Think Again

fourfathers cryThink Again was inspired by the ideas set forth by our founding fathers, whom when authoring the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution must have had to think and rethink every word. Just consider how radical this phrase must have sounded to the ear of a King, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

For people in the present, in the United States it is assumed that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is out there and ours for the taking. However, how many US citizens actually pause to consider what an “unalienable” right is? That word does not pop into my mind when considering the American dream. And why should it? And do we have them? Unalienable is defined as, not to be separated, given away, or taken away. Meaning that being born, each human, like the beating of his/her own heart, and the breath flowing through his/her lungs is the owner and embodiment of these birth rights; Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. These rights are not awarded to us or granted to us by a court, they are born into us at our first crying breath, and even though this seems a very logical thought it has not always been the case.

Gazing backwards, history tells that Kings and Queens were ordained by their God; Meaning that according to their belief system they were selected by their God. I believe this form of thinking persists on to todays Royalty. All other humans were perceived as being below Kings and Queens, and would be subjects to them, and under the rule of their divine power. Royalty and its forms of governing people had been the way that most human beings had grown to understand themselves in relation to the world. There was the King or Queen and he or she ruled controlling their subjects’ life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Then as American history tells, a bunch of men and women immigrants crossed the pond and got all these crazy new ideas about being alive. Can you imagine penning for the first time “all men are created equal?” A shift in consciousness had awakened within a new land called America. The idea of wanting to rule one’s own destiny was born and along with it the ideals of freedom took root. Freedoms potential began to bend humanity in a new direction, which included the ideas of individual life, liberty, and the pursuit of one’s own happiness.

As a side note (and, which is very important parts of our American history) we know that freedom for all in Americans did not originally include all people, Native Americans were slaughtered, Africans were enslaved, women were second class citizens, Japanese were placed in internment camps and if you self-identified (or were outed) with any part of the LBGTQ spectrum you were considered mentally ill and institutionalize or imprisoned, branded a criminal. The white men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution were writing to define their intentions for the new world, which was really about the freedom of themselves. Consequently the symbol of white equaling power was born.

Thankfully, and over much time the immigrants whom would eventually call themselves Americans evolved to understand and interpret the use of the word “men” as meaning mankind and mankind meaning humankind. In other words all of humankind in America has unalienable rights, which include Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. So even though the original vision of these two documents were not all inclusive, the language was scribed in a way that established the grounds to fight for what is right and good for all legal Americans.

Sadly, today in 2017 the “ illegal immigrants/Muslim immigrant” has become the new Native American, black, women, Japanese, gay, who is being targeted and who is challenging how far unalienable rights extend. In this moment of time we are challenged to grow our humanity rather than shrink our humanity. Let’s remember that unalienable means inseparable or birthright and then let’s expand past the boarders of our minds to be inclusive of the human race’s rights, not just American rights. The pursuit of life liberty and happiness is a human right. In the present trump administration we can see that the full and deepest interpretation of “humankind” has yet to fully be awakened within the minds of our present president trump. He seems to still be in the era of reasoning that interpreted the Declaration of Independence as a document written for white men only. No matter how many ways trump may try to disconnect and divide within our own borders and beyond America, the plain and simple truth will prevail that we are one world, which is inextricably interconnected with each other, and we are all the human race. trump’s crazy making and deception cannot erase this plain and simple FACT.

Thinking and then thinking again and again is so very important because it creates the space within the mind of an individual or a group to reason and then act or not. Having this ability, called reasoning, if used, allows us to create the space in our consciousness to discern right from wrong and good from bad. Deeply contemplating the idea of good or bad is how I spent the morning three days after the presidential election 2016.

Being the curious creature that I am, I wanted to examine my own heart, which is to say that I want to pause and reflect upon what I believe and how I came to have those beliefs, specifically concerning the concepts of good and bad. I felt challenged to do this because many people on Facebook felt that they had the right to post negative comments about me based upon my point of view. I had commented about my disappointment of the Presidential election outcome. The negative posts, posted by others/strangers are what really interest me the most because to ever assume that someone has the right to label anyone anything other than human is to move into a place in consciousness where one perceives him or herself to be above the other. The moment that “name-calling” starts in any way shape or form you can guarantee that someone is feeling a sense of superiority and self righteousness, which can be rationalized as a perfectly normal state of mind after winning what one wanted. Name-calling could also be considered a base line for bullying. I felt bullied.

My feeling of sadness (not defeat) were not so much that trump won the election but rather that so many Americans had chosen to follow and support such a truly bad man. My feelings of sadness were amplified when being bullied by my fellow Americans, whose behaviors were incited by trump.

There are those who will try to turn this around and say calling trump a bad man is the same as name-calling and labeling people, and no matter what I write they will stick to their guns thinking that I’m name-calling and labeling too. There is a difference though and I’d like to break it down into two different scenarios to better illustrate my point.

In one scenario a stranger passes another stranger on the street, and one calls the other a faggot, without having any idea of who that person really is, but the name caller does it anyway because he or she is either ignorant, homophobic or hateful, or all of the above. As a side note, I have lived this particular scenario from as far back as I can remember. Beginning in grammar school the name assigned to me was a sissy then as the boys and girls got older it evolved to faggot and over time I acquired every hatful name associated with being a gay man. Being gay one learns what hate feels like at a very young age. Most LGBTQ humans who are not destroyed by hate come to realize that to hate is wrong and that name call is wrong. Luckily, I did not break from the hate, in fact my mind grew a more deep and inclusive understanding and respect for what it means to be human in all of our varied forms.

In the second scenario all of America watched an adult white male millionaire repeatedly make really bad remarks about every type of human who was not white, like himself. He made those remarks while running for the highest office in the nation. The person applying for the job of president should be well aware of the history of America and of the world for that mater and how hate crimes have negatively shaped our society and the planet. To insight hate, fear and separatism as he has done and continues to do, in a nation that has such deep wounds around the subject is the actions of a bad man. I have, and we all have observed a behavioral patter in trump and it is he himself totally and completely being a bad man. He has shown us his true colors repeatedly.

Let’s make a quick break down of name-calling verses naming an observable behavioral pattern: The hater on the street randomly name calling hasn’t got a clue as to whom the person is that he or she has just hated upon, that is name calling. Naming a behavioral pattern that persist based upon hours and hours of observation is not name-calling, it is a statement of fact, backed by evidence. In this particular case produced by the person himself – trump. His performance while running for president was not second hand information, it did not come from the press… No trump’s fraud, his bankruptcies, his avoiding paying taxes, his racism, his misogyny, the list goes on and on came straight from his own lips, all of which are bad words and bad actions making trump unarguably a bad man. He meant what he said and he said what he what he meant. So for those of you who voted for him thinking that he was performing and only saying what he said for dramatic effect you were wrong. He really meant what he said. And for those who are still saying that you don’t really know what trump means, I hope you will soon figure out that when he speaks there is no mysterious or complex deeper meaning to his words. He means what he says.

Now back to that third day after the election. My mind that particular morning felt a curiosity that opened my thinking to the phenomena of people organizing. Religions came to mind first and so I followed my curiosity to see what I could find. The first question that popped into my mind was, “what are the ages of religions?” The second thought was what are the similarities and guiding principles/beliefs underpinning the different religions beliefs systems?

What I discovered is that one religion verses another does not produce better humans than the other. We are all simply humans. The religion we inherit or choose or don’t choose makes no difference because the base line of all religions is to do good for humanity. Whatever one’s religion, skin color, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnic break down, the clothes one wears, the car you drive, the zip code where you live does not make you or me any better or worse a human than every other human. The fact of matter is that we are all beautifully flawed human beings. We are all humans plane and simple. We all have brains in our skulls, hearts in out chest and the breath that we breath. What we wear on the surface, our skin color, sexual orientation, religion, social status, etc. is not what defines some one as being a good or bad human. It is our thoughts and our actions that define if we are good or bad people.

trump’s thoughts and actions are bad thoughts and actions and he has essentially given all the Haters in America the permission to behave as badly as he does. In his claims to build walls, deport Mexicans, alienate and target Muslims and return to law and order he amplifies fear and in doing so gives justification and permission to anyone and everyone and in every place, the space to act on their fear and hate.

