Monday, March 30, 2015

Kite Festival in Hermann Park

“For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

This past Sunday was magical day in Hermann Park as thousands of kite enthusiasts of all ages came together for the Second Annual Houston Kite Festival.  There is something so surreal about watching thousands of ribbons, tissue, paper, and string lift into the air. As they bob and dive, you almost forget that YOU are holding the string. 

Kites have a long and rich history with the first written documentation being around 200BC in China when General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty used a kite to measure the distance necessary to dig a tunnel from his army to inside the walls of an enemy castle. From China, the love of kites spread and discovered a wide variety of uses.  In 7th century Japan, monks flew kites to avert evil spirits; in 15th century India,  kites aided lovers in delivering secret messages. The Italian explorer Marco Polo carried stories of kites from the East back to Europe. And we all know about the fateful kite and key that led to the discovery of electricity by Benjamin Franklin.

Ode to Nasa

Kite Enthusiasts of all ages

The depiction of kites has been seen in Eastern and Western art alike. One of my favorite prints from the Edo period shows a countryside with fluttering kites with strings leading to unknown owners:
Utagawa Hiroshige II. "View of Akiba and Fukuroi-kite" (Enshû Akiba takkei Fukuroi-dako) from the series One Hundred Views of Famous Places in the Provinces (Shokoku meisho hyakkei), ca. 1859-1864. Color woodblock print, aiban, 13 in. x 9 in. Japanese Prints and Drawings: 1615-1912, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (94). (LC-USZC4-8505)

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a video of an installation by contemporary artist Jacob Hashimoto who has used kite design in his artistic practice for over a decade to create ethereal installations and sculptural paintings.

A Love Affair with Green

Houstonians are having a love affair with Green. We bike through Montrose. We run around Memorial. We picnic in Hermann. We kayak down the Bayou. When I moved to Houston, I had little clue of all the treasured green spaces I would find nestled into every corner of the city. Little by little, I found myself spending extended periods of time wandering through the Parks and Gardens for both inspiration and relaxation. As an artist, I use references to the natural world frequently in my work; plants spring up in paintings as backdrops to a larger narrative or as the main subject matter. Whatever the case, my studio usually looks something like a greenhouse. . .
Studio Plants (Please note: Don't be fooled.  I cross my fingers that my plants will stay alive long enough for me to complete a painting. Even cacti do not escape my wrath. )

With the revitalization of the Green Spaces around Houston, I became interested in documenting the Gardens and Parks around the city through photographs, sketches, and paintings for a full calendar year (April 2015 - April 2016). Additionally, I'll also share my research into the history of landscape design, significance of gardens in various cultures, and the ways in which plants and green spaces have been depicted in art and literature throughout history. Hopefully, my green thumb will develop along the way. Follow my journey as I become "The Bayou Botanist."  

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