AV Arts Convo – Pottery and Paintings by tjCervantes

AV Arts Convo – Pottery and Paintings by tjCervantes

Presenting artwork and an interview with tjCervantes

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

The conversation today turns to thoughts on collaboration, inspiration and the poetry of pottery in an interview with artist tjCervantes. Working across a number of media, notably uber-creative pottery, tjCervantes always finds a way to bring the whimsy of the Fantastic into her work, evoking the magic of mythology and the charm of fairy tales in pottery and paintings that reach back to the elfin and elemental sensibilities of the Middle English. In these works tjCervantes gives meaning to the idea that art is kind of “dreaming out loud.”

But she is not doing it alone.

tjCervantes mentions an ongoing collaborative project with Marthe Aponte in her interview and some works from that collaboration are included here.

And now, on with the show…


Is there a certain emotional valence or emotional register that characterizes your work?

My artwork is characterized by the human emotion in a way that is both satirical and whimsical. I am a lover of fantasy, and like most storytellers, it is about the human condition.

I am a lover of moons, and nature, and a good story that will make me laugh, and make me think. Mostly, it’s about laughter, and that we are all in this together.

I love elegance in a morbid and surreal way. So the gods and goddesses show that side of me, as do my bugs that I am just developing. A collaboration is in the works with Marthe Aponte and I to show entomology at it finest.  I have done a few insects with watercolor, but Marthe’s picote gives so much elegance to the insects that I feel there will be more to come.  Three are finished already!

My gods and goddesses masks, moons, even the skeletons dancing on the cups show that whimsical,  satirical side. This affects everyone. They say, “oh, that reminds me of my brother, my friend’s child, or it just gives them a good feeling.


Who or what are your major artistic influences?

I studied to be an illustrator, and I am a lover of a good fantasy. Combined with my love of pottery, I want my pottery to tell the story of a fantasy with moons talking, gods and goddesses pleasantly ruling in all their majesty, skeletons dancing, and insects and animals are having parties and weddings all by the light of the moon.  Yes, I am a dreamer, and dreams do come true!

My major influencers are from the past, Rene Magritte, he has been my life long influencer. One major influencer from the present is Kit Williams, who is an illustrator of a most fun type of book for adults and children. His book, Masquerade, is one of my favorites. And in pottery, I just found Kurt Weiss, who illustrates wonderful surreal scenes around wonderfully misshapen pottery that he has formed.

There are two people that stand out as catalysts for me to become a potter and an artist. Rich Sim is one. He taught me pottery and motivated me to go on to college to finish my degree in art. He is the only one that was my formal teacher of ceramics. And my dear, long time friend, Debra Bridgman., if it wasn’t for her, I would have been an accountant, lol. She encouraged me to take art classes in college with her. I am not sure I would have taken any art classes if it weren’t for her.  

There are really so many more people and things that influence me. My friends have especially influenced me. We bounce ideas off of one another, and critique our artwork together.  IMG_2432

And if it wasn’t for the current art scene, I am not sure I would have done the amount of art or met my artist friends that I do art with. The art crowd in the Antelope Valley is so enthusiastic to help other people show their art. The Sagebrush Café and MOAH are doing an exceptional job of putting current artwork and local artwork out to the public. Thank you, Eric Martin, Andi Campognone, and Robert Benitez for influencing me, and all of us artists in the Antelope Valley and beyond, to share our art!

And today’s world is what drives me to share my art to the public.

Since retiring six years ago, to become an artist, in the professional sense of the word, I started learning how to market my artwork online. Today, we can embrace the Internet and potentially the world.  The art world has become so huge, art abounds. And we can influence the world with our art. I am my own teacher now, and learning and loving every minute.


Take a look at the latest from tjCervantes and see what she has on offer in these places: 

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AV Arts Convo: Museology by Larissa Nickel

AV Arts Convo – featuring museology – art, design and display – by Larissa Nickel

Presenting Museology – Art, Design and Display – by Larissa Nickel

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

Museology is a term that Larissa Nickel uses as part of her description of what she is up to as an artist, what she is looking at and looking through.

I create works and collective projects that address the museology process as more than just a container of materialism, but also as a conceptual space with performative qualities that activates object theatre and expressive curiosity.

A long time advocate for local artists, Nickel is a professor and museum scholar with ties to KCET through arts projects like Hinterculture that emphasize a creative and ecologically-sound relationship between locals and the local landscape. In an article for KCET, Nickel quotes artist David Hockney describing “the process of looking” as a focal interest in the creative experience, as well as the experience of viewing art. Nickel’s museology approach is seems bound up with this notion of “the process of looking” and so becomes as complexly intellectual as it is frankly aesthetic.


