Thursday, September 8, 2011

more new pieces for the petaluma art is you show...

   I have been busy making all sorts of new jewelry for the "Art is You" show in Petaluma..  this is going to be a very picture heavy blog entry with the briefest descriptions possible. 

carved quartz pendant with sterling butterflies and two strands of pearls...

"queen of hearts" neck piece with brass chain and components...

old chinese coins w/ cathedral beads..

1 1/2 diameter brass gears with patina-ed clock parts, copper swirls and milagros...

thanks for looking!  hope to see you at the show..  i also will have several antique and hard to find items for very good prices... these include brass clock parts and plates, vintage handmade and tea dyed doilies, old photos and post cards, and lots of other goodies to make your next art piece out of. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

more neckpieces for the reArt show on august 7th and the petaluma show on september 18th

   I been busy making more neck pieces and earrings for both shows.  I will not be posting pictures of the earrings although i can say one set is called the magnetic milagros and some of the other pieces involve vintage glass chandelier parts.
  Neck-pieces are my favorite things to make.   This first one is called "Buddha's Bead" primarily because it has a rosewood Buddha bead dangling from blue 'white heart' beads and a large Chinese red bead with silver end caps.  The "daisy chain" is silver i also used a brass vintage button, patina-ed brass beads and more blue white hearts to finish off the piece.  It is approximately 16" long. 

    The third piece involves a small skeleton key and a flaming heart milagro both from my trip to San Miguel de Allende last winter.    It's a dainty piece made for the 'faint of heart'.  (sold)

  I hope to see you out there on Sunday.  I will be in good company I hear.  Food, music, lots of art and wine.  thanks for reading ... yona c. riel

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Neckpieces for the August 7th show in eugene and Petaluma show in september

    I am excited about the directions the neck pieces have taken over the past few months.  Following are some of my favorites.... below is a mostly sterling piece with a genuine tintype and clock-face...

The next piece is also made with a genuine tintype from the mid-1800's.  It is set with brass clock parts..
Next are two neck pieces made using altered mexican tin art set with cameos and beads..

The next piece is made using a genuine skeleton key, a clock gear and an old watch.  It is set with glass and amber beads...
Then there is the sterling filigree butterfly set with the matching earrings, frosted glass beads and lime  glass disks for some color...
The last three are made of clock parts also although they are very different from each other. First one is made using a genuine clock gear and the chain that drove that gear.  It is set with a small skeleton key using buttons, milagros and beads in the chain..
This next one is the insides of an old pocket watch set in a sterling filigree bezel...

And lastly a moon shaped brass clock piece set with a gear and a milagro.  The dangle is a brass piece set with a black stone. 

Hope I see you out on the park blocks in Eugene or at the show in Petaluma in September.   Thanks for reading... Yona C. Riel

Monday, June 13, 2011

recent artwork... please vote for the one you like best...

     On August 7th, 2011 I will be having my next show.  It will be a booth at the ReArt festival put on by Next Step Recycling, a cool place that recycles computers and gets them into the hands of those who cannot afford them.  Next Step does way more 'community service' than I can list on this blog so if your interested go here:
     The festival will be held out in the park blocks at the same place that Saturday Market is held the day before.  I am busily designing and making bizarre and exciting neck-pieces, some with a steampunk flair to them, others Mexican influenced and some influenced by 'random finds'.
    I am posting the pictures in hopes that you will choose one that speaks to you, helping me get a sense of what YOU want and/or like.   
     The first piece is made mostly of brass clock parts with a milagro and a skeleton key thrown into the mix.
    The chain once ran the gear that serves as the central piece.  In the center of that gear is a steam punk button hand manufactured by an artistic soul who sells on Ebay.

     The second piece was inspired by a rusty old washer I found on a walk with a friend.  She said she had found it a few days earlier and threw it back thinking I might find it on our walk together.  Indeed I did.
    I adhered a brass gear to the turquoise disk.  Then I laced the disk to the washer and added a rose button to fill the hole.  The blue beads in neck piece are brass that has been tarnished and the clear frosted glass beads are from an antique necklace.  On the back, because i wanted to make it pretty too there is an old Chinese coin that fits over the center hole.

    The next piece I designed while in San Miguel de Allende this past January and February.  I had gone there looking for old skeleton keys and resin skulls.  The only place I have found these skulls is in the Zocalo in Mexico City when there is an event going on. 

    Like in Mexico if I use a skull or something else that signifies death I will also work in something that signifies life.  In this piece the two silver heart beads signify life and the skeleton key symbolizes the catalyst between life and death.

