Saturday, October 8, 2011



Yesterday morning, I did what I always do. I woke up, grabbed a cup of black coffee, and checked my Facebook. I don't stay on long. I look for new artists, see what my favorite artists have said in reply to smart-aleck remarks I've made (I really only like to buy from my "friend" artists who have a good sense of humor,) and check to see if my daughters need help, or if there are special requests from someone in my community.

But when I opened my page yesterday, the first picture I saw was from a posting in France: a newborn tossed in a garbage bin, chewed all over by ants, and in an incubator on oxygen, fighting for his/her life. And I thought, "Some days it is hard to choose life."

I was immediately taken back to a very disturbing, heartbreaking conversation with a beloved little friend of mine who is nine years old now. We've become friends over a period of four years. I won't tell you his name; I will tell you that he has painted at my house. And that he has some serious anger issues, and just cause for those. If no other kids are around (so that he doesn't lose face), he walks down toward my house nonchalantly, to see if I am hanging around out front. I always say, "Hey, dude!" first. And then he immediately comes up and sits in a chair on my porch.

I say, "You want a root beer?" He always says, "Yes." If my dogs aren't in the house, I tell him he knows where they are and to go help himself. He loves that. (He has learned that Diet A&W root beer tastes pretty good:) He comes back, and we talk about nothing really. But that "nothing" feels pretty important, because he keeps showing up.

This year, now that Brady (my grandson is in first grade) he rides the bus home, and I walk over to the next street to meet him. There are some kids who just want a hug. So I oblige gladly. (Even though they are so sweaty and steaming hot!)

This nine-year-old, much too cool for a hug, has been kind of waiting in line for his. And although he hesitates, I know he wants one. So I kind of tease him, and throw an arm around him...ask him how his day has been. He totally leans in, grabs on for dear life, and I wrap my arms around him, and give him a honest-to God real hug. 

A couple of days ago, this happened, and he didn't let go. So I walked with my arm around his shoulder, and he with his little arm around my big waist (a miracle! LOL!) And he started talking about animal abuse, and how horrible it was. And I agreed. But I said that hurting people was so much worse. He disagreed. He said people could take care of themselves. 

I talked a little about this. He still didn't get it. He believed animals had way more value than people. We were in front of my house when he said this. I grabbed him by the shoulders, and spun him around. I looked him square in the eyes. I said his name. 

"If there was a dog that was going to be hurt, or you were going to be hurt, who do you think I would save?" "The dog!" he replied emphatically. I was broken to the core, and I knew he had to understand. I asked him why he said that. "Because dogs are cuter."

"You would save a pretty person before you would save an ugly person," he then said. I immediately replied, "Some people are ugly on the outside, but beautiful on the inside; some people are beautiful on the outside, and ugly on the inside. But both people have a soul. I would try as hard as I could to rescue both."

He could not understand at all. He said, "But some people pour gas on dogs and set them on fire." And I was truthful. "Some people set kids on fire, and do the same thing." And I asked him again, "Which should be saved...the child or the dog?" And he thought hard. "I guess the kid."

I said, "Right. You know how much I love my dogs? I love people more. You know that. Because I love you, right?" He said, "Yes you do!"

And then we talked football a little. He loves football; I only love "his" football. And then he went home to do homework. 

And my heart was broken. Why would dogs and a pretty person have more value than a human life or an ugly person?

I don't have any answers to this.

All I can understand is that love is a hard thing. It is hard to teach. It is hard to pass on. It may be impossible to give in a way that surpasses what is already hardwired in the brain.

And it can seem that what we do is absolutely hopeless when we have conversations like this.

But I come back to my favorite word in the world: HOPE. I do not get to control what happens in this world. I do not get to save anyone. I can have a broken heart for the thrown-away baby; I can have a broken heart for the child who thinks a dog has more value than he himself does. But the only thing I get to do is carry hope for that person, and to show them love on a continuous basis. I am not a savior. But I believe there is ONE who is able to protect them in a way that I can not. And that I am here on this earth with a purpose; a calling. And that, in spite of fear, I must be here. Perhaps I am the one who will love that child or that adult so they get the hope to see that they have intrinsic value simply because they are created with a beautiful soul. That they too have a purpose.

