Friday, March 31, 2017

Dreams Creativity and Irish Cottages

Genista Cottage, Drisogue Ballyboughal, County Dublin

 Dreams are very important and very natural to have. If we give up on them we give up on ourselves I believe.
Over the years some dreams might not be fulfilled and the outcomes change, perhaps into a better dream, leading to something different or even better.
If we do achieve and reach our dreams sometimes they don't measure up to our imaginations and we have to adjust them accordingly, which might mean we make yet another dream after having to let go of the previous one.

Having dreams and trying to reach them are opportunities to learn lessons that enable growth, regardless of  how they turn out.
The root word of creativity means is "to grow", and dreaming will expand our perceptions that enable new ways to problem solve.

Whether it be day dreaming and night dreaming, dreams are the door to our intuition. If we can imagine, we can believe, and we have then made the first step to making our dream a reality.
I've had many dreams and imaginings in the past and still do. The best dreams I've made my reality, started in my imagination, and it was so deeply satisfying to have them come to fruition.

One of my dreams that exists in my imagination is to live in a cozy, canopied Irish countryside where a thatched roof cottage is gently nestled. I think it must be my Celtic heritage that has made this my deep desired dream.

I often get online and look at various properties, which is exactly what I did last night. Oh my, after many months of searching, I finally found the most ideal, beautiful and delightful thatched roof cottage. Realistically I haven't the opportunity to make this dream come true, but it won't stop me from imagining and dreaming about it. The inside of this cottage is just as perfect as the outside.

I would love to know the history of this cottage and just why it's called Genista. According to the Facebook group Cottageolgy, yep there's a group for folks like me, the name Genista means broom.

Genista Cottage, Drisogue Ballyboughal, County Dublin

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

First Comes the Thought Then Comes the Action

I love words. I love writing words, reading them, speaking and listening to words, but there are certainly some words I really dislike, even hate, and so I refrain from using them. I especially have a great disdain for words used against others to humiliate, disrespect or abuse those who may not be in a position of power, who can't advocate for themselves or have a voice, particularly children.

When I was very actively involved in the specialized training as a Youth Care Worker, there was a plethora of information that I was constantly learning about, working with youth at risk. Some of this education I agreed with, some I didn't.

Over the years of experience working with youth, I became acutely aware of living in a society and culture that is more concerned with controlling youth, as opposed to understanding them. There are many ways to control other, and I think language is definitely a very powerful one. Historically we have witnessed cultures being annihilated or on the verge of disappearing because of the loss of language. Language is culture.

One of the topics included a youth care training session, was how certain words are used when describing youth, and I believe it's often used as a means of controlling those in trouble with the law or who have mental health or behavioural issues, and usually these are not mutually exclusive, but are often directly or indirectly related.

The word delinquent immediately comes to my mind, which I absolutely loath. We might not this hear this word so often now, perhaps because it's politically incorrect, but I do think there still exists a mindset of an increasingly hardened culture.

Words and language are so important, and the context in which they are used determine their power in negative or positive ways. Years ago it came to my attention how youth are so often described by words starting with the letter d.

Often these words label, judge and discriminate against those on the margins of society, for one reason or another,through no fault of their own, perhaps due to mental illness, abuse or addiction within their families or because of poverty, gender, ethic origin or religion.

A number of these words, we might think about completely eliminating from our vocabulary, or be mindful in our thoughts about the kind of the words we say, and how we use them, because words can build up, tear down, demean and cut deeply. It's been said, first comes the thought, then comes the action.

Here's a list of these d words. You may have heard some of these growing up or even said some of them yourself and we might not openly say them, but we might think them, when relating to others. Words are powerful, and I need to think before I speak, and weigh my thoughts, my words and use them wisely.








Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Surviving Ireland"

The island of Carnananaunachán - coordinates redacted.

Here in Canada, The Great White North, the snow veiled blanket of Winter is being finally flung off and we're all very anxious for warm temps and bugs. I'm kidding about welcoming the bugs of course, but definitely not kidding about warm temperatures, if we can all only get a grip on our online distractions. If we can only manage to pull ourselves away from our addiction to the myriad of technical devices, in order to fully enjoy the coming seasonal weather, engaging fully in our relationship with each other after surviving yet another Winter,  in spite of snow and ice storms that took place on the first day of Spring's arrival.

If you find yourself laying awake in the middle of the night, with Spring fever like me, contemplating life and happen to have the CBC radio turned on, you might be listening to RTÉ Radio 1 from Ireland. The innate story telling ability of the Irish is always so entertaining, thoughtful and sometimes very moving.

 Last night when listening, my first thought was this doc was a legitimately serious program, that addressed a particular malaise most of us seem to be afflicted with, or should I say addicted to. We can't imagine ourselves living without our technical devices and opt out to communicate with one another behind a computer screen instead of face to face. We appear to be more involved in interacting online and out of touch with our person to person real life relationships. What is most concerning is how this addiction, like many addictions is being passed on to our children.

