Preoccupied with Concern

The pretty images above were all taken in Singapore, several years ago. Singapore is a lovely, orderly country where there is literally no crime or corruption, where people respect the laws of government and place a high value on history. Singaporeans exist peacefully with each other and their neighbors. The locale is heavenly, the food is fantastic, the architecture is stunning and the people are quite curious about America. The pictures were placed in this blog as eye-candy in hopes that you will read down to the following text.

But these days I am preoccupied with thoughts of destruction. I tried very hard to write something else today but I could not control my seething fingers. I have become so distracted, so preoccupied, almost oblivious to the memories of the way things used to be in our lives, before he was elected. All I see in my future is conflict. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my country for the poor choices we are allowing to be made for us and the new set of despicable values that have become the norm in Washington DC. We have lost our honor, America.

America, bless its ignorant heart, is killing itself. We have become suicidal.

I thought we had become better educated than this. I have become sadly preoccupied with watching America self-destruct as it unfolds in the daily news. There are not enough hours in the day for every single thing that needs our “powerless” attention and our hollow “hopes and prayers”. In a miniscule period, equal to one ten-millionth of the blink of an eye in  the universal scheme of Time, we have lost our democracy to an uninformed, poorly educated, narcissistic, sociopathic, immoral lunatic who takes sick delight in chaos and hatred.

Our fragile world is fish-tailing across time, bobbing and weaving under the pressure of the increasing number of internal negative elements whose common purpose is to take us to our knees and render us helpless to change anything. The path of destruction widens daily as new levels of insidious corruption and malfeasance reveal themselves. Things have always been dicey on this planet; no consistent certainty of which side is winning during the time of our existence. But now… these days, it seems clear that the good side is losing. Before I was preoccupied, I woke up optimistic about humanity. Now a disproportionate portion of my waking hours are spent in terror of what is unfolding right before my eyes.

I am ashamed of my government. It no longer stands for the greater good. It is infested with greed and corruption and hunger for power in epidemic proportions, destroying our foundation in methodical precision. As if by hoards of ravenous grasshoppers on a rampage, we are being chewed down and eaten alive by our elected officials, leaving a barren path of nothingness; devoured by politicians who are getting fat and sick on rage, revenge and the new Republican mantra of apathy toward the people who elected them. Do these people in Washington not have children and grandchildren? Where is their vision for the future? What sense of responsibility do they have, other than to their own egos? For all this their dark legacy will be remembered; they are the destruction-ists.

If you are a person who cannot see it, you are more than just blind; you are self-absorbed, in denial, numb to the truth, ignorant of past history or too lazy to care. You are not preoccupied enough with the current state of affairs. You must fortify your courage and read about this phenomenon. You must be informed. You need to know what we are losing on a daily basis and define just what it is that you personally believe is worth fighting for, not abstractly but in the bloody trenches. Do not remain blind, deaf and dumb to history being made in the daily decisions of ignorant fools.

Major accomplishments that have taken decades to put in place are being vaporized right before our eyes. Not only basic human rights and privileges for every human being, but environmental protections critical to our planet’s survival. Water and air are becoming more and more contaminated but clean water and fresh air are no longer considered a basic human right. Education loses and guns win. Poverty and hunger remain as ostentatious military parades are planned. Parks and national treasures are being destroyed and dismantled for the sake of more oil and minerals. Walls are built and fear is mandated. Does this sound like it could be a description of North Korea or Russia?  Germany during WW II? Hell yes it does, but it is happening here in America.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that a handful of treacherous men and women in high places have taken it upon themselves to promote, follow and enable a warped and perverted leader in the process of accomplishing his murderous agenda.

How can we allow this to happen?

What is wrong with us?

Must we allow everything to be torn down in order to see the light again?

History is always our teacher; nothing good can come from this.

 

 

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The Fourth of July Weekend and Summer Art

  

first photo courtesy of winridge.srgliving.com – second photo courtesy of artsnfood.BlogSpot.com – third from visitfortmeyers.wordpress.com

Summer in the Denver area is plentiful with outdoor opportunities for art, wine and food appreciation.  Friday we spent all afternoon walking the route of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in the premiere gallery district of the Denver area. I had not attended in many years due to the fact that I was living in California, but now I am back where I belong and happy to have had the opportunity to be leisurely wandering around at the festival checking out the art and craft of fine artisans from all over the country. The competition at this event is always fierce and the art is nationally diverse – ceramics, photography, woodworking, mixed media, watercolor, oils, acrylics, textiles, pastels, jewelry, baskets, metalwork, glass and even more. It took about 3-4 hours to make our way around, not even stopping to inspect each and every booth, and with an hour or so lunch break. It was hot, of course, as you would expect on July 4th, but everyone was well prepared. Even I did not get all hot pink and crisp as I might have – I was wearing a wide brimmed hat and layers of SPF15.

