the loveART blog


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the love category.

1 revolution. 0 bullets. infinite joy.

As an emissary of the power of the love, today the wordARTist celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Growing up during the Cold War, I remember President Kennedy’s speech on our black-and-white TV, the weird knowledge that in a single city, far far away, a gigantic wall divided its citizens…things that only grownups, perhaps, could understand.

What I never imagined was that this seemingly permanent fixture of our psychic landscape could ever crumble. Much less without bullets–in a frenzy of dancing and kissing and love, an amazing example of humanity coming together in pure joy.

Ten years ago I visited Berlin. A museum of human rights at what used to be Checkpoint Charlie documents thousands of attempts of East Germans to escape. I was moved by the fierce determination of people to be free. But what really cracked my heart open was walking the streets of a neighborhood where a fragment of the Wall still existed. There it was, a marker, like the WWII bullet holes the British left on the sides of the Victoria & Albert Museum or the memorial that currently stands at Auschwitz…lest we forget.

Naturally the fall of the Wall inspired all sorts of creative expression. Here are some that I like.

The New York Times invited nine major poets from Eastern Europe, the U.S., Russia and Germany to write new poems inspired by the twentieth anniversary of the Wall’s demise.

David Lanz’s piano piece “Dancing on the Berlin Wall”:

A goofylicious guy thang:

And visual artist Christoph Niemann‘s poignant personal take on the Wall today, a narrative in words and woven paper in his New York Times blog Abstract City:

Christoph Niemann - Over the Wall

spirits rising

Elaine's Kuan Yin 05

Item 1: In March 2009, 2,250 people stood in line at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., for half a day awaiting the privilege of paying $22 to see Elizabeth Gilbert speak. Gilbert is the modest and utterly engaging author of the smash-hit spiritual memoir Eat Pray Love, which has been translated into 13 languages and has 7 million copies in print.

Item 2: Oprah’s been inviting guests like Thich Nhat Hanh, Marianne Williamson, Byron Katie, Elizabeth Lesser and Jon Kabat-Zinn onto her tv and radio shows and Soul Series webcasts. When she launched a virtual “study group” (complete with syllabus and workbook) centered on Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, 450,000 people tuned into the first webcast. By the time the ten-week series wrapped, 20 million people had downloaded the programs.

These little things make the wordARTist‘s heart sing. They confirm my observation that the number of folks hungry for connection with Spirit is on the rise. And as we delve into ourselves to find, explore and deepen that connection, all sorts of good stuff becomes possible. Stuff like, oh, a stronger sense of community. An honoring of the mother earth. The eradication of hunger. Global peace. You know.

As my own small contribution to this heartening trend, I am offering two programs this weekend. Wearing my hat as the curator of the 2009 Summer Writers Series for SOMOS (the Society of the Muse of the Southwest), the preeminent literary organization in northern New Mexico, on the evening of August 21 I will host “Women in Praise of the Sacred,” a program featuring readings by award-winning poet and activist Dora E. McQuaid, chants and poems to Spirit by the short story writer, poet and artist Pat McCabe, and a special surprise guest. (A three-word hint: slam poetry champion.) The program starts at 7:30 pm and is at the new Taos Art Plaza, 223 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, downtown Taos.

And on August 22 and 23, Dora McQuaid and I will teach “The Alchemical Heart: Writing into the Sacred,” an intensive workshop we organized under the auspices of the Creativity and Consciousness Institute of Taos, a new University of New Mexico affiliate dedicated to education in the areas of creative expression and human consciousness. (Dora and I are both members of the CCI Board of Directors.)

Dora and I are excited to teaching “The Alchemical Heart: Writing into the Sacred” at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan House, a fabulous 100-year old complex abutting Taos Pueblo Indian land, backing up into a sacred Penitente morada and dense with the creative spirits of D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and other former denizens of Mabel’s infamous salons. Here’s a fun half-hour interview Dora and I did earlier this week with Jim Ball of Taos’ progressive talk radio station, KVOT-FM: Alchemical Heart & Women in Praise of the Sacred. (It starts at 19:48 minutes in.)

