reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the stuff we see. [two artists tuesday]

we cannot help ourselves. we see stuff. i usually don’t suppose that’s unusual, until someone stares at us – with that blank look on their faces that betrays the “oh-sheesh-they-are-SOOO-weird” thought they are having. and then i realize we might be a little unusual. i shrug it off. “we-are-all-worthy-we-are-all-worthy” i repeat.

the shark was on the side of the trail. lurking. all crusty and gnarly, his face. he was obvious. he was cause for conversation, tales of scuba-diving in cold long island waters and off the coast of tropical islands. we can’t help but see and we laugh and gasp out, “look! it’s a ……..!”

seeing. it’s a burden every artist carries. it’s in the backpack with the parmesan cheese and the twizzlers and the tiny box wine and the kind bars. it’s probably good that we are mostly alone during these moments; our imaginations fly wild and free and we crack ourselves up.

and isn’t that the point? the laughter? i can’t think of anything better than laughing together, even at our own expense. we tell stories to friends, emphasizing the goofy, the silly, the utterly-profoundly dumb, self-deprecating and reveling in it. getting my hair cut and claiming the highest forehead in the guiness book of world records of foreheads. having a pedicure and claiming the biggest big toe in modern history. even, recently, at the doctor’s office, asking, please, for a sticker or a gold star for passing my bloodwork. just silliness. we can’t help it.

but to walk with him and find the sharks on trail and the ducks stuck in trunks (see below) and the tree mooning us (see below) and the desert hills from space (also see below) is to walk inside laughter. it’s to have maybe learned – at long last – not to take everything quite so seriously.

it’s to learn how to get older and crusty and gnarly ourselves and to hold it all lightly.

because in truth, the shark tree was beautiful.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the pod of our diapause. [two artists tuesday]

the color of a palomino, the pod of milkweed off the side of the trail captures my attention. though i want to touch it, to feel what looks like a velvety ear, i don’t disturb it. this pod has burst open, its seeds scattered, waiting for verdant spring and the eventual arrival of monarchs. the butterflies left the midwest for the winter, migrating, traveling up to 2500 miles to shelter and hibernate through winter in coolness that is not cold.

their diapause is a period of suspended development. it is common in the insect world, this inactivity: “a state in which their growth, development, and activities are suspended temporarily, with a metabolic rate that is high enough to keep them alive.” it’s a kind of dormancy. it sounds a little like isolating in the middle of a pandemic, a little like a response to a few more-difficult years. a slowing down, an insulating, a turning-in, heartbeats enough to sustain yet not enough for vast inspiration. hmm.

back on our favorite local trail, we are watching it wake. we take note of the changes in color, the changes in the woods, in the meadows. sipping coffee this morning we listen to the new sounds – birdcalls we have missed in the quietude of winter, the middle of our diapause.

we start to feel the pull of the outside more, the draw of places to see, the falling-off of quilts we have wrapped around us. i begin to wonder – with a little more energy – what next and next look like. the sun streams in the window and stays up later, pushing back night like feet on a crab soccer ball.

we begin to break open the pod of our diapause, long after milkweed but before the butterflies come back.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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even in waning. a firework. [two artists tuesday]

do you know that there’s still a chance for you
’cause there’s a spark in you?
you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
just own the night like the 4th of july
’cause baby, you’re a firework
come on, show ’em what you’re worth
make ’em go, oh
as you shoot across the sky
baby, you’re a firework
come on, let your colors burst
make ’em go, oh

(“firework” performed by katy perry.*)

even as it wanes, it is clearly beautiful. stunning, really. the 0230-pantone-chart-heading-toward-rhodamine-red bloom is attracting attention, its droop the stuff of grand success. as its petals drop to the ground, one-by-one, it feeds next and next. and the flowers nearby sigh, “ohhhh.” and they know, despite anything – age, health, roadblocks, lack of nutrients, overabundance of tending worry, calendar of blooming-period – that there is still a chance for them.

artistry never stops. no matter. its imperative – to bloom – to shoot across the sky – is ceaseless, a perpetual poking, an unfaltering urge. the chance is never gone, never erased, never doused-left-with-no-embers.

i listened to a guided meditation a few days ago. it was merely four minutes long. “the mountain”, it – in only four minutes – made surprising tears stream down my face. its message…to be grounded and solid – rooted – just as a mountain – in all that is going on around you, regardless. to stand in it all. like a mountain. those four minutes were profound.

there are things i would choose to be different right now. many things. this season has been somewhat fraught. yet, there are reasons to be grounded, rooted, to stand here and just wait, to ride it out, to hold on.

all around us were orchids in shatter-the-silence gorgeous bloom. all around us was greenery, textural and rich. all around us were beginnings, closed buds with pent-up energy waiting to burst onto the stage-of-earth.

