Author Archives: Stephen Calhoun

A Best Of My Own Art Work 2017 – Part 2 – Small Art Works

Knysna Blue Verticum - Stephen Calhoun

Knysna Blue Verticum 9×7″ paper

This past year I expressly created small art works. Two series of pieces stood out: Lasting Hearts, and, Malay Time Steps and Ladders.

from Malay Time Steps and Ladders

Dua Puluh Dua Langkah (2017) Stephen Calhoun - Stephen Calhoun

Dua Puluh Dua Langkah 16×16″ glass

From Lasting Hearts

Lasting Hearts Altar II - Stephen Calhoun

Lasting Hearts Altar II 14×11″ glass

From Lasting Hearts

Lasting Hearts Key Keeper II - Stephen Calhoun

Lasting Hearts Key Keeper II – 14×11″ paper

Vision Statement - Stephen Calhoun

Vision Statement 24×15″ paper

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A Best Of My Own Art Work 2017 – Part 1 – Mandalas and Circular Pieces

Navigators Travel In Circles of Time

On my artist’s web site I maintain an index of posted art works. This page lines up most of my art work in reverse chronological order. The provides an excellent way to review my creative journey over the past years. Last year I produced better work than the year before, and, overall, much better work than was featured in the one person show of 2013-2015 art work that was exhibited throughout 2016 at The Gallery At Grays.

From my perspective, the best work is elevated out of any year, and the shortest narrative of my escapades simply involves highlighting those ne plus ultra successes from each year. My progress over the last year is based in learning from my practice, intuiting fresh approaches, and, subtle recombinations and reconfigurations of previously proven or previously attempted approaches.

None of those background factors figure into the simple qualification I could make about the art works I feel best represent what I am after. After all, what I am after is the viewer’s dedicated engagement with visual seeking amidst the field and its dense resolution of patterns. But, caveat with the work over the last two years regards most of the pieces never having been exhibited. I have some idea of what art works might prove to be the most sensational, but my own estimations are based entirely on my grading how successful the experiment under consideration seems to me to be.

I do not have any issue with grading my own work differentially.  The lesser pieces may well strike others as being the superior piece. I am not subjectng anything to formal considerations. I do not post art works from failed experiments.

Mandalas – of the several hundred produced, the following five are tops, and include the art work above. Also of note are the two series, The Steadfastness of Kabir, and, The Four Noble Truths In a Nutshell.

River Dharma

River Dharma 46×46 aluminum

Wired Mandala 34x24 aluminum

Wired Mandala 34×24 aluminum

Qawwali #2 40x40" aluminum

Qawwali #2 40×40″ aluminum

Red Mandala #2

Red Mandala #2 30×30 aluminum

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Happy Holidays

Happiness from Steve Cutts on Vimeo.

I spotted this originally on the essential shortoftheweek.

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Days After The Day After

Aired November 20, 1983 to a worldwide audience of over 100,000,000 viewers. Nukemap

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Teaching Cartoon: Desires

teaching cartoon

beyourself

wisdom-cartoon

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Ayahuasca Lens

Pablo Amaringo, Shaman and Painter

Pablo Amaringo via DOP

Pablo Amaringo via DOP


Interview with Pablo Amaringo
Pablo Amaringo at VisualMelt

The universe is an intelligence test. — Timothy Leary

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Black Mountain Futurism

Black Mountain Research explains its mission. James Elkins kicks off the three videos embedded from BMR’s archive. He’s going to bridge the research element and self-reflexivity, and, the practice-based credential (Ph.D.) formally theorizing artistic practice.

Over the last 20 years art has eased its way into academia. Past the door of the artist’s studio and up the back stairs it tiptoed until, in a very bold move, it seated itself in the commissioner’s chair. Where once art reacted against academies from the outside, art, and the artists who make it, now work from within the institution. Artists interested in pursuing a doctoral degree will have heard time and again about ‘the critical function of art’. Indeed, many theorists would insist on art being defined from this state of opposition (the ‘avant-garde’). But to understand the potential of art today it becomes impossible to separate it from the academic institutions that use its name to label their distinctive, often daring, new departments. – Daniel Rourke, Thoughts On Art Practice PhDs

“Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valorised in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange.” Jean-Francois Lyotard (from D.Rourke)

“Practice is a set of relays from one theoretical point to another, and theory is a relay from one practice to another. No theory can develop without eventually encountering a wall, and practice is necessary for piercing this wall.” —Gilles Deleuze

For background, see:

basic definitions: Research Methodologies for the Creative Arts & Humanities: Practice-based & practice-led research

Research that takes the nature of practice as its central focus is called ‘practice-based’ or
‘practice-led’ research. It is carried out by practitioners, such as artists, designers, curators, writers, musicians, teachers and others, often, but not necessarily, within doctoral research programmes. This kind of research has given rise to new concepts and methods in the generation of original knowledge.

