February 2017: The Year of the Red Rooster

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The rooster. The bird that is known to call when the sun rises to announce to us that a new dawn has arrived. He crows to proclaim that a new beginning has come and that we have been granted a fresh start. As we swing into the Year of the Red Rooster, Heninger Village Art Studio stirs with activity. Our community generous partners, the Pacific Symphony, have invited us to participate in their 2nd Annual Lantern Festival, and the students are decorating their lanterns in preparation for their upcoming display at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

With Joe’s calming “Ocean Sounds” spinning in the boom box and the coffee pot brewing, we painted our lanterns with various images and motifs as we thought about our hopes for the Lunar New Year. We then painted the Chinese symbols for those things that we wished for. Some of the calligraphic symbols that adorned their lanterns included hope, courage, faith, strength, longevity, love, energy, patience, and fortune. Yes, more of all those things, please!

 Young Parker and Peter prepare their lanterns for the  Lantern Festival , using traditional Chinese and Vietnamese images of nature. For the upcoming year, Peter hopes for  L  ongevity  and paints its Chinese character on his lantern.

Young Parker and Peter prepare their lanterns for the Lantern Festival, using traditional Chinese and Vietnamese images of nature. For the upcoming year, Peter hopes for Longevity and paints its Chinese character on his lantern.

 The Chinese character for  Longevity

The Chinese character for Longevity

 Maria, Parker, and I stand proudly under their lanterns at Segerstrom center for the arts

Maria, Parker, and I stand proudly under their lanterns at Segerstrom center for the arts

 Over 4,300 people came to celebrate the Lunar New Year with us!

Over 4,300 people came to celebrate the Lunar New Year with us!

The Rooster also has another reason to crow--to congratulate us for a very productive year as we conclude our first year in our Community Engagement + Grand Central Art Center artist-in-residence program! To celebrate a fantastic year of growth and community-building, team members gathered for dinner and an evening of art and togetherness. The room filled with chatter, laughter, and the smell of baked beans and fresh salsa. It was an exhibition opening of sorts; we proudly displayed the Villagers' works for all to appreciate. 

To continue our celebration of Vietnamese/Chinese New Year, we also decorated some beautiful white silk scarves with our own designs.  

 Beautiful ms. Rose renders a beautiful rose on her silk scarf

Beautiful ms. Rose renders a beautiful rose on her silk scarf

 Grand Central Art Center, Community Engagement, and Heninger Village Art Studio artists and team members celebrating a most successful year of community building through the arts! Salud! 

Grand Central Art Center, Community Engagement, and Heninger Village Art Studio artists and team members celebrating a most successful year of community building through the arts! Salud! 

 

A bit of interesting history about silk:

The history of silk-making dates back 6,000 years. Made from the protein fibers of the silkworm cocoon, the earliest example of silk fabric dates back to 3,630 BC and was discovered in Henan, a province in Central China’s Yellow River Valley that is widely recognized as the place where Chinese civilization originated.

By about 400 BC, silk was exported along the Silk Road routes, but soon after, various kingdoms and imperial dynasties kept the methods of silk production secret for another thousand years. Silk might have been one of the most zealously guarded secrets in history. Its production methods were so secretive, that anyone found smuggling silkworm eggs, cocoons, or mulberry seeds was put to death. 

In Ancient China, the material was so valuable that silk garments were only to be worn by royalty.

 

And here we are today, drawing on silk scarves with sharpie markers as we feast on tacos. 

 Claudia poses with a smile that glows even brighter than the blossoms drawn on her silk scarf

Claudia poses with a smile that glows even brighter than the blossoms drawn on her silk scarf

***

 

The (red) rooster crows. The early bird gets the (silk) worm. Can we keep taking about birds?

Every evening here in Orange County, around 5pm, hundreds upon hundreds of green parrots soar over our neighborhood, squawking wildly as if they’re trying to call back the sun as it sets into the Pacific. When I hear our feathered neighbors cackle overhead on Friday evenings, I know it’s time. I have about one hour to freshen up, brew some coffee, grab my cart, pack up some supplies from the studio, and pick up food for class, before walking two blocks over to the Villagers. I stride past the near-century-old brick, dart across 1st Street's busy intersection, march under the canopies of eucalyptus, and through the friendly poppy-lined sidewalks, arriving at Heninger Village Art Studio were meaningful art and lovely relationships develop. Joe will have his newest mix on repeat—perhaps his own covers of top 40 favorites, or meditative sounds of nature, or some sultry blues or jazz, or sometimes he comes with his guitar to sing us some newly written original song, or perhaps an oldie that he dug up in his files from the 1970's.

With music streaming all around us, we began our work with birds, utilizing an array of media. We began color blocking with tissue paper, and then layered with paint, ink, and whichever materials we were inspired to incorporate. It was magical to watch them come to life. First a square of periwinkle. Then some dapples of blue. Then some stokes of red. And then some lines to define form. They really enjoyed the patient process and made some exquisite pieces! 

 Parker works on color-blocking

Parker works on color-blocking

 Joe is notorious for pushing his boundaries. Here, he creates a colorful landscape for his bird who is "enjoying the sunset after a long day". 

Joe is notorious for pushing his boundaries. Here, he creates a colorful landscape for his bird who is "enjoying the sunset after a long day". 

 

And so we pay homage to the birds this month.

These creatures that symbolism of liberation, flight, movement and ascension.

 

 Terri's bird painting with accompanying haiku

Terri's bird painting with accompanying haiku

 

 

Bird approaches close

Nature knows no division

Tree greets without thought

 

 

- Haiku by Terri Rohmer

 Sometimes the parrots leave gifts behind for us.

Sometimes the parrots leave gifts behind for us.

 

**Take flight, friends. The sky has no limit for us.**