Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year...from Matt

If you haven't seen this video yet, it is a great one to start off the New Year...It is called Where the hell is Matt
and is about uplifting as it gets.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

from Bill Viola..my favorite video artist

“I think that any time you are making something that touches the inner self of the human being, anything that emerges out of ourselves from a genuine, unguarded place is ultimately a sacred act, no matter whether you follow a religion or not. All of the things that surround us came out of the inspiration of transforming the material world into our inner vision..."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

so i drove into Chicago for a meeting yesterday.
i was running late and found a metered parking spot within a block of my destination on a very busy street (ontario street just east of michigan avenue).

only problem...no change.

there was a city employee who was emptying the change out of the meters.
i asked for change. he said he couldn't do that. i asked someone else on the street for change.
they didn't have it.
next thing i know, he reset the meter for 2 hours and said happy holidays!

random acts of kindness just blow me out of the water.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tis The Season

Walking down the Magnificent Mile last Sunday I had a chance encounter with some hearty souls
(enduring the cold northerly blast of wind) who were administering FREE HUGS to whomever desired them.
Can you imagine?
It was so much fun to watch people's reactions. I mean really...who wouldn't want a hug in this economic and political climate?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gregory Scott

Age Of Spontaneity by Gregory Scott

If you are not familiar with the work of Gregory Scott, you might want to be. I saw his new work at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Miami and he has pushed photography to a new level.
Not only has he inserted his painted self into the frame, he has also added video seamlessly. You need to go to his website to play the video, well worth the visit. It is so amazing to see the creative mind at work.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mr. Brainwash

One of the highlights of Art Basel Miami 2008 was learning about Mr. Brainwash.
Just outside of the Scope Art Fair was this fabulous mural of Obama. Mr. Brainwash's vision is to make the world a better place and he was creating a lot of free art (postcards, posters etc). It was a great counterpoint to all the art shows which were so much about ego and money. Check out his website here.

more on miami

two of my favorite men....
it seemed like Barack Obama was showing up everywhere at Art Basel Miami. Every time I saw images of him, my heart swooned.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Art Basel Miami 2008

I'm back...I have read reviews of the muted fair (due to the economy) but I had a fabulous time!
The weather was a welcome break from an early cold spell and snow storm in Chicago. I enjoyed the challenge of transforming a hotel room into a gallery...my DREAMSCAPE. So many of the works exhibited were born of dreams so I just extended the metaphor into an installation. The "Pool" images above the bed were printed on multiple layers of chiffon and floated as the mild breeze came in thru the window.

more on other aspects of the fair coming soon....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pool Art Fair Miami 2008

I am busily making preparations to exhibit at The Pool Art Fair (satellite show of Art Basel) in Miami next weekend. If you are in the area, please stop by and say hello.

December 5-7 4pm-10pm daily
Cavalier Hotel Room 213
1320 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

In thinking about this show, I realized that all the work discusses the 4 elements...Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Interesting how the basics of life reveal themselves without even trying.

I am very excited about my "Pool" images. I have always loved fabric and for the first time I have found images that translate to fabric. The Pool photos are printed on 4 layers of chiffon and will be hung either in a window or in front of a mirror with air circulating around them. I will post some installation shots once I have them.

Here is a listing of all the Miami Beach Art Fairs
December 2008

Art Basel Miami Beach | Aqua Art Miami - Aqua Hotel | Aqua Art Miami - Wynwood
Art Miami | Art Now Fair | The Artist Fair | Bridge Miami Beach | Bridge Miami Wynwood
Design Miami | Fountain Miami | Full House Pool Art Fair | Geisai Miami | Ink Miami
NADA Art Fair | Photo Miami | Pulse Miami | Red Dot Miami | Sea Fair | Sculpt Miami
Scope Miami | artASIA

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chicago ~ Touched by Grace

With all the eyes on Barak Obama's home town, I have decided to show a photograph I took years ago for a local weekly newspaper, The Chicago Reader.
The New York Times newspaper just did a wonderful article about "the windy city." Chicago is truly a gem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If you happen to be in town....here is where I will be

The Opening ~ from The Treatment Room series

The 2nd Annual
Mary Beth Cregier Memorial Photo Exhibition
November 15 to December 20, 2008
Opening Night Reception: Saturday, November 15 from 6 - 10pm
Around theCoyote Art Gallery
1935 1/2 North Avenue, Chicago

The works in this show were chosen by curator Catherine Edelman of the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, Illinois.

