Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Appleseed Window Cleaning, it’s true, I’m goin’ full time..

Goodbye Reno. Back to Fort Wayne to be with family and yup, cleanin’ windows while I continue to do my paintings and writing. I’ve got a car now, a phone, a debit card even. I dropped out of society for awhile (sort of) but once again I’m embarking on a new chapter, even movin’ in to the nice part of town, downtown, West Central. Yup.Here’s my new site. Yes, my company is named after Johnny Appleseed.

Source: Appleseed Window Cleaning LLC

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….

Dippin’ Toes in the Fishbowl

 

darknightsole-fishbowl

Dark Night of the Sole (fish) starts Monday and tonight I’m playin’ with cameras.
Camera 1, camera 2, Camera 1, camera 2, Camera 1…

I’ll be living in my studio, painting oils on canvas and lookin’ out the window.
I’m looking to visit. I want you to feed me.
Come for an interview, talk about your own stuff, feed me. Simple. Hit me.

Monday Nov. 7th will be my Opening Transparemony at 9am. Stay tuned here for updates.

A Night in the Studio..

You’ll wanna fast forward..
unless you’re a glutton of some kind. This one’s long like an hour.
Pick a shorter one fer godsakes. I should finish this one sometime. It sustained an injury since it was painted but it’s time to put the brush to it again. Nov. 7th thru Dec. 17th I’m fishbowling. That’s 40 days in my studio. Wanna’ bring me some food please?

 

Ron Paul Burns 2016

The Sex Magic of Self Motivation

At 5:33 the morning hung, still dark, as I came to a waking state. I like the mattress low, right on the floor, and that’s where I awoke to a hollow sound that did not echo, my windows were all open and it was the only sound on the ranch. It was my desire, humming. It’s not always there but today I was ready to go make art. Now, how to get coffee before 6:30? That’s my question. It’s a new rule up at the ranch house.

I might be some kind of sun worshipper. I’m afraid of the sun. Trust me, you don’t wanna’ see him pissed off. The sun’s wrath motivates me. I get out of bed before he can boil me and lately noon has been the stopping point for my morning shift. It’s just too hot after that to be enjoyable.

The art behind the art is motivation–the art of motivation–and it’s an ongoing balance with the sun playing a pivotal role, affecting my motivation. Art’s parent is motivation but from where does motivation come? Maybe I have an internal sun spewing rays of motivation. Do we wait for inspiration or create it?

I have to trick myself like a stoner surfer dude into history class sometimes. “Hey there’s no birthday cake here!” Using the ego to make art well is part of that motivational art form. Like tricking the Sun into hiding behind clouds, it’s about atonement or overcoming the ego. We create to get past the self. If I can make something I’m in awe of, this puts me in a humble spot. I’m thankful.

These moments of victorious struggle or perfect harmony fuel me, past the ego and onward toward bliss. I see it as sex magic because it all springs from my creative center. I suppose it’s a tantric ritual of my own. I cultivate this creation into being. There’s ego but it’s gone beyond, beyond itself. Not resistance, acceptance instead, and it leads into transcendence. I’m here to make something that’s bigger than myself.

Leonardo Me

Leonardo DaVinci drew and painted horses. I recalled the image of their labored execution, so I looked them up. I can’t believe I hadn’t looked up his horses before now, and fer god’s sakes now that I’m looking at his I see that one of his horses had inspired me without even knowing it. I had it lodged in my head, this twisted horse, that or I like the same challenges he does–or in fact I’m just Leonardo reincarnated. Maybe I shouldn’t joke about things like that.

These Containers Won’t Paint Themselves

My new wireless headphones have been a godsend in terms of allowing me to float away. There’s the art but there’s the environment which allows for that art. We create the perfect art making environment, that’s the idea. Art making is an escape, it’s the great escape, and one’s unique fantasy environment should be created for the artist’s own freedom. This notion I’ve become more and more attached to. Now I’m completely convinced that it’s a need for the artist to have his environment just so, just to the artist’s own liking. Results are best this way. Facilitating this space is important. I’m learning how important it is to stand my ground for my creative space.