Here is my personal evidence: In one weeks time I had very unusual experiences with name-calling, verbal aggression, fear and hate. In the week leading to the election a black man aggressively confronted me on the street for presumably looking at him the wrong way, when in-fact, I was actuality looking at a very out of place dead bald eagle that lay on the sidewalk of downtown Washington DC, which looked like the man was going to step on. I don’t know about you, but to me the dead bald eagle sure felt like a bad omen. Days after the election a white man shouted at me on the street to “fuck off” because I was stopped on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street on my bicycle. And several people on Facebook have named me as a whiner and a crybaby because I expressed my point of view concerning the election outcome and about the character of trump.

If you know me, you know that I’m not a racist, an inconsiderate bicyclist, a whiner or a crybaby. What I am is a human being like every other human being on the planet. There are wonderful things about me and there are flawed things about me, which can be said for every other human being that walks this planet.

Which leads me to my next point, to dissent is part of the democratic process and one of our freedoms as Americans. We do not have to agree with one another. However, we must always respect each other’s differences. When people moved towards aggressive behaviors and name-calling, respecting one another has gone out the window. To have differing opinions are what causes people to grow and all voices and all opinions are a reflection of who we are as Americans. We are at our deepest roots after all, a melting pot. There is room for everyone to be and to express them selves. Please don’t misconstrue my comments on trump as being anything other than what they are, I will dissent and stand my ground firmly in the belief that good will prevail. Good humans through out all of time have had to stand together to defeat bad humans. The evidence that this has occurred is in the simple fact that we are all alive.

Looking even deeper into the roots of the land that we call America, we must fully integrate and acknowledgment the facts that to build American society it took an all but near annihilation of several tribes of Native Americans people (This atrocity still hangs in the balance). Followed by enslaving Africans whose physical bodies built this nation from the ground up. These historical facts must be fully addressed and made right because they are not fantasy or entertainment. They are our root cause for our constant discontent. We as a society have never made right what we had done wrong. We as a republic were born out of fear and hate. Fear and hate of what had been left behind, fear and hatred of the people discovered here and fear and hate for those we enslaved. The fact that we repeatedly arrive back in the fear and hate state of mind demonstrates that there has yet to have been a proper reconciliation and restitution given in order heal the wounds (at the root) of our forefathers. My guess is that until we make right what we had done wrong the fear and hate that made us will continue to block us from becoming truly free.

To become truly free, it is not the other that we need to fear, but rather it is our own individual close-minded thoughts and perceptions that keep us caged. As humans we have the unique ability to self observe and examine within ourselves what we hold to be true. In order to be set free from out fears, of the other, gazing inward is essential. One can start their journey of gazing inward by answering these questions: Where did your thoughts come from? Who planted the seeds within your mind that has caused you to believe this way or that way? Are your thoughts a habit? Are your actions a habit? Do you explore ideas outside of your own understanding of reality? Do you make an effort to learn about what you do not know? Or do you receive information and accept it blindly? Is the news the only place that you learn about the world and all of the wonderful humans who inhabit it? Do you question your own thoughts? To examine ones thoughts is to look deeply into ones self. Do you look deeply into your own self, or has the world painted a picture for you, of you, and you accept that version as your reality? I ask all these questions because if you are aware of your thinking you can also become aware of your perceptions. Our perceptions of reality form within our mind based upon our circumstances in life, most of which we do not choose. For example I did not choose to be born to a single mother, have a father that abandoned me, being gay, growing up in impoverished neighborhoods…the list goes on and on. My life like many has not been an easy one. My circumstances that I was born into shaped how I perceived reality.

As a child I believed myself to be trash, God did not want me because I was gay, public schools did not want me because I was stupid, the world did not want another mixed race child on welfare draining the system. I had little to no hope of ever surviving my child hood. I thought I was a nothing-useless bag of bones, taking up precious oxygen and space that some more other better person deserved. All of these negative perceptions caused me to consider suicide often.

My circumstances were real but my perception of my self was an outside projection of me, not my true self. My thoughts then, taught to me by the world around me had shaped the way that I perceived myself in space and time and in relation to people and most importantly to myself. As a child I believed it all because I had not yet learned how to think for myself. Thinking for ones self takes practice, patience and hard work. I had to learn how to change my perceptions of myself. I had to learn how to change my mind. If I had not I would be dead. The child that I was born into was taught from first thoughts to hate himself; Suicide, drug addiction, prostitution would have become me, which was my inherited trajectory, taught to me by the world around me. It was all lies, I believed about myself because I knew no better. I had to undo my perceptions of myself to survive. I had to changed my mind and alter my perceptions.

As a child, I of course did not use this language to describe my situation; I did not have the vocabulary or the understanding. What I did have were a few good people who did good things. The good people who saved my life protected me, expressed their love, concern and acceptance of me as I was. From those people, I learned how to accept myself. I could have been full of hate for the world that rejected me at every turn but I was not. I could have been fearful of the world but I was not. I could have hated the haters who so freely hated upon me but I did not. Why? Because, by my nature I’m a compassionate and empathetic human and the world did not teach me these qualities they were born into my body at birth. Being compassionate and empathetic is like breathing to me it’s where my mind goes first and my heart follows. “How can I make things better,” is the question that rises first to my consciousness. Then followed by “What can I do? When the solution comes to mind and it feels right to my heart I move towards action of some sort. Inaction would be to believe someone else is going to take care of things or that I’m not capable myself. Inaction goes against the nature of the world. If you look closely at the natural world around you can see that the whole natural world is in action every living thing is growing and becoming more whole and more complete. It is so very important to live ones life in action. Good actions.

Ironically the stupidest kid in the class is now the teacher; the child that hated every moment of school now goes to school nearly every day of his life. I changed my perceptions of myself and the world received me as I am. Why? Because there is room enough for all of us. I have a fantastic life, is it easy you may ask and the answer is NO it’s a really hard life but I’d ask for no other because it is a life of my making, arrived at by my choices and actions. The good work is almost always the hardest work, and it is worth every heartbeat.

Are you working for the good or just hardly working? To become better human beings is really hard work. Work that starts when you become aware of your own thoughts and perceptions and then adjust them so that they reflect the world that you want to live in and the world that you want to leave behind. And most importantly so that you are the person that you were born to be not some painted on version of self that society had painted for you, of you. Mahatma Gandhi put it best, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Our perception of self must shift to being inclusive of the world as a whole. We are one world one human race everything that we do is affecting one another and the planet. The world, by its nature is made up of interconnectivity and we are the byproducts of this world not the other way around. We are all inextricably connected to the planet and to each other and the sooner that we fully realize this fact the sooner that we can begin the hard work to collectively heal our selves and this beautiful planet. We have to do this because it is our one and only shared true home.

And please do not get me wrong when I say that we are one human race and one planet that I think that we all need to be the same. The opposite is true. For human to evolve and change and discover their true self there must be variation and friction. It is from our differences that we push and pull one another to become better at being human. If we were all the same there would be nothing to learn. To be living life is to be in a continuous state of learning and unlearning.

Sorry, now I’m jumping back to trump. When I comment on trump as being toxic on Facebook, I was reflecting upon an idea that has been realized. I know this to be true because of the above mention week that I lived post his election. trump has created a space in people’s consciousness where they believe themselves to be superior. He has given permission to bully and bullying is what is being done. He has amplified a divisive attitude by connecting to people’s dissatisfaction with their own lives. He has conjuring a reality that pits them against us. This is not something that I’m making up it is a recorded reality. He won people over because he connected to their suffering; he said what people were feeling and thinking. He used our countries collective dissatisfaction to win his place by claiming to be able to fix what ails us.

For the record in America there has always been suffering because suffering is part of the human condition. And on the opposite end of the spectrum there is also great joy because it too is part of the human condition; these states of being are not just an American phenomena they are global. There is also wealth and poverty, which exist as global phenomena. Extremisms are also part of the human condition. Radicals can form in any population including Americans. The history of being human reveals all of this to us. Humans have a great capacity to do both good and bad. All of this is playing out all the time all around the planet.

