I make art in strange places and blog about it.

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To My Non-Liberal Friends

I’m a fan of Robert E Lee. He came from a family important to the foundation of the United States and before. In his own lifetime he saw the states grow into one nation which he was opposed to. He did not find value in the centralization of the government and like Thomas Jefferson whom his own family elder Richard Henry Lee confided in and colluded with, anti-federalism was a concept which agree with the idea of a loosely organized confederacy of states in which he believed. His nation was Virginia. 

How all encompassing should one government be? Does anyone today actually know what fascism means? We can observe nature to see that monoculture is not tenable. Cels or packets of life is how diversity is preserved and government should appeal to the same model of decentralization. Fascism stomps out free speech and variable viewpoints. 

Agree with them: fascism sucks. Long live these independent united states.

“The General Lee”

18″ x 24″

Oil on canvas

Chad Sorg



Inspiration Patronage

In a confined space, alienated, yet on display I’m seeing what it means to practice creativity – be an artist. Why do it and where does it come from? Individuation is the subject matter. What makes me me?The oneness we all hear so much about is really about becoming myself, fully. I don’t need to compromise by becoming a merger or a union. I am multifaceted and there are many parts to me but I am one and you are one and in this way we are one. We are not each halves or partials, we are each complete as we work to attain our completion. In this, together, we are complete.

To say I am you makes no sense, but rather: you are me. You are me and he is me, those are me, and she is me. This is me. We all live in the fishbowl, we all live in a yellow submarine. We’re looking for the singularity and here it is: I. To thine own self be true. This way to another man you’ll never be false. Shakespeare.

It is a patronage that I’m looking for. For centuries art has proliferated by patronage. Everyone from Benjamin Franklin & Leonardo da Vinci to Nikola Tesla & Georgia Okeefe agree about the need for solitude in pursuing creative endeavors. Inspiration comes when the receptor nerves are open and unencumbered. The free mind is cultivated.

But art is not a charity. It is a mistake to think of the patronage system as a donation center and the patron as a donor. From this giving there is some getting. Inspiration is a radiance. It’s not a one-way conduit. It is a luminosity flowing outward from within all who are in its reach. Inspiration is a process of decentralization. The breath of life radiates from the light of creation.

This is how things get started. The beginning of everything comes from inspiration and from the sharing the effect is multiplied.

Small Towning

I always notice the hand painted sign marking the house with farm fresh eggs for sale on country road 109. One of his neighbors sells carports. Rolling hills across the landscape don’t stop for the asphalt and the speed limit was 55 between the green golf course and green striped corn fields. I had a window job at a lake house and people had their fishing boats out just off the shore. It’s sunny and perfect today and the cars were spaced evenly with 100 yards between each. My day was over, my work day, at lunch time and I didn’t feel like driving fast.Columbia City should be very proud of its courthouse. Round spires rise from the four corners and the style is reminiscent of the Swiss or some such culture. The town is getting ready for a street fair but today is Wednesday and the booths are all sitting ready to go but the streets are empty. I stopped off at a sports bar for some chicken wings. Small-town America is alive. I got a box of new paints so tonight is another art making night for me. Window cleaning funds my habit.

Ayn Rand, a Hero of Mine

Ayn Rand pulls out the self-righteous irritation from the collectivists. While they pretend to be against capitalism and free market individualism they enjoy the gratification of self that this society provides. Cheap gas and mobile phones.The truth is always in the middle isn’t it? Giving up the self for the collective isn’t freedom and unrestricted selfishness leads to oppression. How can both views be true?

Rand’s book on social philosophy “The Virtue of Selfishness” prompted one journalists to ask her why she chose such a title and she replied “for the same reason that you reject it.”

As a writer and intellectual she knew how to turn heads – get attention – isn’t a title supposed to do that?

But as a reader my job is to read and comprehend beyond titles. Digest meaning. Rand was an atheist. I’m not an atheist, I’m agnostic – influenced most by Buddhist thought – but I also understand some points from the field of philosophy in regard to metaphysics called dualism versus monism.

There are two realities ultimately for a human, this material reality and then one beyond, the spiritual reality so to speak. That’s dualism but the different shades of monism say there’s only one reality. From within this monistic division of metaphysical thought there are two: The materialists and the idealists – there is only matter or there are only ideas.

I’d say that I’m the latter, a monistic idealist. One philosopher from history that discussed this line of inquiry was Berkeley. I contemporary physicist working in the field of biology – theory of evolutionary biology – is Dr. Amit Goswami. His theory is that we have evolved by way of desire: how we want to become. Google for yourself if curious.

