As we come to the end of yet another semester, I find myself unusually wistful. There is an increasing feeling of opportunities gained and of those missed as this earth continues it revolving dance with the sun. Reflection fills my mind with pictures that flash and glow like scenes in a dream sequence or a life in review moments before death. So much has happened and I feel almost as if each piece deserves its own space. However, there is little time for all of that and so much can be offered up in a summary form more conducive to reading. Among other things this spring was filled with school, music making, art exhibits, Los Angeles excursions, a car accident and many pensive, sun-dappled moments. I will give you just a few stories since I cannot fit everything in this little space between 1s and 0s. I’ll supplement this post with some poetry I wrote, inspired by T.S. Eliot.
I spent several delightful evenings this spring at The Charity shop. This is a fantastic little place operated by none other than Jordan Avila. In order to promote this place and garner the attention such a place deserves, events are being hosted that offer guests the opportunity to meet new friends, enjoy good food and discover burgeoning artists. Rapid courtships, box wine, crackers and goat cheese? a guaranteed good time. Stop by sometime and pick up something unique, its an incredible establishment, well worth a visit.
The event of a lifetime of course was returning to Fauxchella. Joshua tree, Shangri La. The incredible miss Laurel Dailey is the true artificer of this world, read her own words about it. Heres my take: The little house off of a dirt road: Shangri La, hides a lot of things. It hides the fact that it is a virtual petri dish for creative minds. This isolated desert house, rented by a group of beatniks in the spring two years now seems to spawn fresh art. It may seem odd since its a dessert house surrounded by nothing but chaparral and, well, a lot of dirt. Yet when the ladies and gents start arriving at this piece of dusty thirsty ground, its like the gold rush era all over again. There’s gold in them hills. The untold secret of the California desert lies in its severe beauty and devastating sunsets. The stars that glitter in endless swaths that smash Hollywood’s cemented five pointed wannabe’s all to pieces. How could a human fail to find a muse in the peach and butter flavored sunrises, or in the way the horizon surrounds you in a low lying bowl of little foothills that seem to blanket you and strand you all in one motion? The song of the cicadas, invisible orchestras surrounding low lying tents, or the warm eddy of a raucous passing dust devil are the roots of the purest forms of essential human expression.
Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker’s rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.
Stevens said it well I think. We experience this world of natural, raw beauty and the result is the maker’s rage to order the words of the sea, of the mountain trees, of the desert sands and winds. This being said, going to Shangri La was merely an accident in this case. While there is obvious inspiration in that place, the artists who found themselves there possess talents that show themselves in any environment. Last year songs like this blew our minds. This year was no disappointment Musicians gathered together, voices swelled, and instruments clamored, creating some of the most epic, beautiful music I have ever heard. The place where this happened might have something to do with the magical creation that took place there, but I am certain that the people involved make up the majority of that incredible experience from year to year and it is a unique privilege to know them, though we be ships in the night. I wrote this piece about that experience with the inspiration of the desert, Wallace Stevens and East of Eden:
Mountainous atmospheres of sky and sea,
We believe that miracles happen here
Where creative angst takes a final stand
Sparkling earth admits this, a mere
Ground for growing that which we understand
To be a breeding ground where all will mirror
Every expression, developing, coming to hand.
Fire withers and consumes such fears
That mortal minds build to be grand.
However barren it may to one appear,
This is arrival in a fertile land
Watered not by rain, a hemisphere,
A world created by the makers minds and
Offered only accidentally to those who hear.
This is the agricultural dream of melodies,
Enter in and here retrieve
Any pieces you have lost along the way.
The memorabilia in my mind does not end there. Other bits and pieces roll around like the tumbleweeds you see in the desert and I’m looking around at them to see which I should capture to offer up next.
Another highlight of the new year, 2013, would be Sacred Streets. This is an art exhibit created by Jason Leith and installed on Skid Row in Los Angeles. He created portraits of homeless individuals living in the area and set them up in a sort of makeshift temple. each portrait contained saint-like symbolism and was accompanied by a story about the person depicted. This exhibit served to offer a connection between the viewers and the people on skid row, some of whom were one in the same. It was an incredible opportunity for members of different communities to connect through art placed in a very unusual space. It is not often that an artist chooses to showcase their work in a place that is famous for its dense homeless population. However, Jason created a place where people who are often looked down upon in society were shown, etched and sketched on pieces of found objects, some gilded with gold-leaf, in a new and radical light. Depicting these people in a manner similar to the way that the saints of the church are rendered gave viewers a chance to adopt a completely different point of view. Many of the stories shown here contained tales of beautiful spirituality and intense spirituality that put me to shame. One woman even directly asked God if it was His will for her portrait to be drawn when Leith approached her. After I had looked through the gallery I stood outside in the light drizzling LA night and watched the faces of people ascending the steps into this space and viewing the artwork in this unusual venue. As a friend and I stood observing this, we saw some homeless men and women approach the gallery with some suspicion, eyeing the security guard at the door. Would he let them in, was this place only for those with homes? No, he even helped some people up the stairs, this is a place that all are welcome. One homeless man approached, not on his legs but borne by two wheels. Immediately my companion realized that the gallery was not wheelchair accesible and he could not get in. We gazed as another man pushed the wheelchair around to each of the four doors of the gallery and the man looked in. In this occurrence I saw a similarity to the story of the paralytic man who is taken to Jesus to be healed but cannot get to him because of the crowd, his six friends carried him to the roof and took of the shingles to lower him at the Lord’s feet. Approaching the fourth and final door, this man, unable to use his legs could not enter the sacred space. Then something incredible happened. As if from nowhere, about five or six people from different places around that door surrounded the wheelchair and after a moment or so of discussion I could not hear, lifted the chair up, over the steps and into the structure. After wheeling around inside the man was borne out again and I think Robynne saw a tear glisten on his cheek.
This rapidly growing year has presented many new things and continuations of old ones. Friendships are strengthened or broken, things created and worlds changed. My best friend is engaged (she’s not the only one) and I have one final year of school ahead of me. I have raided bookstores (especially this one), spent too much time on pinterest, and learned much more about nursing. A major chapter comes to a close in my own life, but not before I read Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, T.S. Eliot, Lewis, and Chesterton among others, and struggled with some of the most difficult things I have encountered yet. And after all this I gotta say, the future is comin’ on.