The Artwork of Michael Divine

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Attempting to Thwart a Better Future

The conservative outcry against Obama has been getting to me a bit. While I don’t necessarily agree with the massive bailouts of banks and mortgages – afterall, bad investments are bad investments and markets fluctuate regularly, such is life – what I do agree with is the need to build and repair this nations infrastructure and invest in clean renewable energy sources. This is the path of progress. Some of this "infrastructure" includes repairing roads, providing money to schools and education, updating and building internet and broadband systems, and creating a public healthcare system.

Terrible ideas, say the conservatives. A Republican senator claimed that this is the path towards socialism and that, if Obama doesn’t watch out there will be conservatives marching in the street. What does that look like anyways? A bunch of stodgy white folks waving signs that read "No New Roads!" and "No Money for Schools!" and "We don’t want healthcare!".

RIght.

Maybe it was a bumper sticker that read "National healthcare in Iraq is good foreign policy. National healthcare in the USA is socialism."

Another senator was quoted some years back before Bush went forward with a decidedly messy invasion of iraq as saying: the price of invading Iraq and bringing the freedom to the Iraqis, while a costly and expensive burden for future generations to shoulder, is necessary and those future generations will understand. The same senator was quoted recently, speaking about an item in the stimulus bill regarding money for national parks – we can’t put the burden of paying for our national parks on future generations! How dare us!

Gosh, I almost feel selfish thinking that my children’s children will be pissed that I preserved some mountains
WTF?! So it’s ok to destroy a country to propagate our capitalist democracy (and because we are envious of their oil) but not ok to preserve our own natural treasures? I really don’t understand people. Sure, on a broader basis I can distill it down to basic human ailments like Greed, Jealousy, Lust, etc… But the sheer lack of logic here – the mind that thinks it better to spend billions of dollars and waste countless lives on invading another country instead of, say, repairing our own broken systems… is just mind-bogglingly unbalanced.

But that is how fucked up our world has become. People would rather strip the wide swatchs of Alberta, Canada, forest for sand laden that contains oil than invest money in renewable resources. If the stimulus bill included more coal plants, more money for the military and money for telecommunication companies to create a non-neutral internet, then the conservatives would be leaping with joy. Instead they piss and moan that we’re going to fix their schools, provide them with cleaner energy sources and bail out the institutions that FAILED because of their own short-sighted small-minded regulations, or lack thereof.

Sigh…

Fires

Fires down here… kinda crazy when i think about it.. towns just north (at the end of the stretch of beach) of Torrey Pines have been evacuated. Our own things are packed… paintings still on stretchers, but if we had to leave, they would all be taken off. They sit in a pile by the door. What a weird feeling. Instead i try to envision not having to leave here. Maybe I kinda like it here! Smell of ashes and fire since Sunday… a layer of ash on the car, outside on the ground, on the plants…. Poor Fi, our great regal black and white tuxedo kitty, snoring at night because his delicate little olfactories have been irritated. With our stuff out, our bags on the floor, he sleeps on top of them and gives us this look that says: You’d better not forget me! And then there is just the consideration of where we would go. Do we drive north to LA if need be or do we go and stay with friends in San Diego? A slight fear the the fire that has come up from the border will connect with the fire that is north and east of us. They’re close… maybe within ten miles of each other.
So we hope for the best.

Radiohead and Innovative Business Models

Radiohead In Rainbows

I hear terms like “new paradigm” and “paradigm shift” and the like quite a bit these days. Sometimes it is regarding some hokey new age phenomena regarding quantum this or cleansing that. And sometimes it is in the case of business models and the like. We’re going to talk about the second manner of new paradigms here. Business models and, more specifically, the business model of the record industry which, like more industries, including our very own U.S. government, has become a bloated beast that mostly subsists in a parasitic self serving manner.

So many people talk about “changing the system” or something of the like. They talk about new modes of sales like the Amazon.com mp3 store which has another version of same shitty TOU that so many other online music stores have. Whether it is the ZUNE or iTunes or whatever, it has this DRM feature that limits your usage and is one more cap on that illusory thing called freedom.

Make no mistake about it, there are many little doorways to freedom and there seems to be someone who always wants to cap them, charge a fee for them, etc. You have the record industry which would like to cap how you use or share your music. You have the internet providers like AT&T who would like to cap how you get access (and by what speed) to the internet. You have the US government which would ultimately like to watch where you go and limit what you can see.

So removing one obstacle may lead us encounter another. But not removing any obstacles will lead to a pretty limited existence.

Remember those mix tapes you meticulously made when you were a kid? Rewinding the tape a mere inch or two with your fingers just so you get the cut just right? Remember the copyright notice inside and we all laughed at it because god this was going to be the best freakin mix tape ever?

Well, the same kind of mixing goes on today (as we all know), but it has been discovered that you really can limit the use of a music file now by inserting small nefarious bits of code that will govern how you use it. So much for sharing music. So much for owning what you purchased.

So this brings us to: business models.

The old business model had a record company controlling the rights and distribution to an artists work. Nuff said. And the artist usually got very little.

Now let’s say the artist was pretty huge and let’s say they were done with that contract they had signed so long ago. And they’d made a new album. And it was a great album. And they wanted to connect with the fans directly. What if they made it available on-line at a price anybody could afford. That is: a price which the consumer could dictate.

All things considered, if the consumer dictates that they want to give the artist a dollar for the album, then that is really most likely more than the band was going to get from the record company anyhow. So you realize that some people will give ten, some one, some nothing and some will likely give twenty or thirty because they love you. And the music you give them has no copyrights. No nothing. Your fans can play it anywhere, share it with anyone. Sounds like the band not only respects you as the consumer but also wants to work with this whole “new paradigm” thing. Rather than change the system internally, they figure they’ll start a new system.

What if every band did this? How much did the LCD Soundsystem get from their record label on a per album basis? I would have gone to their website and given them a few dollars for it but go into a store and pay 15 bucks for a CD? Or go to iTunes and pay 9.99 for something that they control? No way. Very little of that money goes back to the artist.

So check it out:

In case you didn’t know there is a new Radiohead album available online. It costs, well, it’s up to you what it costs. It is a new system and I think we will see other bands following suit.

www.inrainbows.com (what a lovingly simple website)

What I have been

blue buddha3.jpg

I AM

I have been a visionary, a writer, an artist.
I have been the one, sitting in cafes, doing absolutely nothing but passing the time.
I have been in love.
I have been the one with the crush.
I have been loved.
I have been hated.
I have broken hearts.
I have been a typical guy.
I have been a liar, a cheat, a thief.
I have been honest, a helping hand, a guardian angel
I have been laughter and joy, a bright shining light that gives hope
I have dashed that hope, been a sarcastic, cynical bastard
I have been a hiker, a driver, a passenger, a gypsy
I have been a renter, an employee, a business partner, a buyer, a seller, an interested party, a disinterested observer and a casual passerby.
I have been a complete stranger to many people, more than I could count.
I have been a best friend to only a few.
I have been an acquaintance to far more and a friend to many.
I have been a library assistant, a bookbinder, a dishwasher, a ski bum, a graphic designer, a painter, a poet, a janitor, a cook.
I have been a child, a baby, a thought, a dream.
I have been a boy making farting noises and annoying my sister.
I have been a teenager growing his hair long in defiance of the “system”, mowing the lawn on the weekend.
I have been a stoner, a tripper, the one in the corner you hoped was ok.
I have been a dancer, in the middle of the fray, opening and opening and opening to the never ending effulgence of the divine.
I have been Shiva, Buddha, Christ.
I have been a shaman, a mosaic worker, a healer and a sage.
I have been a fortune teller.
I have a revolutionary
I have been completely apathetic.
I have been a yogi, a meditator, a student, a teacher.
I have been the darkness.
I have been the light.
I have been NOW
Forever.