but this leaning-to-rhodamine caught my eye, in its waning no less, no more than the others. and it whispered, “baby, you’re a firework too.”

even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
it’s always been inside of you, you, you
and now it’s time to let it through
’cause baby you’re a firework
come on, show ’em what you’re worth
make ’em go, oh
as you shoot across the sky
baby, you’re a firework
come on, let your colors burst
make ’em go, oh

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

*songwriters: katy perry, mikkel s. eriksen, tor erik hermansen, sandy wilhelm, and ester dean


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the horizon! the horizon! [k.s. friday]

like 7th chords vs major 7th chords, some things are irrefutable. the horizon is one of them.

each and every time i take a photograph i can hear crunch in my ear, “the horizon! the horizon!”. decades have passed and i still will look at my photographs post-snap and evaluate the horizon and its relationship in the whole image. post-click i will think, “ahh, crunch would like this one!” and i’ve considered time and again to send it on to this person who has instilled his words in my head from years of taking sunrise and sunset pictures out on long island sound, on the beaches, in the boat, in-between fishing or diving adventures. there is nothing like a sunrise over the water with a crooked horizon. if one has to tilt one’s head to the side to accommodate the degree of angle of horizon, crunch -and i, now – have no forgiveness.

it’s how i feel about dominant 7th chords (using the minor 7th). i find them cringe-worthy. overused and trite, i have, many-a-time, tossed out, “major7th! major7th!” to others, much like crunch’s “the horizon!” admonishment. it’s used as a resolution pass, moving to another chord (usually a fifth below, but that’s too much information for right here). suffice it to say, we all have our quirks, the things that make us grimace or make our eyes twitch.

the gallery where david’s piece “unfettered” is showing is right on the water. the center is filled with delicious light and warm wood floors and white walls and white woodwork. it is a gorgeous place, a mecca for an eye seeking tiny morsels of photo-worthy images. i wander through, admiring pieces of the opening show and taking pictures of the space.

but i am reminded of the huge art expo we attended in chicago. winning – and mightily expensive – exhibits included jute strung across the booth with a kitchen sponge painted blue hanging from a clothespin. this was for sale for literally thousands of dollars and there were curators/representatives/dealers in the booth – those who would privately shake their heads in astonishment, giggling all the way to the bank – who would happily explain its meaning to you. perhaps i am a bit jaded – by looped recordings and garage band and auto-tune and acrobatics and the machinations of the music industry – but i have to admit that, while there were fancily-clothed-people gathered around seemingly breathless-with-anticipation, i did not stick around for the explanation. like the emperor with his new clothes, the oh-i-MUST-have-it crowd amused me and i could hear crunch in my head, “the horizon! the horizon!”.

one of my favorite experiences – albeit adding to my cynicism – was attending a talk given by a curator at chicago’s institute of art. she was speaking about the work of christopher wool and she was giddy that he was present. she had developed wordy narrative all around his work, describing his temperament, his mood swings, his supposed depression. his work is pretty blatant; he uses words and images to speak to or portray conceptual ideas. referencing one particular piece, she spoke about how his dark depression contributed to his art. she glanced over at him as he made a gesture to speak and invited his-own-perception of his-own-work, a photograph. i could see his tic from our seats. “i just thought it was a cool shot,” he interjected into her soliloquy on the spectrum of his personality. the audience laughed and i breathed a sigh of relief. some 7th chords are just overused, overplayed, over-analyzed.

i’m wondering about stringing up some jute in the sunroom and hanging this week’s scotch-brite.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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the underwear moments. [d.r. thursday]

as you walk in the front door of the gallery, it is straight ahead of you. “unfettered” seizes your attention and the light streaming in the windows spilling onto a warm wood floor and white woodwork seems to embrace it in a cloud. i know how this feels. showcasing a piece is allowing it to come to full bloom, to let it breathe in the world, to share it. but showcasing a piece is not for the meek at heart.

in the way you would likely feel standing in your underwear in a town square, introducing the world to some new piece of your heart is raw. on old wooden stages with a piano and a mic, centered on a wall with a tiny price tag placed nearby, during poetry-reading night in the corner of the general store, sharing with the novel-writing club every first thursday, skating the first performance on ice, tapping “publish” on a blog each day … pieces of your heart float shakily about as you try to hold onto sisu and stay grounded. it matters not how many times you have done this. your heart has been unbridled and you are allowing others in. each and every time.

“unfettered” is gorgeous. it’s – coincidentally – exactly how i feel on wooden stages. it is how i feel on the top of mountain trails. it is how i feel dancing in the front yard. it is how i feel those moments i have been cantering on the back of an exquisite horse. it is how love feels. it is how the sun on your face feels.

