Leave It! [on Two Artist Tuesday]

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what you don’t see in a picture is worth an additional word or two.

One of Kerri’s many nicknames is “Brat” and it is more-than-well-deserved. No one knows this better than Tripper-Dog-Dog-Dog. He silently suffers her full brat nature. He patiently tolerates her howling laughter when he is, once again, the object of her brat-ocity.

DogDog easily picks up tricks. And, as an Aussie, he is a hyper-sensitive-good-boy, so Brat takes full advantage of his trusting nature, his need to please, and contorts the tricks. This is a photo of “leave it:” drop any snack on the floor, tell DogDog to “leave it,” and he won’t touch it until he’s given the magic sign. Tell him to “leave it” and he won’t move. Instead, he will follow you with his eyes imploring you for the magic sign. On this day, instead of dropping his snack on the floor, she put a tortilla chip on his head. And left it there for a very long time.

I knew I would be in trouble if I gave DogDog the magic sign. I knew I would bring Brat’s focus on to me if I interrupted her chuckling mischief. So, like DogDog, I sat very still and followed her around with my eyes. When would she give the magic signal? Both DogDog and I quaked with unbearable anticipation. When?! She moved back and forth, Dogga’s and my eyes tracking her every move. She took a picture. Moved across the room and took another. “Don’t torture the dog,” I implored.

“I’m not torturing DogDog,” she smiled, giving DogDog the magic sign, “I’ve been torturing you!”

 

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Lydia! Here’s the link: read Kerri’s blog post about BEING A BRAT

 

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Reach [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Someone snapped their fingers and it is fall. Less than a week ago we skirted the Des Plains river trail, hugging the shade. We’d underestimated the intensity of the heat-humidity combination punch. “Are you dying?” Kerri asked. I nodded my head, too hot to answer. This morning, the air is cool and we are pulling out our flannel shirts.

With fall comes a sweet melancholy that usually creeps in slowly but this year, absent of any transition, I awoke fully awash in the seasonal sorrows. It is, oddly, like a warm blanket. An old friend that calls, “Remember me?”

Kerri tells me this melancholy is the feeling of time passing. It is the season of standing still and remembering. It is a reach to the past when the past feels like the autumn sun on your face. Turning toward the warmth, eyes closed, basking.

Haven’t you heard your elders say that the older you get the faster time moves? This morning, pulling my flannel shirt around me, I know that it is true. Time races. Time is relative to “the long body,” the entire span of a lifetime. With so much time behind me, so many memories, the road traveled seems to have passed in a blink. Life happens in the blink of an eye.

There’s no better reason to stand still, eyes closed, and reach for the sun as its rays reach for me.

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read Kerri’s blog post about REACH

 

 

 

 

 

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reach ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

Pivot [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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I learned many things following Skip through the curious world of technology entrepreneurism. Peculiar terms like ‘incubator” and “accelerator,” once reserved for premature babies or the gas pedal in my car, were reassigned to ideas: ideas in need of nurturing or, more remarkable, ideas pumped up with steroids and released ravenous upon investors (who were also ravenous but more composed by virtue of their power position).

Among the most important lessons was this: despite the best incubation, even with warp speed acceleration, the best idea, the best product, was probably obsolete the day it hit the market. Someone, somewhere in the world, had already improved upon it. A better mousetrap has little or no shelf life. And so, I also added to my vocabulary a new understanding of the word ‘pivot.’ I love how similar an entrepreneur’s terminology is to a ballet dancer. Pivot, move, fluid, flow, swivel, turn, revolve. Keep your center. Keep your eyes on the spot or you will grow dizzy and fall. The spot is not the individual product, the single idea. It is the business spawned from the idea. It is the ongoing relationship with relevance/obsolescence.

Those in my age group are distinguished by our dance with obsolescence. Graphic designers, publishers, musicians, educators,…artists. We are distinct in having one foot in an analog world – I prefer easel and canvas to stylus and computer screen –  and the other foot in the digital tsunami. The art is innate. Relevance is another story entirely. Reinvention (another word for pivot) is a necessity. Entrepreneurs and artists are not so different.

After seeing our melange post on Surfing Uncertainty, Master Marsh  reflected that surfing uncertainty was more than a design, it was my credo. Horatio jested that I was either a dilettante-from-hell or a bodhisattva. I laughed. Illumination seems a bit out of my reach. I think technology makes dilettantes of us all!

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read Kerri’s blog post about ART ALREADY IN ME

 

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i was came into the world with art already in me ©️ 2016/2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 

Be Kind [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Guitar Jim told me that he doesn’t trust this world littered with aphorisms. Words are so easy to say. Papering the walls with happy sentiments of love, kindness, community, teamwork,…, can mask the absence of those qualities.   I translated his adamant adage-doubt into a pithy phrase (just to torture him): actions speak louder than words. His point: if we tell ourselves often enough that it takes a village to raise a child we might just believe this village actually cares for its children. All of its children. Despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

He has a point. Adages are everywhere, placed in stores, office walls, kitchen shelves. Begin anywhere. This life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is short, break the rules. For fun, first take a quick scroll through Facebook. It is an immersion into Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King.  We’re all in this together. Then, open your news app. Fall from grace. Try your best to be a saint and see how far you’ll fall.

There is another side of this bleak coin. We live in the age of the sound byte. The short attention span. The eCommunity. Sometimes while rushing to the next thing I stop for no apparent reason and stand still on the street. Something divine intervenes and asks me to step out of the play and, for a moment, breathe and simply be the audience. Every time I step out I see more kindness than aggression. I hear more laughter than shouting. I see people wanting a different world but armored against the threat of the moment, the fear of the day. Lost in a story of division. And, so, on the walls and in the subways they (we) post aspirations. Yearnings for more experience of our better nature. Hopw wishes. Possibility mantras.

Beaky’s parting words were always, “Be kind to one another.” It was her maxim and she meant it. This powerhouse woman would look you in the eyes and send this phrase-arrow to the center of your being, “Be kind.” To one another. An action, not an empty sentiment.

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

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read Kerri’s blog post on BE KIND

 

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Live Without Fear [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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Last week we met my niece and her husband in Lake Geneva for a glass of wine. They’ve been living overseas and were gobsmacked at the recent changes in our nation. “How do you have conversations?” she asked, adding, “Everyone is so angry. It’s impossible to talk about anything important. It’s impossible to discuss or debate ideas or points of view.”

“It’s a minefield,” I said, not really knowing what else to say. There is so much anger which can only mean there is so much fear. The only thing that makes sense to me is that our nation, an ongoing experiment, is cutting through the weeds of our central question: can people of diverse backgrounds come together and live united in a single narrative? If the past two years was your only evidence the answer would be a resounding NO. Thankfully, there is a broader sample. We are a work in progress.

No one can see clearly the times in which they live. And, since the conversation last week has been much on my mind, and an answer to the pervasive fear is no where to be found [and would be a ruse at best], for insight I can only offer A Two Artist Tuesday Quote Collision:

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that aren’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

“The idea of a causal universe and a social order built on universal moral laws is toppled by the uncertainty principle. The absolute is replaced by the relative…. Reality becomes a matter of highly variable conventions, rather than a set of fixed and eternal facts.”  ~Jamake Highwater [Jamake gets the award for consecutive quotes. He also made an appearance yesterday!]

“A lot of lip service gets paid to being honest, but no one really wants to hear it unless what’s being said is the party line.”~ Colin Quinn

It is not an accident that our science, our art, and our politics are roiling in relativity. It IS our current common narrative. Contemporary art, like modern science, began with breaking down the idea of absolutes. Politics and public opinion do not lead but they follow.

The experiment is no longer confined to our shores: in a global economy, in the age of 24 hour news cycles, Facebook, Twitter and Google, in our age-and-stage of relativity, can people of diverse backgrounds come together and live united in a single narrative called relativity? Can we transcend our fear of otherness and step outside of our echo chambers? Can we listen as passionately as we proclaim? It seems that it will require a great deal of respect for otherness with a high degree of empathy and low investment in self-righteousness.

Well, we’ll see.

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read Kerri’s blog post about LIVING WITHOUT FEAR

 

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living without fear ©️ 2006/2018 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Read The Back [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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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

 

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

Follow Your Feet Home [on Two Artists Tuesday]

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I’m not sure how it happened. At some  point, early on in our life together, we began documenting our travels with photos of our feet. Feet in snow, on sand, on brick, tile, carpet, turf, and tundra. Our favorite wedding photo features our feet (red carpet, Frye boots). When pet sitting DogDog and BabyCat, 20 regularly receives photos of our feet on the dashboard. “Stop sending me pictures of your feet!” he rants, though I know he secretly appreciates being included in the foot photo loop.

It’s become a ritual and like most rituals no words are necessary. We just know what to do. On the subway Kerri will glance my way, the camera emerges and we raise our feet. In the museum, I point to the floor and we stand together. Click. At a wedding, Kerri raises her eyebrows and our dressed-up-feet know just what to do. In the forest, without notice, our boots come together. Click.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy clicks her heels together, chanting, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” I think of Dorothy and her ruby red shoes every time our feet enter their ritual photo mode, every time we are in a new and strange place and the camera comes out as our feet come together. I think, “Home is here. Home is right now, right where our feet have found themselves. Home.” Click.

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read Kerri’s blog post about FEET

 

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feet collage image and products ©️ 2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood