Note The Milestone [on DR Thursday]

David RobinsonYoga Series 7 - Version 2

Some paintings are milestones, markers of change. This is one of those paintings.

And, although I recognized it as a marker, I had no idea what to call it. Since it was the seventh in a new series of experiments that I called ‘yoga’ paintings, I cleverly named this piece Yoga Series #7. A catchy title, don’t you think?

It became the lead image on my website. It was the banner image on my society6.com store. It was the image that identified this blog site for a few years.

I painted it a full two years before I met Kerri. Early in our lives together, I showed her my paintings, this painting. She asked me what I called it and I told her. #7. Sometimes my wife looks at me like I’m an idiot. Actually, she stares at me with a searing look of utter incomprehension. Her thought bubble carries a single word, “dullard.” This was the first time I experienced “the look.”

“That just won’t do.” she said. “It’s your icon. I think you should call it Iconic.”

Not only was it the first time I experienced “the look,” it was also the first time I received “the correction.”

“Iconic,” I said, pretending to try it on for size, feigning that the decision was mine alone to make and secretly loving that the decision was now – and forever – a joint affair. The moment was iconic.

“I like it,” I said.

David RobinsonYoga Series 7 - Version 2

iconic, 54 x 54IN, mixed media

 

read Kerri’s blog post about ICONIC

 

 

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iconic ©️ 2010 david robinson

Name It Or Not [on DR Thursday]

David Robinson 4by4 copy 2

I sold this painting a long time ago. It’s a big piece, four feet by four feet. George Broderick sold it through his gallery in Portland, Oregon. The day we hung it in his space, he asked me what it was called. He was making a label for the painting with the title and price. I didn’t have an answer and said the first thing that came to me. “It’s called Four by Four,” I said. George wrinkled his brow.

True confessions: I’ve never been good at naming paintings. In fact, I used to resist it. I think a viewer should name the painting. I think a viewer does name the painting in the first moment they see it but then they dump their response when they read the label. But, reality has a way of setting in. As you might imagine, it nearly impossible to keep track of multiple paintings when they are all called Untitled.

For a while – a short while – I tried giving each untitled piece a number. Untitled 624. Untitled 29. “Cop out!” was the cry from friends and gallery staff. “What’s it called?” There was no mercy.

I was much more snarky then than I am now, I so I responded to the requirement of proper names by keeping a notebook of words and phrases that I liked. When a painting was being readied for a show I’d randomly pull a notation from the notebook and tack it to a painting. “There! A name!” That, too, was a ridiculous strategy. It confused everyone, including me. When it comes to tracking things, random associations are not very memorable and I’d inevitably lose the notation. I was constantly opening my notebook and renaming paintings. Plus, at openings, artists are always asked about the names they give to paintings and people were forever asking about a name/painting and I couldn’t remember which painting carried which random tag. More than once I stared blankly and stuttered until the uncomfortable patron moved on.

It has come as a great relief to me that Kerri actually likes to put names on my paintings. Nowadays, my foolproof naming strategy goes like this: “K.Dot, what would you call this painting?” And, without fail, she  always has a response.

“Why did you call this 4 x 4?” she just asked, hoping that the name would spark something to write about on her blog.

“I can’t remember,” I replied, lying outrageously. “What would you call it?” I asked.

She squinched up her face and studied it for a moment. “Slumber,” she said.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on 4 x 4

 

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4 x 4/Slumber ©️ some date in the past and really who knows and who really cares?

It’s About Seeing

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

The book is starting to take over. I’ve been working on it for a week or so with lots of bumps and uphill pushing. Today it announced where it wanted to go and required that I type a short prologue that I thought was post worthy:

This is a book about seeing.

Not many people see. Most people merely look. Just as most people hear but they do not listen, most people look but they do not see.

And, although this might not make sense yet, seeing has more to do with stories than it does with eyes. It works like this:

Everyone can see as a child. And then something happens. Children learn to name things with words. Then, they learn to spell the words they use to name things. Soon, they grow up and have a hard time seeing beyond their words.

It is a funny paradox about words: they can imprison your mind; they can also set you free. It all depends up how the words are used.

Artist’s and entrepreneurs share this trait: in order to master their craft they must learn to see again. And, in order to see, they must once again understand the power of their words.

Know Your Name

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

On the corner of Beach Drive and 63rd Street is William Stanton Jr. park. Each day I pass the sign with his name and I wonder who he was (or is); why does this park carry his name. It was meant to be an honor, certainly, a commemoration.

I used to consult with the Lincoln Unified School District in Stockton, California and one of their elementary schools was named after Claudia Landeen. She was a pioneer of the district and an inspiration to many educators. I met Claudia once before she died. She was a mentor to my mentor, Tom. I met her at the elementary school that carried her name and when she was introduced to the crowd as “thee” Claudia Landeen, she rolled her eyes. She whispered to Tom, “Be careful, they name a school after you when they want to put you out to pasture.” Tom, closing in on his own retirement, said, “Oh, god! There’s talk of to sticking my name on the men’s room door.”

In Seattle, we have Edgar Martinez Blvd (he was a player on the Mariner’s baseball team for a very long time), we have Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, our state is named for George Washington; I know because his picture is on the state flag. I have several times visited the Vietnam Memorial in the other Washington; it is a wall of names that we do not want to forget; names that we hope to honor far into the future.

We are masters of naming things. Isn’t that how we locate ourselves? Don’t the names we put on things also carry a history? Don’t they serve an intention? The name gives the place an association, a meaning. I grew up in Jefferson County, Colorado and there is no doubt in my mind which Jefferson the county is named after; his name links me to a tradition, a value set, and an origin story.

Political seasons always make me perk up my ears to the names we place on other people. Like the names we stick on places, the names we stick on other people are not passive; these names carry history, intention, and many levels of meaning; and they also serve to locate us. The candidates call each other names, the parties name each other, the media adds a name or two; there are so many pundits telling me what I just heard and interpreting for me what it all means – apparently they must name my experience for me; it is a veritable circus of name calling and interpretation of the name that was just called. Often, I ask myself, “Given these names and with so many people dedicated to telling me what I just heard, working so hard to locate me, how do I locate myself?” How many of us are truly locating ourselves and how many of us are outsourcing our point of view (location)?

I just heard about a study showing that where belief is concerned, party affiliation trumps education every time. In other words, we’ve stopped thinking critically (and independently – despite what we like to believe of ourselves) and will swallow any name the party asks us to swallow. Perhaps we are lazy or too busy to think for ourselves; either way in the absence of a questioning mind the name we give to others carries a dangerous kind of power: locating “them” also serves to locate “us” and since the name we stick on “them” has little or no substance, the location we give ourselves will also be void of substance.

It is no small question when I ask, “How are you locating yourself?” Who is naming your experiences for you? To what are you sticking your name?