Ep 44: Finding Beauty in the Imperfections with Linda Gelfman


Joining me on the show today is a professor of ceramics at American River College in Sacramento, a founding member of The E Street Gallery and Studios, and one of my favorite art teachers, Linda Gelfman.

She has recently been exploring soft-sculpture as well as her ceramic work. She used her textile pieces in a recent show at The Kaneko Gallery at American River College, titled “Cognitive Dissonance.” The show examined the multilayers of life. “Linda’s Lollies¨ the name she’s given her anthropomorphic soft sculptures, have a mixture of cuteness and the bizarre. Her work has focused on finding beauty in the imperfections that working with clay can provide.

Some of her earliest art-related memories include playing in her friend’s wet sandbox. Her love of creativity led her through college, where she was surprised and elated she was able to major in art and could share that love with others. She continued to build an incredible career teaching, installing her work in galleries and continued her education at Sacramento State in graduate school.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to chat with Linda. Our conversation is full of passion for the creative process and the love she has for teaching others. If you need the inspiration to get back into the flow of creativity, listen to this episode, and make sure to check out the ways to connect further with Linda.

More in this episode:
● Linda believes everyone has creativity within themselves.
● Linda found working with clay using the Wabi Sabi method in her early 20s Which helped her gain a deeper appreciation of finding beauty in the imperfect.
● She shares how students can feel empowered in their creativity and sense of expression.
● Linda shares her methods for creating dynamic pieces that go against the traditional “rules.”
● She enjoys using upcycled materials to integrate new textures and elements into her work and recent gallery installations.
● Linda believes that following your passion is the best way to help and serve humanity.
● She was able to make art and make a living for years.
● Linda believes it’s vital for artists to get back to the fluidity of their process to ignite their creative spark and to go “outside the lines of perfectionism.”
● She feels art is important and encourages everyone to take an art class “because it will change your life.”
● It’s OK to be different because that makes us unique and marvelous.
● She shares her thought on what to do if you’re feeling disconnected from life.

Resources:

Find Linda at The E Street Gallery

Linda Gelfman on Facebook: Gelfman Art

Become one of her students at American River College

Snow After Fire Art Piece

Meow Wolf

Article on Fire Retardant planes from McClelland

Link to map of fire situation in California this year

Fort McMurray, Alberta fire

 


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New Mural at American River College, Creative Solution, being a part of public art



It initially started as four murals in ceramics to illustrate the fine and applied arts departments at American River College. Fine Arts, Culinary, Design and Film/Photography, and Theater and Music had murals depicting a story of each. An unfortunate kiln accident destroyed over half of that entire body of work. The pieces that remained were glazed then stored away for two years.


This summer Linda Gelfman and some help put together this mural. It's loosely based on a Hamsa which is symbolic of a hand of blessing in many religions. There are seven fingers, but Linda smiles and says we all need extra good fortune and good will. 


Some parts from every original mural survive, and I like the idea of unity out of diversity that arises from this piece. Like the Phoenix, this art has emerged powerful and beautiful.

 





I did not glaze all the pieces I crafted, and no one of us was solely responsible for the tiles, but I did put a lot of work into some parts like the Tower Bridge, the student dining, the chefs at work and a portrait of Linda Gelfman.



Glazed ceramics last forever (well maybe some in fragments), but a long time as anyone who has ever walked through an ancient Greek ruin can attest.

There is something about that permanence that has me near tears when I think of how many people will pass by, going to classes or visiting the Kaneko Gallery and will see our art.  

American River College has several student murals on campus from years past. I encourage you to visit the school and see this new work and those of past years. Each narrative is unique and beautiful. 



A Student Of Printmaking



A summer printmaking class. It seemed like a good idea, and in retrospect, it was for the most part. However, if you’ve ever taken a 3-unit summer course in any subject, you know how intense that class can be. I produced four works of art that I’ve documented here and got an A in the class; so, it would be churlish of me to say anything negative about the course. I really did enjoy learning the process. Emily Wilson teaches the very meticulous process-driven art forms like printmaking and bookmaking at Sacramento City College. She is a truly excellent teacher. I love these art forms and hope to take more classes in the future.
I, also, have lots of ideas for relief prints that I want to explore,
I hope a print club gets formed as I think it would be a great way to explore this art medium without the intense pressure of class.
Are there art classes you enjoy? Have you ever tried relief printmaking? Do you have a favorite printmaker?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Critiques of my art are welcome; I do beg you to be kind. Some prints are available for sale. Please contact me if you are interested.

42: Feeding Your Creativity with Food and Flavor with Lina Fat



Lina Fat is VP of Culinary Research and Development for Fat Family Restaurant Group, based in Sacramento, CA. Her first dream was to be a pharmacist, which she fulfilled when she earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of California-San Francisco in 1964, where she met and married her husband, Kenneth.

