Friday, August 4, 2017

mr170804 My mistake, too?  

I’m writing my autobiography. Is it to be my mistake? Should I be doing something else? I think about the world situation, and I remember what Signora Maria Guaita said: “Only artists and poets can save the world now,” she declared to me when I visited her in Florence. An old resistance fighter during WWII, I pay heed to and I honor her view.

But, here I am, writing about my life. Is this what an artist should be doing to help save Earth’s human life sustainability? Is this what an Emeralda Warrior should be doing? That old warrior, Maria Guaita, has her story—and the story of Il Bisonte, her printmaking school—in books.

Seven months and 450 pages into my autobiography, I read a memoir titled, My Mistake, by Daniel Menaker, a well-known writer in New York. Menaker wrote an article about his brother’s death—the second article he’d written about this tragedy and his self-blame. It was rejected.

He told his analyst about it. But his analyst, he writes:

“Instead of responding to the umbrage I’ve taken, he tells me that my brother’s death is threatening to turn into a nuclear integrative fantasy for me. Nuclear because it is becoming the center of my unconscious emotional life. Integrative because it creates a shape, a terrible and beautiful structure, for everything in my life that came before it and has happened afterward. And a fantasy because for reasons of unconscious conflict and patterns, I’ve begun to inject its occurrence into many parts of my history upon which it has no rational bearing.”

The analyst illustrated this nuclear integrative fantasy by what we know of the lives of survivors of the holocaust. Menaker continues to illustrate, from his experience with an example of nuclear integrative fantasy in meeting a woman whose brother had died, and who dwells on this in conversations with everyone she meets.

Is this a good use of time?

Friday, July 21, 2017

sp170720 Stuff of a saga 

In a time when story finds more interaction in video games than opera or movies, the stuff sagas are made of is still the core of these arts. In pop literature, I think James Michener did great things by the way he gave his readers a grounding in primordial time and space in books like Hawaii, Alaska and others.
When I designed and built the Halfwood press, at times working alone in my woodshop—a pencil and paper handy—phrases about the press’ origins came to mind. Like cookie crumbs I followed the trail of the press, a serial of logical sequence. I compared this to movies like The Red Violin. I imagined people’s involvement with the Halfwood press over time. I created a saga like that of that violin, a musical instrument designed for beauty and functionality just like the halfwood press.
Someone observed that in the crafts and the arts that you master your instrument and then the instrument masters you, or that artists and their instruments become one in the making of fine arts, crafts and performances. If I am an artist—living at a time when story finds its greatest interaction in video games—then the halfwood press is the stuff out of which a saga may emerge—the back story for a great hybrid game.
Taking my cue from Michener, I built a sequence of events beginning with The Women Who Fell to Earth and which courses through the history of sailing ships named the Emeralda I and Emeralda II, then to the design of the etching press. My blend of printing press and musical instrument, the halfwood press, travels from 18th Century Spain to the muddy bottom in the Pacific Northwest waters. After two-hundred years it emerges in another story—autobiographical in part—a digital component added-on which makes it part of the Internet of Things—IoT.
My desire for a suite of Games for the gifts of life, I have the right stuff for a saga, a back story for a suite of games I call Emeralda. The saga has the unearthing of skeletons of a man and a monkey, along with a halfwood press chest. In another part a Russian man, dying in the far north, engraved his life story on ivory parts of a facsimile halfwood Press, telling how the halfwood press came to the northwest; and, in the finale of my screenplay, Swipe, a precocious Brazilian street kid grows up to be a globe-trotting teacher of printmaking.
I love the chain of events in words I was given to write—the best gifts I could have received for my part in designing and making of the halfwood press. Now I want the stuff of its saga to be the spine of a video game and a film series.
Who will help?

Friday, June 23, 2017

ap170623  Saving Earth’s human life sustainability 

Why write an autobiography? 

