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Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

purposeful slow: feminism & romance & facebook love

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:19 pm

There’s a downside to being intrinsically interested in the advancement of women.  Well, a couple of downsides actually.  First, you want everything to happen yesterday – the end of the growth of disenfranchised mothers in the workplace, the stop to all violence and misrepresentation to and of women in the media, and the total abolishment of gender equity disparity.  And so there’s always this underlying feeling of urgency for those of us who’ve been toiling in the field, the feeling of being behind the eight-ball, or that there simply isn’t enough time in the day.  Rush to the next seminar, read the new writers, rally the younger ones, ready the fort – for at any moment, the teetering rampaged and enraged ones can be set off by the latest and greatest seemingly ingenious attempt to keep us down yet again.  We’re edgy like that, we feminists, who are mostly just plain simultaneously invigorated and exhausted from trying so damned hard all the time.

This led me recently to read a book which had come recommended from my friends in the spiritual community, John Ortberg’s The Life You Always Wanted:  Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People.  One of the things Ortberg addresses, both timely and succinctly, is the necessity of recognizing that time and tide wait for no man.  Meaning, there is a predetermined order of the Universe, and YOU dear one aren’t about to change THAT (me either).  And so Ortberg speaks on the conscious slowing of time for true embracing of the moment, the miracle, and the magic in our day-to-day lives.  I call it “purposeful slow”.  And I was trying it, really I was.  I was letting granny go ahead of me at the grocery, I was resisting blaring my horn at the hot rod perched at the red light, and I was concentrating on my breathing since I’ve been having some minor chest discomfort of late (angina/stress/poor diet/parenting a 3-year old). 

A feminist has always, there in her back pocket, the added second challenge of bringing her lofty advancement ideals into the reality world of her relationships, many which may be incongruent to her higher self’s better thinking.  And so it was, when last week, out of clear blue sky, right on the heels of some major life decisions, for no known reason what-so-ever, while I was “purposeful slow”, that my very first love at the tender age of 15/16 came to me like a shooting  arrow through Facebook as rapidly as the the orange on Florida Poinciana trees in season.  It was my heart again, but this time she was a-pounding.  I remember it like it was yesterday, I had been innocently-happy riding my bike (well, actually my father’s bike – and boy did we get it for that) on the beaches of Galilee during the summer of clamcakes with my cousin Monique.  We were having a great time until up they strode, the two of them, and in an on-again, off-again dating frenzy until I was about 18 or so – he took me to my very first concert.  It was Black Sabbath.  Need I say more? 

Quick blast back to the present and the miracle of Facebook and by Monday afternoon we had exchanged emails and phone numbers.  By Tuesday there was the gratuitous exchange of pictures (and boy, did he look good).  By Wednesday I knew the outline of his current life (given that 30 years had passed) and I was beginning to find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on ANYTHING except HIM.  By Thursday I was ready to ditch my husband and move back to the motherland of my formative years, Rhode Island.  Not so fast, girlie.  A) He has a long-time live-in girlfriend and B) I am (ahem) married (to a very good-humored soul), remember?  So there’s that.  But the mind plays games and if he does this, and I do that, and maybe it was all supposed to end up this way and the sheer force with which these totally irresponsible, illogical thoughts seemingly come from out of the coral beds…..

And then it happened.  WAIT JUST A MINUTE.  He has a girlfriend and he’s reaching out to me?  He didn’t answer any of my well-thought out questions?  What was he trying to accomplish – an emotional or physical “friendship” or just a connection and what’s his plan and then whamo-jammo out comes that infuriation I was talking about earlier – WAIT JUST ONE HOLY SECOND, just who does he think he is?  Wants my phone number but won’t give his, says he’ll be home later to chat and then isn’t, answers a vague “oh yeah” when I tell him about important events in my life?  But most importantly, and I say this with purposeful slowness, Does.  Not.  Ask.  Any.  Real.  Questions.  About.  My. Life.  And.  Does.  Not.  Address.  Girlfriend.  Situation. At. All. 

