Hold And Be Held [on KS Friday]

YOU HOLD ME songbox copy

Tom and I sat on the little deck just off the kitchen of his cabin at the ranch. We watched the sun set on the land his family had owned for generations.  “They’re going to build a Walmart just off McKenzie Road,” he said, not taking his eyes off the setting sun. “That’s about it, I think.” The tide of development would soon gobble up the ranch.

He told me that, without the land, he would not know who he was. It held him. He held it.

It was a complicated relationship. During his life, he’d attempted to flee the land more than once but it would not let him go. During his life, the world tried to take it away from him more than once but he would not let it go.

Tom died on his land. His wife and nephew fought hard to make that possible. They held him and the land together, through their passing. Both are gone now.

Why does a piece of music evoke such a specific memory? Kerri’s YOU HOLD ME always takes me back to that deck and that sunset. A love story. A life story. To hold and be held.

 

YOU HOLD ME on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about YOU HOLD ME

 

aspen silver bull website box copy

 

you hold me/this part of the journey ©️ 2000 kerri sherwood

Read The Back [on Two Artists Tuesday]

WelcomeTo21stCentury copy

Nothing I paint on the front side of this canvas will be as interesting, as vital, as curious, as the note that Duke scrawled on the back. It’s a mystery story. Duke has been gone for a few years now and his son, our dear 20, brought Duke’s canvases to me. Treasure upon treasure. For some reason, one day, Duke dipped a brush into black paint, flipped his canvas around and left us a note. An impulsive celebratory act on New Years Eve? Or, perhaps, in a moment of disbelief of world events, he scribbled his note in sarcasm?

Of course, there’s another possibility- and this is my bet – ‘Welcome to the 21st Century’ was the name he gave to his painting, the image that he created on the front side. He didn’t like it so he painted over it. He returned the canvas to white space, opened it to new possibilities.

That leads to an even greater mystery. After scrubbing the image, he flipped the canvas around, dipped his brush one last time into the white paint, scrubbed the date (3/93) but left the title. And in quick broad strokes for emphasis, framed his title, transforming it into a note. The back of the canvas becomes the front. A title transformed into a message.

I feel as if I’m having a conversation with Duke. The painting I created on the front side, on the white-space-possibility that he reopened, is one of my Earth Interrupted series, number 7. It is ironic or, perhaps, poignant? Put his title and my title together: Welcome to the 21st Century: Earth Interrupted. Apt, yes?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WELCOME TO THE 21ST CENTURY

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

welcome to the 21st century/earth interrupted ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

KS Friday

On this KS Friday from studio melange, a moment to breathe and listen.

jacketrfthjpeg copyA few hours ago we loaded several large canvases into our car. They were from Duke Kruse’s studio. They are canvas stretched and prepared by Duke. They are blank, the canvas he never got to use before he passed. He was a gifted painter, a brilliant artist. I never met Duke,  but his son John [we call him 20] is most dear to me, a brother. 20 thought Duke would want me to have his canvas. I am moved to tears to be the recipient of this legacy.

When DeMarcus stopped painting, in the middle 90’s of his years, he gave me his brushes and his paint box. I drew all of Chicken Marsala, all of our Flawed Cartoons, all of Beaky’s books with nibs and handles that DeMarcus left for me. They are my treasures and make each image, each drawing that much more special.

Somehow I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of Tom’s story, the carrier of his legacy. Every day of my life I recognize in my bones that I carry a bit of Quinn’s vast wisdom in my marrow, his generous gift to me.

I am rich in Legacy. This sparkling river, this quietly moving piece from Kerri’s first album, always carries me directly to thoughts of my mentors and friends, to a sunset from the porch on the ranch, a room lined with books, yellow pads and red felt-tip pens, a studio with just a hint of turpentine and mineral spirits in the air.

LEGACY from the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART (track 12) iTunes

LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART (track 12) CDBaby

PURCHASE THE PHYSICAL CD: RELEASED FROM THE HEART

NEW! KS DESIGNS on society6.com

society 6 info jpeg copy

 

Vintage tyoe LEGGINGS copy

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it's not b:w metal travel mug copy

read Kerri’s thoughts on Legacy

melange button jpeg copy

kerrianddavid.com

LEGACY from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Reach

photo-6In these few weeks post Lost Boy I’ve been writing thank you letters and sending Kickstarter rewards to the many people who donated to the campaign. I am humbled by the number of people who stepped forward to lend a hand, offer resources (financial and otherwise), and/or heap us with the moral support necessary to produce the play.

