Still of the Night

There is something magical about that tiny window of time where all the workers have vacated the worksite and I am left to my own thoughts. It is a special kind of calm where my thoughts are not colliding but enter politely one at a time. So composed, so serene. I could get used to this pace but this window is fleeting but while it is here, I’m allowing mental stretching. Recently I watched a PBS series about sleep and they discussed how sleep can give you the time/space to settle mental confusion. This struck me as appropriate because I routinely dreamed choreography threads for the rehearsals with my dance company. The dreams were so vivid, I can still see them today. The human mind is remarkable like that because years later certain memories are clear as a bell. This past month a beautiful performer, designer and artist Geoffrey Holder past away. His son wrote a brilliant tribute to his father and described the last hours of his life. According to his story, Mr. Holder was choreographing and dancing not just to the end but through the end. He is a huge inspiration. RIP Mr. Holder, even in death you are guiding us towards the joy of living. Continuing this exploration of inspirations, last weekend I attended Basil Twist’s “ballet without dancers” at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. It was a trilogy of kinetic theater highlighting Stravinsky’s “The Rite Of Spring” with the St. Luke’s Orchestra performing the still haunting picturesque music. The “dance” presented was profoundly amazing puppeteering on all accounts because the scale and timing were pitch perfect. Mr. Twist has a knack for other-worldliness and he deserves high praise for delivering a masterful work. He calls himself a choreographer and one of his dancers referred to being Mr. Twist’s puppet during the lovely wine reception offered by the White Light Festival. Finally the telephone is the supreme interrupter with different ring tone for different members of my family and friends. In this case my best beloved is letting me know he is hitting the train to come home. So my window just closed and it appears that a door is about to open. Sweet dreams you’all.

Photo of Yours Truly by Photographer Kari Otero

Photo of Yours Truly by Photographer Kari Otero

Random beginning

Woke up today with a song in my head. Bye Bye Blackbird.
Drank coffee on rooftop. Enjoyed watching a bee walk around my cup until it almost drown.
Inspected past work and predicted future work.
Fretted and worried as usual.
Could only find a Bob Fosse version of Bye Bye Blackbird in music collection.
Odd.
Ate soup and want a second bowl.
Putting my ducks in a row.
Suited up for another warrior day in NYC.
Yoko Ono sing “Kiss, kiss, kiss”
Sexy.
Recalled the time I traded for piano lessons with an old school teacher who wore white gloves when she went out for errands with her rolling cart. Michelle Wilt. She was not nice to anyone but she was nice to me.
Brandenburg Concerto is my exit music as I leave the apt.
Sweet.
The sunshine is spectacular. Vitamin D makes me happy.

Who doesn't love a good picnic!

Who doesn’t love a good picnic!

The Unintended

When I started to understand the theories of quantum physics it all made total sense to me because that is what I experience as a working artist everyday. The Latin word “quantum” means “how great” or “how much”. Put a question mark next to these 2 meanings and now you understand how basic an artist’s journey is. There are lots of philosophies that enhance my own way of creative thinking. I’m influenced knowing that it is not possible to know the values of concurrent energies at the same time because when you intensely observing one form of energy you are missing the others also going on at the same time. There is just too much going on. Scientists might refer to this as “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle” – I prefer to think of it as a lyric by John Lennon’s “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”. Artists keep their eye on the prize by focusing with intensity on their product-making while simultaneous sometimes imperceptive actions are happening all around us. One of the reasons I liked the work of choreographer Pina Bausch was her penchant for filling her stage with layers and layers of interactive humanity, large and small. The eye wondered everywhere and after a few days of processing what occurred on that stage – it mostly resulted in wonderful resonant memories – ones I still carry along with me. This brings me to one of my theories about modern art: the viewer might have to see it multiple times to fully appreciate the artwork or one might have to sit with it for a while to give it the freedom to speak to you on a cellular level. When that happens it truly makes for a life worth living. In the 21st Century we tend to rush and many of us have our faces fixated on little hand-held screens; looking down. Lots of life speeds by in a short amount of time, with art I hope that individuals give it more time because otherwise I believe people miss many of the healthier aspects that art can offer them. This amount of rushing and downward gazing seems like a tragic loss. Recently watched a sci-fi film called “In Time” where the exchange currency was time not money and the main character (Justin Timberlake) inherited more time than he knew what to do with. Having extra time is a totally fantasy and I am most likely not alone with that fantasy. There used to be a phrases associated with time like “leisure time”; “quality time” but time seems too abstract a concept to be pigeonholed in any way. Daylight and darkness rule my worlds. In addition to thinking deep thoughts about life, time, art, humanity I am influenced by light. As we are entering into “daylight savings time” it gets darker earlier than I am willing to accept, no matter how many years this routinely happens. I feel like I internalize the Greek myth of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and harvest goddess Demeter. Persephone abducted by Hades, King of the Underworld, is mourned by her mother who allows the world to grow dark, cold and lack vegetation until spring when she makes the world brighter. Nevertheless as I watch urbanites walking with their faces embedded in various hand held devices, the artist in me is developing new theories about eye-contact.