So we have it then.  The crossroads.  Again.  Am I destined to live a life stuck at the intersection of modernity, technology, womanhood, feminism, romance, spirituality, the heart, the head, the hands.  Trapped forever at the bridge between what should have been and what could have been, if only it would have been.  Plucked down in the middle of the desert simply because I was born an emotive female raised on Hans Christian Anderson.  I have a much-loved girlfriend who embodies the very spirit of truth and she uses “purposeful slow” just for these very occasions – in this way.  At night, when she’s reading to her elementary-school-aged daughter and the story involves some feigned concept of the beast and the beauty, my friend closes the book with a definitive thud, hugs her daughter, looks her dead-center in the eyes and says, “Honey, you know there’s no such thing as Prince Charming.”  Be Wholly You – and to Joe’s present girlfriend, “Honey, you just come on over here for a hug of your own.”


shawn richard's exhibition: ideological mystique & india blue peacocks

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

Exhibition Dates: October 2 – 21, 2010
Reception: October 14, during Second Thursday Art Night • 6-8pm • Artist Talk at 7pm @ Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA

Juror’s Statement by Shauna Lee Lange, founder of Shauna Lee Lange Arts Advisory and Design Studio
Shaun Richards – Ideological Mystique. As art may be conveyed on ends of an ideological spectrum, an artist’s work is more often than not a point-in-time activity. This can come to the distinct disadvantage of the artist when their maturation surpasses their manifestation. And so in working with ideology, there is a dramatic need to correct perceived imbalances. If and when that artist also decides to defy conventional wisdom, dominant trends, and the conservative majority, one has in their gaze a very rare jewel contrarian. If he happens to also be passionate, brilliant, or persuasive, he can be uniquely successful in moving the art world further along than others are willing to go. The eventual impact of his ideology depends on unpredictable developments and thus, he is knowingly or not, playing a dimensional game of chess for the ultimate checkmate wherein he wins.

It’s a form of ideological mystique that Shaun Richards employs through painstaking paintings. A communication of an internal dynamic ever moving along the continuum of thought, emotion, and impulse. Is he left, right, or center? It’s not that you need a magic decoder ring. Richards clearly and directly wins one over without any antagonizing after-effects, except perhaps lust for his brilliant India blue peacocks in The Bachelorette (2009). This is not to say that he is a weather vane. Rather, his consistency is found in personal appeal, weighed compromises, and successful politicking. In his case, art is not a matter of personality but of respect earned from displaying a thorough grounding in deeply narrative works, classical art history, and contemporary risk-taking. Richards strikes one as an independent thinker, philosopher, and influencer well-beyond his present young age.

New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) said, “Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” French historian, novelist and Statesman Andre Malraux (1901- 1976) said, “Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act.” These two writers, story tellers, and craftsmen must have intimately known Richard’s soul before he ever made friends with paint.

Juror’s Statement by Joey P Mánlapaz, DC-based painter and faculty member at the Corcoran College of Art and Design
Shaun Richards’ energetic brushwork on a large-scale canvas is what captivated me. Despite the vigorous and passionate imagery, though, his work is fraught with social content that is conveyed via a formalistic approach to painting techniques, which in the end is what makes his work stand out among the rest.

Juror’s Statement by Cynthia Connolly, visual arts curator for Arlington County’s Artisphere
This exhibit shows new work paired with a group of paintings from an show, Women and Children First. This term was first used on the HMS Birkenhead in 1852. Four hundred men instantly died in their sleep when the ship struck a rock outcropping on the way from Ireland to South Africa. The remaining crew tried desperately to free lifeboats where the rigging was clogged with paint and could not move. Finally, they freed three boats and the Captain yelled, “Women and Children First!” Horses were blindfolded and forced to walk off the boat. In the end, 445 died. Some drowned, and some were ravaged by sharks. 193 people survived.

Shaun Richards depicts the pivotal moments in life: accidents, the threat of death, the torture of decision and perceived social expectations; to question our own humanity and how we fit in the culture we have created. Using mixed media with collage and stencils, oil and graphite, in earth toned colors; he boldly walks the line of contrast with traditional rendering aside drips of oil paint and hard lined stencils of repeated imagery. Shaun presents us with many elements to question where we are as a society, both in history and in the present time. We see women under large veils, perhaps showing the symbolism of the confining weight of the social expectations women are required to uphold. We see children rendered as if an old black and white photograph reminiscent of something perhaps from World War II, dropped into the silhouette of the outsider’s stereotype of the American man: the cowboy. This man, trotting ahead on his horse, blazing a path to the western frontier: but for what? To protect the women forced to oblige to old traditions, and the children who innocently grow up to fit in these social confines? Shaun uses historical and contemporary imagery, sometimes with words, to question our place and the directions we have taken and will take in our American society.