Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WARMING UP for Art Inspired Stories: The Canvas of Childhood

It was a great morning to be out to breakfast.  Apparently I wasn't the only one to think so.  After placing my order, I began scribbling on my notepad in the usual hope that something will spark my interest or imagination.

One full page of drivel later (and a lot of frustrated page slashes), a family of four walked in complete with sparkly birthday hats and a cluster of balloons clutched in the hands of the birthday boy. The parents waved at me as I took a snapshot of them.  It made me think about what an open canvas childhood is, and how experiences big and small paint themselves on that canvas in hues that set the tone for the rest of life.  They can't be primed over or sanded away.

My 85 year old Mother tells stories all the time.  Almost all of them are about her childhood.  Very little is spoken of some 65 years in deference to fond recollections of the first 20.  It reminds me of the importance of that childhood canvas, and how the events and sensory input of those years are indelibly marked on the soul.

By the way, I gifted the young celebrant with a glass of chocolate milk, and when he left he was wearing TWO of the sparkly hats on his head.  I hear the chocolate milk is especially fine this season.

The Canvas of Childhood

by Judith Cullen
© 2016

Five balloons a float
each helium-filled token a year
excitement still fresh

Remembering times
of a world all bright and high
vibrant child essence

Remembering days
joy-infused with adventure
replete, repeat them

Remembering sense
sounds and smells of young living
surprises await

When decades have passed
indelibly imprinted
sounds, smells, colors, tastes

Five balloons a float
a special breakfast this day
seeds of memories


More haiku, drabble and free-verse coming for this year's Proctor ArtsFest Art Inspired Stores Project, coming August 6th!

Friday, July 22, 2016

CHANGE BEGINS AT THE ROOTS - #loverebellionchallenge

Two weeks ago - an awful week which terminated with the shooting of five law enforcement officers in Dallas - my friend Jason wrote a long, heartfelt post on facebook which concluded with the call for a love rebellion.  A revised version of that post is HERE, printed on this blog with his permission. 

Jason makes a point that I happen to agree with - change begins at the roots. There is a reason why the term grassroots came into popular use.  Those of you who garden know that no matter how healthy a plant is, if its needs are not met at the root level it will not flourish, it will eventually wither and die. 

We are faced with a lot of top end problem solving these days, as bursted-blooms on the national level declare that they can solve the problems that fuel our fears - they can lead us to prosperity.  And all the leaves surrounding them rustle the echo of top-down solutions.  We want to believe them, because living in our increasingly violent, hate-shame-blame filled world is getting unbearable.  Somehow our society has turned into Strange Days and we want to shout "No, no, this is not what we wanted!  That was supposed to be fiction. Can we get a retake, please!"

This descent is aided by the medias, which reflects the culture of our times as much as they shape it.  The news media is generally ready to provide you with the dirt on whomever you don't agree with, so you can not agree with them even more.  Social media creates the illusion of public forums for civil discourse that are false, that amplify discord and divisiveness, and propagate the spewing forth of opinions and ideas with a frightening anonymity which holds the individual minimally accountable for their role in the clamor.  It is a culture of entitlement where my right to be right, overrides any obligation to be kind and good. The whole rambling mess becomes a committee-of-the-whole in which everyone talks, no one listens, and nothing is resolved except that everyone becomes more entrenched in their established positions.

We have to start by treating the roots.  People are angry because they are afraid, they feel threatened.  In many cases there are legitimate causes for that.  Fingers are pointed, labels are placed and replaced.  The hopelessness and frustration can be overwhelming.  I know that is how I feel very often.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ART INSPIRED STORIES 2016 at Proctor ArtsFest

It's almost time again for the annual Art Inspired Stories at the Proctor ArtsFest Juried Art Show.  The "big canvas" of artful fun is scheduled for the Proctor District Saturday, August 6th from 10am to 5pm.  There's plenty to see and do, with over 140 different vendors.

Art Inspired Stories will be presented at 11:30am in the Mason Church Parlors, at 2710 North Madison Street.  In the week prior I will be selecting some two dozen pieces from this year's submitted artworks, and writing a 100 word story, or a poem in any form (length not to exceed 100 words).  some of these compositions will be read live at the show, and all will be posted here after the Festival is over.  All artists whose works are featured in the live readings will receive a copy of the story or poem written for their work.

Check Art Inspired Stories from previous shows here:

Read all of the 2015 stories from Peninsula Art Leagues 13th annual Open Show HERE

Read all of the 2015 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE

Read all of the 2014 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE

I hope to see you at the show!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Just stop. Stop. STOP. Time for a Different Rebellion!

Public Domain image from
The events of the last days have only highlighted the weeks, and months of increasing disbelief that have been pounding us all.  Up until now, all that seems to have been accomplished is more debate, more divisiveness, more denial, and more of the same.

Meanwhile our society, our nation spins out of control fueled by hate, fear, hopelessness - a seeming lack of meaningful, supportable choices.

I remember gut-wrenching occurrences of the past - quick, sharp shots that left me breathless and staring at scrolling news reports in total disbelief.  The morning of the 911 attacks is the first that comes to mind.  At these times I pulled myself up out of my disbelieving torpor and said, "You are not doing any good by this, get back to business.  Do your job.  That's the best way to honor those lost."

Today is too much.  "Keep calm and carry on" is not enough. It is long since time to STOP and take a look at where we are going as a society, a people, and as a species.  This path we are all on is not working, and this pattern of hate, anger, fear, and hopelessness cannot stand.  Must not stand. Fighting anger with anger is not effective.  Fighting fear with fear is not working.

 A long time friend posted the following thoughts on facebook.  He proposes a reasonable first step that each and every one of us can take, every day, to start a groundswell of change in how we respect, and care for one another.  Feel like you already do this?  Do more.  There is no "too much" right now.

Jason Ganwich is a photographer/videographer living in Tacoma, WA.  He is known for bringing professionalism, experience, leadership, timing and humor to his projects. I am proud to call him friend, and proud to share his words (with his permission - revised from the first post) as my guest.
Jason Ganwich, self-portrait
Yesterday was a tough day for a lot of people. It got me down. I cried watching Alton Sterlings wife speak while her son sobbed "I want my daddy." My heart raced watching the video of Philando Castille who'd been shot 4 times in front of his girlfriend and her young daughter. My perspective on life continues to change and it feels so hopeless at times. The friends and families of these victims who have been hit with such devastating blows, are now forced into a harsher reality coming from one that, for many, was already hard enough.

These events interrupt our realities. We hear them. Perhaps we finally listen. For some, we truly absorb the words for the first time. For others, this is a skipping record which they yell over, "Make it stop!"

No matter the tone in which a plea to be heard is made, we must listen. If it's an angry plea, screw our devotion to good manners. It means we earnestly need to listen and hear and act. How can we respond to such intensity in a way that does not make the situation worse - more emotional, contentious, divisive?