Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A work of art

A work of art is not a lecture. It's a conversation. If it reaches out to you, talk to it. A conversation will bring you more deeply into it and it more deeply into you. Any meaningful relationship takes time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


We all have in us some kind or degree of -ism--racism, sexism, ageism, whatever--which is a response to fear of losing wealth or power. But we must remember that love is wealth and power.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fearing art

What if a challengingly uncomfortable piece of art appeared on your wall and persisted with its message? Would you be afraid?

What if art came out from its hiding place in the white box to confront you in the street? Would you be afraid?

What if art disguised itself and snuck up on you? Would you be afraid?

What if art wanted to sit down with you and have a tough and honest conversation? Would you be afraid?

Sunday, November 27, 2016


From now on I will refer to persons in a new way. I will call a person a "person" or "person African American" or a "person Asian" or a "person Muslim" and so forth. This will remind me that each is a person first. Join me if you like.


Can justice come from a court system that that is not blind to wealth, class and race? Can justice come from laws created by and in favor of special interests? Can justice come from legislators who vote self-interest and self-preservation? Can the law even claim to recognize what justice is?

If we look as American culture as it is--courts, jails, elections, lobbying, wealth, education, poverty, mental illness--little reflects real justice. Why must so many battles be fought out in the streets? Sadly, this is not new to history. But why still?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What should we seek from the artist?

The visual artist is the master of the visual language. And like any language, the visual language can set its sight on anything.

The artist can show us beauty in the world, beauty reflected in reality or in pattern or in the underlying structure of the world. It c an be beauty that's superficial or profound.

The artist can remind us what it means to be human, in our failings or triumphs or absurdity or sacredness.

The artist can show us the way to peace or spirituality or justice or humanity.

The artist can help us the future in the now.

The artist can teach us the power of thoughtful and creative personal expression.

The artist can show us how we are the same in our differences so that our differences can be celebrated.

The artist can simply make us look, more clearly, more deeply and more lovingly.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lucky and blessed

So many of us are lucky and blessed that we can be thankful for food, shelter, family and even a modest bit of wealth. But what about the billions and billions on this planet who struggle daily for the smallest scrap of human dignity?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Still more one sentence biographies

His life was never what he really wanted it to be; but at 70, he decided that for the rest of it he would have as many friends, cheeseburgers and orgasms as he could.

The breast implants, the new bras, the facial makeup and the hair never got her where she wanted to go, and in the end it all succumbed to wear-and-tear and gravity.

Very few people could see cancer as she could, as a gift that opened her eyes to the essence and the sublime in life.

He realized before his death that in loving his family he loved the world because all of his five children went out into that world and really changed it.

He could conjure up every demon, every anxiety, every fear to lock himself down; and all it did was make his life miserable and exhausting.

He worked for several police departments, was cited for bravery many times and really cared about people, but one time driving drunk and he was dead.

As an extremely successful businessman, he made many friends and gave generously to his favorite charities, but none of his children liked him at all.

He spread mulch all day, came home and had a couple of beers, took a long, hot shower and sat down and read James Joyce.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

More one sentence biographies

He took up tap dancing because he thought it would be good exercise, lots of fun and a chance to annoy the hell out of his wife, who lived by the principles of just so.

He climbed the tree, wet his pants at the top, had to be rescued by his dad and continued to wet his pants throughout his life.

She tucked her ample breasts into her dress and went in search of admirers; and when she found one, that was one more thing to scratch off her bucket list.

At Thanksgiving dinner all the food was delicious, so she couldn't figure out why they all left the table despising one another more than they already did.

Though it was the best kiss she had ever had, sadly it wasn't from the one she wound up marrying.

It was no fun and extremely embarrassing sitting on the berm of the road waiting for AAA, but it did give him a chance to finally make one of the biggest decisions of his life.

When he slipped off his pants and plopped on the side of the bed, he thought about how awkward but how liberating it was to come out to his school mate.

He took off his shoes at the door and fell into bed fully dressed and completely exhausted from building the small shed that would hold his collection of assault rifles.

No amount of coaxing could get her to give up skateboarding because she wanted to be like the guys, dress like the guys, fall and get up like the guys and get praise like the guys.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

One sentence biographies

A divorced father of three sits alone  in a small coffee shop.

