The six hours I spent in the studio yesterday were a snarling, jangled mess of assertions piled on top of counter-assertions, each increasingly aggressive. At least I felt it so. Hilarious after the fact, maddening at the time.

ThrowJune3_2014

Howard Stern through the floor boards loud enough to be sitting beside me, interspersed with the high pitched whine of a planer, a table saw, a power sander. My rebuttal was Geoffrey Oreyema, Rokia Traore, Mychael Danna, Joni Mitchell and when those ran out Allegria, Elton John, Beatles, Carole King, Supertramp, Queen, Raconteurs… played through my little portable speaker, tethered from me at two feet.

Throwback_2014FinalforGallery

Months ago I met my downstairs neighbour in the hallway and presented the noise bleed problem in my space, then asked if we could find a way that we can both get our work done in some mutually agreed peace. He  suggested somewhat aggressively that I move to a different studio where there is less noise. I said actually I’m fine with the power tools, it’s the radio that is super distracting – would you consider moving it to another place in the studio? Turning it down? No I use my loud radio to work, so deal with it or move somewhere else…

Right. No chance for collaboration there.

Hmmm. Was it my approach? Maybe so.

Nov10A

Without putting much thought into it, I simply migrate my hours to late afternoon through evenings, after he and his staff are done for the day (they leave the radio on when they leave, but at least it’s turned down). Or I go in on weekends, when they’re there for only half days mostly. I’m here in Hamilton to build a new art practice after all, and though I do my best work in the mornings, perhaps I can use that time for writing and research at home. Worth a try.

In the overlapping hours with Howard invading I affectionately name the downstairs man of the radio volume ‘Dude’. I start at 5am on a Saturday, he arrives at 6 and turns HS back up to 11. Wow, Dude. Really?

Okay then, here we go.

Nov10B

This works middling well until I have painting deadlines, as I do this month. Lots of deadlines. I’m sure Dude has deadlines too. So we play sound chess, or at least I do. If I’m struggling with myself over a painting my tolerance levels are low, which means Dude wins, gets my goat. He has Howard Stern on his team; I have a little portable speaker. I play with schedule strategies, pull an all-nighter & nap during the day, but this is not sustainable.

I now know WAY too much about Stern and his brand of toxic. He’s with me in my space all day, mocking his guests, humming (tunelessly) through the music he plays, picking fights with his female co-announcers until they shriek at him, sounding always reasonable, sometimes slightly wounded by the things he just doesn’t grok, perpetually dominant and resonant through his excellent microphone with the bass turned way up. Nauseatingly predictable, ugh. I have no trouble expressing my dislike of misogynist white male bully boy wannabe gorilla Howard Stern though it feels like wasted breath; he likely thrives on my kind of criticism.

Nov10C

I do have trouble transferring this dislike to Dude downstairs, so it’s tricky to know where to put the tension that builds in my one-way relationship with Stern. Reminds me of another studio with a shared wall, through which Penny Lane was played, on repeat, for weeks and weeks and weeks. Sometimes accompanied by badly improvised drums from a full kit. My appreciation for The Beatles was permanently damaged, and I’m not at all sure I handled that experience well.

How is this one best managed?

A buddhist would likely call it an opportunity to go within and learn something useful but I’d much rather throw something. Like a tantrum.

Nov12A

I pay for a work space in a shared building, so does Dude. I work best when there’s a reasonable amount of activity around me that I can sense and hear, great folks I can connect with in the hallway & at lunch. Good boundaries – a door I can close when I need to focus. Music informs and enriches my space, but not so loudly played that it dominates. After many years of studio practice with varyingly successful degrees of flow I understand some things about what works, and also that these requirements may well be perceived as entitlement. Who does she think she is.

I love the space I have, I love Hamilton and the people in it – all the elements I need are here…. with the added bonus of Dominant, Intrusive Mr. Stern.

Perhaps convenient to your need for something to fixate on, suggests the buddhist, but I know that’s rubbish. I couldn’t possibly be creating this myself.

