#StreetArt & #Graffiti #Berlin

Berlin is a city that holds a great deal of fascination.  I remember the rhetoric of East/West, cold war, and communism.  Our school held drills to gauge our readiness to respond to a cold war initiated attack.  Movies often depicted Berlin as as dark, grey place and the Wall as a symbol of division, deprivation, and oppression.  Berlin - post fall of the wall has an international reputation for street art and graffiti.  The photos included here were taken in May 2014...  the temporality of Street Art and Graffiti suggests that some of these may no longer exist.  For example, the Blu and JR paintings depicted below were painted over in protest to gentrification (December 2014) - See   Why We painted over Berlin's Most Famous Graffiti

So it is that to select a sampling of street art and graffiti representative of Berlin is an impossible task - but here goes.  I encourage you to peruse the complete suite of pictures taken...presented at the end of this post.  



Stencils and Pasteups

See all the Berlin Street Art and Graffiti pictures taken in May 2014:

#StreetArt Barcelona Spain

Barcelona is an incredible city for street art where practically every metal gate covering a storefront has characters, lettering, stencils, or pasteups.  It was visually one of the coolest places to explore because you had to constantly be looking - up, down, side to side.  I've posted pictures and some notes about a street art tour done with Barcelona Street Style Tour.  These are but a sampling of images I saw in the day and half I had to explore.  


Pasteups, Stencils



Complete set of Barcelona Street Art photos:  


Some final thoughts - Street art and graffiti are illegal in Barcelona.  These artists risk arrest and a fine of...I heard... 3000 euro.  On some deep level I admire artists who must create and take risks to do so.  I realize that naysayers talk about legality, vandalism, blah blah blah.  I understand all this BUT - at the end of the day, the mosaic of colors, textures, and images ornament the city in a way that contributes to Barcelona being Barcelona.  Barcelona is a rich, colorful, and vibrant city - in part - because street and graffiti artists contribute to the built environment, augmenting, coloring, and creating a language and aesthetic.  It's really quite beautiful and inspiring.  

#StreetArt Avondale Arizona

Historic Avondale Arizona is a city of approximately 76,000 people west of Phoenix.  It is also a city daring to imagine itself as an arts district.  I was pleasantly intrigued when I heard about Avondale's intentionality with regard to public art specifically street art and murals.  As a city, Avondale defines public art as:

Any work of art or element of design, created by visual or public context artists, that is sited in a public place for people to experience. This can include installations, murals, outdoor sculptures, or infrastructure such as public fixtures or furniture and other function elements that are designed and/or built by artists.
— http://www.avondale.org/index.aspx?NID=1151

My favorites along Western Avenue between Dysart and Litchfield Roads:

"Road to Rebirth," painted by Edward Buonvecchio and 10 apprentices,707 E. Western Ave.

"Road to Rebirth," painted by Edward Buonvecchio and 10 apprentices,707 E. Western Ave.

Ky Thorton and Mel Gee painted this mural, "Angelic Energy," on a wall near the corner of 6th Street and Belmont Avenue. 

Ky Thorton and Mel Gee painted this mural, "Angelic Energy," on a wall near the corner of 6th Street and Belmont Avenue. 

Angel Diaz

Angel Diaz

DJ & Music by Marsh Sale and Miles Davis tribute mural by Hugo Medina at 701 E. Western.

1.  Servous Nystem "Collaboration of Styles," painted by Carols Rivas and Edgar Fernandez, 701 E. Western. 2.  Project directed by Martin Morena on the corner of Central and Western.  3.  unknown artist.  4.  Cesar Chavez by El Podrido on the side of Taqueria La Jacky, 532 E. Western Ave.  5.  Mariachi Gold painted by Veronica Verdugo-Lomeli at Zamoras Cafe & Restaurant, 606 E. Western Ave and 6.  JB Snyder.

Artists:  Bryan Kilgore and Margaret Lieu - In an alley just north of the Estrella High School, west of Central Ave.

Car murals

Avondale has designated The Creative Arts District as those properties adjacent to Western Avenue, primarily west of Dysart Road, extending to Avondale’s border with the City of Goodyear.   This is a very walkable area filled with shops, murals, and other public art.  




Momma Bear: What I learned from a year with this incredible girl!

A year ago today Momma Bear gave birth to 8 puppies - this was a crazy event in our world, I have learned so much from my sweet Momma Bear.   Where to begin....  We live on a remote road across the street from South Mountain.  It's our little bit of heaven, a place near downtown Phoenix remote enough that we experience nature and have room to breathe deep.  

Routinely we have what we affectionately call 'dump dogs' visit for water and food.  Dump dogs because people dump pets they no longer want at South Mountain.  I assume people think that dogs will hunt for food; however, the desert is challenging and water scarce.  We had one beautiful dog show up who's feet pads were so pristine...she obviously was an inside dog ill prepared for desert walking.    Typically when dogs show up - we call Maricopa Animal Shelter, although we had two dump dogs we adopted  Lovee Boy and Little Bit.  Lovee took >3 months to even pet him, he was traumatized and Little Bit was simply a girl we fell in love with instantly.  

Momma Bear and another puppy showed up in October or so in 2014.  I was standing at the kitchen window, Lovee and Little Bit were laying on their bed inside when I saw Momma Bear and Puppy drink from the water pans we keep out front.  Both dogs' ribs were showing and I thought oh crap.  Dog laws in Maricopa County are a bit screwy - if you call the MAC, then the dogs you want picked up are supposed to be 'contained' so they can pick up the animal for transport.  However, often times dogs that visit our property are traumatized either due to abuse or because they've been roaming around awhile - there's no way to contain them for pickup unless you feed them for sufficient time that the dogs trust you.  The law also says that if you feed a dog more than 3 days, technically the dog is yours and the pickup is no longer a rescue but a surrender in which case you're supposed to pay a surrender fee.  From our perspective, this is a no win because bottom line:  when we see an animal that is hungry and needs water, we're going to provide.  The idea that we would deny food/water to these dogs who were obviously hungry and thirsty is just dumb, isn't going to happen.  

Across the road we placed a food and water pan and began the process of feeding, watering, and socializing Momma Bear and Puppy.  Mommy very quickly began to come to a whistle and would let me pet her...Puppy was much more reticent.  The plan was to get them somewhat socialized and then call MAC.  However, it became apparent that Momma was pregnant. Yikes - now what are we going to do?!  We decided that the most humane thing would be to keep the dogs together and around until after she had the babies.  When we decided this...honestly, I don't think we thought too hard about the logistical challenges and changes having puppies around would present.  In hindsight we recognize this was INSANE! But at the time all we thought was that Puppy was still not very social and Momma was pregnant, their chances in a shelter might not be great.

We got home later on Sunday, December 14 to discover no Momma or Puppy.  Hmmm, I went searching and found that Momma had dug herself a trench and was laying there.  My initial thought was okay - I'll get some supper going and then tend to her, our biggest concern was the cold, it was supposed to get down to upper 30s and she was laying outside on the dirt in an unprotected place.  So I went in to supper and when I came out - Momma and Puppy were gone.  I looked and looked and finally thought that she probably went off into the desert to have her puppies.  But then I saw Puppy laying near the front door so I went to check and sure enough Momma was laying inside the dog house.  I breathed a sigh of relief because there was a heat lamp there for the dogs, warm bedding, and shelter to protect the puppies.  I didn't know what the other dogs might do with puppies.  At about 2:30 Monday morning (12/15) - I awoke and went to check on her - at that time she had just had a puppy and was cleaning it. By the time it was all done, Momma had 8 puppies, one later passed.   

Within 24 hours, we noticed Momma was rattled and dazed - I put out a question on Facebook and was advised to feed her eggs and milk supplement.  Given she was malnourished when she arrived and hadn't quite recovered from that, I assumed pregnancy depleted her.  Once I began feeding her the eggs and milk booster with extra food - she seemed less rattled and capable of caring for her puppies.  She was a good Momma, attentive, and very clean.  It wasn't long before puppy mania ensued!!!

