Whose In Control?

 

The Goddess Indica Enters the Garden. But, Whose In Control?

Mixed Media Sculpture by Steve Wilson

Whose in control?  If you’ve been asking yourself this question lately, this music video might be for you.  It was inspired by a mixed media sculpture I made recently.  Typically, I resist giving names to my art pieces, but the name for this one came mid-production.  I hope you enjoy it.  Follow this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9JpddBh8RQ&t=119s

“Wunjo”: A Music Video for the Times.

Have you been feeling confined lately and in need for a trip?   Today’s video from Shrink Wrap/Wilson Bros. may be the ticket.  But, first the back story.

Last Fall, I invited my brother, James and his wife to visit us in March 2020 in order to escape from the harsh Minnesota weather. I also suggested that we plan an event where our band and others would play.

Over time, the date got pushed back to April 11th and the event became what I called a “Happening” where a handful of visual artists, word artists and musicians would creatively interact.  The number of participants was kept small since this was seen as an experiment that might be done on a larger scale, if successful.  Needless to say, something happened that prevented this Happening from happening.  Maybe another Happening will be planned down the pike.  For now, I feel like I would like to try release some videos that might come close to capturing what I imagine might have been the “feel” of such an event.  I am posting this on the day the Happening would have happened.

As part of my preparation for the event, I created a 50 min. video that I planned to project in a loop, during the event.   A couple of weeks ago, my brother sent me a new tune called “Wunjo” so I could provide some feedback.  As I listened to this tune, it occurred to me that it might work with some of the video material I had planned for the Happening.  Both the music and the video conjured up for me a Journey to places and times beyond the ordinary.  So, the video below incorporates my brother’s music with a small portion of the larger video I had prepared for the Happening

The videos I will be releasing in the future have incorporated some images by the artists that had committed to be part of the Happening.  In Wunjo, you will see some digital images from Jake Gage’s Buddha series, a video of a swinging Buddha by Annie Pirruccello and a painting by Barry Robson. For the best experience, watch on “full screen” mode with headphones.

I asked my brother to provide some insight into the title Wunjo.    Below is his response.

“Wunjo” refers to a letter in the Rune alphabet. Runes in general, reference an alphabet that was used in Northern Europe before the eventual adoption of the Latin alphabet.  The earliest runic inscriptions date from around 150 AD.  Each rune, often made of bone, wood or stone was imprinted with a carved symbol, has a name and a sound, as well as a given meaning.  Like Chinese characters, Runes can represent a letter as well as a “concept “, or a word, and thus sometimes used for fortune telling and divinations, much like a Tarot card.  Wunjo was used to symbolize emotional satisfaction, happiness, and/or light, i.e., a generally positive state-of-mind. 

Use of Runes is tied to Celtic cultures.  Today, the term Celtic generally refers to the languages and respective cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany, also known as the Celtic nations.  The vocalist you hear on this track, Celica Soldream, calls herself “Celtia”, and has focused her talent on evoking a “Celtic feeling” with her singing.   I personally find Celtic vocals mesmerizing and even transcendent, which is why you will hear Celtia’s vocals on a number of my tracks.  I believe it lends an overall “other worldly” feeling to the music.

I hope that Wunjo will carry you away to distant times and lands, but most importantly, clear your mind, relax, and enjoy!   Peace.

James Wilson

Here is the link to “Wunjo”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WvF3Dq0CxA

Eureka Garden Episode #5: Language of the Birds

Over the past couple of years, sculptures that resemble what I imagine might be produced by the very first artists on earth, have passed through my studio.  Many who see them either ask me why they were created or suggest that I undertake some sort of inquiry as to why they have appeared in my life.  While the idea of having some sort of dialogue with these creatures appeals to me- after all, Carl Jung did this with his art during the development of a process he called “active imagination”- I’ve yet to follow through on such a project.  I’m not sure whether it is because I’m lazy or because I am in accord with Thomas Moore who wrote:

Usually when we explain a painting precisely, its mystery vanishes

along with its value.  The very point of a good painting is to keep

us wondering, asking questions, offering interpretations and

contemplating.

Who knows?  I may eventually end up doing some of this Jungian analysis where I treat these creations as archetypes and inquire into why they exist.  For now, I am having fun creating new art using this strange cast of characters.  I invite you to follow the link below to a video where some of these creatures show up.  It’s called Eureka Garden Episode 5: Language of the Birds. I’d suggest listening with high quality headphones.

