Synchronized Chaos – January 2011: Invention and Reinvention

Happy New Year! As we transition into a new year, we invite the opportunity to rethink and redefine our expectations about art.  We hope you enjoy the first issue of 2011, Invention and Reinvention, which features a potpourri of captivating contributions, from paintings and graffiti to sculpture and short stories. Contributors in this issue either created their work from new ideas, or showed us how previous concepts and stylistic approaches can evolve and have new relevance in our current time and space.

This issue also features several reviews. Christopher Williams covers Eloisa James’ new novel, When Beauty Tamed the Beast, and Determinism, a new indie feature film by Sanjit and Ranju Majumdar. Tapati McDaniels gives us her thoughts on Songs For A Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson. Robbie Fraser reviews Festizio’s new album Hot City. Bruce Roberts shares his experience watching West Side Story at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, California.

To wrap up the holiday season, Patsy Ledbetter shares a personal and humbling story, and Cynthia Lamanna explores a “picture perfect” Christmas. Other writing includes poetry by Simon J. Charlton that is both energetic and alluring, and a fiction story by Synch Chaos’ Associate Editor, J’Rie Blackwell-Elliott.

The work of Joshua Braff, David Pace, and Max Ehrman is lively and colorful. Equally stimulating are the photos by Julie V. Garner, which are developed using textile techniques.

Paintings by Marcos Shih and Katrina Majkut are engaging and slightly mysterious.

Simplicity is best in Malin Gabriella Nordin’s artwork and Brendah C. DeBow’s tribalesque ceramic pieces.

Michael Campbell’s art is curious and provocative.

The work of Liz Koerner and Monty Monty is patiently crafted and shows us a new twist on ordinary objects.

Enjoy! All of us at Synchronized Chaos wish you an artfully prosperous New Year!

Gloria Balderas
Creative Facilitator/Editor-In-Chief

Mascara Snake Poems by Simon J. Charlton

I write the days

Days of strange habit and alien design

Here there is a dislocation of reason and all its attendant securities

Here fractured reflections out of broken mirrors

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Cast adrift within uncertain stories

Carried by the music of songs as yet unsung

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Seeking connections within a heap of broken images

Gleaning small truths to unknown purpose

By the Mascara Snake’s arcane inclination I have become this other self

This self of dreams

This self of fears

This self that only the secret mirror knows

In writing I struggle against the means at my disposable

To pin the flaming butterfly of language to the velvet cushion of comprehension

To plot a narrative course through a wilderness of deceptions

Of diversions and dead ends

And yet I write

I write of the moon sitting huge midst a bed of stars on his tongue

I write of the suns blazing their brilliance to blindness in his eyes

I write of the fires kindled to roar within the immensity of his belly

I write of his league spanning boots and tip the wink hat

I write of his horizon swallowing smile and his blue guitar

I write

Yet the essence eludes me


Simon J. Charlton may be reached for questions or comments at Check out his newly-released album, The Truth of All Love, with the musician Ben Rusch!

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Art by Marcos Shih

“My work entails visualizing urban scenes that impart a cinematic experience. An avid follower of current and past film directors, I often dream of compositions that evoke an alternate reality. I try to capture an emotional disparity and solitude that is often felt in an urban environment. Working in oils allows me to layer and build realism and richness to each painting. Using a traditional and contemporary approach, my technique involves wet on wet applications.”

– Marcos Shih

Shih lives and works in Los Angeles, California.


Art by Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell’s work has been exhibited internationally.  See more work at

Artist Statement:
Abandoned science stations in remote locations, new frontiers, hostile living conditions, isolation, architectural decay in miniature; these are all common threads in the work of Michael Campbell.  The 1970s mark a strange point in US history. The upheaval brought about by the student movements during the 60s challenged and upended the authoritarian paradigms and status quo set forth by the previous generation in the 1950s. The 70s was a decade where the dust settled after much of the radicalism and revolutionary ideas of the 1960s had come and gone. Campbell creates a dialog with these ideas and what could be considered iconic symbols from this time period.

Real feelings of distrust manifest in the 70s in science fiction themes in both print and in film. This distrust is reflected in a greater cultural and political arena with events like Watergate and Vietnam. In the fantasy of science fiction, dystopian civilizations and post-apocalyptic survivors live in worlds where technology has gone haywire.

Campbell’s work appropriates these ideas, suggesting broken utopian landscapes of the 21st century. Where once we looked ahead to the turn of the century with optimism, the future now seems bleak amid harsh environments, broken down machines, and transitory foundations.


Photography by David Pace


About these photographs:

“Karaba is a small village in the country of Burkina Faso in West Africa. The workers carve the bricks by hand from a solid stone called laterite.  Laterite is rich in iron which gives the stone its bright orange color when it oxidizes. These durable bricks are the basic construction material for houses in the region. The quarry has been in constant use for about 23 years. It is constantly changing shape like an ever evolving earthwork installation.” I have been photographing in Burkina Faso for more than 4 years. I spend every fall quarter there as Co-director of Santa Clara University’s study abroad program “Reading West Africa.”

– David Pace

Vintage Collectable Sculpture and Assemblage by Monty Monty

Artist Statement:
“Assembled to create a theme, discreet items of interest and vintage collectibles are sculpted into a whole and unified form. I take cast-off objects of our throwaway society, antique collectibles, curios and sometimes family heirlooms and breathe new life into them, rendering new ways to look at old things. My approach is to create a natural look to the assembled work by using creative methods. I do not weld. I take great care in the restoration of each component during my process while creating a vintage quality within the work.”

– Monty Monty


Book Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (Reviewed by Christopher Williams)

I will be the first to admit that I was quite apprehensive when I began reading Ms. James’ When Beauty Tamed the Beast. Everything from the cover seemed to trigger a masculine defense mechanism: the rather effeminate cover, the title, and the synopsis all pointed towards a bland romance story complimented by vacuous sentences and overwhelming imagery.  However, I could not have been further from the truth. When Beauty Tamed the Beast has the rare trait of being not only a captivating read, but so casual in its style as to allow one to enjoy every second of it.  The storyline was not only invigorating  with many plot twists and several entertaining side plots, but also was methodical enough that I could drop it at any time and resume reading with the same fervor as I had before my reprieve.  The style of the book was not so much a rendition of Beauty and the Beast as it was Pride and Prejudice meets House, where the protagonist, Linnet, is often reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennett and the antagonist, Piers, holding to the same clever cynicism that we adore Hugh Laurie for.

The writing style of the book seemed to be tedious at times and the flow of the book was thrown off at times by impromptu clichés, yet the imagery was very conscientious and details occurred only when apt.  The setting was hard to ascertain at first, and her clues were less than helpful in gathering the context of this story in the beginning.  Unfortunately, it is aspects such as these which make the book so hard to get into.  The first fifty-some pages give me no incentive to follow the characters; in fact that first chunk of the book is a prolonged introduction, mindlessly introducing every character through their symptoms in a hauntingly consistent manner. Surprisingly, it is this consistent manner which redeems the book in the latter half.  The novel has some sort of “forbidden fruit” intrigue in it.  I know that there wasn’t anything too novel about a virgin who is starting to look and act pregnant (Freud talked about that quite frequently) but I did know that some kind of scandal was about to occur, and I was fine with patiently enduring this prolonged primer for the sweet spoils of my curiosity that will be given to me later.

Christopher Williams may be reached at

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