Favorite Installation Artists

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pity The Nation.....us, the U.S.A.

Supreme Court rules Corporations can spend unlimited funds on campaign ads.

Five of the nine people who work in this building have decided that big interests in oil, Wall Street, insurance, unions and other powerful conglomerates can marshal their resources to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

Until yesterday, corporations and unions were barred from spending their treasury funds on ads or billboards that urge either the election or defeat of a federal candidate.  This dated back to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 who also included national banks and railroads.  Congress extended that ban to labor unions after W.W. ll.  In 2002, the McCain-Feingold Act added an extra limit on broadcast ads in the month before an election.  All that is gone.

We have spent billions on a "war" that was for oil interests.  Wall Street has put people out of work and on the streets, while profits pour in from using cheap foreign labor.  Insurance companies have left millions uninsured due to high premiums, loss of a job or preexisting conditions.   Unions have handled Detroit so well, it's on it's knees, begging for money.  These are the people who want to decide your future. 

The electoral process is so diminished by this as to be a joke.  Here's why.  It's all about money.  It hasn't been about the American people in years.  Your rights have been eroded - because you can't be heard over the shouting of the big money interests and idiotic talk shows.  It is not about intelligent discourse.  Its about ratings and money.  We can't afford to be heard!

If we want to know the truth about anything, we are going to have to do some work.  The truth is out there, all around us.  And we can start right here, on this wonderful tool called the internet.  Look everything up - question everything.  Our votes are the wedge we have against this kind of tyranny. Here are two places to start.


We can't let money make the decisions for us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Call Noah...


I need a boat.  Maybe a really big boat.  It rained last night in Arizona!!! A big old gully washer.  Since it never does that anymore, I'm not sure how to act.  And I can be easily confused.  Tomorrow, we are expecting an even bigger rain event and that presents a problem.  Here's the thing.  I play Bocce Ball.  We are supposed to be having a tournament this week, but I received this email from the team leader........

"Bring your goulashes, rain is coming!  Better yet, we have decided to postpone this week's
event and start again next week".


So, do I cook more than one of these?  She seems to want a pair.  It's hard to know what to do, isn't  it?  I think I have the answer though since I'd like to hedge my bets if I guess wrong.
I'll wear my galoshes to Bocce Ball carrying my goulashes. Hah!

I wasn't born yesterday you know. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti - Revisited

Some things never seem to change.  The island of Hispanola contains two countries, both with a history of vicious, corrupt leaders.  But the Dominican Republic is moving on while Haiti is stuck in an ever recurring cycle of desperation.  It is a modern Tale of Two Cities, the modern Santo Domingo, my home for a number of years, and Port au Prince, hanging on by it's fingernails to make it one more day.

Imagine a place where every parent's dream is to send their child to school.  Education is the only hope for survival, for a chance at a better life.  It is THE key.  It will never happen for 90% of Haiti's population.  School costs $40.00 a month.  Most Haitians are lucky to get $2.00 a day.  How would you live on $1300.00 a year? This country is poor in a way almost impossible to understand, unless you have been there.

These photos were taken in 1970, almost 40 years ago.  They could have been taken a week ago, just before the earthquake. Saying that Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere doesn't do much to convey what this kind of poverty looks like.  And it just got a lot, lot worse.

Olaffson's Hotel was a true landmark.  It was the hotel of Graham Green's novel, The Comedians, and a watering hole for intrepid travelers for decades.  This was the balcony out side my room.  The little goat on the roof woke me up every morning, clip, clopping across the tin with it's bell jingling.  It was charming.


This was not the scene for most of the population.  Although Port Au Prince was a destination, it was never a thriving port.  And the poverty was just too prevalent to hide.  The lack of restaurants and basic amenities was obvious.  There was no industry.  Most Haitians couldn't afford to shop in stores anyway.

This "cottage industry" was a salad bowl factory.  Nearby, square wooden plates were  made.  Beyond that were the looms and farther along, goat skin rugs.



