The Artwork of Michael Divine

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It Is a Good Time To Make Art

September 28th, 2017
"Flowers for Atlas" by Michael Divine

“Flowers for Atlas” by Michael Divine

“I recalled the artists who had done their work in gulags, prison cells, hospital beds; who did their work while hounded, exiled, reviled, pilloried. And those who were executed…

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.”

– Toni Morrison

Kiva – Loans that Change Lives

September 4th, 2017

Kiva - Loans that Change Lives

Some time back I loaned some money on Kiva. Then, after the allotted time, I started getting my repayments. Those payments ended up just sitting in my account there not doing much. So I started looking around and reloaning the money. A little here, a little there. Every little bit, they say, helps. Plus,tThese are LOANS not gifts. While there’s no monetary return other than the original loan, there IS the benefit of helping others in the world.

I’ve looked through the various projects in the world to see what people are doing. Most are sole proprietor businesses looking to expand and grow – exactly what you expect with a business loan. There’s a number of women in the Philippines who would just like to borrow some money to build themselves a sanitary toilet for their families of six or more. There’s countless others who would like to grow their businesses, create more stable support systems, and so on. Some are in your own backyard. Some are on the other side of the world.

Imagine if you put just $50 or $100 to use – money that you’d get back over time. Even just $20. Then relend it and relend it. Just let it keep doing good for others. If you really need it, it’ll be there. But I bet that you don’t REALLY need it. We forget sometimes how much we actually have. And if you really do need it, it gets paid back eventually.

Add to the pool here: https://www.kiva.org/

Why You Should Make Art (according to science)

July 31st, 2017

#5 – “Turning our problems into narratives can help us work through them” – is really a key part of my work. When I am thinking of what next to paint, I try to find works that help to guide me through my life, the preciously beautiful as well as the preciously tragic. The transference of thought into matter for no other reason than as an expression of ourselves and finding the patience to see it through, whether a napkin doodle or an epic painting, is an important part of our humanness to nurture.

And if it is only to make us happy and healthier humans – well, that’s not so bad. After all, happier healthier humans make better choices for themselves and others. In my opinion, it makes for a better planet to live on.

From Business Insider:

Painting, sculpting, dancing, making music, and all the other artistic pursuits have benefits that go far beyond pure enjoyment or cultural creation — these activities can also strengthen your brain and improve your mood. Here are seven reasons to give yourself time to make art, even if you think you’re bad at it.

1. Making art may reduce stress and anxiety.
In one recent study in the journal Art Therapy, researchers found that after just 45 minutes of art-making, levels of the hormone cortisol — which is associated with stress — were reduced in participants’ saliva, regardless of their prior art skills.

Read the rest here: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-you-should-make-art-even-if-youre-bad-2016-6/#1-making-art-may-reduce-stress-and-anxiety-1

A Walk Through Our Garden

July 4th, 2017

A little walk through our garden

A walk through the garden. A pause here and there. Persimmons and plums. Grape vines overflowing over the trellis of the bridge. Tomatoes and peppers. Squash and corn. So many different flowers and soft shades on sprigs of green leaves all mixing and dancing and leaving their echoes in me. This little stream that trickles into our pond. The koi that swim about and the damselflies and dragonflies and butterflies and birds that dart to and fro. My cats that follow me around. And I. A steward of this earth and this little corner of life all swirling together doing my best to give it what it needs. The sun sets and evening gold turns to dusky pink. It’s life.

The blossoms of our garden

The blossoms of our garden

 

Our Anniversary

June 22nd, 2017

Violet and I and our many selfies

Today is 9 years of being married to Violet. She is an amazing woman. There’s so much we’ve done together and so much yet to come. I’m so grateful for her inspiration, her love, her patience, her holding me to my highest self. I’m truly blessed to have such an amazing human with me as I walk through this world. I wish we could be together today but, second year in a row, life has conspired otherwise. So instead I made this sentimental post and a montage of us kissing. :)

For the Patriarchs of the World

June 18th, 2017

My dad and I at my parent’s home in CT, 2016.

