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“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” 

― Thich Nhat HanhThe Miracle of Mindfulness

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This gets harder and harder all the time.

I can’t describe the knot I get in my gut when trying to pick a painting that is given away at the end of my Gallery Talks. I really agonize over this choice, wanting to make sure that the selection is truly substantial, really representing my work and having enough meaning for myself that it hurts a bit to give it away. This choice hit all those points dead on for me.

The painting for this Saturday’s Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery is The Warmth of Breath, coming in at 16″ by 20″ on canvas.

I am not sure my photography on this painting does it justice, especially in capturing the depth of color. I consider this a very representative piece for my body of work. It is simply constructed with deep colors and texture as the  signature Red Tree casts itself across the face of the Sun/Moon. It’s a painting that seems to draw my attention, the warmth of it always making me stop to consider it if only for a short moment. The title refers to the thought of being self aware, of recognizing the breath of life that flows through you and bonds you with all living things.

There is, for me, a real meditative feel in this painting, one that calms me greatly. I am hoping that it does the same for someone else after this Saturday.

So, to recap, this Saturday, September 16, I will be giving a Gallery Talk at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria. The talk starts at 1 PM and if you are in attendance you will have a chance to win this painting. Plus, there are a few twists I have planned that I can’t disclose here but I think will please those at the talk.

It could involve card tricks, juggling, mind reading, interpretative dance, yodeling or a combination of all of these things.

Or not.

You will have to come to the Principle Gallery on Saturday to discover what I mean.

Hope to see you there.

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Sat here this morning trying to figure out what song I would play for this Sunday and found myself going down a deep rabbit hole on YouTube, bouncing from genre to genre with songs that dealt with the weather, given the focus in recent times with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and little brother Jose, tagging along for the ride. There was Stormy Monday, Gloomy Monday, Stormy Weather, Blowin’ in the Wind, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Have You Ever Seen the Rain and on and on. It was dizzying, so much that it made me shuck the whole idea of weather when I was listening to Like a Hurricane from Neil Young.

The version was from his 1979 Live Rust album, one that I love but haven’t heard in some time. Just hearing that song made me want to hear his Hey Hey, My My which has the line: rust never sleeps.

There’s just something about that simple line.

I thought it fit well with this new smaller painting shown here, enough that I am now calling it Rust Never Sleeps. Headed with me to the Principle Gallery for next Saturday’s Gallery Talk, it reminds me of an old photo that is always aging, losing its color as it fades away, the subtle tones turning to a sepia-like color. Tucked away in some place out of sight, it is always breaking down and only comes to life when you come across it at some distant point in the future. And even then it may only be as faded a memory as the photo itself.

So I’ll watch the hurricanes rage and think about old photos and fading memories.  Hey hey, my my…

I’m playing both versions of Hey Hey, My My from the Live Rust LP. The first is the straighter version, closer to the original released song with an acoustic guitar. The second is the heavier electric version. God, I forgot how much I liked this song!

Weather aside, try to have a good Sunday.

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September Happenings

Hey, here are a few things happening in the coming month:

Gallery Talk/ Principle Gallery

On Saturday, September 16, I will be in Alexandria, VA at the Principle Gallery for my annual Gallery Talk. This year marks fifteen years for this event and I am really looking forward to having an engaging talk.

There will be PRIZES and SURPRISES, as always, with the main prize being an original painting of mine. I try to make it fun and informative and give you a little more than you expected.  I hope you can make it.

The talk starts at 1 PM. Come early to get a good seat!

 

Painting Workshop on Keuka Lake

Sunny Point

On September 28 & 29, Thursday and Friday, I will be leading a workshop for the Arts Center of Yates County at Sunny Point, their lovely cottage/studio on the shores of beautiful Keuka Lake.

This is my third year teaching this workshop and I think this year’s edition will be the best yet. We’ll have some fun, good conversation, lots of painting and gorgeous fall scenery on the Finger Lakes. Always a few surprises!

The workshop runs each day from 9 AM until about 4 PM. You can get more details by clicking here.