The Cathedral was the center of the best part of town.  As of Tuesday, it no longer exists.


Shopping along the center of town increased dramatically when the ships arrived in port.  This is looking toward the cathedral in the far distance.  The port is behind you here, several blocks away.  The streets become dramatically busier and filthier, the closer to port you get.  Although the city has grown to nearly 750,000 the construction standards have not improved.  Zoning and planning, indeed forethought of any kind is not a function of unstable governments.  Not unless there is a significant kickback. 


The majority of the population lives like these scenes below and on the right above.  Life is lived as it happens.  Tomorrow is too far away to worry about.  Eating today is the problem.  There are more people dying of desease and malnutrition than is believable, or conscienable, in a country so close to our shores.

The power of the government to promote positive change quickly disappears when all one's resources are spent in maintaining power.  Governments don't pass from one elected official to the next in Haiti.  Governments, such as they are,  are usually overthrown.

Haiti is in one sense, disaster prone.  It's geography puts it right in the path of hurricanes entering the Gulf of Mexico or going up our eastern seaboard.  If it isn't hit directly, torrential rains combine with environmental degradation and total deforestation that result in frequent and significant loss of life from flooding and mudslides.

Vulnerability to disaster is a direct function of poverty and illiteracy from which it becomes a monumental task to bounce back.  Added to it's lack of infrastructure, little rule of law and few natural resources, these economic and natural catastrophes have brought the country to it's knees.  

There is so much to do that it is almost overwhelming to think about.  Broken down into managable tasks at hand, it becomes simpler.  

The first task is to survive until tomorrow and then the day after that.  Here is how to help.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Stick 'em Up!

You know, all this town needs is more water and
a better class of people.

Yeah, says the Dodge City resident.  People say that
about Hell too.

Wyatt Earp and his Buntline Special, a long handled revolver that could be used with a shoulder stock if necessary.

Wyatt Earp spent time in Dodge City, but he is forever linked with Tombstone, Arizona.  "The town too tough to die" is a former Wild West town that came into being during the silver rush when men followed the path West in search of the their fortunes.  Today it's hanging on by it's fingernails.  LIttle boys and girls no longer grow up thinking about cowboys or have starry eyed dreams of the West.  I doubt if many little people have heard of the OK Corral and the legendary gunfight.  And it is a legend.

Whats wrong with that?  We need heros who have a moral compass that can't be compromised.  A hero needs to stand up to greed and corruption whether in real life or in folklore.  So, Tombstone makes it simple.  There are good guys and bad guys.  You always know which is which.

And in this story, the good guy always wins.

These days, we all have to have a little hero in us to navigate this complicated world.  The bad guys wear white hats and tell us they are fighting to make our life better.  Maybe.  But more often, we find that they are really the bad guys and they are not our friends.  Tombstone has a simple answer for that too.

We could all use a better class of people.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Just My Opinion

.......it's just my opinion, but....

According to Australian Shooter Magazine this week, "if you consider that there have been 160,000 troops through the Iraq theater of operations during the past 22 months and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers.

The firearm death rate in Washington, D.C. for the same period is 80.6 per 100,000 people.  That means that you are 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the nation's capitol, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, than you are in Iraq.

The U.S. should pull out of Washington.

(Sent to me by my friend Gerri, who stays out of D.C.)


Artists weave more than objects.  Sometimes they get to be magical helpers.

Objects, paint, settings, storyboards, sculpture, sound, animation, construction crews, computer techs, writers, amazing technology and wonderous light merged into a new world.

There is literally a cast of thousands in Avatar,  most of them behind the screen. 

The story is simple, and rich beyond measure.  A collaboration of gifted artists has woven things in such a way that through their art, we experience a light into our own consciousness.

A light that reveals our own radiance and all our possibilities.

It's all here.  All the mythic themes that have guided and sustained us through our long evolution.

