The Golden Glance
Fresco, 23” x 26”, 1996 $3500
This is an experimental type of fresco – I even purposely broke and reglued the plaster to make it look as if it were truly ripped off the wall in Pompeii from some forgotten castle. The image itself is inspired by the angel under God’s left arm in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling fresco painting “The Creation of Adam.” Much has been written about this mysterious figure. The two most common interpretations are that she is either Eve un-incarnated, or Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and God’s consort. According to the Christian gnostics, Mary Magdalene was the incarnation of Sophia as Jesus was Johovah/Yahweh.
Christian Gnosticism was a philospophy and secret sect/society that Michelangelo, da Vinci, and other artistic luminaries were familiar with at the time, though as it harbored many (still) controversial beliefs, had to be guarded with secrecy and only expressed in code. The Goddess Sophia was a prominent Goddess in the Mediterranean going back to ancient Greece and Turkey.
There is even a famous now museum in Istanbul, called the Hagia Sophia, which was once a temple to the Goddess, then took on many different incarnations itself over the centuries, including as an Islamic mosque, and then as a Christian church. Sophia was closely associated with Goddesses Athena, Isis, Innana, and Ishtar. Whether she is Eve or Sophia, God’s arm is wrapped gently and protectively around her in Michelangelo’s painting, showing she is a loving being who is special – God’s “right hand girl” so to speak, but of course, painted to the left and under the left arm, as the left side was considered the feminine side of the body in Michelangelo’s time.
Here I wished to express the mystery, beauty, and wisdom of this figure, and aspects that would seem contradictory – strength, gravitas, sweetness and vulnerability, all wrapped into one glance, one gesture, and one “vibe” at the same time. She is peaceful, but active, not passive. She is aware, but gentle and looks on without judgement, but with understanding. I wanted to give this painting rich colors and lots of warmth, the colors of Tuscany in the Renaissance. And I wanted it to express the fleeting and delightful feeling of a moment in time, a rich, soft and knowing glance, soaked in amber light and an angelic wisdom.
Celestial Water Goddess Mural
Fresco, 2.5′ x 8′
This mural took inspiration from Botticelli, Michelangelo, and the work of contemporary artist Michael Parkes. The client requested a mural with the figure inspired by Botticelli, to be clothed in the garments taking their coloration from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, as they had recently visited Rome and toured the Vatican Museum and the Chapel. They also desired lots of small details and surrealistic elements, so they could keep uncovering and focusing on new aspects of the mural. If you look closely, you will see human and animal faces in the rock surface of the cliff, as well as an hourglass on a spiral staircase leading to an eclipse, in the background.
This mural, done with the classic fresco technique, is located in the master bathroom of a large private residence in Tiburon, California. As such, I emphasized the water element to create a relaxing and dreamy atmosphere.
Fresco, 11” x 14”, 2000 $1600
This fresco is after the archangel Uriel as depicted in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Virgin of the Rocks, which is my absolute favorite painting and highly influential on my art. I have been privileged enough to stand before both original versions of this painting – first in London at the National Gallery and three years later, I stood in the Louve in Paris and drew the head of the virgin from the first, edgier version of this painting.
I created this fresco in 2000, after returning from a year studying art and art history in the enchanting city of Florence, Italy. But it wasn’t until 2004, when I reading about the symbolism in da Vinci’s painting The Virgin of the Rocks that I discovered that this particular angel was a depiction of the archangel Uriel, who represents intellect, memory, forgiveness, and finding your path in life, particularly in terms of being of service to others. Several days later, my friend Kris, who had been trained in Doreen Virtue’s system of tarot card readings, was giving me a brief reading of only three cards. One of the cards I pulled was Uriel! The radio was playing, and suddenly, my friend laughed and pointed out that the song “Calling All Angels” by Train was had come on while we were in the midst of the reading. To me it was just the Universe’s sense of humor and a sign of reassurance that all was meant to be as it was in that moment. It also pointed out to me to pay careful attention to my reading. Pulling the card for Uriel, Kris explained to me, meant that this time in my life was focused on work, intellect, and figuring out how I was meant to be of service – all topics that were quite prominent in my life and on my mind at the time.
Two days later, I was at a training for the painters’ union with my fellow apprentice painters and we were assigned to break into groups of three to practice our technique. My group consisted of one painter I was already friends with, and one I had not met yet. We got to talking while working and I found his presence very serene and sweet –he was just 18 and had graduated from high school, and gushingly showed me a picture of his high school sweetheart, who he had just taken to prom; the girl in the photo was just lovely and had a halo of light around her. I introduced myself and asked his name and he finally introduced himself – his name was Uriel! I had never met anyone of that name before or since. To me, it was just another nod from the Universe that all was as it was meant to be.
Uriel, in this painting, is an indicator of Source, of mystery, of the awed hush one feels standing before the beautiful and divinely incomprehensible, the mystical. Uriel sweetly gazes, calmly, as he is the messenger and reminds us; look into the unknown, be brave, be aware, do not fear, but embrace, divine mystery. Although I say ‘he” the whole painting of the Virgin of the Rocks by da Vinci exudes energy of the divine feminine, so I interpreted Uriel as a more feminine being, soft, almost translucent, glowing, with deep and tender eyes that represent the compassion, forgiving, and loving spirit of angels.