Tag: Paradoxes

I just don’t understand hate.

"Angel Heart" Drawing by BZTAT
Angel Heart Drawing by BZTAT

I understand anger. I understand fear. I understand mental and emotional distress that sometimes motivates hateful actions. I even understand suspicion and prejudice.

But I just don’t understand hate.

The kind of hate where a man wraps his entire life around hating a group of people who he does not even know, simply because they are from a culture that he has been taught to despise. The kind of hate that motivates a man like Frazier Glenn Miller.

Frazier Glenn Miller is the alleged shooter who went on a rampage yesterday and killed 3 people in Overland Park, KS in the parking lots of two Jewish facilities. When arrested, Miller proudly yelled anti-Semitic utterances in full view of a near-by TV news camera.

He is considered the “alleged” shooter, as he has not yet been convicted of the crime. But his long history of hate towards Jewish people has been well documented, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Not only has this 73-year old man  expressed his hatred in many forms throughout his life, he has mobilized others to do the same. Through “leadership” in the Klu Klux Klan and his creation of militia groups, he has motivated countless others to engage in hate activities towards innocent people.

I am not Jewish myself. But this man’s hate hurts me deeply. My good friend who lives in Leawood, KS is a frequent attendee at the very Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City where his life of hatred culminated in murder yesterday. Thankfully, she was home yesterday. preparing for Passover. But her world is shaken. The place that once represented community and joy and fellowship for her now is shattered by hate.

It also hurts me to know that my friend, who has helped me to understand the beauty of Jewish culture, is hated so violently by people who never have, and never will know her.

I will never understand that kind of hate, and truthfully, I do not want to.

I do, however, want to understand the kind of love and passion that drives people to continue their faith and traditions despite the presence of people who have built their lives around hating them. It is that kind of love that makes our world a compassionate and enriched worldwide community.

We come from different traditions and beliefs, but love is love. I thank my friend for reminding me of that. I pray for her healing, the healing of those who lost loved ones, the healing of the entire Jewish community, and the healing of our worldwide community.

May we all find a way to respond to hate in a way that does not allow it to take us in its grip in the way that it did this man.

 Life is an Adventure!


History, Spirit and Paradoxes

painting by artist BZTAT inspired by illustrated manuscripts
Mixed Media Painting by BZTAT

I have never been a particularly religious person, yet I have always been intrigued by the human preoccupation with spiritual matters.

Religion, to me, is a paradox. Throughout history it has inspired love, peace and beauty. It has compelled artists, crafts persons, writers, musicians, etc. to create the most amazing works.

But it has also inspired hate, war and ugliness. It has compelled tyrants, bigots and pedophiles to perpetrate some of the most horrific crimes against humanity.

The paradox has always been a perplexity to me, and it has led me to be more of an observer than participant in religious activity.

When I was studying Art History as a part of my art program at Marshall University in the 1980’s, I was very intrigued by the illustrated manuscripts of the Gospels created by monks in the 9th century. Each page in a manuscript was intricately decorated as an individual work of art, with numerous pages bound together between lavish metalwork covers.

The cover of the Lindau Gospels was particularly intriguing to me, for its artistic structure and elaborate gems and precious metalwork. The artist(s) who created it must have had a higher power guiding them.

Lindau Gospels
Lindau Gospels Upper Cover

I confess, my historical study of the Lindau Gospels did not go very deep. The image and concept, however, were burned into my psyche.

I do not recall when exactly it was, but probably about 8-10 years ago, I created the mixed media painting above, drawing upon my recollections of the Lindau Gospels image that was stuck in my mind. Although you can see some very clear similarities, there are also some significant divergences from the original manuscript cover.

My painting began from a painting I had painted back in college. The initial painting was of a cross, and it had been patterned using a technique of creating sharp pointed dots by squeezing paint directly out of the tube. I no longer liked the painting, so I painted the dove over top of it with a stone textured paint; glued some cheap baubles on it; drew some star bursts with glitter glue; and then covered the whole thing with gold leaf – with my fingers.

My DNA is literally in this painting, as those sharp pointed dots were really sharp.

I don’t think I realized it at the time, but the techniques and textures ultimately reflected the paradox that has always perplexed me:

  • The dove, symbolizing peace and the essence of spirit, takes the place of the human representation of the crucifix from the original manuscript cover. The upward movement suggests the fleeting quality of our understanding of spirit, yet painting it in a stone texture reflects its permanence in our souls.
  • The baubles suggest our desire to gift our religious icons with the most ornate of human possessions, yet these are not actual precious gems. They are cheap craft store glass pieces.
  • The patterns of dots represent the qualities of humanity to fall into patterns of spiritual practice, yet they are sharp and painful to touch, representing the way that human patterns can often become destructive in the pursuit of spirit.
  • The original manuscript cover was designed to be the size to fit in one’s hands to be used in religious rituals. Spirit and religion have never been that manageable for me, however. My piece is large and not at all something easy to grasp in one’s hands.

The painting is currently on display at Second April Galerie where my studio is located. I welcome you to come visit it and my studio. I look forward to your visit!

The 3′ x 4′ painting is for sale. Because of its size, shipping costs may be high. Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing it.


Paradoxes, Purposes and Ponderances – Artist Boot Camp

Paradoxes, Purposes and Ponderances

Awhile back, I wrote about my struggle with the left-right brain dilemma for artists. I have written other times about my journey towards becoming a creative entrepreneur, and about my efforts to overcome my awkwardness in business skills.

I am still on that journey, and I am finding myself landing in some interesting places. I am finding people who are providing me with concrete and moral supports, and lots of encouragement. I am finding some fabulous blogs that are designed to help artists like me with business concerns (Artists Who Thrive, Better, Smarter, Richer, The Abundant Artist). And I am finding that leaders in my hometown of Canton, OH are deeply committed to seeing that I and other local artists succeed.

They are so committed, in fact, that they have developed a unique business/artist partnership to ensure the sustainability of the burgeoning arts community in Downtown Canton. This partnership, called “Artist Boot Camp”, is sponsored by Arts in Stark, the County Arts Council. Coordinated by artist and arts administrator Craig Joseph, the Artist Boot Camp is a series of workshops designed to bring artists and business leaders together to help artists become more effective in business.

Artist Boot Camp is a pilot program, bringing experts in various business topics together with artists to share their expertise. These experts donate their time as a way to support the arts in the community. So far we have had leaders speak with us about grant writing, taxes & legal issues, and marketing strategies, and they have all been incredibly helpful. A number of other topics are lined up for future sessions, such as social media marketing and the one we ALL need, basic accounting and financial planning.

Each artist is paired with a business mentor who will continue to work with us after the classes are completed. My mentor, Jessica Bennett (pictured to the right), is the Marketing Director for the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Executive Director for Indigo Ink Press.

Jessica was one of our presenters this week, providing us information about public relations, writing press releases, and email marketing. I am looking forward to working with Jessica. I know that I can learn a lot from her!

I feel very blessed to be chosen to be a part of this pilot program, which is sure to grow into an ongoing effort to help many artists in the Canton/Stark County area. I thank Arts in Stark for making the commitment that they have to the artists in Canton, and to all the business leaders for their interest and contribution.

My hope is that other cities will follow Canton’s lead and recognize the value of such partnerships to grow communities through the arts.

Because, well, it’s just good business to support the arts.

Life is an Adventure!