reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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apples and bananas. [d.r. thursday]

Eve copy

EVE 48″ x 48″

like many of you, i have laid awake many nights now.  exhausted when i lay my head down and then, voila!, wide awake.  the middle of the night has many monsters these days.  it used to be that as i lay awake and would get hungry and hungrier, i would convince david that the perfect thing, rousing him from sleep, would be to have a 3am bowl of cereal together.  since we went dairy-gluten-free i’ve substituted and have chosen a banana in the wee hours.  somewhere i read that bananas are sleep aids, so waking david up to have a banana seemed like i was helping him.  but now, we have no bananas.

we need to go to the grocery store.  but it’s complicated, with disinfecting wipes during our trip there and being absolutely careful upon our return home to wash everything or store it for a period of time.  it’s important, vital.  we step back from the person who is a  personal-space-invader.  we make room on the walking path for those coming the other way.  we marvel at the recklessness of large numbers of people still gathering in spaces.  we weep for those who have succumbed to a disease that is apparently sorely underestimated.

this painting, eve, is a beautiful landscape of color and shape.  eve, religiously historic as the first woman.

is it possible that the apple of eve and adam, the one in the story from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, could now be seen as a casualness toward the spread of this pandemic, a cavalier attitude, a lack of regard toward social distancing or the peril facing citizens, medical personnel, workers at essential businesses?   the apple that, in the story, changed everything, for all time?

another reason to choose bananas.

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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EVE ©️ 2004 david robinson

 


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wrinkles. [two artists tuesday]

barney spring 2020

in the last year of my sweet momma’s life, at not quite 94, she would say astonished things like, “i looked in the mirror and i look like an old woman!”  we would laugh together when we mentioned her age and that she had earned every last wrinkle, every age spot, every grey hair.  never have i seen a more beautiful old woman.  in a life that spanned from 1921 to 2015 her hazel eyes saw vast changes, world hurdles, family loss and strife, wild technological advances.  and love.

barney was born around the same time as my momma.  i wonder about the life he had before he arrived in the basement boiler room.  was he a honkytonk piano, a barroom upright, a sunday school accompaniment, the instrument in someone’s drawing room?  he was headed to the scrap guy when we met him and we intervened.  i suppose as he has lingered in our backyard these last five years he would wonder about the reflection in the mirror, his outer shell, those wrinkles, that peeling laminate, the keys that no longer play.  does he realize that chipmunks perch on his brow and snack on acorns?  does he realize that birds land, patiently in wait for their respective and restrained turns at the birdfeeder?  does he realize that his soul remains rich, his exterior beautiful in its aging?

i laid awake for hours in the middle of the night last night.  i looked in the virtual mirror in my mind and saw wooden stages and boom mics, big pianos and blue jeans.  i realized, suddenly, that i am older.  despite everything that would suggest to me, try to convince me of, the contrary, i have gotten older.

scrolling through social media during this time of distancing it is stunning to see all the ways people are incorporating posting with streaming, youtube, visiting with google hangout, facetime, videoconferencing with zoom, webex, as they try to be there without being there.  it’s exhausting.

my 1970s-lingering-self puts on readers and starts to read the directions.  the chipmunks are perched on my brow and i resource apps to stay in the loop and do my part to help keep people connected in a time where connection could easily fall away.

i take a deep breath and remember the day that my sweet momma’s iphone facebook status read (from her assisted living facility in tampa) that she was checked in at a miami dolphins game in miami.  i quickly and quietly fixed it for her.

and then i giggle and think, ‘heck.  if she can do it, i can do it.’

it is the symbiosis of peeling back the layers, honoring the wrinkles, relying on each other’s strengths in the mirror and working together, the virtual birdfeeder our community.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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we are women. hear us roar. [d.r. thursday]

Modesty detail

a little modesty: mixed media 28″x22″

ohmygosh, women are beautiful.  women are strong.  women are underestimated.  women are courageous.  women are tender.  women are emotional.  women are smart.  women are bold.  women are modest.  women are utterly and undeniably amazing…

sharing two previous posts that i could not pen better than i did when i wrote them.  thank you for indulging me this repetition.  with love to the great big tribe called ‘womankind’. xoxo

