Julia: The Burr Under My Saddle. The Bee in My Bonnet.

slide_5Perky Julia.
The burr under my saddle.
The bee in my bonnet.

Calls every day.
Multiple times a day.
Different phone number every time.
Words dripping of sweet talk and empty promises.
Robo-calling beard.
Shill.

I hate her.

God help the woman behind that perky voice.
May she never cross my path.

(I love this photo. My resting face is fierce.  I was not aware until I saw this photo.  Makes me look braver than I am.  I am 56 January 3rd.  My goal for the year is to be as fierce as my resting face!)

I don’t believe in unconditional love

379059_10150936478140035_1325803287_nI don’t believe in unconditional love.
I don’t think I ever did.

I grew up Southern Baptist where the term, unconditional love, was bandied about, but they never meant it.

Unconditional love, IF you meet our conditions.

Um?  That is the absolute definition of CONDITIONAL love.

Our motto was, “Jesus died, once, for all.”

BUT unless you meet our conditions all does not include you.

If all does not mean ALL, did Jesus die in vain?  I asked the preacher after church one Sunday morning.

Shortly after I began asking questions like this I was offered an opportunity to work in the church nursery DURING the Sunday morning service for $$$$!  YIPPEE!!!! dsc_0008

Decades later that I realized this golden opportunity kept me from asking the preacher questions about his sermon on Sunday mornings during the exit handshake.   (Someone was very clever.)

Do I believe in Jesus?  Oh, yes, I do.
Do I believe Jesus died in vain?  No, absolutely not.
Do I believe in “once for all?”  Yes, she answered hesitantly.
Do I believe all means all?   Yeah, I do.  And that makes me a bad Christian.  I was not very good even before I came to understand that all might actually mean ALL.

Does it piss me off a little bit, all?  Well, of course.  Some people are horrible and I would like to see them burn in hell for eternity.  WOW!  Say THAT out loud three times and it will make your toes curl.  When I say it out loud, I mean it a lot less.

Apparently what I believe, now, is that no one is too horrible for Jesus.  What I really believe is that Jesus can find the image of God in all of humanity.  Even the horrible ones.  Even, me.

Holding the paradigm of ALL takes more faith than the (un)conditional love I grew up with.dsc_0014

(For the record, I grew up in a decent enough church.  FBC San Marcos.  Some Sunday School teachers were lacking.  Some of our pastors were better than others.  There was definitely a “good old boys club” and cliques abounded.  (HA!  I misspelled clique and it spell check auto-corrected to cliché.  There were definitely clichés!)  I don’t remember ANTI anyone sermons.  Talk about us versus “the other” slated for eternal damnation.  Of course, I did spend the last several years of high school working in the church nursery so if things went astray I could have missed it.)

What in the world does this have to do with art?!?

I was getting around to it.

I paint hope.  Recently I came to the end of hope for an individual who I attempted I love unconditionally.   Those attempts were to the detriment of my emotional, spiritual and physical health.  Releasing the illusion of unconditional love was crushing.  Immobilizing.  I did not paint for five days.

I.  Failed.  Love.
A love failure.
Surely if I loved enough, loved the right way, just loved unconditionally
everything would be sunshine and roses. dsc_0015

It is not as hard as one might think to blow smoke up one’s own skirt. 

My mental wellbeing required that I set down the burden of unconditional love.  Sometimes loving from a distance is the best you can do.  Sometimes loving from a distance is more than you can do.  Sometimes, sometimes, you don’t have to do anything.  Not even love.  Sometimes being who you are is enough.   Sometimes it is all.

We are human.  We have victories and failures.  If we are fortunate we get back up.  Not everyone makes it back to standing.  I am back on my feet.

The last several days were difficult.  They were also exceedingly enlightening.  I know myself better.  I am learning to trust myself again.  (I sought help quickly.)   Clarity is a good thing.  Even when what is cleared up is ugly.   Truth is tied to freedom in the bible.  Truth identifies the enemy within and without.

dsc_0013As I air out my smoky skirt (metaphorical skirt as my only “skirt” is really a pair of billowy pants),and put on my big girl boots and I am getting back to work.

There road is never straight.  Detours abound.  I was on a detour.  I am back onto my path.

