Tuesday, December 18, 2007

art as a spiritual practice by pat b. allen

so last night, finally, i took a break from my big pile of to dos and treated myself to a long, hot bath. i soaked. i ran the hottest water my body could stand, immersed myself, and turned page after page of pat b. allen's art as a spiritual practice. now this book, a precious gift from a wealthier self, has stood waiting for me to find it in the back row of my double lined bookshelves. a dear friend from class is deep in it, and i have just signed up for pat's class at jfku next semester, and just like they say at landmark (the landmark forum: http://www.landmarkeducation.com, whenever you sign up, that's when your forum starts.

mine has started with pat. pat, who's first book, art is a way of knowing, chronicled her emerging art practice at the beginning of her collaborative, public, studio transitions through the stories of her art and art making--going from public, collaborative, to private. i am, simultaneously, at the beginning of both books, but feel a kinship with this teacher of mine. instantly. from the awakenings of that first contact--at the jfku first ever holistic approaches to arts education conference last february, where she made space for me to enter my gradual graduate pursuit.

it was there the motif of body first emerged. it was there, where i felt all the women in my line, accompanying me to art school for the first? time? i feel them, still, with me, learning. and i feel her, (pat), too. (www.patballen.com and http://www.studiopardes.blogspot.com).

in the bathtub, submerged, i read and read and read voraciously, wishing i had a highlighter to bleed and drip over all the inspirational pages. this woman, this teacher, and all the learnings of her heart--well, she leads the way for me. i want, as i shared with her back then, to do the starbucks for the soul thing. she had a comment about it all--chronicled in a february post on blogspot. i continue, through the reading and the teaching, to show up for myself and learn.

there are so many extraordinary individuals on this art as spiritual practice path. i am honored to find them, to see them visible and in the world, to hear them, to read their words, to take their pieces and add mine to the puzzle of knowing and working to find, make, create a place for this testimonial space of truth. no more a seeker, i become a finder. i continue. i continue. i continue to piece together my heritage and legacy--and i am honored by this place in the web.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

transformation arts professionals

so i've gone to vistaprint--back when i was stronger--and in a fit of confidence i made up a company called transformation arts professionals. and i made business cards. and i wrote a little catch phrase about transforming work, school and suburban environments. and i outlined a business plan. and i invited friends to collaborate. and in envisioned a kind of headhunter/placement agency that offered the right transformation professional for the particular ailment of the culture in question--and i convinced myself of the need for this kind of business--a business that gets gigs for transformative artists and puts them in environments where their particular kind of magic can make its biggest impact...

and then i had sixteen people in my house for 45 days
and then i got tired
and lost my vision
and got scared
and gave up

but today, i said goodbye to my last houseguest
right before i picked up a friend's kids for the night
and, well, i stumbled upon a vlog by suziblu
and remembered how important transformation is to people
who are otherwise stuck in cubicles and cars and apartments and big sprawling houses with too many people in them
and i found a shred of something that was so sure of itself only a few short months ago

and i am following that shred of possibility
and recording its existence
and breathing deep
for the dream

if you are someone who might want to play, please let me know who you are...

Friday, February 23, 2007

feedback on the big idea

i am blessed to have really smart friends all over the world--that are thoughtful, profitable business owners who have thought through their particular creative offering and found a way for it to benefit themselves and others. one such friend, who will remain nameless until i ask him if i can share his name, offered me this, by way of the big idea and enthusiasm i sent his way:

Ok, I will throw some random ideas at you! Maybe it's all obvious or stuff you've thought of already or totally irrelevant, but I don't know much about your project! Since I don't know much I tend to think more of the nuts and bolts aspect.

Problem: continuity of ideas: Every "idealistic" group thing I've come into contact with has fallen apart at some point. For example, our boys have gone to two different alternative schools (something dear to me), and both schools fell apart (though they lasted quite a while). One problem is that the founding ideas of the schools got diluted over time, old people left, new people came in and they didn't quite get the message. Continuity was lost. If there are many of these art transformation hangouts across the country how do you maintain a continuity of your ideas? What is the "DNA" of your project that restores order after the system has had a shock?

problem: dealing with psychopaths. Another problem with both of those schools and other organizations I've been involved in is that insane people destroy them. Does that seem like a strange thing to say? But that's what I've seen! There is a significant percentage of the population that are sociopaths. They manage to move into positions of power, no matter how "idealistic", nice, hippy, healthy, organic, small, wholesome the enterprise may be. They then team up with another sociopath, hire/appoint incompetent but obedient people, then they destroy everything. Everybody else is shocked and can't believe anyone would behave that way, they don't understand what has happened, but their realization is too late. They let it happen because they couldn't imagine such a thing.