A single mother watches a soap opera before the children come home from school.

Twins in matching pajamas pull one another's hair in the bed they share.

An  85 year old woman strains to read a large print copy of her favorite romance novel.

A depressed man is embarrassed in front of the prostitute because he can't get an erection.

A plumber secretly slips a ruby ring into his pocket while the toilet is test flushing.

A teenage boy stops attending high school because he has no beard and his acne is severe.

Two friends break out in a fight over a woman neither of them really loves.

A black man in the gym demonstrates weight lifting techniques to two white boys.

An elderly man stumbles on the sidewalk twisting his knee and waiting for help.

A dancer feels her body failing but still chooses pain and injury.

A professor closes the door and moves toward the student who never speaks up in class.

A family walks out of the motel, shuts the door, hops in the car and drives off without the baby.

A movie climber loses his grip and hangs precariously by the rope while his partner tries to figure out what to do.

A middle aged man has a threesome because he can, but it turns out to be disappointing.

A priest hears a routine confession but it means something because it's his thousandth.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Art becoming

Art demonstrates its power by always becoming, always blooming with meaning.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


As you grow up, others will stab you and you will stab yourself. Your task is to not keep bleeding and not be a martyr. Just heal your wounds and move on.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A question

What's the most expensive unnecessary item you own, and how many days could one of the world's poorest families live on its cost?

Friday, November 18, 2016


Walls can keep out people, but walls can't keep out ideas. After all, ideas are what make the world bloom.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I'm down on fashion

I'm down on fashion: style, runways, runway reality shows, Ivanka's bracelet, red carpet costumes, bangles and baubles, botox, eyelid rejuvenation, air brushing, long eyebrows, pimped up men, bizarre and erotic ad layouts, hair and makeup obsessions, teen fashion magazines, Barbi outfits, bigger and bigger closets, Sex and the City...

It's all superficial. It's all creativity that ends up at the thrift store to make room for the new stuff. It's all marketing and desire. What does being "in style" or "fashionable" really mean. Does any of it talk about what's inside or what's enduring?

Maybe that's too much to ask of fashion. But the amount of time, money, energy and media focus spent on it ought to have some worthy result.

Meanwhile, I'm down on fashion.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Thank your local jester. In absurd times, the jester holds tightest to the truth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Individuals of strong moral character lead by example.

Individuals of questionable moral character divide by example.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The best panacea

The best panacea. Go out and do some good, hard, meaningful work.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sorry...I can't stop ranting bout Donald Trump.

We are moving from a President who is articulate, compassionate, intelligent, has strong family and Christian values, whose speeches have regularly helped heal the nation, who has tried his best to move the nation forward in the areas of race and personal freedom, who has moved the nation out of the financial pit he was given and has been a model of what a president should be. Now we are moving to a man who is just the opposite and who has shown little decency in his this campaign or in his personal life.

In my mind, the political individual is driven by the personal individual. That is why character and conscience are so important. I have no illusions about the political misjudgments that Hillary made, but I have clear evidence of her service to the disenfranchised and of her middle class roots.

When a country pushes forward with the progressive agenda of inclusion and individual rights and addressing long-standing social wrongs--especially in such a short time--there is expected discomfort and reaction. We see that across the globe. We are at the point where the very things that have made America and made America the envy of so much of the world are about to be undermined by Donald Trump's vision of America.

Walls go up. Thuggish dictators are  embraced. Fear is a weapon of control. Intelligent dialogue is suspect. The wealthier get wealthier through tax policy and corporate welfare while the middle class continues to struggle. Donald Trump's vision of American greatness is not mine.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A year in art school is good for everybody

I've been teaching in a small art school for nearly 40 years, and I've come to the conclusion that a year in art school would be good for everybody. Here's why.

You would learn how to draw, and therefore see. You would learn how to use every tool in the wood shop. You would learn critical thinking and writing. You would learn to value the company and voices of individuals of varied gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion and politics. You would develop your personal creativity. You would learn the fundamentals of the visual language. You would learn healthy ways of giving and taking criticism. You would learn to bring hands, head, heart and mind into your work. You would continue to develop your own voice and world view. You would learn to collaborate. You would enhance your digital skills. You would learn to think 2-, 3- and 4-dimensionally.

