Sunday, June 25, 2017


The ancient Greeks believed Chaos was the first thing to exist from which the primordial deities came; including Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life, Eros, a god involved in the birth of the cosmos, and Tartarus, both a deity and a place in the underworld—also the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born.

The word khaos means "gap" or "chasm" being the space between heaven and earth.

Chaos has always been a partner to me in life. During early childhood, it was a natural part of magical life and development. Yet like everyone else, I was trained away from it in favor of order. Then it felt like waging war between good and evil.

When this happened a deep division came into my life. From then on I felt as though walking a tightrope. To fall was to descend into the chasm of chaos.

I remember being with other teenagers and driving out on the town one night. When the music was being changed between channels, static came on and I said "leave it there." Everyone laughed but I preferred it for awhile;  the little interval of chaos.

Shortly thereafter, I became afraid of dark forces in the universe and in myself, and turned against chaos. I suffered. Part of the equation of existence is that in life, mistakes happen, surprises occur, plans are upset, the unexpected happens. Chaos is in everything to some degree.

The "chasm" between heaven and earth is a fertile place. I believe, as did the Greeks, it is where creativity begins.

I have become stubborn about leaving space for it.

In my artwork, some of the best results come when there are "happy accidents". The mind comes to an impasse and sort of collapses into "unknowing" . . .  a place is messed or destroyed on the canvas yet in the destruction the hint of something with great beauty and clarity arises like a phoenix. It could only come about through destruction.

When I am out on the streets photographing, I often stop to study and take pictures of random textures and forms that seemingly come from chaos. Sometimes they are quite beautiful—the scrapings across metal, leaves floating in streams, random blazing clouds at sunset, or many other chance interchanges that leave marks upon nature.

I have learned in myself too, to make room for surprise. It is necessary.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Know Thyself

Know Thyself. 
- Socrates

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self. -Baha'u'llah

I went to see my long time psychologist recently. We have met off and on for many years. It has been the nature of my adult life to be in many predicaments leading to moments of truth. I am a risk taker. I have always learned by doing and experiencing consequences. My father thrived on problem solving his entire life, and I have that tendency too.

The therapist I see is renowned, an author and lecturer. In the past he has traded with me for art.

When I arrived for the recent session, I took a few minutes sitting quietly in a waiting room. I reflected on what I wanted to say, glanced at recent journal passages, prayed that the discussions would be enlightened and bring the highest good. Then I thought of what to talk about. Essentially, I try to be on the path of "heart"; strong and open, feeling truth and mystery, having equanimity and fullness. Knowing joy and pain and being fluid in both.
I chose to talk about feeling stuck in some ways . . . and decided to mention a couple dreams I had had about a year ago that seemed to explain much but I could not decipher all the symbols within them.

Comfortably seated in the office, the two of us made great headway with the dreams in our hour of conversation. He knows me so well, I could refer to childhood memories he knew about. With his help and adept questioning, I gained new inspirations and insights that are helping to unlock closed passages that are essential for me to travel in.

As I drove home, reflecting on realizations, I saw people walking about, and noticed how they held themselves and how they dressed. I could "see" the psychological being that formed the outer picture.  Then I felt compassion because it is not easy being human and everyone tries.

Observe all men; thy self most. - Benjamin Franklin

Charity is in the heart of man, and righteousness in the path of men. Pity the man who has lost his path and does not follow it and who has lost his heart and does not know how to recover it. When people's dogs and chicks are lost they go out and look for them and yet the people who have lost their hearts do not go out and look for them. The principle of self-cultivation consists in nothing but trying to look for the lost heart. - Mencius (4th century B.C.)

Some people say they haven't yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.- Thomas Szasz

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Young People

A parade of young people have been entering my gallery and making an impression on me. Most often, their parents have been with them. The Boone Gallery is situated in the heart of Santa Fe, on the historic plaza. Across from my gallery is the city visitor center.

In the last week each day I experienced a memorable event involving youth. First, a woman came in with her little boy who was bursting with happy liveliness. He wore big glasses that seemed might fall from his face at any moment. As he bopped around the room from painting to painting she explained that he was artistically precocious and the family came to Santa Fe from Illinois partly because of all the art to be seen. As I stood next to her she pulled out her smartphone and scrolled through images, finding a photo of one of her son's drawings. It was remarkable for it's detail of an old fort on a hill, with a perfectly drawn American flag on a tall pole, fluttering in a breeze. I was impressed. With pride she said, "That's amazing for a five year old! I mean, the other kids are making stick figures!" By now the boy was next to us and he quickly corrected his mother, "I am six years old!" She smiled, "You were five when you made this." The boy went to the couch and sat down, rocking as he looked around, then jumping up again. I handed him a folding glossy card with images of my paintings. They thanked me and walked away. A few minutes later, the lad ran back to me holding the card. "Mr. Boone, you are the best artist!" Now it was I saying thank you . . .

The next day, a man came in with a boy about the same age as the first, and gently explained that he wanted his son to be able to see an artist working. This lad was much quieter, but very observant. They only stayed a few minutes. The father gratefully thanked me for being open to their intrusion, and they left, the boy wide-eyed and not saying a word.

Then came a father with his teen-aged daughter. He explained that his daughter was interested in art. He observed that my paintings were thick with paint and wondered how I made them. As they stood next to me, I opened my palette box and used my palette knife to mix colors together. The girl stood watching, transfixed. I said, "Most artists use the palette knife to mix colors and get new tones or colors. Then they put it aside to use brushes to apply paint in thin layers. I use the knife to paint." The little lesson lit them up and they walked out satisfied.

Several other stories unfolded. A young woman, 24 years old, came in while my assistant Therese was working. She loved a mixed-media piece called "Tango Passion". It is a rather large photograph of mine from from a tango club in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I printed on canvas and stretched it over stretcher bars. It depicts two dancers in intimate embrace on stage, smoke swirling around them in red lights. She felt it would be great in a home she was moving into soon. She takes tango lessons and explained she worked two jobs and might not be able to afford it. Then she left, promising to be back soon. She never arrived on the day she promised, and I thought it was a missed opportunity. The next day, Therese stopped in for a brief few minutes, and by coincidence at the same time, the young woman returned. She said she wanted to buy the art if she could make payments. I agreed. She said that her mother and grandmother were dancers.

Another day, two young women came in and I was immediately struck by their friendship and that one was white and the other very black. They looked around, obviously just for enjoyment, and one joked, asking did I ever "get stoned" and paint. I responded that I had not used drugs since I was about her age. "Spirit fills me up. I do not need to use anything to get high." She immediately was impressed with the answer and apologized, also saying that the colors and vibrancy might make people wonder what state of mind I had been in when they were created. Then she explained that the two of them were with a church mission that was getting young people off the streets and helping them straighten out. She pointed to a logo on the front of the tee shirts they were wearing. I reached behind my desk and gave them both a copy of my book, A Heart Traced In Sand, Reflections on a Daughter's Struggle for Life. "This is a book I wrote about my daughter who died of cancer when she was nineteen. I used many of her own diary writings." As we talked about tests and sufferings that we must face in life, the black girl looked in my eyes with a big tear falling down her cheek. "Why does life have to be so hard sometimes?" I assured her that though it is hard, there is something in us that can endure even the most severe trials.  "God never abandons us. Tests come to make us stronger." When the girls left, I felt deeply connected and sensed them for a long time afterward. One of them marched by my window later, smiling and lifting my book to wave to me.

Lastly, three generations of a family came in as I was arranging prints in my flat files. The old man was struck by one piece in particular. It's a big reproduction of a photograph called Kashmiri Children. I explained that I was in a Himalayan village in Kashmir, India,  making a landscape painting when many of the young people came around to watch me. I made a painting, but even better, took some remarkable photographs that afternoon, including the one he admired. He introduced himself and his daughter and mentioned they were in town for a family reunion. I showed him a large print of the picture on museum paper that he could buy.  "I want to bring my wife back." He promised to come back that afternoon or the next morning.
They left and I did not see him again so thought it was only a fluke. The next afternoon, the old man's daughter came back. "Did my father return?" I said no. "I want to buy that print for him . . . for Father's Day". Then she looked around and said she hoped he would not walk in while she was with me. "We will keep it a surprise," I said. "If he comes back, I will say it sold." She bought the print and payed to have it shipped to her father's house. "You will be able to enjoy it when you go visit him," I said.

How appropriate the string of youth events includes the sale of an artwork featuring young people.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Art Is Never Finished

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” -Leonardo da Vinci

During the course of creating art, a time comes when the work nears completion. Artists’ often think, “Is it finished?” Many have experienced the culmination of their efforts and yet wonder, can it be better? On occasion, an artist eventually sees his work hanging in a gallery or a home, finds it not quite satisfactory and changes it.

Just like a person might not see a flaw in themselves that another easily sees, an artist when they are making art, becomes one with it so that they are “in” it. It is only when stepping away that objectivity arrives.

We can feel an art work is finished when there is no more space to cover or stone to carve. But that is not really it, for art is malleable . . . (excepting sculpture). Some artists like to leave “mistakes” in the work to show the process. There are indigenous artisans who purposefully leave something undone—to show humility and that only God is perfect.

For me, I have come to believe that my portraits are done when the subject is able to “speak”. If my landscapes invite the viewer to enter in their realm and abide there in wonder, perhaps then they are complete.

As I write, I feel Leonardo is correct- Art is never finished, only abandoned.