“Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this a key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit is out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” -May Sarton fr. Journal of Solitude
it was my mom’s bike. as a child i thought it was rather uncool. when you sit on it you feel very upright. it is the most comfortable bike in the history of bikes. everyone who tries it says so. and i encourage everyone to take it for a spin. ‘you won’t believe it’, I say.
riding fast down hills, letting gravity take over, wind grabbing my hair and pushing it back off my face. the world rushes by and i laugh at how free i feel. i am a child again.
it holds so many memories this bike. there is a scrape on the right hand grip where my mother had a fall while riding down a hill. an early sign that her illness was starting to take over. a bloody scraped up leg. a deep pain in my gut. when i run my hand over the grip now i remember it all. many things i did not understand then.
a child with a mother. a summer at the beach, skin peeling, alive, with an appetite that only comes with days spent in the sun, running and swimming. summersaults in the water, around and around. ‘watch, i can do it backwards!’ ‘no wait, i’ll do it better this time.’ cups of sand falling out of a bathing suit at bathtime. sleep so deep. in bed you fight to hear mothers laughing and telling each other stories late into the night. angry stories about husbands, funny stories about flirting, secret stories about sex, painful stories about cancer. many words i don’t understand. murmurs. petty fighting. girlfriend love.
i see her riding the bike down the road waving. smiling. there is a towel in the basket, and a nectarine. she is not supposed to drive so she rides instead. nothing will stop her, not even death.
now it is me riding. waving. smiling.
basket full of food making it hard to take turns easily.
now it is me staying up, laughing into the night with girlfriends. telling stories. girlfriend love is eternal.
I am the luckiest girl on the earth. I have many mothers.
but i miss her.
Last night as I slept the world melted.
I awoke to tiny rivers pulling bits of debris and dirt down into the sewer grate.
Spring cleaning. I listen to it rushing and falling away.
I can smell the earth again. My heart swells.
A late night walk brought all of my senses alive. Sounds of dripping, smells of new paint, a teenager laughing in the distance, wind in the trees, on my face, a dog howling, the sound of my boots on the pavement. I walked into the middle of a field surrounded by cloudy, fog dusted trees. How daring I felt being alone out there. Then I became afraid of the dark and turned back. I could have walked all night just smelling, thinking. Making up new dreams for myself. Wondering what happens in the next chapter of the book. Can I not skip ahead? I have a friend who always skips ahead to the good parts with books. I have hard time with that, what if you missed a small gem of a sentence? The one that explained everything, the one that captured your heart with a few perfectly composed words? What if the author was trying to show you something by contrasting a long slow diatribe with the powerful and exciting climactic bits?
I think there are some things we are not supposed to know until we are ready.
So I will put my mittens away. I will wait to see what is blooming under the last bits of snow. I know you are there, when the wind blows a certain way it carries your essence.
the snowdrops are blooming.
There are many days when I wish I could walk through the world, unfettered, untouched by the opinions, utterances, and viewpoints of others. I would like to be able watch these things float up into the air on tiny pieces of paper, flitting and drifting, never to been seen again.
But this does not happen.
At times i feel so malleable. Like a big chunk of clay that someone has pushed their finger into and smooshed around, leaving a big indent. A hole. A void. An empty space. How is it that we so consistantly work to put other peoples’ feelings and emotions before our own? And it is work. So much energy expended trying to anticipate how people will react, how they will view us.
I have been for too long living to make other people happy.
It has become a tired game. It has become transparent. Like a moth eaten piece of threadbare linen.
The beauty in that image is if you hold the linen up and look at it, the light shines through. Large, powerful beams of light. Maybe the key is just finding the courage to hold it long enought to let the light through.
I don’t know.
So I look to others who have written about such things. I want to be able to move from my center more. First to know what exists there, and then to be able to honor all of it. For that is where the true gifts lie.
That much I do know.
I think today I will wear my superhero costume under my clothes. I need all the help I can get.
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.” -Arundhati Roy
Many years ago I spent a day wandering around the streets of Amsterdam. I turned down a little sidestreet beside the famous Rijks Museum and there I spotted a small cube van. I am not normally drawn to cube vans as a rule but a little sign sitting in front of it called me to investigate. The door on the back of the van was open and inside was the most amazing little art gallery I had ever seen. I paid a woman two guilders and stepped up onto the platform. The work on display was quite magical, little painted house-like sculptures. But what I was most fascinated with was the gallery itself. The artist had made use of what was at her disposal, a van and her talent. She found no reason why she couldn’t show her work anywhere and everywhere. Even right next to some of the worlds most famous painters, namely Rembrant, Van Gogh. The daring of it all made me grin.
I am reminded of folk artist Maude Lewis who put her paintings out on her front lawn with a sign saying “art for sale $5″. As her work grew in popularity her price remained the same. (She once got a letter from President Nixon asking her to send a painting for his collection, she sent a kind reply requesting that he first send a cheque for $5. And really why should you have special treatment just because you are the president?) Take a little tour through the painted house of Maude.
When traveling I have always been enamoured by those who pack art pieces into a little suitcase and sell them on a side street to random passers-by.
These things remind me that there are no barriers to getting our work out into the world (whether logistical, financial, or technical). We are limited only by our own minds.
My Dad’s friend Dave gave me an old chair that he had in his family for years. It is the most vibrant and stunning shade of red, (I want to eat the paint), and I needed to draw it the minute I saw it. And while it has a few technical issues, cracks, scuffs, and wobbles, this chair has a story. Judging by it’s condition it was well used and loved. I picture small children climbing up on it to make cookie dough, or maybe it sat in a corner until a neighbor popped in for tea. How many christmas parties has it seen? Was it ever used to make a blanket fort? Maybe someone of less than average height used it to reach a distant top shelf? How many secrets were shared in confidence in it’s presence? How many laughs did it hear, how many tears? Such a range of experiences to go through in one lifetime.
‘Welcome and entertain them all!” -rumi
Guerilla art is a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art making which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in public places. It can be done for a variety of reasons, to make a statement, to share your ideas, to send out good karma, or just for fun. My current fascination with it stems from a belief in the importance of making art without attachment to the outcome. To do something that has nothing to do with making money, or listening to the ego.
My first experience with being a guerilla artist was in my first year of art school in a class taught by conceptual artist Shirley Yanover. One of our assignments was to create some form of graffiti in a public place (we were allowed to choose the were and how). We went out in groups of four, (two lookouts, and two painters), and proceeded to make our mark on various blank walls across the city. The experience made me terrified and exhilarated at the same time. I wrote quotes from various authors along the bottoms of buildings, on phone booths, and on the sidewalks. I remember the feeling of daring as we sprinted away from unsuspecting police officers.
Now I am not necessarily advocating that you do anything illegal or potentially life threatening. But there is something wonderfully sneaky about leaving some form of art in public places. I like knowing that at some point in time someone might receive a little surprise in the form of a random message from a stranger, or a doodle in an unexpected place. I remember there used to be an artist in Toronto who would bolt text books and old phone books to various things. It became a personal quest of mine to find them all, and I always felt so excited when a new one showed up just under my nose. Experiment with your own ideas.
1. Sidewalk chalk
2. Sticker art
3. Flyers/posters (see “make a flyer of your day” at http://www.learningtoloveyoumore.com.
4. Journals (pass it on)
6. Object leave behinds (money, gifts, junk)
7. Notes (slogans)
9. Book inserts (library)
10. Book leave behinds (bookcrossing.com)
11. Letters (possibly love letters to strangers)
12. The age old ‘message in a bottle’, or a balloon. Or if you are really adventurous you might be drawn to carrier pigeons.
Potential Ideas for subject matter
-any form of artwork (drawings, collage, doodles, paintings)
-good luck charms
-variations on a theme
-many guerilla artist are politically motivated and find that being anonymous allows them to be more controversial or extreme with their message. Popular with activists.
The original guerilla girls
Mysterious figures show up on a campus.
Potato: Guerilla Art