It was not President Obama that caused you to suffer, it is not the American economy, the color of your skin, and the amount of money that you make, or the place where you live that makes you suffer. It is your own unexamined heart and mind, which causes you to suffer. We forget to look inward to seek answers to our questions and instead turn to entertainment for distractions. To be free from suffering is an individual journey, one that takes learning and intentional work. To tap into your personal suffering one has to create a quiet space. You have to put down your devices, unplug from the web, turn off the television and become still and quiet. Listen to your own thoughts not the ones being fed to your mind for outside sources. When you identify what is causing you to suffer you can then begin to move towards actions that heal your mind and heart. The end of suffering is held within each of us individually and can only be obtained through the self not the other. Others can help and support you along your way but ultimately we are each responsible to make our own peace with our suffering.

Do you ever sit silently? Do you ever unplug from the constant stream of information? If you don’t, then you will never truly understand yourself, your mind has been infiltrated by outside sources. It is only in the quietness and stillness of ones self that one can hear their authentic voice, their true voice. Like everything in life being quiet and still takes practice. It is a practice worth taking up because it is where you will find the content of your true heart and mind. I encourage you to give it a try start with five minutes, sit in silence and follow your breath or spirit whatever language you identify best with. Be aware there will be static in your mind there will be noise, don’t judge it or yourself, simply focus your internal gaze on your breath listen to your inhale and exhale. Find your center. Be amazed that you live in a perfect whole body whatever the condition of your body; it is the only one you get so learn to perceive it as perfection.

If you never read books you are missing out on expanding your consciousness. Reading is another form of being quiet and still. Reading creates a space in the mind that opens pathways to new ways of perceiving our selves and others in the world around us. When is the last time that you pick up a book and read it first page to last? Reading is transformative by its nature. While reading we are processing and thinking deeply for ourselves. An outside source is not telling us how to interpret the book. The part of the mind that makes connections is activated while reading. When making connections our brains are making sense out of the chaos. We are interpreting reality in a way that becomes meaningful through the connection made and our understanding deepens. Our consciousness actually grows. Please read a book, one that supports your beliefs and then another which does not support your beliefs. What you already know to be true for you is wonderful but how you grow your consciousness is by reading what does not support your beliefs. When you know both sides well then you can arrive at a deep understanding of reality verses a one sided painted on point of view.

This is where I leap back to my morning curiosities a few days after the election. In my sadness regarding the election, I wanted to shift my perception by learning something new. I decided to research the age of religions and the basic principles underpinning the faith and practices of those religions.

Now mind you here that I’m of no particular faith and I’m not a religious person. I’m a curious person and I first became fascinated by the religions of the world when I was about eight years old. In my home the word God was not ever spoken. Except by me of course always question the idea of a God. By the age of 10, I was venturing out on Sunday school busses to learn about God. Whatever bus got to my corner first, I hopped on and went to church. Ultimately, I choose no religion and no church to belong to. I choose to be self possessed of my spirit, having experienced that no religion or church accepted me as the person I was born to be. The trend is different now in America, but back only 40 years ago, gays were not welcome in Gods world. I am Gay from birth to the present and will be until I die. Exactly the same way that heterosexual people are born that way and die that way. If you are still of the belief that being gay is a choice try un-choosing to be straight. It cannot be done; we are each born into a body that loves who it loves. If you have ever been in true love try undoing that too. Thankfully many religions that rejected the idea of homosexuality are now embracing it, which goes to show that even religious organizations can shift their perceptions. Change for the good of all humans is a real possibility.

Speaking of possibilities, the one teaching from trump that I see as a positive thing is that he has totally shattered the notion of, “that will never happen” anything and every thing has the potential to happen. Everything is profoundly possible. When you hear the words frame in your mind as words of discouragement, “that will never happen” undo the negative perception of the phrase and use it to empower you into good action. If one bad man can move a nation think upon what a good united human race can do to counteract that bad man. The good people of our nation and of the world must stand our ground against trump’s hate. EVERYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

As you read this and if you are sensitive to the teachings of Buddhist Philosophy you might think that I’m a Buddhist trying to convert you to Buddhist ways. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I said earlier I’m of no particular faith but I am very curious. This past summer, I read many of the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, he is a Buddhist Zen master, poet, scholar and peace activist. From my reading, I got to know Buddhism a little better. In doing so my consciousness has expanded, I have grown as a person because I learned about what I did not know. I did not have to go on a Buddhist retreat or seek out a Buddhist monk or temple to receive teachings, I simply picked up a book and read, which lead to several more books because I wanted to keep learning. Not because I wanted you or me to become a Buddhist but because I’m curious, I wanted to grow my perceptions and expand my consciousness, I want to do this for my whole life. Learning new ideas and ways of being is a life worth living.

Go to the library and get a book on Muslim philosophy if you are Christian and if you are Muslim go get a book on Buddhism learn about the beautiful aspect of all faiths, which ultimately teach about love and kindness, all of which binds us together not divides us apart. Open a book and grow your mind. If you are white skinned read Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me and learn what it feels like to be born in a male black skinned body in America. If you are heterosexual read Jeanette Winterson’s, Written On the Body, a love story where the name and gender of one of the main characters is never given. You get the picture… read! Read everything not only the things that make you feel validated in your beliefs, read things that challenge your beliefs. You will be amazed by what you can learn and more importantly how you can grow your humanity. When you grow your humanity, compassion blossoms in your heart and you become aware that it is not out there that is making you suffer it is inside you, it is not the other that is causing you pain it is your own inactions.

I learned that third day after the election that some religions are really old Hinduism being the oldest around 4000 years old. I did not actually know that fact before that particular morning. I also read through all of the fundamental or basic beliefs of the older religions. I discover that all the older religions teach, in one-way shape or form the practice of being good to one another. This gave me a great sense of hope, to think that for as long as humans have organized that the foundation of their beliefs was to do and be good to one another. This is a simple way of putting it, I know, but it is really the foundation of all, be good to self and to one another.

I also revisited many of the ideas that the oldest religions had about being human, which in present time seem totally crazy. One that comes to mind is stoning a person to death, which by the way still happens in our time, fortunately not as global phenomena but in small pockets of the world. Every place and its people on the planet are evolving and growing in their own time. I dream of an America that leads the way to becoming better humans and this can only happy if America is open not closed.

Being good and being bad are simple words to measure a complex world but simplicity often times holds the greatest and deepest truths. I invite you to examine your own heart… what do you find there? Where does it send you to look for answers to the questions that underpin your own ideas? How do you choose to move through this world? Do you stand on the side of being good for all people or do you believe that one race is more disserving than another. Do you feel superior? What does your heart tell you? What does good sound like and what does bad sound like? What are you listening to? What are you hearing? Observe yourself and your actions to see if you are aspiring towards the good or bad. Or are you held captive by entertainment frozen in a state of inaction within yourself? Free yourself from blindly following. Wake–up!

My heart tells me to do good actions and my mind tells me to speak good words both for myself and for all people and that is who I am and is what I will do. What will you do?

In my painting a tear falls filled with the American flag. The symbolic all knowing eye in the sky weeps for the lost potential caused by small minds driven by fear and hate. Choose to grow your mind boarder free, giant, inclusive and fearless. Think and then think again and again and again keep opening up. The mind knows no boundaries and those who teach fear are simply trying to cage your mind. Every solution to every perceived problem is held within our minds and they must be free from fear to reach for the beyond. Think about it and then think again and again.

Mysticism May Be

Mysticism May Be

Bush Whacked

Being in the flow of creativity is at times mystical. Bush Whacked the fourth painting in a series of 15 paintings literally shocked the breath out of me. Upon completion of the painting, while stepping back to observe my work, I was mesmerized by what appear before me. I observed the painting for several silent moments perplexed and pondering what stood before me.

You see, I had painted something that I was holding in my mind but not trying to depict in the painting. Let me explained… The thought that I was being lied to every time I heard President Bush speak; post 9/11 was always at the front of my mind. I never had the intention to literally say that Bush was a liar. However, the thought was there every time the sound of his voice touched my eardrums. I could not tolerate hearing his voice and every time, whether it be on radio or television, I’d turn it off. I wanted to form my own thoughts. I didn’t want, nor did I need to be told what or how to think and feel. Every time Bush opened his mouth the doctrine of fear spilled out. With each additional fear speak speech that slipped from his tongue the greater my feelings grew that I was being deceived.

