Specters and Fresh Starts

IMG_1946

Yesterday, I took down what remained of this summer’s art installation. It wasn’t much. The paintings had been sold during the few days of the inauguration, so they were gone. The sculptures had apparently started to wilt in the humidity of the Dordogne, so they were gone. I found them clustered together behind the structure like a group of bewildered veterans. Halfway through July, there was a course held that needed to use part of the space, so the fundraising team opened up the installation space by removing half of the paper enclosure. Suffice to say, that was gone.

IMG_1945

I apologize if I sound a bit hard. I don’t mind that art gets old and changes. Yes, there is something bewildering in the fact that a once-dynamic, giving creation can become a pile of rubble. But that’s impermanence for you. And the experiences that people had while the space was complete, and that which the paintings still bring to those who have them now…that goes on for a while.

IMG_1949

Art is about communication, about sharing and creating space for all types of experience and perception. One thing I have left from the exhibition is a beautiful, fat stack of wishes and positive aspirations written by strangers and friends who passed through and felt moved to share.

IMG_1953

I think what’s strange, what gives me pause, is looking at a work of art that, it seems to me, no longer functions. As I was popping the last, tangled paper boxes off their fishing wires, some one came by to ask what I thought of the space opened up. It’s still beautiful, he said. I suppose he’s right. But to me it looks like a ghost. I’d rather it be gone, than lingering half-made. Incomplete work bothers me. Maybe because it reminds of what I could and feel I should be completing. Expired art says, “And what now?”

IMG_1961

Maybe something like this now.

Five Days Later

IMG_0672

It is painted. And on the wall. With friends!

IMG_0693There’s something about making wishes that works.

Since I came back to town, I’d pretty consistently think, “Dang, the art scene here is pretty dynamic and burgeoning. It would be so cool if I could be involved in that in some way while I’m in town.” Bang. One Facebook chat away–the chance to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, and make art.

I find it truly awe-inspiring each time a person or opportunity finds me from out of the ether to invite me to make art. Perhaps we artists have a tendency to feel disowned by society; I certainly do. Too much talk of “artists on the fringe” when I was young or some such thing. For this reason, I am continually stunned to discover, as my work and career progress, that, actually, the world wants creators. There is space for us and a place for us and appreciation for what we do. Magical mysteries, these. I am grateful.

Art in the Meantime

qimage

Little low on words tonight. But, it’s all good because

1) I’m heading off for four days of retreat–meditation with a small slice of art–tomorrow. No necessito las palabras. Just the cushion and the paintbrush.

2) I got sumthin’ neat to show you.

image_2This is a woodworking shop.

I went to visit an old friend from high school today. Haven’t spoken in, oh I dunno, eight years. Turns out he’s running a super rad business here in town. Brothers of Industry–check it out! Even the name is cool.

image

They make furniture that’s like art. They also like art. They also have a store where they like to show art with their furniture.

They’re interdisciplinary. Can you tell?

image_1

Don’t these guys remind you of the Pixar lamp? It’s a whole family of adorable handmade table lamps.

image_3In addition to adorable lamps and arty furniture, Brothers of Industry have also started producing handmade vintage-inspired skateboards. To kick their interdisciplinary-ness up a notch, The Bros are inviting local artists to paint one-of-a-kind skateboards for an exhibition at their store.

Guess who’s got a sweet-as, raw-wood, handmade board waiting for an image?

qimage_1

Yup. This girl. That’s mine on top; it’s almost too pretty to paint. But don’t worry, I’ll find a way. See you on the other side, with pictures.

Long-Term Magic and Apple Clafouti

IMG_1341

I am going to tell you a silly story, and then I am going to inundate you with pictures. Sound good? I hope so, because that’s what I’ve got to offer at the mo’.

Once upon a time, there was a cake maker who discovered a village in the woods. Though she quite liked making cakes, she had always wanted to be a magician. Turns out it was a village of magicians, and they offered to teach her magic, so she stayed. She got quite caught up in all the magic–about understanding and building community and creating projects to inspire. The thing about magic, though, is that it’s a long-term project, and, our little cake maker, in the midst of toiling away on things that will be done in a few months or a few years or a few lifetimes, found herself a little lost in the endlessness.

IMG_1305

But you know what she did? She made a cake. Or maybe it was a custard. It was a clafouti. But either way, the important thing is that a clafouti is in the bowl and in the oven and in your tummy and long gone in just a few short hours. And it can be shared and it makes you smile and it reminds you that creating something from start to finish is possible, even if start to finish feels long sometimes. And then she also remembered that the finish line of her current project is just a short week away though it has been quite a while in the making, so she went back to paper mâché, pouring plaster, painting, and putting up an installation.

IMG_1298

IMG_1302

IMG_1324

IMG_1325

IMG_1343

IMG_1346

IMG_1326

IMG_1331

IMG_1336

IMG_1340

IMG_1349

IMG_1351

Recipe after the jump… Continue reading

This Is Life Lately

IMG_1285

This is a boîte à donation, a.k.a., a donation box, ready to accept funding for notre chère Institute, our dear Institute. It’s also a boîte à ailes, a winged box. More on that in a sec.