I think any kind of organization needs to be able to recognize and deal with these kinds of people. If all companies, countries, organizations of any kind did that, the world would be a much happier place. Maybe organize things so psychopaths won't be attracted to it, i.e. avoid concentration of power.

structure: a fast food chain brings to mind the cookie cutter uniformity that has infested the world. But I don't think transformative artists would want to wear brown polyester uniforms would they? Do the "franchises" grow organically, develop their own personality, grow into their community, but still remain true to your idea? Chains have some horrible headquarters person go from store to store telling the franchise managers everything they are doing wrong. How do you keep the franchises more or less in line without being a dictator?

Maybe you need some innovative kind of power structure. It seems a lot of successful companies are well managed because they are run by benevolent super-predators (think steve jobs). Would that work with artists or souls? Maybe power needs to be diffuse but coherent, everybody is empowered. Corporatism drains peoples' and places' souls away, just the opposite of what you want to do. The way capitalism works today is basically a feudal system. Or maybe a food chain. Is that what you want? (I'm not anti capitalism BTW). The way money and power flow could make or break your enterprise, it could utterly corrupt it or set it free.

Is food or drink a part of the equation? Is it a place you can hang out? Is it safe for people to walk in from the street because they are curious, without feeling intimidated?

Speaking of fast food chains... I don't know if this is true, but I heard McDonalds makes most of its money from the real estate occupied by the franchises, not by selling "food". Maybe a parallel activity like that could feed the organization. Of course it's likely the money side would end up eating the art side. Maybe something to consider though.

Are you going to build these in the middle of mall parking lots, or will they happen in special places? It seems you are seeking to undermine the void of suburbia, so maybe the mall is the place for it. But suburbanites do crave some vestige of "authenticity" (I think of westport in KC, been decades since I've been there...), so maybe a special place would be appropriate? Rehabilitate that proverbial funky warehouse by the river? Find a cool, spiritually minded architect who knows how to build things cheap.

Internet should be exploited, non? It's free and accessible to all. Maybe an online version with fun things to do leading people to the brick and mortar people spaces?

Speaking of brick and mortar, I've been reading a very enlightening architecture book called "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. It really helps to understand how to design spaces where life can do its thing. I've found it helpful in rearranging things in our little house, it's led me to create some new little spaces where I like to spend time, almost like having new rooms! He goes into how to balance private and public space, how to create a link to the outside world while maintaining intimacy, etc... But especially his approach could be applied to just about anything, not just architecture.

Maybe I'll think of more later, but that's enough for now!

Monday, February 19, 2007

call for stories: new book on spiritual entrepreneurship-a history & guide of transformative artists and the wealth they create in our world

it occurs to me, in my enthusiasm to create, that there might already be a billion dollar industry in transformative arts. and so, as a way of researching to determine if this is true, i am inviting stories of spirit led enterprise. it's my hypothesis that true transformative artists are the biggest grossing professionals in our world community. and so, if you've got a story or know of one, please let me know about it--so that it can inform this new book project.


creating economy for tranformative arts & the changemakers and practitioners who want to get paid

this past weekend i attended the first ever HOLISTIC APPROACHES TO ARTS EDUCATION conference at the berkeley site of jfku. i'll be participating in their MA program in Transformative Arts and one of the things that might become my thesis (and my future) is this idea of creating economy for transformative arts & the changemakers who practice the craft.

in my enthusiasm throughout the sessions of the conference and the community we found with each other, i was shocked by the conversations of the last day. as in all changemaking conferences or experiences that last three days and an evening, there are the BLARING REALITIES of moving back into the outside world where your community vanishes and no one you see on monday morning has any idea of what you experienced on saturday night--and there you are, in the loneliness of the circumstances in which you find yourself, working to keep your art job by pretending to not be such an "artist".

and so i want to start a public conversation about how to create a profitable economy for transformative art and artists in community--a franchise, perhaps (ala starbucks--but for the soul) that works holistically for individuals, groups, community and the wider world.

any ideas?