Something in the way she immersed herself…

How you do make art? Where? When? Why? Anu Mathur changed several of my perceptions on this topic. And she, I believe, disliked the term art. Perhaps, because such a small word diminished all she was doing. Art, of course, is everywhere and surely, in a mindful sense, frame an angle – and so it is, a work of art. Just as it is. Anu reminded me of this – in her penchant to foster engagement in the natural landscape – rubbings or as seen here, dancing in the marshes of Chester County, Pennsylvania – last spring.

She is dancing, there, with my daughter. They spoke a common language: curiosity, playfulness, and wonder. I am not sure how I will break the news to my daughter – as I am processing the news, myself, on unsettled terms. Anu Mathur passed away from a long, grace-filled warrior fight against cancer. We, 21st Century Earth, are losing her too soon – this round.

She was a great many things, as my recent Op Ed on Race and Mindfulness highlighted. By trade, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Design. To me, she was the kind of mentor I missed out on in traditional schooling: innovator and someone willing to listen to the natural landscape, immersing oneself rather than labeling and seeing how the natural landscape could serve us. This kind of empathic tango, seeds for a community built with Anu and her partner – Dilip da Cunha and friends of the Charlestown Playhouse – Jessica Wolff and Allegra Churchill. We call ourselves TAPESTRY – building a literal something, from nature rubbings and art with nature as our studio; a more beautiful something built from smaller, individual pieces donated towards the end of each workshop.

And we call ourselves TAPESTRY – inspired by the ideas of Anu Mathur, that through mindful immersion rather than past information or knowledge of how we understand the natural world, oneself, and one another – we may build a more beautiful something. Anu will be with every step of my artistry moving forward and in true Anu fashion, I will welcome her whispered critique on my word choices and we will compromise, that words aren’t enough sometimes.

Keep moving forward, whatever you call your efforts – as I will do – to make the world a more beautiful place. And, well, I will look for the bird flying over us, noting that angels never really go away, they spread their wings and evolve.

Mindful Artists Connected by Water

Photography by Peter Slater

Many of you are aware of my penchant for water, and what wetness – persistent albeit ever changing degrees of wetness – teaches us regarding our radical interconnections to the environment and one another.

It is with that sentiment in mind, and the grace of Peter Slater, that I feel a sense of kinship to someone’s work that is outside my own country of origin; some might say we are separated by the distance of one ocean, one pond, and yet, my mind likes to think, artists like ourselves remain connected by the continuity of a fresh perspective (including one that values how water flows constantly between us, connecting us, more than separating us).

Please offer a warm welcome in the comments or by reaching out to this talented, mindful artist – directly.

This month, I am honored to introduce to the Reframed world, the wise-angled point of view of Peter Slater. Peter is self-described as “retired” from the world of Sports and Leisure Management, living latterly across the pond from my US digs, in Newcastle upon Tyne. The “retired” in quotes, as he appears to be in the middle of a budding artistic career. Photography has been his means to express his interests in the natural world, particularly birds. He also has a keen interest in music and art.

I am grateful to learn of his refreshing and soulful perspective via the Instragram-Community. He is located via @pasjest510.

While you’re there, send me a hello at my budding platforms @jesshonig and @reframeyourartistry, and share your work via #reframeyourartistry to continue growth of a mindful artists’ movement capturing moments – just as they situate, right here and right now – of compassion for self, other, and the planet.

Empty? Begin again…

 

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      Even the local grocer is crying out for creative problem solving…let’s all begin again. 

 

Needless to say (which happens to be my toddler’s favorite transition statement, at the moment – FYI, thanks to the Little Critter books), so yeah – needless to say, we are in a period of forced firsts. When we use the term forced, it sounds so rough and aggressive, no? Hmmm, I’ll begin again, for the sake of modeling…

Welcome back to a period of new beginnings. Rethink how you want to be living? Reimagine how you wish to be art making? Rethink how to spend time (in the flesh, eye to eye, skin to skin) with those you cohabitate with? Reimagine….possibility.

There is no time, like this moment, to start living with new intentions and habits.

Let’s begin again, as I often say…let’s begin again:

The more time we spend with something in open curiosity, rather than routine applications, the more dynamic it becomes. Frequent beginner’s outlook applications result in novelty and playfulness. Open to the subtleties. It’s good for you. Do not judge outcomes, just take in the moment of creation. 

Reach for a new palette, explore new materials, work in a new environment, consider artistic genres of which you are curious, explore a new or neglected voice.