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Eureka Moments Episode 4: Collaboration with Artist Charley Taylor

 

 

 

Those who have seen earlier videos from Eureka garden know that “collaboration” is a recurring theme.  I am interested in this topic, not because I am an expert, but because I feel like I probably could learn some important life lessons by being more collaborative.  Collaborations of all types require that one enter into relationships where one’s ego is on the line, so to speak.  Once you are involved with other people, you are not in complete control; you have to become flexible.

There are different levels of collaboration and most of us collaborate at elementary levels.  For instance, I have the good fortune of being a member of Art Group of North County (https://artgroupofnorthcounty.weebly.com/) , a group that meets weekly to critique one another’s creations and to jointly promote exhibitions.  What I call “higher order collaborations” are rarer in the arts and entail creating projects jointly.  In these cases, each of the participants must listen to and consider ideas from the others and this means they may have to “let go” of pet ideas or insights.  From what I have read, those who engage in such collective creative processes find them extremely challenging and also extremely satisfying.  Understandably, artists from different disciplines (e.g. music and visual arts) find collaborating especially difficult, as well as rewarding.  Interestingly, those reporting on such experience all say that just sitting down and getting to know the other person is the most important part of collaborating.

One of the reasons for establishing “Eureka Gardens”, (which mainly entailed giving a name to my back yard), was to set up a way of practicing collaboration in a semi-formal way, with someone I trust and feel comfortable with; namely my wife.  By thinking of our joint effort as an artistic collaboration, I believe I have become more mindful of how my ego works and how it often gets in the way of maintaining harmony in the garden.  I have no clue of what the future will bring, but I would hope that the Eureka Garden concept may lead to some “higher order” collaborations with various artists.

You can see a small step in this direction in the 5-minute video below.  In this case, we collaborated with artist Charley Taylor- whose painting we purchased- to find a suitable context for viewing her piece.  There are no blank spaces in our house or garden, so when looking for a place for new art we have to give some thought as to how it will interact with surrounding elements. This is something I had not paid much attention to in the past and I’m finding it to be an interesting challenge.  In this case, we thought the artist should have some say in the process and this is what the video is about.

https://youtu.be/RJOL9krwBO0

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Eureka Moments Episode #3: Modern Mud Men Remixed

“In some societies, adults don’t seem to be nearly so different from children, or to have forgotten the values of childhood. They may paint their faces the way children do and ritualize all of life in dance, song, story, and many forms of play.”

                                                       Thomas Moore

What do adults wallowing in the mud in Youtube videos say about the state of affairs in Eureka Garden?  Whether or not you’ve already seen the video “Modern Mud Men”, check out the video below to find out how and why I  decided to “clean it up”.

To see previous episodes or other videos on the ART AND ZEN TODAY Youtube Channel, click on the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKjCTdN9J7bhP7QCS16d1sA

 

To see previous articles published since 2012, scroll down to the bottom of the page.  You can also search by topic; write your search term in the box and hit “enter”.

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EUREKA MOMENTS: EPISODE 2, EVERYDAY COLLABORATION

Most days my wife and I will have several conversations about changes we want to make in the garden; changes in planting or the placement of art objects.  Most of the time, I do not have my video camera at hand.  The video featured in today’s post consists of those rare times when I did remember to record our efforts. Most of the “collaborations” captured in the video are continuations of earlier conversations and so the full context may not always be evident.  However, I hope you enjoy “Eureka Moments #2: Everyday Collaboration”.  You can see the video by clicking on the link below: https://youtu.be/z6ncpQcCrvE

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A Brief Shamanic Tour Through Eureka Garden

Today’s post is a video entitled “Eureka Moments, Episode 1: A Brief Shamanic Journey Through the Garden”.  This is the first of a series centered around our Eureka Garden.  A recurring theme in this new series will be “creative collaborations”.  The producers of this video make no claim that the Journey depicted represents an actual Shamanic Journey. This video was made for entertainment purposes only; mainly our own.  Our goal at Eureka Garden is to foster creativity and fun through collaboration.

To watch the video, follow the link below.  Please use headphones for optimum audio quality.

https://youtu.be/h0hj2W4L1BI

To learn more about the history and meaning of the word “Eureka”, check this link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eureka_(word)

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Rock and Plants: A New Direction in My Practice

Hello,  It’s been a while since I’ve paid any attention to this site.  My most recent posts mainly had to  do with music I produced with my brother which ended up in a CD titled “Dancing With Death”.  Given the title, it is not surprising that thousands of people have been eager to listen to this music (just kidding).  Over the past six months or so, I have found myself trying to make sculptures consisting of found rocks, stones, sticks and other natural materials.  I’ll probably write more about this later, but one of the factors leading to this new interest has been the amazing results of my wife’s succulent growing practice.  Below is an article from SDVoyager, an online magazine that features the work of artists in the San Diego area.  The article describes how our garden has become sort of a  collaborative art installation and includes eight pictures.

