Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Art For A Change - Mark Vallen

Mark Vallen

Art for art sake is fine, but not nearly enough for me. But art for a change in the world, that's what really interests and impresses me. Art that is not obscure in meaning, directly speaks to the viewer this is art that interests me..

I can't remember when I first started following Mark Vallen's blog, Art For A Change, and don't recall how I even found out about it, but I know I was searching for artist's who's art reflected their own social conscience, eliciting change in the world for the better. He's had a very interesting life, and I greatly admire his talent, his intellect, and his heart. Mark Vallen's  own work is full of contemporary concerns, and his blog covers many contemporary social issues, detailed in his biography.

I admit I don't read every blog post that I subscribe to, unless there is something that really stands out. Today was one of those days where I saw in my blog list, May Day With Diego and Frida  about Mark's visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibition of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. It was a riveting post, and I love his review of the work. I confess I have always been very partial to Frida Kahlo's art as I admire her greatly as a person and an artist. That said I certainly appreciate Diego Rivera's powerful and poignant murals.

Monday, May 18, 2015

“The blues was bleeding the same blood as me.” - B. B. King

I listened to Saturday Night Blues on CBC with Holger Peterson May 16th 2015. Holger featured a wonderful interview he did with B.B. King in 2005, in the back of B.B.'s bus while he was touring Canada.

 Holger described B.B. King as always being a very personable, gracious and generous man. I wanted to share this great one on one conversation Holger had with The King of the Blues, where B.B. plays D.J.
 I think this interview gives real insight to the kind of man he was, as a legendary musician, and why he is so loved.

I so admire B.B. King's outlook on life. His love of learning, history, spirituality and having such a youthful heart and mind I think are some of the reasons he had such a full and remarkable well lived life, that set a real example to others. Age was never a barrier to him, and never held him back. He was still touring at 80 years of age and still flying an airplane at 70.

"The blues was like that problem child that you may have had in the family. You was a little bit ashamed to let anybody see him, but you loved him. You just didn't know how other people would take it."
                                                       - B.B. King

Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King - The Life of Riley

The Life of Riley
                                                     (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)

I was saddened to learn of B.B. King's death today, and I thought about all the the years he'd been on this earth, his remarkable life, and great influence and contribution to the Blues and how long I've been listening to his music. I am so grateful my brother really got me interested in the Blues. He really loved B.B. and all that he represented; ideals like honesty, purity, unselfishness and love.

I've heard B.B. King described as being the King of Blues, a fine gentleman, full of grace. He always impressed me as a very humble man, and the truest of the truest Blues man, who was completely himself.

" We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about, but try to be yourself." 
                                                                                    - B.B. King

Rest In Peace B.B.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Make Art?

I remember sitting with one of my advisors at University and I had expressed experiencing a feeling of vapidity about making my art. I felt being an artist had no purpose, and was almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I wanted to be certain my work was important, that it was going to add to the world, making it a better place. My advisor immediately understood what I was getting at, and completely empathized. We discussed this at length, and our exchange helped me simply to address my feelings openly. It helped to clarify things and to realize that most of us have moments like this, where we question our art in relation to having a higher purpose, and the reason for making art within the world.

Hearing this, some might say in response, well if you feel this way, why don't your find something that will give you a deeper sense of purpose. The fact is I rarely feel my art is purposeless, nor about being an artist. For that matter, I know I can't help being an artist, or living life creatively. I wouldn't have it any other way. Being an artist has become my vocation.

Evey artist reaches a point in their life when they feel this vapidity about their art and being an artist. Perhaps the reasons many artist do feel purposeless is related to the way we are valued of not valued in society. Art is not considered a necessity like doctors, lawyers, mechanics etc. Only when artists reach a certain elite level within the 'art world ' do they get recognition and are the given a status, or, after the have left this mortal coil. It is a sad state of affairs. Art and artists are absolutely necessary, and contribute greatly to the world in countless ways, personally, professionally and economically.