On SuperBowl Sunday 2015, all the puppies were taken to a shelter where they were adopted within a week.  Puppy was taken to MAC and we decided to keep Momma Bear.  The day the puppies left we let Momma Bear in the house where she went straight to the couch and made herself at home where she proceeded to 'sleep it off.'   The next few months were quite tumultuous - she was fixed and then started losing weight.  We discovered she had Valley Fever and Tick Fever - treatment for both took months.  After a while though her energy returned, she started putting on weight and she went from a somewhat listless girl to one who leapt, jumped, and generally got in your face.  

Lessons Learned from a year with Momma...

  • Hospitality and relationship often begin with available food and water.
  • Providing food and water do not guarantee relationship...hunger and thirst are primary needs secondary to relationship.
  • One has to earn the right to be heard and earning this right is dependent on trust.
  • Trust comes from consistent presence.  Being there, caring on her terms, and availability.
  • Having been 'dumped' and then roaming for food fosters trust issues and insecurity.
  • Relationship and touch cannot be forced - these things have to be earned.   While Momma more readily received some physical attention early on it was always on her terms.  I remember a time after she had puppies where she crawled into my lap and leaned real hard into my body.  When trust is given it's complete and demonstrated physically.
  • Eyes reveal the soul - Momma has old soul eyes - sometimes loving and sometimes wary.
  • Rebuilding a life takes time - it is an inner journey that she must take in our presence.  
  • Play is a daily group activity.
  • Best thing of all is time together.
  • Hello kisses are always in vogue!  

We did not need a 3rd dog especially a somewhat neurotic insecure girl.  She can be jealous, insecure, wary, too aggressively in your face - all of these things and more.  And yet.  She's part of our crazy family - sweet, tender, always loving.  She still gives full body hugs, loves to cuddle, and cannot wait to say hello when we come home.  I'm so happy this beautiful girl, our Momma Bear, adopted us!

Stone Campbell Dialogues: Addressing Race and Racism Within the Church and Society

From the outset I sensed that a conversation about race and racism would be a tough conversation.  These sorts of topics are maddening in their personal and systemic reach and difficulty.  Replete with images and messages depicting Black and White Americans, our media highlights challenges on a regular basis.  So it was that a group of Christians committed to dialogue, conversation, and frankness convened to explore Black and White within the church in the United States.

Mural by Ernest Shaw, Baltimore 401 East Lafayette Street    http://www.examiner.com/article/baltimore-artist-creates-images-to-uplift-communities  

Mural by Ernest Shaw, Baltimore 401 East Lafayette Street  http://www.examiner.com/article/baltimore-artist-creates-images-to-uplift-communities  


Held November 13 and 14 - Our dialogue was sponsored by the Stone Campbell Dialogues, facilitated in partnership with the Racial Unity Leadership Summit, and hosted by Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland and West Side Church of Christ, Baltimore, Maryland.  

Affectionately called the Stone Campbell Dialogues, this annual gathering brings together representatives from the Christian Church, Churches of Christ, and Disciples of Christ  historically rooted in the Stone Campbell or Restoration Movement.  These conversations exist to develop relationship and trust. . . through worship and through charitable and frank dialogue."  I joined the National dialogue team in 2012 representing the Christian Church tradition - this is truly a highlight of my year.  I hold my co-dialogue partners in the highest regard!  

The Racial Unity Leadership Summit (RULS), founded by Dr. Jerry Taylor, Abilene Christian University, is a a national program of the Churches of Christ, focused upon inspiring unity among people of different races and cultures.  RULS emphasis on contemplation and transformation speaks to my commitment to creating transformative learning spaces:   

When blacks and whites become partners in a contemplative community, they can experience together the transformation of their conscious and subconscious minds. It is when people sit together in silence that they give their souls the opportunity to communicate with one another in a spiritual language that is not of this world. Authentic racial unity grows out of an authentic spiritual union between human souls that are jointly connected to the divine life of God. It is only when their attachment to the life of God has complete supremacy in their hearts that people find the strength to release their attachment to the color of skin.

Dr. Jerry Taylor of Abilene Christian University serves as the RULS director.    What follows are highlights from each presenter.  I should say a word about target audience for this dialogue is primarily Christians; therefore, I have intentionally used the vernacular of each presenter.  I realize that a downside of this may be a sort of "Christian-ese" language and vocabulary. 

Speakers and Notes

Newell Williams (President, Brite Divinity School) opened our time together highlighting our Stone Campbell Movement history saying that racism has been a part of the Stone Campbell tradition....."Since the beginning..."

Don McLaughlin, preaching minister of the North Atlanta Church of Christ in Atlanta, Georgia will serve as the program director for the Baltimore Stone-Campbell Dialogue/RULS.

“We don’t have the vocabulary” to discuss race relations currently or presently.  He then noted that while our conversation specifically focused on African American and White relations, this focus required attention to three parameters:  1)  To the females in the room, we are behind the game in addressing gender roles and issues; 2)  This conversation does not address other minorities and peoples for whom racial injustice occurs; and 3)  We must have an open hear to be educated.

Daryl Reed, Lead Pastor of DC Regional Christian Church - That the World May Believe

In referring to John 17, Daryl reminded of the focus:  “so that the world may believe.”  He noted relative to apologetics that love is the strongest defense, experiencing the love of Christ as embodied and enacted in His people.  He asked:  How did we get so much right and miss the big stuff?  “When we are completely connected to Jesus, we will do what it takes.  Citing Joshua 1:9, Daryl exhorted that it will take courage and leadership to begin to address race issues. 

~ Transition ~

After Daryl’s talk, Don questioned whether ‘color blindness’ is really what we’re after given that color blindness:

·        Requires that I see less of you

·        Possible creates less to deal with

·        Denies the fullness of a person’s being

“Do you have to know me less to love me more?"  Unity [in the John 17 sense] is the expression of how we live with difference.  

Doug Foster, Professor of Church History, Abilene Christian UniversityThe Great Deception: How Satan Created Our Perceptions of Race and Deprived Us of Christian Unity

Doug started with a reading of 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 – specifically:  6 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. . . . .  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory.” 

The United States story is perpetually filled with conflict and oppression of peoples.  If we look historically within the United States, race is seared into the US DNA (e.g., slavery, US Civil War, Jim Crow Laws, Civil Rights, incarceration, Black Lives Matter, etc.).  Using excerpts from the film:    Race – The Power of An Illusion  While we are founded on the ideal of All Men Are Created Equal, the US created a story around the idea of race, an idea that led to notions of that black and slave were synonymous.  In an 1846 debate of ‘species’ Samuel Morton put for a notion that blacks were inferior based on skull size.  Josiah Nott further argued that blacks are a different species.  These ideas served to naturalize a social structure where blacks were subhuman, inferior to whites.  Doug emphasized that this creation of a perception of blacks’ inferiority does not go away when Morton and Nott’s flawed science is debunked, does not go away when slavery is gone, and does not go away with civil rights.  The rationale does not disappear even if it is flawed once it becomes enculturated.   The film Ethnic Notions explored anti-black stereotypes highlighting how popular culture reinforces stereotypes:

·        Black is ugly – standards of beauty, comparatives, distortions of black images

·        Blacks are savage – African = primitivism, reversion to savagery

·        Blacks are happy servants – sambo, Uncle, etc.; dancing, singing, big smile

Project Implicit is a test that explores a person’s thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control.  https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/  

Mural by Ernest Shaw, Baltimore 401 East Lafayette Street

Mural by Ernest Shaw, Baltimore 401 East Lafayette Street

~ Transition ~

Don discussed the challenge of systemic racism noting the difficulties of moving forward because trust is simply not present.  “It’s hard to face [that as a white male] I am complicit.”

Travis Stanley, Pastor of Norwalk Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Norwalk, Iowa - Disrupting White Supremacy from Within

Whiteness is often portrayed as the antithesis of blackness.  Whites created race as a construct.  Cone (2014) in the Cross and the Lynching Tree asserted that white theologians ignore race.  Racism is a white problem.  Disrupting White Supremacy notes the following:

  • ·Locating ourself in this life sucking system malforms us as white people. 
  • ·Acknowledge the oppressive system.  Name it.
  • · Uncouple white ‘maleness’ from the discussion.  This is not about feelings, it’s about systemized superiority.  Need to dismantle the system. 

