Art meets Fingers

Some of my best friends are fingers.When the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed must make her way to the mountain. People do what they must. I must do artwork. During times when being upright isn't in the cards, I have returned to my stash of techniques for fingers, learned when I was 6 yrs old. My American grandmother tatted and crochetted. My German mother knitted and embroidered. This is beside all the painting and drawing I did daily. To paraphrase my dear friend in the arts, Jo Gentry Haemer, about our era:

"Our parents taught us not to define ourselves by the culture we consume, but by the culture we create."

I don't define myself by the varying conditions of life. That IS life. When bad times come I am not a failure. In good times, I am not special. I am always grateful, period. I was privileged to have family members who helped me practise with my hands how to take hold of a life and make it my own. These were people who were used to making and doing for themselves, because they came from war and imprisonment, the Great Depression, and other hardships which taught them, along with their forebears how to handmake a life regardless of the terms. I include all sorts of vintage and found objects from long ago in my work as my nod to my teachers.

What can I show you? People look at the tiny bead crochet I employ within mixed media reUse jewelry designs, wondering "How do you have the patience!" My daughters have learned how to implement this technique, and true, you do have to stick with it. But here is what is so valuable about learning this and other manual skills. Only so much of living in a body comes from recognizing what to do (with the frontal lobe). Here's what I mean. You can see the dance the fingers do with the beads and thread, but there is no substitute for getting your own tactile and motor processes to dance this way!
When horizontal for prolonged periods, my hands are free to dance these beads along with mindful intention. I can still create the culture I inhabit, with purpose. What gives you purpose? How do you teach this to others?


Art meets Hope

Jeff Lindsey puts his hands on metal and it roars to life.

My first view of "Green Treefrog" was when he had me close my eyes, then open them to see it standing astride this italian motorcycle he gave me for Christmas a few years back. Unforgettable! The bike was phenomenal (a mint 1958 Gilera which had won the Motogiro D'Italia in 1991 and had the official seal to prove it), but more moving was the frog. (And not just because he's taller than I am). Honestly, I couldn't even believe the beauty of the sculpture. Jeff has these huge strong hands that make spirit soar out of anything with engines or wings. Look, do you think the guy can sculpt?

Emily Dickinson said "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all." When times got tough during my illness and it was clear Menieres would not let me on that bike, Jeff and I sold it. Still a contender, it has won the Motogiro De California now several years running. The frog gives me hope every day, leaping up, with such a fluid, expansive stretchiness. What Jeff doesn't know, because his hands just do this, is that the lithe nature he brings out of simple steel rod makes for a feeling of exuberance in the viewer. He touches my life the same way, bringing surprise and liveliness. He's the hare, full of large scale speed, as I am the tortoise, moving slowly, gradually, in my ongoing struggle with gravity. Like many artists, he won't get around to the discussion with galleries, even though he has accompanied me to my shows, openings, exhibits. So now you will find him on Artfire at Artimentary Studios, where you can place an order for his work.

This handsome frog is a reminder, as I proceed with more surgery tomorrow to save what's left of my hearing and ability to walk. Always upward, the stretch is what frees the soul. Even metal bends in the right hands, becomes something bigger. I place my life on a daily basis into The Largest Hands of all. But, here's one small but big thing to do for frogs: stop use of RoundUp and other 'green washed' household and garden products that truly endanger frogs and other amphibians. We can't all sculpt like Jeff Lindsey, but we can reduce chemicals that compromise their immune system, as well as leave habitat intact where they can hold on. We need frogs. I need frogs. What helps you hold on to hope?