Sageism Versus Ageism

Have you noticed that you and everyone around you is aging?  What’s up with that?  Anyway, you may be interested in watching my latest video entitled “Sageism Versus Ageism”.  Playing with video is what I do to keep halfway sane these days.  So, thanks for watching and keep the comments coming.  See the link below:

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

 

“Absurd It Thru The Vape Grind” By Eureka Magicka and the Vape Grind Dancers

If you think that things of late have seemed a bit absurd, this short music video (see below) might be for you.  It’s called “Absurd it Thru the Vape Grind” by Eureka Magicka and the Vape Grind Dancers.  If the title seems absurd, it will start to make sense if you watch to the very end.  As always, please watch on full screen mode with stereo speakers or headphones for enhanced enjoyment.  You can see related videos on the “Art and Zen Today” Youtube Channel.

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

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

DRAMA AND THE SILENT RETREAT?

A play about attendees at a Silent Retreat?  What would that look/sound like?  What are the chances of my reading the article below a day before attending a week long Zen retreat conducted in silence?  Reading about art is not the same as experiencing it first hand, but I think you will find this article/ interview of interest.  It is about the playwright Bess Wohl and her play “Small Mouth Sounds”.  Most of my blog posts have to do with the interconnection between the visual or performing arts but I’ve not written much about the dramatic arts.  I haven’t seen the play but I’m guessing my experience of silence over the next week will be affected by this article.
“Play’s silence speaks for itself” LA Times Jan. 11, 2018

A minute of silence onstage feels like an eternity. So imagine what 100 minutes of silence would feel like. That’s exactly what playwright Bess Wohl did when she set out to write “Small Mouth Sounds,” which makes its Los Angeles-area debut at the Broad Stage on Thursday.

Set at a silence retreat in the woods, the play explores the lives of six people as they struggle to connect, and find inner peace, without uttering a word. The play has a few moments of speech, but the only substantial dialogue comes from the person running the retreat — a bodiless voice offstage.

For a writer who admits to relying on witty banter for some of her best work, the play proved a dramatic challenge and a creative triumph for Wohl and director Rachel Chavkin, the latter fresh off the raves she earned on Broadway for her inventive “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.”

As part of a national tour that will take “Small Mouth Sounds” to Dallas, Miami and Philadelphia, Wohl talked with The Times about her process and explained why silence is sometimes louder than words.

What made you want to write this play?

The idea came when I was on a silence retreat. I had been — I wouldn’t say dragged — but encouraged to come by a close friend. I didn’t realize we were going to be in silence. I thought it was going to be a girls bonding weekend. I brought snacks and wine.

But on the first night of silence I simultaneously realized, “Wow, this might be fertile ground for a play.” I had this impulse based on observing other people and thinking they would be great characters to explore, but I didn’t know anything about them because I hadn’t spoken to them.

So the whole thing became this projection of my fantasy about who they might be. I got really interested in the way we project fantasy on each other all the time, and I was interested in engaging the audience in that process.

Did you do more research?

I went back to a bunch of silence retreats. I went to one with my mom, but we only lasted about halfway through. I just got deeper and deeper into this idea. There was a part of me that really enjoyed the perversity of trying to make a play where people don’t speak, and what that would be like. It was all a great experiment.

I started it in 2012, and there were series of workshops with actors. I wrote a bunch of drafts. My first draft, I couldn’t help myself and all the characters immediately started talking and breaking the rules. Then in the second draft nobody spoke ever, and that felt kind of false. What I ended up finding was balance.

I did a lot of workshopping — putting the play in front of groups of 20 or 30 people, so I could understand what information they needed to follow the plot. There was lots of testing with other people, which was part of the joy of a silent play. You have to see it in bodies and spaces.

What does the script look like?

The beginning is about 12 pages of character descriptions. I felt if I were going to ask actors to play characters that barely spoke, I had to give them enormous backstories to ground them. My hope is that the audience can intuit that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. After that there’s about 40 pages of stage direction, and there are some monologues in the play. The other piece of perversity is that the character who speaks the most is never seen in the play.

I was interested in creating these obstacles in both directions. What is it like to hear and not see, and vice versa.

I realized how hard it is for me to personally sit in silence. The play begins in silence. You watch someone in silence for a full minute, which onstage feels like a very long time. So when I watch I go through a whole arc of anticipation and agony. Part of the project is teaching myself to slow down and sit in silence with something I made. As a playwright it’s hard to evaluate your work because the voices in your head are so loud. In part I was trying to quiet those voices.

I always think any kind of change or growth is jagged — but I definitely have moments now when I can access the quiet I didn’t have before. And then a minute later the voices are back.

How did you hook up with Rachel Chavkin to direct?

I got so lucky with Rachel. We had a coffee, and she had read the play and came to the first meeting with such a clear vision of what she wanted the audience to feel by the end of the play. She wanted them to feel as if they had been at a silence retreat. She said they should leave the theater in a different metabolic state than they came in with.

How would you describe the plot?

It’s tricky to put it into one sort of nugget because every time I watch the play, I see it in a different way depending on whatever I’m going through in my life. What’s interesting about a silent play is that the audience brings a lot of perspective. The audience can project their own experiences and ideas onto the characters.

The play is a lot about the question of inner peace. A character asks whether peacefulness is a worthy goal right now given the chaos of the world. He says maybe we shouldn’t be at peace in a world that has so much difficulty.

How do you feel about the cast that will be performing at the Broad Stage?

I have the greatest respect for this company of actors. Part of what’s hard about this play as an actor is that it’s impossible to perform without being fully present, because there’s no dialogue to coast on. You can’t be saying the words while thinking about the hamburger you’re going to eat at the bar afterwards. Being present is all there is.

Do you think the show will play differently in L.A. than in New York?

I’m really excited to see it in Los Angeles. L.A. has a great community of spiritual seekers and yoga practitioners and people who have been on a lot of these retreats. I wanted to make something accessible whether you’d been on a million retreats or had no idea what one was about.

I’m hoping that people in L.A. can see themselves and laugh a little bit and also engage with the ideas.

What’s next for “Small Mouth Sounds”?

This play is going to continue to tour, and that will be really fun to keep sharing it with people around the country. When I first started this play — as my little experiment, will people engage with this, will people fall asleep — I never imagined it would be a multi-city tour. It was such a tiny, weird idea. We had auditions where we just had actors come in and sit in silence and leave.

What’s next for you?

I have a new play that I’ve been working on that tries to look at questions surrounding climate change. I’ve been working on it for years and am figuring out how to tackle it. Hopefully there will still be a planet next season.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

‘Small Mouth Sounds’

Where: The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; ends Jan. 28.

 

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