For now.

May your detours be short and may you find beauty along the way.   Thank you and Much love (whatever that looks like)  Gwen

Intangible Gift Giving 101

Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la laaaa la la la lah! 

dsc_0009So many feelings about the holiday season and, yes, commercialization can definitely run amuck, but oh, the gifts!

The journey to discovering that little something gift that says, “I see you.”  Or maybe just that something that says, “I remembered you.”  Gifts don’t have to be expensive.  The cost can come from the heart as well as the pocketbook.

Gifts, tangible and intangible.

A few weeks ago I was dreaming (literally dreaming) about Melissa’s Mexican wedding cookies.  In my dream I was devising ways to trick my dear friend into making me these particularly magical cookies.

I woke up quite ashamed and disappointed in myself.  Partly because I had been so devious in my dream and partly because I failed to come up with a plan to get me some cookies!

This time there was a happy ending.  Jubilee stayed the night at Melissa’s house enjoying her good buddy, Rivers, and when she came home she had a container filled with Mexican Wedding Cookies!

Melissa’s gift made my dream come true!

There is joy in receiving (and don’t anyone let you tell you otherwise.)  But- oh! – the joy of giving warms the cockles of the coldest heart.

(Wait! that did not come out quite right.  Melissa baked cookies out of the goodness of her heart.  It was my cold cockled heart devising fiendish plans to gain cookies.)

Giving acknowledges our shared humanity and allows us to take pleasure in the blessing of others.  Giving is transcendental.


Some gifts are difficult to wrap.

Intangibles are hard to wrap and often they are even hard to identify.  They just do not fit inside the box covered in shiny paper.  (Boxes are over rated.)  Intangibles reach beyond the physical and touch our hearts.   Some gifts carry more intangibles than others.  Sometimes the intangible is the gift.


Art carries with it a myriad of intangibles.  dsc_0010

Consider why a diamond in a ring is more valuable than a beautifully colored citrine of the same cut?  Yes, a diamond is harder and makes for a powerfully sharp cutting surface, but that is not why we pay more for the diamond.  In a setting of silver or gold the diamond leaves the world of utilitarian value and dances into the world of intangibles.

What is a painting worth?  What is a story worth?  The cost of the canvas, pigment and brushes?  The cost of the ink and paper?   Of course not.  A novel reaches beyond the physical and takes the reader into another realm, and all from the comfort of her sofa.  A painting surpasses the aesthetics of matching the sofa upon which the novel reader is sitting.

It is the intangibles that pluck our heart strings that give creative endeavors value. 

2010, in preparation for an International Arts Movement (IAM) gathering, I read Lewis Hyde’s book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.

It was not an easy read for me and, truth be told, I left the portion on poetry unread.  The 4/5 of the book I did read was worth contemplating.  I gave it to my hair stylist who provides tangible and innumerable intangibles services.  She has a gift.  She IS a gift.
Basically, Hyde contends that art operates outside of our commodity/market driven economy.  This presents a dilemma for the artist attempting to earn a living selling intangibles.  What she is really selling is not a 3×4 foot space holder but her gift.  While I (mostly) understand what Hyde was saying, and relate to the dilemma, I did not find it particularly helpful beyond the intangible of being understood.

A more contemporary take of The Gift of art can be found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. (Excerpt of Gilbert speaking about her book on release day:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/best-selling-author-elizabeth-gilbert-back-with-big-magic-creative-living-beyond-fear/) I have not yet read Big Magic but I have read a lot about the book. 

I ordered the Big Magic audio book this summer for a road trip.  It arrived in GERMAN!  The devil is in the fine print and I missed that my unabridged CD was not English!  (Great price, though.)   I set it aside and forgot about it until this week when a friend recommended and blogged about it.  (I ordered it in paperback and downloaded it in Audible today.)

Like Hyde, Gilbert reminds us that art moves beyond commodity.  Art is a capital G Gift.  Gilbert is easier to read than Hyde and she, like Hyde, asserts that art is not–GASP!!!!- utilitarian. dsc_0012

We do not need art.  (Some of us do, but we could actually survive without art.) 

Gilbert asks society to be brave enough to embrace non-utilitarian gifts.  She challenges artists to be brave enough to understand, and to own the nature of The Gift of art.