The reconciliation paradigm has failed us – it is inadequate.  Travis referenced The Black Manifesto of 1969 which was written to white churches.  Relationship is not the problem.  Power is the problem.  He called for reparations. 


Don asked:  Why do some white people get offended by the notion of white supremacy?  White privilege is not solely about resources, it’s about access.  

Travis Hurley, Vice President of Development, Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri - The Next Generation Must Be Better

How did we get so far from the truth?  

David Fleer,  Professor of Bible and Communication, Lipscomb University -  How to Talk About Racism: The Art of Scapegoating

Truth telling is a prerequisite to reconciliation.  Scapegoating prohibits my seeing.    


This was a day where childhood memories came flooding in from a life lived in a small town in the 1960s and 1970s.  'Diversity' where I was raised was often described in terms of Catholics and Protestants.   So many stories though... I don't recall any African Americans in our town or school.  Life revolved around work, school, church, and family - sporting events were popular.  It was told that African Americans could not be in town after sundown although an exception was made for athletic teams.  So many memories... As a young child in the mid-60s returning from family vacation we were driving through East Saint Louis when one of my brothers said the N-word.  Daddy pulled the car over and yelled at us to never ever say that word. Momma reflecting on working at an ammunition plan in Texas in the late 1940s/early 1950s where she supervised a crew of black men saying that when her boss asked if she was afraid of the blacks she said No! - she was a whole lot more afraid of the white male truckers - they weren't afraid of repercussion...hearing Mom describe the time when the Ku Klux Klan came down the center aisle of the church with a gift.  I recall a time in Sunday School when we were asked to describe what it meant to be unequally yoked in 2 Corinthians 6:14 - I said it was a discussion about belief and nonbelief but was informed that this was about interracial marriage - don't yoke yourself to someone who's not your kind.  ...so many images and stories.  I wonder about my unquestioned or unrecognized biases and assumptions.

December 12

For a million reasons I didn't publish this blog post.  I guess I felt as though it were way too summative with little substance....I found myself fearful that it would seem to light brush a topic that is so vital and important.   This week, however, I am reeling in response to persistent hateful rhetoric stemming from what I perceive to be feelings of national boundary setting, fear of decreased security, and X-phobia (black, Hispanic, Muslim, homosexual, non-US citizen OR any other category).  The news and social media included a litany of calls to:  deny all Muslims access; prohibit refugee entry, monitor mosques, kick everyone out, build a wall, see entire groups as this or that (gross negative assertions about entire groups of people), blow 'em all to hell, arm yourself with guns and protect yourself from terrorists.. ....on and on it went.  Hateful.  Bigoted. Isolationist. Dangerous. Murderous language.  Rhetoric justified by its communicants as okay due to concerns about national boundaries, security, fear, otherness, and judgment.  

Clearly, I understand the fear that one could be in a movie theater and there be an attack - a fear of dire consequences related to being in the wrong place at the wrong time; a sense of shaken reality stemming from monitoring one's surroundings looking for things out of whack.  It's odd for my husband and I who both travel for work to talk about a contingency communication plan should there be a terrorist attack somewhere where we are or that prohibits our travel.  I understand that we are thinking differently, we are more cautious. Yet - in the face of possible horrors the call to love and be hospitable is ever present.  God's grace is never ending and in response we must strive to extend grace.  I don't know how we do this but I know we are called to do so - no exceptions.  I find myself praying for a time of silence and meditation - it feels like we are at a time in history of amped and intensifying communication, hatred, bigotry with accompanying negative actions.      Some Scriptures important to my understanding include:  John 17, Mark 12, and Hebrews 2. Jesus said his followers are in the world but not of the world.  Our national citizenry lessens in comparison to our identification with Jesus and his kingdom.  In Mark 12 and Hebrews 2 - Christians are called to love your neighbor and be hospitable to strangers.  These passages are swirling through my mind as I try to process this dialogue and discussion around race evoking the following thoughts:

  • Orientation - We are called to orient ourselves to others with love, hospitality, and with a focus on unity.  
  • Unity is NOT about agreement, e.g., agreeing to a specific interpretation or doctrine but again one of orientation one toward another. 
  • Citizenship - Believers' citizenship (God's Kingdom) ultimately transcends locational citizenry.
  • Love and hospitality are required...even to strangers...those not like us, we don't know.  There are no expressed boundaries to our call to love and be hospitable.  
  • Grace - this is a challenging concept to understand (God's grace, by God's grace) but also as in extending grace to others AS it has been extended to us.
  • Political correctness leaves little room for conversational grace where people seek understanding and revelation of thoughts and assumptions.  In digging deep, we likely are to say things that can be perceived as 'racist' - yet in the spirit of dialogue and grace we must talk with one another.  
  • 2D thinking and rhetoric (right/wrong; black/white, etc.) minimize the complexity of this conversation and are not that useful in their opposition and hierarchy.
  • Bridge building - there must be leaders committed to creating opportunities for dialogue and opportunities to discuss these issues, raise awareness, and seek restoration.

At the outset of this post, I said that the Dialogue I attended was a dialogue of fellow Christians trying to highlight issues of race as a way of fostering understanding and conversation. This week I have seen far too many instances of Christians joining in with the negative assertions and hateful language.  Sigh.  I'm reminded of my grad school ethics professor who said that the call to be a follower of Jesus is the most demanding call - one where a person transcends the tyranny of the day in response to grace through expressions of love and hospitality for others...even when those expressions are difficult and seemingly non-nonsensical.    


Foster, D. (2015).  Raising Consciousness—White Privilege & Creation of Race, Annotated Bibliography.  Download PDF  (Shared with permission from D. Foster, 11/2015).  

Taylor, M. (2015).  Moving Beyond Color Blind.  Retrieved from  http://christianstandard.com/2015/12/moving-beyond-color-blind/

Press Release. (2015).  http://christianstandard.com/2015/11/race-unity-topics-at-stone-campbell-dialogue/

Book: Concerning the #Spiritual in #Art by Wassily Kandinsky

There's something about art...I can spend hours in museums, streets, books  exploring and reading about artists, art, and the varying explanations and philosophies.   I like the way Helen Mirren described her love of art:  "Just a note of a song can make you feel something and likewise a painting can make you feel the same thing."   Ahhh, yes...an experience beyond words.  

About Kandinsky's art, Mirren noted the seeming "chaos and randomness but organized. . . [an] incredible contradiction."  When I see a Kandinsky I experience fascination, beauty, and geometry - I wanted to read more about his ideas, then I found his book:  Concerning the Spiritual in Art.  I should state from the outset that I have no formal training in art or art history -  thus, I am just a girl trying to make sense of this book.  [Source:  All images of Kandinsky's art retrieved from WassilyKandinsky.net and are for noncommercial use.]


Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was born in Moscow, studied law and economics, and then turned at the age of 30 to a life of art and art theory.  Early examples of his works include Kochel Lake with Boat (1902), Blue Mountain (1908/1909), Murnau Street with Women (1908), and 304 (1910).  

Per WassilyKandinsky.net, Kandinsky experienced four movements throughout his work:  1911-1914  Blue Rider Period; 1914-1921 Returning to Russia; 1922-1933 Bauhaus, and 1934-1944 Biomorphic Abstraction.

1911-1914  Blue Rider Period

Untitled (1910) is considered Kandinsky's first abstract painting and by some as the first abstract painting in general.    He wrote Concerning the Spiritual in Art in 1912. 

1910 Untitled first abstract water color.jpg

One of my favorite pieces from this period.  

1913  Color Study Squares With Concentric Circles

1913  Color Study Squares With Concentric Circles

1914-1921  Returning to Russia

Some favorites from this period:  Blue Crest (1917); Overcast (1917); and White Line (1920).  

1922-1933 Bauhaus

This is my favorite period!  Circles in a Circle (1923); Two Movements (1924); In Blue (1925); and Dark Freshness (1927).