When I came into the world, the belief I met was that any little thing was a chance for growing conscious of humanity in a relationship with Nature. By the time I had lived twenty years, my belief encompassed all Natural things—stones, trees, animals, birds, fish—and I took my role to be that of an artist and a teacher. To be an artist, I had to teach. Survival of that element of humanity to see every little thing as a chance for growing conscious of humanity’s relation with Nature depended on me teaching cultural arts.
Mechanization was constantly growing, too; and often the demands of mechanization were counter to consciousness of Nature and our dependence on Natural forces. By the time I was forty, I had been adopted, it seemed, by a being showing me both Natural and mechanical forces and they are enemies.
By the time I was sixty—around the year 2001—I could see the balance of survival tipping to the mechanical. Now that I am seventy five, the victory in the contest between Nature and mechanization is almost won by the latter. Humanity no longer controls the forces of mechanization. It is a fact, as one of the authors said in a book I read when I was in my ‘thirties, that mechanization takes command.
Mechanization has disrupted even the simplest human reactions—such as one human making eye-contact with another human meeting on a sidewalk. Plugged in—either with ear buds or only mentally—most people I meet walking avoid showing any signs that they know I am there. I feel like a ghost; I can see them, but they cannot see me it seems.
People acknowledge a dog, yet do not acknowledge another human being. Humans put out extreme efforts to husband their vehicles above all else—devoting huge sums of money to buying and maintaining their cars while wasting and ignoring Natural things such as humans.
Is it only Americans who behave this way? Probably not. However, among the inventions of Americans is entertainment and the mediums to distribute the power of mechanization overwhelming Nature, so that billions of non-Americans fall under its power, too.
The endowment of cultural arts allows those who practice and teach them to see the others’ meaning, and to sense an understanding of the reasons that people hate Americans for having destroyed so much of Nature that was good.
Therefore, when I was in my ‘fifties and my thoughts encountered those of a few other Americans by way of the mechanical means of communications—TV and books, mostly—I believed that my teaching and artistic role had found a value that transcended my expectations as an ordinary, limited Natural human. The mechanics of goal-setting is a helpful method to keep one’s bearings when the forces of mechanization overwhelm me.
What is this writing - this blog - worth? Six months ago I made a commitment to write my autobiography. This project is conditional, however. If I wrote my autobiography within the same framework as autobiographies were written in the past, it would be like wasting Natural resources. It would be like a person facing a walk in a desert and pouring the contents of a water canteen into the sand as if this were the first step toward a successful journey.
It would be a waste of the most precious of all resources given to me: Time. Therefore, in the spirit of human creativity, creating an autobiography must have an artist and teacher’s touch. It must use the best of what mechanization has to offer to achieve the most human of goals—Earth’s human life sustainability.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

os170606 Tiddlywik-ing my autobiography  

Inspired by an onyx apple  

I am writing my autobiography, and I have been at it for about four months. I work on it every day—sometimes all day—when I’m not corresponding with people about printmaking and my Halfwood Press line. When I tell people about it, I’m probably guilty of humble bragging. That’s when you brag about yourself behind a mask of self-deprecation.
It’s something like this: “I have to realize that writing an autobiography today—if you’re not somebody famous—is foolish on two counts: One, you’re not famous so who cares? And, Two, no one reads books any more.
It could be that I am famous, but not famous to millions of people—only a few hundred. The only big number I can claim is the number of people who have watched my videos on Youtube. One of them got over 22,000 views the last time I looked.
There is another reason for writing my novel, and it’s a secret—even to me. I am what people call a visionary, or a creative person. I’m not happy about that because there’s no demand for people like me. (Humble bragging again?). Since there’s no demand, I’m lonely—an outsider to most peoples’ circles of friends and professional associates.
In other words, I don’t know what I’m doing.
On the upside of this, however, is that I’m free of encumbrances, such as non-business telephone calls and social obligations. Even my close family members leave me alone to do what I think is important to me (and what I hope, in the end, will be important to them, too).
Here’s the point of this essay—I have in my collection of memorabilia a red onyx apple. It’s one of the things that will be discarded when I die because it’s of no apparent value. They sell for about $20 from carved gemstone suppliers. Here I paraphrase one supplier’s claims:
“Onyx apples remind people of the magic and mystery of fairy tales, and the legend of good versus evil as in the Garden of Eden. Their properties are ever-potent, a symbol of trust, growth, sustenance, and bearing fruit. Apples have also historically been used for happiness and drawing love, as well as divination rituals. Onyx is a stone of inner strength, persistence, willpower, and concentration. It keeps you focused, to develop into a master of self-realigning perceptions, emotions, actions, thoughts, and more. It purifies your inner monologue, to help you think more positively. Because as we think, so we believe and behave. This is a stone that can change your life.” – Sage Goddess
Yet I wouldn’t throw away this apple as long as I live. It was a gift to me in 1965 from my teacher in graduate school, Professor Geoffrey Bowman. It is a souvenir from Mexico, and he brought it back because I took care of his house and cats while he was gone.
Now, writing my bibliography, the onyx apple is mentioned in connection with my description of the two years I was in graduate school. As I said above, there are two reasons not to write an autobiography—being unknown and no readers—and the onyx apple, as the Sage Goddess wrote, has the power to focus on becoming a master of self-realigning perceptions, etc.
This I interpret to mean that the apple onyx may lead me to a reason to write an autobiography, which is to realign the emotions, actions, thought and more. The “more” is to create an autobiography that is a game more than a mere tome. It might be simple: make the apple, including its image, part of the autobiography and then use a wiki platform to provide the user (reader?) with an interesting experience in pursuing the links associated with the onyx apple.

