Sunday, October 15, 2017


There is an expression . . . have you heard it? A person referred to as a "wallflower". An example is the young woman at a lively social gathering where music plays. She is dressed beautiful and is sweet, yet sits to herself while girls around her are whisked by young men onto the floor for fun and laughter.

Most likely, everyone at some time in life has felt left out. Oh well. We stay in our core, love ourselves and continue to show up. Then a magic moment comes when a special someone is attracted to join together with the lonely one. The qualities are affirmed and embraced.

 This happens with my paintings. Work has shown for years—seen but passed over. Then one day a special someone falls in love and says, "I must take it home, it speaks to me."

This happened twice in the last three days. Both paintings had been showing for two years before selling.
This also happened with the one below. It was "asked to dance" many times but never became engaged with anyone. Recently it got married to an art lover in Colorado and went home.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Songs Of The Spirit

Caye Caulker, Belize

When I leave the United States in a few weeks, it will be an inner journey as well. Landscapes, peoples, climates and customs will differ as I visit France, Italy, Egypt and other parts of Africa. Like in a dream, fantastic surprises will come. A kaleidoscope spinning produces new chance combinations of light, shape and color. So will be my experiences. What paths to follow?

"Listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes." —Baha'u'llah

Before I left home on my first circle of the globe, I had a dream where I heard a pronouncement spoken into my left ear: "The vessel he entered was a grand confusion between his world, and the world outside him." I awoke immediately, contemplating the prophecy concerning my upcoming sojourn yet puzzling over the words.
Granada, Spain

The strange divination proved true. From the start, beginning with my arrival in the all black community of Dangriga, Belize, I felt as if I stepped into DREAMING. My province became unknown and surprises occurred with each hour and day. All became a grand confusion between my world and the world outside. Borders fell. I happily abandoned former identifications, such as nationality, race, social stature, religion, etc. Oneness prevailed.

I came to call it THE DREAM.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Inspired By Ordinary People

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.  -Cherokee Indian proverb

I often am inspired by ordinary people who make the most of life.  Like Albert, the old man who arrives at my health club. He is almost a hunchback and walks bent over almost in half. He is cordial with everyone and smiles. In the locker room he always shares a new joke. In the swimming pool he jogs in the water, sometimes stopping to tell another joke to someone. His warmth will make a stranger smile. Albert likes to lift people with laughter.

Another guy shows up walking slowly, painfully, with legs swollen from rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, his eyes are failing. He is younger than me. We have chatted at times, and I learned he teaches philosophy. The other day I got dressed by my locker. Putting on my shirt, just as my hand came out from the sleeve it poked him in the nose as he was passing by from behind me. We both laughed. I like that he laughed about it.

I go to Starbucks for coffee. The shop is just a block from my gallery. A woman in her thirties works there and sometimes when I am in line, I watch the staff. I found I liked this person especially. She is husky and a bit overweight, but attractive and a good worker. A while ago I was in line and when the woman in front of me was about to order I heard a brief conversation between the two. The Starbucks woman explained that she is pregnant with twins. The father is out of the picture. She will have to go to Colorado to be near her sister soon. That was about two months ago and since then I have talked with her a bit. She is getting very heavy with two babies inside, and works just as hard. One day I gave her 40.00 dollars and told her I appreciated her showing up at work with a positive attitude. She beamed and told me I was sweet and, "made her day."
Today I went in for coffee and waited in line. She was busy and did not see me while somebody else served the coffee. Before turning to go I called out to her. She looked up and smiled broadly. It was like the sun coming from behind clouds, brightening the room with dazzling light.

Later, I took a break and went outdoors on the plaza and sat on a bench near a guy who was entertaining people by blowing balloons—then stretching them into marvelous shapes. He dressed modestly and kept up a banter among passers-by. A little boy came up, wide eyed. The balloon man asked what he wanted, "an animal, space ship, bow and arrow?" The boy stood speechless. "I know, how about a sword?" The boy nodded. Within moments, a purple sword was handed over. "But wait," the magician said. In one fluid movement he made a circle of a balloon and pulled it down over the child's head, then twisted it at his waist. Taking the sword from the boys hand he put it in the newly formed scabbard. The boy lit up and breathless with excitement ran across the plaza to his parents. "Wow," I said, "he was too excited to say thank you!"
Within moments, the boy and his little sister were coming back. As he approached I called to him, "Are you going to say thank you?" Sheepishly he said the words, almost under his breath. Soon the man had made the little girl a flower and presented it to her as if to a queen. The children ran off again. No money had exchanged hands. Pulling out my wallet I gave him a bill. "Oh gosh, thank you!" he said, "I depend on donations."

