Curious Dog = Empathy. Dig?

I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Boston Opera House last night, for the second time. I saw it on Broadway in NYC last year and fell in love. You should know that this is the first play of any kind that I’ve seen twice. It’s really something special and I could feel the audience get that – they were enraptured.

Winner Best Play 2015 Tony Award

Winner Best Play 2015 Tony Award

Here’s why I think this connection happens with this play in particular. Empathy. Yes, I know, I’m always going on and on about empathy and compassion, and I’m unapologetic because these are important topics that make us human and make us whole. Without them, we are grumpy, sad and feel as if something’s missing from our lives. Just do something nice and/or thoughtful for someone else and you will remember what I mean – the opposite happens.

So, this play puts you squarely inside the head of a 15 year old boy with autism, literally, inside his head (the stage is a grid of the inside of his head but also transforms through other people into all kinds of things) and you can feel what he’s feeling and how he neurologically interprets things in a different way than we do. Being in that grid transforms your experience to his experience rather than yours. What an amazing thing, and an incredible gift. We could all use a little more experiential empathy in our lives – kind of like virtual reality empathy.

I can’t really say enough about this play – GO SEE IT, if you can, if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity. You will find it to be a gift and we don’t get that many true gifts handed to us these days….do we?

Are We In the Age of “Like” but No Action?

Ok, here’s what I’m thinking about this week….th

As I dive head long into the digital world of, All The Pardons, my new app (first app, only app), I’m thinking about the age of “like” that we’re living in. We are asked to “like” everything on a myriad of social media sites, blogs and anything that’s digitally interactive.

So, what does it mean to “like” something? Has “liking” things replaced our ability to act on things, interact with people in real life? If someone dies, is “liking” a post on Facebook equal to sending flowers or a personal note? How do we really feel about that when looking at it in a realistic light and not thinking about it as “just the way things are now”?

I’m truly interested in what you think about this.

I’ll tell you how I feel about it. I miss real human interaction. Don’t get me wrong. I interact with people and do have my quality connections but now go out of my way to do things that, yes, aren’t how things are done anymore. It brings more quality to my and others’ life. I can see on people’s faces how much they appreciate my extra effort and how I’m not treating them as they are being treated by others.  This is something that has happened slowly and deliberately over time.

Don’t think that I’m not getting something out of this. I definitely am. It makes me feel good. It gets me out of myself (as we all tend to go deeper and deeper inside all the time) and makes me more empathetic to others. It makes me feel more human and feeling human feels good – probably because that’s how we’re naturally wired.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to lose my humanity and I feel like there are constant attempts to slowly pull that out of us. That’s the way we lose things, right? Slowly and barely noticeable. Scary.

thOk, so do one thing this week that wasn’t expected or “just isn’t done anymore”? Maybe even just think about doing one thing that fits one of those two categories and let me know what it is? Would you share? Go below and “leave a comment”.  Plleeeaaassee!

When I write these I feel like I’m talking to myself and I’d love to see some evidence that someone is out there. Connect with me baby!

Thanks.

Where Do We Really Live?

Ok, so I am bogged down in the details of my app building and learning so many new things each day that my head feels like it’s going to explode, however, I’m going to take a little break from that and write about an amazing artist I saw at the MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Cleveland a year ago December.

New York City Apartment, Do Ho Suh

New York City Apartment, Do Ho Suh

Why so long ago, you ask? Well, I was going through the trauma of caring for my ailing and mistreated-at-hospital parents (well, that part was just my father) and was in Cleveland dealing with that, taking a break to see this show with my friend Claudia, and just couldn’t get to blogging at all during that part of my life. Life, such as it is, just takes over and decides what you can and can not do at times. Needless to say, I have a lot of catching up to do. So, getting back to the art….

The show was the work of the amazing South Korean born artist, Do Ho Suh, who has quickly become one of the most important artists of our time and named “Art Innovator of the Year” by The Wall Street Journal in 2013. His work deals with the boundaries between public and private space, global identity, memory, displacement and nomadism – all of which I was dealing with at the time, feeling the abandonment of my childhood home and city and the thoughts of life in my family as finite, individually and as a whole.

The first visual texture that hit us upon encountering this work was transparency and the undulation between solids and opaque surfaces. Suh had recreated his entire New York City apartment in polyester mesh fabric and bright solid colors. The layers and feeling of x-ray vision was amazing, not to mention the attention to detail which was mind boggling. Once being in it and moving around in the space for a while, I was overcome by a feeling of ghostliness and melancholy as the space was the shadow of a place to live, but was it a home?