My companion and I are both artists – experienced life-long artists, who have had deep experiences with many galleries and selling situations. We have empathy for what is required of an artist to pay for a booth, fill it with art that has been carefully packed and transported from far away places, SMILE, answer questions and talk to people all day long while roasting in the heat and also attempt to make sales so that you can do better than just breaking even. Many of the people we spoke to said that sales were slow, but of course it was only the first day. Some booth owners were sitting in chairs out behind their booths rather than standing up inside where they could meet & greet the visitors….not such a great idea, expecting customers to come and search for you behind your booth….

Several things struck us as we made the rounds. Generally speaking, the art was highly commercial – much more polished and expensive than you would find at the art fairs in the mountain communities such as Evergreen. The people who do these major festivals make a  profession of it because they have to in order to sell. They make more money in summer events and seasonal bazaars than if they tried to sell in galleries, and so the product has become rather slick and in some cases a bit trite. But that is what happens down through the years – the game keeps getting more competitive and the art has to become geared to the mass-market tastes of the people who attend the shows.

Another thing we noticed, in a big way, was the relative absence of any quality abstract art. There were feeble attempts at abstraction, but the few examples we found were soul-less and poorly done. How does this happen in such a prestigious venue and why? Of course the jury committee decides who makes the cut – and if the powers that be have no appreciation of abstract art, and/or that kind of art has no audience and just does not sell…..well than we have a sort of sad situation. If you don’t even show abstracted images how will you build an educated following? People have to see it to learn and understand it. I would rather see a bit more abstract art in the show and less furniture inlayed with thousands of bottle caps. I would rather see an abstracted landscape here and there in the show than 55 ways to paint a red barn. But that’s just me. Well hell YES it is just me! I have a right to expect a bit more intellectual stimulation from a summer art fair that has such a fine reputation and gathers such huge numbers of attendees.

Nevertheless we had a great time – the food trucks were like an art show all their own – and deciding what to eat was a 25 minute long walking and smelling crash course in gourmet food truck cuisine. So much to choose from and so many wonderful aromas – I settled on Greek. Of course the “people watching” is often better than the art – it IS THE BEST FORM OF ART, actually. I kept thinking I was seeing people I knew – from years ago when I lived here – in disguise – as older people than I remember them to be. Me included in that same type of disguise.

From there we went to a traditional dinner menu of  BBQ chicken, potato salad, etc. from my own kitchen followed by fireworks and ooo’s and aahhh’s. Then the familiar tingling feeling we get when we remember why we are celebrating and what we have to lose if we do not stay aware and alert. The older I get, disguise or not, I can barely hold back the tears that come when we celebrate the Fourth of July and I realize once again how amazed and blessed I am to have been born in a country where I am free. If I had but one wish, it would be that everyone everywhere, no matter what the circumstances and location of their births, could experience a life of free choices. It is precisely what makes a life worth living.

The Creative Epiphany – The Proverbial Springtime in the Rockies

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Photos from the south Denver area looking west, March 8, 2014

Here we are just a week from SPRING! and yet it is white everywhere. Yesterday we had a cotton-ball fluffy, white-out blizzard thing blowing up in our faces and our noses here in my south Denver area and today it is melted off in all the right places and the sky is supernaturally blue. The snowmen, so carefully created yesterday afternoon at the height of the  action are now slumped over and dripping sweat from this afternoon’s warm-up to a near 50 degrees. And so it goes in SPRING!

This will be the mother nature of things for the next couple months here in the Rocky Mountain region as SPRING! springs forward and then changes her feminine mind only to retreat and accept another wintry blast from the past. We actually like it, this back & forth, even while we complain about dressing in the morning for coldness and peeling off layers as the day progresses to warm, sunny afternoons. Shorts by afternoon is a not an uncommon thing for us in March and April.

We are almost ready to bid a fond adieu to the snowiest winter in over 20 years. Many of the mountain ski resorts have a base of well over 300 inches of snow and added another 2-3 ft.  in the past few days. There is a long and winding slowly moving line of cars heading up through the canyons into the mountains to the ski areas, and SPRING! break is a perfect time to ski….our lovely neighbor to the west, Lake Tahoe, has not been blessed with the powder this winter. Some years you are the anointed one and some years you are not. We feel your pain; been there too and done that.

We here, however, are on a Rocky Mountain High. We breathe deeply the joy of living in this spectacular setting.