1934 - 1944 Biomorphic Abstraction

Gentle Ascent (1934); Gravitation (1935); Orange Violet (1935)

Thoughts on Concerning the Spiritual in Art

I’ll have to say I feel like I have only gleaned the surface of Kandinsky’s meaning relative to the spiritual in art.  What follows are some key themes that spoke to me:

Art offers revolutionary possibility and is the sphere turned to in time of societal stress, breakdown, and chaos. “When religion, science and morality are shaken. . . . when the outer supports threaten to fall, man turns his gaze from externals in on to himself.  Literature, music and art are the first and most sensitive spheres in which this spiritual revolution makes itself felt” (p. 25). 

Artists and their art connects humans to a deeper or transcendent meaning.    “To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist” (citing Schumann, p. 16).  “No other power can take the place of art. . . at times when the human soul is gaining greater strength, art will grow in power, the two are inextricably connected” (p. 63). 

Art communicates – without the use of words.  I’m increasingly tired of the primacy of words and speech acts as the preferred communication method – particularly when the rhetoric is 2D, hateful, and divisive.  “At different points along the road are the different arts, saying what they are best able to say, and in the language (emphasis mine) which is peculiarly their own” (p. 31). 

One’s hermeneutic must move beyond impression or observation (what the art is, what it depicts, or its specific configuration or construction) to an allowance for the art to communicate its meaning.  “Our materialistic age has produced a type of spectator or ‘connoisseur,’ who is not content to put himself opposite a picture and let it say its own message.  Instead of allowing the inner value of the picture to work. . . . his eye does not probe the outer expression to arrive at the inner meaning” (p. 58).  

Kandinsky's Spiritual Triangle represents a societal and personal progression from solely material to spiritual concerns where the primary movement is influenced by artists and their work.   “Painting is an art, and art is not vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power which be directed to the improvement and refinement of the human soul – to, in fact, the raising of the spiritual triangle” (p. 62).  

Kandinsky triangle.png

In describing the triangle, Kandinsky spoke of an artist's Inner Need where :  “(1)  Every artist, as a creator, has something in him which calls for expression (this is the element of personality).  (2)  Every artist, as a child of his age, is compelled to express the spirit of his age (this is the element of style).  (3)  Every artist, as a servant of art, has to help the cause of art (this is the element of pure artistry [the top of the pyramid]” (p. 43).  Prophets are those artists who move from art for art's sake extending the expression of the age's spirit or accepted forms of expression.  Kandinsky noted that the spiritual prophets [artists], whom he also described as eccentric and solitary visionaries,  are capable of “seeing beyond [each] segment” (pp. 18, 19).  This seeing beyond creates a spiritual movement of transcendence beyond our physical and material condition, a movement with influential power relative to our collective meaning and experiences.  Kandinsky used particularly derisive tones relative to Art for art’s sake, a retrogression from the spiritual:  “The vulgar herd stroll through the rooms and pronounce the pictures ‘nice’ or ‘splendid’. . . . this neglect of inner meanings. . . . this vain squandering of artistic power is called ‘art for art’s sake’” (p. 16).  Perhaps his tone is related to what his belief that humans “hunger consciously or, much more often, unconsciously for their corresponding spiritual food” (p. 18).  

So What?

My curiosity about this notion of 'spiritual in art' arises from a bias that there's something about aesthetic experience that facilitates a moment where humans transcend individual interest solely captivated by the awe or beauty of the experience of art, music, theater, dance, etc.  I've stood before works where people were like wow! and felt this sense that undivided attention was toward the wowness such that individual concerns were suspended but for a moment.   Additionally, a few years ago I researched the worldview and leadership of Vaclav Havel a playwright who later became president of Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic).  Since I studied his life and learned about his 'spirituality' grounded in a sense of connectedness and responsibility - I am fascinated by the special role, power, and influence artists have in society.  In Havel's case, a playwright and his cadre inspired the Velvet Revolution.  Kandinsky's work provides a framework via the triangle to understand art and artist's importance beyond the material toward meaning, purpose and transcendence.  I realize in using the word transcendence I'm not defining it - this too is a term I want to learn more about.  Reading Kandinsky is but a starting point in this exploration - finally, this work was written early in Kandinsky's career - it would be good to read more of his ideas to further clarify definition and meaning of key constructs:  spiritual, sacred, inner meaning, and inner need, for examples.  


WassilyKandinsky.net Retrieved from http://www.wassilykandinsky.net/

Kandinsky, W., & Sadler, M.T.H. (2010). Concerning the spiritual in art.  Readaclassic.com   You can also download this book in PDF format.  


Concerning the Spiritual in Art
By Wassily Kandinsky

Source:  All images of Kandinsky's art retrieved from http://www.wassilykandinsky.net/  and are for noncommercial use.  

Exhibit: Sonoran Light by Bruce Munro at the #DBG #Phoenix #Art

If you live in Phoenix or are traveling to Phoenix over the holidays - buy your tickets now to the Bruce Munro Sonoran Light exhibit held at the Desert Botanical Garden.  Heralded in by a gorgeous cool Phoenix night, the preview event was spectacular.

Desert Botanical Garden - View

Desert Botanical Garden - View

It's difficult to describe Bruce Munro's work.  Oh, yea, I can say optic fiber and lights covering the hill and the landscape.  But I suspect in saying this you're like - why is this special.  I think the difficulty is that Munro's work is partly visible with a whole lot of experiential.  Imagine night time - seeing familiar territory now 'breathing' light, like the night sky with pulses, changing colors, and a feeling of life.  I'm realizing as I write this that I do not have words; perhaps seeing some examples in the video might help communicate how powerful Munro's work is.  

This was my first sight - these incredible pillars of changing light with the mountain as a backdrop, a mountain covered in light.  Sun was mostly set, the air was cool, planes in the night sky heading to Sky Harbor, and here I stood seeing this beautiful array of colors in the midst of cactus and coolness.  

At times I felt as though I were in a science fiction movie - complete with neural pathways, networks, and pulsing communication bandwidth...

Other photos of incredible shapes and experiences...

What I love about this sort of exhibit is how lovely the desert is for light, the shapes, textures, and coolness creating a special place and experience.  There were many families exploring the DBG, I was moved by children's responses and association with 'being in another world"  I heard one child say - wouldn't it be cool if the desert always had colors like this.  Another child launched into a story about another planet including a description of life there.   I heard many adults say "Wow, this is incredible" This, to me, is the power of art and beauty - activating the imagination, igniting a sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation for beauty.

To learn more about Bruce Munro:

Book: The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus

Crafting Your Life Into a Work of Art presents the byline and focus of Erwin McManus' book addressing humans as created beings.  His starting point, a theological commitment to God as creator, resonates with my fascination with creativity specifically that people create, are creative, and must express themselves.  Our creativity contributes to wildly various forms and genres.  And yet - somehow along the way some lose a sense of their creativity.  This loss manifests itself through expressions like "I'm not creative" or "I wish I were creative like that" or "I don't have a creative bone in my body."   In McManus' words, creativity is that which makes us uniquely human.  

To deny our creative nature is to choose a life where we are less and thus responsible for less. We see ourselves as created beings, so we choose to survive. When we see ourselves as creative beings, we must instead create.
— McManus, 2014, p. 7

The question asked:  "What if the creative act is not an act against nature but an expression of our nature?" (p. 9) moves us toward a reframing of notions around our creative capacity.  Too often, creativity is assigned to a nebulously identified 'creative class.' My question:  who are those people?   Admittedly, I'm guilty - I'm not an artist, I'm not creative, I'm not gifted....like that.  Notice the vagueness of 'that.'  Where does this negative inner voice come from?  Do you hear it in your head?  

McManus reminds us of the nature of art, creativity, and imagination (direct ""): 

  • Art exists to remind us that we have a soul, the essence of being human, transcendent (p. 14). 
  • Creativity is the natural result of spirituality (p. 17).     
  • The only art we can create is that which authentically reflects who we are. . . . every true artist fights for their creativity (pp. 18, 33).  
  • The role of the artist is partly to interpret the human story. . . . to be an interpreter of human possibility (p. 76).  
  • The soul feeds on the imagination. . . . imagination always precedes creativity (p. 101).
  • All art has an underlying narrative for which it advocates; all art is a declaration of meaning or the lack of it; all art is created both for self expression and for the extension of self (p. 106).   
  • Design thinking:  the process is informed less by the product than by the people it serves. . . . what matters is how what we create affects and serves humanity (p. 111).  
  • Art has in its universe words like creativity, inspiration, beauty, and imagination, but in that same universe are words like perseverance, resilience, tenacity, and discipline (p. 140).  

