scheme, I would need these fabulous dishes from Urban Outfitters. Man, humans sure make beautiful things don't they?  No wonder we Americans are always broke.
Though I am totally smitten, this color scheme is not to be. It would involve too much starting over which is not possible on my teeny tiny budget. I don't need a million dollars, I need a virtual reality machine! Then I could change my decor based on my mood.  xo

My Humble Abode, Part 3: Contemplating Color

I obsess about color all the time.  For me color is a meditation, and my home is a lab. I think it was Vincente Wolf who said a room without color is a lost opportunity. I wholeheartedly agree. I got addicted to color when I discovered the work of Tricia Guild. Here is an early version of my place where I was contemplating turquiose. My lovely pillow (and very reasonably priced) from Burlington Coat Factory taking the lead.  Pillows are a great way to experiment with color without much investment.

That's just a blanket on the floor, still contemplating a rug. With tuquiose and/or aqua on my mind, I thought about buying these lovely things from Flower Child.

Luckily, I don't do much impulse buying. If I see something lovely I take its picture. Sometimes this satisfies the urge, and I don't need to buy the piece. Digital collections are the best; they take up no space and require no dusting. Sometimes a piece haunts me, as was the case with this vintage bowl. Not sure who the manufacturer is, kinda reminds me of a McCoy Floraline. I am a sucker for a matte finish.

So, I had to go back and get it.  No buyer's remorse here. It's gorgeous! Looks great with pink and only cost $6.00. I had to spend $12 (round trip) on Lyft to get it, lol.  $18 is still a good price for this lovely. And I love patronizing local business, and meeting Lyft drivers, making it a win all the way around.

Life is good.  xo

My Humble Abode, Part 2: Starting Over

Happy Saturday dear readers!  Hope you are staying warm and cozy.  I'm not feeling well today, so I am blogging from bed. On my Android.  Ain't technology a beautiful thing? As you know, I moved a lot this past year. I am ecstatic to say that I have been in my new apartment for six months! Just goes to show that time flies whether you're having fun or not. Something we should remember during the bad times.

When I moved here, I had almost nothing. Luckily, my cousin had a few of my favorite pretty things in her basement. This is breaking one of my own organization rules, that is: never keep things in storage. Luckily she insisted.  I'll have lots to say about organization in subsequent posts.  Here is what my apartment looked like after two weeks.
The chaise lounge was a gift from my mom, who felt sorry for me because I was sitting on the floor. I'm grateful for her generosity - don't tell her I said this - but the thing was crap! Horrible workmanship. Shame on you Brylane!  Completely impossible to sit on, it functioned merely as a space filler and a place to display pillows, nothing more.  A month or so later, after my neighbor gave me his sofa, I carried the bitch to the dumpster all by myself.  Bam!  See pic of the sofa, after de-catting (is that a word) in the post above.

It's been a slow process, but baby, my apartment has come a long way.  I'm hoping to do a full reveal early next week.  Want more pictures and less words?  Be sure to follow along on Instagram @margiemax.    xo

Friday, January 12, 2018

My Humble Abode, Part 1: A Preview

Happy Friday dear readers! I hope you're having a lovely day, and have a fun weekend planned. If you follow my Instagram, you know I've been working on my home this week. It's a slow process, but that's okay.  I believe you should allow a home time to evolve. If you decorate your place too quickly, you will become bored.  I'm estatic to be back in my hometown of Cleveland. 

As always with a new place, it took sometime for this apartment to speak to me.  Your place has a soul and a unique character, if you listen it will tell you what it wants. I've always had a love affair with wherever I've lived and now this place is no different. I am hoping to never move again.   :-)

I'm calling my style dollar store chic. I want my place to be: simple and clean; modern, yet warm and cozy;  retro, groovy and mod. It needs warmth because my main window gets the northern breezes from my beloved Lake Erie.  I want guests to feel free to plop down on the sofa put their feet up and cover themselves with a soft blanket. Nothing's too precious, so not to worry if something gets spilled. The sofa cover is washable.

I want lots of color. I know I'm breaking a lot of rules, but I don't care. One of my major goals is to prove that pink can be a thoroughly modern color. It's not just a girly color, and it looks great with every color. I've used various shades of pink, have paired pink with green, grey, orange, and blue. There's no such thing as too much pink.

Other styles I'm influenced by are: mid-century mod, minimalism, bohemian, Japanese, and industrial. But please don't call my place eclectic, I prefer the term collected.  I have collected various things that I find beautiful.  Just not too many, clutter will not do. 

Now here's the kicker.  My budget is $100.  How do I reconcile all these different influences and on such a tiny budget? Follow along to find out. I will also have a lot to say about organization. These pictures are bad, but that's the natural light in the middle of the day on a gray day in Cleveland, and I actually love it.  I sure feel grateful for my fab girl cave.

