Important Update...

Visit: Your Spirit Rocks! on Facebook . Our vendors booth at the local farmer's market is currently closed until further notice. We hope to be back soon ! Contact me about commission work. I'm the only Chris Sullivan in Calistoga, CA




Saturday, August 8, 2020

Perhaps a nibble of relevance

Today is the day after the first week in August and the days are running together like nothing I've ever witnessed. My gosh, wasn't it just St. Patrick's Day? The acceleration of time when the world was analog gave everyone a moment to digest their experience. Now, this sense of time urgency has propelled us forward at warp speed. Yet, this is 2020 and we are all walking around on a fragile planet, where a virus has everyone in check.

This all is leading up to some observations I've had looking back. Having grown up in San Francisco was like being at the center of a vortex. In 1959 when I arrived, there were the beatniks from North Beach. My teen years were spent during the sixties, which was the advent of the hippies. The seventies were the disco years and the beginning of the gay renaissance. The eighties were the "Me" generation, and all the est grads that came with that evolvement. The nineties ushered in the tech boom which really upset the apple cart. San Francisco became much larger than itself. If you took your vacation in Bali for instance, and someone asked where you were from (and your home residence was somewhere in Novato or Redwood city...) you could claim San Francisco with no clue that you were exploiting or modifying the authenticity of that statement. Hey, the Warriors and Forty-Niners can always be considered San Franciscans, despite their physical location or areas of origin. Keeping in mind that San Francisco is no longer a TOWN like it was back then, where you could easily walk from the bay to the breakers in around two and a half hours. Where people could look at one another in the eye as they passed each other on the street. Where you could ask directions and instead of pointing out a certain landmark, the likelihood would be that a person would "Walk you there" because it was easier than explaining it.

Then it became a showcase city and ultimately a spinning wheel, like the turntable at the old Funhouse at ocean beach. People who grew up here would try to hang on to the middle of that vortex of historical relevance, but eventually, spin out to the peninsula, Marin, or Napa ( which, at one point was known more for its state hospital than being a globally recognized wine region ). It's too easy to feel "known" in San Francisco, where looking or acting strange was your calling card. Now it's a designation for avoidance or even worse... disdain. My, how the pendulum of social adulation swings from one extreme to the other. All of this brings me to this idea that we are a network of populist thinkers who all consider themselves unique individuals parading around with a device that earmarks us as members of the status quo. It reminds me of a child star who is destined to lose their innocence before the age of five.

When I was ten, The movie "The Time Machine" with Rod Taylor came out. One part of the movie really sunk in. It was when, in the future, this peaceful community of people gathered by a river enjoying what looked to be a casual picnic holiday which was suddenly interrupted by what looked to them like a minor annoyance. Someone fell in the river and began to scream for help as she was drowning. These people on the grass nearby did nothing and blissfully ignored her cries. I remember asking myself, is this what the future will eventually become? The scene was not just frightening to me... It was terrifying. No one even paid attention to her! It looked like the ULTIMATE DISTRACTION was taking place, and no one was going to act upon it or even entertain a modicum of responsibility.

This is the fear I have about the Smartphone. It not only connects us anywhere at any time but disconnects us just as instantly as we are continually re-prioritizing the importance of each audio/visual element destined to bombard our conscious minds. I hate that I can multitask, and feel like so much is being accomplished. Truthfully though, the attention I purport to give you is not nearly as relevant as the time I am spending staring at a screen.

Below is a shot that I've wanted to share for a while now. This is Ray. He is an exclusive patron of the arts. Here he is relaxing as he is waiting for his dad to pack up the canopy so he can head home.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Staying in Place

Every day seems like every day before, except for a few little surprises. Inspiration comes in spurts. Starting one project and then before long a distraction will bring my attention to another that begs for completion. That's it. Completion seems to be the goal. Then what? You guessed it. Another project! Be it chopping vegetables, feeding bluejays, watering tomatoes, printing out stickers, or even painting a rock! ( such a novel idea, right? )

It can be said that we create from nothing. That statement is only partially true. We create when we are motivated and driven by a desire, of one form or another. Others find a muse to follow, which is usually a person or entity that can inspire, even motivate one to create. Muses can appear even while perusing a recent post on FaceBook for instance. Pretend that wasn't mentioned here.

Since it has become mandatory to protect oneself by becoming a practicing homebody, a lot of people have taken up hobbies, or have returned to a discipline that they have not made time for on a previous occasion. Playing music, cooking, reading or even watching a sunset becomes a way of suspending the urgency of time

Interesting concept, time. When we say we are busy, what exactly does that imply? Are we not making time for those periods which are essential to our livelihood? In all likelihood, it is the socially acceptable way of saying that we don't want to devote time to something that does not have relevance or priority. It is a wonder what that priority has become. These are things that occupy my mind... even as I write this.

Below is an updated version of the last picture I posted. This one has been modified. After returning from the printer, the 18"X24" print has become a template for a fluorescent upgrade. Soon to be a classic.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Poster Project

About this new direction... Posters are something I've attempted in the past to mixed reviews. As much as they are enjoyable to create, the size and expense have been a bit prohibitive. More than a year ago, a show of posters and specialty rocks was featured at the St. Helena Library. The work was varied and showcased some 3-D posters that were viewed under a UV light in a separate room. The overhead lights were out and the public could use special Chromadepth™ 3-D glasses to get a better viewing of the work. Without a doubt, the effect worked but logistically was a bit complicated. This has only spurred me on to produce more posters. Below is the latest attempt using an image editing program similar to Adobe Photoshop™.The program called Xfinity™ is not subscription-based, nor as expensive as the aforementioned. The Rocks were scanned and edited, digital photography of floral and butterflies were added to a highly textured and colorized background. The final printout will also be modified using fluorescent gel pens and interference acrylic.



Click on image for a larger view

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Joy of Painting Spirit Rocks

Rocks, especially the ones that are perfectly symmetrical, flat, round, and smooth are not always the easiest to find. Yet, These are the ones I look for... whether on the beach or on the road. Painting rocks is and has been more than a hobby over the years. Since the beginning, It has been a quest and the most inspirational creative pursuit ever. Besides this, the exploration of a variety of mediums has easily introduced new ways of working.

This being said, the use of both phosphorescent and fluorescent paint has been the foundation from the start. Calling them "Spirit Rocks" seemed like a fitting nomenclature, as they seem to offer solace and serenity in a troubled world. Although other artists have taken on this practice, this has been my most transformational activity as an artist.

Your Spirit Rocks™ has been a blessing, as over 90,000 have been painted and sold during the past ten years at a variety of farmer's markets and craft fairs. Many have been donated and given away as gifts to charities, service groups, and friends. My studio is a corner of a one-bedroom apartment in Calistoga, Ca. It is there that these rocks emerge as a statement of the beauty that is still present in the world


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Juneteenth

After reading today that the president expects to hold a rally in Tulsa on the same day as the Tulsa Greenwood massacre of 1921 is despicable. The "Black Lives Matter" movement continues to spur riots in major cities across the country due to police brutality and systemic racism that continues to challenge stuck outmoded beliefs. Fires raging in Arizona are the new norm as our planet continues to move towards a dark, ominous climate change. Over 400,00 people have died as a direct result of the mysterious COVID 19 virus that has spread worldwide. What is this?

Today is the eve of the summer solstice, which will usher in a season of massive change. 2020 is a year that has the whole world watching. Perhaps our vigilance in observing a "Sheltering in place" dictum will bring people closer to each other or not...time will tell. Meanwhile, staying in touch with friends via the FaceTime and Zoom apps has made our global village a catalog of traumatic events. All this "On-demand" information is being viewed through a small screen device in real-time, so the social distance is much, much shorter than our minds can digest .

Our posts on social media direct our passions and prejudices, thereby creating a society of cliques rushing quickly to judgment. Where else and what else is there to do but eat, sleep, pray and meditate. Perhaps some exercise, and staying busy as we digitally move forward. Nuff said.


