Welcome to Timeless Rhythms Studio, online art journal! Look at some of my posted art (above), read my entries and feel free to comment on any part of the blog that interests you! Most of my art is available for purchase and I can also be commissioned for a variety of custom painting projects, from portraits to murals. Contact me here by leaving a comment on any post. I look forward to hearing from you in my Timeless Rhythms Studio, online art journal!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Offerings: Art Originals

I am beginning to hear the drum beat of the creative entrepreneurial spirit for the holidays!

Take a look at two examples of what I have chosen to offer for this year's holiday shopping:

Original paintings in a fixed-SIZE range at a fixed price-range, in either a floral favorite of your choice or pet portrait of your pet companion(s). Painted in acrylic paints.


* This floral painting is available for sale and it is already framed!

To fixed prices add ship'g xtra:

HulaHub Launches in PDX!

In some places, Santa is early this year!!

Hula Hub Online Cultural Hub is Active...Jump in!

By Pollyanne Birge

Wed, November 18, 2009 4:14pm

"The creative community has been waiting for nearly two decades for an integrated, dynamic, online cultural calendar. We couldn't be more please that the private sector has stepped up to provide this innovative calendaring system at no cost to our region"

--Mayor Sam Adams

Now with HulaHub, Box Office Tickets Inc. (BOT) delivers a powerful social networking infrastructure that arts organizations can use to provide visitors and people in their community with a single consolidated calendar of events, profiles, reviews, ticketing and blogs.

In addition to connecting with audiences, HulaHub makes it easy for producers, artists and venues to collaborate, share services and cross-promote events. For example, producers and artists can search for venues by type of performance space, capacity, and other parameters. Artists and production personnel can post their professional profiles.

People can sign up to be on mailing lists and make donations online. Best of all, HulaHub frees cash-strapped arts organizations to spend less of their time and energy on web technologies — and more on making and promoting their art.

Watch a video from the launch party:

BOT is also launching an iPhone HulaHub application that will engage more people and make it even easier to keep up with events and arts news on the go. HulaHub on the iPhone opens new mobile/arts opportunities.

Box Office Tickets Introduces HulaHub™ Social Networking for the Arts

Free service connects people and arts organizations and creates community

Box Office Tickets Inc. announces HulaHub™, www.hulahub.com —a free social networking service for the arts that helps organizations connect and interact with audiences and others in their community to create new synergies.

"At a time when every penny counts, many arts organizations of all sizes are needlessly spending thousands of dollars on websites and online calendars that too few people know about or visit," says George Domurot, President/CEO of Box Office Tickets Inc. (BOT). "With HulaHub, we’ve created one centralized hub where people can post and find information about local shows and events, reach new audiences and join in on the conversation."

Founded more than 15 years ago as an alternative to ticketing agencies that charge exorbitant fees, BOT has leveraged the power of the Internet in a shared-services business model that enables even the smallest arts and nonprofit organizations to offer their patrons the convenience of online ticketing.

A single dynamic online space for community arts information and interactions

"HulaHub is a tremendous resource," says Jeff Hawthorne, Director Community Affairs, Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) in Portland, Oregon. "With so much event information in one centralized location, and a great interface for audiences and art lovers, HulaHub is a powerful way to increase the entire community’s participation in local arts and culture. We applaud BOT for working closely with community arts organizations to develop such a comprehensive system. HulaHub is a prominent feature on the Regional Arts and Culture Council's Website."

Creating community, promoting the local economy

HulaHub is a national web brand with a universal login that automatically connects members to their local arts community, while also enabling individuals to browse hubs in other locations, for example, to plan for a trip. There is no charge for listing events in the calendar, posting a profile, or using the blogging and social networking features of HulaHub. HulaHub connects to all types of shows and events, whether paid or free and whether ticketed through boxofficetickets.com® network, through local outlets or other ticketing services.

HulaHub works with local "presenting partners" to set up a calendar and social networking site that matches the community’s needs and share revenues. Revenue comes from feature ads in the Browse and Buy section of the website, web page sponsors, and a small service fee on tickets purchased through the boxofficetickets.com network. BOT provides all its presenting partners and sponsors with reports that track impressions, clicks, and click-thru rates. BOT also donates five cents for each ticket sold through its network back into a community fund, which, at the end of the year, is donated to a local nonprofit.

Portland Metro

Portland, Oregon’s Metro Area HulaHub is a vibrant online community that grew out of a partnership between BOT and the nonprofit Film Action Oregon (FAO) in 2008. Today, there are 100+ presenting partners invested in the Portland Metro HulaHub, with 400+ arts organizations using the calendar service at no cost. Among the features the Portland Metro HulaHub offers members are a weekly email digest, personalized to the individual’s preferences and including timely "Director’s Picks" recommendations by the artistic directors of Portland’s most prestigious culture and performing arts organizations.

"Portland is a city that embraces the arts and fosters innovation," says Portland’s mayor, Sam Adams. "With HulaHub, Portlanders now have even more ways to get involved, take advantage of all the city has to offer, and support a new service provided by a local company."

HulaHub on the iPhone

BOT is also launching an iPhone HulaHub application that will engage more people and make it even easier to keep up with events and arts news on the go. HulaHub on the iPhone opens new mobile/arts opportunities. For example, plans are underway to develop an iPhone downloadable walking tour of the public art in Portland.

About Box Office Tickets:

For more than 15 years, Box Office Tickets Inc. (www.boxofficetickets.com) has been providing ticketing solutions for the arts and entertainment industry. In 2003, the company revolutionized ticketing for small to medium size arts organizations by creating dynamic and shareable content, all at no cost to the organization. In 2009, the company launched HulaHub™ www.hulahub.com, a free social networking site for the arts to help organizations connect and interact with audiences. Box Office Tickets also offers discounts and other promotions to help create new audiences and assist organizations in filling more seats.

The BOT-Bullet, connecting people, creating community, HulaHub, RoBOT, RoBOT StopLight, Social Networking for the Arts, Empowering Entertainment, PDX Cultural Calendar, PDX Ticket Network, and BOXOFFICETICKETS.COM and Design are trademarks of Box Office Tickets Inc. © Copyright 2009 Box Office Tickets Inc. All rights reserved.

Press Contact: pr@boxofficetickets.com

***Come on Corvallis, Oregon, you're hokey poky-ing behind the sleeping wheel, AGAIN!
This is big! It's hot!! Get on this NOW!!!

Why Business Leaders Should Act More like Artists

From Harvard Business Publishing
(Please note: I have changed the posting options for this post here on my blog so that my holiday post stays at the top!)
5:16 PM Tuesday December 1, 2009
by John Maeda


Stereotypes abound about artists: they range from the mild ("they have fuschia-colored hair"), to the absurd ("they starve,"), to the disturbed ("they do things like uncontrollably peeing in the fireplace as depicted in the popular movie Pollock."). Granted I know artists with wild-colored hair and others who are certainly struggling to make ends meet, but they all choose to use the restroom. I've also met artists who are quite plain-looking and plain-acting CEOs, lawyers, stockbrokers, and scientists.

