Sunday, December 4, 2016


 We East Bay residents are filled with sadness over the horrific fire that occurred this weekend in Oakland.  We fear for our children and the general safety of the public when social events can take place in unsafe places. This year I have been talking about another terrible fire in Oakland and now this. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families effected by this terrible fire.

These are two previous fire quilts that I made.  Firestorm is about the 1991 firestorm in the Oakland/Berkeley hills and Houses on Fire is about the housing fires in Hayward in the 1960s.

 Houses on Fire is in the collection of the Hayward Historical Society Museum
Firestorm is presently exhibiting at the California Humanities Gallery in Oakland.  The exhibit ends on December 31, 2016.

With all of these events we are looking at loss of life and property and the ramifications of loss of housing or in some case insufficient, affordable housing.  

I don't want to leave out the families and institutions that have been effected by the fires in southern states.  We send them our thoughts and prayers also.  So very quickly things change for so many.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Exploring Public Art

As early as 10 years ago I never really thought about public art.  A fellow artist introduced me to the concept and I am very grateful since public art is now a very important part of my art practice.  I cannot travel anyplace without looking for the work of artists.  I aspire to get my work in as many different places as possible.   Right now I would love to be creative enough to get work in a major airport.  I keep applying, but so far no go.  But I know from personal experience that persistence is required for all of my successes.

I remember traveling to Japan and seeing such usual work.  I often watch European programming and I continually look for innovative ideas that will inspire me to take my work to the next step.  Some art is absolutely fabulous.  At other times I wonder how the artist got the job.  But art is very subjective.

But today I am sharing examples of my work and the work of others.  The Hunter's Point Public Art Project in San Francisco helped me learn about new materials.  This is the unveiling of Visions of the Past, Vision for the Future.  It is still a hard hat area with construction around the area.  I eagerly await he completion of the project when it will be landscaped.

 Visions of the Past/Visions of the Future Outdoor Panels in Hunters Point Public Art Project
 Almost a year later and awaiting landscaping because there is construction near the left of the art installation.  It looks good but will look much better when the grounds are prepared.

 Community Center where original quilts are framed and on display.    The outdoor panels are up the hill to the right of this building.

  Interior of the Community Center with art on the wall in conference area.

These public public art murals in the Mission District of San Francisco.  I took them when I was visiting KQED Studios earlier this year for an interview about the Neighborhoods Coming Together project that I curated.

 These photos were taken during a walk in Oakland, CA Chinatown.

These are images of the West Contra Costa Health Center where my work is featured at all of the 8 health stations and at both ends of the building.  Three of my quilts were translated into large scale industrial fiber.

See you next week.  If you are reading this on a Sunday, Happy Headwrap Day. I am on to making my new party girl series.  Go listen to your music and dance.

 Got to put a bit of humor in life.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What Now?

I must admit my sadness at the results of the election.  There is a bit of fear also since I am not sure exactly what President-Elect Trump really believes or stands for.  If I am to believe what he said on the campaign trail then women and people of color are headed for hard days ahead.  I am trying to move forward by making art and educating myself on issues that I can actively take action on.  I started a new Facebook page Marion Coleman Activist where I will be expressing my feelings on a variety of social justice issues.  I am a Democrat but do not consider myself to be a negative person and I plan to stick to speaking about my feelings only without shaming anyone for their beliefs.

Today I am working on a piece for a project, Defining Moments I am doing with Carol Larson.  She is way ahead of me on the project and I will have to do double time to catch up.  So I am in the final stages of putting together a top about my wedding to Nyls.  We have been married for 32 years.  I already have one top about the issues that we would have faced if we had tried to marry in an earlier time.  I finished this piece, Romancing Across the Color Line, a couple of years ago for an exhibit at Visions in Gallery in San Diego.

These are details from another  top I have made about my interracial marriage.  I will be stitching very soon.  Sometimes I make multiple tops before I actually to the stitch work.  This gives me time to think about the work and it also allows the piece to speak to me.

Today during our daily morning talk Nyls and I were reminded of our recent anniversary/80th birthday celebration for Nyls train trip from Emeryville to Chicago.  We were peacefully having breakfast with a man from Wisconsin.  His wife did not want to get up early he said.  However, she changed her mind and made the last call.  She could barely be civil to us and actually left the table to go speak with someone else.  She wasn't having the usual light conversation we had been having with her husband and with other people we had previously been seated with.  We saw them several times on the trip but they never spoke to us again.  We surmise that she did not approve of interracial couples especially old one.  We sometimes forget we are different and that others do not approve.  We decided we will have to be careful in the future.  Now that is a sad thought.

I am committed to making work about the election.  I guess I was blind and deaf to the discontent that many white Americans have been feeling.  I do live in California, the Bay Area at that, so I live in a very liberal environment.  I am sure I have neighbors who are "conservative" but they haven't expressed this type of anger toward me.  However, when I watch some media discussions I can hear the rage against President Obama and his administration even when their candidate has been declared the winner.  I also hear the denial of any racism while children are being bullied and frightened about the possible separation from their families.  As a social worker I am having a hard time that.

