Thursday, April 17, 2014

Path to Path #5: Turning 33

There is nothing like having 2 button up shirts, a handful of tshirts, enough leggings to go with it, a sweater, and a backpack stuffed with a swimsuit and toiletries. For about a year, I lived out of a backpack. I cherish my denim shirt with anchors on it. It started out a deeper shade of denim. Yellow sweat marks crease where arm pit meets sleeve. I wore that shirt out…beet juice, ink, mystery stains lithely dot the edges.

For about a year, I took to the road. I performed. I played. I rested. I made a book with a dear friend. In one years' time, I expanded my view of what the world can be. I bumped up against societal edges of proper daily life. There was one or two fights. Mostly, there was a feeling of ease as I explained what I needed and was loved in returned. In one month's time I saw dear old friends and they created the dearest art project with me called, "Walk with ME." They brought in strangers to walk with me. They walked with me too. Homes were shared. Air mattresses were inflated. Baked oatmeal was shared. Thank you meals out at restaurants were bought by me. Train rides and the dreaded greyhound was used.

I saw their skylines. I dodged pot holes. I drank tea. What a gift that was. A gift to go from house to house, friend to friend, being treated carefully and considerately in each spot. Every place I felt more and more present. Able to speak my truth and have it celebrated. Barring one real rocky interaction. My excitement about life was met with the same. I never think about me as a force. Growing up, I was taught in thousands of ways to try to be invisible. But I felt the ripple effect of my ease at being a positive energy brought to others lives. i could shake things up so others could make changes. Or on a smaller level it was sure nice to hug my old friends while I was changing my life.

I ripped myself out of Los Angeles. Out of an abusive job. Out of the burn out that was reeking havoc on me. I wanted to do it differently. So I jumped on so many planes and I connected to people. I listened to their stories. We wrote them down. I saw the hearts of many. I felt the fear and felt it subside of the people I walked with. Obviously this last year is a life changer. I had spent 32 years following what others told me I needed to do to be a famous artist. I did it very well. Now I need to be an artist and a person who does things out of pure excitement and the need to discover. (This was in many of my past actions but got clouded up my perspective of needing to be rewarded.)

I have grabbed up life in all it's intensity. After finishing "Walk with ME," I was waiting to be punished. I had quit my job. I have left my life. Wasn't someone going to be mad? How was I going to get a job again after only working part time at the gallery in between arts gigs? I wasn't making enough money to keep that up. I didn't want to pay $1200 for rent every month while trying to make art in LA. How was I going to BE SOMEBODY if I wasn't in LA? Where was my life?

So the question is how can I take the Paige I cultivated on my tour; the Paige that created so many firsts this past year, into the present? How can I keep fighting cultural norms that say we have to live a certain way? I have to make money unless I join a religious order or commune. I like living alone and having certain creature comforts. I am very independent and though the gifts of this last year were many that I couldn't repay. I don't feel comfortable asking to live on the generosity of others…So where does that leave me?

Luckily, I have found a great job doing something that I feel is helpful, challenging, and creative. What a blessing that is! I will start working for a fantastic non-profit. Where I will help people learn media production skills. Wow! That will be great. It will pay my just enough to get by in Minneapolis. I am scared of next winter and how I will deal with it.

When I was young there was no limit. I thought I could be or do anything. I am stubborn and passionate and made things happen. Now as I age I see the limitations and I get tired…with my integrity does not always come monetary rewards. That I probably won't have the time or money to travel one month out of of the year every year. I get really depressed by the thought of limitations. I get depressed with the idea of I can't have.

What I am hoping for this time where I settle is that I will find the depth of relationships I have been skirting. That I will find communities that give me just as much enjoyment as a Perugia skyline or a Los Angeles sunset. That I will start to look inward and keep nurturing the spiritual power I found sitting in meditation in California. That I can really believe that where I am from is just as beautiful as those places marketed to be so. That I can continue to get inspired and learn.

In an ironic funny twist, I am turning 33 on Easter. Now Jesus was 33 when he died and rose to heaven. I am agnostic. Jesus, to me was an amazing, amazing role model for all of us. I find it really really amazing that I start my 33 on this spiritual note. Turning 33 on Easter! Jesus died for the sins of others. Now that is a life of sacrifice. He wasn't worried what others thought of him or his bank account. Not only that, he spent a lot of his time making others feel better and bringing them to a place of solace (God). If I can take this next year to continue to grow to shed away what I think others want me to do and get to what I find important and helpful to others. This will be a year well spent.

