Aesthete-Spy and Diana Vreeland by Diana Rivera

As an ongoing practice in creativity, I investigate the world with magnified eyes. I have been using my iPhone as a lens to capture the rare moments where something strikes me as evidence of creativity, that is, symbols of the imagination unfettered by logic, stamped in the visual landscape. I click on that moment as I attempt to seize that picture. I then allow these photos to guide me to the heart of the matter, linking me to the multi-sensory world around us. In the end, it’s about linking me to you and us to us–all beings and senses combined–and its especially the case when I transform into an aesthete-spy. An aesthete-spy observes you. We connect without you knowing. Or, do you?

aes·thete or es·thete (n):

1. One who cultivates an unusually high sensitivity to beauty, as in art or nature.

2. One whose pursuit and admiration of beauty is regarded as excessive or affected.

The heart of the matter is what we hunt for, long for, allure to. Often times it is without logical reason. The matter may be the frame of the portrait, the color schema, the patterns, angles and/or textures of what you see, hear, smell or feel. It’s what may be missing, yet to be unfolded or has always been right in front of you. This is why we rely on artists and aesthete-spies to magnify, follow and document the trends sunk deep into the matter. In a way, we are like Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt. Clues are our prey.

I recently saw the documentary on another aesthetic huntress, Diana Vreeland. The film is called “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” and it is worth a watch. She was a noted columnist and editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazine. The film presents an important depiction of this iconic woman. She was a wife, a mother, a socialite, a creative professional and an aesthete-spy. She was attuned to the physique and mystique congruent with being a femme of her epoch. It seems that the basis of her success was providing a visual landscape that transcended the matter of magazine and transported women to faraway lands. Check out her editorial here.

Diana Vreeland explained, “I think part of my success as an editor came from never worrying about a fact, a cause, an atmosphere. It was me—projecting to the public. That was my job. I think I always had a perfectly clear view of what was possible for the public. Give ‘em what they never knew they wanted.”

For the professional aesthete-spy (and those in the making), Vreeland provides us a critical clue: How do we attune to the world around us in order to find those clues? How do those clues give us insight that will connect us to our audience and give them “what they never knew they wanted”?

I am learning this lesson myself. The title of the film (“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel”) gives me, another aesthete-spy named Diana, a sense of what a clue may be. Let your eyes travel because they must. When they do, follow and document, relentlessly.


The Echo Park of Ganesha and Creativepreneurs by Diana Rivera

Every period in humanity has a power source they are connected to. By that I mean the engine of the vehicle, the mega watt electric tower, or as Shakespeare said,  “the bigger light.” Artists can feel it happening in their blood, their bones and some times a work of art can even show proof of that power as it eloquently typifies the times.

Observing the status of the mega-verse we live in with high-speed travel, milisecond-sent-to-your-box techno-media outlets and the tweets of the twitter, we are the flapping wings of a hummingbird. Arriving to the edge of the wing is fantastic when you are ready to fall unto the lap of Ganesha, the deity elephant.

I was at a cafe in Echo Park, Los Angeles, contemplating the edge of humanity as I sourced the right name for the audience I serve. This was the perfect neighborhood to do it in as it has become a haven for the creative professional in LA, still looking for a raw, yet hip-to-the-beat, community-spirited place in what could be streets of superficiality.

I came up with Creativepreneuer. This is you: the individual, the friend, the family member, the entreprenuer, the creator, the artist who envisions and shapes our times through your creative passions, products, projects, etc. You, the creativeprenuer, are getting it done, and sometimes faster than the speed of light.

As I stumbled from the cafe, I saw Ganesha, the elephant, painted on a garage door. Ganesha is a deity of the Hindu pantheon. He represents the removal of obstacles and is a patron of the arts. It stood bold and beautiful, up against the light, fearless.

I thought of you, I thought of me, I thought of the small artisans who have opened up shop on that small street trying to make it in today’s economy. We, the creativepreneuer, step out of one’s comfort zone as a daily meditation, fall off the wings of what-is to worship what-could-be and answer to the higher creative source as a daily prayer.

To be the creativepreneuer of our time, we must overcome the tangible and intangible obstacles around us. As the elephant on the garage door reminded me, many obstacles crawl their way back, far from Ganesha’s view, to be dealt with again, and again, and then again. It takes courage to deal with every one of them.

I felt something deep in my heart, a gift from Ganesha in Echo Park that day: the creativepreneuer is someone I honor without obstacle. I serve you in my writing and my programs. I am here at this period of humanity to support you and the power source that brought Ganesha to a garage door opening.

