Watch The Dance [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

It was once a guilty pleasure. After a snowfall, through newly plowed streets, I’d tie on my red Nike shoes and go for a long, long run. In Colorado, the sun and the cold air play well together. Atmospheric sweet and sour. Run toward the sun in the snow quiet. Sensual pleasure. I’ve never felt more alive than during those treasured runs.

Our yard is a miracle of shadow-play after the snowfall. Between the trees and the tall grasses that grow along the property line, the cool blue sways and dances across the ice-white canvas, a visual conversation between limb and wind. It can be mesmerizing. Sometimes it reminds me of Wayan Kulit, the shadow puppets of the Balinese. An epic tale told on the screen of our front yard. The lesson of Wayan Kulit: we are not substance, not really. Rather, we are passing shadows projecting our story onto the canvas of our minds.

The mailwoman told me that she adored bringing our mail during the winter afternoons. “The light on the grasses,” she said, “they knock me out.” We wait until spring to cut back the grasses for exactly that reason. The pink, orange and purple light of a late winter afternoon makes the grasses luminous. And the shadows they cast! A gentle blue waving, aloha! Greeting or parting? Longing or fulfillment? I’m never sure.

Sylvia Plath wrote in The Bell Jar, “I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow.” Staring out our front window watching the dance, the frigid air and sun at play together, I think she was right. What could possibly be more heartbreakingly beautiful?

Jump Out Of Your Chair [on KS Friday]

If I want to think clearly – or clear my thinking – I walk. Sitting still has always been and continues to be an invitation for thought-log-jams. It was a problem when I was a student. Classrooms come with desks and an expectation that the learner will sit still. I became a master of the controlled wiggle, not because it broke the logjam but because it helped maintain my sanity. For me, sitting still is like a hair shirt with an itchy tag. Sitting still makes my IQ plummet several points. Sitting still interrupts my synapses.

Tom Mck told me that the alternative schools were populated by artists. I intimately understood his observation. Artists need to move to think. They thrive in an alternative to still-sitting.

I’ve made sure that my work throughout my adulthood included movement. Directing plays. Painting big paintings. Facilitating workshops. Even as a teacher I cleared the room of desks. This morning I saw a headline in Forbes Magazine declaring that children learn more through play than through guided instruction. It was curious to me that this was a headline. Sugata Mitra’s been shouting the news for decades. Neil Postman spent his life reading the research and advocating for what the research implied: turn little people toward a passion and get out of the way. Curiosity and desire are an unbeatable team. They will move faster than you might imagine. Move, move, move. Dance. Paint. Sing. Construct. Act. Play. They will let you know when they need you.

I’m learning the lesson again. My work places me squarely in front of a computer for hours each day. Flow. Eddy. Logjam. Wiggle. Move. Sigh, as the synapses start firing up again. Repeat. At this advanced stage of earth-time, you’d think I’d have grasped the full understanding that, for me to be effective, I have to move around. Each morning I review the previous day’s work and immediately know whether or not I found a movement/sitting-still balance.

When we stepped on the trail and entered the woods in North Carolina, my mind was chock-full-of-thought-logs. Like everyone else, I stare at the screen and lose track of time. A day can pass me by and I never leave my swivel chair. I swivel for survival. For months, I’d been swiveling and forgetting to stand up and dance my ideas. Fifteen minutes into our hike, the jam broke free. My mind cleared. I could see the subtle landscape inside and outside. I breathed a deep breath. The forest was gorgeous. My mind was spacious and flowing! I resolved, once again, yet again, to attend to the necessity of movement that keeps my mind and heart flowing. Wiggling is maintenance, merely. Swiveling is not a solution. The real game, the full flow, is only available when I jump out of my chair and move-it.

read Kerri’s blog post about THE FOREST

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

meander/as it is © 2004 kerri sherwood

Try To Explain [on Merely A Thought Monday]

It’s nearly impossible to explain. I’ve had the conversation a thousand times and I know it’s fruitless from the outset. Why did I choose a life without a safety net? A life with stability and benefits? Why was I willing to work 80 hour weeks for not-very-much-pay? I’ve heard more than once that “Artists are indulgent.” Or, “Artists are fools.”

Maybe. I’ll never know because it is impossible to explain to someone who operates from a different imperative. I’ve thought myself foolish more than a few times, and, usually, when I measure myself by the standards of 9-to-5.

For me, like all the artists I know and admire, there has never been a distinct line between work and play. Given any amount of free time, I’d rather be in the studio than anywhere on earth. When I was directing plays and running theatre companies, I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and get back to work. The time between productions or studio time, what most people call “vacation,” was-and-is meant to catch up on sleep and fill up the well for the next project. Often, this thing called ‘vacation’ was an opportunity to visit museums, drink in art/inspiration or stand in a castle or sit in the city where the next play is set.

For most of my life, even before I really thought about artists or artistry, vacation involved a sketchbook. I sat in the back of the station wagon and drew Colonel Sanders from the bucket of chicken or tried to copy a photo from the National Geographic magazine. Fun and play involved a deep dive into the world I could create/discover through a pencil on blank pages.

