Thursday, December 23, 2010

Here's my most recent commission- a concert poster for Boulder-based rock 'n' roll band Rose Hill Drive's New Years shows. Since they'll be covering the White Stripes, I figured I would throw in a zebra for good measure.

Click on it to view a larger version.

Based out of San Francisco, Juxtapoz magazine is without question my paramount source for inspiration and education about what's happening in the ever-evolving world of low-brow or pop surrealist art. For this reason, I was incredibly excited to write a review for them of the super talented mixed media artist Robert Hardgrave's show "Relic," which recently opened in Denver at the David B. Smith gallery. I even managed to sneak into some of the photos. Read it and view it here!

"Born and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Boulder artist Jason García’s paintings still carry with them the edge and ferocity of the city. An accomplished artist on various fronts, García’s art has manifested everywhere from murals on city streets to fine art pieces hanging in downtown galleries. He can also take credit for being one of the founding pioneers of live painting, having toured with Sound Tribe Sector Nine for nearly a decade.

While these days it’s a common sight to see an artist onstage with a band, back when García started, the concept was virgin and unexplored. When he was first approached by a San Francisco band in 1998 to paint onstage, he had never heard of anyone doing such a thing."

Read the rest of my article on artist Jason García here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My most recent article on rock 'n' roll photographer Lisa Siciliano- read it

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seven years ago, in a small tent in the midst of a snowstorm in the Himalayas, climber and photographer Jonny Copp drafted the idea for the Adventure Film Festival on a handful of scratch paper. Since then, the idea has grown into an itnernational festival of independent films addressing everything from environmental activism to extreme sports.

“Adventure films are fun, both to watch and to make,” said photographer Vance Howard. “I think of it as being similar to our ancestral elders returning to the campfire from an ancient hunt for game and sharing stories of the journey. It’s the same idea now, only we have the glow of HDTVs replacing the sparks and embers of the campfire.”

Read the rest of my article on the Adventure Film Festival here.

For those of you aren't familiar with Boulder artist Bryce Widom, I highly recommend that you acquaint yourself with his work. Here's a review I wrote of his joint show with Colorado painter Tammi Otis at SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yoko Ono called me last week.

During a 15 minute interview about a touring show of John Lennon's artwork which was in Boulder for the weekend, Yoko and I talked about John's work as an artist and a musician, why his artwork wasn't taken seriously while he was alive, and the criticism she has received for adding color to some prints of his work.

Read the interview here and the corresponding story on the show here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Elephant Journal just published a short review I wrote of Buddhist teacher Andrew Holecek's most recent book, The Power and the Pain: Transforming Spiritual Hardship into Joy.

"As Holocek, a committed veteran of the Buddhist path, writes, “waking up hurts.” Yet it is during those times of collapse and crisis that we are presented with potent potential for transformation and realization."

Read the rest here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Being comfortable has never been one of the selling points of rock climbing. Between the ever-present ache of tight shoes, the exposure to the elements and the occasional torn and bloody fingertip, climbers are used to enduring a fair amount of suffering in pursuit of their passion. However, once that autumn chill touches the air and the snowflakes start to fall, even some of the most stalwart enthusiasts head to the gym rather than subject themselves to belaying in the cold."

Click here to read the rest of the article I wrote on the best places to climb in the winter in Colorado.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tattoo Time

About a month ago, as the end of September approached, I journeyed into Rising Tide Tattoo to get my most recent tattoo finished. During the year that had passed since I got the first part completed, my perception of my tattoo and my relationship to it has changed dramatically. I must admit that at first it was pretty startling to see the swirling designs of ink on my forearm every time I looked down, and the shock of making such a large and permanent change to my body definitely rattled my equilibrium. It seemed that the physical act of getting tattooed had ramifications that rippled through other seemingly unrelated areas of my life. Only hours after that first tattooing session, I experienced a profound and terrifying paradigm shift that ripped away many of the comfortable shrouds that I had erected between myself and ultimate reality. Although painful and scary at first, this shift proved to be the beginning of one of the most intense phases of growth I’ve experienced in my life thus far. Somehow, the simple physical act of being tattooed acted as a catalyst for this change.

When I returned to get my tattoo finished, I brought this phenomena up with Phil, the tattoo artist at Rising Tide. He said that he commonly hears similar stories of huge shifts in people’s lives and mentalities after being tattooed. I had begun to describe what I experienced in my life after being tattooed as feeling like some sort of initiation or rite of passage. Hearing that other people experienced a similar sensation made me curious about the role of tattooing through human history, and it’s seemingly latent potential for unlocking spiritual growth.