Even as someone who has worked to weaken some of the sillier stereotypes about creative types, I must admit that I've carried a few stereotypes around myself. In particular, I'd always believed that artists are much like the kind of geeks I grew up with at MIT — passionately focused on their work with little regard to their own physical or financial circumstance, and often more comfortable working as a lone constructor instead of as a collaborative player on a larger team. So when I observed RISD students exhibiting the classic "lone wolf" traits of this kind of "creative geek," my mental model was confirmed. But when I recently spoke with two RISD textile entrepreneurs in Chicago about this stereotype, my mind fortunately re-opened.

The three aha's I received from my conversation with partners Robert Segal and Alicia Rosauer were:

1. Artists constantly collaborate. The example given was the common occurrence of an exhibition with multiple artists showing together, or the so-called "group show." Even in the context of a solo show, the artist works with the gallery owner, the curator, the framers, the installers, the lighting person, the publicist to bring their vision to life. Every exhibition is a collaboration to the nth degree.

2. Artists are talented communicators. The whole point of a work of art is to communicate something — a thought, an idea, a feeling, a vision. More explicitly, the artist frequently gives a talk to explain the thought process behind the artwork. Engaging the audience in a meaningful, expansive dialogue is often critical to the exhibition's success.

3. Artists learn how to learn together. Perhaps the reason why artists collaborate and socialize so well is that they learn in the studio model — ten or more students in the same room for hours on end. Bonded together in a personal space of intimate self-expression, they come into their own through the familial ties of the studio setting. When interviewed recently about the differences in her education at Brown and at RISD, one student who is getting a dual degree from both institutions said, "At RISD there's a lot of learning from your peers. Brown (in the classes I've taken so far anyway) is about listening and note-taking in class."

Whether they explicitly acknowledge themselves as leaders or not, artists often move others to follow them — into neighborhoods, into a new a social movement, or even just a dialogue. They do it through the skills that are inherent in their work as professional "inspirers" and provocateurs. Sure, some artists might be introverts and some extroverts, but through their art, they act as creative leaders in their boldness to often express a point of view as the naked truth.

We've all seen the business world increasingly crave an approach that balances values with profits. One natural way to do this is to adopt an artist's point of view; the honesty and integrity that artists naturally bring to their work will be increasingly relevant.

John Maeda is a world-renowned artist, graphic designer, computer scientist and educator whose career reflects his philosophy of humanizing technology. For more than a decade, he has worked to integrate technology, education and the arts into a 21st-century synthesis of creativity and innovation. He is the author of four books, including The Laws of Simplicity. Since September 2008, he has been President of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Becky Bermont is Vice President, Media + Partners at the Rhode Island School of Design. Prior to her work at RISD, Becky has worked as the Director of Sponsor Management at the MIT Media Lab, a Product Marketer in Yahoo!'s Connected Life group, and a Consumer Research Analyst at Forrester Research. Becky holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Women Artists Marginalized Again in Small University Town in America

I am posting that in my local home village, where I have tried to support and promote the arts, I have been swindled! In my efforts to locally screen the movie: Who Does She Think She Is?, one local Artisans Market Boutique have partnered with the local University Women's Center to screen the film with no reason whatsoever yet who have pushed me out of the project all together.
No one even knew anything at all about this indy film here until I promoted it. As it was one of my own ads that was found by the A.M.B. on craigslist.
The film ironically is about women in the arts who choose to raise families simultaneously, and how marginalized these collective voices continue to be in the world of art and social culture. It is a poignantly painful film that opens the door of awareness on a group who need the support of community, and to have their works not just seen and heard but valued in the larger arena of the arts.
I am dumbfounded that people who just take from others this baldly are supported at all. Yet, I am afraid this habit is all too common. It's very painful to experience being targeted so others can convince themselves they are well, as they only build false stature.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This article on Contemporary Art Sales at Christies & Sotheby's this past Week, in the NYT!

Full Speed Ahead for Contemporary Works

Published: November 13, 2009

Cy Twombly's drawing went for $722,500 at Christie's.

NEW YORK — The auction market is booming and, when it comes to contemporary art, it is charging on at an accelerated pace, as it did before the financial turmoil broke out in the autumn of 2008.

This week, those attending Christie’s and Sotheby’s evening sessions traditionally reserved for the most important works might have briefly thought that there never was a recession. No awareness of it appeared to linger in the bidders’ minds as they ran up paintings, drawings and sundry three-dimensional works to three times the estimate, or more.

It all culminated with the staggering $43.76 million paid at Sotheby’s on Wednesday for Andy Warhol’s “200 One Dollar Bills,” a silkscreen and pencil work dating from 1962.

This extraordinary outburst of bullishness was the upshot of a two-part play in which Christie’s session on Tuesday served as a launching pad to Sotheby’s superior sale.

The sale Tuesday, which netted $74.15 million, leaving only seven out of 46 works stranded, said a great deal about the renewed eagerness to buy contemporary art. It revealed for the first time a deep interest in works on paper, in contrast to the past when contemporary art had to be spectacular and big to do really well.

The session began with a drawing on board done in 1961 by Robert Rauschenberg. This was titled “Untitled,” possibly because it is difficult to find a label for a panel in which a wheel, some wristwatches and various rubbings have been haphazardly jotted down, in the manner of street graffiti. The colors were pale and the size small — 29.2 by 26 centimeters, or 11.5 by 10.25 inches. Christie’s expected the Rauschenberg to be knocked down between $100,000 and $150,000, plus the sale charge. With bids coming in from every side, the sketch ended up at $938,500.

Another drawing followed. The large sheet of paper sprinkled with blobs and dots in black ink was signed by Philip Guston and dated 1953. Its severity and lack of color did not appear to augur well. Yet, lo and behold! The Guston rose to $542,500, more than double the high estimate. It set in the process a world auction record for a work on paper by the artist.

Two more world records were later established for contemporary artists, or artists conventionally held to be “contemporary” even though they are no longer in this world.

One went to a cartoon in the naughty-schoolboy-at-the-blackboard manner of Jean-Michel Basquiat. “Untitled,” as Christie’s called it, the large size sketch, 152.4 centimeters high, brought one of the more astonishing prices achieved this week. At $3.1 million, it tripled the previous record for a Basquiat work on paper that was set in Paris at the Artcurial auction house in December 2005.

Later, a sketch in ink and gouache by Brice Marden, “Untitled with Green,” set an auction record for the artist at $2.04 million. Squiggles repeated in three vertical columns were apparently deemed irresistible.

Other large prices paid for works on paper confirmed that a new pattern was emerging. A typical exercise in random scribbling by Cy Twombly made $722,500, nearly double the high estimate. The sketch does not markedly differ from the nascent bouts of creativity of 4-year-olds expressing pencil in hand their joie de vivre. Interestingly, this similarity to early childhood artistic endeavor has no bearing on the price. Visual aesthetics are clearly not among the primary considerations driving contemporary art buyers.

If any doubts could be entertained on that score, the $1.98 million paid at Christie’s for another work on paper by Basquiat would dispel them. “Untitled (14 Drawings)” describes 14 sheets of paper individually framed. Each one is adorned with a few lines inscribed in block letters. The first one reads “A LOT OF BOWERY BUMS USED TO BE EXECUTIVES.” The attraction presumably lies in the would-be tongue in cheek witticism — if this is the word.

A new interest in austere paintings came along with this willingness to pay top dollar for works on paper that do not appeal to a yearning for the spectacular.