While you’re waiting for the (slooowww) audio clip to load, I’ll leave you with a petite writing exercise: What makes your spirit rise? List ten things.

Now go out and do one. Then come back, pour yourself a cup of tea (or something stronger) and enjoy the radio interview.

(Photo credit: Elaine’s Quan Yin, copyright 2006 by Diana Rico.)


let’s dance


The wordARTist
is getting just a little bit tired of waking up to snow on the ground when it’s supposed to be spring already. (Whine whine.) So I was heartened to find the video above on the “Move and Be Moved” blog of Visudha de los Santos, an artist and healer who facilitates ecstatic dance workshops based on Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms and other expressive movement modalities.

Visudha had posted the YouTube video on her blog under the title: “We Are Called to Dance.” Called, I believe, as in a holy calling. What could be more sacred than our natural impulse to move joyfully to music? Rumi wrote:

We came whirling out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.

The stars made a circle, and in the middle we dance. 

Just viewing this video makes me feel hopeful. Spring will come! Soon! In the meantime, I’m taking a dance break. In my living room, among the stars.


for whom the bell tolls


Yesterday Dr. Paul Elwood, a renowned new-music composer, champion banjo player, and professor of music composition at the University of Northern Colorado, turned me onto the quirky little comedy Stranger Than Fiction. In the movie Will Ferrell plays a terminally boring IRS agent who discovers that (1) he’s actually the character in a novel being written by Emma Thompson and (2) Emma has plans to kill his character off. Faced with the certainty of his imminent death, Will makes radical life changes in the few days he has left.

Then this morning came the tragic news of the real death of Natasha Richardson, a passionate and gifted actress from a long lineage of passionate and gifted artists. Richardson died after suffering head trauma in a skiing accident. She was 45.

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Her father, the Academy Award-winning director Tony Richardson; her mother, the actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave; her grandparents, the great actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson; her husband, actor Liam Neeson–these people have given the world so much. The wordARTist is struck by the shocking suddenness of Richardson’s passing, especially immediately after having watched Stranger Than Fiction.

What would you do differently if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? Why not do that now? Hardly new questions, but ones that we do well to remind ourselves of in moments like this one.

(Photos of Natasha Richardson from Photobucket.com.)


are you holding suffering?

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Today the wordARTist is thinking about how hard we are on ourselves. How we beat ourselves up when we don’t put paintbrush to canvas or words to the page or notes to the instrument. How we take our little human mistakes and magnify them until we are overwhelmed with the certainty that we cannot possibly be worthy of love. 

Today, just for today, what one small kindness can you do for yourself? It doesn’t have to be perfect or big or difficult. Just kind.

Here are some wise words to help you on your quest.

May I learn to look at myself through the eyes of understanding and love. –Thich Nhat Hanh

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. –the Dalai Lama

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. –Sylvia Plath

The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing. –James Brown

Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival. –Osho

(Photo: The Gardens at Hedgebrook, Whidbey Island, Washington, copyright 2005 by Diana Rico.)


do you believe in miracles?

Marianne Williamson says:

Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.

In Taos, where I live these days, my heart swells with love every time I see the sky.

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It changes constantly, like a lover who never ceases to fascinate.

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It feels bigger, more expansive, more endless than any sky I’ve ever been under.

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One of the reasons I sold my car last year (after decades of living in the car culture in L.A.) was so I could really be under that sky, with my feet planted on the earth, as much and as intimately as possible. 

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What inspires your heart? 

What miracles happen when you tune into that place inside of you?

How would your life change if you accessed this more often?

(All photos copyright Diana Rico 2005-2006.)


in other words

Books in Guatemala (copyright 2007 Diana Rico)

As a writer, the wordARTist never fails to be amazed and heartened by the power of story. In today’s New York Times, an article titled “Read a Book, Get Out of Jail” tells of the program Changing Lives Through Literature, “an alternative sentencing program that allows felons and other offenders to choose between going to jail or joining a book club.” This sounds flip, but one study showed that program participants had half the recidivism rate of a control group. It costs $500/year per head, versus $30,000/year for incarceration. And can we even begin to measure the internal impact that reading and studying the written story might have on the incarcerated?

