Clearing Out

About two weeks ago I took this picture of the pollen on the lake during our morning walk. The next day it was gone.

My mind has been like that….a bit clogged.

Bundling and tying and shellacking whole bodies of art work and giving them a place to wait out of sight for the ending has helped.

Sorting through books has helped. Many boxes went out this morning. More are boxed in the studio and ready for pick up.

With the books I am coming face to face with the earlier thinking that, “I will need that one day”. And really how untrue that is. Others who could have used what I kept were ignored because I was so sure that these things would be just what I needed….some day.

And what I needed all along was the space that they cluttered up with false promises. I think after all of them are removed from the studio, the best thing to do would be to remove the shelves as well.

I need clear blank spaces.

I need to find a way to get back to my yoga and tai chi practice in that cleared space.

The studio had become a place of reminders of all the things I can either no longer do or am no longer interested in doing.

Today when a friend from the art group came by to collect the books, we parted thinking that we will get together in the studio and just make prints together when I am ready. I look forward to that, sharing what little I will have left in a large open space…..just playing, no thinking, no worrying about what will become of the results, no thinking beyond making marks and printing….and learning.

When I take my blood pressure at the gym three times a week, I mentally go to a place I used to do tai chi. It was very early morning in Geelong, Victoria Australia. And I would sneak off to just inside the tree line of a Eucalyptus forest, carefully take my bow and begin to move my feet over the shed bark of the trees and listen to the whispering of that. It was so peaceful and so invigorating…all that slow breathing with the whisper of Eucalyptus.

My blood pressure is well within the  “good” range under those glaring florescent lights with the distant sound of feet pounding on treadmills and groans of physical exertion. Because I am not even there. I am in that forest.

My studio is going to be that forest for me when I get everything that is not necessary to that feeling taken away.

Much more to go, but getting there.

Til later.

War Bundles

Two works pertaining to war are all there is left. Both are by artists touched by the situation in the Balkans. The artist proof above is titled Bosnia….now broken into three pieces so as not to be heard the way it was. And the one below about what I remembered as the profanity of war. One of the worst Serbian leader’s name was on it, so I bought it.

One hangs in the bedroom, the other in the office.

And now all of the war pieces are bundled and shellacked.

The pile is getting quite large. The detail below is how I feel at times….just trying to keep everything together and covering it up.

There are days when I just do not want to talk and that is probably a good thing as there really is no one I want to talk to right now. Sometimes talking will lead to things said that later are regretted… best to stay silent.

And honestly I don’t want to listen either. Hearing of someone else’s fun and free-ness is usually a good distraction but other times a reminder of another life… I had just a few years ago. So I am concentrating of clearing out artwork, getting rid of loads of books that may just end up in the trash as so few people want books anymore.

We do not live in a good area for a garage sale and I am completely out of touch with anyone looking for books. I might just take them to a recycle place. Many of them I was going to pass on to the Art Group. Too late for that. I should have been paying better attention to the drifting off of the members of the group. I missed how much they were ready to lean away from the one thing that made me look forward to having them here….talking about art based on feelings strongly held.

My plan is to strip my studio of everything not related to printmaking. All those bits and pieces stuffed on shelves and in drawers needs to just go. All walls empty except for the tai chi figures that have been there to remind me to breathe. I need to do more of that and stop panting with worry about what I am supposed to do next.

We had a good walk at the dam this morning in the fog. Here is Lee wandering off into that fog. He knows where he is, where I am….he just can’t find words. No wonder I do not want to talk so much right now. I am doing it for both of us and listening to figure out what it is he wants to say.

That is enough for now…..but I love this picture.

Til later.

The Works of War

This was a hard day. I had not seen this work for some time and reading the letters brought so much of the sadness back. But tomorrow the final bundling of War will be over.

This first one is one of the letters I sent the reporter for USA today and then his response back to the original letter I wrote asking about one of the victims he reported on, a young girl named Marianne.

These are copies pasted to the outside of the small coffin that holds every single newspaper image of those suffering in the Bosnian war….over four years of collecting them because I simply could not throw them away.

Here is the coffin.

The wild flowers were still in there with the pictures.

Here are the four coats with the grave blanket.

They will be bundled in the quilt titled, “Lost Peaces”.

The large photo will go into the bundle as well. I actually turned the quilt over before folding the coats in. Here is the quilt, now removed from our office wall.

Other letters I wrote, some to President Bill Clinton and his response.

And a letter to leaders in the former Yugoslavia.

Also wrapped today was a gourd with the first busload of children taken out of Sarajevo. My work of collecting started with these children.

And finally all bundled up is this small hand tied quilt of dry point images and lino prints of the story one Chechnyan woman surviving the war and finding her son on the battle field so she could bring him home. Nothing left for her but memories. I was struck how the mothers went to the Russian generals and asked for permission to reclaim the bodies. There was a brief cease fire to comply with the mothers’ wishes. In undergraduate school I made this small piece while learning various ways of printmaking.

It is physically hard to wrap this work up so I will finish wrapping tomorrow and then take a break before digging into all those specimens from Expedition to Elsewhere: the Expedition.

That will certainly be lighter in mood. But looking at how this is all stacking up, it is going to be one heck of a hole!

Til later.


This is Absolutely the Last of the Men/All About Masculinity

Finally the last box of those men! These poor navigators had the burden of boats that would sink if ever put in water. Their phallic forms made of silk are covered with the text of what accounts for “masculinity”. They drag their own testicular anchors along with them through a sea of feminist text.

Here are a couple of details.

And really the best part after twenty years is how true the feminist text is. So good to read that I copied it off from the silk waves and put most of it below. Definitely worth the read. I wish I had kept track of the authors as well, but they are all somewhere in my research books on masculinity….and some of those are long gone.

I will wrap all these “boys” together with their bags. But their boats would be better served given to one of our window washers who does amazing art works with old metals.

Feminist text

“Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns.”

“Accepting a version of female experience that sees us solely as victims, as the dupes of men, enables us to ignore both the violence we do to other women and children and to less powerful men.”

“What made Friedan’s book a best seller was her detailed and sympathetic documentation of the malaise of the middle-class housewife, a woman who had been educated to expect, if not a career, at least something more challenging the search for a matching mitten.”

“Decisions to cut aid for the terminally ill, for the elderly, for dependent children, for food stamps, even school lunches, are being made by men with full stomachs who live in comfortable houses with two cars and umpteen tax shelters.”

“At a time when women, with good reason, are asking men to make known their most guarded feelings, when we want them to love and raise babies and remember our birthdays, it is also required that they be the ones to rescue people in a burning building. And startle the dragons when they are heard in the dark.”

“Considering the extent to which masculinity as it is socially constructed within patriarchy encourages males to regard woman’s words, woman’s talk as without substance or value, or as a potential threat, individual women cannot hope to effectively communicate feminist thinking with male relatives, companions, etc. without carefully considered strategies.”

“Feminist works that focus on strategies women can use to speak to males about male domination and change are not readily available.”

I find the fourth one down so true as I watch a Republican dominated Senate force their choices on women…..some things never seem to change.

Anyway, I am off to wrap these poor fellows up so they can compare notes and their struggles for survival in perpetuity.

Til next time when I tackle war with loads more sheets and shellac.