A dark geometrical composition painted around 1980-1981 by Jasper John in predominant gray nearly doubled its high estimate at $4.33 million. Moments later, a virtually black picture in oil on paper done by Rauschenberg managed to sell for $962,500. A kind of crumpled effect is created to animate a surface that would otherwise resemble a piece of black slate.

The double focus on drawings and on uncompromisingly severe paintings revealed at Christie’s on Tuesday suggests that a new gravity now drives some contemporary art buyers.

Yet, no great importance is attached to personal aesthetic creation. In most cases, words and names alone matter. The parodies of Jeff Koons attract as much attention as ever. A “Large Vase of Flowers” perfectly imitated in polychrome wood brought $5.68 million. Those in despair for having missed it may comfort themselves with the thought that it was produced in an edition of three, plus an artist’s proof. Two vacuum cleaners hygienically displayed in transparent Plexiglas casing “New Shelton Wet/Dry5-Gallon, New Hoover Convertible Doubledecker,” which, the catalog cryptically noted, was a work “executed in 1981-1987,” stirred sufficiently deep emotions to realize $3.1 million.

Minimalist art, which offers another variant of limited artistic intervention, was also well received.

Agnes Martin’s alternate bands of blue and white, which could be mistaken for a sample of fabric or wallpaper were it not for the signature and date (1996), thus comfortably sold for $1.31 million.

Figural art, however, was not forgotten. The great success story at Christie’s was indeed Peter Doig’s “Reflection (What does your soul look like)” painted in 1996. That exceeded the high estimate as it realized $10.16 million. Influenced by the 19th-century French school of naturalist landscape painting, Doig’s large picture bore no connection to any of the other works. Eclecticism, or as some might believe, indifference to what the eye sees, was the order of the day.

These trends were all confirmed on a magnificent scale on Wednesday when Sotheby’s took over. It was as if Christie’s performance had released a spring. During the first half of a session that ended on a $134.44 million score, bidders could barely hold themselves.

Two auction records were set as the first four lots came up. Remarkably, the first record price, $1.65 million, was paid for a picture by an artist whose name, Alice Neel, meant little to the general public. “Jackie Curtis and Rita Red,” a figural double portrait dating from 1970, is broadly painted, with the merest soupçon of Expressionism in the handling of the faces.

The second record price went to the French sculptor Germaine Richier who is well known within a circle of specialists, but hardly rated as a celebrity. “La Feuille” (The Leaf) is the title of a rugged female figure cast around 1950. The severe stylization which distorts the human body and the dark brown surface make the record price, $842,500, particularly noteworthy.

As at Christie’s, Sotheby’s sale thus showed that world fame is no longer an absolute prerequisite for financial success in contemporary art. Neither are bright colors. A Jasper Johns painted in leaden gray as the title, “Gray Numbers” indicates, fetched the second highest price in the sale, $8.7 million.

An even harsher work, a “Large Torso” cast in bronze in 1974, set a world record for a sculpture by Willem de Kooning at $5.68 million. The artist, famous for his Expressionist pictures, is not often associated with sculpture. The price, like those paid for Richier’s bronze or for the gray picture by Jasper Johns, tells us that a search for new avenues to explore is under way in contemporary art.

Works by artists that did not always fare well in the past are now fought over without a moment’s hesitation.

The French painter Jean Dubuffet who is perhaps best described as an Expressionist Naïf did brilliantly with his grinning, rather sinister figures painted in pseudo-childish fashion. A picture in this vein, “Trinité-Champs-Elysées,” dated March 1961, set an auction record for the artist at $6.13 million.

Behind the bewildering diversity of the works that were most enthusiastically received, one constant feature recurred. Most had been consecrated by the passage of time. Of the top 10 lots sold at Sotheby’s only one, Bruce Nauman’s “Violins Violence Silence,” which dates from 1981 or 1982 and sold for $4 million, was less than 30 years of age.

Perhaps buyers willing to spend the largest amounts were not too sure that the art they were looking at was to be taken seriously. The reasoning appears to be that if public acclaim or at least media recognition lasted that long, they had a fair chance of making the right choice.

If doubting Thomases questioned the artistic character of “200 One Dollar Bills” mechanically reproduced by Warhol using the silkscreen technique, you could always point out that the artist’s oeuvre had been sung for half a century. Warhol’s work has actually risen beyond the wildest dreams. The picture that climbed to a dizzying $43.76 million this week had only cost its consignor $385,000. He bought it on Nov. 11, 1986, at the sale of the estate of one of the most famous collectors of contemporary art, the late Robert C. Scull.

Every buyer of contemporary art dreams of such coups, if not necessarily on this scale — it is the most fabulous ever, in any field. If only for that reason, the odds are that contemporary art is set to leap forward for a while.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Commissioned Artist At Last!

Tonight I received one of those calls I have dreamed about but haven't allowed myself to wait on, for a very long time now! Life inside this soul has been truly hell for the past number of years, single parenting in financial poverty to find my own way to my soul's calling, clarifying the old history without a life partner or a circle of friends because that work was too much, but had to be done in order to clarify me and step away from the dysfunctional past, and light of my life down the center of it all_ raising one incredibly wonderful human being who is now doing us both proud out in the world, a senior in college majoring in music.

With this belief and investment in my art way beyond needed dollars, I am going to breathe from here on because this is so much more than a commission. So much more. My soul is literally coming back to life! So you nay-sayers and distance keepers, just watch and listen as all of the color, light, laughter and looseness from way down deep, comes all the way back up to the surface! I welcome this flow from the universe with gratitude and all the blessings that come with this one yes shown in my direction. Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you! Art is my life, it is what makes me happy. It is how I can be in this world and share what is possible with everyone.

From here there will be fresh imagery as I make that progress, and a solid conversation about what making art is, from this artist's perspective and renewed experiences. Now, you really do want to stay tuned in.

I'm back! I am coming back to me! Happy, free, believed in, befriended, commissioned. Woooooo! Hooooooooooo!!!!!

Anyone else ready to call for a second commission? It'd mean me buying a camera with which to record fresh and original imagery to my art blog!! As I make it! Yeah!!!

WDSTSI- Live: National House Party, Follow-up Event

Lots of interaction and discussion with the audience in cooperation with Emerging Pictures at the WDSTSI National House Party Event at Symphony Space in NYC, today! "Who Does She Think She Is?," debuts in this forum and we all get to listen in at the !
Unfortunately, I am unable to figure out how to get the House Party event follow-up film code to embed on (picky!) blogger, but I did come up with this link to that event for now, until I monkey around with the code!
WDSTSI Tweets via national participation with the house party event are here!
* Visually, I can embed a (good ole!) YouTube update of Maye Torres, who was unable to participate in the National House Party, follow-up film event in NY, due to two very recent deaths in her family.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lily Yeh- Barefoot Artists

Barefoot Artists

Lily Yeh! Who IS she?

Part 2, Part 3 * Does anyone know how to use "DownloadHelper?" How do I use it to download multiple videos (such as this particular YouTube version!), to then make into one video_ so, I can upload a more sane presentation (from my desktop) of ONE VIDEO, to post to my blog? This particular video is too good to watch all chopped up in three segments! If you know how "DownloadHelper" works, to accomplish THIS PARTICULAR TASK then, please leave a comment. Thanks in advance for your help!


