summer semi-hiatus

21 Jul

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It’s probably already obvious that we’ve been quiet for a while. While we have (he)art bombings to write about and photos to post, summer is just a really busy time for us for many reasons, and the blog has been on the back burner. We will try to get a few things posted before the end of the summer, but just know that we are only on hiatus, not gone for good. We’re still happy to get emails and submissions from folks and you can always buy some hearts in our shop.

Thanks for your patience and we’ll be back soon!

beginnings

3 Apr

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About a year and a half ago, I thought up a simple lesson on installation art to do with some kids I was teaching that ended up being the beginnings of Love is a Radical Act. We hung ceramic hearts in a big walnut tree on a college campus and left them there. Because the focus at the time was just on the different ways installation art functions, I was partly interested in how these hearts, which would be easy enough for someone to pick up and hang somewhere else, would or wouldn’t move from where they were originally hung.

I wasn’t around the campus very much to really see what happened, but there would be hints when I did go back. A few months later, the walnut tree was empty, but a lone heart was hanging on a bush near the parking lot. The next spring, a heart (the same one or a different one?) was hanging on a public bulletin board. (Confession: I took it out of nostalgia – it was one of the originals, and I was the one who made it, after all.)

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A year later, this past week, I found another heart hanging on one of the weaving looms. I’m continually surprised and pleased that they haven’t quite disappeared from campus.

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Even though Love is a Radical Act is about love and family and all those big, complex ideas, as an artist I’m still interested in how the hearts that get hung eventually migrate to other places. Early on, after just a couple of (he)art bombings, Kelly and I heard that someone had seen one of the hearts sitting inside a frozen yogurt shop – we definitely hadn’t left one there, so someone else did.

A few weeks after our big (he)art bombing trip to Olympia and Seattle, we got an email from a book store owner who thanked us for putting a heart through the mail slot. It was a sweet email, but we didn’t deserve the credit, or at least not all of it. Whether it was a friend of the owner, a faithful customer, or even just some drunk person walking home after midnight, it’s a great example of how the interactive nature of the project means it can change and grow and reach out to new people (in a delightfully positive way, of course).

All this is to say, we love it when we hear about people discovering our hearts hanging somewhere, and we like to imagine them continually moving about from place to place. We always welcome your stories and photos about how you happened upon Love is a Radical Act because through them we can learn what has been happening with our project.

2000+ and counting

18 Mar

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Recently we passed the 2,000 mark – that’s 2,000 handmade ceramic hearts cut, fired, and glazed. All but maybe 100-200 are out there in the world, mostly hanging in (he)art bombings. It’s funny, 2,000 doesn’t seem so big in some ways, but I also have to remember just how many hours of time they represent. It really is a milestone.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us and contributed so far. Here’s to thousands more hearts in the coming months!

(he)art bombing: downtown library

13 Mar
Vancouver Roots & Shoots members at the library

Vancouver Roots & Shoots members, showing off their hearts at the library

We are slowly catching up with the blog, and we have a couple of (he)art bombings from February to tell you all about.

We were contacted by one of the Vancouver, WA, chapters of Roots & Shoots to do a (he)art bombing together. These kids are all grade-school age and work together to plan and execute service projects that will benefit the community. It’s great to see caring and involvement being fostered at such a young age. We decided to (he)art bomb the downtown library since it’s an important part of their lives and a busy place where lots of people will see the message of love that these kids are sharing.

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It was an amazingly sunny day for the middle of February. After a brief discussion about installation art and Love is a Radical Act, we set the kids loose to do their (he)art bombing. We gave them ideas about where it’s easiest to hang hearts, but we also gave each kid complete control of where they were going to hang their hearts. Aside from a little adult supervision and assistance, this was their project.

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Great job, everyone! Keep on sharing your love with the community and your families!

a renewed faith in marriage

11 Mar
Toni and Christopher at our wedding...little did we know they really meant it!

Toni and Christopher at our wedding…little did we know they really meant it!

(Note: I asked Christopher to write something about his recent engagement after a lovely conversation we had. The true partnership between Christopher and Toni really is a beautiful thing, and the way they support and fuel each other creatively is especially heartening for other artists to witness. Toni has this to add: “I’m sitting here with a smile on my face and congratulating myself for asking you out in the first place!”)

I was very proud to have been asked to read a poem at the recent wedding of Kelly Keigwin and Sam MacKenzie. I am thrilled that these two amazing artists, who are so obviously devoted to one another, are now able to be legally married. I admire them for being proactive rather than waiting for the state to grant them what should legally be theirs: both women were very involved in the campaign to pass R-74.