Who is your favorite writer? How does he or she influence your work?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite writer, but there is a common literary thread in theme and device that is influential in my work. Specifically narrative and storytelling concepts such as nonsense literature and the visual/sound devices in Alice in Wonderland, and the wider genre of science fiction such as Frankenstein or Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer have influenced my work including ideas in bioengineering, and nanotechnology. I love magical realism such as Love in the Time of Cholera, and recurring issues of utopia/dystopia which have been in my work for some time. My projects and research on the utopian/dystopian community of Llano del Rio, and dystopian/utopia of illegal dumping in the eco-art project DEHSART (trashed backwards) address our preconceived ideas and the speculative future of these nonsensical binaries.


Who or what are your major artistic influences?

Life is probably the biggest influence, but that can be considered more specifically as the transdiciplinary reach of the arts and humanities. Art, design, philosophy, literature, music, science, film, architecture, new media, etc are all influential factors as well as curiosity, memory, and my muse the museum. Theorists such as Donna Haraway, and Elizabeth Grosz, have weighed on my ideas in many ways, as well as aesthetic and conceptual connections with the visual art practice of Hannah Wilke, Louise Nevelson, and Marcel Duchamp. The history of technology, and the cabinet of curiosities are things I am constantly wondering about, as are mapping, surveillance, and theories of place/identity such as in Lucy Lippard’s critique and explorations. I’m also engaged in the hybridized identity of artist, curator, educator, and activist and how those entities coalesce and divide in our evolution, and ethics as yet another approach to understanding/influencing our future selves.LarissaNickel_Alice

Keep up with Larissa Nickel and find out more at her website – larissanickel.com.

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AV Arts Convo: Painting and Mixed Media Work by AJ Currado

AV Arts Convo – featuring painting and mixed media work by AJ Currado

Presenting Painting and Mixed Media Work by AJ Currado

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series. Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

Painter AJ Currado has described herself as “creating little villages of art” and she has certainly had a hand in doing that off the canvas as well. A youth art teacher substantially inspired by travel, Currado is also a founding editor at SATURATION: Antelope Valley Arts Publication. Back in 2011, Currado helped to launch an annual series of print volumes showcasing the prose, poetry, painting, drawing and wit of local artists (and at this very moment that project moving into the digital space).

Even as she looks to help others shine, Currado has herself continued to grow as an artist, winning awards, embarking on projects of increasing scope, and pushing herself into new areas of expression. Currado’s work will be on exhibit at the MOAH juried show in June and at MOAH Cedar’s LVAG show in July-August. Seek out her work. You’ll be glad you did.

Who is your favorite writer? How does he or she influence your work?

GK Chesterton is one of my favorites. He explores everyday life with an optimistic twist, leading from content seemingly fluffy and cleverly twisting it into some thousand pound gem. I love his optimism and cheerful sobriety.
I like to think that I achieve something similar in my painting. Anything on face value can be simplistic, but you have to pause and think a moment to get at humor or depth. I present simple imagery in my paintings but I see them as portals to an immense web of ideas. A stack of books is not merely a stack of books, it is the thirst for knowledge being simultaneously satisfied and unquenchable. It is achievement in educational goals. It is preparation for travel. It is centuries of humanity past. It is the unending landscape of adventure inside the mind.

What artist or writer from the past would you most like to meet and why?

Vincent van Gogh. My work is nothing like his but I’ve always loved his style and been intrigued by him as a person. I admire his tenacity to keep working and creating so many beautiful paintings with so much pain in his life and so little encouragement. He is a maverick. I was fortunate enough to go to the south of France this past year and spend some time in Arles where van Gogh lived and worked for many years. The terrain is rugged and really inspiring, even in the winter. Easy to see why he painted the area.

CelloScroll (Small)

Track AJ Currado down at her website – www.ajcurrado.com.

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AV Arts Convo: Photography by Douglas Paul Wade

AV Arts Convo – featuring photography by Douglas Paul Wade

Presenting photography by Douglas Paul Wade

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

This week we are excited to showcase the work of Douglas Paul Wade. President of the Lancaster Photography Association (LPA) and chairperson of the Antelope Valley Fair Photography Exhibit, Wade is active both in getting his own work out there and in helping other artists find an audience too. On his website, Wade describes himself as “Striving to become GREAT at photography! Wanting bigger things in life, dreams of them often. Loves when the inner kid takes control.” There is quite a bit more to say about Douglas Paul Wade, but let’s let him and his work to the talking from here.

I got a chance to photograph the very beautiful #Claudette


Who is your favorite visual artist? How does he or she influence your work?

