Private property. Probably the two most boring words ever. But there is something I totally appreciate about private property. When I'm hunting around with a camera I usually walk right up to the edge. I'm freewheeling until I see the sign. When I see the sign, I back off. One, I don't want to get shot. Two, I don't like confrontation. And three, mad respect. So for me, the sign is one of those proper mind awareness tools. PMAT. It's readily available, there's no monthly fee and it's full-on yoga. This is a tool I can trust. So I'll wander to the boundary with no worries, clicking this, clicking that. Taking picture after picture. Because when I'm lying on my deathbed and my life flashes before me what I'm actually remembering are all these images. So I want to take the best pictures and I want to capture all the feels. With tender heart and lowered guard I expose every frame to love. I want pictures that help me remember the good shit. Just like they did in Soylent Green. So I'll take another photo, ooh, ahh, then another. Until I see the sign. Then it's BAM! snap-to. I am slapped from my dystopian melancholy and the awkward ironic pleasurable pressure to document my life is gone. Private property, yes, a simple reminder to get back to living.
So maybe we start with a 5x7 canvas. I'll create something that lives on the 5x7. Can I fit it all in? I need more space. I have so much I want to say. I have feelings. Perhaps the 16x20 is better. A bigger universe for my narrative. The beginning, the middle, the end. No way, 16x20 is not happening. I need more than inches. It's all about feet now. 6x8. Yes. I can capture the forest, the animals and all the love on a 6 by 8 foot canvas. Done. But I don't have room for the ocean. Hmmm. Let's be honest, I'm a water spirit. Always have been. Perhaps my landlord will let me put a mural on the side of her building. It's massive. I'll ask. A good 30x50 feet should get the job done. Just enough room for the dolphins and the redwoods and the lavender. But what about the people in Africa? I need a bigger building. How do I illustrate an ancient face? Space, that's how. I need more of it. A gigantic room for everybody dancing together. One love. I need more than feet. I need centuries to capture all the minutia. The depth of feeling is intense. I need a million songs, endless kisses and the ethereal flow of forever. Art is everything and everywhere. Oh so glorious. But I'm getting rather sleepy thinking about it all.
I think I'll just watch TV.
Let's just clarify that I am writing these words while listening to soft piano music, sipping on an Italian roast with bits of dark chocolate stirred in and looking out my window while a cool breeze reminds me a rain is coming. I can see the water of the James River. I am wearing flannel and writing on a late 2013 MacBook Pro. My toilet flushes and the refrigerator stows away pickled jalapeños and frozen blueberries. In essence, I am rather fortunate. Is this white male privilege? Probably. But either way, this is my current state of physical being. It feels lavish to me so I will honor the luxury while it lasts. I promise to write about contentment when I am homeless and my body withers away from cancer. Just for comparison. To see if my current perspective holds water when the view changes.
I speak of contentment and the efforts to both recognize and monitor this feeling during all my waking hours. This is a practical guide to awareness. Contentment is available all the time. It's just a vibe. Thought waves. I've recognized these vibes while creating a spreadsheet full of numbers. I've also felt the ease of contentment while sipping drinks on a beach. Whether my head is full of practicalities or dreamy with dance I glue it all together with the same thought. The mantra is basic. I am grateful for this experience, this breath, this ability to not measure myself against others. This is the gateway to contentment which is the gateway to happiness which is the gateway to love. When I first moved to NYC I joined a gym. I felt the need to be fit. And there was a Crunch within walking distance on the corner of Christopher and Greenwich. Their motto was no judgements. Still is. I can truly get behind this hashtag. But I would like to believe that Crunch was inspired by a simple Taoist concept that the true measure of life is to not measure at all.
The human species is constantly evolving. Faster, stronger, smarter. But no matter how much we change there seems to be a universal joy for contentment. To be comfortable in your body and your head. The first step to being comfortable is listening to how much we judge. Let go of judgement and you will be rewarded with contentment. But letting go of judgement in order to love is a mental thing. And stuff involving headspace is really hard to grasp. So let's introduce a practical tool to make the act of letting go easier. Unclenching. Unclench your butt, unclench your jaw, unclench your shoulders, unclench all that shit. Now you can get busy with loving.
I'll conclude this journal with a photo of Dee W Squeeze. I met her while living in NYC. I wasn't going to Crunch anymore when we became friends. I had a yoga mat instead. Dee and I recently went on a road trip. We slept at a funky motel in Arlington, VA. It's her most favorite motel in the world. So this is Dee being happy. Her happiness is my happiness because we are like a pajama onesie.
Find your happiness. If you are struggling, please let me know and perhaps we can collaborate on an art project that champions love, awareness, no judgements and contentment. Art project? Sure. It's all art really. But we'll talk more about this in the next journal.
The Universe: Do you hear yourself?
Me: (head held low, knowingly, kind of embarrassed) Yes I do.
The Universe: (silent)
Me: Yes, I hear myself.
The Universe: (silent)
Me: I am full of bad vibes right now.
The Universe: (silent)
Me: I'm letting go of all my mad. This very second.
The Universe: (silent)
Me: Love rules.
The Universe: (silent)
The Universe: Good talk.
Let's go, let's go, let's go. Gotta hurry up cause life is short. Gonna die soon.
Drink coffee. Drink a ton of it. Fucking hurry up you're running late. Do a line of coke, yeah, yeah, yeah, even better, faster faster faster. Don't need to eat. Chug a beer. Just got so much to do. Long list not enough time. Owwwwweeee! Just slammed my fucking finger in the drawer. Now it's bleeding. Who cares! Put a bandage on it. Dammit. All this traffic. I'm late for the meeting. Fuck them. They are damn lucky to have me. Working for nothing. Rat bastards. WhupWhupWhup!!! What the hell?! Speeding ticket my ass.
Join us next week when we host Guru Sup who will talk about meditation, mindfulness and detachment.
You read that right, but we'll get to the dirty deets later. Whoa, the last three months just whizzed by. Long of the short, all is chill in Wiggyland. Yay. I've been trying on some new clothes, taking off some used. I'm still living in Lynchburg, VA with the always inspiring Dee W Loizou. We've perfected our spicy fish-sauce sauce. Yes, I'm still vegetarian but this Thai dish we love requires the Red Boat, so we tread lightly and nom, nom, nom the bejesus outta that dish. I took photos for a wedding. My god, that was hard. Probably won't do that again. Thankfully the bride and groom are the best people on the planet. I took on a bookkeeping job for my dear friends at Riverviews...what! Yes, I hear you screaming. It's just temporary, people. No, I'm not moving back to NYC just yet. But I miss it. Dearly. Took photos for a fundraising event. Umm, super hard. But I did it all in character, with a British accent, in striped tights. For the challenge. Oh, I would do that again. For sure. Makes picture taking wildly mysterious. And fun. I did a few promo videos, bought a battery powered light kit, started using my flash a bit more for stills, and yeah, I taught an Introduction to Digital Photography class and an Advanced Digital Filmmaking class at the local liberal arts joint just up the street. It's called Randolph College. Used to be all women. Then that changed in 2006. I had 19 students and 16 were women. So who knows. I began teaching in February. Unfortunately I missed the first 11 classes of the semester because I came in as a pinch-hitter. Probably won't do that again. So hard. But I would do it all again if given a full semester. I taught four classes a week for a total of nine hours. 4.5 hours on Monday and 4.5 hours on Thursday. But you know what, that shizzle was a full-time job. Seriously. Best paying gig I've had in Lynchburg, but damn, brother barely had time to rest. But I kinda loved it? I know it's trite, but mad respect to all the teachers out there. Bring it in for a group hug! Yesterday was my last day. Graded all the students, sent each a personal note of gratitude, and then I noticed I hadn't written a blog post in three months. Whizzed by. The picture up top was taken at a show ring in Big Island, VA. I imagine myself sitting on those aluminum bleachers just taking it all in. Beautiful scenery, nice and quiet, just me and the cool breeze. What a spectacle. What a show. What a gift. Might as well be happy.
I woke up today and my face was sagging a bit. My bones ached. I needed to wake up. And fast.
Our meeting was scheduled at 9am. Sharp. Don't be late. Coffee, yup yup yup. A banana. Brush my teeth. Black pants? Sure. Black sweater? K. Black shoes? Wait a second. Next comes the black gloves, the black coat, the black hat. Snap out of it. You look fine. Everyone wears black in New York. But this isn't New York.
Today was my first day of teaching a beginning photography class. I rented a room. I posted an ad. I was taking reservations. One person replied.
I arrived at 8:30. Nervous. I opened my laptop, sipped the warm joe and reviewed my notes. My student burst through the door at 9:15. His name was Grey. He apologized for being late, his forehead was sweating, he had dark circles under his eyes and he immediately told me he forgot his camera.