I’m not a huge fan of marriage. As a happily divorced father, I know from experience that sometimes marriage can nearly destroy a person. In some cases, divorce is the best possible thing that can happen to all concerned, especially if there are children involved. The institution of marriage, which some have felt compelled to protect from those whom their religion instructs them to view as unnatural, is in shambles. However, recently I have come to change my mind about marriage.

Lesbian couples I know, such as my friends Sam and Kelly, and my cousin Jeannie and her wife, Steph, have been showing us straight couples what lifelong commitment is really all about. My fiancée, Toni, and I have been a couple for five and a half years. During that time, we have referred to each other as “partners.” We did this for two reasons: 1. We have endeavored to practice true partnership, which means that neither person dominates the other, emotionally, physically, or financially. 2. We wanted to show our solidarity with our queer brothers and sisters here in Vancouver and around the world.

Toni taught me that the form of love that I always dreamed of is indeed possible. Together we have built a strong partnership in which we remain in the moment, and discuss any issues that arise right away, before resentment can begin to build. Both of us have suffered in marriages in which our feelings were ignored or disregarded, and this is what allowed us to appreciate finally finding another person who values and appreciates us. In fact, I think that regularly expressing gratitude is one of the greatest secrets to a lasting relationship.

One of the greatest gifts that Toni has given me is to accept me as I am, with all my flaws. In fact, when one of us is down, or struggling, the other sees it as an opportunity to demonstrate support. I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who praises me when I accomplish one of my goals, and is willing to let me know when I have fallen short of being the kind of man I can be. Toni does both of these in the most loving and nurturing way that I can imagine. We share a trust that our partner has our best interests at heart. I end my very busy days knowing that she has my back, and that whatever happens, I can count on her to stand by me.

I wish Sam and Kelly, and all other newly married couples, many years of happiness and discovery. I thank my gay brothers and sisters everywhere for showing us how it’s done, and for making marriage cool again.

why (he)art bombing is rad

7 Feb

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We know folks enjoy our blog and the photos we post. We appreciate all of our readers – and thanks to the magic of the internet, we know you are all over the world. It’s awesome.

We’ve had a great time planning and carrying out (he)art bombings and documenting them, and we have more plans up our sleeves for future (he)art bombings, both big and small.

But, given the limitations of two people working in real life versus the reach of the internet, very few of you out there have the opportunity to join us when we do a (he)art bombing event – you’re probably many many miles away or have a busy schedule or, you know, there’s lots of reasons. It’s cool, that’s life. But we still really want folks to participate in the project by purchasing their own hearts and planning their own (he)art bombing in their corner of the world.

I’m sure lots of you think that sounds like a great idea, but maybe you don’t know just how great it is. I mean, seriously, doing a (he)art bombing ends up being way more gratifying than you ever expect it to be. This can happen in two ways – let me share them.

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1. You get to enjoy your work over and over again.

I can’t tell you how delighted I am when I see that hearts we have hung months ago are still around. It’s so simple, yet there’s a real satisfaction in knowing that you’ve added beauty and a positive message to a space where potentially thousands of people have seen it.

Recently I got savvy enough to check out what kinds of Google searches were leading folks to our blog. One of them was “what are the hearts around the olympia capitol building.” That means that we sparked someone’s curiosity with our art. If you know anything about being an artist, you know that it can be very hard to get someone’s attention with what you make/do, let alone get them to invest any time into learning more.*

All this is to say, with a public (he)art bombing, you get to create something lovely and lasting that really does have an impact. Which leads me to…..

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2. You really do make a difference in others’ lives.

This can happen in two (or maybe more) ways. As mentioned above, if you do a public (he)art bombing, people will see it. They will notice. They will react.

We have had the privilege of receiving some lovely private messages from folks who were truly touched by our hearts. I would like to share a few excerpts:

“…it made my heart sing…”

“I hope that you receive something beautifully unusual & inspired out-of-the-blue soon, too!”

“I came across one of your ‘installations’ and felt the universe was sending me a love note…”

You can see other kind notes from folks in the comments on this blog and on our Facebook page. We appreciate hearing from every one of you – it’s incredibly encouraging to know that we’ve had a positive impact on someone somewhere. We look forward to creating more of these moments in the future.

But there are some (he)art bombings that are more private – or at least meant for a chosen person/family, not just for the world at large. There a great example of this in our post about Maria’s (he)art bombing at a friend’s house last fall. Another example happened recently when someone bought some hearts from us and hung them around Olympia specifically in honor of two friends getting married.

Kelly and I did a (he)art bombing a while ago that we haven’t really talked about and I’ll just share the basics here. A friend died of cancer not too long ago at a tragically young age, leaving behind a wife, young kids, family, and many friends. When it was clear that he didn’t have much time left, we (he)art bombed his house as a symbol of our love and support. And really, what else can you do in that kind of a situation, besides show your love?