IMG_1283This is a family of boîtes à dons, inspired by me, I suppose, conceptualized by Rohen — who conceptualized an enormity of cool things and talked me through all my own conceptualizing too, — built by Vincent, and painted by Christine. Teamwork, yo.

IMG_1287

This is a family of boîte à ailes en papier, origami winged boxes, made by loads of people. Special shout outs to Guillaume, Collette, and the traveling Germans for folding multiple hundreds each. These will all be inflated into proper box shape and  hung by fishing wire in the installation. A few will find other homes. This is me leaving a trail of crumbs for future posts. Be intrigued.

IMG_1294This is a bunch of paper and wire spirals, which will turn into the growth of the seeds of wisdom, in part a representation of the Three Jewels. It’s a long story. I’ll explain later. Promise. There will be more pictures, and they will be awesome. In no small part because of Barbara, who paper-mâched like a fiend today, and Mylène, who keeps sending people to help me.

IMG_1290This is a fuzzy picture of my painting studio. For that, the infinite gratitude that every artist knows who has her own space to work. In this case, to Julien, and not just for this, but for finding me paint, finding me help, reminding me not to get overwhelmed, and also, ya know, building the structure of the whole installation. Ain’t no thang.

And more gratitude on top of that for too many people to name who are making all of this possible. The ladies at the Lama House for picking up the slack and making me smile. The homies on the range (erm, residents) for keeping it real and keeping it cool as the pressure rises. The in-and-out people from around the hood who pop by and get inspired. All the administrative peeps and money peeps and infrastructure folk who let this happen and made this happen.

This is happening. And it’s gonna be rad. And I can hardly believe it, but I will show you everything when it is ready.

And thanks to you, for being here, for keeping me connected to the wide world and letting me know you care. This is awesome; you are great.

The Right Place

What a day to be me. It is Saturday in India; breakfast was brown bread with salted butter and homemade jam, not to mention fresh papaya and sweet milk tea. The air is cold and misty, and I have been in my room interneting away over my tea and toast until the sun comes out.

I failed to take a picture of actual breakfast, but isn't the dishware picturesque?

I failed to take a picture of actual breakfast, but isn’t the dishware picturesque?

I have discovered an infinitude of beautiful people writing, making, and sharing beautiful things (see *note below) on the internet to keep me company between practice, study, and a tad bit of homesickness. Yeah, that’s right, you got me. I’m homesick. I’ve been here one month and it’s not vacation, but it wasn’t meant to be and it is good shit. I am learning deep parts of the Buddhist tradition that I come from, reevaluating my own views and habits, and ironing them out on the cushion and in life.

But this is no easy thing. I get hit over the head with my own shortcomings and ignorance every day. My lack of patience, my expectations, my deep resentment of uncertainty and impermanence, which are both, erm, totally unavoidable truths of life. Like I said, I’ve been seeking solace a bit, in the in-between times. Which I don’t think is a bad thing. I haven’t neglected practice or study, and we all have to figure out the balance between work and play that keeps us inspired and moving forward, right?

So I’ve been reading lots of food blogs and writing recipes in my head, and missing having an oven. I draw once a week and have been making loads of origami paper and cranes, but I do periodically wonder if I am going to wake up one day and be totally slaughtered by the absence of canvas in my life.

IMG_0389

Slaughtered is maybe an exaggeration, but anyway, here’s what happened: Today I got a lovely comment on this here blog, encouraging the work I do as an artist and reminding me to keep faith in the process and have fun. Then I got an e-mail from some one I had a nice conversation with at a holiday party in December saying he wants to buy one of my paintings, or maybe three. Then I got an e-mail from one of the members of my art critique group back home telling me about new developments in their work that I am not around to see. It’s like my life is missing me too!

And so, now it comes. The missing of canvas. Not that the missing of California mountains and the emulsification of butter and flour has given up the ghost. They just have company now.

Life and space and time are a strange business though. I wouldn’t leave KIBI for anything right now, with the small exception of dengue fever, which would be out of my control and which I make daily prayers will not enter my life in any way, shape, or form other than the absence of our Tibetan language teacher, who is himself recovering in Germany. Anyway, my point is that, despite this pulsating missing of things in distant places, and despite the fact that the city of Delhi holds very little romance for me, I am good here.

Studying Buddhism means sitting cross-legged even when you're not meditating. Chairs are not a thing.

Studying Buddhism means sitting cross-legged even when you’re not meditating. Chairs are not a thing.

I don’t always like that fact. There are times I wish I hadn’t happened upon this journey. I was happy at home with my baking, my painting, my big outdoors, my yoga and friend-and-family life. But I wanted to study dharma. Needed to, really, because as much as I love all the other parts of my life, none of them make sense without the teachings to put them in context.

This is your mind; this is how you find joy; this is how you create suffering. And this–this is how you learn to be happy.

That’s what Buddhism means to me. So even though I never had a yen to visit India, and now that I’m here I would rather spend my Saturday reading food blogs and saying mantras on the temple steps than sightseeing, I know that this is the right place to be. I am doing my best to let it be, until the time is once more ripe for canvas and cooking and all the rest, and maybe, just maybe, for all of these things to come together (my teachers say, “abandon hope; embrace this moment,” but I am still learning).

*Note: I have (finally) started a blogroll to share the beautiful places where I spend time and find inspiration. You’ll find it as a tab on the menu bar.