A Little Less Judgy Judge, Maybe…Please?

Ok, so went to see a sneak preview of a new film last night, Life Itself more on that in a bit, but as I waited in line to enter the film my eye locked in

Burberry, expensive, privilege

The bag in question….

on the woman waiting ahead of me. She wore a plain, long, black winter coat filled with something (never mind that it was only a slightly cooler day, maybe in the mid-60’s, in September) but I couldn’t help but notice her purse. I noticed it because it was a Burberry bag that I had coveted in a magazine ad several years ago, or one similar anyway. Mind you, this was not a bag that I ever dreamt of owning – ok, yes, I dreamt of owning it but was certain it would never happen. We’re talking a bag that went for around $1700 when it came out. This amount is significantly higher than my monthly mortgage and I’m not stupid. Unless some fictitious fairy godmother had appeared (and I would have assumed that someone had slipped me LSD anyway) and plopped the bag in my lap, that bag would never have been in my possession (barring all of the illicit options, of course 😁).

So, the track of thoughts in my mind were as follows – pretty average shoes and coat but crazy expensive bag – why is she in line for a free film preview? Owning that bag means that she can pay for a movie, right? And on I went…judge, judge, judge….

I caught myself though. It is not a far reach to imagine that someone gave her that bag. There are plenty of wealthy parents out there buying their kids things that help them misunderstand the value of money – and boy oh boy does that purse accomplish that!

She didn’t seem snobbish or affected as she waited ahead of me in line for 20 minutes or so. Those things are pretty easy to suss out if you pay attention. As she worked away on her phone she slowly listed into one of the upcoming movie displays, which was ginormous, and the third of it she leaned into started to fall forward but she was very careful to replace it just as it was originally standing.

So the lesson we’ve learned here today? Try not to be so judgy. This is a very judgy society we live in and everyone thinks they’re smarter and better than everyone else. The absolute truth is – we really don’t know shit. Let’s just admit that now and get it over with, right?

A little more understanding and brotherly/sisterly love, please? Ok, let’s just start with less judging and move on from there.

film, promo, plug

Life Itself Movie

 

Life Itself, was a really interesting film. From the outset you aren’t really sure what is going on, mostly because it’s one of those films where you really don’t get the whole picture until it’s tied into a knot for you at the end (I really don’t want to give anything away here just in case…). I like that style and though there were some elemental points in the film that I thought needed more explanation or wouldn’t really happen in real life, it made its points, which were bigger than the loose ends. It tried to accomplish a lot while making you see life and the world a little differently than you probably are thinking about it these days, which I appreciate in any art form. It did it’s job as an art form in a mostly enjoyable way. Bravo!

Where Is the Understanding of Our Fellow Man/Woman?

So the thing that is frustrating me the most these days is the knee-jerk responses, and even those not as much in the knee-jerk category, to people

brave, protest, bold, inspiring

Colin Kaepernick

who believe that they are doing the right thing. What they are doing may or may not be the right thing for you and I, but they believe it is the right thing for them. And the instances that I’m thinking about are not only the right thing for them, but are also mind-blowingly brave and admirable.

Yes, I’m thinking of Colin Kaepernick, who as you all know unless you’ve been trapped under a large rock, began to kneel during the National Anthem last year. He has so eloquently explained his stance and why he’s doing it, here’s an example, and people continue to ignore that, as if he’s never explained himself, and insist that this is about only insulting a symbol of our country – the flag. I have seen so many service people and ex-service people stand up and support what Kaepernick is doing and say that they fought for his right to do what it.

So, my question is….are these people saying they want him silenced and, accordingly, see our country go down the road toward authoritarianism and fascism? Is this what we fought two world wars for?

I find this guy so inspiring. He knew what this might mean for his career and prepared himself for it because he can’t look at himself in the mirror each morning knowing that he’s got a well paying job and, at the same time, there are people who are being shot and assaulted everyday because they have skin in a shade similar to his. And, anyway, when IS the right time for black people to protest against they way they are being treated? Me thinks this question would fall on silent times if one of these objectors were asked it.