Couch No. 3 ~ from The Treatment Room series

"You can't get to wonderful without passing through alright." Bill Withers

WISDOM ~ The Book
"Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can pass to another is the wisdom it has gained from experience...." Andrew Zuckerman
Susan sent me this link....http://www.wisdombook.org/
It is stunning, beautiful, simple and profound. Bravo. A real inspiration to us all!

Need I Say More?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where Art and Politics meet....Baraka, the movie

I am obsessed with Barack Obama. I read on someone's facebook that Barack means blessing and then recalled that one of my very favorite films is Baraka. I went online

One of the user comments on Amazon.com .....

A Milestone of Revelation

'Baraka' is a work of art which rates amongst the greatest achievements in the field. As with any masterwork, it is something one will have to pursue. For those that seek it out at the proper time, 'Baraka' can act as a milestone of revelation. What the viewer takes from this film will solely be determined by the life experience they bring to it. 'Baraka' is unique in that it actually requires a commitment of time and concentration. This is a film that communicates its message without utilizing standard film language. Those that try to make the images conform to the conventional notions of Hollywood story telling are likely to give up in frustration. For a film with no plot,characters or dialog, it communicates an astonishing number of profound themes. Those who are familiar with National Geographic or the works of David Attenbourough will have little trouble in identifying the fascinating locals and tribes, but be forewarned: there are reasons that there are no subtitles or text on screen. Personal discovery is at the heart of the filmmaker's intentions. The ambient soundtrack by Michael Sterns weaves the images together on a separate plain, producing a hypnotic pathway for the images to flow. Once you allow yourself to be pulled along by this current of sound the images will link themselves together and the true revelations hidden within 'Baraka' will make themselves apparent. You may find as I did that your subconscious will be at work on 'Baraka' for many weeks after the experience, unlocking doors to a greater understanding.

It feels like no coincidence that the 2 came together in my mind. Treat yourself to an amazing experience and watch it....

Saturday, November 08, 2008

American Prayer- Dave Steward (Barack Obama Music Video)

Ok, Just bear with me...I listened to this pre election and heard it again tonight...so totally amazing that we all did it!

Barack Obama's Victory Speech in Chicago

ok, I am obsessed with him and quite frankly, having some withdrawal from all the pre-election activity. I will eventually get back to blogging about art and creativity. For those of you who are also feeling at a loss, click here to see what the Onion has to say.

Monday, November 03, 2008


I was amazed to see the locations of people who have been checking this blog today.
The readership has been from Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada, Virgin Islands, Iran, Turkey, Bolivia, Argentina, Spain,
Singapore, Puerto Rico, France, China, Venezuela, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Australia and or course, the United States.
AMAZING! It makes me think about how we live in this one, precious world. I pray with all my heart that the US gets it right this
time. I will be at the election polls tomorrow in the state of Indiana (a neighboring swing state) and then travel to my home town of Chicago for the celebrations. I can't help but visualize the WHOLE WORLD levitating in celebration of a new beginning and a new visionary president, Barack Obama, of the US.
Stay posted....

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The World as a Kinder, Gentler Place

I know that the world will be a kinder gentler place with Obama at the helm.
While canvassing in Hammond, Indiana I came across this sign at a church. Inside were the voices of gospel singers. What another wonderful moment of experiencing the OBAMA EFFECT!

If anyone has any time in the next 2 days and wants to help during this historical time, click here to help with phone banking. Look for me tomorrow night in Grant Park, Chicago, welcoming in the first Afro American President of the United States of America!
god bless.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Thrill Of It All

Went to see Obama in Highland, Indiana last night. Halloween this year seem infused with Obama mania. Check out Yes We Carve. If you have the energy or inclination, there is still time to make a difference. Click here to find out how to make the final phone calls that will change the history of the world.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just Back

my studio

I am just back from a 2 week artist residency at Ragdale. Nothing is more precious to an artist to have uninterrupted TIME and SPACE. If you are an artist, you should consider applying!

