A little bear story

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Yesterday a bunch of us attended a community art – making project. An artist we know is creating a giant nine – foot corn mosaic made out of clay tiles that will adorn an outdoor wall on a building in Espanola New Mexico. There are over 400 pieces that comprise this mandala and Sabra invited those who are interested to join her to draw and paint as many corn kernel tiles and/or circles with images of their own choosing for this collective mosaic.

 

Celebrating corn is celebrating the Indigenous “Summer People” and the food the people of New Mexico thrive on. Corn is the Mother of all other plants.

 

There is something about individuals collaborating to create art, writing, or to sell local produce that feels very satisfying to me probably because any of these activities seem to enliven the ideal of community in a very concrete way.

 

It was also fun! What the little girl liked the best was being able to participate in this gathering without any artistic pressure.

 

Because it was “Bear’s Day” I already knew that I would be drawing bear paws… What I didn’t know was that I was going to create a third tile, one in which a little girl’s story would come to light.

 

In this tile the little girl drew a bear created out of an indigenous bear fetish heart-line that was also the bear itself. When she drew cave walls around her bear, rather than the sun (that I imagined would represent the warming spring light), I was surprised. She painted the cave around the bear black; a womb-like cave. In the top center she drew a very small yellow spiral to represent a sun that barely radiated warmth and then she surrounded the sun in deep cobalt blue – a blue she wished was even darker – as if it was still night. Beneath the bear cave, water flowed by in verdant greens…

 

No doubt about it. This was my favorite tile of the day. I was intrigued by the story that emerged out of the images the child had drawn. Bear’s Day occurs at the time of “first light,” a time when cultures throughout the world acknowledge the powers of the intensifying light and warmth of the sun, just as bears emerge from their dens if days are mild.

 

But this bear had another agenda. Instead of choosing emergence, this little fellow (even the little girl seemed surprised that he was a boy – she thought maybe he might be her little brother or some other child) retreated to his lair in the hopes that the seasonal change would take its time coming, giving the little bear more time to adjust to the changes that would also be coming for him personally. The bear knew that an early spring would mean that he soon would be floundering in fierce heat that would spike the temperature of his shiny black fur coat up to 180 degrees F. He would have to migrate north in order to survive. The little bear was resisting change because he loved where he was, living under a miraculous dome of starlit skies, complete with sky stories like those of his relative, Night Sky Bear, long still nights and best of all cool temperatures. This little bear loved his present desert home fiercely and wanted to stay put within its inviting mud walls. He needed more time to dream his dreams.

 

He also hoped the water would come to his desert to nourish the plants that withered so pitifully last year driving him down from the mountains to seek food at the river’s edge. One of his relatives had just visited the river three days ago leaving deep claw marks sunk in wet mud… Bears love water even when their dens get flooded. Perhaps a spring flood would eventually drive little bear from his cave, the little girl wondered, though she couldn’t quite imagine flooding waters…. The desert had been parched for a long long time. She also hoped that he would emerge on his own if given more time.

 

After listening to the story the little girl told me I promised both children that I would give the little cave bear the time he needed, while the rest of us entered the spring season with gratitude for the waxing light reminding ourselves that without summer heat the corn will not grow.

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Crow and the Pornographic Gaze

 

 

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The Old Art Masters indulging in their pornographic gaze….

 

Once she believed that

it was her fault

they came on to her,

that she owed them

something

They owned her?

Secretly the

girl was pleased

because any kind of attention

was better than none,

or being so “different” –

stitched into an Indian skin.

 

She was a pretty shell,

an abandoned spiral

worn down by waves –

assaulted from within

by the pornographic gaze.

How she hated being young.

 

Walking down the streets

of New York

They leered at her from rooftops –

Whistling and yelling,

“Here comes the Madonna…”

She tried to make herself invisible.

How she hated being young.

 

When she sewed on her woman coat

she discarded tight jeens,

began to weave her hair in braids,

became a scholar and writer,

turned to the animals

and plants that loved her

to find acceptance and trust.

 

Unconditional love

assuaged the isolation

the void in psyche and body

where once no one breathed.

How could she have known

that Nature would save her?

 

Learning self respect

is a life-time process.

As an elder,

she has broken

the spell –

toppled the edifice of

the

pornographic gaze.

 

She knows its

an ‘old boy’ problem –

a result of male privilege

bullying, a need to objectify,

chop women

into parts

behind closed doors.

 

Dirty old men

who stare at standing nipples,

hidden beneath a feathery cloak

leave only night chills

and a hoarse croak.

 

Revolted, she discards them,

and picks the bones clean.

She has the power

to render her tormentors

Invisible,

Inadequate, and knows it.

 

She leans

towards males

who are emotional adults,

men who are accountable,

men capable of honest relationship,

men whose deep humility

has rendered them human.

 

Their friendship,

respect for her integrity,

ideas, honesty, and empathy,

are the lenses through

which she has learned to see herself.

 

She is healing from sexual assault.

 

She is a tree with a star at her center.

 

By living a self directed life,

She has become the partner

she once longed for –

a birdwoman with tree roots

sunk deep in sweet Earth.