For now I will continue to educate myself, make my weekly post on this blog, make as much art as I can and try to be part of the solution.  We are deeply divided and we shall see how things go in the days, weeks and months ahead.  Peace.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What a Year

As we reach the conclusion of an historic election I am focusing on the wonders of the year that have nothing to do with the election.   In January I had the first of two cataract surgeries.  It was an easy procedure and greatly improved my vision.  I was almost ready to drive at night again.  But more fun was the opportunity to visit with girlfriends and trek to the shores of Alabama.  Frankly I never thought of Alabama has having coastline.  Now that was my failure in geography.

It just affirmed my desire to see more of America.  Oftentimes we think of far away places without taking the time to explore what is nearby.  As usual I get a thrill at arriving at a new place and seeing very different places.

The other revelation was how close our condo was to Florida.  We took a day trip for lunch in Pensacola.  There was much to see and think about.  Somehow I always think about my ancestors who worked this land.  I get a feeling of melancholy for all those unknown ancestors and I find it impossible to see myself living in the south again.  I am impressed with their strength of body and spirit in an environment of hardship and abuse.  How could I not wonder if I would have been able to withstand it.  But I know I am them and they are me.

Here are images from the trip to Orange Beach, Alabama.  I enjoyed the gulf coast and if you get a change to visit, don't pass it up.

 Views from our condo.  Fabulous isn't it!

 Girlfriends Janice and Sandy.  We have known each other over 40 years.

 Views from Pensacola.

Talk with you next Sunday when we have a new president.  VOTE!  My ancestors struggled and died for this right and privilege.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

See America First

In the midst of an over long political campaign we have to seek beauty and comfort where we can.  So I have been seeing more of America.  In September I had an opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American of History Culture in Washington,D.C.  I also got a peek of POTUS's motorcade arriving at the museum for the opening ceremony.  Three presidents were there for the opening. We visitors could not have asked for a more beautiful weekend for the opening.  I even went live on Facebook the day before the opening to share my thoughts about being there.  The Mall was full of folks and I was glad to be in the mi.

As for the museum, the building is beautiful inside and out.  The exhibits are vast and it will take several visits to fully take it all in.  However, my travel companion and I did our best during our Sunday, marathon 12 hour visit.  One memorable moment included looking at the segregated train car and the lunch counter where people protested segregation.  I was walking between the 2 exhibits and I heard a young man say "hey".  I asked, "do I know you?'  He said "no but you looked like you need to be brought back from wherever you were."  So I was reminded of the pain of Jim Crow and how resilient we are.   I cannot imagine what my face would have looked like if I had been able to see the Emmett Tilll exhibit.   The lines were very long so that I will have to see it another time.

On a less somber note I enjoyed learning about communities around the country that I never heard of when I was younger.  For example, there was Oak Bluffs, a vacation community south of Martha's Vineyard where African American spent summers.  I never even thought about that part of the country when I was young.  But the excitement of life is to learn new things and explore new places.  Maybe I will get to visit the area in the future.

The weather made the trip to Washington, DC so much nicer than when I went in January 2009 for the inauguration.  It was very cold then and the masses made me feel faint.  But wonderful fall weather prevailed and the temperatures were just right for walking around.  I still need to be walking to wear off the yummy lump crab cakes.

Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure.

If you plan to visit be sure to get your tickets before.  The museum is already insuring tickets for January.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

So This Is 70!

Reaching 70 years of age was unimaginable when I helped my mother celebrate her 70th birthday but now that I am here it is a totally rewarding time to be alive.  I began to see the subtle changes  4-8 years ago when my hair became thinner and whiter.  Do I dare mention my double chin and sagging neck. What about the wrinkles in my finger tips.  I noticed that change when I went to get finger printed and the technician couldn't get a good print because of the puckers.  She said that often happens with older people.  Who was she calling "old".  What about the news reports that describe some woman as elderly when she was 65.  I like getting my social security check but wait a minute on the elderly woman name calling.

This image was taken last week when I went to mail my ballot.  We had better party while we can as life is full of uncertainty.

But I digress, yesterday I began moving toward a new decade with more memories and art.  I watched a video of Great Performances on PBS about "Hamilton".  I look forward to seeing it in spring when it comes to San Francisco.  I will have to be diligent to get a ticket I am sure.  I thoroughly enjoyed being lazy and eating carrot cupcakes.  Yum.  I forgot to drink the Proseco that I bought but I will make up for it today.  I planted flowers in pots on our patio.  I am returning to gardening this year as meditation.

But mainly I am enjoying the idea of staying true to myself and the art projects that I really want to create.  It is a beautiful life as  I look back and I look forward.

As for art, hope you enjoy these works that were on display at Firehouse Art Center, Pleasanton, CA from mid September until mid-October.  The exhibit was inconjunction with Cheza Nami Foundation Africa Festival.

                                          Homeland 2 and To Market

                                          Bourbon Street Blues

African Abstract

                                         Holes in the African Rain Forest

                                         Mask Parade 2 and 3

Have a wonderful week.