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Day 6: A Man Who Lept onto the World Stage

Delhi Gallery with Ravindra and exhibiting artists
Delhi Gallery with Ravindra and exhibiting artists

In the lobby of the Prime Deluxe Balaji Hotel in New Delhi,  the wind swept in and delivered one wiry, handsome, remarkable man known as Ravindra   A broad smile spread over his face like the sun breaking out of a rain cloud.  As we had talked by phone the night before,  I was expecting a positive personality but what I saw was a man who lept onto the world stage, ready for any situation that life offered.

I had been traveling nearly three weeks in India and the stay with Servas Hosts Ravindra and Shyamali  in Noida had been arranged over a month ago. Servas, is an organization that promotes world peace by enabling individuals of different cultures to meet and converse.)

We moved swiftly out of the hotel into the small street where dozens of auto rickshaws were standing.  Ravindra asked how much.  I believe the driver replied 150 rupees. Ravindra hand flew up in a gesture of negativity,  “No.”  We stated to walk down the street.  The Auto Rickshaw driver cut us off blocking our way.  He accepted Ravindra offer of a third of the original amount.  Wow.  I thought to myself.  I had been seriously overpaying. (150 Rupees = US$2.40, 50 Rupees = US$0.80)

We headed off to the metro station that did not require making a connection to get to Noida.  The metro car was packed with people.  Ravindra’s eyes flashed and he started making gestures to the men sitting in front of where we were standing.  One of them jumped up to offer me a seat.

Off at one of the Noida stations where Ravindra retrieved his car.  Shortly after we were at his house where I met his gracious wife, Shyamali.  Both Ravindra and Shyamali made me feel so comfortable like I had known them all my life.

That evening, we went into New Delhi to an art gallery reception where Ravindra knew most of the exhibiting artists.  I then realized that he was a well known artist in Delhi and beyond. He introduced as an Contemporary Artist from San Francisco. I had fascinating conversations with a number of artists and greatly admired the marvelous art.  I thought I had died and gone directly to Art Heaven.

The following day as Ravindra drove me to the metro station so I could visit the Akshardham Temple, his car stopped in the middle of a busy intersection.  We both got our as vehicles swirled around us .

The last evening I was in Noida, Shyamali and I went to Ravindra’s studio in Greater Noida where over 90 artists have live/work studios.  It was huge.  Three floors and all with very high ceilings.  He holds curated exhibits there frequently.  One had just closed.  I was able to see Ravindra’s sculpture  and paintings both of which I really liked.  The first two floors can be either work space or exhibit space.  The third floor has two bedrooms.  Each floor has a bathroom and the top two floors have kitchens.  I was nearly in shock as my studio is quite small in comparison.

I was also quite content that Shyamali went to the studio as she often is at home caring for her frail and elderly mother.  She was glowing happy as we chatted of art and matters of the world

“You know, Janet, I help a mentally challenged boy by teaching him how to make clay models.  Here, have a look at these.” Ravindra pointed to a long shelf filled with excellent models.  “First I do one as an example and then he does one.”

I added compassionate to my growing list of Ravindra’s  qualities. Up to that point I had  his attributes:  artistic, energetic, helpful, assertive and very open.  We had some similar experiences in that he had lived and created art in Italy and I had lived and created art in France.

A short time later,  a number of artists arrived.  We had snacks and drinks and conversed in-depth of art.  I then visited several of the other artists’ studio and saw their work.  It was all so wildly contemporary.  I saw block prints, mixed media, screen prints, oil paintings and watercolors.  I think I may have gotten bruises from pinching myself asking if this were not a dream.

On the day I was to leave India, Ravindra took me to New Delhi to see some of the major art venues of the city.  While in one of those venues on the third level, we noticed an office chair partially blocking one of the artworks.

Ravindra asked the Security Guard, “Why is that chair placed  in front of the art?”  The guard just shrugged.

Next Ravindra moved the chair to the doorway of that exhibit space and then out into the hallway. I believe that someone from that venue approached Ravindra to speak with him privately.  I did not hear what was said but the chair stayed in the hallway.

I totally was in agreement as the chair was in fact a distraction to seeing the art.  Clearly placed there by someone who did not have a clue about art. Add speak up for Art to the attribute list.

Drinking Chai sitting on a wall  by a sidewalk near some of major art venues.  It was a pop up chai drinking venue–that is everything was brought in cups, thermos.  It was most delightful.  As we were chatting and drinking someone recognized Ravindra. They had a brief conversation and I was introduced. Afterwards, Ravindra told me it was someone he had not seen in 30 years.

It seemed wherever Ravindra was there was action.  He truly is an amazing person, eccentric as are most of my friends.

Ravindra Reading
Ravindra Reading
Shyamali in Studio
Shyamali in Studio


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85 Years 85 Artists link to all the Art and the Artists’ Statements

I just received a link which is well worth the time to view.  Now 85 artists have been increased to 95 artists.  There are additional artists who do the various decades.

