small maps

small maps
mixed on canvas 4"x 6"

Monday, August 18, 2014

Really Scary

Me by Bruce Giffin


Artists regularly create self portraits. Van Gogh has a couple famous ones. As does Rembrandt. Cindy Sherman shoots herself in costumes and quirky environments. I'm a huge fan of Francesca Woodman's hauntingly lonely images. Sometimes there's no one else to paint/shoot. A convenient, mostly cooperative, model.  A friend's museum posed a question as to the legitimacy of the selfie as a means of self expression in the context of art. After attempting a couple of these and coming up wildly short of anything remotely interesting, I was informed someone else could take the shot. Isn't that just portraiture then? It appears both Cindy and Francesca had someone else shoot the image? It's a selfie if the set dressing is theirs? But ok. I came upon this information standing next to one of Detroit's most gifted photographers, Bruce Giffin. He generously offered to take my shots. Cool.

We discussed some ideas (collaboration is ok, right?) but decided to let the images develop organically. Seeing as this is art, there was the possibility of some nudity. I found myself agreeing to any ideas presented. Never gave it another thought until about two hours before Bruce was to pick me up.  I wanted to throw up I was so nervous. What was I thinking? Oh god, oh god. I know it's ART, but . . . oh god.

There are two forms of fear. If the brakes on my car fail and I'm headed toward a busy intersection, fear can be pretty handy. The one I'm focusing on is the fear that can cause me to play it too safe and miss out on something incredible. I learned a trick when I hopped a plane to Paris by myself a few years ago. Second day there, I realized how far away I was, that I couldn't just rent a car and drive home. I completely freaked out. I want my mommy! So I called home. My Mom was great. Ok. We'll change your flight and you can come home now. Relief washed over me. When she knew I'd calmed down she asked, "But will you regret it if you come home early?" I knew the answer was, yes. I use this anytime I'm facing something I'm in to but I'm scared. It's appropriate to be scared in these situations. Be afraid. Do it anyway. Once I make that decision, I calm right down and it's usually pretty easy. This shoot was great. I surprised myself how far I was willing to go. (Helps to have a brilliant photographer that doesn't give me the creeper vibe.) Another unexpected effect was a bump in confidence. Not so much that I can look this good, that too, but I faced down a fear. The more fears I face down, the stronger I get. The next one isn't as hard. And I get to do some pretty amazing shit. I don't want to get to the end of my life and say "I'm sure glad I played it safe and paid all those bills on time!" Too many people are huddled in their homes grasping for a security that doesn't exist. Yes, it's scary to step off the front porch. Do it anyway. The world is a kick ass place to live in. Just last night I was lying in bed with the windows open. A neighbor had a fire going or was grilling. Damn, that smelled good. Soft bed with crisp white sheets on a warm summer night, breeze brushing against my legs. Whew. Lovely.

The other component, a bit off topic, but a major contributor to doing this shoot and then feeling great about it, is my age. Someone recently told me that when a woman turns 50 she becomes invisible to men. Huh. Do I look invisible? I'm 52. That shot I posted is unedited. It's the raw photo. No Photoshop. No filters. No fancy lighting. Didn't even bother to crop it (see the clips on the painting?). It's real. That's how Bruce likes it. So do I. There are more shots coming. I'll turn around for you. Face shots with my "11" between the eyebrows. My little pot belly. Wasn't it Pulp Fiction where Bruce (coincidence?) Willis' character tells his lover he likes her pot and she comments that all French women have them and they're hot? I have no interest in any shades of grey. I'm interested in real, soft, curvy, smart, independent, creative, sexy as hell women. Be afraid. Hang out with me anyway.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't Blame the Borgias

Showtime's Cesare Borgia


A couple TV shows in the last week have been about how humans have followed the herd to what was promised to provide happiness. Marriage, kids, a 60" smart TV. Instead of the joy promised, we are surprised by how sullen and stressed out we are. I would know. I was happy for a while. Every time I hopped into that pewter Blazer, I felt special. I bought a house on my own. Then a better one. Lovers, savings, no debt and an IRA. I had the world by the balls. Until I, and many others, didn't. I wasn't even the one who screwed it up. I fell just the same. Once carefree, now dark and ornery. The dawning: what am I doing? The Universe is vast and generous. It's only us who are short-sighted and stingy. Create a box we can live in because the enormity of it all is terrifying. It's not 1500. We can see the size of it. There. See? Just a speck on a tiny blue dot. So why burn another moment of our brief existence on anything but love and beauty? The silent but murderous pressure of conformity is extraordinarily hard to ignore. I know I'm happier on my own train, but I keep getting on the herd train. On the herd train I'm itchy and fidgety. I get lonely on my train. There's also freedom and peace.

