Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I am in Berlin.  

I have arrived!

As I cruised into Berlin today, memories of my Smithers departure flickered through my mind.  It seems like so long ago that I pushed off from my little Northern town onto Highway 16.   Glacier tip mountains and eagles looked on as I, a tiny speck on a lonely highway, set off into the vast wilderness in pursuit of a dream.  

Pedaling by bears and totems, Berlin was my destination.   Drawn by the country of my forefathers and the premiere world city for an international artist, I laboured up slopes and soared down into valleys, ever onwards.

Approaching Berlin today, I have caught myself gearing up-- not down-- on the hills and pushing hard to keep my speed.   I am ecstatic to arrive.   It is a gorgeous Spring day.   The sun glistens off buildings.  The flowers wave gently in the breeze.  I catch the blue eyes of a passerby.  I smile.   This is one of the best days of my life.

I have BIKED here ladies and gentlemen!

Through five countries, great cities, and rustic villages I have journeyed.   I have endured storms, blizzards and sub zero Winter nights huddled in my tent.  I have gone without food and have longed for water.     I have raised my hands in joy to blue sky and I have huddled with loneliness in dark and damp forests.  I have contemplated with numb desperation the theft of my bike and all my equipment.  I have been mesmirized with gratitude as gifts and help have appeared at the most timely of moments.   I have treated friends to meals in the best restaurants and I have scrounged through my bag for my last coins.  Miraculously, without having more than 100$ for the last four months, I am not only better equipped and fed, but healthier than ever.

But that's just the material side of things.  

When I arrived in England I knew but two people in all of Europe.  I have now a DAZZLING array of beautiful friendships behind me.   From monks to farmers, to first ministers and breathtaking women.   I have been blessed with lovers in the most serendipitous of meetings and have loved and opened my heart like never before.  I have shared soul searing moments that I will treasure forever.  

In all this, something profound has happened.  

As my dream has become reality, so too has my journey become the destination.   My heart, my project, and the Universe, now call me onwards.  Berlin is no longer where my journey ends, but where it really begins.   Its is a poetic realizing that feels like something out of a lengend or myth.   Indeed, here the energy, the plans and the route for the real journey are coalescing here.

I will enjoy Berlin, I will throw myself into this great city.  Then, I will continue.  East and Onwards. 

The Rendered Veil

This is a little more of an aesthetic exploration, abstraction and simplification than the last pieces.

Monday, April 27, 2009


It is hard to beleive that these universes of colour existed for only a brief moment in a paint can.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Serpentine Seduction

For some reason the Letter `S came to mind as I titled this piece. Its a continuation of my paint swirl photographic explorations. The details are fantastic in the high resolution verison.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blue Universe

My camera has died. Its been a good excuse to go through some of my old photos. I have discovered some art that I created back in Smithers that I have never shared or exhibited.

Working on paintings back in Smithers I had become fascinated by the beautiful patterns that formed when I mixed large batches of paint together. They were like micro universes of colour! My friend Gord lent me his killer Canon 30D pro camera. I did a shoot of these in 12 MP high resolution format. On the original files you can zoom deeper and deeper into the fractal worl.

Here is one of them. I have used photoshop to supp it up, to bring out the colours and the intense patterns. I love it. Cannot believe I never did anything with these. Imagine this printed out nice and big and hanging on austere white gallery wall.

If I get a comment or two on this I will add some more from the series!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The White Coffee Pot

The white porcelain coffee pot sat atop the smouldering pile of rubble. The sun glinted off its distinctive vine pattern as the plumes of smoke rose around it. So ludicrously impropable and so vastly insignificant, the scene was seared into a story that would be told half a century later.

The story begins yesterday morning over breakfast here in Klein Machnow. Here, on the outskirts of Berlin, I am staying with Elizabeth and her family.

Aunt Edith has been visiting for the last few days.

How I wish I could share a photo of this kind old lady. My camera has died so words will have to do. In her nineties, she stands a little under 5 feet. Yet she is as spry as a 70 year old! She wears colourful 1970's blouses and horned rim glasses that remind me of my grandmother. Her hair, is as white as our breakfast plates and is pulled into a tight bun at the back of her head. There is a twinkle in her eye as she tries hard remembers the occasional English word.

I am a Canadian who grew up hearing much about the second world war- from my grandparents, novels, movies, in text books, in highschool, in university. A distinctly Canadian perspective of course. Its one thing to read about it, its another to hear it from the lips of those who actually lived it. Going through France, Belgium and Holland I have had the honour of meeting elderly people who shared their experiences of the 1940's. What an honour.

However, reflecting on this as I gazed at the allied monuments I have seen so much of on my journey, I have begun to sense a void in my understanding.

