Stimulate the Arts
Yeah, there are a million different things you’d like to buy with your economic stimulus payment. I’m going to throw an idea out there. An idealistic behavior for you to consider modeling. If you like the idea, I encourage you to spread it. Use a portion of your stimulus check to Stimulate the Arts in your community.
Pick one or two local places that have inspired you and contribute to their cause. You can keep some money for other important stuff. I’m giving some money to Gamelan Sekar Jaya, whose spine tinglingly intense Balinese gamelan music has been a real source of inspiration to me. Recently I attended a performance where they played the big bamboo gamelan called jegog, and I was almost in tears it was so beautiful. I was also at the performance in the video below. I am so fortunate to live in the same town as these folks, who happen to have the only complete jegog in North America. And their performances are often free or very inexpensive. They are building a new center for concerts and classes, and I want to help.
How can you stimulate the arts in your community?
Gamelan Sekar Jaya performing gamelan jegog at the Oakland Museum in June 2007
A youtube video of jegog doesn’t do it justice. If you really want to rock, fire up the subwoofer and check out the CMP disc of Balinese jegog, or the different but equally wonderful Banyumas bamboo gamelan disc from in Java.
Reduce It Down
A chef I used to know had a catch phrase: “Reduce it down!” A zen cooking joke that I find highly applicable to many of life’s tasks. Let’s start cooking by hiking up a mountain in the middle of the night to an abandoned cold war radar station and making a 20 minute photograph of a collapsed tower. Or rolling 6 hours down to the Mojave and tromping through the creosote into an abandoned junkyard and watching the clouds race by under the moonlight. Or wandering around in an eerie cold war Air Force Base command center that looks like something out of Dr. Strangelove. Everything else is extra. Websites, blogging, gallery shows, artist statements, printing, framing, pontificating — all extra. The experience is the reward. Let’s reduce it down to the core essence, and build things back up again as necessary.
So all of this recent questioning has lead to an ironic result. Are you open to irony? I’m throwing in the towel for awhile. Maybe a week or two. Maybe through June, or longer. I’m not sure. My motto for 2008 is “No Rules.” Maybe I’ll post a few photos along the way, but I’m not sure it really matters. I’m just like you — I want to be happy. The Internet isn’t making me happy.
A martial arts teacher I studied with had a brilliant verbal technique for helping people through difficult movements. He could always find the place where you were blocking up. “Your elbow is too high,” he would say. Or “your stance is too wide.” When you queried him on how to remedy the blockage, he would say “just don’t do that anymore.” Deceivingly simple. Whatever you’re doing wrong — whatever is not working — try not doing that, and then see what happens. He wouldn’t tell you what to do — that is the mystery of pushing to the next plateau. But by the process of eliminating the things that aren’t working, perhaps the right way will be revealed.
I’m not going to stop writing. I’m just going to stop writing in public for awhile. Yesterday I hung out in person with a photographer friend of mine, and the conversation was much more stimulating than life online. This pattern seems to repeat itself. I’m extremely fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have a great network of photographers whose work and opinions I respect. I want to cultivate community. I want to interact. But online is second best. So if you live in the Bay Area, let’s go take some pictures sometime. Jaw about photography for awhile in person. It’s stimulating. Drop me a line.
To All My Friends
I’m not sure what’s going to happen. And that’s kind of exciting. I’m reading a few really great books. I carry a camera wherever I go. I’m excited to see and hear art in my community. I want to keep that firey gleam in my eye as I explore this crazy mixed up sacred place we have the pleasure of experiencing for a short amount of time. I’m reducing it down and smiling the whole time. I hope you make some great images, but even more, I hope you have fun making them. Out there in the world. In a meditative state of self discovery, or with friends, or a mix if you’re lucky like me. Here’s To All My Friends!