Monday, June 8, 2020

We're starting over

... Or so it seems. Lack of leadership, viruses, riots, global warming. Will it ever end? Yes and no. Having things seem out of control is only the beginning. Personally, like many of you, I've chosen to stop and smell the dandelions. Achoooo ! No, really. A planter box with salad-worthy dandelion greens is keeping my immune system on high alert. That, along with the Elderberry syrup that my niece makes, is rendering healthy and wholesome results.

Staying in place has provided plenty of time to work on a variety of products and projects. Below is a pendant made from taking a sandstone rock found on a beach near the Russian River.It was strung through a hole drilled into the rock with numerous glowing beads. The rock has two sides and the wearer can show off either side. The colors are vibrant and will bring attention to this talisman that is one of a kind.


Monday, June 1, 2020

A Ticket to heaven

When I was in boarding school, during the eighth grade we had a monk who was our headmaster. Brother George Baldwin was a seasoned teacher, approaching ninety. He had knuckles the size of walnuts and would whack you on top of the head if you were goofing off in class. He was at times, the perfect target a fourteen-year-old boy would want to play pranks on ... however infrequent. One time during a study period (usually after lunch), we would be reading chapters from an assigned selection of books. This was also considered quiet time, except for light classical music playing in the background, which we, as mature upperclassmen learned to appreciate. Lower classmen would not yet get to enjoy this cultural privilege. One pleasant afternoon in Spring, Brother George had put out an array of Venus flytraps on the window sill which some of the students took joy in placing pencil leads into the place a fly was meant to land. The trap, due to its sticky lamina would close up instantly on any fly venturing inside. It became a sport to see if a fly's fate would be sealed inside one of these plants. Anytime a fly was buzzing around, everyone had their eyes on it, hoping that it would land in one of the traps. This time was different.

Brother George had been dozing off and we kept an eye on him as well, in the event of any classroom disruption. The damn fly landed right on the tip of his nose! Suddenly, his eyes opened and through his round spectacles, he looked cross-eyed at the insect and began batting the air. Needless to say, we all had to spend twenty minutes after classes because of students who were out of their chairs pointing and convulsing with laughter .

Things were out of control. This was a precocious class of teenagers, chomping at the bit for summer vacation. Brother George would have no tolerance for the percolating hormones at this age. In fact, he would take to writing a lengthy homework assignment, which seemed like revenge at the time. This would be written at the far end of the blackboard, closest to the door. Mark Erigero, a notable hooligan, was also a crack shot with a straw and spitball. As Brother George began to write the word "Assignment", Mark deftly dotted the "i" before George's chalk even hit the board. Brother George was furious. Again, the class disrupted in chaos.

Summertime came and went and a whole new group of delinquents got to take over the classroom when we departed for high school the next Fall. Usually, before graduation, the less unruly students who managed to maintain a scholarly decorum were awarded one of the flytraps and their choice of candy bars. A whole selection of Charleston Chews and Big Hunks were inevitably taken before the unlucky students got either a bag of stale peanuts or two pieces of saltwater taffy.

Brother George passed away that year. He was missed by all, but primarily those students who he instilled with a sense of purpose and pride. Not every boy passed. Those who didn't return would usually leave with a desire to do better and eventually go on to become freshmen after a stint in summer school.

Former students, faculty, and parents attended his funeral. He was not the only "Brother of the Christian schools" present. Many brothers from the San Francisco district were there. As the attendees were exiting the church, one brother was at the back handing out what seemed to be memorial cards. People were curious as they filed out with almost everyone smiling. These were tickets that the brother was handing out. They were "Tickets to heaven".It was obvious to everyone that Baldwin George had planned this as his gift to those who knew of his benevolence.

No painted rock this week. I just want to relay a story that meant something to me.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Lack of Power

It is Friday, and I am thinking about getting a fresh batch of rocks to paint. Although I have ventured out seeking a variety of creative expressions, I think its time to get back to basics. This Covid19 thing is producing dreams right out of the Twilight Zone, yet rendering curious ideas to ponder.

