These past few months have been a long journey down, down, down. I keep wondering how much deeper down I can go, when a ravine will open up in a painting, plummeting me further down. Sometimes its a crack, sometimes much bigger. Either way I’ve now accepted the only way through this journey is to keep taking each portal down.
I’ve been finding important parts of myself along the way. Scary images appeared, hungry mouths, watchful eyes, lots of bones. A gold cage appeared, and it wasn’t until after the hand appeared in the cage that I found I’d reclaimed a missing part of myself, and began to write, in earnest. (The realization is almost always after the fact, not during. In fact it was a few weeks later that I realized what soul part I’d reclaimed – my youthful love of writing!)
Wonderful creatures, the sea horses. Ride the waves into deep waters. Pulling chariots or dancing in sea foam, these horses have captivated our imaginations for thousands of years. One of the earliest Grecian relics was a seahorse. Hippo is Greek for “horse” and kampos means “sea monster”, and its the name I use for these majestic beasts.
These large wall sculptures are perfect alone or combined with Kraken.
OK, maybe not the whole world, but the ocean…beware oh sailors and seafarers! And snorkelers! These guys are real, and they’re big, and they’re hungry… best to not let your shadow out of sight, as the old saying goes, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”. Be aware always of what lurks under the sea, and let this Kraken add character to your walls. Be aware, stay safe.
For a truly dynamic arrangement, consider a pair- a Kraken and Hippocampus meeting in the high seas!
Sea horses… ride the waves into deep waters. Pulling chariots or dancing in sea foam, these horses have captivated our imaginations for thousands of years. One of the earliest Grecian relics was a seahorse. Hippo is Greek for “horse” and kampos means “sea monster”, and its the name I use for these majestic beasts.
Hippocampus was first seen at Burning Man in 2002 and was a thematic piece for that year. It was my 3rd sculpture to put on the Playa. It also was put on display at Google HQ in Mt. View for a few years, at Burning Man Headquarters on 3rd street for a few years, and at Russian River Winery for a few years. This sea horse has been to quite a few festivals as well, including Treasure Island Music Festival, Decompression, and more.
Twilight Anima Rising emerged in a dream, apparently tapping into the collective unconscious before the surge in popularity of the unicorn, debuting at an event of 60,000. Why now? Why this unicorn? Humankind has always been looking for the magic bullet, and the unicorn’s horn was said to cure every illness, and to purify poisoned water… so knights and kings went chasing unicorns for centuries in the Middle Ages. (It’s nice of the Nordic travelers to give them norwal horns to egg them on.)
This unicorn rose up out of the earth itself, with hundreds of tiny reflective mirrors on its horn – as if to say – “is this what you are looking for? What is the magic in this horn? You are.” For its only us who can solve the world’s problems, turn our poisoned waters clean again, and cure the illness we bring to our land. And the time is now.
Who in their right mind would make a 10 foot high unicorn at a time when unicorns were hugely unpopular? (Oh, I heard about it, I spent 12 hours mudding this creature… and had tough men as new convert unicorn lovers.) This kind of message isn’t what you would call popular, not 15 years ago. The time is now to recognize there are no panaceas. We have to face the shadow of humanity and our relationship to the earth, right now, ourselves. We can’t expect miracles to save us and magic horns.
And, unicorns are finally cool again. As they should be. They’re a very potent and powerful archetypal energy!
I can’t stop taking photographs of all the natural beauty in the world around me. The Earth and all her living beings are just so beautiful. I can find the texture in a rock or log just absolutely exquisite. Its like I can feel and taste it at the same time, I get so excited by it. These are the really detailed photos I have to take.
Others, the contrast between two things, the living, the dead, its all beautiful to me. I appreciate the plants, animals, rocks, and rusting debris.
The mist rising from a steaming natural pool in the cold dawn’s light.
The rainbow colored algae mimicking living flesh.
The acorns hidden in holes by woodpeckers, or squirrels.
The tiny rock and bark dam painstakingly placed to cause the hot water, in a groove worn deep from time, to flow one direction and not the other.
Tiny choices is what makes up our lives, each tiny choice leading us in a totally different direction, one small step at a time.
One of my favorite projects has been taking 125 year old window frames from my Grandma’s hotel and putting together natural landscapes of many favorite places I’ve traveled to.