WOMEN. WE’VE GOT BACKBONE. (dec. 1, 2016)

wordswomenwevegotbackbone-jpegliving with an artist means you get to poke around inside their passion. you get to see the things that paved the way, that set the stage, that were behind the scenes. you get to hear the stories of mountains climbed and deep valleys (read: chasms) scaled. an artist’s story is not a straight line and an artist’s art is fluid.

it also means you get to go through the piles, so to speak. i’ll play songs for him that never made it anywhere, onto any album, nor any stage. he’ll show me paintings or sketches that didn’t get framed or hung or shown or even looked at. sometimes i will just go downstairs into the studio and page through the painting stacks, traveling in time through my husband’s work. color and space and frenetic movement and paintings that breathe air; all tell a story about the place he was in when he painted them.

in a recent stroll through paintings, i stumbled upon this one. i pulled it out and sat down – right there on the floor – to gaze at it. there is just something about it.

grace.  strength.  i was struck by the beauty of its simplicity.

it made me think of so many women i know. my beautiful girl kirsten, who made her first turkey after spending a day on a snowboard on mountains she had never even seen a short three years ago. linda, tossing hay to a horse with a pitchfork and hugging alpaca, never before retirement dreaming of such a thing. marykay who wisely makes brownies (gf!) for every occasion, creating inroads for people to talk and share and become a part of a whole. jay, who is zealous about the children she works with at schools, a social worker beyond compare.   jen, who stretches herself to learn new things at all times, while standing strong for her husband, stunned by changes in their lives over the last year. which brings me to randi, with a similar story and the same dedication and generous spirit. daena, who grades papers and reads elementary school novels in-between playing her handbell parts, because she is more than prepared every school day. susan, who, singlehandedly, day after day raises three young men and teaches them to see this very strength and grace in women. sandy, who quietly and fervently and proudly stands strong for the LGBTQ community. heidi, a writer who bravely serves up pizzas with a frantic pace, because it helps her family. dianne, who tirelessly works side by side with her pastor husband, keeping a full-time job and volunteering for, well, everything. beth, who posts a picture of her stunning chemo-bald self every time another friend is diagnosed with breast cancer. my sweet momma, who was kind every single time and didn’t see differences or lines, even in pain, even in dying.

the list is unending. and it made me think this: WOMEN. WE’VE GOT BACKBONE.

because it’s true. in this time in our world, who of you cannot think of a woman or women you know who are the picture of strength, the picture of grace. i want to celebrate these women. i want to encourage these women. i want to honor these women. i want to celebrate, encourage, honor each of Us.

please forward this to women you know. not because there is a link to purchase Stuff – but because it is a Truth and as many women (and men) as possible need to see it…just to be reminded. add names to the list. in our herculean (and extraordinary) lives, let’s make this a herculean (and extraordinary) celebration.

i can’t think of a better time to further the celebrating, encouraging and honoring than right now. at a time when each of us WOMEN needs to be seen as strength and as grace.

we ARE women. and we DO have backbone.

WOMEN. YOU MADE IT THROUGH. (dec. 6, 2019)

made it through songbox

“i want women to see that you do not get pushed around.” (* attributed below)

this piece today is dedicated to all the women who have made it through, all the women who are making it through, all the women who will make it through.

your fire has brought you to the edge of the battlefield many times and you have still made lemonade; you have still prevailed.

you have made it through intensely emotionally abusive relationships.  you have picked up the pieces and you have moved on.

you have made it through physical or sexual abuse.  you have risen from the ashes.

you have made it through terrifying health scares.  you have pulled up your boot straps and determinedly plodded through with massive courage.

you have made it through society’s prioritizing of body image and appearance.  you have been measured by your cleavage or lack thereof, by the indent of your waist, by the clothing you choose, by your hair.  you struggle to remember you are beautiful.  you stand tall.

you have made it through vacuumous times, the middle of chaos, the middle of multi-tasking.  you have created.

you have made it through physical summit experiences.  you have scaled mountains.  you have boarded down untracked chutes.  you have trained your body with weights and exercise.  you have run.  you have skated.  you have pedaled.  you have breathed in and sighed an exhale.  you’ve run thousands of lengths of playing fields.  you took the next painful recuperating step.  you dove to the depths.  you have been on world stages.  you have risen with hungry or fevered children night after night.  you have competed.  you have given birth.