It may seem to some artists to be a rhetorical question, why make art, because we know very well the essential reasons we are artists. Often though, we are not really good at clarifying this. I think it is so important the as artists we know how convey this in a discourse, so we can change and even enlighten those would just don't understand art or artist's or why it is so vital to life.

Today I found a great blog post by Alyson Stanfield who has addressed this issue of an artist's purpose and the value of art.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

To Journal or Not to Journal?

Having so many journals, now numbering in the fourties, that I have been writing for over thirty years, I am faced ever now and then, with a question. What the heck am I going to do with these? For a long time I thought about compiling all of them into a book of sorts, not necessarily for others, but maybe. I did attempt to edit each one but the task was just too daunting, and frankly mostly painful to read, as much of the writing was day to day, stream of consciousness, mundane gobbledygook. However, keeping journals gives you a kind of immortality. I have no children to pass them onto, but who knows, perhaps the world might be interested one day! Laugh out loud!

At some point, hopefully sooner than later, I am going to maybe have some kind of ceremony, or perhaps just throw them out with the trash to unburden myself from years of all these thoughts on paper, collecting dust. I am not so sure what the point of hanging on to them would be. In spite of this, my emotional reaction is, the thought of getting rid of them, is rather like letting go of a big part of myself, kind of like a death. This is an extreme thought I know. These journals are simply my thoughts, not my life. I have internalized all of these journals and so disposing of them doesn't necessarily make them gone.

It has been documented, researched and studied, how journaling can enrich our lives, help us to make sense of our inner world, figure things out, and just provide a cheap form of therapy.

I am not sure if one can know just how journaling can change and improve your life, if one has never  practiced this daily discipline, over a lengthy period of time. I can attest, journaling certainly changed mine. I was able to fulfill many life long dreams, work through much grief and change, decrease my many character defects, and greatly improve upon my strengths and capacities.

I especially got really serious about journaling in 1994, after reading Julia Cameron's book The Artist Way, which was recommended to me by an Art Therapist. My journaling increased my creativity as an artist, and became an essential part of my creative process, and continues to be to this day.

Journaling lead me to start this blog in 2008, and to my interest in Tarot reading and my second blog, Apple River Tarot Readings. Journaling also resulted in fulfilling my life long dream of learning how to ride horses. At the age of 40 I enrolled in an Equestrian Coaching Preparation program for almost two years, living on a working horse farm.  Sixteen years later I returned to University to finish my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the age of 56, graduating in 2012. I definitely attribute both these accomplishments to regular journaling.

I understand, not every one has an interest in writing, and I think this is probably what determines why an individual would or would not keep a journal. However many well known successful individuals, writers, artists, musicians, poets and presidents through out history kept journals. Journaling dates back to the 10th century.

As a young girl like many others girls my age, I kept a dairy. You know the ones, with flowers on the cover, and the little key, to ensure no prying eyes would ever read your inner most thoughts about the boy you had a big crush on, or how you'd written swear words about your stupid brother etc. My interest in writing started at a young age, and into my teens I would write poetry and essays, but it wasn't until I became a young adult, that I was even more drawn to writing, and in particular, journaling.

Blogging is certainly a great form of journaling, minus all the mundane goobledygook, and the naughty bits. But virtual online writing will never replace the hard copy, with a putting a good writing pen to paper, into a beautiful new journal. I get excited just thinking about it! I hope I will never stop journaling!

Here is a list of how journaling can help you, and some links to explore further, the benefits of keeping a regular daily journal.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ashley Gilbertson - Photographs of Absence

On May 5th 2015, marked  70 Years since the Liberation of The Netherlands from Nazi occupation.  Thinking about this fact, and finding out about photographer Ashley Gilbertson was just coincidental, but I thought it timely, especially considering we as a country and nation are still very much involved with war.

I am not a pacifist, but I also never imagined myself ever saying I think a lot about war, but the fact is, I do. How this happened was a culmination of events, like growing up during the sixties, or being what I call an old fringe hippie I suppose. I wasn't quite old enough to be a full fledged Hippie, but I certainly wanted peace like every young person then.

