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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

Category Archives: painting

[ from a. addair who is listening to Empire of the Sun (Walking on a Dream) ]

The following is an excerpt from an entry I wrote about 6 weeks ago but never got around to posting:

“That’s the big news.  We’re tickled pink or blue.  I’m feeling so excited, happy, awestruck, grateful, full of love and totally unprepared with panicky moments sliding into every 100 breaths.  It feels similar to the way we fumbled through our engagement: really joyful but slightly disturbed because I knew we we’re walking into a dramatic reworking of life in utter idiocy and delight.

the apple of my eye (twas a good thing to get married even if it didn't make sense)

There are a zillion things to be afraid about and excited for.  My mind jumps straight to my future engorged body, then to wondering how I will paint, then to a pair of sweet little baby boots this embryo has already acquired;  then I  wonder how close the baby will be born to Christmas and  fret over folic acid intake.  In short, I can’t focus on anything.”

We are now at 11 weeks and our little embryo has graduated to a fetus.  The part where I can’t focus on anything remains though now it isn’t so much giddy fun for me.  Between the bouts of nausea and fatigue I’m pretty well missing my old energy.

Turns out being pregnant has taken me deeper into my let-it-go training.  I think I was making good progress before, but when your body tells you to stop, you really have to listen; it’s such a basic reminder that life is much bigger than my agenda.   I’ve had to slow way way down and be much more flexible and gentle with myself than I had ever imagined I could be.

the sort of things I've been working on (since painting makes me nauseous)

I recently started reading The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida, in it he says that members of the creative class, “work at times when we are supposed to be off and play when we are supposed to be working.  This is because creativity cannot be switched on and off at predetermined times, and is itself an odd mixture of work and play.  Writing a book, producing a work of art or developing new software requires long periods of intense concentration, punctuated by the need to relax, incubate ideas and recharge.”  I love to read someone else’s articulate expression which has only been a misty idea-vapor in my own brain.  Seeing it there on a crisp, published page gives clarity and a sense of validation to the thought process I’ve been swimming in.  Florida’s statement gave me peace about departing from an imposed daily work structure.

baby banner for someone else's tiny human addition (detail)

I know that the life I’ve chosen doesn’t have tidy, defined compartments.  And I’m already beginning to understand that having a tiny human addition will make the lines between work, leisure, family and craft even blurrier.

tiny human addition

 

I don’t have a conclusion.  I’m still splashing around in murky waters but I can report growth:  both in girth and in spirit.  I don’t think its accurate to say that I’m swimming in this metaphorical ocean but I am learning to float on my back which is mostly about trust.

 

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My brother gave me a 55 gallon drum last summer.  He made an excellent compost bin with one, it hangs sideways between two posts and spins so you don’t have to stir, then dumps right into a wheel barrel.  I’m making a rain barrel out of mine.  To do that, it took me a year to break down and install gutters.  That’s what I did this past weekend.  Today I’m building an outdoor kitchen sink to run from the back side of the barrel.  It’s similar to what some friends have in Mexico.

So far this spring, my house projects have mostly involved twisting the monkey off my back: the utility company.  We’ve put up a laundry line, built window screens, hung screen doors, and now we’ve got this waterworks system.  The utility meter reader guy came by Friday while I was on the ladder.  I said, “Suck it, man.”

No, of course I didn’t.

We’ve spent $551 since June of last year on utilities.  It’s depressing how many CDs one has to sell to come up with that number (I don’t think I ever have).  Cutting wastewater will help the cost.  It’s really the ugliest one, tucked in there on top of the water bill.  They charge you to bring it, charge you to take it.  No matter if you drank some or poured it on a flower.

Last winter we were very cold, and in the summer we lit the house with lightning bugs.  We’re working on improvements.  On Grace Acres Farm in Virginia, transitioning from Harlem, every morning we opened the chicken coup, fed the goats, watered the cows, and tended the large garden.  My in-laws were on a motorcycle trip cross-country and knew Ashley and I could use a farmhouse in our life.  After the inner city lollypop adventure.