And if you haven’t seen the Nike ad featuring Kaepernick yet, here you go…. It’s inspiring as hell and made me cry.

I am happy to see that Nike’s sales are up 30%. 😀

copy, safe agreement, copycat

Piggyback

There are many more instances but the other immediate one that comes to mind this week is Olivia Munn, the actress who has been doing promotion alone for the new remake of the film The Predator, because she was being rejected by the rest of the (male) cast after she called out the director when he brought a documented child predator onto the set to do a scene for the movie. Munn was successful in her protest but was then left alone to promote the film – read here. She was not told who she would be working with before filming began.

It looks like that situation is now working itself out but Munn was pretty upset about the whole situation and her lack of cast support when she was doing the hard duty (as it always is) of doing what she thought was right. In this particular situation, it looks like they all now agree that it was the right thing to do.

Why does doing the right thing have to be made to be so hard? It’s hard enough to do in the first place…..

Close Your Eyes and Imagine This…. 😦

So, I’ve heard some comments in the news lately regarding racism and white supremacy as being “on the rise” in our country.

racism, learning, empathy, immigration

Living on a slow learning curve in America

I understand that maybe they more precisely mean that the people who have chosen to think this way have been spurred on, and have been made to feel welcome to be wide open in their views, by our federal government but they are wildly mistaken if they mean that the level of racism and white supremacy wasn’t always at the level it’s at now. The question is hidden or deployed?

It becomes more clear to me every day how few white people understand, with any kind of empathy, what its like to be a person of color, an immigrant or even to experience religious persecution in this country (and I’m even talking about the people who’s families, just a generation ago, experienced religious or immigrant related persecution – and in some cases, they are even the immigrants themselves!) – I attach today’s related news story from Politico (thanks Tilden!).

Let’s do an exercise…. Let’s close our eyes for a minute and imagine we want to buy a house in a nice suburban

Institutional racism, housing descrimination

Dream House or Nightmare Scenario?

neighborhood, maybe even the very house we live in now. We drive around this lovely neighborhood and see a “FOR SALE” sign in front of the house of our dreams. We call the phone number on the sign and ask to see the house. The realtor says to come over to the office and they will discuss that house and some others that are similar in price in the area. We go to the realtor’s office, walk in the door, meet the realtor and suddenly all of the properties are now sold or otherwise unavailable.

Every other realtor in the neighborhood is now saying the same thing, even though through the coming week that sign you originally saw is still sitting on the front lawn of the house you fell in love with. How would you feel?

This is one of several stories I’ve been told by black and brown friends. Think it’s not an institutional practice? I dare you to ask any person of color if they have a similar story.

Next question….do you have any friends of color to ask?

 

Can You Be Auto-Corrected By A Smart Composer?

So I read an article this week about how Google is working to get closer and closer to anticipating what we will be thinking of next – kind of like auto-correct for everything. Am I the only one who’s creeped out by this?

jail, control, choice, freedom

Trapped inside a Google mind

I like my free will.

Let’s say you have a frustrating and busy day (like most days) and you think that you’d like to listen to your favorite band and your favorite song by your favorite band, but you haven’t listened to it in eons. Google will anticipate what it thinks you want to listen to at that moment and if it’s just a little bit more difficult for it to find something or it keeps insisting that what you want to hear is something else you may not put the extra effort into finding what you’d really want. Rinse, repeat, expand.

At what point will we allow our computers to auto complete our lives, because it’s just easier?

The article begins with the writer, who is generally a stickler for words, being prompted to begin emails with “Hi” from “Hey”. Seems harmless enough, right? Except that he would have never used “Hi” previously and was changed by an algorithm.

I guess I’m worried about our existing inclinations as a human race to believe whatever people tell us and our softness to become brainwashed so easily already. Am I off base?

I’m also afraid that I like my free will a bit more than most people. You?

White Privilege Lives Right Here. Can You Hear It?

So, an interesting thing happened on Facebook a few days ago.

subway, trains, victorian

Old Boston T Station at Downtown Crossing

No, I don’t mean any of the usual dreck that goes on on there.

I posted a photo of a very old T stop entrance (Boston shortened name for the MBTA subway) that I happened upon on a street leading to the Park Street station. It was a beautiful entrance and obviously one of the originals.

