Eyecatchers: The Latest From Do Ho Suh

karma-1In two previous Eyecatchers posts and one Video Fridays post (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3) I wrote about a fantastic art installation, Cause & Effect, by artist Do Ho Suh that had just been, well, installed here in Bellingham, Washington, on the campus of my employer, Western Washington University (WWU).

Today, I’m excited to discover news of his latest work, via Colossal:

Towering 23 feet (7 meters) into the sky, Karma is a recent sculpture installed in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art by Korean sculptor Do Ho Suh (previously). Captured here in a series of photographs by Alan Teo, the piece depicts a tower of piggy-backed men, each successively covering the eyes of the man below him, creating an illusion that the blinded tower seems to stretch to infinity like a fractal, although technically it was made from 98 cast stainless steel figures.

Once again, Do Ho Suh does NOT disappoint. Karma is stunning and thought-provoking.

Like Cause & Effect here at WWU, the artist continues the motif of multiple figures stacked up on each others’ shoulders. Of Cause & Effect, the artist said:

…the artwork is a “physical realization of existence, suggesting strength in the presence of numerous individuals. The work is an attempt to decipher the boundaries between a single identity and a larger group, and how the two conditions coexist.”

The artwork at Western metaphorically places the individual within an intricate web of destiny and fate. “It comes from a belief that every individual is spawned from the lives he/she may have lived previously. The vertical context of the figures becomes a collection of past influences, and again, begins to define the inherent powers and energies that characterize an individual,” he said.

Karma is clearly a continuation of these spiritual themes, themes plucked from the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh religions.

Interestingly, as I observed Cause & Effect, both in photos and in person, somehow it didn’t really register with me that each figure is covering the eyes of the figure holding them up.

Now that the motif has been continued in Karma, however, it really jumps out at me, inspiring me to consider the implied meaning, something about how we’re all blind, blinded by illusions, and yet we’re all interdependent, and so, under those conditions, every action we take affects every other living thing and our environment in general, creating a delicate balance, what goes around comes around, and all that, such that, if any one of the figures in Do Ho Suh’s pieces was to upset that balance, it would be disastrous for everyone.

Here are some more photos of Karma. Enjoy!





The John Lennon Bus, The Sound of Peace & Positive News Sources

lennon-busOne thing that never ceases to amaze me (or anger me or depress me), is that there are so many good things going on in the world, so many that it’s hard to keep track of them or even know about them, all because you won’t hear about much of it in the mainstream media, where bad news overwhelmingly dominates.

Case in point, I came across something today via Twitter that is incredibly heartwarming, a project by the folks at The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a non-profit organization I just learned about, that crisscrosses the country in a bus, decked out with state-of-the-art audio and video equipment, providing educational and creativity opportunities for young people.

Their latest project, titled The Sound of Peace, is described on YouTube like this:

Last Monday, Yoko Ono celebrated her 80th year existing on this earth. Given that her time here has been so full of love that she has spread all over the world, we wanted to do our best to give a little bit back. While parked just outside the Academy of Contemporary Music in Oklahoma City, we started on a project with the hopes of creating something that resembles what peace might sound like. With the help of ACM students, Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, and the local population, we present to you the results of our week of work in Oklahoma. Happy 80th Yoko!

It turns out that the The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus has been around for 16 frickin’ years, but I’m only just now discovering them?!

There are many, many more examples of this, and I can’t recommend enough taking time out from the mainstream media in order to go looking for positive news.

Some of my favorite sources:

The Intelligent Optimist
Yes! Magazine
Good News Network

In the meantime, here’s the wonderful product from The Sound of Peace project:

Tweet of the Day: @DemetriMartin


Curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement.

If you look up the word droll in an illustrated dictionary, you’ll see it accompanied by a picture of comedian Demetri Martin.

Droll sounds like a derogatory term, but it really isn’t, um, I guess, unless you dislike droll humor.

Martin’s an interesting guy, Yale graduate, accepted into Harvard Law School, attended New York University School of Law on a full scholarship instead, and yet he’s best known for specializing drollery as a stand-up comedian, guest on The Daily Show, host of his own show, Important Things with Demetri Martin, and occasional film roles.