The probation officer begins by telling participants that “this program isn’t a miracle,” but it works in mysterious ways…. Searching for terms to explain the mechanism by which literature “changes” readers, participants come up with “turning points,” “epiphanies,” even “grace.” “When it’s working,” [program founder and English professor Robert] Waxler says, “this discussion has a kind of magic to it.”

Of course it does. Love is magic, and I believe stories, at their best, are a form of love. “Sometimes a person needs stories more than food to stay alive,” says the character Badger in Crow and WeaselBarry Lopez’s fable inspired by the stories of the North American Plains peoples. “That is why we put these stories in each other’s memory. This is how people care for themselves.” And the great Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, in his book The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, tells this remarkable story about stories:

In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and everyone in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, recalling the good things the person has done in his life. Every experience that can be recalled with detail and accuracy is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully. This ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.

The astonishing power of story. How will you use it today?

(Photo: My and Lily’s Beds in Guatemala, copyright 2007 Diana Rico.)


try a little tenderness

There Is Still Time (copyright 2007 Diana Rico)

This gentle sign sat at the entrance to the adobe casita I lived and wrote in at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation last year. The Wurlitzer is a magical place, a colony where fortunate artists are gifted with the time and space to work–or not–in whatever way they deem best. There is no pressure to do anything at all, just a nurturing environment of total support and acceptance. 

We all need that, don’t we? And what’s important to know is that we can give it to ourselves

Last week the wordARTist taught a workshop called “Delving into My Artist’s Statement” to a group of painters, printmakers and photographers at the Taos Artists Organization. I know, from talking with many artist friends, that the task of writing the artist’s statement often raises fear, anger, resentment, confusion and just plain blockage in people who are accustomed to working in the purely visual realm. And so we took a few deep breaths together, and then we dove in.

First, I had them write a list: “10 Reasons Why I Don’t Have to Write an Artist’s Statement.” I think it’s very important to give yourself permission not to do something that is torturing you. The critical voices inside our heads can be cruel, especially the voices saying “SHOULD” and “MUST” and “YOU’RE BAD IF YOU DON’T.” Let’s introduce some tenderness, shall we?  Tenderness leads to self-love, and self-love is a key to unlocking the creative spirit.

We read the lists out loud, and of course common themes emerged: “I shouldn’t have to explain my art,” “I don’t know what to say,” “I don’t want to tell people how to look at my art,” “I hate to write.” The room was filled with tension as the artists spewed their negative feelings onto the page and into the room. Good. The wordARTist believes in getting all that internal poison OUT, so that it stops killing you at the root.

Then I talked to them about how an artist’s statement helps me, as a viewer, understand what I am looking at and deepens my experience of an artist’s work. A well-crafted artist’s statement opens a doorway, leads an audience into a unique world. In writing their artists’ statements from a place of loving kindness, they would be holding out a helping hand to all who might potentially benefit from seeing their work.

Next I asked them to write another list: “10 Reasons Why I It Would Be an Act of Self-Love to Write My Artist’s Statement.”  

Shoulders that had been scrunched up visibly relaxed. Arms that had been clutched in front of chests unfolded and opened. The air became warm. Gentleness settled in. As they shared their second lists, their voices rang out strong: “I need an artist’s statement to approach galleries with.” “It feels good to tell people what I’m trying to accomplish with my art.” “I feel empowered taking charge of my career.”  

They spent the next two hours excitedly writing out answers to questions I posed about their work, brainstorming the raw materials that would become their artists’ statements. The floodgates were open; it was hard to get them to stop. And amazing, moving, to see the joy that had replaced the tension in their faces. 

That sign in front of my Wurlitzer casita had a similar effect on me; it never failed to reassure me. Sometimes these days, when I’m hearing the cruel, judgmental voices in my own head, I remind myself of those heartening words. And recently I got to meet the woman who had put it up, a writer named Susan Varon. Susan is an ordained interfaith minister; she marries people. She bills herself as an “Officiant of Love.” She talks about a wedding as “a divine collaboration” with “the power of Love in the universe.”  

