Become Whole [on Two Artists Tuesday]

barney spring 2020 copy

When Barney came to live in our backyard, he’d been long forgotten in the dank dark basement boiler room. His soundboard was shot. He was headed for the junkyard when Kerri intervened and asked if Barney might come live out his days with us. It has been five years since Barney arrived in the junk man’s pick up truck. He has aged beautifully.

The first day in his new home Barney spoke when Kerri played his keys. He let go of his voice one key at a time. Within a week he was silent, no longer what he once was but not yet sure of what he was becoming.

We adorned him with flowers in pots for a few summer seasons. Certainly, he was content to support the flowers – like a crossword puzzle, it was something to do – but it never rose to the level of purpose. We realized he was doing it for us so when the third season arrived we let go our desire to give him meaning. He heaved a sigh at our revelation, and, at last, purpose-free, he enjoyed the sun for no other reason than it felt good. That season, wild geraniums grew around his baseboard and embraced him, the chipmunks used him as their hiding spot. The little critters made him laugh as they stood on his blistering lid and taunted the rowdy dog.

Initially, we tried to slow his inevitable peel, slathering him with marine oil, but his skin wrinkled and bubbled anyway. The white veneer of his keys was the first to go. We realized that Barney was becoming another kind of beautiful. He was, as Rilke wrote, living his way into the answer to all of his questions.

Jen and Brad suggested in our stay-at-home-seclusion that we exchange images of spring. I stepped onto the back deck and recorded the birds singing. And then I saw the wild geraniums were showing up and gathering around Barney. He was absolutely gorgeous in the morning light, sculptural and at peace. I’d just read something Thomas Merton wrote and it perfectly described Barney on this early spring morning: There is in all visible things…a hidden wholeness.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BARNEY IN SPRING

 

Barney copy

 

heart rock website box copy

 

 

Find Another Door [on Merely A Thought Monday]

dream copy

Roger and I used to discuss life and career. He would say, “There is a time of becoming and then, one day, you realize that you have become it.” He was right. I wanted to be an artist. For years I chased it. For years I practiced it. And then, one day, I realized I was it. Not because I’d arrived at a place called Artist, but because art was my practice. Art was my pursuit. Art called me.

It’s a paradox. You become the thing that you pursue on the day that you realize it is not an achievement. Becoming is a choice of practice, a dedication of your limited time on earth to an exploration. Follow the Siren long enough and she will claim you.

Long after his retirement, Tom continued to toss his hat into the ring for regional directing assignments. During his career, he was a force in the theatre. He was a master-teacher-director who opened the door to many of my peers, theatre artists, the people I most admire. I heard about Tom long before I met him. And, although he continued his passionate pursuit after his retirement, the world of opportunity could not see beyond his grey hair. Even his former students, those people I most admire, stopped considering his resume or returning his calls.

It was in the midst of recognizing that he had more to give but the old routes were now closed that he pulled me aside and said, “I need help telling a story.” And then he asked, “Will you help me?”

Our project, The Lost Boy, opened ten years later,  several months after Tom’s death.  The opening night audience was a packed house of Tom’s family and relatives, people who brought photographs of the lost boy, Johnny, to the theatre. They clutched them as they watched the play. After the performance, they stayed in the theatre sharing their stories until the management asked them to leave.

A dream. Tom’s practice: uniting people through telling and sharing a common story. Art in its purest form.

His final lesson for me: storytellers (artists) age but the force of their dreams does not grow old. They will inevitably hit walls and freshly closed doors and rather than sit down and throw up their hands, they simply turn, ask a few questions, and look for another way.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about NEVER TOO OLD

 

Johnny crop copy

 

 

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The Chili Boys in rehearsal for The Lost Boy. They wrote gorgeous music for the play. I will always be grateful to them.

 

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carrying on the tradition (and my heroes): mike and sabrina bartram

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50 minutes before stepping onto the stage. Kerri and I performed together for the first time.

 

bootsbythestage website box copy

Take Flight [on KS Friday]

take flight songbox copy

Who hasn’t in their dreams taken flight? It’s possible in the morning not to remember but that does not negate the experience of flying.

Who hasn’t dreamed of becoming? A dancer, a pilot, an explorer. It’s possible when standing at the threshold of a dream to fill up with doubt but that does not halt the becoming. It is part of it.

I remember my first flight. It was a miracle of new perspective. From up there rivers and mountain ranges can be seen as what they are. Circulation. Movement. Earth’s inhale and exhale. I felt intensely alive. It is possible, after many many flights, to dull and forget, but that does not negate the miracle.

We are among the first humans in a long, long history of human beings to see our planet from the air. From space. From outer space. From above. It is possible to lose this new perspective among the daily detritus . It is possible with so much noise here on the ground to forget.

This amazing composition will help you remember.

 

TAKE FLIGHT on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about TAKE FLIGHT

 

sunrisewebsite copy

 

take flight/this part of the journey ©️ 2000 kerri sherwood

Study It [on DR Thursday]

Although this news will come as a blow to my ego, I am not a genius. My work is not opening new and exciting doors in the trajectory of western art. My boyhood fantasy of becoming the next Picasso has evolved into the happy reality of becoming the only…me. I love to paint. That is more than enough. Becoming, with no end in sight.

I rarely do studies or rough drafts. Only when a painting is giving me fits do I stop and study it. And, if I actually stop to do a study, the next step is to wipe the painting off the canvas. You might say that the act of doing a study is a warning to the elusive painting. “Last chance, dude.”

FACE THE SUN began as a study, a warning to CHASING BUBBLES. I was ready to wipe it away. In fact, I was cackling at the satisfaction a fresh start would bring. Kerri intervened. She has an uncanny sense for knowing when I am about to wipe away a painting. More than once, at the very moment my hand is reaching to annihilate the trouble-maker-painting, she rushes in to plead its case. I knit my brow. “You’re kidding, right?”

CHASING BUBBLES lived to see another day. Cleaning the studio, I saw the study that saved the painting. I liked it so I finished it and called it FACE THE SUN. Kerri came into the studio and said, “That painting makes my neck hurt.”

“What?! You’re kidding, right?”

She smiled her “gotcha” smile. Not only am I not the next Picasso but the painter that is becoming me is gullible. I am not a genius but I am an easy mark.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FACE THE SUN

 

 

snapchat website box copy

 

face the sun/chasing bubbles ©️ 2019 david robinson

 

Love The Melt [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

snowman copy

This melty fellow reminded me of my favorite Flawed Cartoon. It was among the first in my Flawed Cartoon canon and makes me smile every time I revisit it. Becoming meets Being. Hopes and dreams always come with realities attached and they can be very funny (especially when the attachments are someone else’s).

Tis the season of existential pondering and life review. In the past month, I’ve repeatedly heard the old and wizened caution the young and ambitious that time passes quickly. Your kids will be grown before you know it. Be careful what you wish for. Appreciate your moments. You are your choices. One minute you are a snowflake with possibilities….

Winter solstice. This season when darkest night gives way to the slow return of light. Isn’t that the epicenter of hope? It’s good news for you and me. Not so much for those men and women made of snow. As is true with all things, humor is relative. It’s only funny when it happens to someone else. Of course, with enough cycles, the sun will make puddles of us all (just kidding. Well, okay, not really. But don’t you think this puddle thing would have made a very funny Flawed Cartoon? Why are my ears growing? I think the sunless days are making my mind sag…).

 

SNOWMAN BIG COPY Master

 

read Kerri’s blog post about the SNOWMAN

 

art sale december 2018 copy

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

 

Flawed Cartoons/products ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Meet Shayne

frontcoverscreenshotAbout six weeks ago, Beaky called to discuss her writing and the viability of sharing it. Beaky is a few months shy of 94 years old and puts pen-to-paper almost every day. She calls it chicken scratch and is mostly unaware that she is a fantastic storyteller (actually, I believe she knows it but is too humble to apply the word ‘fantastic’ to herself). She can’t help it; storytelling is in her bones. Some of my favorite days of the past few years have been at Beaky’s side listening to her tell a tale.

At 93 she is reviewing her life and, like all of us, she wants to do more, be more. It is hard to understand for those of us who know her because she is a rare and special person. She is a bringer of joy; Beaky makes people smile. That, too, is in her bones. Some months ago we spent a long night in the emergency room with her. She’d taken a fall and we feared she’d broken her hip. Deep in the night, writhing in excruciating pain, Beaky looked into the eyes of an exhausted attending nurse and through her pain said, “You have the most beautiful smile.” The nurse giggled, blushed and beamed. Laughter, blushing and beaming are common occurrences when hanging out with Beaky. Even while in pain she seeks the giving-moment.

Almost sixty years ago she wrote a trilogy of stories for her children. For months we looked high and low for the folder of her stories. Not long ago we found them and discovered that each had a submission cover page; Beaky wanted to be published. So, we decided to put our heads down and make it happen. I illustrated the first book and Kerri did the layout and design. Today, Beaky’s first book, SHAYNE, is now available; it is published. Beaky is published. Within the next two months the second and third books of the trilogy will be published, too (SHAYNE AND THE YELLOW DRAGON and SHAYNE AND THE NEW BABY). Next week we will travel to be with her as she has her very first book reading & signing party. She is, of course, busy practicing her signature (wouldn’t you?).

Jim has a magnet on his refrigerator that reads, “It is never too late to become what you might have been.” In Beaky’s case I might add: It’s never to late to realize what you have always been AND be a children’s book author, too.

One of my favorite photos: Kerri with her mom, Beaky

One of my favorite photos: Kerri with her mom, Beaky

[check out Beaky’s website! www.beakysbooks.com]