Sunday, December 16, 2012

Attentive Birds

IN 1999 I got really sick, and during the aftermonths in coming to an understanding of the experience I was studying the plagues of the Middle Ages and discovered this ingenious method they had of divining health… with a goldfinch. The bird was carried into the sickroom and held in front of the patient, and if it looked him in the eye he would live. If it refused to look at him he was as good as gone.

In the hospital I had been drawing mandalas to keep focused in this world, but once I came across finch therapy I started painting icons of various saints and personages holding finches. And all of those finches were staring right at me.

Two of them: my friend Dwight (1963-1989) with Finch, and Death With Finch.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shrines Along the Road

I always think about George Biddle, a local artist whose phenomenal work brought him to the brink of art fame back in the 50s, but then he died suddenly and almost all of his terrific pieces spent the next 50 years in his widow's closet, unseen by the world.

Not to compare myself to him, but today I have the opportunity, here in this forum on the internet, to make sure somebody other than myself has seen this stuff… and in my lifetime. None of it is of great consequence, but it all had a depth of meaning to me when I created it and so there is a likelihood that the work might resonate with someone else as well.

Painting has always been the way I can own the resolutions of my soul, so in many ways what anyone else thinks of it doesn't really speak much to its validity, but we are all of us finding our way through to some comprehension, and what makes the deepest sense is always wordless, and sometimes imaginal, symbolic, pictorial. These paintings, while maybe decorative, and often intended as illustrations for books or films, are all illustrations, in the largest sense, of some state of soul, and some process of seeking.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Seeds

One day in a moment of clarity Rick Sowash said to me "Why study Johnny Appleseed when you can be Johnny Appleseed..." and what he hit in his moment of yearning was the very essence of the issue: focusing on the past instead of the present.

John Chapman lived on the pristine uncharted wilderness frontier of America and the salient fame of his story comes from that barefoot and fearless walking into the unknown to sew the seeds of the coming society.

We have no such wooded wilderness anymore, and the concept of wandering around in the primal forests, while having a nostalgic appeal, is not a viable reality.

We never lack for a frontier, however, in any historic time or place. In the 1920s Louis Bromfield wrote, "Life is hard for our children. It isn't as simple as it was for us. Their grandfathers were pioneers and the same blood runs in their veins, only they haven't a frontier any longer. They stand... these children of ours, with their backs toward this rough-hewn middle west and their faces set toward Europe and the East and they belong to neither. They are lost somewhere between."

Bromfield's time was of the 'lost generation' and they found their identity in the expatriate world of Paris, and in exploring the old country. While it had a certain sexy marketability and glamour, it was not really a forging into a new world... not in the sense of Chapman's frontier.

In our time there is a very clear and vital new world that is, in its own way, analogous to the untouched frontier of John Chapman's time. This unexplored territory exists not in the limited physical world outdoors, but in the infinite and invisible soul we access inside our selves. It affords the possibility of stepping into the next paradigm of consciousness by simply closing off the external world, and immersing oneself into the vast untouched frontier of energy and light and will in the self's interior.

In the most vital and authentic sense, the seeds we plant in this new world -just like John Chapman- prepare the way for the society to follow.