Esperanza Spalding (born 1984) is an American multi-instrumentalist best known as a jazz bassist and singer, who draws upon many genres in her own compositions. In 2011, she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 53rd Grammy Awards, making her the first jazz artist to win the award.
Spalding grew up in the King neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, a neighborhood she describes as “ghetto” and “pretty scary”. Her mother raised her and her brother as a single parent.
Spalding has a diverse ethnic background. She notes, “My mom is Welsh, Hispanic, and Native American, and my father is black.” She also has an interest in the music of other cultures, including that of Brazil, commenting, “With Portuguese songs the phrasing of the melody is intrinsically linked with the language, and it’s beautiful”.
Her mother shares Spalding’s interest in music, having nearly become a touring singer herself. But while Spalding cites her mother as a powerful influence who encouraged her musical expansion, she attributes her inspiration for pursuing a life in music to watching classical cellist Yo Yo Ma perform on an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhoodwhen she was four.
My daughter who is 16 did this drawing of my father from a wide angle photo I had taken off him.
I knew she would become a more masterful Artist than me but I didn’t expect it to be so soon!
Ever since I remember she was doodling. When we went travelling and we did do a good share of globe trotting, she was always drawing on hotel stationary papers.
She is turning this into an etching using acetate and I can’t wait to see the results. Her previous organic print was fantastic.
In real life though, unless the deodorant smells of a billion dollars in cash it is not likely to make any of such angels fall!
I did this in an Art class ( a long time ago) . The daily work was very demanding and then I found an Art school in Southwark, London around the corner where I worked “The Art Academy”. It both saved me because it helped me to cope, but lost me because since then I can’t think of doing anything else but to go back and create something.
The Academy is very special place, it is run by professional Artists and their day courses is for those who want to become professional Artists. This particular class was run by a woman who had a top manager in one of the major investment Banks. She had become redundant went back to Art school, became an artist and a teacher. She was a true inspiration. I painted this Monet in one of my first classes. Texture of paint on a surface is something you can’t get in digital work
I was 20 and caught between a rock and a hard place.
I had immigration problems and with a war in Iran could not risk being deported. The new established Islamic Iranian Government had spread its tentacles and used the education funds that our parents had provided as a way of controlling the political loyalty of students abroad. Suddenly we had gone from a respected community of students to a group of bad creditors, or troublesome young people living in a state of limbo. With no source of income I worked 18 hour shifts in a fast food restaurant and for a while left college. The few friends that I had were living in a similar dismal state. we looked pathetic. Cut off from society and with no family we were living an unhealthy life style of eating fast food, and sleeping rough. The rooms of my friend’s flat were littered with sleeping bags and permanent guests staying over. Perhaps congregating in one apartment and laughing at stupid things kept our moral high. That place wasn’t my flat either, I was one of the guests.
One of our friends (P.) had a phone call. His old teacher had to come to UK for medical reasons. The teacher was poor so he had borrowed money from P’s Dad.
A week later he was there, a dignified man who had dedicated his life to the education of young Iranian men and women. Amongst his pride and joy he had taught maths to Shah’s son and Khomeini’s daughter. Talk about covering all angles of fib telling I thought. There he was trying to find a little clear corner in that flat so that he could rest his bags. As for P, he didn’t care much for his old teacher. “He used to be a hard man he would say”. P wasn’t too chummy with his Dad either. His Dad was a successful business man the sort of man whose heart beat goes Kuching instead of bebop, and he could get round all these fund embargos but didn’t want to. He’d left P to fend for himself. P had worked so hard the skin of his palm had turned to Rhino skin and peeled off every night. The fast food chain would get its pound of flesh from every worker it employed and P scrubbed those grills like he was scrubbing every bit of bad luck that had hit his young life.
The next day was The teacher’s (Mr d) appointment. P was snoring in the sleeping bag like a sore bear hibernating. The rest of the gang was sleep. I still had a grain of decency left so I decided to take the old man under my wing and be his surrogate guide. I guess doing this kept me linked to a life of families, respect for elders etc. all of which at that time had become a forgotten memory from a million years ago.
I took Mr d for his blood tests etc. and took him to the park outside the hospital. I couldn’t extend my hospitality further as I was penniless.
The old man was nervous so we tried to cheer him up during the evening. He would ask questions like”so you guys have been living like this for a year?” P. would then respond by saying do you want to see some porn magazines? It gave him such pleasure to see the old man well actually he wasn’t that old he was late forties but seemed old to us then share such a naughty joy. A few years earlier who would had detention for just having those magz.
Any way, the look on Mr d’s face watching those magazines and admiring God’s creation was really funny. “I’m fourty something and I’ve never seen anything like this before. They are not wearing anything. Nothing”. P. would laugh and say well that is the whole point. Isn’t it”. There can’t be many moments in life when you would catch a decent maths teacher and his ex-student watch porn magazines together but this was one of them.
Then on Sunday we took him to a public Sauna that was in East London. He was for the first time beginning to relax but because of his medical condition was similar to the Parkinson disease his arm muscles twitched.
Monday was the big day, he was going to speak to the specialist Dr. he’d come to see.
Again I was up and P. was snoring in his sleeping bag. I shouted P. get your lazy butt out of there. You have to take Mr. d to the Dr’s today it’s his big day. He snored and rolled and went back to sleep. I took Mr d. to the Hospital. and did the translation.
The Dr. spoke and I went silent. Mr d asked OK what did he say. I’m sorry Mr d the Dr says there is no cure for your disease. “How long. How long do I have to live?” He says about six month. “Is there no-no hope, anyone else?” The Dr says there is a research going on in America but that it is early stages and to be blunt the answer is no.
