The Map is Not the Territory

We rely on maps to navigate earthly and celestial terrain, and I feel grounded, in control somehow, when I am pulled into a fabulous map. Oh here I am! There I will go!  And then there are maps for our internal landscapes and methods we call on to steer through spiritual terrain. Mine help preserve sanity and joy—and trek through heartbreak and confusion. But they were falling short of guiding me through my own brand of American angst.

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Beast of Burden

“They are all beasts of burden in a sense, ' Thoreau once remarked of animals, 'made to carry some portion of our thoughts.' Animals are the old language of the imagination; one of the ten thousand tragedies of their disappearance would be a silencing of this speech.”  Rebecca Solnit

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I have decided to join the drawing/painting/collage a day challenge  for many reasons, not the least of which is to force my hand. And it gave me an excuse to buy a honking big sketch book that just went on sale at our local art supply vendor. I decided to commit to a year’s time and be flexible with venue. Maybe the drawing/painting/collage will be in my tanker size journal, maybe it will be in my planner, or on a cocktail napkin. But I wanted to have a theme to get me out of the gate and keep me on course.

 Pyrenean Ibex R.I.P.

 Pyrenean Ibex R.I.P.

Last month I attended a lecture on climate change given by the renowned scientist Tom Lovejoy. Among his many, many accolades, he has been crowned the godfather of biodiversity. Currently he is a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and University Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department at George Mason University. He also works on the ground  in Brazil. He was also a good friend of my mother’s, an avid conservationist, who turned me into one. Since he stayed with us, I had the opportunity to get to know him outside the context of their friendship. Tom is wry, gentle and humble, despite the fact that he occupies a very big stage in the environmental arena and wages a constant battle against ignorance and greed in his quest to save the Amazon, and with it, our earth.  His visit and lecture inspired me to to research extinctions --  particularly in the last century --most of which were precipitated, or at least, enhanced by mankind’s reckless behavior. I decided to memorialize some of these fauna and flora to begin my personal challenge. I started with the Pyrenean Ibex. Celia, the last of her subspecies, died in the Iberian Peninsula  in 2000. There was a brief attempt at cloning her, but this failed.  You can learn more about this wild goat by clicking HERE

or pick up Elizabeth Kolbert's excellent book, The Sixth Extinction, at your bookstore.

Googlemania

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
 

Google bike 

Google bike 

My kids would be the first to tell you that I am so not on the cusp of the new, new thing, or the new thing. Or even just the thing. But after a recent trip to silicon valley and a tiny tour of google, I gained five minutes of hipness in their eyes.  

View from the vegetable garden

View from the vegetable garden

My husband is involved with Conservation International, and we got a glimpse of how google is partnering with conservation groups, and sharing their prodigious coding expertise and data collection, to monitor the health, or lack thereof, of our planet. The implications are encouraging -- we  can tackle problems in a more targeted fashion instead of being trapped by the feeling of helplessness and general handwringing. You can see in real time (almost) where fish are being harvested illegally, or where a forest is being pulled down, or where mountains are being blasted down to anthills. The "whos" of this process are a whole different matter. I love this kind of collaboration between the profit and nonprofit worlds, and it was a thrill to be in a universe that was so foreign, so innovative and playful. There were even topics to think about in the bathroom stalls -- all equipped with Toto toilets.  My stall door had a plastic pouch to showcase articles of interest. In mine was an article called “Code for the Commode” which I’m sure was very clever, but was incomprehensible to me

Google cardboard in action

Google cardboard in action

We returned with a more portable innovation -- google cardboard, and our kids have been jumping down the rabbit hole and exploring this extraordinary google tool. I put aside my trepidation about virtual reality and joined them. We looked at U2’s collaboration with musicians from around the world, and explored places of wonder. It really is visually sumptuous, though I had to take a break because it gave me serious vertigo because I was always whipping around in circles, trying to capture the three dimensional experience. 

Colliseum in Rome

Colliseum in Rome

Of course this device has already been featured everywhere from the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2015/nytvr/ to Wired http://www.wired.com/2015/06/inside-story-googles-unlikely-leap-cardboard-vr/and back again, and is only a new, new thing to me. To get one here….https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/

In this case, seeing really is believing.