I was amazed that after all of these years I could still find something like this that I had missed. And for a moment, Boston was new to me again.

Anyway, after I posted the photo an old friend on Facebook wrote, “Back when there was order in the world.” Now this comment smacked of white privilege to me in such an institutional way. I replied, “Yes, but the order only worked for us white people. It didn’t work so well if you were black or brown.” I think I stunned her a bit as I know she didn’t mean any harm. She replied that she hadn’t said anything about race.

This was an example of institutional racism at its most classic. The only way to make the statement she made is to only see things from your own perspective. There is no way anyone of any minority group would themselves say that the world order was better back then here in this country. But just as importantly, the comment was made without any intention of malice or harm.

I feel it’s important to mention these things in as kind and non-aggressive a way as possible because people will stay in the fog that we’ve been trained to stay in if not. Being made to see the reality of how the world looks through other’s eyes is the only way to continue the change.

Weirdly, when I went to write this blog piece and went to look up the interchange again, all of the comments were gone. It’s so bizarre! The original likes are gone too. Just a few new ones. Facebook really is creeping me out these days…

Got any good stories of Facebook creepiness?

Are You Sorry, Or What? 😥

So….the words “I’m Sorry”.

Apologies, Love, kindness, manners, mores

I’m Sorry, I Love You

Are these words as problematic in the world for you as they are for me?

Not the words themselves, although their absence from daily life, in a meaningful way, is also a large problem.

I mean the hollowness of the words when you do hear them from time to time. It seems like they are going by the wayside with our feelings of community.

It feels to me as if society’s carefully laid out social mores are broken and lying all over the ground and we are stomping on them each day. It’s also hard when you’re surrounded by this change in behavior on a colossal level and in the meantime you’re still trying to be a good and conscientious person. Not easy, my friend.

The two situations that are coming to mind as most prevalent is the deliberate cutting in front of, elbowing to get ahead, stepping on and stealing things (such as parking spaces) all while mumbling a feeble “Sorry” making certain not to make any eye contact whatsoever.

The other is the rare sound of someone saying it to you at all. Society seems to be moving toward a conditioning of never taking responsibility for anything negative that we do to each other (the lone wolf who does is sometimes berated for it – that’ll show him/her). Or are we just becoming so self absorbed that we don’t even notice what we’re doing to those closest to us (that doesn’t serve as an excuse by the way)?

“Sorry” is not a get out of jail free card. It was intended to have meaning and feeling behind it. Without the slightest bit of guilt or remorse, the word has no substance and would be better not said at all, which is also happening.

In those instances it feels as if we are going back to our rightful place in the animal kingdom. Maybe we are. In the process of killing off all of the other animals we may be feeling the need to stand in. Subconscious psychology at its best.

 

There’s a Reason Why Art is Shown Best in Public Institutions. U Get Me?

Last weekend I went on a pilgrimage with a friend to the Hall Art Foundation which is up in Reading, Vermont, near Killington where we stayed during the hottest day of the year to date.

corporate collection, Andrew Halll

The barns of the Hall Art Foundation

There’s no air conditioning up there as they just don’t get that kind of heat normally, well until now that is, and the craziest thing is that the temps were higher up on Mt. Killington than they were back in Boston. Nuts.

Anyway, my friend and I learned of the Hall Art Foundation from a pilgrimage we made to Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) back in September of last year (the two joined in 2013). Mass MoCA was, and always is an amazing time and I highly suggest you check it out if you never have, or even if you haven’t been there in a while. There’s an incredible virtual reality installation by Laurie Anderson that you just can’t miss and a just as mind blowing retrospective by James Turrell (I feel weird calling anything by him a retrospective since he sure as hell ain’t done yet!) which will make you look at light in a whole new way.

But I digress….so, the Hall Art Foundation actually exists in two locations – one in Derneberg, Germany (in the former home and studio of artist Georg Baselitz) and the other, as I had mentioned, in Reading, VT, and is such a lovely discovery!  The entire collection has over 6000 pieces in it and with a little bit of Googling I

outdoor, sculpture, public

Untitled, Richard Deacon

found that it is the collection of a hedge fund manager who made close to 100 million dollars in bonuses just after the wall street bailout. Hmmm. He and his wife are also now the largest private landowners in Reading and the other residents have mixed feelings about what the Halls have done to Reading.

Putting all aside, if that’s completely possible, the shows we saw in 4 separate barns consisted of themed collections curated by well known artists invited in to create some order to what must be overwhelming at first. One show (3 of the barns) carried the theme of women’s bodies and sexuality and the fourth barn was about nature and it’s limited resources.

I must say that the shows were interesting and well curated but, since you can’t see the work without a guide (who couldn’t answer all of our questions) you have a fairly limited amount of time to take the work in as you are kept going at a certain pace. I’m glad that the work can be seen by the public, even though in small chunks at a time, but there was something false about the experience that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The difference in feel between Hall and Mass MoCA is like night and day. It was like the restricting, stern rules of a damaged, controlling adult versus the playful, honest and open heart of a child.

Anyone been to one, the other or both? Thoughts?

You Do Know What Extreme Wealth Means, Don’t You? 📍

So maybe it’s because I’m from the Midwest originally but I find the East Coast, beautiful, diverse, metropolitan and cold (and I don’t mean the temperature).

Quaint Vermont Town, Woodstock, VT, white, no diversity, beautiful

Quaint Vermont Town

I’ve lost count of how many people told me “I have enough friends” back in the day. I couldn’t imagine what that meant. I was a naive outgoing midwesterner who was considered threatening somehow for these same traits. How could anyone ever have enough friends, I thought?

What I’ve learned over the years is that people who say things like that are scared. They are scared of new things, new people and possibly even growing in any way. This of course has nothing to do with me but one can’t help but take it a bit personally no matter how many times I might have told myself not to do it.

Recently, through networking initiatives, I have been meeting more people and here and there hit it off with someone where I am always the one who suggests keeping in touch or meeting up again. I do believe that they reciprocate honestly in saying that they are interested in that too, however, I have yet to know someone besides myself who actually makes contact and follows through.

I’m thinking that this might be a contributing factor behind the condition our country is in right now. We’ve gotten so buried in our technology and have absorbed all of the scare tactics of the nightly news to the point where we are all convinced that the person behind us in the grocery store line is crazy or out to get us.

company, togetherness, peace,  friendship

Three Amigos – happy just to be together

The thing we forget, and I mean all of us even on our best days, is that every one of us on this planet basically wants the same things (barring mental illness, of course – whole other blog) – to live in peace and with freedom, for our kids to be safe, to just have enough money to feed our families and be in a comfortable home, and to not have violence threaten us in any aspect of our daily lives. In other words, to have just enough. At some point money starts becoming something used to fill an empty hole in us as well as show something to other people rather than have just enough of it to be happy and thrive.

Overly wealthy neighborhoods these days are making me feel ill as I drive through them thinking about how they have acquired so much, which could have only been made possible by taking advantage of the privilege and complete advantages over others that they have and have had. A giant mansion really could only be acquired by what is now called “status hoarding” – keeping all of the advantages for me and mine while you go without anything. It’s a whole other way of looking at the world and we have been conditioned to not look at it that way. The system only works if no one takes the red pill and sees the truth.

Thoughts?

Do You Often Forget That There is Balance in the World? ☯️

So, this MUST have happened to you at some point…. I mean, it’s not just me, right?

Someone does something, ahem, unpleasant to you and you curl up inside and start to back away. You begin to close up, get a little bitter and start to mentally shut them out.

book, art, performance, exchange

The Art of Asking – a true inspiration.

Truly, I think most of us do this or at least have done it at some point. Whether it’s on an institutional level, a friend does something, or even a client, trust is a commodity that we keep close and don’t share lightly.

Well, as some of you already know, I am a pretty big fan of Amanda Palmer and support her Patreon, in a very humble way. I don’t do this lightly, commonly, nor is it selfless. I get a lot out of what she makes and what she writes and, therefore, she in turn supports my artwork through her ideas. This is exactly what she writes about in her bestselling book, The Art of Asking. The idea that even though you may not see a direct exchange from artist to patron in financial terms (there are all sorts of ways to do it) that doesn’t mean there isn’t one there.