    The last piece is inspired by Mexican tin art, some of which I found in San Miguel.  This piece has a tin winged heart, textured and painted.  On the bottom I drilled a hole for the equal armed turquoise cross that I bought at a art sale in San Miguel.
   I also added an old Chinese coin to this piece and added a blue and silver spinner bead for the bottom of the cross. 
   These are the basic designs I been working on and you will help me immensely if you would vote for which one you like the most.  Assume they all cost the same amount of money and the only thing guiding you in your vote is personal taste.  You can leave comments either on Facebook or on the blog itself.  Looking forward to your feedback...  xo  yona c. riel

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The day MOM came back (aka Yona's birthday blog)

     Before my brain injury I was a mind reader, a multitasker, an excellent speller and a sharp-witted, cynical, confrontational, over-achieving bitch.  If you have ever watched Grey's Anatomy I would most resemble the character Christina Yang (played by Sandra Oh).   I stopped at nothing to get what I wanted.
    Women like me are seldom liked and even more rarely loved.   (I am in awe of Rachel Maddow (another over-achieving, opinionated, confrontational woman) and often fantasize about her, but could I really live with such a high powered, opinionated personality?  Probably not.)
    I got these attributes from my father, both genetically and through his behavior.  His sperm produced all males excepting myself.  He saw himself as the Supreme Alpha Male.  Smart women learn young to cozy up to the alpha male or in my case become an alpha female.  I excelled in school and could beat the crap out of any boy who pissed me off.
   One day when I was in fourth grade I was walking home from school with my best friend Dorothy.  She was from Yugoslavia and had both an unusual look (read: not an American) and different way of speaking.  Her skin was naturally darker than everyone else and even at such a young age she had dark peach fuzz growing below her nose and along the sides of her face.  Her mother spoke only in their native Slavic language. 
   It was a beautiful sunny day as Dorothy and I meandered home talking about the band we had in her garage.   Suddenly from behind Dennis Burks squeezes his way in between us.  Then, in an effort to get next to me, he did the stupidest thing anyone has ever done and pushed my Dorothy down a little hill that ran along the side of the road.  I was so pissed that I tackled him, then threw him to the ground.   Sitting on his chest with my fist ready to punch him in the face,  I yelled, "don't you ever touch Dorothy again or I will punch your f***ing lights out". 
   That was the last fight I ever won with a boy.  Less than a year later I started developing breasts and began my period.   The boys suddenly got stronger and taller and I ended up more bruised and damaged than they did after a fight.  Once several of them ganged up on me and threw me in the boy's bathroom.  Belligerent and pissed I came out swearing like a sailor only to run into the principle of the school.  I was suspended for 3 days. 
   Jump forward 45 years during which time I have survived living on the streets, bootcamp and the marine corps, college, jail and eventually a long-term job.   My unique combination of alpha femaleness and survivor's instinct guided me through the rough spots and though I took what I now consider to be alarming risks, I survived.  
    After years of therapy I named one of those instinctual voices in my head 'Mom'.   She was with me when I cried, when I lost someone and when I felt hopeless.   She answered my incessant questions day after day, (unlike my real mother who would say "go figure it out for yourself").  She helped place the pieces of a collage in just the right configuration and could be counted on with 100% accuracy to find things I had misplaced.   Best of all she was always there.  My own private angel.

    But immediately following the brain injury I had NO voices in my head.  Not 'Mom' or any of the other 'gauds' I attributed my creativity to.  There were no pictures of things that needed to be 'born'.  Nothing.  Just a terrifying blank screen.  When I wasn't being terrified by the blankness of that screen, I would joke that there was a large black hole in between my ears filled with a pool of tears.  My knack for inappropriate comments seemed to be the only thing that had improved. 

     On one day early in my recovery a strange man walked into my room and announced, "Hello, my name is Dr. Hacker.  I am filling in for Dr. McGurr while he is on vacation.  Do you have any questions you would like to ask about your brain surgery?"  "Yes", I said, "What ever possessed you to become a brain surgeon with a name like Dr. Hacker?"   He quickly left without answering and that was the only time I saw him during my 30 day stay at Sacred Heart.  
     For months after I got home it was impossible to find misplaced things.   Worst still was my inability to make art.  The best that I could do was to collect things,  put them in baggies and hang them on the wall.  
     Multitasking tired my brain so quickly that if two people talked at the same time or the radio was playing music and someone was talking to me,  I quickly became confused then irritable.   I yearned for the day when Mom's voice would return helping me to find lost things again and guide me through the creative process.  I waited for more than a year, crying to my therapist in my weekly session that I had lost my imagination and would never again make art. 
    By August 2009 I had been volunteering at MECCA for a year.  The first Object Afterlife show was coming up in September.  I had already paid my fee to participate and been giving 3 plastic, wall thermometers (the kind one uses to turn the heat up or down in a house).   It was getting very close to the time to turn my creation in and I still hadn't made a thing. 
   One day I was in the back hall clearing a pathway to get through.  There was an old brass lamp with a pathetic shade on it sitting in a pile 'of stuff'.  (MECCA had and still has tons of 'stuff'.) 
   Suddenly I felt the presence of Mom and I began to visualize that lamp shade as a skirt.  So enthralled was I that I strapped that lamp onto the back of my bike and once I got home began to work immediately on what became my piece "The Resurrection of Yo". 