Here she speaks of the meaning of art.

“It means I am not exclusively chained to the grind of mere survival.
It means we still have enough space left in our civilization
for the luxuries of imagination
and beauty
and emotion
– and even total frivolousness.
Pure creativity is something better than a necessity;
it’s a gift.”

The holiday season is upon us.  Surely most of us will give and receive frivolous gifts.  As you choose and as you receive, seek out the intangibles behind and within the gift.

Is the gift perfect?  Wonderful.  What intangible does it express?dsc_0011

Is the gift just not right?  Does it disappoint?  Look harder and deeper.  Maybe the act of remembering or being remembered is an intangible worth cherishing.

Is the gift cruel?  I have seen cruel gifts.  Sometimes the intangible has to come from within yourself.  A cruel gift is about the giver not the receiver, it is about the giver’s deficit. Pity?  Forgiveness?

This holiday season I endeavor to share more of my gift, my art, and with it a plethora of beautiful intangibles.

May you celebrate the spying of a brilliantly colored leaf.
May you wonder at the delicate geometry of a spider web.  (Not the horror of walking into a web and getting it caught in your hair!
May you look up and see just the right color of blue in the sky.
May your path crisscross with unexpected beauty!
And may you be present in the moment to pause and receive the gift.

I am exploring ways to share more of my art, my gift of creativity, more freely.  My photography team (Thank you Alexis and Peter) is helping me get cleaner, crisper images and details!  One hundred paintings photographed last week.  Now to get the images to the website.  (Technical skills minimal.  Encouragement welcome!)

More ideas bubbling on the stove.  As my family will attest, things often boil over when I am cooking.

Here is to the intangibles!

379059_10150936478140035_1325803287_nPS.
Every time I hear, type or see the word intangibles an image pops into my head of a family very much like The Incredibles. The Intangibles race forward making the world a more beautiful place.   A super hero family living inside of my head!

 

 

 

Hey Artist, Cowgirl Up!

283099_560840199728_2448688_nCowgirl up!
Put on your big girl boots and ride.

What does that even mean?

It means:  DO what needs to be Done!

Monday night I cowgirled upped.

Three weeks ago Blue Skies, my beautiful paint horse, decided to go bat guano crazy.
Well, not that crazy, but crazy enough.  He decided that he no longer wanted to be ridden.

How do I know this?
Every time I rode we would get half way around the arena and BOOM!
Ears flatten.  Body tenses.
He bucks.
I get off!

59806_10150272015870035_3546829_nFor two weeks I got off and lunged him into a lather.
(To lunge a horse means to run them in circles hoping he would realize that cooperation was a better choice than running in circles.  He did not get the memo.)

Lunge.
Ride.
Half way around -BOOM- he kicks out and I get off.
Shampoo.
Rinse.
Repeat.

Monday night, week 3, I called in an expert.
With great trepidation and my instructor present I saddle up to ride.

Same pattern.
Half way around ears flatten (his not mine), body tenses, and he bucks until I come to a stop.
BUT THIS TIME IT WAS DIFFERENT.
I did NOT get off.
I stayed on.
Mark, my instructor, was there to talk me through it.
59806_10150272015885035_177277_n
Keep your hands down.
Kick him.  Don’t let him stop.

Keep.
Moving.
Forward.

I wanted desperately to get off.
And I preferred getting off on my own terms rather than flying through the air.

I had to choose between two voices.

The voice of experience, my instructor,
or the familiar voice of fear screaming inside my head, “Sell the SOB!”205077_10150482557445035_5421350_n

One hand on the reins and the other gripping the back of by saddle,
I rode Blue Skies through his pissy bucking fit.
Again.
And again.
And again.
And again four times in quick succession.

AND I STAYED ON.

The next time through the pattern Blue Skies minded his manners.
Sort of.
Ears went back but his body did not tense and he did not buck.

It was not nearly as frightening when I was not alone.

It was a contest of wills between me and my horse.
With Mark’s trained eye and encouragement, I won.
That round.
There will be more battles before the war is won.
But I have tasted victory and I like it.25940_10152447229795035_32548799_n

Was it scary?
No, it was terrifying!