The Prarie Burn series will be unveiled in December at Full House / Pool Art Fair in Miami Beach, a satellite show of Art Basel.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Rejection Connection

If anyone thinks that rejection is not part of the creative process, guess again. I just learned about Jac Jemc's blog where she posts all of her rejection letters. She is a first rate writer...check it out by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ever Wonder

Have you ever wondering what it would be like to be Enlightened?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Unveiling

Last night was the unveiling of the NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY FACE exhibition/fund raiser at the Hyde Park Art Center. I did not realize how nervous I was until an hour before the opening. The couple who commissioned the piece had not seen it....

the drum roll......

here is the accompanying text in the exhibition catalogue.

"With my ongoing fascination with the human condition, there is no greater satisfaction than to attempt to capture the "connection" people have with each other, especially when love is involved.
Trying to make the intangibe tangible. Working with Curran and Young was a delightful experience, pushing me to reconfigure my photographic equipment so as to capture the "feel" of their relationship.
Surprises awaited me. The work was conceived in a manner which allowed the imagination to play in the dark recesses of the image while accentuating the light and sensuousness of their relationship."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Time Out

This weekend I took a time out from this crazy world. No news about the economy or presidential elections.

It is amazing to me how rejuvenating nature can be, watching the leaves gently float thru the air as the wind announced their time had come to let go, drifting gracefully as they found their next resting place.

In nature, there is no judgement, no right or wrong, no good or bad...everything just is...

how refreshing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

New Orleans Photo Alliance

The New Orleans Photo Alliance is an artist-run nonprofit, which formed after Hurricane Katrina to showcase and celebrate photographic arts.
As a new organization, they have had incredible support from the arts community. I have a piece from my Chiapas portfolio that was accepted into a show, "ODD WORKS," which was curated by David Rubin of the San Antonio Museum of Art. The exhibit opened on Saturday night.
I had hoped on traveling there for the opening but with the upcoming election I felt that my time would be better spent canvassing for Obama. This Saturday, I found myself in Hammond, Indiana. As someone said, Illinois is like the hole in the donut...all the surrounding states are up for grabs. I decided to make my way to all 4 states. So far I have done Kalamazoo, Michigan; Iowa City, Iowa; and Hammond, Indiana. Next weekend it will be Wisconsin. If you are interested in helping out, click here.

In canvassing 8 short blocks in Hammond, Indiana I kept thinking about how we are going to take back this country, house by house, block by block, vote by vote.
There is definitely a ground swell of people who realize this election needs each and every one of us to turn the tide of the last eight years.

New Orleans Photo

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Queen of the Night

So I mentioned that a complete stranger, whom I canvassed in Iowa City for the presidential election, gave me a cutting of her Queen of the Night plant (her father's favorite plant from India) after I inquired about it on her front porch.

This is no small gesture.

After a little research I learned the Queen of the Night is in the same family (cestrum nocturnum) as the jasmine plant. It is incredibly fragrant and wildly popular in India, producing countless masses of light greenish-white or greenish-yellow flowers several times a year, which open only at night. The intoxicating fragrance from even a small, five-foot container grown specimen can reach for many hundreds of yards. The sweet scent accompanied us in the late night car ride back to Chicago.

All night long I dreamt of Jasmine and India (the woman was from India).

And then I realized the significance of the gift.

The last essay of a soon to be released photographic book of mine, Look and Leave : Photographs and Stories of New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward is entitled

On Jasmine and Recovery

"After inhaling toxic metallic air for days in the ravaged Lower Ninth Ward, I went to a nearby neighborhood for dinner. While walking to the restaurant I passed a jasmine plant.  As the rapturous fragrance enveloped me, I was jolted into the awareness that even after all the destruction; the contaminated soil of the Lower Ninth Ward might yield life once again."