The Specimen Series, Do Ho Suh,  Aren't these fabulous?

The Specimen Series, Do Ho Suh, Aren’t these fabulous?

Suh also had a room with what he called the, Specimen Series. Several normal household appliances and fixtures, also in polyester fabric, that were “framed” in plexiglass light boxes, glowing eerily in a darkened room. Soft, stark, beautiful and lonely.

So, you can see why this exhibit was hitting so close to home (yes, pun). It begged the viewer to consider their vision of home and what that means and what it feels like to have a home or not. It also made me think about how we are like mental turtles, carrying all of our past, present and future memories of “home” around in our heads, which is really where it is, clearly spelled out as I watched my childhood home slowly turn into a generic house as it was emptied of its contents.

In the end, there is universal empathy from all of us as we understand that globalization and digital communication slowly erase our traditional notions of time, space and place, driving us further and further into our heads/homes.

Have You Ever Taken On Something You Know Nothing About?

Hello y’all!

I am here today to talk to you about the imposter syndrome.  Are you familiar with it?  Well, on Wikipedia it’s known henceforth –ClickHandler-1

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.[2]

It is not a coincidence that this syndrome is most often found in women (though I know that it does sometimes appear in men) and that it was discovered and identified by women.  I think every successful female artist has, at the very least, stumbled into it at some point and at varying degrees of intensity.  I am no exception.

At the moment, I’m working on my next project under the heading of Social Acupuncture/Social Meditation (SASM) – project number 2 – an app called All the Pardons (you may recall, the first project called, All the Bandages, which I will get back to once this one has launched).

Now, you must understand, I have never designed an app before, nor did I have the slightest idea how to do so before I started this endeavor and came up with the idea.  I’ve been through all of the stages – being terrified that I don’t know how to even begin, asking for help from fellow artists and receiving someone who supposedly knew what they were doing, realizing they didn’t have any idea what they were doing, being paralyzed with fear and doubt, then slowly gaining confidence in my own knowledge and instincts (with never underestimated support from mentors and friends) to take the reigns and proceed slowly and cautiously forward.

So, my question is, why is this syndrome mostly attributed to women? Why are men so much more naturally confident? Or are they? Is this a gender thing or a genetic thing? Hmmmm.

I picked up a great quote while reading Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. She says “The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not.” Interesting, yes?

 

thLastly, saw another great, and I mean great, film last night, A United Kingdom. A fabulously acted and written film about Botswana’s independence that would never have come about without the amazingly beautiful love story of a British white woman and a prince from Botswana who fell in love facing more adversity than one can imagine. Don’t miss it.

Are You Giving Your Power Away?

Recently I had posed a question on Facebook to engage a bit of conversation. The question was, “Why does there always seem to be a struggle ClickHandlerbetween knowledge and power?” – ie: why can’t these two play nicely with each other?

I find that these two entities play a role in every aspect of life, relationships being the most prevalent, but at the moment we are seeing them play out a tragic Shakespearean drama all around us (Richard the Third anyone?).

Yes, there is the argument that knowledge IS power but that is not always the case, am I right? I think we’re seeing that all over the place these days.

Having always been a strong and independent minded woman, I regularly pursue knowledge in all its forms. I love learning new things no matter what the subject matter.  Unfortunately, in the world we live in, people don’t welcome the independent, strong woman as readily as they do a strong, independent man. I have the knowledge but not the power, though I do acknowledge that we all give away our power in varying amounts and don’t recognize how much power we each carry innately.  How do we balance out our knowledge vs. power? I find that I can gain a bit of power by acting a bit more demurely but then I am sacrificing part of myself as the cost for that power.  I see women doing this every day, no, multiple times a day every day.  When can we stop doing this because it’s going to take some of us a long time to get out of the habit of having to conceal our true selves. Time table? Anyone?….

NYC – Not Gotham, the Emerald City, Right?

So, just spent another glorious weekend in NYC. My goodness, how rejuvenated I feel after an art infused weekend there. All of my stresses sort

The Front Page on Broadway

The Front Page on Broadway

themselves out and become strengths again. So fabulous!

Let’s see. Got in a ticket at a short, two week run of The Front Page with John Slattery (could he be more silvery and foxy?), Nathan Lane (stole the show, he’s magic on stage), John Goodman (so great to see him in person), as well as names you know, but you don’t know, you know? – Holland Taylor, Jefferson Mays and lovely Robert Morse (could there be more Mad Men in this production?). I feel so blessed and honored to have seen this crew in this particular production. I’ve seen The Front Page before but the chaos this crew created was so much fun! Thanks to all for a wonderful night!