Biography Perspectives Quotable Contact

An artist whose masterpiece is a neighborhood transformed in Philadelphia

Inner city communities face obstacles that often feel insurmountable: crime, poverty, pollution, crumbling urban fabric, social alienation, and other tragedies, which can crush the spirit of people living there. Despair becomes the biggest problem as everyone—inside the community and out—loses faith that things can actually change. What’s needed most is a way to crack through that sense of hopelessness.

Placemaking can play that role in hard-hit neighborhoods, by putting the emphasis on improving the place itself rather than viewing it as a morass of dysfunctions, each of which is addressed in the narrow terms of particular issues or professional fields. Focusing on place, which often begins small by planting flowers or cleaning up a littered street, proves to skeptical residents that positive change is possible. The energy generated by little victories builds momentum for major

That’s exactly what Lily Yeh did in North Philadelphia, which among all the struggling communities across the U.S. , stood out as one of the saddest when she began work there in 1989. She gave the neighborhood a new sense of possibility by utilizing the principles of Placemaking—a term not known to her and hardly ever used at that time—to launch a unique and far-reaching project.

Yeh would seem an unlikely candidate to make a difference in the inner city. She is not a social worker, urban planner, or economic development expert, not a wealthy philanthropist, political powerbroker, or business executive. She is an artist who grew up part of a socially prominent family in Taiwan (her father was a general in Chiang Kai-Shek’s army) and came to the U.S. to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Fine Arts, eventually becoming an art professor at the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts. The tough streets of Philly’s African-American ghetto must have felt as far from her background— Asia, Ivy League, art school—as the planet Neptune.

But as a student, she was inspired by the writings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and, later, Nelson Mandela. In 1989, she had been in Beijing showing her paintings at the Central Institute of Fine Arts when she witnessed the brave and tragic protests at Tiananmen Square. That experience convinced her that being an artist, “is not just about making art…It is about delivering the vision one is given…and about doing the right thing without sparing oneself.”

But she had already found the chance put this philosophy into practice. While touring a group of visiting Chinese artists around Philadelphia a few years earlier, she brought them to the North Philadelphia studio of dancer Arthur Hall, who asked her help in reviving a particularly grim stretch of the neighborhood outside. Yeh was shocked at the state of the streets—vacant lots strewn with rubble reminiscent of photographs of bombed-out cities at the end of World War II—and didn’t quite know where to start.

But she knew something had to be done. So she began gathering up the trash, which drew the attention of local kids wanting to know, she recalls, what “this crazy Chinese lady” was up to. Soon their parents were watching too, and Yeh realized she had some collaborators for what was to be the most important art project of her life. Soon everyone was involved in cleaning up the area, painting murals, and creating an “art park,” which became the pride of the community.

More than 20 years later, this area is still poor with high unemployment, but hope is returning thanks to the Village of Arts and Humanities. That’s what the small art park Yeh and a group of neighborhood kids started has grown into—a tangible symbol of renewal that covers more than 120 formerly vacant lots with murals, numerous sculpture gardens, mosaics, parks, community gardens, playgrounds, performance spaces, basketball courts, neighborhood art studios, and even a tree farm.

“The entire community seems to take part in the use of the spaces,” writes Kathleen McCarthy, who nominated the Village for PPS’s Great Public Spaces listings. “As we walked down the street, trying to find one of the parks, a man walking beside us directed us to the Ile Ife Park, and told us the history of it and the wonderful artist, Lily Yeh who started the park. He spoke with pride that this was a part of his community. We sat on the benches made of smashed tile and mirror, making wonderful curves and places to sit. Across from us, women sat and smiled, waved. Children ran over and asked us to hide them during a game of hide-and-seek…. I've never felt more welcomed in an unfamiliar place.”

Six buildings have been rehabbed into workspaces for Village projects with local residents getting on-the-job training in the construction trades. A daycare center has been established and abandoned housing refurbished. A new initiative, Shared Prosperity, has been founded to boost economic opportunities in North Philadelphia.

“All this happened under the radar of the City of Philadelphia,” writes Abby Scher in Yes magazine, “whose city planners and social workers were nowhere to be found in the neighborhood.”

Residents now look forward each year to their annual neighborhood theater festival, with plays written by young people drawing on their own experiences in North Philly. Several have these works have been performed as far away as Mexico and Iceland. Fall brings the Kujenga Pamoja festival (Sawhili for “together we build”), which culminates in an elaborate coming-of-age ritual for kids who have spent the summer preparing for the festival and working in job training programs.

“One of the most powerful things I learned,” Yeh told Yes magazine, “is that when you…transform your immediate environment, your life begins to change.”

Yeh’s observation was seconded by James “Big Man” Paxton, who gave up running drugs in favor of making mosaics for Village projects. He went on to teach hundreds of neighborhoods kids both the basic masonry skills and the creative dimension of making mosaics. “I was a lost soul in the community, disconnected from my family, looking for a way back to reality on the tail end of a 22-year drug addiction,” he remembered shortly before his death in 2005, and Yeh, “wrapped her arms around me and taught me to believe in myself.”

The Village of Art and Humanities has changed how residents of North Philadelphia think about their home. As the neighborhood blossomed with more public places where people could safely and pleasurably gather, its community spirit and positive sense of itself has grown. And that changes how others view the neighborhood today. Philip Horn, director of the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, notes it, “changed the perception of the [wider] community from ‘there’s something wrong with these people’ to ‘there’s nothing wrong with these people’.”

Leaving the project in the hands of local people, Lily Yeh has now founded Barefoot Artists, Inc., which draws on the experience of the Village of Art and Humanities to help other struggling communities in the Congo, Kenya, the Republic of Georgia, China, Ecuador, Taiwan, Italy and the Ivory Coast. She has spent a lot of time in Rwanda, as a founder of the Rwanda Healing Project she works with children to restore peace, joy and beauty in communities ripped apart by the genocidal civil war.

Lily Yeh on Art and Placemaking

“When I see brokenness, poverty and crime in inner cities, I also see the enormous potential and readiness for transformation and rebirth. We are creating an art form that comes from the heart and reflects the pain and sorrow of people’s lives. It also expresses joy, beauty and love. This process lays the foundation of building a genuine community in which people are reconnected with their families, sustained by meaningful work, nurtured by the care of each other and will together raise and educate their children. Then we witness social change in action.”

“I never dreamed that I could change things. Even now, it's not on my agenda to make people's lives better, to revolutionize the system. I don't see myself as a social activist. I am an artist. What I am about is sharing that sense of joy when I am creating with many people, with whoever wants to be a part of that process. It's not that I came to make their life better. People say, ‘You improve so many people. You make people happy.’ I say, ‘No, people make me happy.’ I need other people.”

“Around us there is all this unspeakable tragedy that everybody hides: Prison. Murder. Drugs. Abandonment. Men drifting away. All the things that society says are shameful. If people hold these in themselves, eventually they destroy a person. In life, there is the bright and the darkness. Our society hides the darkness. I say, no, let's understand what that is. So our joy is rooted in the depth of our tragedy and challenge and difficulty.”

“We are all dysfunctional; we are all separated from the whole. We are not more dysfunctional in the inner city. We are just more exposed. We can't even get through the day, with basic needs and so forth. But somehow, together, we make it whole. You see the mosaics? It's perfect: taking broken pieces, recreating and making something beautiful.”

