The Circle

ac-95a773cdd44dd1.jpgWhen I told someone recently about “The Circle” and the concept of the “eight winds” as described by the Buddhists, he said, “Oh, you mean life.” The “eight winds” are a group of juxtaposed influences which include: Prosperity and Decline; Honor and Disgrace; Praise and Censure; and Pleasure and Suffering. While the term “eight winds” might be a Buddhist term, we are all familiar with the “ups and downs” of life.  The key, according to Buddhist thought, is not to be so emotionally moved by these winds–that is, not to be overly joyed by gain or overly grieved by decline.  By remembering that life is a cycle and that good and bad both pass, come again, and pass again, we can become more accepting of both, and therefore more balanced.

The Blindfolded Juggler

ac-15a773cd17797d.jpgWhile I have created jugglers in my art in the past, I find this juggler the most complex and ambiguous of the group.  I use jugglers to represent our conscious “juggling” of career, relationships, money, etcetera. The blindfold has represented many things over the centuries, but I am using it in this piece to represent the unconscious. By evoking the unconscious I am asking us to be mindful of all that we take on and to be aware of the blindfold that we all, to some extent, wear.  Overall this is meant to be a hopeful image that shows our mastery but asks us to be mindful of what we are juggling.

Protest

ac-35a773f375cdfe.jpgMy work often shows men and women in contemporary settings dealing with time, career, money, distraction, and media in all forms.  I do not create political art, so when I found myself with a piece that appeared to be a women’s protest piece, I was surprised.  In the process of creating a piece that was meant to be simply contemporary women in an urban setting, it became obvious that it was more than that.  As it turns out, I unconsciously placed the women in strong and defiant poses. Even the hats took on an iconic meaning. This piece flowed from me unexpectedly and effortlessly, and I felt that I must honor it.

Cityscapes

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Growing up in rural Tennessee, I was fascinated by all things urban. The large metropolitan cities I saw on television glittered at night with lights and cars and well-dressed, beautiful people on their way to beautiful restaurants and parties. City life was a beautiful life and all urban people were living it, it seemed to me. This was, of course, a naive and romanticized vision. I somehow overlooked or discounted the crime stories and the images of less well-off people. Of course I now have a more complex and balanced view of cities. I still love the energy of them when I am in one, the people crowding the sidewalks, getting coffee at a local roasters, exploring and walking neighborhoods, and the museums and backdrop of beautiful buildings. My cityscapes are both a throwback to the days when I idealized cities and my way of honoring the reality of them, with all their fortunes and flaws.

 

 

Lecture at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

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Psyche Meets Process : The Art of Digital Discovery with Daryl Thetford.  Lecture on November 8, 2017 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

Ryan Companies Commission Complete

The 72″ x 144″ Ryan Cityscape is finished and on its way to Tampa to be installed.  The 12 foot wide piece is filled with Ryan’s history, mission, projects and all things relevant to the corporation.  Read full details below.

Ryan for Alison 6.5 x 3.5 full image

My cityscapes are normally intended to convey the energy of cities.  In this case however, I see them conveying the energy of a city and of a corporation.  Convey the energy of cities, the movement, color, sometimes chaos, but all within a framework.  In this case, using Ryan s history, etc I think it also conveys the energy of a company with their involvement in so many projects around the world. Click Here to See Full Details of the Ryan Commission

 

Flying Solo Exhibit at Nashville International Airport

Two of my latest pieces created just for the Flying Solo exhibit at the Nashville International Airport will be on exhibit from September, 4, 2017 until November 29, 2017.

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Contemporary Journey 1 96″ x 96″ and  Contemporary Journey 2, 96″ x 96″, both inkjet on aluminum, will hang side by side in the main ticketing lobby.

While I wanted to establish these pieces clearly within the journey metaphor, I also wanted to create an intentionally ambiguous narrative which would allow the viewer to bring his or her thoughts, stories and interpretations to the pieces. What are the figures in the piece doing?  Are they leaving or arriving? Are there second thoughts about a destination or departure, or is there great dream-like hope? Are the pieces tense or uplifting?  I am asking the viewer to consider what hopes and/or anxieties we bring to any journey, physical or psychic, and what our relationship is to those thoughts and emotions.

I wanted these pieces to be contemporary as well as a homage to vintage graphic posters. The use of black, white, pink and gold as the primary colors links both time periods and styles, as does the simplicity of the pieces, but with the playfulness and ambiguity for which my work is known.

The components for this piece include photos of people I have posed, photographs of suitcases, actual airplanes photographed on runways, and astronomy illustrations and weathered paper and paint.

The writing on the foreground suitcase is from the Jungian psychologist James Hollis. The writing on the plane is found graffiti, the Tao, and an old letter to home found at an antique store.

 

Denver Skyline Series

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When the staff from Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver approached me about creating a poster for the top festival in the country, I was delighted. With an attendance of 350,000+, the arts festival features over 232 of the nation’s top visual artists, seven performance stages, and a volunteer program with over 1,000+ volunteers. Considered the nation’s top fine art festival, it is unparalleled in scope and organization.
The first two images were used for the posters and merchandise. (For the first time, the CCAF decided to print two different posters.)  
 I created all of the images from photographs I took when in Denver a few years ago.  I photographed each building separately, then combined them to create a cityscape that, while not an exact replica of the beautiful Denver skyline, communicates the look and feel of  it.  
Below are the finished posters, the patron party and artist talk.
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Understanding Contemporary Relationships ( music series )

a music today for blog

Understanding Contemporary Relationships ( series )

I stumbled across an article a few months ago discussing how a musical performance must function as a relationship if it is to be successful.  One must have his or her own voice, allow others to have their voices/voice and work with this tension to create harmony. This, in turn, creates music.

