!nsp!re – China Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Just a quick share of some images from the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China.

Ice Festival Harbin
Ice Festival at Night

Located in Harbin, China (which gets it’s weather from Siberia) the festival typically opens each January and runs for one month. Given how long the winters last, the sculptures generally stay up for a few months.

Ice Festival - Day
Ice Festival – Day

“Sculpture” is perhaps an understatement, given the size and scale of some of the structures. This is an enormous undertaking, clearly.

Ice Festival at Night
Ice Festival at Night

When the Songhua River freezes over, workers begin to carve out sections and transport them to the site. There, ice sculptors use a variety of saws, picks, and chisels to create these fantastical shapes.

Intricately Carved Figure

Some are smaller and delicate, like the one pictured above. Others are gargantuan, like this one:

Ice Festival

Sculptures and structures of all shapes and sizes dot the landscape, all internally lit, emitting an ephemeral glow at night.

Ice Festival and Lights

I’m fascinated by both the artistry and the effort. This not only takes a massive amount of creativity but  a herculean effort to build all of this.

Ice Festival at Night

Ice Festival at Night
Ice Festival at Night

To see more images and learn more about the festival, visit their official site here.


cre8tive kitchen – Rosemary Potatoes and Carrots


Rosemary Potatoes and Carrots
Rosemary Potatoes and Carrots

A very tasty, super-simple side dish!


1 1/2 LBS Baby Yellow Potatoes, cut into quarters

6-8 Carrots, cut into pieces similar to the potatoes

3 TBSP Olive Oil

2 TBSP Fresh Rosemary (dried can be substituted if necessary)

Coarse Salt and Mixed Pepper


Preheat oven to 425°. Once the potatoes and carrots are cut, toss with the oil in a large bowl. Pour from bowl into large baking dish, spreading to a single layer.

Sprinkle with rosemary, coarse salt and pepper.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway.

Bon Appetit!

!nsp!re – Thomas Lauderdale’s Portland Loft

Pink Martini with Storm Large
Pink Martini with Storm Large

I recently saw Pink Martini in concert at the Segerstrom Concert Hall. Even though I’ve seen them six times previously (dating back to 2002), this was my first with singer Storm Large (who now shares lead vocals with original singer China Forbes). It had been a while and I had forgotten what a great experience it is seeing and hearing them –  such an incredibly talented group of musicians who seem to genuinely enjoy what they do.

I went to the show with a great friend and, during intermission, was telling her about this article I had read in Portland Monthly about the loft that Thomas Lauderdale (Pink Martini’s bandleader and pianist) lived in.

Thomas Lauderdale at home
Thomas Lauderdale at home – Photo: Lincoln Barbour

The article (here) details how Thomas and his then-partner, Philip Iosca, a notable designer and artist, remodeled Thomas’ 9,200 square foot loft in the Harker Building.

The Harker Building and designer Philip Iosca
The Harker Building and designer Philip Iosca –
Photo: Lincoln Barbour

Thomas was renting the building early on for $400 per month but was able to buy it once Pink Martini’s first album became successful. In the article, Thomas says, “The message with this building is that you can do something fantastic and not go broke. It just requires problem-solving, ingenuity, and a certain sense of humor”.

The Harker Building - Living Room
The Harker Building – Living Room – Photo: Lincoln Barbour

Philip opened up the space which was a warren of hallways and bookcases, allowing light in; and creating large rooms for entertaining.

The Harker Building - Dining Room
The Harker Building – Dining Room – Photo: Lincoln Barbour

What I enjoyed most was seeing how a designer known for his minimalist approach worked with an avid collector to curate his home into a beautiful design statement. When two artists work together, the results can be even more incredible, as this project demonstrates!



cre8tive kitchen – Apple Currant Pork Chops


Apple Currant Pork Chops
Apple Currant Pork Chops


4 TBSP Dried Currants (These can be found in the dried fruit section at a specialty grocery like Sprouts.)

3 TBSP Unsalted Butter

1 1/2 LBS Golden Delicious Apples, cored, and cut into about 8 wedges per apple

4 Pork Loin Chops

2 TSP Sugar


Heat 1 TSP of butter in a large frying pan, add the currants. Cook for about 3 minutes. Move currants from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.

Add 1 1/2 TBSP butter to the hot pan and reduce heat to medium-high. Place the apple wedges in the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

Add remaining butter to a separate large frying pan. Set heat to medium-high and add pork chops. Turn occasionally until meat is done (slightly brown and 165° if you’re using a thermometer). Transfer to platter and keep warm.

Sprinkle the sugar over the apples and return the currants to the pan as well. Mix well. Cook for 1 minute. Spoon apples and currants over the pork chops and serve.