 

 

Acrylic Artist Magazine

Plus, the Fall issue of Acrylic Artist comes out with a short interview that deals with the pros and cons of being a self-taught artist.  On the flip side artist Matt Cauley speaks on following the path of traditional learning.

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Labor Day weekend and I thought I’d share a song from many years back that asks for a little help for working folks from the nation’s chief executive, who normally (an odd word these days) advocates for working class.

History never repeats itself exactly, every time and setting changing the pattern ever so slightly. But there are some parallels in this song from Randy Newman back in 1974. He didn’t name a president in the song but it is implied he was referring to Hoover in the time of the Depression as well as President Nixon , pleading with them to do something about the expanding rate of poverty and wage stagnation for the working classes, something that hasn’t changed in the forty-some years since the song came out.

Some of the lyrics seem eerily prophetic for these times, as well:

Maybe you’re cheatin’
Maybe you’re lyin’
Maybe you have lost your mind
Maybe you only think about yourself

Too late to run, too late to cry now
The time has come for us to say good-bye now
Mr. President, have pity on the working man
Mr. President, have pity on the working man

So, have yourself a good holiday. Here’s Randy Newman and Mr. President (Have Pity on the Working Man) from 1974.

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Well, Eclipse Day is finally here in the USA after about a 99 year hiatus since one last crossed the entire nation. There is a possibility of some cloud coverage in my home area which will only experience about 75% coverage of the sun by the moon. But I am holding out hope that the weather holds out for everyone who has traveled distances to be in the range of totality. If you’re in that range, enjoy that bit of history but be careful. I’m sure your mother warned you about staring at the sun and it turns out she was right, you can do some serious damage. So grab your eclipse glasses ( don’t confuse them with your 3-D glasses) or your pinhole projector and take a look.

I’m playing a fun song from Bruce Springsteen, his wordy Blinded By the Light. I thought it was appropriate for the day, given it’s lines: Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun/Oh, but Mama, that’s where the fun is. This is a version from a European tour from back in 2012. Before many of his shows, particularly his European dates, he would often perform a loose solo acoustic set of songs for those in the audience who arrived 3 or 4 hours early. This performance is from such an impromptu set in Helsinki.

Enjoy the day and remember: the darkness that will be covering the country is only temporary.

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It was heartening to see the huge turnouts yesterday in  protests against the recent upsurge in white supremacists, neo-nazis and other hate groups. In Boston, a crowd estimated in the range of 40,000 hit the streets in response to a Free Speech Rally organized by an alt-right group whose own crowd ended up being counted in the dozens, not thousands, with estimates ranging from 20 to 100.

The organizers of the event claimed that they were against white supremacy, bigotry and neo-naziism and that they were there to simply exercise their First Amendment rights. The problem is that they have consistently aligned their cause and their political power with the groups that espouse these very things. You can’t build your coalition with these people then simply say they aren’t part of what you are as a group. You willingly let them in the tent knowing who they were– they are part of your circus.

The other part of the free speech argument is that everybody forgets that free speech is susceptible to reaction. You are free to say whatever you want but you must know that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Your expression has cause and effect.

That was shown this past week with the public unmasking of the white supremacists from the events in Charlottesville. Many lost their jobs and faced public ostracization and shaming when they returned home. I am sure there are some out there who see this as being unfair but that is part of the bargain– their freedom to express their views doesn’t not take away the right of anyone else from reacting to it. Reaction is expression and is, so long as it remains non-violent, a First Amendment right.

I go through this on daily basis as an artist which means I am also a small business owner. I have the right and freedom to say or paint whatever I want. But I understand that by doing so I risk alienating potential collectors. It’s not a problem for the most part but I am sure there have been instances when I have expressed political opinions here that have rankled those who lean more to the right. And maybe they won’t buy my work or even like it anymore. That is their right and I accept that risk because I think being fully honest as to who and what I am is a big part of my work.

So, for this Sunday morning music I chose  a song that really fits the subject. It’s Stand! from Sly and the Family Stone. You can’t go wrong with Sly. I urge everyone to stand and express themselves fully. Just leave the guns and clubs at home. If you need them to express yourself, you should ask yourself what you’re really standing for as a human being.

Have a good and peaceful Sunday.

“Stand!”

Stand 
In the end you’ll still be you 
One that’s done all the things you set out to do 
Stand 
There’s a cross for you to bear 
Things to go through if you’re going anywhere 
Stand 
For the things you know are right 
It’s the truth that the truth makes them so uptight 
Stand 
All the things you want are real 
You have you to complete and there is no deal 
Stand. stand, stand 
Stand. stand, stand 
Stand 
You’ve been sitting much too long 

There’s a permanent crease in your right and wrong 
Stand 
There’s a midget standing tall 
And the giant beside him about to fall 
Stand. stand, stand 
Stand. stand, stand 
Stand 
They will try to make you crawl 
And they know what you’re saying makes sense and all 
Stand 
Don’t you know that you are free 
Well at least in your mind if you want to be 

Everybody 
Stand, stand, stand

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White Supremacists surrounding Counter-Protesters at Statue of Thomas Jefferson- UVA

“Less well known is the paradox of toleranceUnlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

Karl Popper, “The Open Societies and Its Enemies,” 1945

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I would like to be here this morning talking about cooperation and tolerance, about extending a hand of peace and understanding to those whose ideals and beliefs veer far afield from my own, which happens to be based on the equality and betterment of all people.

Well, that ain’t gonna happen today.

That was all blown to hell yesterday by a surreal press conference where the pOTUS* basically defended and sanctioned the behavior of  white nationalist/supremacist groups. To be blunt, he provided comfort and cover for Nazis.

In the time since I have heard moral outrage from the left and right as well as some who try to create an equivalency between the white supremacists and those who came to shout them down. One group came brandishing symbols of hatred and bigotry along with helmets, riot shields, masks, body armor, clubs, mace and guns– all supposedly to peacefully protest the removal of a Confederate statue. All the time chanting racial epithets and Nazi-era slogans.

On the other side were counter-protesters who were basically unarmed. True, there were a few sticks and pepper sprays but if you really watch the skirmishes, the neo-Nazis are overwhelmingly more armed and aggressive. And I didn’t see a gun on any of the counter group. Can you imagine the outrage on the right if a group of black men in camo carrying assault rifles had showed up like the white militia groups that acted as security on one side of the white supremacists flank?

But I have also seen many people argue for the legality of the white supremacists right to free speech, as much as we may dislike that.  We basically allow and tolerate hate speech in this country. While I understand and accept the legality of it, there is a counter-argument to that in the form of the Paradox of Tolerance–if you don’t stand up to intolerance at some point, if you allow those who would harm or take away the liberties and rights of other citizens, then you risk being destroyed by your tolerance by the intolerant.

We have been brought to an extremely dark place by a small, weak minded man who would willingly provide aid and comfort to the very people who stand against most of the basic tenets that we as a nation hold dear– equality, liberty and justice for all. We are at  a point where we must decide if we are willing to risk the existence of this  country as the land of liberty by turning a blind eye, thinking that it won’t affect us, and allowing these groups of hatred to flourish and grow or if we will make a united stand now.

Do we want to stop this before it becomes stronger and even more dangerous?

There is no turning away, as tempting as that seems. That is, in itself, a tacit endorsement of their brand of hatred. We have an administration and a pOTUS* that has lost all moral standing, having shown us yesterday who and what they really are.  So it is now upon us as citizens to protect the future of this nation. It is a responsibility and a duty. Make no mistake, there is no gray area here, no place for equivocation. You have to pick a side.

If we don’t stand up, don’t take action, the ugliness and the violence will grow. You will not dissuade these people with rational argument nor will they simply get bored and move on. A quick examination of history and of these groups’ beliefs and goals should provide proof of that. It will take the force and power of the collected citizens of this country to suppress this hatred.

My question to you today is: What side are you on?

 

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