I can spend hours sitting and watching people. Small dramas. Gestures. Manipulations. Kindnesses. A little burst of love that would otherwise go unnoticed. Traveling for work meant time spent in airports, a goldmine of observation-time. Work or play?

Perhaps that is why there is no line between work and play. I see it in Kerri, too. We are constantly noticing. Paying attention to what is beautiful or interesting. Feeling what is needed and what is not. We’ve talked endlessly about being empathic. Feeling what others feel. I’ve watched Kerri walk into a rehearsal and “know” where there is pain, where there is joy, know when she needs to wrap some humor around a bruised community. Many years ago, a wise-old-artist told me that I had to learn to distinguish between what was my “stuff” and what was not. What were my feelings and what was not. Sage advice. I’ve been witness to many artists imploding, carrying other people’s garbage as their own.

When we walk, Kerri takes photographs. “I’m sorry,” she says, stooping to focus on a leaf or stone. Why does she apologize for noticing? Here’s a hint: all of her life she’s been asked to explain why she stops to notice. What value can there possibly be in stopping forward motion, especially in a world hell-bent on “getting there faster.” What is the value-proposition of noticing? “Can you please explain why you have to stop and see and, of all things, make it into music?” Or a story. Or a painting. Or a dance.

“Why did you climb that tree?” the adults asked. “It’s where I write poetry,” she explained. Work or vacation? Is it play?

Every Saturday we go through Kerri’s photos from the week and choose five as prompts for our Melange. We collect phrases we hear, words that inspire or disturb. Those end up in the Melange, too. Are we working? Is this play? We delight in sitting each day and writing together. We laugh at our Smack-dab cartoon. They are fun to write and draw and color. None of this makes us any money. Is it work or is it vacation?

I’m currently drawing cartoons and tossing thought-bombs into a community of software entrepreneurs – the boss understands that I notice things and can translate what I notice into other shapes and expressions. Is there value in that? Is it work? Is it play? Will it make money?

Are there possibly other measures of value?

It’s nearly impossible to explain.

read Kerri’s blog post about VACATION

Get To Work [on Two Artists Tuesday]

On page one of the despot’s handbook is this instruction: silence the artists. Mute the intellectuals. Authoritarians have power only when people become sheep. Silence in the face of abuse is tacit agreement. Permission to bully.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve stood before a school board and explained that art is supposed to be powerful, that it plays a very important role in a healthy society, I’d have a lot of nickels. I was generally called to speak when a play or a painting upset the apple cart, when the art made the community confront a truth or look at a reality. Brecht’s Epic Theatre or the plays of Artaud were/are meant to shake the irrational in people, force them into discussion and revelation.

Art can be beautiful, poetry can soothe, but that is only one side of the coin. It can also shine a light and expose an ugly truth. It can give voice to what is not-being-spoken. It can work out problems on the stage instead of sending the violence into the streets. It can ask us to take a hard look at ourselves and our motives. Picasso’s large painting, Guernica, a response to horror wrought by fascists on the people of a town in Spain, is a powerful art-mirror.

The conscience of a community, like the conscience of every individual that comprises the community, lives beyond the superficial, it bubbles in the place beyond words. An artist’s job is to reach into that place, pull the veil for a moment, root or re-root the community in its values.

A despot’s job is to secure a unanimous vote, no questions asked. Sheep.

Art is not superficial. It is not the image or the words on the page. It is what the image, the words, the dance, the music, touch. Hearts. Souls. Conscience.

Without it, what remains is propaganda. Propaganda is never news, it is the opposite of art. It snuffs the question, it prevents the quest for meaning and deep-felt-truth. Without it, communities flatten, lose their center, wither, and fall apart. Silence, eyes downcast or sideways glancing. Permission to bully. Sheep.

It’s time for the artists to get to work.

read Kerri’s blog post about ARTISTS

Enjoy Your Dance [on KS Friday]

sweet ballet songbox copy

Standing on the deck, looking out over the water at the setting sun, he said, “Why is it that you have to grow old before you realize that life passes too quickly? You’d think that would be important to know when you were young.”

These days we’re hanging out with lots of parents whose children have grown up and flown the coop. Kerri is one of those parents. The conversation always includes a variation of this phrase: it went by so fast.

A little girl in a ballet class. Not just any little girl. Yours. Learning how to lean into her dream and bumping into a funny adult words: practice. Repetition.

This ballet is indeed sweet. And, as I’m learning, the dance is over in the blink of an eye.

 

SWEET BALLET on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post on SWEET BALLET

 

slow dance party cropped website box copy

 

sweet ballet/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Come To Realize [on KS Friday]

you come to realize songbox copy

This is among my favorite of Kerri’s compositions. It is children laughing and running through tall grasses. It is the tender green shoot pushing up through the crusty soil to drink the sun. It is the bursting grape, the wine. This is hope and giddy life. It is “Do it now. Don’t wait another moment.” It is a spontaneous celebratory dance because you can’t hold it in another second. It is the soundtrack for the moment when you come to realize that life is boundless and vibrant and right now.

