Vision + Personal Statements

As someone who is dedicated to living a life of creativity I am constantly hounded within and without with the notion of value and what exactly am I offering or doing for anyone other than myself and what consequences does doing for one’s self have in the broader ramifications of karmic connect and contact?

At times I have been afraid of speaking out for fear of being wiped out…ancestral memories…inquisitions/Nazis/American born and bred working class fascists/a government that would rather go to war than go to peace…fears of making it and then having to live it….of the burden of fame…because I feel that I do have something to sayand that my art is hardly the stuff of decoration or slavish homage to some golden age past or academic brilliance(I’m far from that)…

Some of the best art I have created has come from an intense suffering, a longing, a wounded fighting back…

I create and bend nature because I am driven to do so…I have no other recourse…I live a life of intense self-examination…I crack a mean inner whip…with age it lightens but still

there remains the voice of self-worth…why am I doing this when I should be in the trenches digging ditches or on an assembly line or struggling along with my fellow humans for sustenance…ahhhh there’s the rub…why are we struggling against each other in our mad rush to accumulate some form of self- aggrandized privilege and entitlement?

Who am I to say “NO” to wage slavery? Who am I to sit in my house and create works of “leisure art” as a dear friend accused me of doing while he” must clean toilets and wipe the butts of old people”?

Will the majority of “working class” Americans rise up and revolt in a blood frenzy of killing and cannibalism?  These are the dangerous stories(memes) surrounding the times we live in when resources have been used up and the cheap oil is slowing it’s flowing despite ugly tar sands and fracking for natural gas…

What is living an honest life or doing right livelihood mean?  For me it means staying true to my creative soul.  Like I have said before and will continue to say:  the rules for living on earth are simple…you need food and water…everything else is conditional and arbitrary…everything….without food and water you are dead in days if not weeks at the best and for the hardiest of us…

So why do we continue as a culture to not get this…and why do we denigrate anyone who speaks outside the box?  Our pop stars mostly live degraded lives of vulgar privilege for the price of upholding a society that is largely out of whack and just squeaking by at this late date…

Whether we believe in, or are waiting for Jesus or enlightened aliens or some other form of salvation doesn’t matter(that’s between you and IT) …if we are not actively seeking and manifesting our visions and desires, dreams and schemes in the NOW …then we’re just blowing smoke and NOTHING good is going to happen despite our best intentions.

It is time for all true artists (visionaries/dreamers/wizards and true believers) to rise up, stand up, spread the wings and shine the light…NOW!  Why wait for some number to come up on a calendar written and devised by men?  WE need new visions to inspire/encourage/show us how to celebrate living, how to become the stewards we are meant to be.

What does it take to awaken in us the call to return to a life worth living?

We are so fortunate (and I daily give deep thanks for water and food) to live here in the Kickapoo//Ocooch mountains with our abundance of water and food.  But that doesn’t mean we are above it all or superior to anyone else or that people in cities are bad and coming to get us or these or those people/ things are bad…

In my practice of living a creative life— I understand that I must continue to serve the earth and all of its creatures in a way that is life affirming…I must continue to build both figurative and literal constructs of how I want life to be lived…

We must stop what we are doing and come to a place of peace within in order to manifest peace without…as long as I harbor negative thoughts against others I am part of the deeper problem…as long as I see the other as someone to fear I am part of the problem…

As long as I continue to believe that I “OWN” anything I am part of the problem…

If we don’t begin to understand and heal/lead people towards a more earth based and grounded social structure that borrows heavily on ancient practices of holding/distributing resources in common, we will continue to hurtle towards the oncoming proverbial cliff at light speed…

Perhaps the collapse is needed…I long ago let the collapse happen in my soul…I surrendered my participation in the current state of affairs and have attempted with some success to live a much simpler life…to say I have been “blessed” with material wealth is an understatement in the relative conditions of all life as it presently exists…

I am certain by now the reader is saying— what does any of this have to do with art?

As a creative person I have been given the gift of making connections— of following relationships….most people in the USA live a life in a self- contained bubble with little regard for anything outside of that bubble….well folks, the bubble is popping and despite

Facebook or in part because of it we are lifting our noses out of the sand and realizing there is more to life than accumulation and satiation of senses….anyone who has lived thru a natural disaster as I have; know the “freedom” and “true nature of the human heart” as we usually seem to rally and repair and mend when we are forced to do so…

I’m asking us to do so before the disaster strikes…

Connections…one small example…seeing beyond what is physical into the true nature of reality has shown me that while cell phones are deemed to be “wonder filled marvels of technological advancement) personally I believe they are temporary tools to show us we can indeed see beyond the veil of illusion and that we  are intrinsically and deeply connected to the earth and each other…these devices rely on the extraction of special minerals, one of them being coltan— guess where the largest deposit on the earth is…Rawanda…and the recent violence there where one people where pitted against another was all about coltan…

Millions died for your inalienable right to inform the world about what you ate for breakfast this morning as well as allowing me to type and share this diatribe with you…

Connections…that’s what creativity allows me and teaches me to follow— threads of thought/feelings and to weave them into complex tapestries…poetry…paintings…music and dance…

Let our art be one of liberation and empowerment…every time we gather and share our stories, songs, sketches, I believe that we are improving our human condition…as long that’s our intention…does my art support life or go against it?  Am I contributing or corrupting?

It’s a new day, a new time—the opportunity is ripe for the collective “we” to do something truly remarkable—ground breaking where the basic tenet that is fundamental to all spiritual traditions can be realized….feed the hungry, comfort the sick, guide the troubled and empower the weak.  Above else let us laugh, sing and dance our way to the higher ground.  It’s just around the bend.  Can’t you feel it?

 


 

A while back in ye old Kickapoo free press Richard LaMartina had written a great article about art that I intended to respond to and had actually drafted a response.  In the light of

recent events and in honor of this dear man I submit this response.  Before I begin though I would like to express how moving it was to see the community of artists and art lovers gathered to show their support for Rick and Peg LaMartina on a Sunday in November.  There was the best of the community standing shoulder to shoulder and it was a deep and moving celebration of one artist’s life.

I echo and support Ricks call for Art to be reclaimed by we the people.  As a generalist I have found that I enjoy working in many mediums depending on my need to or the necessity to express a given “vision” using an appropriate form.

Artists/people who believe creativity is something to be studied or learned are missing the point of childhood.  This type of artist in my opinion is what gives art a bad name with the people.  There is an inherent elitism and a classism derived from specialists including some of those who have climbed the ladder of degrees and so wear the mantle of MFA or PHD and largely keep their forms of expression inside the ivory tower.  This is not to say that form and techniques shouldn’t be shared or studied as long as they are not copied and made into “this is the only and RIGHT way to do ART” dogma which then excludes others who may not conform to this manufactured ideal as “outsiders” or

“primitives”.

This inbred stylization that more often than not supports the dominant culture by disregarding content, disregarding the times one is living in for some “higher” art ideal(form from the past) is what alienates the common man from the “artiste”.

 

I will posit that most if not all of the so called great works of art were borrowed/appropriated from the great traditions of the common people.  So called “classical” composers who worked for the Court borrowed greatly from the minstrels who entertained/enlightened the masses.  Picasso admittedly stole most of his stuff from Iberian/African sculpture and indeed is attributed with the quote:  “Mediocre artists create, great artists steal.”  Another modern example would be the bands Led Zeppelin and the Beatles who stole heavily from the black blues traditions.  This is not to say they weren’t original or innovators but their stuff didn’t come out of thin air.  There is always a chain of cause and effect, inspiration and respect that is a continuum from earliest forms of expression to the ever NOW.  So who really is original and who owns what and why?

If the artist is the observer of life who reflects life back to those who are living it, then is not the artist in debt to the people for inspiring their act of creativity and so then who owns what?

Art is a tool for accessing awareness, transforming consciousness thru the meditative process of the living act of creativity.  Art is a power filled tool for expression of the common emotional, spiritual, political and philosophical meta –consciousness of the living cultural collective. Art manipulates the witness towards a specific idea or intention or mood that the artist is expressing.  This bead of consciousness can be an ad for fizzy cola, a shock art performance piece, a cartoon, the shape of the cellphone one uses, website design, nature sculptures, the sound of silence or the deepest emotional stirrings of a national anthem.  Indeed thru art I have been brought to tears, laughed my ass off, been enraged, insulted, bored and so on.  Art uses an arcane and deep primitive (un)awareness of imprinted symbols charged and arranged in ways to inspire/empower, keep down/enslave and/or hypnotize/pacify.