It is important to make a clear distinction between practice-based research and pure practice. Many practitioners would say they do ‘research’ as a necessary part of their everyday practice. As the published records of the creative practitioners demonstrate, searching for new understandings and seeking out new techniques for realising ideas is a substantial part of everyday practice. However, this kind of research is, for the most part, directed towards the individual’s particular goals of the time rather than seeking to add to our shared store of knowledge in a more general sense. Scrivener argues that the critical difference is that practice-based research aims to generate culturally novel apprehensions that are not just novel to the creator or individual observers of an artefact; and it is this that distinguishes the researcher from the practitioner (Scrivener, 2002).

excerpt, Practice Based Research: A Guide, Linda Candy (pdf)

Art Practice As Research (portal) at Thinking Practice

Art Practice as Research

Practice in the Flesh of Theory: Art, Research, and the Fine Arts PhD – Natalie S. Loveless

This interests me, cybernetically, as a paradoxical instigation of the academy, resolving as it does an education given to mediate to some degree the contradiction between ‘elite exchange’ and ‘elitist knowing;’ (my terms.) At the same time, informally, my own art practice is coordinated to (re)search at the scale of its art making, so is research through, and with, art making.

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Infinite Optical Trajectories

The She-Wolf Jackson Polack

As a compendium of signs, this canvas was an apt introduction-practically a manifesto-for a movement dedicated to producing signs that function as distinctive artistic “trademarks” and yet are open to multiple and sometimes infinite optical trajectories. Signal Processing, David Joselit On Abstraction, Then and Now.

Image field populated by eigenforms? Anyway, Infinite Optical Trajectories is an experiential portal.

“All sounds return to one, and where does that one go?” Nyogen Senzaki

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Explorations Change In Emphasis

Alumen Roccae - Stephen Calhoun

Alumen Rocca (2017) Stephen Calhoun

Over the next months, leading into 2018, I am going to shift my blogging emphasis toward using the Explorations Blog to bookmark compelling content across the range of my interests without also including a great deal of personal commentary. This blog will fold in the old music studio blog’s content, nogutsnoglorystudios. This will also afford me the chance to include new music oriented content. Finally, after over a decade of musings about my personal wandering and its shifting contexts, this new direction will dial those kinds of essays back.

These changes are all due to the sudden manifestation in my life’s mission of its missing expressive aspect, my original experiments in creating mirror symmetry-based numinous images. One result of this new chapter is that the blog will softly arc away from its prior principal (and multiple concerns,) and cast a new arc toward the cultural cosmos.

In the background, my interests also have been lightly altered, yet, core concerns remain grounded and just what these have been for decades. As always, juxtaposition will be deployed for the sake of ‘hiding’ my own sense.

“I live in an unethical society, that coarsens the sensibilities and thwarts the capacities for goodness of most people but makes available for minority consumption an astonishing array of intellectual and aesthetic pleasures. Those who don’t enjoy (in both senses) my pleasures have every right, from their side, to regard my consciousness as spoiled, corrupt, decadent.” Susan Sontag

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Forlorn Free Play

Free Play 11-6-2017

Because I carry the equipment bags and make out the line-ups and provide ad hoc and amateur cognitive behavioral therapy interventions, I possess awesome power within the Free Play Softball League leadership, you know, the one I convened prior to this season. This power may be trumped by a harsh god with his passive-aggressive approach to guiding the weather. Due to this more powerful deity I worked out parameters with m=the co-leaders for starting softball games in the late fall, past the baseball world series. The conditions must be dry, the field playable, and, temp in the forties.

Still, in the face of such gods the free players turned out on a windy rainy Sunday morning. Not in force, here at the end of the season, (in which the league has expanded its base of regulars by the most new and second/third year players in years,) but turning out nine players. Sadly, once I got there a half hour late, summoned by a text, the drizzle intensified.

Smiling, I walked up to Francis and told him,

All these players are irrepressible.

He said, You can play in this, we just don’t have enough players.

Later Dave told me, “we used to play games in much worse conditions.”

Indeed. It is fitting in this 2017 Free Play Softball League season that the original spark of the league made its late season claim. We’ve played through falling snow once upon a time.

