Posts Tagged ‘bali’

True Generosity

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Vernal Retreat

There is a place on Bali which my wife insisted we visit. It is a Botanical Garden. Seems sort of obsequious, the idea of building such a thing in a place where one could plant a broomstick and it would grow. But I assure you it is anything but.

The place is a model of true generosity.

The man whose dream and life works this was, is gone now, having become part of that more grand sonnet which time plays with us all. But his gift, it grows on. And it is beautiful beyond comprehension. German writer Stefan Reisner authored this, and it quite likely is his best work.

So the next time you think about what matters, consider this. Sometimes the most beautiful acts are going to be those which you will never get to experience first hand but you authored, anyway.

Oh and Donna (my wife) gets all this. She has ears like an elf and draws inspiration for her design work from places like this. As she and I come up on our one year wedding anniversary, I am blessed ever more to walk through a life wedded to someone whose sensibilities are timeless.

All of us should be so fortunate.

Dream well.

Donna Designing


Love Does

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
How to Be

How to Be


I find myself back in the office, in Ventura, California, and once again, am up before the chickens. Maybe it is jetlag. But I doubt it. My waking dream was about love. Not the manner or type of which one might think, coming from somebody who just proposed marriage to his long time girlfriend.  It is the type that changes everything.

As I work through the processing of 2800 images from Bali, I went straight to the above image this morning. (It was in my head as I awoke).  A bracelet Betty B produces, post birth, in a Bali workshop. It is a ring of sorts. Rings say a lot. People’s lives are sort of like that: rings. Would that all of ours would have the same stamp on them. The world would be better for it.

If you read nothing else this year, read this remarkable piece on Steve Jobs, by his Sister, Novelist Mona Simpson. It was sent along via some mutual acquaintances through my dear friend and colleague, Martine White.

Love Is

Love Is

I am always struck by the quantity of people Donna Von Hoesslin’s company vision touches, and how it affects change. The look on her face as she sits with one of her teams of artisans on Bali says it all. This matters to her, that her company offers a link to other realities for her people. I think it may possibly be the single best design catalyst, to care enough about people that one would be willing to love them to the point of changing their worlds for the better.

Betty B could manufacture anywhere. Margins would go way up in some ways, but the quality of life for people she deems special, would not. So she keeps most of her work creation on Bali. I jokingly refer to her modus, as detente by design.

But it suits her. And her collaborators. And something very, very special, is born into this world by it. Jobs did this very same thing, in his own way with his family, and with Apple. He changed the world.

i Life

i Life

Donna and I both are able to create a heck of a lot with great facility, due to Steve Jobs. In the image above she documents something pretty cool. However, what she does not realize is that her artisan was working on the engagement ring which I had designed for her. The little green piece of seaglass on the table, was one which I had brought over from California and had at the last minute swapped out for a smaller piece found on Bali. I was stifling myself as I shot this in Ketut’s workshop.

Life tends to become a blur. Donna’s designs make one pause, and consider what beauty and love truly are all  about. We need that. I need that. It is what I want in my life.



I had a lot of time to think, and shoot, as Donna and I flew home on EVA. Our route takes us over Brunei. It seems that magical things always occur there. Here is one grand panoramic which seems to me like a castle in the sky.



Landing in LA and going through Customs, I saw some of the same agents who always seem to be there, and without fail, welcome me home each time. As I pass through the new station, complete with camera and fingerprint ID system, the tired looking agent asks me if I have anything to declare. “Ah not really. I did not bring much back.”  “OK. Good trip? he asks.”  “Yea great. I went over chasing a girl. Found her. Asked her to marry me. She said yes!”

Guy cracks a big smile. “Man that is great. Welcome home”

And as I strode into the baggage hall, I knew what lay ahead. It had been a peaceful respite being on Bali. But my country is in deep shit on many levels.

Fixing this place will take a whole lot of Love. I would have to live it. Not so easy to do, when what kills the country is selfishness. But each one of us, if we really want a sustainable future, well, we have no choice but to live it. That is where the beauty truly lies.




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

Waking Dream

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011
Waking Dream

Waking Dream


Ever have one of those mornings where you awaken to an exceptionally pleasant reality? The scenario could be anything. But everything in your emergent diorama, is as a sensory massage.


A persistent tap-tap-tapping drew me as a man on a rope, to emerge from a rich and multi-hued pool of color, which slid warmly across my skin, as head to toe, my body emerged into the dimness of a small room.


I have dreamed in color for a long time now. It is no coincidence that in my craft as an image maker, the principle endeavor is to recreate what I experience via dreams, in the reality of a world that often, does not (nor should) reveal things in the light of my inner vision.


Eyes adjusting to the dimness, overhead in  grey smoked dark, I could discern the blurry, whirling, form of a large fan. White 4 foot long blades reduced to motion, as they stirred the humid dankness. The whop whop whop noise as the white blades cut shadow in the recesses of the mahogany stained wood crafted ceiling, just within eye reach: that had been the tapping noise.