 

YOU COME TO REALIZE on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post on YOU COME TO REALIZE

 

 

laughing website box copy

 

you come to realize/this part of the journey ©️ 1998/2000 kerri sherwood

Paint The Sun [on DR Thursday]

white sun primary image BOX copy

white sun PRODUCT BAR copy

My sketchbooks are peppered with landscapes. I call them my meditation drawings because I do them as a form of meditation – to quiet my mind. I am kinesthetic so quiet comes to me through movement. Drawing is one of my favorite forms of dance.

One day, a few years ago, I decided to experiment and paint one of my meditation drawings. I like it but have no idea what to do with it. I’m not a landscape painter so it exists as the ‘something-different’ in my studio archive. Someday, maybe, I’ll do a few more of them and mount a show of meditation-drawing-inspired-paintings.  Until then, it lives as a morsel for this weeks melange. Kerri calls it White Sun.

photo

The moon over Benziger Winery

White Sun full copy

White Sun. 18 x 48 IN. mixed media on two panels. It’s not listed on the gallery site so contact us if you are interested in purchasing it.

 

WHITE SUN [morsel] gifts and products

read Kerri’s blog post about WHITE SUN

www.kerrianddavid.com

white sun painting and products ©️ 2016/18 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Slow Motion Rain [On DR Thursday]

A DR Thursday dance  from studio melange

MASTERlarger slowmotionrain copy 3It seems my life these days is one big meditation on “not forcing” outcomes. I’ve been here before so I suspect this falls in the category of “life lessons.”

The Chinese have a term for this meditation: wu wei. Do nothing. In creative communities it’s known as flow. Athletes train, actors rehearse, but when opening night comes or race day dawns, the advice is always the same. Let go. Trust the work. In other words, cease pushing and get out of your own way.

Working from tension, pushing too hard for outcomes, causes injury. It jams flow.

The final pose at the end of a yoga practice is called savasana, or corpse pose. It is to surrender, not in the sense of giving up but more of giving over. It is a release of tension. My Earth Interrupted paintings have become for me a kind of savasana, a letting go. As Jim used to teach me, you’ll know you are in “that” place of flow when it feels like a dance of giving and receiving and you have no need to distinguish which side of the dance you are on. Both/and. Give/receive.

Kerri calls this morsel “Slow Motion Rain.” It comes from a moment of dance. Or, as we like to say in our house, “Woo Wee!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

slow motion rain product box BAR jpeg copySLOW MOTION RAIN gifts and cool products

EarthInterrupted4 copy

earth interrupted IV ~ mixed media, 48 x 36IN

 

read Kerri’s blog Post on SLOW MOTION RAIN

www.kerrianddavid.com

slow motion rain designs and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

earth interrupted iv ©️ 2018 david robinson

Dance [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

From studio melange a touch of goodness for your Tuesday.

There is wisdom in dancing copy 3

Had you attended our wedding you would have found yourself dancing. Even if you where a committed dance-a-phobe, your limbs would have over ruled your noggin and that deep river of wiggling that flows through us all would have broken through your protective surface layer and you’d have gyrated and twirled. You would have had no choice. The reason is simple. We call her Linda.

Linda is a muse of dance. A maker of enthusiastic merriment. She understands the world through movement. She understands that everything is in constant motion. The earth is moving, dancing. It IS dance and she dances with it. Academics would call her kinesthetic. Invite Linda to even the most stodgy of gatherings and soon everyone will be swaying en route to a raucous Irish folk dance. She knows how to help others dance with earth, too.

There is wisdom in dancing and it is this: it is only possible to dance WITH others – and deep down everyone wants to dance. And, in the merry motion of common movement comes laughter, surprise, and heaps of generosity. From studio melange on this Two Artists Tuesday, we offer what Linda knows: sometimes wisdom looks a lot like dancing.

 

 

THERE IS WISDOM IN DANCING – products we design are sold at society6.com

THIS dance product box jpeg copy

read Kerri’s blog post about WISDOM IN DANCING

www.kerrianddavid.com

there is wisdom in dancing ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood

KS Friday

It is one of the great pleasures of my life to be down in my studio painting when Kerri, upstairs in her studio, begins to play. I always stop and appreciate how rich, how utterly fortunate I am. There is more than just music in our house. There is a source, an amazing composer, a gifted musician. She plays like most people breathe and I marvel at the enormity and ease of her gift.

From the melange on this Valentine’s week comes a Slow Dance. It is from Kerri’s album As Sure As The Sun. Friday belongs to Kerri’s music. I am particularly fond of Slow Dance. It is visceral and reminds me of a summer evening, sitting in the adirondack chairs in the front yard, sipping wine and talking. We were listening to music and without really intending it, we began to dance. Fast dances, silly dances, rowdy-run-around-dances, and finally, laughing and exhausted, there came a slow dance. The neighbors still talk about it….

 

ASATS

Slow Dance from AS SURE AS THE SUN

KERRI SHERWOOD

[a note to consider: the links will by default take you to apple music – apple’s streaming service. With respect to artists everywhere, please consider downloading your music on itunes rather than streaming your music. It requires one additional click. Downloading means the artists get paid for their work. Streaming guarantees that they don’t.]

kerrianddavid.com

Slow Dance from As Sure As The Sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood