Dinner Party

lowe
installation in private residence
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Every year I have a little ritual in which I design a fantasy dinner party of 8.

Who would I like at my table this year?

The guest list always changes and I find it intriguing who I want with me (living or passed).

Jaques Cousteau has received an invite a few years in a row now and I’d like to invite him again.

Interestingly, I am inviting my mother. As years pass following her death I find myself feeling she must be far enough away from me now not to hurt me.
As I soften to her and release old trauma I find myself curious; who WAS she really? How did she feel about raising 4 kids with zero support? How did she REALLY feel about me beyond my own faulty imaginings? To share a glass of wine and perhaps laugh..oh my.

MOOJI is a Jamaican Self-realized spiritual teacher I visit pretty much daily via YouTube. He is my go-to guy and I would like to honor him.

ANNA BREYTENBACH is an animal communicator extraordinaire and I’d like her there.

I would invite Mr. Reeside who pretty much kept me alive as the kind and wise and fun principal in high school during my deeply depressed and delinquent days. I’d like him to know I love him and will never stop.

My extraordinary caregiver, Roseanne, needs to be there as an honoree. As a very young single mother of 4 she seldom gets an opportunity to be with others who could reflect how amazingly adept, smart, intuitive, loving and easy she is. A shining star right here in my home.

Pharrell Williams surely needs an invite. Maybe how he laps up life to give back to us as his creativity could be dessert.

Ok, including me and Emma me is 8.

(champagne pops…..)

Do Words Have a Shelf Life?

moon

I think we should come up with both new definitions and words for both “HAPPINESS” and “LOVE”.

They are both so overused and watered down that a part of me chokes when I use them.

Love is not pink or ruffly or even soft though it can be these things.

Happiness is not jumping up and down or yellow sunflowers or an “A” on a test.

I’m playing reductionist here but the point is I feel the essence of these central privileges of being human have been so scoured down through overuse that we barely recognize when we are in them.

My experience of love is direct contact with the creative life force which is decidedly NOT soft but fierce and humbling and transformative and way beyond the scope of little “me”.

Meeting Love helps me remember that I AM THAT.

So jarring in it’s power but equally invitational.

My body feels like the original pallet God must have held; gorgeously empty but absolute possibility.

I did not have the experience of what I now call “love” until I had the chance to live with Livvy, my first dog.

My heart literally swelled and lost the armor. It took on an unusual porousness which allowed me to participate much more fully with all of life.

Much of my self aggrandizement and importance I let calmly coast down the drain with no regret.

Happiness is synonymous with peace for me;

Absence of hypervigilance, anxiety and fear.

So intriguing that both experiences for me have something about space and emptiness present.

Hmmm…

Think I’ll go pet Emma and have a dollop of both.

Transient

Aten_scan53
detail of painting,m/m
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‘As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.’

– Lao Tzu

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Bridge To Everywhere/Everyone Good

DSC00166-001

Emma.

Emma, the movie star.

Emma who nobody I care about can resist.

Emma..gracious judiciary of people, place and thing.

Emma..lively, patient, smart garden- of- goodness perched calmly on my lap

Acting as white and poufy connecting agent

Between me and the often wary ambulatory others

Who aren’t really ‘other’ after all.

There is no “other” actually

When Emma lifts her wise old chest

Into the good air of a Santa Fe morning.

We ride together

With well placed greetings to those we choose worthy

Which really means anyone willing to meet us halfway.

I take good care of my ticket; fawning, complimenting, reeling in when necessary.

I want to be worthy of this ticket… so privileged am I.

Too Much

clemency
monoprint, 1999, 22×30″
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Lately I have been thinking about too much.

Not “too much” like laundry lists of to-dos although this is surely happening

But “too much” like Donald Trump.

Something very interesting begins to happen with involuntary restrictions of previous freedoms enjoyed such as health, money, etc.

We begin to HAVE TO DEAL where we used to just shift our gaze.

Our culture is mired in excess.

We know very little about what I call “how to get back to the well.”

The physical pain I am beginning to deal with does not allow me to just change channels when I don’t like the song.

In our cultural, fairly wide and unrestrictive bandwidth of numbing agents available

It is a cinch to turn away or distract with uber-drama, addiction or sensate overload.

Donald Trump is (in my opinion) serving as the epitome of excess for us all to observe, react to, judge or revere.

A very important service he provides. Without his over-the-topness we can’t quite see who we ALL are on some level.

He sounds so entitled. I catch myself exhibiting similar ugliness.

What happens when our choices are severely restricted?

Where do we go?

What pill do we take?

How do we distract ourselves?

Who do we become?

In the poorest of villages in Africa with access to so little in the pain-of-all-sorts arena

I take note that often it is Beauty in presentation of Self, home and craft which provide solace and pleasure.

The pain is still there but they seem to glean strength from community, spirit and prayer, color, fashion, aesthetics.

Who would we be with so little “stuff” to soften our edges?

Who will I become with my bandwidth getting narrower and narrower?

Guess I’ll have to access new frequencies altogether, turn off the radio and paint my lips a new color.

Rise or Be With

disabiliy?
detail of ceramic urn, 1985, 20″d x 14″h
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I have pain.

This is new to me.

My coccyx pulses with nervy pins and needle sensations pretty much all day now.

The onset was fast.

Part MS nerve damage and part take-away from sitting in the chair.

