Posts Tagged ‘Justin Young’

Song of the Chumash

Monday, April 19th, 2010
Animate Duplicity

Animate Duplicity

We just finished the Ventura Artwalk 2010, in my little town. The entire Downtown of Ventura California was turned into a living canvas for forty eight hours.

The event was a benchmark of sorts.

benchmark |ˈben ch ˌmärk|
1 a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed : [as adj. ] a benchmark case.

2 a surveyor’s mark cut in a wall, pillar, or building and used as a reference point in measuring altitudes.

How did this happen? Not overnight. It was the result of seed sowing by a huge number of artists, city officials, merchants, and the many creatives who preceded us all: the various artists who showed. It was indeed the spirit of our forefathers, come back to life, borne by the flow of those involved.

Two of those, Kathleen Fitzgerald, and Rob Edwards, are no longer at their city jobs. Yet the work that they did for years here, bore much fruit the past week end. I saw and respect what they did to institute positive change for my town. I am blessed to have them as my friends. Everywhere I looked this past weekend I saw their, and many others, contributions.

I was continually, and repeatedly humbled by the generosity of my community this last week end. It is no secret that this country groans with the weight of drastic change and economic duress. But for a couple days, those that are poor in riches but rich with creativity and enthusiasm, made my little town forget about it’s ills. They did what artists do: create and share.

This  is a show that I did for the Artwalk. It is entitled “This is Ventura”. The piece is 16 minutes long and features local land and seascapes and many of my long term subjects. It is a series of four vignettes and was composed as a gesture of gratitude to the place that has been a constant muse for me.

In quiet fashion Sunday morning, a Chumash ceremony was performed by David Dominguez to dedicate and consecrate the new location of Zoey’s. It was in the middle of all of the Artwalk goings on. The event had deep significance. East, West, South and North. Those that were supposed to be there, were. My friend West Cooke, had invited me to attend. My girlfriend, Donna Von Hoesslin of Betty B, went with me. I love that Donna “gets” this sort of thing. (Most of my loved ones do.) She had taken a break from her busy schedule to experience this.



The vein that runs from the Sespe to the sea, is the Ventura River. It is a deep source of historic life and power. The Chumash settled here, and all along it’s path, used to hunt and fish. Eventually the Spanish came in, the Mission was established, and as modern civilization blossomed, the natives seemed to disappear. The issue though, is that the Spirit of the land, well, it still speaks to those that can hear. This image says a lot. Not everyone can hear it though. Can you?

Vital Venturi

Vital Venturi

Though I am a Christian by conversion, I am a native by birth. What that means, is that the land, air and water speak to me, even when I am not conscious of having listened. So what comes out via my art, whether it is in text, prose, paint, photography or motion work, tends to come straight from the heart. I am only a filter which colors that communique. Sometimes that is a good thing, other times, maybe not so much. Watch that movie with this in mind. Listen carefully to William Orbit, Justin  Young, Zuri Star, the Shoemaker Brothers, and Elliot Minor, both to their melodies, and lyrics.

The rainbow bridge is a deep part of Chumash lore. When this occurred early one morning, it was pre dawn. I was stunned. My life is like that: hearing hidden songs. Yes, that is Santa Cruz Island.  Some think that I spend a lot of time in Photoshop and After Effects, making all of this imagery up. I don’t need to. It is a whisper, often just below the threshold of physical perception. It is always there. I just key into it when I am ready. Not unlike the manner in which a baseball player homes in on a pitch to hit a home run. Easy peasey. I always have been a pretty good hitter.

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

Music is the highest form of art. In Bible college I learned that Christian theology teaches that mankind’s destiny is to fill Heaven with the music lost when Lucifer became Satan and fell to earth. Jesus said that he saw Satan fall as lightening from heaven. Pretty vivid imagery. The word Satanas is a Greek word, meaning adversary. So if we are taking that dark underlord’s place, it should be no small wonder that he isn’t fond of us. {If you believe in that sort of thing :0) }

Music connects all human kind. It is a language of the soul. All true art, really is that. But music, like dance, is high art. Play some. Stop. Where did it go? My photo is still there. So is the sculpture, the painting, the drawing.

Sunday evening at Artwalk, at Jonathan’s in Ventura, Bobby Hart performed. Jonathan’s is a stone’s throw from the Mission and from where David Dominguez had done the Chumash blessing a scant 5 hours earlier. All of this lies on the vein of the Ventura River, under the Rainbow Bridge.  For 5 hours Bobby, and a plethora of musicians performed high art, trading out positions at instruments and on the mikes. I am still reeling from the feel of it, the smooth harmony exhibited in the transitions from person to person. Like when my friend and colleague Chris Jensen, handed off his sticks and drum kit to our friend Richie. The harmony was infectious. But again, art is flow. People like flow. We get that.

Bobby Hart

Bobby Hart

Perfection rarely rears its head for long in this imperfect world.



This weekend it did for awhile. I heard it.



Thank yous all around to everyone who participated, engaged, looked, laughed, enjoyed, and Watermark, Jonathan’s, Betty B for hosting the gallery shows, and Pi printing for their excellent print work and support

Cira and The Mermaid

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


Not many people know this, but when I began working in editorial as a writer and shooter, Europe was my market of choice. Not sure exactly why, but it seems like the editors who most frequently get it with me are from across the pond. It has always been that way.

I first was introduced to Cira Riedel, editor of the multi lingual action sport, art centered magazine 7Sky, online. Cira was looking for content for an issue he was putting together. A couple e mail image tosses back and forth via the inet clothesline and we were done. The next year he showed up in the US and spent some time with Donna and I researching for a magazine on creativity.

Imagine my surprise when he turned out to be a statuesque she. It had never occurred to me that it was a woman I had been chatting away with online. Says something about gender bias I suppose. And myopia.

Cira is one of those great individuals one wants in their circle. Artist, singer, writer, global thinker, she has a clear understanding of how things ought to be,  and how things that she is involved in should go. So while she was here we introduced her to some of our friends. Singer, songwriter, Hawaiian Justin Young who we went to LA to listen to. (Later that year, Justin was booked on to the Tonight Show) Artist and all around genius Edem Elesh. Writer George Orbelian. Historian Tom Stone.  It was a long list. Cira came back months later with the most amazing magazine.

A few months back I sent Cira my Mermaid image collection. It is an art based series which I had shot in the Maldives (An atoll nation south of India) with Hannah Frasier Rastovich. I had narrowed the final file down to 80 images and sent the collection out to all of the people whose critical opinions I value, and asked for their choices on best images in the group. Each responded in different fashion to the others. That is how my colleagues roll. They are complete individualists. Each response and selection was unique

To my surprise, Cira came back with a feature. It is in long form below and is characteristic of her wonderful perspective. Have to love a good editor. They make us what we are. At least in the eyes of the public.

You can see a motion picture segment of Hannah from a  film we are finishing here.


© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.