The Chirping of Freeform Birds:A Tale of Falling in Love
As an artist of transition, I've been battling with my own flux, or more accurately, my own lack thereof. For almost 3 years I’ve been after a story, at the end of a book, but could not find so much as the cover or spine for the next. It's been debilitating, degrading, demeaning, and draining.
Saturday evening, getting ok with taking my shoes off more than literally and swimming neck deep in the meanings of “welcome home”, I walk toward the effigy burn; purple wicking its way up the day blue sky as if an over saturated napkin at some utopian bar. Inspiration vibrating, resonating in me, through me, like the bass compelling these minstrels and mammals to give their wiggles to the gods of jubilation, shining down upon them with great favor and adore.
Standing there, I felt a force tugging at my me, my heartstrings, the most buried and sequestered corners of my psyche. As a lantern floated into my field of vision and away to the sky, so with it took the weight of my encumbering detriments, granting me my theatrical finale, yes, but also the elation of the direction and clarity begotten of this first page being seen, the beginning of this whole next tale.
With this dirigible, I found the opening notes of a magnificent fantasia in the stirrings of curtains closing. In the eyes of each person touched by my process, our now shared process,I found myself gazing into the eyes of an old, almost unfamiliar lover. I found myself gazing into the eyes of my art, or more respectfully...art, the ether, the human condition.We immediately fell deeply in love, as if star crossed youth from rival houses. May poison and puncture stay from this connection for some time.
Here's the first entry from "The Serenity Prayer" that I started back in 2009-10 and finished at Freeform (my first burn/festival/artist gathering) in 2013.
"The Chirping of Freeform Birds: Grant Me the Serenity"
I started this one at the tail end of my first marriage.
Years of being strung out in a destructive, all-consuming, and wicked attempt at ignoring my wounds and becoming something new burned all of my bridges and had me across the country in recovery to try again. After a few years in a 12 step program had introduced me to accountability, remorse, and a process with step work, I remembered my art, and how it always brought me to that "somewhere else", that place where things could be ok and started to combine the two processes for a time.
I fell out of practice, left the rooms, began ignoring my art again and jumping back into abandon with two feet. I attempted to pull myself out by trying to make someone I had recently hurt feel better. A series of interpreted reactive accommodations led from comforting to dating, to being exclusive, to engaged, to married. I was putting all of my creative energies into emulating domestication, becoming hyper focused on every minute reaction, trying to pave a path of least resistance with an enjoyable amount of flowers and acknowledgment along the way. For a time, the smoothest points were when I was the most mechanical, procedural, and polite. The most disconnected from the person I could be and simply problem solving and mediating this other entity. Questing for some normalcy I ended up doing the "house, spouse, car, and nice tv's" thing.
Over time, the harder I tried to click into this auto-pilot regiment, the more deeply it drained me, the more each pleasantry became an annoyance between us, the more I just hid somewhere in the house and scribbled. I was depressed, self-suppressed, and about 160 lbs heavier. I was conservative, pretty closed-minded, and short-sighted. Years into this wheel of argue, work 12+ hours, eat, argue, maybe art in the basement for a bit, sleep, repeat was starting to make my thoughts feeling progressively muddier. For little chunks of time at the drawing board, everything would be clear and vibrant. I started to get back into examining deeply and expressing honestly, even if only here. The circle that became my logo happened for the first time. "There's nothing left but to admit that..." repeating as many times as I could read it. As much as I could ignore my art lashing out at me before, I couldn't with this, and I asked for a divorce.
I fell a bit back into the muck and destruction, but put more of me into fitness and growth with the help of a great family I met through a roommate and the gym. I began to see that the thing I was lacking wasn't just normalcy or peace, but connection and authenticity. With others, with myself, with my past, and with my art. I was invited to go to a regional burn by some bohemians I had met and agreed to go mostly because of an understanding that we'd all three be sharing a tent and that seemed great. They told me to bring my art with me and I was a tad repulsed. This thing had sort of dragged me through the mud and blood and I didn't really want to do that in front of people. I especially didn't want to scare off these new people.
I get to this event and see castles and costumes and creatives and completely forget about my campsite. Other than setting it up and maybe once napping there I spent the whole of my time being dunked in a place built entirely out of the implementation of imagination and art. I was meeting droves of new people that I somehow recognized and felt safe with. I started working on this piece of the serenity prayer in a camp from Baltimore's first set up after helping with some meal prep. I wasn't necessarily trying to finish the art, but it kept needing less and less as I talked and painted. People asked me a question I don't think I had been asked before then. They asked, "Why did you make this?"
Elated and seen, I worked swiftly and shared honestly. The mud and muck of before was heating into magma in my veins. The darkness and cold was becoming vast, warm and bright. As I finished this piece and finished talking I realized what was 1 or 2 people were now many. I could feel a connection being shared, I could tell they had been affected. What was so new and astounding beyond that, is that I could tell it was authentic and positive. It was constructive and something they could have for themselves.
I had mattered to people before. Changed them or made them different in some irreparable way...but never like this. Never positively. Never from my art.
Never as me.
I didn't know what continuing this process would do for me, at all, but it was so very obvious that I had to continue giving it everything.