India Ink

The unforgiving nature of india ink is maybe what first drew me to the it. Dark, black, bold lines. It doesn’t take much. There is no transparency, subtle gradients are found in the proximity and thickness of the lines. Charcoal, watercolors, etc, they all allow for a kind of washing, gradating, never quite completely void of color. The india ink acts like a vacuum. In places it’s solidity creates a schism between the white purity of the drawing surface- smooth, slightly textured drawing paper, a light cream hue, soft and receptive. The black bold lines of the ink are confident strokes across it. There is no going back, no turning around, smudging a bit, nudging a tad… ink is permanent. Pencil can be erased, paint may be gone over but the paper and pen remain a permanent testament to whatever drips or missteps, whatever crisp assured lines are drawn there.

On a cool, not-quite-autumn day like today, where it has truly rained for the first time in months (not that pale blessing of a sprinkle that happened on my birthday late-August), these lines feel solid and sure. They feel cold and rigid. They feel decisive and absolute. Patches of blue dot the cotton thick cloudy sky and the yard and garden have experienced a much needed satiation that nature gives with it’s rain. How does the chlorine in the water help (or hinder) the plants? What does my hose water, come from the reservoirs, the water plant, lack that the rain water gives? Washing away late summer decay and mulching the soil in even drops, thirsty plants sucking up mid desert blessings.

The ink carves permanent lines upon the paper while the rain washes away in gradations the stifling heat of summertime, a heat which, itself, felt indelibly etched into my being. Now it lifts. Nothing is permanent.

Times that Change…

There were times when this was all new to us. We gathered in small enclaves and talked in awed, slightly hushed voices about this mysterious force which seemed to drive us and ignited our senses, showing itself through magical synchronicities, always somewhere on the edge of our dreams, creeping into this world. We all had names and played characters. There was a cafe where we stood, lingering afterwards, drinking coffee and certain of the future and our own pending enlightenments. There were studios where we spent late wine soaked nights in the throes of creativity, bowled over by the sublimity of the mystery. There were times when the roads stretched in every direction and not one had been chosen. Instead, they all seemed wide open.

There were people. The boy with the drum, always on his back. Sometimes, in that old tattered army bag, with three or four tattered hardcover I Ching books, he always had ac couple of rocks. Rocks. Small boulders. Another friend, excitedly talking about modes of sustainable building when it was a new thing, but so ancient. There was that girl, i will never forget the eyes and the way they looked at me. The way we giggled at night while stoned. There was the barrista behind the counter, the ever revolving door, the place in back where we would sit and smoke. The art on the walls that was sometimes mine, but the table I called my office.

There were parties. There were rivers to swim in naked while lying in the sun. There were futures which had not yet been decided and the sheer beauty of the sunset would knock me off my feet and I would be content to just roll with it, rather than trying to make anything of it. What can I learn from youth?

Is there a point when the seed is no longer a sapling, the tree it becomes no longer bends? Am I just one tree or an orchard? Am I one lifetime or many? How often does this life regenerate? What is that sense of awe, that sense of diminutivity? What is that sense of possibilities? And what takes it away?

The world has changed since then. It seems to’ve gotten smaller or maybe I got bigger. It’s problems are grander or maybe the solutions aren’t so easily attained. Responsibilities now tend to gather forces around the periphery of my vision, always making certain I can still see them. Roots appear at the tips of my toes and sink themselves in, glad at last to have found fertile soil while my wings want to stretch, to fly. I find myself always seeking happy mediums. The middle path.

After all, how long can we go and go and go, burning like the sun, like a just born star?

This path I am on is far less defined than it makes itself out to be. And the world is far more mutable than it appears to be. The greatest trick our minds ever pulled on us is making us think that we cannot change them, and that by changing them our reality will not also change.

Master of your destiny. Nothing has changed, only the variables. And even those are more similar than we might realize. The only thing that changes as we get older is our perspective.

A Vacation of Sorts

Sitting in hot springs at in the early morning sun, drinking tea and feeling myself release into miles away. Dunking into the cold rushing river and then reclining then back into the heat. Millions of particles of mental acquisition suddenly and with great force get blown away by the great shiver which runs through the body as sinking into the tub turns into full submersion.

After a time a few other people arrive and break some of the reverie of quiet solitude with river and air, rocks and heat. Two hippies, girl and boy in wavy fuzzy world. I stay in my space, a solitary tub, big enough for one person. they choose a different tub.

