Bella Vida by Letty


Photo of the Week: The Gorgeous Wood Sculptures of Paul Baliker

wood sculpture

Life is an adventure and you never really know what’s coming around the next corner.  This is what I saw as we drove down Old A1A.  An interesting wooden sculpture of an old man with a long beard carved from wood.  It was a sight so spectacular we had to turned around and get a better look.  I thought it was amazing and wondered who would take the time to create something so wonderful and so detailed.

It turned out to be an art gallery, however, since it was a holiday the place was closed.  We were able to see some cool sculptures in the front yard of the building.  I learned online that Paul Baliker has sculpting wood and bronze for over 35 years out of his studio in Hammock, Palm Coast Florida.  His passion for nature has inspired pieces which bring attention to the environment.

The wood sculptures are large and made of natural materials.  You must walk around each piece to discover some new detail and look again for more things you might not have seen the first time.  The pieces are not only beautiful but thought provoking.  A reminder that we are caretakers of this planet and it is our shared responsibility to keep it safe and clean for future generations.

sculpture 3


sculpture 4


“You are the masterpiece of your own life. You are the Michelangelo of your own life. The David you are sculpturing is you.”  Rhonda Byrne

 “What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul.” Joseph Addison

“Art-making is not about telling the truth but making the truth felt.”  Christian Boltanski

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Style is a Way of Life ~ Design Yourself

Style is a way of life.

Regardless of industry or career, developing your style demonstrates mastery and professionalism.  Last night I was watching “The Eye Has to Travel” a documentary about the life of Diana Vreeland and found many great lessons.  She was editor of Vogue magazine for many years and one of her most famous quotes is regarding style.

“Style is a way of life, without it you’re nothing.”

I agree style is everything and I’m not speaking about fashion.  Style is what distinguishes you and your works from others.  It is your essence communicated through voice, perspective and attitude.  Your style is what ultimately shines through in your works whether you’re a designer, artist or teacher.  Vreeland didn’t have a formal education but she had the keen ability to see style in others and encourage the development of it in other artists.   Her employees, models and photographers all stated she would push them to do more until they produced their absolute best.

Vreeland worked within the constraints of industry which to this day is sexist, ageist and non inclusive. It’s pretty ironic but true, in an interview in the 1980’s she said highlighting the very thing that makes a person unique is what makes them beautiful and interesting.  Like her, I am uninterested in fitting into any mold.  For any apprentice it is okay to experiment and emulate others but ultimately you must design yourself.

give people what they cant get at home

In another great take away Vreeland also stated people only live through their dreams and imagination.  What a wonderful perspective.  If we give up on our dreams we are not living our lives to our fullest potential.  Our imaginations have no limits therefore your capabilities are endless.  Dream big then dream bigger.  Create your ideal world.

And finally a piece of advice to artists.  Give the audience what they can’t get at home.  Take them somewhere.  Tell a story.  This was exactly what she was great at.

Have you seen the documentary?  What did you think?  I recommend it.  You can find it on Netflix.

What are you inspired to create?


“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”  Maya Angelou

“In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“A writer’s style reveals something of his spirit, his habits, his capacites, his bias…it is the Self escaping into the open.”   E.B. White

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La Respuesta Magazine ~ Reimagining the Puerto Rican Diaspora

la respuesta magazine logoLa Respuesta is an online magazine dedicated to the Boricua diaspora who aspires to be a significant resource for Puerto Ricans in the United States, offering a multitude of creative and provocative media. Guided by a collective of Boricua writers, artists, activists, and scholars in Chicago, with supporters, collaborators, and visionaries in New York City, Boston, Florida, and Rhode Island La Respuesta strives to produce a mosaic of the cultural, artistic, intellectual, spiritual, and political realities within the diverse Puerto Rican Diaspora. It moves towards building inclusive identities and perspectives that recognize the Diaspora as central to understanding the Puerto Rican people..

There purpose reads:

“For over a century, Puerto Ricans have lived and settled in the U.S. (the “Boricua Diaspora”), but now, for the first time, there are more acá than allá. In response to our growing presence and ongoing impact, La Respuesta seeks to invoke a claim to our histories and announce our stories. This will be done by highlighting our assets and distinct experiences, agitating discussion on the crucial issues, and addressing the obstacles that we face.”

chicago Puerto Rican day parade vintage photograph


I feel so honored to be a part of this project. My article about the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Chicago appears on the site.  I would love for you to check them out and leave your comments.  Be sure to look around as I’m sure you will find lots of good reading.


