Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Phil Cousineau and Gregg Chadwick at Esalen Redux

This upcoming weekend Phil and I will be presenting the second in a series of exploratory workshops at the Esalen Institute.

Gregg Chadwick
"Immersed in Silence"
60"x48" oil on linen 2006

Upcoming Workshop at Esalen,Big Sur

Phil Cousineau & Gregg Chadwick


"Genius is the power for lighting your own fire." -- Emerson

For thousands, one of the profound mysteries of human adventure has been the creative impulse. The irrepressible urge to leave our mark, to express ourselves, is an essential part of what makes us human. But while creativity is as natural as breathing, it is also notoriously elusive, challenging, and riddled with ordeals--like any grand adventure.

This workshop will use a three-stage model of the Creative Journey -- Inspiration, Process, Realization-- to explore what it means to harness our imagination and tend our creative fires over the course of a lifetime. To explore this possibility, the course will use innovative exercises to encourage fresh ways of seeing, hearing, and feeling. These include listening for the color of music while drawing, sketching word colors while working on a poem; using photographs, movies and music to help break through creative block.

The leaders will also share the secrets which have allowed them to break their own creative blocks, such as Phil's sketching to help rekindle his powers of observation, and Gregg's use of writing and reading poetry and working with music to help him constellate new work.

There will be slideshows, film-clips, music, and discussion to help crystalize where students are on their own unique journey -- and what they need to make their vision a realilty.

This passion - filled workshop will appeal to artists, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, as well as teachers, parents, psychologists, and business leaders -- all who are fascinated with the creative adventure.

For reservations and more info see: Cousineau and Chadwick
Address: Esalen Institute 55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9616
Esalen's Fax: 831-667-2724

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Remembering Ruth Bernhard

Ruth Bernhard
"In the Box"
gelatin silver print

"My aim is to transform the complexities of the figure into harmonies of simplified forms revealing the innate reality, the life force, the spirit, the inherent symbolism and the underlying remarkable structure – to isolate and give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity."
-Ruth Bernhard

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the photographer Ruth Bernhard died yesterday in San Francisco. Ruth Bernhard was a vital presence in the Bay Area art world. I remember running into her at a gallery opening south of Market a few years ago. Her eyes were like open lenses. She seemed to embody Christopher Isherwood's phrase - "I am a Camera."
In "Goodbye to Berlin" (published in 1939), Isherwood writes:

"I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Someday, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed."

For Christopher Isherwood and Ruth Bernhard, Berlin between the wars provided a starting point for future artistic explorations. Ruth Bernhard was born in Berlin in 1905. She studied photography at the Berlin Academy of Art, and moved to New York in 1927 before the onslaught of Nazism. In 1935 she met Edward Weston in California. Peter Marshall writes about this event:

"In 1935, also the year she became an American citizen, that Bernhard first met Edward Weston on a beach in Santa Monica, California. It was a meeting that was to change her life. Until then she had seen photography as a matter of finding a solution to a problem, largely as a design exercise to meet a commercial need. Seeing Weston's work, and talking with him was an epiphany that awakened her to the creative artistic possibilities of the medium."

Ruth was inspired by this meeting, traveled west from New York to work with Weston and eventually resettled in San Francisco.

Ruth Bernhard
"Rice Paper"
gelatin silver print

Ruth brought a forceful presence into her black and white photographs of the figure. Weston's work, though formally exquisite, could seem psychologically hollow in comparision to Bernhard's knowing interpretation of the female form.