The air is crisp and the sun is bright as it glistens on the lake. I watch ducks make crash landings, the gulls soar low over the water, scoping out their dinner, the rooster sings in the background, (in fact I saw a sign for fresh eggs across the street today), the gnats skim the water's surface, causing rings to radiate from the center, (as things have a tendency to do), where they lighted upon it, the crows caw, and I feel like I am the only one privileged to witness this moment. I breathe in the fir scented aroma of someone's fireplace and there is a palpable stillness, however the moment is cut short by the buzz saw of someone clearing the trees from their land. I put on my headphones, although I did not want to miss nature's song, but felt I had no choice, if I was to continue to enjoy the moment. The song that came on was Jami Sieber's song, Benediction. Of the 63 possible songs in the shuffle, the perfect one came on to seize that moment in time. I thought about the meaning of Benediction...... something that promotes goodness or well-being.....the utterance or bestowing of a blessing.......an invocation of divine blessing...... the state of being blessed........indeed............
During my chiropractic appointment today, we spoke about the life long message I had always been given, that "you are too nice, you are too sensitive". Laura offered the possibility of reframing that message into it being a sign of being courageous. Being brave enough to stand up for what you believe in your core, as being the right thing. It is something that has been unsettling for me, this past week. I intuitively feel, that the work she was doing on my hip, feet and legs, which are still causing me pain, was meant to ground me in my body, in my convictions, to root me in myself and feed that courageousness. It is not easy to speak up for what you believe in, and not be rattled when others confront you with sometimes, rather harsh rebuttals. To not take it personally, and let it make you feel weak, or question what you believe deeply in your gut and heart. To accept that everyone does not have to like you, or agree with you, and that it does not make you into less of a person. On the contrary, I think these experiences are opportunities to grow out of your comfort zone, and hold onto your integrity, to make you feel stronger, more rooted and grounded in yourself, and more courageous. It is easier to stay silent, but that does not make me feel as if I am being true to myself. The CD, that softly plays in the background during the treatment, is of birds quietly chirping, reminding me that soon it will feel like spring, and that I will be ready to move through and out of my personal winter, where I have felt stuck. It makes me feel a bit more hopeful.
Well, it all began with the energetic, hectic culmination of the Community Warehouse annual table & Chair Affair. The turnout was amazing and the usual rainy evening did not keep patrons and artists away. Tonight, I will get some of the numbers which I have been told exceeded our expectations, so I will be happy to report that news soon.
Friday night I saw an incredibly powerful and moving White Bird performance Kidd Pivot performing "Dark Matters". It presented me with many questions, emotions and room for possibilities, and trying to figure out some answers (a life long process I might add). It spoke to me about fate, who is the puppet and who is the puppeteer in our lives, how much can we control, how much choice do we have controlling our destiny, and how much do we just have to surrender to. To add to this emotional piece, was the realization toward the intermission, that I was in the Newmark Theatre. I wondered if the plaque I had ordered to honor my mom and her passing, and to celebrate the wonderful memories of attending the ballet and live theatre in NYC throughout my childhood with her, had been installed on it's seat: H for her last name and 5 for the day she gave birth to me. I went to the other side of the theater butterflies in my stomach, as I reached seat H-5. I was glad that the patrons in the audience, had left the row for a bit, and I gazed down and lightly touched, honored if you will, the plaque that bears her name and loving mother and grandmother on it. The poignant moment was so deep, sweet and painful yet filled me with great joy in the remembering. I was glad I had attended the performance alone, so I could just take this all in without words. I returned to my seat, and felt her presence with me as the dance reached it's crescendo, and knew that had it not been for her, I would never have developed my deep passion for the dance, as an observer and as a dancer. I felt spent by the end of the performance, and as I left the theatre, went to give the plaque a goodbye kiss with my fingertips.
Saturday held more richness, as I shared the Mark Rothko exhibit at the Portland Art Museum with my daughter Jenni. We learned a bit about his life and how it paralleled some of our immigrant relatives. My father having come to the US from Russia, as an infant, around the same time Rothko did, and then his time spent in NYC where my grandparents and parents also lived. I never knew that Rothko then lived a great deal of his life in Portland. We walked together, sharing our reactions to the paintings and our favorites. Jenni's comments left me with lots to think about, and helped me see the paintings through her eyes. It brought back memories of our frequent trips to the National Gallery of Art in DC when we lived there, and how the highlight of her day, when she was little, was the sweet little turkey on croissant lunch she savored in their cafe! It also got us very excited about our plans to see Red,atCenter Stage the following day. We also were quite blown away at the unexpected amazing exhibit and films by John Frame, an artist that I had not been familiar with. In the dark rooms of the galleries, he created a world of wonder, as if stepping into one of his dreams, or possibly his nightmares. His 3-D diorama like work, spoke to me of some the same thoughts I had watching Dark Matters. The puppet and the puppeteer images, where ever present in his finely crafted other worldliness. After seeing these two exhibits, we were both on visual overload and decided that we had seen enough to satiate us for the day, (not without of course adding to my obsessive art book collection- I couldn't leave without taking a bit of John Frame home with me!)