The assembled players convened a batting practice as the curtain started to very slowly unfold.

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Food For Another – some poems of Tim Calhoun

Caged Bird (2014) Stephen Calhoun 7x5"

Caged Bird (2014) Stephen Calhoun 7×5″

Tim Calhoun Science

Red was my brother's favorite color.

Red was my brother’s favorite color.

I was reminded recently in rereading some of his poems from his self-curated unpublished collection The Hero In the Oak Branch Stretcher, that in passing away in February 1993, he was a poet of the pre-internet era. This poem, Expulsion, is prescient about contemporary communication.

Expulsion Tim Calhoun

via CWRU.edu POETSBANK is a loosely structured organization that sponsors and promotes readings by and of Cleveland poets. It was the brainchild of poet Daniel Thompson, who began sponsoring readings at the County Justice Ctr. in the late 1970s to commemorate the birthdays of Cleveland poets HART CRANE, LANGSTON HUGHES, and d.a. levy (see DARRYL ALLEN LEVY). It tended to attract performance-oriented poets as opposed to more publication-minded groups, such as the Poets’ League of Gtr. Cleveland. Since his girlfriend’s father was a bank president, Thompson chose the name Poetsbank in order that he might become one himself. In the absence of elections, he has filled that office since the group’s founding. The principal function of Poetsbank has been to provide a name whenever a sponsor was needed for a reading. It attempted to include artists from different disciplines, to promote woman poets, and to address such political issues as nuclear disarmament and homelessness. Its most memorable events were the annual “Junkstock” readings given at the Pearl Rd. Auto Wrecking & Salvage Co. during the 1980s. Other readings have taken place in such venues as the ARCADE, the Cleveland Workhouse, the county jail, the FLATS, and area coffeehouses. Participating poets, besides Thompson, have included Barbara Angell, Kristen Ban Tepper, TIM CALHOUN, Mark Hopkins, Tim Joyce, JAMES KILGORE, Marilyn Murray, Maarafu Ojo, Geoffrey Singer, C. A. Smith, Amy Sparks, Zena Zipporah, and Barry Zucker.

Tim Calhoun Flame

Fraternality - 2014 - Stephen Calhoun

Fraternality – 2014 – Stephen Calhoun

A lot of posts have touched upon my deceased twin brother Tim Calhoun, 1954-1993.

First-year M.A. student Blaire Grassel has won the 2017 Timothy Calhoun Memorial Prize for Poetry.
The Timothy Calhoun Memorial Prize for Poetry recognizes the best poem or group of poems (3) by a graduate student in the Department of English.

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Surprise Yourself

Herron-Seeley-Presentational Forms

Kathy described this mind map and I found it out in the wild. Collaborations can lead to interesting incidental paths. Kathy turned me on to Dr. Chris Seeley‘s view of the artful organization. She added her own very highest regard. The incidental informs the future process and relationship and collaboration and transforms into the coincidental. follow along

You can download The Artful Organization via the link for a pdf on this page.

Asian-Figure-on-Kathy-Skerritt's-Table

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#MeToo #notMe, Yes, of course me

metoo-png-Milano

Definition of Sexual Harassment via NotSurprised.org

‘We Are Not Surprised’: Read the Blistering Open Letter That Art-World Women Wrote About Artforum
The list of signatories is growing by the hour. artnet News, October 30, 2017

It seems to me consistent with the old fashioned archetypal view of hidden complexes and incumbent courses of social action and social response that the election of President Priapic would promote an intense and heartfelt compensation. This has begun to transform relations in the patriarchical social structures.

(Also, archetypically related to this are the sweep of the athletes protest against state violence against minorities and #blacklivesmatter.)

Personally, the questions for me are what might I experience, act, and, communicate differently? As soon as this had bubbled up, I spent an afternoon with my artistic collaborator Kathy to discuss our first creative collaboration. She took me to school not on sexual behavior or harassment but on entering and being present and self-aware in the sacred space of her studio. This is precisely where my attitude needs the most adjustment. For many men this is where the transformation could begin. For others the call beckons in a more fundamental direction.

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Generativity, coda

Janet Echelman

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Generativitality

Some Thoughts On Generative Art by Anders Holt

Brisk Totem - 2015 - Stephen Calhoun

Brisk Totem – 2015 – Stephen Calhoun

Many who know something about my art practice know I loathe the terms “digital art” and “digital artist.” Both terms strike me as almost always leading right into various thickets of ignorance, bias, oversimplification, and, confusion about what the word “digital” means when applied to art-making. Yes, it is my personal hangup that I don’t want to be associated with inevitable misconceptions about where ‘the digits’ fall in my own process.

