Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Souls of Birds a poem

The souls of birds,
tucked beneath their wings,
are there to ease the dying birds
in dignified descent
to their graves.
That done, in flutters, vortices
and swift spirals,
they rush beyond blue skies,
undeterred by galaxies and black holes.
The lesson, then, for us
is to discover where our souls are tucked,
to get to know them
as the guides
to our own journeys to the grave.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mini-sermonette #1

Entertain me,
and I'll put you on a pedestal.
Challenge my conscience,
and I'll crucify you.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Secret Life

I believe we all have a secret life. I know I do. This life may root iself in dreams, experiences, psychology, spirituality. The secret life is exiled by the rules, dogmas,and conventions of social and cultural life. Yet it exists in all of us in myriad manifestations.
When  the moment comes, as it must, that we can reveal our secret lives to our own selves, directly and honestly, we will recognize that an important piece of what makes us human was always there.

The Souls of the Flowers a poem

The souls of the flowers waft
upwards to heaven,
and mingle molecule and molecule
with those of the dead,
whom I loved and still love.
The molecules assemble, collide, reassemble
and dance with possibilities to offer God
life configurations eons down time's axis.
This is the way of evolution: of life, of spinning galaxies,
of consciousness, of the souls of flowers.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Creativity, again

First, let's get this out of the way. Artist=creativity. Nope. Just look around. Thomas Kinkade. Your last motel room. McDonald's. There are lots of hack artists around. Most people like what they know, and that's what these artists give them. A creative artist is after what s/he doesn't know.

If I start to think about my definition of creativity, I'm not sure it's one I could live up to myself. So let me try to concoct one. In fact, creativity is a concoction, a concoction shaken not stirred, and with not precise recipe. In go the ingredients: curiosity, passion, persistence, insight, foresight, the courage to never stop searching, a belief in oneself that, even when it falters, never gives up and humility before the world.

Okay, that's my definition for now. What's yours?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dance as metaphor

The discipline of ballet with its grace and fluid athleticism.
Two individuals moving in synchronous rhythm, showing off the best of each other.
The chorus in writhing eroticism that reaches back millenia.
The lone amoeba pulled back into the pulsing globule.
The individual, in his cocoon of uniqueness, oblivious to the forces that control him.
The body, struggling to channel all of its emotion, history, physicality and energy.
Two people trying to make sense of the toxic dance that is their relationship.
The courtly dance that hints at the prize beyond the social barriers.
The tango.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Maybe there was a time when rigid dogma made sense for a flock who were uneducated and had no access to the skills or languages necessary to change their condition. And even then, what was the real purpose of dogma for these faithful?
But for those living a contemporary life, with easy access to education and information, we don't really need or want dogma. It's the dogma of others.
What we need is guidance and direction in how to form our own spiritual beliefs and paths. And this is born through conscience.
Human conscience has evolved over time and yet has stayed rooted in the core teachings of the great religions and great teachers. We each, in the contemporary world, need to find those teachers who expand our consciences into organs capable of bringing us fulfillment and personal integrity in a world that daily diminishes our best humanity.
Anyone on such a journey of conscience will know when he or she is in hell or heaven. (And life is always full of hells and heavens.) And this person becomes a teacher, not needing to be told where to go, but walking and sharing with others.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Falling in love is chemistry.
Staying in love is work.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


We usually think of thinking as a sedentary activity emanating from the brain. But we also think through our eyes and form images. We think through our hands and build forms. We think through our spiritual organs and and connect to all things.
This is where the visual artist contributes best; because s/he draws upon all of these forms of thinking in giving us back the world's stories.

Friday, March 8, 2013

An exercise for young artists

Take these things and list them is order of importance for you as an artist: talent, creativity, discipline, persistence, skill.
Put the list in an envelope, and stick the envelope in a book.
Wait 5 years, and then open the envelope.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A restless mind

A restless mind is both a curse and a blessing. It doesn't want to sit in front of the TV with a bag of potato chips. It doesn't like to sit for very long in one place. It walks out the door with no idea of where it's going. It sees walls as infuriating, purposefully banging its head against them. It finds itself buck naked in the middle of traffic. There's never a box for it to think outside of. It can drive you to the edge.
But it also takes you to strange and curious places. It's often the first one there. It makes life unpredictably delicious. It makes you multiple and simultaneous at the same time. It teases you with omnipotence and humility.
It's a blessing and a curse.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Spirituality is not in the things: places, buildings, objects. Spirituality is a human yearning, a restless wandering, a drive toward the ineffable. Spirituality and faith can intersect, but they are not the same thing. Spirituality is curious and lives with the unknown. Faith takes comfort in muffling the unknown.
Things are markers on the spiritual journey, temporary placeholders. Along the spiritual path, things can be both left behind and held as cherished. This is because all the things become one thing.
The true spiritual traveler is a person of courage, a person willing to lose the self to find the self.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What are we good for?

Who is the last artist who grabbed you in the gut? Who nailed an image to your eye? Who cemented it to your brain? Who turned you inside out? Who compelled you to look? Who just wouldn't let go?

As artists, isn't this what we are supposed to do? What else are we good for?

Monday, March 4, 2013


Something that makes sense is limited by the sense it makes. Something that doesn't make sense is full of possibilities, questions and meanings. Nonsense still has sense at its core and often turns into fundamental cultural principles (earth rocketing through space, the heliocentric theory, functions of the brain, Cubism, psychology, mythology).
Accepting (and in fact embracing) nonsense and absurdity allows us to use our imaginations and to create meaning for ourselves and as far out as that meaning ripples out to others.
Like it or not we live in the midst of nonsense and absurdity. Why not enjoy a round to two wrestling with it.

Art's gods

Does serious art always serve a god? I think "Yes" is a reasonable answer. The Pharaoh, Osiris, the myriad beings of Olympus, the Emperor, the Buddha, Ganesh, Shiva, Allah, Loki, Inagi, Jesus, Mary, Mother Russia, Mother Nature...the list is endless.
By mid-19th century, science asserted itself into the cultural equation in a powerful way. Evolution, genetics, atomic theory, relativity, artificial intelligence, brain mapping...the list is endless.
For many, the gods appeared to have scattered. Not true, they appeared (as false gods) in the form of money, materialism, secularism, capitalism, the holy corporation.
For the serious artist, this meant that the search for the gods in the exterior world was futile. The only place the gods could be (which is where they always were) was in the interior world.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Art is made by an individual and comes into a culture. The individual artist can reflect the culture or transform the culture. The artist can decorate the culture or blow it apart and attempt to rebuilt it. The artist can measure the past or prophecize the future. The artist can be now or be eternal. The artist can give us sight or insight.
Of course, these dualities are not fair, but they do point to the range of possibilities of art in culture.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiei is a Chinese artist and dissident. He is a passionate and creative man, a flawed human being, a man who makes objects and serious mischief for the Chinese government, a man of courage. He is serious artist, and like every serious artist he has something which he must stand up against and push against.
Eugene Ionesco said: Art is the collision of a man against the universe. Every serious artist must pick a chunk of the universe to collide. Ai Weiwei has chosen his and demonstrates to us how this can be done in a powerful way.