We are so smart and so stupid at the same time. Knowing peace isn't in stuff, but strive for it anyway. We know we're screwing up the planet and consequently eliminating our own species, but keep dumping plastic in our oceans, carbon dioxide into the air. We can't seem to help ourselves. Desire is the design flaw. Wanting. Greed, lust, gluttony, envy. Earth will be here long after we've eliminated ourselves. Even if we leave it barren, which we are on track to accomplish. I am encouraged by those two shows and their message. A pinhole of light in a celebrity driven "reality" show nightmare. Maybe the dawn is coming for humanity? Can we do it? Save ourselves and this stunning world we live in? When a technological debacle with my 40" smart TV got resolved and I was able to sign back into Netflix resuming my obsession with Cesare Borgia, the relief that washed over me was tidal. Well, he is beautiful.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Look

fierce and bright
not a burning light
a lion's courage
will reveal
a mystery caught in the hand
is still graceful

went astray
and backed away
because you didn't look
only armor
and not the heart beneath
it's not you

yet.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

inches for miles

pitch shadow path
couldn't find my way back
alone.
you took my hand
you took my heart
and rested them
on your shoulder.

standing free
inches for miles
shaky.
dust behind me
come and find me
haven't forgotten
it's raining again.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Turning Point



Guerrilla Girls



Watched the movie "The Turning Point" with Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft couple nights ago. It's a great movie because it's a movie that relies on acting to create and tell a story. It doesn't lean on special effects or even a soundtrack. I love it because it's a story about two women faced with a choice. One gets pregnant and chooses marriage and kids. The other becomes a prima ballerina. She's unmarried over 40. It bothers me women still have to choose between family and a career. I was married once. Wanted kids then, too. I guess I can't say definitively that if I'd gotten pregnant I would never have painted, but I'd say it would have been unlikely. Addition to the fact I was married to an idiot, I knew that marriage was a jail sentence for me, so I divorced. It took me a couple years to figure out I belonged in the arts. I'm grateful every day I found my way to what is true to my soul. Not everybody gets there. I certainly haven't achieved the celebrated career Bancroft's character enjoys, but I'm successful nonetheless.



Politicians always distill choice down to abortion. That's only part of it. It's about the freedom to live the life a woman was designed to live and that's not exclusively motherhood. Also watched the HBO doc on Pussy Riot. A Russian reporter asks Katia doesn't she want to get married and have babies? She firmly answers, "No. Not every girl wants to find a man and give birth." Exactly. Christ. We're still lumping every female into the birthing box? The Paycheck Fairness Act was voted against by every Senate Republican this week. Why? Because it's a bunch of old white men from another generation doing the voting. (I want to hurry up and add that the women casting these votes hold a seat/job in the Senate. The woman who spearheaded the fight against the ERA in the 1970's and got it defeated wasn't home putting dinner on the table for her family because she was out campaigning. WTF?) So much for Lilly Ledbetter. I guess we have to wait for these old white guys to die off or get voted out. I hope I live long enough to see that. I have parents, Dad included, one of the coolest old white guys I know, that told me I could be anything I wanted to be. Clearly I believed them. I'm one of the lucky ones. Why aren't I just a person? No luck involved. Merely a decision. I hope we, the people, make a decision for freedom this November.



"You can keep your soul. I don't want a cell mate." Them Crooked Vultures

Monday, March 17, 2014

Resistance is Futile

Galileo


I've been watching "Cosmos" with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Sundays. It's visually gorgeous. A feast for the eyes. Also happy to report some of the information presented I already knew. Thank you Bloomfield Hills Schools for a decent education. What has really struck me is the discussion of evolution as scientific fact. Several mentions of Darwin and his discoveries. I'm imagining the Tea Party and Fox News in a full on panic. I read where an Oklahoma station edited out an evolution reference in the first episode. They would have had to pretty much block last night's entire episode to prevent any ideas from entering the homes of their flock. Is it 1580? I was waiting for a breaking news report that Mr. Tyson had been arrested for his comments.

