PANTOMERICA

Seeking Color In The US

bad bitches

Cores Brilhantes Tiffany

Maggie OwensComment

Chicago was a special stopping point for us because we got to meet up with the third member of our best friend trio (first and last time we're ever calling it that), the infamous Tiffany Ward. Seeing her was particularly special because in a few months time, Tiffany will be moving to Brazil to pursue her dream to curate Afro-Brazilian art.

She's just now launching her blog Cores Brilhantes (coresbrilhantes.com) which spotlights Afro-Brazilian artists and themes. We got to talk to her about her blog and future big move. 

You’re originally from San Francisco but haven’t lived there in almost ten years. What colors make you think of that city and why?

Blues and greens and oranges, when I think of the natural colors of the city (the pacific ocean, the greenery, and the orange accents). Black when I think of growing up in SF and the pro-black education I received through my first years of schooling.

What do you think about the city now that you haven’t lived there in such a long time? 

Now I feel like I’m half-Californian, half-New Yorker. Having lived in both places, I’ve seen a lot of how gentrification tears places apart — the damage it does to the culture. People escaped the south by going to places like SF and New York and DC and Philly and, with them, they built beautiful, colorful cultures. Now our spaces are being taken away so I do kind of feel like I’m in a no-man’s land.  The neighborhood (Bayview/Hunter’s Point) I’m from isn’t even gonna be there any more.  

In New York, just being there 7 years, I saw so much change. I lived in Harlem and you’d see this brown place — a brown place where people were forced to live because they weren’t allowed to live in other places. And now they’re being forced out? Oakland, New Orleans — these were brown cities. Now we have nowhere to live. So, yah, when I think of San Francisco, I am heartbroken. 

You’re in Chicago now. What colors do you think of when you think of Chicago? 

Gray, misty gray. I tend to think of more somber colors here in Chicago. Chicago is a very loaded city for me. I came here to recover, to learn compassion for myself. I came here to get peace of mind. its really easy to get distracted, to get swallowed whole in cities like NY.  Because I’m not attached to Chicago, I have more time to be at peace with myself — to see my own color. 

But the somber gray comes from the income inequality, the history of housing discrimination here in this city and the poverty that ensued as a result of these policies.

And America as a whole?

The misty gray also represents to me the way in which America will ignore the gray in race relations. Everything is black and white. We’re always told and shown the end of the story, never the beginning (or even the middle). When a young, white kid makes a mistake, you "need to hear the whole story." We talk about shades of gray for some people but not for others. 

When you give people the human experience in all its different shades of gray, you’re learning compassion and that’s really important in race relations.  That’s important in a racially charged city, in a racially charged country, in a racially charged universe. 

There’s a serious lack of compassion here in this country and in this gray windy city.

So why is your focus on Afro-Brazilian art? 

As a kid, I didn’t think I was into art at all.  Everything I learned was eurocentric so I didn’t see myself in any of it.  Later, when I was studying abroad in Brazil, I realized I was into art when I saw a painting of an Afro-indigenous Brazilian man in the field working.  It was such a beautiful portrait of African and indigenous history. I wanted to see more.  

Renata Felinto  Renata Bardot

Renata Felinto Renata Bardot

So you’re moving to Brazil —

I’m moving next year. The move was all about putting myself into an artistic space and I realized, through social media, that there wasn’t really a space for Afro-Brazilian artists specifically. There are things dedicated to the African Diaspora or to Brazil in general but not just Afro-Brazilians.

There’s such a vibrant community of blacks in Brazil that I want to celebrate it and be part of it. It’s important that people have spaces to express creativity and to escape a solely eurocentric lens of art. 

Photograph by Guilherme Malaquias, an artist soon to be featured on Cores Brilhantes. More of his work can be found  here.

Photograph by Guilherme Malaquias, an artist soon to be featured on Cores Brilhantes. More of his work can be found here.

And that’s where your blog, Cores Brilhantes, comes in. 

It translates to “brilliant colors.” It highlights Afro-Brazilian artists and Afro-Brazilian themes as told through art. 

Can you give us an example of one of the artists you feature and how they use color? 