Did I want to stop?
Hell, yes!

Were those tears of fear or tears of victory running down my face?
Both!

What does this have to do with art making and the business of art?

EVERYTHING!  Ramalamadingdong! I STAYED ON!
I rode my horse.
I got off my horse WHEN and WHERE I wanted to get off.
I did not go flying through the air.  I RODE THROUGH IT!59806_10150272015855035_3502596_n
And, looking back, it was not so bad.   (It was significantly bad during.)

I could not have safely navigated the ride without an experienced coach.

And that is the tie-in.  For several years now I have navigated my art career alone.  It was not safe.   When the ride got scary I got off and ran around in circles!

Zip.  Zero.  Nada.  NO FORWARD MOTION!

Earlier this month I hired a coaching team.
We will be working online several times a month setting and achieving goals. 14582307_1066260956833143_4375205101929758720_n

It is dangerous to ride alone.
From the top of a bucking horse it is difficult to evaluate how precarious the ride truly is.
An experienced trainer on the ground instructing can take in the entirety of the situation and offer advice as to when to hang on and when to bail.

It is still my ride.  I am still the one sitting in the saddle, but I have a new perspective.

When I am paralyzed with fear I now have a team to talk me through the fear.

Steady on the reins.
Set back.
Keep moving forward.

Could I do this on my own?163049_1810757309142_2566981_n
Apparently not or else I would have already done it.

If you are an encouraging voice and would like to ride along with me the newsletter is just right for you.

When you hear of someone who might be in the market for art that will reflect their hearts and look great with their sofa, tell them about the website https://gwenmeharg.com/.

Family.  Friends.  You never know who might know someone whose life could use a dose of beauty and hope.  I am a “more, the merrier!” kind of gal.

6076_4593921486507_927793655_nHappy Trails!
Gwen

 

 

Magic Shows And Pragmatic Artists

Magic.

Magical.

Magicians.

I am not a fan of magicians.  dscn7954
I am too pragmatic to enjoy the illusion.
I know it is a trick.
I don’t care how it is done.

Bah humbug!

BUT WHAT IF …  I drank the cool-aid?  I saw what I wanted to see?

Would it be different if I were to suspend pragmatism?

I ENJOY CHILDREN ENJOYING MAGIC.

Jubilee and I attended the Texas State Fair in Fair Park Dallas this year and we were captivated by a very mediocre magician’s captivation of his young audience.  The children were enthralled and we embraced their enthusiasm.

dscn7995Silly trick.  OOOOOOOH.
Lame trick.   AHHHHHHH.
Corny trick.  Applause!

The children did not care that his tricks were old.
They did not care that his tricks can be purchased on the toy as aisle at BoxMart.
The children enjoyed not knowing, the brisk fall air, the early rising moon sharing the sky with the setting sun, an outing
with their parents and grandparents on a school night, and being fooled.

dscn7994Our State Fair magician ended with a fine illusion that I thoroughly enjoyed.
A beautiful illusion with a rope and knots and a box.   By then I did not care that it was a trick.  I embraced the illusion.

Akin to the frog who jumped into the pot of cool water and he did not notice,
because the heat was added gradually,
that the water was boiling and he was being cooked alive. 

dscn7989Well poop!

This blog has taken an ugly turn.
I thought I was writing about magic and the difference between magic and illusion.
Turns out I am writing about politics in America. 

I am a Christian.  Not a very good one, either.
It means I read my bible and carry with me a hope for something more and greater.
It means I believe that human beings are created in the image of God, male and female.
The bible says NOTHING about “race” just that we are created in God’s image and God’s image is male AND female.  (Isn’t THAT interesting?  Not say male OR female, but male and female.)

dscn7993The bible commends a childlike heart.
It also admonishes the reader to put away childish things.

There is a huge difference between childlike and childish.

A childlike heart is how and why I paint.
A childlike heart allowed me to enjoy a magician’s performance and the joy of the young audience.

dscn7960Childishness allows a huckster,
like the midway barker,
to lead a nation down a merry trail and to the edge of a precipice.

I am almost 56.
My first memory is of weeping adults in our living room, huddled around the television, watching the news of President Kennedy’s assassination.
I was almost 3.

