Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture, Firebird, stands to welcome us to the city’s new museum of modern art in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. The presence of this magical sculpture takes this city to a bigger place in the art world. The piece is magical in its ability to soften modern art and attract. Who does not want to stand under her big-legged arch and see themselves in reflexion of mirror? Ah, art. The entire museum, too, is irresistibly attractive.
Firebird Photo Collage
(©’11 CHW/this image was taken with the iPhone4 with the app, Photosynth)
John O’Donohue, in his book, Beauty, The Invisible Embrace, calls ocean ‘wild divinity’. Water, he writes, stirs something very deep and ancient in the human heart.
But there is so much more to ocean. “It is beauty charged with danger.” He continues, yet even in its wildest passion, the ocean still holds dignity, it maintains poise. However and wherever it throws itself, it never falls outside of itself… it is always within the shelter of the one rhythm.”
Hope whispers in these waves. The tide always returns.
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.” — Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag writes about how to live a life, which I find particularly meaningful for artmakers.
I challenge you to test these principles while on holiday.
Life is here. Now. There is a difference in a traveler and a tourist. If your visit is but a weekend, try doing it with a few simple principles that I discovered while on artistic retreat. (You may be surprised by joy!)
• Keep a journal. Write three pages every morning in pencil, in long hand.
• Walk everywhere. Attentively.
• Practice Gratitude
• Make friends
• Give stuff away – for generosity of spirit
• Eliminate distraction (tv, especially the news)
If you’ve brought a camera, and long to connect with the culture, try this advice, by Bob Krist of National Geographic. “They have to know you are not there stealing pictures because you find them bizarre or curious but because you find them admirable or interesting. Contribute rather than consume.”
People on the bus go round n round
“Intimacy, says the phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard, is the highest value. I resist this statement at first. What about artistic achievement, or moral courage, or heroism, or altruistic acts, or work in the cause of social change? What about wealth or accomplishment? And yet something about it rings true, finally—that what we want is to be brought into relationship, to be inside, within. Perhaps it’s true that nothing matters more to us than that.”
— Mark Doty (Still Life With Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy)
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”
— Susan Sontag
“Particularly because of the joyful quality in so much of her work and its powerful and seductive use of color, Niki has proven exceptionally intriguing to audiences who are new to the world of modern art and its complexities. Because of Niki’s apparent simplicity, the works can be enjoyed appropriately on a number of levels and the more a viewer gets to know her work, the more intriguing content and greater complexity of composition the viewer discovers without losing the initial attraction to its energy and attractiveness.” – from the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.
We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about. – Joseph Campbell
This painting was begun to remember the ocean, where I lived, on Edisto Island, for two years. But then this red ball appeared in the picture. It is about myself, and as Nietzche described the task we humans face, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, it is to be child-like, and, as he described it, “A wheel rolling out of its own center.”
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” — Pema Chödrön
I know this to be true