Isn’t that what artmaking is? The next time you’re blocked or scared or just struck dumb, pose yourself these questions: What can I do to be an Officiant of Love to myself? How can I bring a little tenderness to bear, in this situation, right now?

(Photo: There Is Still Time to Do Good Things, copyright 2008 Diana Rico.)


“journaling” is not a verb form…yet

cover by Cody Hudson (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy)

The wordARTist was excited to learn about 1000 Journals, the brainchild of a San Francisco-based graphic designer who modestly calls himself Someguy. Dude leaves blank 220-page journals with stamped instructions inside (draw, paste, cut, rip, fold, burn, write, sew on its pages) in a variety of locations. People who find them follow said instructions and come up with fantastically creative visuals and word-musings, then pass them on by hand or mail or whatever to the next potential artist.

spread from 1000 Journals (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy)   spread from 1000 Journals (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy)

Journals have been hidden in a cave, left in a lost and found, abandoned in an airport, and become part of a treasure hunt. They’ve traveled by air, sea and land through 50 states and 40 countries. Sort of like the gnome in the film Le Fabuleaux destin d’Amélie Poulain (come to think of it, another great example of the wordARTist’s Theory of the Power of loveART).

spread from 1000 Journals (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy) spread from 1000 Journals (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy)

If you happen to be in San Francisco between now and April 5, 2009, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has an exhibit of the 1000 Journals. But don’t be sad if you can’t get there; Chronicle Books has also published a book condensing some of the most groovy of the journal entries.

spread from 1000 Journals (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy) spread from 1000 Journals (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy)

I love these covers by (left to right) Craig Frazier, Gary TaxaliMichael Mabry and  Simone Legno  (they have fabulous websites, too):

cover by Craig Frazier (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy) cover by Gary Taxali (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy) cover by Michael Mabry (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy) cover by Simone Legno (copyright 1000 Journals; courtesy Someguy) 

The wordARTist proposes that we follow the lead of Someguy and keep the spirit of 1000 Journals going. Quick, tell us right now: What would YOU do if you found a blank journal at a gas station or in the frozen foods aisle or in your favorite café, with instructions inside to make it into an objet d’art? Heck, if you feel so moved, go ahead and make something and send the wordARTist .jpgs. I’ll post the best ideas and images. Let’s spread the loveART!

(All images copyright 1000 Journals/courtesy of Someguy. 1000 thanks.)


welcome to the loveART blog

Creativity is ecstasy. Participate.

heartchalk (copyright 2008 Diana Rico)

The loveART blog is the brainbaby of Diana Rico, a.k.a. the wordARTist. (If you want to know bio-type stuff, here’s a whole splendid website, and another, and yet more.)  But enough about me. What I’m really interested in is building a space for musings (mine and yours) about the nature, the purpose, even—dare I say it—the holiness of our creative impulses as human beings. 

I think the best way to launch this blog is to let the words of the Beat bard Allen Ginsberg ring out loud and true. This is from a 1968 interview (remember, it was the eve of Nixon’s election and the depths of the Vietnam War):

Life should be ecstasy. We need lifestyles of ecstasy and social forms appropriate to whatever ecstasy is available for whoever wants it…. We need a million children saints adept at high unhexings, technological vaudeville, rhythmic behaviors, hypnotic acrobatics, street trapeze artists, naked circus vibrations—magic politics to exorcise the police state.

These pictures are of a comparsa I got to participate in while living in Guatemala a couple of years ago. An arts collective called Caja Ludica had spent a week working with children who had been displaced by Hurricane Stan, making masks and costumes, creating dances, learning songs, and planning their parade route through the streets of Panajachel. This was the joyous result. (You can click on the images to make them bigger.)

Please, do share with us: What kind of high unhexings, technological vaudeville, and/or naked circus vibrations are you engaging in in your life these days? Or would like to be?

(All photos copyright 2006-2008 Diana Rico.)