Monday, March 24, 2014

Path to Path Post #3: Getting into the Heavy Stuff

Collaborations are the best. They push you. They push you right away.
Joy is an artist and illustrator (I see no difference in those two activities but I want you to know she is publishing a great book this year). Our skills overlap but not completely. I love how she is pushing me with her matter-a-fact-ness. Her, "Okay we will be making art and we will be making it now.There will be a schedule and this is going to work." attitude.

So last week I am focused on things. The drawing of things that are here in my parent's house. I put myself in the frying pan or maybe I threw myself into the fire. Like many people, my parent's house holds decades of memories and has all of these objects that are laden with meaning and memory for me. So this week I am drawing parts of the house. Joy told me to take my time. Not rush it. So it has been a week and I am just now posting this drawing.

These drawings are about all this STUFF that is in my parent's house…that doesn't really have any meaning but they hold on to. Or there are things that have meaning but they are crowded out by things that don't have meaning. Or something. This stuff haunts me and makes it hard to be here. And it is part of the reason I have no idea how to organize. I never once (NEVER!) cleaned my room as a child. Ever. Not a once. I would just wait for one of my parents to do it. I don't know why I did this. Maybe to get their attention. I don't know. What I know now is. I don't want things to rule my life. That I want to build experiences and moments with people. Not have my art drown me. Or have my things be more important than those around me. For me what is hardest is books. Books are the loves of my life. And I have to figure out a balance of having them and letting them go. I would like to note, my parents are not like the TV show. You can walk around their house just fine. They just find solace in things. This though is literally the heavy stuff…the things that weigh me down.

In addition, it was my Father's 60th birthday last week. And well he wasn't excited about it and he doesn't want to spend any money on celebrating. Some family members wanted to know why we didn't GO OUT to celebrate. That this is a BIG DEAL BIRTHDAY. Both myself and my sister were there for his birthday weekend AND his first grandchild. Though I wish my Dad didn't mind spending money on himself. I think having his family around to celebrate is pretty special in itself. Eating out makes him panic-y, so why would we do that? Though we snuck in a meal at Sawadtee on Mom's Bday (the day after Dad's BDay.)

One of the first bikes my father gave me was a banana seat Schwinn. I made it blue cause he likes that color. My Dad's first bike was this Sting Ray style Schwinn. Though it didn't cost me much I hope my Dad appreciated the effort.

I am enjoying time with my nephew. I am enjoyed being part of the Spring concert for the Minnetonka Community Band. I play the oboe and I am getting back into it. I will write a whole post about this experience.

NEXT UP, a drawing of the insides of the fridge!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Path to Path Post #2

Well, what a difference a week makes!
Two days after starting this project with Joy. I got a call promising a job interview…well I guess I could say I have a promising lead on a job! Which really helped to kick me out of the blue mood I was in for the past few weeks. Along with that, THIS PROJECT kicked me into gear.
What is amazing is that in just one week. This project already has so much depth. After speaking with my friend Alison about digital media and intimacy last week and bemoaning the viral clothing ad with people kissing "strangers," aka other models. I was wondering where authenticity lives on the internet. WELL. The internet is what brought Joy and I together. Through Facebook I am friends with someone I went to high school with. Through this friend who I reconnected with over not getting an arts residency. She shared one of her best friends with me. Joy! That is her name and I think she reflects the emotion pretty well too. In this past week, I would kick my ass to draw ANYTHING each day. Using a list she sent me of stream of consciousness about Paths to a Path. As I hope to get to the Camino in 1-2 years time depending on what job I can get here in Minneapolis that will let me leave for a month to walk this amazing pilgrimage.

I didn't expect Joy and I to dig too deep to fast but I guess we are both that type of person. we have shared confidences and through them we are making tangible authentic artworks from it. This week I am excited to get to work on a drawing I will share with you later this week.

Also check out this great exhibit I am part of virtually in England!

AND check out my artist statement on my website. Updates abound!

Until then here are the images of the drawings that got me started and excited about art I made last week:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Walking Artist of the Day

Check out this great international exposure for Walk with Me!
The curator invited one of my books but I was in Half Moon Bay and just never got the book to England. But here I am involved through the greatness of the internet! So excited to get to be a part of this amazing show in England!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Breathing Meditation

Take a deep breath. Well no it doesn't actually matter if it is deep or if it is shallow. You just have to pay attention. Let the breath out. Doesn't matter if you are the best breather outer ever. You just have to notice that breath.