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All this is to say, you might be surprised by just how good it feels to do a (he)art bombing. We are continually surprised, in a delightfully pleasant way.

*If all of this is interesting to you – the idea of making an impact in your community through art – we encourage you to look up “street art” as an entry point to learning about other ways people are making art within the public sphere. A specific example of art made to directly affect a community that you may want to read about is Carrie Mae Weems’ project Operation:Activate.

puppy love

6 Feb
Mr. Mister

Mr. Mister

Love is a radical act.

That is true whether that love is for your fellow human beings, animals, nature, etc. As this project grows and evolves, it only seems natural that we would incorporate local and global issues that are important to us, as artists, and to our society as a whole. When one of us suffers, we all are failing as a society, a culture.

With this said, we try to help out when and where we can. It usually involves donating time or artwork to causes we believe in. When you cannot donate money, it is possible to give of your time, even if it is only a small gesture, to make things better for all of us.

We care about issues that affect us all. If there is any way we can help bring awareness to these issues and perhaps make a difference in the life of one person, one animal, one child, we will have succeeded. Most social issues have to be taken on one step at a time, with each victory being celebrated, and also with the realization that we cannot win every battle. The issue we’d like to discuss with this post is animal neglect and abuse. It is an issue very close to our hearts.

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Mr. Mister and his heart

Recently I spent some time working with 4 dogs that were seized as “evidence” in an animal cruelty case. They were housed at a local shelter for the duration of the trial, until the judge turned ownership over to the county. During that 4 months, they were trained and socialized by volunteers at the shelter in order to get them ready for adoption. It was a rewarding, yet heartbreaking thing for me to be around.

Now the Fab 4 are available for adoption and slowly, but surely, getting out of the shelter. One has been adopted and one is in a foster home. Soon, I know, the other two will be in homes of their own. The trauma they went through will become something in their fading memories as they know what it is to feel safe and loved and secure. I want to celebrate the rescuers of these animals, the ones who witness horrific trauma, look it in the face, and continue to do the work that saves animals lives. To hurt a defenseless animal, child, or person is to be a coward. To honor, love, and respect those who are vulnerable or weak is to be a hero.

This blog entry is dedicated to the Fab 4 and the heroes who gave them a chance for a new life, a good life. We were fortunate enough to be asked to dog sit one of the Fab 4, who we are calling Mr. Mister. It was so good to see him outside of the shelter for the first time. He clearly is trying to adapt to his new reality as a dog in a loving, stable home. His stress levels are down and he loves being loved. The only reminder of his past is scarring on his face and a few other places. He is beautiful and well mannered and will soon adjust to being able to play and run, to being a happy dog. These photos are from our visit with Mr. Mister. We photographed him with one of our hearts because his story, and the story of others who have been abused, is a part of what this project is all about.

Love, in all positive forms, is a wonderful thing, and that includes helping an animal in need.

- Kelly

Mr. Mister loves tummy rubs

Mr. Mister loves tummy rubs

 

 

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honeymoon (he)art bombing: south of seaside

4 Feb

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honeymoon (he)art bombing: lincoln city

1 Feb

Time just flies by, doesn’t it? Our week at the beach was over before we knew it. Our last (he)art bombing was down in Lincoln City. But first, we had to take a little detour to one of Kelly favorite places, the Otis Cafe.

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Then off to the beach at Lincoln City.

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And we couldn’t resist leaving a heart for the folks at The Fat Mermaid, a shop that sells arts and crafts made by disabled craftspeople.

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dear beloveds

29 Jan

Franciszka, a poet friend of mine, recently unveiled a really cool project she’s been working on call dear beloveds. She’s got a great explanation of its origins on the site. An excerpt:

“once upon a time i wrote a poem to every human in the world entitled dear beloveds (inspired by juliana spahr’s this connection of everyone with lungs). in summer, 2012, i turned this poem into a zine and then took it on tour. while it was delightful to share the poem in different places, it was even more delightful to pass notecards out to the audience afterwards and ask them to contribute their own sentence, phrase or paragraph addressed to every human in the world (suggested by the phrase dear beloveds).”

What I think is really great about this project is how inclusive and human it is. I also think it’s a beautiful companion to the ideas behind Love is a Radical Act. The submissions on dear beloveds express many ideas, but a lot of them are about love* and compassion – or at least the desire for more love and compassion, perhaps through healing or self-love.

I encourage you to check it out and please consider submitting you own message to every human in the world.

*Check out all the great components of love that are mentioned on the different submissions: love, trust, communication, listening, reassurance, connection, generosity, support, and all sorts of positive and encouraging words.

 

 

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