The point is I don’t think Ayn thought entirely the way I do but I can recognize the strength of her argument in the field she spoke to and that was political philosophy. Individualist versus collectivist philosophy.

If giving to charity were required is it still charity? What would it mean to require giving? So the dichotomy rand would have us looking at his control from the collective versus control from the self. Who’s in charge? Me or us?

An essay of hers I would recommend is the creator versus the parasite. It’s included in the book the new intellectual. It makes the creator in all of us feel powerful and important. The parasites are those who would create nothing on their own and reap reward anyway. We have to understand the kind of spectrum this would lay out. She said the conservatives are the worst in this regard because they are doing nothing to bolster the power of the individual and seemingly the job should belong to them.

The Liberals only want a monolithic collectivist utopia so their thought is clearly not suited for individualist philosophy.

And what would the Buddha say? Salvation is found in the self. He said don’t believe anything I tell you: find out for yourself.

When folks try to argue against Rand’s self-centered Objectivism with the philosophy of the Buddha’s selflessness they have to understand Rand was talking political philosophy not metaphysics. She was speaking to this material world only and I think that’s why the Buddha had the same attitude about the self. The self is all we have in this world and everything comes through it.

Writing on a Rainy Day

At Broadway and Jefferson a brick wall the height of my butt invites me to sit and write. Dark blue sky to the east, south east provides backdrop for a bright blue building trimmed in peach yellow. It’s a mechanic shop across the street. I’ve felt the slight sprinkles all day & the wind makes me wonder if dark skies are not coming this way. The other direction is more usual but I like the color anyway. Five minutes later I see the darkness is coming this way. I’m on foot. This might get exciting. The dark blue has turned to gray. Starbucks is my destination, I have a gift certificate and a sweet tooth.

But this weather doesn’t work very well for a window cleaner, nope. I guess that’s why I’ve got art to balance it. Motivation is the finest art. I did a window for free today. Bird crap. Seemed like something good for my motivation as I was feeling kind of useless. Besides, the window is one at the gallery i’m currently pursuing. Buttering them up? Sure, wish me luck. I’m sure the move isn’t hurting my chances.

At this moment it’s pouring out there but I need to go home and paint some canvases. I don’t want to get soaked. It looks like I’m going to get soaked. This was the plan. To let go of control. Here I go.

Standing Rock, Some Words

We take what we want from situations or environments because we have free will and we strive to carry out self determination. We are self made. We can analyze the moment and the setting and then the self in it. What am I doing here? What is my purpose here? Am I a part of this? Am I apart from this?

And then there is the march of time. Perhaps we find a moment when it is to end. Am I a tourist? a passenger? I took a stand, shall I go now? Is it more harmful if I stay or go? Which is more useful? What is my metric from which to measure?

They might call it the march of progress, or paint it as such anyway. They’re drilling for oil on this North American continent but perhaps I should say “we”. We are drilling for oil on the North American continent, but the question remains, what damage is being inflicted? If this is progress and there is value in it who reaps the rewards? Who gets paid? Why am I being complicit? What’s the price of gas today at the station? Maybe I can get one of those foamy cappuccinos while I’m there.

We question socially and environmentally–the two words divide for clarity–what Standing Rock and the water protectors are all about. Capitalism is the hot potato right in the middle. Capitalism for some spells freedom and for others: oppression. But we might all be asking: Am I walking the talk? If I’m free is it at the expense of someone else? Is mine a system of freedom if someone else is not free? And conversely, if I’m oppressed is it at the hands of someone else or am I oppressing myself? How am I being oppressed?And in all this, who is degrading the environment?

Hypocrisy is the word. If I’m biting the hand that feeds me I must own up. If I call myself a water protector isn’t my use of oil a potentially important point of hypocrisy? Or maybe at least it’s a point where I should begin to look at myself discriminatingly. According to Hegel there is always the Self and the Other to concern ourselves with at every point of the decision making process. And this meeting point may be the core of every spiritual tradition there is. There is always forgiveness to bring to the fold. That’s with self and with the other. Forgiveness is coupled with grace. We can bring grace to every situation but the price is discipline. We pay for grace by way of discipline. Grace is when something works unhindered by the problems and imperfections.