Martin often incorporates his own line drawings in his work, something he also does via Twitter.

If you aren’t following his Tweets and you like droll comedy, check him out!

Video Fridays: Steve Miller

steve-miller-bandYou know, there was a time when I thought I’d never again need to hear the music of Steve Miller.

His many hits were ubiquitous on the radio in the late 70s and early 80s, too ubiquitous, over played, and I burned out on them.

Not Steve Miller’s fault, and not the fault of the music.

Then, a couple of years ago, I was playing an open mic night at a local tavern, just me and a friend, both of us on acoustic guitars, and in between songs, seemingly out of nowhere, I started playing the bass line from The Joker, my friend recognized it and started playing the chords, I started singing it and miraculously remembered all of the words, and…

…the small crowd at that tiny tavern — a tiny tavern not at all known for dancing — got up and danced.their.asses.off!

That still stands as one of the best musical moments of my life. We jammed on that song as long as we could, repeating verses and the chorus, and to see all those people having so much fun, moving to the tune and singing along, well, as a performer it just doesn’t get any better than that.

My current band has just added The Joker to our repertoire, in a full-on rockin’ electric version, and I can’t wait to debut it at our upcoming gig on March 2nd.

For now, in honor of that first magical music moment, on nothing but acoustic guitars, here’s a wonderful solo-acoustic version, performed by Steve Miller, at a radio station right here in the Pacific Northwest, Portland to be exact, which is fitting, given all of the Portland content I posted this week.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Tweet of the Day: #BeatlesSing-Along

Listen, I don’t care that this is an elaborate commercial for T-Mobile.

T-Mobile could have — they’ve done it before and they’ll do so again — simply made another stupid ad, built around silly one-liners, spoken by glossy actors, an ad that will be forgotten in no time.

Rather, they created a real community event, shared by over 13,000 people in Trafalgar Square in London, an experience the people who participated in will remember for a long time, and an experience that viewers all around the world get to enjoy.

I was struck by all of the goodwill amongst the crowd, and the smiles and music filled me with joy.

I’d like more of that on a regular basis!

Portland Postscript: The Disgrace of Homelessness

Click to enlargeI had intended my post this morning, a photo I took while crossing the Burnside Bridge on foot, to be the last post related to my recent trip to Portland, Oregon.

But then, my blogging friend Naomi Baltuck (whose awesome blog, Writing Between The Lines, is very much worth checking out!), left the following comment on that post:

This is a gorgeous photo! I love the color and composition! Very artful.

I know. Sweet, and a wonderful compliment, right?

Truth is, I can’t, with a clear conscience, accept the compliment, because…the photo is a fraud.

You see, there’s nothing gorgeous, colorful, or artful about the fact that, just out of frame, several buildings down, there was a line of people two blocks long at the Portland Rescue Mission.

We’d been warned by a Portlander, at a streetcar stop on the south side of the Willamette River, that our plan to walk over the Burnside Bridge wasn’t the greatest, that there were several buses we could take across, that the neighborhood just on the other side of the bridge was, he said, “…unpleasant. Not unsafe. You won’t get mugged or anything. It’s just unpleasant.”

I had a feeling I knew what he was referring to. My wife and 15-year old son had seen numerous homeless people on our walking excursions throughout the city. But, nothing had prepared me for the sight of so many people lined up at the mission on a cold night, nearly a stone’s throw away from one of Portland’s proudest achievements, the Pearl District, a section of downtown that had once been a crumbling mess of urban industrial decay, transformed in the late 1990s into an upscale neighborhood of pricey restaurants, shops, and condominium complexes.

So, the Portlander we spoke to was right, it was unpleasant, but not for the reasons I’m almost certain he was hinting at.

There was nothing unpleasant about the people who were lined up at the mission.

No, the unpleasantness, for me, was that they served as a stark reminder that we continue to allow, in our country, 1% of the population to hoard unthinkable amounts of wealth, living in decadent luxury, while the middle class is shrinking, and poverty is on the rise.

It’s a national disgrace.

Here’s a photo taken outside of the Portland Rescue Mission…


…in the late 1940s, during the post-WWII economic boom.

So much has changed since then, but sadly, some things have stayed the same.

Portland Night