We buried one of my best friends from college yesterday. Tomorrow my sister-in-law and her family bury her younger brother. My friend Troy lived with Parkinson’s disease for a decade. Jen’s brother Zach died suddenly in a plane crash.

“Angels” was the suggested theme for week 15 of #songaweek2018. I didn’t have much interest in using it. I’ve never been a big angels fan (baseball or otherwise). Too sentimental, too kitschy, too many ceramic travesties foisted on the world. I did briefly start a song tentatively called “Don’t Blink,” but couldn’t sustain an interest in it.

So I pulled up some old song ideas from my files and found a recording of a tune and some chords, no words. And then it all started coming together, a song woven from the threads of my life that week.

Zach’s sudden death. Troy weakly hanging on to the last moments of his life. Two men’s lives tragically and senselessly cut short.

Winter refusing to leave my neighborhood, breathing cold and snow over everything, week after wearying week. An insistent reflection of my own middle-aged angst.

The physics book I’ve been reading, Reality is Not What it Seems, and its discussion of a 3-sphere, a current understanding of the shape of the cosmos; and how Dante envisioned it long before Einstein did, possibly from looking up at mosaics of angels in the Florence Baptistery.

The visions of painter and poet William Blake, which thankfully are something else my mind calls up when I hear the word “angel.”

In writing this song, I more deeply felt why angels have been consistently present in stories and art. There are moments, especially the moments around death, in which we reach out for something like us but not. A being of great beauty, power, intelligence – but also one who brings deep comfort. Not a god, not a human, but someone who knows more than we do, who has seen further into the mysteries of existence and can still say to us, “fear not,” can guide us from what we know into what we don’t.

Hold me while I freefall
While the winds of death squall
Keep me in your vision
Carry me to paradise
Let me sing forever
Where the clouds can never
Take me from your vision
Carry me to paradise
Lead me from this dark cave
Sail me cross the light waves
Fill me with your vision
Carry me to paradise
Fly me through the shadows
Lift me from the cosmos
Add me to your vision
Carry me to paradise

Help Wanted (Straining the Limits of Ambiguity)

TLDR: I saw a movie that was hyped to be a mind-bender and came away disappointed. The link to my song for week 11 of #songaweek2018 follows my rant on aesthetics below.

Sometimes you read a book or see a movie or hear a song (or see a painting, a sculpture, a play . . .) that makes you think. But not in the way you think its creator was thinking you’d maybe think you should be thinking.

What I mean is – well, I don’t know what I mean, and that’s the point of this song. Sometimes an artist creates something that they were excited to make, but they can’t properly complete it.

Now by “properly complete” I do not mean tie up every loose end, overly strain a point, or even come to a conclusion about something. All I mean is that to be satisfying, I think a work of art needs to have some level of cohesiveness to it. It may be very subjective – a hundred people could come away with a hundred (or more!) different interpretations of it. But whatever the answers its viewers/readers/etc. come up with, the questions it raises will be identifiable.

Ambiguity is a little like habanero sauce – it can add spice and bring out flavor when used in appropriate amounts. Pile it on like ketchup, though, and it overwhelms. You can’t taste the food anymore. The flavor is gone and all that’s left is spice. In art, too much ambiguity smothers the creation and draws the viewer’s attention only to itself.

But then there’s this sneaky thing artists sometimes do – when a work starts getting away from us and we just can’t wrangle the thing into a cohesive whole, we play the mystic/intellectual card – we make something so dense and ambiguous that confused viewers/listeners/etc. will either assume they are not smart or mystic enough to understand, or pretend they are and give us rave reviews to show their level of aesthetic sensibility.

Understand, I am not saying this is always what’s happening when you or I don’t understand a work of art. I think it’s not even what’s usually happening when we don’t understand. That’s what I love about good art – it pushes the limits and challenges the status quo. We learn and grow and are inspired to explore and discover when we encounter things we don’t understand. And sometimes we are left scratching our heads because something has been truly mind-bending.

But sometimes we’re left scratching our heads because we’ve been given an impressive show, lots of material to contemplate, but not even a semblance of a compass or a flashlight to navigate through it.

Here’s my song for week eleven:

Now this is the part of the story
Where you’ve got to help a storyteller out
I leave this bit to your imagination
Cause I can’t decide what it’s about

we’ve slain the monsters with our big guns
screwed a couple of people in a couple of ways
gotten our thrills and chills and kills

And now here we are at the end of the road
where you’re looking for a semblance of a thought
But I’m sorry to say I got nothing
I don’t know
I got nothing here

And that’s where you come in, you’re intelligent
Cause you chose to hear my story
So I’m confident you can take it from here
Take this story clever listener [reader, viewer, player?]
And run with it
Take this story where you’d like to see it go
Oh no
that’s not what I meant

And More Sculpture

Day 24 in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.IMG_3611

Just about every day I walk Silas to school, and we pass Bruce Gueswel‘s studio.

I’ve always adored these works he makes from rocks that are displayed in the windows, and was intrigued to find out that he also makes artwork and chairs for Chipotle. Often when we walk past in the mornings, we can see employees at work inside.

While there’s already a good deal of bronze sculpture being made in Loveland, it’s fun to see someone working with a different medium.

Benson Sculpture Garden

Day eighteen in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Just north of Lake Loveland is the Benson Sculpture Garden. Each summer sculptors from all over the world gather here for Sculpture in the Park, “America’s largest outdoor juried sculpture show and sale.”

The show has been going on for 34 years, and each year proceeds from the show are used to add more sculptures to the park. So there’s a lot to see here!

And like a lot of locals, I drive past this place all the time and have only actually explored it a few times while I’ve lived here. So today between dropping off a thrift store donation and getting an oil change, I stopped and took a few photos. These particular sculptures are all within a few steps of each other.


The Conversation (marble, by Madeline Wiener) is also a bench, like those old-fashioned loveseats, where two people sit like the people in the sculpture are sitting. You can just sit in their laps and have your own conversation!




Cultural Pedestrians (cast concrete & steel, Sue Quinlan).


The proportions on this one are so fun. Nothing unusual with the camera, I just stood in front of it to take this photo. Here’s its title and sculptor information on its nameplate, by that fantastic right foot:


And seen from the back:


My kids love this interactive sculpture. You can stand there on that stone and join the circle holding hands.


It’s called Circle of Peace, bronze, by Gary Price.


And here’s another bench where you can join the sculpture, They Are Waiting, bronze, by Nnamdi Okonkwo. I love the weight of these waiting figures. I think they’ve been waiting a long time, and they remain steadfast and present in their heavy wait.