Renata Felinto! The magentas she uses! She uses patterns and mixed materials and even glitter (though you can’t even tell it’s glitter). It’s just all so vibrant. When I think about what I want to present to the world, it’s work like Renata’s that inspires me. She IS Cores Brilhantes. She IS brilliant colors. It’s so awesome to see Afro-Brazilian women represented.

Renata Felinto

Renata Felinto

Renata Felinto

Renata Felinto

What colors make you think of Brazil?

Blues and the greens because of the water.  When I think Brazil and the African diaspora, it’s impossible to not think about water. It's how we came to exist in this part of the world. 

But also, I think of Pelourinho. It’s the center of the city in Salvador — it’s a historic UNESCO site. It’s emblematic of how I feel about Brazil in general. It’s beautiful and people know it for its beauty but the history is much darker. It was a whipping post. It was the square where slaves were brought to be beaten. And now it’s a tourist site but no one talks about the slaves. It’s beautiful but there’s no question as to how or why. 

People also talk about “tan” when they talk about Brazil. But I think black and brown are cool and should be celebrated as well. 

Do you think color plays in to the exoticism of black women around the world? Maybe people assume that black women should only be portrayed in bright, vibrant colors?

Yeah! Because there’s this general idea of “wild women.” With the history of the slave trade, people came from colder, grayer areas and went to these warmer places where everything is so green and lush and the color of people’s skin is literally different. 

But there's a lot of contemporary art thats on my blog that not just bright paintings.  Like the art of Sonia Gomes.  Her style is completely different than what people might expect. She uses different materials and a lot more gray or white. 

Sonia Gomes

Sonia Gomes

With the diversity of techniques and styles, Cores Brilhantes isn’t the name just for the art itself. It's the name for the history and stories that people tell. There is no one right way to be represented. That’s the whole point. 

So what’s your favorite color? 

Deep Magenta. I’ve always been fascinated by ruby colors, both in my clothing as well as in home décor. Ruby tones look really great on my skin. 

As we already said, we are so, so proud of Tiffany. Normally, the three of us will take any chance to poke fun at each other but, today, Tiffany gets a free pass because she's doing something so beautiful and exciting. This blog post is a landmark moment in our friendship because we're all working together and no one said anything remotely snarky. 

lol jk. We're totally gonna make fun of Tiffany. Look at these pictures where she's treating us like we're her personal assistant and back-up dancer:

All the world is Tiffany's stage and we are merely players. Congrats, Tiff. 

Snow Drawings Sonja

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Sonja Hinrichson

Hometown: Oakland, CA (by way of Germany).

Profession: Artist.  Currently in her third residency at Anderson Art Center in Snowmass, Co.  Sonja creates large-scale, completely impermanent and completely beautiful design patterns over huge tracts of untouched snow all over the world, including Colorado, New York and France.  She invites volunteers to help her creates the stunning designs, captures them with aerial photographs, then allows them to be completely overturned by nature. 

Briancon, France

Briancon, France

How She Got Started With Her Snow Drawings: During her first residency at Anderson Art Center in the appropriately named Snowmass, she borrowed a pair of snow shoes and went walking around.  She started noticing patterns she created against the snow like on a blank canvas so she started goofing around making patterns with the shoe prints.  

Soon she began taking photographs of the patterns, and began noticing different light patterns such as shadows within the imprints, or the sun beaming straight in.  She then began playing with angles, light, and shadow through photography.  

Her inspiration came from the huge, untouched, pristine snow spaces found in Colorado.

Eychauda, France

Eychauda, France

How did you start taking photographs of these large-scale works in the snow? 

During a residency in Steamboat Springs, Co, a local pilot offered to fly her up to photograph her snow patterns.  So began the aerial photography and the help of volunteers. 

What unforeseen problems did you come across as you began to create more of these snow prints? The first few times were definitely a learning process.  “Sometimes I would do a whole piece and then realize that there was no place to photograph it,”  joked Sonja. Issues like this are the nature of her work. For example, there is always a chance that a project won’t work out because of weather, which happened in Finland.

Ooms Pond, New York

Ooms Pond, New York

On The Help From Community Members, Volunteers and Strangers: Being as large scale as they are, her works began to take on the nature of a community project.  She began having volunteers help her create the large scale patterns.  She started by having about 8 or 9 volunteers, but now has up to 70 people helping over the span of a project, often 30 to 50 people a day for a 2 or 3 day weekend.  