Ain't a thing, Grey. I offered him my coffee. With his coat hanging off his shoulder he dropped down to his knees and started to cry. He lifted his head and confessed. "I could barely get out of bed today. My head is throbbing. I am tired, so very, very tired. I'm not sure why I signed up for this class. I don't even have a camera. I'm sorry. I hate myself. And then you offered me your coffee. And I'm sensitive. And small gestures mean everything to me. And I do enjoy looking at photos and daydreaming and thinking of brighter days. Connecting with the world, living outside my head. And you standing there, looking at me, so much love in your eyes. And that's the picture I want to take. Can you show me how to take that picture? A picture of you and me. I don't care if I'm a mess. I want to see how people would see you looking at me. I am pathetic. But I can do better. Promise. I want to be that hope in your eyes."
I unzipped my backpack and set up a small tripod on the other side of the room. Grey held the coffee mug tight in his hands and sighed when he drank. "Oh my god," he whispered. And he watched me work in silence. I looked through the lens and framed Grey on the left side of the image. I imagined where I would be standing. I picked the widest aperture and focused. I set the timer to 10 seconds and walked over to Grey. He brought the cup to his lips and looked up at me. I reached out my hand and began to lift him off the ground.
The shutter clicked.
I value love. I value light. I value momentum. I value patience. I value compassion. I value sustainable income. I value creativity. I value listening. I value happiness. I value effort. I value today.
My objective is to meditate. And here is a conversation with myself while settling into today's objective.
Objective: Sit in a comfortable position, hands interlaced resting at my belly, palms up, eyes closed. Spine straight from root to crown. Focus my awareness on the breath. Breathe in, slowly, lingering on the last inhale ever so slightly before starting to breathe out. Melting the tension in my neck and shoulders as I slow the patient exhale.
Me: Oh that feels good. So relaxing. I am lighter than ever. I feel loose. I wonder what that sound is? Is the radio still on? Are those water drops hitting the roof? Is that my hard drive? Is my hard drive going bad?
Objective: Listen to the sound. Smile at the sound. Don't analyze the sound. Let the sound be. Sound is like the wind. It is free. It moves. Do not try to control the sound. Focus your awareness on the breath.
Me: Breathing in. Slowly. I don't care what that sound is. It's probably the snow melting. I don't care. Hold the breath ever so lightly, now slowly breathe out. Relax the shoulders. Relax the tension in my sit muscles. Oh that feels good. Oh yes. I really need to get my act together. I should create a spreadsheet that 1) outlines my goals and 2) keeps track of my progress. Maybe weekly? Or monthly. I'm not sure. But...
Objective: Really great thoughts. But let them go. Focus on the breath. Relax the tension in your eyes. Take a long, slow breath in. Hold it. Perfect. Now slowly breathe out while releasing all your tension. Your thoughts are tension. Let them go. Just sit comfortably and smile. Chakras aligned, shoulders loose, focusing your awareness on the breath.
Me: Wow. This seems to be working. It always seems to work. Now is not the time to do anything else but breathe in and out. Gloriously. Content with simply breathing. Oh.my.god. This feels amazing. I'll make sure to take my vitamins today. Pile the good on good. What a great day! I'll write a new blog post, gosh, I might even bang out my taxes. Bloody hell. I am on fire.
Objective: Focus your awareness on the breath. Just your breath. Simple in. Simple out. That's all you need to do.
Me: Copy that. Breathing in. Slowly. Breathing out. My tension melts away. No thoughts. No sounds. Just the wind.
The meditation lasted 15 minutes. By the end I was sitting comfortably, focusing my awareness on the breath. Along the way I had a few more random thoughts which I embraced, then I smiled and happily let them go. I heard footsteps on the sidewalk, a freight train, smells of curry. I was in the world but not judging it. I let everything go for 15 minutes, except for the breath.
I feel lighter. I'm going to build that spreadsheet. Glad I waited. I love my friends. I'm going to apply for that photojournalism job. I'm going to take pictures and write stories. I'm grateful for meditation teachers. I'm not really sure what the day will bring but I am happy to be a part of it. And when my baby gets off work we are going to read William Carlos Williams, roast cauliflower and boogie.
Love, meditation & happiness. Got it.
I am grateful for sight.