I am once again reminded of the generosity of complete strangers and infused with the hope of a fresh new start for this country.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Just returned from canvassing in Iowa City today and I kept thinking of this famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi. We are living in critical times and can't hope that others will do the work for us. We ALL need to be involved. If anyone is considering voting for the McCain/Palin ticket, I hope you watched Sarah Pallin's interview with Katie Couric. It is frightening to think of her being just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

So I got home and checked my emails and came across this email...
"If you allow yourself to envision the world as it could be rather than the world as it is, what would it look like? And more importantly, what would you be willing to do to help create that world? " Here is the link to the website.
I took a few photographs of Iowa City. Lovely, lovely people. One woman gave me a cutting of her Queen of the Night plant sitting outside her front door (after she told me she was still undecided).

One more thing, 600 volunteers travelled from Illinois to Iowa this weekend to help create the CHANGE this country needs.
It is a wonderful thing..please consider donating time or money to the Obama campaign.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Michael Moore's New Movie

Click HERE to see Micahel Moore's New Movie, Slacker Uprising.

Stream it, download it, burn it now. It's the first time a major feature-length film is being released for free on the internet. You can be part of this historic moment by logging on now!


Michael Moore

Sunday, September 21, 2008

David Foster Wallace on Life and Work

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”

(Adapted from a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College. Mr. Wallace, 46, died last Friday, after apparently committing suicide.)

"There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

If at this moment, you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude -- but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense.

A huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. Here's one example of the utter wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness, because it's so socially repulsive, but it's pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default-setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: There is no experience you've had that you were not at the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real -- you get the idea. But please don't worry that I'm getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called "virtues." This is not a matter of virtue -- it's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

People who can adjust their natural default-setting this way are often described as being "well adjusted," which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphal academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default-setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about college education, at least in my own case, is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract arguments inside my head instead of simply paying attention to what's going on right in front of me. Paying attention to what's going on inside me. As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head. Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal-arts cliché about "teaching you how to think" is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: "Learning how to think" really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master." This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no-bull- value of your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.

That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. So let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in, day out" really means. There happen to be whole large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.

By way of example, let's say it's an average day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging job, and you work hard for nine or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired, and you're stressed out, and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for a couple of hours and then hit the rack early because you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home -- you haven't had time to shop this week, because of your challenging job -- and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the workday, and the traffic's very bad, so getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping, and the store's hideously, fluorescently lit, and infused with soul-killing Muzak or corporate pop, and it's pretty much the last place you want to be, but you can't just get in and quickly out: You have to wander all over the huge, overlit store's crowded aisles to find the stuff you want, and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts, and of course there are also the glacially slow old people and the spacey people and the ADHD kids who all block the aisle and you have to grit your teeth and try to be polite as you ask them to let you by, and eventually, finally, you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough checkout lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day-rush, so the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating, but you can't take your fury out on the frantic lady working the register.

Anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and pay for your food, and wait to get your check or card authenticated by a machine, and then get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death, and then you have to take your creepy flimsy plastic bags of groceries in your cart through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and try to load the bags in your car in such a way that everything doesn't fall out of the bags and roll around in the trunk on the way home, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive rush-hour traffic, etcetera, etcetera.

The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing comes in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm going to be pissed and miserable every time I have to food-shop, because my natural default-setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me, about my hungriness and my fatigue and my desire to just get home, and it's going to seem, for all the world, like everybody else is just in my way, and who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem here in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line, and look at how deeply unfair this is: I've worked really hard all day and I'm starved and tired and I can't even get home to eat and unwind because of all these stupid g-d- people.

Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious form of my default-setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic jam being angry and disgusted at all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers, who are usually talking on cell phones as they cut people off in order to get just twenty stupid feet ahead in a traffic jam, and I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and disgusting we all are, and how it all just sucks, and so on and so forth...

Look, if I choose to think this way, fine, lots of us do -- except that thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic it doesn't have to be a choice. Thinking this way is my natural default-setting. It's the automatic, unconscious way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities. The thing is that there are obviously different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stuck and idling in my way: It's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past and now find driving so traumatic that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive; or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to rush to the hospital, and he's in a way bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am -- it is actually I who am in his way. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have much harder, more tedious or painful lives than I do, overall.

Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you're "supposed to" think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it, because it's hard, it takes will and mental effort, and if you're like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat-out won't want to. But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-lady who just screamed at her little child in the checkout line -- maybe she's not usually like this; maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of her husband who's dying of bone cancer, or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the Motor Vehicles Dept. who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a nightmarish red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible -- it just depends on what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important -- if you want to operate on your default-setting -- then you, like me, will not consider possibilities that aren't pointless and annoying. But if you've really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars -- compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff's necessarily true: The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship...

Because here's something else that's true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things -- if they are where you tap real meaning in life -- then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already -- it's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power -- you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart -- you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.

Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the "rat race" -- the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can think of it whatever you wish. But please don't dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness -- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out."

Selected Works

After his first novel came out in 1987, Mr. Wallace became known for blending inventive language, intellect, humor, philosophy and cultural references in his writing. Here are some of his best-known books.

Infinite Jest
Back Bay Books, $17.99
First published in 1996, this comic, postmodern novel, which is set in the near future and tackles the nature of entertainment, sprawls over about 1,100 pages and has hundreds of footnotes.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
Back Bay Books, $14.99
This 1997 collection of nonfiction includes reporting and criticism. Topics range from the Illinois State Fair to the relationship between TV and literature.

Back Bay Books, $14.95
In the title story of this collection of eight short stories, a man believes his wife is hallucinating the sound of his snoring. The book, released in 2004, was Mr. Wallace's last work of fiction.

Consider the Lobster
Back Bay Books, $14.99
The author takes on subjects like the porn industry, talk radio and Sept. 11 in his 2005 book of essays. Also included: an article about his experiences following John McCain's campaign in 2000.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Reflections on my state of mind.....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Critical Crossroads....

I took the El (public train in Chicago) into the city a few nights ago to an art opening. For those of you who don't live in Chicago, traveling on the El is like being at the United Nations. People from all different backrounds...a true United Nations. It was the end of the day and people were tired. A few passengers were hooked up to their Ipods, a few on cell phones. Mostly, people don't talk or have any eye contact with "the other". My eyes searched for something to focus on...Chicago CTA maps, advertisements, scanning tother passengers. About 1/2 hour into the ride I spotted a man with an Obama for President hat on his head. I immediately felt this strange, warm affinity with him. My face softened and I smiled at him, giving him a thumbs up in recognition of our shared values. I had connected with this "other" CTA passenger in a way I had never imagined.

We are quickly approaching critical crossroads in the history of this country and the world.
The world has never been more fragile. I urge anyone who is reading this blog to dig deep into themselves and do whatever is humanly possible to work for getting Barack Obama elected for President of the United States on November 4th.

If you can, please, please please go to a neighboring swing state and help to register voters before October 4th. If you can, please, please please give of your time and make calls to other voters. This country and the world need us NOW! Volunteer!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


If anyone happens to be in Ottawa, Canada this weekend, I will be having an opening at the WALLSPACE gallery.
The portfolios being featured are Visitations and Faded dreams. The gallery director, Lori Wojcik, is dreamy. I look forward to a visit there in the spring when I will mount a solo exhibition.
(Mike, you are the only one I know who lives there...hope you can attend)!

Women and Change

Please join Women for Obama and the DNC Women's Leadership Forum
at the
National Women's Leadership Initiative
National Issues Conference
Friday, October 10 – Saturday, October 11, 2008
Chicago, IL

The National Women's Leadership Issues Conference will be the pinnacle event of the general election to highlight to importance of women's leadership and the women's vote in electing Barack Obama the next President of the United States! Women leaders from all 50 states will convene in Chicago, IL for a two-day conference featuring Senator Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton and high-level policy makers and senior campaign advisors. This conference will present important policy and campaign strategy updates and provide field tools for women to take back to their communities.