In these new moments of art making, begin with fresh intentions and point of view. The rest is subjective shaping, morphing into whatever it is that you – the artist– constructs – and the audience perceives, which often isn’t one and the same. How fun! 

One Minute Mindfulness

 

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Take a minute, and fly to a higher consciousness. 

Got a minute? Then you have all you need to be mindful.

If you ask me, hour long meditation – while good for us – is another layer of complication that most of us are either intimidated by or use as an excuse to not-getting-around-to-being-more-mindful.

Truth is, mindfulness is an outlook that pairs well with actions in the real world.

Rather than merely a way of being, mindfulness is something I come in and out of throughout any given day….just. ask. the. people. that. have. to. live. with. me.

Take a minute, now, to welcome mindfulness into your day. It could revolutionize our world, and most importantly – it revives your point of view regarding the world.

 

ONE MINUTE MINDFULNESS

  • SET AN INTENTION FOR A WAY YOU’D LIKE TO BE, TODAY.
    • For instance, I would like to be focused.
  • RECOGNIZE THAT THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, PHYSICAL SENSATIONS, AND CIRCUMSTANCES SWIRL WITHIN AND AROUND US.
    • Identify and acknowledge these aspects of being human.
  • TAKE A MOMENT TO BE INTENTIONAL, ALONGSIDE WHATEVER THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, PHYSICAL SENSATIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES SWIRL ….
    • For instance, I will focus on this blog for one minute, even though my tummy grumbles.
  • WITH CLARITY OF CHOICE, CHOOSE TO RENEW YOUR INTENTION FOR ANOTHER MINUTE OR SET OF MINUTES.
    • If you can afford the time, renew a mindful minute.
    • If any one distracting thought, feeling, sensation, or circumstance needs to be addressed – and only if need be – move along, and attend to that…
    • Know that you can come back to this mindful minute, and clarity of choice        regardless of the specific intention, hour, or circumstances…

 

THANK YOURSELF FOR THIS MINDFUL MINUTE TO REFRAME YOUR ARTISTRY…

 

Artistic Guardian Angels

 

 

 

art (with attached quote) by my guardian angel: Geri Kelly

Channel your artistic guardian angels, today.

Do you have that special someone, or maybe it’s someones, who noticed your potential?

Maybe they took that potential, not only as a sign to blossom you into the artist that you have become, but also, they sat still with you – dug their heels in with you – as you grew, popping from the mud; sprouting the roots and leaves and flowers you were meant to sprout?

I have been blessed by a few amazing special someones. They have felt larger-to-me than my ordinary small-town lifestyle or point of view. They noticed my seed and propelled me forward, whispering (and at times jerking me forward) to GROW! GROW!

There was Roy Kaiser, my patron saint, who told me I had big city potential. By early teen years, he opened that door to me – letting me know that city artistic life was mine to grab, if I believed in myself, and worked very hard. He had a favorite expression, “no pain, no gain,” which I have come to question in my adult life. I’ve tweaked the expression, internally, to accommodate my feminine core values. My mantra sounds more like, “embrace the discomforts of growing pains.” Roy would go on to become Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Ballet not long after his mentorship of me. His own artistic sparkle allowed my adolescent self to believe that  – I too – was capable of great artistic things.

Then, there’s my dear husband – a far better writer regarding grammar and character development and pace than myself. Michael Gross has led an extraordinary life without telling many people about it (so far), except those patient and literate enough to read his words. To say that his majestic nature stems from being son of a kind, talented MLB talent, is like saying what makes him interesting is one particular constellation in the vibrant night sky. Michael’s mind is vast, like the sky, and unassuming or at times taken for granted, as a steady introvert over our hurried humdrum of footprints upon Earth. It’s the sky and the way he looks at it that is most compelling. During a tough period in my life, those almost-thirtysomething-question-everything days, he reappeared in my life via that clumsy world of Facebook. He has inspired my adulthood, journeying alongside his sky – a personal universe to securely explore new galaxies.

And – the inspiration for this post, she’s a petite female figure who deserves big credit in fine-tuning my view of artistry and humanity. I met her when I was fourteen, and if lucky, I still get to visit her every other week at my ripe age of forty. Geri Kelly. Simply, she is my therapist. But more exactly, she taught me how to view my circumstances, my connection to others, and connection to true fulfillment – as a mere seed that will forever grow, whenever or if ever I am ready.