The Reminder: no one does anything alone. All creative acts, all things that are useful in this world, all triumphs that seem on the surface to be an individual achievement, are, in truth, a group effort. Life is a team sport. Quarterbacks are nothing without a front line, a coaching staff, a back office, a marketing machine spinning the tale. They also had mothers that for years drove them to practice, families that stood in the cold to watch them play little league, and a host of friends who told them that they could do it if the only kept going. Artists are no different. Even the loneliest painter has a rolling lifetime team whether they recognize it or not. Consider this simple basic: a painting is never complete until someone other than the artist engages with it. A play is never complete until an audience arrives. The whole point is to make or accept an offer to/from an other.

We, the people of these United States, place the accent of our existence on the achievement of the individual and that sometimes makes us blind to the obvious truth of our existence. We do nothing of worth on this earth without the support and participation of others; relationship is at the core of anything worth doing.

from the 2015 Racine snow carving contest. I'm sorry I did not capture the artists names!

from the 2015 Racine snow carving contest. I’m sorry I did not capture the artists names!

Once, many years ago, I lived in Los Angeles. I did not know my neighbors. I had no idea or desire to know who was living in the houses next to me. One night the earthquake came and our illusion of independence was stripped bare. With no power, no water, no heat, and compromised housing, the first thing we did was to reach to each other. When the illusions of comfort and security are stripped, our real need (each other) becomes glaringly apparent.

I wrote this play, The Lost Boy, because someone dear to me, over a decade ago, asked me for help. I was grateful that he asked – it meant I got to spend time with him and return some of the attention and love that he had invested in me. When the metaphoric earthquake hit – when Tom died – I had no recourse but to reach out to others; I produced this play when I realized that I was not alone and all I need do was ask for help. Legacy, like story or life, is an infinite loop of relationships.

End And Begin

photo-2My fascination with this play grows every day. It has had a hold on me for over a decade. I’ve told the story of The Lost Boy to everyone I know. And now, as we approach opening night, the story of the production, the timing of the production, the people coming out of the woodwork for the production, Tom’s relatives appearing with additions to the narrative that Tom originally relayed to me – is equal to or exceeding the marvel of the play itself. The story around the story is, in some ways better than the story itself. Or, perhaps it is an extension to the story, the next chapter. Roger once told me that he believed the most interesting aspect of the story was not the discovery of a trunk plastered into the walls, not the story Tom felt an imperative to pass on to me, but the story of my time with Tom. “I want you to tell that story,” he said.

I have a file of recordings that I made of some of my conversations with Tom. They were in a format that made them inaccessible to me. I kept them but have been unable to listen to them for several years. A few nights ago, on a whim, I searched for conversion programs and in less than an hour, I was listening to one of the recordings. It was like opening the trunk that had been plastered into the wall. I listened to one of our conversations. I listened to our laughter. I listened to the questions I asked and his thoughtful and generous responses. I listened as I told him that I believed the real story was not Johnny’s or Isabelle’s, but his. He considered it but could not see himself as anything other than a messenger. My suggestion to him was prophetic.

On a lovely August evening in 2013 I was on a pier in Wisconsin when I received the call that Tom had passed. I sat on a bench and talked with Marcia, Tom’s widow, for over an hour. After the call I walked with Kerri and as we watched the sun set I told her stories of Tom.

My attempts to produce the play while Tom was alive (though too ill to perform the piece) hit walls of brick and stone. If I wanted disaster to strike I only needed to attempt to mount a production of The Lost Boy. I’d all but shelved it and, although I’d rewritten it so I could perform the story, the script seemed incomplete, somehow awkward. When Tom passed, the end of the play became apparent – I saw the flaw. Tom needed to join the story, not tell it. I did a final rewrite and the play was ready.

I’ve been amused because, after so many obstacles, this attempt is almost producing itself. It is as if we couldn’t stop the transmission of the story if we tried. Jim said, “I think Tom is working his magic from the other side.” The other night, in rehearsal, just as I worked the section about Isabelle (Tom’s great grandmother) reaching through time, ringing a cow bell to summon Tom, the bells from the neighboring church began to toll.