The real impact of the Village is on all the individuals we come in contact with, particularly our children. They talk differently. They act differently. Because they went through an environment where they really mattered, they look at the future and they dream.

About Lily Yeh’s Work

“It has given me a great sense of pride to read in the newspapers and see on television people talking about my community in relation to beauty and hope rather than drugs and death.”
— The late James “Big Man” Maxton, a neighborhood resident whose life was transformed by his involvement with the organization

“She is willing to fight anyone for this neighborhood. She believes in me, and I believe in her.”
— John Ballard, a president of the Germantown & Lehigh Merchants Association and a store owner, working with The Village to strengthen the local commercial corridor

“It would not be an overstatement to say the opportunities she provides save lives.”
Philip Horn, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Contact Info

More Information on Lily Yeh and the Village of Arts and Humanities:

Village of Arts and Humanities

Barefoot Artists

PPS’s Great Public Spaces

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Omo People

True living poetry...
Growing up in multiple cultures, I remember as a young child realizing that wisdom, in what our societies have always referred to as primitive_ the wisdom one can find in primitive cultures has much to teach us all, if we are open to recognizing this truth.
Beautiful pigments, beautiful life in nature, beautiful art full identity with one's environment; what good reason is there to grow up?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sisters on the Path WE are making with our lives!

This truth is my breakfast, lunch and dinner, my soul food, my breath, my heartbeat. I would not be here in this life at all, if it were not for art first and foremost.
In art is everything; my love for my family, the eyes that hold beauty close to my quaking heart; the passion I feel where injustices continue, the compassion I can express as I wake up to the gifts within this great relationship, that enables me to wake up to all of this life while I am in it; speaking to what I see, feel, touch and by which I am touched...

The director of, Who Does She Think She Is?, Pamela Boll & her three sons:

I am planning to host a showing of this film in my community. I am very curious and interested to connect with other women like me. I hope this is so successful that after the showing there is a natural consensus that we collectively create a place where we can all meet regularly to create community together!
I would like your help to make the viewing happen? I am looking to raise funds to purchase the House Party Kit in time for the November 8th nationwide event!
Contact me here via this post as I check my blog daily!! Thank-you.

*Who Does She Think She Is? Find Them/Us on facebook!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ArtPrize Winner!

Let me just say, if you are just now finding this whole concept: ArtPize, hence just discovering the event that only ended JUST today then, I want to say: YOU MISSED IT!!

An incredible social/cultural experiment that has been going on in Grand Rapids, Michigan, of all places. No offense to Grand Rapids yet, this IS how real change happens doesn't it?! The event actually started months ago and was envisioned as the biggest art and sculpture exhibit, taking over an entire community as the gallery and allowing the public to vote on what is good art. No museums, galleries, artist's reps, yadda, yadda, yadda... The winner took a $250,000 cash prize home! How much art could YOU make with that many clams?

Check out this year's inaugural event winner: Ran Ortner! Congratulations Ran!! The artist's own web site is here.

ArtPrize! I dare you to check out the web site. Learn all about this idea and start preparing to participate next year!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Who Does She Think She is?

As the energy in my body slowly winds down into a cold, my spirits about life and employment possibilities following suit, I puruse my facebook page one more time before calling it a day. Lo and behold if another woman artist in my fb network, hasn't posted a link to the very thing that lifts my courage-in-general! Thank-you Dana!!

Who Does She Think She Is? is catching fire! Debuting on the 17th of this month across the country. It is a high time documentary on the areas of my and every woman artist who has ever said: "Yes! I Can!", about our own lives, families and careers in the arts_ a long time ago!
It's just in the meantime, this creative-family-centered frontiering path on mass scale, has taken many of us off into the hinterlands without compass or map. However, I think this film: what I am calling a mirror just from what I can tell from the previews, holds up a light! A beacon; a beautiful and powerful reflection back to us all! A lighting up of the many, many incredibly, undeniably precocious pathways within this vast & spacious territory of art, explored by fearless women artists with families, in America!

Don't take my word for it; I am coming down with a cold! Go here and take a look in this mirror, letting the light of recognition shine just for yourself! If you are a woman artist with a family, there are allies looking back at, and talking with you! In my entire life, I am beginning to sense the timing within my own natural rhythm may actually be coming into alignment in the big picture, for a blessed change that is for the better... I think it is quite possible that we are all on the verge of becoming a profound, national territorial network of creativity in family life, with the impact of this movie!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

ArtPrize- Have YOU Heard About It?

ArtPrize - Sep. 23 - Oct. 8, 2009 - Grand Rapids, MI

Eyes on the Prize: The Future of ArtPrize
October 2nd, 2009

Nicole Caruth is a freelance writer and curator living in New York and frequent contributor to the Art21 blog. She’ll walk around ArtPrize, observe, listen and write about her experience here. Nicole’s thoughts and opinions are her own and in no way represent an endorsement or objection from ArtPrize toward an individual artist or venue.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Sept. 23, 2009. Photo: N. Caruth

There’s still so much to write about ArtPrize, but the time has come for me to say goodbye. By the time you read this I’ll probably be passing through Detroit on my way back New York. I leave you with some general thoughts, hopes, ideas, and suggestions for the future (at times knowingly contradicting myself):

Don’t try to define art. Something or someone will always get left out that shouldn’t be.

Don’t complain about there being too much art to see. There’s too much of everything right now — ArtPrize reflects our larger culture. Too much art is a good problem to have.

Don’t let the conversation stop with ArtPrize. Keep it going year round. The discourse is larger than any one event. More talk will (hopefully) lead to more informed votes next year.

For sure, there is a direct relationship between location and votes. I don’t know if that’s something that can (or should be) solved by ArtPrize.

Artists: Now you know what you’re up against, so do what you do best and be more creative. Turn it up a notch (without compromising your craft or message), collaborate with other artists, and win this thing next year. As one artist commented this week, “If you can’t beat them join them.” Start planning for 2010 now.

Winning is not everything. I applaud artists who recognized from the beginning that ArtPrize is about more than the popular vote and prize money.

I’ve followed the top 25, 50, … lists since day one, and some days I’ve appreciated having them as a gauge. But they are indeed distracting. I hope ArtPrize will hold these numbers back next year until voting ends. I am certain the conversation around the event will sound quite different.

Criticism is valuable and necessary, but so is enthusiasm. Og Mandino said: “Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no mater how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.”

There’s been a lot of talk about conventional exhibitions and events that ArtPrize should model itself after in order to enter the “serious” art world. Don’t look to the ivory towers, make those people look at you. They need change more than ArtPrize.

An event like ArtPrize would be extremely difficult for most museums to pull off, because of the bureaucracy of institutions and “high brow” thinking that governs all that they do. Grand Rapids is lucky to have a free agent like Rick DeVos that has taken an interest in art. (I swear he did not pay me to say that.)

Embrace your inner circus/state fair and set up cotton candy and ice cream stands. Offer a food map next year (with bakeries in bold). Okay, that’s totally  selfish.

There is always room for improvement. But, all suggestions aside, I fear that ArtPrize will make too many changes in years to come and start to look like another art fair or biennial. We don’t need any more of those — they push communities out more often than they bring them in. What makes ArtPrize radical and  fresh is its openness. I hope you don’t lose that.

