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As some of you know, this last summer I had the honor of acting in the extraordinary experimental documentary, by director Robert Greene, Bisbee 17. What began as the opportunity to work as an extra quickly led to more expanded parts, including speaking roles. This turned out to be a gold mine, because Bisbee 17 is like David Lynch meets Docudrama, much by virtue of Greene’s willingness and ability to harvest the eccentric imagination of Bisbee people, and they in turn. At the same time it is a serious and heart felt work of American history.
BISBEE ’17 will have its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition in Park City Utah!
The Fires Of Yellowstone
I woke up this morning in a transit cabin near Lake Yellowstone trying to remember a dream. This waking/trying to remember repeated itself over and over until I’d finally had enough rest.
There had been a young woman who realized that moments of inspiration were actually crossovers from another universe, or another dimension, that is usually hidden from us. I don’t think it was to say that our universe is without inspiration but more something about the energy of a paradigm shift’s nudge that is released when you do have an inspiration. It suddenly opens up more than just a new earthly perspective. The power of the new is transcendental, reaching beyond the new thing in itself, with a potential for exponential creativity triggered by just one moment’s awakening, the awakening of an entirely new portal.
Creativity is, after all, a kind of reverse entropy contradicting the gravitational collapse of all things universal. Maybe this is the miracle of life, which we happen to be a part of, and our dreams, some kind of portal within that miracle. On the other hand, as we conform our narrative of the larger dream we live in, which we call reality, to the tune of our realistically ultimate collapse, we risk putting that miracle-nature and its powers, our creativity, into a deep hypnotic freeze. The arts are a tool to keep us conscious in miraculous fashion.
Some say there are no dead metaphors, only sleeping metaphors. But if sleeping metaphors can’t wake from their dream, producing new ideas, maybe it is because in an anti-intellectual culture which literalizes itself to death, our metaphors are more in this cryogenic stasis.
I slipped into the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, which dates back to the 19th century, and climbed the stairs up to the 4th floor where i could look out over the lake, through paned windows, in a comfortable chair, and wrote down my initial ideas about this dream. The water below and across had a beautiful swell to it as it pushed away the smoke of forest fires hundreds of miles to the north up in Montana.
I’m working up in Grant Village this year, and the last time I worked there was in 1988, the year of the great fires, and also the year that the books on chaos theory started coming out. In recent years I had mostly waited tables here at the Lake Hotel, and now for the second time, a job doing recycling. It was at Lake that I began recycling crayons from the restaurants, which the company expanded to all eight restaurants where crayons are handed out to the children to keep them occupied in the dining rooms. It was fun to arrive at Grant this year to wait tables, see their bucket of crayons, and mention, “yes, I’m the one who recycles all those, park wide.“ I wash, sort, and melt them, mixing in tree sap, or enamels, and paint them over experimental frescos to which I can also later apply oil paints. I’ll go home at the end of the season with at least a dozen 5 gallon buckets of them. I’m looking to get commissioned to do some large scale murals. More later about the Trickster series of paintings I’ll use them in over the winter as long as I stay funded.
Part of the miracle is that each crayon was in the hands of a child’s inspired imagination in magical Yellowstone National Park. A place of inspiration where, coincidentally, a volcanic ‘universe’ is rubbing very close from the just beneath the earth we’re dreaming on. If you allow yourself to believe it, each of my paintings using even just a little of the crayons are importing the power of those children’s imaginations and inspiration from their frames. You must believe that some of that power slips into your own dream reality like some transcendental vitamin of aesthetic alchemy, should you own or sit near one of the paintings.
Grant Village in ’88 was an interesting time for me. I did my first landscape paintings there that summer, directly influenced by the theories of chaos and order that I was reading, checked out from the Jackson Hole Teton County Library. I was perplexed by the way the forest floor was covered with dead trees, which layered the ground about like fingers intersecting fingers. Not wanting to belabor the art work with pine needles, and after some meditation on what to paint in reacting to all the dead trees on the forest floor, which don’t rot due to the short rotting season, I ignored perspective and laid the criss-crossing fallen trees across the canvas board in an all-over pattern, with just one stem of needles, and fiery sunset colors branching out from the center.
At the time i’d no idea that these paintings might be interpreted as predicting, or as harbingers of, the fires that were later to come that summer…
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