I thought it would be an interesting challenge to use music in visual images that can show tension, harmony, balance or imbalance.

The resulting pieces became part of the solo exhibit, Contemporary Narratives at The Arts Company in downtown Nashville.

These pieces consist of hundreds of photographs of people who I posed, mannequins, pianos and musical instruments that I photographed in different locations, weathered paint and paper as well as text and other things, places and items I photographed.

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Contemporary Nashville

 

TAC Contemporary Nashville Mixed Media Cityscape with PlexiTAC Contemporary Nashville Cityscape red sky

(L) Contemporary Nashville, Silver Sky, 60″ x 60″, Mixed Media, $425

(R)  Contemporary Nashville, 48″ x 48″, inkjet on aluminum, $1850

This Nashville
ille piece is part of a larger series using music as a metaphor for relationship.

I stumbled across an article a few months ago discussing how a musical performance must function as arelationship if it is to be successful.  One must have his or her own voice, allow others to have their voices/voice and work with this tension to create harmony. This, in turn, creates music.

This specific piece obviously incorporates this theme.  Nashville’s has a long history with music so it is important to its  past and also important today.  This piece serves two roles, to honor the history and ongoing tradition of music in Nashville and as a reminder that as Nashville continues to grow and develop, it is working with all of the voices and allowing for this tension that will keep it in harmony.

This piece consists of hundreds of photographs.  I photographed the downtown Nashville skyline as well as a number of individual buildings to create the foundation of the piece.  I then added dozens of photographs of musical instruments, sheet music, text from various sources including the Tao and the Dow Jones stock market reports and photos of weathered paint and paper.

For the mixed media piece, I printed part of this image on clear acrylic, then bolted it to an aluminum composite  board that I had coated with handmade paper, paint and  molding paste.

The Juggler : A View of Contemporary Life

Juggler for WEBSITE

I continue to be drawn to a Juggler as an image, this being my third version.  This is not a conscious decision, at least to begin with, but I find that there is no better image to symbolize our contemporary lifestyle as someone with so much “in the air”.

In this piece, from left to right, he is juggling career or upward mobility, relationship, nation/news/politics, home, time, religion/spirituality and money.  He has more balls stacked on the ground beside him to add to the group he is juggling or to replace some should they be dropped or should he let something go.

Below the waiting stack is a partial obscured concept I encountered and photographed stenciled on a bathroom wall.  It says Free Yourself from Worry, Live Simply, Give More, Expect Less.

In the background is both English and Chinese versions of text from the Book of Five Fold Happiness, which is an exploration of happiness in relationships, prosperity, longevity, ( and two others I cant think of )

On his tie is images of computers, phones, tablets and other modern day work and communication devices.

Finally, he is standing in a circle which may suggest a mandala, an ancient symbol that suggests that we create the world we live in.  Surrounding this is writing from the Jungian Psychologist, James Hollis

Crossroads

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Crossroads  

120″ wide x 89″ tall.  Also available in other sizes.

There is no denying that “Walls” are powerful symbols with many possible intents and meanings. Crossroads is an exploration of walls as they speak to division and otherness.

In the movie Fences, the main character Troy Maxson, played by Denzel Washington, is building a physical fence in his yard. He is also, in his personal life, building a wall of anger, judgement…for full explanation click here.

The Waiting Room

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The Waiting Room, 2017.  95″ tall x 160″( edition of 1 ) to 31″ tall x 53″ wide ( edition of 12)

Transition

Recently a friend was describing an NPR Radio Lab episode(Afterlife season 6, episode 2 http://www.radiolab.org/story/91680-after-life/ ) he heard, which was about death. In the episode, a writer and scientist was talking about three deaths and a waiting room. The story, as my friend told it to me, grabbed my attention; I immediately thought it would be an interesting art piece.

A few days later, I was listening to Radio Lab when that very episode was rebroadcast. I was struck by the coincidence, and struck again by the concept and the possibilities for imagery that it conjured.   I ordered the book by neuroscientist David Eagleman,, where this tale of three deaths and a waiting room originated. The book, SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, is a collection of his essays which explore what the afterlife might be like. All of the stories are well written and immensely creative. But it was  Metamorphosis, that had aired on Radio Lab, that I found myself still wanting to pursue.

Metamorphosis is about the process of waiting to full explanation at this link

Upcoming Exhibits in 2017

Ormond Art Museum and Gardens, Ormond Beach, Florida.

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Reflections on Self and Society, Solo Exhibit, Artist Talk and Opening on March 16. Dates of show are March 16-April 22, 2017
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The Arts Company, 5th Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee

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Understanding Contemporary Relationships, Solo Show at the Arts Company, June, 2017. Downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

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 Artist-in-Residence for The Gathering at Keystone College

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July 14-16, 2017 I will be Artist in Residence at The Gathering at Keystone College. The theme will be …ways to find common ground among bitter rivals in religion, politics, ethics, race, and the arts and sciences that have deeply divided America.

http://thegatheringatkeystone.org/schedule/

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Solo Exhibit, Arts at the Airport, Nashville International Airport, Sept 4, 2017- Feb 25, 2018

ABOUT ARTS AT THE AIRPORT

 

 

Created in 1988 by the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA), Artat the Airport is an ever-growing, ever-changing showcase of cultural diversity and creative talent in Tennessee. The terminal and surrounding facilities at Nashville International Airport were designed to incorporate rotating public art exhibits and permanent acquisitions.

The art in image above is not mine, but from a previous exhibiting artist.  