Many ancient cultures, such as the Egyptians, Persians, and Chinese, engaged in tattooing for spiritual purposes. Evidence of tattooing has been found as early as the Neolithic times- instruments that were most likely used for tattooing have been discovered at several archeological sites in Europe that were made from sharp bone needles and red ochre, which was used as the pigment to dye the skin. Ötzi the Iceman, a natural mummy dating from the fourth to fifth millennium BC who was preserved in a glacier in the Ötz valley in the Alps, had approximately 57 carbon tattoos consisting of simple dots and lines on his lower spine, behind his left knee, and on his right ankle. These tattoos were thought to be healing related because their placements correspond with acupuncture points.

Another well-preserved mummy, The Man of Pazyryk, a Scythian chieftain, has detailed tattoos of fish, monsters, dots and lines that are over 2,500 years old (shown below).

Many indigenous cultures throughout time and across the world have recognized the spiritual import of tattooing, and although I still don’t understand exactly how a simple physical act crosses over into the spiritual realm in such a profound way, my own experience states that it certainly does.

The significance of my tattoo, the flower Datura Solanaceae, also known as Moonflower or Jimson Weed, is multifarious. Regarded as a sacred plant by indigenous cultures in widespread places including North America, Central America, South America and Asia, Datura is a ceremonial, medicinal, and psychedelic flower that is as powerful as it is beautiful. Often associated with a dark feminine spirit, each Datura flower blooms once in the evening, releasing a potent citrus scent that is said to affect one’s dreams if inhaled before sleep. The famous American artist Georgia O’Keefe, one of my role models, paid homage to this plant in many of her paintings.

I grew up with Datura blooming in my yard, teaching me about the secret life of plants and imprinting it’s translucent and eerie beauty onto my psyche. The journey of turning that mental imprint into a physical one has been a shockingly transformative experience. I hope you enjoy the short video I put together to share the adventure!

Tattoo Time from Marisa Aragon Ware on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This is my first review as the Boulder Weekly's new art critic, focusing on the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's current exhibition. Read it here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My most recently published article highlights local award-winning outdoor adventure filmmakers Sender Films and the largest climbing film tour in the world, the Reel Rock Tour.

Read it here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Boulder Weekly just published an article I wrote about artist Martina Hoffmann (work pictured on the right). Read it here!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Numerous people have asserted that all of my drawings are self-portraits. I've always denied this, mainly because drawing myself over and over again has never been my intention when I put pencil to paper- plus it seems pretty narcissistic.

However, looking through some old sketch books, I noticed that when I had absurdly long hair, the women I drew would always have hair flowing past their hips or into the sky. When I was contemplating shaving my head, suddenly all the women were bald. As my hair has grown out over the past two years, after being shorn closely to my skull, the cast of females populating my art has gone through an ever-changing style of hair-dos that seem to match my own.

But wait! I haven't always been so self-absorbed! Check out this drawing, done right before I turned five. Everyone seems to think it's a cat, but no, it's obviously a unicorn wearing a bikini and leg-warmers standing in a field of tulips under a rainbow. Obviously. You can see the beginnings of my manic obsession to detail in the ecstatic rays of the frighteningly cheery sun. I clearly remember holding my breath in concentration while drawing all those semi-straight attempts at parallel lines with the yellow marker in my chubby hand.

Still, I can't claim that my most recent two drawings aren't at least partially autobiographical. They might not look like me, but the emotions expressed in each are particular feelings that I've been blessed to experience as of late.

The first, which I finished a week or two ago, is called "The Flora and Fauna of Forgetting." It depicts the patience it takes to let go, the process of healing, and the grace of surrender.

The next drawing, a small one on cardboard that I finished today, is called "The Placid Pollination." It also portrays patience, but this time it's the patience and trust it takes to plant the seeds of one's intentions and goals and wait for them to manifest.

Thanks for reading and viewing... I encourage you to click on the images to see the detail, and to leave comments if you have any feedback.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I've always had a deep love of thunderstorms. The palpable vibrancy in the air when lightning strikes, and the trembling reverberation of sound waves as thunder follows, always inspired a kind of hypnotized wonder and stillness in my heart and mind.

On the other hand, a thunderstorm when you're on an exposed peak or alpine climb can incite far less pleasant sensations- fear, panic, terror... though I admit that even in such dangerous situations I still feel an undeniable fascination with the power and peril of lightning.

Perhaps that explains why twice in the last month I've found myself in such a circumstance- watching a heavy, dark storm rapidly approach as my stomach sunk and adrenaline tightened my veins. Both times I was too exposed, too high up, and too scared to enjoy the storm.

The first storm occured two weeks ago when I hiked three 13,000 foot peaks- Mt. Ypsilon, Mt. Chiquita, and Mt. Chapin- in Rocky Mountain National Park with my friend Katie.

The day started off with blue skies and promises of good weather. We quickly ascended the three peaks, enjoying the cold winds of fresh, thin air and the hoards of marmots at the summits.

Check out the marmot camouflaged among the rocks- he's looking for a snack!

As amusing as the marmots were, we soon noticed a massive formation of dark clouds that had previously been hidden from view. Deep rumbles of thunder swept across the steep incline of broken rocks, resonating in our bones.

...the storm approaches....

Up at 13,000 feet, hours above tree-line, there was nowhere to seek shelter from the hissing rain or increasingly frequent flashes of lightning. We decided to make a break for it, running down wet and slippery shifting rocks, cringing each time we saw light tear across the darkened sky. The storm lingered over us for an hour, soaking us with rain and chilling us with whipping gusts of wind, but it granted us safe passage down the hills and let us pass unscathed.

vibrant alpine wildflowers and dark rain clouds

The next week, on another day that began with clear skies and bright sun, I woke up early to climb the Third Flatiron in Boulder with Katrina, my dear friend since age 5.

-our route-

The route we chose was very casual- seven pitches of 5.6- easy, enjoyable climbing in the sunshine with an old friend.

the view to the East from 1,000 feet...

... and to the North.

When we were a couple hundred feet from the summit, the air shifted so slightly it was almost imperceptible, but my senses made note. The soft breeze that had flowed over us all day dropped several degrees in temperature and began to blow stronger as the air that had smelled like warm rock and dry dirt took on the subtle scent of moisture. I looked up to see the first dark cloud roll over the peak.

We started climbing faster. When we reached the top, the murky clouds were spread across the sky like a heavy down blanket, yet the rain hadn't begun. We were hopeful of a dry descent until we reached the repel anchors, where a man was trying to convince his frightened girlfriend (who had never repelled before) to step over the ledge and lower herself on the rope. As he tried not to lose his patience, she whimpered and delayed, and Katrina and I looked nervously at the lightning that had begun to break.

We waited, 1,000 feet off the ground, with at least twenty pounds of metal gear strapped to ourselves as lightning spread like luminous tree roots closely over our heads. We started to get a little stressed.

Katrina reacts to a startling flash of lightning

Eventually, the terrified girlfriend was convinced to repel, and we followed quickly after. Reaching the ground, we raced down the trail, ignoring the rain and laughing happily at another lucky escape.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fresh art!

Over my many years of drawing, sketching, illustrating, and doodling, I've been asked repeatedly by those viewing my art, "How long did that take you?"

My answer has been, more often than not, an unsatisfactory, "I really don't know... two hours? Three days?" Time elapses at such a different rate with such a distinct tenor and texture when I'm doing art that hours skate by unnoticed or moments dilate for much longer periods than they are normally alloted.

Another question I often get is "Where did you come up with that?" to which I have a similarly paltry response. Most of my images arrive from a place I can't pin down, without any planning or participation on my part. I'm usually surprised by the peculiarity of what just came through my hand, out the pencil, and onto the paper.

In order to rectify my years of deficient answers to these questions, I decided to film myself doing a totally unplanned sketch. I figured that this would better explain my creative process than I ever could with words.

Afterwards, I noticed how unlike my other recent drawings this little doodle was- it seems to me to represent the act of creation, with a sperm and egg joining on the bottom, and a human hand blooming from the mandala towards the top. I had to appreciate the irony that in trying to illuminate my creative process, I intuitively drew the process of creation.

Here are two other small scale, quick pieces that I've finished in the last few days... enjoy! And as always, thanks for allowing me to share with you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Art and Architecture at The Getty

The best part of being in L.A. (besides seeing my 94-year-old grandmother and hearing stories about her father getting his arm cut off by a table saw in South Africa) was visiting The Getty Museum.

While the paintings inside the buildings were inspiring (especially the Jean-Léon Gérôme exhibit) the architecture, gardens, and outdoor sculptures were, in my mind, the superlative aspect of the museum.
I aimlessly wandered the manicured paths of the gardens and took a lengthy nap beneath the shade of some flowering bougainvilleas.

During my slumber, I had strange dreams of bronze humans strolling through floating gardens amidst checkerboard skies. I awoke in a daze, drove through the smog and traffic of the freeway to the airport, only to find myself back in the cool, wafting breeze of a Colorado night just hours later. I went to sleep happy and pleased and continued to dream...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Six days in Yosemite

The Miwok Indians, the original inhabitants of Yosemite, called the verdant valley Ahwahnee or "mouth" because of it's resemblance to a gaping bear's mouth. Once the home to grizzly bears and grey wolves, Yosemite now sees around 4 million visitors a year.

My first visit to the valley was facilitated by my friend Joody, who has spent the last six years in Yosemite as a park ranger. I felt very blessed to have someone who knew all the secret paths that led away from the swarms of overweight tourists in their rented RVs. We spent the majority of the week hiking off-trail to hidden swimming holes and remote waterfalls.

Every spring, the rivers and waterfalls surge with water as the snow melts from the high country. According to Joody's ranger friends, this spring has brought a particularly bountiful volume of snow melt, resulting in extremely turbulent rivers, swelling waterfalls, and flooding of usually dry meadows. Here I am swimming in the sun-warmed pools in El Cap meadow, which is normally covered only in grass.

You can see the blades of wild grass beneath the reflection of the granite cliffs... it was soft on the feet and tickled when you swam over it.

Another view from a dryer part of the meadow...

Here you can see the flooded meadows from the top of the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral, an eleven pitch 10c climb I did with two French men I fortuitously met, Julien and Xavier.

Here is Middle Cathedral, considered one of the 50 classic climbs in North America, as seen from across the valley on El Cap. The 1100 foot route goes up the mid-left section of the cliff, descending behind the mountain on several repels and a long, exhausting field of scree populated by aggressive mosquitoes.

Here is Julien starting the crux pitch- a sloping slab with microscopic holds- my favorite kind of climbing.

Here's a close up of the intricate beauty of the granite- something I spent a long time observing while hanging at belays.

Another phenomena I spent most of the day observing was the wild, anomalous clouds, including these radiating spires coming from behind El Cap, and this corkscrew cloud that appeared to be shooting out of a spire across the valley.

The climb was a success, so two days later we decided to try something much more challenging- a route called Free Blast, the first ten pitches on the Salathé Wall, one of the original technical climbing routes on El Cap. Royal Robbins referred to the Salathé Wall as "the greatest rock climb in the world;" it's also included in the 50 classic climbs of North America.

I hesitantly agreed to come along, knowing full well that I was signing up for a day of suffering, fear, and challenge.

We started climbing a little after 6 am, beginning the first pitch of 10c finger crack as the sun broke over the trees. A novice crack climber, I groveled my way up the first pitch, grunting and sweating as my anxiety about my ability to complete the climb grew from mild hesitation to intense preoccupation. When I reached the first belay, I asked as casually as possible, between panting breaths, if I could see the route description. What I thought was going to be a climb of six pitches of 10c was actually going to be ten pitches of 11b. Shit. That'll teach me to do my homework.

Determined not to make Free Blast the third multi-pitch route that I've had an emotional breakdown on, I kept my qualms to myself and endured the freezing wind intermingled with broiling sun on the 100-million-year-old rock. By the time we reached the eighth pitch, a supposedly 5.8 chimney that was one of the hardest pitches of climbing I've ever done due to my lack of chimney-know-how, I was falling asleep while hanging at the belay. Here is Xavier traversing the roof, about to begin the chimney of DOOM!!

Eventually, we finished the route as the sun descended behind the valley walls. Rather than using words to explain how I felt at the end of the day, I think these two intricately related images will suffice:

Battered and sore, the next day, Joody and I hiked on hidden trails through mist and moss to the prolific Yosemite falls...

...coming to the rainbow at the end of the trail, springing from the spray of the falls over the edge of the cliff.

At the end of the day, we descended into a secret cave, squeezing our way through the pitch black, muddy passages of rock and stone, and somehow spotting this snake eating a frog in the light of our headlamps on the way out. Whoo!!

Yesterday I said to farewell to the magical peaks of Yosemite, including Half Dome- the 87-million-year-old monolith of granite, which the Miwoks called T’ssiyakka, or crying girl, because of its resemblance to a weeping woman's profile.

Next stop... Los Angeles.

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