Online I find several types of wiki platforms, one of which gets high ratings by writers. It is a called tiddlywiki.  I'm going to download it and try it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

ap170305 Close call: Wake up call  

Yesterday I walked from our home in lower Queen Ann. I was with four blocks of my destination—the Trader Joe’s store at the top of the hill. It was there that Lynda and I planned to meet. We coordinated my walk time and her bus time. It was about 1:05.

Walking on 1st Avenue North I came to Blaine Street, and I was looking down the sloping street at the Number 4 bus, waiting there. I was startled by the sound of a vehicle skidding to stop. There, about ten feet from me, was a black SUV that had almost hit me! I froze—like they say, like a deer in the headlights. I looked at the driver—she was aghast. I felt meek and I hurried out of the way.

One second was all the separated me from serious injury or even death. She may have been going about 10 miles per hour—a little slow because at that intersection there is a jog where Blaine meets 1st Avenue. It takes about 27 feet to stop a car going this speed—about one and a third times the length of a Sports Utility Vehicle like hers.

As I resumed my walk, I began playing back what a difference that one second would have made. At ten mph, a car covers about 15 feet per second. One second would have been enough to smash into my right side, probably breaking my hip and femur. I’d probably be thrown a dozen feet besides, hitting who knows what on my body: My head? Shoulder? What the overall impact would do to my back—operated on five months ago—shoulders, neck and head is hard to tell. If not killed, I could have been hospitalized for months.

Visualizing different scenarios in my imagination as I walked on, I wondered how, would Lynda be informed of my situation. Would medics go through my things, my wallet and cell phone and know to call her (assuming someone called 9-1-1)? Lynda would be on the bus by then, heading up the hill to meet me. Would she hear her cell phone?

What about the SUV driver? Yes, this close call was partly my fault because I was looking the other way, distracted. Was the driver distracted, too? Was she looking at her cell phone, or paying attention to a kid in the back, perhaps? Honestly, I was too shook up to think about walking around to her car window and talking about this, cussing her out, maybe, or anything. I don’t even know if we made eye contact.

I’m pretty sure it was a woman; and as I reached Queen Ann Avenue I hoped I would see her parking her SUV. My thoughts collected now, I’d be pretty sure I’d have a talk with her. I didn’t see her, though. From Blaine Street she could have gone the other way down Queen Anne Avenue.

I would never know for sure what happened yesterday when I was in that crosswalk, but I know it was a wakeup call. Old men like me shouldn’t go walking unattended if they don’t watch out. My mind wandered; I wasn’t watching out for cars—like a little kid. It’s cool to think young if you’re a creative artist, but not cool if you are in traffic.

What if I’d been hit? What would happen to the art in our gallery, and the software experiments I’m working on? I believe I am doing things to ensure that the art and the gallery is useful and helpful to Lynda, and to our two daughters and their families. I will die—run over by an SUV or struck down by a fatal heart attack or stroke; and that’s the bottom line of why I spend my time the way I do.

That is why I’m pay Nellie to learn and develop database management for all that I’ve made; and bookkeeping, using our family assets as content to her databases and financial accounting. That’s why I refer always to the dumpster story[1] to underscore the alternative to valuation and dissemination of the gallery’s contents for the benefit of my family and community.

[1] The dumpster refers to the inevitability of discarding my entire life’s work into a 10-yard dumpster at the time of my death in order to clear our gallery and storage room so as to leave no obligation to family and friends.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

vi170303  Wiki or not:  Here I come  

Anne Turner, one of the children of the late Stephen Hazel, suggested how to preserve and extend artists’ legacies. She maintains a website for him and is one of a number of children of region’s notable printmakers, the Children of the Printmaking Revolution. The author offers up his different approach.