Geri is with me in every therapy session that I now host, with every dear client I try to fully see in the way I have long felt fully seen by her. Geri is in every chapter of Reframe Your Artistry, the book I woke to write for two years – mornings when I could afford to rise before dear husband and daughter. She is fuel to my purpose and authentic voice. And Geri dances throughout most precious material items in my home: like the painting SHE painted (displayed here, hanging beside my daughter’s bed). Gifted to me with a special quote on the backside, it was intended to honor of my daughter’s birth. And Geri lingers as the most radiant of my guardian angels, just as her selected quote implies…”Grow! Grow!”

To say that I have artistic guardian angels, it negates the full expanse of who they are to me – they are, in reality, great artists and angelic inspiration in how best to live my days: honoring discomforts, celebrating the most precious parts of life, and eternally committed to growth…ever. so. gently.

How long must we wait? May the future start now…

#phoenixvillereads

Story one, in “How Long til Black Future Month?,” was everything I hoped it could be. And more. I purchased the much anticipated book at my local, adorable bookstore: Reads & Co. It was a self-splurge after dropping whatever I could afford on my daughter’s first visit to this inviting, carefully curated collection of books. My daughter’s words encapsulate the welcoming vibe at the store, when to the kind co-owner – Jason Hafer – she said, “can I stay here forever?”

Complete with a spaceship in the kids’ section and the very it book I’d been craving to read (since happening upon an interview with Black Future Month’s author, Jemisin, in Writer’s Digest) my daughter and I left the store – literally – skipping. And she asked, “when can we go back there again?” And I said, as soon as mommy can afford it.

But about the it book.

I believe authors to readers (like teachers to students, therapists to clients) pop into our world, at the very time they are needed, and we cling to those that speak to our truest longings.

That is where Jemisin found me. And held me.

In story one, The Ones Who Stay to Fight, Jemisin choreographed a world where I’d like to reside: halfway between speculative fiction and philosophical brushstrokes that, together, dance a scene for a better world. In Jemisin’s constructed world, aside from a well thought out and carefully debated violent moment, there is fresh ground on which I hope to plant my feet in a not-so-distant future.

The author’s voice, to me, is part clairvoyant, part anthropologist, part diplomat, part social worker (and she does a fabulous job, my fellow social workers, of directly addressing the dilemmas and bravery of social workers!! in this story, woohooo). Jemisin presents a place that I can picture and yet feels perhaps out of my grasp in my own lifetime, but hopefully not out of grasp during my daughter’s. She closes the story with a calling, “Now. Let’s get to work.” And, I cannot help but feel like she embodies the best of a Reframe Your Artistry world, gathering a thing or two of beauty through artistry, and trying to elevate our existence on both a micro and macro level.

Jemisin’s world? Oh, glad you asked. It’s centered around a city named Um-Helat, and maybe the most approximate realish place may be Brooklyn. But Um-Helat presents a:

“realization that once…differences of opinion involved differences in respect. That once, value was ascribed to some people and not others. That once, humanity was acknowledged for some, and not others…they begin to perceive that ours is a world where the notion that some people are less important than others has been allowed to take root, and grow until it buckles and cracks the foundation of our humanity.” pp.9-10

I wonder, in naming the city – Um-Helat – might Jemisin be teasing her readers to ask for more cities and more stories like this, like, “Um-Hell-of-a-Lot?”

If I take nothing more with me, forever, from this story (and I do take pride in my memory vice v. virtue….that great art stays with me, like a tattoo), it is that I shall not stop believing in tomorrow. Because, like Jemisin, in my mind – I am living it, today.

Play Around with Dirt

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Dirt 2002

This is a favorite go to, for me: play around with dirt. Besides the metaphor as wildly inspiring, dirt offers our inner-artist much guidance.

Step outside, place your hands in the first patch of dirt or mud that you locate. Smother as much of your skin into the mud. Paint a portion of your body. Consider jumping up and down in muddy puddles, as my daughter and Peppa Pig have invited me to do. The celebratory energy has a twofold effect: 1, you are stirring circulation needed for creative focus; and 2, it brings an inherent appreciation to something too often thought of as a problem spot in the world. “Watch out for the muddy puddle. You don’t want to get messy,” sounds different to me than, “Look for muddy puddles to jump in. Let’s have some fun!

One of my favorite creations arrived one sullen afternoon. I was depressed (triggered by a grieving coming-of-age-self-absorbed heart), and moodiness oozed over my plate of life. I walked into my parents’ backyard and smeared dirt over an old canvas. Then, I dusted the dirt with a coat of paint. It remains a piece of abstract wall art of which I am most proud. Go on. If you read this far, make your own masterpiece with dirt.