On the other hand I dig being someone who creates generative art because I’m always ready to explain how I deploy scripted generative routines to make images. If I encounter someone who knows about generative art processes, one of their first questions will be along the lines of, “what sequences what?”

An art acquaintance asked me on what kind of art I made. My initial response was about processes and processing, ‘After taking pictures of set-ups I cut them into symmetries, and, process these half pieces into full symmetries. I may process the art work further by adjusting pixels using software.’

“Mixed process photographs.”

“Why didn’t you just say so?”

I term the art work to be a: mixed process photographic image, or, mixed process photo-generative image. Sometimes the finished piece is a straight photograph–taken by a digital camera–cut and pasted into a mirror symmetry. It’s all about the process and the ‘processes of processes.’ This fact is, apparently, very hard to approach from the direction of ‘the digital.’

When I imagine possibilities in the realm of generativity, I am visualizing how different iterations of the processing of processes and first order processing work in concert. In this there are features of a peculiar cybernetics anchored to imagining.

Over the past two winters I have not been firing up the generative dashboard, yet I have been stockpiling various experiments, in my head. My goal would be to create a piece as overwhelming as the two here, Brisk Totem, and, Sonny Sharrock in Heaven, both 2015.

Sonny Sharrock In Heaven - 2015 - Stephen Calhoun artist

Sonny Sharrock In Heaven – 2015 – Stephen Calhoun

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Free Play Growth Ring

Free Play Softball David A. Kolb Cleveland

Nicole, action shot

I started playing Free Play Softball League in 2002. At the time, the game was co-ed to the magnitude of six female players, Alice, Laine, Angie, Amy, Linda, Mary. By 2009, the attrition of female players had reached its “negative zenith.” The game labored on and became more spiky, masculine, boyish, and, mildly less civilized. However, the boyish part reflects aging and regression, not an influx of many younger players.

This year it appears Free Play Softball League has developed two women players.

Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

I have no idea how they found their way to our game. East siders. I know Nicole played softball in high school. She and Mia are feisty, and I suspect both see right through the antics and legacy patterns of the recent league.

As a group, we had our most civilized season in many years. Just sayin’, (and suggesting something about the relationship between an increase in wholeness and courtesy.)

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Once a Hawk

Hawken School Class of 1972 Reunion

library, Upper School, Hawken School

This past weekend I went to my forty-fifth high school reunion, for the Class of ’72. I have been to every single five year Class of ’72 Hawken School (Gates Mills, Ohio,) reunion. The first one was in 1977. I was living in Middlebury Vermont at the time.

This year the hallowed men’s circle that uniquely characterizes the class’s fraternal ritual was at an Upper School (grades 9-12) transformed by a luxurious new 21st century series of connected school buildings. As you can see, some of us took the tour. Almost nothing of our own experience ‘back in the day’ naturally translates to the new surroundings; and, I note as much while also regarding the addition of women to the upper school classes starting in 1974. The buck buck tree is still there. Several of the old building’s wings, with their fifties utilitarian cinder blocks, have remained connected to the new campus.

Each reunion presents a mini seminar in men, masculinity, adult development, families, and, the second law of thermodynamics. It’s a lovely group.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. (Henry David Thoreau)

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Happy Birthday Thelonious Monk

I first heard Thelonious Monk in 1970, several years before I put my jazz head on. Probably it was my classmate Warren who auditioned an LP track. I don’t recall which one. I didn’t care for it. However, in the winter of 1971 I began working part time in a record store next to the post office in Cleveland Heights. In Budget records and Tapes’s collection of vinyl promos were two Monk records, Monk’s Blues, the big band record arranged by Oliver Nelson, and, Criss Cross, a quartet record from the sixties with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse. The former record was one of the owner’s favorite records. At the time the available discography of the master was quite slim with the exception of the Columbia recordings, all of which dated from the sixties beginning in 1963.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that night and day wants to make you like everybody else is to fight the greatest battle you will fight and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings

The iconic Cleveland jazz maven Harvey Pekar scoffed at the big band record one day while in the store, and lamented the unavailability of the “class Blue Note sides.” But, never mind, Harvey, despite your influence on my tastes and your insistence on the store bringing in the Black Lion trio dates recorded in 1971 and released in 1972, it would not be until those Blue Notes were issued in a stirling twofer in 1976 that I got bitten by the Monk hard.

