Introducing JulieV’s 2018 Contemplative Calendar

NECESSITY GIVES BIRTH TO A CALENDAR of IMAGE and WORD

Over the holiday break this year while I was down with some indefinable malaise – who can really tell what is flu and what is cold?  Especially if it moves into bronchitis?  Too sick to do much, I did find focus and drew energy from reviewing thousands of images that I have taken over the years.  I’ve come to understand the lion’s share of work with camera as  my contemplative photography practice.  A subset of images within this practice contain the presence of the WayMaking Cairn (WMC); an avatar-like manifestation of my spiritual engagement with my surroundings as I walk.  In anthropological terms the WMC serves as both witness and subject in the environment where I framed and took the shot.

GETTING ONE’S CREATIONS INTO THE WORLD COSTS TIME & MONEY

As I reviewed all these images I was experiencing again the almost intolerable frustration that I couldn’t share these images in a tangible encounter with others. Paintful reality that I need to overcome:  getting my images out into the world is  a time consuming enterprise and costly.  Here are the biggies:

  1. Printing images ($15 – $100- depending on materials and size) and
  2. Framing images ($50 – 125-depending on materials and size) ;
  3. #’s 1 & 2 are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of cost because applying to the various galleries also costs time and money – one spends a lot of time combing the internet for opportunities.
  4. 98% of the time to apply to be in an exhibit or show requires an entrance fees of $20 – $40 for the privilege to submit 3 – 5 images for the curator’s review.
  5. Let’s not forget the time to frame and mount the images and the costs to deliver the finished images – either I drive these images or I ship these images – shipping is always a coin toss.  The real risk of damage to the image requires especial diligence to protect it – and more material costs for packaging
  6. Applying to show work in festivals is another huge time suck that requires more money to pay for the booth, the tent, images printed on spec with no promise of sale, and time and travel to and from these festivals also requiring overnight stays in hotels and restaurant meals
  7. Those who are early in their practice are pretty much confined to group shows in pop up or non-traditional sites.  Opportunities for solo shows in accredited galleries are slim and none.  There are a few more opportunities to get a solo show in a coffee shop, or a bank or a clinic, but those require a lot of prospecting and the possibility of sales from these personally curated shows are not significant.

THERE’s MORE THAN ONE WAY TO….

As I pondered these things and weighed their costs against my limited resources of time and money, I wondered how I might get my work in front of peoples eye’s without a gallery, group show or retail outlet.  Challenge:  How to get my work to a place where they would see it all the time?   Where they might also have a chance for a contemplative experience?  I couldn’t afford printing, framing and shipping complimentary full size 16 x 20 images to their home. Plus, giving it away sets a very bad precedent.  I need to at least cover the costs of that printing/framing/packing/shipping exercise.  How to get my work tangibly present in their homes and offices?  Though I love the digital world for its reach – its getting too noisy out here and there’s too many distractions.  Attention to one’s work on a website and blog  is fleeting.   The tangible, physical artifact seemed the strongest way in.   So, I  determined to design and print my own calendar of images.   This way each month there would be a fresh image and opportunity for a contemplative encounter for the onlooker.  Publish a limited edition of these calendars and give them to family, friends and prospective clients as a loss leader, if you will. An audience that includes potential buyers of future calendars, as well as organizations  that might commission the design of special interest calendars, and outlets where I might place my own calendars for sale.

ECONOMIC LIMITATIONS = LIBERATION + EXPANSION OF ARTISTRY & BUSINESS MODEL

This calendar becomes a liberation and expansion of my artist’s role:  I have curated my own exhibit for each calendar recipient.  This also sets the stage for the next phase of creating a way for these and other of my images to be purchased online.   I also hope to design each year a new calendar which can be ordered on line as well.  A survey will be sent soon to all who received those calendars to get a sense of how to think about next year’s design and how to price it.

Along the way though, another idea came to mind, springing from my love of poetry and poetic prose.  Though not a novel practice – many other calendars have been printed pairing evocative imagery and  writing – I welcomed the additional exploration and discovery to pair my images with text that in some way created a rich dialogue of deepening discovery between word and image.  While I made every effort to look for writers’ whose work was in the public domain, occasionally a contemporary writer’s work was so perfectly aligned with my own spiritual stance that I could not look any further.  This is a challenge and an opportunity for future calendars.