Meditating doesn't mean that you will never freak out again. That you will have a panic-less life and that everything will go your way. But for me it seems to let me disconnect from those feelings more quickly than in the past.

I have done a good job of following life's goals for me. Get a Master's. Get a good job. Now realize none of that matters and think about what you really want. :) This is a strange time or so it seems for those of us that were young adults during the Boom. When it really felt like all you had to do to be utterly rich and successful was work real hard. Well, that isn't the feeling anymore. We all realize this system is pretty defunct. That your worth is not wrapped up in your day job. So what do we do now? A lot of people are saying "Might as well follow my dreams now that there are no jobs out there." People are banding together to create stronger communities making community gardens, time banks, and spending quality time watching movies and making dinners at each others houses instead of eating out or going to the theater. Less money can cause ingenuity and in turn sometimes it can bring people together. On the flip side it can make people greedy, angry, and depressed to not have the money they think they deserve.

Breath In. Breath out. Notice which nostril you take the air in with and which nostril it leaves from. I was taught to give significance to every choice, every move that I made. Which is total bull. Life is most definitely a place where you have to be conscious of your actions and how they affect others. But if we get too caught up and give our actions too much hype. Falls. Stumbles. Not being who someone else wants you to be. Are just moments. If we focus on succeeding too much it paralyzes us and it makes us control freaks.

Breath In. Breath out. Meditation has brought me to a place where I practice letting go. It doesn't mean that I don't fidget or check the time while I meditate. It means every day I practice. Every day I focus and let go. And hopefully it is having lasting effects on how I live my life. So far, it feels like it has.

Path to Path Post: Drawing for Joy #1

Well, walk with me. Walk with me and Joy.
We are starting a collaboration from afar.
Joy is a friend of a friend of mine from High School, Kelly.
As I move back to Minnesota. All these awesome people are coming out of the wood work to make me feel welcomed. Kelly is one of them. A few months back she connected me to Joy, an artist that lives in Portugal. I was Facebook chatting with Joy a week and half ago telling her about my desire to walk The Camino (or Caminho in Porteguese). Joy lives on the Caminho in Portugal!!! An amazing coincidence. I don't have the money yet to make my Caminho dreams come true yet. BUT I have a new friend that will pick me up when I reach Santiago, Spain because Joy lives two hours by car from there. Now I have the options to walk the Portuguese Caminho or do the Camino Frances. Last week, was a really tough week for me as I adjust back to Minnesota and feelings of low self esteem have permeated my thoughts. Suddenly, Joy and I were discussing starting a Path to a Path. Starting an artistic journey/conversation of our lives while I make my way to the Caminho. This is the beginning.

We have shared lists together and here is my first drawing. Tree Branches.

I have no money coming in, but need a Moleskin for this project so I am pulling out my coveted Amazon gift certificate and it is time to get our collabs Moleskine and the books Chris Kraus told me to read to enhance my memoir-ish fiction after our writing class.

The drawing of trees always makes me think about people and how we intersect and interact and what that looks like from a distance. Which reminded me of this heart drawing I did that was a silk screen I did this summer…

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Money the Dirty Word of Art

We are all supposed to be in this the spiritual growth of it. The way it makes us feel.
Art is something you passion about through words, acts, creations, and performances.
We bleed for it. We die for it. We disappear and reappear anew in it. Resurrection. Transformation.
Art is something that is not every day but of the transcendent.

I agree. Without art, I would not have healed from the hormonal blitz that is adolescence.
I wouldn't have found a place to place all of my emotions and spiritual energy without art.
The thing is, I live on earth. I live in Patriarchy. I live within a system that doesn't care a lick about my soul or how I feel. Well, I still care. I also care that I can feed myself and cloth myself.