No sir, thank you !

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Foreigner Gives Way To Friend

I had wanted to be entertained with some laughter before bed, so planned to watch the opening dialogue of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The TV opened on the Public Broadcasting Channel, where I sometimes go to watch the news. The documentary Vietnam, by Ken Burns was playing on PBS. Immediately the film mesmerized me. Although thinking, "no jokes here, not funny," I could not turn away.
There are ten segments to the 18 hour broadcast.

On Dec. 1, 1969, my senior year in high school in Washington DC, the United States held its first military draft lottery of the war. It gave young men a random number corresponding to birthdays—366 per year. Those with lower numbers were called first and told to report to induction centers where they could be ordered into active duty and possibly sent to fight in Vietnam . When the draft started I was too young, but by 1971 I received a draft number 105.

In 1970, when I finished high school I wore my hair long, occasionally smoked pot and considered myself a hippie. I opposed the war in Vietnam. In 1971, my first year at University, I became a member of the Baha'i Faith. The teachings required members to obey their government, but in case of war to serve as a non-combatant, such as medic. The summer of 1972 at an enlistment center in DC, I registered as contentious objector. Thankfully, the war wound down and ended shortly after. I felt a clean conscience, knowing I would not evade duty even though the war repelled me.

The period of war gave rise to stark divisions in America. I knew almost nothing of Vietnam or its people. The slogan "Make love not war" was a common counter-culture refrain on the street. I was against the military/industrial complex.

In 2008 I traveled to Vietnam and spent almost a month, going overland from Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City) in the south to the northern capital of Hanoi. I made some close friends and felt warmth among the people, despite being American. ( See my blog post : Beauty and Adventure ).

The next year I went back. ( Mister, What Are You Looking For? )

The documentary brings up many emotions for me. Having been to Vietnam and come to love its people, I can't imagine warring with them.

Mankind is one family. Foreigner gives way to friend when we seek to understand and put aside differences in favor of the stronger bonds of unity.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Seed of Life

It was a spring Saturday, I was sixteen years old, my father and I were out on the front lawn, pulling dandelion weeds out of the grass. During our casual conversation, I confided I had yearnings for happiness. His response startled me: “Why should you be happy when so many people are suffering in the world?”.

My father, Richard Boone, who died two years ago, was a social scientist—a problem solver determined to bring about justice and a better world. His entire adult life was devoted to action in the social arena. He was instrumental in empowering and improving the lives of masses of people in America. He invented the term "maximum feasible participation" and used it like a mantra. A close confidant of Robert Kennedy, he helped develop President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty and the Food Stamp program, initiated the Foster Grandparent program, uplifted disenfranchised southern black people to vote and gain representation . . . started an organization called Citizens Crusade Against Poverty, became executive director of The Field Foundation, helped found the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington DC and much more.  He did not believe in God, and quoted Karl Marx: “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” He told me that too much was made of Mother Theresa. She helped the poor and sick in India but did not attack the root social causes of their plight. He liked Mahatma Gandhi more.

Sometimes I am shocked to tears by news of what happens on our planet. As calamities grab the headlines I see my father’s perspective.

Enlightened beings tell us to accept sufferings along the way in life, but be happy in our closeness to our Creator. Our human side suffers, but finds mercy and light in the spiritual realm.

The other day, I heard a news story of a conflict in Africa. A village had been caught up in hatreds. A woman told how her father was tied to a tree, then had his throat cut. Next she was raped in front of her children.  How does this woman now find “happiness”? She must forever live in a broken, haunted world.

During my youth, I did summer work in the inner city in Washington DC. One day I was tasked with spending time in a school office, helping a troubled boy from the ghetto. As he sat next to me it was obvious something terrible was within him. He had no emotional animation, was crushed and could not conceive lessons. A heap of abuse scarred him from his earliest days. Though in a physical form, he seemed gone . . . liked a bombed out building that stands but is charred and desolate inside. All I could do was make simple lines on a sheet of paper and have him copy as best he could. He did that with great effort.

Bahiyyih Khánum (1846 – July 15, 1932) was the only daughter of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. She was given the title of "Greatest Holy Leaf". A saintly woman, she is regarded as an immortal heroine in the annals of the Baha'i Faith. Because of the persecutions of her Father, much of her adult life was spent as a prisoner or in exile.

