Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Enigma: Pink-Red Minimal

Pink-Red Minimal doesn't talk to me much even though we've been friends for 15 years, which makes it an enigma. Because of its silence, I'm not sure where it's headed. MoCrow felt synchronicity swirling around her work with the combination of circles and the color red at her blog. I like the magic of synchronicity--she inspired me to pull out Pink-Red Minimal and dust it off. It originally began as this:

This was inspired by a small publicity graphic in a magazine. I liked the shape and colors...

The back looks interesting. I pieced it together with several layers of newsprint as a foundation, so bits of newsprint remain. I always thought I would add batting and a back, however, now I hesitate.

Can Pink-Red Minimal remain minimal? I'm not sure because it invited me to do reverse appliqué on it. It contains several studies: 1) Circles with layers. 

2) Free form elements.

3) Bean-shaped forms (for lack of a better name). 
This is all the reverse appliqué I've done to date (took forever). As it measures about 4 1/2 feet tall, I might finish in another ten years if it will kindly raise its voice above a whisper. Too many other pieces yell at me regularly for attention--a cacophony fills my studio. Pink-Red Minimal sits patiently on the quilt rack.

My granddaughters got caught up in making valentines yesterday, so with a remarkable stroke of memory, I have remembered Valentine's Day. Flower and candy shops in Tunis try to drum up some business for Valentine's Day, but it feels artificial as it is not part of the culture. I usually forget and I don't intend to remember next year, however, today I will make Pink-Red Minimal my Valentine, just because of its wild colors. I will stitch on it lovingly and see if it will whisper to me. 

Ok, ok, my husband already knows he's at the top of the list 
and I can't stitch on him. 
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

News Update

It’s difficult to know where to begin, so many small incidents have happened, however, last Wednesday a red line was crossed and this requires a commentary. 
First, I’ll back track and begin with some good news. Recent polls show that the Nida Tunis ("The Call of Tunisia") Party has pulled ahead of the ruling religious party and would win if elections should be held. In addition, the Republican Party and the Massar' Party have signed an agreement with Nida Tunis to work together, making this group the major opposition to the ruling religious party. This is reassuring as the group around Nida Tunis is made up of the top intellectuals and minds of the country.

However, as could be seen in last week’s post about the beach town of Hammamet, Tunisia’s economy is on the skids. Unemployment keeps rising and to make matters worse, the vocal extreme right has been vandalizing and burning marabout mausoleums, of which they do not approve. A marabout is a sort of holy person, a bit like a saint, and certain traditions have developed around their mausoleums that could be considered more cultural than religious. Additionally, the extreme right and the ruling religious party have made it clear that culture and the arts are not on their agenda. Artists have been threatened and attacked verbally, even physically.

Freedom of expression and freedom of the press remain fragile. Journalists face law suits (and consequently prison) for reporting on government secrets and scandals, which are numerous and poorly hidden. The owner of the TV station Tounsiya remains in prison after the court acquitted him of charges (filed by the government) and ordered his release. The head of was condemned to four months of prison without his knowledge of it (!). And of course, no serious investigations have been undertaken by the government concerning journalists’ allegations, or concerning criminal activities by the extreme right or by the ruling party’s militia, called "Committees for the Protection of the Revolution."

The possibility of political assassinations of opposition leaders and journalists has become a reality. In October, Lotfi Nageth, the head of the Nida Tunis Party in Tataouine (a town in southern Tunisia), was beaten to death by a crowd of extreme right thugs. The government maintains it was a street brawl, however, Nida Tunis members convincingly argue that the ruling religious party was behind this death, making it the first political assassination. Last Wednesday (Feb. 6), Chokri Belaïd, an activist lawyer under the dictatorship and head of the Democratic Socialist Party, was shot in front of his home. Four bullets: to the head, throat, heart, and right shoulder. The precision would indicate a professional. 