One World is Enough

I don’t believe in influence. I think that in order to be an artist, you have to move. When you stop moving, then you’re no longer an artist. And if you move from somebody else’s position, you simply cannot know the next step. I think that everyone is on his own line...I do believe we unfold out of ourselves, and we do what we are born to do sooner or later, anyway. Agnes Martin

Pablo Picasso at Museum of Modern Art

Recently, I was in my old hometown of New York.  Between meetings, I tucked into the Museum of Modern Art to see the Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock shows. Both artists are supernovas of the art world, and were worth the crowds, the jostling and the occasional surly guard. Both offered fresh visual surprises and inspiration. Looking at great art, and seeing splendid public art all around the city, rejuvenates me and makes me reflect on my artistic ambitions. My career designs are simpler than they used to be. Time in the studio is my biggest goal, and I no longer worry about being sanctioned by the “art world," since the art world is buffeted by several baffling currents. Among the most baffling: the staggering amount of private money pouring into public institutions, while public monies are declining. For example, the MOMA is poised to raise one billion dollars -- the expectation is that 75% percent of this amount will come from its own Board of Trustees. Other currents include a fascination with posturing, a craving for outlandish flourish, and exclusivity, that leaves the rest of us off kilter and alienated. In some art world venues, it is intimidating to ask questions or talk about the art while looking at a piece. I was discussing a show with a friend at our local museum, and the gallery guide kept inserting himself into our conversation, without invitation. He wanted to make sure we stuck to a scripted interpretation, and kept assuring us that we were looking at real “sophistication.” We retreated to lunch for privacy.

Jackson Pollock at Museum of Modern Art

Although I am represented by two small galleries, I know that representation is fickle and may shift. Age and motherhood have liberated me from craving certain approbations, and I now use the platform of social media to launch my own narrative and explore the work of other artists. The artist Amanda Palmer  wrote: “The ideal sweet spot is the one in which the artist can freely share their talents and directly feel the reverberations of their artistic gifts to their community. In other words, it works best when everybody feels seen. As artists, and as humans: If your fear is scarcity, the solution isn’t necessarily abundance.” I couldn’t agree more, and there is great peace when you finally get to this conclusion.

Mark Hadjipateras Subway Tile Art



November Giveaway:Bringing Potlatch Back

I have been rereading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World. It is so dense that I have to circle back every few years to refresh my memory. It takes some dedication, but the effort is worth it. In Hyde’s analysis of the currents surrounding creativity and art, he explores the notion of art as a form of gift giving.  He cites the Native American concept of a potlatch, where gift giving becomes a continual reciprocal exchange.  The giver and recipient switch roles, gifts moves back and forth without anxiety, ownership or one-upmanship.  According to Hyde, this approach deemphasizes commerce and preserves the original #generosity of spirit and #gratitude. To quote Walt Whitman: “The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him—it cannot fail..”

In this spirit, and as a feeble push against the commercial frenzy of the season, I am launching my own #bringingpotlatchback giveaway. At last count I have 33 small prints that are languishing in a drawer, ready to find new homes.  

Starting today, I will be posting an image, or a detail, of each available print.  If you like what you see, follow these steps TO ENTER:

1. 👉🏼Follow me on Instagram here:
http://bit.ly/1GYwumJ

2. 👉🏼Using the hashtag #bringingpotlatchback, share a source of inspiration (PG please) in the comments section: play/poem/ book/phrase/bon mot/photograph/song/painting/sculpture/movie/you name it .

3. 👉🏼Tag a friend to play along with us. (use the @ symbol before your friend’s user name to tag them in the same comment section as your inspiration)

You are contributing to an inspiration “collective” for others to enjoy, especially me, while helping me expand my online community in the process.

In turn, I will enlist the help of a hat and a set of hands, and choose the 🎉winners each Friday in November.

4. I will message the winners and all you have to do is remember to convo me your address.

5. Wait for the mail.  

6. As each print edition runs out, I will start with the next one, until they are all gone.  So as each new print appears just repeat steps 1-4.  So here is a detail of the second print……….  Good luck and Happy Holiday Season!

Win this print starting November 16th, 2015!

Win this print starting November 16th, 2015!