I’ve done a lot of art collaborating in Japan via internet this year, thanks in great part to my art agent, Keisuke Era, who is also the director of Kurkku, an arts and environmental action center in the Harajuku district of Tokyo. Kurkku is funded by Artist Power Bank, a not-for-profit with impressive environmental protection projects like Pre Organic Cotton.
POC is an organization that approaches cotton farmers in India and offers to support them for the three years it takes to transition from petro-chemical agriculture to organic agriculture, inspect their farms to be sure the soil and plants are chemical-free and healthy, and then buy all the cotton they grow from that time onward. POC then approaches major clothing manufacturers and sells them organic cotton. Lee Jeans Japan made a line of women's jeans from POC’s organic cotton this past year, and when they did, I was hired to illustrate a booklet that was attached to each pair of jeans. (Major advantage: some villages in India no longer have carcinogens in their water supply and in the air surrounding their cotton fields.) Here's the cover of the booklet:
When Artist Power Bank (aka ap bank) held their annual summer rock festival in 2009, I was hired to design a jacquard towel and a t-shirt drawing as festival merchandise, and, of course, both were made of organic cotton.
Here is the 2010 festival towel, designed by Aiko Shiratori of Artist Power Bank, using a drawing she requested from me of a large flower (I made an Echinacea blossom). Keisuke said the festival looked like a field of yellow and blue flowers, so many of the attendees had them wrapped around their shoulders.
Kurkku’s merchandise designers, Miyumi Ichikawa and Yoshiko Takeuchi decided to have a traditional tenugui maker in Kyoto print some tenugui for them on Pre Organic Cotton’s fabric, and commissioned a design from me for it. They requested an image of a little girl playing in the woods. Here it is:
Here are my collaborators. The gentleman on the left is Keisuke Era. On the right side, in the red shawl is Kurkku's Miyumi Ichikawa and, to her left, Yoshiko Takeuchi. Next to them, in very dark blue, is Aiko Shiratori, who designed the merchandise for Artist Power Bank’s festival this year.
This is an information sheet on the tenugui. It explains that the image was printed in four different traditional colors: pine green, the brown of bamboo shoot, the yellow of “silver grass” and pink of a flower called “Sakichiku.”
A few blog posts ago, I promised that when the shawl and pouch I illustrated for Sony artist Yuki’s 2010 tour were available for viewing on line, I would share them with you. So I am happy to say, here they are!
This is the artist herself holding on her head a pouch shaped like one of my birds, printed with part of the illustration I made for the shawl that she described and I drew. It’s lined with lavender satin, and embroidered with metallic gold thread.
Here she is, wrapped in her own poetry and the images she suggested to me, in a long and lovely natural gauze shawl. The images on the shawl are from the poem (actually a song lyric) which she wrote in English, and which I wrote in my handwriting into the images on the shawl. As of today, October 26, 2010, the shawl has completely sold out.
Here’s the whole webpage, for closer inspection.
I realized tonight that this is the second time I've seen my drawings adorn a Japanese pop star. The first time was in 2007, when the duo Puffy Amiyumi was photographed for a teen fashion magazine, and one of them wore a Living on the Earth print dress by Aya Noguchi.
The autobiographical patchwork crazy quilt that I made between 1967 and 1974 will be on display in the lobby of the historic Mills Building in downtown San Francisco from October 18, 2010 to January 15, 2011 as part of a show called “Still Crazy,” which includes Victorian and 20th century crazy quilts, loaned by the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Deborah Corsini, curator at SJMQT, created the show. If you are in San Francisco, please come see it!
The piece is 8 feet high and 5 feet wide, and contains "guest embroideries" by author Ray Mungo and composer/author Ramon Sender, as well as a small piece by Santa Cruz quilter Charlotte Lyons, who lived at Wheeler Ranch commune when I was writing and illustrating Living on the Earth.
Curator Deborah Corsini wrote:
"Alicia Bay Laurel's crazy quilt is an excellent example of a 20th century crazy quilt from the decades of the 1960s - 1970s. It is composed of a multitude of irregularly shaped fabrics, many typical of the time period. There are large scale printed florals and smaller ditsy prints as well as embroidered and woven lace. Many of the blocks contain unique and personal appliqued and embroidered scenes. Some examples that clearly reflect on the universal (and astrological) themes that were of interest at the time are a God's eye and embroidered solar system, a bull (her sun sign), and a flying lion (for Leo rising in her natal chart.) Other blocks charmingly depict the Sausalito houseboat where she lived in 1967 and her guitar with "real" strings. Like the crazy quilts of the 19th century, the one is filled with symbolic and personal references, and clearly references the cultural influences that were surrounding her. Most importantly, this quilt has an embroidered date, 1967 - 1974, and an embroidered signature, Alicia bay laurel, which gives it true authenticity.