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Art is More Than What You See, It’s What You Feel

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” Pablo Picasso

Work in progress ~ Mixed media with oils

What is art?  In the most simple terms Art is expression.  When I’m working on a piece I’m thinking of a particular emotion and expressing it in a form other than spoken or written language.  It is during this period of creation I feel peace, harmony and completely balanced.  I would also say that I feel connected to the universe and feel my spirit extending into it.
Every piece of art whether photography, painting or written conveys a story.
In this particular mixed media painting the words running through my mind were freedom and existo.  The emotion behind every stroke was determination.  Determined to discover and freely express one’s personal truth, actually my personal truth in particular.   I was thinking of the murkiness that exists in the world and how nothing is ever crystal clear or as it seems.  To discover our happiness requires us to sift through the layers around us to reveal our truths.  For example, media is not ethical nor balanced.  If you rely on one source for your information without consulting other sources you are stuck in that biased filter without balanced perspective.  When I’m writing a journalistic piece I must use verifiable sources yet when it comes to information received on a daily basis most people don’t bother to do that.  That is where art can come in to give us new perspectives we might never have considered.
This is where Leo Tolstoy’s definition of art leads us.  (I was thinking of him because I recently watched Anna Karenina.) In his beautifully written essay, Art and Sincerity, Tolstoy says art is a means of union among men, joining them together in the same feelings, and indispensable for the life and progress toward well-being of individuals and of humanity. Art connects us emotionally and elevate us hopefully to evolve into better people.
Are you working on any artistic projects?
Share them with me in the comments.



“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” Albert Einstein

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” Émile Zola

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.” Maya Angelou

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche

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My Adventure at Art Basel 2012

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt.” Leonardo da Vinci
Wynwood Florida Art Basel
Wynwood Walls during Art Basel 2012
I found a Unicorn @ArtBasel2012

Immersing myself among art renews my creative spirit leaving me inspired. I spent a wonderful weekend checking out the various Art Basel 2012 events around Miami. This year there was too much to chose from.  Frankly it’s impossible to see it all.  I had a list of events to hit up but only made it to a few of them.

Wynwood remains my favorite spot. The neighborhood is run down but the element of spontaneity is thick in the air. At every corner lies the possibility of a pleasant surprise.  And that’s how I like to roll when I’m out and about.

It was Saturday evening, days after Art Basel’s official start, but there were still artists putting the finishing touches on their murals. I completely get that.  I often need to walk away from a piece or fall into endless editing.  Gracing the walls were many different styles from Escher-esque like black & white to playful pieces bursting with color.

Music filled the air.  You couldn’t walk two steps without hearing some type of music.  On the street where I parked there was a hip hop music video being filmed.  As I continued exploring Wynwood, each space had its particular music streaming.  There were street performers who danced to a live band playing on the sidewalk.  I even bumped into Santa dancing with Don Quixote.  Later I walked into a bar which turned into a cafe selling tacos out of an altered car, which turned into an open air market which I witnessed clear and convert into a dance floor for 80’s music lovers.

Art Basel
Filming a music video during Art Basel 2012

I experienced so much on Saturday alone it’s impossible to get it all in one post.
After eating dinner, which was a super tasty burger from the Latin Burger food truck I headed to the Design District to check out Mestizo City.


Robert Rodriguez's band Chingon
Robert Rodriguez’s band Chingon


Created by Henry Muñoz, this installation included a bounce house and featured director Robert Rodriguez in a live performance with his band, Chingon.  I had no idea what to expect but they were really good.  The lead singer was especially fantastic and had the coolest tattoo in the center of his chest.

Robert hid behind his hat all evening as he played guitar and spoke to the audience.  He told us he was inspired to form the band and record music because its the sound he wanted for his movies and much less expensive than paying rights.  Remember he began his film career making super low budget films.

I can relate because when I’m writing fiction there’s usually music playing.  And a big part of telling stories via movies is indeed the soundtrack.

The bands music is a cross of all of his influences: Tito & Tarantula, Los Lobos, Cruzados, The Plugz, Del Castillo, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Patricia Vonne, Girl In A Coma and David Garza.  Check them out if they’re ever in your part of town.  You can listen below.

Stay tuned for the next post which will showcase the art from Art Basel 2012 that captured my attention.


For more Art Basel pics you can check out:

@BellaVidaLetty on Instagram


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Fairyland ~ Fairies & Garden

Fairyland Garden
Fairyland Garden
Fairy Wings

Fairyland Garden
I’m inspired to start a Fairyland series. This pair of paintings was done with watercolor pencils, watercolors, glitter and gems. It’s so hard to be productive during the holidays I’m content to get these paintings out. In the future there will be a story but I don’t have the time to develop it just yet . . . but it’s definitely bubbling near the surface. In the meantime I have to try to focus on finishing up other projects.

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