Nov12C

Dude’s work requires constant, soul-numbing power tool use, and on top of that he runs his business, must be courteous to over-demanding customers (I hear these conversations and also the string of expletives after the phone is put down), promote, market, source, deliver, design, adjust, and keep the whole thing running in support of  family and staff. It’s no wonder he’s edgy with stress and needs Howard to shore up his sense of …. entitlement?

I arrived home at my lovely apartment to find a black truck in my spot, so parked my car on the street – not a problem, I like my downstairs neighbours a lot. They’ve just added a new baby to their family and so there are many folks visiting – hence the truck. As I walked past it I saw a red Make America Great Again cap on the dashboard, logo facing out.

The owner of the truck was on the other side of the front door as I opened it. He apologized for parking in my spot and tried to make polite conversation but I found myself frozen, monosyllabic. Once inside for the first time I locked my door while home, against invisible, baffling hatred.

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I read that by now 70,000 children of migrants have been separated from their parents in the USA. The art world is up to their eyeballs in this too;  One of the board members for the Museum of Modern Art owns and profits from the detention centres where migrants are held. Also on the board is Stephen Tannenbaum, who owns 2+ billion in Puerto Rican debt. Undocumented veterans who have fought with the American military have now been deported. This is MAGA. This is white corporate entitlement, backed by power.

I don’t like this mirror at all, but it’s right in front of me. In fact, I’ve just allowed it to dominate my entire morning, damnit. That’s toxic too.

I don’t want to throw anything any more.

I want to look straight into my own white entitlement and find a different way to answer. With my body. With Art.

 

There’s a subtle art to avoidance – one can accomplish a great deal when motivated by discomfort with a project’s requirements:  Go work out – more often.  Coach at GBSS’ annual music clinic; play at elementary schools in Bruce County for GBS.  Go see Art of Time’s Cadmium Red with Aruna; wander introverted and happy through Toronto; visit an old friend & musician colleague in Guelph; rehearse for and perform at Kiwanis Music Fest with my cello kids; teach. Rent an electric cello and test drive it in a bar with two groove-great acoustic guitar players.  This past week:  Wed to Fri rehearsal & performance for the Georgian Bay Symphony Youth Orchestra with Owen Sound’s Choir that Rocks.  Two shows to packed houses in a beautiful old church which is now an arts building/soup kitchen.  We raised the roof both nights, and the kids are on fire.

Photo of Friday's show by John Fearnall of Goodnoise photography.  I love his work - well worth a visit to www.goodnoise.ca
Photo of Friday’s show by John Fearnall of Goodnoise photography. I love his work – well worth a visit to http://www.goodnoise.ca

Yesterday Larry Jensen and I played an impromptu set at The River Cafe at 1pm before my big paintings came down off the walls there.  The Mayor dropped by, and 20 or so others, to help us say thanks to Karen Rosalie (River Cafe Queen) for her hospitality.  I could have played all day long, despite my impairment from celebrating until 4am …

This one was still drying when we hung it at The River in January.  It's good to see it again.
This one was still drying when we hung it at The River in January. It’s good to see it again.

It’s easy easy to swim in the big wide river of life here.  On the same night as GBSYO & The Choir that Rocks, Don Buchanan played excellent, tasteful jazz at The Frog Pond and there was a live 60’s revivalby great players at the Legion, along with other events I couldn’t possibly list.   Last night, a classical concert with Eric Osborne (organ), Sebastian Ostertag, Joachim Ostertag, and Syl McIntosh, and Open mic at The Bleeding Carrot.  This little tiny town is buzzing with arts activity – what we can’t get to will be seen by someone, and photos posted.  Thanks  John Fearnall & Goodnoise; thanks Amber Brown; Richard Mascall; thanks Trev MacKenzie, Tara MacKenzieJim Ansell & the Bleeding Carrot; Kelly Babcock and Andree, Kimmer, Steve Zamin, Mossy,  – these are some of the folks who keep the place spinning at a healthy clip, and hold up a mirror for us to see ourselves. We’re lookin better and better all the time.