I don't know why science and religion always seem to be at such odds. It's possible to interpret Biblical statements to harmonize with what is being shown to us by astrophysicists. For example, the statement that God created the Universe in 6 days. If you modify your concept of a day beyond a human day to a meteorological day, then why not? A "day" can be billions of human years and maybe it's still biblical day 6? I don't believe "god" is a dude in a cloud. If you want to call the impressive and powerful force of the Universe "god" then, ok, I believe in God. I find it interesting how humans regularly backtrack on philosophies. I get the resistance to science in the 1500's. Galileo was just beginning to be able to prove previous theories like the Earth revolves around the sun and the Universe is vast and exists well beyond our solar system. Since the church had so much power and their business was threatened by these facts, they pushed back. Hard. Modern day Evangelicals must feel threatened to push back so ferociously.

I'm a little surprised I perceived some kind of breach while watching this show. That I even considered someone might get fired or arrested for broadcasting this kind of programming. What's most fascinating? This show is broadcast on Fox. On Sunday. I love that. Who made the decision to license this show? May I be the first to thank you, enthusiastically. I'm not against religion. I'm a fairly spiritual person. I also like science. A lot. I like facts. Show me. It's why I subscribe to the metaphysical. It's a lovely blend of both. There is so much we don't know. Still. Like what is dark matter? I'm not going to invent an angry looking old white guy with some kind of weapon and a beard to represent that mystery. I can call that unknown phenomenon God. I can call it Pete. A black hole by any other name is still a black hole. With our education system so profoundly failing our children, I'm thrilled to see this kind of programming. Bravo and god bless Pete. (I'll probably get fired for that ;)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Geek Month

I've been writing, it's just been on my "other" site. Couple teaching an intro to website building, researching to buy a smart TV and the Comcast air/data grab, it's been a fascinating month. Also happened to catch Eric Schmidt on Charlie Rose as well as journalists who specialize in technology and keeping up with it. Wow. I've really simplified all the data I absorbed, but made a few comments on this site: faytech

I'll be back here soon with what I hope is a holy-crap-spring-finally-showed-up post.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Happy Idiot


Watched an episode of Frontline about Steve Cohen and the pervasive practice of using material non-public information to make a shitload of money. Insider trading. Some traders are being arrested and serving jail time. Not in Leavenworth, mind you. In some fancy pants white collar jail like where Martha Stewart did her bid. And when they are released, guess what? They're still rich. The whole thing isn't about intuition and smarts. It's about relationships and information. Getting the "first call". Pretty easy to trade when you know ahead of everyone else, including the market itself, what's coming. You pay for this information, but who cares when it makes so much. Except it's illegal.

I would have been great at this. My brain works the same way as Cohen's except for one irritating pisser of a characteristic. Integrity. I've never been so mad at my moral compass as I am right now. I'm exhausted from my emaciated existence which was exacerbated this week by two entities whose ineffectiveness threatened my income. It's why I don't like working for someone else. I'm not in control of my own destiny. How hard is it to make a call, answer an email? Jeezus. Gimme the phone. I'll do it. It's a strange phenomenon to be a painter with a side of Wall Street trader. Probably explains why I've been able to sustain the dumbest career choice ever for over 20 years.

I followed that Frontline with an episode of Bill Moyers who had Neil deGrasse Tyson on. Besides making science a lot of fun, he also puts it all in perspective. Astrophysicists only understand 4% of what's happening in space. They can measure the other 96% by the ability to see the effects of that 96%, but have no idea what it is. They measure time, matter and molecules in billions, trillions. The numbers are so large, you are immediately struck by your own smallness. He talked about how astrophysicists are faced with their own ignorance every day. By how much they don't know. Yet, we are made from the same material as the stars. We are connected to and a part of everything in the Universe. We are very tiny yet super cool simultaneously.

