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Green Desert: Part 1

Feeling famished and deprived in the relative calm of the Green Desert, my journey back to D.C. and New York is a welcome, though not altogether pleasant reprieve.

As an individual who has spent most of his existence living and erecting his creative career in New York City, often referred to as the “Asphalt Jungle,” but then uprooted, yet again, moving from one country to another, while admittedly thrilled by challenges and discoveries made along the way, I begun to think of myself as a yet another restless Wandering Jew. Such life can be thrilling, yet at times somewhat taxing.

And so, as a human being wishing for what he does not have, instead of feeling fulfilled by what he does have, I intermittently wondered what it would be like to live in a fairly quieter, more peaceful and sublime existence afforded by a natural, organic, much less stressful, slower, more friendly setting. I would have time to reflect, to read, to write but above all else do more of my art, while continuing to promote and conduct my Imagination Workshops, a potent, impactful, inspiring and meaningful platform for sharing my vast global creative, academic and mentoring experience, beliefs, sensitivities, visions, ideas as well as ideologies.

Well, unpredictably, this one particular yearning came true. And guess what? After four months of relative quiet, fresh scents of plentiful greenery, watching carefree deer tranquilly nibbling on grass finally turning green after months of draught, hearing unsettling cries of wild coyote breaking the otherwise silent nights, only a few stops from the vast ocean, peaceful and sparkling waives which melancholically enthrall me while I stand on my balcony, I am starting to feel more stressed, somewhat entrapped, under-utilized, even not as constructive as before, plus more intellectually dispossessed than ever before!

We humans, at least those of us who have tasted the extreme flavors life can unveil to those who have tasted adventure, discovery, desire to overcome challenges arousing our spirits and adrenaline, are odd creatures, rarely satisfied with what we do have, and too often zealous for what we do not. An eminent Polish poet once beautifully wrote that we learn the precious value of freedom only once it is taken away from us. Having experienced it first hand, and thereafter while traversing the world of dissimilar political, social and economic backdrops, I repeatedly have learned to appreciate the deep wisdom of his words. For it is not only applicable to personal or political freedoms but to everything in and throughout our life.

For while, in a newly experienced ways, I now have more freedom than in many previous circumstances or times, I feel cut off from what I perceive as the wonderful face of the “Asphalt Jungle” and its variations and forms of what we refer to as urban civilization: its museums, endless galleries and activities that steer and challenge imagination, that invigorate me and make me think, reflect, judge, seek a deeper meaning of life, even at a cost of making me feel inadequate or inept or even unread or uneducated in the various facts of knowledge I wish I was more knowledgeable of or cultured in. Yet, given but a brief instance of life we are granted, each of us has to make choices, often mistakes, which shape the path of our lives.

This hounding, harassing and sinking sensation came into sarcastic focus and severe clarity during my recent end of the year return to the East Coast. This is not because I miss New York City, where I lived and evolved my creative career over the vast majority of my life thus far, or DC, where I lived temporarily fulfilled by access to the many wonders hidden in its abundant museums. It is because where I am now, in the green desert, despite it being a university town, but away from any such major megalopolises, I am growing more and more famished, feeling deprived of the kind of stimulus this blog is being dedicated to.

Upon arrival in Washington DC, my initial hunger was somewhat mollified, and temporarily fulfilled, while simultaneously becoming intensified by the limits of time, by one of the many galleries subsidized by the Smithsonian Institute. Oddly, many people do not fathom how fortunate they are when being extended a free and unlimited access to the art treasures housed in these institutions sponsoring wonderful exhibits that, in often skillfully curated ways, enable us, the visitors, to embark of journeys through time and space experiencing discoveries, evolution, turbulence, dark ages but also amazing reawakening our human race has instigated and experienced throughout ages. Thus, I entered the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art.

It is the exhibit of El Greco that I was most eager to see. In the memory of my mind, which I have found often enriches and ornates our recollections and perceptions, his technique and manner of rendering and stylizing of human figures were still vividly delicious and magical to me, based on the last time I viewed his paintings. Disappointingly, what promised to be a retrospective of his art was, in reality, limited to only one gallery. And further more, those paintings that were vivid in my mind were not there, or not included as I hoped them to be.

Hence, I begun to wander through other galleries, many of which I had visited formerly while living in DC. And thus I have stumbled upon the American Wing, which exhibited not the current but more distant paintings. Amongst them, unexpectedly, I found art that truly impressed me. Ensuing are just a few such examples.

Andrew Wyeth painting of a simple curtain whooshing in the wind is breathtakingly delicate, illusively airy.

James Whistler’s portrait of a beautifully tantalizing and seemingly innocent woman standing on a skinned dead animal pelt is more than just distressing. Makes one wonder how the lady agreed to be immortalized in such a manner and setting that, to me, refutes her feminine qualities, instead accentuating pure cruelty.

And finally John Sargent’s masterful rendering of seemingly mundane nature that is purely stunningly in its delicacy and the manner in which it manages to transform the predictable into an amazing abstract. 

Prior to departing this vast and rich museum I could not resist revisiting the stunning Dali’s “Last Support.”

It is more than mystical or surreal. Personally, I find it spiritually transcendent, a trip into the 4th dimension.