Today I honor the patriarchs in my life. I’d like to redefine patriarch. It has, for too long, been used the wrong way – especially by the men who wield its power as a form of subjugation, control, and personal gain. The patriarch is the balance to the matriarch. The patriarch takes a role of securing a space, defending it, helping to sustain it. Rather than being a binary gender role, it is an archetype in our human experience.

When it comes to the home, there are many things to defend against: the home must be defended from the elements, the bugs that seek to eat it apart. It must be secure from the madness that lurks in the shadows and if you’ve been in any city, you know the madness of which I speak. The beings within have to be secure in their space – this helps foster the greatest health and well being. And it needs to be sustained which takes consistent and dedicated work that seeks to be the best it can be. There is a gentle but firm hand that this requires. It is being a father to the world. And even if the world is only the space within one’s reach, then it is the world that must be tended to and cared for. A thriving world is a successful world.

I was blessed, from the beginning, to have had a real Father who did these things well. He welcomed people into his home with grace and care. He created a solid home space for us – both emotionally and physically. Along the way, I learned so much about caring for that home and what that means. It’s not about making it more or better or nicer than someone else’s – it’s about the feeling of solid ground under one’s feet, creating a space that can be as free of concern as possible, and sharing that with others.

Over the years, in my travels, I’ve encountered other such individuals – men, usually, who were older than I. Their home worlds, their work, their purpose was an extension of themselves and their stewardship of their corner of this planet. Some created space for me to live and work. They took care and interest in my well being and did what they could to help foster my creativity. At the same time, they tended to their own homes, farms, estates with a kind of compassionate stewardship.

I don’t have children. I have cats, plants, endless paintings that I nurture into being. I have a wife for whom I am in a constant state of space creation with. I have a home. It is my duty to care for these things and creatures, this human whom I share my life with, and all of the other humans I share this world with to the best of my ability. The world does not stop at the edge of my studio or the border of our property. It doesn’t stop where I becomes you or where mine becomes yours.

That’s what true patriarchy is. To be a steward to the world such that it can help nurture a balanced and vibrant culture and planet.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Fathers of the World.

My dad and I, 1993.

What Painting Is

May 27th, 2017
Working on The Apotheosis of Hope

Working on The Apotheosis of Hope

I wake up because the cat is mrowing because he’s hungry and I slept fifteen minutes later than I usually sleep and he’s come over to my side of the bed imploring me to please get up now because he is HUNGRY but I’d like to sleep even though I know I am going to get up because morning and painting. I pull myself up while Violet stays sleeping. The sun is up though not broken over the hill yet so it’s still early which is good. When I do the math, it means X number of hours til noon which is the general cut off time to go do other things even though I always think that I could get up earlier. If I wanted to. If I was enough. So I get up. Dressed. Tell the Fi – I’m coming. I’m coming. I open the blinds in the living room. I pull out his bowl. My mind, sometimes feeling defeated early in the morning, too many loose ends and threads that I don’t understand, people to call or emails to send but ultimately, for now, just looking for the thread to the brush…. I make tea. I feed the cat. I carry my tea downstairs to my studio. Then I go back and get the Fi because he’s old and has a hard time navigating the stairs. I sit in my chair, drinking tea, staring at my painting finding the thread – where I left off – the place I pick up again – and the part of me that wants to stand there for another 4 or 5 hours knowing there’s tired feet and a tired tailbone waiting for me. I drink tea. Eventually, the moment is right and I stand. I put some paint on my palette. I pick up the brush. I poke. I prod. I shade. Eventually, along the way, I wake up. Mind and heart scream and yell or whimper or plead or whisper entreaties of all the things I can do or be. Mind and heart – they just do what they do on and on and on. But, eventually, somewhere along the way, I hit that note. I strike that chord. And it’s all going and flowing and golden again, like it has always been. It’s that dance again that I know so well and love so much and am honored and humbled to explore every day and will do it over and over and over again oh my god I love painting so much. And when I walk away from that easel, I am again.