I can fight a battle and who has the right to call it wrong? I can fight a losing battle. I could take the side of those with the upper hand or with the high ground or I might side with the underdog and they will judge me either way but their judgement is not about me is it. People judge to define themselves and my judgement of self is all that matters. My relation to sacrifice matters much for me. For better or for worse I judge myself against sacrifice. No one gets a free ride–especially me. When others come in to judge it’s based on their blindness, their ignorance to ‘my’ truth. And so it goes for all of us: I can only speak my truth. Allow me to speak my truth.

A Walk After The Rain

My move back to Fort Wayne seemed to come abruptly. From Standing Rock I could’ve gone west or east and I chose east. It had been on my mind for a long time and my simple reason was family. The time was ripe.

I live in West Central now. The all day tinkering around the apartment came to an end once the sound of rain from outside leaked in my window. I worked up an appetite for one of those ultra sugary cappuccinos. “Five blocks away,” I thought to myself. I had to take a walk.


When will I ever be a writer? The agony pings my brain like a lover. So I walked. I crossed the playground and I stopped by the fence for some notes. It’s all about my will. Am I willful enough?

Down the sidewalk I was led by some old fixer uppers. Curious about the coloring, I stood inspecting the yellow sidewalk in the yard being constructed and another house lined with scaffolding had me imagining what alterations they were making. I found myself standing to admire the tall church steeple, Lutheran, which stares at me through my living room window a block away.

Writing is an accumulation. It’s additive. I don’t like to be wasteful. I should use every moment and every syllable and I have to be consistent with the tense. There is plenty to see. I’m not sure it’s all exciting to discuss though I give it a go.

Next a guy asked me “help a homeless man get a sandwich?” I had seen him bundled up in a hood a couple blocks behind me when I stopped on the side of the sidewalk to write. No, he didn’t persuade me. It was like a daze I was in, like a tourist. Taking it all in but I’m not in the mood to feel like a sucker. Not now. I know that “sandwich” really means booze and the liquor store is right up ahead.

The cell phone has me pretty hooked, updating art photos, detail scenes of serene urbanna mostly. I could tell myself I’m working. I am an artist.


Fort Wayne was always thriving and seems even more so right now. I’ve been in places less thriving than this and the contrast seems to show. None of this will show up in my photos but it’s what I’m thinking. Many of these businesses have been here most of my life and the others are a welcome addition, well thought out and proudly executed. I feel proud to be a part of it, strangely so.

The baseball stadium and surrounding shopping zone really felt most nice, most cosmopolitan. It’s comforting to see the skyline looming above in the hazy distance. Tonight I’m a tourist taking pictures, walking on air. By the way I never got rained on.

The wet sheen lingered, multiplying my view, the neon scene, while I, in my gym shoes with thick souls and covered in jacketed layers, remained dry and content gliding along with my thoughts like in a bubble. The people I saw on the streets were thick in their various attributes of life, shopping or otherwise killing time, regardless of me in my jive. I noticed every one of them.

In particular I remember a beautiful black family of three who looked straight out of a fashion magazine. We exchanged smiles and pleasant hellos. It was near the street corner at Broadway and Jefferson. They were walking past me to another beautiful downtown church steeple of brick and with a daycare yard. It was a Friday evening around dusk, not a holiday so who knows, perhaps they always dressed so nicely.

My downtown walk had become a confirmation for me: I made the right choice. Enough running toward the new and exhilarating, this would be the period where I explored my roots which starts now.

Pro-Test Not Con-Test

The most advanced form of protest is to grow beyond a need, not to reject it but to forget about it. The future is built. We can lead the future instead of follow it.

This camp shows us over and over that the missing link is human involvement. Good things are not easy, they take maintenance and discipline. We’ve gotten very used to having everything done for us. We don’t look dinner in the eye before it dies anymore, machines do that now before wrapping dinner in plastic for the miles it will travel to us. The appreciation we have can only extend so far, gratitude comes from familiarity. It’s best to know intimately what I’m devouring and respect comes from such an understanding, which in turn leads to less devouring. Today patience is too often not seen as a virtue. Our throw-away culture eschews patience. We don’t even take the time to actually know the things we detest. We don’t spend the time to understand much.

Here at this camp, Oceti Sakowin we sit on contested land. Government says it belongs to the Army Corps of Engineers since the 1950’s when they appropriated it and the Sioux nation says it’s been theirs since the Laramie Treaty of 1851. Hmm.. Here we sit and here we protest because the fact is this pipeline is death and death should not be by this river or any river which are our lifeline, everyone’s lifeline. It’s like an engine block made of plastic–it won’t last. It’s like a go car that has gears made for a semi truck,  it’s like a toothbrush for babies or clothing for the wrong climate. Petroleum and water should never mingle and pipelines burst almost daily. We protest this wrong system and call ourselves water protectors.