When I first learned how to meditate I was instructed to keep my eyes open. But this was because I was trained by a kung fu master. In case of an attack. Master wanted me to be ready at all times, even in repose. So I kept my eyes open. But just barely. These little slits of light caffeinated my awareness and protected me from danger allowing the other part of me to rest. The part behind the eyes. My hope, my soul, my love. This part needed care. I was not trained to fight. I was trained to be compassionate. I was taught to protect compassion. As Master would say, "Concentrate your mind. Relax all of your body." Each awakened step is a mixture of perception and detachment.
I walk through the world knowingly.
I love Facebook! Please let me explain.
As someone who has practiced meditation for decades, I am constantly seeking new ways to improve the efficiency of my training. And thanks to Facebook I have discovered fast food meditation!
In this wonderful season of giving it would be an honor to share this technique with you.
Step 1: Log in to your Facebook. Most of you can skip this step because you are probably already logged on. I realize nobody logs out of Facebook but I have to add this step just in case.
Step 2: Go to your news feed. To eliminate any confusion, your news feed is also your home page. Because Facebook is home.
Step 3: Before reading the first post on your newsfeed, please close your eyes and think of something that makes you happy. Isn't it wonderful, this feeling inside.
Step 4: Open your eyes.
Step 5: Read the first post on your news feed. If you have read the first post and you are still happy, read the next post. Continue this process until your happiness fades. When you are no longer happy close your eyes again.
Step 6: Think of something that makes you happy.
There you have it. Fast food meditation. You can practice this technique whenever you like, wherever you like. It is always available.
Please join me next week when I discuss, “Why 6 is an auspicious number.”
Dear President Trump,
I want you to be great. I really do. So in the spirit of your legacy I'd like to make a suggestion. I've been doing some research and I noticed that starting in 2001 our government has really jacked up the number of executive branch czars. Some of my favorites are the asian carp czar, the cyber czar, the ebola czar, the faith-based czar and the weatherization czar. Good folks doing the best they can. But maybe we can do better.
IMHO I think you should appoint a love czar ASAP!
Your personality and methods, Mr. President, are what they are. I have no judgements really. You have reasons for being and doing what you do. But again, IMHO, I think you come off as a bit mean spirited. You're kind of an arrogant bully. Hey, it is what it is. At one point in my life I was just like you. But I evolved. Thanks to the help of my friends, who are, I hope, proud Americans.
A little bit about me if I may. Just recently I appointed my good friend Dee W as my personal love czar. I created this executive branch, if you will, out of necessity. It was either create a love czar or go bonkers. I chose creativity. I think you'd really like Dee W. She is gentle and curious and effortlessly positive. A real find. Her official title is, for funsies, Director of the White House Office of Love and Compassion Policy. Right?!
Dee W is my savior. She created an essential balance to my ever changing emotions. I have so many feelings. I sometimes find myself wandering down the cold wet road of negativity, doubt and darkness. And believe me when I say that I may appear all lovey dovey on the outside, but girrrrl, don't get me started about the rage. Dee W is the light. She is goodness. Light, dark. Good, evil. Yin, yang. Masculine, feminine. These polarities are inevitable. No getting around them. The antidote is balance.
I know this is a lot to digest. Your head is probably swimming right now. But take a deep breath, visualize your greatness and what do you think about Melania? She'd make an awesome love czar! Melania knows you. Her familiarity is key to the success of, dare I say, your legacy. She will look you in the eye and say, "Honey, that idea is whack." She won't back down. Mama will tell it like it is. Melania is the light. She will provide our nation with the balance that is necessary to make America great again.
P.S. If you want to borrow Dee W's official title, go for it. I'm cool. Mi casa es su casa, bro.
On September 21st the Bower Center for the Arts in Bedford, VA invited me to have a solo video exhibition in their Sara Braaten Gallery. The space was built in 1843 as the St. John's Episcopal Church. The ceilings are pressed tin and 16 feet high. The gallery is 1,400 sq ft and can accommodate 100 people. There are 6 antique pews in the balcony. Four days later I accepted the invitation.
My first interaction with the Bower was back in May. Two of my photos were chosen for their National Juried Art Exhibition. The photos were displayed in the Terrace Gallery which is located on the first floor just below the Sara Braaten. My second collaboration with the Bower was a video installation and it also displayed in the Terrace. Perpetual Tea, or, Preparing Our Minds For Anything was the first video art to be exhibited at the Bower and was awarded Best in Show.
