Homage to Claes Oldenberg
I am for art that makes your heart thump thump thump.
I am for knowing myself by the heartbeat in my ears, the rushing of air in and out of my lungs, and the bits of string in my pockets. I am for trembling hands, palms that work, the finger pointing at the moon. I am for falling open to the world. I am for not knowing what comes next. I am for starting at the center of things. I am for cayenne-pepper chocolates. I am for the moment after you dive into a pool, before you touch the surface, when you are flying over undisturbed water. I am for closing your eyes when you eat. I am for the slow strength of potato plants.
I stand for manifesting total freedom, authorization to act. To come up with bigger and more ambitious dreams that offer more and more to the world, taking us all up and up and up until we’re giddy with lack of oxygen. To restore a sense of awe to the world. A sense of connectedness. To know the oneness of the universe and express that instead of anything else, to live the universe, to be it. To give up the struggle. To stop arguing with mainstream culture. To be of this very moment, each contiguous unique one, in your heart of hearts.
I am for art that demonstrates awakening. I am for art that creates chaos out of order. I am for art that systematically repeats a mistake until it becomes a world-mending stitch. I am for welcoming the divine through simple practice. I am for the beauty of things as they are. I am for art that describes inner space and points a way in.
I am for process. I am for droplets of rain catching sunlight on the windshield. I am for art that heals. I am for the inescapable, indescribable, invisible interconnectedness of mind and matter. I stand for coming to know death.
I stand for leaving it up to you. The you that is beyond your name, your body, your personality. The you beyond your identity, beyond your sexuality. The you that has no gender, no name. The you your ego is terrified of. The you that knows all things.
To celebrate the solstice, enjoy 21% off on everything:
Original paintings, premium prints, clothing, and household items.
Also, free delivery of original works to locations within an hour of San Francisco until January 31. (Pieces included in the show at Zen Center will be delivered between January 31 or Feb 1.)
Peruse the shop
I am so excited to announce that the launch sale is finally here!
Enjoy a 40% discount through Tuesday, November 27.
I’m going for it!
This last year I’ve been painting more than ever. It has been deeply fulfilling to me. Putting my work out into the world in a much more intentional way is the next step. Facing down my own inner blocks about it has been a big part of the journey. But I’m going for it!
Honestly, when I read the news and hear about yet another head-hangingly appalling statement or another heart-clutchingly astonishing act of aggression or toxicity, and I ask myself what can I DO about this. Unless there’s a march to attend or a petition to sign or a donation to make— and even when those actions are available— I often feel lost as to how I can make a difference. And eventually I work my way around to remembering that I really believe in the idea that cultivating your own inner peace does, in ways that are not visible and may never be known, make a difference.
And beyond cultivating peace is cultivating joy.
And for me that joy stems both to and from making beauty.
I don’t think I’m saving the world by making paintings and putting them out into the world. But I am saving myself. And I sincerely hope that in the process of doing that, I can offer some spark of joy or peace to you.
So there. I finally got this website launched (which is, of course, so much more and so much less than a website) and I’m super psyched to share it with you— so, with my heart pounding and eyes shining, I invite you to peruse my work! To make this occasion all the splashier, Iet’s go big with a 40% off sale! Please let me know what you think of the work and the site and the goodies.
May you find peace and joy and beauty that is real and palpable
and spills out of you and touches everyone you meet.
Friday February 22 at 2pm
Saturday February 23 at 2pm
Registration is free.
Registration deadline: January 1, 2019.
It is my honor to be offering workshops in memory of one of the greatest professors I had while I was an undergraduate at Yale: Robert Reed. He did things that blew my mind, such as assign homework assignments of 50 18×24″ drawings to be made on cardboard at a park that was a 45-minute walk from campus. He delivered this news casually. I remember stuttering, “Did you say 50? As in, 49 plus 1?”
He made a big influence on me and now I have the opportunity to share my own teaching, which is inextricably linked to what I learned from him.
There will be lectures and discussion panels open to all.
The workshops are primarily geared towards college-level art and design students, but we welcome participants with other levels of experience.
The goal of this workshop is to explore the outer reaches of the definitions of drawing, as well as the connections between contemplative practice and studio practice. Because of the nature of
the sharing amongst students, the personal nature of the approach, and the connection to
nature, this workshop consistently has the effect of bonding the group to each other.
Description of Investigation
Divination Altars draws inspiration from the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina or
Sacred Reading, where monks study sacred texts, as well as from the work of earth artists such
as Andy Goldsworthy or Day Scheldkrit. This workshop approaches the natural world as a
source of wisdom, a sort of sacred text in itself, and provides a structure that guides students to
slow down and tune into the natural world.
This workshop follows the Way of the Artmonk, a 4-phase approach that links mindfulness &
embodiment practices with creative practice. The four phases are attune, welcome, respond,
Still the bodymind. Allow connection with the source to arise (whatever that source may be).
Receive everything that comes. No judgement. Amass material.
Apply the appropriate tool. Reflect and refine.
Share the work. Connect with the world.
The hub that keeps the wheel turning: PRACTICE – Sharpen your skills. Repeat regularly.