I feared for the lives of President Obama and his family during their administration.  I prayed and I am still praying.

dscn7986This past year America has entered into times unprecedented in my lifetime.
More recent than ancient history, the times we are repeating are not really so long ago.  .
What is happening on our streets and in our local YMCA’s is reminiscent of stories my parents,
who are in their 80s, told of prejudice and discrimination when they were young adults.

Things are being said and done by average citizens, “good people,” that are not okay.

I don’t know who you voted for and that is probably a good thing.

dscn7996Regardless of who you voted for …
IF you are NOT racist …  now is the time to evaluate who you are and what you stand for before you go over the edge of the cliff.
IF you are NOT racist …  now is the time to get out of the boiling water and speak up for our brothers and sisters of color.

dscn7985Yesterday my cousin and I were standing in line to order lunch and an elderly lady behind us was wearing a huge safety pin in her turquoise t-shirt.  She told us, “It means I have your back.”

It is time to sit down and ask our created in the image of God, American selves,
“Whose back do I have?”
And, “What does that look like for me and my family?”

What To Do with the Flaming Sack of Poo On the United States of America’s Doorstep?

dsc_0027smWhat to do with the flaming sack of poo deposited on the doorstep of our nation Tuesday night?

For God’s sake,
whatever you do:

DON’T STOMP ON IT!

Let it flame out. 

Prepare now for the ensuing mess and clean up.

Hatred and fear won the election.

As a nation we can NOT ALLOW hatred and fear to define us.

The story is not over.
Just a new chapter.

PS.
I gotta go wash off my shoes.

 

Rats Scurry. People Ought Not.

14947789_1325730707479339_9033128899126711905_nI am writing from Holly Colorado.   I am sitting on the second floor (corner room) with a lovely window that rounds what would typically be a square corner.   Since I am working that makes this a CORNER OFFICE!  I. Have. Arrived.

Looking out I see other buildings, like mine from the mid 1800s and all the inner corners facing the cross streets are rounded.  It is quite lovely.

 

It was also disorienting during the night trying to find the bed  in a room with five walls instead of four.    I was the thing that went bump in the night.

This morning I am brewing PG Tips tea in a clear water bottle sitting on my corner window ledge.  It won’t be ready until this afternoon, but today I am not participating in the rat race.

Today I will not scurry.  Rats scurry.  People, while more than a few are rat-like, ought not to scurry.  Nothing good comes from the scurry.
For the past month I have been scurrying.  Yes, I finished three paintings, but the scurry did not get them done.  Actually, IF I had avoided the scurry I am certain that at least one more would be complete and possibly one or two more.  Scurry shuts down the brain’s ability to truly prioritize.

The urgent obliterates the important.

I KNOW this and yet….dsc_0126

Today I am on my way to Denver to spend time at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) and the Stills Museum next door.  Maybe some Red Rock hiking.  We will see.  We will see.   Instead of scurrying out and speed (not speeding!) towards Denver I decided to sit down. I am sitting in my simple corner room and watching my tea begin its slow brew.

It is quiet except for the occasional passing pick up truck.  The sunshine is nice.  Breathing is nice.
(Wow, that last pick up had a muffler!)
Carley Hughes, our priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, challenged us to take 30 seconds- just THIRTY SECONDS- five times a day and be still.  I wanted to do it.  I was certain I could do it.

I have not done it yet.

It has been two weeks.  TODAY I am taking my 2 1/2 minutes to just be still.  Maybe I’ll talk to God.  Maybe I will just listen.  Maybe I will just be.

My art comes from connecting with the world around me.  From readi
ng.  From journaling.  From connecting disparate ideas and concepts.   I can’t do that scurrying.   I have to be still.  In my mad dash to “get it all done,” to “do it right,” TO JUSTIFY MAKING ART I have cut myself off from the joy of what I do and who I was created to be.

Scurrying is not good for anyone.  dsc_0102
It is not good for me.
It is not good for my family.
It is not good for my art.
It is not good for my community.

I wager that it is not good for you.

Give Carley’s challenge a go this week.
Thirty seconds, morning, meals, bedtime.
Find two and a half minutes to connect with yourself and your greater purpose.