MS is just the endless row of doors down the hallway of some friggin’ graduate school I’d rather have skirted entirely

But NOOOOOOO….. I deal w/ one classroom like managing fatigue, exit, then the next doorway sucks me in.

I am very good at rising above stuff.

Not through denial necessarily but by registering the thing and then choosing my attitude which, by now I know is all I can affect anyway.

But these new announcements my body is sending are un-rise-abovable.

So then.. I experiment with just being with it.

(the person who came up with putting “just” in front of “be” feels sort of slappable to me today)

‘Being’ asks for room and lots of it;

Space seems to be my new pain medication.

New facial contortions provoke wrinkles just biding their time for a ticket to my face.

Does grimacing help with the pain?

What happens if I soften instead of stiffen?

Is comfort and ease the holy grail?

How much juju do I use armoring myself against what is?

These are all new questions.

I don’t know.

I just don’t know.

If I had not become an artist my choice would have been Biology.

Everything we do must be done THROUGH the body so now I am afforded the acute attention to my corporeality fired by Spirit..

I will wear my blue velvet alchemist cloak and see what transpires in this fire.

Singin’

she walks
detail of painting on wool flannel
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Sometimes I take a step back and really look at how many styles of art I created over the years.

So many mediums I worked in too.

How could one girl give birth to all this seemingly disparate stuff?

Could seem schizophrenic if I let it.

Sort of like how my last post was about shame and keeping on top of one’s losses

And today I’m here to tell you I was caught rollin’ merrily down the avenue

Singing:

“I love my dog and she loves me.
She’s a little white pouf ball
And that isn’t all..
She does a little food dance
On her hind feet
And for me this is a major treat.
OHHH… I love my dog….”

Did you hear me when I said I got caught singing THAT??

I was so into my ditty that I did not hear the two gentlemen dressed in suits and very good shoes walking close behind me patiently waiting until I finished to make me aware of their intention to pass us on the thin sidewalk.

“Excuse us.”

Ok then….

What can a girl do but burst a bit red and carry on?

My life.

Fresh Life

04_WhiteSand_1
“WHITE SANDS”, ea. 12x12x6, gypsum, wood
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My prayer of late has been to experience the state of no shame.

Historical parental programming left me with the impetus to get into a mind tussle at any whiff I may have disappointed someone;

Not connecting with people I love, not showing up as a “good neighbor”, too much solitude in a world worshiping action and purpose.

Life in my body is pretty gritty these days and it is all I can do to steer myself away from the incessant downward spiral shadowing me.

To stay right demands extreme awareness directed toward reminding myself that yes, I have pain, fatigue, weakness, seared nerves along with other dignity wrenching stuff..

But I AM NOT THAT.

I keep a fresh life and always have by trying to keep on top of my losses.

If I don’t a staleness ensues.

This work takes time.

A physical body holding the aggregate of unaddressed, unmet, unrecognized disappointments colors a life dull.

Sort of the difference between pewter and old gold.

I am unsure of why my innate GPS has continually guided me toward doing what it has taken/takes to reconcile loss and disappointment

But I lead a fresh life because of it.

Fresh, meaning I have the ability if not the desire to say: “OK..BRING IT.”

Then I can let it go and room opens for other stuff.

I love my hard won patina.

Looking

Aten_scan41
“MARKS”, 2002, 24×24, m/m
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The loveliest places of all

are those that look as if

there’s nothing there

to those still learning to look.

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-Bryan Turner

The Frenchman

health
painted wool flannel
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Working for so many years exposed to toxic things in the art world like acetone, printers ink, chemical dye powders and turpentine fumes

Has left my olfactory sense on overload at the slightest whiff of anything.

This is called environmental illness.

It has it’s plusses and minuses.

I worked for a stint in Michigan at a very high-end furniture store called ROCHE BOBOIS.

A french Canadian cutie patootie furniture salesman used to visit the store on occasion.

We flirted.

He wore a mens cologne called EAU SAVAGE.

It made me swoon.

Recently rolling downtown I found myself drafting behind a gentleman dressed well, comfortably striding lankily in front of me.

I smelled that smell…

OMG, I smelled that smell.

Emma was inside her own olfactory ecstasy.

We were two just plain old-brained mammals jettisoned into various time zones past and present

With no eye for any damn thing..just our nose.

Now, the wake of a street person has a bit of a sour note.

Newly cut green grass affects Em and me equally

And silliness ensues.

If I could dig like her I surely would, I tell you.

Fragrances are potent prayers of a sort; dressing as I do with CHANEL #5 applied ritualistically I occasionally imagine Cathy Aten prayer flags wafting gently behind me as I roll..offerings of gratitude and recognition for the gift of Life.

On days I can’t muster more than peaked participation in the Game my fragrance helps me get right.

I guess it all comes down to the right accessories in the end.

Licence

possibility

I spoke recently at a local fundraiser and was made aware an article was written in a small publication quoting me extensively.

Reading the words the writer put forward as my own first left me aghast which morphed into interest.

My words they were not.

What intrigued me was his act of hunting down ideas which he deemed worthy and spreading them out in his own language which bore no relationship to mine.

The essence was lost.

The generative fuse of the thing cloaked in a grey fog of banality.

I saw my gift.

Using the courage, intention, skill and heart I am to move slippery and elusive hard won treasures out of me as offerings to you.

The aforementioned author’s gaffs gave me the buckle-down juju to continue writing my book.

Who we are becomes thrillingly apparent in proximity to who we are not.

I just love duality.

Except when I hate it.