It made me laugh and I recalled a question he often asked: where does a story end? Where does it begin?

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

The PoetGo here for fine art prints of my paintings.

 

Light The Way

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

A detail from my painting, An Instrument of Peace

Yesterday was Ann’s funeral. She died too young but by all accounts lived out loud – she packed a lot of life into her short time. One of the speakers said that she was neither a glass-half-empty nor a glass-half-full kind of person; her glass was always overflowing. I sat in the choir loft and listened to the stories, the grief and the laughter, the music that a community makes when it says good-bye. I only know her through their stories, through their eyes, and I was overwhelmed with the beauty that they saw in her. She was rooted in a community and the community was rooted in her. I was moved by the story she inspired.

Just before the service I was working on my play, The Lost Boy. We open in a few short weeks. I was memorizing the last two pages. The language of the play, the moment in the script that I worked, is about Tom’s ancestors answering his call. He worried about what to do with the ranch and the legacy that he guarded. He didn’t know what to do. There was no one to receive what he had to tell. He summoned the ancestors and, when he needed them most, they came. They didn’t answer his question. Instead, they took his hand and helped him join the story.

Jean Houston called us – the living – the burning point of the ancestral ship. Each of us carry forward the story, we add a chapter to a longer epic whether we realize it or not. Once, many years ago, John was directing one of Shakespeare’s plays for my company. While talking with the young actors about the play, he was moved to tears telling them how he realized that he was a link in a long chain that led all the way back to a first production in the 17th century. This play did not exist isolated in time. It was a burning point. Their work mattered because they were the guardians of a tradition. They were the burning point. The play was remarkable because the actors understood their root; even the smallest action mattered because if fed something bigger.

A few weeks ago we watched the film, The Descendants, with Brad and Jen’s movie group. It is a story of legacy and mattering – a story of what happens to descendants when everything looks like a commodity. The root withers. The story dissipates. As Yeats wrote, “The center cannot hold.” Joseph Campbell said that our mythology was dead and all the proof we needed was in the news. It took me years to fully understand his statement. And, the question he asked was this: once lost can a community revive its mythology? Can it reconnect with the root? Can it look beyond the immediate and see the rich soil of the greater story? As the burning point, can we light the way forward or is our dilemma the same as Tom’s: what do you do when you carry a root-story and no one is interested or capable of hearing it?

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

from my Yoga series

from my Yoga series

Go here to buy art prints, posters and such – of my paintings

 

Return To Center

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 5.16.04 PMMy sister posted some photos and a video of our father dressed as Santa Claus. He was playing the role for her grandchildren, his great-grandchildren. The photo made me smile and the moving images took my breath away. When he came in dressed as Santa he was mostly silent; his voice would have betrayed his true identity. His Santa was gentle and kind. Like every good Santa Claus, he took his cues from the children.

I did not have children, though, recently, there came into my life two amazing twenty-something adults, Kerri’s children, and I am learning the ins-and-outs of the role of parent. It is a complex and rich affair! On Christmas Eve, Kerri and I were up until 5am wrapping packages and hiding gifts for a treasure hunt (the wrapped boxes held clues and the gifts were hidden around the house). It was a riot of fun and gave me some small taste of what being a father must feel like. All night as I wrapped and concocted clues I thought of my dad: what must he feel in a room with his children’s children’s children? If my excitement for the giving of gifts on Christmas morning – also a new experience for me – is any measure, his heart must have been near to exploding as he pulled gifts from a red bag and handed them to his daughter’s daughter’s daughter.

During this season I’ve participated in many conversations about the loss of meaning in this holiday. As P-Tom said, this is the season that everyone seems to be telling us what we need and where we can go and buy it. And, there’s no denying that the commercial has generally overtaken the communal. Yet, when I watched the video of my dad, I knew that his great-grandchildren would someday tell the story of how once, long ago, their great-grandpa played Santa for them. On that day they would not remember what was in the presents he brought, only that he brought them. As I watched the video of my dad, I knew the essential thing was intact, the commerce had not touched the center: family.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Yoga Series 7Go here to get Fine Art prints of my paintings.