Did I forget anything?

Friday, November 11, 2016

No, I'm not bragging

Like many Americans, I try to live by Christian values, maintain a moral compass, care about the persons I serve in my work, donate charitably according to my means, balance a spiritual and material life, continue to grow with the expanding world, think critically about the issues that affect us from neighborhood to world and behave with humility.

If I listen to his words, follow his career in business, see him as he acts in public, Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything I stand for. I don't care what office he holds, he will have to work very hard to get my respect.

America's trajectory

Take a family of strong personal character, admirable family values, compassion, dedication to their work and articulate voices and replace them with a family of questionable character, voices of hate and divisiveness, greed and sordid behavior. Is this the trajectory of America?

Thursday, November 10, 2016


It's always important to be able to tell the difference between wisdom and bullshit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Donald Trump's real message

Donald Trump's real message:

--Integrity is for suckers

--Money is great, especially when it's made off the backs of others

--Leadership requires only a bloated ego

--It's essential to have big things, especially if they are made of gold

--It's just fine to build your life on the dark parts of your soul

--Compassion is for the weak

America, what have you done?

We have just elected a man of low character, and this measured by his own behavior and speech.
He demonstrated no ability to grow or change during the campaign process.
He publicly validated racist, sexist and xenophobic behavior.
He demonstrated cunning in manipulating the law to his economic benefit and to the detriment of many of his employees.
He has an ego that must constantly be fed.
He has no qualifications to run government, except to run it into the ground.
He has no military or international experience.
He provided almost no plans to achieve his goals.
He proved no debate skills of consequence.
He is not respected in the international community.
He is a consistent liar when it meets his needs.

Is this the man we chose to represent America?
America, what have you done?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Today. November 8.

This election has shown us how troubled and fractured America is at this point in its history. Whatever the result of the election, we have to ask ourselves many questions.

What does it mean for each of us to be a responsible citizen?
How much to we own the government we have?
What are the consequences of being a passive whiner?
Do we write our representatives often enough? Hold them accountable?
If we have expectations of government, should government have expectations of us?
Can we replace empty patriotism with active engagement?
Can we squeeze in some time for government between tail-gating parties?
Can we commit to being informed and active voters?
What are our personal roles in healing the country?

Monday, November 7, 2016


Creativity is instinctive for some and learned for others.

Creativity is a life force for some and a puzzle for others.

But creativity is not magic. It can only really thrive if it keeps company with a willingness to fail and a desire to make the world new, even in a small way.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Who you are

Who you are is not who you are. Who you are is who you have the potential to be.

Saturday, November 5, 2016


Love is a moving target.
It sneaks away and hides.
It jumps out at you when you least expect it.
It walks out and slams the door behind it only to come crawling back.
It dies then becomes a ghost to haunt you.
It doesn't stop making demands.
It never takes a straight path anywhere.
It is definitely a dance.
It's never a slam dunk.
It's a game of tag between lovers.
It's a bumpy ride, often on a roller coaster.
It's a moving target.

Friday, November 4, 2016


Most of us will spend some time in hell during our lives. It could be a hell of of our own making or a hell inflicted on us by others. If we don't linger there, it will turn out that a short stay in hell is good for the soul.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


It has to be the biggest, the boldest, the bloodiest, the most lavish, the bet ever, the newest, the most innovative, the first ever, the one and only, the breakthrough of the century, the world's greatest, the star-studded, the most sought after, the most expensive, the once in a lifetime, the...

Spectacle has to open and close the Olympics. Spectacle, noise, fireworks, screaming crowds, jumbo screens are the way to deliver rock concerts. Spectacle invades ballparks. Spectacle is the meat of music videos. And spectacle seduces us to watch the endless series of self-congratulatory awards shows.

We immerse ourselves in spectacle because we are numbed and empty in our lives, empty of the things that can really feed us. We haven't yet realized that spectacle is only a temporary fix and can never satisfy us.

In reality though, we need to just turn around. The flower is waiting for us, ready to reveal the mysteries of the universe.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Listen. The cosmos is talking to you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

You won!

The Big Bang. Then 14 billion years. Then the little bang. 300,000,000 sperm racing to their target. The winner was the beginning of you. Be thankful. You just won the cosmic lottery.