Mr d was shell-shocked. He said to me or perhaps to himself “I’ve already borrowed a lot of money. What is going to happen to my wife? How is she going to survive?”.
I was pretty gutted by all this. I didn’t know how serious Mr d’s condition was, so I tried to console him the only way a 20-year-old might. I took him to Mc Donalds and bought him lunch.
His frustration was beginning to come out. “Decades of service I gave to my country, look at me now”. A guy with a pierced earing was sitting next to us and beginning to notice Mr d’s agitation. Mr d said can you translate this for me please. Tell this guy “Khomeini has destroyed our country Iran”. I felt uncomfortable about this but could not refuse a dying man’s wishes and did the translation. The man, a cockney lad tuned back and said “Khomeini. Is he Shah’s brother then?”.
I said to myself if there is a God up there he must be having a bloody laugh after what this guy just said, and translated it for Mr d, Mr d he says “he is sorry for your loss. It is tragic what has happened to Iran and he hopes things get better”.
After lunch I took him to a Park and left him on his own and watched him from a distance.
He was still trying to digest the News, and was distressed over the future of his wife.
To anyone else he looked like another man in the park, but I knew. I knew.
He went back to Iran heartbroken and six month later P. dropped the news. “Oh by the way did I tell you Mr d died?”.
I was upset for a bit then we all went back to do the same stupid things we always did to cheer ourselves up.
I’m writing this and now I’m about Mr d’s age. and I can tell you there was once a man, a teacher, who came to UK to save his life but couldn’t. went back home and died, and for me that twenty year old, he is always going to be the man I left for a moment so that he could think, he was for me as I have drawn him the man in the park.
Back in 2007 I achieved one of my personal ambitions. I spent a week at the stone-carving workshop on the Island of Portland. Portland is a rock outcrop that stands out from the Dorset coast into the English Channel, linked to the mainland only by the great sweep of Chesil Bank. Portland was shaped by quarrymen. For centuries these men have carved the landscape and given it distinct contours. They also formed the local culture and even the superstition, for instance the word “Rabbit” is not used on the Island as running Rabbits were associated with falling Rocks and bad accidents. The course was at the Tout Quarry. I walked through a landscape part shaped by man part by nature. A series of gullies and wild plants and stacked up rocks. These plants were blown by the wind here and without any intervention had turned the landscape to a Garden of Eden. Some of these rocks are carved. One is a giant dinosaur head, and the other is an upside down figure of man carved on the rock face, it is “The falling Man” by the famous British sculptor Antony Gormley. The stonemasons practicing their trade have left beautiful archways, and pathways that lead up to the top of the hill that gives you a panoramic view of the Island. The landscape is full of surprises. There are certain things that you can’t learn in books, stone carving is one of them. They don’t tell you that as you carve the stone, it releases fossilized gases that were trapped there for millions of years and all of a sudden the Petrol like smell takes you to your beloved city of Abadan in your dreams! As it happens unlike the gases of other rocks these gases are not poisonous. You learn one or two things about carving stone that also help you through life. You see you have to hold the hammer and the chisel so lightly as if they are about to fall out of your hands, and only then you can pound effective blows against the rock. If you hold on too tightly you chip away small fragments and you end up with an arm ache that would keep you awake for a week. You also learn that you have to work with the rock rather than against it i.e. the old Michelangelo saying that the shape is already in the rock and you just help to bring it out is not cliché. Whilst out there I met a group of Dutch sculptors, one of whom was a blind man who carved by the sense of touch, he was carving his remarkably intelligent and affectionate Labrador guide dog. Carving was like Zen for those who had been doing it for years; it was like a pilgrimage for those who bond with the beauty of nature. The Island was also a magnet for those hiking, and those who liked bird, and moth watching. An old lighthouse was turned to a bird watch centre, filled with personal objects that people had left for others over the years, including some portraits. The philosophy of the sculpture park at the Quarry is remarkable as it is filled with beautiful sculptures that people have deliberately left there so that others can enjoy them. It is the philosophy of giving back what nature has given us, a give, give rather than take, take attitude towards the space we live in. My give back (as well as the course fees) was to help around the quarry. We found a petrified tree; fossilized Millions of years ago, and this tree still had the scars of the forest fire that had partially burnt it. We took it back to the Quarry museum. My teacher said look at these rocks these are all living things condensed in time and space. It made me feel so small, in the grand scale of nature, the entire time of humanity is like a flash of a firefly and the grand scale of nature’s calendar is beyond our imagination. I know a lot of the buildings in London places such as St Paul’s Cathedral or the recently refurbished British Museum have used the beautiful Portland stone and walking around London takes me back to that magical Island.
Marble sculpture of a wing and flag of Iran, which describes fleeing from that country and living in diaspora.
I was desperate to get a good piece of stone to carve, being a new medium I hadn’t realized how expensive a piece of stone for carving can be. So I went to the garden centre and picked up a big marble rock for 5 pounds. I took it home and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t even put a dent or a scratch on it. I took out a rotating cutter which fitted on top of a drill and started cutting. Next thing I know a flying sharp object is flying an inch from my face. It almost put a big cut on my face instead it flew over and hit the double glazed patio door. So my other half was cleaning the window the other day and asked “do you know how we got this big scratch on toughened glass of the patio door?”
No dear, No. I don’t know. OK just kidding I told her what happened but I didn’t say the damn thing almost took my face off!
So I could have been sitting here and instead of blog name being doodlejuice I could had been Scarface instead.
I don’t know how I managed to get through a piece of that stone but I did get the wing out of it and the rest is sitting menacingly in the garden.