Creativity Today in Los Angeles: Poster Art and Trash Art by Diana Rivera

I was thinking about that song from the 90’s by Missing Persons, “Nobody Walks in LA.” The song is essentially about how nobody does walk in LA and how ironic it is when even teenagers and cops don’t. Having grown up this side of the pond, I used to agree with the punky thrasher lyrics, but nowadays I have seen some real shifts in its transportation culture, street culture and therefore urban art culture. Uniquely and not quite ironically, the city is bursting with little nooks and crannies of artist expression in little back alleys, corner store holes and underneath cars. You have to have an eye toward the the less obvious ways that creativity presents itself in our culture.

That’s when I enter the stage with my evidence of creativity photos and Creativity Today web-series. Here’s a couple of examples of creativity that I have seen as of recent.

Shepard Fairey’s poster designs on Sunset Blvd:

This one was next to his studio in the Echo Park neighborhood and shows the multidimensional strength of Lance Armstrong. This could have been a hard one to spot if one was speeding up Sunset Blvd.

The second photo is of another poster art design I spotted in Downtown LA. The once decrepit sector of LA, has been experiencing a renaissance in neighborhoods like the Barker Block district where on one brick wall, I found another Fairey bombing of an artist warrior of sorts and a contrasting piece on hope. Inspiring for a neighborhood that has struggled with hope.

The third photo is a piece of trash. Yes indeed, trash on the street has meaning and this one was quite delightful. As I was walking in Silverlake, I was crossing a street to notice a shredded piece of paper for priority admission to a Tim Burton film. Check out the imagery though: a tilted staircase with a forlorn fellow walking up the stairs.

The last evidence of creativity is a collage image on a trash can. Check out my video:

Points to ponder:

Have you been out of your car and noticed the evidence of creativity around you?

How might you contribute to the everyday creativity on the streets?

2000 Zen: Stepping on the Tight Rope by Diana Rivera

“If I die, what a beautiful death in the exercise of your passion”–Philip Petit

I heard a story once about a French man who in the 1970’s walked across a tight rope that connected the Twin Towers. In mid air, an audience of New Yorkers gasped as he balanced back and forth. Somewhere in my realism I staked it as just a story with no accurate details, assuming that it never happened. Never make assumptions about what is possible…The story is absolutely true!

Philip Petit, a 24 year old French man, walked across a wire between the towers in 1974. What he did raised that quintessential eyebrow from people that seemed to ask ‘how the heck did he do that?’ How did he feel safe doing that? The story is the basis for the Oscar winning documentary, “Man on Wire.”

Indeed Mr. Petit had a history of walking between things…in mid air! Here is an image of him walking between the Sydney Harbour Bridge:

When Petit first learned that the tallest towers in the world were being built in the early 70’s, a seed was planted in the form of a dream. “When you have a dream, it’s tangible…nagging…but the object of my dream didn’t exist yet.”

At this point, an 8 month long mission mounted to figure out how he would walk between towers. This is when an incredible amount of creative thought and collaboration took place. He rallied a group of French, Australian and American colleagues to help him. They flew back and forth between Paris and NYC. At the towers, they created aliases as construction workers to go up and down the guarded areas. They observed the ebbs and flows of the weather patterns. Back in France, they made miniature models of the towers and spent hours in conversation figuring out the internal plan of rigging a wire between two buildings.

When you watch the documentary, you will learn about their escapades and witness the feat of their triumph. I will share with you this video of the post-wire experience:

Looking at 2000 zen, I think of Philip as an inspiration for our times. He planted a seed to his dream, his excitement and passion garnered support and he made it happen. That is an exceptional layer of the story. Another layer is his fearlessness on the rope itself. There was no safety net, how could he possibly do it without one?! I could never do it without one….

This is the key!

Petit did have one. It was an internal one, a transparent one, even an external one held in the body of the clouds over head or the wind in his wings. There is an ethereal quality to the trust but the net was there and he believed in it.

BIG key…

As the man on wire explains, just short of receiving an Oscar for Best Documentary: “To me, it’s so simple. Life should be lived on the edge. You have to experience rebellion. To refuse to taper yourself to rules, to refuse your success, to repeat yourself, to see each day, every year, every idea as a true challenge, then you are going to live your life on the tight rope.”

Today, tomorrow, this year and this decade there is a choice to go out on the high wire of life. It will not be Petit’s wire, but your own metaphorical one. You can climb up the flights of stairs, take the elevator or just fly your way up, but get there. Once you do, feel free to just step on the tight rope if you are ready. If not, what would make you feel safe?


Everyone has a safety net that is activated in every situation be it professional or personal. How big is yours? What is it comprised of? How how has it served you so far? What if it could be of more service to you? What would have to happen?

Published in: on January 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm  Comments (4)  
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