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space

Do You Think I’m Sexy?
Rod Stewart and the playa go hand in hand for me, particularly “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” When I was married we’d camp on the playa with other couples and friends and we’d party on this white tabletop desert for the weekend. This is not your average kind of camping but burners get it. Glamour camping is also called ‘glamping’ and this pastime involves fur and glitter and disco sounds pumped thru large speakers. It’s all about the fabulous. It’s all about a landscape of minimal distraction. The funky white bass carries across the ground in an interesting way. There’s a denseness, a soaking in and you start to think of the silt. How thick is it below these sexy people roller skating to Rod Stewart?

Cattle Clock
From Iveson Ranch driving down to Gerlach or the playa, it’s a short rural drive. It’s 12 miles to the edge of the playa, 27 to Gerlach. Half an hour is very short driving time in open country like this. It’s 2 hours to Reno. Be mindful of livestock and wild horses standing on the road, much more dangerous than hitchhikers.

We don’t have to leave the ranch much other than the grocery getters every couple weeks. JB the bossman calls those rocket runs into Reno & back. I think I was here for an entire month before I ever exited the gates. Often I feel like a head of cattle grazing on the ranch, spanning time. I did get in to Reno the other day for some shopping. I’ve been here since the beginning of July, a month and a half now. I was also here for the month of May. I feel like there’s no where better for me to be. My mind grazes here.

You take Sundays off here only after you’ve gotten stuff done. Today’s Sunday, this mural is feeling fairly done. Art is a different kind of thing, a different kind of time. I sit around alot, getting away from it and it’s done when I feel like it. I’m still going to work on it this afternoon, after my shower but before it starts getting cooler and into sunset, maybe crank up the generator and work after dark too. These murals are two sided. They’re steel cabins. This afternoon I’ll be painting on the East side, the shaded side. I’m painting horses.

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space
Black Rock Desert is the flattest expanse on Earth. It’s a dry lake bed at the core of what used to be an ancient inland sea that covered the entire top half of Nevada–a state that takes over 10 hours to drive from top to bottom. It’s a good desert to admire space from.

The plan was to take an art car 12 miles to the playa from the ranch to experience the Perseid meteor shower. Five or six art cars here are being worked on currently as we ramp up to Burning Man week. This one was red and called The Imperial, a Chinese Junk fashioned art car which seats 30 on two levels. It would be slow driving.

Neither of these things happened. Neither art car excursion nor meteor viewing came to fruition. The meteor shower’s best viewing wasn’t to start until after 3am, it was early, so we took fire dancers. This was a very good idea to bring entertainment. They brought themselves really, in a red Camaro from Oregon and we were a hit.

In a borrowed diesel, with 3 adults and a child, I drove us to the playa in the dark of night, which was relatively light. From the ranch 4 or 5 vehicles went out. I love bringing people to the Black Rock Desert for the first time. I remember my first time. It’s a landscape you drive more like a boat since, after all, it is a lake. We had a half moon to light our way.

So this party was a group of maybe 100 people and the Burning Man royalty were there in attendance and being pampered with margaritas. These were some founders of the event. You know it’s 30 years old, Burning Man? These are some people who are famous the world over for what they created. Burning Man has permeated creative cultures everywhere on the globe and enjoys international fame.

Burners will tell you it’s more than a party. It’s a movement. 60,000 fur adorned people can’t be wrong–and that’s just this year’s crowd. This is as significant as the hippy movement. When I told one of the fire dancers that Burning Man royalty was his audience for the night, he got excited, eyes lit up and he asked “Are they aware that we don’t have tickets yet?”

2 Universal Painting Poems

Last evening until sunset

I had a painting session that felt

like the time itself was wrought

from a higher quality iron ore

Tonight I was in full flow

but for a limited time only

I could feel the buzz in my hands

and in my vocalized responses

at certain brush strokes

was honesty

Unedited me

and then paint flings

and I did a little skateboarding

and my eyes felt like

laser attack vessels

on the prowl looking for rebels

Last evening makes me think of

this thing I like to say

and that is

one brush stroke per night

of perfect flow

is cause for celebration.

_____________________________________________

The universe was swirled

like my enamel paint cans

last night

and just as active

The meteors sprinted to graceland

against a background

satellites warm and round

while stalactites of mineral light

kissed the luminous stalagmites

of the gravitas and apparently grievous black

the more distant and bent

deepened light

and we talked about these rays from afar

meeting with our retinas

as consciousness

and love and memory perhaps

And the sagebrush surroundings

lay flat

on this darkened desert planet

beside a big white dog

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