Fill The Box [on Two Artists Tuesday]

toolchest copy

Among my most prized possessions is the small wooden paint box that DeMarcus gave to me. He was a brilliant painter and director of plays. I am one of the keepers of his legacy. The box holds a few sacred (to me) items: the nutcracker my grandfather used, a woven frond from Bali, some stones and notes from nieces and nephews.

Another treasured possession is the small box that John K made for me. He is a master woodworker and is dear to me so the box is also dear. He is impeccable, among the best men I have ever known, and it shows in his creations. His box reminds me to strive to be-more-like-John.

Kerri and I learned early on in our relationship that we both have a thing for boxes. We call them special boxes. We gravitate toward them when we are wandering through antique stores. Sometimes they look like old suitcases. Sometimes they look like old tool boxes. We’ve learned that we need to admire them and put them down. That, or we need to give in and open a Special Box Store.

Stand in the middle of our house and look any direction and you will see one or more special boxes. The box in the sun room holds watercolor paper, paints, colored pencils, India ink and nibs. It was the keeper of the promise for our cartoons and children’s books, Chicken Marsala, Flawed, and Shayne. The stacked suitcases in our dining room hold the artifacts of our relationship. Tickets to concerts, playbills, menus, feathers, train tickets,… The wooden box in the living room is filled with stones that we have collected in our travels.

Okay,  an amendment: we collect boxes and stones.

The other day we were strolling down the aisle of an antique mall with Jen and Brad. Mostly we were coming up with ideas for performance art pieces or conceptual art knock offs or listening to the wisdom from Riley-the-Realist. Kerri grabbed my arm, “Look at this one,” she said, showing me an old green tool box. “Don’t you love it?”

“Where would we put it?” I asked. It’s my go-to answer when I actually do love a box but also know that we need to walk away. Kerri squinted her eyes. We took a breath and stepped away.

The real problem with opening a Special Box Store? It’s a very bad business premise. We would be unwilling to sell any of our merchandise. They’d all be filled with special rocks or memories or hopes and dreams in the form of paper, Sumi ink and brushes. You could look but not touch. Though the stories we could tell…

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BOXES

 

old suitcases website box copy

 

 

 

 

Make It Up! Why Not? [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

BabyCat Computer copy

What exactly is going on here?

It’s possible that this cat through osmosis is assimilating large amounts of information, data, and e-knowledge by sleeping on a computer.

It’s also possible that this cat has an emotional bond with an inanimate object. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Consider that this cat, like a tree felled in the woods, toppled in exhaustiob and landed belly up in this unlikely position.

It might be the heat of the computer that attracted the cat. It’s uncertain in the photograph if the day is cold. This may be a heat-seeking cat. It’s possible.

This cat may not be sleeping at all. After all, this is a photograph, a moment of stop-action-time. This cat might be blinking or this could be a cat yoga pose. This could be an instance of deep-cat-satisfaction.

It’s hard to glean the truth of this photograph. It’s possible in our day and age that this enormous cat is nowhere near a computer. Photoshop is capable of making us see the unlikely, the absurd, the unimaginable. This cat might never have met this computer.

What, exactly, is going on here? We may never know.

I can tell you that this very-large-cat snores like a drunken sailor, especially when sleeping on or near the computer. It’s uncanny and I understand if you doubt what I’m writing. You have absolutely no reason to believe me.

You will undoubtedly make up your own story about this huge cat-snoring-computer convection. Heat transfer. You will assign your unique belief to this image. It’s what we do. It’s why, without doubt, anything is possible. Even the absurd. Especially the absurd.

What is really going on here?

 

read Kerri’s blog post about THE CAT AND THE COMPUTER

 

squarecat website box copy

 

*this photo is unaltered. This is not two cats or a large black creature engulfing a cat. This shape is what happens when too much cat meets the floor [help].

 

 

 

Listen Again [on KS Friday]

ffod song box copy

At studio melange we rarely repeat our songs or paintings. However, this week, as we roll into Mother’s Day, Kerri and I are standing squarely at a crossroads. We’ve been looking down many pathways. We’ve been looking back. Reviewing. Telling stories, expressing gratitude. And, isn’t that what this day, set aside to honor our mothers, is all about? Gratitude. Stories of moments large and small.

This song was our Mother’s Day gift last year. In listening this year it occurred to me that it is a song of gratitude from a mother to her mother AND to her children. I wanted to post the song again.

This was my message from last year:  Some things need no interpretation and this song, going into Mother’s Day, is one of those. So, from studio melange, a gift-song from a mom, Kerri, to mothers everywhere.

 

FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

MotherDaughter (full)

this is motherdaughter. kerri tells me this painting reminds her of her relationship with kirsten.

 

cropped head kiss website copy

fistful of dandelions ©️ 1999 kerri sherwood

motherdaughter ©️ 2019 david robinson

Collect Your Stories [on Two Artists Tuesday]

coffee pot copy

We haunt the local antique stores. We rarely buy anything but, if we do, you can be certain the purchase is one of these: an old coffee pot, a wooden box, an old suitcase.

The suitcases are transformed into our “special boxes.” We keep the artifacts of our life – notes, ticket stubs, travel mementos… in our special boxes. They are stacked in our dining room and made more special by the flat rocks collected from our travels and cleverly arranged on and around our special boxes.

Kerri and I both have a thing for boxes and old wooden containers. Stand in the middle of our home and look any direction and you will spy a box. Some are small. Some are large. All are well traveled and have a story to tell. My brushes and paints live in one. I keep an altar-of-sorts in and around DeMarcus’ paint box. We have a box in our living room that is for the not-flat-rocks that we’ve taken from the beaches and forests and rivers that we’ve visited. Each rock tells a story.

Once, driving through Massachusetts, we stopped at a little antique shop and were attracted to a collection of small coffee pots. Four of the pots made the trip home with us and now live in our kitchen. They functionally serve as tea canisters (clever, yes?) but in deeper truth, they are markers in time. We moved out the old story and brought in the coffee pots, symbols of the new.

Coffee pots. Wooden boxes. Old suitcases. Containers of story. Containers for story. They make us conscious of the stories we collect and intentional about the story we live and tell.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about COFFEE POTS

 

coffeepots website box copy

this beautiful photo courtesy of our dear 20

Fly Between The Poles [on DR Thursday]

Angel Morsel copy

a morsel from ‘angel.’ kerri calls it ‘you can’t hold the sun’

Icarus‘ wings were made of wax and feathers. His father, Daedalus, made them so he and Icarus could escape their imprisonment. Before taking flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low nor too high. Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and his wings fell apart. He fell from the sky and drowned.

We see most of the Greek stories sifted through a post-Greek moralistic lens. Fly to high, hubris. Fly too low, complacency. The world as defined by polarities. Heaven, hell. Good, bad. Right, wrong. There’s another possibility.

Quinn used to tell me that the point of all the world’s religions, the message in all the great stories, is to find the middle way. To live in the center. This world, he said, will try its best to tug you to the extremes. It will dose you with propaganda, half truths. It will glorify US and demonize THEM. It will bamboozle you into twisted notions like ‘the dehumanization of others is okay.’ It is the lucky person that realizes that it is impossible to strip others of their humanity without also losing their own. Polarities are like that.

So, seek balance. Walk between the tug of the poles. It is the point of presence – live here, not in the scary future nor the regrettable past. Fly, not too close to either pole, but through the middle. Now. It’s possibly the point of the story.

This morsel is called You Can’t Hold The Sun. It’s true. You can’t stop time. No moth can withstand the flame. The sun will melt your waxy wings. The sea will make your feathers heavy with dew. Either way, you fall.

In the face of too much moralizing, Kerri will say, “If it’s not about kindness or joy, it’s not about anything.” That’s a statement from the center. I like to think that this center place, this middle way that Quinn told me about, is what we call love.

 

 

 

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

you can’t hold the sun/angel ©️ 2018/2004 David Robinson

Sandcastle With Me [on DR Thursday]

MorselSandcastle withMe copy

My favorite ongoing series of paintings is called The Narrative Series. I’ve been adding to the series since 1989. It is my least popular series if sales are the determining factor of popularity. Mostly people respond with, “I don’t get it.” When I painted my first, I loved it and thought to myself, “I don’t get it.” So, I’ll spend my life trying to get it, all the while, knowing that it is impossible to get. However, when I birth another in the line, I know it is the closest I come to the center (whatever that means). These paintings are stories in broken time or, in the cubist frame of reference, they are stories in multiple time.

A few years ago I attended a lecture series featuring Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicists. They have two different theories of multiple universes and it was mind blowing to try and grasp both theories (who am I kidding, trying to grasp one was mind blowing). Brian’s was all about strings and Stephen’s was all about bubbles. The math works for both and I left the lecture with eyes crossed and reaching for sense. And I was thrilled. That day they were narrative painters, too.

Sandcastles and Me is a morsel of a recent addition to the narrative series, titled Spoons & Sandcastles (though you’ll find it in the Beach series folder on my site). If after looking at the morsel and the full painting you find yourself thinking, “I don’t get it.” Take heart. You are in good company.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post about SANDCASTLE WITH ME

 

if you'd like to see david robinson.. copy

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

sandcastle with me/spoons & sandcastles ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Touch The Arc

A painting I did twenty years ago of my dad.

Years ago I started a portrait of my dad (we call him Columbus) emerging from – or returning to – a cornfield. At the time it seemed an odd painting, something more elemental than intellectual. Something I had to paint though I didn’t really know why. I thought I’d left portrait painting far behind. Columbus is from a very small town in Iowa so the necessity of the cornfield made some small sense. He yearned to live in the town of his birth and although life took him other places he maintained a deep heart-root to Monticello. For Columbus, Monticello, Iowa was and always will be home.

After laying it out, after applying the under painting, the portrait felt complete – or I felt complete. So, I stopped. I have carried it with me all of these years.

These days, dementia has its slippery tentacles around Columbus. He is a mighty combatant in this tug of war, a war that he cannot win, and feeling his strength waning, his single wish was to one last time visit Monticello. So, this past week, Kerri, my mother, and I – as Kerri likes to say – followed Columbus’ heart around Monticello.

His heart took him three places. The first was to the cemetery. It is the place he will finally rest with his brother, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends. He wanted to wander. We followed him as he touched stones and told stories – stories he told to us but for himself: a friend who died too young in a car crash, a kind scoutmaster and mentor, an old girlfriend, a high school pal who flew an airplane and their adventures landing in cornfields. We followed, listening, renewed to the deeper truth that the stories we tell of others, the stories of shared time and experiences, both comic and tragic, when combined, scribe the arc of our own lives. Columbus needed to go to the end place to scribe his arc, to touch the depth and arc of his experiences.

The second place was the house that his grandpa Charlie built. It was the place of his childhood, the place of his greatest freedom, the place where all his stories begin and, now I know, where they return. This house is the cornfield. It is, for Columbus, the font of family and the source of his ideals. It is the symbol of his pride. This small house, with no electricity or running water, no indoor plumbing, this house that was pieced together with found material, smacked together with a handsaw and a hammer, an evolution, this house is Columbus’ holy ground. It still stands, just barely. And although now a storage shed for someone, it holds riches beyond words or measure. Columbus needed to stand in the source of his belief.

Finally, we followed his heart to visit his aunt JoAnne. She is only two years his senior but his aunt never-the-less. She is the last living person to know him through the entire passage of his life. She is his connective tissue, the one capable of affirming that it all happened, that the house and the people in it were exactly as he remembers, that this life, although only a minute long, is bottomless in the love that they share. They are the burning point of family, the front line. When we left her, Columbus and JoAnne hugged and cried, saying to each other but not for a moment believing it, “I’ll see you again.”

Stories told at the end place. Stories told from the beginning place. Stories told that connect the places. Columbus counts himself a lucky man. He knows with absolute certainty the trinity of places that hold his life/story. Sitting on the porch he (once again) taught me that stories – lives – are like a river and the flow transcends a single life. He just taught me that the story, a good life, like the painting, is never really complete.