We invite you to join our leadership at one of the levels below:
National Chair – Raise $100,000 or contribute $57,000
National Chair &Private Leadership Committee Reception, Program Listing, VIP Seat, Private Event– TBD
State Co-Chair – Raise $50,000 or contribute $28,500
Private Leadership Committee Reception, Program Listing, VIP Seating, Private Event – TBD
Leadership Committee – Raise $25,000 or contribute $10,000
Private Leadership Committee Reception, Program Listing, Premium Seating, Private Event – TBD

Premium Ticket – Contribute $5,000
Premium Seating and Private Event - TBD
General Admission Ticket – Contribute $1,000
General Admission Seating

Barack Obama's Plan for America - The Difference an Obama Presidency Will Make
Draft Agenda


National Security & Foreign Policy
Protecting Our Homeland and Restoring American Alliances –
What an Obama Presidency Will Mean for National Security

The Economy
Keeping America's Promise –
The Route Back to Economic Security and Strengthening the Middle Class

Health Care
A Plan for a Healthy America - Quality, Affordable & Portable Coverage for Every American

Energy and Climate Change
New Energy for America – Investing in Renewable Energy and Green Jobs

Standing up for Women
What's at Stake – The Courts, Reproductive Choice, Equal Pay & Work-Family Balance


How We Will Win
Campaign Strategy, Polling Update and the Reasons Republican and Independent Women
are Choosing Barack Obama

Women Stepping Up to the Plate
Highlighting Extraordinary Women Leaders on the Campaign Trail

Let's Get to Work
Ground Game Strategies and Messages for Women to Take Back Home for Election Day

Feel free to contact Linda with any questions!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Invisible Age

Tomorrow night Leaf Study No. 1 will be exhibited at the Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco at a group show titled The Invisible Age, Photographic Self-Portraits by Women Aged 50-65. I am pleased to be included in a very thought provoking show.

" What is the invisible age? To a large extent it’s a phenomenon of our society, which sees and values younger women for their beauty and energy and also sees and values older women for their wisdom and character. But, in the eyes of this same society, the 50ish to 65ish woman is of little value and practically invisible.

But, what we’re dealing with is not a purely external phenomenon. The invisible age is also internal. It’s an age of transition, when women often must go through the unsettling process of redefining who they are to themselves and to the world."

The work I submitted was created last fall. It was only after I saw the call for work that I realized that Leaf Study No. 1 could be viewed as a self portrait.

To see more of the work in the exhibition, go to LensCulture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Beginnings

monarch chrysalis

With the fall just around the corner, I look forward to new beginnings.
I just returned from a trip to Northern Wisconsin, leaving just before the nights dipped to 30 degrees!
However, much to my surprise, I came across the beginnings of new life. It is so exciting to contemplate the potential in each of these tiny vessels!fish eggs

I am also looking forward to the new season of the critique group and the photographic workshop I will be teaching in January.
If you are interested it either, please email me at photos@janefultonalt.com.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"...being without intent...."

Last October I spent 2 weeks at Ragdale for an artists residency. My home was the Beach Room in the Barn. Next to my bed was a notebook in which previous artists shared some thoughts about their time spent at Ragdale. There was an essay on the word "squander" written by Johanna Keller on July 15, 1999. I was so taken with it that I photocopied it and have had it on my bulletin board for the past 9 months. I just unearthed it and with Johanna's permission, would like to share it...

v., to spend wastefully or extravagantly (according to the Webster's New Dictionary on the desk in the Beach Room)

In art, as in nature, nothing is wasted.

Cherish the hour lost to the shimmer of cottonwoods rimming the prairie, the afternoon swimming in the lake, the croquet game at dusk. Let yourself be a child bedazzled by the town fireworks on the Fourth. Write of love-making on the creaky bed. Search for dusty treasures in the attic. Rock on the screened porch reading a book that serendipitously came to hand, a book you didn't bring with you, one that wasn't on the planned list.

Plan?List?----those are words left behind, words for the architects of the busy world, for the makers of cities and maps, for the times when it is necessary to know the destination and estimated time of arrival (and there are those times in the creative life).

But, in this long month of summer, I don't know where I'm going. I confess to allowing myself to drown in a sweet delirium of sensory experience. The result has been new and strange poems, daring essays, and odd drawings whose purpose and place in my manuscript are unclear to me as yet.

I don't know my path, but I'm traveling extravagantly.

Art spends us extravagantly, demands we lavish our lives on it. And in return, at the times when the deepest impulse is gathering force, we experience a blessed state of being without intent.

We enter a space previouly unimaginable, surprising, dangerous, uncharted on any map. This place of impressions is very like the tangled and subtle prairie with its unplanned glories of wildflowers, tall grasses, cattails, dragonflies, birds, sky. And at the center of it, we find the source. Encircled by stones laid by other hands many years ago, brimming with liquid light, the wellspring is a small eruption, a rupture in the earth, the location of correspondence. It is here where what lies underneath comes to the surface, where the invisible is transmitted into the world of the senses. It is here the unseen becomes known to us."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just Suppose

Just suppose you opted to have a vanity license plate with the word suppose on it...(inspired by a license plate hanging in the garage of Dick Olderman). Then just suppose you had to leave it on the street because of a house guest was using your garage space. Then just suppose you return home one day to an envelope


I opened the letter and this is what I found...

Dear Prius Owner:

I am a fan of good vanity plates-and I want to thank you for yours. In fact, it made a difference to me yesterday.

In my opinion, a vanity plate should have the following qualities:
It should use all seven spaces.
It should not only make sense, it should be interesting and contribute something to the public square.
Abbreviations, misspellings, and other contrortions should be avoided.
Imperatives are good, as they make a moral claim and invite engagement.

If I were a judge of a national vanity plate competition, yours would definitely place in the finalist' category, if it didn't win the grand prize.

"Suppose is a word with such wonderful possibilites, It has a musical sound. It invites an adult game of "let's pretend" - imaginative without being irresponsible. It suggests that we open ourselves to possibilities without losing our moorings. It would be the first word in the brilliant closing argument of an attorney defending an innocent man. It would be a fine word to begin a poem. It is a quality of thought that our world, full of certainties and judgments, sadly lacks - thus its moral contribution.

Yesterday....I had been journaling and had managed to write myself into a blue funk. On my walk back I was feeling pretty sad, when I was reminded of your vanity plate and decided to take you up on your suggestion. "Suppose," I thought...and let the idea hang in the air like a prayer, inviting the Spirit to complete the sentence. Suppose...my life is not so hopeless. Suppose things will get better. Suppose the world is not such a bad place. Suppose there is, maybe even, a God who desires my happiness and will answer my prayers. This exercise brought a smile to my face, and made a difference to me.

So thank you for that. I just wanted you to know that your choice of words made a difference to someone. I suppose you know this: that's not a small thing."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not to be Missed!

I just returned from an extraordinary exhibit at the DePaul University Art Museum. There are 3 installations by 80 year old Gerda Meyer Bernstein.Exercise In Futility
Domestic Surveilance

I struggle between making images that are grounded in beauty and images that speak to my indignation with the state of the world. I was awe inspired by Gerda Meyer Bernstein's ability to address the difficult question of how individuals could respond to violence, disaster, and injustice. Her work is truly amazing....Please, if you are in the vicinity, visit the exhibit before it closes on August 29th. Listen to a segment by National Public Radio reviewing Gerda Meyer Bernstein's work here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Back from San Miguel de Allende

Just returned from a FABULOUS annual staff trip to Mexico with Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill. It was four days filled with incredible beauty, exquisite food and laughter to last a life time! The early morning light over the mountains surrounding Mexico City was breathtaking.

We stayed at a wonderful hotel called Casa Luna in San Miguel de Allende and then went out to the Quinta Casa Luna property with 3 kitchens!The staff was challenged with going to the local markets and cooking a dinner extraordinaire. Watching it all unfold was one of those peak life experiences...right out of Babette's Feast (if you haven't seen the movie, it is a must).

I find myself coming up short in describing the incredible allure of the region. We also spent a day at the Hacienda Las Trancas in Dolores Hidalgo going horseback riding and having another wonderful meal.

A few other food highlights of the region are El Comal de Dona Meche, Conservas Santa Rosa, and the zocalo in Dolores Hidalgo for "nieves" or ices.
The Conservas Santa Rosa is a woman's cooperative where they make jams, candies, liquors and the like. We also learned of another woman's cooperative while dining at Nicos in Gueretaro where they are raising rabbit in a very arid region.
It seems likes woman's cooperatives are popping up all over. I went to a Care conference in Washington DC last month and most of their efforts are geared toward woman and children...and successfully.

Just a reminder about the photographic workshop, "Refining Your Creative Vision," that I will be teaching in January in a small village called
Zacoalco de Torres, just an hour from Guadalajara. You can learn more about it here.