Kathleen Laziza in "Mixology" with photo by Kari Otero of  Mrs O Photography

Kathleen Laziza in “Mixology” with photo by Kari Otero of
Mrs O Photography

Wild One

Creativity is rarely embraced by the faint of heart because somewhere in that embrace is the requirement for individuals to risk authenticity. Creativity comes from and goes to a deeper place inside your head, some might call it your soul. It may not be completely clear at the onset but if your life is lived fully everyday then you will come face to face with questions like these big 3: Who am I? Where am I going? Why am I here? Language is not adequate enough to answer these questions but evolving intellect through creativity is, however it is a little bit like reading tea leaves from an afternoon brew. When I read the works of G. I. Gurjieff, the late 19/early 20th century mystic, especially his “Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson” it impressed me because he fabricated his story about people’s behavior by placing the Grandson in the solar system to observe humans from afar. The astute observations were uncanny and strangely unchanged since the book was written in 1950. One of the patterns of interaction involved deceit that leads to greater and greater hostility. Being honest with yourself is hard to do internally but in a teaming metropolis, it is impossible to know where boundaries lay since we are subject to influences. That is why advertising works because people are neither skeptical or self-motivated. Becoming creative means that you have to be both self-motivated and skeptical. Recently I read an article by Peter Funt (son of Allen Funt) who created “Candid Camera”. He wrote that people have changed their participation for mishaps in their lives, for example when an ice cream machine would not turn off instead of reaching out to someone to stop the problem people reached in for their cell phones to record it. I suppose this kind of passivity is to be expected because so much of our training is observe life from a safe distance. My personal artistic life has not been cautious because it was built on being self-reliant however I am not sure how it would play on the planet Saturn. Would Beelzebub’s Grandson see my artist hive as a site for direct interaction and collaboration or would be be absorbed into a bigger picture and disappear into obscurity. Either way I intend to be a wild one, to march to my own drummer, to seek the impossible dream or at least die trying.

Hello again

Having had opportunities to travel as a young women changed me forever but not having the luxury of traveling this year was another opportunity to wipe the slate clean since September/October is a crucible time for new beginnings, finishing up on lingering elements of my professional goals and preparation for winter. The concept “What goes around comes around” is making me ponder the significance of reflections, as we are often a mirror to our selves and as a group manifested in the ways we philosophic segregate. Interestingly the Celtic form of fortune-telling “Runes” gives you insight from learning about the shadow self, the part of ourselves that everyone sees but we do not. Runes is more like a refraction, which Wikipedia says “is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in the transmission medium.” You need light for a reflection and shadows are void of light. My recent NYC staycation allowed me to watch many films about our fair town. Starting with the superior documentary about the “Central Park Five” by film maker Ken Burns. There were oppressive forces at play in 1989 and all of them speaks to NYC’s ugly racial culture. The film exposed the shadow of police interaction with the darker skinned citizens of NYC. These 5 railroaded youngsters were only 14, 15, 16 years old. The pain was lethal to their families, community and the city at large. One reporter suggested that when you start to learn about an atrocity you pray that the criminal was not your ethnic type since you will be judged unfairly because humans are crazy prejudiced. So it was pretty important that the real criminal confessed to the original brutal rape of a young female jogger, DNA which was in police hand the whole time was re-established and eventually these 5 innocent young men were exonerated. The deeply racial disparity of NYC makes me pause because I have no real clue what racial profiling feels like as a ongoing interruption. What goes around comes around does not apply here or if it does the arc is so long that we cannot see the end. Nobody deserves to be scapegoated for anything that was not their doing. Strangely at the time of our screening this became a modern happy ending with their 40 million dollar settlement announcement. I wish them well because while money cannot buy happiness but it can buy education, homes, transportation, travel etc… and those experiences build happiness. In my past weeks of NYC centric film watching, the 30th anniversary of “Ghostbusters” brought the iconic movie back into the theaters. The film was a backdrop to many years of my life since my children adored the song and the film was a frequent favorite in the VHS player. Two boys and 8 years of Ghostbuster madness, I was pleased to see there were humorous bits that still reflected well on NYC and resonated with the group of 30 year old viewers who loved it as a 5 year old. My 2 personal favorites were that the film seemed to employ the entire film extra industry and the realtor referred to the abandon broken firehouse as a “fixer-upper”. LOL! I’ve totally been there. My final NYC centric film was “The French Connection”. It was primarily shot in Red Hook/Dumbo/Westside highway areas of NYC with one of the best police car/regular car smash-‘em-ups ever! Piles and piles of cars but the film turned into a game of “name that corner” making this cinemagraphic diversion a perfect one that followed a long day of essential chores, fulfilled expectations and finishing unfinished business. Delighted to report that the endings are clearing the way for promising beginnings and that will include some traveling as far from my couch as I can possibly get.

