Monthly Archives: August 2012

Who Can Tell Your Mother’s Story?


“You should tell the story of your mother.”

The movie may have prompted her to say that to me.

Whatever prompted her, it hit me like a thunderstorm in the desert.

Not many people really knew my mother the way I knew her.

Actually, no one knew her like I did.

And that special knowingness between mother and daughter, and honoring those who paid our way is what Felicia Lowe inspects in her one hour documentary, Chinese Couplets.

The film tells the story of her mother’s identity and what drove her to secrecy about where she was really from.

It’s a heroine’s journey that many immigrant families can identify with. There’s just three days left in her current Indiegogo campaign.

Thank you Ms. Lowe and the lady sitting next to me at the California Historical Society screening of segments from Chinese Couplets.

Here’s a photo of my mother when she visited me in San Francisco. She was a courageous woman who withstood tremendous hardships, like surviving near death giving birth and braving wartime invasions.

She paid meticulous attention to details and wrote beautifully.

She loved to recite poetry.

Who knew?

Moma Gow

My mother at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

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Filed under Inspiration, Social Change

Sense the Space: Improvise!

Here’s another Rock Star in the World of Calligraphy.

She just gave a five day workshop at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It was sold out.

Sense the Space, by Monica Dengo

Sense the Space, by Monica Dengo

Thank you, Monica Dengo, for a great reason to travel to Italy.

Dengo lives in Arezzo, about an hour south of Florence. I met her for a nanosecond during the time she lived in San Francisco in the 1990’s.

She teaches in Italy and worldwide and her work is in public and private collections. You can find out all about her courses at her calligraphy teaching website, freehandwriting.net.

I’m especially drawn to artists like Dengo, whose work exudes a vibrant aliveness.

It’s not about a literal reproduction of what we see.

It’s more an EXPRESSION of it.

It’s art that goes where words can’t.

Gestural art captures a feeling.

Gestural art is alive!

I did my own experiment and created some improvisational calligraphy. The piece below I worked a little further on with some improv digital a la Adobe Photoshop.

Improv + Digital by Mary Gow

Improv + Digital by Mary Gow


Hopefully Monica Dengo will be back next year for another demo and class. You can find one of her large scale pieces in the permanent collection of the Mountain View Public Library on the second floor.

Though Kalligraphia 13 is over, there’s a calligraphy demo by David Goggin on Friday, August 31, 6:30 to 8pm, at the Red Vic, at 1665 Haight Street, San Francisco, and he’s teaching a class there on September 1st.

You might also enjoy:

The 2011 TED Prize Winner – JR
My Tribute to Adolph Gottlieb
Window at the Dakota

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Filed under Art, Calligraphy, Inspiration

Inspiration From the Work of Master Scribe Thomas Ingmire

Calligraphy by Thomas Ingmire

“Everything is For Sale,” by Thomas Ingmire, 23 x 12

A few months ago I blogged about seeing a rock star in the World of Intuitive Painting, Michele Cassou.

Now, I want you meet a rock star in the World of Calligraphy you may not know about.

He was the first American elected to England’s Society of Scribes and Illuminators with a craft membership status. He lives in San Francisco and his work is in public and private collections around the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Stiftung Academy of Art in Berlin, Germany.

A friend from the Capital City Scribes (of Austin) referred me to Thomas Ingmire in 1996. I met him briefly, long enough to get his beautiful book, Words of Risk: The Art of Thomas Ingmire, written by Michael Gullick.

In the Kalligraphia 13 show of the work of the Friends of Calligraphy you can see one of Ingmire’s pieces on display at the San Francisco Public Library’s 6th floor Skylight Gallery (last day is August 26th).

During a walk-through of the art on display, Ingmire flipped through a book he has in the show which was a collaboration with Robert Sheppard. It’s called Afghanistan: a Visual/Verbal Book by Thomas Ingmire and Robert Sheppard and it’s open to a page (see previous post) that gives you a glimpse of Ingmire’s work.

You can see more of his creations on his website or more at Scriptorium St. Francis, and some of his works are for sale.

I still get inspiration looking through the book Words of Risk. Fortunately it is in print.

“Thomas Ingmire writes pictures. He is a visionary artist whose work resonates with warmth and passion….Ingmire has turned words into images, and combined words with images, to make potent visual magic.” – Michael Gullick, author of Words of Risk.

You might also enjoy:

3 Things to Like About Gerhard Richter Painting
3 Discoveries About Intuitive Painting
Celebrating Cameraless Art

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Filed under Art, Books, Calligraphy, Inspiration

Lao-Tzu’s Moving Words on Moving Things

Lao Tzu's Inspirational Quote for De-Cluttering

Lao Tzu’s Inspirational Quote for De-Cluttering

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Filed under Images, Inspiration