Meet Steve and Cherie Wilson of Eureka Gardens

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve and Cherie Wilson.

Steve and Cherie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
All throughout our 53 years of marriage, Cherie and I have dabbled in various arts and crafts; primarily as a way to balance out our left-brain oriented jobs (Steve as a college professor and Cherie as a teacher and CEO of various organizations). I played drums in bands most of my life but also experimented with photography, metal sculpture and most recently, painting. Cherie has immersed herself in creating pottery, stained glass and jewelry. Although we sometimes worked in the same mediums and supported each other, we usually worked independently.

Over the past 3 years, however, our creative efforts have become more of a collaborative process, and our garden has become our “art” piece. What might be considered an outdoor art installation, our garden includes pieces of art produced earlier in our lives, items from other artists and newly created pieces, many of which are living. More importantly, our orientation to the creative process has changed to what might be called an “art for art’s sake” perspective; that is, being less concerned about how what we create is viewed by others, but working for the intrinsic rewards of creating something together.

Several things led to this shift in how we practice art. When we retired to California in 2003, I decided to take some painting courses, despite the fact that I was scared to death of the idea of painting. Cherie started taking classes offered by the Vista Gem and Mineral Society and ended up teaching classes for them and began producing jewelry at an astonishing rate. After several years of classes, I was displaying abstract paintings in various shows and galleries around North County, and Cherie was selling her jewelry to friends and neighbors.

In 2007, our son Andy and his wife Jen opened a wine bar in Carlsbad and invited us to display and sell our art in the store. The shop remained open until 2011, and we were quite pleased with the chance to share our art with the public and make enough income to finance our creative pursuits. When the shop was sold, neither of us felt like we wanted to seek out other venues for selling our art and, although we did do some commissioned pieces, most of our art was produced for gifts and as donated pieces for fundraising purposes.

Then in 2014, we decided to downsize to a single story house that was approximately half the size of the house we were living in. After about six months of focusing on the interior renovations, we were ready to tackle the lackluster yard. Despite the fact that the yard mainly consisted of a lot of bad grass and a couple of bushes, we saw it as an empty canvas presenting unlimited potential. With comparatively less wall space inside the new house, I had relegated a large number of my paintings to a storage shed.

So, early on, we made the decision to coat many of these extra canvases with polyurethane and hang them on the outside of the house and the fences that surround it.

At the same time, Cherie started propagating succulents (with the same vigor she had previously poured into jewelry-making) and began planting them in newly established beds around the property. Cherie had established gardens in all of the places we had lived previously, but she was excited by the idea of working with plants that would grow all year round and with minimum water use. The placement of the new plants was designed to enhance or complement the existing artwork.

A new concrete sidewalk was poured surrounding hand-made stepping stones we had embedded with old jewelry remnants and other found objects. Then a friend offered us a bunch of African masks and wooden sculptures that we weatherproofed and placed in the emerging garden/installation. At the time, I was engaged in producing music on my computer and not creating much in the way of visual art, but I was very much enjoying the fruits of Cherie’s green thumb. Then one day I was taking a break from the computer and just walking around the yard and was overtaken by the emerging Gestalt of the garden.

The various succulents reminded me of “primitive” sculptures and seemed a perfect compliment to the African objects we had placed in the garden. Also, most of the paintings hanging in the garden have an “ethnic” or “primitive” quality to them. The beautifully complex succulent sculptures, created by Cherie, seemed to call for simple or more “primitive” forms to compliment them. Suddenly, I sensed some unifying theme to what was evolving in our garden and a vision of how I could contribute. Soon after, I began producing what might be considered ritual objects (totem/fetish-like sculptures) of various sizes that were inspired by the vibrations of the garden and are now scattered throughout.

Most are made of rocks, bamboo, feathers, hemp, and other natural materials. For the first time in my life, I find myself producing art pieces with almost no concern about whether others will appreciate them or not. Each object has a special meaning for me, and many are directly inspired by a particular arrangement of succulents created by Cherie. Rather than thinking of these objects as separate art pieces, I see them as contributions to the garden art installation as a whole. In turn, the placement of Cherie’s plants, in pots and in the ground are inspired by the objects of art, both old and new.