Her father-in-law, the late Frank Fat, founded the landmark Sacramento restaurant, Frank Fat’s in 1939, where many of the state’s most influential figures have dined for more than 70 years. Lina joined the restaurant business when the second restaurant, China Camp, opened in 1974. In 1976, Fat City Bar & Grill was opened, and since 2000, the Fat family has opened Fat’s Asia Bistro in Roseville and in Folsom.

Lina traveled the world to train under master chefs in Switzerland, France, and Italy, and at the Cordon Bleu in San Francisco and the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She has spent a lifetime discovering new culinary secrets for what is now her specialty---combining flavors from around the globe!

She is a favorite featured guest on local Sacramento TV as well as authoring The Lina Fat Cookbook: Recipes from the Fat Family Restaurants. Lina and the Fat restaurants have received numerous awards over the years, and she has been actively involved in many community boards and organizations. Proving that her creative interests extend far beyond the kitchen, in 2007 she launched the Sacramento World Music and Dance Festival, which showcases the cultural diversity of the region through presentation of ethnic dance from around the world by local talent. Lina is a true pioneer who has never been afraid to take on one more challenge in her creative and inspiring life.

Show Highlights:
  • Lina’s semi-retired life now after over 40 years in the restaurant business, helping run 4 restaurants and a catering business
  • The four Fat restaurants serving American Chinese food and receiving the James Beard Award a few years ago for Frank Fat’s Restaurant started in 1939 by her father-in-law
  • The funny story of how the famous Banana Cream Pie came to the menu in the early days
  • Lina’s beginning as a pharmacist and then a stay-at-home mom who started cooking and exploring her creativity
  • How she advised her father-in-law about opening a restaurant commemorating Chinese immigrants and then started writing and testing recipes
  • How Lina took on the new job of running the kitchen and managing the staff, bringing in new and innovative ideas and techniques
  • Similarities between work as a pharmacist and a chef and how LIna applied some of the same principles to her new career
  • The story of the historic bar and their branching into “bar food” at Fat City Bar & Grill
  • How Lina took on the new challenge as restaurant manager
  • Why a restaurant turns out to be a good training ground for learning life skills
  • Why she made her children and other young people start out as dishwashers in the restaurant
  • How she branched out into writing a cookbook
  • How Lina became a local TV chef---way before TV chefs were “a thing”
  • When Emeril Lagasse used one of her recipes on his famous show
  • Creativity in translating the Spanish tapas concept into dim sum
  • Only one of her children has followed her into the restaurant business and two have followed their father into dentistry
  • Lina’s advice to those who want to be chefs---Develop your palate!
  • Trends that Lina sees in the modern restaurant business
  • Lina’s love for small farmers’ markets and local CA resources
  • Lina’s story of her flourless chocolate cake mishap early in her marriage and how she took the failure as a challenge
  • Lina’s thoughts on creativity: “Don’t create just to create. Like food, creativity should have a purpose and a balance. Start with the basics first.”
Resources:
The Lina Fat Cookbook: Recipes from the Fat Family Restaurants, by Lina Fat

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41: Using Creativity to Help Patients and Students as a Psychiatrist with Caroline Giroux





Have recent celebrity suicides left you with a deep sadness and wonderment at what it takes to go that far into depression? Those are common thoughts when we hear the news that someone was so overwhelmed by life’s difficulties that suicide seemed the only answer. The good news is that hope is available for anyone who needs it, and life is full of possibilities for connection and support---and yes, creativity that brings joy, mindfulness, satisfaction, and peace.

Dr. Caroline Giroux is a psychiatrist who migrated from Canada and is now Associate Professor at UC Davis. Through narrative approaches, she has the privilege to witness her patients’ growth and be inspired by their resilience. Apart from addressing the impact of traumatic experiences throughout the lifespan, she is an educator, an academic writer, an essayist, and a poet. She channels her creativity by designing teaching tools such as courses on mood disorders for medical students and a monthly newsletter for residents She is the mother of three spirited sons and has no shortage of opportunities to express her creativity through kids’ stories and various family projects.

Caroline is a creative physician who writes professionally and personally. She shares some of her poetry and essays in Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine, the official journal of the medical society by the same name. This lifestyle journal promotes the history, art, and science of medicine, the protection of public health, and the well-being of patients and their caregivers. I have the privilege of serving on the editorial committee of the journal with Caroline and am happy to share this conversation with you.