Israel Francisco Haro Lopez : we come from the stars

Artist and Poet

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Build That Wall We Come From The Stars Part 5

Do you know where you come from
do you know all the parts
of where you were born
do you know all the lines
that make your breath

all the oceans
all the trees
all the branches

of your migration
to here
to now

from the tip of the womb
of queztalcoatl
to the tip of alaska

across the deserts
of africa
between the stones
of machu picchu
and teotihuacan
between the walls
of china and berlin
between sand dunes
and druid songs
irish mexican blood
swaying with the lines
of a sufi prophecy
bending inside
a european pagan
dance step
opening
and waiting
to the memory
of the feet
of your ancestors

 

Commentary: I have written about Israel’s work previously on this blog, so I allow the power of this poem to speak for itself. This man knows that the personal is political, a phrase that goes back to the 70’s and to feminism… Unlike some he chooses not to separate the two artificially.

Israel Francisco Haros Lopez

Above: Isreal’s art: La Llorona

Borderless Haiku: (IFHL)

We have forgotten the names of each other underneath the shedding skin those names written in our blood that have danced to tonantzin tonatiuh before they knew they were lovers. 

Last week I was fortunate to have attended a poetic reading and performance by a remarkably gifted young Mexican man named Israel Francisco Haros Lopez who was born to immigrant parents in Los Angelos. He is both a visual and performance artist, and his work transcends borderlands of all kinds. Israel believes that it is critical to honor and remember the ancestors so that we may once again become one with the winged ones, all those who crawl or walk on this earth, the Four Directions, Earth Air Fire and Water, Tonanztin and Tonatiuh – the Aztec Earth Goddess and the Sun God – Israel’s expression of unity in divinity, and the universe as a whole. His visual motifs are drawn from Pre – Columbian America and his work is an attempt to search for personal truths within the context of today’s world incorporating Mexican/Indigenous stories into the whole.

Israel believes written work or visual work cannot occur without sound or vibration, because all things on this earth embody and express themselves through vibrations. As such his written and oral work is constantly shifting as it is performed or recorded.

Israel’s current body of work explores Mexican, Indigenous and Urban Street Art Identity. He is inviting the viewer to consider their own ancient script and ancestral memory in order to mend racial, geographical divides. The work is also a healing practice, which through his art workshops he invites participants to become contemporary ancient scribes exploring their own writing practices both literal and figurative.

He brings his firsthand knowledge of the realities of migration, U.S. border policies, and life as a Mexican American to his work with families and youth as a mentor, educator, art instructor, ally, workshop facilitator and activist. Even with a 1.59 High school G.P.A., Israel managed to go back to the community college and raise his grades to get accepted into U.C. Berkeley and receive a degree in English Literature and Chicano Studies followed by an M.F.A in Creative Writing. At formal and informal visual art spaces, Israel creates and collaborates with others in an interdisciplinary way that includes poetry, performance, music, visual art, and video making and curriculum creation. His work addresses a multitude of historical and spiritual layered realities of border politics, identity politics, and the re-interpretation of histories.

 

What follows are two of my favorite pieces:

 

  • mexican jazz part 50

 

build that wall we come from the stars

we are the echo of grandmothers

migrating this America when it was just

and always a turtle

 

on mothers backs

more mothers backs

more mothers backs

 

this wall cannot stop the wave

of time immemorial

 

our grandmothers bones are scattered

across this rock

all rocks

along the feathered serpent

dancing with your minimal

notions

 

of what you think

you can stop with a wall

 

build that wall

you cannot stop our d.n.a.

 

  • white liberal antics part 44

 

White supremacy gets tricky when you add white hispanic and spaniard

and spaniard blood is white European blood

where do you think hitler learned genoicide

through the skilled native holocaust

orchestrated by cortez and the sword

and the bible that drives the blood

underneath the asphault

runs through the veins of a city

wanting to continue its legacy

of spanish conquistador

and la virgin de la conquista

running through the rivers

of la llorona

mourning for all her children

red black yellow white brown green blue purple pink

 

how do you interrupt this white supremacy

running through the city

 

running through the rivers

of la llorona mourning

screaming for the memories

of the whiteness of the moon

screaming for the memories

of the whiteness running through

her raped indigenous body

praying for the memory

of her children that were birthed

from this

red black yellow white

brown green blue purple pink

 

begging for the songs

stuck in our throats

 

www.chicanocoloringbooks.comm

www.waterhumminbirdhouse.com

www.newmexicomuralproject.com.

Blossoming Owl

I first met Sam at the Abiquiu Artist’s Tour a couple of years ago. At the time I was struck by the beauty and complexity of his images, especially the spirals he painted.

Since then, Sam and I have become good friends.

We have also discovered that we both think of owls as being personal guides.

Fortunately, I have been present while he has been painting “Owl Blossom” which for me has been very exciting.

Recently I wrote a piece for this blog on what I call “Deep Time” and last week while visiting Sam I realized that his paintings articulate better than I ever could with words, just what I mean by “Deep Time.”

Please visit Sam to see more extraordinary paintings at:

http://www.ceruleansam.com/

or http://www.facebook.com/sambrownart.

“Plant Your Gun”

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Working Notes:

When I first saw this powerful image I thought “That’s exactly what we have to do.” There is something about containing a lethal weapon under glass and earthing it that speaks to the need to bury these guns once and for all before they destroy  us.

A deeply moving memorial to the death of gun violence and war.

My companion Bruce notes that bullets are made of lead and even if the gun is discharged, lead is being returned to its source.

Thank you Iren for creating images that speak to us from the depths of our hopeful hearts.