Thank you Grand Rapids, Paul Moore, Rick DeVos, Bill Holsinger-Robinson, Jeffrey Meeuwsen, and everyone else at ArtPrize for having me. I can hardly wait to see what happens next year.

Posted by Nicole Caruth in General

4 Responses to “Eyes on the Prize: The Future of ArtPrize”

Jordana Dickinson says:
October 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

It has been great to have you blogging about Artprize Nicole. I feel totally honored just to be a apart of this awesome competition. Even though I didn’t make it in the top 100 I am already energized and am working on my project for AP 2010. Go Artprize:)

Kim Boynton says:
October 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I agree…we don’t want ArtPrize to become like other “high brow” art events. I also agree that venue may have played too large a role, but clearly 1200+ pieces needed a lot of space. Love the state fair/food map addition…maybe I should open a downtown bakery before next year.

This event reflected our city’s culture very well…homey with a little bit of sophistication! It makes me proud to be a Grand Rapidian. I applaud Rick and his crew for giving our city the most fun I’ve seen in a very long time! I know there are those already plotting for next year and I am excited for what is to come (and it isn’t even over yet).

Heather Miller says:
October 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I really agree with what you have to say here. Thank you for writing it.

Kristen Roberts says:
October 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm

You know…I’m not sure I’d change a thing. This felt fresh and young and surprising–you seriously never knew what you were going to see. Rock on, ArtPrize!

This has been one incredible event and nowhere have I seen, read or heard that ANYONE else is reporting about this cultural happening outside of Grand Rapids, MI. Why IS that? If you have heard about the 2009 ArtPrize (an event that has some history in other states, in previous years!)_ leave a comment! I would like to build national momentum in favor of ArtPrize traveling the country, popping up all over the place for the benefit of artists in their communities, AND communities also!!

Favored Dark Horse of Art Prize, Grand Rapids 2009, Public Cultural Event!

Sorry, Young Kim
October 2nd, 2009

If you are following ArtPrize on Twitter, you may have noticed the new hashtag #sorryyoungkim.

The creation of that hashtag comes from an outpouring of affection for one artist and grief he did not make it into the Top 10. It is one of the most remarkable stories from the first week of ArtPrize, how Young Kim from North Carolina went from obscurity to the talk of the event over the course of a few days.

Young Kim is showing his piece, salt & earth, at 47 Commerce SW. It’s a beautiful, vacant one story space that is perfectly situated for the piece. However, it’s perfectly situated in the middle of a mass of construction. Roads are closed and construction crews are working on the block to the north, to the south, to the east and to the west. As traffic flow goes, it’s a venue in quarantine. Add to that Young Kim is not here promoting himself like so many other artists are, and you start to see the odds were stacked against him from the beginning.

But the piece speaks for itself.

Saturday night, I went to 47 Commerce around 9:30PM. There were maybe five other people in there, but whispers had begun that it was something to check out. Sunday, Brian Kelly posted the video embedded above and the buzz about Young Kim started to catch fire on Twitter and Facebook. Monday came with cold weather, rain and high winds battering the city. That evening, one of my coworkers walked over to 47 Commerce in the rain and said it was packed out.

Above, you can see the flow of votes for the front runner (unnamed here) next to votes for Young Kim during each day of the week. Kim’s votes trickle in while the front runner starts strong. Then, when the cold and rain hit the city, the front runner plummets while Kim holds the line. The final 24 hours was an all out sprint. And if it’s any consolation, Young Kim, it was very close.

Over the next week, a lot of stories will be told about the Top 10. For the tens of thousands who have come to ArtPrize, I hope you take the opportunity to dig around and find pieces like Young Kim’s that are tucked away all over the city.

Listen to Michigan Public Radio’s story on Young Kim (and Tanglefoot) today during All Things Considered and here.

Posted by Paul Moore in General

It's like discovering the work of Wolfgang Laib, and the moment everyone realized that Maya Lin, a young architect student from Yale, was winner of the Vietnam Memorial!!

You have a career Young Kim and there are no apologies needed for THAT. Congratulations!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I HAVE to post this all over the blogosphere!!

Materialists WILL and are decry/(ing) this movie, like well-trained DOGS!! Yet, if materialists will go here and learn about the cycle of reusing materials in more healthy ways that ARE being developed, then maybe slowly, the average materialist will begin to understand stuff is still possible to attain, just the way your little pavlovic-driven unconscious is addicted!! WooHoo!! Sorry, I couldn't stop myself from the initial criticism of the reactionary...! Get over it and LISTEN until your neuro-transmitters make the connection!! Sorry!

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

These stories of stewarding national consumerist habituation, are NOT perfect, yet, they ARE beginning the change for the better! Can YOU help? Add to this? Come up with a BETTER way?? Then DO IT! The world needs your contributions too, NOT reactionsm which is so CHEAP anyway!! Listen to your own fundamental human values and learn to recognize them in other people "across the isle" from you. We aren't in a competition to win! What? Life on the planet... you stay... you go...?!! Whose death panels? Whose grandmother gets it in the chest?!! Come on, CHEAP, HABITUAL REACTIONISM IS what is DEAD!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The False Dichotomy Between "Work" and "Home" For Many...

Paraphrased from: Composing A Life by, Mary Catherine Bateson, copyright 1989, "A radical rethinking the concept of achievement." -San Francisco Chronical

"One of the things that haunted me while I was at Amherst was the different meanings of "work" and "home" that hide behind what is becoming a false dichotomy for many women and men. The daily walks back and forth between my office and the college-owned house where I lived and the effort to harmonize my work in each made the notion of homemaking newly mysterious and provocative. Amherst College has a committee that is responsible for deciding many issues, including making decisions on tenure and promotions. During the fall semester, this committee is always overloaded, meeting for four or five hours at a time. These meetings were especially burdensome for me, since as dean, I had the responsibility of recording the deliberations, getting up at five the morning after a meeting to prepare the minutes before the rush of boots and oatmeal and the escaping school bus. Eventually, the committee would be driven to the evenings; then, I would find myself at odds with my colleagues who preferred to take a two-hour break at home. I preferred to share a quick working supper that might allow us to adjourn at ten rather eleven at night.

My main concern was not when the meeting ended, but with the oxymoron for me of going home to relax. Going home for most of my colleagues meant putting up their feet, relaxing with a cocktail, having a meal served to them. Going home for me meant dealing with domestic emergencies and desperately trying to help with Latin homework in the kitchen while preparing a meal. For most women and for increasing numbers of men, home was a workplace, often for a second or third shift in a single day. It is still immensely difficult for a woman with a family to make the moment of walking through the front door a moment of release. There is the real work involved in housekeeping, in providing food and shelter, but even if we learn to minimize the mechanics of these jobs, the tasks of homemaking cannot be eliminated for their value goes beyond the mechanical. We enact and strengthen our relationships by performing dozens of small practical rituals, setting the table, making coffee, raking the lawn_ giving and receiving material tokens, even in a household of servants. I entertained steadily in that house in Amherst, as if the passing of wine and cheese could repair the erosion of trust and intimacy that had happened at the college during the previous decade.
Marriage creates work, far beyond the apparent practical need, in order that work may create marriage. Couples rely on real tasks and shared effort or, lacking these, they invent endless elaborations of unnecessary tasks to assure themselves that their relationship and their need for each other is real, to knit it together from day to day. Women living alone, men living alone, even women and men heading households with young children get the practical chores done, but they do less housework than women living with husbands. If you compare statistics on different types of households, you find that the presence of an adult male means more additional work for the woman than the presence of a child under ten, even when the man believes himself to be sharing the housework equally.* What is not usually pointed out is that it is aggregate work that is increased by marriage. It is not that males generate more laundry or dirty dishes or exude far more than their share of the fuzz that accumulates under the beds but that new tasks are created by standards and expectations.