Yes, mankind is on a continual pattern of continual outgrowth, a plant, a vine, an invasive species perhaps, but some want to call us a virus–I take words seriously, I’m no virus. We train ourselves with our words and with our mindset we apply to daily life what can be a manipulation toward good living if we work consciously. Downsizing is a move toward personal harmony with one’s environment because the ‘take’ is lessened. It’s not even an attempt to address the ‘give’ here because if the ‘take’ is lessened, that IS giving.

Our deficit is the question. One’s personal balance in the world is the question here. We can live a life quite out of balance if not careful. My footprint is my check sheet. Carbon is the currency of exchange and so whatever ability one has to lessen his carbon footprint we can do it. Such is the way of the environmental warrior. The war is with the self. the war is one against personal waste.

It’s easy to see what a wasteful society we’re a part of but it’s hard to implement personal sacrifice to the aid of that society if we fail to respect that society. At all levels of society we can operate in ways that unify our methods into one strong push toward health. In other words it takes all kinds to drive a ship but first the unity of that ship gets made real by a manifest. A mission is revealed and those on board live by these words and thoughts become made real.

In terms of the environment we know what needs done, there are plenty of ideas spread freely already and ‘carbon footprint’ says it all but the real challenge–the singular mission–is in finding the personal strength to downsize all aspects of consumption. Community takes care of alot without wasteful redundancy. From the personal point of view, the dependent individual grows into the independent individual but it’s in thinking about how interdependence works that our mission will be made real. How many cars do 12 cohabiting people really need? Cel phones?

The most advanced form of protest is to grow beyond a need. Imagine.


Protester photo by Tom Jefferson

If You Don’t Like My Fire

“It’s not over yet” is the message spread by the youth of this camp and they’re not alone, the beat goes on. The sacred fire is our center of camp out here. I sat at the new fire, the “people’s fire” which replaced our sacred fire of the seven councils which had been extinguished by 2 tribal elders. Some might say that art is symbolic ideas played out to obsessive ends and I see the attendance to the fire as an art of its own, it’s a symbol. I sat at the new fire, the People’s Fire, which goes by other names.

Sometimes snow falls so gently there’s no sound and barely a feel on the feet. Eskimo language has many words for snow, not just one. It only makes sense when you consider how many variations there are in terms of its dryness and differing qualities of the precipitation material. And no, North Dakota is not Eskimo territory -even though it might seem like it.

I feel that I have the best sleeping bag ever. It’s a bag rated for 20 degrees below zero. The way I acquired it was a sort of accident or mistake. A man showed up at the dome to deliver it and other warm items such as a wool blanket with it. He asked for a girl named Adare and I realized her absence would lead to my personal boon. She had already left camp but this guy seemed to be determined to please her. Sorry guy, been there. He dropped it off anyway. The dome was like a bus station then. At this point it’s more like a meeting hall slash refugee camp with wood burning stoves and rumors of wifi. I’m so sick of the cel phones though. Here we are in the snow storm-survival mode-and all these people can think about is their damn phone.

11 composting toilets might not sound like a cause for celebration to you but for us it is. We’re down to 687 people. That number is down from 11,000. In the latest meetings we’ve discussed with sanitation just how many we can support with this system. It’s a subject of humility. There is no glory. As the light gets lighter, I consider the leadership we have at this camp. I find my own strength. I’m a hollowed stump ready for the filling. On the one hand this is a war, a battle at the front line. on the other hand this is the birth of a city. Destruction and creation work hand in hand.

The youth of this camp are reining in a spiritual revolution. The indigenous lead here in many ways and their leadership is invited by the non-natives. They also seem to complain alot. What I’m learning is that this “complaining” or pleading is more of a stylistic difference, a native way of speaking, call it a cadence. Racist thinking seems to be an accepted way with them at least in speech and this is understandable in a situation of ongoing oppression and occupation. I might end up that way too if I were Indian.

In the absence of television and mindless mass media, sports logos still proliferate here on camp. As long as the clothing adorned is quality warmth apparel, what harm could there be? No, here the more common subjects of discussion are wool, cotton and nylon.

Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and television acts as an antithesis to mindfulness. Its purpose is to distract. Daily life and its obligations of responsibilities can present the need for distraction for the use of relaxation from that mental taxation.

Mercenaries have been fighting the fight for the robber barons of oil’s industry. Their lack of military logos are the single indicator that alerts us to the nature of this fight. A private war.

I can’t tell you which military it was that has been shooting our people with rubber bullets and electro shock zaps, tazing, and blasting freezing water cannons. I’m not sure if those were the private soldiers or the tax funded ones. Either way those calling ourselves water protectors have been targeted by non-lethal force at the behest of a toxic industry that we’ve all supported deeply for 100 years. The irony has not been lost on our water protectors drinking from plastic bottles which release a toxic chemical reaction once frozen and thawed.

Those protecting oil receive a salary. Those protecting water volunteer, risk injury and go to jail for the cause. Envisioning a future for this camp and my own place in it brings me comfort each evening in my giant plastic and steel dome. Active creation invokes ideas which invoke more creation. Our fight is against a faceless and consequently heartless–facet of modern society, the corporate model.

Water is Life, Mni Wiconi

Tears turn to ice in the pre dawn in the snowy season in North Dakota. NoDAPL is a peaceful protest at Standing Rock. Our numbers are in the thousands, 11,000 at one point, I’m told but many coming and going for months now. Now when I say peaceful I mean prayer based on the Lakota way and this morning our prayers started before dark. 700 people came to the Sacred Fire for a cup of coffee and prayer, lovely prayer.

Water is sacred, as the main motto here says “Water is Life” or in the Lakota “Mni Wiconi which sounded great from my slightly screechy winter voice. This morning’s ceremony was for the purpose of blessing the water with positive intention, loving harmony and marching across camp to the river to pour water from copper mugs into it. Sorry I can’t explain the reason for the copper. Google it? Lemme know? The ceremony took over 2 hours and we joined in singing, also repeating “water is life” in about 10 languages, led by a wide variety of people with love in their eyes. The men and the women had differing jobs and the elders were treated with reverence. Dogs run free and traditional wisdom centered around family and nature reflected a culture that we all might relate to, usually involving grandma and/or church/temple/mass/service.

the frozen path down the river bank was slippery dangerous and the men lined its sides with hands out for the stabilizing of the procession of women in their descent to the river’s edge. After the ladies, of course, came the men and we all tossed a pinch of tobacco into the waters. The tobacco was charged with our loving intentions and a person silent prayer. This was the offering. The singing was my favorite offering and my favorite song consisted of only 2 or 3 syllables arranged and re-arranged, “hay” and “ya”. By the end as Father Sun came to warm Mother Earth, a miraculous synchronicity converged with our final prayer as the cloud departed. With the iced over silver snake at our feet, the glorious whiteness drifted over every detail of ground cover to single out the reason we all came here as water protectors. Standing Rock is a bucolic pocket, a charming valley of water way and I feel home, especially jumping through snow banks like a husky or a loner child.

Most shocking might be the expanse that are the Dakotas. This pin point location is the nastiest battle site I’ve seen. It’s the most drastic contrast I could imagine. Many people have been injured here but the nastiest is what corporate oil, as a shameful industry has brought here, as it has done worldwide. Such a pure and pristine setting jarringly hosts this ongoing conflict. Two bombed out vehicles still sit at the bridge, highway 1806 where our front line stands. A flock of geese built up steam and angled around to buzz us today in the afternoon during a stand off at the bridge but the Hum V military trucks and soldiers loading assault weapons disgusted them before the birds could reach us. It’s a hard to believe but the cars were lit on fire by the oppressors, not the protesting water protectors. A video can prove this. There were no Molotov cocktails thrown. The corporation building this pipeline is Energy Transfer Partners out of Texas and we’re happy to report their investors have decided to shit on them even if the geese wouldn’t.

(photo by Ernesto Spotted Wolf)

I’m getting ahead of myself. I wanted to tell you about the first full day I experienced here, which was a Sunday. We are here to fight back and our hearts are in one place. We fight with love and nothing else. We aspire to fight as one.

I am camped with some veterans who’ve organized to bring attention to the situation. We’re here in solidarity with 300 indigenous peoples which is the most togetherness natives have ever seen. It’s been an in-pouring of water protectors from all points of the globe and I think I’ve seen all races represented. I’ve also seen the world’s media here represented here. Finally, as if the seal was broken, this occupation has elicited full international media attention . I’m told even CNN is here. We’ll see if that’s true. It’s like a tide that turns to reveal support that was previously hidden. I’ve attended the non-violent direct action meeting twice so far because non-violence can be difficult when thuggish bullies and scared boys in uniforms suppress. Tensions are high and the law enforcement has shown the worst disregard, overwhelmingly unscrupulous.

To be continued….

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