It broke my heart when the old hotel at Leesville was refurbished on the exterior and all new windows put in; I claimed the old ones. They sat in the old barn for 10 years while I wondered what to do with them. Mud wasps built nests between the panes, and their saliva etched the glass. On some of them you can find circular smooches – this is literally etched and now part of the art.
One day, I realized my massive repository of photographs which I’d been taking for years, held the key to the next phase of my creative journey. I loved to take photographs. And the epiphany hit. Why not frame them with these old windows?
As a delightful detail, my Grandma had me paint every one of these windows when I was around 11 years old. Sometimes the paint job is a little sloppy, sorry. I left them as they were, with fondness for those long summertime childhood days spent in the country at Grandma’s house.
Window to the Soul series:
On the Other Side series:
Still looking? I have more than what are pictured here. It was a big two-storey hotel!
A little more about the hotel: It’d been in the family for 125 years. My Grandma was born there. It was a stagecoach stop out of Williams and across the hills, into Lodoga and Stonyford. When Highway 20 was built, the need for these old towns along the windy roads through the mountains dried up and blew away, as did the towns. What was a thriving little town first stop from Williams eroded to just a handful of houses.
On one of the bedroom doors (my bedroom) boasted the sign “Jack London slept here”. I spent the summers of my childhood with Grandma, and with fondness peered out these old many-paned windows at oak-strewn golden hills that were hours and hours of wandering and getting lost, picking up bones, hunting fish, riding horses… with all the time in the world…
Did I mention how I got involved making sculpture at Burning Man? When I moved to San Francisco in 1999 I heard about this fantastic art festival, and, determined to go. I was completely blown away by the levels of creativity I experienced, a place where people “made anything out of anything”. I decided right then and there I’d make something, too.
One of my original horse sculptures was the Pegasus, which is either flying out of the ground or sinking into it, depending who you are talking to, their mood, state of mind, and whether they tend to see the glass is half full or half empty:
So you heard about how I got inspired to make sculpture. I jumped right in with this one, the first in my horse series. (I made one other smaller sculpture first, a rabbit). Yup, just jumped right in, it had to be big-ish. I say -ish as its big by any standards except at Burning Man. This is teeny tiny art for there.
In the story, the young princess is traveling to her prince’s castle where she is to be wed, carrying a handkerchief for protection with three drops of her mother’s blood, riding her magical horse Falada, who can talk. Along the way, her handmaiden watches the handkerchief fall from her bosom and float downstream, and immediately orders her to exchange outfits, so she arrives as the princess. Without protection and with her life threatened by the handmaiden, the princess, aghast, does as she is commanded. When they arrive at the castle, the “princess” orders the talking horse executed immediately for being such a nasty beast. She discards the princess to the lowest position, to tend the geese. The goose girl begs the butcher to hang her horse’s head above the garden gate so she can see it.
Each day as she passes under the horse’s head with her flock of geese, they whisper to each other “if only your mother knew, how her heart would break in two” is what the horse whispered back. Each day this strange behavior is witnessed by the goose boy. He is obsessed with her but whenever he gets too close, she whispers to the wind to blow his hat away. A couple weeks of this crazy nonsense, the goose boy takes his complaints straight to the king – this new goose girl is nutters and needs to be removed at once. The goose boy explains some of the strange things that have been happening.
The king summons the goose girl, and asks her to tell her story. Because she is under oath, she cannot. So he tells her to go tell it to the old black stove downstairs just to get it off her chest. So she tells her story to the stove, all the while the king is upstairs listening at the stove pipe. He learns of her true identity!
He has her bathed and clothed in the finest robes, and invites her to the dining table that night. At this table, the king asks the “princess-handmaiden” what should be done with a servant that turns against their lord and lady. She says such a servant should be stripped naked and placed in a barrel full of spikes pointing inward, and dragged around town behind a horse. And so this was done to the handmaiden.
Pretty gruesome tale! Perhaps it resonates with you in some way? Fairytales often resonate with collective unconscious energy, the parts of so many of us who feel we must mask our true identity to survive… wishing we’d be recognized for being special, our true selves, being invited to the feast. It describes a healing journey many of us go on, seeking how to find a way to be who we really are. Or at least that is one layer I see at the moment. Perhaps it means something entirely different for you.
The doubly strange aspect is this scenario was featured in my dreams as a child, long before I remember reading of it in Grimm’s Fairytales. In a reference to my repetitive dreams, the horse’s head was nailed to a tree, which is represented by the bark on this trophy mount.