      She has death on her head and the skull of a small dog in her back.  She also has flowers and birds representing life.  For me the piece became both a container for my soul and proof that I would once again rise from the ashes of a near death trauma and create art.  
      'Mom', my muse and caregiver had not abandoned me after all.  
     I have been back just over three years now and my friends tell me I am not the over-achieving alpha bitch I used to be, but a kinder, gentler version of myself.  I died as Christina Yang (in Grey's Anatomy) and came back as Meredith Grey.  
    Thank 'the gauds' and 'Mom' for giving me my imagination back.  And thanks to my many friends who have loved me through this crazy thing we call Life.   And Happy Birthday me... 'every day above ground is a good one'.    yona c. riel

Monday, January 31, 2011

my mexican love affair...

     For many years, at least since the early 1990's, I have wanted to come to San Miguel de Allende, a 'gringo artist community' in the mountains four hours to the east and north of Mexico City.   It was the large Hispanic community in San Fransisco and their celebration of Dios de los Muertos that convinced me 'one day I will go to San Miguel de Allende'.
     Jump forward 20 years to 2011 and I have finally arrived.  20 years of fantasies and expectations can easily ruin a place and from the moment I got off the bus San Miguel has not been what I expected.
   Although it IS technically Mexico, (taken over by gringos since the 1930's), I assumed I could ask any Mexican a question in English and they would understand what I was asking for.  Wrong! 
   The moment I got off the bus, exhausted after 4 hours of Mexican scenery, one bag across each shoulder like a pack mule, I start walking up a very busy street in a not very nice part of town.  I have to find the Starbucks so I can access my wifi to find the address of the place I am staying at.  After walking several hundred yards and feeling like this may be a very bad idea I ask the first guy I see who happens to be Mexican, "Where is the Starbucks?" I ask, fully aware he must be rolling his eyes thinking 'another f***ing gringo just off the bus'.  Quickly he answers with his hands and in broken English, "You see the fence there?  Just up past that".   I walk another two hundred yards and realize this can't be right.  Tired and grumpy I hail the first cab I see and ask him to take me to Starbucks. 
   I have spent entire days pointing to things and looking up words on my I-Phone English-Spanish translator trying to communicate what it is I wanted to say.  Often in return, I have gotten blank stares and strained laughter, frustrating me to the point of tears.
    One night I was looking for a bottle of wine and not knowing the whereabouts of a store I began to go into bars along 'El Jardin' asking 'can you sell me a bottle of vino blanc?'  "Cuanto Questa?" I would say and the prices varied from 180 pesos to 520 pesos depending on the bar.  I went into a bar called "Beer and Fun".  Three younger white guys were playing pool and a young Mexican woman was serving drinks. A Nirvana song blared throughout the place while the balls on the pool table made that familiar sound as they rolled into each other.  I asked the young lady in my chopped up, brain damaged gringo Spanish,  "Cuanto questa para un botela de vino blanco".  In perfect English without so much as an accent she says to me "180 pesos". 
    'I am desperate but not that desperate',  I think to myself and walk out continuing my search of El Jardin for a cheap bottle of white wine.  Finally I arrive at a store that sells every kind of liquor on the planet.  'Bingo' I think to myself.  But once inside I quickly discover there is no white wine in the whole store.  'What is it with Mexicans and white wine?'  I am wondering to myself.  By this point my level of desperation has peaked along with my fouling mood.   I ask the kid working the store in broken Spanish where can I get a bottle of white wine?  Taking pity on me and without a word he points across the street to a small but well stocked wine, beer and liquor store.
   Tired and weary I walk across the street and ask once again for a bottle of inexpensive white wine.  Fortunately the old guy who owned the place spoke enough English so that I didn't have to navigate any more Spanish.  (I only have so many brain cells per day and I had used them all up).  So happy was I that I gladly paid 69.50 pesos for a bottle of Chilean white wine.
    Despite my frustration in those first few days most of the Mexican people I have dealt with are much more kind and patient than Americans.  For instance though there are way too many cars on the cobblestone streets (that were never intended for vehicular traffic) and the sidewalks are too narrow to allow two people of normal size to pass each other, someone always goes out of their way to let the other pass.
     Have I mentioned that there are no stop signs or traffic lights in the entire city?  And yet, I have not once, in the month that I have been roaming the streets witnessed a single accident.  Though a street may be a parking lot of cars at certain hours, I have never felt hostility from the drivers as I weave between them.   In comparison to drivers in American towns the people in San Miguel must have the patience of saints.   It is rare that I even hear a horn while they sit gridlocked in traffic.
     Not that anyone is perfect.  In comparison to Oaxaca I do feel some contempt from the Mexicans towards me, a non-Spanish speaking gringo.  (I can just hear them thinking  'Your in my country the least you can do is learn the language!')   I try everyday when I go into Starbucks to figure out how to say a '16 oz hot black tea with cold soy milk, please' in Spanish.  And everyday I am prodded in Spanish, "Esta? or Esta?".  Sometimes the order comes out wrong and I am flustered thinking  "It's Starbucks for fucks sake! I come here everyday! You should know my order by now!" 
    There is only one young lady named Arili who has even bothered to introduce herself and remember my face.  Such relief I feel when she takes my order that I always tip her my change.   Each day I practice a little Spanish on her and she practices a little English on me.   We kindly correct each other when what we have said isn't right.  She is my little saint in San Miguel for without her I get lost in a sea of Spanish words that just don't translate. yona c. riel