During her darkest hours, she wept:

“O God, My God! 
Thou seest me immersed in the depths of grief, drowned in my sorrow, my heart on fire with the agony of parting, my inmost self aflame with longing. Thou seest my tears streaming down, hearest my sighs rising up like smoke, my never-ceasing groans, my cries, my shouts that will not be stilled, the useless wailing of my heart.
For the sun of joy has set, has sunk below the horizon of this world, and in the hearts of the righteous the lights of courage and consolation have gone out. So grave this catastrophe, so dire this disaster, that the inner being crumbles away to dust, and the heart blazes up, and nothing remains save only despair and anguish . . .
O my Lord, I voice my complaint before Thee, and lay bare my griefs and sorrows, and supplicate at the door of Thy oneness, and whisper unto Thee, and weep and cry out.”

Before she died at the age of nineteen from cancer, my daughter Naomi endured the utmost pain, misery and heartache. During the last two years of high school, she had a tube, called a port, dangling from her chest. It went into her heart for administering chemo.  At one point the drugs were administered in such great doses as to destroy her bone marrow. She was a Make-A-Wish Child, and modeled fashions on a nightclub runway in New York City. A talented artist, she was accepted to a prestigious art college but died the year she was to begin. When times were the worst for Naomi, she dug deep and wrote in her journal: "Show up and be lovingly present, no matter what it looks like out there or inside of yourself. Always speak the truth of your heart."
The day before she died, Naomi remarked to a friend, "I love my body, it has been so good to me.”

I believe God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. And this is why when terrible things happen in life we carry on . . . we continue to "show up." Just as a forest that is burned down and obliterated leaving only charred earth is able to regenerate because the seed of life survives beneath the surface holding the blueprint of renewal, so too, every human being has a pureness within that is beyond destruction.

"Have patience - wait, but do not sit idle; work while you are waiting; smile while you are wearied with monotony; be firm while everything around you is being shaken; be joyous while the ugly face of despair grins at you; speak aloud while the malevolent forces of the nether world try to crush your mind; be valiant and courageous while men all around you are cringing with fear and cowardice. Do not yield to the overwhelming power of tyranny and despotism. Continue your journey to the end. The bright day is coming." ~'Abdu'l-Baha,

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Too Late To Turn Back Now

Too late to turn back now. I have bought my tickets, except for my return.

A thousand small, cautious voices voices tell me to stay, don't go. I can hear them: What you are doing is dangerous, extravagant, foolish. Money will be lost. You will be lonely away from home. A thousand things could go wrong and you won't even speak the language. You will go missing, be taken advantage of by strangers. People will hate you because you are American. You might get killed in unknown parts of the planet.

The voices of the crowd that have seeped through my unconscious aren't my own voice. At times I have heard the words spoken from someone's lips. 

My authentic inner voice says to go back to Venice, Italy, a place I love. Go when the tourists have disappeared and the fog comes. Take photographs and paint. Re-unite with friends there. On the way, stop and see brother Wade and family in Washington DC, where I grew up. Mingle and rejoice with him, his wife and two children. Go to Paris and kick around on the cobbled streets of the left bank that I know. Roll around in the subway . . . take the train and discover Versailles. Be entranced. Let the creative juices flow. Take a cheap flight on Air France and arrive in Venice. Stay a month.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the deeper pull of what you truly love. -Rumi

Montmartre street, Paris, France
Egypt is poor and has been convulsed by the Arab uprising that has roiled the middle east. Yet, whenever I go I am welcomed and feel at home. Sure, I don't speak Arabic, look different, don't know my way around . . . but that is part of the fun. After two visits, now when I arrive in Luxor, there are two families waiting with open arms to see me. Each family has five children and is extremely poor by western standards. But I love being in the earthen homes with the animals all around, the children sitting next to me, relaxed, drinking tea . . . all the while the Nile River flows just steps away. I am drawn by this; it is what I truly love. 
Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
I can stay a couple weeks, a month, who knows? It is cheap to live there. My home in Santa Fe will be rented. Hopefully, my gallery will have sales enough during the slow season. 

I will dream, be absorbed in the ancient land of the Pharaohs' near the Temple of Karnak, photograph, paint and write.

Masai young men and boys, Serengeti
I want to go back to the land of the Masai people in Kenya and Tanzania. I believe I will go to Arusha, in Kenya. I can find the Masai . . . and maybe hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Sure, I might get mugged or have something stolen. But the local newspaper here in Santa Fe has a daily police report, and those things and worse happen regularly.

So, with a full heart I will go forth.