Want more pictures and less words?  Be sure to follow @margiemax on Instagram.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Austerity Measures: How Low Can You Go?

Austerity measures.  Restraint. Simplicity. These are words that are often unpopular in a culture like the U.S. that places a high value on affluence. Indeed those of us that fall below the poverty line, are excluded from most activities because we can't afford to engage. We're also excluded from political discussions, especially if we're single and poor. Discussions regarding tax breaks and various rights that the United States provides to its citizens are geared towards middle-income families. Poor single woman are not even part of the discussion and largely invisible.

I have a confession to make, being chronically ill and broke is embarrassing. It probably sounds crazy, but I am ashamed of my poverty. This is why I often don't date or socialize, in addition to being not able to afford it. That said, I am fortunate I enjoy living simply. I'm creative and able to create an environment I find pleasing with little to no money.

I have a question for my loyal readers, how far can you go? If you had a choice between living in public housing and having a little extra money; or living in a nice neighborhood with an expensive apartment and money to do little else than pay your rent - which would you choose?

I have lived in public housing. I was grateful for my apartment, but believe me public housing is no fun. There is no privacy. Residents were disrespected by management. At best, we were treated like children. At worst, we were treated like criminals as the staff acted like jailors. New rules were posted on door everyday, cameras watched our every move, our places were inspected continually by various agencies (including DEA dogs) often without notice. We were subject to constant ruthless audits. And the noise. The noise of frustration and hopelessness is deafening. Increasingly, I watched children turn to crime, and have even been their victim.  I watched 100% (no hyperbole) of teenage girls get on the school bus carrying an infant.

I now understand why realtors use the mantra "location location location." I am blessed now to live in a nice neighborhood. People are quiet, polite and respectful. They still drive like maniacs but there's a beautiful thing here you might have heard of:  sidewalks. And, oh yeah, trees.

In order to live in this neighborhood I have had to make many sacrifices. When I first moved here I had no furniture and slept on the floor. I had no electricity for several days.

There are many things I sacrifice in order to be able to pay rent.  Here is a list of some of the things I live without:  a car, a microwave, a computer, a television, cable. In addition I do my own hair.  The most difficult sacrifice I make is that I seldom buy new clothes. This is really tough because I love fashion. I almost never go out to eat or to a movie. I do not have a pet.

We live in a land of abundance and beautiful things and we are bombarded with enticing images. I wish my digital device didn't provide me constant ads for vases. It pisses me off that the internet knows my weaknesses and preys upon them.

Luckily, I like simplicity and minimalism. Also I am grateful that family and friends donated furniture to help me make this apartment a home.

Still, I confront my greed on a daily basis. The list of things I desire is long. I am endeavoring to appreciate what I have, rather than focusing on what I lack.

So my question dear readers, is how far would you go if you were in a circumstance where you came face to face with the possibility of homelessness?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Justin Brennan Part II: A Mock Up

In the post below I wrote about my love of the work of fine artist Justin Brennan. I am so enamored with his work, I couldn't help but play with how it would look in my apartment. I think it looks great! What do you think?

Good Things Happening in Cleveland: Artist Justin Brennan

I'm very happy to be back in my hometown of Cleveland. A lot of good things are happening here, and a lot has changed since I left. The most exciting thing going on is, arguably, the art scene.

I recently attended Third Fridays at the 78th Street Studios, near my old stomping grounds. If you're in Cleveland you should definitely check it out!  I met a lot of fascinating artists, and one of my favorites is Justin Brennan.

Justin is a hardworking, prolific artist. So prolific that his art spilled out of his studio into the hallway. I spent a lot of time contemplating his work. I know it sounds strange, but when I say that his work spoke to me, I mean this literally. I could hear it. It sounded shamanic to me, like Gabrielle Roth or The Thievery Corporation, two of my muses.

I know it sounds arrogant, but dare I say that Justin is a kindred spirit. He has achieved something on canvas that I wish to achieve in my own art. Namely, simplicity, quickness of brushstroke, intuitive use of mixed media, movement and raw emotion. Justin is shy and humble when asked about his art, he doesn't over-intellectualize it.  I found this both endearing and refreshing.

I am not usually a lover of gallery walls in my decor, thinking they look too cluttered. But with Justin's art I would make an exception. So contemplative are his pieces, I could see them covering my walls and I would spend many hours meditating on them.

His studio is a work of art as well. I was so inspired upon entering his studio, I immediately wanted to move in and start creating.  Without further ado, I present to you the work of Justin Brennan.

This is my favorite. I think I need this.

More of Justin's work can be seen at his website here.

Stay tuned for more about the artists of 78th Street Studios.

All photos by Peggy for Creative Influences.


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