Bon Appetit!

GO DO – Cirque du Soleil’s TOTEM

Totem 01

I had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil’s Totem recently. I have a fondness for the unique sort of entertainment for which Cirque is  known. While I prefer their installation shows in  Las Vegas, I still enjoy the touring shows as well.

The Crystal Man
The Crystal Man

Totem is currently on tour under the “Grand Chapiteau” after having opened in Montreal in 2010. Director Robert LePage weaves a tale that seems to have been inspired by various origin stories surrounding humanity and evolution.

The Carapace
The Carapace

As with all Cirque shows, the story is really only just suggested and provides a backdrop for spectacular acrobatic acts and incredibly good-looking, very fit humans doing incredible things.

Totem 04

One of the more remarkable visual effects in this show is a floor which is projected upon. The video interacts with the performers in real time. For example, there is a scene where the video is footage of the waters edge. Performers descend down a ramp and “enter” the water. As they do, the footage of the water “pools” where they walk. It’s a wonderfully executed effect that carries you into the next moment of the show.

Fixed Trapeze Act
Fixed Trapeze Act

The fixed trapeze act was especially good, with the performers exhibiting quite a bit of character in addition to their athletic prowess.

The Amerindian Dancer
The Amerindian Dancer

Also good was the Amerindian Dancer, who performed an energetic hoop act.

Unicycles and Bowls
Unicycles and Bowlst

The five Asian girls on seven-foot-tall Unicycles juggling bowls was a huge crowd favorite, as was the foot-juggling act. These two performers juggled fabric squares in a variety of contorted positions (backwards, upside down, balancing on each other).

Foot Juggling
Foot Juggling

As usual, the music was a combination of unique instruments with a lot of  “world” influences. One of the big differences for this show is that it features a  number of vocalists and they are often integrated into some of the performances

The Cast of Totem
The Cast of Totem

I think it’s important to get out and see different forms of entertainment. I think a steady diet of just plays or just movies would be come quite stale after a while. I like changing it up; and seeing a Cirque show is a great way to do that. The shows are  always well-presented,  thoughtful, and definitely remind you  what humans are capable of doing when they focus and train. They are also invariably full of beautiful technical moments that are intricately woven into the story.

If you have the opportunity to see Totem, I highly recommend it.

cre8tive kitchen – Spinach Apple Side Salad


Spinach and Apple Salad


2 Cups Spinach

1 Golden Delicious Apple

1/2 Cup Roasted Pecans

Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese

Raspberry Vinaigrette


Roast the pecans at 450° on a flat cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Chop the apple into smaller-than-bite-size pieces.

Place the spinach in a bowl with the chopped apple. Once the pecans are roasted, let them cool slightly then chop into smaller pieces. Place in bowl. Add raspberry vinaigrette (not too much, just enough to add a little flavor). Toss, then place on plates. Top with a small amount of crumbled gorgonzola cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

The portions in this can be wildly adjusted to suit your personal taste. This makes a perfect small starter salad.

“I Could Paint That”

Wanted to share this brief, humorous article titled “12 Things Never To Say To An Artist” from The Huffington Post.

At the same time I was reading the HuffPost article, I clicked on the video (currently circulating) capturing U.S. Figure Skater Jason Brown’s performance. I posted a link on my Facebook page to share it because it is tremendously impressive.

What I find interesting when you compare sports to the arts is that there’s no equivalent phrase to “I could paint that.” The general public doesn’t look at Jason’s video and say, “I could skate that”. Or at a football game and say, “Yeah, I could’ve scored that goal”.

So why is that? Do we value athletes more than we value artists? It’s tempting to say “yes”.  Perhaps its easier to look at what athletes do and think it’s extraordinary. But I’m coming at this from an artists perspective, so it’s difficult to be objective. Many people take at least one art class in school (still, despite the insane levels to which the arts have been decimated from public education) and few end up on the football team, so does it boil down to that? Someone took one art class so they assume that gives them license to not only be an art critic but to place themselves in the shoes of the artist?

The equivalent statement that grates on me is, “That’s a beautiful photo. What kind of camera do you use?”

Scenario – You’re in a five-star restaurant. You order a sumptuous meal; a wonderful appetizer, an exquisite entree, and a spectacular dessert. When you are satiated, you ask to see the chef. He appears and you say, “That was an unbelievable, glorious meal. What kind of stove do you use?”

Doesn’t make any sense does it? The art of great cooking is in the mind of the chef. Selecting the ingredients, blending the tastes, balancing the flavors, and serving it just right. The tools rarely enter into it.

It’s much the same with photography. It’s not about the tools – it’s what’s in the mind of the photographer. The tools are necessary of course; but entirely secondary to the work of the photographer, which is seeing. Or, more accurately, seeing that which others don’t.