I did not intend to make a literal depiction of a liar. However, if you look at the light blue parallel oblong rectangles in Bush Whacked and the placement of the single star over the more distant oblong rectangle, and the letters A & R painted in red against the night sky, you will read the word LIAR. I did not plan for this design and nowhere within my intentions had I set out to write the word LIAR in the sky. I did not purposely compose this image it materialized through the process. I did not even see that I had written Liar across the sky until the whole painting was completed.

bush-whacked-web-copy

In my mind and action, I was experimenting with the idea of a symbol (in this painting a star) used in tandem with the letters A & R to stimulate and deepen the viewers perceptions of the painting. My theory was that while seeing a star the sound of ST would form in the viewers mind. And then like reading left to right the viewer’s eyes would scan the letters AR. My hope was to cause a mental connection, or spark if you will, connecting symbol to letters. Potentially deepening the experience of the onlooker by stimulating the part of the brain that reads symbols and the other part of the brain that reads letters. In doing so, I’d hoped that the viewer’s imagination would either consciously or subconsciously awaken to the multiple meaning that a star symbolizes. The two meanings of the symbol of a star that I was exploring were, the star as a guiding light in the night sky and the cultural phenomena of a celebrity being labeled as a star. Specifically in Bush Whacked, I was curious about President Bush as our guiding light as president and his status of being a celebrity globally for his position as president.

I know this will sound crazy to most, but in the midst of painting Bush Whacked, I felt as if the painting had taken over, I was simply following its lead. I was there physically holding the brush and pushing the paint but I was also being driven by another force that did not feel totally of me. Hence my descriptions that this painting felt like a mystical experience. It is also important to note that I was painting in what felt like and ecstatic state of mind. In one month, I painted all 15 of the Stars and Stripes the Deception Series. The paintings felt to be pouring out of my mind. In that one-month time frame, I only paused to eat and sleep, all my other waking hours were spent painting. It is also important to note that I do not suffer from any kind of mental illness. I would complete one painting and another would be there patiently waiting to be materialized. Recognizing this to be a unique happening within my body, I gave into the process and followed each painting as it revealed itself to me. Upon the completion of painting 15, I felt the process complete itself within me. For thirty days and nights my mind tumbled and turned and churned the complexities of 9/11, war, patriotism, deception and inequality, then at its end 15 objects of art were born.

Prior to and within the process of creating the series, I felt like a forced silence was being imposed upon me. To dissent with the Bush administration’s point of view was considered unpatriotic. When in actuality to dissent is totally patriotic and is an essential component for a democracy to work. Within an ideal and fully functioning democracy all sides should be equally represented. I, as a gay man, artist and educator did not feel represented at the table of democracy. I felt that it was hypocritical to be forcing the ideals of democracy on other nations while here at home we were not yet realizing democracy’s full potential. Rather than staying locked in silence, I choose to give form to the content of my being in an effort to self express but also all to give voice to others who might have also felt silenced by what at the time felt like an oppressive government.

“What can I do?”… This question seems to pop into my mind whenever I feel hopeless. (For the entire eight years that Bush was president, I felt pretty hopeless.) After the question has risen into the front of my mind, I then examine what is available to me now, which typically results in the realization that I have a health body and mind. What I don’t have are large amounts of money, which is often times equated to power and power is a force that works as a catalyst to change. Not having money in the United States of America, which we call being poor, means that you are rendered silent, invisible and powerless. Having grown up poor, I know this reality all to well. However, I also know the opposite to be just a true. The perception that poor equals diminishing outcomes which is perpetuated by the collective mind is a one sided perception of the poor. Being poor does not have to always equal being silent, invisible and powerless. I know this as fact because I have lived it too. If you have a healthy body and mind you can be a force in the world more powerful than any amount of money. But first you have to ask yourself the question “what can I do?” The trick is to realize that having a healthy body and mind means that you have the power to transform thought into action and action into whatever reality you can imagine. With Stars and Stripes the Deception Series, I transformed my invisibility and silence into action and action into art. In doing so, at its completion, I felt restored, because I was being an active participant within the world rather that a passive witness to events. I was doing what I could do… I have a powerful imagination, an innate understanding of paint, a love of form and symbolism and the discipline to put it all to work. “Paint my thoughts and feelings,” was the answer to my question and so that is what I did. What can you do?

Upon completion of the series my mind changed from being a war zone to a clear sea with a vast and open uninterrupted horizon. The act of transforming thought into action and then action into form is the key to self-expression. Self-expression is linked to the phenomena of interconnectedness and we can see this played out in all life forms. For example, when we visit places where nature has not been altered by humans, and we tune into the natural beauty of the environment, we are often times help in a state of wonder, arrested by the shear awesomeness of our world. This state of wonder is awakened by the perfect self-expression of every living thing working interconnected and in harmony with one another. In this regard self-expression is not an act of selfishness but rather an action that connects the individuals in a more holistic and integrated way to the entire world. So when answering the question “what can I do?” for yourself, consider the interconnected wonder of our world and then move towards the healing of our planet.

Tapping into forces that feel greater than ones self is to know the mystical interconnected nature of all life. In the many many hours that I spent painting this series, I did not feel separate or disconnected from the world, I felt like a conduit connecting the collective unconscious. I was giving form to the silence of the many that ran contrary to the words that were coming from our President. I was making visible the other side of the coin. Stars and Stripes the Deception Series was first exhibited in Asheville, NC and on opening night, I was repeatedly greeted by attendees, stating to me, “you have painted what I have been wanting to say and what I feel. Thank you.”

I could ask for no greater reward than their gratitude. To stand in a moment deeply intertwined in expression with another human is what life is all about, each of us fully alert, open and awake to our humanity connecting our beings through Art and forming relationships.

In Bush Whacked, I began representing president Bush as a shrub and it is he who sits gazing no eyed at us. This seated crossed leg image of President Bush burnt into my brain first in the Michael Moor’s Film Fahrenheit 9/11. In Moor’s film one of the scenes includes the in-real-time footage of President Bush being told by the secret service that the first plane had flow into one of the World Trade towers. In the film Bush is in a classroom reading to children. He receives the information and then without any change of expression he goes on reading to the children as if nothing had happened. In the movie theater there was an audible gasp from many audience members. In my painting, I wanted to capture that moment of an expressionlessness bush. My shrub sits crossed armed and legged, in a posture of confidence, closure and ease. All of which are the opposite postures most would take when delivered such ominous news. Especially when that person was our president.

Bush is seated in the same blood stained star, that I had depicted myself in within the painting Blood Stain Star. This was a way for me to express the reality that if America goes to war we are all a part of that war and all the blood that spills is on all of our hands even if the blood is not spilled on our land. In the US it is easy to feel disconnect form war because we don’t see the daily outcomes of death and destruction out on our front lawns. And so, I have sat Bush on a perfectly coiffed patch of lawn his seat of power surround by blood. War is always about land, power, and greed (often times cloaked in the guise of religion) and the payment for those deliverables is human life. This single truth has always broken my heart.

The first time that I measured my heart breaking was when I was no older than two years old. I remember watching a television screen late at night from a laying down position possibly in my crib. On the TV screen black and white footage was playing from the World War II, Holocaust. The black and white footage showed bulldozers pushing heaps of naked dead bodies into mass graves. At two years old the baby me knew that this was a profoundly wrong thing to be happening. The fragile beautiful value of life was already part of my consciousness at two years old. My heart broke at the sight of all those empty bodies, which life had once flown through. I “got it” at two years of age that all life is of equal and great value.