I’m a little late in this first explanatory post of the what and why of the calendar and hopes for future calendars.  The next two posts will serve as catch-ups for the January and February images and text.  At the beginning of each subsequent month I’ll post another image and the literary work that appealed to me.

FLASH OF INSIGHT on THE ROAD

Flash of Insight Beckons Flash of InsightWhile driving to Vermont to attend commencement at Goddard College, I stopped at a rest stop along I 90.  After driving most of the day, its no longer clear to me whether I was in eastern Ohio or had just crossed into New York.  The late afternoon sun took my attention away from my road-weary body and I brought the Cairn to this site to bear witness to this ephemeral moment in time and space.  Refreshed, I continued on my trip and arrived at Goddard the next day.

Starbuck, Ever the First Mate, Ever Making the Same Decision

The WayMaking Cairn’s recent encounter with a discarded Starbuck’s coffee cup provides the grist for this post.

First, please recall where the name Starbuck originated. A quick search on Starbuck the character takes us to the Cliff Notes website. Remember Cliff Notes?  The redemptive resource for all high school English class procrastinators as they cram the night before the exam?  Cliff Notes has joined the ranks of every academic resource by establishing its own website presence.   Click here to see its full character analysis for First Mate Starbuck in the classic Moby Dick, which I’ve redacted here for brevity’s sake.

“The first mate is the only man aboard the Pequod who resists Ahab’s plan to devote the ship’s mission to hunting and killing the White Whale. …..  But he lacks Ahab’s power. The chief mate argues that the ship’s mission, as prescribed by the owners, is to harvest as much whale oil as possible and return home safely, showing a profit. He feels it is “blasphemous” to be enraged by a dumb object of nature such as a whale, and he realizes that the lives of all aboard are at serious risk….. Ultimately, however, Starbuck acquiesces. He concedes that he is no match for the enormity of the charismatic captain’s spirit. Even though he is certain that Ahab is mad, Starbuck cannot take the action necessary to stop him. At any rate, the first mate obeys orders. As a character, he changes only because he submits to Ahab”

Parallels abound here as we consider the relative weights of the moral choice vs. the expedient choice made by both Starbucks. Consider these observations by Adam Minter in his April 2014 post Why Starbucks Won’t Recycle Your Cup on Bloomberg View.  Minter reports that Starbucks produces over 4 billion disposable cups per year.  Though the company announced in 2008 its goal of instituting recycling at all its company owned stores by 2015, it admitted in 2013 it had only achieved 39% compliance and doubted that it could ever achieve its goal of 100%.  Why?  Its not cost effective to recycle the cup fibers when the plastic inner coating also has to be dealt with.  Unless the company produces much more paper waste to make the plastic removal process profitable, there is no motivation to recycle the cups.

Minter then opens the lens to consider our participation as consumers in perpetuating the use and discard of paper cups.  “Composting keeps the cups out of landfills, but it generates greenhouse gases while destroying the recycling value packed into the cup’s fibers. Reusable cups are a nice idea, but one that consumers simply don’t embrace. In 2008, for example, the company set a goal of serving 25 percent of all beverages in personal, reusable tumblers by 2015; in 2011, it served just 1.9 percent in personal tumblers, and lowered the 2015 goal to 5 percent, despite making available low-cost tumblers (which have their own recycling issues).”

So, Starbucks, like its namesake in Moby Dick, cleaves to the highest totemic values of instant profitability (closing its eyes to the other costs to our world and our health in excessive greenhouse gasses) AND closes its eyes to the blasphemous nature of its own behavior.  But, before we all jump on the bandwagon of finger pointing at the big corporations who make so much money in this array of unsustainable practices, let’s look in the mirror:  we who consume Starbucks or any food item in a disposable cup or container, are also guilty of the same unethical and lazy behavior.

WMC Strbk Cp Puddle Refl Pole 2015.6.12_5524

WMC-StrbkCp-puddle-pole refl2015.6.12_5525 WMC Strbk Puddle CU 2015.6.12_5526 WMC Strbk Cp CU 2015.6.12_5529