In this workshop we begin by attuning to a question that is near to our hearts. This question
could be something about the student’s creative practice, a block they are experiencing or an
unresolved issue in their work. We then welcome nature’s wisdom, collecting natural materials
in the area. In the third phase the students respond by arranging the materials they gathered
into drawings built of found natural objects, into shapes, patterns, or installations. Finally, the
workshop culminates in offering: students divide into groups and visit each other’s drawings.
Without knowing the question each maker was holding as they built their installation, the
others will offer reflections of what they see in the earth drawing. These reflections, offered in
both written and spoken form, are the divination, the response to the maker’s question.
Relationship to Robert Reed’s Teaching
This approach finds inspiration in the classic Reed assignment of building a dinosaur out of
found materials and then using those dinosaurs as models for drawing. Combining Reed’s
freestyle approach of pressing the student to with inspiration from eastern and western
monastic philosophies. Reed’s influence is also expressed in the rigor of practice, the approach
of blasting your way to inspiration by making making making.
What to Bring
The materials required for the outdoor version are for each student to bring a tote bag, clippers or scissors, and warm clothes for being outside for up to 2 hours.
Friday February 22 at 2pm
Saturday February 23 at 2pm
Registration is free.
Registration deadline: January 1, 2019.
I am delighted to announce that I have been offered an artist residency at ModNomad, a creative studio and sanctuary overlooking mountain and sea in Sausalito, California January 2019. They offer residencies and collaboration opportunities to artists, activists and other social creatives of various disciplines who are instigating for the common good and a reawakening of our civic spirit.
How beautiful is that?
And also physically beautiful— check it out:
Heal. Create. Relate. This is the place.
- Cuban jazz great Chuchito Valdes (a member of the three-generation jazz dynasty from Havana, including his grandfather, Bebo Valdes, and father, Chucho Valdes);
- journalist and health insurance whistleblower, Wendell Potter;
- Brittany Powell, photographer and creator of The Debt Project;
- National Book Award-nominated poet Roger Bonair-Agard;
- former National Nurses United organizer and executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, Donna Smith; and
- social artist, Gregory Sale, who is currently launching a year-long exhibition on Alcatraz aimed at changing social ideation about our fellow citizens with conviction histories and their re-entry to society.
In addition to offering me a residency, ModNomad is also offering an event that brings folks together to introduce new possibilities and paths to get there. “Cognitive Potlucks” bring together the likes of journalists, artists, visionaries and public intellectuals of integrity to explore the major issues and key forces polarizing and paralyzing us and look for opportunities to synthesize activist efforts, to disrupt and change narratives.
Let’s get together and subvert conventional thought, shall we?
I especially love that they are embodying this ideal:
People and planet need us to—in the words of Dr. King—”call our beloved nation to a higher destiny.”
I am very pleased to announce that I’ll be installing a solo show at San Francisco Zen Center, a place that is near and dear to my heart.
Come and see what I’ve been making in Vermont at the Art Monastery!
Friday, Jan 4 at 7:30pm
Works on view at
San Francisco Zen Center
300 Page Street
through January 30.
Practice. Studio practice. Contemplative practice. The dedication and rigorous rhythms demanded by both disciplines inspire my work, which explores repetition, breath, and liquid movement as a space of transformation.
In 2008 I moved to Italy to lay the foundation for a monumental life-as-artwork: the Art Monastery. The vision of the project was to establish a long-term community of contemplative artists that applies the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making. We practiced intimately with intention, intensity and devotion. With a team of collaborators, I reanimated historic monasteries throughout Italy (near Rome, Pescara, and Lecce) into international arts production centers. In 2016, we made the transition to the US and today the Art Monastery is located on seven farm-and-barn acres along the Connecticut River in Vermont.
My time dedicated to the Art Monastery social sculpture has affirmed the daily link between meditation and studio art-making practices. Practice is a commitment, repetitive and prolonged, a disciplined and sustained effort that yields perspectives that are undiscoverable any other way. Regardless of the stated goal, practice in itself reshapes the practitioner over time, whether gradually or through bursts of inspiration and insight. By engaging the repetitive rhythms of practice, my work also aims to reshape my life as an artist.
Almost all of the paintings in this show use Yupo paper. Yupo is a Japanese “treeless” paper that is basically waterproof. Because it is waterproof, the ink puddles and floats on the surface, as opposed to sinking into the fibers the way it would on normal paper. The ink continues to move until it dries, creating movement and maintaining brilliance of color.
I begin my studio sessions by lighting a candle and offering incense, invoking the muse, the divine mother, Naga Kanya, and Avalokiteshvara. I work intuitively, in connection with my breath. Each line, drawn with tiny paintbrushes or fine-point pens, is made in intimate relationship with the breath.
Sometimes I chant before I begin my markmaking or while I am painting. I recite the Jewel Mirror Samadhi, the Harmony of Difference and Equality, the Fukanzazengi, the Hymn to Prajna Paramita, and other sacred texts. The titles of many of these works come from that sacred poetry.
I am for art that makes your heart go thump thump.