No life should expire due to the delusions of war makers. Especially when the persons sent to war are made up of poor underserved youths who potentially perceive themselves as having no other way to get-ahead, receive a higher education or build a career other than by joining the military. The many that give their lives in war to fulfill the want of those who sit in power and who reaps the greatest reward seems to be totally out of whack. War making is part of the mechanism, which helps to keeps the wealthy rich and the poor poor. I can guarantee you that all the young people who have given their lives for the ideals of war, that their family have not suddenly fallen into great comfort associated with wealth, increased their owned land mass, or suddenly feel empowered to change their circumstances. In the US, while engaged in war the person at the top remain safe and comfortable and rarely is it their children who go to war. And, even if their children join the military 1% no matter how you look at is a small number. The young and often poor are the ones who fight and give their lives in wars. It is their beautiful existence that ends; cutting short this extraordinary adventure we call life. When will the value of a life be measured more greatly than the temporary illusions associated with the preservation of freedom, and the cost of that freedom being lives lost to war? It is delusional to continue to believe and teach that war making will solve any of the complexities of being human.

We know that everything is temporary – life, objects, thoughts and actions are all included in non-permanence. Everything is temporary. Knowing this distinction does not diminish the spark of true love set ablaze between a mother and father and their new born. The ability to feel true love deeply and totally for the other is what makes life so very valuable. And I’m not talking romantic love, which ebbs and flows based upon biology. I’m talking mother bear love, which is, ‘I sense you as a threat to my offspring, I rip your head off,’ kind of love. Humans, because we have big reasoning brains are a little different than a mother bear. However, ingrained within people the understanding that the preservation of new life is of the utmost importance too. Though we are temporary too, while embodied the phenomena of life, all life, should be protected with a mother bear kind of love.

All of our instincts tell us to walk away from the baby cub roaming the woods. Our instinct does not tell us to run up and grab the baby cub and cuddle with it or try to save it. Our instinct tell us baby bear equals mama bear somewhere near by so get a move on. Move away from the baby bear. No heads lost, no wars simply the choice to move in a new direction. Why? Because your whole being instinctively knows that the preservation of all life, your life, the bear cub’s life are what is of the utmost importance.

Imagine a world that recognizes and honors the interconnected nature of all life bound together by true love. The illusion of us verses them could melt away and all of life would be honored equally. The value of a life would be measured against the true love of a parent and that love would never allow a child’s life to be spent on war. Wars, will never ever, not ever, get humanity to peace. The whole-being comprehension of the interconnectedness of all life and the practice of true love for all beings is what will realize peace on earth. True freedom and peace is a byproduct of true love.

War can be sold under many guises; however when we look deeply at the root of war we see that war in its most simple true form is the taking from the other for the benefit of self, which always manifest a sense of degradation within the other. This phenomenon will never increase peace on earth. There will always be the resentment of the one who was taken from and that resentment is what blossoms enemies and enemies more often than not want to take back, divide, and fight for what they believe to be theirs. Warring perpetuates its self because the byproduct of war is the making of enemies. Enemies move against one another in a constant unbroken loop. Now add to the mix, ‘you killed my child, I want revenge,’ and you can see that war is not a problem solver but rather the problem maker. War can never ever not ever make true peace. True freedom cannot be won at the cost of lives. The only way to stop is to stop. Humans must stop making war.

In Bush Whacked, to symbolize the deceased of 9/11, I painted a hazy outline of a human form in a laying down position. I repeated the form to represent all lives lost at the Twin Tower attack. Though their bodies were dead the echo of their spirits felt imprinted upon the atmosphere. I was in Manhattan two days after the attack and the atmosphere had a weight that I’d never felt before or have ever felt since. I wanted the spirit of the deceased to be in the atmosphere of Bush Whacked because I felt that their death was a direct result of the terrorist – our enemies and that the Bush family was somehow tied to the making of those enemies. I wanted Bush to be seated in the weight of the atmosphere that I felt: As my feet made contact with the island of Manhattan on that sad and horrifying day, my two year old broken heart from so many years ago, gashed back open, and with every fiber of my being I felt a deep overwhelmingly consuming sadness. In the awe of those moments the same question kept crisscross my thoughts, ‘How could we do this to each other again and again and again and not learn from our mistakes?’

The oblong rectangles that I mentioned earlier in Bush Whacked are there to represent the Twin Towers absence from the sky. Out of the night sky, I have cut-out the space where the twin towers once stood and replaced the void with the light of day. Where the towers had once held the space what is left behind after collapsing is the light of the lives lost illuminating the atmosphere. The outline of all those gone are held within the shadow of the light cast by the missing buildings, all of which rest at the feet of Bush.

At the very bottom right hand corner of the painting, I have painted the symbol of the Eye of Providence; also know as the all-knowing eye of God. I did this because Bush made the declaration that God had told him to invade Iraq. Did Bush, like me have a mystical experience? I can’t say only he could answer that question truthfully. Personally, though I find it very hard to believe that the creator of all life – God – the Christian God, whom I believe Bush, believed himself to be channeling, would say to one human go and take away from that other human on my behalf. Imagine God the creator of all life saying to one person go and invade a country kill many of its people and build enemies so that war can perpetuate itself on my beautiful perfect planet, which I created so that you could all practice killing each other in my name. Oh, and as an aside, as God the creator of everything I’m going to have other people in other lands develop the same concept of monotheism. They will all believe that I’m the one and only God too. I’ll be the one and only God in many lands with different names and laws and I’m going to pit you all against one another, by providing people in leadership roles mystical experiences, where I tell each of them directly to attack and kill one another in my name.

I don’t know about you the reader but to me as the author thinking and writing theses things the whole thing sound ludicrous, horrifying, insane and down right stupid. Nutty as the story above description of God sounds we actually know it to be true. Wars are more often than not caused by an invitation from God, to a leader, calling him to send soldiers out to die and to kill. Come on…why would God create life to snuff it out in such horrifically violent ways. And for what? The landmass on this planet is pretty much fixed, though shrinking at the moment from rising seas. God, surly has everything and is and need and want of nothing, especially if he made it all up. The God that I learned about is all knowing and powerful and when you have all the power there is no more to get, ALL – is – ALL. As for the all-knowing Part of the equation, God already knows the outcome so why would he care about winners and losers?

As extraordinary and exquisitely beautiful as I knew this planet and all its life to be, I cannot of sound mind believe in that god. Whomever those leaders are channeling, whom they consider to be the One, calling them to war, and if that singular creator is entertained by being a trickster, deceiver and tormentor, I doubt that one to be the same that made life.

In the eye of the Eye of Providence, I painted with the tip of a sewing needle “fear the liar,” it was the absolute last gesture made to Bush Whacked. After writing those words, I stood up to take in my finished work. In that moment of standing, I read for the first time LIAR across the sky. A death like chill ran through me as my breath escaped me.

 

 

 

 

Shutdown

Fear the Monkey King

Fear the Monkey King was inspired by the news that New York Artist Chris Savido’s work “Bush Monkeys” had been the cause of closing an art exhibition in the Chelsea Market, a public space, because the artist had made a portrait of George W. Bush using the repeated image of monkeys swimming in a marsh. Evidently, the Chelsea Market Manager shut down the entire art exhibition. For many reasons this happening deeply concerned me as an artist because, I make works of art and that is my work. My contribution to the world (my artwork) is just as integral and essential to the functionality of society as a surgeon performing surgery, a construction worker assembling a building or an elected official holding office, to serve the people. We each in our own unique way contribute to the complexity of our society through our work. How we value the work done by others is up to each us to decide on our own.

It could be said that freedom of speech, freedom of expression (a free mind) and freedom of choice are all essential parts necessary to successfully accomplish one’s life and work, whatever the discipline. A symptom of a society amiss concerning these rights reveals its self when “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are manipulated by private organizations, governments or otherwise.

The Artist is a maker of things. Artist employs their imagination to materialize from their minds, art object both ephemeral and tangible for all the inhabitants of the world. Their art objects are birthed from their unique perspective and vision/version of reality. Art objects become real because the artist make it so. Through discipline and practice the artist brings something into the world that never had been there before. In doing so the artist is actually changes the fabric of reality, where there had only been a thought now a physical and or experiential thing exists because of the artists work.

The transformation of thought into object is a profound and amazing accomplishment of the Artist. From the Artist mind an art object becomes form and the newly formed art object has the potential to ripple through time in a way that the temporary physical body of the artist and his or her thoughts do not. Naturally our bodies expire and along with the body our mind and all of its thoughts will go too. However, the art object lives on, and in that way so too does the artist. The art object will continue to touch the minds and hearts of all who come to witness the work.