*Heidi I. Hartman, "The Family as the Locus of Gender, Class, and Political Struggle: The Examples of Housework," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society 6(3): 366-94 (1980).

My husband and I live in an apartment in Cambridge, but increasingly I do my serious writing in our studio in New Hampshire, a single room with a loft, perched above a stream. When I am working alone, I throw together a meal and eat it in a half an hour. My husband does the same thing when he is alone in Cambridge. But when we combine forces, working in the kitchen side by side, an hour is not nearly enough- it will be two hours before we have finished our meal. It's nicer and it's a better dinner, but we don't seem to be able to control it; as a result, both of us prefer to be alone when we have intensive work to do. The high points of Johnnetta's life have been the weekends spent with her sons or the time spent in courting a sweetheart in Washington, but she wonders out loud whether she could possibly live her present life if she were making a home for her menfolk day in and day out, even with domestic help."

It's hard to define the minimum needed to provide a sense of home sufficient to sustain relationships and growth, especially in this society of material opulence in which we generate endless hours of needless work to cancel the savings offered by technology. I struggle to be a homemaker without being drawn into the wasted labor of most housekeeping. Many people have pointed out that the introduction of computers in offices, though it may increase productivity, does not tend to reduce labor. This is not news; the pattern has been obvious for over fifty years, ever since the mechanical washing machine was used not to reduce time spent doing laundry, but to make it possible to change sheets and clothing two to three times more often. In the past ten years, the pressure has been rising to use up the gains of convenience foods by elaborate gourmandise. We are a restlessly busy society, with little capacity to loaf in the sun (though we work hard at getting tans) or to laze in bed (where "joy" is a serious obligation). We are bullied by the obese Sunday paper as our New England ancestors were by two-hour sermons. There is some hope that even as the traditional distinction between home and work, which was elaborated to justify sharply divided gender roles, gives way before new kinds of family life, the distinction between work and leisure will also shift. The maintenance of relationships and refreshment of spirit associated with home and leisure are surely frontiers for the world of work, while more and more kinds of challenging effort find their way into off-duty hours. Increasingly, during the years of being a working mother and searching for quality time with my daughter, I have become convinced that the best times actually occur in the kitchen or the car, when some simple task like shelling peas or getting to the supermarket defines the time and space in which to strengthen our communication.

Relationships need the continuity of repeated actions and familiar space almost as much as human beings need food and shelter, but it is not clear how much food and shelter must be elaborated. I have always been moved by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' description of the temporary homes the Bushmen build during periods of frequent moves through the Kalahari Desert.* As is true anywhere, there is a need for shelter; desert temperatures may drop below freezing at night. This need is met by a shallow concavity scooped out of the ground and lined with grasses. There, body warmth can be sheltered from the wind and conserved by a piece of hide. But shelter cannot be considered a home, even for a night, unless it has a hearth and an entrance as well as space to lie. The alignment of these establishes the internal order needed for privacy and propriety, and distinguishes the woman's side of the fire from the man's side, to keep elemental forces sorted out for the health of the community and success in hunting. For the Bushmen, a curved branch, leaning sideways, one end embedded in the ground, is the necessary minimum to define entrance. The arrangement of concavity, hearth, and doorway orders the common activities of a household; it defines the home. When people live together, the high purposes of that common living, including the binding and the freeing each, become expressed in very concrete details. The details vary, and we can experiment with changing them as we wish, but material tokens are a necessary part of those relationships.

*Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Harmless People (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959), 40-41, 196, 221.

All huma groups share food in one way or another, often using different kinds of foods differently. The Bushmen share the roots and nuts gathered by women within the household, while they divide the game killed by the men among the larger community fo the band. But not all human groups use the ceremony of eating together to establish and maintain relationships as we have tended to do in the Western Tradition, and as we have elaborated in our Eucharists and Seders and wakes. The Passover Seder is an elaboration of the institution anthropologists call "commensality," eating at a common table. The rituals of the Seder echo the function of other family meals in defining relationships and reaffirming and passing on tradition, but this is not true for all cultures. A young American woman who went to Manus Island in New Guinea with my mother was scandalized to see her taking her meals alone and not inviting the villagers to join her at her table, convinced she had discovered evidence of racism. But my mother explained that even a traditional Manus feast did not involve eating together, but rather offering gifts of food to be taken home: families and friendships were not defined by shared meals.
It was not necessarily ominous that the formal family dinner is declining in many households or becoming limited to special occasions. We might be better off if we could separate food as nourishment and pleasure from food as the currency of care that leaves so many women laboring long hours to prove affection in the semantic muddle called nurturance. There is the splendid lesson to be learned from the elaborate labor involved in infant feeding during the forties and fifties- the sterilization, the equipment, the rigid schedules- before the rediscovery of the simplicity of the breast. The ideal is to find simple forms that can be elaborated for delight or turned into art rather than onerous obligations. But the giving and receiving of these simpler material tokens of caring will still be essential.

To be continued...

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Great Blog Swap Experience, Featuring: Carrie Ure

From The Feminine Mystique to the Female Mystic, A New Feminism Dawns
Athena by Carrie Ure

I'm accustomed to riding the autumn breeze like a blown leaf, content to rest in the rich hummus only when my pretty colors have faded to quiet earth tones. I suppose that's how I arrived here. Serendipity landed me on an artist's blog, with it's colorful moving feast for the eyes. I've temporarily drifted from my own stark white canvas and Times New Roman font just long enough to experience lift-off and magic. In the process I've come to understand just how much the Mystic and the Artist have in common.

The story of my collaboration with artist Kerrie Wrye begins with our virtual community of networked bloggers. Several weeks ago Sarah Rahman, a young college blogger living in Pakistan, came up with the idea of a swap to shake things up in the blogosphere. Before I can say "shiver my soul," Sarah pairs me with my alter-ego, a woman very much like me in many ways. Kerrie is near my age, a mother, free-thinker, cultural creative and yogini. Our first names are synonyms. Our last names are eerily similar. We live within a few hours of one another in the Pacific Northwest and we're both juggling our craft with the need to find paying work.

Yet it takes another synchronicity to uncover a commonality much deeper. Within a day of meeting Kerrie via email, my sweetheart takes me to see the movie Séraphine. Later on Facebook, Kerrie happens to catch my endorsement of the film.

"That's funny," La Femme Artiste comments, "I studied her in college."

Cherchez la femme!

Kerrie and I immediately recognize our common karmic link to a new movement I'm calling the Way of the Female Mystic.

Séraphine, the 2008 French art film co-written and directed by Martin Provost, beautifully depicts the life of a feminine mystic, the true story of Séraphine Louis of Senlis, France (1864-1942), a self-taught painter of the Naive movement. Yolande Moreau's César Award (French equivalent of the Oscar) winning performance only heightens the major question of the movie: how could such an artistic genius, compared in her day to Picasso, Rousseau and Van Gogh, have escaped worldwide notoriety?