I have been meditating for about an hour a day for 4 months now. In December, I did a Vipassana retreat where for 10 days I had my eyes closed more than open, day in and day out. I learned an immense amount in a short amount of time. With meditation and my extreme year of living, I have calmed down quite a bit. Other people have noticed. My friend and mentor Laurie for one. I volunteered to be a guide for a friends awesome art event at a local museum where we will lead people to find answers to their questions by using the museum as an oracle. Or as I explain to my friends, a big Ouija board. I have done this with my friends for about 5 years. Laurie led us in a training to get ready to lead museum goers the April 26th weekend and she said, "I have talked to you on the phone for all the years you were away but I will have to get used to having you around in your body."
We kept talking and I asked if it is because I had changed so much? And she said yes.
I said, "I know I am a lot calmer now."
She said something to the effect of, "You got that right!" :)
With the calmness, I hope and think I have stripped away some of the anxiety and desperation that clung to me when I was younger and that possibly I can come off a tiny bit wise. If anything there is a presence that I carry now that isn't a burden but rather an open space for others to enter.
This year brought me to calm. I wore myself out. I proved I could do it. I took a step back. I failed. I succeeded. I ran a half marathon. I performed my first piece I directed. I printed my first Artist Book. I quit a job. I got a job.

Like waves, things come in, things come out, people arrive, people leave, anxiety rushes in, anxiety rushes out, the rhythm doesn't stop. No matter how hard we hold on. The great thing is with each person I connect with the passion and love that is exchanged has a resonance and it lives on. As I move back to Minnesota I am finding that some resonances still has a hummm to them that can be picked back up where we left off. With others it may be over or it may be just beginning. Maybe I will return to LA someday, maybe I won't. I'm scared and I look forward to creating a new song for today.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Path to the Path #4: New Beginnings

Another week? Has it been another week?
This week went by in a flash. Looking at apartments with Andrew. Helping my mentor and friend Laurie with her awesome art oracle project she is launching at the Minneapolis Art Institute this month.

This week went by in a flash while I was waiting. Waiting for a job offer, hoping for an apartment.
Getting a new job!!! Things seeming to line up. Which for a thirty something year old means I am wary. Wary cause what will go wrong? Cause that is life. It isn't smooth sailing but negotiations. But also with the thirties comes a thing called gratitude. Wow, I have worked hard. I went out on a limb and got a degree in Public Practice art and that degree helped me land this job. A job where I will be doing some things that come naturally to me and getting to push myself to learn more. Wow, feeling blessed. No. No. I won't be a millionaire come next fall, but it is very possible I can help make an awesome organization even better. I will start this job May 5.

There is still a lot of waiting to do. Will Andrew and I get an apartment? Will the commute to my new job be easy on foot or bike? Will I go out in this new city? Will I find some new friends to go with my awesome old ones? Will I date? So in the mean time, I make a drawing. And I make this blog. And I apply to be an instructor at the University of MN. Some sort of pool they are creating for future classes.

This drawing is inspired by a pot I saw at Continental Clay. They have a little informal gallery you can buy things at in their industrial but tiny store. I guess it is a waiting drawing as drawing the same form over and over again is a kind of waiting. A kind of patience. I wanted to see what it would look like flat to make something that swirled.

This was a waiting week. One in which I let myself take a long bath. One in which I let myself read lots. One in which I didn't apply for anymore jobs cause I hoped for the one I interviewed for would come true.

The big life lesson? Even after receiving the good news of a new job. The work is just beginning. Life happens and the negotiations in some ways get easier with knowing I will continue to be able to support myself. While they also get harder. Now I have to put my passion into action. So this week. Just breathing. Meditating. Working (I have a poster commission and online freelance). And just letting things be. Not getting wrapped up in other people's emotions about my life. Just taking it one day at a time.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Works in progress

Well it has been a week since my last post…and momentum is something that most be kept going…momentum doesn't roll all by itself. :)

This has been a busy week for me…mostly getting to hold, kiss, smile at, and play with my nephew Oliver. My sister stayed an extra week after the bday festivities to hang with mom, dad, and I. Oliver started to crawl in earnest on this trip. he learned that if he whines Grandpa will ALWAYS pick him up in under two minutes. And he picked up a few more gibberish noises for his arsenal. We all love to roar like a lion with him. Overall, days fly by when a baby is around. You are tired and happy the whole time.

Joy created this amazing drawing of her hand. It's her first sketch in her new moleskine. I was WOW-ed by it I love the use of the line and how she plays with negative and positive space with how the letters are created by where she doesn't draw. As someone way to fond of block letters as a default I enjoy this ingenuity. It made me want to talk about my feet. And how they save me daily from the nerves and anxiety I can carry around. I thought about all the places I have gone all the things I have seen and how they all start out on shaky uncertain steps. That maybe I look confident to the world but each time I try something new it is always the same that excited nervous that I don't know if things are going to work out how I thought they would.

So after my nephew went to bed, I started my shaky steps drawing. I am thinking a lot more like a illustrator than a painter in my mind. Which is new for me. I have to think about how words will look. This is also quick. I am not trying to create something that will take me months to finish. So this is a new way for working for me. I have never been much of a sketcher. I usually write and make big complicated projects that now half the time are performances. So I got out the crayons and tried to just have a little fun.

