New York is a Lotus Flower

Dedicated to everyone who has passed away from COVID-19. Rest in Peace.

New York is a lotus flower with giant petals.  If the petals were put on the floor, their terrain is so immense that each one would cover a small town.  Between the petals, pathways weave in and out of this labyrinth.  Go in one direction and the petals unfold before you as they fold back behind you.  Turn around and the folded unfold again.  The journey on one side of the lotus becomes a journey on the other.  

New York is a lotus flower with infinite pathways.  Step on the path and look at the petals loom overhead.  From any standpoint, the petals blend into transitory formations that embody the supreme randomness out of which came its design.  See how the petals twist and turn together into a vertiginous dance.  If you whirl clockwise to find your way, the whole flower turns counter-clockwise.  Take a rest and the place where you stood has already shifted away from where you thought you were but a minute ago.

New York is a lotus flower of bright light.  Every petal has a thousand pores radiating.  Every being that lives there bathes in its glory at one time or another.  Its hive energy buzzes anyone who steps on its pathways and delivers them toward the light they seek.  It is a flower of knowledge and know-how.  It’s a beacon to the world.  It’s a place of heartbreaking beauty and all the dimensions of tragedy, too.  And whenever it seems to die it is reborn.  And it gains even more petals which in turn create a seemingly infinite array of new pathways to explore.

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The Process: About a year and a half ago I found out that I had an opportunity to studio-sit in Manhattan (otherwise there’s no way I could afford it!) for two weeks.  I treated it as an artist’s residency but on my own dime. To prepare, I poured over as many photographs of New York City from great photographers like Edward Steichen, Helen Levitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, and countless more to study how NY was depicted/experienced by others.  Yearning to contribute some way of looking that I hadn’t come across yet embracing all that I have seen. I spent hours thinking of my previous experiences there and how the city felt to me as well.  The dominant theme was that of a labyrinth but I was unsure of how to convey that feeling.  By the time I arrived in NYC, I had my notebook of ideas on what to try, but after many days, I felt like it wasn’t working.  When I could sleep, though, I entered half-dream states where I was ceaselessly wandering through the outer terrain internalized. And then, it came to me.  The simplest of ideas. I tapped into this feeling of the buildings unfolding before me like a thousand petals of immense scale.  Yet also scattered in my mind’s eye these petals came from all over town. Then, this boiled down photographically to two images juxtaposed together in a diptych.  Two images of these buildings from different areas had to be brought next to each other! And once I got to develop them, some blended together, some grated against their companion, and others twisted and turned into uncanny forms from simply placing them side by side in an embrace of the fundamental experience of randomness. After a year of developing them, this is what you see now. 

Where to purchase: They are for sale at www.society6.com/oneroundcorner.  There are prints and framed prints available (the largest size will be the best), in addition to some having small items available like pillows, clocks, iPhone cases, and such. 

Favorite? Of course, I’m proud of all of them but if I had to pick a personal favorite, it’s New York is a Lotus Flower #4 because it references zip paintings by the New Yorker Barnett Newman and I always think of them when I go to New York since I saw them in person for the first time at the MOMA many years ago.  If you have a favorite, I’d love to hear about it! Thank you and enjoy!

incandescent leaves

Combustible swarms of potential energy possess the warm winds who scream for a sacrificial bonfire! Their anticipation whips up into a frenzy for the cyclical conflagration that will return the nutrients back to the charred soil. All we can do is await the spectacle to come and loathe its smokey purge of the flora and fauna we hold dear. What soft flesh is this that beholds such a sublime terror that marches forward so slowly then suddenly? That we know is coming yet arrives without warning?

ancient sea memory – part two

From the sea’s memory whose immensity I cannot encompass, she takes a mass of limestone and with one tool – a drop of water – she brings forth a sculpture of all she has ingested and turned inside out in a new formation. Seamounts and guyots miniaturized. Carcinomorphic legs dangle within the stalactites. She carves in with trilobite strokes across the pregnant columns. She freezes in time the way she gushed over countless rocks with flowstone. Amid an astroidal firmament, batoids swirl on the vaulted ceiling whose cetaceous slabs dive down into the abyss. Textures from ancient reefs and sponges crawl under the floor. Cambrian plants rise again in stone. Burrows memorialized in soda straws. The whole chamber curling into a giant nautilus. In the darkest crevices, mimoids gestate. And she finishes it with the simple drip that fills the hollow of her new instrument. The sound of one drop into her fathomless memory. A sound she makes across innumerable planets. Her cephalopodous existence stretches over the galaxies that emerge from her womb.