My NYC Staycation 2014

My NYC Staycation 2014

Out of character

Recently I met my beloved at the MOMA garden before we looked at the Sigmar Polke exhibit “Alibis”. Most of our dates revolve around art, music and theater. It was a treat to connect while looking at boisterous statues, listening to splashy water fountains and dodging aggressive tourists. I thank summer for bringing us together at dusk. The Polke show was fascinating because his work offered cunning variety. Altogether, his five decades of art production were witty, irreverent and inspiring. Especially enjoyed elements of his techniques, enchanted by his sustained will to experiment and in awe of his expressive, prolific nature. When we returned to our humble abode full of NYC wonderful-ness, there was even a movie being played in the schoolyard behind the facilities. It all seemed so pleasant and summery. We listened in vain to see if we could sense what movie was being screened but it was too distorted. By then we were deciding on the amount of tequila for our margaritas and the choice of the movie we intended to watch. I later learned how various neighbors complained bitterly on a chat site online about the movie’s amplification. I can only wonder what kind of sourpuss lives they are leading. People say they want community and then when that community is loud for one night they seem to freak out. Can they not understand that being open – minded is the price we sometimes pay for having a living breathing healthy community. Besides it is summer, aren’t people allowed to be loud, wild and crazy? Not that this outdoor movie qualified as such since it seemed like a family-friendly musical and it was over well before 11PM, (which is the legal limit for noise in NYC). The movie we selected to watch was an adorable French film called RUMBA. It was a typical French comedy, very corny! Basically it involved a young couple who were teachers at the same school. They were also amateur competing rumba dancers but as pratfall, mishap and chaos ensue she ends up losing her leg and he loses his mind but they still kept the pleasant, silly vibe going. The film offered every gag imaginable but it never got tedious, since probably by then the tequila was working its magic on our Friday night. Winter is so personally limiting since wearing layers and layers of protection against the cold is far from the casual luxury of being able to wear sandals and a sundress while sitting in a beautiful outdoor garden waiting for your beloved to arrive. Seems like winter wears me out and summer restores me, it has always been that way for me. Summer frees me to think deep thoughts like my new theory about age. There is only one age: alive or dead. You are either alive and therefore spontaneously selecting the fun-loving possibilities available to reenforce alive-ness or dead and frustrated because controlling something like public expressions of summer is the material for an early grave. If I were to offer a word of advice to my angered neighbors, please step outside feel the night air on your skin, look up at the stars and realize we are all stardust. There has got to be some humor in that.

Photo by Kari Otero at Coffey Park in Red Hook Brooklyn baby!

Photo by Kari Otero at Coffey Park in Red Hook Brooklyn baby!

Culturally challenged

There were several announcements explaining various institutional miscalculations in NYC’s not-for-profit art world this past week. Sadly I am learning about the “next size up on the eco-art food chain” museums (OMG! plural) are potentially floundering and in some cases have been for years. I am not exactly surprised; I too am steering my own raft of artists in the same huge economic sea as them, as a part of a diverse national entertainment sector. It is pretty rough; sometimes rocky but grateful I took steps to balance my part at the turn of the millennium. Like all good self enlightening enterprises; our mission had to acknowledge that for better or worse art is a patronage game, we are fully responsible for our actions, and we had to budget accordingly. The broader narrative of how we got here as a city regrettably stems from income inequality while ├╝ber-wealthy people removed their substantial financial contributions to our civilized society via health care, education, safe, productive working environments, advanced communications and transportation etc… so the message could not be clearer, there was little hope for artists in this desperately impoverished mentality. In all fairness probably our ragtag group of avant-garde artists were not an easy sell, everything seemed “wrong” about us from a foundation’s point of view; and corporations would never take a chance on something so unpredictable; nevertheless we became incredibly entrepreneurial. Someday I will write a book about Micro Museum’s wondrous and inclusive prolific ways but right now my recent awareness of the status of some of NYC’s newest emerging cultural destinations struggle is disheartening. This systemic lack of opportunity and appreciation for its citizens and international visitors to have nuanced art experiences is a bad economic plan for any city but NY city? Wow, it ain’t right. I know this challenge is not over since we are proudly innovative so I’ll refrain from raising a white flag or anything like that, however speaking of white flags…. did you hear about a gorilla action that switched out the 2 USA flag on the Brooklyn Bridge for 2 white flags. A police spokesperson speculated that it must have been “someone’s art project”. This totally made me burst into Brooklynese “Fucking someone’s art fucking project??” Are ya shitting me? on one of the USA’s most goddamn iconic bridge? Does any of this make fucking sense? In my goddamn wildest dreams I hope it was a loony-ass dancer doing his ‘Ode to Surrender’ dance, like the cartoonist Jules Feiffer famed NYC illustrations. So far the purpose behind the gorilla action is still a mystery and so are stingy mindsets because if NYC strangles its uniquely world-class cultural attractions through lack of sustainable funding, it will become a city of dandelions instead of hybrid flowers.

Dandelion City

Dandelion City