you have made it through falling.  you have made mistakes.  you have been human.  you have forgiven and you have been forgiven.

you have made it through an education steeped in gender-inequality and bias.   you have chosen to learn more, to actively seek the resources, rights and opportunities due you, to resist against the discrimination.

you have made it through a system that undermines your success and devalues your value.  you have fought for your place.

you have made it through financial challenges of single womanhood, of single motherhood.  you have been scrappy and, without complaint, you have layered onto yourself however much it took to get it done.

you have made it through work situations where you’ve questioned how you would be treated were you to be a man.  would you be yelled at?  would your professionalism be questioned?  you have asked these questions.  you have stayed, holding steadfast, or you have moved on; you have decided what is best for you and moved in that direction.

you have made it through the skewed-world fray into leadership roles where your every decision is challenged or thwarted.  you have overcome; you have triumphed.

you have made it through being-too-young and through aging.  and you are not irrelevant.

you have made it through.  you have spoken up, spoken back, spoken for.  you have written letters.  you have marched.

you have been pushed around.  but you have pushed back.  and, just like the tortoise, you have made it through.

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©️ 1997, 2000, 2008, 2016, 2019

(*this quote is attributed to nancy pelosi)


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this underpainting. [d.r. thursday]

underpainting

an underpainting is raw.  an authentic beginning, an authentic step in heading to a “finished” product.  often i am the one who asks david to stop…stop here.  there is something that speaks to me from the canvas of underpaintings.  something that says, “look.  i am here.  i am not perfect.  i am not done.  but i exist.”

maybe it’s the connection to real life, to humanness – the not-done-ness, the not-perfect-ness, the here-existence – that appeals to me.

it is a suggestion of completeness, but not yet really measurable or judgeable.  it is a tendency toward finished, but not contrived or overly-intended.  it is a step in the direction of a painting that an artist deems done, but a step, a ‘done’, we each see through our own eyes.

it is a parallel of life.  a start.  a blank canvas.  raw color.  authentic steps.  imperfect.  not done.  but here.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2020 david robinson


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the organ bench. [k.s. friday]

organ pipes

no one else.  there was literally no one else i knew who took organ lessons.  eight years old and i was the only one.  everyone else i knew took piano lessons.  they went to the new local music store –munro music on larkfield road in east northport – and had lessons in itty studios downstairs and came back upstairs to pick out sheet music from a big wall featuring the latest hits and books of collected artists, written out for various levels of piano-playing ability.  me?  i went to mr. i-never-knew-if-he-even-had-a-first-name sexton’s house (now, think about the torture my peers had with that name) and took organ lessons in the addition adjacent to the garage.  there was no wall of sheet music, were no cool guitars hanging up begging to be purchased, no amplifiers or drums.  just that one organ.  no windy or ode to billie joe or i’m a believer easy piano for me.  it was beautiful dreamer and long, long ago.  and hymns.  lots of hymns.  but i had been asking for lessons since i was five and the little chord organ that was my grandmother’s was moved aside and a ‘real’ organ with two manuals (keyboards) and real pedals and cha-cha button settings was added to the corner of the dining room that was next to the kitchen and the living room.

when i was ten i tearfully played the pipe organ for my brother’s wedding, the processional as my sweet sister-in-law walked down the aisle to my big brother.  yesterday i was talking to john whelan, a master celtic accordionist the exact same age as me, and we talked about the first real gig we did.  his was at 12 and he actually got paid.  mine was this wedding and, for obvious reasons, payment was out of the question.  i got to wear a really pretty peach-colored party dress and white shoulder stole and wept my way through the difficult piece.

after some time, i somehow convinced my parents that they needed both an organ and a piano and they signed me up for piano lessons.  joan ostrander, the very chic music teacher, was my first piano teacher and i adored her.  she pushed me and i adored that too.  i spent long hours practicing on the piano bench with my dog missi sleeping underneath, my dad whistling in the background.

in years to come i studied with the teacher-of-all-teachers alan walker and was convinced that the piano and i were kindred.  i taught more piano lessons on long island (and later florida and even wisconsin) than i can remember, back then driving from one house to another, delighting in each student’s joy playing the piano and progress no matter the pace, hoping to emulate the teaching style of this amazingly kind man.  after lessons we talked life and ham radio and ate open-faced crunchy peanut butter sandwiches.  music is not just about music, you know.