It is fair to say the Bower Center has been very kind to me. My two experiences with the Bower have been life changing in regards to the evolution of my art. I am a visual artist without limits. This is how I feel. So what was I going to do with my new canvas and how could it be something I could really sink my teeth into? The show is not until August, 2019 but having spent decades working in the film industry I felt like I was already behind the 8-ball. Tick-tock, tick-tock. I needed to have a plan. This was going to take some time.
The first thing I decided was to turn my solo show into an invitational group show. Yes, I committed to this idea and started inviting local friends to join me. But I really needed a concept first. What was I inviting them to participate in? I came up with a title, The Home Within A House. I would build a house on the gallery floor and my video would play on a loop inside the shack. Ok fine, moving forward. But did I mention that the Bower Center rents the gallery to the Bedford Lutheran Church every Sunday? It's a fact. I met the Lutheran congregation a couple weeks ago. I took communion, I sang a half-dozen hymns, I cried a bit when they said a prayer for the dead and then I pitched them my idea while nibbling on banana bread and crudités. I invited them to join the show. They are interested. I told them the house would be permanent for one month. Can't move it. We have not sealed the deal yet. I'll take communion again on October 21st and I'll ask for their official blessing. Wish me luck.
I really like the idea of shooting more video. Perpetual Tea was 15 one-minute meditation videos. Each video was a static, single take. So obviously my next video needs to be different. It's going to be a documentary. It's settled. The subject will be my collaborators, fellow artists in their home talking to me about art and feelings. And their art will live with mine in the gallery. We'll be together.
Ok, so that's enough for now. I'll spend the rest of this week visualizing positive vibes with the Lutherans. I'll put some tape on the gallery floor to give them an idea where the house will be built. I will imagine shaking the hands of my new collaborators, comrades-in-arms, musicians, painters, interior designers, illustrators, photographers, sculptors & poets. And I will wonder if any of my friends are handy with a hammer and a 2x4. We got to build this house.
We move forward every day until we don't. I've spoken about my extensive work as a production accountant in Los Angeles and NYC. I'll eventually stop talking about those days and focus more on the now. When I moved to Lynchburg I didn't know what to call myself in regards to what I do. My business card in 2017 said, Michael Wiggins, compassionate. But, you know, that doesn't really work so well when you meet new people. Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins, I'm a compassionate. Crickets. But I never said, Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins, I'm a production accountant. Things change.
Today I was walking the aisles at Home Depot. I'm working on a new art installation, looking for some ideas. A kind gentleman asked if he could help me find anything. And this is what I said. Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins, I'm a working artist. Maybe I didn't say the Hi! thing, or the Michael Wiggins, but you know what I mean. I'm a working artist, that's what I said. It just came out of my mouth. I told him I was cruising the inventory looking for inspiration. His smile was genuine and wide, there was no confusion about what it means to be a working artist. He casually pointed to the forklift he was sitting on and said, this is art. We understood each other. He told me if I needed any help just let him know. Beep, beep, he rolled on.
Having photographs or an art installation exhibited in a gallery does not make me a working artist. Although I've been fortunate enough to sell a few photos, no one paid me to take a picture. And my video installation was also self-funded. Honestly, if it wasn't for my years working as a production accountant I would not have been able to move to Lynchburg and reinvent myself. Life is glorious this way. And now I'm a visual artist , but I ain't working. Until last week.
I get an email from Kim the executive director at Riverviews Artspace. I've known Kim nearly the whole time I've lived in Lynchburg. And Dee and I had the pleasure of being one of her guinea pig vendors at the first Riverviews Makers Market. Kim gave our company, Koh-Dee, a chance to sell our wares publicly. That's just Kim, incredibly supportive. Hi! I'm Kim Soerensen, I'm a compassionate. And I would say, yeah you is sis, yeah..you..is. Anyway. Kim's email said some glowing things about my work and basically she hired me to be the staff photographer for Riverviews. I mean...
This was a good day. Kim immediately put me to work documenting a screening of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. I did ok. And I was sincerely giddy for the opportunity. I told myself I would be better at the next gig if I schmoozed a bit more during the process. It's really important to let people know who you are and to make them feel comfortable. And two days after that Kim had me working a fancy-pants breakfast event. In attendance would be a senator, a mayor, women campaigning for Congress, founders of the organization, news media and a ton of good-hearted Lynchburg folks. I perfected my pitch. I took 440 photos. Hi! I'm Michael Wiggins.
