The Bridge – The Beginning of a Movement in Art
Long ago in a place not too far, a group of men gathered and shared a ceremony with a sacred elder. The elder, Masca, brought these men on a long night’s journey with drum and chanting and prayer. Around him were these four men, a man of action, a dreamer, a messenger, and a dark man. The elder began to spin and chant. And as he did these four discovered a pathway to the dream time. These four sat in the directions and held to the mountains where they felt called to go. Thus the Bridge was inspired in ceremony.
As an artist there are certain moments in our lives that generate so many ideas that the sum total can overwhelm. This ceremony was one such life changing event. The bridge thus has become a 16 year journey to bring this form of art into the world. In its original version, created within weeks of the ceremony, it was created in graphite. I went on to create 5 other works which relate to this central theme. Each man in the ceremony has these within their possession.
With time, I grew restless and began to search for deeper meanings and creations. Then over the next four years for greater understanding. For four years I walked the beauty path and came to understand what the Navajo elder was attempting to teach us. This did not end my deeper quest. One walks the beauty way over and over. Each direction manifest in all the others. What was four years became seven and from there sixteen, and from there a lifetime of creating art in this way. Meeting my benefactor significantly changed the direction of the work and my reflections on the ceremony we shared long ago. He taught me about the earth, the ceremonies of his tradition and gave me access to a love of life that is incomprehensible. My other half joined me in this walk. We both came to understand the bridge in ways too numerous to put into words. And through this, we committed to walk our lineage into the world.
I returned to school and found inspiration in book arts, printing and again in color. Discovering the effects of acrylic ink on BFK paper through a printing process this led to staining papers. And from there to a re-exploration of the bridge, but now in color. The above came into existence when I left the halls of school and lived near the rocky mountains. The stain, itself only the first layer, can be seen vibrating through the red, blue and yellow energies which merge to create the backdrop for the drawing and painting that came later. Each element of this work took months and years to develop and perfect. Exploring ideas in other works, I returned to this work over and over until it was completed, a full four-year walk around the wheel of time is what this took.
The Right Hand Path is actually a reflection, as if looking into a mirror. This is actually the Left hand road from the perspective of the work itself. Called the red road, it encompasses all the details and beauty of living life to its fullest. It is the physical and emotional walk around the mountains and on the path. The wheel here is set to the cardinal directions, N,E,S,W each with a mountain which sets the path in the directions. At the center is a maze representing the integration which is required on this road. This must be walked individually to a core place and manifested through energies rich and abundant.
On the extreme left are 4 cartouches representative of the feminine nature of the earth walk. The red oxide of this side rotates clockwise outward to the center. And within is a vibrant orange/yellow signifying our need to gather energy as we walk. As a Toltec, this path is also the path of recapitulation and stalking or manifesting our reality in a simple manner.
The Left Hand Path likewise is a reflection of the left hand way of things. And true to the total form, it represents the dream world, the blue road of life. At its center is the eagle who manifests the world with lines of energy, intent, along which we can always journey in dream. The four directions are turned and aligned with the corners of the wheel. NE,SE,SW,NW all have a unique animal associated with it. And thus each direction has a unique medicine or talent which the person who walks the beauty path can practice.
This wheel of the Left Hand Path spins counter-clockwise. The characters are representative of the male side of the equation. As with the other side, the yellow/green overlays the blue and glows. This is the color that I often associate with that experience many years ago with the Navajo elder. On this side we learn to dream and to create our world in a new way.
Traveling characterizes the Left Hand Path.
While Meditation characterizes the Right hand Path.
Each of these flies above the wheel that is associated with each side. They are not so much actual words as they are gestures which sum up the meanings intended in the works opposing sides.
Practicing for years a number of writing systems, they became mixed up and merged into these brush strokes whose purpose is to indicate meaning without indicating direct definition. I prefer to leave a lot of the interpretations of the “words” within my work up to the exploration of the observers who enjoy the works. Thus each of these main characters could and should mean something unique to the viewer. And through experience, I have found that people create their own meanings with time. It is after all a story that is constantly unfolding.
At the center bottom, the two roads meet. And the colors united to create a purple glow to which I added other purples and greens for effect. This central circle is one of integration of the two paths, red and blue roads. In its most grounded, it is represents life growing in all the plants, in its most vaulted it represents the highest vibration of abstract energies. Either way you look at this point it is the start and the finish of something mysterious. It sits directly below the bridge and at the base of the Shaman figure.
The Shaman figure at the center of the work is neither male nor female but both intertwined. I see this figure in my mind spiraling around the center line of the figure itself. On either side each is composed of two overlapping anthropomorphic forms. Again the words within are for your own interpretation.
Though all sorts of things could be said of this section of the work, these two points, the assemblage point above, creates the shamanic world view. The lower is at the crux of the bridge and is characterized by the will which can stretch out beyond the shamanic figure.
Sun and Moon overlap. The sun shines in the night and the moon in the day as this work is about integration and balance between the red and blue roads. What is opposite often refers to its essential or hidden nature.
Bear Butte became the place where my benefactor taught his lessons to me and my other half. So it figures significantly in the work. Bear Butte is a center world mountains, an axis mundi if you will. It has its form, but more importantly it has its energetic intent to keep us on a good road.
Like the whole work, this is Bear Butte at night, in ceremonial mode. It is a reflection of its daytime self and reminds us to pay attention to that which is hidden.
The Left Glyphs teach us how to practice Dreaming and to stay the course through the night.
The Right Glyphs teach us how to stalk and manifest into our lives what we need to survive on this earth walk.
All together The Bridge is a journey, a practice, a story that is constantly unfolding in space and time. When we walk in a good way, the red road supports the blue road. When we spin with intent, the figures unite and create more than they could apart. To either side of the figure are the last two elements which make this work spiral and spin… the Bear and the Eagle. Each in spirit form they are helping us constantly cross that bridge and live the beauty way.
From this work several others developed. Here are the ones that followed:
The Blue Road – dedicated to night hiking.
The Red Road dedicated to day hikes in the red rocks of the southwest.
Blue Hunter, a work commissioned for a hunter in the northwest…
The Directions Book Cover… a work devoted to the shamanic figures and natures of each talent.
Another commissioned work in the roads fashion. It is about the great mystery….
The Bridge is in private collection, framed in a shadowbox style floating as it does in space of the frame.
Limited edition prints are available. Full sized, 24×48 (print run – 33) Quarter sized, 14×29 (print run of 44). And small-sized – fits within a 9×18 (print run 80). Contact me if interested in any of these. Prints are unframed unless framing is requested. Framed Print: