Smile [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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When we started our Two Artists Tuesday designs, our subtitle was “Making Stuff for Humans.” We used the word “stuff” loosely. The idea was to bring smiles. we were rooted in whimsy (something I constantly need to practice…).

Over the course of Studio Melange, our idea has morphed. The “stuff” we bring is not only our designs but our experiences as well. And, our latest experience was a riot of fun and the first of many Sip-N-Strums. What could be better than a beginner’s lesson with wine. It makes a good house party, a killer corporate event (we can teach anything through this magical instrument), as well as a fun night out. Whimsy, whimsy, whimsy in a world of whipped up division, ugly partisan fighting and a dedicated focus on the dark things. The ukulele is good medicine.

The ukulele is smile producing. It is impossible to pick it up without feeling playful. Even if you are being forced to play, as one unsuspecting husband was when he came to the Iron Depot Winery with his wife, only to discover that he’d stepped into a ukulele trap. He was in stage-one-full-resistance-mode until he picked up that little green ukulele. Once he wrapped his big bear paws around that little instrument it was all sip-n-smiles from that moment forward.

The quote on our site captures it best. “The ukulele is a portal through which only happy people can pass.” I’d offer this thought as well: the ukulele is a portal through which grumpy people enter their happy place. It is good stuff for humans.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SIP-N-STRUM

 

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Proof It [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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We take a short break from our regular programming to bring you this important public service message. Check your grammar, spelling, morphology, phonology, and semantics. You are being watched.

Inside Kerri’s brain there rides a relentless posse of grammar police. Red pens in their holsters, disbelief in their bellies. They draw emphatic circles. They slash arrows across previously spotless pages. They show no mercy, even to a husband [eh-hem] that means well, writes often, but still asks about the use of possessive apostrophes. The posse hangs their collective head in shame as they once again have to instruct the man with theTeflon brain.

Above all, educators and copy editors are subject to extra scrutiny and derision. “How could they not see that!” Kerri exclaims, waving the paper emphatically for me, DogDog, and BabyCat to see and share in her grammar scorn. “It’s their job! Unbelievable!” she cries as the posse gallops through the vast range of newsprint, seeking the next offender.

DogDog looks at me with puzzled eyes. “I’d have misspelled it, too,” I whisper. BabyCat is nowhere to be found. Coward.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMING

 

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Realize It [on KS Friday]

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Years ago, at the retreat center on Whidbey Island, Kendy talked with me about her budding meditation practice. She was having difficulty quieting her mind chatter. To help, a teacher gave her a mantra to use in her meditation. The mantra gave her busy mind a focal point. It was a simple phrase: I Am. I Am. “It’s the craziest thing,” she said, “I feel like I need to add a description, I Am…what? I am happy? I am fulfilled? I am a loser? I am bored? And then it occurred to me that it’s the descriptor I’m trying to quiet! Why do I need to define everything? Judge everything? Assign a score to everything? Isn’t the whole point to realize how profound it is to be alive? I Am.”

There is a photograph of my uncle Al, just months before he died of cancer, fulfilling a dream of flying on a trapeze. At the moment of letting go of the bar, he reaches into space. The catcher is not in the frame. Al’s face, wracked with his disease, is shining with the joy of his moment. The simple pleasure of his moment of I Am.

There is a lyric in Kerri’s song, I Am Alive, that brings me back to my conversation with Kendy and the enormity of her realization. It makes me miss Al. The lyric goes like this: we are bonded by the power of this dream that is I Am.

Cut through all the chatter-of-the-day and it’s plain enough. It’s simple enough. Add the final descriptive word to the I Am. Realize, as Al did in that gorgeous moment of flight, of not-here-or-there. I Am Alive.

I AM ALIVE on the album AS SURE AS THE SUN is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I AM ALIVE

 

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i am alive/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 

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Do A Rough Draft [on DR Thursday]

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the field in early october: a morsel

I love seeing artists’ rough drafts. One of my all time favorite art exhibits was the hundreds of drawings and sketches John Singer Sargent executed en route to his painting, El Jaleo.

I’m more interested in the process than the final piece. I’m more captivated by the search than the find. That includes my own work as well. For me, the final painting is less a finished piece and more of a pause in the conversation.

It bothers me when a curator tells people what a painting is about or what the artist intended. I’ve squirmed many times during openings of shows when the gallery curator, introducing my work, tells people what my paintings mean. It locks people out. It prevents them from having THEIR relationship with my painting. I squirm equally when the work is not mine. I want a more pure experience.