At the end of McManus' book, he provided a series of practices to foster soul work; find our voice; change our perspective, materialize dreams, become 'great' at our work; be human and reclaim our humanity; and live fully.    

This is one of many books on my reading list for a research project exploring creativity - McManus' contributes to my understanding of God as creator and how that creativity or capacity to create manifests itself in us.  Our need to create is essential, a way to create meaning and stories illustrative of who we are, our deepest beliefs, questions, fears, and messages.  Creativity is about voice - what needs to be said, what messages are vital.  Finally, creativity and the many forms it takes are revelatory of God's essence.  In other words, we learn something about Him when we witness, observe, and experience others' creation.  


How does our 'work' regardless of what it is contribute to our sense of creativity towards fostering imagination?  

How might the prevailing leadership style within an organization influence individual and collective capacities, imagination, courage, risk taking, and innovative possibilities?

What types of spaces contribute to one's sense of possibility, wonder, and imagination?

Once we experience a sense that "I'm not creative" how do we reclaim our essential nature as creative beings?

How do our educational approaches foster creativity, one's sense of and capacity to imagine, design, and create?

#Baltimore #StreetArt Sampling

Roughly three hours - this is the time I had to explore Baltimore - not nearly enough time in a city with such a rich heritage and many things to do.   Maddeningly insufficient when I realized Baltimore's focus on street art murals via the Baltimore Mural Project which has added over 250 murals in the city since 1975 and the Baltimore Open Walls project organized by Gaia, a Baltimore based street artist.  



To focus my efforts (and feel a sense of do-ability), I decided to spend my time in the Station North Arts & Entertainment district using the map published on the Open Walls Project site.  Tip for a novice Baltimore driver - pay attention to one way street signs - let's just say perhaps there were times I missed the sign and ended up going the wrong way which I only noticed when I realized cars were parked facing the other direction...thank heavens there wasn't a lot of traffic!

On my way there, I found these two cuties by Pixel Pancho (a FAV street artist) and a new fav Nether 410, a Baltimore street artist.  

Really cool pieces by Jaz

A stunning piece by Ernest Shaw

Overunder tribute to Dennis Livingston, a Baltimore activist - the detail on this was incredible!  

Vhils is always easy on the eye!  Love the context of this...

For all my love of murals, I also love graffiti!  There's something very cool about lettering and the creative way graffiti artists work - it's a different genre equally visually interesting and communicative.

A highlight of my walk was a visit to Graffiti Alley, an L-shaped alley off Howard, between Howard and Maryland.  A legal place in the city for Graffiti.

For all the pictures - view slide show:

I finished my walk at Red Emma's, a radical bookstore, coffee shop, and learning space - The Baltimore Free School.  According to Red Emma's mission:

It’s possible to build institutions that directly put values like sustainability and democracy to work. . . to build a resource for movements for social justice. . . . to be “radical” is to go to the root of the problem, to not be afraid to attack root causes rather than be distracted by the symptoms on the surface.
— Red Emma's Mission https://redemmas.org/about

The purpose of the Baltimore Free School is stated as "collective learning and participatory education. . . . the empowerment of the people of all ages and backgrounds to share and learn is vital to the health of any community. . . . we work toward creating a space where the exchange of ideas can occur. . .a space where we can learn to relate to other in new and meaningful ways."  Wow!  This truly speaks to my heart about what I believe the focus of education should be.  Approaches grounded solely in Information transmission type methods and purposes are inadequate to inspire, empower, and foster learning and the raising of individual and collective consciousness beyond material conditions and historical situatedness.  Education is not value free - it's rooted in a philosophy and assumptions about the human persons and our shared being.   We must create those spaces where people identify and name biases and assumptions influencing thinking, decision making, and interactions....education should be about this...MUST be about this.  Our human home and sense of interconnectedness demands this persistent attention to consciousness raising and transformation.  Okay - I'm on a soap box (smile).  I had not heard of the Baltimore Free School before this trip - I'm so happy I ended my walk here - the mixture of things I love - street art, graffiti, coffee, books, and education.  Really looking forward to a return trip to Baltimore!  Lots more to explore, murals to see!


Baltimore Free School.  Retrieved from http://freeschool.redemmas.org/

Baltimore Mural Project.  Retrieved from http://www.promotionandarts.org/arts-council/baltimore-mural-program

Baltimore Open Walls Project.  Retrieved from http://openwallsbaltimore.com

Ernest Shaw article.  Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/baltimore-artist-creates-images-to-uplift-communities

Gaia website.  Retrieved from http://www.gaiastreetart.com

Graffiti Alley Article Retrieved from https://hiddenbaltimore.wordpress.com/2012/11/13/baltimores-graffiti-alley/

Nether 410 website.  Retrieved from http://www.nether410.com

Overunder website.  Retrieved from http://eriktburke.com/

Pixel Pancho website.  Retrieved from https://www.behance.net/PIXELPANCHO

Red Emma's website.  Retrieved from https://redemmas.org/

Station North Arts & Entertainment District.  Retrieved from http://www.stationnorth.org

Vhils website.  Retrieved from http://www.alexandrefarto.com/

Reflections on Venezia (Venice) and the Art Biennale

Venice and the Art Biennale were on my list and since I was in the neighborhood anyway (in Barcelona for a conference)...it seemed prudent to take a side trip. At least this was my rationalization...admittedly, I am fairly adept at rationalizing travel...or so my husband tells me.  Ha Ha!   Since the hubster was unavailable, I asked my sister-in-law and niece if they might be interested given we've been talking about Italy FOREVER and my niece is an art education major making the art biennale an 'educational' opportunity.  And so it was that three Crumpton women traveled to Venice Italy for a week of exploring, art, and eating.  

The plan was that I would catch an early flight from Barcelona and meet them when their flight from the US arrived.  As luck would have it - the baggage carousel where my bag arrived was next to the baggage for the US flight where they stood waiting.  I don't know what the odds are for this to happen but...that was my first indicator of how cool this trip would be!    We grabbed bags and headed to the Alilaguna public transport (Tip 1) -  a boat from San Marco airport on the Blue Line to Venice.  You exit the airport with your luggage in tow and then walk roughly 10 minutes to the pier to catch your transport.  Just follow the crowd and keep walking until you hit water (Tip 2).   The transport ride was around 90 minutes from the airport to San Zaccaria stop (Tip 2).  We stayed at a Best Western property, Hotel Bisanzio.  This was a perfect location for exploring - friendly staff, breakfast included, and they had a room for 3.  PLUS, it was one bridge and one alley away from the transport stop (Tip 3).  

After dumping our luggage we headed straight to Piazza San Marco for cafe and people watching.  We enjoyed cafe and hot chocolate at Caffe Lavena while people watching and listening to music.   The Caffe is expensive but location, location, location.  Feeling somewhat refreshed it was time to explore (Tip 4).  Our walk took us to the Bridge Rialto which was under construction and ultimately to an early dinner at Trattoria Al Scalinetto (Castello, 3803-30122) - Mama in the kitchen, son waiting on tables.  It was a perfect relaxing time to eat and let it soak it that we really were in Venice!  Later in the day - another walk and gelato in San Marco Piazza (Tip 5).

On Monday, Day 2, we walked to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Bridges of Graffiti exhibit.  The Peggy Guggenheim museum presents the collected art of Peggy Guggenheim within her former home.  She is buried on the property.  I'll do another post about Peggy Guggenheim and the museum soon, I was inspired post-trip to read a biography on her life to learn more about this woman, her passion for art, and the history behind this museum.  Per the website, the museum hosts "Cubism, Futurism, Metaphysical Painting, European abstraction, Avant-Garde Sculpture, Surrealism, and American Abstract Expressionism."  A highlight of the experience were the photos within a room of that room with the specific paintings now on display combined with an exhibit of Jackson Pollack works including The Mural (no photos were allowed)!  

Starved - we had lunch on a lovely terrace at the Ristorante Lineadombra.  This was an incredible pause  - imagine a warm sun, sitting on a terrace over the water, great food, wine, and conversation with family.  Perfect!  

The Bridges of Graffiti exhibit at the ArteTerminal featured works by ten graffiti artists including  Eron, Futura, Doze Green, Todd James, Jayone, Mode2, SKKI ©, Teach, Boris Tellegen, and Zero­T.  I'll do another post on this exhibit and Venice street art - this was a highlight for me!  Near this exhibit we saw two C215 pieces - a favorite street artist!

We finished this day by window shopping, eating pizza out of a window, and of course the coup de grace - enjoying gelato (Tip 7).

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we visited the  56th La Biennale di Venezia - Giardini and Arsenale locations along with various Collateral Events throughout the city.  Founded in 1893 the biennale incorporates (a) country pavilions where each country has their own pavilion and exhibit addressing the biennale theme and (b) curated exhibits represented by individual artists invited to submit a work in keeping with the biennale theme.  Two primary locations are the Giardini and Arsenale with multiple other venues throughout the city that are described as 'collateral.'  The biennale is closed Monday but open other days from 10 until 6 PM (Tip 8).  Our strategy was to visit Giardini on Tuesday, collateral locations on Wednesday, and then Arsenale on Thursday.  Our thought was that we might need a break from the concentration of art at a specific venue such that walking from venue to venue might alleviate 'art fatigue.'  This turned out to be a good strategy!  In advance of the trip, we explored Biennale Top 10 lists and had a quasi- priority for pavilions wanted to see.  Once at Giardini, we started with individual exhibits followed by the country pavilions.  In hind sight, we thought it would have been better to prioritize the country pavilions and then if time see the individual exhibits.  While there - remember the rules, stop for lunch and cafe in the afternoon.  Both Giardini and Arsenale host beautiful views of the water...of course, there's really no bad views, just be sure to hit pause in the day to enjoy the location and people watch. 

Venice is a wonderful city - I loved the Art Biennale, that Venice is a good walking city (Tip 9) and leisurely.  There is are plenty of spaces to enjoy a cafe, snack, and just people watch.  Often this is a great time to recalibrate as to where you really are because you're lost.  (Tip 10).  I like to window shop - there's plenty of small shops to be had for clothes, leathers, murano glass, etc.   I'm already thinking towards 2017 when the biennale is hosted again.  I would love to return!  


1.  You can pay what you want via private water taxi (estimated 120 to 125 euro) or you can take the public transportation for 15 euro one way or 27 euro/RT per person.  I'd rather spend money on food and beverages than transportation!  

2.  Pack lightly.  Remember that you are going to have to walk to the transport with your luggage, then once you arrive at Venezia, you have to transport your luggage to your hotel.  Everything you bring has to roll or be carried.  Don't overpack!  Before you leave home - look at your Venice hotel website to determine the closest transport stop.  If there are walking instructions once you arrive in Venezia, bring those too.

3.  Select your hotel wisely!  Logistics are important because you're going to fly in with all your luggage, then walk to the transport (See Tip 2), and then have to transport your luggage to the hotel.  Any walking in Venice includes cobblestones and bridges and even with directions, there's a likelihood that you will get lost.  We saw people late at night arriving with luggage and I thought good luck.  Make it easy on yourself to select a hotel near a transport stop.

4. In the corner of the Piazza (opposite the San Marco Basilica there is a Tourist Information Center + a public restroom (WC).  Pick up a brochure for the Art Biennale here that details the map and exhibits.  You'll need coins for the for the public restroom - 1.50 euro.  There is an attendant who can make change.  

5.  Eat gelato every day.  Why?  It's gelato.  Because you're in Venice.  And it's gelato.  

6.  Think leisure when it comes to eating.  There's no other time like the present so just relax.  My #1 rule for travel planning - have a few things you want to see with sufficient padding to sit, enjoy a meal, drink vino, and just be present.  These sorts of moments cannot be rushed - they're to be savored.  Venice is a city that calls for enjoying a cafe, people watching, and soaking in the beautiful sights.  

7.  If you have any notion of 'dieting' in Venice, then just stay home.  That's a dumb idea to plan on denying yourself an integral part of the travel experience - enjoying the food - pasta, bread, cannoli's, pizza on the street, gelato, cafe, vino - you have to try it all.  

8. Art Biennale - We purchased our tickets the day that we were visiting a venue, there was a short line wait.  If waiting in line drives you crazy then purchase tickets in advance.  

9.  Venice is a walking city.   Public transportation includes water taxis - otherwise, you're walking.  Wear comfortable shoes!  There are many bridges, cobblestone streets, and what you think is a short walk or distance is really 2+ hours because the route in indirect or you get lost (Tip 10).

10.  You will get lost, turned around, disoriented, think you're one place only to realize you're somewhere else.This is Venice.  Relax - soon you'll find a cafe, piazza, or some landmark that you'll see on a map and can get reoriented.  If all else fails, look for signs for Rialto Bridge or San Marco - they'll show up eventually.  


#StreetArt #Richmond Virginia #RVA

Street Art as an expressive form is experiencing an international zeitgeist in urban settings with cities like Richmond, Virginia intentionally inviting internationally recognized street artists to paint public murals throughout the city.  

The Richmond Mural Project 

Curated by Shane Pomajambo, CEO and Creative Director of Art Whino Gallery, the Richmond Mural Project is an overt project designed to use street art to:

Establish Richmond as a landmark destination for internationally recognized murals. . . . [creating] exposure for the city, establishing it as a premier art destination.
— Richmond Mural Project

Kudos to Shane Pomajambo for such a wonderful collection of street artists - a place to study, learn, and observe the varying artists' techniques and styles!  

Street Artists

For a street art enthusiast - Richmond provided a wonderful collection from which to expose me to those artists I typically only see on my Twitter #streetart feed.  Artists included:  2501, Andrew Hem, Angry Woebots, Aniekan, Aryz, James Bullough, Caratoes, Chazme and Sepe, Clog Two, Clog Two and Inkten Collaboration, D*Face, David Flores, Ekundayo, Etam Cru, Ever, Evoca1, Gaia, Greg Mike, Inkten, Jaz, Jerkface, La Pandilla, Lelo, Meggs, Moya, Natalia Rak, Nils, Onur, Pixel Pancho, Roa, Robert Proch, Ron English, Scribe, Smithe, Sonni, Stormie Mills, Wes21 and Onur, Nils Westergard, Taylor White, Jason Woodside.  Some of my favorites:

Questions about Street Art

This truly was an incredible opportunity to see some great street artists.   Curation implies decision making about selection, preservation, maintenance, and collection.  A curator facilitates decision making - who's in or out including who or what's acceptable and within the scope or vision for the city's public spaces and built environment.  Further, those who endorse a project like this decide what other forms of expression within the public built environment are permittable. Some questions arose as I walked the city:   

  • Nils Westergard is a fabulous local Richmond artist who participated in the project.  What other local artists were invited to participate?  Is there a way with these sorts of projects to engage and intentionally highlight local artists' contributions?  
  • I observed evidences of wall scrubbing where others' expressions had been scrubbed or painted over.  With the scrubbed walls - who was silenced?  Silencing is about power - who controls the streets and what is permittable?   Are the underserved incorporated or provided an opportunity to participate?  What was said or displayed that is no longer visible?   Are there other venues where those silenced publicly can provide input, have a voice?   
  • Street art in non-curated occurrences is generally understood as temporal.  Is the curated mural understood to be temporary or is there another standard?
  • What are the benefits for this sort of mural project?  How can or should other cities pursue this sort of project?  
  • What are existing laws regarding graffiti or street art?  If illegal, what was the process for navigating those laws in support of this sort of project?

Street art provides such a rich topic for conversation about community, creative expression,  incorporation, philosophy of public art, and legality. Richmond is a terrific place to explore, see great street art, and ponder the questions arising from such a project.  

Richmond Logistics Notes

I stayed at the Linden Row Hotel - an incredible space, those who work there are rabid passionate about customer service.  For breakfast, a must try are their maple scones!  I didn't have a car and found the city easy to navigate - I walked everywhere day and night exploring, observing, and enjoying the city.  My one must try was Mama Js - oh my goodness the fried chicken and peach cobbler were ridiculously good! 