When I looked deeper into the sociology-psychological and economic factors at the root effects and affects of war, I became acutely aware of why it is important for me as an artist, to educate myself about war. I believe none of us can truly understand the abomination of war, and how normalized it becomes. If we have not experienced it ourselves, the way war correspondents do, and those soldiers who are on the front lines, we can not begin to really comprehend war. Tragically it is true I think, that we will never see the end of war, not even the pacifists believe this to be true.

Finding artists who use their art as tool for peace or hopefully a prevention of so much war, gives me a sense of hope. Living in this world so full of violence, artists can provide an educational alternative to war or at least the promotion of peace through creativity.

Communication today is often defined as being done via the cell phone, and the internet. Creativity for me is the essential form of communication, that more often than not, takes place face to face, regardless of the medium. Communication is about 80 percent listening to what is being said, engaging in a kind of inner dialogue, that desires more to understand, rather than to be understood.

Photography it has been said, is either a window or a mirror. The photographer John Szarkawski once posed the question about what photography is.  

" Is it a mirror, reflecting a portrait of the artist who made it, or a window, through which one might better know the world? " Personally I think it can be either one or both simultaneously.

I think photographer Ashley Gilbertson communicates through his photographs and books having a similar message as the war correspondent Chris Hedges , who also expresses in many of his books about War, it's far reaching affect abroad, and at home.

Hedges states, " Violence has become the primary form of communication".  He also sees war as being the same as drug addiction. In my opinion, both of these individuals are preoccupied with war, and both reflect, and very powerfully convey, the definition of the insanity of war, in that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

In Ashley Gilderson's new book Bedrooms of the Fallen  he provides us with an intimate glimpse through the window of his photographs, that enables us to better understand the world and the artist.

" The War on Terror has become the War of Terror "

                       - Ashley Gilbertson

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Because Who Is Perfect?"

I have posted this video before in the past. I came across it again this afternoon and thought it was worth posting again, because it is a topic I feel deeply about, being close to my heart and resonates with me today as a result of the way I'm feeling, a little 'disabled', not 'normal' and very imperfect. However, I think I am neither, and both simultaneously. It is all matter of personal perception.

 Language can be a constructive powerful tool or a destructive weapon. It can be misconstrued and misinterpreted, depending on deportment, tone and intent.  Both our ears and eyes can deceive us easily. We judge, and think what we see and hear, is truth or falsehood. What we see isn't always what we get. What we think we've heard, isn't always what is being said. Add to this, our contemporary society's preoccupation with political correctness to complicate matters in the way we convey language, in all it's meaning, and in all that all that it implies.

There has been some interesting thought provoking discussion about this particular video and about other film shorts produced by Pro Infirmis, an organization for the 'disabled'. Let me say, I really dislike the word disability, because it is often reserved for those of us who are 'disabled' who are labeled as some how being outside the definition of what is so called 'normal'; another word I really dislike. We all are 'disabled' in one way or another, and I question, just what is 'normal'. I am of the opinion that imperfection and diversity is what is normal.
I find it curious that the description I have posted of the video from Youtube below, starts by referring to the mannequins as being 'disabled'

" Disabled mannequins will be eliciting astonished looks from passers-by on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse today. Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. The campaign has been devised for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Pro Infirmis, an organization for the disabled. Entitled "Because who is perfect? Get closer.", it is designed to provoke reflection on the acceptance of people with disabilities. Director Alain Gsponer has captured the campaign as a short film.
The figures are life-sized, three-dimensional representations of Miss Handicap 2010, Jasmin Rechsteiner, radio presenter and film critic Alex Oberholzer, track and field athlete Urs Kolly, blogger Nadja Schmid and actor Erwin Aljukic.
"We often go chasing after ideals instead of accepting life in all its diversity. Pro Infirmis strives especially for the acceptance of disability and the inclusion of people with disabilities," says Mark Zumbühl, a member of the Pro Infirmis Executive Board, in describing the campaign. "


See our former TV-Spots under:

Gianni Blumer: