Posts Tagged ‘Art Life’

Living Bali

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Contained within the concept of life,  if one examines the word itself, the thing (noun) is not really what one may assume. A look at the origins of the word, takes you back to a Germanic root, which actually means leave, or more to the point: to remain. Taken yet to a more finite point of purpose in definition, to live, is to OCCUPY, a space, time and place. In living, we fill a space with our heart, mind and spirit.

Here is the story of the Bali Nine.  A group of individuals cut off by country, and set adrift in a waking dream that was an interminable journey towards a new death.



Joanna Witt is a Canadian. Sort of. Married to a Balinese man for many years, she and her growing team of collaborators and artisans have become sort of the “it” suppliers of Silver artisanship in Ubud, Bali. She is one of Donna’s go to people, and watching the two of them creating together is very inspiring. Joanna and Ketut (her talented business partner and husband, with whom she was eying a marital separation) set a very high bar in the practice of the craft and art. They also run silver-smithing workshops for  tourists and other interested people.

So in the midst of a pending large shift in her marriage,  while raising two children, opening new stores, and I am sure, trying to figure out what the future may look like, Joanna found herself drawn into the prison which housed the cast off souls of the Bali Nine.

She and Nyoman, one of Studio Perak’s lead artisans, took a good look around and decided to throw these people a life line. Maybe they might grab ahold…. They called the endeavor which features a unique collection of works fashioned by members of the Bali Nine,  the Hope Project. You can find the collection at Studio Perak locations on Bali.

I understand a bit about prison life. As a young Bible student, I got to go into one of the Federal Penitentiaries a few times with a man who had a prison ministry. It was a great lesson in serving. I would bring surfing and ocean video and tales, and hang with the inmates and talk about what may lie ahead and how to grab the lifeline. We would just be there, a break from the routine and a window to a free life.

As Donna and I sat in one of Joanna’s shops and recorded the story, her account communicated the utter despair she found. I understood exactly what that meant.

In the struggle of building and tutoring these people in silversmithing on a weekly basis, she did something very important. Joanna and Nyoman put souls back into motion.

The significance of that is something which makes my eyes tear up. It is kind, brave, and all manner of strong. It is living.

On Bali, life is Art. My friend, Joe Cardella has a saying: Art Saves Lives.

Yes indeed, it certainly does.

The gallery below is what life looks like here for Donna and I right now, as we steadily meet and engage as many people as possible. Much to do, and we only get to live here for a heartbeat. But we occupy, thanks to these people and the grace of this place, this community.

“Onward”  Joe Cardella


Monday, April 4th, 2011
Art City

Art City

I have a lot of friends who are into music. They all range in experience, depth, scope, and level of monetization.

Music is one of the High Arts of course.

How a person begins in any Art germinates in a fascination with it. I remember mine. Getting to play my Hawaiian Grandfathers Zither. I must have been about 6 or 7.  Guitar lessons at 8. Then on to the Arts in school, where I took choir, learned to sing in church, band practice, learning to read and write music. It was part of the education process in America at the time.

I have been aware that my family has always been involved in several things. They were warriors, musicians, artists, or dancers. As I grew up, in touch with the various facets of selection available by virtue of my heritage, I selected my areas of interest, and followed those in my life path. It is how I wound up where I am today, for what that is worth.

But what I learned in doing so, is how pursuing an interest will open the windows of perception up to a person. That opening, in turn may shed a light upon a pathway which no one sees but the participant. As a photographer and film maker, and someone who understands and enjoys mentoring, I always appreciate getting to watch those folks find their way. It makes me smile and can make my heart sing. In a world that grows increasingly dark these days, I need that.

In any society that wants to develop a living, vital culture, we all need the Arts. “Art is life” as my friend Joe Cardella, the Publisher of Art Life magazine for over 20 years, always says.  It defines, encourages, prods and yes,  may often disturb one. I like being disturbed. The effect tends to force me examine why I feel and believe what I do.

My son Josh gets that. I think he has always enjoyed the process of surprising me, as well as disturbing the old man. Makes me laugh actually when I think about it. He is a prodigy. I became aware of it when he was quite young, seeing a charcoal he had drawn of the Mona Lisa from memory. I think he was 6 or 7 at the time. Then later, hearing him play classical music on an electric piano with no lessons, from memory. He can do things that I cannot. Different inherent tool set than I. God does that.

I enjoy seeing the tool set in each person, and how they learn to utilize it to pursue individual visions and dreams. I got to watch a little of that the other night at a local bar. It was a place which I had not visited in awhile. For a number of reasons. (another story)

“Hey Dad, Robin Ryder has gotten me a gig performing at Bombay, it is Thursday” Josh had said over the phone. “Oh cool, I am around. Donna and I will come. I can bring a camera. What are you going to do?” I had asked. “A stripped down set, maybe me and Nick, my drummer. I need to find someone to open”. ” Well, you could ask Mason (Mason Van Valin) but he may have a problem performing at a bar since he is 17″ “Yea, lemme talk to Robin and see”. And that was it.



Thursday rolled round and at 9 pm, Donna and I were seated towards the front stage, which is at the entrance to the bar-club. Josh was already there with Nick, and dressing the stage wearing workout shorts and a sleeveless tee. Robin Ryder, talented son of a friend of mine was at the mixing board.  People began to wander in that we knew.

It was sort of fascinating as different groups arrived. The back bar area was having an event for ladies only and women strode in, sort of arm in arm. Made us smile as we realized what that was about. Kind of cool actually, considering that we live in a cow and oil town which recently has been headed towards becoming a published center for the Arts.

At around 10:15 a thin and sort of striking looking guy came up on stage. Deftly pulling a guitar out, he launched into a smooth set of bluesy rock. Matt Zeltzer, a friend of Josh’s did his music up, dashed with a cover of a Stones song. It was pretty interesting watching the 24 year old perform. You could see where he might go with it. Jeans, denim shirt, old guitar, and an easy demeanor, he engaged us all. It seemed like only moments that Matt was on stage, and he was rapidly stuffing the old guitar back into a soft case.

Matt Zeltzer

Matt Zeltzer

Josh fronts a concept and group called Love’s Secret Domain. He has been writing and producing his own music for a few years. He has been a one man show, designing and building the electronics that synthesize his sound. He is an emerging artist. I get that. But what I was pleased to realize as his show began, is that my son’s work makes me sort of uncomfortable.

On stage, Josh becomes Josh Slavin. His demeanor changes. His look becomes different, with wardrobe and makeup, and sexy 6 inch pistol heeled boots, and he vamps. Heavily. In music you can communicate everything, anything or nothing of any real significance. Maybe just make people feel nice and warm. It all has a purpose. But Josh makes me think. I like that. And his strong musical hooks, not anchored in any sort of standard modus, can literally go anywhere he wants them to. I admire that in an artist. No matter what the medium. It can grab you, pull you in close and make you look in the mirror. That act, is an antidote for much, by the way.



Here is a video grab of a song from the evening at Bombay. It is called The Nightlife.

As I listened to Sam Shoemaker yesterday, belting out a song called “In The Forest” with the Shoemaker Brothers, he spied me hiding in the audience at Bernadette’s and grinned at me, between the words, which are heavily laced with strong sexual overtones. It had been a year since Sam and his brothers did their first Ventura performance at Bernie’s place. In that time we have become friends, and I have been incredibly blessed in watching this remarkable group of men grow and thrive.

But this is how it works. One step at a time, one brick at a time, you build your foundation, you invite people along to collaborate, you have fun, and a movement starts. That can change the world dramatically, or it can simply just make people feel a little bit better. But the reality is that Art (and Music) is Life.



This year, one of my favorite groups won a Grammy. Their song and this video, is sort of disturbing. Muse. Perfect name for the song: Uprising. “Green belts wrapped around our minds. Red tape to keep the truth confined.” Yea, our culture understands the why and what of that. We really need to. Or we lose. That is why Art Matters.

