Sunday, June 26, 2011

My friend Art and his son Matt.

The "Arts District" has been hosting a Sunday Salon Series this year. The last Sunday of each month, a different gallery or artist talks about their work and takes the time to answer questions. I've attended most of them, and have tried to write about what I heard and saw. That pesky little thing called self-edit has left many of my thoughts in the draft folder. Until today. The discussion veered today from technique to philosophy and I said "now you're speakin' my language." You see, I'm a frustrated artist. But I'll get back to that. I love to talk philosophy and ideas, so back to the Salon:
The presenting gallery from today, The Gallery of Sea and Heaven is part of a wonderful program. Becoming Independent is an organization that helps people with disabilities by offering support, life skills and advocacy. From their web-page: The BI ArtWorks program, in particular, provides men and women opportunities to explore their own personal creativity resulting in intuitive, outsider art that receives wide recognition in the community.
I love that there's a place for people with some sort of disability to express themselves. And, without being patronizing, I love the innocence and openness often expressed by someone who is perhaps not as hung up on social standing. And, I discovered, I love the idea of intuitive art.
There was some talk about the term "outsider art" that led to a very brief discussion of what should actually be considered art. By art, in this context, I do mean the fine arts. Barbara, who leads the program shared the story of an artist with disabilities who was entered into a competition and took top honors. When it was revealed she is not a technically trained artist, many involved were very disgruntled. Suddenly, what was good enough to garner top honor, should not even be in the running, because of her lack of training, to say the least. Of course, that was a very disappointing stance.
As the discussion progressed a chord was struck with me. One woman spoke out that art is just putting marks on paper. (Essentially), she was advocating the view that art does not necessarily need training. It spoke to me because she said she hates to hear people say they are not an artist or could never be an artist. Enter me. I think I've mentioned even in this brief blog that I wish I could paint. Well...I can paint. I can pick up a brush, and I can dip it in paint and splash it across a canvas.
My frustration comes from not being able to paint what is in my mind's eye. I see beautiful landscapes; places I want to walk, and sit under trees and slip my shoes off in. I can't replicate these pictures. Since I can't paint what I see, I don't want to paint at all. Here is where I get a little jealous. I would like to be able to explore my own personal creativity using my intuition, rather than being so fixed on an image that I think I want to express. And, obviously, (I think), that idea extends to my writing. I want to produce something, hold it up, say "look what I did," and not worry about whether or not it matches my intentions, or moreover whether anyone else likes it. Then it dawns on me, (did I mention I am a late bloomer?): If I could live my whole life this's just lines on paper, what freedom! If I could let go of every preconceived notion of what life should look like, then I could really appreciate what may sometimes look more like the stick figures of life as much as the lovely Pre-Raphaelite ladies. Even as I'm about to hit "publish post" and find myself resisting, still self editing, thinking I am the only person in the world who needs these words, I remember a recent conversation. A friend shared her thoughts that she thinks she should be somewhere else in her life. Her circumstances took a sharp left and she has found herself in a situation she hadn't imagined. I'm sure it doesn't match the vision she had, but it's beautiful nonetheless.
I remember getting a sneak peek at one of the shows where art from "real" artists was displayed side by side with the Becoming Independent group. A friend wondered if I could tell who did what. Some paintings were very obviously done by trained artists, others very obviously done by a client of BI, and my favorite painting of the show; I couldn't tell. Turns out, it was painted by a client. So take my words, or leave them, but by all means; look what I did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Life jacket please

Today was not only the longest day of the year; it was my anniversary with the hot yoga world. This I know thanks to the wonders of modern technology and automated email. I've been practicing hot yoga for four years now. Ironically, today marked day 4 of the studio being closed for repair. I thought I would die to go three days without, and as it turns out, it was extended to 4. I wish I had closed down for repair.
I don't know what I would have done had the studio been business as usual this weekend. I go nearly every day, sometimes twice to keep my overall attendance at about 29 classes per month. I might be obsessive, addicted...both. That said, I was looking at 4 days, no yoga. It was kind of scary and wonderful to think about a forced break. (Well....there are other studios) What would I do with 4 whole days?
Somehow, I made it. And, as each day passed, I wondered how I've managed to go so frequently. Yoga is definitely the rock in my day. (You know the 'ol demonstration you've seen at some feel good meeting: If you have sand, water and rocks to squeeze in a container, you've got to start with the rocks and finish with the water in order for everything to fit.) Now, granted, there are people far busier than me who have a more difficult time squeezing it all in, but this is my blog. And this is my four days:
Saturday afternoon, somewhere around the time I would be in toe stand, someone said to me, "shouldn't you be in yoga right now?" She said this as we were hefting a very heavy box over our heads and onto a second story shelf in the barn, precariously balancing on a ladder and an old pool table. Saturday was a very big clean up day here at hoarders anonymous, and I can't imagine toodling off before the job was done. It was a very long day, a dirty day and a necessary day. Sunday, I continued the clean-up/purge in my own house, and realized we really don't use every muscle in yoga. (It's part of the dialogue; we're told that we've just used every muscle, every joint and tendon.) I felt some new ones, some underused ones on Sunday....which also was Father's Day. Though my Father is gone, and I haven't made anyone else a father, I still actually had a place to be. So, another afternoon rolled around where I looked at the clock and wondered how I would have made it to yoga that day.
By Monday, I'm kind of grumpy, missing my yoga and my community. But, as I'm shoving food in my face just before I would normally be doing a breathing exercise, I'm kind of okay with being home.
Which brings me to today. My anniversary. Once again, right around the time I'd normally be leaving for yoga, I had to acknowledge that I was not; I was down in the barn, this time attending to the horses. I had a very full day and wondered how I would have managed to do all I did, and still make it to yoga.
And, here's the thing...well, two things really. Here's the less important thing: I did get some hot yoga today. Who needs to heat a room when the sun is doing such a fine job? I took my mat to the back deck, set a timer for 90 minutes, and recited as much of the dialogue in my mind as I could. Oddly enough, no matter what posture I was in, I repeated "spread your arms out to the side like a 747 taking off." Is it because that's my least favorite posture? Just a thought.
More to the point, I have mixed feelings about these last four days. They kind of feel like a freight train hit me. It seems counter-intuitive to me. I had four whole days not punctuated by the time investment of going to yoga. I had visions of hunkering down and writing all the things I've been wanting to. I had an idea I'd visit one of those other studios. I thought I'd have endless time, and in retrospect it seems like I had less, not more.
I think I'll be rolling this around in my mind for a couple days. One thing I do know; I'm ready to go back. My body misses it. I miss the people. Well, most of them. I have a new appreciation for it though. I'm going to have to work out how it is that I seem to have more time when I go to yoga. And then, if I could just bottle that I'd share it with everyone.