Monthly Archives: September 2016

Success & the Infinite

Stephen-Calhoun--work-under-inspection

SUCCESS AND THE INFINITE
(originally published on LinkedIn)

The following question was pitched my way recently: how long does it take you to produce a finished piece of art?

Obviously there can only be a generalized answer to this question. On average. . .

The query motivated me to consider how long different steps take, to break the total time down, even if the exercise ends up a matter of estimating an average or mean time.

But, soon enough, being a systems’ thinker, my reflection wandered toward more vague territories, and then into territories where concepts such as interval, or beginning-and-end, come to be defeated close to the outset.

Back up from the moment of one of your own greatest successes. If someone asked you, ‘how long did it take you to produce this success?’ what would go into your answer?

My own reflection on this question-and, for me, a produced art work is always a moment of great success–wandered soon into intriguing considerations which take into account crucial aspects that tend to break apart mere regard for the time interval mechanical elements required.

I’m going to mention a few aspects. Before I do so, my hope is you’ll do a short exercise and reconsider an example in your own life under the light of the following different lenses.

An aspect of any success clearly is defined by all the learning from experience, and, learning from mistakes. If asked how long something took, do we usually sever from our consideration all most necessary but unplanned prior preparations?

Similarly, how much of a time factor in a great success is all of our formal and informal training?

When I turn to the fact of inspiration, and so turn to the genesis of a great success, and consider its origin and the starting point given long before this success was assured, I cannot help but be impressed by how discrete time is inadequate to the task of measuring inspiration.

My brightest ideas emerged from an unfolding story and its colorful conditions. This becomes doubly impressive if we then regard the nature of inspiration to have been a collaborative effort and see, then, a streaming of stories, and, conditions about conditions, all unfolding through a kind of mysterious coordination until these flex and fulminate together into the emergent a-ha, and, up and out comes the bright idea. Tell me, how long did this take?

I next bring into resolution the aspect of the spontaneously fortuitous contingency, what we of course better know as serendipity, and instantly the inadequacy of even the concept of intervalic time, is defeated. At this point our greatest success is seen to be an aspect of an almost cosmic element of lucky timing, of not only being in the right time and place in the concrete sense, but in the right time and place in the sense of an ecology of timing and various places, and, grooved by precedents both planned and unplanned.

Finally, look at the relational genealogy of a success. This is what is meant by the trope, standing on the shoulders of giants. This element is woven into serendipity too, because if we track a success backward in time to where its eventual subject is founded in the past by our: interest, or obsession, or mission, or capability, it is inevitable that we will see these centering commitments to have themselves a founding story. Very often the creation story in the background of our future devotion starts with the happiest of accidents. Those accidents land us: in the right community, around the right people, bring us to our mentors/teachers/guides, with the supporting partner, living amidst the most terrific, and helpful, neighbors, colleagues.

We also see that we can no more separate out from our current success, any of these required prior successes, and failures, and, any small yet required learning, and any chance yet required encounter or precedent.

So it is a web of relationships comes to the front and center, in our regard of what was required for this small or major success. The genealogical current defies both time itself and timing. It provides the awesome “just so” in the deep background of every success.

Yes, one should count themselves a little bit lucky, or maybe, a lot lucky, to stand at the apex of a great success. You and your great success are at the summit of an iceberg, whereas the hidden, necessary, contingent assembly of elements cannot be temporally measured.

To rephrase a Zen aphorism for my purposes here:

the infinite is in the finite of every success

– – – – – – – – – –

|| Stephen Calhoun’s creative successes are being exhibited in a one man show of his photographic and generative art work, The Grasp of Order, at The Gallery At Gray’s, 10717 Detroit Ave – through September 30. open 9/24 noon-4pm – open during the work week, call 216-226-3300 for hours.

galleryatgrays.com
artiststephencalhoun.com

 

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Observers

FB-Stephen-Calhoun-African Alchemy Totem #3-48x72

All of us are watchers–of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway–but few are observers. Everybody is looking, not many are seeing. P.M. Leschak)

The Gallery At Gray’s is located on the west side about 30 minutes from where I live in Cleveland Heights. Over the past five months my one man show, The Grasp of Order, has been installed, I haven’t spent very much time hanging out at the gallery. Yet, I did so on Saturday.

I knew some friends were going to stop in, and, I hoped some complete strangers would also drop in too. Several of this latter type did indeed stop in and the encounters were both gratifying and edifying.

Certainly, I like to talk about my work and creative processes, but I much more enjoy hearing people tell me about their experience with my experiential art work.

My art works, by intention and by design, provide open ended opportunities for experiencing their effect, rather than for deciphering their import. My work doesn’t enjoin any authoritative import at all.

Laura and Gary Dumm are longtime, well known, Cleveland artists; and their collaboration includes being married. I didn’t know them. However, in a rather audacious act of social media hunting and gathering I started to request connections to artists and others–for which Facebook reported to me numerous mutual friends.

As a consequence, the Dumms showed up at the gallery. This affirmed my social media move was worthwhile. What great people, what a pair!

Gary Dumm wrote this later on FB:

Today Laura and I stopped by Grey’s Auction House to view the large digitally enhanced photographic works of Stephen Calhoun. They are, in general, mind-blowing: a symphonic collection of the debris and detritus of nature and civilization restructured by the artist in such a way that these supposedly dead things dance energetically. Simpler designs are mandala-like. Some (like the attached image) appear as Bosch and Bruegel inspired dreams while others vibrate, figures destroying and reforming themselves as in the “Matrix” movies. To me they are pictures of the dancing Wu Li masters, where physics meets mysticism: all is energy, and nothing is ever lost.

