Lycanestra – Goddess of Wolves

lycanestra_very-ll

Lycanestra was completed in 1998. The medium is extreme paper mache, a term I coined to define a process of paper mache using brown paper bags soaked in a proprietary glue mixture and applied over a steel armature. The work is 5 x 4 feet.

Designing Lycanestra brought up an interesting question. How does one describe the goddess? Throughout history the goddess has been portrayed as a female human figure, many of these figures are rotund to symbolize fecundity and plenty.  But I decided that this did not fully describe her vastness and power. Instead I incorporated the element of negative space. First, I sculpted a woman’s body in bas relief. Next, I flipped the form over and pulled out the interior stuffing used to support the woman shape.  What remained was the inside of the bas relief – an empty space. In this sculpture her empty form is all women. She is every woman’s face and she is faceless. Her outline is tangible because we both feel and know the effects of her power.  But her center is both nothingness and all things. She is the vast empty space of creation among the stars and in our DNA.

In this avatar of the goddess, her entourage is a pack of wild wolves following her in the moonlight. The wolves symbolize both family and ferocity. Wolves are known for the complex relationship of members within the wolf pack and the need to savagely bring down prey in order to survive.

She dances with one foot striding forward into the freedom of the next moment, and one foot standing within the crucible of unending rebirth from stardust to the molecules of life.  And we, reflected in her nakedness, dance with her under the unfolding embrace of her wings.

 

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The Night Watch

The Night Watch was created in 1969.  Today I reflect on that image of four dark figures huddled around a candle, passing a smoking joint as they wait out the night.

Image of the painting titled "Night Watch"

Night Watch

In the days of hippiedome every mind-altering substance was explored. Never in the history of humanity had there been such a chance for mass revelation.

But in our innocence we failed to notice that for each of these mind-altering and psychedelic substances there is a gateway to that altered perception. An ally guards the gateway; and each psychedelic substance has its own ally. Call it a force field or an entity, it needs to be appeased or won over. If you are proven true by the ally you are allowed to pass across the abyss onto the shores of splendor. These allies are both fierce and extracting waiting to bag us soul and all if we fail to make the proper offerings.

In most societies shaman and visionary leaders guarded this psychedelic knowledge. But with our western sense of entitlement we ploughed through millennium of ritual and wisdom without a care or a guide to prepare the way. No wonder the whole psychedelic thing died in disillusionment as many of us found ourselves trapped by acts of silliness and greed and the foolish idea that we could take and give nothing in return.

“I just want to get loaded” was a sure chance that you would get loaded all right but not by what you were expecting. Mostly it was just dumb stupidity. For some of us it was the terrible consequences of the law. And once and while we miraculously stumbled on to a vision of self-enlightenment.

We forgot that you had to pay the price to make the crossing. Drug addiction is not the price. Addiction is what you get when you fail to pay the price. The price for the crossing is simple; you must offer a part of your self, a commitment to bring back a sliver of truth from those other worlds and to share the magic with the rest of us. In stories and myth it is the Prometheus gift. It is the return of the dragon hunter who has freed and brought home the maiden-mother of earth so that the crops will grow once again. It is the boon, the magic jewel, or a simple idea.

Instead we went for party, for pleasure, for need, for the release of pain, and we were doomed from the beginning to an empty journey. We were the “heroes of a thousand faces” who plunged into a failed quest, while wonderment was just beyond our reach.

We were so close to the divine and we blew it. We even had the act itself at our fingertips and I do not mean the smoking weed but the act of passing that sacred smoke to each other. It was the eucharist, the gift, the treasure, the sharing and the receiving of the sacred message of the gods.

Image of detail from the painting titled "Night watch"

Detail from the painting titled “Night Watch”

The Night Watch is dedicated to the Louie Kelly’s, the Lane Wooden’s, and the Ron Denend’s of Topanga Canyon and all those who huddled at the edge of that dark precipice waiting for the coming of the dawn.

Note: You may also enjoy the latest update on the construction of the Mushroom Wedding Arch at: http://psikeep.wordpress.com/

And of course comments are always welcome.

Sorceress Ascending

nightascent

Sorceress Ascending is my take on the  Duchampian multi-image across time. It was created in the early 1970’s. In this work I used drafting pens with Koh-I-Noor ink and white acrylic paint on artist cardboard. It is sealed with a clear acrylic varnish, which has not yellowed over the years. The work is 5 x 4 feet.

I created it during a stressful time of my life when I was breaking up with a man I had lived with for a several years. The choice to break up had been mine but that did not lessen the pain of separation. We had lost the house we had been living in and we both had moved into a house occupied with three other people. He got the bedroom and I got the living room and the hall. We never regarded ourselves as a commune. We were just five people stuck at the same time in that place.

But the news media had other ideas. Channel 5 came out to our house and did an extensive interview about the “hippies in the canyon.” A year later they came back to the canyon just before Halloween. By that time I had moved into a cabin of my own.  Actually it was an 8 x 10 garden shed. Oh the places we are willing to live in our youth. I had just come back from trip to the desert with a haul of cow bones. I was building several sculptures with the bones for a show that was to open on Halloween night in the canyon. I do not know how Channel 5 found me but they did and I agreed to let them come out and film. I think they were looking for something “witchy” and all the bones around the place certainly helped with the atmosphere. For me it was great publicity. While I never got to see the footage that aired on TV, there was  a great turnout for my opening a few nights later.

Witches and sorceresses really do not ride broomsticks.  The broom is the symbol of womanhood,  the hearth, the fireside and the home.

In this art work the sorceress begins her sacred transformation by first removing her sandals to be one with the earth.

Detail of  the drawing titled Sorceress Ascending showing the Woman removing her clothes

Detail of Woman removing her sandles

Next she unbinds her hair to free herself from the restraints of society.

Detail of the drawing titled Sorceress Ascending showing the woman unbinding her hair.

Detail of Woman unbinding her hair

Last she removes her clothes, her earthly identity. She is no longer the housewife, She is Mother, Goddess, Giver of Life, Keeper of the Fire and the lowly broom is her staff of power.

Detail of the drawing titled Sorceress Ascending showing the woman removing her clothes.

Detail of Woman removing her clothes