I think it is possible that Capitalist are behind this propaganda that says artists should just do it for the love of it. A few months ago, a famous artist got a bit ruffled about a Facebook status update I made Stating I wanted to make $80K a year for what I did. I don't remember the exact response but it pretty much said that with my desire for money I was renouncing my artistic integrity. Well, no. I have integrity. I am a smart inventive woman. i desire get to paid. I think that is very feminist of me.  I have suffered for art. I have made sacrifices for art. I am not going to Wall Street. Pay me, people. I think this is a message given to female artist to keep us in poor paying arts admin positions.

Last night, I had a different interaction with an older artist, a musician. I was lucky enough to observe a intergenerational dance rehearsal. And the musician involved and I hit it off. Chatting about life and such. As we said good bye, I was explaining to her how I was trying to figure out where to live in Minneapolis and how I don't know the neighborhoods. Many folks say North East because of their visual art focus. As a busser, I think it is a bit out of the way. As we put on our hats and coats, our conversation turned to my job search. I was like "Well, I have worked in arts organizations for years and well my soul is all dried up.I need to get paid for the effort I put in." I said it wearily after my FB experience with an older female artist.

 "Oh I get it." she said, "I was a registered nurse. I retired last year and now get to focus my life around music. But honey you got to feed yourself and house yourself." I love this Minnesotan good sense and instead of bristling at it like I used to.

 I think "YEAH! I do deserve that."

 I then tell her very wearily "I am thinking about getting into Integrative Medicine. There is money in medicine." I wait for the cringe. "Also, I have been avoiding a part of me that is a healer." This is when I get self conscious. Here I am at a rehearsal talking about money and how the arts don't always sustain. There is a younger dancer that I think can overhear my conversation and I wince. The thing is, this needs to be talked about. How many 50 year old artists do you know that started being an artist when they were 20? Not many do you? That is because you can't have the funds to be an artist in your older years unless you get lucky and get a professor job or turn to art in your older years. Most artists burn out. No one wants to talk about it. But we do.

Well I am not going to burn out. I am going to find a way to keep being an artist. But, BUT, I am going to get smart. I am going to go out of the field to make money. I think it is also my life's calling to help people and have a more holistic career. One where I do social practice work and get grants and have a back bone of healing as a way to sustain myself financially.

I share this cause I was chatting with my friend, Jamie, and she said, "We need to be talking about this." Artists in art administration are getting paid poorly to do the work that keeps ailing organizations going. Cause they care. Cause they are passionate. And then they hope to get the support for their work…when they are 40. Seems like a bum deal. And the thing is a lot of admins are female. I don't know the percentage but I know it isn't 50/50 on this. Women run art. Women get stomped on. There it is. I am trying to be open to creative solutions and talk to my mentors. Art isn't going anywhere but I need to get smarter.

While FB chatting with my friend Michael I wrote "All hope is false. We put truth in hope. Whatever we believe can become true." So I am having hope that I can balance a life worth living making the money I need to with my desire to stay an engaged artist. I want to talk to you about this. What are your thoughts? What are your solutions?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Be Water

Since my last post, I have spent two weeks in Minnesota and nine days in Arizona.
While in Arizona, I saw several relatives that I see very little of. The question came up "How is California?" And I had to tell them I had left. And this very interesting statement came out of me, "I was burnt out." I had never thought that or said it out loud. It is true. For five years, I have proved to everyone that I can SUCCEED as an artist. Giving every breath, every second, every thought to my forward movement in this world. EVERY MOMENT. No real life of my own. I enjoy rolling around in thought. In learning the process of art theory and practice. I wanted to be accepted as one of them. One of the important artists of the world. Being in LA meant I was committed to my future fame and my current importance. That is a big weight to carry.

So I decided very abruptly to leave. With hopes of continued collaboration but I wanted a different life than I was living. It still makes me feel anxious. Like I am throwing away my title of "artist."Like I am throwing away my life. So I enter Minnesota slowly. Staying at my parent's house is an isolated spot. Where I feel a bit impotent to get anything done. I don't drive so my work is all virtual. I go to the city to see friends once a week. This makes me feel sane and like I have my own life separate from my family. It also makes me go a bit crazy because I want to be living that separate life away from my parent's house every day. It causes a few panic attacks. BUT I realize I am one lucky girl to have a family that wants me to recollect and organize myself in their house. It is a gift. With this, I am going through boxes of old possessions that have been stored in the basement. I am preparing myself to empty their house of my belongings. Finally.

