April 29, 2007

David Crosby
photo from John Nork’s interview 

Recently I have been listening non-stop to the music I grew up with.  Joni of course, but also Crosby, Stills and Nash. 
These musicians were the foundations of my generation’s coming of age in the 70’s. I’ve always appreciated their high level of artistry; but only now, having read about their lives do I understand the risks they took artistically and the major influence they had on the contemporary music scene. (I’ll  develop this thread another time).

Crosby’s 3 piece CD set, ‘Voyage'(2006) is accompanied by an excellent essay on his life and music by Steve Silberman. In the notes for Crosby’s, ‘Song with no Words (Tree with no leaves)’ was this quote,

‘There was all this immensely wonderful chemistry going on. I’d play a song…to Jorma, then I’d play it to Jack, I’d play it to Paul, I’d play it to Phil, I’d play it to Jerry, I’d play it to Grace, I’d play it to Mickey, I’d play it to Billy, I’d play it to Neil. That was the close-in group. On any given night, we might try any given song. On some nights we would hit critical mass. The thing would go nuclear, and we’d have it on tape’.  

Two things about this touched me: first, the great description of the ‘flow’ that happens when real art is made. And secondly, the sense of community with other artists which Crosby seems to always have had and nurtured in others.  That group of musicians, including Joni , Stephen Stills, Judy Collins, Graham Nash, etc., lived close enough to one another to wander in and out of each other’s houses. They shared their lives, music and sometimes their partners.

Rich lives, new stories 
I never got into the drugs or free love scene, and didn’t understand why anyone would. Though I still feel that drugs are basically destructive, with hindsight I see that some artists who were pushing their edges back then were genuinely exploring new ways of being. The ground they broke in California in the 60’s and 70’s provided a base for all of us to try new social and artistic forms.

These artists ventured to internal places of darkness and light, and brought back Stories for the rest of us to live and grow by.

These performers are now in their 60’s. I’ve watched current concert DVD’s of them all and there is mastery and tenderness in their performing. A few of them are doing some of their most meaningful work now.

David, for one, was almost destroyed by drugs and other events in his life: but with perspective, I see his as a life being fully lived- rich with music, friendship and love….and finally the emerging wisdom of a survivor.

Thanks Dave, thanks Graham, and Stephen, and Joni,  for your music most of all. And for your lives.

Snail love

April 25, 2007


photo Rende Zoutewelle

This little guy (or gal or both) is the reason why I don’t use snail poison in my garden- even when discovering brand new  plants chomped down to the roots. 

Once, a few years ago I was driven to try some, and the first beautiful creature I found cramped and wrinkled in my garden was the last one I ever killed on purpose.  And they are beautiful; both my husband and I love them. Rende photographs them regularly, you can see some of the recent ones at his gallery on ephotozine .

I have been going out to the garden early and collecting the larger ones in a pail and taking them for a breath of fresh air.  I cross the street, walk down a wooded path, and dump them on the edge of a small water filled ditch. They probably enjoy the change of scenery and diet until they work their way back to my plants. 

A favorite meditation is to take a tiny one on my finger and watch it move purposefully over the hills and valleys of my skin. They are so delicate and responsive with their little antennae that constantly taste the air…. looking for (my) lettuce. And aside from their assault on various plants, they are gentle creatures.
They’ll probably call me Saint Escargot when I’m dead and gone. 

Interlude at The Bield

April 19, 2007

I’ve just returned from Scotland where I was invited to attend a small symposium on the arts and dementia care. It was hosted by two dedicated initiators in the field, John Killick and Kate Allan. After several cancellations we were only 6 altogether, but it was just right for this first meeting.  The location couldn’t have been more perfect; and though it is a Christian organization the spirit of the place leaves room for all faiths.  It is a beautifully restored farm and landhouse in rolling hills near Perth. There is a walled garden, walking paths, a labyrinth, and the sweetest indoor swimming pool with glassed roof and tropical plants vining on the beams. It was warm and sunny, the trees were blooming, birds singing, and the food was magnificent- organic, local,  and vegetarian.

We exchanged inspiration as well as deep sadness at the state of dementia care both in Britain and Holland. There was also frustration at the lack of funding and other support  for this work.

Besides theoretical discussions and plans, we each led sessions of the softer type including improvisational drama, art, feltmaking and creative writing.

I came away exhausted but with a sense of no longer being alone in this field. And with connections to 6 new friends including a minister who shared the Bield with us that weekend and soon became part of our group.

We already form an organisation of the heart, and hope to meet again, hopefully with more members, to formalize the ties and plans somewhat.


April 19, 2007

A friend loaned me The-Perfect-Book-for-me-now. Know how it is when something comes into your hands and a shivver goes all through you? This one is by Neil Crofts  called , ‘Authentic, How to make a living by being yourself’.
So in a nutshell it is a total vindication for all I’ve been feeling as far as resisting conventional business practices and wanting to help create something new.

His words say it all:

‘How would it be if no-one exploited anyone or anything and no-one felt exploited?

How would it be if everyone felt confident of their purpose and place in society?

How would it be if we all worked to a common aim happiness and quality of life for all?

How would it be if companies collaborated to achieve this aim rather than competed for their own short-term gain?

How would it be if every business were authentic?”

Reading this book has removed the very last barriers for me to starting my own business. It is an exceptionally clearly written book, totally inspiring, and practically helpful. 

Embracing business

April 7, 2007

This week I went to the Chamber of Commerce and registered ArtWell as an official business. It was a significant step for an artist like me. I’ve always avoided getting too involved in business for a number of reasons which I will write about another time.  

But over the years I have come to see that to achieve my goals, I need to move out from the margins more into the mainstream. Also, I am heartened by new concepts in businesses which allow one to mix a social goal with a financially responsible structure.  This is quoted from an article in Ode magazine about Muhammad Yunus, the founder of microcredit:

“So if you wanted to do something good for the world, you didn’t think of starting a company; after all, you weren’t interested in money. You signed up to work at a social service institution or became a researcher so you could develop medicines to cure people’s ills-and which, by the way, would lavishly line the pockets of others. But there is another, more challenging, way: via the business community. Because I believe there is no better way to combine your desire for a better world with effectiveness than through a company.”

So ArtWell , a bureau for creative projects and training in healthcare, as well as my free lance design and art business is born.