G40 Summit - (also in Richmond) website:   Retrieved from http://www.artwhino.com/exhibitions-1/g40-art-summit-2015

Richmond Mural Project website.  Retrieved from http://www.artwhino.com/exhibitions-1/richmond-mural-project-2015

Richmond Mural Locations (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) Map.  Retrieved from https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z4w_7Jx-pKNQ.kUA6MtBwKc-A&usp=sharing


#Streetart Barcelona Street Style Tour #ILA2015

In my mind, any location deserves a deeper look with regard to the built environment and street art or graffiti found visible to the public.  So when I learned that the International Leadership Association (ILA) was holding their annual conference in Barcelona, I was ecstatic for Barcelona is recognized internationally as a vibrant, creative, abundant street art scene.  

ILA 2015 Post Conference Tour/Workshop:  Barcelona Street Art: An Exploration of Street Art, Culture, Politics, and Culture 

My basic idea was that a tour/workshop featuring Barcelona's street art would be fun affording participants an opportunity to explore boundary and intersectional questions pertaining to: street artists, their art, expression, and subculture versus the streets, and public versus private spaces including who decides what is acceptable; formal (often commissioned) versus informal art; and legality and criminality of artist’s activity.   So I contacted Barcelona Street Style Tour - co-founded by Joachim Castaneda and Mike Frankos assisted by Dominic Attard to see if they might be interested in designing a street art tour specifically for ILA participants - a process that required developing a proposal and selection via a competitive process.  Our proposal, selected for a post-conference tour, included two parts:  (a)  Street Art Tour led by Mike Frankos and (b)  How-to Make Graffiti workshop conducted by Dominic Attard.  

Barcelona is a city with a rich cultural, artistic, and political history. Barcelona’s urban art takes a variety of forms ranging from simple written words to elaborate murals, graffiti, street art, pasteups, tags and stencils. This tour highlighted Barcelona’s graffiti and street art movement showcasing the latest works of art found adorning almost every wall in the city center. For an introduction to Barcelona street art, see Las Calles Hablan is a documentary film about "discovering a hidden world, an extraordinary subculture and the struggle between an artistic community painting for freedom of expression and an increasingly restrictive dogmatic government."  Some highlights of the tour through pictures:  



  1. "Seeing" and observing what is going on within our built environment  is a capacity that must be taught and exercised.  One participant noted, "Now that you see street art, you see it every where."
  2. Street art adds vivaciousness, stories, and richness to the built environment.  The artists who put their works on the streets are people, with stories, and for a variety of reasons, a desire (need?) to express themselves using this media.  
  3. Street art represents a sub culture with rules, norms, and shared understandings.  For example - Barcelona based street artists paint on the roll down metal doors.  Per Mike, travelers are those who paint on the walls...  Placement of tags, signatures, etc. follows rules of the street with regard to respect for artists' work.
  4. Street art takes a variety of forms and styles:  murals, paintings, stickers, pasteups, stencils; characters, figures, scenes, words, shapes, abstracts, etc. 
  5. Street artists have reputations - some artists like Pez have international reputations, they are known, their style is recognizable.
  6. Street art is illegal in Barcelona, offenders face a 3000 euro fine but street artists take the risk, their work is evident throughout the city.
  7. Highlight:  Visiting Base Elements Urban Art Gallery 
  8. A tour/workshop like this raises questions:  Where else is street art?  What is the 'scene' like in the US?  Are the same issues facing US street artists?  Who is studying the phenomena?   How do we incorporate more experiential efforts like this into the ILA.
  9. Post-conference was perfect because ILA participants were relaxed - their presentations were done, nothing was ahead of them except fun.
  10. Next time I would build in a snack break or more time in advance of the tour so people could grab food.
  11. When doing an event like this particularly in an international context - people likely won't be checking email, have a communication contingency.
  12. Do more of these sorts of events at ILA conferences.  Presentations/workshops are fine and serve their purpose but ours is a very educated, thoughtful group - they don't need in your face scholarship to think, learn, and ponder (grin).

Barcelona Street Style Tour

What a great company and group of guys to work with in organizing this tour - fun, responsive to the goals we set forth for the tour/workshop, and interested in the group's makeup and interests.  Joachim took the lead on logistics, scheduling, and helping work out the details with the ILA.  He is efficient, responsive to emails and demonstrated enthusiasm for the project.  Mike Frankos conducted the walking tour - he is a playful spirit with a wonderful gift of gab, and a great story teller knowledgeable about Barcelona and her street art.  He delivered a fun and informative experience. Dominic who conducted the hands on how to create graffiti workshop is a gifted teacher, patient and instructive with a friendly spirit.  Both Mike and Domnic had such a warm sense of humor - something I look for in those I associate with!  

If you find yourself in Barcelona, take the BSST as a way to explore and learn more about street art and to wander the streets with the best.  For corporate planners - if you want an experience that gets your team outside of the office in a group exercise, consider working with BSST to design an experience.  The walking tour plus how-to workshop was a fantastic way to bring people together in a common experience, expand individual capacities to 'see' and provided an opportunity for people to explore their creative side..  


I am originally from San Diego, CA and have spent 15 years living between San Francisco and Barcelona, Spain. In 2002, I left San Diego to attend the University of San Francisco, where I studied fine art with an emphasis on painting. In 2009, I moved from San Francisco to Barcelona, Spain to further my investigation of contemporary art. I attended Metafora Escola d’Arte Contemporani and began to heavily expand my portfolio towards abstract graffiti doing large scale murals all over Spain, Austria and Germany. It was after my first year in Barcelona that I decided to remain in Spain taking on various artists’ assistant positions to some of Spain’s top street artist, and working alongside various platforms promoting street art and graffiti as social and educational initiatives. It was 2012 that Mike Frankos and I launched Barcelona Street Style Tour (BSST) offering an in-depth, up close and personal tour showcasing Barcelona contemporary youth culture with a large emphasis on street art and graffiti.
— Joachim Castaneda, BSST
I am 35 years of age, originally from California and I have been living in Barcelona for almost 5 years. I co-founded Barcelona Street Style Tour with Joachim Castaneda back in 2012 and have been guiding the bulk of the tours since then. Although I am not an artist, I have enjoyed and appreciated street art Graffiti since I was a child.
— Mike Frankos, BSST
I first entered into the world of graffiti in the early 2000’s mainly painting on the train line and focusing on making public property look much nicer. These early years, I think of as the refining years, and post this period, I moved into commissioned murals and pieces. I now find myself living in Barcelona, still painting, but not anywhere illegal anymore, in the comfort of a studio.
— Dominic Attard (aka Rate Oner), BSST


Barcelona Street Style Tour website.  Retrieved from  http://barcelonastreetstyletour.com   

Base Elements Urban Art Gallery website.  Retrieved from http://baseelements.net

Dominic Attard website.  Retrieved from  http://motiquedesigns.wix.com/streetart

International Leadership Association website.  Retrieved from  http://www.ila-net.org

Las Calles Hablan documentary.  Retrieved from  http://vimeo.com/60149775

#Phoenix First Friday #Art Walk

I love our city!  Tonight's First Friday Art Walk reminds me why this is so!  First stop:  Monorchid Gallery   a wonderful display space located at 214 East Roosevelt, to visit exhibition aptly entitled:  TEN:  Modern Abstract. 

A departure from the realistic the artists focus on shape, form, color, and line creating compositions independent for traditional visual references.
— Nicole Royse http://www.monorchid.com/shade-gallery

My primary purpose was to check out the latest 3D sculptures by Kevin Caron  but of course much more was to be seen.  Kevin is a metal and 3D printed resin sculptor - I offer a photo of Arabesque, a metal sculpture of his, as a comparison to the 3D work he presented at Monorchid.  He has a knack for capturing a beautiful line - there's a grace and flow in both the metal and 3D resin works that is elegant and graceful.  Early on my impressions were that he was representing a post modern/industrial perspective...today I feel grace and peace - striking red and purple communicating strength and conviction.    He's a leader in the conversation surrounding 3D printing as art.     

Next, I met Dan Pederson, a Mesa, AZ, artist  who's eclectic style captivated my attention - it reminds me of really cool public urban walls plastered with street art, graffiti, pasteups, stencils, and stickers!  I love that feel!