What you seek is seeking you. -Rumi

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. -Rumi

Saturday, August 26, 2017

An Early Awakening

When I was but a toddler, my father would carry me in the early morning to the local bakery. We took a route through the back alleys behind our tenement building in Chicago. It was before my brothers and sister were born. He would hoist me atop his shoulders and I would hold on to his head. At the bakery he put me down and when the door opened, the light, warmth and sweet fragrance poured forth. On the way back one morning, a bird flew into the brick walls nearby. It is so far back in my memory . . . but I distinctly remember the fright of the beautiful winged creature. Was it blind? Or trapped? 

Why did this brief experience have such an impression on me as to last all my life? Certainly, to see a bird fly against a wall or glass, as if blind, is a jarring sight.

Now, six decades later, I drive to work and park my van in a city garage, then take my bike out and ride to my gallery. There are four parking levels. Birds come in the garage, and sometimes they fly up the stairwell and think they have reached daylight at the top level, only to smash into a big panel of glass. Often, feathers are strewn about the concrete floor. Once I found a dead bird and took it home for burial.

Birds represent freedom and are like unto spirit. In many ways they are angelic. So to see one fooled by glass and be trapped or hurt flying into a transparent barrier, reinforces the feeling that physical life is not what it seems—it also holds death. For my childhood eyes, the vision startled me, but also was an early awakening.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Indian Meeting Place Of The Universe

A life size wooden Indian faces my gallery every day. He wears a war bonnet, is dressed in buckskin and holds a tomahawk. Each morning he is dragged out of the shop called Shalako that sells old Native American Indian silver jewelry and adornments. Then he goes back inside at closing time. He stands sentinel at the door and tourists from all over the world have stopped to have their picture taken next to him.

Santa Fe is the meeting place of the universe for Indians this weekend. Indian Market is in progress. Today, a real Indian stood next to the wooden one as I took a picture. He grabbed the ax from the wooden Indian's hand and smiled while I photographed. He is from the Jicarilla Apache Nation in New Mexico, and is here among tribe people from all over the United States, including Alaska, and also some from Canada. 

Tents line every street going out from the plaza. The Indians sell their pottery, jewelry, weavings, artwork and more. Tourists come from all over. They can be seen waiting at the booth of a favorite artist for over an hour before opening time at 8 AM on Saturday morning. 
Throughout the two days, there are continual performances of native music with colorful dancing in traditional costume . . . and a spirit of happiness and excitement pervades everywhere.

My gallery is only 100 feet from the plaza. Often, downtown businesses complain that shoppers are so fixated on the Indian crafts that their businesses go into a sales slump. Last year I had the good fortune to sell a big painting during the market.

I show up with a positive attitude and am thankful for what fate brings . . . and this year some collectors came in and bought art from me; including a portrait that I had just completed. You might call it a “native” portrait. It is of an indigenous woman from South America, wearing her native costume, including a bright red felt hat.

"The Red Hat", oil on linen, 20 x 20 inches
by Steven Boone

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Geese Are Clouds

Recently I happened to meet my friend Therese at a place where the sunset views are spectacular. If a good sunset is unfolding, we both know that we may find each other at this place. I was there before her and took pictures as the fiery drama climaxed and slowly receded. As I was about to leave, Therese arrived. We hung out together for awhile and then bid farewell. I went home, but she stayed and the next day sent me some of her photos by email. 

I find being with Therese often leads me to see in new ways. She experiences a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia. It is where the mind takes familiar patterns and perceives something beyond what is apparent. For instance, a common activity among children is seeing dragons, rabbits or other phenomenon in the shapes of fleeting clouds. 

Therese has pointed out angels or faces in my paintings. If I look close enough and with active imagination, I might see what she does.
My father could not see the man in the moon.

When she sent me the photos she remarked about seeing geese in one picture of a road with dark, moving clouds in the sky. 

I asked her if I could make a painting from her photograph, and she agreed. The result is a combination of our creativity. The geese are clouds.

See more paintings from Steven Boone

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Darkness and Light

The ultimate task for me is not an external goal. Rather it is gaining wisdom and inner peace. Sounds simple enough but if we understand that it may take many years to understand just one dream we have had, then we see some of the difficulty.

I had a startling epiphany during a particularly crucial time in my life. During my late teens my mother had just finished reading books by the esteemed psychologist Karen Horney (German/American, 16 September 1885 – 4 December 1952). She had gained insights and lauded them. Two hardbound volumes by Horney were on our bookshelves: Our Inner Conflicts, and The Neurotic Personality Of Our Time. I was a voracious reader and had read classic literature, so read both books—though the language was dense and sometimes almost indecipherable. 