I'm a compassionate, a dreamer, a working artist.
When I graduated from college I was a mess. I left UC San Diego with a degree in visual arts and moved in with mom. She lived in Los Angeles. Slowly but surely I stopped rolling cigarettes and the craving for hallucinogens and speed eventually faded. I found work as a security guard but I spent the graveyard shift smoking reefer and sipping pints. Long cold nights in the VW Rabbit, writing big ideas on a tiny notepad, patrolling the scene with only a Maglite 5D for protection. Mom almost bought a Dobermann to keep me company. She was worried. Got a battery powered black and white TV instead. Crap reception mostly. So I would reread what I wrote. Here's an actual note-to-self from 1986:
Character 1 - "Yes, I made dinner. It's chicken. I hope you like chicken."
Character 2 - "Chicken. I like chicken. Chicken is good.”
(Montage of chicken bones with small amounts of moist meat still hanging on. As you see the image of the chicken bones we hear...)
Character 1 - "You like chicken? Shit, you'd kill for chicken."
So yeah. Thankfully mom's landlord knew a guy that worked in Hollywood. I got the job as a set PA on "Kids Incorporated" and writing copy for the music video show, "Night Tracks." Mom was less worried now and she moved out of Los Angeles and settled in a small town called Springville. By this time I was living in Silverlake with my good friend James. I kept up the PA work for awhile until I landed a job as an assistant production accountant on the "Father Dowling Mysteries" in 1990. I didn't see that coming. But then I worked on another show as an assistant and then another and then another and by 1995 I had moved to NYC to be the production accountant on "New York Undercover." Oh my god, is this happening to me, will I ever be an artist? I was afraid of my fate. But then I worked on another show as the accountant and then another and then another and then it was 2016.
But let's back up for a second. I was lying in bed with my friend Kat staring at the ceiling. It was my last year in San Diego and we passed our time doing acid, smoking bowls and drinking beers. Kat asked me if I ever meditated. I gave her a long-winded no. But she got me curious. I consider that day lying in that bed with that woman in that city the beginning of my meditation training. When I eventually left San Diego I had a misty vision for myself. I was going to be a visual artist and meditation was destined to show me the way.
I imagined my future every day I drove around LA delivering scripts and picking up lunch at Le Dome. I kept writing. A friend turned me on to the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Santa Monica. I participated in a huge group meditation session with Gurumayi at the Shrine Auditorium. I kept dreaming. I discovered Lilias, Yoga and You on PBS. She taught me yoga as I prepared for another day at the office processing accounts payable and auditing petty cash. I took photos. I bought a piano. I created soundtracks. I kept writing. I bought an HD video camera. I made simple movies. I learned how to process payroll, prepare a budget, apply for a tax credit. I kept writing. I was meditating 12 hours a day now. I slept the rest. When someone didn't get their check on time I was meditating. When I grossly miscalculated a production overage I was meditating. And when I say meditating I don't mean smoking weed. I was really meditating. Definitely jacked up on coffee but breathing deeply and moving forward, solving problems, being mindful. I got frustrated. I hated everybody. But I loved everyone. I learned how to paint with oils. I shared my art on social medias. I'd work until 2am perfecting cost reports. I sexted. I stopped eating chicken. I kept making art. And then it was 2016.
When I moved to Lynchburg with my partner Dee I relied on meditation to say goodbye to a city I cherished for two decades, to acknowledge a profession I depended on for 25 years, to rent a truck, to pack a hundred boxes, to throw away a heap of useless and to drive to a town I basically knew nothing about. But our apartment on Main Street. What a dream. It was all the inspiration I needed (besides a thousand tiny kisses every day) to take another photo, to do another downward dog, to just be at the piano, to write, to believe.
When the Bower Center for the Arts offered me a blank wall to express myself I turned to a trusted friend. A companion that allowed me to appreciate the past. An awareness that gave me the courage to acknowledge my fears yet move forward. Meditation showed me the way.
This is Perpetual Tea, or, Preparing Our Minds for Anything.
This is how my hand woven photo looks in the Academy gallery. I really like how Dee and the intensely costumed girl to her right play off of each other. Dee is naked and vulnerable and making an effort to reach out, to connect. And the child, who is a bit imprisoned by her suffocating wardrobe, glances at Dee in a sympathetic and understanding way. These two have formed an immediate bond, a sisterhood, plotting a silent escape from the bondage of their picture frames.
