Gestalt: transitioning from the abstractions of realism to the reality of relationship
form shadows. (appearance) Its the slow gradients of time and experience that cumulatively shape our particular slice of reality. The closer to the source of illumination, the more we perceive to have depth.
cast shadows. (interference) Its the projection of shape upon another. The instantaneous reference to the direction of illumination in stark contrast with the chasm in between.
foreshadows. (referents) Its the essential personal relationship of subjects connecting through and with the means of objects and vice versa.
I’ve had a forced sabbatical from painting and facilitating festivals this past month. I’m good at filling my life to the brim. Self generated stress cycles disconnect me from the community that I’m ironically trying to support. Wouldn’t you know that this is the perfect time for a little brown spider to bite my chest. My body, my manic activities and idealism came to a grinding halt this month, while leaving me to discover much of my sense of value in the fragility of life and relationships.
Nothing reminds me of what has been left unsaid/undone more than the weightlifting weezy sound of anaphylactic shock at 3 in the morning. Fighting myself for life, my swollen bronchioles make it feel like I’m drowning in the heavy air. I’ve got right now to learn how to cry but not the breath to cry out. This is not rest. This is not Sabbath. This is justice and the pain of honest reflection. Emptiness is a double edged sword that opens the fullest of schedules.
Making room for time.
With myself deflated, contemplating my compulsive carpe diem free jazz behavior, the universe has made it more than evident that a good rest is essential for a good rhythm. I’m really good at proclaiming goals, projects, and new ideas but I’ve had to stop. At least long enough to be present to my location and the relationships most proximate. I’m hoping health is in the cards for the near future and I know that its not simply going to fall into my lap, my community, and my culture. On that note, I’m going to take a nap now and retreat for a little while into the shadows. See you on the other side.
My stomach is in knots. I’m packed and leaving for Africa. The advent season always gets me meditating on Mary. Making room where there seems to be no room. Giving birth to new life is a “stretch”, a social risk, and is far from easy. What better icon of transformation is an unmarried homeless pregnant refugee woman that is about to give birth to the king! Wonderfully scandalous in all the right ways.
What will this next day hold? My body shakes with anticipation.
Overcoming a Divided World by Integrating a Divided Self.
Next month I will be travelling to a place on Earth that has been the home of humans for all of human history. I will walk in the great rift valley of western Kenya amongst the Pokot people. Continuing a project(and relationship) fostered by my friends at BNIM and my community at Jacob’s Well, myself and a few others will be helping with the building of a school in Asilong near the border of Uganda.
With the artist brand hanging over my head, I often feel like I am slipping through the cracks of my own community, but the more I take responsibility for my creative occupation and hold on to the cultural fringes, the more my residence in the cracks bridges the divide. There are surprises that each world view takes for granted that within the context of relationship help to broaden and nourish the shared cultural horizon. As an artist I recognize my true calling is that of an astronaut, exploring the vastness of the unknown while shedding new light on my own limited view.
Many of you know about my obsession with the origins of culture and civilization through all my ranting, riffing, and exploration of different theories for everything. I am going to Africa with an open heart, mind, and spirit to see what can be found… and found out, built… and built upon, lived… and lived out. I will probably be making art, studying language, learning dances and songs, making sure walls are square, exploring strange foods, and fostering new dimensions of relationship between my Kansas City community and the community in Asilong.
I have recently been reminded of how well supported my art and life have been over the past 10+ years in Kansas City(&Los Angeles, New York, Kathmandu, and Bangalore). I could not be me without you.
If you don’t own one of my paintings, but would like to have one, I have plenty to share and want to make that happen. There are 20 paintings from my Passages show that need homes and I would gladly take donations or work out a minimal payment plan.(each is 400.00) Obviously the immediate funds would go towards this trip but your real payment is opening your home to host a part of me. Your involvement, sentiment, and relationship are my strength and embody my faith and encourage me through this season and the seasons to come.
I will be gathering written greetings, photos, and other media to bring with me to Asilong from you over the next 3 weeks. Thanks for you just being you and allowing me to be me.
It only takes a hint of cold to spark the fall color change. Even now the “flyover country” ignites with unforeseen beauty as curiosity shrouds the midwestern secrets of tradition, culture, and season.
In the midwest, if you don’t like the weather, just wait. Change is in the air and you can generally feel it. I started this weekend at the art openings in the Crossroads of Kansas City. (Sam Billen’s album release/James Barrr’s modified found paintings) The 50 degree drop called for an upgrade to apex insulated gloves for my bike ride downtown and into the weekends adventures.
Some of my comrades at BNIM took over 4 of 7 lanes of Grand Ave to temporarily add bike lanes, public art, trees, and usable public space to help re-imagine the urban landscape(betterblockkc)!
At the same time, in the Stockyard district, the world series of BBQ was taking place at the American Royal. It was a sea of smokers, RVs, and culinary delight!
In response to the smoked meat clouds hovering over the city, I prepared a vegan chili that I call “Jackie Chan” (and made tacos) before heading towards Chilifest in Lupus, MO.
2 cans green Jackfruit.
1 small white or red onion.