Another by John Fearnall of GoodNoise (https://www.facebook.com/GoodNoise). The Choir that Rocks Owen Sound.
Another by John Fearnall of GoodNoise (https://www.facebook.com/GoodNoise). The Choir that Rocks Owen Sound.

 

Today I come home  – to the work I love more than I love myself, as Elizabeth Gilbert would say (go Here for her recent TED talk).  This is like rest.  Away from the madding crowd, the interaction, the sharing of experience and joy, the assertion of identity within the crowd or tribe of people, I can soften my gaze and look inward and outward at the same time.

Hip Cello, from 2008, recently come back to me.  I've missed this one.
Hip Cello, from 2008, recently come back to me. I’ve missed this one.

I see the cup on my desk I shared scotch with in a long yesterday afternoon (lovely time, L & C), and I think of performance and introversion, the sweet fragility of both artist and audience when they come together in music.  I see tulips on my piano, paintings that have returned to the place of their birth, music stands and microphones, and I feel comforted by the rhythm of time.  I see the patches of sun on my floor, and feel my heart beat, steady.

SunPatchonFloorApril2014

#Selfie is requiring due diligence from me.  Early on I knew that my intolerance (see #Selfie 1) could lead nowhere but back to my own insecurities and blind spots – sure enough, it did (see #Selfie 2, then #Selfie 3, in which I confess my internal shock).  Predictably, I reacted to my own shock by going abstract again (#Selfie 4 (I prefer my hands), #Selfie 5 (mirror), #Selfie 6 (Mask)), and then #Selfie 7 (Easter) referred to, but did not describe the quite intense process of self- discovery, self-pruning, self-clearing I’d experienced that weekend – I chickened out, and that will not do.

So – to rectify.

SunPatch2

#selfie 9 will go direct.  See you back here after I’ve done some digging.

I honestly don’t have a clue what I look like from the outside.  Or- I have clues, from friends (hopefully most honest, but still undeniably subject to mood changes & emotional wellbeing), family (often distorted by… family), men who have been drinking in bars (predictable), random encounters with strangers…  and more recently in my Selfie pilgrimage… mirrors, photographs, & video that’s been initiated and shot of me by me.

Aside from those hints and clues I live my life looking out of this face, so there’s absolutely NO way I can say:  I look like this.

Buzz Aldritch on the moon in 1966 - perhaps the pinnacle of Selfies, brought to my attention be James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and our insightful & resourceful AD at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (thanks James)
Buzz Aldrin (thanks MV) on the moon in 1966 – perhaps the pinnacle of Selfies, brought to my attention by James Keelaghan, singer-songwriter extraordinaire and our insightful & resourceful AD at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (thanks James)

 

So here’s what I think today:  our visual image is always and only subjective.  It’s Always about where we are, what we are doing, how we feel, what we feel… endless facets, all capable of changing and shaping the configurations of muscles on our face, and the way the light hits them.

So what makes a Selfie a good selfie?  Authenticity?

I think so, Buzz.  I do think so.

A quick shot of my left hand & shoulder from a mirror in Feb.
A quick shot of my left hand & shoulder from a mirror in Feb.
Awkward shot of my Right hand in a mirror for reference, Feb.  Music stands work as a matte black ground...
Awkward shot of my Right hand in a mirror for reference, Feb. Music stands work as a matte black ground…

 

singing, now....
drawing (anatomy mistakes in the RH knuckle – now fixed)
this morning by 9:30am.  Includes a heretical symbol for the wings of enlightenment, used by a printer in the 13th century to signal gnostic pilgrims that the way was safe...
this morning by 9:30am. Includes a heretical symbol for the wings of enlightenment, used by a printer in the 13th century to signal gnostic pilgrims that the way was safe…
3pm today.  It has since transformed again...
3pm today. It has since transformed again…

 

What’s my point?

We create an image of ourselves that is constantly changing; we are constantly changing.  There is no true constant image when viewed from the outside.

Maybe there is from the inside, though.

A working theory.