On a personal level I discovered that if one understands the principles and process of creativity one should be able to apply these principles across the board in all mediums including plumbing, gardening, car mechanics, personal health, cooking etc.  Why concentrate on one when there is a whole array of arts to enjoy.  Ancient Hindu texts

talk about mastering the 64 arts which include the classical, traditional and domestic arts.  This is the art of being human and being ALIVE.  Upon learning of this deep tradition I adopted it as a goal and so I have strived to learn about and participate in as many of these as I can which in time has shown me one need not specialize and that all arts are inner and inter connected and when brought together form a whole.  The act of being alive with its attendant needs is the palette from which I create.  Art is not above life and life can never accurately be captured by artists.  We only take snapshots.  Even a 1,000page novel or a 3 hour movie doesn’t replace the magical and one-of-a kind experiences we have every day.  Being in a car wreck is way different than experiencing a simulated one via media stream no matter how high the definition is.  Seeing a sun rise makes the best photo or landscape painting pale in comparison. So where are we going, back to the future like we always do.

I believe the days of the lone artist/specialist are coming to an end and will be replaced by a collective form of art re-invented and powerfully attuned to bridging the needs of the individual with the higher purpose and needs of the collective.  Art is going to be reclaimed by we the people thru group experiences where art/creativity is used as a mode of expression, to create forms of beauty that reflect local integrity and whose aim is the wholeness and health of the broader collective.  Not so much about “me” as about “we” with respect/understanding for the needs of both.

And not so much about creating an artistocracy where certain individuals are elevated

and turned into demi-gods by the worshipping masses.  The artist needs to be of by and for the people. Out in the fields helping to harvest and when called upon to use their gifts for unifying/healing/entertaining the people.  We all need to be creative and share in the work load of the day to day necessities of being alive in this living experience which dictates that we need food, water and a warm place to sleep.  If we all have that and I believe we can, then we can talk about level playing fields.

We are incredibly social beings.  We need each other and that includes all of our relations.  In so called “primitive” societies art was a daily living function.  Just look in any museum of antiquities at the common everyday objects from clothing, to baskets, hand blown glassware, lost wax metal castings, tools and you will quickly see that we were and are remarkably creative beings.  In order to evolve we need to reclaim our ability to invent and create everyday mundane objects of use into works of magnificence and fun.  To return to the community dances, harvest parades, spring sing flings, summer feasts and fasts, campfire story circles, winter meditations, big bands, murals, quilts etc…  The Annishinabe people of this bio-region can teach us a lot about this thru the teaching of the shaker…the simplest yet most profound of all instruments…ancient beyond memory…the shaker…given to each child at birth…upgraded at puberty and individualized with adulthood.  The shaker brings everybody together to shake and sing creating a collective vibe of deep well- being and intimate connections/communion of one to the other.  Everybody is a musician.

This in turn creates a positive collective field.  It clears the labor of the day and energizes the heart, mind and hand.  This type of shared creativity lets a person know they belong.  To create “art” with others is going to be “BIG” sooner than later.   Art is how I personally connect to a deeper living truth.  When I get out of the way and allow this deeper truth to express itself I am constantly amazed and often surprised at the results.  When I try to force it, I usually end up frustrated.  Creating art with groups of people in intergenerational formats is the most power filled expression of creativity that I have experienced. While there are personal/cultural preferences and opinions/judgments in taste regarding specific forms and content can be divisive, in the bigger picture and over the course of time, there are no better or worse forms of expression because what is often accepted in one historical moment is rejected in the next and vice versa.  Hate teaches us to love till there is no more hate as creativity teaches us to heal instead of hurt those we hate.

In the words of Duke Ellington “There is no such thing as “bad” music, only bad performances.  All sound expressed in truth is good.”

Art is the original form of spiritual expression, of feeling connected to something greater than oneself— so go on uplift, engage, express yourself. It feels really good.