“I could paint that”.

“Yeah, but you didn’t. You didn’t pay for the canvas and the brushes or the easel. You didn’t work crappy jobs putting yourself through art school. You didn’t have endless fights with your parents about not having a ‘real’ job. You didn’t stay up all night, banging your head against the wall, waiting for inspiration. You didn’t spend gazillions on books, museum trips, and traveling to absorb the experience and influences that eventually work their way into the art. You didn’t do it because you’re too busy, or don’t have the time, or are uninspired, or worried that you’re not talented enough.”

Maybe the better question is “Why aren’t you doing it?”

So, next time you’re at an art show, an open market, or a craft fair and see something an artist made with their own hands and minds; please enjoy it and appreciate it (if it’s something that resonates with you). If you must say, “I could paint (or sew, or make, or shoot) that”, then stop, leave the market, and go straight to an art supply store, get the supplies and go do it.

cre8tive kitchen – Pecan Haricots Verts

PECAN HARICOTS VERTS (Serves 2, with leftovers)

Pecan Hericots Vertes
Pecan Haricots Vertes


12 oz Haricots Verts or thin green beans

1/2 Cup Roasted Pecans

1/4 Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

3 TBSP Sherry Vinegar

1 TSP Sugar

1 TSP Lemon Zest



Preheat oven to 425°. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast about 5 minutes. Chop smaller once roasted.

Bring a large pot of water to boil, trim the ends of the Haricots Verts and add them to the pot with a pinch of salt. Cook until crisp (about 5 minutes) then drain.

While the beans are cooking, whisk the sherry vinegar, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil until fully blended (it will thicken as well). Also, grate 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest.

Add the beans and pecans, mix well. Top with the lemon zest. Add pepper to taste.

Bon appetit!

!nsp!re – The Best of 2013: The Year in Creativity from The Creator’s Project

Quick share from one of my favorite sites, the creator’s project. They’ve compiled their favorite art and tech projects from 2013 here.

Clicking on the links or pics below will take you to videos on the Creators Project site.

My three favorites are:


An interactive installation created for the STRP Bienneale; it’s an experiential environment in which people can tap and play giant laser rods, creating sound and light.

Marshmallow Laser Forest
Laser Forest


Created by Tao Tajima, this video, combining captured video and CG lasers, is incredibly cool.

Laser Night Stroll
Laser Night Stroll


Finally, this video blazed around the web earlier this year. Using automated Kuka robotic arms combined with real-time projection mapping, Bot and Dolly is a mind-boggling piece.

Bot and Dolly
Bot and Dolly

Given what 2013 was like at the high end of tech and art, I cant’ wait to see what 2014 brings.

Go here to learn more about The Creators Project.

cre8tive kitchen – Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce

Today marks the launch of a new section here on cre8tivity lab – cre8tive kitchen.

Some time ago, I cooked quite a bit. I enjoy being in the kitchen and especially love to entertain guests and cook for them. In 2008, much of that fell by the wayside as I began to do more design work outside my day-gig; and my time in the kitchen was significantly diminished.

One of the things I am hoping to achieve in 2014 is a better balance between the things I love – spending time at home with my family, my job, free-lance design work, photography, and a couple other creative pursuits.

So, I’m heading back into the kitchen, armed with some recipes I’ve collected over the years; many of which I’ve scanned and placed into a binder which will become my standard cookbook. Invariably, I adapt everything to suit our taste (which usually means adding more garlic). I’m really looking forward to this new adventure; and since cooking is just another creative outlet, I’ve decided to share the results (or at least the successful ones!) here on the blog.

First up was this little gem – quick, easy, and tasty.


Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce
Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce


1 TBSP Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 TBSP Unsalted Butter

3 Cloves Garlic

2 Shallots, Chopped

1 Cup Vodka

1 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

6-8 Roma Tomatoes, Chopped (or one 32 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes).

16 ounces of pasta. I used Penne Rigate but Fusilli or Farfalle would also be good.

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Dried or Fresh Basil

Parmesan Cheese


Fill your pasta pot with water and set on high heat, add a pinch of salt and a couple drops of olive oil.

While that’s heating to a boil, place a warm skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, butter, garlic, and shallots; saute for 5 minutes. Add the vodka and reduce by half (about 5 minutes). Add chicken broth and tomatoes. Bring the pan to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.

Drop your pasta, cook to al dente.

As pasta is nearing completion, stir the heavy cream into the sauce and return to a boil, then remove from heat.

Drain pasta and toss with sauce; top with fresh or dried basil. Add parmesan cheese if desired.

Serve hot with a good garlic bread.

Bon Appetit!