I have no idea how or why this occurs, but frequently Seth Godin and I wind up doing complementary subject blogs. Here is his on the same subject. But from a slightly different direction.

Seth matters. Thank God for people that determine the path, and embrace being an oracle.

Gaviota Muse

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
Gaviota Muse

Gaviota Muse

Robb Havassy is up visiting right now. Yesterday, I got to introduce the publisher of the culturally iconic book Surf Story, to Joe Cardella, who among a long list of artistic accomplishments, was also the creator and publisher of Art Life, a leading collectible monthly publication. Joe’s stint at the helm was twenty five years long.

I smiled on the inside, as both of these amazing men, were people that Mary Osborne insisted that I meet. Mary rarely does that: insists. So, when she calls me, and then follows up, I know I had better pay attention. For over twenty two years, Mary has been my muse. We have  co- conspirited each other’s careers and colored each other’s life and creative vision. Now here sat Robb, Joe and I.

Mary Carmel Osborne

Mary Carmel Osborne

Robb was in town to speak with a few people about contributing to Surf Story Volume 2. Curiously enough, most of the artists cum surfers have connections to the Gaviota Coast and of course the Ocean. Joe, by virtue of his next large project after retiring as Art Life publisher was the first conversation, of what may be three days, awash in the influence of the people who live lives connected to the ocean here.

So it did not surprise me that Robb, Joe and I sat in one of the amazing rooms in Joe’s home and that the subject turned to that of the muse and their role in our lives. Plans were made. They involved muses. As we chatted about some of ours, and how they influenced us, my thoughts went from Mary, to the many people who have driven and continue to push my work.

Today I have a show that opens in Santa Barbara at Couch, with fellow artist Glenn Gravett. Here is the invitation.  It will be my first show in my home town in twelve years. Curiously enough that last show was with both Glenn and Rob Heeley in their gallery workspace on Canon Perdido.

Below is the description for the installation, which will be in place for a month.  Curiously enough, this show is all about one of my most significant muses, the Gaviota Coast. Two of the center pieces in the show are large nude illustrative compositions of both Mary Osborne, and Jeanette Ortiz, which were shot in two very significant locations on the Gaviota Coast, and carry deep resonance with the history of the Chumash tribes native to that coastline, and my own rich experiences under what I have been cognizant of experiencing in their footprints, and under their gaze.

The show was custom designed by Glenn and I, in collaboration with the artists at Pi Studio Printing. It was a huge group effort, and tonight’s opening should prove a great opportunity to experience quite a cross section of amazing artists on First Thursday in Santa Barbara.

Coastal Blossom

Coastal Blossom

Gaviota Nude

The modern day boundaries of the Gaviota Coast extend from Coal Oil Point in Goleta at the South, to the Northernmost location of Point Conception, which is the Westernmost tip of the Continental United States, and is also known as the Western Gate to the original occupants of this land. That was the spot where native legend has it, their souls would leave earth at life’s end.

The Gaviota Coast was originally populated by multiple tribes of Chumash natives.

As a part of the California Missions land acquisitions, which took that coast from the Chumash, was the largest Spanish Land Grant in the Continental United States: the land which became known as Rancho Dos Pueblos. Today a shrinking Rancho Dos Pueblos is still owned by the Schulte family, who for decades, in the tradition of the Californian ranch and land operator, have been faithful stewards.

In Memoriam. Rudi Schulte

In Memoriam. Rudi Schult

It was my good fortune to grow up along this coast. I have walked, swum, surfed, fished, dove and sailed every inch of it, in a massive triangle, which ranges from Goleta, out to the Channel Islands and up to Point Conception, and every point in between. I have photographed quite a bit of it over the years.

This show is a very limited look at, and homage to, the amazing spirit of this stretch of coastline.  If you take anything away from this collection,  may it be the understanding that the spirit of the Chumash people still occupies this place, and it should forever be treated with reverence and respect.

David Pu’u

Gaviota Campfire

Gaviota Campfire

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.