“Starting from the weather to the people, I don’t know who my participants are, so its truly a community project.”

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass, Colorado

She has works that allow her volunteers to roam through the snow freely, but she also organizes volunteers to work in patterns.  “It’s almost like a performance- knowing what steps to take, never crossing each other.  If you sped it up it would look like an organized performance.”  

She says that it’s about an environmental experience for the participants.  “It’s a long process, and you really tune into that one space.”

She says emphatically that her works is “really about the participants, in the moment.”

Snowmass, Colorado

Snowmass, Colorado

How do you feel about the inherent nature of impermanence in your work?

“I am immaterial in my life too, not a big collector of stuff.  I don’t think we need to add more stuff to the earth.”  

She says that European magazines that have done write ups on her always nearing up Land Art.  “They do not understand Land Art.  This is not Land Art.  I do not want to add any material.  In my work nature takes it back completely.  The only documentation is photos and the peoples’ experience.”   

She says the her snow designs are a “combination of appreciating art work and the nature that it is in.”

Hayden, Colorado

Hayden, Colorado

The Role Color Plays In Her Work:

She says that the pure whiteness of the landscapes she works in is an important element in her projects.  The white makes it possible to play with shadows and light.  Imprints either reflect the sunlight or cast a shadow.  She reiterates that she didn’t really think about it at first, and that it all sort of just started out of play.  With the scale and organization that she now works in, “it’s like painting with natural light.”  

She also mentions that much like so many other uncontrollable factors, colors often come into the pictures by accident.  It could be a lone standing tress, a person still walking their way through the pattern, a ski lift, or a park sign.    

While working on a commission in France, they took a shot of the snow pattern that had a bright orange restriction sign in it.  The arts commissioner hated it, and wanted the sign to be edited out. 

“For me, those little splotches of color are interesting.”  She explains that these “mistakes” can help express relation to scale.  She enjoys photos that are completely abstract without those kinds of modifiers, but those little spots of color have the ability to show human smallness.  “That’s where real color comes in- it’s fragile and small but important.”  

Catamount Lake, Colorado. The appearance of color is totally dependent on the time of day. This is when the sun beams directly into the grooves, creating a "white ink" effect.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. The appearance of color is totally dependent on the time of day. This is when the sun beams directly into the grooves, creating a "white ink" effect.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. This is when the sun hits the drawings at an angle and casts a shadow into the grooves, creating a black mark effect. Playing with light, time of day and angles of the sun is how Sonja interacts with color in these works.

Catamount Lake, Colorado. This is when the sun hits the drawings at an angle and casts a shadow into the grooves, creating a black mark effect. Playing with light, time of day and angles of the sun is how Sonja interacts with color in these works.

What is your favorite color?  Green.  She is a nature fan, and an environmentalist.  “I barely have any green clothes,” she laughs.  “This is my first time here in summer and my green receptors are over stimulated.”

What color reminds you of Oakland?:  Blue, because of the blue sky there. 

All pictures of Sonja's snow drawings were collected from her website. Do yourself a favor and check it out at http://www.sonja-hinrichsen.com. 

Tinkertown Lynn

Maggie OwensComment

Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Profession: Lynn operates the gift shop and ticket booth at the Tiinkertown Museum at the base of Sandia Mountain in Albuquerque.  She has been working with the museum for many years, though she spends half the year in Mexico.  Let me repeat — this woman spends six months of every year operating a museum dedicated to eccentric americana and the other six months of her year exploring what Goop.com reviewed as “Central America’s Indiest Country” (2013).  Is Lynn the ultimate hipster?

Favorite Color: “Yellow.  I love all bright colors.  I love all the primary colors.”

What role does color play in Tinkertown?:  Lynn says that color plays a huge role in the attraction of the museum.  Though Tinkertown features all things american kitsch, it can sometimes feel likea tribute to the classic American circus and all of its puppets, props, and wacky details. “The circus has the best colors,” she says, and Tinkertown features the whole spectrum of the circus aesthetic.  

The museum also gives off its own color, mostly because of the salvaged glass bottles that line the walls.  Lynn personally loves the way the light catches all the greens of the bottle walls.  