Share with us – submissions accepted at reframeyourartistry@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

When Art imitates life imitating life.

 

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Walden Pond, 2017

JOIN ME IN DOWNLOADING YOUR DREAMS IN THE COMMENTS OF THIS POST…

I had a dream, last night. I returned to a favorite spot – Walden Pond. This time, I arrived, alone and along an unmarked, previously untravelled path. I didn’t know I was there ’til I saw dark, brownish-gray water popping through evergreen and heard summer laughter.

The laughter turned to, “Oh, no,”‘s.

My lush path parted and I was right next to the other Walden Pond visitors. Now, I saw what they were looking at with both wonder and concern.

Giant rocks jumped out of the water, seemingly spontaneous and unprompted. It was interesting at first. Then, the rocks erupted more intensely and approached all of us visitors, pond side. I recall a moment to pause, thinking something deep within the pond is causing this rupture.

We ran for cover. I was the only one that knew the secret path. I thought of those I left behind. I thought of my selfishness. Soon, the only thing that I could think about was running back home to my partner and daughter.

Sometimes, I wake thinking, our dreams are vivid allegories.

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe, Mindful Brilliance

Photo on 3-14-19 at 9.10 AM

While waiting for my monthly writers’ group to organize at the local, charming bookstore, I told myself I’d only purchase a book for my daughter if “the right one popped out.” I didn’t have much time nor spare money, and while the idea of purchasing a book for her upcoming birthday seemed like the best kind of gift to consider, the image of our children’s book mess all over the living room held my reservations in tact.

The bar was high.

But there it lept out at me. In the Black History Month display, bold colors and the portrait of a young artist that I long admired, pulled me to it.

Radiant Child, a reference we would like to apply to all our children, also uniquely references Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat has been credited as the artist marking a paradigm shift into more diverse voices in American high art. There is a line in the early pages composed by the sensitive and talented Javaka Steptoe, describing Basquiat’s drawings as “not neat or clean, nor does his color stay in the lines. They are sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still BEAUTIFUL.” 

While the book is not filled with Basquiat replications, there is something even more compelling at work. Steptoe stated that the illustrations (earning a Caldecott Medal) are inspired by the style of Basquiat. He made an impression upon Steptoe as a young child, and fellow NYC native, both gravitating toward art, early, for salvation.

But what really made my creative heart explode, was Steptoe’s approach to creating his own work with repurposed wood, “I chose to create my own interpretations…,” upon, “found wood harvested from discarded Brooklyn Museum exhibit materials, the dumpsters of Brooklyn brownstones, and the streets of Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side.” The fusion of Steptoe and Basquiat is both electrifying and haunting.

It is an understatement that Basquiat left this world and the art world too soon, at the young age of twenty-seven. But in my dreams last night, and throughout my artistic gestures today, I feel the still roaming, giant spirit of Basquiat. I cannot wait to share this book and these artistic points of view with my daughter. And when I view the work of Basquiat, though I never met him, and though the details of our lives are quite different, I feel less alone.

Revived with My Wabi-sabi Way

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Maybe my dance partner – Michele – was speaking directly to me, as she sometimes does, by sharing a beloved book. However it came to be, Wabi-sabi makes sense. Koren’s Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers registers with my adult point of view:

“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional…to create beautiful things without getting caught up in the dispiriting materialism that usually surrounds creative acts…deep, multi-dimensional, elusive – appeared the perfect antidote to the pervasively slick, saccharine, corporate style of beauty that I felt was desensitizing American society” (pp.7-10)

Wabi-sabi has blossomed my artistic, professional, and personal life. The mindful angle illuminates the way I view my imperfect art, my imperfect body, my imperfect love, my imperfect family, my imperfect emotional states, this imperfect moment in history, and many many imperfect actions. In what I have coined My Wabi-sabi Way, bastardized with personal applications far removed from ancient Japanese intentions, life is more beautiful. I regularly tune-up My Wabi-sabi Way like a meditator might upkeep their formal practice with a new cushion or location. I do this by gathering imperfect items from nature. Recent episodes include collecting broken and jagged seashells along the South Carolina coast; photographing muddy puddles along a desolate lane; and scanning the sky above for a blend of light and dark clouds. In nature, Wabi-sabi’s energy is ever present. And in the natural world, now, I have an unspeakable sense of belonging.