Last night I had this dream that I had walked into a large corporate type building and made my way all the way to the top floor where I began walking directly into what may be considered the "Inner Sanctum". The walls leading to this particular office were made of mahogany and were reaching up to very high ceilings. A few people were walking from office to office, looking very buttoned up and official. Many were wearing ties and professional-looking attire. I then walked into an end office after going by several portals of privilege. When I reached the head honcho's office he was out. There was a security guard standing there, protecting yet another back wall of mahogany. Behind this wall that swiveled on a pivot was a vault that was open. Inside the vault were large stacks of cash, all bundled in paper bands like they had arrived directly from a mint. He looked at me quizzically, seeming to question my authority for even being there. I just stood there and said that I wanted a stack of bills in dollar increments. He said, " We only carry stacks of ten-dollar denominations, and would that be sufficient. I said that would be fine. He came out with a regular size stack of crisp bills that read "Ten" on them. The guard then took out a paper bag and put the cash inside the bag and handed it to me. He smiled at me cautiously, as I thanked him and left.

To me, This dream was all about trust. It symbolizes the trust I have in a higher power about providing the security and safety I require. Upon looking inside the vault, I saw huge stacks of money. It occurred to me that I could ask for, and receive whatever I wanted. The humility I felt made me realize that I didn't need to ask for any more than the modest amount that was handed over to me; although I could have. The confidence I was experiencing, carried me into and out of that building. This structure was a monolith of power and authority.

The thing that really surprised me is that I couldn't wait to tell my sister Tara, about the whole episode. More than the money, her response would be worth its weight in gold. The value received, not in being the amount of security, safety, and relief that this money represented... but in the joy of sharing this story with another. Fear and trepidation are what ruled the minions of this powerful corporation. Everyone looked to the other with an understanding of how devastating this power from the top represented. It was interesting that the chief was not even in his office as the cash was being handed out.

The notion that a lack of control at my"Being guided" was striking. In the face of this kind of power was the vulnerability of feeling fear, and the immense responsibility of coming to accept what was happening. It mattered not whether my actions were legal, moral, appropriate, policy-abiding, or otherwise. All that mattered is if my faith was strong enough to accept what was freely given to me.

Did I steal this money? Yes and no. The money was the power that was withheld from me and kept in safekeeping. In a sense, I had a right to that money, although it wasn't clear that it was mine, to begin with; Money is currency, and much like electricity it has no value of and by itself. It only has power in it's earning, spending, accumulation, and distribution. Having more money in this regard does not render what we think that "Having it" will provide. What does gaining the whole world mean here? Our response to having an opportunity to have all the money in the world as it is; is worthless. It is our ability to serve others that ensures value.

The the image below depicts a fool with a dollar in one hand and a baton in the other, joyously marching around without a care in the world.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Having a Kind Mind

This is a concept that is still in the infant stages of development in our culture. Having a "Kind Mind" is something that is going to take practice. Many of us demonstrate a form of behavior that appears kind on the surface, but can easily switch to disdain in the blink of an eye. Things are not always as they appear as we witness abhorrent behavior in this ever-changing world.

Kindness is a quality that requires lots of fostering in our society these days, especially as things continue to slow down. Saying hello to a neighbor, waving to a friend, letting someone go ahead in the checkout line at the neighborhood market are all ways we can demonstrate kindness.

People are becoming more aware of each other now that we are localizing and generally staying put. Paying special attention to the practice of kindness is an important first step. It is usually noticed that many are stepping outside of their "Comfort zone" to do things that are indeed altruistic. Ultimately they are making a contribution to the spirit of kindness. May they all reap what they sew, and let these expressions continue to grow and flourish.

I've added a link to a site that I've discovered which has provided me with a welcome diversion, especially as our time on this planet becomes more precious.

Below is a drawing of an angel, seemingly questioning the whole notion of kindness as a human (yet more accurately) an angelic pursuit.