The Bicycle Day Parade

April 19th, 2017

Bicycle Day Parade San Francisco

I made another poster for the Bicycle Day Parade in San Francisco, April 19th.

 

Broken Open: A Review of the New Album from The Human Experience

February 11th, 2017
Broken Open | The Human Experience

Broken Open | The Human Experience

For me, one of my litmus tests for music is: can I paint to it? And, in that, I often look for full albums. Afterall, then I don’t need to change the music for an hour, at least. Yet, people are so quick to consume these days that the ‘track;’ has seemed to take precedent over the album and, in my opinion, it’s been harder to find full albums. That ‘full album experience’, for instance, means that to really enjoy track 5, you need to have followed the rhythms of track 4. The bloops and pops of track 9 set up the first strummings of the guitar on Track 10. And so on. That’s how you listen to an album. You don’t skip a track because you don’t like it. The first time through, you have to listen all the way through. A good album rewards the patient listener. Each song is part of the whole and the whole is something you can only appreciate if you sit with it. This album is one of those that rewards the listener’s investment of time and space with an ever-evolving soundscape of patient songs.

This album – “Broken Open” by David Block aka The Human Experience – effortlessly alternates between the loud and soft, the faster (but not too fast) and slow (but not drawn out), the careful delicate lines and the rougher hewn rhythms. Filled with soulful stillness that alternately flits and lilts, plods and plunks, and lifts up and floats along, everything on here fits perfectly into the mix. There’s no rush. There’s no hurry in it. It is music that eases tension. It softens the edges. Yet, it never feels vague or unsure. It drifts off but you can trust it – it knows where its going and never feels like it loses itself in its meandering rhythms. Instead, they meander like soft threads that weave together an appropriate outfit for your dreamy soul.

One of David’s strong suits is collaboration. He’s a great collaborator and it shows in this album. Guest vocalists of seemingly all shapes and sizes bring a variety of voices to the table. If it weren’t for David holding it all together, in the background, in the foreground, all around, then it might not all fit together. But it does. And it’s grand in soft and subtle ways. Then there’s the guest instrumentation – like Mal Webb and his high floating trumpet on “Traveling Blues” that sings along perfectly with the swampy back beat. The trumpet is the Western answer to the mizmar flute that comes from the Middle East. It’s our call to jazzy prayer.

The vocals on each song dance along perfectly with the precisely composed rhythms. “A Little Deeper” picks up the rhythm but in a way with its steady beat pulsing in a lucid dream that never drops into a hammer, just a soft clap reminding us that this isn’t music to necessarily fall asleep to. Not quite yet anyways.

Then there’s a song like “La Maruciya” that has, to me, a sadly beautiful sound. With the slighlty raspier deeper vocals, it balances out some of the higher female voices on the album. It’s not all light and roses. It’s these deeper places too. The song that follows continues that flow and the album drifts off and away like a cloud.

Basically, I could wax eloquently about each song – but I’ll leave it and the listening to you. This is the reward of the album: the broad arcs of sound and moods. Sure you can have one nice pretty song and it’s fun and everyone is happy. But can you sculpt a sequence of events that paints a bigger picture – something that is more than a momentary feeling – something that echoes more finely? This does that grandly. There’s a maturity, a realness, and a richness in this album to David’s musical voice. It’s not trying to shake you up. It’s not trying to calm you down. It isn’t trying to do anything. It’s just doing what it means to do. And, in that, it feels effortless. There’s a great beauty and a lot of work that goes into making a work of art feel effortless.

So, thank you, David, for doing that work. This is a lovely addition to my music collection.

Get the album here:
https://thehumanexperience.bandcamp.com/
Listen to more from David/The Human Experience here: https://soundcloud.com/thehumanexperience

Slow Down: David Block

Broken Open: David Block

The Artwork of Michael Divine

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