Accounts of death suggest that hearing is the last sense to leave. In dreams, sound can be a sub psychic trigger, a subliminal suggestion. The process, is not unlike that which a hypnotist would use. I have found that many creatives experience that thing known as a waking dream. As one matures, the ability to bring substance into the shadow reality which is inhabited by the conscious light of day, (our workaday lives) can grow.


I have often suspected much of what we see around us in culture, is a result of this process, that of the waking dream,  which is suggestive of new potential and possibilities. The famous names who gave this account as being part of their process is impossibly long, from Inventors, to Philosophers and every pursuit of man that lies between the two. In deeper spirituality, you will find people who have learned to induce that state, as a tool.


The scent of clove and prayer, mixed with wood smoke. In a synchronous response,  several cocks crowed in unison. I was on Bali. In the stillness, soft breathing and a cocoon of warmth lay turned towards me. And slowly, I slid out from under a cool sheet, and in the dark, found clothes, camera and lenses. In moments I was roof top 40 feet above all else around our home stay in Ubud, Bali.


Ubud is a hilltop city. Our building was one of the taller ones apparently, which offered an aerie from which to peer out on East, West, North, and Southern, horizon points. From that spot, it seemed as if you could reach the firmament visually. Roughened concrete under foot, the weight of my Canon 5DM2 and L series lens hanging from my apish human form, I moved into a waking dream, and watched.


As the eastern horizon began to lighten slightly, the flow began, as all creation within a 360 degree sphere were considered as elements for a possible composition. Imaging is not much different than creating music. It is probably just how mankind was wired originally: to assemble and focus energies.


And for two hours, I played in the swirling light,  read the shifts, and saw what I had in my dreams. Onto a digital palette it went, a waking dream.




I have no illusions about myself, nor what my role is in the world.


As I finished up under the weight of the morning chorus, a work written as a result of experiences in Seychelles, came to mind. Such was the experience this daybreak. Michael Kew is am amazingly perceptive writer. His words follow….


[“You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities….” (Ezek. 28:18)]


[And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)]

Anachronistic Tableau

Anachronistic Tableau


Pulsating, it rose in crescendo and veered to a different timbre. The melody soaked into the scene, resonating from the light with hues more potent than the notes themselves. Lifting, dropping, coalescing in vibrancy like a climactic omen. The place quivered in unison before and beneath. Instantly, a small vestige of shadow appeared in the color.

Bright white burst into silence, and all fell in awe as He exhaled…expelling the source of that orgasm of sound. The seething flameball arced through the heavens, swift as lightning, rolling in a thunderous shriek of anger, shock, and pain. Its source reeked of a new emotion: hate.

Writhing and steeped in spite with remnants of glory and brilliance, spinning off into the darkness, strata of divine obedience and empyreal beauty redeemed from Lucifer’s being. His transgression? No tempter for him, no blame—only one to account for and to. And his body touched the cold dirt of earth, raped of the light of praise, strength, solace, love.

Black, hollow, empty. A shell of what he had been, Satan slithered into the inky depths of his new found netherworld. Leering to the heavens, the night flickered with sparks, which faded, one by one, as a third of all God’s siblings followed in Satan’s fate.


[And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Gen. 2:7)]


(From the story “Bridge to Eden”, by Michael Kew)


Pushing open the intricately carved wooden doors of our bedroom, in seconds, I was undressed and sliding in between plain white sheets, arms slipping around the nude, soft, sleeping form of the woman I had flown around the world to be with.  As I softly kissed her neck, she stirred. “Welcome to Bali, David”.


Garden Dreams

Garden Dreams

Waking dreams are powerful things. Everybody is made for a purpose, and would do well to come to the understanding of where they fit, within the context of a more grand architecture. When that occurs, the dim understanding of how life works: brightens. That is a good thing to have happen in this existence. It is the essence of true creativity. This world is all about entropy. We are architected to be agents purposed with averting that. Those are the marching orders of creation. You see it wherever you look.

Best thing on can do really, be looking.

It informs the heart.




Here is the trailer from an interesting little film starring Robin Williams. A Waking Dream come to us through the artistry of Cinema, that is the melding of multiple Arts.

Below is a little gallery of images from my first few days here on Bali. Hope they create a tableau for you.




Small Town, Big World

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010
Bobby Hart gets it.

Bobby Hart gets it.

I get a global look at things through my photography business, which has web strands anchored to many countries. I see something first hand, that many do not have the personal luxury of acquiring: a broad economic  and cultural perspective.

This country is in the single greatest period of change and challenge since the Great Depression. So what to do, as assets dwindle and fiscal potential narrows? For the answer,  look to the past.

About a year ago, a group of people met in my little town. There were a series of meetings actually. No official city committee was involved. No State or Federally appointed grant commissions were tapped. The consensus was, that our town was hurting, and consequently, change was being wrought that could forever alter the things that make Ventura a unique and authentic place to live.

Christmas Wishes and Our Friends

Christmas Wishes and Our Friends

My friend and colleague Shawn Alladio, (also a member of “Team Betty” as Donna calls her girls)  runs another global scope company called K38 Rescue. Shawn always tells me that doing something, action of some sort, is the best answer one can give. Too many people forget that action part.

