October 19, 2013

The Origin of Pieces...

If you're lucky, every once in a while, you get a glimpse at the inner workings of your mind. You find the telling source, or approximate origin of how you think... and why you do that thing you do. I recently had such a revelation in a place I've been to many times over many years. Even in the simplest, most abstract pieces, there is a source literally built in stone.

Belvoir Crusader Fortress -  Northern Israel, 1168 CE.

Jewelry:  Long lobe earring, Loop earring, Toggle necklace - silver, Line earring, Long bar necklace - silver.

May 26, 2013

Inspirations: Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones
I so clearly remember lying on my parent's bed glued to the '79 Grammy awards waiting for "best new artist". After months of "Chuck E's in Love" addiction, I was totally obsessed with the brazenly real, groundbreaking voice of nominee - Rickie Lee Jones.

I was watching a formative visual moment:
George Burns and Deborah Harry (Yes! BLONDIE) announced. After beating out The Blues Brothers, Dire Straits, Robin Williams (???), and The Knack, she made her way to the stage.... And then it got a bit weird.

As she swayed oddly and smiled eerily for an uncomfortably long several seconds, the sick underbelly of 70's cool crept in. It was the young addict, too high to fake it - the Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison brand of scary, which naturally fascinated and frightened the 13 year old me.

Luckily, she suddenly snapped into focus and gave a quick, frankly humorous thanks. Her raspy badass street voice made her long blond hair, black beret, tight cropped jeans, and little rust leather jacket even cooler. In that moment she was IT - hip, tough, sexy, quirky - the definition of cool - an artist. I was dying of groovy overload as she awkwardly ran off the stage.

Fast forward the years, I'm in the audience watching the seasoned, adult Rickie. The hard knocks diva who drew the map for the Fiona Apple's and Regina Specktor's now speaks of precious time passing. Each song an intricate novel, was punctuated by her singularly innovative, unforgettable voice.

After a long spellbinding performance, she closed with a cover more visceral and damning than the original "Sympathy for the Devil". Without changing a word she chillingly redefined it.

And then, with all the grace and beauty of an angel, she exited the room.

March 23, 2013

What happens when you survive? You get Life.

Adam J. Salsberg in 18=Chai=Life
Adam Salsberg, a Chicago sound engineer and musician, found MarLa studio when recovering from a serious hit and run bike accident.  If he wasn't wearing a helmet, well.... HIS HELMET SAVED HIM.

To express their relief and joy, Adam's parents wanted to get him something personal and life affirming. They wanted it to be spiritual, but cool - something a guy like Adam would wear. Their internet search brought them to my 18=chai=life. Honored to be a teeny part of his journey back to a big, music filled life, I recently caught up with Adam. THIS (!!!) is what he's doing:

I've been busy at the studio, things are going really well for me there. I recently started teaching a recording group for teenagers twice a week with a youth program that is held in the same building as the studio. I'm currently working on recording a mixtape with a rapper named Duggie, and got to produce one of the beats for it as well. I've also been recording some tracks with Slugshot Malone. Other rappers I've recorded include Dreezy, Big IL and Sly Polaroid. I've had the pleasure to work with Malik Yusef on several occasions. Malik is a 5 time Grammy winning songwriter and poet, probably best known for his work with Kanye West. Also recently, I've done commercials for Providence St. Mel, a private school in Chicago.

At my home studio (called Space Jam) my favorite things I've recorded are Oshwa, which is a really great band, as well as solo artist Fleeting Image. Both of these were recorded and mixed by my friend Seth Engel and I together. Seth and I also recorded and mixed a compilation of Chicago solo artists, an idea we came up with ourselves. It can be obtained free at redbeardrecords.bandcamp.com.

My band, Cage Match has one album out that is free to download at cagematchmusic.bandcamp.com, and have new material coming out in the near future. Our music is unexpectedly peaceful, contrary to the name. I have also composed and recorded music for several of my brother's animations, which can be seen at www.pokegravy.com.

Now that's a life.