Mythology and Jacob’s Ladder

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Discovery of Choice

 

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The Discovery of Choice, inkjet on aluminum, 120″ x 180″, 2016 ( see bottom of page for more sizes and pricing )

I was driving across the west last year listening to one of my favorite NPR podcasts, On Being. During one particular episode, host Krista Tippett was talking with the poet Marie Howe about life, poetry, and all things spiritual and psychological. I will confess that…continue here

Copernicus and The Five Years Out Challenge

copernicus for web

 

Arrow Five Years Out Art Challenge

Arrow Electronics and the Cherry Creek Arts Festival invited artists from all over the world to explore the notion of innovation and to express, through their particular medium, what Five Years Out might look like. From the proposals submitted, five projects were selected to become a part of Arrow Electronics’ prestigious art collection.

My piece, r+Evolution2020, was one of the five selected. Below is my vision statement in response to the question of innovation, change, and the future.

r+Evolution2020

How do we engage with a rapidly changing world? What is the relationship we should be developing with change five years out–or even five weeks out?

My piece takes inspiration from Copernicus, who revolutionized the way we think about our place in the universe by offering a view of a Sun-centered, as opposed to Earth-centered, solar system. In r+Evolution2020, Copernicus stands at the center of contemporary society, surrounded by the tools of Renaissance astronomy, contemporary mathematical symbols, and electronic media including workstations, computers, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and an oscilloscope.

While Copernicus was not the first to propose the concept of a sun-centered universe, “…he was the first to work out his theory in full mathematical detail and to create a complete and general system combining mathematics, physics, and cosmology” (Eric Weisstein, PhD). In doing this, he not only revolutionized our thinking, he shaped both the conceptual and the tangible future.

Most people agree that change, including developments in technology and shifting societal norms, is imperative if we are to expand our understanding of our world and move forward. But with change often comes discomfort, and we often do not meet it with openness. Copernicus knew that his ideas would cause uproar, but he also knew that his discoveries were necessary to the world, that they were the precursor to a thoughtful, progressive, and informed dialogue about the universe and our place in it.

In creating r+Evolution2020, I placed a modern day Copernicus in the center of the image encircled by his own diagram of the cosmos (published in 1543). Orbiting around him are mathematical equations, a computer workstation, an Arrow Electronics oscilloscope, a globe from the Renaissance period, laptops, keyboards and tablets. In the background is the “universe,” which I created by piecing together photographs I have taken of weathered paint, mathematical equations, and Copernicus’s own diagrams. The “stars” are photographs of splattered concrete on the side of a train car. On his tie are additional references to media and technology.

Today’s technological advances are the result of the confluence of ancient and modern revolutionary thinkers. It is in merging the revolutionary with the evolutionary, and the theoretical with the practical, that they build the bridge between where we are and where we will be.

 

Trying Not to Try : Life and Art Meet

 

10494810_785215528177081_1203923798148231004_nFor those who have seen Trying Not to Try or have read about it previously on my blog, you know that the image is based on the game, Mind Ball, which is a game of competitive relaxation. This photo of the actual game was taken in Denver, July 4th weekend, 2014.  Thanks to all of the 11 year- olds who waited while we took over the game.

Two footnotes: First, I did not look at the game up prior to building my piece since I did not want it to influence my image. Second, the game normally lasts  1-5 minutes, but this one was over in 10 seconds in a meditative blowout. I did not win.

 

 

Description of Man with Cello

man with a Cello, 54 x 43, 2014

I have been asked a number of times recently to describe Man with Cello and the meaning behind the image.

I began with the idea of a man playing a cello.  The image would be vertical and primarily just him.  Once I created it, however, I was not excited about it and turned it into a horizontal image to allow for more negative space.  I found it too simple with too much open space for my taste, so I added the woman, which I built from two mannequins and a vintage hosiery ad.

I normally have an idea of both the concept and image when I begin.  In this case, however, once I left the idea of a man alone playing cello, nothing flowed into place.  With this void, I struggled more than I do with most of my pieces.  I finally had to just leave it alone for a few weeks.  When I came back to it I added the music and had a visual flash of them on the shore of a body of water.  Again I was stumped and left it for a few weeks.  When I came back to it fresh it was apparent that it is a dialogue.  The dialogue is between two people, and it is also the dialogue within each of them and with their environment.

This is reflected in the music, the push and pull of the No, No, No and the large YES, the rules in black and white, the softer cursive writing that is not quite clear, and, of course, two of the representatives of external communication, phone and TV.

The writing in the bottom of the piece is a quote by English novelist Iris Murdoch which says that when you begin to acknowledge that people exist outside yourself (as real living beings, not as objects in your world) you are taking the first step away from narcissism.

The Chinese and English on the woman’s flesh is from a book titled Five Fold Happiness.  Since I have used bits and fragments, it is nonsensical, and is meant to be representative of luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness and wealth.

Now the dialogue is between the viewer and the piece.

 

Trying Not to Try

mind ball

Recently I have been “trying not to try.” I have to say that I don’t love holding opposing concepts in my mind. While I understand the idea intellectually, I have always functioned by choosing between opposites and living the chosen one. But my therapist assures me that choosing to live in the opposites creates the tension that allows broader decisions to be made.

A couple of weeks ago while in New Orleans I was reading about a book called Trying Not to Try, by Edward Slingerland. In the opening of the book, a game called “Mind Ball” is introduced: two participants are seated at opposite ends of a table with a ball between them. The point of the game is to get the ball to the opponent’s end of the table using only brain waves. To this end, electrodes which measure radiate alpha and theta waves (these indicate deep relaxation) are connected to the players’ heads. It is a paradoxical contest of effortful effortlessness, whereby the more relaxed the players can make themselves, the faster they are able to send the ball to their opponent’s side of the table.

