Post-Travel Blog – A Magnificent Adventure, May 2018


Greetings! Well, it has been over a month since I returned with my family from my Art Inspiration & Research Trip to Southern Spain & Morocco. And what can I say? It was even more magnificent and grand an adventure than expected. Every day was rich and full in so many inexplicable ways that I almost can’t write about it. Words are so inadequate. I am processing it and will be doing so for quite a long while. Since being home to begin, I have been painting and working with a Star of David pattern in blue found at the Lazama Synagogue in Marrakech.

All of my planning really paid off. I hired 4 excellent private guides in Fez and Marrakech, a different guide a day, each of whom was a scholar, linguist, and historian. In walking each city/medina we learned so very much about the history, culture, customs, religion, language, symbolism, architecture, food, markets, and many illuminating stories. In Seville and Granada we took 2 group tours also with top notch guides at The Alcazar and The Alhambra. These were also rich in detail, context, and aesthetics. Then we went back to The Alhambra a second day on our own pacing to take in and linger in The Nasrid Palaces. Here’s what I wrote with the photos I posted on my Facebook page on April 4th:

“The magnificence of The Alhambra and its Nasrid Palaces cannot be overstated. And can’t be truly captured on camera. What the visual and spatial language of the decorative walls and the spatial layering of frames within infinite frames does as you move through the space is expansive, alive, infinite. I kept thinking of raindrops on water, radiating pulsating energy, simultaneous multiplicity of forms and rhythms. And the infinite framing of views, realms upon other realms. There’s more meaning to decode (light and shade, divine light, sacred geometry, interlace, stars and flowers, etc.)…here are some pictures instead.”

Another highlight was hiring master calligrapher Charkaoui Mohamed at Cafe Clock in Fez for a private Arabic calligraphy workshop. Again, so much about history, language, poetry, mathematics, mysticism/religion, materials and techniques were packed into that experience. Every day I took hundreds of photos everywhere we went documenting aesthetic experiences and drinking in the meanings, spaces, symbols in the streets and in the courtyards, riads, madrases, and gardens. A favorite theme was all the variations of doors in Morocco. Not just doors, but doors as portals, all with multiplicity of formal variations of hamsas and protections against the evil eye. These could be from relatively simple diamond ironworks to elaborate door knockers (interlaced or as hands) to the number 5 to the ornamental ironwork on the doors that also have protective, good luck functions. Most often you would find all of these. The stark contrast between the outside and inside (exterior to interior) is quite culturally significant, therefore giving great meaning to the portal between.

The last highlight for now was our 3 day journey through the changing terrain of the Moroccan landscape (also exquisite) in order to have one awe inspiring once in a lifetime overnight stay in the Sahara Desert. Yes, it was with a sunset camel ride, a walk up and run down a steep 100 meter dune, dancing and drumming and dining with the Berbers in carpeted sand and tents. More magnificence. Beyond words.

I couldn’t be more grateful for and inspired by this expansive Art Research Project & Trip. I am currently sorting through the photos that I find most immediately useful in the studio. And unwinding experiences into new work in as yet unknown ways. Thank you most sincerely to those who encouraged me to dream and play big – to create this project on my own when applying through an Art Foundation for a Travel Grant didn’t come through. To those who helped me find my agency and power and resources to make this particular dream come true. On to my next endeavors. Until then, I wish for you to fulfill your own dreams and share your unique light. The world really needs it.

PS. There are so many more experiences than what I wrote here. Perhaps I will get to share with you in person someday. Here are some links/resources. Feel free to contact me for more.

Be Riad Marrakech
Kam Kam Dunes
Le Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
Le Musee des Confluences, Marrakech
Dar Attajalli, Fez
Cafe Clock, Fez
The Alhambra
La Casa del Flamenco, Seville
Alhambra Slowhomes

The Dream Project – Art Inspiration & Research Trip to Andalucia, Spain & Morocco!


Well it’s here, it’s happening. It is with deepest gratitude to my sponsors & supporters that my artistic dream is funded and is coming true!! I thank each one of them for deeply believing in me and my value as an artist, bringing my visions into the world. This is really beyond priceless to me.

It was October 1991 since the one & only time I went to the Alhambra Palace – I am so excited to return! It had a profound effect on me as a young artist. Above are pictures of me then from that European trip where I also studied art at an International Program in Italy (doing figure drawings and abstract paintings) then traveled through Europe, backpacking for 4 months.

My Dream Project for 2018: For the past year I have been deeply longing to travel to southern Spain to Seville and Granada to see The Alhambra Palace and then to travel to Morocco (Fez, Marrakech, etc.) this spring (March/April) for 3 weeks. Really – I’ve been obsessed since last August when I first pitched it for an art grant application I eventually didn’t get. But it felt to me like a deep calling I had been having like the hero’s journey. I tried to ignore it at first, and then it kept at me harder until I was obsessed to make it happen.

My paintings are deeply influenced and inspired by Arabic/Islamic ornamentation (also ornamentation from Japan & India & elsewhere). At 25 years old on that trip I was forever changed by the Moorish tiles, art & architecture I saw there. My work had naturally been going in that decorative direction already, but the visual language I encountered opened up new worlds & possibilities to me.  Two years later I studied Islamic Art History while in Graduate School in New York (and going to the Met’s Islamic Dept every Friday), and have been studying the ornamentation and sacred geometry ever since. As a young woman traveling alone I didn’t feel safe to go to Morocco then, but now I get to for the very first time (with family in tow).

I am deeply invested in being affected by the Arabic/Islamic ornamentation and culture and this is what I am most interested in being exposed to on this trip. Additionally, I am interested in the Jewish cultural history (we’ll be visiting those quarters & synagogues as well), the mixing of the Berbers, and to a lesser extent the Christian influence (but of course that is big, just a bit of historical trauma there though). I am a Jewish woman with Buddhist and Yogic practices, using mystical visual languages of world cultures. This is a tremendous opportunity for cultural exchange at a time that the world really needs the embrace of such endeavors. And it will imprint me as an artist in expansive and exciting new ways that I cannot predict.

Isn’t it the case with travel? With a quest? I’ve planned and organized to the umpteenth degree as I do, and now is the time to let go of all that in order to meander, to wander, to allow and discover. I will be wandering those old medieval, labyrinth medinas in Fez & Marrakech – getting lost for sure and getting re-found. I will see spice bazaars and water clocks, do an Islamic calligraphy workshop, see the magnificence of the architecture, the muquarnas, the tiles, the fountains, the hammams. I will see snake charmers and monkeys and ride a camel in the Sahara desert at sunset. I will have mint tea. I will drink in the magnificence of the sacred spaces and light of the palaces and medrasas, and the gorgeous design of courtyards and interior rooms and arches. I will take it all in.


We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles

Collateral Event of the 56th la Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015
Exhibition Dates: May 9 – November 22, 2015

Magazzino del Sale No.3, Dorsoduro 264, Venezia, Italy [click for map]
Presented in collaboration with Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia

Presented Artists:
Brandy Eve Allen • Tanya Batura • Jamison Carter • Carolyn Castaño
Robbie Conal • Kenturah Davis • Amir H. Fallah • Alexandra Grant
Margaret Griffith • Sherin Guirguis • Ben Jackel • Mark Licari
Rebecca Niederlander • Stas Orlovski • Natasa Prosenc Stearns • Tony de los Reyes
Frank Ryan • Shizu Saldamando • Carole Silverstein • Alexis Zoto

Elizabeta Bettinski / BardoLA
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