Thursday, February 22, 2018

A cool day

(Enriching music: Joy and Pain by Rob Base and DJ E Z Rock) 

Life is magnetic: Attract, repel, Yin,Yang, up, down, happy, sad, laugh, cry, quizzical, certain, joy, pain, sunshine, rain, kinetic and potential. 

In short, it is a wonderful roller coaster.

It is like Texas weather. Wait a moment, and it will change.

The other day I wrote about a day without baseball and it was not a cool day. Both days were an analogy. The other day was not cool as today was very cool. On those not cool days, I think about how there are so many that will be wonderful and bottle them in my mind. Thus is the juxtaposition we call life.    

For every negative, there is always a positive under all circumstances. You just have to see it, imbibe it, and know it is there.

Today, my birthday, was one of those. I had many hugs from children, songs, flowers, cards, gifts, and in short, love. I got "glitter bombed". This is a tradition I have with my students. On their birthdays, I surprise them and dump glitter confetti over their heads. Now, when students see glitter on the floor, they just ask: "Whose birthday was it?" They see it in someone's hair and say, "Happy Birthday." Today was mine. I felt much more glitter on the inside. It was light and joyful.

In this vein, I posted an art piece I am just beginning. Do you know what it is?  Of course not. But I do. I see it there. I know the positive beneath the stripes. There's a monkey on it playing cymbals. The cymbals are symbols. Do you fathom its potential?

See the positive potential in everything.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Not a cool day

Today was not a cool day. All I wanted was a baseball game to see my son play and not have to think abut anything but baseball. It was rained out. We all have those days. There are many things I would post here if I were not a public school teacher. Perhaps, someday, I will. For now, as we all should, I think of the positives: My children are safe. I got many hugs from students and children. I have wonderful friends who grok me. My birthday is coming up. I'm continuing to DO. Art and writing continue. I am not bored! I will take challenges over boredom any day!

This art piece is coming along. I was happy with the new medium I used, tempera paint, dry, glue, and egg shells in part of it. There is also broken glass, acrylic. It's not finished yet. I have a few more things to add.  Moving forward!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Always learning

Besides seeing the Falcon Heavy launch into space live with my students and teaching them about geology and rock formation, I learned a new word: epistemology. Great, meaty, word.

Now I feel as if I should write an epistle on epistemology.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New piece started this week

This is far from being completed, but I started it this week between research for a book, grading papers, and parenting. Happy with the results so far. More to come!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Anniversary of a life well lived

This is a repost today because it is the 23rd anniversary of my father's death. Today was that day, and it was a hard one. It was challenging for many years, to be quite frank. I'd see trucks that were like his and I'd wonder if it were him. Smells were the worst: Old Spice, the oil from cars...but time passes, and makes us stronger.

Neuroscience studies teach us that it is not just our nature brain that forms us, but also the nurture one. What the balance is, I don't know. 
But I do know the experiences in my life, those that I keep at the forefront, are most enduring, good or bad. These experiences, memories, have guided me through joy, questioning, trepidation, happiness and have helped me to be the person I have evolved to become and as I continue to adapt in life. 
Dad taught me honor, integrity, morality, love, and intellectual pursuits though he never had a college degree. We built a cellar together. We hauled hay. We ate many burgers in his truck riding back from his land talking about the philosophy of life. There was never any doubt that he loved me.
I take these lessons moving forward from him and mom to guide my own children, my students, and all children I encounter. Love is a good thing. Take the good and leave the bad. Let the goodness empower you for yourself and others.  

06/18/2016 01:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Father’s Day Toast To All Latino Country Dads Who Raised Strong Daughters

Wide-grinned, Dad held the lid of the sealed heavy metal trash can and coaxed Mom over to see what he’d found. Dad had been working on the land all day, and sometimes brought home cute, fluffy bunnies or baby skunks to show her.