The use of a gun is unprecedented. Nobody in Tunisia may own a firearm, except hunters with special permits. The government's inability to control the sale of illegal arms from Libya appears suspicious. Rumors suggest that the ruling religious party is stockpiling them as well as extreme right groups.

A red line has been crossed. Under the dictatorial regime Tunisians suffered arrest, beatings, and torture, however, cold-blooded assassination has never been a part of this culture. On Wednesday, two million angry people took to the streets to protest across Tunisia. Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister, Hamadi Jeballi, declared that he would form a temporary government of technocrats until elections could be held, which opposition political parties have demanded since last October when the government's mandate ran out. On Thursday, the ruling religious party declared that they did not approve of the Prime Minister's proposal and they are maneuvering to oust him. Obviously, all those incompetent ministers don't want to lose their well-paid jobs.

Today, Friday Feb. 8th, was Chokri Belaïd's funeral, which was declared a national day of mourning by all the political parties except the ruling religious party. A general strike was called for all of Tunisia as well. 

And so, my sketchbook page turns to political assassination because one must not remain silent. I chose a child-like style and bright, clear colors because Chokri Belaïd had no bodyguards and walked out of his home innocently.
The triangles represent a shattering--the shattering of a life, of a family, of civil society.
Maybe there will be a larger mind is boiling, Tunisia is boiling

Sunday, February 3, 2013

More Shopping

First, I would like to thank everyone for the best wishes and kind emails I received resulting from my last post about my hospitalized loved one. You have warmed my heart and given me strength in a period of difficulty. When there are bumps in the road, I usually turn to my blog and say "Now I need to make something good happen." And it is thanks to you, my virtual audience, that this is possible. And so, today I can address a more cheerful subject because my loved one is at home and slowly recovering. I am grateful for that and for you.

I took a day off in January to go with a friend to Hammamet, a beach town about thirty minutes away. She proposed visiting several antique stores. Admittedly, I'm not much of a shopper, but the brocante (antique/junk stores) present treasure hunting opportunities. So off we went.
The first shop we walked into had some gorgeous items mixed with less interesting "stuff."
There were some lovely pieces in carved and inlaid wood. I found the big copper bell intriguing
and I would have liked to own that nail-studded chest.
Prices were a bit steep in this shop; the owner knew the value of what he had. 
Then I took a few pictures of Hammamet, which was originally a small village
that grew with the construction of beach hotels and the arrival of tourists. 
It was a glorious day, however, what struck me was the emptiness. No tourists, no traffic, very few inhabitants, lots of closed shops and businesses. The Tunisian economy is doing poorly.
We had the restaurant at the top of the old fort to ourselves.
Fish was the specialty of the restaurant and it was an excellent meal.

Another shot of the beach from the restaurant.
This beach is usually crowded. 
It felt like a ghost town, a ghost beach.
But that didn't stop us from visiting a couple more shops.
Cute store front, however, this store had only one interesting item. The third and last store was the best, rather overwhelming, actually.
Having a copper collection, which I showed here
I was enamored by the many copper pieces.
The old irons drew my eye as well. I showed my collection here.
There were a lot of interesting items.
I considered taking these gloves home, which were late 19th or early 20th century. 

Lacy and with yellowed buttons. However, the owner wanted fifty dollars, and I couldn't in all good conscience do anything to them (like cut them up or stitch on them) because of their historical value. Maybe they'll still be there if I go back.
The other item I liked was a door knocker. I was satisfied with taking a picture.

If I should give the impression that I exercised restraint, it's just that I'm saving the very best for last. Indeed, restraint flew out the window. Here is the one interesting item in the second shop with the cute store front.
Yes, she called to me. Ok, I don't own a treadle, but maybe someday I'll persuade her to sew for me. 
It was the beautiful designs that made me bring her home.
Such elegance, such finesse, a visual pleasure.
The owner wanted about $150, I offered $100. Sold to the only bidder.