“unfettered” is the epitome of its own hanging-on-the-gallery-wall boldness. the uninhibited freedom of expression – artistry come to fruition in the moment of utter sharing. terrifying and liberating. raw and real. the underwear moments.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

click on this image to visit UNFETTERED & other bold-heart paintings


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fuchsia shibui. [k.s. friday]

“rather than being a fall away from beauty, ageing can be the revelation of beauty, the time when the inherent radiance becomes visible.” (john o’donohue)

perhaps i would have noticed these leaves in the prime of their life, clotheslined on the branch, hanging in the sun. their verdant green might have captured my attention and the focus of my camera. but i kind of doubt it. for, indeed, they would have blended into the rest of the woods, the rest of the underbrush, the colors, the shrubbery, the landscape.

in the autumn of their lives, these leaves are ravishing. they gesture to the camera and invite my study. their ageing is their invitation to relish their presence, the visual “hey! look at me!”.

these days it is predictable. there is something – each day – we will say that is a reminder, though gently and with soft humor, of the very fact that we are ageing. we poke at ourselves, with self-deprecating comments about wrinkles or crepey skin or bellies changing or achy joints. we roll our eyes and then one of us reminds the other to be present in it and joyful and grateful, mostly grateful. we are not eloquent in those moments. they involve words like “sheesh!” or “stahhhhhhhhp!” or comparisons “but look at MY wrinkles!”. to suggest we are ageing gracefully is to ignore the american cultural emphasis on youthfulness, with ageing depicted negatively. in contrast, ageing in japan is revered. the elderly have the utmost respect. in the autumn of their lives, turning toward mid-life and beyond, the flaws earned throughout life are considered the very things that intensify beauty. shibui, it is said, is an aesthetic turn toward subtle and unobtrusive beauty, textural in elegance and roughness, diverse in spontaneous and restrained, a balance of simplicity and complexity, understated but not innocent, gorgeous words about meditation over spectacle. (wikipedia)

yesterday, in the middle of thinking about kneeling on the stripes, i found myself stumbling upon hearts. there was the heart – a random piece of ripped tissue – on the hinged lid of the stainless wastebasket. the hearts on the shower curtain, light somehow filtering through the holes holding curtain rings, reflected down onto the curtain itself. the heart leaf on the sidewalk. this morning the heart, shaped from the skin of the potato, on top of the tiny wedge of breakfast potato. it was a little uncanny. but was it?

or perhaps it is some kind of universe message – raising its voice over the din of flaw-noticing and in-the-pause-thinking and liminal-space-white-noise – reminding me of being loved. in this autumn-of-my-life. that the fuchsia is showing up, is a statement in the middle of a dense forest, raising the ordinary to extraordinary, the natural presence of shibui.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

EVERY BREATH from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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out that window. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

first glance would suggest this is a black and white photograph. an image taken through the window over our kitchen sink, a view i have seen first thing in the morning about 12,000 times and the last minutes at night just before turning out the kitchen light and moving into a time for sleep, about 12,000 times. and any time inbetween, in the day as morning marched into noon and noon glimmered into midday and midday waned into evening. each time, gazing out, about 12,000 times.

that is likely paralleling how well ansel adams knew the american west, images of wild and rugged yosemite etched into his heart. how many times this maestro of his art must have studied those vistas, photographing morsels and overviews, contrast and shading in all seasons. striking focus, his work inspires adventure-out-there-juju and, more importantly, an environmental awareness in these times of climate crisis. without color, the attention of the aperture pivots to grandeur, is not distracted, but is challenged by shape and line and form and composition.

taking a photograph through a window is different than taking it without some kind of membrane between photographer and subject. it gives space for other kinds of interaction. the play of reflection, the underside of raindrops, never-minding the swipe of window-cleaner-rags. opportunity to see, a unique peek into the familiar, wherever you might be.

this is not a black and white photograph. it is the stuff of october days heading full-steam toward november. it is the drear of rainy and damp and cold. it’s wishing 65 degrees was not vanishing into the calendar.

and yet, having looked out of that window maybe over 100,000 times all told, i know that the view, framed by a painted cornice, kitchen cabinets and our old porcelain sink, is different each day, that the days are not identical and never really the same, that change is always a constant. and that some days, when i point the camera out the window it will capture intense color, vibrant sun, blue sky, leaves the colors of fire and rust and squirrels running on the wire.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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tennis with diebenkorn and pärt. [two artists tuesday]

“now, the idea is to get everything right – it’s not just color or form or space or line – it’s everything all at once.” (richard diebenkorn)

each time i have stood in front of one of the ocean park series paintings, i have been totally engaged. the light, the color, the form, the line, the space – richard got it all right in these. they are fantastic abstracts, luring you in. we left the san francisco museum of modern art with a richard diebenkorn book, one of those coffeetable type books – large with gorgeous illustrations and text. i keep it in my studio, to gaze at and sink into.