A purpose beyond politics.

Time to check out.  (Literally, it is check-out time at the inn.)

PEACE!

Whiteness

Perspective by Gwen Meharg 22 x 20" watercolor on paper
Perspective by Gwen Meharg 22 x 20″ watercolor on paper

A conversation with a friend from Germany.
She speaking of her German heritage.  lederhosen.  name days.  Learning to knit in public school.  Tales of her mother’s Bulgarian heritage.  She was proud of both.

I had nothing comparable to share.

I could talk about being Texan. 
Pecan pie.  Fried okra.
Fried cornbread.  Fried chicken.
Fried green tomoatoes.
Border collies.  Rattle snakes.  Horses.
Armadillos.  Hereford cattle.
Sheep Spanish goats.
Fishing at the tank.  Chasing horny toads.
Peach trees.  Chiggers.

22 x 30 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
22 x 30 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I knew a few stories about my dad’s family. A great grandfather (or great great grandfather) O’Dell came from Ireland and jumped ship to stay in America.  An Irish family named Hannan showed him kindess and he took their sur name.  My maiden name is Hannan.

My mother, a Simpson. seems to be of English and Scottish origin according to my internet search.  The internet mentioned fair skin which I interpret to mean “burns easily in the sun.”

Basically, if it burns, surely there is a dash of it in my DNA.

German?  Maybe.  Definitley German on my husband’s side of the family.  And English and Irish and Scottish and Scotts-Irish.

Print by Gwen Meharg 8 x 10 inches on paper
Print by Gwen Meharg 8 x 10 inches on paper

I just remember my great grandmother.  My mother’s mother’s mother.  Momma.   I remember visiting her in the hospital in Goldthwaite.  There was not a nursing home or care facility so the small hospital doubled as such.    I remember her skin being very soft.  Translucent.  And she smelled of powder from a circular cardboard box with a big poofy puff inside.  She wore lacy bed jackets.

I know my great grandmother’s stories from my mother and grandmother.  

One story is of slaves celebrating their new freedom down by the creek.  It was my great grandmother’s birthday.  She was very young and she thought they were celebrating her birthday.

Stories of her hiding with her siblings  from the Indians on her way to and from school.   
I doubted the veracity of this story until I read  “The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier.”

wildflowers in salt shaker on painting
wildflowers in salt shaker on painting

Set in the same neck of the woods where my great grandmother grew up, her stories ring true to the stories in this book.  The time period is the same.  My great grammie most certainly hid from Indians as she was coming and going to school.

The O’Dell turned Hannan grandfather’s story is laden with death, abandonment, extreme poverty, and abuse rape by an elected officials.  Tales of standing in the back of the church, a widow and ten children, standing because they could not tithe.   (I don’t know why they kept going.)

That pastor missed more than a few chapters in his bible!

Lots of stories.   No origin stories.
Nothing before arriving on our hallowed American shores.
No tartan plaids.  No four leaf clovers.
No stories or foods reminiscent of  homeland.

No before.
Just Texas and Maine.
My mom from Goldthwaite, Texas and my dad from Liberty, Maine.

That was as far back as our history reached.

Small collage on paper 4 x 4 inches by Gwen Meharg
Small collage on paper 4 x 4 inches by Gwen Meharg

My cultural heritage is divided.
North and south.  Salt and sugar.
Slow talking and fast talking.
Sunfish and pickerel.  

One side of the family puts salt on tomatoes while the other side uses sugar.
Same for watermelon and grapefruit.
One side salts and the other sugars.
One side of the family makes savory beans and the other side sweet beans.

My cultural identity:  Salt or Sugar.
White or white.

I read an article delineating how white folks became white.
A tale of white evolving to include and to exclude.
A narrative of power over.  Hierarchy.

The article woke in me the memory of that conversation with Monika.

“I don’t know, Monika.  I am just – white.”

22 x 30 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
22 x 30 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I said that.
Out loud.
I had no idea.
I did not make the connection to racism.

“We don’t know where we come from.  Nobody remembers or thinks about it.  What we know doesn’t mean anything.   My equivalent of Lederhosen would be a cowboy hat and boots.”

White history is shallow.
White history is grave.
It is time to dig up the shallow grave and sift it for bones and treasure.