The public perception of the artist work will change over time based upon many different factors. Some artwork will grow into favor while others will fade away. This is not unnatural because we know that all things come and go and then come and go again. Everything is in a loop of coming and going always. I appreciate the Buddhist Philosophy concerning impermanence because it allows for a space to open in the mind were we are more free to let go of all attachments. Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced “tick not hon”) is a Zen monk, poet and peace activist and in his book you are here he writes:

“All these things are impermanent, just like the body. The continuation of life and  death is possible, yet nothing is permanent. There is only continuation, only manifestation, because birth and death are just ideas. Being and nonbeing are just concepts. Reality is free from all these ideas and concepts.”

How we value art is determined personally and collectively and it is not a permanent reality. Artworks can never be forced upon the witness because we have eyes that see and minds that choose to see what we want, and what we don’t want to see. Engaging with an art object requires one to become mindful, which is the action of focusing on ones own thoughts and perceptions. One’s personal thoughts and perceptions are not the thoughts or perceptions of the artist. The art object helps to generate a portal into ones mind. Going through the gateway is the choice of the observer and is not a forced action by the artist.

If the art object where to be made invisible, silenced or shut down by outside forces then its potential is lost, and the mystery of its inherent phenomena becomes denied to all. The potential to actually cause change in the world by expanding, altering and sometimes changing the perception of the spectators is lost. Art objects both ephemeral and tangible have the power to awaken people and that is why Activist artist are sometimes feared.

Activist Artist are agents of change making, we are acute observes of the world, we make works of art to wake-up humanity by turning the lights on in places that other wise would remain dark and unobserved, but are none the less essential aspects to understand and integrate into ones whole understanding of what it means to be human.

To deny one the potential to expand his/her consciousness is a diminishing and controlling mechanism. And anything that diminishes and reduces ones potential to grow goes against the nature of life itself and one’s free will. When we look at the nature of life (all life, plant, animal and planet) and free will we see that everything is maximizing its effort towards its own greatest potential and in doing so everything is expressing its free will. For example, when you place a plant in a room with sunlight on only one side of the room, the plant will actually move towards the sunlight because it knows that the sunlight will maximize it potential to grow. The houseplant is exerting its free will to thrive. When every living entity is thriving based upon the fulfillment of its desire to experience life in its entirety, then we all benefit as a collective because all of life is interconnected: Consider the houseplant growing towards the sunlight. The houseplant is healthy and strong and it grows due to the good sunlight, good soil and our faithful watering. The happy plant then produces more oxygen, which improves our breathing, which causes us to think better and then we potentially act better to one another. Interconnectedness can also be exemplified when considering the earth beneath our feet. The earth has all the proper nutrients to grow healthy plants, which producing amazing food, which we eat making are bodies and minds healthy and strong, which then allows us to care for one another and to create more freely and with less effort. The sunlight, the oxygen, the soil, the water, the plant, its fruit, our bodies, our actions and creations are all interconnected. So, when a government or any other entity censors art or otherwise that government or entity is taking away it’s citizens individual and collective birth right to their free will, and also denying them the opportunity to maximize their potential to grown into their best possible version of themselves. When each person is able to build his or her best self all of humanity prospers. Good makes room for more good.

One of the most, if not the single most amazing part of being human is the freedom of our minds. Quite literally it is from the mind that ALL things man-made comes to fruition. Someone had to imagine it before it could materialize. We do not come into existence to have our mind controlled by outside forces. We come to life to experience our selves in relationship to the abundant beautiful natural world and all its inhabitants. When we look deeply at the planet, which so miraculously supports all life we see abundance. Abundance is the nature of our planet, which we are interconnected to as one of the earth’s inhabitants.

If we look at human life and perceive it to be interconnected with the laws of nature we can see that we are not in control of it. And even though we have managed to affect the natural order of the planet negatively and repeatedly, the phenomenon of abundance in nature still persists.

Forests do not ask if they can self propagate and grow hundreds of feet tall, Rose bushes do not ask permission to bloom their buds, the sea does not negotiate with each falling rain drop to determine which ones will be included in its waves. The sky does not grant permission to cumulous clouds, but not stratus clouds to pass through its blueness.

The abundance of the planet causes all of life to flourish. When censorship is imposed upon a people the phenomena of free will and the natural law of abundance, which are life rights are taken away. For these very elemental reasons censorship is an act against the betterment of humanity because it denies us the opportunity to fully realize our greatest potential and to exercise our free will. The saying goes, “free your mind and the rest will follow.” Artist and all people must be free to express, explore and discover the content of their minds and body. All artwork should be available and accessible to all spectators who wish to see it and grow. Artworks grow life!

fear the monkey king copy

Fear the Monkey King, is a companion painting to Blood Stain Star, and I’m riffing off of Chris Savido’s work “Bush Monkeys”, which was the cause of shutting down an art exhibition, and what I would consider to be censorship. The monkey in my painting wears a red and white striped crown, which sets upon an American King; The one and only George W. Bush, whom I have depicted here as the monkey king.

The role of King verses President felt apropos at the time, because as more and more information became available about the alleged weapons of mass destruction, being non-existent, the more it felt like we as a country were invading and forcing democracy. Rather than diplomatically finding solution to world conflicts. A king forces and a healthy democratic society has a conversation to develop a strategy that will be for the betterment of all of humanity.

A king rules and all under his reign adheres to his single proposed vision/version of reality. Our democratic society elects its leaders to office and our right to vote and choose who we want to serve us is an amazing freedom. I believe whole-heartedly in the ideology and the practice of “right actions” taken in an effort to more fully realize “freedom for all”. In a democratic society there is no single voice or vision/version of reality being made manifest by a King or Queen. Democracy as I understand it is the blended vision of all people whom form the version of reality that we each live interconnected within.

We the people of America express our unity through voting our conscious. When you look up the word conscious, the word “awake” is part of the definition. To be truly awake one must be fully aware and to be fully aware one must have the ability to look inward to see his/her self in relation to self. A few good questions to ask ones self in an effort to assess ones awakness are: Who am I? What has formed what I value in the world? How do I participate in the world? How do I avoid the world? Do I live a life based upon right actions and right thoughts? This is not an exercise to build self-judgment it is a way to measure nonjudgmentally if you are participating in the waking world the way that you want to be or not. Whatever the outcome the beauty of life is that you can always change your mind and actions.

How one attaches meaning to ones perceptions determines how we define who the “I” of me is. We tend to believe that how we perceive something in the world makes it so. Yet when we look more deeply and closely at our perceptions we can see that they are not solid forms in the world, they are ideas about the world. Perceptions are ephemeral like music and dance, they are here one moment and then gone the next.

Misperceptions led to wrong actions and wrong thinking post 9/11 and the majority of those wrong actions were based upon building up misguided perceptions. The Bush administration, through their consistent fear-speak, which is equals to wrong speak, constantly pressed the American people to perceived that there were weapons of mass destruction, targeted at us and the rest of the free world. This was not a real thing it was a perceived thing and because perceptions are not real and wrong actions were taken, misperceptions continues to reverberate globally, which are evident in the constant acts of terrorism, which are now measureable as a global phenomenon.

We have been following the path of wrong action and wrong thought for many years, which has been to keep alive the perception that there is a constant threat of terrorism and then to act on that threat with the wrong action of war. War is always about amplifying division of some sort between peoples, land or possessions.

Terrorism is real and we are seeing it nearly every day, why, because we as the human race have amplified misperceptions concerning one another and our relationship to the planet. Humans hold tight to the misperception that we are different from one another and that we have different values from one another. This is a misperception, it is a wrong thought, it is not real nor is it the truth that we are different. When we pause and look deeply at the meaning of what it means to be human we see that the core of humanity is more alike than different. We are all one human race requiring all the same ingredients to thrive. Every living thing requires the sun, the air, the earth, clean water, food, compassion, empathy, companionship, and the freedom to grow. All of which is right here right now on this planet available if we make it so for everyone.