I found Rebekah’s copy of Thoreau’s Walden and came to his illustration of the Indian basket maker.  It resonated. Thoreau says, and I paraphrase:

“the Indian basket maker, who believed that crafting beautiful baskets was his greatest life ambition, decided that if he could not sell enough baskets to make a living, he would busy himself by creating a different style of living that did not require he sell as many of them.”

In the basement of the house at Grace Acres I recorded “New York City Spanks Levon Walker.”  It was very fresh on my mind.  Maybe I’ve sold 100.  It was on iTunes for a year and actually lost money.  I was very disappointed with that.

There is always the problem of sustenance when you busy yourself with making something, and less with the selling.  Songwriting is my craft, and I get a little sad when I have a new one and think forward to the people in a bar who I’m going to scream it into their collars.

If it made any sense, I’d live on this little piece of land and work the ground.  In the evenings, I’d sing to it.  In the mornings I’d write my blogs, or maybe a novel.  Ashley could paint what she wants.  Our kid could run around the yard and I’d have a camera nearby for when he/she did something astonishing.

To complete this utopia, I’d likely go away to work as a longshoreman in the South or on journalistic assignment to the U.S. border of Mexico.  Then we’d have the cash on hand to pay for government deficit spending, student debt, insurance, and other pretty little baskets like Netflix.

I was finished there for the day, but now I’m not.  My trouble with sales needs working out.

Trade can be a genuine exchange like buying tomatoes and eggs at the farmers market.  Or it is like buying a product in its devised cycle from a manufacturer who has already planned a replacement, and buying it with a credit card to get the bonus points, and maybe tacking on a few more large ticket items to jump into a higher rebate category.  I get the sweats about discussing my AT&T contract.  The bank wants to start a “relationship.”  They used to call consumption the “con” and it would kill you.

At one time I listened to Zig Ziglar incessantly.  I was in financial services sales then and I needed a motivational talk for every appointment.  Ziglar says, in so many words, that the salesman is the catalyst for the american way.  He said this a long time ago, way before credit crisis was the american way, and he also talked as much about integrity as he did sales.  I’m a Zig Ziglar fan, but somewhere I became extremely bitter towards selling.  Probably all the stood up appointments, cancelled contracts, and pressure during the banking crisis to sell our way out of ruin (due to previous overselling).  I starved in my suit and tie, it didn’t seem so scary to hang it up.  I have tomatoes now, too.

I sold less than 100 CDs in a year because I feel so dumb asking for money for them.  People have to insist, and insist at least twice.  Am I fast talking someone’s inheritance into my IRA plan?  No.  Those CDs carry lifeblood.  To say that they go for 5 bucks feels a little ridiculous, it’s more than a money issue.  I’ve given away well over 1000.  They are the manifestation of my gift, and a gift is not for sale.  Well maybe it has to be, but I’m very bashful about it.  It’s my paradox, and I’m going to start writing pop songs.  Those can be for sale, but not very good at sales and that’s why I grow tomatoes.

That was my explanation behind the 2010 EP “Not sure how I’ll eat but I’m not picking peaches.”  My new one is underway, “Hope for the things seen and unseen.”   It has my best songs ever written and I’ll slip you one soon.

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[ from a. addair who is listening to Sondre Lerche (Faces Down) ]

Things I was thinking about as I made this painting:

celebration flag banners

“this is the beginning of a parade”

surrendering to the story

miracles and magic

flowers

whimsy

unpredictability

simple delights and surprises

fun!

interlaced plum trees

roots

foundation

hope and community

life and color

Many of the words on this list came from the wedding inspiration list which I thought was beautiful and delightfully imaginative.  It was so fun get creative with you.   Thank you for the opportunity.

I loved your vision for the ceremony, it allowed me to engage in thinking about marriage in some fresh ways.  Through the painting, I wanted to honor the unique particulars of your union and offer a perspective from our own married adventure as a hopefully useful and encouraging gift.  I think Alain de Botton communicates this best when he says, “We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failures to grow anything beautiful from them”.  Levon and I are incredibly grateful for our happy marriage,  but whenever I attend a wedding I can’t help but to remember the troublesome parts that arrived so quickly after the vows and shape so much of who we are.

The imagery is mostly taken from the setting of your ceremony: the backyard garden, Park Ridge, flags and lights draped from tents and trees and you both promising your love under interlaced plum branches decorated with fabric and family photographs.