Much as in the United States today, the first half of the 20th century was a time of great chaos and reordering in Europe. Séraphine's lifetime, spent in the countryside outside Paris, spanned unprecedented cultural changes stemming from the industrial revolution and two devastating world wars. She embodied the uneasy transition between a faith-based, patriarchal, religious moral order and a new society emboldened by economic progress and mobility.

Every epoch has its mystics, those individuals who don't quite fit in because they see God in the people and processes around them. Sadly, Séraphine, the mystic artist, lacked the skills to adapt to the rapid societal changes around her. She had only the humble survival instincts of an uneducated, unmarried woman with few economic advantages. Once discovered and exposed, her remarkable gifts awed art dealers, but her unconventional lifestyle frightened her provincial community. Like female mystics from every age, Séraphine was banished to the insane asylum.

Indeed, few female mystics from any era become household names, let alone thrive with a room of their own.

The story of Séraphine captures the imagination of this modern mystic, because it so poignantly illustrates the passionate marriage of art and mysticism. Besides being visionaries and saints, a high percentage of female mystics have been writers, poets, artists, and musicians. Psychologists theorize that woman are able to communicate their mystical experiences more easily than men owing to the feminine brain's more numerous left-right neural pathways. And yet, throughout the ages, those female visions, whether poetry, prose, music or visual arts, have been undervalued.

In the fascinating sacred feminine spiral that is "herstory," it turns out that Betty Friedan graduated from Smith College in 1942, the same year Séraphine Louis died in France. Friedan would eventually survey the women from her graduating class in preparation for writing her seminal (can I say that?) work published in 1963, The Feminine Mystique. The book incited a generation of western women, bent on reversing centuries of despair over their material condition, to march in the streets with a new battle cry. This was not a philosophical or spiritual stance, but rather an action-oriented demand for material parity with men.

In her 1998 book, At the Root of This Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst, Carol Lee Flinders contrasts the feminist and the mystic:

"Spiritual seekers must learn to be silent, restrain the ego, resist desire, and remove themselves from the world. But the feminist credo is just the opposite: Find your voice, know who you are, reclaim your body and its desires, and move in the world freely, without fear."

If the devil is in the details, God lives in the paradoxes. Surely only the Divine could sort out the apparent oxymoron, "mystic feminism." Yet this enigmatically feminine paradox is precisely how I would describe the New Feminism.

In a short history of female mystics written over a decade ago for New Renaissance Magazine, Mary Devlin predicted the rise of this new feminism. She made the point that we were entering the solar or energy age, and there would be a resurgence of female energy to match. This has indeed been the case. Since the days of the bra-burning 60s marches, women, especially many in the industrialized west, have gained some material ground, it's true. But we have not attained anything resembling equality as movers and shakers in finance, business or government. Where has female leadership energy gone?

In the past few decades, women have disproportionately ascended to spiritual rock-stardom, with the likes of Marianne Williamson, Joanna Macy, Tsultrim Allione, Pema Chodron, Caroline Myss, Louise Hay, just to name a few. Unlike every previous period in the modern era, the hegemony of the religious patriarchy has developed some large cracks, and women have filled those gaps in large numbers.

You don't have to be a hippie to notice that we've entered a New Age, a time when the very survival of the human species here on earth depends on larger-than-life solutions. As the institutional hallmarks of our male-dominated, fossil-fuel driven, materially-based western culture seem to collapse one by one under their own weight, we're called to abandon those paths that have lead to the destruction and degradation of humanity through war, greed and political injustice.
In our age, just as we've begun to value global and local community, there is a renewed search for a sense of belonging; an eye toward healing and sustaining the earth; a movement toward personal choice and away from the reliance on the corporation ("The Man"); a call to a government beholden to its citizenry; a demand that children be the first to be fed, clothed and healed; a shift from entertainment to education; an embracing of history and lineage. This looks to me like women's work.

And if these sound like fighting words, listen closely. The fighting has been necessary but it has only brought us so far. If we're going to solve the world's problems we're going to have to drop our insistence on dualistic notions of us against them and instead adopt a wholistic approach. We need a global feminism that attracts men as well as women, one that surrenders to inclusion, connection, love.

In this new world order, the mystic and the artist, the feminine and the feminist become one. Transcending cultural, political and gender differences, Séraphine Louis and Betty Friedan, march side by side, the spiritual and the practical merge.

We have entered the golden age of the Female Mystic who is happy to link arms with La Femme Artiste, for the enlightenment of all.

Carrie Ure is a freelance writer, editor, spiritual companion and mother living in Portland, Oregon. She writes about everyday mysticism on her blog, A Modern Mystic.

Find my post on Carrie Ure's blog: A Modern Mystic, here!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Artists, Community & State Arts Organizations MUST assertively advocate direct quality of cultural presence in communities/country!

Arts Groups, Artists Face Second Year of State Budget Cuts

Faced with declining tax revenues, many states are slashing their arts funding for a second consecutive year, dealing a serious blow to arts groups and individual artists, the Associated Press reports.

According to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, states reduced their arts funding by 7 percent on average for the fiscal year that began July 1. However, the figure jumps to 14 percent when Minnesota, which this year nearly tripled its arts budget to $30.2 million, is excluded. In financially strapped states such as Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, and Florida, arts budgets fell by at least 30 percent, while in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, lawmakers are considering eliminating their state arts agencies entirely.

Indeed, over the past two years, arts budgets nationally have fallen some 20 percent, compared with 38 percent between 2001 and 2004 and 28 percent during the early 1990s, said NASAA spokeswoman Angela Han. This year, states got a bit of a boost from increases in National Endowment for the Arts and federal stimulus funding, but many state officials say the new funding won't make up for what they had lost. While states are responsible for just 2 percent of total annual arts revenue in the United States, according to Americans for the Arts, organizations often use those funds to leverage money from local governments, match federal funding, and attract private donations.

"[The cuts are] really going to have a devastating effect," said Terry Scrogum, executive director of the Illinois Arts Council, which saw its budget fall by 51 percent this year, to $7.8 million. "We're going to try to maintain as many of the operating grants as we can. They're obviously going to be at a reduced level. Others will be whittled down or suspended."

Twiddy, David. “Arts an Easy Target as Many States Cut Budgets.” Associated Press 8/29/09.

and this reader's comment: "Maybe we should just stop taking state and federal money and dispel the illusion that any govt. in the US significantly supports art or artists. Maybe then the public would stop complaining about misuse of tax money and take responsibility for funding art on themselves."
9/2/2009 10:17AM

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Room of Her Own Foundation

A Room Of Her Own such an incredible commitment this non-profit has, to the works of women writers! Discovering the founding women of AROHO and their work on behalf of women writers is enlivening for me! The discovery of my own tribe; women who think and act as I do and as I would like to in the world. I have spoken this dream for twenty years to my daughter while I raised her and made my own art!
Today, I received a notification from the Associate Director, Tracey Craven-Gras that my work will indeed be hanging in the AROHO cyberspace gallery amid the company of women artists already featured there! It is my privilege to post this recognition and invite you to visit this online resource for women in the arts. Consider making a donation while you are there! (Scroll down until you see my name: Kerrie B. Wrye, under the two images of my paintings that are included in the gallery there_ thanks!) Spelling details on my name and the paintings' working titles to be added soon!