I have been thinking a lot about vulnerability. About how I have made myself very vulnerable doing this thing called life the way I am. It even extends to this blog and how I write so openly. Most people see it as weakness. And unfortunately, I have allowed myself to believe this. That sharing the underbelly of life. Telling you of not just my greatest strongest moments but the hard work that goes into them, even if it includes a respite in my old room in my parent's house. Well, I am not weak. I am water.

What do I mean? I am WATER?!?!? As I am applying to jobs in Minneapolis, I am talking to my art folks. And it is amazing how life swirls around in circles. While in undergrad, there was an effervescent, lively, passionate woman who I would shoot the shit with in the hallways of our student center. As a woman of color, she pushed my suburban sheltered Caucasian brain to not worry so much about if people thought I was racist but rather know that my empathy and love of all people would shine through. A friendship was born. I have been away for ten years from those moments in the student center. But Saymoukda picked up the phone this week and said exactly what I needed to hear.
"There is an old Lao saying my mother uses 'Be water.' You are like water, Paige. You go where you are nourished." In that moment, my defenses went down. This woman could still see the honor in the path that I had chosen. That I was listening to myself and that I could trust the winding path my life has taken. For a few minutes, elation streamed through my veins as I recognized my years of training as an artist, as a curator, as a event coordinator, as an administrator and that it all has meaning. I didn't look down on myself as a thing of failure. Though culture repeatedly stifles the work of women artists. Though I am paid less then my male counterparts. Even as I am looked down upon for not owning a house or having a husband. I don't play by many rules and that can be a lonely place.

So I am playing the waiting game. What does water look like while it waits? Water swirls, it settles, it sinks, it splashes, it freezes, it thaws, it lets' the silt settle. Remembering everything seems more important because I am in this transitional space. The panic comes in waves. The pain riles up the silt and then I let the silt settle. Over and over again. Applying for jobs. Reading "Dune." Freaking out about liking someone who doesn't like me or possibly does or definitely doesn't or possibly does or... Meditating. Thinking about career shifts. Planning workshops in LA, I hope to attend in a year's time. Trying NOT to make decisions for once, just rolling through my waves of desires to see what I really want when things settle.

While visiting my grandparents in Arizona, I was swimming in the pool. I had my goggles and pink floral swim cap on. I was just pushing off the edge of the pool and swimming underwater to the other side. I was all alone. The sun created the most amazing light wave ripples on the bottom of the pool. As I pushed off I watched them shimmer. Watching my silhouette gracefully cut it's form across the bottom of the pool. There is nothing more beautiful to me than water. In darkness or light, I could stare at water, listen to water, and be in water and never grow tired of the sublime feeling that comes over me. Little rainbows appeared on the waves reflections. I wondered if there is anyone else in the world that contemplates like this. Diving under to commune with light and water? After quite awhile, anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, I abruptly stopped my swooping, bubble making, intense staring, to enter back into "life" and got out of the pool.

What has terrified me the past two years, is that the passion, buzz, excitement, I have fed myself on is gone. It seems while cutting out my bad behaviors, I have cut out the space for wondrous contemplation. I am no longer a binge eater. I exercise. I eat a hell of a lot better than I ever did before. These things make me feel calm and balanced. They do not fill me with desire and make me dance around the room. I have erroneously placed my ability to stare at water in the category of artifice. I am now looking at life from a far less anxiety ridden state but also a more sedate state. This week, I allowed myself to eat pizza with my Dad. Thinking of the passion in which I used to cram slices of pizza in my month. I took two squares of Detello's and squeezed them into my mouth. Remembering how this used to send a buzz through me. A shot of adrenalin and a comfort. I felt neither of those things. I just had an old memory of them. I just hoped my lactaid pill would help me not pay for this indiscretion.

I am waiting to allow myself a space to play. A space where I am fed by my desires not wrecked by them.   I am enjoying not feeling frightened all the time and not using fear to propel me forward. In my daily life I have cut out my obsessive devouring and replaced it with a calmer Paige. But how do I feel passion now? Looking deeper, I am finding myself saying, "I don't know what I really want." Instead of then panicking, I am learning to say "And that is okay." I already have the characteristics of water in me. Now I just have to ride the waves.