These are the impressions I want to communicate through the painting, but I’ve kept the imagery loose and abstract because a mere depiction of the setting couldn’t capture the mysterious joy-sadness, family melding, and vastness in the atmosphere of sacred vows.

Circles are the basis for many of the elements in the painting.  The symbolism inherent in circles communicates the wholeness and cyclical nature of what a marriage can mean.   Many of the circular elements were made by painting on a plastic sheet.  Once dry, the paint circles were peeled off and either cut in half to form the flags on the banners or folded and clustered together to form flowers.  I think this process is appropriate for the ways that we function as elements made in one context and given meaning in another.  We are both parts and completed wholes as we live out our vows to not only our spouses but to our families and communities.

I find the symbolism in wedding traditions powerful because of the threads (think flag banners even) they weave over time and through generations and so I used some of those practices in the making of the painting.  For instance, I painted the white, tree cluster-cloud element as if it were icing on a wedding cake.  And I pinned the flowers onto the ground as a boutonniere to a jacket lapel.

 

 

 

“A real work, like a real love, takes not only passion but a certain daily, obsessive, tenacious, illogical form of insanity to keep it alive”      -David Whyte

This is my wish to you, Amelia and Josh.  Your wedding day was beautiful and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it and now may you insanely follow the love you declared under that 5.21 sunshine.

Blessings and thank you,

ashley

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Ashley is in front of a canvas this morning and that is no simple accomplishment.  Nausea, once it comes once, seems to associate with the same situation.  Our house makes her nauseous.  I make her nauseous.  She told me the other day that the only way she could consider working was if I built her a new studio out in the yard, in the garden and away from the house.  I told her that the first trimester would be over in two weeks and she’d feel better. I couldn’t pour a footer faster than that.

Emotions will be high in today’s work.

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People, I got in trouble for making this video.  The inclination came to make it and I just did, but didn’t clean the house or anything.  Man, you got a warn a lady before you just walk through the place with a camera, especially if she’s in the state that Ashley is (and by that I mean nothing, dear). When she came home she said,

“Well…. it’s a little long, entertaining, but I can’t believe you’re going to show that.”

That means she doesn’t like it.  But I think when you videoblog you’re only allowed one take.  This ain’t cable.

Shoulder of the Road Revisited  

I chased you down the road for an interstate goodbye

standing there on the shoulder with your head on mind

said, “Honey it won’t be long, don’t you worry, don’t you cry,”

then waved you down the road for another try

     How could we wait for love, knowing right where it went?

     I watched you drive away and said I wouldn’t again

     We got married in the flood, we were then so young

     had an early start just to mess it up

Those early days we won’t forget, fighting for our lives

coming home to walls we didn’t recognize

I learned that fighting you was something I could stand to lose

drag enough cold inside, what you gonna do?

     So I learned to make a few men of myself, brought em all home to you

     said, “Honey here’s the new me, and what I’m gonna do”

     she said, “If you see my husband tell him I could use a hand,

     these men keep coming over eating off his land.”

You took me once on a promise to be true

I been making good on that to you

One thing I didn’t know was who I was those years ago

All I knew is I was holding on to you

and the shoulder of the road

music available at   http://levonwalker.bandcamp.com/

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Click the image for additional details.  Free shipping (US only) and reduced prices, MAY 14-16 ONLY.  Email at noroomforhipsters@gmail.com for purchasing inquiries.

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Documenting some more.  It was Thursday midday, Knoxville Tennessee.  One of the first real scorchers.  Men were setting up the stage for a Better Than Ezra concert tonight (woa oh).  Ice cream and hot dogs were everywhere.  Alexander was busking on his alto sax by Cafe Four.  I stopped in Bliss Home to reshoot Ashley’s work.

I’ve been taking Ashley to work on my bike (she frowns at the word “haul”).  In the cool morning she walks, but at 1:30 she hops on the rack of my ox cart.  A pregnant lady shouldn’t be walking these East TN hills in the heat of the day.  She should be on a bicycle rack, clasping her responsible partner.  The car is sold now, and that has been interesting.  One more week of school and no more bike rides for the three of us.  She already exceeds 50 lbs and we expect it to continue.  And let me tell you, the hills are a bitch.

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