Chain of Ages

Once there was a village where babies and kids had to live outside the cave in the sun world. Only when they were old enough could they live in the cave and as each person got older there were deeper caves to live in. The oldest became the blindest of all and craved nothing but darkness and silence. Food and water were passed along to them through the chain of the ages, as they called it. Those who did not follow this order and feared this willful progression toward blindness were threatened with endless wandering and no chain to depend on.

There was a man who disregarded the warning and ran away. He found other villages with other ways of living. He would go from village to village in search of anything new to learn until one day, village after village, had nothing left for him to know. And that is when he realized that he had already entered a cave within himself. And he wondered if his people were right all along and it was he that was foolish not to listen to them.

And when he was older he returned to his home and they were happy to see him again and they let him go as deep in the cave system as his age would allow. And there they fed him something he had never had before. Something held secret by the elders. And new visions appeared within him of not only of villages but worlds he never could have known outside the cave in the sun world.

And when he slipped back into the great fold, as they called dying, he had gone to the deepest cave yet and passed along stories that helped his people deepen their understanding of their chain of ages

ancient sea memory – part one

The geologist sees rock formations atop plates drift on the rolling currents deep in the Earth’s mantle, Those rocks crack and open up from the processes of erosion to hollow out a cave. Where the deposits from dissolved minerals collect to form a myriad of shapes called speleothems.

The spelunker puts on a carbide lamp equipped helmet, kneepads to prevent hamburger knee, and carries piton spikes to drive into cracks as needed to belay into the glistening underground space that upon first sight appears as if it were made to appear that way. It’s a brilliant display of mysterious intention by something far greater than any human achievement. Yet it is the dizzying reminder of how random the visual state of terrain actually is. The hand of erosion carves and sculpts without regard for the spelunker’s eyes met with such a vision on an immense scale of time.

The philosopher enters the cavern through the mind. Sees the cave dwellers who only see shadows as reality. Witnesses the journey back into the darkness after seeing the outside world and experiencing its glaring truth. The light so strong that it cannot be forgotten by its witness imbues the cavern’s folds with the philosopher’s thoughts.

Aesop’s Masquerade Ball

Once there was a bird who got so lost that it didn’t know that it was a bird.  And this bird came upon a nice lake and found a tree by the lake with a low-lying branch to rest on.  As the bird perched there, a fish swam by who had traveled so far from the mountains that it had forgotten that it was a fish.  

When the fish swam by the branch, it saw the branch move.  So the fish swam back to look again.  And the bird saw the lake move and saw that it had a mouth and eyes.  So the bird stared at the fish and the fish at the bird.  The fish asked the bird if it was a part of the tree.  And the bird asked the fish if it was a part of the lake.  

Some other birds came and landed on the tree and asked the bird why it was talking to a fish. And some other fish swam by and asked why the fish was talking to a bird. The bird asked the others what a bird was and the fish asked the others what a fish was. The other birds told the bird it wasn’t a fish and the other fish told the fish it wasn’t a bird so that they’d stop talking to each other. Then the others flew and swam away.

The bird said “I guess I’m not a fish.”

The fish said “I suppose I’m not a bird.”

So the bird asked the fish what makes a fish a fish.  And the fish said a fish is a fish because it swims in the water.  And the fish asked the bird what makes a bird a bird.  And the bird said a bird is a bird because it flies in the air.  And both asked each other to prove it.  The bird flew in the air.  The fish swam in the water.  

But the bird said that it could swim too.  And the fish said that it could also fly.  And so the bird dove into the water and swam and the fish jumped over the bird and flew through the air.  So they said that sometimes a bird can be a fish and a fish a bird.  

And then a bug flew by who had gotten so lost that the bug had forgotten what it was and the bug asked the bird and the fish and they both said they knew exactly what it was, food.  And they ate the bug.  Then the bird told the fish that it wished it were a fish.  And the fish too wished that it were a bird.  The other birds came back and asked the bird if it had figured out who it was and it said it was sometimes a bird and sometimes a fish.  The other birds laughed and flew away again.  The other fish swam back, too, and asked the fish who it was and it said sometimes a fish and sometimes a bird.  And they laughed and swam away.  

Then the brother of the bug they ate came by and wanted revenge so it told them that they were what they ate and escaped before they could eat it.  

The bird asked the fish and the fish asked the bird if they were in fact bugs. And when the other birds and fish were coming back, they buzzed off together convinced that they were indeed bugs being hunted by the other birds and fish.

Since they were bugs now, they refused to eat their own kind so they starved and without food they became lightheaded. When they witnessed the sun rise on their last day, they believed that they had become reflections of that light dancing on the water and did not notice that they left their bodies behind.