So this week I was thinking about a passage in Amanda’s book, The Art of Asking,  about a couple who were kind of stalking her in Berlin and then showed up to a party she threw for Kickstarter patrons in which she ended up naked with everyone writing on her (long story) and this stalky couple end up sexually assaulting her. Talking to her husband afterward she talked herself through the gamut of thoughts (as I often do) of feeling angry, hurt, betrayed and then talking herself into a place where she could zoom out and see the larger picture of where those people might fit in. It’s the yin and the yang in the end. All good comes with bad and all bad comes with good. They are inextricable, we must accept one with the other and find the use and purpose of both if we are to be contented.

I always have believed in this way of thought but we humans have a way of forgetting what we know so well from time to time and lately I had forgotten a bit. When something happens that makes you feel angry, hurt and betrayed, ask yourself – Why did this need to happen? What am I supposed to learn from this? What good thing might I not be able to have if this wasn’t the other side of the coin?

And let me know if you have any of these incidences to share or your experience with trying it out. I’d love to hear about them.

NYC – uninspiring?…..Never! 📣

Last weekend I went to NYC, my usual, regular pilgrimage that makes all right with the world, and saw my usual varieties of art and for the first time in a while felt a little blah about it all. Nothing was inspiring me. “Really, nothing?”, I asked myself. I’m in NY for freaks sake, there must be SOMETHING here to inspire me!

art, animated video, memories, death, life

Moléculas, Juan Antonio Olivares

Then, on Sunday, I went to the Whitney (thank you Kath!) and was blown away by all three of the shows I saw there – and amazingly – it was the very last day for each of them.

The first, was an animated video by Juan Antonio Olivares called Molécules in which Olivares tells a story of a highly personal nature that is partly true and partly fantasy, through an old teddy bear with one arm torn off. It’s terribly sad as the bear talks about memories of his mother with whom he had a dysfunctional relationship. A melancholy and moving piece that reminds us how delicate and easily damaged we all are, especially by poignant memories and people who are important to us.

American Gothic, kitsch, heartland art

Corn Cob Chandelier, Grant Wood

Next, I walked right around the corner and into the Grant Wood show which was just a few rooms but really packed a punch. I knew nothing really of this painter of the mega famous American Gothic. I, as a lot of artists I know, have just written it off as “refrigerator art” or kitsch but this show was so revealing

Grant Wood began as an Arts & Crafts style functional artist working in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles with a little midwestern kitsch thrown in. His early work is absolutely gorgeous and interestingly odd – i.e.: an amazingly ornate chandelier with corn cobs vertically holding the bulbs (which I was also thinking could be called American Gothic).

As he moved on to painting his work begins to hold a certain type of anxiety. The people all look miserable and repressed and at the same time there is a surreal pristine fantasy portrayal of the landscape and the place everyone has in it. This, I learned, came from his repressed life as a gay man in the rural midwest of the 1930’s and 40’s where his interpretations of life were strewn with either idyllic representations of his memories of being a boy or his experiences of life being so austere and difficult as an adult hiding who he truly was.

politics, art, relevant, brilliant, test of time

I Want a Dyke for President, Zoe Leonard

Lastly, and what an oh so wonderful surprise, was a survey (I think the same thing as a retrospective except that the person may be a bit young for that title) of Zoe Leonard who I had previously never heard of. Her work is so poignant and did just what I want an artist to do for me, slightly change my perspective or just show me a slightly different one.

The piece to the right here, I Want a Dyke for President, is 25 years old, if you can believe that, and is more relevant now than it was then. It’s brilliant, inspiring, perceptive and made me see the point in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

I kept thinking, “yes! yes!” I want a president who has been through something, not someone who has been pampered their whole life. I want empathy and passion for the issues that affect our most vulnerable not political nonsense. Where are they? And most importantly, have they been there all along but all of us are playing into the game of keeping them out of the realm where we could really use them?

What are your thoughts on this? As always, I want to know!