As a photographer, I favor the work of many masters, such as Irving Penn (Entertainer Portraiture), Man Ray (Fine Artist), J. H. Lartigue (Fashion, Motion). Some more modern masters, such as Arno Rafael Minkkinen (Fine Artist), Clarence Sinclair Bull (Portrait), Jerry N. Uelsmann (Fine Artist) and Keith Carter (Fine Artist).

I prefer more often black and white over color images. I believe it is better at telling a story and invoke an emotional response.


What artist do you currently find yourself talking about most often and why?

I spend more time talking to my peers, such as James Poynor, Juan Roberts, and Kathleen Blacklock to find out what they see in their images and their post processes.

Who or what are your major artistic influences?

I love to read and view images of non-photographers, as painters in all kinds of media. To be a better a photographer, I should not study photographers but rather museum presented artists.


Catch up with Douglas Paul Wade and find out more about his work at douglaspaulwade.com.

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AV Arts Convo: Mixed Media Art by Julie O’Sullivan

The AV ArtConvo – featuring art by Julie O’Sullivan.

Presenting Mixed Media Art by Julie O’Sullivan

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

Julie O’Sullivan is our featured artist this week, showcasing a playful and colorful sensibility. O’Sullivan is an active presence on the Antelope Valley arts scene, showing work and winning prizes and hashing out new ideas along the way. This dynamic and sweet-hearted artist brings a little madness to her method and the results, in turn, are dynamic and sweet-hearted, lively and engaging.

Julie O'Sullivan 4

Who or what are your major artistic influences?

Miro’, hands down. Love him, though, in high school I was a die-hard Andy Warhol fan. I wanted to be Edie Sedgewick. When I moved to NYC I stalked his factory and tried to breath the same air he breathed. Loved him. Now that I have seen his work not only in museums, but in people’s houses, I feel I have moved on. It will always be there influencing me in the back of my mind but I am so ingrained in abstract art that if I could meet one artist in all time it would be Miro’.

Julie O'Sullivan 1

What artist do you currently find yourself talking about most often and why?

Local artists Marthe Aponte and Geoffrey Levitt. I met them when they were starting out and look at where they are now in the matter of a few of years! I love how they have evolved and seek inspiration in their advancement from beginning artists to emerging artist, artists to watch. I think they have greater things ahead for them. I will forever be a fan of Miro’ and Lurcat. I am terribly inspired by them and had the great pleasure of visiting both of their studios.

Julie O'Sullivan 2

How does music influence, shape or fit into your work?

It used to influence it greatly, especially during my celestial series. I would pull up Pandora and paint to new adult alternative artists. I will forever be a fan of Parov Steller and Wax Tailor. They always inspire me to paint openly, they seem to open up my third eye. Through Pandora I found a whole new line-up of international artists. I always paint well to Beruit, they are very calming. The lead singer sounds a lot like David Byrne from the Talking Heads. David has a special place in my heart. Chvrches has an entirely different mood and when I am feeling a bit off I pull that Pandora station up for a listen. Then there is Vampire Weekend, Phoenix and Ratatat for when I am in the “designing” mood. These are bands I would have worked to in architecture school and now work to when I paint cityscapes. Bjork is a long time influence. Love her and her daring to be unique. When I listen to her I feel her mood. I love to paint feelings, such is the life of an abstract artist. A song by Wild Belle, called “Keep You” is one I play over and over. That YouTube Video just hits me for some reason. I am haunted by it. I feel it is like the child within a man that you can never keep.

Julie O'Sullivan 3


Catch up with Antelope Valley Artist Julie O’Sullivan at her website.Arts Blog

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AV Arts Convo: Poems by Hollie N. Martin

HAPPENING NOW: Antelope Valleys Arts new initiative, the AV ArtConvo, featuring poems by Hollie N. Martin.

Presenting poems by Hollie N. Martin – “Laguna’s Labor” & “Shakes in Heat”

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is now live: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts is going digital.

This week we are featuring the work of Hollie N. Martin, a poet with a vivid and deeply rooted connection to the arts. When she is not actively meditating on sound through her writing, Martin teaches at Antelope Valley College, where she is probably also meditating on vowels and consonants in delicate contrast and delightful pattern.

File:Rocky Sea Coast-William Trost Richards.jpgLaguna’s Labor


Waters of sanctification scattered.

The sonogram of fish.

A birthing, writing baby

begging to issue from the womb.


Waves do not seem as harsh

from so great a height,

from so small a whisper

not wanting to crack the air with human language.

The tide sings an aria of rocks,

of an intercourse between liquid and solid.