I finally finished the drawing today, a Sunday. While being very lazy after a fun filled weekend. My friend Anne came to Minnetonka for the weekend. Anne is the most committed artist that I know. She is creating a ceramics studio in her family barn. She has created a community fundraiser that is so thoughtful and perfect for the project. She can do everything from make wood cut posters, create a local concoction of bouja (soup), de-shingle a roof, through 100s a bowls a year, and have time for her creative ceramic work…when we were younger I was just plan jealous of her virtuosity in everything she put her mind to. She was envious of my ability to be loose and wild and throw paint at a canvas or sew a face into a bed sheet. She is just plain one of my closest friends.

With my living in the suburbs my friends take forays out there to make sure I don't go insane while I wait to find a job (almost there) and an apartment (I am supposedly looking on craigslist). Anne and I went to The Soap Factory. They are showcasing 5 Jerome grant recipients in their mid-career place, the show is called "Art(sits) on the Verge 5." *I first types Art (sits) which I find hilarious. Truthfully, with being stuck in the 'burbs, I was just glad to be investigating art. The one thing that bothered me was the show was how low lit the space was which I found a bit depressing. The Soap is a huge cold space and I understood the curators were trying to keep your attention on the art and not the overwhelming warehouse like feel of the place but I wanted a bit more light.

I love how the Soap doesn't feel like an art space. It feels illegal that these items are placed in what looks like an abandoned building. I want to find people camping out in corners and a big fire in a barrel in the basement. But anyway Anne and I enjoyed Katie Hargrave's installation listening to"Sugar, Sugar" on head phones and understood the juxtaposition of the notes from union meetings on the other head phone set. Anne enjoyed the craftsmanship of the sugar vinyl (records made of sugar). That all got to the ideas of labor. Really hidden labor in the commercial items that crowd our reality. There was a table with an embroidered table cloth that I believe represents the tables around which union members eat and organize around. For me I wanted to be at the dinner not see these embellished memories but thread around a wine stain did get me to feel involved emotionally somehow.

Our favorite installation was the inter-art space communication system by Emily Stover of putting a piece of paper in a mailbox at a desk and getting to put on our mail person cape and using a tech-y mail card try to find the projection that would read our message on the wall. We never saw our message and some of the projections only showed 1/4 of someone else's mail card, but it was fun fun fun to wonder how it works and like the craftsmanship of the call box you but the card up to, to activate the projection.

We spent an intense time chatting about parents and our generational difference over dinner at Fasika. The St Paul restaurant that I can never get enough of. I want to eat ngiri every month…and hope not to run into cute men afterwards with the effect those lentils can have on any person's digestion.

Anne and I are both living very unorthodox lives. The lives of an artist. Anne lives with her parent's on their farm. I am crashing at my parents house and there is a LOT of guilt I feel about the decision to have a, what is turning out to be two month residence in my old room. Anne confidently says "No shame in that Paige. What artist doesn't get support from their community?" And I step back and realize she is so right. Artists are creating things that don't fit into our capitalistic culture. The time and effort and emotion, the spirit that resides in my work doesn't have an equal value in a store or even in a gallery. Most of the works I saw at the Soap Factory couldn't be sold and installed in a person's home. I mean I would want the tendrils Alison Hiltner installed that hung down from the ceiling that traced circles in the ground….but I don't think there is a MARKET for them. At least not yet. :P What I am trying to say is….I don't CARE if the tendrils or my work find a place in the market. Art is a rumination on culture and our souls and it is important. So important that it is ok for me to ask for help to free up my time. It is ok for sketches just to stay sketches. In giving artists the time and space to make gestures is that these gestures in some round about way change the world. It is ok for me to say, I need a month to create this work. Shit, it was ok for me to ask for this past year. Strangers have written me saying hand holding is powerful. At this point I am itching for a job and a place of my own. I want a studio. I want a boyfriend. I want some stability. While I am already planning a new adventure with Joy. What is the importance of two thirty somethings exploring pathways while being separate by an ocean? I don't know but it is.

I sure as hell wouldn't be where I am now, a truly healthy place, without this past year. To expel some demons and to work hard and make an art dream come true. What a year! I did it! I am doing it! Being an artist is my reality! Now to keep navigating it! To pour even more courage and nourishment to follow my creative urges to grow more beauty and depth in the soil of my dreams. I got real close to throwing out this way of life. Why? Cause truth be told I am sort of awful at life in general. The basics. I dislike thinking about retirement, what coffee table I should get, or what is coming next when it comes to mundane things. I am great at grand gestures, and big movements. So I thought I had to just focus on the mundane cause that is what gets us by. Well, I have to find a way to be stable enough to keep creating these wonderful grand gestures. My gestures of grandeur are important and not a waste of time. They are art.