Another fellow shows up. Older guy. Not harming anyone. Chooses a spot. My mind starts considering leaving but it is early yet, the river and water so nice.

A short time later a tall guy shows up. Older. Tight grey mustache. Chiseled facial features but weathered. Styrofoam cup of coffee in one hand, cigarette in other. Knows other guy. Locals.

Guy going on about how he took the day off from work. Is he a fireman? What is this dream I am having? White water rafting rafter float by, ogling the naked people in the hot springs. Hippie dude gives peace symbol. Hippie girl smiles.

Eyes closing again. Difficult to keep open. To say anything. Another sip of tea.

Dude with cigarette bitching and moaning and moaning and bitching. He’d rather complain than enjoy the day. Layers to shed. Voices fading. Then arising.

Guy in hot spring tub talking to him: Yeah, you make sheds? Where do you sell them?

Oh you probably seen them at the Ace in town. Those’re my sheds.

Do you make greenhouses too?

Nah, but it’s not hard.

A greenhouse would be great. I’ve got a great garden.

With the right plans, I could make a greenhouse easy.

Well, since I retired I’ve got a wonderful garden growing. Growing my own food, no pesticides or fertilizers. It’s great. I just planted a cherry tree. You should see the amount of birds in my yard. I think I’m feeding half the birds in the county! They’re beautiful.

Yah should hang some of them spinning reflective things. It’ll scare em away.

Ah, it’s great. The garden, all the birds.

Yeah, spinning reflective things. That’ll get rid of them.

Dude never hears the bit about the birds being beautiful. Still stuck in mental anguish. Perhaps been stuck there most of his life. Makes me consider the moments I get stuck in my own mental anguish and forget about the beauty that surrounds me. The opportunities for growth, love, enlightenment, illumination.

After a bit of time, I take to leave. Wander down river a ways, climbing over rocks, taking leaps and steps like the mountain goat that, some say, is in my blood. Up and over giant boulders, marveling at tiny flowers. Laying on hot rock. More rafters. Watching eddies of water. Thinking about friend whose house burned to ground in Tahoe fires. About my sister and some of her current trials. About my fortune for bringing myself to this place. In this now.

Hungry. Turning around. Making way back along river. More leaps along boulders, over logs and mossy out-croppings, ledges of scrub and over hangings somewhat precarious but invigorating. I consider one more dip in the spring but hunger beguiles so I wind my way back to parking area up above. Eat at car and watch white mini-van with mag wheels pull in and three overweight rednecks get out, with coolers, and descend upon springs.

I decide my time here is through…

Somewhat light-headed. Driving not impossible. Turn ignition.

Winding along back road to spaced out Sun Electric. Classic album. Til I get to highway and it leaves me too slow for acceleration. Put on OK Computer and come back to life. Finally end up with DE9 Closer to the Edit (Richie Hawtin) and feel it tapping against my inner axis. Winding twisting roads through desert scrub, mountains, up up up and down down down up up down up down and out and around and flying.

Up the 395 and wondering what I’ll do before the FMG. I have more than a few hours. Hot. Dry. Maybe would like to swim. Where the hell am i anyway? Nothing for miles. Wide open Owens Valley. Til I get to Lone Pine. Stop to get gas. Looking at map. Kinda come back to life. So hot. And see: Mt. Whitney Portal.

A-ha!

So I am headed for Mt. Whitney. A left out of town at the one light and driving through martian like landscape then up up up and finally the air is getting cooler, mountains looming, trees growing, giant douglas firs, huge bark and I park at the end where dozens of campers, vacationers the like have all descended for their summer vacations. Fishing in stocked pond. Oh what they are missing as I hike up along side water fall. Giant roaring rushing snow melt waters.

I hike up trail to Lone Pine Lake which is at the edge of the wilderness area. I only have a few hours. A six mile round trip hike is good. I take pictures. I breathe deep. I relish the air and the coolness. I relish the alone time and mystical and mental acuity with which I understand these behemoths of stone. Their great grey faces. Their tall trees and delicate flowers. A marmot stares at me for a bit. I take some pictures. Never seen a marmot before.