Freely you have received.

                                    Freely give.


Waters of sanctification scattered.

The out-spray of a crash.

Brute force munching a foundation,

eating the cracks of the earth.


And you are down there,

deep-sea decked in 80s yellow.

World never to be born.

World who wonders what it must be like

to inhale deep and

escape amniotic fluid.


And I am up here,

arms cradling the metal guardrail, my own tightrope,

waiting for this foundation’s dissolve,

for the moon’s glow to liquefy my heart

and issue a prayer.


Interview Part 1

Who is your favorite writer? How does he or she influence your work?

Li-Young Lee will always be my favorite poet, and Book of My Nights will always stand in my mind as his best work.  I was first exposed to Lee as an undergrad at CSUN, and I fell in love with the spirituality and sensuality of his language.

I love the recurring theme of the father figure in his work, as in the poem “Little Father,” which discusses burying the father in the heart and birthing him again into the child’s own image.  This is especially touching now, as my own father is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease; I am having to rebirth him today, to take his sounds and movements and make words out of them.

Lee also brings in song and birds, which are two intense touchstones in my life; these images brought me through my own “book of nights.”  This line from “Lullaby” comforted me when I was suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts while in college: “After crying, Child / there’s still singing to be done.”  The capitalization of the Child spoke to me of importance and significance, as a push to keep existing.  Then the lines, “After wings // and the shadows of wings, there’s still / the whole ungrasped body / of flying to uncover.”  This spoke to me of the promise of potential: there was, and is, so much more flying to do.

I have wanted to emulate the sense of pause and depth in his work, and while I am far from achieving that goal, Lee gave me a deep appreciation of the way one word can change the timbres of a work.

Shakes in Heat

does not feel like Christmas
until there are lights.

Small and white
like rain drops.
Large and pied
like gum drops.
Lights from trees, cars, overpasses,
lights from a city screaming daytime in nighttime tongue.

And I whisper words
while the lights scream. Somehow.
They pulse. I think it’s my eyes.
I think it is lack of 20/20,
lack of hindsight, no time to reason,
only to eat the moment
one droplet at a time.

Sometimes I choose to unfocus.
I open eyes wide and rest.
The lights explode in blur.
Then I strain, then I readjust,
then the light’s song rushes toward me
and it shakes in heat.

Completely mechanical. What
isn’t mechanical.
Christmas becomes a series of bulbs
dangling from gaunt-green strings.
Swear words
at the raising of a killed tree.

So I look for a miracle in shivering lights.
(They’re cold from lack of attention.)
I look for a dream through bars
locking away the view.
Dear city of angels,
I look for winged creatures under every bush.
We with our snowless eves.
Us with questions and pleas.
You and I and cries for peace.

My heart matching a pulse too great to be a machine.

I think light is magic.
I think the city is lit by Gabriel’s torch.
The cries accompany glorias.

I will catch the light in my hands.
I will take it home, sew a little nest,
and watch its wings develop.
I will ask it to fly inside my eyes.


Interview Part 2

How does music influence, shape or fit into your work?

To be honest, I often can’t write anything creative without music.

I have been singing since I was little, and I learned to play guitar when I was 21.  I tried to form a band with my sisters for a time, and we had our own level of success, but it never went very far.  I think I was more fascinated with the writing process of music and performing it for a few friends than for “musical success.”  (One of my favorite pieces of ours was a melodic rendition of pieces from Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.”)

Musical sounds captivate me.  Playing a chord progression in a repetitive manner will often allow me to “see” words or images (I’m a sucker for very traditional time measures with sticky melodies).  I will get a concept, set the guitar down, and start writing.  Some of my strongest poems have been written in these moments.

I have also produced work while listening to the music of others.  My musical tastes tend to not reside in the mainstream—and I’m not talking about the “cool” non-mainstream.  I grew up surrounded by music that was written from the perspective of people who were followers of Christ.  I attended concerts almost every weekend through my teens and twenties, and some of those musicians have remained in my auditory repertoire ever since.

Arts BlogThe artists Jason Upton and Rita Springer are two of these people, and they produce music that I just can’t classify into a specific genre.  Upton is extremely free-flow, in the sense that he often writes songs while in the concert experience itself.  That creativity helps uncork me, especially when I am suffering from writer’s block.  Springer channels a Janice Joplin type of voice and pounds out melodies on the piano.  She is very raw—like a wild lioness who could kill you at any moment and afterwards comfort her baby cubs.  She is so different from me that she also uncorks new arenas of creativity.  Their albums can’t even capture how they sound live, so whenever I can, I try to see them, often with a notebook and a pen in my hand.

Most recently, I have been moved to write while listening to “When the Music’s Over” by The Doors and “The Fire and the Flood” by Loud Harp (a duo who sings the Psalms).



Note: Image above of “Rocky Sea Coast” by William Trost Richards (public domain image).

AV Arts Convo: Art & Poetry by Edwin Vasquez

HAPPENING NOW: Antelope Valleys Arts new initiative, the AV ArtConvo, poetry and Multi-Media art by Edwin Vasquez.

Presenting Art & Poetry by Edwin Vasquez

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is now live: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts is going digital.

This week’s featured artist is a substantial figure in the regional art scene in many ways: showing, helping others show, publishing, speaking and opening artistic doors – Edwin Vasquez.

Edwin Vasquez |Interview Part 1

Is there a certain emotional valence or emotional register that characterizes your work?

As an artist and writer, the term “Humanities” links my work together, especially since I was born in Guatemala, where a forty year internal political war gave the artists a voice for the voiceless. I don’t know if my work is still “political”, but it has definitely evolved because my focus is on creating art using recycled materials. I think art should include social issues because, even here, many don’t have a voice regarding political issues.




We shall not be denied the freedom,

the liberty and happiness

on which our country was built.


We are the farmer’s hands

rough like old leather

with blisters  and aches from working on the fields

where your food comes from.


We are the trash collectors

keeping the streets clean

where your limousine is parked.


We are the nurses and doctors

saving your brat kids from drug overdose,

from drinking like pigs with your filthy money

because at home there is no love other than for stocks and bonds.


We are the teachers

buying school materials out of our own pockets,

and preparing the next generation

so they can attend Ivy League schools

not because they bought their way in, but because they earned the right to be there.

Yes, we deserve liberty, freedom and happiness

even-though priorities deviate us from our dreams

and only takes hateful words from powerful blindness

and arrogant men to wake us up,

your words were like a cold shower that got to our souls.


Yes sir, we are Americans too,

we came here for a better future,

we didn’t grow up with a silver spoon,

we made that spoon with our sweat and hard work,

we are the Hernandez, the Robledo, the Vásquez

we are part of the puzzle that makes America great.


Thank you for your poisonous words,

they are spreading in our communities like California wild fires

and soon you will see a tsunami wave so strong

that your wealth and your ambition will be tarnished

and like the rest of us, you, Sir

can look at the White House from the street.


Interview Part 2

What artist do you currently find yourself talking about most often and why?

The artist I am currently following is Efrain Recinos, a Guatemalan contemporary architect, painter, and sculptor. Sadly he passed in 2011, but his art legacy is of tremendous value for Guatemala and for the world. He was born in the second city of importance, Quetzaltenango, which is the city I was born in as well.

How does music influence, shape or fit into your work?

Music is an essential tool in my art life; Jazz and Latin-American are my favorites. Since the internet gives us the opportunity to listen to the beats and sounds of many countries, I find myself listening to music from all over the world while exploring mixed media in my studio.


Hollywood, the endless play with real life actors,

those with rags and riches walking among the stars

and dancing the waltz of all nations,

where all dream how awesome meeting a movie star could be.


The seasoned actors make their moves unceremoniously

across the hot concrete stage, hustling the unsuspected tourists

drinking coffee or Red Bulls, while attempting to take selfies with faking smiles

and overflowing the sidewalks like hot lava rivers from Brea to Vine,

unaware of the homeless trying to sleep because it was yet another bad day.


Hollywood, glamour and seventy-five degree weather,

where the scent of urine is overpowered by cigarette smoke,

Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, or illegal weed,

where walking the long boulevard becomes another meaning,

where it feels real and, then, it hits you —

here, poets pick the stanzas just by opening the senses and

realizing, sadly, that the golden promise is nothing but fool’s gold.


Hollywood, the endless play

with characters and fake superheroes,

Gucci glasses and skateboarders,

where Starbucks and tarnished stars

compete with IPhones and Barbie dolls…

this endless play, where actors come for a piece of the pie

and end up living a new tomorrow

for the second act and their broken dreams.



AV ArtConvo: Poems by Tino Garcia

HAPPENING NOW: Antelope Valleys Arts new initiative, the AV ArtConvo, featuring poems by Tino Garcia.

Presenting poems by Tino Garcia: “Predators” & “Rap and Bone Shop of the Heart”

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is now live: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts is going digital.

This week’s featured artist is a musically inspired and intellectually playful poet, Tino Garcia.