I am for knowing myself by the heartbeat in my ears, and the rushing of air in and out of my lungs, and the bits of string in my pockets. I am for trembling hands. I am for falling open to the world. I am for not knowing how to behave. I am for starting at the center of things. I am for cayenne-pepper chocolates. I am for the moment after you dive into a pool, before you touch the surface, when you are flying over undisturbed water. I am for closing your eyes when you eat. I am for the slow strength of potato plants.
I stand for manifesting total freedom, authorization to act. To come up with bigger and more ambitious dreams that offer more and more to the world, taking us all up and up and up until we’re giddy with lack of oxygen. To restore a sense of awe to the world. A sense of unity. To know the oneness of the universe and express that instead of anything else, to live the universe, to be it. To give up the struggle. To stop fitting in with counter culture. To stop bickering with mainstream culture.
I am for art that demonstrates all this. I am for art that sucks all this up and makes that hollow burbling sound because it’s still sucking after all the liquid is gone. I am for art that creates chaos out of order. I am for art that systematically repeats a mistake until it becomes an unmistakable stitch. I am for approaching the divine through math. I am for beauty as a means to an end. I am for a region before time, or space, or matter. I am for art that describes a rarely visited inner space. I am for process. I am for droplets of water catching sunlight on the windshield. I am for art that heals. I am for the interconnectedness of mind and matter.
I stand for coming to know death. I stand for leaving it up to you. The you that is beyond your name and your body and your personality. The you beyond your identity, beyond your sexuality. The you that knows all things. The you your ego is terrified of. The you that has no gender, no name.
“You arrive with the apple blossoms, fresh and pink.
What will you prune? What will you nourish?”
Those may not have been her exact words, but that is the sentiment that has stayed with me from Lauren’s words the welcoming ceremony on Day 1 of the apprenticeship. You can imagine how easily those words return to me, every time I weed or hoe or plant or seed.
The Talmud says there’s an angel that bends over every blade of grass and whispers, “Grow, grow!”
Tibetan Cherry Tree. Woof!
At Green Dragon Temple, there’s always an altar where you need one.
Sketches I made in the garden on my first weekend. Buds that seemed to just barely contain themselves. Bust out and through, little friends!
The farm & garden from the trail above.
The Farm Altar. Every morning we bow in here after breakfast.
Window to the optimistically named Tidy Shed
My go-to source for info about edibles, Farm Apprentice Hannah, braves the wild cucumber! Careful folks, it’s mildly toxic.
Is it not so awesome? Can you believe this thing is native?
Walk to the beach. Oh California!
Me after an enthralling Native Plant Walk with the excessively inspiring Head of Grounds, Sukey. Drinking Douglas Fir tea (so citrusy!), donning Clingweed crown. I love it here. I love being outdoors, sinking my hands into the soil every day, surrounded by people dedicated to understanding themselves. And dedicated to kindness. Kindness! Truly remarkable.
I have completed my two-week trial as the final phase of my application to Green Gulch Farm‘s Apprenticeship Program. I don’t know if they know this yet, or not… but I’m participating in that program! What does that mean? It means that from April 9 to October 9, 2014, I’ll be living at Green Gulch Farm, rising just after 4am, sitting zazen for three hours a day, working the fields for 7 or 8 hours more, attending dharma talks, taking classes, and generally exploring my soul and this marvelous planet we inhabit.
This wasn’t the easiest decision. It will be challenging to be away from one extremely adorable mustachioed man for all that time. But as he points out to me, I’ve been talking about this program for years and it still calls me. Deeply.
What is that calls me to do this super intense program? Something about the discipline. The monastic schedule. Being surrounded and supported by a truly contemplative community, by people who are sitting three hours with me every day. Getting dirt under my nails. Growing food. Learning flower arranging from a Zen priest. Getting away from my computer. Getting quiet. Delving into reconnect, maybe more deeply than ever before, with that part of me that knows what is next for me, knows with utter confidence and freedom exactly who I am. That sort of thing.
I will be sneaking out of my Guest Student Practice Period at Green Gulch Farm, in order to host, along with Nathan Rosquist and Charles Darius, a daylong retreat at Sofia University in Palo Alto. I’m just delighted to be invited to present there. Please come and join!
The Artmonk Experience: What Music Emerges from Silence?
Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
10 am– 6 p.m.
Sofia University, Palo Alto
Part silent meditation retreat and part transformational art ritual, the intention of this workshop is to recharge your spirit, mind, and body.
This special event will be hosted by Betsy McCall, B.A., with Charles Darius and Nathan Rosquist. Betsy’s large-scale pattern-based drawings and videos have been exhibited from San Francisco and New York to Amsterdam and Rome. She co-founded the Art Monastery Project, an international arts organization dedicated to applying the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making and creativity
General Public: $50
Purchase Tickets: http://sofia.givezooks.com/events/the-artmonk-experience-what-music-emerges-from-silence
RSVP deadline: January 31, 2014 (If space is still available tickets will be sold at the door)
Event Contact: Lisa Herman at Lisa.Herman@sofia.edu or Heather Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org
Event Info: http://www.sofia.edu/content/upcoming-public-programs
Map & Directions: http://www.sofia.edu/content/map-directions