As she approached smiling, he lifted the lid to hear her screams and feel a swift slap to his arm as he laughed. Inside was a mess of slithering snakes, rattlerscorn snakes, and every other kind that he’d captured as they wriggled out of the brush he’d been burning to clear land.
Dad had a wicked, Texas boy sense of humor.
My three children know “Papa” through stories, because they never met Dad. He “bought the farm,” as they say in the country, or “died,” as they say in the city, many years before my three babies were born.
Arturo Quintana Herrera was born in Casa Piedra, Texas, a town that no longer exists. He was the son of a cotton farmer who was literally pulled from the field to take a bus, as he enlisted in the Air Force.
Dad’s been gone more than 20 years, but is well-remembered through stories. He owned Art’s Barbershop in Tye, Texas after he retired from the military, raised five children with my mom, and continues to live in our memories.
That’s how people live on, through the stories you tell of them. Father’s Day isn’t about a day. It is about a life.
When I decided to take some artsy fartsy photos in my wedding dress after ending my 19-year marriage, I remembered Dad in a mosaic of thought: Catholic, Hispanic, Heritage, Honor, Closure.
Hauling my old wedding dress in the back of my Ford truck in a scented trash bag, I took photos of myself in the dress in places that were meaningful in my life as I moved forward after I divorced my husband. I dubbed it the Acid Neutral Art Project.
The photo at Dad’s gravesite was my daughter, Rachael’s, idea. “He never saw you in the dress when you got married. He may as well see you in it in the divorce,” she said.
At first, I thought it was macabre. Then, I thought about being Catholic and Hispanic.
The Catholic part was the pain of ending a marriage. I think sometimes, as women, our faith instills in us to keep marriage and family together at all costs, even our own. But sometimes, honoring the family, means letting go to be a stronger woman in faith and family. Faith guided me to divorce and spiritually, I knew my father would understand.
The Hispanic part was connecting the past with the present, celebrating where my family came from and where we were going in the next stage of life.
My dad has always been connected to that, even in death.
I have a picture of my daughter playing violin for my father at his grave.
Over the years, we have often visited and eaten fried chicken with him, leaving him a juicy piece. We tell Dad stories about our lives, talking out loud, so he can hear us. My kids climb all over Dad’s tombstone, and it is not disrespectful to us at all. If he were alive, they would scale all over him, like any child who loves their grandfather.
Mom, the best woman I’ve ever met, retells “Papa” stories to my children there, as we eat at the gravesite.
There was the time Dad tried to cover up the gray on his mustache once with mom’s mascara. That didn’t go over so well once his mustache itched and the side of his face was covered in black.
There was also the time when two baby skunks climbed into the dog food can outside. He took them to the land, in Texas heat, and did something akin to mouth-to-mouth by blowing on their faces to revive them as they looked whiskey drunk and meandered to the woods.
Or the many times, Dad would sit still on a stump, listening to wind through the mesquite trees as birds landed on his hat while he watered his garden.
And, oh, there was also the time the trailer he bought to haul Curly, a big black bull, got so many flat tires he was sure that 666 in the Texas license plate was some sign, so he got a new one. He threw the devil-cursed one over the barbed wire fence into some other rancher’s yard.
So for me, posing in a wedding dress at his grave wouldn’t be much different. It would create new stories of my Hispanic heritage for my three children.
I toasted him as I entered this new, glorious phase of my life with fake champagne since, Merkel, the town he’s buried in, was still debating selling alcohol at the time. I poured him a glass on his side and then poured it on his grave.
“Well Dad, I tried my best. Now, it’s time to move on,” I toasted, as my daughter Rachael took the photo. “Thank you for making me who I am. I love you.”
It was closure. It was honor. It is faith.

Anyone can be a father on Father’s Day, but it takes a special man to be Dad. My father,as he was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, Dad.
(Enriching music: Love Without End, Amen by George Strait; Tu Guardian, Juanes)
Follow Clara Herrera on Twitter: AcidNeutral Art
AcidNeutral Blog

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Find the Funny in this New Year!

Happy New Year! Welcome to reinventing yourself, again. Let the joke be on you.

12/31/2017 08:20 pm ET (First posted in my HuffPost blog)
A New Year is upon us so that we can wipe the slate clean and begin anew. I find it funny how we think an arbitrary day can change our lives profoundly.
You do realize that our current calendar was created by a dude named Greg who named it after himself?
His real name was Ugo Boncompagni before he became pope, so be thankful it’s the Gregorian Calendar and not the Boncompagnian Calendar or the “Ug” Calendar, for short.
Last year, I wrote about making life resolutions, instead of New Year’s Day resolutions that get thrown in the spin cycle of life like two socks. One you find, the other you never see again.
In all likelihood that one sock has been stolen by a band of thieves. On the internet, I hear unmatched socks can be worth as much as Bitcoin.
You never know what people find value in. With all of the uncertainty in the world, I think we should all strive to find the funny.
Yoda, one of the most famous green philosophers of our time, once said, “Do or Do Not. There is no try.”
Try Googling Yoda. You will be entertained for hours. But, while you’re perusing Yoda words of wisdom, think about the folks who spent all that time making the sites all about Yoda.
Comedy is great in the best of times. It is priceless in the worst of times.
It certainly helped me when I decided to divorce, drag my old wedding dress out and take pictures in it with drag queens, with my divorce lawyer, and with my banker.
This year, I took a video, and will take the dress out once a year for some cool, eccentric, funny art adventure I can think of doing. I kinda can’t wait until I’m 90 and put on the dress for a pose in a flying car filled with clowns.
Laughing, in a good, healthy, way, is what makes us human.
OK, that’s not really true. Even rats will laugh if you tickle them. Why someone decided to try this out is beyond my purview.
I never like to use the word never. But I have never met a person who did not like to laugh. If I ever do, and unless they suffer from a mental challenge, I will likely laugh and say, “Are you kidding me? Even rats laugh.”
This New Year, I hope you find the funny in everything, and laugh, even when no one is watching except for maybe those internet sock stealers and a few rats.
(Enriching music: They All Laughed, Ella Fitzgerald; Mahna Mahna, Cake)

AcidNeutral2017 full animation (Ignore the accent)

On my dad's land shooting guns as part of the Artception series. I only pull this dress out once a year now. Last year was with a b/w picture with the Texas Roller Derby, this year in full color and animation. Fully living life is a wonderful feeling. I can't wait for what life brings me next!