Tino Garcia: “I am a teacher, artist, and writer who currently teaches at Antelope Valley College. I grew up near Santa Fe, New Mexico and then attended high school and college in Moorhead, Minnesota. I studied English and Spanish and then taught English as a Second Language in Mexico City for a year, before earning a Master’s in Religion (Philosophy of) in Claremont, CA. I studied further in that field at UCSB, while also teaching ESL. I started teaching English at AVC in 2015.”




I lie on my back on a yoga mat

on my patio in Ventura,

land of good fortune,

on a Tuesday morning,

stretching my body and supine mind

into contemplative poses

and prayer recitals,

in the hour after I awaken.

Noticing the rich green

of the pine tree as it babbles

with birdsong, a faint plane

crosses my sky,

draggin in its wake

across my mental sky

an indelible image

from an magazine ad:

a model in a snow-white bikini,

and black stilettos,

lounging near a chic LA hi-rise pool,

cocktail in hand –

airbrushed goddess

of Californicated imaginations –

a Skyy Vodka bottle perched

on the her side table,

luring us into her posh privilege

and luxurious repose.

The scene sizzles in a sexy, blasé

devil may care kind of way.


Oh how lovely it would be

to bask with her under that sun

forget schedules, obligations, calls:

pour some Skyy into us

and just chill…

chill until we feel

a flood of numbness

a rush of inertia

sweep our minds clean

of this dirty world

at least for a little eternal while.

But as I blink and squintingly drink

in the ad’s imagery again,

I notice a plane’s shadow pass

over her oblivious repose,

with an elongated, phallic nose

and wings with protrusions:

not engines, but bombs.

Suddenly she’s cast not

in the city of angels,

but under the hijacked plane

and gaze of predators.

Their shadow and eyes invisible,

except their embeds

in the splay of her lustrous,

raven black hair:

I gaze and am gazed at

by the unblinking,

unmistakable head, beak, and eye

of the black bird of death.

Why is this predator eyeing me, us?


I look again to the sky and see

across it a 15 year old

lying on his patio,

stretching his body and supine mind

into contemplative poses

and prayer recitals,

in the hour after he awakens

on a Tuesday morning

in a foreign land:

in al Majala, Yemen,

in Waziristan, Pakistan,

in Nangahar, Afghanistan.


The boy, the woman, and I

all haunted by homeland insecurities

and their predators: I spy




predator soldier-criminal-complexes,

and a dove-colored Predator drone

flying invisibly over his house

at 5,000 feet

haunting his entire sky.

And on a Tuesday morning as he prays,

it buries that boy’s prayer

in a missile squawk as hot

and haughty and eternal as the hell fire

for which it is named.

And in a control room in Vegas

and in the Pentagon, if you listen

you can hear the brass squawks

of Pyrrhic victories,

as a whole world heaves and







Interview Part 1:

How does music influence, shape or fit into your work?

Music bears an intimate relationship to my poetry: intimate in the sense that they seek to speak the unspeakable to each other. They turn to and turn into each other and I can never separate them, as if they are divine twins, or shadows of each other. Most of my poems are meant to be spoken out and I often set them to music. Music is a many-voiced muse whose rhythms and sways and beats I aim to channel into my words as I speak them, whether the poem is accompanied by actual music or not. I also rap, so many of my poems are essentially raps and vice versa.


Who or what are your major artistic influences?

My major artistic influences come primarily from three forces: music, especially rap; literature; and diverse intellectual traditions (philosophical, religious, political, etc.). The figures I draw on most tend to blend these forces. In terms of rap, who comes to mind are Mos Def and Kweli, Immortal Technique, Brotha Ali, Wu-Tang, Common, the Roots, and many others. In terms of literature, diverse figures such as Sherman Alexie, Langston Hughes, Jimmy Santiago Baca, David Whyte, Junot Diaz, Rumi, Walt Whitman, Julio Cortázar, Nikos Kazantzakis, John Fowles, Herman Hesse, and others. On the intellectual tip, Nietzsche, Socrates, Jacques Derrida, Cornel West, Frantz Fanon, Enrique Dussel, and others.


Rap and Bone Shop of the Heart


I crack the question open from the start to you:

What if rap is a rag n bone shop of the heart too?

What if it were true?

Would it sound different to you?

Cuz like Hughes the classic forms it may eschew,

But it too hews and drops innumerable jewels

Cuz rap did not come here to do tricks with rhymes, no –

It came to reproduce the human soul:

To lay stun hew and shake its peers’ ears.

But too many still don’t hear, so to be clear:

Rap’s best should be appreciated as peers

Of master creators like Shakespeares.

Huh! You may jeer,

Thinking they’re not on par,

But peer again, ask yourself who’s the bard:

Quote “The most benevolent king

Communicates through your dreams” unquote –

Is this the yearning of Elizabethan tragedy

Or a 21st century soul activist MC?

They said hip-hop was much ado about nothing:

Not to be thought of as true sound conducting.

But Shakespeare too was born under a rhyming planet

And a stork dropped hip-hop into the pocket of iambic

Pentameter, so you could rock “Shall I Compare Thee”

At 80 b.p.m.s or 140, get it really racing!

Open up the Bard’s unique vocab and let its canon blast

But I heard he busts fewer unique words

Per first 35,000 words in his oeuvre

Than the Wu-Tang Clan, who drops science like WMDs.

So Socrates’ philosophies’ hypotheses can’t define either of these

Griots, custodians of alkaline knowledge from parallel streets;

Peep the Rag and Bone epigraphy:

“Those masterful images because complete

Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?

A mound of refuse or the sweeping of a street

Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can

Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut

Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone

I must lie down where all the ladders start,

In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.”

From this foul place excavated by W.B. Yeats

Comes the profound base of rap’s heavy weights.

For who quipped, “Maybe it’s hatred

I spew, maybe it’s food for the spirit”?

Was it the haunted Lord Hamlet

Or the sarcastic Marshall Mathers

A.k.a. Eminem? Well it was the latter;

But that’s just to say affinities resound, even if

Shakespeare ever redounds to peerlessness,

Cuz stripped of our contextual lenses

The lyrics begin blendin

And raisin conditional questions:

What if it were an unwrapped heart

Right from the slavish start?

What if its core were soft not hard?

What if it embarks on largest arks?

What if rap reveres the currents of King’s dream?

Channels the rivers of America’s dream stream?

What if that’s what it breathes and bleeds?

What if we need to ink it into our creeds?

Need to sing its poems into our Odysseys?

So it too can return home to its Penelopes.

Maybe we need its unseen visions

Like Odysseus needed Tiresias

And like King needed Jesus.

Cuz rap’s a nomad enlightening the lands

Tree of life black every hue rattled

By its solar alma dura

From the concrete jungles to la casa de la luna:

It blends ascents toward vaunted peaks

With descents beneath conscious streets.

See, I dive into rap’s marrow stock

Dig, it’s my rag and bone shop.

So hell yeah it’s full of rags and bones

Shady like Hades so it has soul,

So much soul it overflows

Cuz it’s known rivers, grown deep

And not knowing me you could know me.

Learn and explore my soulful currents

By observing raps flows and disturbances

What if it could help us learn to grieve?

Help heal the wounds burning internally eternally?

What if its strong tonic were truer than

Fine wine, bomb chronic, and juice and gin?

What if it could shake and bake you

Back into earthen clay to remake you?

What if it could bend your tree of life

Along the arc of justice over time?

What if it begins as unwanted grit

Trapped in a mantle of darkness within

A shell, and through slow devotion

Pearls grow in from those deep oceans?

Pried open their beauty blesses our skin,

The grit now covered in sublime rhythms

Manifesting divine wisdoms;

Refined over time the jewels shine on

The priceless light of a daimon

So bright got the cosmos sayin right on

Big bang your beats while we rhyme on!


You ever burned with the warmth of Mahatma Ghandi?

You ever heard the heart of Brotha Ali?

“A man may see how this world goes with no eyes

Blind in the eye so I see you with my heart open wide.”

Who is rapping on the door in the dark?

Is it somebody who wants to do us harm?

No, no it is three strange angels

Open the door and be thankful

Rap is a secret that not all understand

But many blues bears and jazz cats can;

Its lovers grasp its heartfelt beat

And “whoever’s not killed for love is dead meat.”

As coffins rest on coffins in worldwide fields of war

Mos Def cries and Funerals March

And Immortal Technique blasts a Third World manifesto

Like Talib Kweli’s Ballad of the Black Gold

And rap dances with the devil, it is true,

But also with gods, and I hope you do too.

A chorus of laments rages cries and rap knells

Landmarks left behind like mines and shrapnel

The ruins, the unexploded




The unfinished sentences of war




So Tupac held the ashy hand of the Lord of death

Walked the road of children of fire obsessed with it

Gravitas in his gait because he carried graves

His art a refusal of gravity and his own grave

Until its embrace created his fate as an image graven

Crafted rap rosaries that grew in concrete vases

Prayed for shade and havens over raw street beats

And chased chaste Hail Mary: Dear mama save me!

Rage gave way to wailing gave way to graceful sleep.


So what if we call raps prayers and blessings?