I am living a two key existence right now. One key for my vehicle and one key for my front door. I have no other keys. I cannot remember the last time my keychain was so barren. I find myself in a constant state of letting go. One day I will no longer have photos. One day I will no longer have a memory. One day I will disappear into essence. But today I have two keys. One key is for movement and the other for stillness. In motion I roam the universe with a profound hope for humanity. At rest I am the consequence of my faith.
This is what I like about the bike. Those two horizontal sidewalk lines. So common in my work are the clean recumbents. The skewed vertical crease in the sidewalk guides my eye to the textured concrete wall where another unbent seam ends at a dominant perpendicular, the purple neon. This tableau was shot at night. The main light source is fluorescent and lively. In order to properly render the bluegreen in the bike tires I had to overexpose some of the key light which thankfully morphed into seductive bands of pure white hot. The frame of the bike is a more docile shade of perfectly exposed pale. Those exquisitely round rubber tires form a strong visual foundation that hug my face like a groovy pair of Ray-Bans. The kickstand and the lock assist the perfect dismount. The bike stuck the landing. A complimentary angle gives me a nice sense of the thick curvy pipes that form the bike rack. The public restrooms sign is a bit of text which feels hopeful and beachy to me. Plus the bike is a cruiser. Oh, and the fact we were slow strolling Virginia Beach at the time. I'm a sucker for a good boardwalk. Playful is the curve of red neon reflected off the window, just enough courage to compliment the bold mercury-vapor and the whimsy lavender. The band of solid black at the top of the frame keeps my eye from wandering off the page. And the shrubs, how their welcome shade of green embraces the light and subtly echoes the palette of the rear tire slowly ascending upwards like a plume of dust whence the bike is untethered. My eyes take refuge in the symmetry of the spokes. There is a feeling of movement in all the stillness. This is what I like about the bike.
From the "Americana Series," Work, Eat, Play. Available as a limited edition, signed on verso, archival pigment print, 16"x20", white frame, white matte, UV glass, ready-to-hang.
I was digging through the archives yesterday trying to see if my friend Kent sent me an Aretha Franklin postcard from San Diego back in the 80's. He didn't. It was Billie Holiday. But in the same ziplock was this picture of me and all my friends from Mr. Warner's class of 1973 at Hamlin Street School in Canoga Park. I forgot about Kent, about Billie, Aretha, everything but that photo. I held it in my hands and took a long look into each beautiful face. Then I'd let my eyes wander about the image admiring the drapes, the tiled floor, the felt letter board, the wooden bleachers, the flag, the bell-bottoms, the overall composition. Then I'd return to another face. I knew everyone. I remember the tenderest details about each personality. These faces have been living inside of me all this time. I never imagined that 5th Grade would have such an influence over my being. A fun expression from the 70's was Everything is Everything. I guess it is. Live in the moment cause it lingers a long time.
The year was 1993. I was holed up in a roadside hotel called the Hilltop Inn. This was in Monroe, NC. I was working as an assistant accountant on four back-to-back TV movies based on the film Smokey and the Bandit directed by Hal Needham. Hal was also directing the spin-offs and his hotel room was right next to mine. We got to know each other. I worked long hours, six days a week. Our accounting staff consisted of three people. My only free day was Sunday so I would drive my rental car to a sports bar in Charlotte to watch the Steelers. Monroe introduced me to the art of stunts, the cicada and minor league hockey. My sweetheart at the time was Penny. She was working in LA while I was in NC. Thinking about her kept me company. While researching this memory and going through my Bandit archives I found this headshot of Traci which basically explains everything else. Bye.
The earliest picture I have of Eric and myself is from the 70's. We played sports together in the YMCA. Our team was called the Dodgers. We both lived in the San Fernando Valley. We enjoyed competition. Football, basketball, tennis, billiards, foosball, ping-pong. You name it. And it is an honor to say we remain true friends to this day. Although we talk less and less I will always consider Eric a faithful companion. My fondest memories were from the late 80's when he and I and my mom all lived together in Woodland Hills. If any of us had something we needed to bitch about we would talk it out. Patiently. With emotion. But we also loved to laugh and dance and play board games. We were a formidable trio. The thing I admire most about my dear friend is his loyalty. I could trust Eric. He was sensitive. He could always relate. And his love and generosity for my mom was remarkable. Probably the most compassionate gift I have ever witnessed. Thank you, Eric. Godspeed.