"...it is especially compelling because it is the authentic handiwork of a well-known woman, artist, author and creative spirit from that extraordinary 'hippie' time. Alicia Bay Laurel's crazy quilt is an excellent example of the continuum of the crazy quilt's evolution and is a singular artifact by a multi-talented artist as a part of her early creative output and rich legacy."
Here I am on the last day of the show, January 14, 2011 with my quilt. You might find a few differences between this one and the one at the photo at the top, which was taken in 2002. That's because the quilt suffered some damage in 2008 and has since been expertly restored by Karen Stern at her quilt and textile restoration studio in Berkeley.
What an amazing 11 weeks that was! I am resting up after my flight back to the USA and contemplating the joy and wonder of it all.
To read this schedule in JAPANESE, click HERE.
September 28 – 8:30 AM Teach art workshop for Fujino Steiner (Waldorf) High School. (Alas, this workshop was cancelled due to flash flood warnings closing the school system for the day.)
October 3 – 4 PM Concert at Studio M
Koganei, Tokyo 184-0013
The closest train station is Musashi Koganei on the Chuo line.
The house concert was a great success - standing room only! 77 happy attendees. Here's how it looked:
It was a fabulous and eclectic offering. At one point there was a taiko drum troupe, a belly dancer and an African dancer all performing together. Here's the finale piece in RabiRabi x Piko's set, with the belly dancer and the African dancer on stage with them:
October 22 and 23 Concerts at Yukotopia Deadheadsland
Yukotopia is a block from the Umejima train station, which you can reach via the Hibiya line from central Tokyo. Turn right when you exit the station. It's right across the street from the Star King Pachinko. The address is:
Adachi-ku, Tokyo 120-0816
There will be 3 or 4 other acts on before me (I go on last). Yukotopia is a cosy room with lots of psychedelic ambiance and welcoming friendliness. It has a full bar and offers some inexpensive entrees and snacks. People bring their kids sometimes. It hosts poetry readings on Saturday afternoons.
Here's the schedule for Friday, October 22 (5 solo artists):
19:00~19:40 Hiroshi Sawada(Pop music)
19:40~20:20 So Terui (Acoustic)
20:20~20:50 Huga Matsuyama(Acoustic)
21:30~22:30(or longer) Alicia Bay Laurel
Here I am on October 22, 2010, singing Floozy Tune at Yukotopia.
Here's the schedule for Saturday, October 23:
19:00~19:50 Tsumugine(Improvisational vocal performance)
19:50~20:50 Shinokuni(Pop music)
20:50~21:50 Howdy Moonshine(former members of Electric Building band)
21:50~22:50(or longer) Alicia Bay Laurel
Roku, the manager of Yukotopia, and I play "Ripple in Still Water" by the Grateful Dead to close my set.
October 29-31 “Happy Flower Seed Party” (spiritual retreat) at Donto-in, Tamagusuku, Okinawa hosted and lead by Sachiho Kojima. Unplugged Concert with RabiRabi x Piko, Lakita Kudomi, Sachiho Kojima and me on 10/29. I teach an art workshop on 10/31. Please contact me if you'd like to join us!
A typhoon postponed the outdoor concert at Hamabe No Chaya from 10/29 to 10/31, so we had an unplugged indoor candle light concert at Donto-in on the 29th in addition to the outdoor show on the 31st. Hamabe No Chaya is a tea house with windows looking out over a calm bay enclosed by a coral reef. The stage was actually erected on the sand below the high water line, at low tide. The first act was a wonderful Okinawan traditional singer, next Sachiho played her lyre and sang spiritual songs, then I played guitar and sang original songs, and last RabiRabi played and everyone else danced.
The workshop included Sachiho's sacred sites of Tamagusuku tour, this time augmented by the presence of Professor Hiroshi Nago, who has researched and written extensively about the Tamagusuku castle ruins. He brought a slice of a rare seashell that is found on the outside of the coral reefs in Okinawa, and showed us that the entire structure of the castle is based on the structure of this shell.
I lead the workshop participants in making visualization altars from found objects, including shells we picked at the beach. I was astonished, when each person shared after building his or her altar, how deeply we are all thinking and feeling after visiting the sacred sites of Tamagusuku.