I have heard much about Heroes and Sacrifice and Great Battles and Daring Exploits. However, there are two sides to a war. The way our home country paints history is always partial. Details about the humanity of the other side always seem to be the first to be ommitted.

Caught in the midst of the war were mothers and families that experienced parralel destruction and tragedy. Here in Germany as in the allied countries. Not all Germans were SS officiers in grey uniforms. I have personally heard so little about the German regular folks. Just as there were unwitting allied families caught up in the war, so too were there German families and folks that would have been enormously happy if it had never happened.

Aunt Edith was one such person.

As we sat sipping our coffee, the conversation turned to moments that have been long buried. Terrible things were broadcast on loudspeakers to the city about the impending destruction. Her family's home was near Dresden. In 1945 she listened as a rain of bombs fell down upon the neighbouring city. Air raid sirens screamed and her family scuttled into the cellar. The next morning she watched from the balcony as the city burned.

The next morning, her father bicycled to work in what had once been Dresden. Charred bodies lay strewn across the street. The building where he worked was completely destroyed. He stood there and took in the scene.

There, high on a pile of the smouldering remains of his factory was his white vinelaub coffee pot-- a special product of a nearby porcelain maker. It glistened in the sun as the smoke curled around it. The chances it would have come to rest at the top of the demolished factory were so proposterous. He couldn't help but stare.

Its funny what we remember isn't it? It must have been one of those intensely vivid moments for Aunt Edith's father that melt into the surreal. Time slows to a standstill and we take in the most intricate of details. The significance of a coffee pot is on par with a corpse, a demolished building and a scorched city. The tragedy so thick that is overwhelming.

This is war.

The trials of Auth Edith's family is so similar to what I heared from the great-grandmother in Normandy, Alain telling me of his destroyed hometown of Caen, and the bombings of London. These similar stories are a profound reminder that were all connected.

Are there really two sides to a war?

Perhaps that's the problem right there.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Escape from Complexity

Here is a crazy little creation that I put together yesterday. I made a simple black pen drawing, then using photoshop repeated it and rotated it around. The idea was to create something somewhat mandalic with something orginally chaotic.
Hmm... I wonder what this says about my state of mind at the time!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Compersion: A New Word!

I have just discovered a new English word: Compersion. Compersion is the opposite of jealousy. It is the joyful feeling that one has when observing the happiness of another in love-- in particular someone special to you.


Now I have a word for it!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Magically Happy Garden

What happens when you get an artist do yard work?

Yesterday, I was helping Marion move stones around in her garten. Real Manly work. Its really good to be able to help out in return for the kindness of her hospitality. Of course, there's nothing like physical labour to get one thinking. As I lugged stones around an idea started to percolate.........

Borrowing ideas from all over, I threw this little movie together in the afternoon-- I quite literally threw it together-- as you will see! Its really quick conceptual experimental basically. My camera has died so it was all on my laptop's webcam. I even re-used Darragh's music from my Amsterdam movie.

Darragh, I will take you up on your offer of more music!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can You Feel the Romanian Breeze?

Arad,Romania: "Una cu Viata,Natura bucuriei!"

Today, I opened up my laptop on a sunny Spring morning near Berlin.  

There in my Inbox was a message from a stranger in Romania.

It was her peace portrait submission for the 1Mandala. What a dazzling photo! I could just imagine her standing in a park raising her hands up the sky. So much so, that I flicked on my webcam, stood up and did the same.  

We often wonder, how do you bring peace to the world? How do you make the world a better place?  

First, you find it in yourself! Then, like a gentle breeze it sweeps across from one field to another. Soon thousands of flowers are dancing in its wake. I get these amazing photos in my Inbox and can't help but feel in myself the same emotions welling up in reflection. Its a beautiful example of how good energy spreads from one smile to another. Words and language and material things are just intermediaries in this inevitably contagious exchange.  

And now... her beautiful moment is bouncing into yours.  

Can you feel the breeze? :-)

Friday, April 10, 2009

A German Morning

A very German breakfast with Martina

I write this sitting outside my tent in a wide open field in the middle of the german country side.  

I am about 80 kms from Berlin and pretty much there. The full moon shines above. A lightning storm flickers off in the distance. Every few seconds a burst of light illuminates the clouds in the distance. The stars are coming out one at a time. A light breeze blows. I can hear the rustle of the new leaves in a nearby tree.  

The day began having a coffee with a nice lady who spoke only German.  

We talked about the war and how her family had to flee occupied Poland back to Germany. Super interesting. I told her the story of how my forefathers immigrated from Germany to America. The conversation was all in German. I am overjoyed at being able to understand and to share. What a contrast to my first day in Leer last month when I couldn't even order a coffee. I've been working crazy hard to learn and my efforts are now gloriously paying off.  