After fighting my work process all winter, whereby I set up too many things to do without enough time to do them, the concept of “trying not to try”–of effortless effort–spoke to me. It gave me hope that it’s possible to achieve both relaxed concentration AND productivity–and that I might, as a result, find myself both industrious AND sane. Who would have guessed? Maybe the Voodoo Priestess I met in New Orleans, but that’s a story for another blog post.

 

Man in Chair

man in chair

 

Last year I went on a trip out west with a good friend.  I went into the trip knowing that we have very different ways of interacting with the world.  When traveling, I am rigidly on time, often arriving at scheduled events long before they begin. I schedule my 3 ½ star hotel rooms well in advance and choose my meals carefully.

My friend, on the other hand, has a more casual relationship with time and destinations.  He often leaves hours later than he planned, makes multiple unscheduled stops and drives well into the night.   It is not lost on either of us that he is the happier person.

Since I know our style differences, I also realized that a two week trip could create great stress for our friendship.  So I vowed that I was going to say YES to everything with a couple of very modest exceptions: I would not drive after midnight, and we would have to arrive at shows on time.  At some point during the trip he suddenly turned to me and said “ You are agreeing to everything”. I am, I said, “ I am calling it my YES Tour. “ I told him that it would be interesting to see how this little bit of letting go impacted me.

With his discovery of my experiment, things quickly got interesting.  We took an unscheduled site seeing trip into the mountains with someone we did not know, told the chef at an amazing restaurant to bring anything he wanted to bring, and made arrangements to stay on a houseboat instead of a hotel.

This was life changing.  I did not know how much it changed me until I began winter in my usual way with stacks of books to read, multiple ideas for series and a 1000 art and exhibit opportunities to apply to.  I made the same choice I usually make: do it all instead of to prioritizing based on the reality of time and energy.  This is an old pattern passed down for generations in my family which has created various results including never missing work, a perfectly manicured yard, premature aging, needless suffering and multiple levels of neurosis.

I was shocked to realize that, unlike in the past, I was unable to complete everything that I had laid out for the winter. Not only did I not get everything done, I did not even get close.  As a result of the Yes Tour, some part of me had decided that letting go was a strategy that made sense.

I am guessing now that my unconscious had a plan all along.  It was a setup to overthrow the internal dictator that often over schedules my life.  Life was not just one big Yes after the Yes Tour however.  Although my new system was in agreement with the Yes that chose to go with the flow of life, it balked at the Yes that agreed to do everything on every list.

This was scary since I have always functioned by over-controlling.   So I began to ask myself just how, if I am to work with this new system, can I remain productive without being compulsive.

More on this and the “Wu Wei” tour planned for summer.

 

 

Two New Pieces and Two Frequently Asked Questions

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Balancing Act, 36″ x 62″, inkjet on aluminum, 2014

I am frequently asked two questions. The first is, “How long does it take you to do one of these?” The second is almost always in the form of a statement: “I’ll bet you have a lot of fun doing these.”
Neither answer is simple. To the “how long” question, the answer is “around 40 hours.” This is just an average, and doesn’t take into consideration the time I spend taking all of the photographs, or the times that I trash an image I’ve spent many hours working on because it’s not going anywhere. Then there’s the issue of my obsessive indecisiveness, whereby I declare something finished only to return to it the next morning to find that the piece spoiled during the night and needs more work.
Balancing Act, included with this post, is a case in point. Its true name should be Balancing Act #10 or #12. This is because I “finished” it a few months ago, so quickly that I was amazed and pleased it did not take the usual 40 or more hours. I then posted it, only to realize it still had significant issues. So I began working on it again until it was truly “finished.” This “finishing” and reworking went on so long I finally decided that the piece (and I) needed time to breathe. I recently returned to Balancing Act with an open and positive attitude, and I’m happy to say that it is really, finally finished…again….for now.
Why, you might be asking, was Balancing Act such a struggle to “finish?” I’d say it has something to do with the lack of balance that I felt this winter. So to end the longest rambling answer to a simple question, my pieces often take more hours than I can justify, for reasons that have everything to do with the intersection of life and art.

Here’s hoping we all have a balanced spring.

Reflections and Resolutions : Creating New Worlds in Digital Art, Lincoln Center, Fort Collins, CO.

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This 4 person exhibition opened January 17th, 2014 and will run through March 8th, 2014.  The show was curated by Jeanne Shoaff who selected 12 pieces from my The Struggle to Evolve Before the End of Time series.  Several of these pieces will also be on display beginning March 28th at the Art Museum at the University of Memphis Caseworks Gallery.

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Denver firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck purchase two pieces.

Denver firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck purchase two pieces.

Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck recently purchased two pieces for their offices in Denver.

I would like to thank Kay Brouillette and Chris Fullerton at Sapiro Art Consultants for their work on this project.

You can find more about them and see some of their work at this website. http://www.sapiroart.com/

REFLECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS: CREATING NEW WORLDS IN DIGITAL ART

REFLECTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS: CREATING NEW WORLDS IN DIGITAL ART

Man and Media II ( pictured ) is one of twelve images that I have at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colorado for the REFLECTIONS and RESOLUTIONS exhibit. All twelve of my pieces included are are part of the “Struggle for Evolution Before the End of Time” series.

The three other artists who “share the new worlds they’ve imagined through the media of Digital Art” are Fran Forman, Osvaldo Buccafusca and Daniel Fonken.

The show will run from opening night on January 17, 2014 to March 8, 2014.

Thank to curator Jeanne Shoaff for bringing the show together.

Artist Becomes Enlightened.

