7 Arts Gallery at 125 Lincoln (between Alan Houser and Pop Gallery) features six collaborating artists and beautiful rustic decor. I am so happy to be part of this new venture and this great team. We are open 7 days a week and our grand opening is scheduled for Friday night, May 12th. We are still a gallery and studio but with more arts represented. More on that later.
Things have a way of working out. This has been my mantra for a year or so. I have seen that so often that when some major unexpected changes hit in the process, I could actually believe it, not only for myself but for all involved in the process. We just keep going, focusing on what is next and plans evolve in a good way, different than what we planned but often better for all of us.
Keep taking risks and moving forward is my take away so far.
Which is harder, rock or water? Even ice can be smashed by a rock, right? But when you see a canyon like this you know the answer, water wins every time in the long haul. Gravity consistently moves water towards the path of least resistance and over time, these paths become the great canyons of the world. Moving water wins over time.
In the same way, being a a gentle but consistent advocate for growth, change, beauty and love over a life time makes a dent in the universe, a phrase made famous by Steve Jobs. Without love, technology is only used towards selfish ends, but with love, it has the power to multiply influence and transform entire communities. People over estimate what they can accomplish is a year, that is why New Years' Resolutions seldom live to see the light of March. But we under estimate what can be done in 5,10,20 or 30. I sit here at 62 and some people think of that as too old to start something new. But heck, God willing, I have a good 20 or 30 years to do art. If I do it with love, who knows what kind of dent I can make. You do not have to do something "great" to make that dent, simply doing something "good" over time will the get the job done beautifully!
I am reading a book titled, "The Essentialist." The thesis - life will be more focused and productive if we boil everything down to what is most important, say "yes" to that, and "no" to everything else. Nonessentialists say "yes" to everthing and everyone and scatter their life to the wind and whims of others. Simple but oh so hard to put into practice.
In my thinking about water, it strikes me that nothing is more essential to life itself...much of the life on our planet actually breaths it!!! We can go weeks without food but only days without water. The Psalmist likens us to sheep who depend on their shepherd to find water in the desert, pasture to feed and rest and protection from predators. My experience of the life of faith is that it is not passive dependence, but active following. God is always leading towards life, being aware, each day of the opportunities to find and give life are the path to the green pastures and still waters. Sometimes those opportunities are difficult, even dangerous. But life is still there, not in hiding and hoping circumstance change.
I am getting ready to make a major change in my life - moving from Canyon Road, by the literally flowing waters, to the canyons of buildings downtown at 125 Lincoln. It has already been a series of difficult choices and decisions. But it seems to be the direction of opportunity to find and give life to me. We will see how it all unfolds, but the mystery of faith assures me I will find life if I just pay attention, each day.
I looked at the paintings on my wall today and 9 of them were about water! Because this was not planned, I began to ask myself "why"? The connection between water and life is both foundational and inexorable. Only in the most imaginative SciFi is there life without water. Almost all cultures and religions both celebrate the gift of water and use it in religious rites. The great ancient cities were all near great rivers and ports. In arid lands, nothing is more valuable and precious. Who can forget the early scene in Lawrence of Arabia where a man is killed for drinking from a well without permission from it's owner! The painting above is an imaginary bend in the Chama River, bringing life to the high desert of New Mexico long before people modified the landscape.
Rivers in particular, seem to capture the movement of life and it's journey. Beginning small, they grow and grow, gaining input from others, finally emptying themselves into some vast, mysterious ocean where all others also end. Sitting by a river, I like to just close my eyes and listen to the almost musical quality of it's sound. I often reflect on where I have come from and where I am going, what life am I bringing to others and how I am impacting my world. Things that are important, not the urgent mental clutter that controls us so much of the time. Perhaps that is why I paint them.
Psalm 38 is a dark song of the night. We all have them. We blame God, we blame others, we blame ourselves. The mystery of faith still finds rays of light.
38 Domine, ne in furore
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; *
do not punish me in your wrath.
2 For your arrows have already pierced me, *
and your hand presses hard upon me.
3 There is no health in my flesh,
because of your indignation; *
there is no soundness in my body, because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities overwhelm me; *
like a heavy burden they are too much for me to bear.
5 My wounds stink and fester *
by reason of my foolishness.
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; *
I go about in mourning all the day long.
7 My loins are filled with searing pain; *
there is no health in my body.
8 I am utterly numb and crushed; *
I wail, because of the groaning of my heart.
9 O Lord, you know all my desires, *
and my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart is pounding, my strength has failed me, *
and the brightness of my eyes is gone from me.
11 My friends and companions draw back from my affliction; *
my neighbors stand afar off.
12 Those who seek after my life lay snares for me; *
those who strive to hurt me speak of my ruin
and plot treachery all the day long.
13 But I am like the deaf who do not hear, *
like those who are mute and do not open their mouth.
14 I have become like one who does not hear *
and from whose mouth comes no defense.
15 For in you, O Lord, have I fixed my hope; *
you will answer me, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, "Do not let them rejoice at my expense, *
those who gloat over me when my foot slips."
17 Truly, I am on the verge of falling, *
and my pain is always with me.
18 I will confess my iniquity *
and be sorry for my sin.
19 Those who are my enemies without cause are mighty, *
and many in number are those who wrongfully hate me.
20 Those who repay evil for good slander me, *
because I follow the course that is right.
21 O Lord, do not forsake me; *
be not far from me, O my God.
22 Make haste to help me, *
O Lord of my salvation.
This is the latest in the Lightscape series, a desert arroyo that bends towards the light (18x18 acrylic on birch panel). It looks pretty good but only a couple of days ago it was a mess. I use an abstract process to build these lightscape paintings that is open ended, but sometimes results in a dead end, poor composition. I asked Chuck Volz, my painting mentor and gallery neighbor for some feedback. He took one look and said". Are those mountains or an indian pueblo?" The hills on the left were much higher, more complicated and had too many right angles. The scene had no rhythm or story. Yesterday I went back and forth to Chuck as I rebuilt the scene. His constructive criticism made this a much better painting. More importantly my relationship with Chuck has made me a much better painter and person. Cultivating mentors and truth telling friends has been the most challenging and rewarding part of my growth journey over the years. Criticism stings a bit, but it takes a few sparks to make me sharper! Thanks Chuck!
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,* 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.’*
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen.17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Tom C. McGee, Jr.
Musings about mystery, art and spirituality.