Dan Pederson - Monorchid Gallery 11062015- photo with permission 

Dan Pederson - Monorchid Gallery 11062015- photo with permission 

As part of the Monorchid exhibit, there was in process body painting called Bare Landscapes featuring local artists creating abstracted versions of Arizona landscapes.  No photos allowed but I will say - it was incredible to watch a human body being transformed through the use of paint.  An artist that I particularly enjoyed watching was Brandon McGill.  

From here I explored galleries along Roosevelt Row, people watched, and just hung out.  Some street art I saw along the way:

I finished my time on Roosevelt Row visiting the container galleries - shipping containers converted into temporary gallery space.  First there was the exhibit by Takashi Hara

Takashi Hara exhibit, Roosevelt Row, 2015

Takashi Hara exhibit, Roosevelt Row, 2015

I finished with an exhibit entitled The Collapse featuring Jesse Armstrong, Jeff Reich, Patricia Sannit, Sheetal Shaw, and Jonah Amadeus Skurky-Thomas - ceramic artists engaging in themes of sustainability.  Curator = Cory J. Rogers, in collaboration with the Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art.  Two favorites by Patricia Sannit and Jeff Reich.  

My Friday night in Phoenix - love the arts and having such incredible access!  


ArtLink (n.d.) First Friday Art Walk.  Retrieved from http://artlinkphoenix.com/first-fridays/

Armstrong, Jesse website.  Retrieved from http://soaportfolio.asu.edu/grad/JesseArmstrong

Caron, Kevin website.  Retrieved from http://www.kevincaron.com  Artist perspective on 3D printing:  http://www.kevincaron.com/3dprint-why.html

Hara, Takashi website.  Retrieved from http://www.takashihara.com

McGill, Brandon website.  Retrieved from http://www.brandonmcgill.com

Pederson, Dan.    https://www.facebook.com/dan.pederson.37?fref=ufi&pnref=story

Reich, Jeff website.  Retrieved from http://www.indigostreetpottery.com/Site/Home.html

Sannit, Patricia website.  Retrieved from http://www.patriciasannit.com/Patriciasannit/home.html

Shaw, Sheetal Website.  Retrieved from http://www.studioboteh.com/



A Sea of Red: Japan Pavilion Venezia Art Biennale 2015

Imagine yourself immersed in a sea of red.  This was my experience walking into the Japan Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.  

This truly was a take your breath away moment...I felt my breathing slow and was mesmerized at the beauty of the Chiharu Shiota's described as:  

A space filled with red yarn. Attached to the end of each piece of yarn, suspended from the ceiling, [is] a key. In our daily lives, keys protect valuable things like our houses, assets, and personal safety. . . . By coming into contact with people’s warmth on a daily basis, the keys accumulate countless, multilayered memories that dwell within us. Then at a certain point we entrust the keys, packed with memories, to others who we trust to look after the things that are important to us. . . . two boats on the floor beneath the yarn and the hanging keys. . . . symbolize two hands catching a rain of memories (i.e., countless keys) pouring down from the ceiling. (Japan Pavilion, 2015)  

In her statement on youtube, Shiota (2015) spoke about keys carrying human stories and memories of events even noting how the shape of the key is like the shape of a human body.  "If you have a key in the hand, you have a chance."  I resonated with the interconnectedness represented by the installation.  In perhaps a silly thought, I smiled as I considered how we're all in the same boat.  Introspectively, I wondered how my thoughts, actions, and deeds promote interconnectedness or opportunity for those I encounter.   I want to be about fostering those spaces for others to realize those 'chances' represented by the keys.  This is the power of such an exquisite exhibit.   


Azzarello, N. (2015).  Chiharu Shiota weaves an immersive labyrinth of keys and yarn.  Design Boom.  Retrieved from http://www.designboom.com/art/chiharu-shiota-venice-art-biennale-the-key-in-the-hand-05-06-2015/

Japan Pavilion. (2015).  The Key In Hand.  Retrieved from http://2015.veneziabiennale-japanpavilion.jp/en/

Japan Pavilion. (2015). Experience the installation.  Retrieved fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvCfgV7qimA

Shiota, C. (n.d.). Artist website.  Retrieved from http://www.chiharu-shiota.com/en/ 

Shiota, C. (2015).  Artist Interview.  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV3AwzrQbIo

JU PhD Program Reflections

To quote Donald Trump, "This is Huuuuuuge!"   Today is a big day at Johnson University because we signed off on our very first dissertation within the Ph.D. in Leadership Studies program.  See program description.  I spent the remainder of the day vacillating between exhilaration and sadness simultaneous filled with a sense of now what?!  

Background:  JU's President Weedman introduced JU to me in 2009 when he asked me to teach Strategic Planning within the BA/BS in Nonprofit Management program.  I still remember that first visit to JU TN located in Knoxville.  I was immediately struck by the physical beauty of the campus and the intense commitment of JU faculty and staff to hospitality.

Source:  http://www.JohnsonU.edu 

Source:  http://www.JohnsonU.edu 

In 2010, Dr. Weedman called saying JU, in partnership with 7 other universities, wanted to start a PhD in Leadership Studies.  Will you design the program?  Timeline:  5 months.  So a consultant reverse calendars from the due date and does what it takes to meet the client expectations.  Little did I know that within academia - a 5 month design timeline is considered lunacy; however, this is JU - agile, on task, and willing to do what it takes.  

The day we submitted the design package for accreditation review, I remember tears flowing as I contemplated this BHAG (big hairy audacious goal)!  That day, Dr. Weedman asked me to come on board full time to direct the program.  On many levels this was a crazy hire.  I'm not an academic; like strategy, planning and design but grow weary in the midst of implementation; and my professional network, at the time, did not include typical JU alumni or constituents.    Shoot, I wouldn't have hired me for the role!   Yet - I saw an opportunity to build something directly focused on developing leaders and creating opportunities for leadership studies related research and scholarship.  Content mastery and research skills are important but I am more focused on developing leaders who, within their sphere of influence, are equipped to see complexity, focused on human flourishing, and judiciously care, act, and serve.  In Christian-ese, I see our primary purpose as discipling.  

All of these memories came flooding in today.  As a designer, I strive to 'imagine' an if this/then this design anticipating possible hiccups and/or questions in advance.  The reality though is that all implementations are accompanied by a need for thinking, discernment, and adjustment.  So it is with this PhD program rollout.  Bless their hearts - Cohort 1 truly represent canaries sent into the coal mine.  It is a deep honor that the 4 men in cohort 1 entrusted JU with their doctoral education in an untested program and PhD program director.  But they did and today - one of them finished.  We've walked and learned together.  It's with deep satisfaction that I say - Our approach to teaching content and research skills while simultaneously focusing on leadership development works.   I'll get more practical in future posts about what we do.  For now - I want to relish the moment.  It works.  Congratulations Dr. Chris Beard - JU's first to complete their doctoral dissertation.  I am so happy you finished! 

Source: Johnson University, Cliff McCartney

Source: Johnson University, Cliff McCartney

First ever blog post!

I know it's rather cliche' to post a first blog post announcing that it's a first but this is a big step towards having all my writing, consulting,  and social media identities consolidated into one place.  This is it - the world according to AC. A while ago, I asked a public relations person to review my social media content to provide a preliminary critique as a way of figuring out if I wanted to hire her.   Her response, You should only communicate professional related content.  Say goodbye to goofy shoes and craziness on Facebook, street art on twitter, and shared photos on Flickr - all this was deemed 'unprofessional' taking away from my professional brand and identity.  I impolitely said - that's a bunch of crap.   The look on her face was priceless!  

So the truth is I'm rather eclectic and bohemie. I want consulting clients, colleagues, students, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc. to know who I am....really know who I am so they trust and are encouraged by this strong, flawed, quirky person who gives every day all the gusto she can muster.  Another reason for this is to connect with others thinking about and researching topics I'm curious about, I thrive in the world of ideas and conversation! One more reason....I thought this might be fun.  Something I haven't done before.  What can I learn?  How can I express myself creatively without the agony of APA, peer review, and all the craziness of academia?! 

I look forward to learning how to blog and interact in this way!