The perpetuated belief that there is the “other” continues the illusion that there is an us and them pitted against each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Truth is that there is one planet that we know of that sustains our kind of life. On our planet there is land and sea. The land is not limitless it is a fixed amount of space; the sea is massive and at this time seems to be growing. All animals share the land and all animals stake their territory or they migrate from place to place based upon food supply. In other words the earth keeps us alive and we need the land to live. And so humans stake out a territory or we migrate just like every other animal on the planet. The illusion of ownership of land, weather it be migrated to, or purchased, or concurred divides humans. The earth and all of its land and sea is not belonged to any one species. The earth does not make the distinction of inviting one person but not the other person, this spices of animal or plant but not the other to participate in all of its wonder and abundance. Every earthly living entity is interconnected and becomes alive because of the earths capacity to sustain life. As long as humankind hold to the misperception that he or she owns land we will stay divided. When humanity frees its self from this perception, which we know is not real then we will see that there is truthfully one planet that we all must share. We do not posses the planet, we do not own the earth we are a miracle of its making. So let’s heal our minds of misperceptions and the rest will follow.

Sadly we humans repeat time and time again the wrong action of dividing and concurring land because we perceive the land to be something that we can posses. Which leads me to greed, some lands have more desirable natural resources than other lands and because of greed we fight to have possession of those more richly supplied natural resourced lands. In my painting Fear the Monkey King, I have seated the king on a thrown of oil. I did this to specifically draw attention to Bush’s wealth accumulated through oil. And we all know – all to well of the great wealth of oil, which the lands of the Middle East hold.

Greed and Power is at the heart of Fear the Monkey King. To illustrate this I painted the points of the star from Blood Stain Star, onto the edges of the painting, Fear the Monkey King. Originally, I imagined the giant star as the teeth of a spinning saw blade. Here, I juxtaposed my fear of the saw as depicted in Blood Stain Star with the grin of the Monkey King, who gazing out at us with his deceptive and fearless smile. The points of the star/blade are not aimed at the king they are bending towards his will. The bending points of the star symbolize the use of force by the Bush administration. The Monkey King also demonstrated his power over the real mouse verses the written mouse from Blood Stain Star. The real mouse is my metaphor of Saddam Hussein, whom the Monkey King holds by the throat in his tail. As the most powerful military in the world we always hold the greatest amount of power. The wars of the Middle East felt like an abuse of power and I wanted to capture that feeling in the painting. The Monkey King smiles mockingly at us fully aware of his acts of deception.

Above the Monkey King the word King is spelled with each letter backwards, I did this this to represent the backwards ways of thinking that the Monkey King was teaching to his people. The Monkey King taught the language of fear, war, oppression and dominance – ways of thinking that shrink and diminish humankind’s potential to achieve unity, peace and harmony with one another and with our amazing planet.

The word fear is blurred out of the bright yellow orb, like a giant eye in the sky, held captive by the stories of the king. Like being hypnotized by the power and being made to believe that the fear will simply wash away. However we know the opposite is true and that fear only ever makes make more fear. And more importantly fear is only a perception. President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood this profound truth when he famously spoke the words, “Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself.”

The use of force and power will not heal the divisions of people and land because the use of force and power will always build enemies. The scenario created by the use of force and power will only ever create an us against them mentality. The use of force and power perpetuates a world reality, which holds its people forever held captive in a state of fear of the enemy and fear of the other.

And yet there is Hope! In our not so distant history other versions of reality have unfolded. And YES, Humans have the capacity to undue fear and create harmony without the use of force or violence. We have Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., men who walked this earth not so long ago whom inspired whole nations towards the betterment of all humankind using NON-VIOLENCE. It is the right actions and right thoughts of non-violence that these two men lived by that we should all be aspiring towards and teaching one another and the world. Especially as the self proclaimed vessel of freedom, which we profess ourselves to be as a nation, we should be teaching right actions and right thoughts and then live by those right actions and thoughts. Being non-violent is the starting place, which we should return to and start again. Imagine what that world looks like. Remember, that if you cannot imagine it then you cannot be it and if you cannot be it you cannot live it and if you cannot live it you are not free. Never be shutdown by fear or look away because another has censored a work of art. Go inward and decide what is for you or not but never let another decide for you. Be awake and fearless in body and mind.

Non-Truths Illusion Making

Non-Truths Illusion Making

Blood Stained Star

In this second painting from the Stars and Stripes the Deception Series, I was trying to process my feelings concerning the phenomena of what is perceived as real and what is an illusion? The question of how an entire group of people becomes impassioned and mobilized into action and driven by a non-truth, kept crisscrossing my mind? Historically speaking we glance backwards remembering another time, other lands, and other leaders who inspired their people to do unthinkable acts of cruelty to other people. Then we set the memory aside reassuring one’s self that those horrible things could not happen in our time, on our land, between us. But could they?

Post 9/11 hatred of the other and fear of the other became the language of the land. Revenge was driving the heart of the American people. The Bush administration was brilliant at collapsing Osama bin Laden’s act of terror on the World Trade Twin Towers onto Saddam Hussein alleged weapons of mass destruction. These two men/dark forces in the world were made to be perceived as one in the same. Repeatedly the two were linked together, which successfully amplified the fear and hatred already activated by the atrocities of 9/11. Ultimately this belief took us to war.

We as a country, as a people decided to buy into the illusion of an impending evil. We acted out of fear. And the negative repercussions of the choice to believe in a non-truth continue to ripple through our society and the globe. The truth of the matter is that bad people are not new they are always here and often times disguise as leaders. If we focus all of our intentions on those people they get the power because we are giving it to them through our intentions. Where one focuses his or her intentions is what ends up being; we manifest reality by where we direct our sites.

In the years since, terrorism has only grown and morphed into new forms. Presently, we see it spilling out and motivating disgruntled individuals into acts of great violence. Hatred and fear is like a fuel for the disenfranchised it ignites the will power to light the fuse, spark the flame and pull the trigger.

The only way to correct this imbalance is through love, compassion and acts of kindness. A closed heart filled with fear will not heal the wounds of us and or the perceived other. All wounds inflicted upon all people must be perceived as equal, and as hard as that is to hear it is the truth. It is a universal truth that all people are created equal. We all embody the same capacity for good and for bad. Where we choose to focus our gaze determines how we perceive reality. If your information is one sided you should instantly become aware and seek another perspective. Only through understanding multiple sides can we make choices that come from the heart and mind. When the heart and mind are in balance with one another the choice to love and be compassionate will always rise and the right action will follow. Which is why we must all learn to look deeply at our own beliefs to measure from where those beliefs have risen. When you look deeply at being human you will see that we are all the same. We are all simply just people. There is no “other” there is only us.

Mistakes made based upon misunderstanding and misguided beliefs can only be healed through right actions. To Love, to be compassionate, to help other and serve the well being of all humankind is right action. And right action is the only action that will end terrorism. We must open out hearts and minds and begin the journey of loving all of humanity. Start today by thinking thoughts of love for everyone on the planet.

blood sain star copy web

Blood Stain Star depicts me mounting a chair in fear of a mouse. Crawling on the floor beneath me is the written word “mouse,” but there is not actually a mouse there. However this does not change my level of fear. In this regard I was mirroring the elevated state of fear in the American people perpetuated by the Bush administration. Fear speak concerning our impending dome brought on by the forthcoming “axes of evil” framed nearly every one of President Bush’s speeches to the American people. And so we believed in the mouse that was not there. The bigger question at hand is, even if the mouse was there why would we fear a mouse? The chair that I’m perched upon is the American flag. I’m clinging to it as if it would save me, like a life raft in a bloody sea. I extended the points of the star off of the canvas to represent teeth of a saw blade, which cuts through the night sky. This was how I choose to depict the use of American excessive force and power exerted over the other. My body is out of focus blurred as if it is about to evaporate and the words KEEP ME HOLLOW line the curvature of my spine. In this way I’m illustrating my emotional internal landscape and also expressing my external sense of oppression. One of the bitter pills to swallow being a part of a great nation is that when our government acts it appears to the world that we are all in agreement with those actions. When you are not in agreement the outcome can feel like oppression. I felt like my point of view was invisible and that I was being hollowed out by fear. But not my personal fear it was a fear outside of myself being forced upon me, as if external forces were insisting that I be filled with fear. But I was not. Instead the question, “what have we done as a nation that I don’t know about, which has caused another people to have so much hate for us Americans?” Hatred does not blossom out of thin air it is grown just as love is grown. What seeds are you going to grow with in your being? Seeds of Hate or seeds of Love, you get to choose. I choose love always love. My intention behind my art is to offer another perspective, to give another side to the many sides of what it means to be human. Don’t be hollowed out by fear be filled with love. Then act out of love.