i do not know much about painting. at all. i have learned, though, that composition is, across the medium-board, still composition. a painting, a song, a dance, a poem needs someone to receive it, someone to interact, to respond, someone upon which it may fall. and for the artist, though imperative to do the work regardless, it creates the space for the flow to go back and forth, like a tennis ball across a court. each bounce and bounceback adds a little wisdom, a little emotion, breath. as i stand in front of richard’s ocean park paintings, it is as if i can hear his even breathing in my ear.

i stood on the dock up-north, gazing down at the water, light and sun playing on its surface. were i to have chosen colors to paint this, and not the black and white of the paintings i have spattered – the only paintings i have done as an adult, i might have chosen these tones. they are the colors i love to be surrounded by. this would be an abstract painting of getting outside without getting outside, to be there without being there.

but i did not paint this. nature took care of the color and form and space and line and i merely captured what nature made easy. there are many of these now – photographs of the abstract – all with strings tied to my heart and memories in my mind’s eye of outside. i keep thinking they would make a good coffeetable book…”getting outside inside”….a title, an invitation…for those sulky days when one needs the bounceback of the breath of the woods or the water, the space of the mountain trail or the rocky beach.

the gift of glassy lake reminds me that there are other mediums to explore, textures i might consider. i imagine richard diebenkorn and arvo pärt, on two sides of the court, two dimensions, lobbing the ball back and forth. abstractionist and minimalist – both extending an invitation. i start to answer.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

images of water ©️ 2021 kerri sherwood


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cactus, candles and a red wagon. [d.r. thursday]

i started a business when i was young. nothing cost more than about a dollar but i was a zealous salesperson. i pulled a red wagon around my neighborhood, going door to door – in the days when that was actually safe – and sold cactus. my sweet momma had prolific succulents and would pot tiny offshoots and volunteers into cups or chipped mugs or little clay pots, turning them over to me to sell. it’s amazing how many people would buy a 25 cent baby cactus from an eight year old at the door. i was thrilled counting my earnings at the end of the day and would impatiently wait for the next proliferation of cactus pups.

after a while and some market research, i decided to add candles to my stock. i purchased wax and three-dimensional plastic molds, tape and had a perfect little finnish knife to trim the wax after taking it out of the mold. i never lit any of those candles. they seemed more like decorations and less like candles-to-burn. funny to think about not-thinking-about-lighting-them and i wonder how many of the candles i happily sold on the streets of my growing-up were ever burned. though i’d love to revisit that project now, for fun and maybe to actually try the candle as a candle, my supplies are stuck somewhere – since 1979 – in the somewhat-finished attic room closet of a methodist church on long island, where i had helped with a youth group and taught them how to make candles.

i wonder now about what someone will think when they stumble upon all of that – my dad’s old hard plastic luggage case with molds and wax. i wonder if they will laugh thinking about the simplicity of it. after all, for my tiny business all i really did was melt the wax in a double boiler, choose a color dye, place the wick, tape and set up the molds, pour the wax into the molds and wait. once they were set, i trimmed along the seam line to create a seamless looking alligator or snail or mushroom or a variety of other marketable shapes of candles i can’t recall. i simply changed the form of wax.

i suppose it’s all like that. changing the form. the notes float and the composer grabs them out of the atmosphere, placing them together into a piece of music, changing the form of their ethereal bobbing-around-out-there. color bursts around us, nature offering us every iota of choice, and the painter gently retrieves them and places them together on the canvas, translating the iron oxide red of delicate arches into a vibrant sunrise or the flower of a still-life. the butterfly on the wing dances and the ballerina’s steps mimic the form, an expression of freedom and joy. words and expressions whirl around and turns of phrases hide inside dictionaries and the writer plucks and chooses, creating poetry and story from the raw.

my sweet momma and poppo discovered ikea in their 80s. they were intense fans. from time to time i would get big ups packages from them – ikea runs – with new wooden spoons or lanterns or cork trivets or tealights or whatever was their latest discovery there. and so i became a tealight fan. we burn them often. to light the table on our deck, to light our pop-up, inside all around the house, to honor someone with a flickering flame all day, safely burning on the stove. i guess that these are a lot easier to make than alligators or snails. and i know that they are obviously a lot easier to light and actually burn.

i still have a round yellow happy face candle i received years ago. i haven’t burned it. something about not messing with its form, i guess. why do we have candles we aren’t going to burn?

today, i think i might take out that round happy face candle. maybe i will put it on the stove, in a safe-to-burn-all-day spot. maybe it will infuse inspiring form-changing into the air around me. there’s much to purge from more recent times and much to welcome in next days. it’s worth a try.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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adding an image from later that day: