Off the Grid

I just spent two weeks in the backwoods of Northern California “Cleaning out my closets”, to quote Eminem. Actually, it was my Mothers’ closets–my attempt to help her clean out 40 years of accumulated living. Having just returned from Vancouver Island in the Pacific Northwest, it was nice to return to the climate I love: hot and dry days, cool mornings and nights.

When I walk out of my Mothers’ front door I usually pause to deeply inhale the scent of dry pine and wind. Continuing on the rough gravel driveway to the road, I am met by a doe and her two fawns, “the twins” I call them, who casually glance my way, and then continue munching on the melon rind my Mother has recently deposited under a small oak tree. I look up and see blue–intense blue—the outline of tall Ponderosa Pines swaying against the clear sky ocean unmarred by smog or clouds, and think, “I love this, my former home.” Who was the poet who said, “You can never go home?” I think I understand what he means. On mornings like this, when the sky is just beyond my reach, so exquisite and blue, and the deer are like familiar pets, and the smell is so clean and dry, I feel a keen sense of sadness. I want to take the experience–that particular moment–bundle it up and bring it back to Austin with me. But I can’t. I can experience it, and then the moment is gone…and I am back in Texas, home to most of my moments, only remembering the other life I left when I went off to USC in 1978.
As I sit here remembering, I am struck by how powerful and compelling the landscape of our childhood is, how it seems to live in us. Sometimes I actually physically crave it: I want to taste it, touch it. At these times, I have the urge to hug the ground, to feel the rough pine bark, to listen to the wind through the tall pine trees.

I turn to art at these times, to express what I am unable to experience in the flesh, to re-orient myself to that ineffeble place, and to remember in images, words, marks and colors what moves me about HOME.

Home in Texas I face the typical studio clutter of half-finished projects, papers strewn about, art supplies lying on top of piles of handouts from summer classes. It has been a busy summer filled with travels, teaching and studying. A bit wistful about Summers’ ending, I walk outside and am startled into a smile by a racoon brazenly strutting about our deck in broad daylight. The smell is thick, my skin feels sticky. I don’t hear the wind, but rather a bunch of chattering squirrels. A Jet flies overhead, and I glance at the clock to see that it is time to pick up Maeve. Home. In Austin, Texas. Where long ago I staked my claim, where I am happily bound to a life of my choosing; and where Hayfork breathes through my blood in my daily remembering.

Well already everyone be familiar with that is there a generic cialis detected with ease in the Internet. In distinctive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Blood Remembering

I sit in my studio flooded with myriad particular images, impressions and feelings, my response to the calligraphy conference on Vancouver Island from which I have just returned. The site of the conference was so stunning and breath-taking, it was almost a distraction from the task at hand–to lead students into making “a book of ours”. A week of a labyrinthian journey seemed to connect my students to themselves, to their own vision of who they are as calligraphers and art makers. Their books were what I had hoped they would be: Their own, unique, beautiful, honest and true to a commitment to a personal process of discovery.

I came away exhausted yes, but renewed in my commitment to dedicate this year to art-making, to developing my writing–text and calligraphy–and to write my book. It is oddly comforting to know that I can, to quote T. S. Eliot, “begin where I started and know the place for the first time.”

Indeed, it has been ten years since I fully committed to my calligraphic journey. When I began, I wanted to know it all, be it all. Of course now I am content to realize I know so very little– that what I want to express is still beyond me, and that learning and discovery are a lifelong commitment. Rilke’s humbling words about “Blood Remembering”ring true for me, and best sum up my attitude and expectations about my own art-making:

“For the sake of a single verse, one must see many cities, men and things, one must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning. One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and to partings one had long seen coming; to days of childhood that are still unexplained, to parents whom one had to hurt when they brought one some joy and one did not grasp it; to childhood illnesses that so strangely begin with such a number of profound and grave transformations, to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars–and it is not yet enough if one may think of all of this. One must have memories of many nights of love, none of which was like the others, of the screams of women in labor, and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again. But one must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the fitful noises. And still is is not yet enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer can be distinquished from ourselves–not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.” ( p. 94, R. M. Rilke, On Love and Other Difficulties)

Well already everyone be aware of that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In distinctive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Creation

I pick up a stick and hit it against a metal pole. CLANG. I then scratch something in the dirt–a mark, nothing intelligible. I hit the stick against something else: thud. I keep walking, thinking of the power the first humans must have felt when they learned they could create something, a sound, a mark that was not there before. I feel the same energy and I don’t want to stop: click, click, click, thud, clang, and I write my name in the dirt. I am loving the feeling of making something new, something my own. Whether on the beach in the sand, or on the rock cluttered trail on the hike up to the Mesa at Ghost ranch, I can’t resist drawing in the dirt. Drumming, dancing, writing, drawing–Clark and I reflect on these ancient human practises as we walk around the lake, sweating in the thick summer morning heat. We talk of the power we feel again, having participated in another full moon drum circle last night .

The power of drum, dance, mark-making became the focus of an idea Clark presented as we neared Lamar Bridge. He proposed a collaboration between drummers, visual artists and dancers which would be simple, powerful and organic. Specifically, he envisions putting up a large screen/canvas at one of the full moon drum circles, behind and around which dancers dance, casting their shadows, moving to the full throttle rhythm of the drummers while visual artists make marks–drawing, painting, calligraphy–on the screen. The experience would be improvisational, the mark-makers responding to the moving shadows on the screen as well as the drummers’ beat or vise versa.

To connect drumming, dance and writing and drawing in a moving, flowing event, would be most powerful and interesting, and the idea is compelling enough for us to make a plan to try it out soon.

Meanwhile, I will keep the idea alive in my class I am teaching in Red Deer, Alberta next week: The Joy of Calligraphy. I plan to invite participants to explore rhythm and writing–finding a beat, syncopation (altering the beat). We will have the opportunity to experience the thrill of mark-making, of making interesting lines with alternative writing tools, exploring writing kiniesthetically (I don’t know how to spell this word!) as movement as well as breath, and as an expression of who we are.

I take up my stick and put it in the sumi on my table in the studio. There is no fear of the blank paper before me because I know the joy, the excitement of what happens next, when I put stick to page. The mark will be original; it will express the breath I take and the movement of my body. It may be followed by more marks, or stand alone. I may like it or not. It won’t matter because in this simple act, I will experience the thrill of something ancient and intrinsically human: I have the power to create.

Well afore everyone know that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In exclusive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Tribes

I was listening to NPR while driving Sunday morning and the topic of discussion was tribe and group affiliation. Specifically, the reporters’ interviews revealed how emotionally charged a person’s connection with a group/tribe can be, and how even after many years, one can continue to feel deep nostalgia for and affinity with a particular group.

The piece was timely, I thought, because my daughter Maeve is currently attending Kickapoo Kamp (yes, Kamp spelled with “K”) in Kerrville, Texas. A significant part of her experience at camp relates to her tribe activities: she is a Cherokee, and the rival tribe are the Choctaws. Cherokees are red; Choctaws are blue, and each girl wears her tribe colors in the form of tee-shirts and bandanas. Throughout the two weeks of camp, the tribes compete–in friendly fashion–for the sacred blanket which is awarded to the winning group at the fire-ceremony at camp’s end. This ritual is a culmination of a series of tribe activities, including an induction ceremony at the beginning of the session where new members are named to a tribe, as well as meetings and competitions throughout the week. Last year, the Choctaw Chief–a lovely high school age young woman–was so undone by the Cherokee victory that she was moved to tears.
My daughter later reported that there were no hard feelings on the chief’s part–she was simply worried that she had let her tribe down.

I was never a Cherokee or a Choctaw, and actually wonder about the political correctness of co-opting Indian names for Summer camp. However, I can proudly say I am a calligrapher. And as I have discovered, through participation in my own local guild, as well as attending and teaching at international conferences, I am part of a unique and special tribe, a ubiquitious one which spans the globe. Indeed, I can go to nearly any city in the USA and abroad and find a member of this tribe–someone who would not only identify him/herself as a calligrapher, but would welcome me, a stranger, as an old friend.

If I were to give a profile of a member of this tribe (nearly impossible, there is such variety among us!) it might look something like this:

She loves words and language, is an artist in his own write/right; He/she has deep thoughts, is kind, caring and deeply spiritual (lots of variety there, too!) and is willing to speak out for what he/she believes (not shy of politics, whichever side the calligrapher is on), and is deeply compassionate–and giving. Oh, and talented–he/she is Very talented. and willing to share the pen off of his/her back. He/she will offer you paper when you run out in class, and will give you a pen because it is the “coolest tool which you must try!” He/she is an adventurer, willing to travel great distances to broaden her experience and skills, and to commune with her tribe. She probably makes paper, binds books and creates watercolors, oils or acrylics in her spare time, or is passionate about drawing. He/she has more ideas than time to realize them, and is probably great at photoshop and even skilled at building a website. He/she is a renaissance man/woman, with whom anyone would be fascinated to converse and spend time.

The calligraphic tribe has annual conferences, as well as other gatherings, from North Carolina to New Mexico where members are re-united, and where workshops are offered for education and skill-building. The shared, collective conference experience is one with its own rich history and lore, and where rituals abound. There are the opening and closing ceremonies which have predictable elements from year to year. There is also the ritual of hosting parties: the conference organizers for the next year typically host the party on the last night of the conference, which includes music, dance and general revelry. Not unlike Maeve’s Summer camp, after a week of intense art-making, conference participants have a hard time saying goodbye. One’s only consolation for leaving this profoundly rewarding “tribal” experience seems to be looking forward to meeting again next year, in another location, for another calligraphy conference.

For anyone curious about calligraphy and who missed the opportunity in their youth to be affiliated with a tribe, consider joining ours. Our colors are not limited to the blue and red of Choctaw and Cherokee, and we make our own symbols in the form of beautiful lines, words, images.There are few rules: only the eagerness to learn. As a member of this calligraphic tribe, your world will broaden in unexpected ways–art and otherwise–and you will make friends for life.

Local Austin Texas tribe: Capital City Scribes

POST SCRIPT: Some of my beloved local fellow tribe-members took me out to lunch today for my 47th birthday. The generosity of their spirit–in the time they took from their busy days to be with me–as well as the beauty in the gifts they gave (calligraphers are the best people from which to receive cards , trust me) overwhelmed me. I love these women dearly, as well as admire, respect and appreciate them as human beings and artists. How grateful I am to be included in their company!

Well yet everyone know that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In distinct on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.

Full Moondance of The Pen

Belly dancing, Drumming, fire, wine, children, howling dogs under a full moon Saturday night on South Lamar, courtesy of Lucila’s Dance studio. Lucila is a beautiful women “of a certain age” who teaches belly dancing and sells related exotic clothing and acoutrements in her shop. On the weekend of every full moon, she hosts a drum circle on the lawn outside the strip mall in which her studio is located, and fire dancers, drummers and belly dancers create a gypsy-esque gathering that one might describe as “keeping Austin weird.”

Since my husband became a born-again drummer, he has sought out such gatherings to which, on occasion, I accompany him. I am not shy about grabbing one of Clark’s drums–or the thing I keep calling a cow bell–to join in the rhythm. Nor do I hesitate, when the spirit moves to get up and writhe around alongside the more sophisticated, skillfull and interestingly clad belly dancers. This is a friendly crowd; all are welcome to dance, sing, drum, improvise in expressing ones self in whatever way one chooses. Indeed, what great joy it is, for an evening, to be part of this exotic, colorful full moon tribe, where one meets people by the name of Hawk whose livelihood consists of fire twirling/juggling, and where one can participate in an age old human ritual of gathering around a fire at night, even along a busy South Austin street!
I want to write like Hawk fire dances. I want my calligraphy to be as full and embodied as the belly dancers who move hips and bellies so sensuously, the girth of which by vogue magazine standards would be considered fat. Not in my estimation! They are beautiful, these women, whose example–in both body and spirit–teaches me to stop sucking in my gut and to move it in interesting and sensuous ways as I dance through my days. Like these belly dancer goddesses, I want my art to be rooted in the earth, to arise from the lower chakras, to sway and move with the knowledge and love of all undulating and curved forms.

For several years I have spent time developing a script which was inspired by my love of such forms in nature, including my own female form which I rediscovered an appreciation of in my life drawing classes. My script became one which could best express what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it, in feminine terms. Indeed, seeking to reconcile myself with the masculine Western calligraphy tradition, I even “feminized” Roman Capitals in another script I developed, and use it for words I love:

…O and that awful deep down torrent, O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire….
and I was a flower of the mountain yes…and yes i said yes i will yes
(Molly Bloom in Ulysses by James Joyce)

Inspired by Hawk and the exotic dancers, my husband and his motley band of drummers who come out every full moon just down the street, I root myself in the lower chakras, breathe deeply and freely, and happily continue the dance of my pen, curious and unknowing about where it will lead me next.

Well yet everyone see that is there a generic cialis found with ease in the Internet. In exclusive on our website it is full of it. But you forget and constantly you ask.