The Creative Epiphany – Refrigerator Wisdom in the USA

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I love to entertain, and when I do my guests spend time in the kitchen reading my frig art. I do believe this is an American art form too long overlooked – each and every frig magnet selection is unique and timely and informative…..it  reveals the philosophy of the household and the mood of the decade. It is a barometer of the times, so to speak, unless your magnets and clippings are so old that they should be replaced. You do want your frig art to be timely, for Pete’s sake. It is  a passive-aggressive message board, saying everything you would not or could not say out loud, in a sort of  “ok read it at your own risk” kind of way….”I don’t know how it got up there but….” and then “well of course it’s my house but sometimes other people just…”

And people do give me magnets all the time, and purposely walk in the door, then into the kitchen and boldly post something on my frig. They are too chicken to put it on their own damn frig.  So I am an enabler. I took down some of the more suggestive, but hilarious ones for the noble cause of this blog post.

Are you a neat display freak or do you slap stuff up there all willy-nilly? I am both, depending on the day and what kind of hurry I am in. Sometimes I take it all down and edit it in an attempt to make sense of it all. I am an eclectic frig displayer – I like a frisky assortment of messages.

What’s on your frig?  Are you leaning toward political statements or the literary, wisdom themes or the sexy themes or what?

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Of course Jack Kerouac is always great – and Rumi has certainly stood the test of time. You cannot find a more fascinating author of life’s lessons than Rumi. I wish I could put 100 of his quotes on my frig.

My current favorite by far is the menacing bird, saying “I would sell you to Satan for one corn chip.” Such a great message about life – watch out for those who can be cheaply bought, and be careful of the simple offer disguised as a good deal. You never know who you are dealing with, or who he represents…..are you the corn chip or the devil? All of the bird quotes on my frig are from  www.mincingmockingbirds.com – a website that is crazy and kinda sick – love it. The Satan bird is positioned right in the middle of a group of timeless Matisse images which makes no sense but who cares.

Another one that shows up in the group photo – about the tomato – is a great hit at my house, indicative of a person we all know who shall go nameless and had a legendary tendency to tell everyone what to do about every single teeny little detail of life. My sister gave me the magnet and assertively slapped in on the frig when she came to visit one time…..a not so subtle suggestion that did not actually go over very well but made most of us feel better that we had done something to express our disapproval.

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I think an international art exhibit of frig art is long overdue, and so let’s think about doing that…wouldn’t we all know each other better if we could just walk into kitchens around the world and read everyone’s frig art?

The Creative Epiphany – HAPPY NEW YEAR, WORLD!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE USA!

Photo courtesy of santabanta.com

Here we are – the year had to end somewhere and today is the day. Are you ready for a NEW ONE? Up to the challenges ahead of us?

We will all be in it together, cringing at the ridiculous, saddened by the tragic, laughing at the humor of life, being disgusted by the actions of some, proud of others, and taking in the joy when something actually goes right. Those of us who are champions of humanitarianism and innocent with eternal optimism want to end world hunger, save the whales, cure cancer, clean up the planet, end terrorism once and for all, bring about peace, educate all children, and care for the homeless and those who are suffering as we love one another. That is a tall order, but we continue to do whatever we can. And that is driven by eternal HOPE.

I have no resolutions for the NEW YEAR other than to continue what I have been doing – laugh more, be grateful for every day, practice random acts of kindness, tell the people that you love how you feel about them and if there is any good that can be done, then by all means do it.

My thanks go out to all of you for caring enough to follow this humble blog, allowing me to spout off about whatever spontaneous observations cross my mind. What an honor and a privilege that is. I am fortunate to live in a country where speaking out is encouraged – and I wish the same for you. I know who you are – those of you who do not enjoy that same freedom of speech. I agonize for your loss of freedom. I wish for you a better condition.

The best to all of you! Let’s hope the New Year brings about positive change for all.

bliss

mixed media painting by Jo Ann Brown-Scott copyright 2013

The Creative Epiphany – Richard Blanco

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If you were fortunate enough to hear the poem that Richard Blanco wrote and recited at the Inauguration ceremonies then I would imagine you were as moved as was I by his eloquent words. Simple words. No lofty vocabulary leaving you eager to grab your dictionary – just humble, everyday words carefully selected and artfully arranged to describe ONE TODAY in our United States of America. You can read this poem to yourself, but far better it is to see the video of him reciting it in his own deep and reverent voice, pronouncing words with his own accent and placing emphasis where he wanted it to be. The poem is a celebration of the common man and common woman going about their business on a common day in a most uncommon country – the USA. It is a poem about quiet courage and consistent hope. It is a poem about continuing to persevere, doing what we do, adding our percentages to the common whole, all under one common sky, with the hope that change will gradually happen and our children and their children will see an even better time than we have seen.

It seems to me that if there is one common thing we all share, it is that hope.