2 cloves of garlic
4 thai chilis
2 red fresnos
1 cup of sweet corn
2 tablespoons of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 cup of black beans
1 cup of Mexican chili beans
Saute the Jackfruit with the onions, garlic, and peppers. Add the cumin, chili powder, and brown sugar and caramelize the mixture before adding the rest of the ingredients. Add water, salt, tomato paste, srirache, to taste and desired proportion.
Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Prepare to be kicked in the face and then the ace.
The Kansas City carpool train to Lupus almost exceeded its population!
At the dead end of a forgotten highway on the Missouri River, the Lupus Chili festival reappears at the cusp of autumn each year to inspire with the tastes and sounds of Americana. Camping during the first frost transforms the cookfire into campfire, friends into family, and nature into home. Rural people watching balanced with homemade habanero wine and the temptation to get lost on the Katy trail/Lewis&Clark trail make this place magical (with a twist of mischievous).
After passing my limit on the homemade pie, I retreated to the fire for poetic ghost stories, s’mores with ghirardelli chocolate squares, and a quickened test drive of a new tent(NFace Pheonix2- singlewall awesomeness).
Camping by the river can certainly make for “chilly” mornings but offers an exchange of super comfortable decomposing bamboo (similar to pine needle duff) to sleep on while leaving very little footprint. The morning dew in its crystalline form gave a crunch to my march to see a spectacular sunrise and the ghostly evaporating river. I sat on a log and contemplated the summer now gone with the full anticipation of the season to come.
There are two journeys that we all must make (exterior and interior).
The exterior journey enfolding is relational. It forges bonds through shared experiences.
Its filled with sites, destinations, memories and people.
The interior journey unfolding is foundational. It loosens bonds through honest expression.
It feels like challenge, exploration, learning and play.
I spent most of my time this July in Strasbourg, sharing ordinary life with my dear friends Jim and Melissa. Jim and I would get into deep conversations after nescafe in the morning. Melissa might chime in if our mutual appreciated rabbit trails ventured into scientific, religious or politically charged themes. While they translated documents during the day, I ventured out to play charades for food. (my pocket full of French didn’t help me in Germany)I purchased an old steel road bike to get around. On the weekends, Melissa lead us into the surrounding forests and mountains (Strasbourg is located between the Black Forest and the Vosges). In the evenings we would all retreat back to the olympics, internet updates, and more french culinary benefits. Life was meaningful, deep, and slow.
I hit the road six days before my cousin’s wedding(in Dieppe) with 800 km to cross by bicycle. Instead of following farmlands across France I decided to go up through Luxembourg, across Belgium and down the coast of Normandy. It took 5 min to rediscover my trail name from the Pacific Crest Trail (Lost&Found -2007) as I had managed to escape the scope of my google printout’s view. With a compass and some perseverance, I found my way.
Each night I stealth camped off the beaten path. Outside of Brussels I crashed and almost called the adventure off but with a little luck and the kindness of strangers, my wounds were mostly mended and my cycle became recycled. I was awarded a shower, couch, and breakfast by a rural flemish man at a roadside Turkish Beer garden in trade for facebook friendship. (Can I say trail angel?) I discovered that I love “american food” which translates into merguez sausages and veggies stuffed in a baguette with harissa and covered with belgian fries. My respect for topography grew.
My ankle creaked and nostrils flared as the Normandy shores pulled down the skies upon my waterproof gear (fixed with dental floss and bike tube patches) and soothed my sundried skin. I had arrived in the land of my father with the added poetry from my french-viking heritage. When the sea calms, it is time to move. When the sea roars, it is time to love. The wedding was beautiful, vast, and instant.
The time is ripe to change the world by simply living, or rather living simply. Thank you all for your great “heart spirit” on display this weekend! I am humbled and proud of what is moving in the culture of Kansas City. As cheesy as it may sound, you are my inspiration. There is hope in the journey and dispair in the endless chatter about journeying. May we embody hope.
E.F. Schumacher- small is beautiful
“The way in which we experience and interpret the world obviously depends very much indeed on the kind of ideas that fill our minds. If they are mainly small, weak, superficial, and incoherent, life will appear insipid, uninteresting, petty and chaotic. It is difficult to bear the resultant feeling of emptiness, and the vacuum of our minds may only too easily be filled by some big, fantastic notion - political or otherwise - which suddenly seems to illuminate everything and to give meaning and purpose to our existence. It needs no emphasis that herein lies one of the great dangers of our time. “
"Greater even than the mystery of natural growth is the mystery of the natural cessation of growth. There is measure in all natural things - in their size, speed, or violence. As a result, the system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology, or perhaps I should say: not so with man dominated by technology and specialisation. Technology recognises no self-limiting principle - in terms, for instance, of size, speed or violence. It therefore does not possess the virtues of being self-balancing, self-adjusting, and self-cleansing. "
As single as I seem, I find myself wedded to many. Granted, I may not be making any literal babies with the kind of intimacy that I’m nurturing, but much life is being created. With an empty mailbox on Valentine’s day I am free to love those like me who trespass imagination’s unsung melody. We share wounds and let go of our otherness/loneliness to graft uncharted territories together in a relationship to end all destination. May Cupid pierce the barriers we build today and let love flow into and through us.