The Arabesque

Arabesque image from Wikipedia

Ballet Arabesque
image from Wikipedi

I picture a dancer in arabesque, poised gracefully on the tip of one toe, her other leg straight behind her at 90 degrees, one hand back and one artistically stretched forward — the embodiment of grace in classic ballet.

“The name arabesque applied to the flowing ornament of Moorish invention is exactly suited to express those graceful lines which are their counterpart in the art of dancing.” [“A Manual of the Theory and Practice of Classical Theatrical Dancing,” 1922]

Look a little deeper into the arabesque, and you find a rich history, and the story of biomorphic art. Here, the arabesque refers to flowing, spiral patterns that represent the underlying order and unity of nature. Interwoven lines form They are a fundamental element of Islamic art, and have subsequently been found in European, and then Western design.

R.D. Shaw - ArabesquePhoto by RD Shaw, from

The intricate patterns of the islamic arabesque symbolize the infinite, the nature of creation, conveying spirituality without iconography. The photo above was taken in the Alhambra, a palace and fortress in Southern Spain.

George Glazier GalleryDesign Art, Arabesque en Grisaille, Antique Watercolor, 19th Century

The art of the arabesque moved on to Europe, and from Renaissance until the early 19th century, it was used to decorate illuminated manuscripts, walls, furniture, metalwork and pottery. As the design was westernized, human figures were sometimes introduced into the design.

Mahmood Kaiss, The Dome

Mahmood Kaiss, The Dome, 2017
featured at The Museum for Islamic Art: Contemporary Arabesque exhibition Jan – Apr 2018

If you are around Winter Park, Florida this summer, you can stop in at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. They are hosting an Arabesque Exhibit, interpreting Islamic art through the eyes of contemporary artists.

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Dumpster Diving: Organized

I think I have mentioned before that I am often teased about my penchant for over-organizing things. So when I came across an article about Kevin Harman and his “Skip” projects, I was immediately drawn in. I think there is a mandala-like quality to this work, so painstakingly arranged.

Kevin HarmanKevin Harman, Skip 13 (2012).

(found on Photo by David Fernandez, courtesy of the artist and Ingleby, Edinburgh.)

Harman actually brought a rusty old dumpster to Frieze, New York (featured by Ingleby Gallery of Edinburgh).  He does clean each dumpster, emptying it piece by piece and discarding all organic material. He then sorts all of the trash by material and color, and rearranges it neatly back into the dumpster.

Kevin HarmanKevin Harman, Skip 16 (2018)

(Photo by Christopher L. Cook, courtesy of the artist and Ingleby, Edinburgh, found on Quiet Lunch)

Although Quiet Lunch rates Harman on the Worst of the Day list for Frieze, I have to disagree. I think there is beauty to be found in the symmetry of organizing. Piece by piece, layer by layer, section by section, the sedimentary layers of trash are compiled to create a satisfactory design.

Kevin HarmanKevin Harman, Skip 2(photo by Julian Gough)

For his “Skip” project, Harman worked in rubbish containers around Edinburgh. Sometimes he would hang around after finishing, just to see builders’ reactions when they came to work and found their garbage neatly stacked.

“Problem-solving the material into a structure and then standing back and looking at it gives me a massive sense of satisfaction…It’s like changing your room around or folding up your clothes up in your wardrobe. You know how good that feels—it’s amazing!” (Kevin Harman, from

Street Art Time Lapse Video of Kevin Harman at work

Follow Kevin Harman on Artsy

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Spring Burning

In the Midwest it’s the season for burning. In the parks, the prairies are burned to help manage weeds, restore nutrients, and lead to more more desirable plant growth. I was participating in a restoration workday, hauling brush and playing with fire. Maybe that’s why I found Theodora Allen’s soft, muted artwork today.

Theodora AllenWildfire, No. 4, 2016
Theodora Allen

Allen applies thin layers of oil paint, slowly building up the painting. She then uses a soft cloth to systematically remove the paint.  What is left is the pigment that has been able to soak into the linen. The shadow of a painting, remaining, much as the memory of the blooming prairie hovers in the consciousness as the field is burning.

Theodora AllenWildfire, No. 1, 2014
Theodora Allen

“It’s a process that retains the traces of every decision – the material has a memory. It’s why the images in the paintings appear to be both forming and disappearing” -from an interview with Allen in ArtNews.

Theodora AllenCalendar, No. 2
Theodora Allen

Allen was featured this past winter at Strange Attractions, The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Art Vol. 1 Life on Earth, a group show organized by Bob Nickas in Los Angeles,CA.  This month (April 2018) through May 2018 she is featured in Galleri Nicolai Wallner, in Denmark.

View her website:

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Hello. Welcome to the Blog.

linda oeffling I'm Linda Oeffling. I've been working in glass for over 30 years, finding time to keep up the habit in between having children and starting a business in graphic design.

I have a home studio in the basement, and a bunch of steadfast friends who also love glass. We meet almost every week to work together. I won't say the wine & snacks afterward is the best part, but it's a nice way to wrap things up!

I have a great husband who puts up with it all, three grown children, and four grandchildren. They are the greatest loves of my life, but right behind family is my computer, kayak, camera, and travel plans...

Yes please, send me new posts!

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