Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Wham | Modern Hanging Art Mobile in France by Mark Leary

Mobile: The Big Wham (42” x 22”) in Paris hanging with Rothko
On the scientific method
“Is hope a hypothesis or a fact?” asked red fox.
“There’s only one way to find out,” replied bear.
And the experiment began.

Thoughts while making
Celery. Water. Red dye. 

Yep, the almighty celery experiment. Just about all of us have done it. Dunk that celery stick in colored water and watch what happens.

Depending on the teacher and your age, you’re learning about osmosis and selectively permeable membranes or transpiration and xylems or capillary action and the circulatory system.

Often the experiment is used to introduce the scientific method. You know, the process by which we come up with an idea of what’s going to happen in a certain situation; where we form, test, and tweak our theories – systematically observing and measuring, assessing outcomes and making conclusions about what we’ve seen.

I was in kindergarten when I first saw it. Celery leaves turning a tie-dyed red. I remember being totally unimpressed, thinking “Of course, if you plunge anything into a glass of water with dye and let it soak for days, it’s going to change colors.”

The scientific nuances were lost on me. The obvious, well, seemed obvious: We soak up that which surrounds us.

When a dear client of mine sent this photo of The Wham spinning in his Paris flat, I was mesmerized by the Rothko; immediately seeing a stick of celery (sorry Mark) soaking up red dye.

It got me thinking about the times in life when we are celery, and the times we are dye.

It got me thinking about hypotheses + conclusions.

It got me thinking about the choices we have as to where we dunk ourselves, what we soak up, what we sprout, as well as how the colors of our thoughts and words and actions dye those around us.

What would you like to soak up this week? For me, it’s silence and quiet and stillness.

On Limits | Perspect Midcentury Modern Art Mobile by Mark Leary

Mobile: Perspect

On limits
“Yes, dust *does* settle,” explained bear. “But you don’t have to.”

Thoughts while making
I see cobwebs. It’s a curse, I think. I walk into someone’s house and I see cobwebs. And I wonder if they see them, too. And if they do, why don’t they get rid of them.

Today, as I was taking photos for my daily Home Art Walkabout in my IG stories, I picked up my Haniwa Boar. I commissioned it years ago from a superb Oregon artist, Wataru Sugiyama. I love it. And it brings me joy every single day.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered it was covered in cobwebs.

I immediately got out a brush and went to work cleaning it. I was amazed at how much dust and gunk came off it. However, as I thought about it, there was no reason why I should’ve been surprised.

See, although I admire it every day, I’ve never thoroughly cleaned it.

From a distance, it looks the very same as it did on the day it arrived 15+ years ago. Even when I sit at my table – which is just a couple feet away from it – it still looks fine.

But when I got up close. Really inspected it. Put my hands on it. Got out the brush and got into it, that’s when the illusion disappeared. Cobwebs and dust in the ears. The eyes. Across the mouth. Tied up in the tail. Everywhere.

And so it with our thoughts, our beliefs, and our relationships, isn’t it?

If you don’t get up close to what you take for granted, a lot of gunk can build up without you ever realizing it. Dust in the eyes that blinds. Cobwebs in the ears to deafen.

At a time when we’re asking the tough and necessary questions of society, I’d invite you to ask them of the people and things you take for granted in your life. Especially the ones you know are a little dusty, but you ignore because you “don’t want to have to get into it.”

I recently did this and discovered I have a racist in my own family. While the discovery is uncomfortable to say the least, the ability to see it for what it is – hiding under all that dust – offers me great perspective and clarity on the path forward.

What’s one thing or relation you could “pick up” today to inspect a little more closely?

On Pausing | Swan + Black Beauty Modern Mobiles by Mark Leary Designs


Mobiles: Black Beauty + Swan

On pausing
“But if I hit the brakes,” asked bear, “won’t I slow down?”
Crow smiled, knowing bear would figure it out if he set with it for a while.

Thoughts while making
He flew right into my mouth. I saw him coming. But it felt like there was nothing I could do. He stung me on the way in, slapped me twice, and bit me once again before I pulled him out. I think I heard him swearing, too.

South Fork is fast descent. The trail drops 1100 feet in just about 3 miles. Gnarly root bombs, hairpin turns, and rocks for days, it’s a super fun singletrack trail that follows – go figure – the South Fork of Tumalo Creek just outside of Bend.

I knew I was going too fast, but my new Trek bikes Fuel EX was eating up the terrain like cotton candy and I was literally saying, “This is amazzzzziinnnggggg” right before it happened.

That bug was big and a metallic greenish black. Even though I only had a split second to make a decision, I knew I didn’t choose well. Because once I’d taken my hand off the brake (poor decision No. 1) to pull that guy out of my mouth (poor decision No. 2), it didn’t feel like I was left with many good options: either hit the tree in front of me with my body or my brand new bike.

I chose my body … which eventually landed about 10 feet from my bike. After I checked to make sure everything was attached, I started laughing. I’d hit my head pretty hard, but that’s not why.

It only occurred to me then that I could’ve kept my hands on the handlebars and use those magical things called “brakes.”

That happened years ago, but earlier this week I was riding my bike when I had unfortunate run-in with a trashcan. After flipping over my handlebars and getting intimately familiar with the street, I started laughing again as the word “BRAKES” flashed in my concussed head.

Sometimes when life is moving fast, the first or even second options that present themselves aren’t the best. If only we could learn to apply the brakes, to slow down just enough, to get a better lay of the land, a better sense of how to make our way ahead. Alas!

Where’s one place you can slow down, in thought or action, this week to look around before moving forward?