Plan To Try Again [on Two Artists Tuesday]

dock copy

20 and I sat in the Adirondack chairs in the sun, eating chips and drinking wine, and watched Trevor and his crew put the finishing touches on the dock refurbishment.They’d been at it for days, leveling and reinforcing the existing structure, cutting pieces and installing a new surface. The final step was the installation of a bench on the far end, a place to sit over the water and enjoy the moon rise. They screwed the bench in place and loaded up their tools. We praised their good work. It was solid. Trevor said he’d be back in a week or so to check on things.

Within a week, the dock became a metaphor.

The storms that rolled through a few days after Trevor screwed the bench into place were intense. The lake looked and acted like the Atlantic Ocean when it is angry. The waves smashed the shoreline and ate great chunks of the yard. The bench that Trevor secured to the dock broke off within the first hour. The waves smashed it to bits.

All of Trevor’s hard work leveling the dock and stabilizing the structure was for naught. After the bench was swallowed, the legs buckled and twisted. The dock surrendered and knelt but the opposing team seemed not to care. The surrender did not stop the pounding. Another storm came. And then another. And then another. The dock is now face down, belly to the sand.

Trevor hasn’t been back yet to check on things. I suspect he already knows that his good work was no match for Mother Nature. The best laid plans…and all of that. He’ll shrug and pull the pieces from the water. He’ll even rebuild it if Deb wants him to give it another try. Trevor is a practical guy.

Gang aft agley!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE DOCK

 

canoe and dock copy

 

flipflops on the deck website box copy.jpg

 

 

Choose Your Ladder [on Two Artists Tuesday]

ladders copy

Climbing the ladder to success has never been a useful metaphor for me. When ladder climbing, the trajectory is up. What is up there that is not already right here? Climbing up in this dog-eat-dog paradigm implies climbing over others. It certainly implies that there is a top rung with room enough for one. Limited pie. Get yours. After all, being your brother’s/sister’s keeper is a nice sentiment on Sunday but not really useful in the real world of ladder climbing.

Top rung. Ultimate achievement. Arrival. These are words of stasis. I’ve never understood why the elimination of dynamic movement would be appealing. Vitality is movement, not the absence of movement. Life is made rich by experience, surprise, curiosity, exploration, steps into the unknown. To climb the rungs to controlled living seems antithetical to the point, at least to me. A body in stasis is in poor health, indeed. A life in stasis is in poor spirit, without exception.

It is often the role of the artist to challenge the norm and the challenge is generally nothing new, rather, it is a simple perspective spin. For instance, a ladder is good for fixing things, for reaching. It is good ladder behavior to have someone spotting the climber. If someone is stuck at the top it is good practice to help them down. Fire departments use ladders to save people. Ladders to help. Ladders to serve. Ladders as a tool to reach. Ladders can be used to bridge a crevasse, to get folks to the other side.

A more useful (and realistic) ladder metaphor: reach, serve, help, bridge, save. I suppose, more to the point, success is all about the ladder you choose. As for me, standing atop a ladder on a rung built for one seems like a lousy definition of success. I’d rather be on the ground with the people who care enough to spot me. I’d rather use my ladder to help my friends and community reach the unreachable. That seems like a more worthy definition of success.

read Kerri’s blog post about LADDERS

 

neighborhood cheers website box copy

 

 

Capture The Beauty [on DR Thursday]

sketch copy

The day was stormy, the lake was unsettled, steel grey and roiling. Kerri walked to the water’s edge with her camera. I opened my sketchbook and caught a quick sketch. Perhaps a notation for a someday-painting. Perhaps a gesture with nowhere to go.

A few days later I looked at this quick sketch and laughed. It is a metaphor for our time on island. Standing at the edge of a storm not of our making. Witness to the turmoil. It blows us to and fro. It messes our hair. The sand stings our faces.  We are taken by the colors of its violence. When the winds grow too powerful, we retreat to the safety of our littlehouse. We wait for the latest flurry to calm, the waves to soften.

It is tempting to want to be done with it. To rush through a month of life. Each day I remind myself to be in it, not simply get through it. Life on this day may be stormy. It might be upsetting. Stormy and upsetting are colors on the palette. They are worthy experiences. Amidst the chaos there are instances of utter beauty –  like the moment Kerri walked to the edge of a roiling lake and I looked up, caught my breath, and reached for my sketchbook so that I’d never ever forget.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about A SKETCH

 

 

 

 

sunsetonisland website box copy

 

Smell The Flowers [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

ferdinand copy

Ferdinand is the story of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight. In a moment of bad timing, Ferdinand sits on a bee and is mistaken for the most ferocious bull in his cadre. He is hauled off to be the main event at the bull fights, a high honor for most bulls! Needless to say, he disappoints. Through a mighty wave of provocation, matadors taunting and goading crowds, Ferdinand refuses to fight. He sits center ring and smells the roses. His dedication to peace is a disappointment to all. He is hauled back to his pasture where he lives out his days enjoying the flowers.