Through reading, I grasped that neurotic people identify themselves with an idealized image and will go to great lengths to maintain an unreal position. Their pain is unconsciously knowing they are not the idealized vision. The gap is unbearable. 
I realized I had been doing the same by blocking out undesirable aspects of my "hidden" self in favor of a superior.

I entered a trial period of just letting thoughts and emotions float to the surface without judgement. Even nasty stuff appeared but I did not bury it. Rather, I accepted and witnessed without judgement. Although difficult, this process lifted me to greater strength. I breathed deeper. 

At that time, I had also delved into religion and enjoyed the ideals in the Baha'i Faith. Furthermore, great emphasis was on unity, freedom from prejudice, purity—away from materialism and towards spirituality.

As I continued my experiment, I remember coming to a crossroads. The difficult emotions and feelings continued arising and I wondered if I could go forward in life feeling such dark forces yet being a person of light. I wondered if I could live with the dichotomy. Should I block the gate and keep the devils locked away, concentrating on adhering to a religious and pure way of being? Or continue withholding nothing and feeling like I was in a Hieronymous Bosch painting of The Last Judgement with depictions of rebellious devils led by Lucifer, or Garden of Earthly Delights.
At this particularly sensitive time in my development, I chose to block the uncomfortable dark feelings and urges. Instead, I would concentrate on immersing myself in religion as a way of evolution and salvation.
I would adopt thinking similar to what Emanuel Swedenborg, (Swedish, 29 January 1688; died 29 March 1772) wrote: The amount of goodness we receive from God can only equal the amount of evil we remove from ourselves as if by our own power, which is done by both working on ourselves and putting faith in the Lord. 
This fateful decision led me into a colossal war of light and dark forces. The more I sought to dispel the anger, frustration, pain and malevolence within me, the more it insisted on knocking at the door of my consciousness. No amount of praying, being with religious people or studying holy texts could slay the monstrous beast terrorizing the kingdom of my being. My light side hated my dark side. I was divided and suffering. 

My family history is an interesting study in light and dark. My mother came from a disturbed upbringing. She lived in foster homes at times. Her mother went from husband to husband; eventually going through ten of them. Mom was beautiful and hardscrabble when she met my father in Chicago. My father grew up the son of doctor and a sensitive Jewish mother, was brilliant and entered the University of Chicago at the age of fifteen. He finished graduate school with a degree in criminology. Human darkness fascinated him and he was a problem solver. He went on to an illustrious career in social engineering, implementing great changes in American society.
Perhaps it was fate that I would be a problem to myself and have to unify my original archetypes.

These days I find myself embracing non-conflict. I have come again to allowing all feelings, memories, thoughts and perceptions. They come and go without a fight. I am a changed person. I continue in my religion and gain great inspiration from it, as well as from other sources of the same Divine light.

A few days ago, I wrote in my journal:
Essentially, I will stay in a state of peace. If my pristine and calm being is tested by unruly ego or illusion of duality, I can override the challenge. It is as if I am at last taking the throne of command to my own kingdom. No longer driven by intractable and wayward passions..
Thank you Lord for giving me what I ask for.

So I embrace all and realize that all is necessary. Nothing drives me but the urge to understand the puzzle of life and be near God.

The darkness and light inform each other. Any great work of art must have them both.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Among Skeletons

I found her among skeletons, ravens, and a very odd assortment of other characters. She wears a cute blue dress and stands in a yard under a cloudy drab sky, holding a black balloon that bobs above her head. Her huge blue eyes stare blankly into mine, and are accentuated by pink mascara that goes with her flaming pink hair. Her tiny mouth is decorated with the same color.

Standing in a booth at Spanish Market here in Santa Fe this weekend, I asked the artist who made her about the price and when he replied with a small sum, I said I would take her. I thought she would fit in with the eclectic menagerie on my kitchen windowsill.

A couple weeks ago, my previous purchase was at the International Folk Art Market from an  artisan from Chile. He made skeleton figures doing normal things. I bought a skeleton with long black hair—singing and playing a red cello. I brought him home and placed him with a bony couple holding a basket of bread and playing a guitar.

The latin cultures have a way of celebrating death and making it part of life.

Now I can move my little skeleton figures around as I choose and let them tell stories. They go with my ceramic rabbit, clay figurine ballet dancers, doll with angel wings, bust of Thomas Jefferson, and flying nude girl with arms outstretched and a star on her toes. The circus grows steadily.