Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just in case you missed it…

I know art is in the eyes of the beholder and is hugely subjective in nature—I’m remembering the large white canvass with a red square in the middle and a black dot within the square that drew attention when it was labeled art and hung in a museum. All forms of art, however, are creatively inspired. Someone had to have had a vision.

Jason de Caires Taylor’s underwater sculptures are truly inspired works of art. Part of their allure is watching the way the underwater environment works on them, how they age over time and become coral reefs. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you, but I encourage you to Google him for more information on his process and a full gallery of his art.

I remember the first time my friends Joan and Trudy took me snorkeling and I was able to see for myself the wonders of the under-water world of fish and coral reefs, dolphins and eels, all manner of life. I’m sure anyone on the surface end of my snorkel would have chuckled at the oohs and aahs coming from the tube. Imagine swimming into a de Caires Taylor scene! Surely I would have inhaled the ocean.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creative Abundance at CSLSR

November is my favorite time of year at the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa, CA; it is the month we celebrate creativity and the arts. Wildly talented, often completely unknown artists display their art forms, including short films. There’s a section for children as well.

There are gasps of recognition as people wander through the free-standing walls displaying oil and pastel paintings, found-object composition and installation art, photography, quilts and fabric art, jewelry, pottery—the list goes on. Overheard snippets of conversation: “Oh, she’s in the choir; I had no idea she quilted;” “He taught my Foundations class this year—who knew he was a photographer;” “I know her from the usher group—I didn’t know she did such beautiful jewelry.” This is creativity in community and it excites my heart to be part of it.

Our One Heart Choir is filled with quietly creative beings such as Cyndi Cunningham, whose first-time entry quilt hung proudly on the wall. From her story, I recognize the time/space distortion of complete immersion in your craft: “I get lost in the process,” she writes. “When I get started I have to set a timer, or the whole day will disappear and I will still be in my jammies in front of the machine.” Here is Cyndi’s story.

“My grandmother was a crafter, and my mother sewed garments. I seem to be somewhere in the middle, quilting—the clothes I make are not really fit to wear.

“I started when I was 28, taking classes at the new quilt shop down the street. I sew mostly because I love to make things, it give me a place to be creative, and the ability to give gifts to those I love is so special. It takes a lot of time which is a precious commodity.

“At this time, I have not sold anything because those I have finished have been gifts. I do have several quilt tops that need the attention of the long arm quilter to finish. They remain unfinished because they do not yet have future homes. The name of the quilt in the picture above is ‘buggy barn hearts.’

“In addition to quilting, I do several different crafts: jewelry, scrap-booking, and Japanese hand bound journals.

“My full-time job, up to 60 hours a week, is as a Unit Supervisor at the Developmental Center in Eldridge. The clients I serve are in many ways my family, and I love my job—most of the time. It is stressful work, and the ability to carve out some time at home to be creative really helps to keep my life in balance. It’s something that I give myself. Quilting is also a social outlet; I tend to be a homebody, and a bit of a loner. Taking classes, shopping for fabric, and going to retreats gets me out of the house and involved with other people.”

Have something you’re good at, or have just discovered you have a talent for? Send me a photo and your story so I can share it here (

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Creative Contributions

Happy November, a time to focus on thanksgiving for the abundance of good in our lives. A quick update--my song, Sundowner, was beautifully performed by the extraordinarily talented jazz singer, Claire Victor, at the 2010 Choir Showcase at CSLSR last month. The process of writing songs is a gift of creative endeavor in itself, but to hear that music brought to life in performance is another whole kind of experience. I am immersed in thanksgiving.

There are so many ways in which we can contribute in life that sometimes I get overwhelmed and do nothing. In days gone by, political activism was important to me. My focus has become more on creative expression at this point in my life. When someone makes it just plain simple and effortless to contribute in a meaningful and creative way, I just can’t pass it up.

I drink orange juice—every morning. I go through cartons of the stuff each month. When I found the following website from Tropicana, a way in which I could contribute to saving the rainforest with no more effort than typing in a ten letter/number combination found under the cap on the carton, it became a welcome ritual. To date, I’ve contributed to the care of close to 2,000 square feet of rainforest. Not a lot, but it’s a start. You can make a difference in the next three months. The program ends Feb. 28, 2011, so don’t delay. Here’s to good stewardship and the ecological health of our world.

Just cut and paste: and then click on “Rescue the Rainforest”