My time here, in this fragile human container, is so short, there really is no point to getting all worked up about Steve Cohen's pile and my crevasse of nothingness. I have a friend who regularly likes to smugly advise, usually unsolicited. To determine you have it all figured out is as arrogant as Steve Cohen's absolute confidence he has the world by the balls. Maybe they're happier because they think they are? I know I don't get most of why the Universe does what it does. Maybe that's why I'm so unsatisfied. There aren't many definitive answers. I do ok when my life is humming along and I'm not afraid of annihilation. I haven't hummed in 2 ½ years. Last year things improved. I was going into 2014 with hope. I let myself dream a little. Last week, I watched it dissolve. It's not destroyed, but it's precarious again. Son of a bitch. I am so tired from fighting I folded. Hit the couch. And the chocolate. I had to let that wash over me and out. Got extraordinarily angry this morning and decided to ride it out. 40 aggressive minutes on the bike helped. I'm not out of it, but I'm calmer. Time to devise a plan. Since I don't seem to be getting much help from those who represent me or for whom I work, I have to do it myself. As always. Again. Fine. Art is such a ridiculous career. But when I get to end of days, I want to know I tried. That I gave it everything I had. Left it all out on the field. That I didn't succumb to society's pressure to follow along. That even though I took a beating once in a while, I never quit. I don't want to find out had I stayed, I was going to hit that very next day. Sometimes success means just hanging in there. Trying just one more time. I want to cash in today. If I do, will I regret it? Yes. I'll always wonder. Can't live with that. Don't want to die with it. Wall Street will have to go on with one less rat. My stupid compass points toward art. I'm an idiot. I'd just like to be a happy one.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year



I wrote this shortly after the altercation with my family this spring. I felt it was too soon to post as the injured parties weren't likely interested in how I was feeling just then. Might not be now. But as I reread it, yep, all still true. And as good a warning as I can give for those who are willing to risk hanging out with me.


Spoke to a man I've know about 20 years today. Related the recent series of events. When I told him "I said some shit," he replied "ya did?" in that sing-song what-a-shock sort of way. He knows me. He added that my comments sometimes "hit like a blunt instrument." Yep. He and I are very similar. We both have a crusty, prickly exterior. My personality is not for the easily wounded or the faint of heart. I'll tell you this: if you have the capacity to withstand those moments, you will be rewarded 10 fold. I'll love you with all I have. I'll take a bullet for you. Walk through fire for you. Stand against impossible odds with you. One of my cousins had the lady balls to tell me what was being said about me. I'm humbled by her courage. Grateful for the opportunity make things right.


I realize turning 50 isn't that old. And I don't mean to be maudlin, but I know I have more days behind me than I do ahead. How do I want to spend what's left? With those who really love me. We've likely thrown punches at each other and are still standing. Feelings have been hurt. Apologies made. Kept going. I will never say anything behind your back I'm not willing to say to your face (or on the internet as it turned out). I was accused of being gutless and insincere. My friend laughed at those. I'm many things and my short comings numerous. I don't possess those two items.


I'm hard to love. I'm not all fluffy and pink or politically correct. I'm queen of the blurg. The blurg will always be true, however difficult it is to hear*. I realize this is not going to sit well with most folks. The good news about brutal honesty is you don't have to worry about being lied to. I can't do it. You'll never have to guess how I feel. You will know. Today I honor those who take all that and love me anyway. You are the bravest people I've ever met. In return, I love you right back. As fiercely as anything that comes out of my mouth.


I read one woman's perspective on hot flashes as a burning off all the negative. Burning out bad behavior, old resentments, disappointments, failures, and the like. I LOVE this interpretation. My life is going through a massive face lift in every area: career, family, physically, spiritually, friends, all aspects. Burning off what doesn't fit any more and growing in a new and fabulous direction! I am a child of the Universe and whether or not things are clear to me, it's all unfolding as it should. With all of life's sham, drudgery and broken dreams, there's still beauty and heroism in every day. I was born the kind that sees the glass half empty. I just slugged down the contents of that glass. Now it's completely empty. Open to fill back up with whatever I want. I'm free.


2014 is the year I get out of bed in the morning and I'm not immediately seized with the sense that my life is just a slow, pointless slog toward death. Ha. Baby steps.




*the caveat to my harsh rhetoric, I only blab my own secrets, not yours. If you told me something in confidence, it's vaulted.