I won't go down that mucky worm hole, and say that this program was fictional and very funny, but with an underling message and statement about reality that we all can afford to really think about and address.

In my opinion humour is one of the best ways to call attention to, or even celebrate our human state, be it positive or problematic, relating to social, political or personal issues. The RTÉ Radio 1 Comedy production Surviving Ireland  certainly does this.

 Be forewarned, dry toast and a mucky hole is involved.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Leica Lover - Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall - 1936-2010

I found an article featuring a photographer Jim Marshall. In spite of studying photography for a number of years in my art education, I'd some how never heard of him up until today, though I recognized some of his iconic photographs taken with his cherished loved Leica camera. What a fantastic photographer and I think a humble man, when it came to his inherent talent, he seemed to just consider himself a lucky one.

 Jim Marshall never saw himself as a photographer, but a reporter with a camera, describing his love of taking photographs not  just a job, but more importantly. it was his life, and his photographs he spoke of them as being like his children.

 Annie Leibovitz described Jim Marshall as "The Rock and Roll Photographer."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Donald Trump and His Cabinet

Eric Fischl-Trump Clown

Speaking from personal experience, I'm hopeful in my belief that all people can change, even at the hour of death. We all have the opportunity for reconciliation and maybe even redemption, in spite of it seeming like some folks are never going to change. We just never know. I do know there are those individuals who in this life will choose not to change, perhaps not in this life, but I'm sure there will be a positive change in the next world, whatever that is. The old adage of how change is as good as a rest, I see as being very true.

If we can't accept the fact that people won't change, then it's best to choose to change out attitude toward them and take action to make ourselves feel better or to possibly effect change in some way or another.

When artists see others especially those in political power hell bent on behaviour that appears to be misanthropic in nature diminishing and demeaning humanity and when this has happened throughout history, artists often take to their art, out of frustration, outrage, fear and social conscience. It gives a sense of being able to perhaps empower ourselves or others without voice and enable some kind of positive change. As the writer the late Ojibwa writer Richard Wagamese stated,"Our humanity is lifted up by our art."

 I've always admired art the lifts up humanity, and Eric Fischl is just this kind of artist, although it's certainly not "pretty art", but it is truthful. Truthful change is usually difficult and risky and takes courage. What I admire about Eric Fischl is that he's had the courage to change his art and change himself over the years.

I'm sure he'd only hope that the kind of satirical work he's producing now, causes some kind of positive change, if not a change in Donald Trump and his cabinet. And we, can only hope.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Alexis Adler

Photograph by Alexis Adler
Basquiat in the apartment, 1981.

I'd never heard of Alexis Adler until today, after learning about her photos that she'd taken of Jean-Michel Basquiat when they lived together as a couple for a year before he'd become the art star that he was. The exhibit entitled Basquiat Before Basquiat, consists of her early photos that are being displayed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver Colorado.

I listened to an interview that Alexis Adler gave today. She spoke of her relationship with Jean-Michel Basquiat during the 70s and 80s.

I've long admired Jean Michel Basquiat's work and it's another sad tragic story of a very gifted and deep thinking individual who died much too young because of addiction and depression.

The part of this story of Jean Michel Basquiat's life and death, including many artists like him, and what makes it all the more poignantly sad, is the existing dark underbelly of the art market. The way many bottom feeding art collectors flip the art of dead artists, mostly to line their own pockets. It would be an understatement to say it certainly leaves me feeling very sad to say the least, if not cynical.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Our Authentic Heart

Margot Sluytman with Glen Flett, the man who killed her father

Margot Sluytman when she talks about the authenticity of heart, it deeply resonates with me in many ways. It releases me from obligation and allows me to exercise my free will.

I believe the Creator gives us this great gift and in turn we can demonstrate and reflect authenticity of heart in our own lives by letting go, and actualizing the slogan, live and let live. This is such an important lesson I learned when I got into my own recovery from the effects of addiction.

Working professionally in the correctional field and as a volunteer, I met several incarcerated individuals that were serving life long sentences for murder and became close to some of them on the level playing field of recovery from addiction.

 I can't imagine what it would be like to ever experience such a violent crime against someone I loved like Margot Sluytman did when Glen Flett shot her father Theodore. What I can say is that I do know after having met those who have perpetrated this crime, it's given me some insight, not too many people experience.

Having the knowledge that a fellow human being has taken another person's life, we choose to do one of two things I think. We either hold on to our resentment and even hate, or we face the reality of what's happened, when coming to grips with whatever the situation. I strongly agree with Margot Sluytman when she says all have to follow our discerning authentic heart in deciding whether to react or respond. Not unlike the prisoner, we are left with coming to reconciliation with ourselves and what we have done.

We can sit in judgement of how Margot Sluytman and others like her respond, or we can choose to look at this reality regardless of how uncomfortable it is.