Its so rewarding to be able to talk to people in their own language. 

I then hit the road and enjoyed the most beautiful spring day ever cycling leisurely through the countryside taking the backroads and avoiding the big ones.  

I stopped in another small town, found a wifi signal discovered that 40 new people from Romania have signed up to the 1mandala project.  Three new peace portraits of dazzling smiles also greeted me. Beautiful.

I pulled off as the sun was setting and made camp here in this beautiful field. This will be my last night in this tent I do beleive. A new one awaits me in Pottsdam that my parent's picked up for me especially in Canada.  
Ahhh!!! I am so blessed!

An Adventure in Art

Some of you have been wondering about this strange place I have been referring to as the Castle.

Reinhart Zabka converted this old farm baron´s castle into a repository of his art going back to before the fall of the Berlin wall. Reinhart has converted all sorts of crazy things he has found in garbages and antique stores. When East German´s could finally buy western things in the 1980s apparently they threw lots of things out. Reinhart turned them into art. His castle is packed full of it!

It is an interesting place culturally, artistically and historically. His art is the opposite of my minimalistic style! He calls it maximalist! There is an overload of things to see. However, this makes for great photography. I put together this little experimental neandering film that pans broadly then zooms into the specific details of his crazy creations.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Late? I am on time.

I have just learned two new German words.  

Früh and spät. Early and Late. 

In Germay, things go very much according to schedule. These are important words to know! When someone makes an appointment with you for a certain time, they mean that time. In fact, when someone says they will meet you between 8 and 8:30 they actually mean 8. Indeed when you ask what time it is in German, you ask how late it is!  

But can you actually be late?  

I've often been late for things. Even today as I cruised down the road on an unbeleivable beautiful Spring day, I thought to myself... geez I should hurry up, I really should be closer to Berlin now. But, I have no appointments today. I have none tomorrow. Nonetheless, I this nagging feeling I am behind schedule and need to hurry up.  

I am begining to suspect that it is a residual cultural indoctrination. Why should I have this late feeling? I am begining to understand that in fact my moment is perfect. I am not late for anything. I am not early. I just am.  Early and late are artificial constructs that tempt the mind out the moment into worry and anxiety.  

Today, a little tired from two parties late into the night in Berlin, I decided to take a nap. I pulled over found a nice tree beside a pond filled with Swans and closed my eyes. Late? For what? I am on time. I am on time down to the millisecond. The vast intricacies of my moment are unfolding perfectly. Try, worry and fret as I might, it cannot be any other way.  

Going through a small German town I pulled over to take a photo of this Church clock. I had been just thinking about these ideas. In fact I was thinking it would make a great addition to this blog post. To illustrate with divine elegance the verity of my ponderings, the Church bell rang just as I took this photo.  

And technically it hadn't even turned 5:30 yet.  

Don't ask me how that happened!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Blossoming Mandala of Good Words

What is 'Love' in German? An Adventure in Mandala Making and German Learning.

Apparently the Lugen Museum castle where I am staying has a bit of a violent history. Reinhart, the artist who has made this his museum and gallery, asked me to create an art piece to imbue the castle with some good and peaceful vibes.

I immediately had an idea-- I could merge learning German with art making! Inspired by an idea from my New York friend Amy and an Oosterhout creation for Abby, I grabbed a giant pack of post it notes and I pen.

I set about learning new words. Good words! As many good words as I could think of.

In learning German the last few weeks, it has struck me how the words we know, understand and speak define our experience. If you cannot say "turmoil" in German, its alot harder to experience it.  However, if you understand and speak 'enjoy' and 'love' and 'connection', well then...
As I got going with the mandala, soon kids and adults started helping me! Dorathi came along and Polish words were added. Ben, Celine and Stephanie started adding post-its to the wall. It was a heck of a lot more fun than me doing it alone!

I recorded the creation with stop motion photography. The mandala, this little movie and the week of creation literally took a life all its own.

What a wonderful and beautiful adventure it was.

Bis zum nächsten Moment Stephanie!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Love me - a poem

Here I am in your moment,

Just as you are here in mine.

The universe has conspired in a symphony,

An orchestra of flow so subtle, so sublime

That our hearts meld as our eyes meet.

The current takes us, sweeping us gently together,

My heart speaks to yours:  Fear not.


Smile, touch, speak the most beautiful words.

Embrace, caress, hold.

Crush the tethers of the past!

Refuse the chains of tomorrow.

Spring with me into the Sea of Now.

It is our moment.

There is no blue sky day so fine.

There is no other time so true.

As when your eyes meet mine.

What else more beautiful is there to do?

Love me.

As I do you.