Dummart

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Legacy Art Post #2 – Painterly

Stephen Calhoun, artist (2005)

(2005) Painterly

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Legacy Art Post #1 – Quinttych On Essentials

Stephen Calhoun, artist 2008 Quinttych On Essentials (2008)

Starting with this post, I have established a page LEGACY ART (1993-2012) on this blog that in turn provides links to a selection of my art work from 1993-2012. Other art works will be removed from the old My Naive Art blog. Posts link to the older posts.

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In the Age of Plasticene

Henry Hudson: Anger, Anxiety and the Apocalypse (Gallery S|2)
h/t Sotheby’s

Bonus: more Lori Nix

What Would the Room You’re In Right Now Look Like In the Apocalypse

Nix + Gerber from The Drawing Room on Vimeo.

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Most Interesting Man

Stacy

Stacy

Two notes: yesterday the game was won when a throwing error on a successful force out at home allowed three runners to score in the top of the first extra inning. This is the kind of unusual stuff that helps make Free Play Softball Great, again.

I’ve mentioned before that as far as I know, in our core group of twenty or so players, two have earned pages in Wikipedia, an astronomer, and an educator/theorist, (the “DaVinci” in his field.)

But, I will put my money on Andre being the most interesting man in our world. He is a chef, actor, director and wicked left handed pull hitter.

Andre, one of his daughters, grandkids

Andre, one of his daughters, grandkids

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Poetry Of the Tear

KW

Kenneth Warren (1953-2015)

To be in different states without a change
is not a possibility (Charles Olson)

I visited, with Dan Slife, the Saturday 9/3 event in Buffalo, A Celebration of Ken Warren. It was held in The Poetry Collection of the University of Buffalo, at Lockwood Library. The brutalist University architecture led to an initial ‘esoteric’ moment, as we tried to find the The Poetry Collection, and the room given over for an afternoon to the legacy of the great esotericist/American poetics/guardian of the punk hole/and master of the House Organ.

You see once in the Lockwood Library, the friendly fellow at the service desk had no idea where The Poetry center was located. We found a flyer and saw it was in Capen Hall, but we understood that Lockwood Library itself occupies Capen Hall. Luckily, for a moment, we noted it was in room 420, so we hopped into the elevator and took it to the fourth floor. No room 420.

We returned to the ground. A co-ed had stopped at the bottom of the stairs and we confessed our minor desperation and asked her if she knew where The Poetry Center was, or was room 420 in the very building this exchange was taking place within.

I have no clue about the poetry stuff, but room 420 is probably accessible by either the front elevator or the elevators down the corridor that reach another section of the fourth floor.

Dan and I gave each other a look. Sure enough the second set of elevators reached a corridor on the fourth floor that was inaccessible by way of the elevators facing the front doors.

Ken Celebration (1)

Cube O’ Olson

A probe generated by Stephen Calhoun April 13, 2014. I did two random rolls in series. This was submitted to House Organ in April 2015, six weeks before Ken Warren suddenly died of a heart attack.

Learning Intention:

Tell Charles Olson Something He Needed to know, But, Alas It Is Too late

submission to House Organ April 15, 2015 - unpublished

submission to House Organ April 15, 2015 – unpublished

Steve Lewandowski wondered if I would like to get in line and speak to Ken’s memory. As it happened I went last. In this very good spot I spoke a little bit of how Ken’s interests and my own overlapped, told a Sufi teaching story, and reminded everyone that Ken’s sincere interest in how you are doing often first met a fresh report with the temporary observation,

You’re fucked.

Parker and Beckett spoke, a high point, Dan played a song, and a long line up of poets and literary types brought some A Game to the afternoon’s delightful, and bittersweet proceedings.

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Roger’s Blues

Without wishing it, we human beings are placed in situations in which the great principles entangle us in something, and God leaves it to us to find a way out. C.G. Jung (Good and Evil In Analytical Psychology, Civilization In Transition)

My neighbor Roger Talbott recently retired from his post as a Methodist minister. I’m following his new blog Fear Not Online. At the moment he understands it will be concerned with the second half of life.

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Artist Stephen Calhoun

artiststephencalhoun

My new web site features my art, art based in symmetries and surprise. It’s live today!

ARTISTSTEPHENCALHOUN.COM

I’ll be highlighting some of its features over the next few days and on twitter.

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The Way Nobody Looks

FreePlay

It was not a close game Sunday. …except one team won the first three innings, and the other team won the last four innings. This is what is meant by the underlying score.

Nobody keeps score this way!

A Necessary Autumn Inside Each
You and I have spoken all these words,
but as for the way we have to go,
words are no preparation.
There is no getting ready, other than grace.
My faults have stayed hidden.
One might call that a preparation!
I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean.
There are so many threats to it.
Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn.
Our leaves fall and are blown out over the water.
A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks about what’s gone.
Then your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence,
the scent of hyacinth and rose and cypress.
Joseph is back! And if you don’t feel in yourself the freshness of
Joseph, be Jacob! Weep and then smile.
Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t experienced.
There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.
You’ve been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender.

Rumi, source of version unknown

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Lori Nix

The Discovery Channel Visits the Studio from Lori Nix on Vimeo.

via Newsweek: Post-mankind Vision of Photographer Lori Nix

Lori Nix web site

6. In your opinion, what are the most important things (whether bad or good) that photography should offer/convey to viewers?

Photography is very subjective and every person will come away with something different from the same picture. My personal opinion is that photography should elicit some form of emotion in the viewer, be it awe, anger, or humor. Photography should also introduce the viewer to a new perspective. (Lori Nix Q&A)

Lori Nix Photo Instagram

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