Run In Circles [on Two Artists Tuesday]

It may not be immediately apparent, but this is a video of a solution. It is a celebration of non-resistance in the face of a force of nature. DogDog (also known as Tripper, also known as Dogga, also known as Don’tDoThat!) is a backyard killer. In his enthusiasm for life he runs circles -or – more accurately, he plows circles. No plant is sacred, no patch of grass is safe. For a few seasons we tried multiple strategies to achieve some semblance of backyard order only have Don’tDoThat! plow a new circle.

if you'd like to see TWO ARTISTS copyOne morning, watching the madness, Kerri sipped her coffee and said, “Why fight it?” She went in to the house and ordered a round-a-bout sign, careful to get one for left lane drivers so it would indicate the correct direction of his travels. DogDog is, after all, an Aussie. We planted his sign in the center of the velodrome, added a bit of wild grass around the sign and VA-WA-LA! Order (or, at least, the semblance)

On Two Artists Tuesday, a DogDog inspired reminder to lay down the fight; sometimes you can define the desire lines and sometimes you have to let them define you.

read Kerri’s blog post about DogDog Round-A-Bout

www.kerrianddavid.com

dogdog round-a-bout ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

See Art Everywhere

50% OFF ALL PAINTINGS THROUGH APRIL 22nd

Together we read the local paper every morning. Yesterday there was an essay from the executive director of a new ‘creative space’ making a case, financial and otherwise, for why the community should value and support the arts. Everything he wrote was true. Everything he wrote has already, as Kerri likes to say, fallen into the moat.

Fifteen years ago I might have written that essay. I am an artist and need no case made for the necessity and essential nature of “the arts.” However…. In a past life I consulted with schools and many times found myself in the position of lobbying the school board to support arts programs. I jumped up and down making a case for the arts and rarely achieved my desired result. Until, one day, a word-angel grabbed my tongue and instead of using that mystical word “arts,” I replaced it with the phrase “experiential learning.” Doors blew opened. Angels sang. Kids made movies, painted paintings, held poetry slams, wrote musicals, made plays…came alive. And learned.

Our mistake is “to make a case” for the arts. Our mistake is to define it narrowly, relegate it to museums. It is not a separate thing. It is everything. It is everywhere. The design of our cars and blenders is an aesthetic as well as an engineering process. The apps on our phones (the very design of our phones) requires artistic as well as technical skill. Every piece of marketing that clogs our streams requires an artistic sensibility. We live in age of narrative, of artificial intelligence, of imagination run rampant. We story ourselves on Facebook and Instagram and share our pins on Pinterest. Step back and listen to the competing narratives we call The News. Listen not to the content of the question but how it is asked; these things are not accidental, they are designed, targeted to influence and move our imaginations. The “arts” are not lofty nor dusty, they are throbbing, vibrant, and central to every nuance of our lives. Why do we insist on  keeping them in such a tiny little box?

Stephen asked me more than once, “Why don’t people value the arts?”  He is a prolific painter, brilliant, and exhausted from living on the margins. “They do,” I’d say, “they just don’t know it.”

Kerri and I said goodbye to a few more paintings yesterday. They found their right home and that is more than gratifying.  It is the moment of completion of the painting (or the play or the composition…or the car, couch, and coffee mug) when it finds an audience or its home. It’s a life cycle, deeply connected. It is everything. It is everywhere.

DR Thursday

cropped II earth interrupted with frame metal square WALL ART jpeg copy 3There is a lesson for me in this week’s morsel. It is a lesson I’ve learned over and over again. It is a basic, a fundamental and perhaps that is why I am once again revisiting this lesson: Focus (perception) is like a narrow flashlight in the night. Where you point it will determine what you see. And, most important, you choose where you point it. And, even more important, what you see is narrow, what you don’t see is vast.

Kerri chose this morsel. I marvel at what she sees and what she chooses for our melange and how it blows back and impacts what I see. This morsel, she calls it, “held in process,’ is a snippet of a painting-in-process. At Skip’s prompting a few years ago I started taking process shots and nowadays Kerri regularly dashes into the studio to make sure I’m taking my shots (“What do you have for me?” she asks, striding down the stairs). I delight in this particular morsel because, when seen in the greater context of the finished piece, it captures perfectly the lesson. It is like a popcorn trail of perception, an exercise in focus-choosing. Enjoy this morsel from the melange.  Follow the trail to the final piece. Have fun shining your light on the morsel, Held in Process and on Earth Interrupted II.

 

real1

the beginning layer, the under painting.

real2

the second layer

pix#1   pix#2

#3

this one

next layers – my favorite: paper sack!

#4

EarthInterrupted2 copy

the finished painting: Earth Interrupted II, mixed media 48×34.5 in

 

HELD IN PROCESS merchandise

society 6 info jpeg copy

II earth interrupted FRAMED ART PRINT copy

wall art

II earth interrupted LEGGINGS copy

kerri designs all of our leggings and apparel

II earth interrupted IPHONE CASE copy

okay, so, kerri designs ALL of our products. Cool iphone cases…

II earth interrupted RECT PILLOW copy

…and throw pillows! and more….

 

read Kerri’s thoughts on Held In Process

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

held in process/earth interrupted II ©️ 2018 david robinson, kerri sherwood

Think “Isn’t It Weird…?”

my new tree;-)

Wide awake in the middle of the night, we snacked on handfuls of Chex cereal and indulged in my favorite kind of conversation: “Isn’t it weird that…?” Little did we understand that our late-night conversation would set the theme for the week.

The next night high winds toppled our neighbor’s ENORMOUS aging maple tree into our backyard. The insurance company called it “an act of God.” It is a phrase implying no fault, no responsibility. It just happened. I laughed aloud when, immediately following the “act of God” designation, the insurance adjuster heaped on us a load of legal cautions, new responsibilities (the tree now ‘belonged’ to us), property line designations, and small print reminders meant to minimize financial risk and responsibility to the insurance company. The layers of irony are too many to count though I suppose if wacky preachers can assign responsibility for hurricanes and other natural disasters to the wrath of God, then it is no less ridiculous for insurance companies to invoke the fickleness of God to absolve themselves of liability.

Isn’t it weird that…?

P-Tom reminded us that the “act of God” was that no one was hurt in the tree fall. For P-Tom the act of God was a kind of intervention. A few degrees to the right, a slightly different wind direction, and the tree would have landed on our bedroom. Life does seem fragile by the slightest of degrees. We told people that we were lucky. Intervention? Fortunate? Fate? Design?

Isn’t it weird that…?

We cut a branch from the fallen tree and brought it in the house. It is now our Christmas tree.

Had you asked that branch a week ago if it would ever become a Christmas tree it might have laughed at you.

As a maple branch it had no aspirations or intentions of being wrapped in lights or decorated with silver baubles. In truth, it probably cares little if it makes us laugh or invokes a smile each time we enter the room. But it does. Or, better, we make sense of it that way. Sense making? Story telling? Either way.

Isn’t life weird?

Our work-in-progress

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Why

792. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

I’ve heard this phrase several times in the past few months: What you put your mind on grows. If I think there is a monster under my bed I will listen for the monster’s movements. The monster will get bigger every night. This morning Elizabeth and I had a great conversation about what happens when we micro-focus on the one thing that’s not working. You know the story: the micro-focus overwhelms everything else. The gold is invisible when the speck dominates the focus. A single mosquito buzzing in your ear can make all of nature invisible.

Recently I’ve been sitting in on Skip’s Design for Demand course. It’s an MBA course in the Human Centered Design track. The students are examining online learning platforms to improve the design of each platform. They are having a difficult time breaking through the superficial to see the essential. The speck on their gold is the assumption that the purpose of education is to get a job. “What are you going to do with this?” is confused with “Why do this?”

Simon Sinek reminds us that at the center of every successful venture (adventure) is the question, “Why?” Why are we doing this? Why must precede What and How. It is simple: What and How carry no meaning. To focus on the result with no consideration of the reason is an empty pursuit. “To get a job” is a result. “To make money” is a result. “To raise test scores” is a result. Assuming that the purpose of education is to get a better job or to micro-focus on raising test scores is to design an empty pursuit. It is a fool’s errand.

If you don’t get a job is your education meaningless? If you get a job but have nothing to bring to it are you worth hiring?

For a brief moment the MBA students shifted their focus and rightly identified that a major obstacle in online learning platforms is that they are designed for consumption and not for engagement. Learning is not consumption. Information exchange is not learning. Learning IS engagement! Some fresh air blew through the room. They sat up! They glimpsed a bit of information that might lead them to meaningful design! And then someone asked, “How will employers know…?” They slumped and began looking for data to consume. They discussed how they might get people to care. Their conversation was once again trapped in the What and the How.

They were so close and then the monster under the bed retook their focus.

i.magine

680. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Skip told me that the innovation of the app store changed the world. We can design our access to information, we can design how we locate and inform ourselves in our daily travels, we can customize how we organize, shop, play and how we connect with our friends. We can design our products before we purchase them. Our options have options.

We look more at our screens than at each other.

In the age of the app the user is not necessarily the customer, the seller is not necessarily the producer. Our buying habits and travel patterns and preferences and impulses are tracked and sold and re-tracked and resold. Advertising is personalized to our computer-generated preferences. The impersonal identifies the personal.

Any 12 year-old with a modicum of computer savvy can construct an app and enter the marketplace. Access to information, to communication, the modes of creation and sharing have never been this limitless, varied or non-local.

Above all, it is fluid, ever changing in form, always expanding. The single most important skill in this geography is how to tell the gold from the dross. What has merit and what does not? Often, the answer to that question is personal.

Design. Options. Personal. Access. Limitless. Fluid. Ever Changing. Ambiguous. Shape shifting. Self-Organizing. Self-Directed. It is an infinite space. It is a way of being.

This is the world that exists right now. I just had a conversation with Sylvia about organizational culture change and the pressures all systems are experiencing to adapt to this changed world. It is a culture change, a perspective shift. Imagine what our education system might look like if it understood the world that existed today – not to mention the world that our students will live in and navigate tomorrow! 680. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Skip told me that the innovation of the app store changed the world. We can design our access to information, we can design how we locate and inform ourselves in our daily travels, we can customize how we organize, shop, play and how we connect with our friends. We can design our products before we purchase them. Our options have options.

In the age of the app the user is not necessarily the customer, the seller is not necessarily the producer. Our buying habits and travel patterns and preferences and impulses are tracked and sold and re-tracked and resold. Advertising is personalized to our computer-generated preferences. The impersonal identifies the personal.

Any 12 year-old with a modicum of computer savvy can construct an app and enter the marketplace. Access to information, to communication, to modes of creation and sharing have never been this limitless, varied or non-local.

Above all, it is fluid, ever changing in form, always expanding. The single most important skill in this geography is how to tell the gold from the dross. What has merit and what does not? Often, the answer to that question is personal.

Design. Options. Personal. Access. Limitless. Fluid. Ever Changing. Ambiguous. Shape shifting. Self-Organizing. Self-Directed. It is an infinite space. it is an art space.

This is the world that exists right now. I just had a conversation with Sylvia about organizational culture change and the pressures all systems are experiencing to adapt to this changed world. It is a culture change, a perspective shift. Imagine what our education system might look like if it understood the world that existed today – not to mention the world that our students will live in and navigate a decade from now! Can you imagine it?