Artist Becomes Enlightened.

A few years ago, during a drive to Miami, I listened to 13 hours straight of Eckhart Tolle being interviewed by Oprah. During the course of these ( free ) podcasts, I got it. I saw what the eastern sages were talking about as a window, albeit a small one, opened up and reveled the universal truth of oneness to me. The lifestyle article for the Chattanooga Times Free Press about my experience, included below, was written by my wife Dana Shavin. She was the person who had not been in a car for 13 hours listening these podcasts, so her view of the events might differ from those who were enlightened..

Living in the Now Makes Problems Later
By Dana Shavin

My husband said something the other day that I should have found disturbing but didn’t. Which, frankly, disturbs me.

“That week we were so sick was the most fun I had all winter,” he said.

I knew what he meant. We never take time off from work to do nothing. We never even take time off to do SOMETHING. We just don’t take time off.

Case in point: Today is Sunday, and I am in my half of the studio, writing. I can hear my husband in his half of the studio rifling papers, printing things, pounding computer keys. I can assure you he isn’t surfing the net for pleasure or leafing through a magazine for fun. He’s working on new art images, contacting contacts, answering business e-mail, in short, creating, or following up on, opportunities.

Any minute now he’ll head over to my half of the studio to tell me everything he’s done. At which time I will be forced to ask him to leave, because I am busy creating my own kind of opportunity: I am getting some writing done so that I can then get some other writing done so that I can then get some research done so that I can then get some errands done.

Which is precisely why a week or so of body-flattening illness, during which we did nothing but lie on opposing sofas and talk, watch “Oprah” and obsessively take our temperatures was like a little dream vacation. Sad but true.

After our illness, I returned to business as usual. My husband, on the other hand, set off on an epic journey down the road to self-enlightenment. This is because he actually learned something from our downtime, which is that unremitting, achievement-oriented striving that takes you out of yourself and deposits you firmly in a mythical future where all that’s left is to appreciate the money and accolades you’ve garnered is a big fat waste of human time. He had already read “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth,” both by Eckhart Tolle. (Tolle, the king of the Now, is a spiritual anomaly who, by his own report, once spent two years sitting on a park bench doing nothing but smiling.)

It is a well-known fact that the road to spiritual enlightenment begins with a single download. What my husband discovered when he went looking, however, was not one but 10 90-minute conversations between Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, which addressed not just the nebulous idea of living in the moment, but the nuts and bolts of how to actually stay present in a world replete with the stresses of family, work, health and domestic and international strife.

These downloads he listened to all the way to a Miami art show: 14 hours of pep talks, how-tos and earnest entreaties to forsake the What Might Be in exchange for the What Actually Is.

The next day, every nerve singing a song in praise of the Now, my husband discovered an irresistible photo-op: a shop window full of Buddha statues, with an old bench out front for passers-by to sit on. The bench, it turned out, was actually a rare antique, and the woman flying out of the front door of the shop was the bench’s owner who, upon seeing my husband settle his 200-pound frame into it, exchanged whatever serenity she had been enjoying in the moment for something akin to a blinding rage.

But by the time she got to him, he was already sauntering away toward the Miami Art Museum, to see at last the famed Robert Rauschenberg retrospective he’d been thinking about for weeks. Except that when he got there, he realized it wasn’t a Robert Rauschenberg retrospective but a Susan Rothenberg retrospective, a painter he neither knew nor cared anything about.

We were laughing about all this the other morning on our way to Birmingham to deliver art. It was a long day that included a stop at a hardware store, a frame shop, a restaurant and a shoe store. It wasn’t until the following day that my husband realized he’d walked all over Birmingham wearing one dark brown dress shoe and one tan casual shoe.

So while I know I should be living in the present, I am in fact worried about the future.

Given what’s already happening to my husband, can two years on a park bench with no goals and a kooky grin be far off?

Dana Shavin’s website is DanaShavin.com.

Half of 4 Part Commission Complete

Half of 4 Part Commission Complete

I am currently working on a 4 part commission.

I posted these two a few weeks ago before completion. Both have changed quite a bit since those first posts. One, much more than the other.

The image on the right hardly resembles the one posted on November 25th.

2 down and 2 to go.

Storm and the Original Inspiration

Storm and the Original Inspiration

I took this photo of a storm on the plains between Des Moines, Iowa and Denver. I used it as part template and part guide to create the collage ” Storm ” for my new landscape series. As you can see, I had to add the utility poles. I had photographed them on the same trip, just different location.

Gusto’s Pizza in Des Moines has the 66″ x 44″ version in their beautiful new place.

The Final Version of Branding Day on the Bird Ranch

The Final Version of Branding Day on the Bird Ranch

After 5 or 6 or 10 revisions, this is it. I am not sure why, but the colors are not quite right rich enough on this upload.

45″ x 66″, inkjet on aluminum.

The Reading List

The Reading List

Just as I am beginning to make my way through my stack of books, the website/blog BrainPickings releases their list of the Top 13 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2013. Suddenly the ground that I have gained now lost and I am 13 books behind. Still, if you don’t know this site, I encourage you to take a look.

What I can tell you about my current progress on the book list, posted on October 7th is that, unlike other areas of my life I follow new leads and directions more easily. I try to pay attention to what I am wanting to read, what is really calling to me. Why is this easier to do than in other aspects of my life? I will have to talk to my therapist and read some more books and report back. Here’s my progress report so far.

2) Banksy : The Man Behind the Wall by Ellsworth-Jones. I finished this book right before Banksy hit Manhattan this fall. It is an easy read, and while not a great book, it gives an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the famous street artist’s world.