A Colossus in military camouflage strides onto the screen, looking for all the world like the master of the Universe, who could snatch lightning bolts from the sky and hurl them through all the pitiful defenses assembled against him.

He is supported by the Goliath corporations; unfeeling, automatons who revere money.  Because money is power.   And they have all that money can buy.  Individuals do not matter in their world.  They are so replacable, either by a machine or another expendable human.  The goal is all that matters and the goal is always having more of everything.

The hero is not a David, yet.  He isn't even a whole man.  But more than his body has been damaged.  His psyche has been warped by a world that used his skills and abused his soul.  He has a journey to make, the Hero's Journey.

This archetype, this epitome of the heroic quest,  is so ingrained in us that we immediately recognize it and understand it's power.  We all have the archetype embodied in our fundamental characteristics.  It is a major part of what makes us human.  From prehistoric rock art, to Plato, to Carl Jung, the heroic quest has been drawn, described and known as a thing so worth attaining that those who act against this instinct are considered to have aberrant behavior, to be abhorent.  These people who act against the common good are called criminal.

The hero goes forth from the common, everyday world by being separated from his usual surroundings, thought patterns and behaviors.  He is thrust into an situation where he must overcome tremendous forces and almost supernatural wonders to achieve a goal or to attain self knowledge. 

The hero's journey may be a personal quest for self discovery.  Or, he may use his transformation to attain a boon.  This he will bring back on his return to share with others.  It could be fire.  Or the knowledge that we are one being.  In this way, we move from one place, to a higher, better place.  It's how we evolve.  And when someone is moving to that place, we always know it - it is intimately familiar.

In Avatar, the Pandoran race use "I see you" as their greeting.  They mean they see past your outer shell to the you that is part of them.

Light is such an important part of Avatar, both as a visually stunning piece of the cinematography, but also as an analogy.  A hero has received and accepted a call to adventure.  He will strive, through enormous difficulty, to improve the world.  With the self knowledge he has won, he will act in beautiful ways not visible to him before.  His being is now his art.

Artists are The Pathfinders.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

This Little Light of Mine Sundays

Let My Little Light Shine
The Kingston Trio

Unless someone like you cares a whole
awful lot, nothing is going to get better.
It's not.
Dr. Seuss

The American Southwest is full of images that inspire awe and creativity.  The liquid blue sky, red rocks, gray green cactus, brilliant and brief flowering plants and sunsets that are so intense they seem surreal.  Add to that a healthy and thriving family, a lovely home and the leisure time of retirement to pursue any activity, just for fun.  Really, being just thankful is hardly enough.  In some way, dues still need to be paid.

We all have our favorite causes ( you do, don't you?), but it seems that "causes" have come to mean huge organizations and far flung operations that are faceless, begging for more and more donations.  The need is real.  But, the never ending demand on our emotions and resources is exhausting.   What to do?  How to choose?

It's easy to make a buck.
It's a whole lot tougher to make a difference.
Tom Brokow

This isn't about solicitation or charities.  This is about people.  I was going to say "ordinary" people, but there is nothing ordinary about them.  Nor is there anything ordinary about you.  I'm just sick to death of seeing the evening news filled with negative coverage and sound bites chosen for their shock value.  And so, every Sunday, I will try to run this post and change the "shining people" in them. There are better things in the world.  This is a picture of some of them. 

Greg Mortenson

In 1993, Greg Mortenson climbed Pakistan's K-2, the second highest mountain in the world.  While recovering from that climb, he met a group of children sitting in the dirt, writing with sticks in the sand.  He made them a promise that he would help build them a school.  A humanitarian campaign grew from that one effort.  Today, there are 131 schools in the rural and often volatile areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan promoting education, especially for girls.  You can find much information about Greg and his organizations just by googling his name.  Here is one.

I would love to hear about people that you think are shining.  Drop me a line in the comments section or send an email.  Don't you think it's time for a little good news?

Let Your Little Light Shine