Poems of our daughters and sons confessing

What they feel needs raising, holding, protecting

Wishing they knew how it feels to be free

Like Nina Simone – like you and me:

Rap is grateful to what comes

Amazingly faithful to other drums

Incredible fidelity to the same mother

Indelible fidelity to the same sun.


Interview Part 2:

What musician, visual artist or writer would you like to do a TED Talk on and why?

I would love to do a TED talk on the contemporary writer Walter Mosley because he is new to me and I am loving being held under the sway of his genius. I am reading some of his works (Rose Gold, Little Green, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, etc), one of which I am also teaching and, though I do not know that much about him, I feel like I know him through his characters. Through his style, themes, and characters, such as Socrates Fortlow and Easy Rawlins, he fires my imagination and takes my wonder on walkabouts, while also stirring and discharging the sacred outlaw and deep outrage within me. As an illustration of this sway his works have over me and which I would like to share, I am currently working on an essay and also a song about Socrates Fortlow. Mosley’s references to historical and literary events and figures would provide amazing material to analyze in a TED talk, as would the screenplays he has helped turn into films (e.g., Devil in a Blue Dress). Additionally, from what I gather about political and social thinking, I think it is worthy of sharing and discussing. There is so much food for thought and soul food in the works I have encountered that a TED talk would offer an impetus to eat more of what he’s serving up and to crystallize what is currently cooking as a result of his food.

Arts Blog






Tres Amigas – Gallery Show Opening on November 15th at Sagebrush Cafe


When you hear the words “random eclectic art” you probably envision a certain level of vibrancy and energy. That is entirely appropriate for the upcoming group show at Sagebrush Cafe bringing together the work of three of the Antelope Valley’s most established and accomplished artists – Donna Weil, Liz Cotten and Joanne McCubrey.

The trio will show a mix of styles and media that demonstrate a deep creativity, a willingness to experiment and wide range of influences. Some of the influences are recognizably local, with landscape paintings inspired by regional landmarks like Vasquez Rocks. Some influences are more personal and perhaps inflected by distinctly individual histories and motifs.

The show opens on November 15th with a reception from 2-5 p.m. at Sagebrush Cafe (42014 50th Street West, Quartz Hill, Ca 93536).

Pavlina Nichole – Extraordinary Day at Sagebrush Cafe

There are a number of themes at work in the collage art of Pavlina Nichole on display now under the name, Extraordinary Day in the gallery space at Sagebrush Café. Playfulness and fun are the most striking features of many of the pieces in the show.

Bright colors and witty juxtapositions create a sense of almost revelatory innocence – or at least, Pavlina Nichole seems to revel in an ironic innocence with these collage works. The irony comes in the fact that the work on display in this show often uses a consistent and recognizable set of visual codes and cues relating to ideas of gender, body image, sex and sexuality, and, yes, innocence itself.

#picoftheday #pavlinanichole #papercollage #lovely #collageart #vintage #love #paper #art #delicious #lines #design #blue #favorite #shine #glitter #dance #fashion #beautiful #woman #body #diamonds #treasure #vogue #sexy #blackandwhite #cutandpaste #cute #artist Powered by @instatagapp for iPhoneThe art in Extraordinary Day is sometimes about how the world sees us and sometimes about how we see ourselves. It is also about how the imagination stands at the center of each of these directionalities/points of view and how, if a person wants to instill a change in perspectives, the imagination is a necessary part of any self-creation, self-shaping or new world view.

Using images cut from vintage advertisements and fashion magazines from the 1950s (and some from as far back as the 1930s), Nichole’s collages draw a subtle comment on the various sources of our contemporary views of beauty and sexuality – without breaking from the metaphorical and playful codes that characterize the style of each piece.

In her own words, Pavlina Nichole thinks of her art as exploring “the drama of everyday life” in ways that utilize vintage images from a shared history as “a groundwork where I can create a NEW story or moment.”

To risk stretching just an iota, it is tempting to say that Extraordinary Day treats the landscape of 1950s commercial imagery as a pseudo-Garden-of-Eden, offering, maybe, a glimpse of where our ideas have come from and how far (or how little) they have traveled since being ejected from that well-known paradise where everyone had a new car in the driveway, a slim-waisted home-cooking wife and a work-ethic matched only by a great, blustery sense of humor.

That may be taking the metaphor at the heart of these collages past its intended reach, but the iconography here is undeniably blissful, frankly ironic and consistent with a quiet, artistic re-imagining of the ideas of sexual identity and self-image.

Show Reviewed:

Extraordinary Day

Collage Art

by Pavlina Nichole

Showing at Sagebrush Cafe

42104 50th Street West, Quartz Hill CA 93536