HOPE...pass it on.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Vi Veri Veniversum Vicus Vici "By the power of truth, I have conquered the universe." tattooed on my daughter's back

"I don't give 'em hell. I tell the truth, and it hurts like hell." Harry Truman

"It was election time again, so a senatorial candidate decided to go to the local reservation to gather support from Native Americans. They were all assembled in the council hall to hear his speech.
As the candidate worked up to his finale, the crowd was getting increasingly excited. "I promise better education opportunities for Native Americans!" he declared. And the crowd went wild, shouting, "Hoya! Hoya!"
Encouraged by their enthusiasm, the candidate shouted, "I promise gambling reforms to allow a casino on the reservation."
"Hoya! Hoya!" cried the crowd, stomping their feet.
"I promise more social reforms and job opportunities for Native Americans!"
The crowd reached a frenzied pitch, shouting, "Hoya! Hoya! Hoya!"
After the speech, the politician was touring the reservation and saw a herd of cattle. Feigning interest in the livestock, he asked the chief if he could get a closer look at the herd.
"Sure," the chief said, "but be careful not to step in the hoya."
"Aristotle and an Aardvark go to Washington," by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein  (pg.10)

"God hates liars." Proverbs 6: 12 " A worthless man, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a false mouth...Proverbs 6:16-19 "a lying tongue...a false witness who utters lies,"

A brief explanation of the use of  the word HATE, when associated in these passages: This is called "Exaggerated Contrast", and is intended to shock and get our attention. It is his vehicle of intent about how much he disapproves of lying because it is the antithesis of his character. This mode of writing teases our mind into deeper reflection of how serious lying is, and should challenge us to examine ourselves thoughtfully.

I HAVE BEEN thinking about TRUTH for many weeks now. For several reasons...
First, having grown up in a severely abusive home, where religion was used as an evil control mechanism, I learned the truth vs. a lie intuitively, at much too young an age. I became the "Truthteller," and paid for it with vicious consequences. 

However, it rooted in my brain, and has been a core value forever. It is a rare person who is able to lie to me. If it is a small lie, I let it go. If it is a child, I consider it carefully. If the lie sounds imaginative, I laugh and say, "Wow! That is a great story." If the child is scared, or asking specific questions, then I have a dilemma. Are they really lying? I consider their age. I ask them why they want to know things. If they say certain things, and I believe them, I will not hesitate to report what they have told me to Child Protective Services (not that anything ever happens.)

Adults..totally different matter. For example, I have a studio. A woman wanted to have her child come over because her daughter had "problems." As the child and I went through the "feeling/choosing colors" process, and she began to paint, the painting that emerged was pure ANGER! I said, "Wow! You used your "anger" color a lot. And then you used your "afraid" color the second most." And she proceeded to tell me of exactly who and why she was afraid, with specific details. I said, "You are doing such an awesome job. Here is a palette knife. (Kids love palette knives.) I am going to go get a drink of water"-which I was. (NOTE: not a lie.)

I immediately went to the mother, and looked her in the face, and said, "I will not proceed to allow so-and-so in my studio although it breaks my heart because it would do her so much good, UNLESS you immediately promise me you will set up an appointment for her and YOU with a child psychologist on Monday." "Oh my God!" she replied. "I didn't know there was anything wrong." LIE. "I believe in complete accountability." LIE. "I will set up an appointment and promise to call you on Monday for sure." (We'll see, I think...but probably, LIE!"

Monday comes. I get a call at 6:00 a.m. "Hey, how are, la, la, la, la.." Immediate confrontation from me: "Did you set that appointment for your child and yourself? Because you said you believed in accountability, and I REALLY do. So don't call me today, until you do it."

No call. I didn't expect one. And the little girl will live in fear and abuse.

Another example in the last few weeks: I give a girl a ride home in my car. She gets in and starts doing the "poor, poor me." I think she doesn't know me very well. LOL! She immediately tells a lie about a relationship. I call her on the lie. And I say, "I know you want to be my friend. You need to know something right NOW! I have NO friends who are liars. If someone lies to me, they will not be my friend. I will help them, and care for them. But they will not be in my personal life." She looked totally shocked that someone would even talk to her that way.

And then, she told another lie-about how she lost her children. I called her on it slowly. I backed her up to the first lie, then the second, then the third, then the fourth, and then the final one. She had to admit that she had totally chosen something else rather than keep her children. And she looked at me and said, "Man, you are hard-core. You can really tell when someone is lying." I said, "Yes, I can." She said, "Telling the truth hasn't gotten me anywhere in the past!" I stared at her really hard. I replied, "And look at exactly where you are because of the lies you have told." I said, "The truth is your friend. It gives you freedom. It gives you your life back." Now, you have to choose.

I dropped her off, let her out of the car, and I think her head was spinning!