5) The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion by Mircea Eliade. This book is not for everyone. Because he addresses myth and culture in an academic style, reading it is a bit of work, but I have found it a worthwhile read and an inspiration for my religious series.

4) Salvador Dali’s Tarot.”After initially not being fond of Dali’s work, I have grown to appreciate both the artist and his art. I did not realize he had a Tarot series until I ran across a print in an antique store. This is an excellent introduction to his work and the thought behind the meaning of his Tarot images. It does not address the Tarot itself in any depth. For a great group of Tarot images from early to contemporary, see The Art of Tarot by Christina Olsen.

7) What Are You Looking At? : The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz. A really excellent read which I highly recommend.

9) True Meditation by Adyashanti. This is a very nice book consisting of his lectures. If you are going to read just one Adyashanti book, and if you have any interest or appreciation of Eckhart Tolle, you will love his book, The End of Your World. This book was recommended to me by young-adult author Whitney Stewart when I told her that I was enlightened for an entire week one time (another blog post for the future).

9)The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is described as a “haunted odyssey through present day America” and is a great new novel by the author of The Secret History. When I love a novel I want it to last for a while and at 800 plus pages, it does.

The Circus Loop in My Head

The Circus Loop in My Head

It has come to my attention that I’m caught in a loop of my own making. Not that this anything new.

I decided to start my art making period, the majority of which falls October through March, with something light and fun. Making a few circus pieces seemed a fun and somewhat psychologically relevant way to start. Later I would work my way into the heavier, odder images I’ve been carrying around in my head for a while.

Unfortunately, the art ideas in my brain sometimes do not mesh with the deeper psychological self that wants to move in another direction. I created three images fairly quickly. I only needed to spend a few more hours editing and finishing them before I could move on. That’s when I realized they actually needed a completely new and fresh look, one that departed from what I’d been doing. So I re-entered the loop, and reworked them. I was satisfied. Until, that is, I got up the next morning and realized that the guy who had created them the day before was a bit lost and confused about what finished art is. And on the cycle went. Now it’s approaching mid-December, and I have three circus images and their multiple variations to show for it.

I woke up yesterday and knew it was time to move on. Time to get out of the circus loop. I was tempted to label it a failed experience. Instead it has led me to question why I am fighting the experience so hard.

In Jack Kornfield’s wonderful book, A Path with Heart, he talks about “the war within.” An example of this is when we attempt to move in a direction that is at odds with the internal (or external) flow of our lives. This is when things become a struggle.

Which brings me back to one of my old issues: fighting the flow by attempting to force my will onto the process, instead of looking for the direction that is opening for me. Funny how things loop around.

Flying Woman with Blue

Flying Woman with Blue

Ok, If you have been following this work progression you will know that I have reworked the circus images twice. So here is another one….again.

Branding Day at the Chicken Ranch

Branding Day at the Chicken Ranch

I have been feeling a strong pull to do something different in the past few months. While most of the people who know me would recognize this and pieces like Nurses in a Boat, that I posted previously, as my work, they are I think a departure and for better or worse bring a freshness.

48″ x 60″, inkjet on aluminum with varnish coating.

The Juggler

02 02 02 copy

Ok, I recently mentioned that I have done 2 jugglers in the past 3 years which, I am guessing, is no coincidence. Add a 3rd, which happens to be my favorite, and I think we not only have a pattern in my art making, but also in my psychological state.

This is also the third in my new ( small) circus series. I have actually done four, but am rethinking the woman on the bike.. Woman on a Wire. I am thinking that the woman on the bike has to go. I am hoping to keep the background and just replace the rider.

Just to clarify, by small circus series, I mean that I am only doing 4-6 pieces

The Flying Woman

The Flying Woman

Circus Series, also 48″ x 72″.

After two days of working on this, I literally had my finger on the delete button when I got a new idea. Woman’s dress from photo I took of mannequin, vintage circus cannon in Wisconsin when I was driving through, signs in background from Texas truck stop, crowd from Louvre…looking at Mona Lisa and dozens of other photos used that I have taken from almost everywhere.

Man with A Cello

Man with A Violin

I usually have to live with a piece for a while to see if it makes the final cut and this still unfinished image is no exception.

I have been experimenting with new ideas, new colors and new collage techniques. Funny how some of the pieces I think I have been experimenting with still look just like my old work.

Artist at 9

Artist at 9

I recently found this old newspaper clipping of me, taken at age 9, after the Gibson County Fair in Humboldt, TN. I am not sure, but Iooking back from an adult’s perspective, I may have been the only person in my age group.

The rabbit and terrible cars were my idea and the flowers were my painting teacher’s idea.

The really interesting story is that I took oil painting lessons from Sally Huffles. She played Jane years earlier in a Tarzan movie and still had all of the press clippings. Sadly, I have reviewed all of the Janes and can not figure out which one she was. I am assuming that she had a stage name for her acting career.

The Centered Juggler

The Centered Juggler

The madness and fun has begun as I am well into my reading list, finishing Banksy : The Man Behind the Wall by Will Ellsworth-Jones, True Meditations by Adyashanti ( his best is The End of Your World ), Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, with Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit and Gompertz’s What Are You Looking At? already underway.

Combine this with my pull in different directions in art making, which currently include a Landscape series, a continuation of my Graffiti and Evolution of Man series, and two sets of “religious” series, one light and one dark, and you can see why I have created 3 Jugglers in the last 2 years.

I was telling Dana, my wife who by the way is a writer, artist and life coach http://www.danashavin.com/ that I go back and forth between excitement and being freaked out with all of the different projects. Usually, the overwhelmed times just last a few moments and I am back on course.