I know race is a cultural construct.
I know the consequences of that construct to be real.
I know that the consequences weight most heavily on those who are deemed not white.

Winter Thaw 30 x 22 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
Winter Thaw 30 x 22 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I had not considered WHY race was constructed.
White was constructed to replaced cultural identity to consolidate fair skinned minorities against the slaves.
Whiteness was constructed to create polar opposites.
White and black.

White was invented to lord over.
Slavery has a long history.  America was the first nation to base slavery on skin color.
Before prisoners and the impoverished were enslaved.   But when the indentured Irish woman ran she could disappear into the general population.  By confining slaves to a dark skin color it was easier to find them when they ran.

White evolved.
There was a season when Irish was not considered white.
A season where Hispanic was white.
Still  many see Jewish as apart.

Seasons pass and we do not even know what we do not know.
Seasons pass and we forget that there was ever another way.
Seasons pass and the aberration becomes normal.

Strength Triptych each section is 40 x 25" acrylic on paper. Framed
Strength Triptych each section is 40 x 25″ acrylic on paper. Framed

Construct.

Deconstruct.

Build up.  Take apart.
Push back.  Pull together.
Add a layer.  Remove a layer.
More of this.  Less of that. 

It is what artists do.
We explore surface to discover depth.
A pathway to deep.

Race is a construct.  A construction.

What does the deconstruction of whiteness look like? 

30 x 22 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg (I have not figured out a title yet.)
30 x 22 acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg (I have not figured out a title yet.)

Salt.  Sugar.
White privilege.  White supremacy.
White washed tombs?

Watching.
Listening.
Studying.
Speaking out.
Shutting up.

What cost? 

Irish?  German?  Scottish?  English?

Whiteness.
Blackness.
Construct.
Construction.
Deconstruction.
Deconstruct.

RE-CONSTRUCTION!  Let the RE-construction begin. 

I have four paintings on easels in my studio as I type.
A fifth finished painting, Pulse, will go back to the easel as soon as I hit send.  It will be the first in the series.

A new series Exploring Whiteness.

This is a painting of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Eucharist. Lords Supper. 45 x 75 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
This is a painting of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Eucharist. Lords Supper. 45 x 75 inches acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

I have never thrown down a new series before starting it.
Maybe this is a mistake.
Maybe it is a delusion.
Maybe the time is now.

Racism is a white problem.
The burden of consequence is carried upon the shoulders of those of color.

It is so easy to think that it is a black problem or a brown problem or anybody’s problem but mine.

Racism is a white problem.

Please, if you are white, follow this link.  If you are non-white, it still might interest you.

Start by reading the linked article.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/04/holding-the-tension/?mc_cid=1c4eaee9fe&mc_eid=f571f34756

New Dawn 3 x 3 ' Work in Process. Acrylic and collage on canvas. Not yet finished.
New Dawn 3 x 3 ‘ Work in Process. Acrylic and collage on canvas. Not yet finished.

I believe art can change the world.
Today I believe my art can change the world.
I do not know what I will believe tomorrow.

Today is more than enough.

Down The Messenger Rabbit Hole

Red Rope 24x 24 inches acrylic and collage on canvas by Gwen Meharg
Red Rope 24x 24 inches acrylic and collage on canvas by Gwen Meharg

I have an ipad.
I never quite got the hang of the ipad.
(I kind of hate it,
but I can do Instagram on the ipad so that is good.
Sort of.
I hate Instagram.
Too many rules and not enough suggestions.

The 21st century has been hard on some of us.

In my attempt to embrace the 21st century I have my first smart phone!

Last night, after 11, I was trying to read a facebook message on my SMART phone.
Up pops a box that informs me that facebook messages are going the way of the dinosaur
and I need to get facebook MESSENGER.
At least that is how I interpreted it.

I load messenger app.
Waiting for me are four messages that I have never seen before.
One was for the studio opening of a friend!!!!
Another was a Mother’s Day greeting.
The other two?  Well, it was after 11 pm so I don’t remember.

n1102413009_467690_3194645Messenger invitation went out to a few friends.

One wrote back that she just uses the regular facebook messages because Messenger takes up too much room on her phone!