Cafe Unizon's sophisticated and comfortable room has a big view of Ginowan city, with the ocean in the distance. They always have an art show installed, lots of great books for sale and excellent food. Sachiho (on electric bass), Yoko Nema (on harmonium) and I had a great time playing original songs together. Mingo Kazumi did an improvisational modern dance to my autobiographical song 1966. Yoko lead a yoga breathing session between the session in which I talked about my art and the session inwhich she and I and Sachiho performed. Mieda-san, the owner, invited me back for next year!
November 28 3 PM Concert at Alishan Organic Center
Komahongo 185-2 , Hidaka-shi,
Saitama-ken, Japan 350-1251
office phone +81-(0)429-82-4811
Alishan Organic Center is a beautiful building overlooking a river. It houses an organic food wholesale and retail company owned by Jack Bayles, and a cafe and event space, where art classes, healing classes, and other community events are held. If you shop for organic foods anywhere in Japan, you are likely to find their products. Alishan is named after a mountainous area in Taiwan, the birthplace of Jack's wife.
At 11 AM, Liane Wakabayashi will present her fascinating Genesis art workshop at Alishan, and at 3 PM I'll sing my songs about the natural, organic life that Alishan Organic Center is all about. For my concert, admission is 1500 yen, and includes a beverage. Liane's workshop also has an admission fee of 1500 yen and includes tea service.
Liane and I had a wonderful day together riding to remote Hidaka village on the train and doing our respective events. I had a standing room only audience, and Mingo Kazumi came all the way from Tokyo to dance for me on the song 1966 again. Jack invited me to come back and perform next year!
December 1 Opening at Gallery Le Deco, in Shibuya, Tokyo, of a new fashion line by Kaorico Ago owner/designer of Little Eagle and Lotus Heart fashion labels, some printed with drawings from Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel. The garments are manufactured from organically grown cotton and linen and hand sewn in a fair trade factory in India. The show will also feature framed original drawings from Living on the Earth. There will be no music on December 1, but the next three nights there will be plenty!
Gallery Le Deco is on Meijidori, about one minute walk from the new south entrance to the JR Shibuya Station, or a five minute walk from the east entrance. Phone 03 5485 5188.
December 2 show begins at 6:30 PM (18:30) with a hula kahiko halau (group) in performance, followed by a musical performance by Peace-K and Han-chan, and after that, an hour of Hawaiian songs and slack key guitar by Alicia Bay Laurel. Admission is 1200 yen in advance or 1500 yen at the door.
December 3 show begins at 6:30 PM (18:30) with the band Monk Beat, then Peace-K and Han-chan, and then Yammie, the creator of the Yappooo television series for children, will show a video of her latest work. At the end, an hour of songs about the natural organic life by Alicia Bay Laurel. Admission is 1200 yen in advance and 1500 yen at the door.
December 4 show begins at 6:30 PM with a modern dance by Shizuno, a dancer based in New York and Hawaii. Next, the wonderful singer/songwriter Yoshie Ebihara will perform. After Yoshie, Alicia will perform 45 minutes of original music, and finally, the great traditional Japanese vocalist Ikue Asazaki will thrill us with her songs. Admission is 1500 yen in advance and 1800 yen at the door.
Advance tickets may be purchased at Le Deco Gallery.
This had to have been the most astonishing three days of my life. Each night the place was packed, and on the last night there were lines in the street of people waiting to come in, including many of my dearest friends. The staff had to take the potted plants out of the gallery to make room for everyone who wanted to stand. I can't take credit for this; the line-up on that night was stellar, and three very famous singers, Ua, Ikuko and Sandii Manumele came and performed in addition.
The reason so many great performers came to sing on behalf of Kaorico and her clothing is because Kaorico's clothes are not just fashion. They express a philosophy that reveres Native American spirituality, Hawaiian spirituality, the works of Mother Teresa and Gandhi, and my book, Living on the Earth. All of these are about naturalness and simplicity, loving the earth as our common mother, and seeing all beings as family. Kaorico's newest line of clothing is called "Loving and Sharing."
John Perkins is astonishing: a former planner and participant in the crimes of multinational corporations who now calls for global social justice and sustainability as the requirements for corporate charters.
In this 15-minute interview (on 2 YouTubes) with Amy Goodman, John Perkins shares what he learned during his service to the cause of global empire, and how he sees the world since his epiphany.