What colors remind you of New Mexico?:  Brown.  “Comedians came and did shows in New Mexico and made fun of how Santa Fe is nothing but different shades of brown.  But I think our brown is a real asset.  Its a cultural aspect to make us different from people in the East”.  

She says that despite the overwhelming amount of brown shades spread throughout the state, “color is actually a huge thing here.  You won’t find many people who don’t have an opinion on color.”  She pointed out that the state gem of New Mexico is turquoise.  Lynn knows a lot about gems.  Gems are hip. Lynn is hip. Get with it. 

Color in Mexico:  “Color is a major part of my life,” she says, and explains that it’s a huge reason why she spends half her time in Mexico.  She loves the color splashed all over the country.   Especially the reds, blues, and turquoises.

Hot Springs Chantal

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Chantal

Hometown: Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Chantal is a native or T or C (which is what the locals call it). 

Occupation: She works at Blackstone Hot Springs Motel.  She and her husband also run a youth skateboarding competition here in town called the Fiesta State Competition.  

What colors remind you of New Mexico / T or C?

She immediately thought of the color of the infamous New Mexico sky.  We talked about how difficult it is to explain how or why the sky here is different.  “It’s bigger,” she says.  “When I go other places I never seem to notice the sky, but every time I come back to New Mexico the first thing I notice is how wide it looks, how it’s just a blanket over the whole world.”  

She also thinks of the green up on Turtleback Mountain.  “When I think of the colors of T or C, I think of the colors the mountain experiences through the motions of the sky”.  

How do you think Truth or Consequences celebrates color?

She explains that there is a natural artistic tendency in the town.  She says that the people here, “create art just through caring about the community and giving to the community. “  So many people here just allow anyone to paint a mural on the side of their building.  

By allowing artists to express themselves, they become a part of the artistic process.  “The spirit of letting people exist is what brings the colorfulness to the town”.  

Favorite color: Pink. Duh.

Crystal Vortex Allyn

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Allyn

Occupation: Works at the Sedona Crystal Vortex, a metaphysical store in Sedona, Arizona. The shop specializes in rocks, minerals, aura photography, psychic readings, lifestyle and more rocks and minerals. 

Favorite Color: Pretty much all cool colors: greens, blues and purples. Today she was wearing green because she wanted to correlate with her heart chakra (which is represented by green). 

Philosophy On Color: Everyday she makes the active choice about what color(s) she wears / puts on her body according to what chakra(s) she would like to activate. She says people make these daily decisions unconsciously, pointing out that we were both wearing blue and that that meant we wished to express ourselves (conjuring the throat chakra). She also pointed out a man driving a bright yellow Jag down the streets of Sedona, saying he wished to conjure his Solar Plexus / third chakra. This meant he was trying to rev his self-esteem. (If you think about it, this makes sense. He probably had no self-esteem. Please refer to our future blog post about mid-life crises. If we still haven't written it, please refer to our future blog post about procrastination). 

On Canines and Color-Crystals: Allyn has two dogs who also benefit from aligning their chakras with crystals and colors. Her long-hair chihuahua uses crystals for his soft skull. She says she can see the benefits already and her veterinarian gives her two thumbs up. Her older dog suffered from low self-esteem when the chihuahua moved in. The chihuahua apparently was the hot new piece around town (probably seen cruising Sedona in a yellow Jag). Crystals quickly boosted the old dog's self-esteem. There's always room for two in a yellow Jag. 

(As always, please check out our Interviews page for all of our profiles of the colorful people we meet on the road). 

Debby Rico

Maggie OwensComment

Name: Debby Rico

Location: Niland, California

Occupation: Selling snow cones to overheated tourists in the Californian desert. She moved to the desert from Pamona, California ("to get away from our kids," says her husband Richard) and found herself incredibly bored. That's when she came up with the whole snow cone idea. "It's perfect so long as I don't sell anything that the general store across the street sells."

Favorite Color: Blue. It just always has been. But, even though she loves blue, her favorite snow cone flavor is not blue raspberry. It's actually a mysterious flavor called "Tiger's Blood" with a splash of pineapple right on top. It's also Richard's favorite flavor. In fact, he wants people to try it so badly, he offers just about everyone a bite from his personal snow cone (until Debby reminds him to "think of hygiene"). 

Check out the rest of our interviews (including Allyn, whose dog has self esteem issues) on our Interviews page!