during my undergrad, i studied piano in college with one of the professors but kept bringing in pieces of original music and kept veering off course from assigned large scale pieces, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

as no real surprise, i majored in music composition, the first (?) step toward living as an artist, the first step in a road that leads to here and now.  so much in-between.  the gigging composer music timeline is filled with albums, concerts, performances, cd sales, radio and tv, qvc appearances, barnes & noble and borders, listening wall placement, phone calls, yamaha, traveling, shipping and more shipping, recording labels, carrying boxes, standing in the rain on flatbed trucks playing and singing, driving, driving, driving, press releases, graphic design, writing, recording, supportive family and friends and coworkers and a person named hope hughes.

but that organ.  it has kept on re-appearing.  somehow it is one of the threads that has woven its way through my life.  there aren’t that many of us out here:  people who play the organ, who can finesse a chosen timbre through the pipes and who can actually play lines of bass notes on the pedals.  those lessons from the very beginning somehow set the stage for me to work for three decades already as a minister of music.  conducting choirs and handbells and ukulele bands and worship bands, choosing music for services and performing groups, leading and shaping worship and, yep, playing the organ…it has been a constant.  there are days that i will pull out all the stops and play as loud as the organ pipes will allow.  its bellowing echoes through the sanctuary and i giggle as i think of my ten year old self, sitting on an organ bench in williston park on long island and crying.

what would i have thought if i had known that fifty years later i would still be sitting on an organ bench?

canyon love

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kneel. [d.r. thursday]

10275592_604954206294213_4390672829473118999_o

of all his watercolors, i remember this one.  maybe it’s universe-timing but the image of a person kneeling silently in reflection, in prayer, fading into the blue of eternal sky and the hinted suggestion of sun seems particularly synchronistic.  the fluidity of line, the brushstroke revealing the image of humanity – in a transitory time here as part of the whole.  a blurry-edged fleeting existence in all of time’s galaxy.

but the destruction, the disregard, the disrespect.  people who disassociate with the truth of here and now, gone tomorrow.  intent on pillaging the universe’s glee that each of us is here, each of us is exquisite, each of us can positively impact another.  this place is a place of profound beauty, the sky and the sun sure day to day.

perhaps the lure of this painting is the inkblot-exercise.  depending on what you focus on, the figure will be there, the figure will disappear.

perhaps the point is the earnest time on our knees, whether or not literal.  the questions we ask, the things for which we give thanks, the time to focus, the imploring to help us notice it all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2000 david robinson

 


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guide star. [d.r. thursday]

hotel art

last night we watched cnn’s broadcast movie about linda ronstadt “the sound of my voice”.  a star in every facet.  as we watched , we revisited times of our lives – times when the music we listened to was simpler, less engineered, less auto-tuned, less machinated, less acrobatic.  it was music of melody and harmony, stylistically less thickened by tracks of extraneous stuff.  it was indeed purer.  linda ronstadt, now in her 80s and dealing with the effects of parkinson’s, particularly on her voice, was a powerhouse raised in music, surrounded by music and who, with generosity, graced us all with her music for decades.  her voice goes on.

we are attracted to simpler.  simpler melodies minus the gymnastic riffs and with simpler production, simpler paintings with great depth or color or message.  we are analog; there’s no doubt about it.  and as we watched a john denver christmas in aspen the other day i found myself yearning for that simplicity, john denver’s voice – both his writing voice and singing voice – effortlessly clear.

the common thread of less is more.  it had impact on us, on our art forms.

when d was messing around in the studio recently he painted these very simple elements that often appear in his paintings:  a star, a flower, petals. it’s not natural for him to paint without a figure.  i imagine he was experimenting, paring down.  i would liken that to me recording a song on the ukulele.  it’s not natural for me to record without a piano.  but experimenting is good and paring down is an exercise.  especially in times of mostly-quiet easels and mostly-empty lyric sheets.

linda ronstadt’s story is one of unparalleled success and a great number of layers of experiment, a constant delve into another style of music, always paring it down to dedication to her absolute love of singing.

in the midst of all the layers, all the experimentation, all the paring down, all the silent canvases and hushed keys, we find our guide stars.  and we go on.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2019 david robinson, kerri sherwood