The best name of show ever!

The best name of show ever!

Earlier in the day, spent some time at MoMA, as I tend to do, and saw the Francis Picabia retrospective – so great. I’m definitely partial to his later work but I had just come in from the women’s march and, as you can see, the title of the show was as apropos as can be.

Later in the weekend I made my way over to the Kerry James Marshall show, Mastry, at the MET Breuer because I had heard such amazing things about it, including that it was “mind blowing”. That it was.

There was so much to see in each painting that I could have probably sat and looked at each one for an hour. Marshall

Still Life with Wedding Portrait, Kerry James Marshall

Still Life with Wedding Portrait, Kerry James Marshall

has essentially put black people’s culture and experience back into western painting. Seeing this show makes you hit your forehead and realize how much of the American experience has been missing from every other show you’ve seen. He was born before the civil rights act was in place and so has seen the gamut of this experience in relation to being visible and invisible and whether a person of color would want to be each or not in a specific situation.

I was so enthralled by Marshall’s work that I completely forgot that I hadn’t really eaten all day and was a mess, but pressed on to finish the show before the museum closed. I don’t do that for just anyone. This was special.

I wouldn’t miss this if I were you. Go, go, go….

 

 

Have You Heard of the New Intimists?

So, a new movement has been stirring in the painting world. I guess you could call it a mini-movement but a movement none-the-less.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Nwantinti, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, 2012

This movement is being called the new Intimists, coming after the older Intimist movement consisting of a group of late 19th and early 20th century artists that included Jean-Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard.  The paintings from the original Intimist movement consisted of intimate portraits of people together, in physically compromising situations, various stages of undress and close studies of specific parts of the body (not there!…well, sometimes there…).

New Intimists, originating in New York City, consist of artists such as Akunyili Crosby and Shara Hughes who are looking to bring intimacy and personal experiences into their work in an honest way – being able to feel the painter, the touch and the closeness behind the work.

I find this interesting as, many of you who follow my work know, I am working on an art app – yes, a phone application – that continues in the footsteps of All the Bandages, which was the first project under the heading of Social Acupuncture/Social Meditation.  These projects all work on the premise of promoting compassion and empathy to create a clear path to community and kinder living – in other words – think different for a better world. Don’t we need that right now? Does that make me a new Intimist? Is this a painting only movement or can installation/sculptors play too?

ClickHandlerI will be slowly releasing more information on the new app called, All the Pardons, in the coming months and will need help launching it as I plan on holding a Kickstarter campaign to help fund it. In the meantime, I am leaking information about it through my Twitter and Facebook pages, if you’d like to follow along. Also, you can email me through my website, if you’d like to be added to my mailing list (or above on the right there). I send something out several times a year with an update on where I am with different projects.

Kickstarter campaigns are great as they can fund a large project with the majority of supporters donating only a dollar or two.  When I went to the site to begin researching other Kickstarter campaigns, I fell in love with a few and threw a few dollars their way without any intention to do so in the first place. They are fun! It is where the future inventions of the world are coming from and I LOVE creative thinking so it energizes me. Check it out.

Have You Seen These Two Brilliant Films Yet?

I have seen several amazing films so far this Oscar season and I haven’t even seen La La Land yet. As a former film student, that is very exciting! Not every year is this strong.

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

So, the two standouts so far (even though Arrival was so wonderful with it’s 2001 references) have been Manchester by the Sea, a devastating film about people’s damage and their ability or inability to recover and forgive themselves for mistakes they’ve made.

The performances are so amazingly real while the script portrays true reactions to one of life’s unimaginable tragedies. People don’t often rally and live happily ever after, as Hollywood would often like us to believe. They often shut down and break down, resembling the walking dead, hardly showing any life at all. I see them out in the world every day. I don’t know what they’ve been through, but like the woman who I encountered on the T the morning that resulted in the creation of All the Bandages, they are hurting, and functioning…barely.

Paterson

Paterson

So, the second film I saw that I am still thinking about over a week later is Paterson. It stars Adam Driver and is a very simply complex film filled with patterns. Literal patterns, personality patterns, similarities in people and things, the patterns of daily routine life, and twins. This is such a beautiful film about loving the simple pleasures in life and really appreciating them – encouraging us to value the people in our lives and treat them with care and delicacy to nurture the relationships and the thoughts we have about them.

Paterson, the lead character’s name and the name of the town he was born and lives in (another duplicate item), is an army vet and bus driver and, I would assume, served in Iraq but it’s never discussed. There are many allusions to it from the way he folds his clothes to the way he disarms a desperate man who holds a gun in a bar, yet is startled and disturbed at what has just occurred. Paterson just wants a simple and uneventful life, the opposite of where he’s been. It reminds us that we are surrounded by army vets more and more as we rack up years of the longest ever running wars and damage is left with each of them.

We appreciate, or don’t even think, of the sacrifices that these people are making for us and our country yet we hear that they aren’t taken care of properly and often live with debilitating physical and mental scars for the rest of their lives. More reasons to be kind to strangers we meet who we don’t understand or don’t act the way we think they should.

What Are Your Stories?

This week I finally saw the amazing Sarah Polley directed film, Stories We Tell, from 2012.  What an amazing film!

Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell

This film seems to have come together organically, over time, from a feeling, an inkling, that was jokingly referred to over the years in her family, that Sarah Polley herself may not be her father’s child.  I will not reveal any more than that but this film is done in the most unique and unusual way. A way that is new for documentaries and new for story telling. The film considers every possible angle of the stories families tell each other, and ourselves, and wonders whether we ever really know the truth, and each other, at all.

It’s amazing how many times I felt thrown for a loop during the course of the film. Polley is a filmmaker in a realm all her own. She’s one of those unusual, pure artists who listens to the muse deep inside her and follows it blindly, trusting that it will lead her to truth and beauty. It does.

The joy that this film brought me, as all good art does, was mirrored Monday morning as I took my 3 year old niece, Rayna, for her first trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. I could feel her hesitation as she entered the monolithic building that dwarfed her, but soon, she relaxed and started darting from work to work. She ran up to a giant painting done by John Singleton Copley and said, “That looks like Paul Revere.”, which shocked me, as it did indeed look like Paul Revere. What most interested me though was her attraction to a video installation by artist, Polly Chang, called Melons.  This was a feminist piece on expectations she felt were expected of her as a woman on her own and within her family. She wore a thick nursing bra which was stuffed, each side, with a half melon facing out. As she spoke, she cut the front of the bra off with a knife and proceeded to eat the melon with a spoon. Rayna loved this and wanted to watch the video loop over and over and later repeated exactly what she saw for her father. A feminist at 3. We need her.

Bye 2016… Will You Miss It?

Bye Bye 2016

Bye Bye 2016

The end of 2016 is nigh and I have yet to talk to anyone who will miss it.

All the Bandages Installation allthebandages.com

All the Bandages Installation allthebandages.com

As some of you know, I’ve had a particularly hard year (two years really), with scammers plaguing my family, sickness and care taking of my parents consuming my time, hospital errors and bad treatment making it worse, my father eventually dying, a few friends turning out to be quite the opposite, and time for art being as scarce as kindness on the internet.

Well, this year will be different. It has already begun. As many of you have seen, my All the Bandages project, which is the first project under the heading of Social Acupuncture/Social Meditation has been officially launched as a virtual installation.  The next step will be some adjustments to my website that will make it so much more user and visually friendly.

The next exciting announcement is an app I’m working on which will serve as the second project under the SASM heading. More info to come but I consider it an art app that also encourages empathy and compassion. All of these projects will be pushing our thoughts in that general direction – please come with me.

One of my last thoughts comes from a story I heard on NPR this week about how the Earth, as all scientists know, will end at some point. The argument is whether it will freeze or burn. They explained how the Earth would most likely freeze and all particles will be isolated and alone….then saying, “But, cheer up! Ending with fire is still possible.” Ha! Interesting analogy….

I will end this post with a list of gratitude as, I believe, this is the best way to deal with such a negative time and space. Ready?

~I am grateful for all of the old friends who have come back into my life in new and meaningful ways ~The new friends who are so supportive of me and helpful in ways I can and cannot explain ~My old and new projects and the excitement behind them ~My ability to be creative again (when I thought I’d lost it) ~My family who is always there and loves me ~All of the amazing art in the world that inspires me ~My daily safety ~My access to great food and things that make me comfortable ~My love of film and that there are so many great ones out there for me to see this year ~That I have a sense of humor to see me through all of the good and the bad ~My thanks to all of you who read this blog and who may read it in the future, my love to you to bring you into the new year (leave a comment for me, yes?)