I used to think that I wanted to have one focus and would get frustrated at my journeys into other projects before the one I was working on was complete. And, as much as I still think that I need to do a series with headless chickens to complement the jugglers, I find that I actually do need to have the diversity and the multiple voices to keep me centered.

The Enduring Appeal of the Apocalypse

The Enduring Appeal of the Apocalypse

Back in May of 2011, I did this one-off as a tribute and commemorative poster for the end of the world. I had just heard about our love of end of the world stories on NPR and then came across an article in the Wall Street Journal, which is where I got the title. I do not often bring pieces back out, but somehow it seemed fitting for Halloween. Maybe it is the scariest piece I have… not that everyone would agree with that, for reasons I would not want to know.

As a footnote, I seldom use photos as my base that I do not personally take, but in this case, the person pictured is my father at 21. Those are my arms and Andy Warhol’s eyes. The people in the crowd were looking at and photographing the Mona Lisa when I photographed them

Barbara Kruger at Hirshhorn, “Yes, No, Maybe”and Kerry James Marshall at the National Gallery

Barbara Kruger Exhibit at Hirshhorn, Yes, No, Maybe exhibit and Kerr James Marshall at the National Gallery

After beginning with modest goals starting with the idea that I would just see the Kruger exhibit at the Hirshhorn, today, things quickly got out of control as I dropped by the Freer Gallery to see Asian art ,including Buddhas from everywhere and every time period. I knew how my day would go from here. Despite Eckhart, Pema and all other forms of Zen masters telling me that I am not my thoughts, I know and my thoughts know who is in control.

It was almost lunch, and with my thoughts/injunctions in place, I knew that i would need food in order to keep up the pace! preferably food and espresso. While there was no easy Espresso to come by, I did find one of the best chicken Philly Cheese sandwiches I have ever had from the New York Express truck in front of the National Gallery.

After this, I had no choice but to go into the National Gallery to see the Yes, No and Maybe exhibit; the religious icons exhibit and the Kerry James Marshall exhibit.

While the Marshall exhibit was the star of the show today, Yes, No and Maybe, subtitled “Artists Working at Crown Point Press” is also a must see if you have interest in printmaking or just the creative process.

I had never seen Marshall’s work in person. I had seen it in books and online and like a lot of art, especially art that is 12’+ wide and 8’tall, one has to see it in person to fully appreciate the quality and power of the work and the artist’s voice.

I can not believe it has been 10 years since I have been to Washington. It is apparent that I need to come back sooner next time

New Landscapes begin part two of the art making season

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Ferris Wheel begins New Season of Making Art

Ferris Wheel begins New Season of Making Art

Every year from October to the end of March, I make as much art as possible. Sometimes I do a few pieces during the year, but I am aware that this is the time for the big ideas or new series, experimentation and reinvention.

This year is no exception. My first image, seen above, is already well outside my normal color palette. I may keep it or I may not, but for now, it is my beginning.

The lofty goals, which I can never fully meet, are to finish my Evolution Series and begin 3 new series. These include a very abstracted series on symbols and religion taken, in part from the classic book, The Sacred and The Profane and a reading list as long as my arm; a Circus Series reflecting the psychological aspects of our daily lives; and a Landscape series, which is a real stretch for me.

Even though I call these goals, I have realized the impossibility of doing it all. In past years I actually believed that I could meet all of my obsessive mind’s demands, creating amazing amounts of stress. I now know that these goals really serve as a starting point. I will likely finish the Evolution of Man Before the End of Time series, start and finish one of the other series and do a few pieces on the others in order to find a direction for future pieces.

“Man Reaching” chosen by Glass Street Public Art Project as Bus Shelter Wrap

Public Art Chattanooga, in collaboration with Glass House Collective and CARTA has chosen 4 artists’ work to use in wrapping bus shelters as part of a public art project in Chattanooga. I am delighted that they have chosen my image, “Man Reaching” to be a part of the program. More later when it has been installed.

Cityscape finds home at DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines

Cityscape finds home at DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines

I placed this 67″ x 48 piece earlier this year, along with Thoughts of a Better Day ( see in a post below ) at the DMACC Urban Campus with the assistance of Mary Capobianco of Designing Women in West Des Moines and Provost, Dr Laura Douglas as part of their campus renovation.

Asian Vegan in downtown Providence, Rhode Island

Asian Vegan in downtown Providence, Rhode Island

I am becoming aware that I am talking more about food than art recently, so after this post, back to my other obsessions of art and books which need at least equal time.

After leaving the very lovely Mystic, CT where we spent the previous evening we headed north to Providence, RI. for the day. After going to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum and of course their shop, we headed to the only logical place that we could for someone allergic to seafood ( me ) and someone who is a partial vegetarian and who does not eat any meat and dairy combination – my Kosher wife…and yes she does eat shellfish, but you will have to take that up with her,

When we saw a restaurant billed as vegan asian in a beautiful place downtown, we knew we had found the perfect stop. The waitress did not have to go through our regular interrogation about EXACTLY what is in the soup, the sauce, etc We had similar dishes which consisted of Korean-style coconut-rice bowl topped with veggie beef, avocado, seaweed, chick peas, spinach, mango salsa and kimchee, served with sesame and hot sauce

Everything about this restaurant, other than the name ( Veggie Fun ) was good. The food was excellent, the setting was beautiful and the service very attentive.

After this is was back to buying more books in my build up for the winter reading season. More on that soon.

columbus park trattoria in Stamford, CT ends our trip with perfection

columbus park trattoria in white plains ends our trip with perfection

After a few days in NY, my wife, Dana met me for a quick trip up the East coast. As opposed to NY, where it seemed that I was on an art tour, we drove through beautiful small towns in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, stopping at every place that looked like it had good food, good coffee or good dessert. Along the way, we found several stars.