Remembering Forgetting

What do we choose to remember and what do we choose to forget? And why? I suspect that we gravitate towards good/positive memories because they help to preserve a peaceful state of mind. While unhappy memories can lead to feeling discontent or agitated. But what of the in-between place, the gray, if you will of forgetting and remembering? Which lead me to thinking where is the in-between place that captures, holds and preserves memories. For me, the answer is Art; I have made art my whole entire life. Even if I only had a piece of paper and pencil, I used it to give form to that which was in my mind. My artwork contains all the gray in-between, forgetting and remembering. Art Objects hold the past present and future simultaneously. For example, when we experience the Mona Lisa (painted 1503 – 06), we are seeing the past – presently and then we carry the memory of her into the future within our minds. This connected me to the thought that we are all simultaneously carrying every past, present and future memory within our beings. It is all within us recorded in every living and dying cell within our bodies. The future might feels more abstract in that it is hard to imagine because we have not witnessed it yet. However, the moment we see the future it instantly becomes the past. So in essence the future is always happening and it is just waiting for us to see it.

“Recall” is what we have named having the ability to pull something up from our memories. Recall can be used to protect us from repeating bad choices. And with the up and coming presidential election upon us we are all each and every one of us responsible for making a choice. We get to elect our next president, which is a great freedom. One not to be taken lightly or dismissed by claiming “I” have no power . As we United States citizens move towards electing a new president the importance of using ones recall of memory is essential.

It is also necessary to consider that our collective state of mind makes manifest what reality we end up getting/seeing. We get to decide our future. Which leads me to my main point: During the George W. Bush presidency my entire being felt disjointed by the constant bombardment of “fear speak,” which dominated the airwaves. The actual voice of that fear was more often than not the voice of President Bush himself (Here, is where I ask that you use your ability to recall). Collectively, upon President Bush’s leadership we moved to war. We went to war based upon the fear of presumed weapons of mass destruction and history has since revealed that there were none. The outcome of that action, based upon fear, has resulted in many many years of continuous war. If you are old enough to recall you will remember that fear was the motivating factor that lead our nation into war. Today, sons and daughter and husbands and wives continue to die all around the planet because fear was so greatly amplified and acted upon by us as a nation.

Presently, we have another man who is running for president and if you listen to him speak you hear FEAR SPEAK. He is amplifying fear just as President Bush did. Fear only ever begets more fear because that is the nature of fear. Fear is also one of the greatest human made illusion used by tyrants when striving for power. For whatever the reason, collectively we choose to forget this heartbreaking repetition, which desperately needs to be remembered. Please take a moment to pause and learn, remember, and recall why it is that we are at war and why we have been at war and why war exists period. Yes, there are many layers to war including greed, and other complexities too but that is a whole other story.

Choices made from fear will continue to perpetuate more fear and when fear drives ones emotion we start to divide and perceive our selves and the others as separate and not united or the same. What I have learned from the war on terror is that more than ever we need to be united as a people, country and world. We must learn the universal truth that all people sprang forth from this one world which unites us all into one human race. The amplification of fear will not get us there. A presidential candidate who’s main story is that of perpetuating fear will never end the war on terror he will strengthen the will of the other to measure us as the enemy and war will continue because that is what fear does. The evidence is recorded within humankind’s memories. We carry all the wars from all time within our blood. Remember Remember Remember.

Love, compassion and education need to be remembered and acted upon. Love begets more love because that is the nature of love. This concept in word and theory may sound simplistic but it is not. Think about the person you love most in the world and being in a fight with that person. While in the fight you are each suffer great sorrow. Then imagine looking deeply at the anger and sorrow and you will see the root, which is fear. What allows one to move past the anger, sorrow and fear? I hope you will remembered that it was your love of the other that caused you to forgive and move past the fight. Now apply that same story to sets of couples, small groups, neighborhoods, cities, states, nations, and countries. Again, look deeply and you will see that we are all people wanting and needing the same love and forgiveness that all people need to grown and prosper. People are people and love is love, neither is defined by boundaries nor borders. We are limitless in our potential and our greatest humanity is born when we collectively aspire towards the good of all humankind. Not when we teach fear, or act out of fear, or build walls and separate us from the other. No, all of that divides people. Stop forgetting to remember that we call ourselves human(kind) not human(mean).

I’m sharing paintings that I created during the second term of George W. Bush to help you remember to recall what happens when fear drives the world. I painted all of the Stars and Stripes the Deception Series in about one month. These are my memories… the remembering, forgetting and the in-between.

Please choose hope speak and not fear speak. Then in your own voice amplify your hope speak in every way that you can. Remember hope creates and fear kills. Open your ears, listen deeply and act from your whole being. When you do you will find that you are moving and acting and receiving  and giving to the world from a place of love and compassion. Love Love Today.

This is Night Cry the first of 15 oil paintings, I  painted all 15 paintings in a one month period shortly after the second election of President George W. Bush.

web night cry copy

At the time that I painted this painting, I felt that I had been under constant pressure to express my patriotism.  Post 9/11 the American flag was in every ones face, at all times. It seemed that every where I look there was the American flag. Being an American and loving American in all of out greatness and flaws, a patriot one could say, I too loved the flag. However, at the time I did not feel that I was a part of the dream that was unravelling. I did not feel patriotic, I felt frustrated and voiceless.

This first painting Night Cry came to me in a dream. The night sky became the stars of our united states and the  red and white striped picnic blanket unraveled beneath me.  I’m me (but not me as one can be in dreams) seated next to a void of a person. And though he was not there I could feel him sitting next to me. Heat radiated from the void like laying next to a naked lovers body. The void of the man holding the empty space felt to me to be the love of my life.  I felt so completely happy to have him near though he was gone, I wept for the loss and presence of him. My tears dripped to my one naked foot and from the top of that foot poppies began to grow, in fast motion from my tears. My one shoed foot was like a weight tethering me to the earth. Holding me back from evaporating into the void of the man. I’m clutching a canary in my left had afraid to let it escape me. It does not sing and I fear that I’m holding it too tight but I don’t let go. In the void man’s mind black crows wait on a wire, I can’t tell if they are coming or going. The top of my head swirls into a twister caused by the flapping wings of an approaching crow veiled by the night sky. I’m at once drawn into the wonder of my blooming foot while trying to escape the fear of my head becoming a twister. While I read the tattoo carved into clouds scaring the back of my voided lost loved one. His tattoo poem reads, “Play Fear Loud What Else Will Keep Down Hope Free Will Must Cost Gold Link Loss.” Then  I awoke from the dream crying. My heart breaking from all the crazy killing and loss of loved ones caused by war. Deconstructing the American flag became a theme and it was my way to express my discontent and opposition to the war.

 

Digital Books

I’m thrilled to announce that I have published three new digital books, Coupling Love is… and Amy’s Extra Tail Tale, and I Wonder. You can get your copies on iBooks, Amazon, Blurb and gongora.wor…

Source: Digital Books

My creativity is driven by the ancient tradition of storytelling, and the language I communicate with is dance.

My dances are microcosms of the world around us: the current events, relationships, technologies, and ideas that inform our lives as individuals and as a society. I embrace the challenge of each new dance, designing original movement, rhythm, and kinetic patterns unique to the narrative of the piece.

Through dance, I communicate with an audience through evocative physical symbols and resonant movement. Dance is the way I share my ideas and aesthetic sensibility; it is my method of engagement, connection, and inspiration. Dance moves us through the expression of our common humanity, our potential, and our destiny.

Collision Course Excerpts

Collision Course Excerpts

This is a 4 min. excerpt video of my latest collaboration with Maida Withers Dance Construction Company.