Show HIghlights:
  • How Caroline came to psychiatry, knowing even in high school that she wanted a medical field that allowed her to use her creativity and writing
  • How she wanted to give hope to people through their deep sorrows
  • How her parents inspired her to want to work in helping others and find gratification in service
  • The difference in the college education systems in Canada and the US
  • Why she pursued a physical therapy degree first and then went on to medical school, not knowing the reintegration of body and mind in medicine would make her PT “detour” worthwhile and very helpful
  • The creatives in her family: a great uncle who was a priest, poet, and writer; and her aunt who is a painter and poet
  • How depression and suicide rates have risen over 30% in the past 20 years and how creative people are keenly affected
  • The struggle to reconcile our image of ourselves with what others think of us
  • How some celebrities are disconnected from their families and struggle with addiction and substance abuse
  • Alienation from others and self is a common theme and an inability to transform from a difficult circumstance
  • Healing and empowerment come when people are willing to transform from fear, shame, and hopelessness
  • How even Robin Williams, “the king of laughter,” had problems and a severe mental illness that people weren’t aware of
  • What we can learn about attempted suicide to affect policies about gun violence
  • When people reach a high stress situation and are overwhelmed, if they don’t have a coping mechanism, but have alcoholism and available guns---a ticking time bomb is the result
  • Why we need to talk about suicide and deepen our understanding
  • 12-25% of people experience depression, with men expressing it more openly but women being more willing to seek help
  • The need is to expand coping skills to deal with stressors more effectively now and later in life
  • The need for a “sabbatical of the soul” and respite to fight against overwhelming feelings
  • There are many resources available to treat substance abuse and depression
  • How religious affiliations can help because of the sense of community and the ritual practices that induce mindfulness
  • How the celebrity lifestyle can take away the joy and mindfulness we gain from simple, daily, repetitive activities
  • Why self-care is extremely vital for doctors and healthcare workers, in the form of exercise, mindfulness, yoga, and socialization activities
  • Caroline’s thoughts on creativity: “We all have an innate potential for creativity, even those who might not think they are creative. We access this creativity for problem-solving, clarity, and mindfulness. Find your creative path.”
Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Line  1-800-273-8255

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40: Using Photography to Support a Cause with Alison Brown





Our guest today is the photographer, Alison Brown. I learned of Alison through the Women’s Environmental  Network of the San Francisco Bay area. I saw her work online, and I knew I had to have her on the show. Alison is an international photographer that discovered her passion for photography nearly ten years ago after embarking on her first backpacking trip through Southeast Asia in 2008. She's been blessed to visit the countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Turkey, France, Israel, Spain, Portugal, United States, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to her photography, she is also a Communications Consultant and Sustainability Specialist. Her intention is to use her photographs to inspire people to care more deeply about the natural environment and conservation. Alison views photography as much more than a profession and shares her creative approach to photography in this episode.
More creativity in this episode:
  • Learn how photography inspires Alison.
  • Why did Alison choose to travel Southeast Asia after graduating college?
  • Alison shares her passion for her sustainability work.
  • Discover how Alison bridges her sustainability work with her photography.
  • Alison describes her experiences while living in Australia.
  • Alison shares tidbits from her younger years, and how her focused shifted to what it is today.
  • Inspiration for creativity may come in different forms. Alison shares when she does her best work.
  • Encouragement for using your personal creativity.
  • Encouragement to be conservative with natural resources.
Resources:
Alison Brown Photography
E-mail: alison@alisonbrownphotography.com
Alison’s blog is Alison Brown Photography
You can discover more about Alison on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Ep 39: Doctors Who Create with Vidya Viswanathan





It is always a joy to see creativity bloom where you least expect it. I am speaking with student physician Vidya Viswanathan today, the founder of Doctors Who Create. Vidya and her team are on a mission to change the culture of medicine by fostering creativity. It is such a delight to see colleagues in medicine with an interest in creativity.
Vidya had the chance not just to explore how creativity plays an important role in medicine but also how her experiences of travel and foreign language have shaped her career as well. There is so much beauty in hearing a story shared well, and that is what is in store for you with Vidya today! Her perspectives are very unlike any we have had on the show so far, but her stories still have a little something for everyone. I am excited for you to join us as we explore Vidya’s journey to creativity and culture.
More Creativity in this Episode:
  • Vidya shares her roundabout path to medicine and her biggest cultural influences.
  • Medicine needs the influence of creativity too!
  • Vidya wants to highlight the profiles of medical professionals who use creativity.
  • Vidya shares what gave her blog some focus.
  • The broader appeal of Doctors Who Create.
  • Vidya’s parents encouraged her to read and write and express herself through words.
  • Taking Chinese played an important role in Vidya’s creativity.
  • Dive into some of Vidya’s best experiences while traveling in China.
  • Focus on the process, not the result.
Resources:
Doctors Who Create

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Ep 44: Finding Beauty in the Imperfections with Linda Gelfman

Joining me on the show today is a professor of ceramics at American River College in Sacramento, a founding member of The E Street Gallery a...