Adam in the studio

December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

Square Cross in bronze, Shalom-Peace in bronze
Prayers for peace and the comfort of feeling safe in our homes, schools, streets and hearts.  

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

Love, light, blessings and my deepest gratitude for your support and kindness, 


November 22, 2012

Thankful for The Periodic Table of Elements, friendship, and everything

Fe-Iron = Strength, Paired with AU-Gold = Heart of

The Periodic Table of Elements had been hanging over my bench on my "inspiration board" for over a year. Everyday I'd glance at it pondering both mysterious elements (Y-Yttrium ??), as well as the familiar Fe-Iron. I've always loved it's utilitarian design. The Periodic Table was a friendly and intriguing companion, for which I had no clear plan. I just liked it.

Last spring, I asked a close, trusted, brilliant scientist friend of mine if there was something she'd like to see in the new collection. Slightly exasperated she replied, "Oh man, I don't know... I'm NOT creative... ask me about the Periodic Table and I could tell you something..."

WOAH, Did she just say PERIODIC TABLE? Yes she did.

She then added, "Please don't be mad at me, I'm just not creative like that..."

Mad? NO - I'm amazed, thrilled... I'm delighted.

I immediately emailed a photo of my "inspiration board" and explained how I've been geeking out on the chart for over a year and I now know why. THANK YOU. That's it - the Periodic Table of Elements.

She laughed and said, "Make Fe-Iron, make it for Iron woman".
Of course. Done.

It's now Thanksgiving. The Periodic Table of Elements debuted. My Fe-Iron woman friend has given me more than I could ever thank her for. She is wickedly funny, witty, insightful, and endlessly inspiring. She is also a warrior, a fighter like I've never seen. She's in a battle, and she will be undefeated. If anyone is Fe-Iron, it is her.

Thankful and so very grateful for the most elemental gift - a true friend.

Happy, healthy Thanksgiving to all.

Periodic Table of Elements

May 30, 2012

Remembering Lauren Runzel

Lauren Runzel
I met Lauren Runzel about 15 years ago in the GAP. For me, it was an "ah ha" moment. For her, a quick distracted conversation.

She was all that - tall, lanky, striking, wearing tight cropped jeans she cut off herself, old skool looking bowling shoes, a little tight jacket and tee. At the time she had a pixie cut and was hollering "Harrison!!!" to a curly haired dervish running wild in the store.

At the register I stared, unabashedly, unable to hide my instant girl-crush. I asked her how old he was, "He's two, the youngest of my 6 kids".  Me, "SIX?".  Lauren, "Yeah, I've never had this much fun, it's wild." Me, "Wow..."

I caught her name - Lauren.... that awesome Lauren woman.

Years later, we lived in the same town. I had three boys and became a jewelry designer. She, a former model, owned an incredibly hip (of course) boutique - GAVIN. I went in to sell her my work. She loved the line and ordered.

I was finally able to tell her about how I met her in the GAP 15 years ago, how she was an inspiration, how she was frenzied and yelling after a beautiful boy with floppy blonde curls... how she, in that quick exchange, made a lasting impression, and changed me in a subtle but significant way....

I might have held back a bit.... but she was so bold and out there herself it felt totally normal. And she liked hearing it....

And, she was stunning, and wearing a wig, and had just come from chemo, but you'd never have guessed it unless she told you.

Thinking of Lauren, her family, and the many others she changed, without even knowing it.

May 05, 2012

Adam James Sorensen's Midwest

Adam James Sorensen in the 18=chai=life
Musician. Singer. Song writer. Poet. Adam James Sorensen is awesome - and that's an understatement.

His magnificent new CD Midwest is the definition of lush melancholy. Think:  James Taylor meets Nick Drake - they go to a poorly lit coffee house and hang with Townes Van Zandt - hell yeah. Give a listen, it's like the fading but hopeful yellow light on the flat Midwest horizon.

A pensive, dark CD from a driven, ambitious optimist, uncompromising in his quest of a full, passion filled life.

No coincidence he wears 18=chai=life.  Honored.

Read a great review of Midwest here.
Listen on Jango.
Buy on iTunes or Amazon.