Wiki nor not wiki

Should I start a wiki? The original question came up when Anne Turner and I began discussing ways to preserve and extend artists’ legacies. She is the one of the children of the late Stephen Hazel, and she has designed and maintains a website for him. I commented that she is one of a number of children of regional artists and printmakers of note, suggesting the term Children of the Printmaking Revolution.
We had a meeting at our family’s Mini Art Gallery. She commented, as she looked around the gallery and seeing artworks on the walls and Halfwood Presses for sale: “I didn’t realize there was so much here.” I thought, You have no idea how much there is . . . and Stephen is part of it.
There is a great deal to say about artists’ assets and the transfer of their legacy. Usually people think only of selling the art as a way of transferring it. They assume there is a market. Sometimes the art auction is a choice. With no alternatives planned or imagined, what are the descendants to do? The bottom line is that it is no easier to sell the art after the artist dies than it was during his or her lifetime; otherwise, there would be no discussion.
The work did not sell—period. When the work of art became a commodity, it entered a pool of sharks. Commodities sell when there is a plan to sell—usually before the object is made. Artists traditionally do not plan to sell a work of art before they start.
Commercially successful artists do, however, plan ahead. They choose colors that are currently in fashion and that will probably stay in fashion for the duration of the artwork offering. They consider medium, size, subject matter—everything they can imagine and study in the marketplace of design, decoration, entertainment, and interior furnishing.
Some artists, like Stephen Hazel, eschew this approach to making art. We—and I include myself with his kind of artist—have the idea that art comes not as a commodity but as an experience moving us to make something. If our finished art moves another person or people to something like an esthetic experience or cultural idea, they appreciate it; they may buy it.
Since the combination of the object’s appearance to the eye, the content to the viewer’s mind in some cases, and the exposure to the kind of people who can and will share this experience are rare, it’s rarely that the artworks sell. Even if the price is low, it may not sell. Commodities are like that.
My view is that there is a way to surmount this situation, and surmount it I must. I’m willing to see all my works destroyed—“sacrificed,” as Carl Chew would say—to simply clear out our valuable piece of real estate so that it can be rented to create an income for our family.
To create a bridge and connect to that point in time when and if the art and all the gallery furnishings, as well as miscellaneous tools, etc. (and the Halfwood Presses) are sacrificed, I work to change the art from commodity status to utility status.
If I succeed, it may be partly from my vision of the Northwest Print Center Incubators, because, among the 19 incubators, I planned a one feature called by a working title Printmaking Hall of Fame. Its focus is on artists of the Pacific Northwest Region who made important contributions to the art, craft and design of printmaking, including innovative tools and techniques. Think Dan Smith and Glen Alps, or Elton Bennett and Sheila Coppola.

I am the oldest printmaker (born 1941, the year before John P. Morgan) who has lived in Seattle since 1966; I may also be the oldest teacher of printmaking—unless my nineteen years at the UW do not qualify me as others whose formal teaching career was longer—such as Thomas Johnston. Therefore I am qualified to design a printmaking center which spans fifty years and blends old and new technologies in a way to benefit Seattle’s Cultural Arts.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

sp170122  Practice makes perfect: Practice also makes it permanent  

The expression “practice makes perfect” comes to mind as he begins this day’s work on his Memoir Project. Perfect studios is the idea he formed in the early 1970s based on a teaching hospital where teaching, research, practice and service are concomitant.

As I sit down today to work on my memoir project, my 1977 Journal open in front of me, I’m ready to start dictating using this capital Dragon software. I put on my headset and open the program and realize this is only practice. The expression “practice makes perfect” flashes into my mind. Perfect studios is a matter of practice. Perfect studios, the idea I got in the early 1970s from the teaching hospital, is about practice.

Practice and production are the “P” in the TRPS principal underline the perfect studios. “T” is for teaching; “R” is for research; “P” is for practice and production – which go hand-in-hand with each other; and “S” stands for service. 

The culmination of artistic practice—whether it’s in the visual arts, music or architecture—is service. We are all servants to humanity and Earth’s human life sustainability.

If an artist is to be a valuable part of the community, his or her value comes only by virtue of their commitment to TRPS. Practice, then, includes buying and sustaining productivity software. I am about to copy out a statement from August 11, 1977, for my memoir project using this Dragon software.

This serves me as an example of how to be an artist of value to the community, because this practice gives me the ability to answer or respond to the needs of my community, starting with my family.

By the end of the day I have practiced several kinds of software applications in connection with my computer and its peripherals—including the Internet. Because I am working on my memoir project, this has a strange effect on me because the traditional memoir is a book. Therefore, why include the Internet?

My mother wrote her memoirs by hand in three blank books given to her by my sister, Gail. Beginning in 1995, Gail and my older sister Wilma and our younger sister Jennifer labored to put her longhand text into type, and then into machine-readable text. Eventually I published it as an on-demand paperback.

My memoir project, however, is not destined to be a book. What it will be, if not a book, remains to be discovered. I think if I practice every day with the apps and equipment I have, and utilize the remains of my lifework in this practice, I will be fulfilling the basic TRPS formula. Then, in a process known in industry as concurrent engineering, the form of my memoir project may become clear.