I do this with the drug addicts, and alcoholics I meet on the street. I love them, I talk to them, and if they lie, I say, "You don't have to lie. I'm going to help you anyway. But don't lie."

I despise lying. I really get it when someone doesn't even know themselves well enough to know that they are liars. I know the mental disorders that may cause someone to lie. I get it.

But I am the Truthteller. I always have been. I always will. I am with Harry Truman..."I don't give 'em hell. I tell the truth, and it hurts like hell."

Monday, June 27, 2011

From Impressionism to Outsider Artist...

When I was three or four, I would have the privilege of sitting by my mother, as she turned the pages of Degas, El Greco, Gorky, Monet, Cezanne, and Matisse. I have no idea how my mother became a lover of art; she was raised by what used to be called "white trash," and yes, when I was tiny, we lived hard-scrabble in Iowa, with a horribly frightening outhouse, and took one bath a week in a round tin tub, water boiled on a stove, and poured in. We all used the same water. From this to art lover? I have no idea.

She was highly intelligent, but phenomenally distant. So it was amazing that I was allowed to be by her side while she turned pages of her most prized possession: used art books, usually discards from local libraries. I still remember her greatest desire was to go to the Louvre, and I knew what and where the Louvre was, and that the Mona Lisa (which I can't stand) was there. When she looked at the History of Art, I was extraordinarily bored, until she got to El Greco, Michelangelo (Yes, she let me look at the statue of David!), and then the impressionists. My favorite artist as a child was Degas, mainly because of the ballerinas, but I also loved Monet, as did she.

She spent much time by herself, going to art museums. She did not take us. Of course, there were many children...let's see, maybe six at that time, and we were left to our own devices, which was fine by me, because my brother, Joel and I had many insane adventures which satisfied my craving for exploring, nature, and living dangerously.

My father pretended to know art. He was extremely proud of a Picasso print, "The Three Musicians," that hung on our T.V. room wall for years. I hated the picture, and was so embarrassed when he bragged about it to all the guests we had in our home. He acted like a very strict Christian so if he knew anything about Picasso's life, I'm quite sure he would have removed it immediately. That may be why, although I understand Picasso's important role in the art world,  I do not like him at all (except that he loved his dog.)

However, as I grew older, and escaped high school, and was able to develop my own mind, my passion for art just grew and grew. I was not an artist; I loved art. I instinctively knew good art, and despised bad art. When my girls were 2 and 3, I began taking them to museums. Our first experience was at a "Student" museum in Champaigne, Il. My 2 year old was in a stroller, and my 3 year old was walking. They had already been exposed to art books at home, did art, and loved it. They also knew the rules about touching art in museums.

There was a "guard" at the door. He scowled when we walked in. And then followed us around! I asked my daughters to show me the "good" art, and the "poor" art. They were mostly on the mark. But when my two-year-old put her hand out of the stroller to point, the guard came running up, yelling, "Do NOT touch the art." I wanted to smack him upside his head. Instead, I said coolly, "These two children have been taught not to touch art, and furthermore, are able to recognize which of this is good."( I REALLY wanted to say, Can YOU???")  He backed away as if he had been bitten by a rattlesnake, and we were left in peace. LOL! But, we did not stay very long.

I became passionate about certain artists. I still remember being in Philadelphia in 1976. (Yes, I did go to Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom Concert!) I went to the Rodin Museum. "The Gates of Hell" framed  the museum entrance. I stood there forever, entranced, amazed, perhaps a little frightened. The outside was infinitely was more fascinating to me than the inside. I am not really a big fan of sculpture, ancient artifacts, and don't even have a desire to go to Louvre. Sacrilege! Don't hate me. I would much rather be on the streets with my camera, or be with some of my favorite artists friends, mangling French, and letting them laugh at me. But Rodin? I am totally in love with his work.

Van Gogh: Most people love his work; I love his life. His beginning pieces (which many have said are very crude) are my favorites. Why? Because they show his phenomenal love for people, and remind me of the lengths to which he went to become like them, almost to the point of starvation. Was he insane? Or was his compassion for people what led him to brokenness. His relationship with Gauguin (another artist whose work I love, but an artist whose personal life I despise) is the one thing I do not understand. Everything else--I totally get it.

Big jump here...I think you can tell I have a deep love for not just pieces of work, but for certain artists as well. Their stories move me; some break my hearts. The first time I saw "The Scream," in an art book, I realized it was an existential cry that existed from the beginning of time, and always will be. It has been often replicated, and I have had it in much of my own work in various forms.