To me, art is a doorway to the sacred, to the deeper things that words often cannot reach. It is a passage back to the beginning, to the fingerpainter, the child freely playing – prior to the time when a judge is planted between the painter and the piece, the painting and the viewer. That is where the riches are. And in that place it is all a rough draft.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE FIELD IN EARLY OCTOBER

 

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a field in early october/morsel ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

Appraise It [on Flawed Wednesday]

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The first time we visited Hippie Tom’s Serendipity Farm, Kerri said, “It’s like being inside someone’s disease.” The farm is a hoarder’s dream. Stuff piled upon stuff. Stuff packed into corners, hung from rafters, tucked under shelves. Most of the stuff is exposed to the heat and cold, rain and snow. Having the stuff is more important than the caring for the stuff, a 3-D philosophical statement. Certainly there are treasures to be found, curiosities that are heartier than the mildew and rust or perhaps have not yet been on the farm for a cycle of seasons.

In the barn there is a room for chairs. Chairs stacked to the ceiling though I use the term ‘stacked” loosely. Piled, perhaps. It reminds me a scene post tsunami, what remains after the waters have retreated. The artifacts of lives-now-gone. It would be a brilliant set for a play, metaphors abound. The sickness of acquisition. Or, perhaps it is not sickness so much as the inevitable destination of stuff after the story connection is lost.

The power of story. The value is never in the stuff, it is in the shared narrative invested into it. A diamond has no value without people to appraise it.

Once, I visited Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu, New Mexico. It was spartan. And I loved it. A few chairs. And, oh-my-god the paintings. The view and vibrant connection to the natural world. It was like being inside someone’s happiness. So many years after her passing it felt alive – a place of life. That’s my appraisal.

Hippie Tom loves his farm, I’m sure. As for me, I think I’d rather walk the path with Georgia. Less stuff. More life.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about STUFF

 

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Measure The Distance [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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I am surrounded by reminders of how quickly this life passes – or, perhaps, how much has changed in the span of my life.  Joseph Campbell told the story of, as a boy, seeing one of the first flights of a new invention, an air-o-plane. “It was like a flying bicycle,” he said. He finished his remembrance by remarking, “My God, now we are on the moon.” We are among the first human beings to measure our lives according to the blazing changes brought by technological advancement.

What is the distance between three channels, rabbit ears on a black and white television, and HULU available on all of our “devices?” Last night we watched the Barbara Streisand, Kris Kristofferson version of A Star Is Born and laughed heartily at the eight track tape players and telephones attached by cords to the wall. What is the distance between Stars Being Born in 1976 and those about to be Born in 2018?

Kerri and I like to poke around antique stores. It is common for us to stop and point at something, saying, “Hey, we had that.” Or, the more amusing variation, “Hey, those are our mixing bowls!” When a ten year old computer is considered a dinosaur, a 20 year old mixing bowl becomes an antique. “They’d put our stove in a museum,” Kerri quips. And what about those tv trays, Swanson frozen dinners (what was really in that Salisbury steak and those “mashed potatoes?”), the Carol Burnett show, and Gilligan’s Island?

Seems like yesterday. Seems like so long ago.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TV TRAYS

 

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Follow The Trail [on Merely A Thought Monday]

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Max Ehrmann died. His poem, Desiderata, was mostly unknown. He did not write it for fame and few poets, unless they are delusional, write for fortune. Desiderata found its way to the light because it struck a chord, people shared it. Today it is known and treasured all over the world.

Vincent Van Gogh died. His paintings were mostly unknown. They were mostly rejected. Only one of his paintings sold in his lifetime.  He did not paint them to increase his fame and few painters, unless they are delusional, paint for fortune. His paintings found their way to the light because they struck a chord, people sought them out. Today, they are known and treasured all over the world.

No one knows the impact of their work. No one controls the ripples that they send. Everyone knows the truth of their intention, the source from which they act. Max Ehrmann wrote his poems during a life that spanned world wars. Vincent Van Gogh endured a lifetime of intense internal warfare and painted in response. Amidst the intensity of chaos they reached for more eternal things.

John told me that my job was to paint the paintings, not to determine how they are seen or received. In this age in which the arts have been detached from all things sacred, I sometimes feel our poems, our music, our dance, our paintings serve as a popcorn trail that point, not in the direction of personal gain or achievement, but to the soul’s home. That place where we sit together and experience the bigger things that live beyond words or names, beyond the nonsense and power games. The popcorn trail reminds us amidst the fighting to stand back and remember that neither side in any fight wins. Not really. The oppressed becomes the oppressor. Ripples and time.

For perspective, look to the stars at night. Poets and painters try to touch the vastness. The popcorn trail reminds us not to forget the center.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on DESIDERATA

 

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