(this is a segment from the middle of the article)
Stewart Brand now seems to equate “science” with a tragic and dangerous corporate agenda. The technologies for which he argues – nuclear power, “clean” coal, genetically modified crops, etc. – can be very profitable for big corporations, but carry huge risks for the rest of us. In too many instances, tangible damage has already been done, and more is clearly threatened.
If there is a warning light for what Stewart advocates, it is the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which much of the oil industry said (like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl) was “impossible.” Then it happened. The $75 million liability limit protecting BP should be ample warning that any technology with a legal liability limit (like nuclear power) cannot be tolerated.
Thankfully, there is good news: We have true green alternatives to these failed 20th-century ideas. They’re cheaper, safer, cleaner, more reliable and more job-producing than the old ways Stewart advocates.
Note from Alicia: I post this with some sadness. In early spring 1970, I brought Living on the Earth to Stewart Brand at the Whole Earth Catalog, when it was an unfinished manuscript with illustrations. Stewart directed me to Whole Earth Catalog's distributor Book People to help me find a publisher for it, and offered to review it in the Catalog once it was published. This one act of kindness changed my entire life as an artist. I am astonished that his clear voice for the preservation of the Earth has come to carry the messages for the nuclear power, coal and biotech industries.
Here’s the link where you can see both of my interviews, as well as other very interesting shows that Jack Enyart has hosted.
Singer/songwriter Yuki, a Sony Japan label artist, released an album this year called The Present, and I was hired to draw and letter a design proscribed by the singer herself, for her 2010 tour t-shirts.
The t-shirts have just been released, and, as of today, June 22, are the second item from the top on Yuki’s blog. Yuki and her staff chose the colors of the drawing and lettering as well as the shirt. (There's a super punk design t-shirt for the same tour just above mine. I like it.) What I found amazing about the this t-shirt is that the design is not printed - it is machine embroidered onto the t-shirt. Even the handwriting!
Next month Yuki’s staff will release a shawl and matching pouch I illustrated and lettered per their design, also to be offered on Yuki’s tour. I'll let you know when they are posted.
The lettering is the lyrics to Yuki’s lovely song in which a man and a woman describe what they do over the course of 24 hours, which contrast interestingly and become confluent at the end. My illustrations feature images from Yuki’s lyrics, including frogs, braids, and roses.
Yuki specifically requested that the drawing for the back of her t-shirt look like the illustration on the back cover of my book Living on the Earth, only with braids, roses and frogs.
When I met Banana Yoshimoto in September 2009, I asked her if she’d like my illustrations for her next book. It turned out, she did. Here it is, published on May 30th, 2010, with one of my drawings on the cover and one opposite the title page (the drawing below).
The assignment was this: an ink line drawing of a woman, a cat and a plant. I made nine of them and send them all for consideration. Banana-san and her publisher chose two. Here are some of the out-takes.
The novel is not translated into English yet, but gist of the story, as I understand it, is this:
A young woman falls in love with an artist who is grieving his departed wife. The artist keeps drawing pictures of the wife, who was not really a human, but a cat in human form. His wife cared only about other cats, and thought the kind of things cats think. Eventually, though, he does come to appreciate the young woman and return her love. Along the way we also get an environmental message about making a better world. The title of the work is “Another World.”
Banana-san wrote in the afterword of her book:
It is my feeling that the difficult times we are facing now will continue for a while.
We should trust in our intuitions and instincts and not lose sight of ourselves. Otherwise, we’ll find it too hard to keep living in this world. In such times, I hope this novel of mine will stay close to the reader as a useful tool to overcome such difficulties, even if for a little while. You don’t have to follow the same lifestyle as the characters in the novel. It’s just my wish that you will at least read and feel their emotions that constantly vibrate in sympathy with Nature.
This series of novels titled “Kingdom” has been written during a peculiar period of my life. It has been hard work, but I do adore my characters.
Also, this is going to be the last novel that my father had read with his own declining eyes, because he has lost his eyesight now. He has seen the sceneries of this novel with his heart; I will hold this fact in my arms for the rest of my life.
Since my childhood, I have admired Alicia Bay Laurel, the author of “Living on the Earth”. I always wished that someday I would also be living in a forest like she does. The reality is that I am still living in Tokyo as an author. Even so, that wish is still there, just like in those long ago days.
When I met Alicia, she told me once that she could draw a picture for the cover of my book. I was so overwhelmed with joy, I didn’t know what to say. In my mind I was pinching my cheek to make sure that I was not dreaming.
She has no equal when it comes to drawing the most appropriate picture for this novel. She is the person who has cast a most beautiful spell on this novel. And I thank her for that.