The book became a best seller when it was first published in the mid 1930’s. The world was busy readying itself for yet another world war. In the second year of it’s publication, 1938, Ferdinand was the best selling book in the United States.

A mixed metaphor. A big bull with a gentle heart. The greatest power in the arena impervious to the ugly taunts and goading. Ferdinand, you might say, didn’t take it personally.

As luck would have it this week, we enjoyed a children’s concert telling of Ferdinand and a few days later we saw a one-man show, a Winston Churchill impersonator. We left both events with the same impression: if history repeats itself then we are certainly cycling through the late 1930’s. The world seems dedicated to tweeting itself into greater and greater conflict. The arena is alive with screaming and taunting, accusations and blame. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, into this blood-lust, a bull would enter, sit center stage, and smell the roses?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about FERDINAND

 

doggadeck website box copy

Line Up! [on Two Artists Tuesday]

ducks in a row copy 2

Sometimes the right metaphor steps directly in front of you, stops the car (and all the traffic behind you), and says, “Here I am. Pay attention.” After a good laugh there is only one thing to do: take a picture. And wait for nature to waddle off of the road.

We are, as you might have guessed, getting our ducks in a row. Life these past few years has been chaotic. We’ve been trying to force solutions. Our ducks, we’ve learned, do not respond well to force.

Having surrendered to the reality that there was no sense in continuing to force our ducks in a direction that they would not go, we faced our insanity. We stopped doing the same old thing in the same old way, and gave over to a new unknown path. Driving down the road, discussing what we now needed to do given our full surrender and new reality, we hit a full stop when the ducks appeared with their message. It is worth noting that there are three pieces to our new puzzle (no kidding) or, better, according to our metaphor, three ducks in our row.

Apparently our ducks are lining up.

Either that or, just out of frame, is a police officer conducting a duck sobriety check. The line they are walking is less than straight so it’s proper to worry about their capacity to pass the test.

Ducks in a row or a sobriety test? Both are apt straight-line-walking-life-metaphors and since it is my mess, I am definitely paying attention to the message. Or just making it up. You decide.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about DUCKS IN A ROW

 

laughing website box copy

Mix It [on DR Thursday]

palette copy

True confessions: I never clean my palette. I like the messy build up of color. I like the chunky texture. It serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings past. And then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. Unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that I will achieve. It is accidental. It is free.

This might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. I love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. It is the true liminal space. I begin with pure color. I smashed the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue I intend. On a palette, color becomes intention. And then, once transformed, with a brush or knife I lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, I place it onto a canvas. It transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. An image emerges. More color is called for.

And, somewhere in this call and response of color, I become like the palette. The pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. And, in the process, perhaps I, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. Unfettered. Accidentally interesting. Free.

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake

 

read Kerri’s blog post about my PALETTE

 

roadtrip reading website box copy

 

Horses FullSize copy

untitled, mixed media 48 x 48IN

 

 

 

 

Sometimes it is inconvenient to see all of life as a metaphor. Forever exercising the capacity to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. Everything referential to something else. It’s no wonder people avoid me at parties!

A bar at the airport. Both the bar and the airport are liminal spaces. In-between places. Neither here nor there. Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a detective story? Waiting for our flight at this gathering place of strangers, we decided to celebrate the beginning of our trip, some much-needed time off. A break from the grind. We ordered two glasses of wine. No sense jumping into space without sampling the airport’s finest red!

With multiple games of football playing all around us, awaiting the bartender to bring us our wine, Kerri asked me if I wanted to bowl. She was already placing the tiny yellow pins and blue bowling ball on the bar. Placing our wine beside the pins the bartender said, “Well, look at you!” Apparently we were not the first people to bowl at his bar.

I was first up. I rolled the ball. It hit the pins and bounced off. I caught the ball before it rolled off the bar. Now, as metaphors for my life go, this one is frighteningly accurate. Kerri cheered, “Do it again!” as if my direct-hit-with-no-result was intentional. My wife is hysterical. She pulled out her phone and set it up to record my ineffectual nature for posterity. I complied. I rolled. You can see the result. Kerri stopped recording before she howled with laughter. She packed up the pins before taking a turn. She promptly sent to video to many of our pals. “They’re going to love this!” she giggled.

Never, ever think that I do not serve a purpose on this earth, in this life.

In a world of metaphor, one pin falling is actually worse than no pins at all. It’s like a 25 cent tip or a 1 percent salary raise. Insult to injury. As Horatio would say, “Always the bridesmaid….” of course, it’s why people periodically sit with me at parties. Feeling good about yourself is often a product of relativity.

And, if all else fails, there is a healthy pour of the airport’s finest red. Have a good trip!

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BOWLING AT THE AIRPORT

 

gate f8 website box copy