Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Read Alain de Botton

Currently reading

Read this book.

And I think the share I have to share first is (from pages 64 & 65):

What, then, are the consequences of holding to a therapeutic vision of art?  Principally, the conviction that the main point of engaging with art is toe help us lead better lives - to access better versions of ourselves.  If art has such a power, it is because it is a tool that can correct or compensate for a range of psychological frailties....
1  A CORRECTIVE OF BAD MEMORY  Art makes memorable and renewable the fruits of experience.  It is a mechanism to keep precious things, and our best insights, in good condition and makes them publicly accessible.  Art banks our collective winnings. 
2  A PURVEYOR OF HOPE  Art keeps pleasant and cheering things in view.  it knows we despair too easily. 
3  A SOURCE OF DIGNIFIED SORROW  Art reminds us of the legitimate place of sorrow in a good life, so that we panic less about our difficulties and recognize them as parts of a noble existence. 
4  A BALANCING AGENT  Art encodes with unusual clarity the essence of our good qualities and holds them up before us, in a variety of media, to help rebalance our natures and direct us towards our best possibilities. 
5  A GUIDE TO SELF-KNOWLEDGE  Art can help us identify what is central to ourselves, but hard to put into words.  Much that is human is not readily available in language  We can hold up art objects and say, confusedly but importantly, 'This is me.' 
6  A GUIDE TO THE EXTENSION OF EXPERIENCE  Art is an immensely sophisticated accumulation of the experiences of others, presented to us in well-shaped and well-organized forms.  It can provide us with some of the most eloquent instances of the voices of other cultures so that an engagement with artworks stretches our notions of ourselves and our world.  At first, much of art seems merely 'other', but we can discover that it can contain ideas and attitudes that we can make our own in ways that enrich us.  Not everything we need to become better versions of ourselves is already [at hand]. 
7  A RE-SENSITIZATION TOOL  Art peels away our shell and saves us from our spoilt, habitual disregard for what is all around us.  We recover our sensitivity; we look at the old in new ways.  We are prevented from assuming that novelty and glamour are the only solutions.

Excerpted from Art As Therapy, Alain de Botton & John Armstrong.  Phaidon. pgs. 64, 65.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November happened.... I swear.

It's hard to believe, but the month of November actually happened.

It's December 1st.  I've been thinking for a few days about writing a post during the month of November (Somehow, keeping the blog current, ie: at least one post per month, seems like the "right" thing to do, but really, whatever.  Is anyone reading?  Doesn't matter.), but then, I just didn't.  I've been feeling worn out and low-down lately for a number of reasons.

Peru and Me, communing in the 1st Chakra
 garden on my last day at Willka T'ika.
I returned from Peru October 31 and hit the ground running.  Peru was fantastic.  I think I belong there.  The people are incredible, the countryside of the Sacred Valley along the Urubamba river is beautiful and rejuvinating, and the centuries old style of artesanias hit the nail on the head (for me).  I may catalog my acquisitions from the trip on this blog's next post....

Anyway, when I returned, I had this great homecoming with Christian, enjoyed the beauty and cleanliness of my home, partied late into the night with some new friends, celebrated my birthday(!!!!) ...and then, Trump was elected president.

...this seems to be the general consensus
in my neighborhood.
Wow.  Not a hoax.  For real.  I know many of my peers are deflated and feeling disoriented and wondering what the hell is going to happen now.  The month of November has been clouded over by this potentially devastating reality.  Or, we have no idea what may come of this change.  Perhaps the USA will not go down in flames.  (That's my little hopeful voice.)

mural beginnings after measuring
& chalking lines for 2 days

On the first day after that reality struck, I spent my day painting a mural on my friends, Russ and Shannon's Salon.  The exterior wall facing the alley was in pretty bad shape, so we decided, before I left for Peru, that I would paint the mural when I returned from my trip.  It was good to be outside and doing physical labor - I called it Art Labor and Heart Therapy - after the election result shock.  So I spent the next 3 days measuring and prepping to paint.  We visited our friend in Portland for a long weekend.  That was awesome because I love him and I love our other friends that we got to see there - so a little pick-me-up.  Then I worked for 3 more long days on the mural, trying to get it done before the temps of mid Nov. start to plummet.  So hard on my body!  So beautiful a result though...

The golden goodness of simple patterns, textile style on Russ Salon, 3221 East Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 80206.  I am super proud of this great, big achievement.  ...I'm also grateful for friends who trust that art and beauty matter!

Anyway, all this to say, I didn't really get to process the trip to Peru.  So much psychological and emotional shifting took place because of traveling by myself to such an awesome place, and I had some really important things to process, and I still feel like I'm hanging out in liminal space with all of it still unsettled (Run! Run-on sentence!).  Feeling unsettled always makes me feel depressed.  The cold weather of November's second half has been rough.  Thank goodness for Thanksgiving!  I needed that fun, fun time with tight friends and totally delicious, incredible, artful food.  All along, I've also been in the midst of work for our friend Caroline's new restaurant.  Christian did the architecture and we worked together on the interior finishes, much of which will be handled by my very own hands.  I'm into that.  That also means I'm missing working on my own artwork.  The cross stitch sits untouched for about 2 months now.  I find it hard to get back on that wagon - it feels like the feeling of starting a new project, like having to take the leap again.

So, if you're out there, reading this, and it occurs to you to think of me, send me some loving encouragement vibes.  I'm working really hard, but I'm not feeling the flow or just feeling good, and the lack of specificity around that issue feeds into some weird, self destructive internal thinking.
I need what the Peruvians call, Munay - "love and will."

Just makes sense to end with an image of this precious sheep, Obobo who lived where I last stayed in Peru.  He was such a comfort and a delight to me when I was alone and wasn't feeling well.  Just thinking of him makes me feel a little better.