So that group did something. Each one. Individually and collectively. Even as some saw the US fiscal collapse bring the fight to survive right to their front door, they resolved to contribute. They became agents of change.

I am not talking about peanut sized problems. Some of these people lost homes, businesses, commercial holdings, marriages teetered. It is the stuff we read about occurring in that Great Depression: suffering.

It is no secret that in many ways, American Small Business is the fiscal backbone of this country. But what happens when a Government gone over large and linked to big business, looses focus and leaves Small Business in the lurch? What then?

The answer lies in your own community. Each member has assets of a sort, but more to the point each PERSON is the single most important asset that there is. People are what matters in this world of ours.

When a community comes together, it is entirely possible to fabricate a cultural and economic micro climate that can be vital, and buck National trends. My home town of Santa Barbara has always done this. It is one of the reasons I know this works. SB has always maintained a fiscal integrity separate from the rest of the US. Even now.

Many people think that it is due to the uber rich living there. That has not been my experience. As someone who ran businesses there starting at the age of 15, I learned that SB was a microclimate unto itself because of its sense of community. Santa Barbara works together.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

So I had a look back at the past. There are many stories that have stood the test of time, that have brought hope. People need hope. So we tell stories. It is what journalists and photographers do.   But the world requires action to be taken as well.  Being stuck at home, due in part to the collapse of paper publishing, I began to organize my own resources as a writer, photographer and film maker, and turn my global focus back on to my own community. It is not unlike what one would do as a child: playing with a magnifying glass.

For the first time, my own town would become my primary focus, along with the imagery that has contributed so much to my commercial library. Hopefully things would warm up as a result of the action of my own magnifying glass in our chilly local economy.

So “This Is Ventura”, a video montage, was created to communicate what makes my town unique. It showed first as an expression of gratitude during Artwalk. It may, in title at least, become the calling card for a collective of local residents to unify a town by focusing on small business and the tenets of inter community support.

Community involvement makes for a more robust source of income for the City and allows for the advance of Art, Culture and Creativity, which in turn provide a foundation of hope. It is a strong hedge against the forces which seem to be dragging our country into the gutter.

Last week, my friend Kat Merrick, (one from that original group) via Facebook, let us know that she was planning a get together at a local Restaurant and bar. Jonathan’s is located across from Mission San BuenaVentura.  Well known local musicians, Bobby Hart, Eric Lemaire, and others, were going to perform. It would be a good time.

My girlfriend, Donna Von Hoesslin, who heads up yet another globally connected small business that is based here (Betty B) told me that she was in desperate need of images for a new line of jewelry which is designed by members of Team Betty.

Donna Von Hoesslin

Donna Von Hoesslin

So we dropped in on the party at J’s, sat in the window booth and shot the girl’s designs there as Bobby and crew rocked. Typically we would do this away in some distant land, or somewhere on the coast. Definitely not associated with any particular business. (I actually have developed a penchant for Ventura night, street shoots) But deciding to both take care of Betty B’s business needs, and provide bodies, texture and a few extra dollars to the day’s till at J’s, allowed for an exponential increase of benefit for everyone involved.

Here is a video that explains in 4 minutes, the gist of Donna’s remarkable company. We did the piece for the Intuit Small Business United program. It helped Donna win a 5000 dollar grant from Intuit, which she used to help fund her Bali expedition.

On Bali last season, Hailey and Sierra Partridge, Jeanette Ortiz, Mary Osborne, and Donna, did a Betty B design trip. Each one of the girls worked with the local artisans who comprise a portion of Donna’s creative team, to produce collection pieces that exemplified themselves as ocean connected women. Each young woman then selected a cause or charity, whereby Betty B would donate a portion of the income from sales of each piece.

Donna’s company is a very active member of yet another organization, which was the brainchild of Ventura’s Chouinard family (Patagonia), which is called One Percent for the Planet. Through One Percent, Donna and other companies support David Booth’s fantastic Organization, the East Bali Poverty Project, which literally is changing the face of Bali, by educating the youth on their connection to the environment via the Arts and cultural action.

So with our country on the ropes, it all starts here. With me. With you. In our own back yard.

The answer is right there in your community: your dollars are a part of your voice. Now do something. Do it for yourself. Do it for your town. But more importantly: do it. By acting locally you affect Globally, as well as Nationally. Do it.

A Global Doorway

A Global Doorway

This song from John Mellencamp is very appropriate. Our past is our future. It begins today.

So after several days of post production that Betty B shoot has 120 images in the final edit. Those images will go various places. General commercial use for Betty B, the girl’s individual projects, to my agency rep at Corbis images, and to various editorial concerns that continue to use my work. I never know where an image will find an eventual home. I am often pleasantly surprised to see a billboard, or international ad campaign base itself on my work.  But it is especially nice to know that those moments were created here,  in Ventura, California.

The following montage is from that Betty B shoot at Jonathan’s,  and is an example of what the group, which has taken the name of Totally Local VC, wants to do: bring us all together. Together, we win. Click on any of the images for a larger view, and to toggle through as a slide show.  Then go patronize a local merchant, and change your world.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.