Years ago I read the non-fiction and very powerful book Dead Man Walking, about Sister Helen Prejean and her friendship with Elmo Patrick Sonnier, who was on Death Row, in Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola. As well, I saw the fictional depiction of the book based on Sister Prejean  and the death row prisoner Matthew Poncelett.

 Both the book and the movie that was reviewed by the late Rodger Ebert who said it enables "thinking beyond the boundaries of what is comfortable."

 We can sit in judgement of how Margot Sluytman and others like her respond, or we can choose to look at  reality regardless of how uncomfortable it is. Whatever we choose we ultimately have to find reconciliation with what we do with our authentic heart.

Monday, March 13, 2017

J.D. Ormond and The Sunshine Band

J.D. and The Sunshine Band

Listening to the news can be depressing. There just aren't enough good stories, very few for that matter.

 Last night I learned about a great story, while listening to My Play List on CBC Radio, with host musicians Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland from the band Whitehorse, which I really enjoyed. I'd heard this episode in 2015, so this was a repeat but it was great to hear them again and and I learned about J.D. Ormond who is Luke Doucette's brother living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

  J.D. is a great song writer and has a band called The Sunshine Band.  Luke talked about J.D.'s writing ability and the work he's doing in Winnipeg at Sunshine House, a drop-in and resource center with the main focus being solvent harm reduction in Winnipeg. Luke played one of J.D.'s songs, performed with his band, called Saturday Night.

It sure is heartening to see artists using their art for change. I wished we'd hear about more of these kinds of stories on the news, that offer hopeful solutions, instead of what seem to be presumably hopeless circumstances.

I believe this is the real purpose of art and artist a like. To bring light and love to the world that seems full of darkness. What higher purpose can there be?                                  

Here's a really entertaining little animation created by Chantel Degagne accompanied by Luke's band, performing Luke's song, Heard That One Before.

  " Our humanity is lifted up by our art."

                                                - In memory of Richard Wagamese 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day - Chimanda Ngozi Adichie

Words can often be limiting in describing ideas, philosophy, people, places and things. Judgement can come quickly when we place labels on ourselves or on others, as we attempt to define recognizable markers of who we are and what we stand for or against.

I think feminism is one such word that conquers up all sorts of judgment and it has made me hesitate in calling myself a feminist. My general reasoning is not as a result of what I think, but how others perceive me. Then I concluded what really matters is not I call myself, or how others perceive me necessarily,  but what I believe and how my values are reflected in my daily behaviour, this it what truly matters.

In the interview I heard this morning with Chimanda Ngozi Adichie I was struck by how she described herself in relation to what being a feminist meant to her. Her description I realized, is how I have long perceived myself, "as simply being aware."

As someone who lived through the second wave of feminism I'm aware of the changes made, but am still acutely aware of how far we a still have to go joining hands, reaching back into our past and extending forward to a brighter, hopeful future.

Women in the creative field can certainly actualize change through their own vision, shaped by the example of those women who have gone before. We are greatly indebted to them for their awareness, insight and legacy they've passed on to us today on this International Woman' Day and each day forward.

Bread and Roses

by James Oppenheim

As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient song of bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for — but we fight for roses, too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler — ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thaddeus Holownia - The Man with the Steel Glasses

Thaddeus Holownia wears striking steel glasses for a practical reason. They don't break if he falls asleep before taking them off. (TED PRITCHARD / Local Xpress)

The only thing I regret about being one of the thousands of Thaddeus Holownia's students, is not being able to see his most recent exhibit at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, in Halifax.  Maybe, just maybe I'll find a way down there between now and May to see this amazing exhibition.

A life long friend Chris Sears, who himself is a talented photographer living in Toronto, posted a wonderful article about The Nature of Nature entitled, Photographer Holownia's keen perspective on display in 40-year retrospective, written by the talented and creative writer Elissa Bernard. I've read all the most recent articles about Thaddeus Holownia's exhibit but this is the one I really love!

 Maybe I'm biased because I was friends with Elissa's sister at NSCAD and we took painting together, sharing a studio space, but I don't think I'm wrong in saying, Elissa is a very gifted, thoughtful, perceptive and insightful writer and in her article she's composed an excellent reflection of the essence of Thaddeus's art work, the kind of artist he is and why he's very much admired by many, especially by his former students.

I loved these quotes by Thaddeus, which I think truly embody his philosophical ideas about art, creativity and what it means to be an artist. He's passed on his ethics of integrity and professionalism onto those students who recognize the importance and significance of what he's saying. The wise ones have incorporated his philosophy it into their own creative values and disciplined process.

“You live every day through who you are, and if you're active and awake, you make work or you don't do anything."

“I feel sorry for the people who didn't find their voice. I tell my students, 'Don't be lazy. This is a golden opportunity to make something happen, and time is the most precious commodity.' ”