Thursday, December 16, 2010

On the Camino Real...

Field trips. Typically dragging a car load of kids somewhere for a short period of time..and feeling wiped out afterwards. I tease my mother that she only went on ONE field trip of mine..and that was in pre-school. I have tried to do better, but now after fulfilling more than my duty- I pick my field trips carefully. So, when it was time to sign up to drive the nearly 2 hours south to the  Mission San Juan Batista--I jumped in.

I love the California Missions. They are plum with history and so beautiful in their Spanish, Mexican and Native American triumvirate of aesthetics and spirituality. This one is particularly special--as it is mostly intact including the vast land and plaza around it. You almost feel as if you were back in 1800's California -although minus the intensely obvious conflict and true grit of those times.

Alfred Hitchcock too, must have inhaled this authenticity when he chose to film part of his landmark film Vertigo here. In deciding to film a feature film actually in the out of doors--he picked classic San Francisco and San Juan Bautista to film this ethereal and favorite film.

I am always inspired by the patterns and the images laid out in these missions. The crudely painted borders.  The religious icons piled up to bring hope. The magical gardens.
These images are haunting and beautiful and ultimately worth sharing in photos and on clay. Look for some of these images on future plates.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giving Thanks. Giving Back.

I am not a religious person in terms of adhering to a strict institutional approach to spirituality, but do feel "religious" and particularly can get behind the concept of tithing as an important way of contributing to one's community and beyond. I made a commitment to myself that I would donate a portion of the proceeds from my work to targeted non-profit organization at year's end. While I wish I could do more..I feel like even my small gifts have an impact and "keep me in shape" for future giving.
I think people feel like they cannot donate until they have a lot more money or because they do not have "enough" to give.  If everyone gave what they could--even if just a little--it would all add up for the organization in need.
This year, my kids have also decided to give to groups that do things they care about. They have saved money from gifts as well as from selling lemonade and handmade jewelry (my daughter is a budding designer!) My son: Grass Roots Soccer--an organization in South Africa that he visited this summer that is teaching township kids soccer and life skills.  My daughter: San Francisco SPCA.
As for me--I am donating to some dynamic local organizations:  Meritus Fund--provides financial assistance and mentoring to at-risk high school kids interested in attending college; Bernal Height Neighborhood Association--a stable force of low income housing development in San Francisco; San Francisco Food Bank; SF ARTS ED--places artists in the public schools in San Francisco to create art programming.
So give what you can this year and if you cannot give any financial help--give some of your time to help a local organization.