OH NO!
I don’t want my phone taken over by something I don’t need.
I try to figure out how to manage data and storage.
I can’t figure out how to unsend the invitations.
I can’t figure out how to delete Messenger.
I delete everything I can get to that I don’t recognize.
Games, tv, videos, music, all sorts of stuff that I have not a clue how it got there or what it is.

4x4" acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg
4×4″ acrylic on paper by Gwen Meharg

Notification boxes flare up telling me that apps will revert back to what was originally on the phone.  Hmmmmm?
What exactly is an app?
If it came with the phone is it really an app?
I delete a lot.
The ones that say deletion will severely impair my phone I leave alone.
I hope I left them alone.

This morning my phone pinged a few times with Messenger messages.
Now I am trying to figure out how to turn off notifications without turning off the ringer.

A Michael Hyatt article shared a studied indicating
the typical office worker is interrupted every THREE MINUTES!
The resulting productivity loss is
equivalent of missing 5 (FIVE!) months of work a year!!!!!

small watercolor sketch by Gwen Meharg
small watercolor sketch by Gwen Meharg

Just think how productivity would soar with interruptions only every SIX minutes!
Would the average office worker get another 2 ½ months of work done each year?
Would America be GREAT again!

Wrap up?

It was good to receive those missing messages, BUT at what cost?
How DANGEROUS is Messenger to my productivity?
How much room does it indeed take up?
IS facebook messages TRULY going away?

4x4" collage by Gwen Meharg
4×4″ collage by Gwen Meharg

And how did we so quickly buy into the myth of Poverty Culture?
Why didn’t we see the flaws in the study when it came out?
One small village and the results was extrapolated to the world!
How can I make a difference to disperse the myths?

Wait that is another blog. 

FOCUS is a splendiferous thing.

Peace out!

I CAN’T, it is NOT an AT&T Phone.

I have a new phone.  Samsung Galaxy 5j.  NOT one of their exploding phones.  (I HOPE!)

WHITE 22 x 30 inches by Gwen Meharg Acrylic on paper
Blue 22 x 30 inches by Gwen Meharg Acrylic on paper

I have no contacts as there was an, um, altercation at the AT&T store.
Not so much an altercation as much as the clerk was really pissed that I did not purchase my phone from AT&T so EVERY SINGLE ANSWER TO EVERY SINGLE QUESTION WAS,
“I can’t do that, it is not an AT&T phone.”

Please hear the teenage snark when you read, “I can’t do that, it is not an AT&T phone.”
He was not a teenager so his snarky responses were triply irritating.

After one snarky reply, I was pissed.   Surly clerk.  Surly customer.  BAD combination!

He did not KNOW it was not an AT&T phone when I walked in.
From the beginning he was creepy but with veiled pleasantness.

My new NOT AN AT&T phone uses a micro SIM card.  While transferring the phone number from my old card to the micro card he realized I had not purchased my phone from AT&T.   He has my original SIM card.

The clouds rolled in and darkness and snark descend!
Dum dum duuuummmmmmmmmmmmm.
The relationship sours.

Freedom From Expectations by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22 " watercolor and collage on watearcolor paper
Freedom From Expectations by Gwen Meharg 30 x 22 ” watercolor and collage on watearcolor paper

He told me I would not be able to use the internet with my phone because, “It is not an AT&T phone.”
He told me I would not be able to use the date because, “It is not an AT&T phone.”
He told me he could not transfer my contacts because, “It was not an AT&T phone.”

I said something matching his snark followed by “What CAN I do?”

He said, “YOU CAN LEAVE THE STORE.”

And I left.

It was not until I got home that I realized the jerk still had my SIM card.

(Jerk is a judgmental, immature name calling and yeah, JERK!)

I contacted AT&T and told them I wanted my card back.
I have not heard anything other than they really want to, “make this right and keep me as a loyal customer.”

Yeah (snarky tone) RIGHT!

Lesson Learned?
When creepy guy vibe radar goes off:  DO NOT ENGAGE!

 

Gwen Meharg in front of Transition painting.
Gwen Meharg in front of Transition painting.

May you listen to your “gut” this week. 
May your radar be true. 
May your contacts stay connected.