Friday, February 26, 2010


Land art sculpture made of found driftwood, on site. One curved piece at the base of the fence, evoking or representing a river.

Thinking to myself at the time, while hunting for driftwood to make into other art, later: If I lived here, in this region, my art would become even more shamanic, just because of the power of the place, the light here, and the materials to be found and used. Probably I'd just scare even more art-viewers than I do already; although I suppose one might argue that California is inherently more open to my kind of shamanic art than is the Midwest, still one doesn't make such assumptions lightly.

Later in the evening, sitting before a warming fire in the fireplace at the cottage, I sit down to draw and write. Using the new Japanese calligraphy brush pens that I acquired earlier in San Francisco, I make a drawing of the land art sculpture I made earlier in the day. And I draw from memory and imagination a stand of bamboo. I feel like this bamboo drawing shows that I've made progress with this art, as it is both realistic yet still graphic and symbolic.

bamboo cane still
clacking in dusk wind—
raven, where are you?

The drive to make art reawakening these past few days. Hunting for driftwood. Talking about art late into the night. Tonight, feeling the need for a greater silence, to be able to hear the voices of inspiration. A good result of this vacation roadtrip, during which I have made many new photographs that I feel are among the best I've made so far. A return to the road, soon, after these vacation respite stops in beautiful places, staying with friends.

The day before, wandering around the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, once again being followed by ravens. Walking out to the coastal point, past tall stands of eucalyptus and dense groves of shore pine, mushrooms sprouting everywhere after the heavy winter, red rhododendron blooming thick under the tall trees. Raven, following along, calling to me from the treeline.

Felt the need to Make things tonight. So as we sat talking, I wove a dreamcatcher medicine shield, and gave it to my artist friend. Later, sitting by the fire, listening to music, I wove two more before slowing down for the night. The fireplace suits my mood tonight: reflective, warming. So, today I've woven three dreamcatchers, made a few drawings, numerous photos, and a work of land art sculpture. That's quite a lot for one day.

I guess Mendocino County has inspired me. What else is this sudden overflow, this rush of creativity? I haven't Made much for a few months. Perhaps this turns a corner into restoring myself to where I was before last autumn's traumas and illnesses. Certainly I feel refreshed, now, on this trip—so that purpose of this vacation has been achieved. Certainly I've made many new photos on this trip so far: and as on the previous Western roadtrip, I feel like some are among the best I've ever made. It's good to feel as if one is getting better and better at making one's art, evolving, improving. Stasis is death; movement is life. (The fire pops loudly at just this moment.)

A return to life. Energy available to make art means abundant energy of life. A surge of intense art-making, if only for today, many things tripping out all at once—that's not new. It often goes in waves, in surges, in pulses and phases. Not every day. What feels new is the return to life, to be able to do this again, after a long time feeling dead and tired. So it feels good to have had a day of making lots of art—it feels good just to make art, to have made art all day. Restless hands given their freedom to whatever they do, that is Making. Being with artists this week who understand art-making, I felt no need to explain myself, or justify myself, as I made land art there on the beach; felt no need even to comment on what I was doing, nor to conceal; I did not need privacy or solitude, nor was distraction possible. That felt new to me, that lack of self-consciousness during the actual process itself of Making even though I was not alone. I felt utterly clear, utterly in the moment, completely accepting and open, completely unselfconscious. Recalling the moment, what I really enjoyed was forgetting myself—as usual, the materials told me what to do—looking and finding the right pieces and lengths and shapes of driftwood to assemble was natural and intuitive. Just being in the moment, making a piece. Nothing special. Responding to the energy of the place, making art from what was to be found lying close to hand. The hands, the soma, wiser than the mind, more sure and certain than the verbal analytical intellect, more responsive to the energy of place than ever words could be.

And that is why I am an artist, and not a poet. My default response is not verbal or word-oriented, it is somatic; what poems I do write try to convey and container that somatic response. Words just couldn't do the day justice, then and there, no matter how artificed they were.

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