I go higher up and finally arrive at Lake. Base of trail into higher regions. Lake is a cold mirror reflecting high up sky. Traversing around edge, dancing along rock tips onto wide open granite bald sloping down at angles I dare not test so that the world rolls away from me along wide planar rock face. A tree, alone, twists, gnarled and weathered, but golden now in the sun, it’s grain a million stories of nature and it’s love of and for itself. Stretching arms wide, sitting for a moment. Marveling. Breathing. Laughing. Smiling. This is why I came here. To be reminded. Of what, there are no words. To remember… this deeper region of me. The rocks and earth and trees and winds which are so much my soul. My spirit.

This spirit. One spirit in union with itself. Continuously. One long line of continuity. No coming or becoming. No going away. Changing but never changing. Evolving but always now. Nothing to attain and no heights to reach but always a new moment, always a new realization. This dance.

The sun lowered under the highest ridge, signaling awareness of time and daylight hours. Descending from mountain heights. Sometimes running along trail. High. Mighty. Drawn Upwards. And pulled… back downwards.

Back at car, no bears broke in (signs reading: Cars with food inside will be towed.) Eat a bit and long downward winding road rocking out and feeling alive.

Have dinner in town and then up the road, up near independence, where many of my friends, and so many others are gathering for out Full Moon union.

For the next couple of days:
long hot wonderful day of seeing old friends i’ve not seen in so long…
gorgeous sunset across the mountains and valley…
to hypnotic sounds…
late night hard raging techno…
super funky morning breaks…
and on and on and on…

Agape Art Reception

Agape Evite

We are very excited to announce the upcoming reception at Agape in Culver City, CA for Michael’s work, currently showcased at the spiritual center.

We cordially invite you to accompany us at the opening, on Saturday, July 14, 2007 from in 7-9:30 pm. New work will be on display. Light refreshements will be served.

Music will be provided by Tony Khalife, www.tonykhalife.com.

Agape International Spiritual Center
5700 Buckingham Parkway
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 348-1250

Living life as an Artist: Exploration

Being a good artist or good designer isn’t just knowing how to use the tools you have, although it does help. The greatest artist can work with the most minimal of tools and come up with something of greatness that surpasses those who are still arguing about which paint brush or protractor is superior.

To be a great artist is to be able to see the relationships between things- lines to circles, squares to triangles. To understand the flow of information. To be able to take an idea and assimilate it into a composition that captures not only it’s essence but also it’s possibilities. No work of art truly ever fully expresses the artists vision. The human mind contains colors and palettes, shapes and distortions that the human hand can only draw close approximations of. So a work of art must suggest. It must draw ones imagination onwards. It must go as fully into it’s concept as possible, leave no stone unturned, and grasp the every possible tangent and assimilate these into itself. A great work of art embraces it’s possibilities in that it not only expresses what it is, but it also expresses as close as possible what it could be.

This is not to say that it should leave the viewer wanting, wondering why the piece is unfinished or poorly executed. The true artist executes the vision to the fullest of it’s potential. Only when every angle as been exhausted, every ounce of creativity drawn forth and exploited to it fullest, every door opened and every window thrown wide, can the artist say his work is completed.

And so the artist must see the relationships between the objects and symbols he/she chooses to represent the vision. Then the artist must find, in those spaces of relationship, other elements, even if it is merely the space itself. Even that space must be accounted for. It is an exacting procedure but not without it’s rewards. In this way, all of the possible tangents are explored, the possible options and outcomes accounted for and the definitive future can be achieved.

Life: so many choices, so many decisions, so many relationships between things, people, objects, elements. So many possible futures and outcomes with every choice we make or fail to make. The true artist lives their lives in such a way that the possibilities are explored, the tangents accounted for, and the true Path led, lived and loved to it’s fullest extent. In this way, the vision finds firm footing in the world and the space of the canvas becomes not a window to another world but a vision of this one- clarity, love, understanding, compassion, honesty, fullness, emptiness, being.

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