Columbus Park Trattoria was our last stop last night in White Plains and we had high expectations from the moment we saw it. Fortunately for us and the crowd that never seemed to stop coming in the door, it did not disappoint. I am allergic to seafood, but the CALAMARETTI FRITTI O ALLA GRIGLIA, billed as an appetizer, that Dana had was one of the most amazing dishes we have ever seen and I am told, amazing to eat. My homemade pasta dish – FETTUCCINE AL TARTUFO CON CARCIOFI was also fantastic. I had two very nice italian meals in NYC, but neither could compare to this place.

Despite the place being packed, we were pampered with constant attention by the staff and as the photo that I took shows, the place has wonderful atmosphere.

We so appreciate being worked in. Apparently we were early enough that it worked out, but I would highly recommend reservations. http://www.columbusparktrattoria.com/

Chagall’s Love, War and Exile in the Upper East Side

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Chagall’s Love, War and Exile in the Upper East Side

The great benefit of having been in New York several times recently is the letting go of compulsions to fill every minute with the big things.  While I still managed to do too much ( including seeing the big things), walk too much and eat too much, I also took the time to wander around some areas that I usually only pass through in a taxi or under in a subway or at best walk through on a main avenue on the way to another destination
On my walk through the Upper Eastside among interesting coffee places and shops( including Shakespeare and Company Books – thanks Tom for shipping the books for me ) I happened across Andy Warhol’s former home which only had a small plaque that I just happened to notice and just down the street, President  Grant’s former residence. Grant would have gotten a nice portrait of himself if only the timing had been right
The best discovery of the weekend was the Chagall exhibit – Love, War and Exile which was advertised on a bus stop that I was walking past. I am a Chagall fan, but have seen a number of Chagall exhibits and almost passed on this one, which I now know would have been a loss. The exhibit which focuses on his work from the 30s to 1948 is, to me some of his most powerful work given the personal nature of the subject matter and his choice of imagery to portray his feelings of fear, loss and love.
The docent  giving the tour completed the package, providing the information that one expects while asking people on the tour about their thoughts and opinions and casually bantering with the crowd

Friday night with friends at the Whitney and Petite Abeille

Friday night with friends at the Whitney and Petite Abeille

Last night I dragged tired and somewhat reluctant friends and artists Genne Grushovenko and Beverly Hayden to catch the the train to go to the Whitney. The crowd ( we did not realize it was name your own admission price night ) was energetic and large. This combined with a couple of great exhibits and a couple of double espressos perked us right up

If you have seen my work you know I am a fan of color and graphics which meant that the newly opened Robert Indiana exhibit was a perfect way to spend a Friday night. The Hopper exhibit was the one that had us shoulder to shoulder with everyone in NY however. Hopper’s sketches gave us a great peek into some of his thoughts and process behind his paintings.

We topped this off with dinner and dessert at one of Genna and his wife Signe’s favorite places, Petite Abeille, a Belgian place on 17th street in Chelsea. The restaurant was intimate and attractive and the service was attentive and helpful taking time to offer thoughts and suggestions on everything from their extensive beer selection to dessert. I am no food critic, but everything we had from the appetizers to entree to dessert were excellent. One  final note. At no point did we feel hurried by the staff, despite the limited seating and our leisurely pace, something I can not say for some places in the same neighborhood.

Thoughts of a Better Day

Thoughts of a Better Day

This is one of the few images that I have created using a photograph that was not mine. The original face template came from a late 1800s photo that I found in an antique store in southern Illinois

Shop Window in NY

Shop Window in NY

I posted this on Facebook when I took it in July, but I think it deserves a second look. somewhere around 24th street

Diebenkorn Exhibit at de Young Museum

Diebenkorn Exhibit at de Young Museum

RMG 2011-09-11 Took off reflections on right side

A couple of weeks ago I was in San Francisco and was lucky enough to go to the de Young Museum of Art in Golden Gate Park on the recommendation of a friend. The de Young is a beautiiful building made of Copper, stone, wood and glass and set in a beautifully landscaped sculpture garden and grounds. The big surprise for me was the large “Berkeley Years” retrospective of Richard Diebenkorn.  I had only seen his works in books, so I was not prepared for the stunning abstract/landscapes in person.  If you are in the area, it closes Sept 29th and is well worth seeing.  If not, lets hope it goes on tour soon.

Woman on a Bike Description

Woman on a Bike was two years in the making.  The upper half of the woman ( mannequin ) was on a table in a window display in St Petersburg, Florida.  The legs and shoes came from a shot I took of a shoe store window display on Michigan Avenue in Chicago a year later.  The balls were actually spots painted on a sidewalk in downtown Houston.  The dress came from a photo I took of an urban poster wall in Philadelphia.  All other word, color and texture came from multiple shots that I have taken of graffiti, painted weathered walls, etc

Woman on a Bike to be on Exhibit for Artscapes, Knoxville Museum of Art’s Fundraiser

Woman on a Bike to be on Exhibit for Artscapes, Knoxville Museum of Art's Fundraiser

Daryl Thetford
I am once again delighted to have been chosen to be part of the KAM Exhibit.

Digital photo collage on aluminum
62 x 36 inches
Estimated value $1,800 – $2,000
Chattanooga, TN


Presented by the Guild of the KMA

Knoxville Convention Center

Clinch Concourse

  • Preview Brunch – Sunday, October 6
  • 11:00AM – 2:00PM
  •  
  • Evening Gala – Friday, October 11
  • Silent Auction – 6:00PM
  • Dinner & Live Auction – 8:00PM
  •  
  • Valet Parking Available