Sunday completed the richness of the weekend with the amazingly powerful play Red. We also stayed after the play, for the discussion by a psychologist who attempted to give us a bit of insight into the man behind the paintings, Mark Rothko.
This was followed by an unbelievably wonderful dinner at June, a far cry from the lunch at the National Gallery! I truly feel like my cup runneth over with the richness of art, dance, theatre, family and memories.
Well after months of working on my chairs and with the other artists on my team, the 2012 table & Chair Affair will finally come to fruition, a culmination of months and months of planning and work. The event will no doubt come off seamlessly, but the behind the scenes work of what puts this event together are huge. I am honored to be part of the Community Warehouse team. The Hot Seat cocktail hour tickets are SOLD OUT!!!!!!!! Amazing! There are still a few of the Reserved Seat dinner tickets left so this is your last chance to join in this amazing event. The over 100 artists and their phenomenal creations are even more outstanding than last years so check them out on line and be inspired. I am so proud that my three kids and their co-workers have been a part of the event this year. The Grishman's plus have created SEVEN items for the auction this year!!!!!!! Maybe you will think about joining the dinner party or think about making something next year.
This gives you and idea where the funds have gone this past year. It also makes me truly grateful that I have a home complete with everything I could ever need or want. Other ways to help are just by donating the used items that you might have to find a new home for at the Community Warehouse. There are lots of ways to get involved. Donate used items, volunteer in the Estate Store or the Warehouse, attend the Chair Affair or make a tax deductible donation. Either way you will feel good and sleep better knowing that others will now have a mattress to sleep on as well.
Community Warehouse provided household goods to over 5,000 people in 2011. Here are some of the items we collected and redistributed to neighbors in need.
That is the subtitle to the film, Pina, which I just had the amazing privilege of seeing. Although difficult to sit pain free, I just had to see this film before it left the theaters, and I plan to see it again as soon as possible, in between upcoming healthcare appointments. I can't wait to return to dance, because I too have been feeling the title of the magnificent film on Pina Bausch. Without dance, I have been truly feeling lost. I was totally transported during this film, to a place that I needed to be. I only hope that I get the go ahead from my doctors, to begin to dance once again as well. This was the first time I have seen a 3-D film, so it truly made me feel as if I was on stage with the dancers, or maybe it wasn't the 3-D that did that for me but the craving to be amongst the dancers. One dancer spoke about her initial fears in the dance, and Pina's response to her was not to be afraid, but to dance what she yearned for, what she craved. Oh, how I understand that feeling. Reading up a bit on Pina, I feel compelled to share a bit of what she said about the dance, which really spoke to me. She was quoted as saying:
"When I first began choreographing, I never thought of it as choreography but as expressing feelings. Though every piece is different, they are all trying to get at certain things that are difficult to put into words. In the work, everything belongs to everything else -- the music, the set, the movement and whatever is said. I don't know where one thing stops and another begins, and I don't need to analyze it. It would limit the work if I were too analytical. I'm not interested in how people move, but what moves them."
For me, dance is my spiritual practice, it is about what moves me, rather than how I move, that is why it is so difficult to show up to dance and be limited by my body's restrictions. It puts me in my mind rather than my spirit. Not the place I want to be, yearn to be, crave to be.
Although there where some subtitles of the dancers talking about their experiences with the dance, and especially dancing as she choreographed them. I loved that the words appeared below their faces, with their voice in the background, without their lips moving, so one could look into their eyes and read so much more than the words could ever translate. I know many of us dance the things we cannot say. The dancers did not really even seem to be choreographed because the movements seemed so spontaneous, as though they rose up from some place other than the external prompting. What also struck me was the complete surrender and trust that each dancer had that they would catch and be caught, held and supported by one another, and at times, becoming one with the other dancer/dancers. The connections were palpable. Each dance seemed more like a performance piece, rather than a specific choreographed dance. The elements of earth, water, air and sky where omnipresent in each dance, and it really was wonderfully difficult to know, where the dancers and the environment began and ended. The dancers sculpted the space so beautifully and the sparse props seemed to be an integral part of the performances rather than outside elements. There was an anthropomorphic quality to the settings. The chairs sculpted the space and became dancers as well. Everything seemed so integrated in the film, I did not want it to end. I felt tempted to hide under my seat (yeah like that is something my back would allow!) and sneak a stay for the next screening. It was that captivating for me, and maybe, just maybe, the first step in my dance back to my dance.
A number of months ago at an artist show, I picked up a little hand made jar with the quote "The Strength of a Tree Lies In It's Ability to Bend". I have it sitting in the little kitchen window bump out in Shelton, and I look at it every morning, as I work at the sink. It sits under another artist piece, a blown glass piece, that is suspended over the open jar like a pendulum. Each time I read it each morning, I try to take in the full meaning of it bit by bit. Laid up with my back yet another time, I am reading it more deeply and trying to reach that place of flexibility, of surrender that a tree must allow, especially with the winter winds.
A few weeks ago, one of our trees at the lake was uprooted by an unusually heavy snow, while I was back in the city. When I arrived at the lake, I saw the small casualty of the tall, lanky, young evergreen laying on the ground, it's root ball popped out of the ground. After some professional advice on the best strategy to save the tree, Michael propped it up slightly on a can, and were told that every month for the next six months, we should move it bit by bit, until the tree was righted. Wow, six months till it is upright and hopefully solid in the ground and ready to stand tall to meet the autumn and possibly another tough winter!? Six months. What if I were to think about my body the same way I am thinking about the downed tree? Could I give my self time, and little by little, month by month begin to right myself and become more rooted, grounded and ready to withstand whatever challenges I am faced with next? We were told that if we tried to force the tree totally upright immediately, the tree might be traumatized and more unlikely to survive. We had to approach it gently, gradually, slowly and carefully. This seemed like a very logical approach, although I would be lying if I said I did not want to, with my impulsive nature, put the tree up straight and tap down the soil, possibly stake it and hope for the best right now. But this was not the most practical approach that would insure the best possible outcome for the tree. I accepted that this is what the tree needed.
So, I ended up stranded, so to speak, at the lake for a week in pain, and had to miss the 1st Thursday opening of our Chair Affair, because I was unable to make the drive back to the city. I had to deal with disappointment and resentment. I am not sure what caused my back to go into such painful spasm again, just when I thought I was on the slow road to recovery, feeling so tired of constantly feeling broken inside and out. Before my back's decline, I worked on a large scale drawing. It felt so luscious to feel the smooth, resilient Stonehenge paper on my fingertips, the soft graphite sticks in my hand, double fisting with the brand new fresh white block eraser. I had forgotten how long it had been since I had drawn and "sculpted" with graphite on paper. I cherished every moment of laying down layer upon layer of graphite, while simultaneously "drawing", "sculpting", by removing areas of the graphite with the chunky eraser as images began to emerge from the paper. Carving away at the graphite as I removed it from the paper with the eraser, is much the way I manipulate, move and remove clay from the mound I hold in my hands, and wait for the image to begin to emerge as I sculpt. I listened to some old music that I used to draw to, that transported me back to that place I loved. The place of becoming one with the paper, the graphite, the eraser, blackening my hands, till I could no longer tell where the paper, the graphite, the drawing, my hands, my heart and spirit started and ended. That precious time, when you become so totally absorbed in the moment of the process of creating, and seeing the paper come to life and become the unexpected. As I worked on it, listening to Rusted Root and Morphine, the sense of aliveness filled me up more than I can begin to express through words. I stepped back after dancing with the drawing for a while, to see what it revealed to me. The image had begun to come to me in a vision when I had awakened that morning, and began to come to fruition by surrendering to the drawing process. The drawing began to tell me a story. It helped me to work out some of the grief I have been living and helped me to surrender to it through creating.
I couldn't wait to work on the additional three pieces of large drawing paper that I brought with me, but my body had other plans for me. I suppose it is a slow process to right something, to root something solid enough, to hold itself strong and straight, reaching up to gain strength from the sun and the rain that will keep the ground and the root ball moist and alive, readying itself to take on the next season of it's life. Yes, the strength of a tree does indeed lie in it's ability to bend, to be flexible, to be patient, and trust that in time, if treated with gentleness, tenderness, compassion and not pushing it beyond it's present limits, it will survive and be as strong as before, maybe even stronger having had to withstand being knock down. Therein lies the lesson, the time, the listening....
Since the sudden, unexpected and unfortunate forced closing of Cannibals "physical" Gallery site on NW 22nd Ave, the Cannibals online gallery is still up and alive and thriving, so keep checking the link as the new physical gallery, possibly a pop up shop or more permanent space is in the works, but we are still Cannibals and Pammela is doing everything she can to find an even better location for the gallery. Knowing Pammela, it will be very special and unique like her, so check back soon!
I am a collaborator with nature, often using found objects in my clay sculpture. My greatest inspiration is my motherhood and nature. Working with clay is a tactile, spiritual interaction. It's a dance as the image emerges and takes on a life form of it's own. The story gradually reveals itself and not always upon completion of the piece. It is a gradual unfolding.... "What the caterpillar thinks is the end of the world...the butterfly knows is only the beginning!"
I keep my spirit vitalized by creating mixed media sculpture, sculptural drawings, exploring narrative photography, writing, participating in collaborative art projects, volunteering for various Portland organizations, walking in the woods and along the Oregon coast collecting the next sculpture inspiration that nature offers me, enjoying the solitude of the Lake in Washington, kayaking, camping, snorkeling in Hawaii, making my voice heard as a quiet activist for various humanitarian issues, appreciating live theater and music in Portland and enjoying the vastly rich life that Oregon has to offer me, but especially spending time with my family. I am savoring my new journey as I explore the middle road of Buddhism. I try to live an "intentional life" every day with "Jo Y"! I feel like a square peg who has finally found her square hole!
I am an artist/partner of The AIR Gallery