As new sculptures are formed, and as plants grow, the garden becomes an ever-changing labor of love that constantly calls for collaborative efforts on our part. We call it “Eureka Gardens” because visitors say that it evokes a playful sense of discovery. Although there is no desire to reap commercial rewards, we, like all artists, are eager to share their efforts with others and hear about how they experience the garden. In addition to several rabbits and many birds who visit daily, we often provide informal tours for neighbors, door to door vendors and delivery people who express an interest in what we are doing.

In the past year and a half, the garden has also provided a backdrop for three fundraisers, two home concerts (one featuring my band Retro G.A.S.), two tours by local garden clubs, a meditation retreat, a shamanic drum circle, and many private parties. Next up is “Show and Tell in the Kinder Garden” an event where participants will bring objects to be displayed in the garden and offer insights as to how it expresses their “inner kindergartener.”

Has it been a smooth road?
Well, collaboration requires letting go of one’s personal vision and compromising; this is especially challenging for artists.

However, we have found that the final product usually turns out to be better than what either of us could have imagined on our own. Also, we are constantly challenged by change. Plants grow, and new art objects present themselves requiring rearranging of the space.

Each day we see new ways of shaping the garden. It has become an art piece that is never finished, thus offering us endless creative inspiration.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Eureka Gardens story. Tell us more about the business.
We sell art but are most proud of simply providing enlightening and meditative experiences when people visit Eureka Gardens.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Who knows where all of this will go.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 977 Darwin Drive Oceanside CA, 92056
  • Email: 123stevewilson@gmail.com

“Dancing With Death” and “The Elegy Project”

 

Where do we come from?  Where do we go?  Acrylic Painting by Steve Wilson

Over the past year or so, my brother James and I (collectively “Wilson Bros / Shrink Wrap”) have been creating musical pieces with spoken words having to do with death embedded in them. Two pieces were released in previous posts on Art And Zen Today.  I’ve received feedback that some people were reluctant to listen because they thought the music would be depressing, however, most reported feeling just the opposite after actually hearing the tunes. 

In today’s post I am providing links to two sites where you can go to listen to all the tunes we created and learn more about our project (see links below). First, you can listen to and download (for free) the album “Dancing With Death” which is based on this project.  At the second site you can see our contribution to “The Elegy Project”, an art-based exploration of death and dying created by Valerie Grove in the UK.

In creating our music, my brother and I attempted to pick messages we felt would help us face our own mortality by including them in music we liked and would listen to. It’s sort of an experiment inspired by Stephen Levine’s wonderful book ” A Year to Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last.” I have listened to the music we created almost daily over the past year, and although I am unsure whether my fear of death has subsided I do believe that, in subtle ways, the messages are helping me become more mindful in my life.

For instance one song (“Soon We All Will Die”) includes the repetitive phrase “Soon we all will die, our hopes and fears are irrelevant”. I find this phrase popping into my head at various times throughout the day, usually when I am frustrated or annoyed by what is presently going on. More often than in the past, I may remember that my time on earth is limited and that getting worked up over whatever is bothering me at the moment, is not worth it.  Now that the tunes are finished and I look back over them for a common theme, it seems that most of the messages on the album remind us that by fully acknowledging our mortality, we can choose to live a more authentic life.

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Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.”

― Carlos CastanedaJourney to Ixtlan

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Here are the links:

1) http://www.onemindmedia.net/music-2/

Here you can listen to or download “Dancing With Death”.  I would urge you to also explore other pages of this site (which is in it’s infancy) as it is rather unusual.

2) http://naturestrikesback.com/voices-from-the-void

This is a link to Valerie’s website “Nature Fights Back” and the “Elegy Project”.  I would strongly suggest that you visit her site to see her wonderful artwork and to experience “Voices From The Void” as well as the other contributions to the project.

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NON-CONCEPTUAL ART

In the LA Times today, art critic Christopher Knight reviews an exhibit at the Hammer Museum called “Stories of almost Everyone”.  The intent, apparently, is to make the viewer aware of the stories that inevitably attach themselves to pieces of art.  Knight describes the premise of the show as follows:

...we have a tendency to project stories onto inanimate objects, including works of contemporary art…..The objects demand a suspension of disbelief”.

The exhibit consist of various pieces and performances of  “Conceptual Art”.  Knight does not like the show and from how  I read his critique, he appears to be suggesting that “conceptual art” is probably not the best way to go if you want to get around the “concepts” surrounding art.

Above is a photo taken at a recent art exhibit near YOU.  The name of the exhibit is “Introducing Non-Conceptual Art: No Stories Necessary”.  I’m unclear, from the photo, whether the object in the exhibit is the: 1) art piece, 2) the artist or 3) the audience.  Hummmm.  Could it be “all of the above”?

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