So, back to art galleries. I have been in many. I have my favorites. Around the country. And in London. But there is one in particular that changed my life; it was called Headfooters Gallery in Cleveland, OH. I had already discovered that the very bizarre art I was compelled to do after a severe trauma was called Outsider art, because of a book I had seen at Borders book store. So when I moved to Cleveland, I drove by this teeny out-of-the-way gallery one day, and made my husband drive me back there.

I walked in, and on the wall was a huge, huge painting by Alexandra Huber. (If you want a detailed biography of when she started painting, and what drives her to paint, you can google her name.) I was completely blown away. I stood in front of that one painting for 20 minutes and my husband could see something on my face (I think), because he left me completely alone. The price of the piece was $10,000. But I swore that some day I would own a Huber. Some day...

I have one favorite (only one) online gallery. I stumbled on it about three years ago, when I was googling Outsider art, Art Brut, and some other terms for Outsider Art. It was a site: The gallery owner, Beverly Kaye, had, can you believe it, Alexandra Huber?? I sent her a message immediately, began conversing, and realized this woman was a wealth of knowledge. Kaye is amazing! And she shows the best artists out there. She is so well-educated in the field of art, and stays educated, which is something that is extremely important to me.

She has a Huber that I will own! If you buy it, I will hunt you down! And check out Sesow! His work is definitely unique, and interesting. And she has recently added a couple new artists who are fascinating. She does love sculpture, and antiquities, but that's o.k. I have so many beloved friends with whom I disagree about little things, that I can allow her that:) I consider her my art mentor. She has a blog. I suggest you go to her site, read it, and become a follower.

A bonus for me...she is a reader! So I get to send her books, and she send me books to tear up for art, but I keep them. I mean, she is famous! But a woman who is filled with grace, and kindness? I doubt you could meet a better woman.

I will be writing more about art, specifically outsider art, and the way it is changing and becoming mainstream. Of course I have an opinion on this (you can laugh now, if you know me), and will talk about that. And will tell you that, as of now, I have only purchased self-taught artists-something else Beverly Kaye and I disagree about, but she is much more knowledgeable than I, although I think I am probably more stubborn.

Anyhow...I don't know how art got in my blood. I think it started with my mom. It was definitely not genetic before her!

For my beloved French artists,
Au revoir:)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Passion in All Things

Passion in All Things

I am a passionate person, probably by nature, and environment. And so welcome to a blog that will be about many passions. Here you will read about some of my friends, my art, and why it is so important to me. You will read about hopelessness, addiction, mental illness, and why suicides happen. You will hear about a heart that is broken by this world almost every day. And yet you will hear about HOPE. You will hear a lot about hope, and even why that was the very first word tattooed on my wrist. You will hear family history, truth, and how to break the cycle of abuse with education and therapy.

Yes, you will hear about science. It is one of my passions. But it will not be boring. It will be about new discoveries. It will be challenging, and yes, both fundamentalist Christians and atheists alike. Too bad for both camps!

You will hear about a lot of Outsider artists, what Outsider art is, why I think it is the truest art, its history, my favorite artists that I want you to "friend" on facebook, my favorite Outsider gallery owner, etc.

You are going to hear a lot about silence, solitude, being in nature, turning off noise, escaping in healthy ways, and that I think Americans need this so much, and why they fail at it so badly.

You will hear about some family traditions that I have started. I had to create my own family from scratch. I did "o.k." I wasn't the greatest mom, but I think it is a process. By the time I am dead, I'll probably be a great mom! I think you will want to steal some of my traditions, and I hope you do.

Of course, you are going to hear a lot about photography. I have been shooting photography since I can't remember when. I know I had a Brownie?? so however long ago that was. Now I've moved up in the world to a wonderful Canon EOS 7D, and have some lenses I don't know how I lived without. I will, without a doubt, try to get you to become a Lensbaby fanatic, as am I!

I will talk in great depth about faith, doubt, loss, living in darkness and the desert, and if it is possible to find your way out.

And you need to know that I tend toward acceptance and tolerance, while adhering to personal ethics that I believe in. You will hear about that too.

You will also hear about prejudice. This is something I don't understand. And despise with all my heart.

And, of course, there will be many, many book reviews. And trust me, I know books. If I say, "Read it because...", and it resonates with you, then you probably should.

This will be an eclectic site. Well, I have eclectic tastes, my house has eclectic design, and I would probably be described by those who know me as rather eclectic. Or as one friend calls me, in good fun, "Mars."

I hope you enjoy!

Intense Blue