Sunday, January 30, 2011

San Miguel de Allende

    A lot happened in San Miguel de Allende on January 23rd.  Most importantly it was the birthday of Senor Ignacio Allende, the man who fought for Mexican independence in 1810 and who the town is partially named after.  I went down into El Jardin only to find a huge orchestra playing classical music.  This is not what I was expecting.  It was crowded and calm, the kids playing with their shadows in the church courtyard while their parents sat in the hundreds of chairs placed before the stage listening to Beethoven, Bach and other classical composers.
   Being at least half kid myself, I laid on the ground and shot the church making it look as if it was curved rather than straight and minus the cross on top.
       Skip forward two weeks and I am back in El Jardin, only this time it is around 5pm and it's still 80 degrees outside.   Most days the sky is an expanse of blue in every direction one looks.  Today however there are wispy little "cloud-letts" momentarily covering the sun. 
    It is Saturday afternoon and most the people sitting out here in El Jardin are hispanic.  They range from toddlers to teenagers to barely living 'little old ladies'.
    The toddlers are playing with simple toys as their parents watch close by.  The teenagers stroll in groups of either all girls or boys back and forth and around the boundaries of El Jardin.  The barely living little old ladies and men crawl from place to place propped up with canes or walkers. 
    A gringa who really wanted this man to look into the face of her camera for a few pesos had me feeling sorry for the old guy.  He just looked further down into his chest as she knelt in front of him trying to get a shot of his face.  The old man doing his best to ignore Ms. Gringa continued making his way across El Jardin until she finally abandoned her task.   
    A little girl with red tights and a black and white stripped dress ran out in front of me chasing a pigeon then got distracted by a 3 legged dog sitting with the gringa beside her and her parents. 
   Suddenly a Mariachi band starts up in the pizza restaurant to the east of the church and the family sitting next to me starts singing along with them.
  Just as suddenly the church bells start ringing letting all know it's 6pm.
  The minute the sun dropped out of the sky the temperature dropped too.  By 6:30 I was getting cold so I went into Starbucks to try and write this blog.  Technical difficulties made me move to an interesting restaurant around the corner called 'Los Milagros'.  It is filled with art, both large "milagros" and the three dimensional tin box art that I love.

    I ordered my usual house salad with chicken and a glass of white wine while listening to a lovely older man serenade the customers with Mexican songs.  After an hour I went back out to El Jardin and discovered both that it was dark and that I wasn't as cold as I had been the hour previous.  There was supposed to be a light show on the church at 9:15 pm and I didn't want to miss it.
    Once I was back outside there was a cacophony of different dramas taking place.  An entire group of 20 somethings were being entertained by a Mariachi band.  Many were singing along while one young man serenading the rest of the group with hilarious theatrical antics. 

    At the same time there was a group of young men competing with each other in a form of street dancing.   There is a video on my facebook page here:  (it is the first video you see called Jesus)!/ycriel

    Also happening in the cacophony of El Jardin on this warm Saturday night was a group of actors and singers doing silly songs.  You can see that video at the same link above only scroll down the page to the second video. 
    Lastly there is one more video on that page that shows the last 3 minutes of the light show on the church.  It was a spectacular display complete with gregorian music that overtook the cacophony of El Jardin for 15 whole minutes.
     This doesn't happen every night in El Jardin but this week in a religious holiday called "Candelaria".  Apparently after the virgin gave birth she was cleansed and rose up into the heavens with her virginity intact.  The festival de la Candelaria celebrates this with a week long plant sale in Pargue Juarez, the ringing of the church bells all over town and day long dances in El Jardin complete with 15 minute light shows at 9:15 every night.
   In Mexico it seems people love to come together to sing and dance...  yona c. riel