The artist who has the decade of the 1990s is immediately before mine which is the  actual year 1990:

Here is the link to all the artists:

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Launched and Released

Launched and Released © 2014 by Janet Brugos
Launched and Released © 2014 by Janet Brugos

Launched and Released ©2014
Artist Statement by Janet Brugos

The year 1990 holds much for the world to contemplate. It was a year of explosive launches, connectivity launches, creative launches and the ultimate release of a beloved world leader.

In this work I’ve translated those states into textured layers, the radiance into colors seen by the Hubble spacecraft. As visual reference I use images of what Hubble has seen and Mandela face in different situations. To represent the world wide web I simply constructed the www. Creative launch is keyed in as the Grand Palais Museum in Paris, France where I presented my art to the public.

I work with a water media background to which I add handmade paper, fabric, bits of found or forgotten objects.

I improvise and float the layers over a period of days, adding and subtracting color and texture. I refine the composition by moving the groupings around or completely off the paper. Each day I leave the work, cover it and contemplate the whole in my mind. It evolves over a period of time until the layers find their own altitudes and the colors their own latitude and the textures their own longitude.

The Full Story:

The artwork starts in my mind as I research for events that have happened in the year 1990. I print copies of the face of Mandela as he rides with Queen Elizabeth, as a face that peers out of prison bars, as he reflects on “Notes to the Future”.

I troll thru images of what the Hubble space craft has seen. For me the most symbolic was the Whirlpool Galaxy  as it appeared to have a large bright central area. Clustered around the area and were splotches of bright pink, brown and gold. So the Whirlpool Galaxy became the backdrop for Mandela’s face and the backdrop for the entire work.

Then the world wide web has brought knowledge to our fingertips. How could I represent that?  That was the easiest of all with the simple letters. I had started to use a type of gold decorative ribbon but eliminated that as it seems overly contrived.

I ended up with constructing the letters from handmade marbled paper– representing the interwoven  information on the web and outlining them with thread.

Just in case these forms and figments of my artistic spirit were not enough to indicate what year I was representing, I put in the numbers 1990. I cut and patched pieces of red fabric and a piece of a batik to form the numbers.

My personal creative launch was to show at the Salon Des Independants at the Grand Palais Museum in Paris, France. The Grand Palais was my canvas to start my career as an artist. I felt deeply moved by history as I brought in my two pieces in late 1990. The Museum is so massive and it glass roof and form always intrigued me. If you look at my images for representing the Grand Palais, it started out as a simple piece of fabric that represented the lines of the glass roof. That seemed so blatant that I covered it with an open type of handmade paper and outlined some of it with a pale blue ink. That did not seem right so I settled on using bits (of the universe from the whirlpool galaxy in my mind) torn, cut and constructed marbled paper to represent a nebulous building and grounded the building by outlining the roof with black thread. I chose to place by signature at the foot of the Grand Palais to pay homage to my birthplace as an artist.

I took photos along the way to keep track of my progress.  You can have a look.

This artwork is a part of a current exhibit  running through July 11, 2014 . See previous post  85 Years 85 Artists  for information on the exhibit at Menlo College.

Launched and Released Visual History

Click on any image to enlarge.

A visual history of how the details for the numbers changed :

1990 takes shape 1/22/14 3 1990 numbers start 1990 takes shape 1/22/14
Numbers begin 1/19/14   Numbers  grow  1/22/14  Numbers take form 1/28/14

How the Grand Palais began, changed and evolved:

Grand Palais change 1/25/14 Grand Palais finished 1/29/14                       Grand Palais 1/25/14           Grand Palais 1/25/14      Grand Palais ready 1/29/14

A visual history of the www:

A gold w was first idea but deleted Placement of www on 1/28/14 www is finalized 1/29/14                  Trial gold w 1/19/14        Placement of www 1/28/14    www finalized 1/29/14

Mandela’s face and the insertion of the Whirlpool Galaxy:

Mandela's face and work fully underway 1/19/14   Back to original mouth 1/22/14
Mandela’s face fully underway 1/19/14    Mandela’s face takes form 1/22/14

Face Changes 1/25/14 Face  of Nelson Mandela Changes 1/25/14

Trial  placement for Hubble View of Whirlpool Galaxy 1/26/14        Placement of Whirlpool Galaxy 1/26/14
Trial placement of Whirlpool Galaxy 1/26/14    Placement of Whirlpool Galaxy 1/26/14

26 Taking Shape 1/28/14                  Finalizing 1/28/14 at 10:30pm
Taking Shape 1/28/14                                      Finalizing at 10:30pm 1/28/14

Launched and Released complete 1/29/14

Here are links to sites with some of the images that I used for reference and inspiration:
Hubble, Nelson Mandela gallery, Nelson Mandela with Queen Elizabeth.

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85 Years, 85 Artists

Launched and Released © 2014 by Janet Brugos
Launched and Released © 2014 by Janet Brugos

I created this work as a part of the exhibit “85 Years, 85 Artists” currently open at Menlo College through July 11, 2014. Each artist was assigned a year about which to create an art piece. My year was 1990 and my artwork is titled “Launched and Released.” For details on the exhibit and reception, March 26 in Atherton, CA please follow the link below:


To understand my concepts and view my process and progress along the way, check out:  launched-and-released.