How hard? ‘Life-changingly hard.’ Monk is second to no one in my estimation and surely in my experience. Happy 100th birthday to the khidr of sound, Thelonious Sphere Monk.

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Today’s Destiny, and May It be Happy, Abdullah Ibrahim

My friend Abdullah Ibrahim turned 83 today. Of the many possibilities for experiential learning he served my way in the late eighties, the most essential was that the next breath possibly might turn out to be the last such breath.

Abdullah Ibrahim from Ian Henderson on Vimeo.

A man in prison is sent a prayer rug by his friend. What he had wanted, of course, was a file or a crowbar or a key! But he began using the rug, doing five-times prayer before dawn, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before sleep. Bowing, sitting up, bowing again, he notices an odd pattern in the weave of the rug, just at the qibla, the point, where his head touches. He studies and meditates on that pattern, gradually discovering that it is a diagram of the lock that confines him in his cell and how it works. He’s able to escape. Anything you do every day can open into the deepest spiritual place, which is freedom.
— Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi

800px-Abdullah_Ibrahim

Abdullah refashioned a teaching story and transmitted the best version. I’ve revised it a bit due to some additional understanding gained over the intervening years.

A hunter was in the jungle hunting when he heard in the distance a beautiful bird song. He slowly and quietly made his way to the song’s source. Standing in the brush near a tall tree he spotted a gorgeous bird singing a song the hunter was the most beautiful melody he’s ever heard a bird sing. He set a snare, and the next day came back and found the bird trapped. With a great deal of respect and care he brought the bird back with him to his country place.

The hunter outfitted a large cage and hung the cage with the bird in it in a sunlit corner with windows on both sides. The bird was quiet for many weeks after first being housed in the cage. However, eventually, the bird began piecing together bits of melodies. After beginning to do this, a few weeks later, the bird began singing the songs that had so captured the hunter’s attention in the jungle.

Yet, the songs seemed much sadder to the hunter than the original melodies. He reflected on this and decided the bird was lonely. So it was the hunter decided to return to the jungle and track down a bird like the bird in the cage, and bring it back as a companion.

The hunter returned to the same location in the jungle where he had first heard the marvelous bird songs. Not right away, but soon enough, the hunter one morning heard a similar song. He tracked the melody to another tall tree. From some nearby bushes he stood quietly observing the singing bird on a branch high up the tree. Then something shattering happened, mid song the bird fell out of the tree and landed with a soft thud in the undergrowth.

The hunter was shocked and dismayed as he made his way to the now still and silent bird. He gently picked it up. It was dead. The hunter was so moved and so deeply startled by this that, after burying the bird, he abandoned his search.

He returned to his farm. Walking into the room where the caged bird was singing, he sat on the shoulder of a couch next to the cage. To himself, the hunter recounted what had happened in the jungle. When he finished, the bird stopped singing. Then it fell off its perch to the floor of the cage. The hunter was instantly beside himself. He opened the door of the cage and picked up the still bird.

Then, as he was about to pronounce the bird dead, the bird instantly fluttered a second and then flew out of his hand and flew out an open window, and flew to a branch on a nearby tree, and, started singing a fresh and glorious song.

(The title of this story is: Thanks for the Message!)

Dr. Ibrahim and me, 1989, Middlebury Vermont

Dr. Ibrahim and me, 1989, Middlebury Vermont

Speaking of my current chapter as an artist, Abdullah Ibrahim’s influence on my creative mission is certain and very direct. Yes, for me, my art is about providing an opportunity for a small moment of positive feeling. I also have redeployed many times his self-evaluative question: What are your four highest art forms that you practice?

FB-Yayiqandusela-16x16-Stephen-Calhoun(2016)

At 83, Abdullah Ibrahim, the ‘africanizer of Ellington,’ remains one of the masters of contemporary and ancient music. The tour video above from a few weeks ago speaks for itself. Ibrahim lives today with his honey in Switzerland.

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Teaching Cartoon: If It feels Good, Then What?

Teaching Cartoon Development

“For the mind of man is far from the nature of a clear and equal glass, wherein the beams of things should reflect according to their true incidence; nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass, full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced.” — Francis Bacon

Biscuits

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the glib but best-selling Sapiens and Homo Deus, reduces massive ideas with the efficiency of a clothes dryer fed a soaking wool sweater. For example, liberal humanism in his view simply erases all but the individual’s feeling and so it is literally for him the natural state of affairs that if something feels good one may just do it. He also asserts that, maybe, this is entirely to do to with implicitly ‘necessitarian’ algorithms.

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