Drawing by Rick Beerhorst (left) drawing by Grace Beerhorst (right)
I stumbled across this picture above as a favorite among my daughter Rose's Flickr favorites. It reminds me of how magical and righteous it is to have children regularly sprinkled into your day. It really is a good thing and I need to remind my self because they are fun and creative and sparkly and cute but they also wreck your favorite shit on a pretty regular basis which is just part of the whole frikken ball of wax.
Since we brought home a used upright piano via Criags List a couple of weeks ago, Rain (age 9 yrs) and I are trying to learn how to play. A very crude version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy can be heard several times a day at completely random times coming from the foyer of our home which has recently been designated the Music Room. I am working up my own primitive version of Professor Longhairs's Mardi Gras. Some portion of us must remain a child forever and having children around are a great reminder of this simple truth.
Bookish, Constanza Camarillo
Sabriel, Pearl Beerhorst, drawing available here
The Bridge, Ann Wood
I began reading to Rain and Grace from a new fairytale book last night at bedtime. The book has come from Pearl's Room. I asked Pearl for suggestions because we just finished up Little House On The Prairie and we needed a new book. She wisely recommended The Violet Fairy Book first published in 1901 by Longmans, Green and Co., London. In the preface it includes this;
The stories in this book, as in all the others of the series, have been translated out to the popular traditional tales in a number of different languages. These stories are as old as anything man has invented. They are narrated by naked savage women to naked savage children. They have been inherited by our earliest civilised ancestors, who really believed that beasts and trees and stones can talk if they choose, and behave kindly or unkindly. The stories are full of the oldest ideas of ages when science did not exist, and magic took the place of science.
Can there be anything better than sending children off into their dreams through the pages of an ancient fairy tale?
Rain show off some of her handiwork. The children are growing up in the flux of making and selling which gives them an earl taste of the "real world".
Here is a shot from the living room seeing through to the dinning room. The house at this point is over flowing with the abundance of arts and crafts that had been slowly building up through out the cold winter months.
Here you can see that we are living on a micro urban farm. The fresh spring starts are visible through the straw mulch along with brand new peach trees. The Wonder Wagon has become an icon symbol of our bohemian family life style.
This little video put shot and edited by Pearl is our invitation to all who may be interested to come and share our Beerhorst Family Spring Art Show this May 3, 4, and 5th 10AM-8PM each day. This is an important event for us because if gives us a chance to open our home to the public and share what we have recently created. Going into an artists home is a much different experience than what will ever happen in a gallery or a museum. It is not necessarily better but it is unique and decidedly more personal and revealing.
This week we borrowed a car and got out of town to the beautiful Seidman Park just to the East of Grand Rapids about 20 miles. We walked the trails kicking through the layers of fallen leaves. The woods were beautiful and sad with bare trees all in a pallet of muted greys and browns. We all dressed too warm and the layers started coming off as we made our way deeper into the park.
At one point we noticed a small mostly hidden pond which we had to leave the trail to get to. Rain was picking her way along the bank when she stepped off a large stone and on to what looked like the dry bank and sunk past her boot in the wet mud camouflaged with the layer of dry leaves. She made the rest of the journey with a one foot soaker but she didn't seem to mind too much.
It just felt so good to walk through the woods that day. We finished with a picnic dinner of sandwiches and nut mix at the end of the trail. Getting out of the house and taking a walk through the woods was a simple way to reconnect with nature and each other. I cherish those opportunities.
Natural Disaster (listen to song here)
She's a natural disaster, ain't nothing faster
coming to your town, just to blow it down
waking you up in the middle of the night
she don't care a damn thing about treating you right
she's bringing destruction, it's her big production
so mister get your self ready for the reconstruction
I can't help but wonder who gave her all her thunder
what we did to deserve her wrath incurred
now she's swinging her censor a smoking fragrance of disaster
I wish she'd just calm down and skip over our town
but there's anger in her eyes that's hard to survive
knocking over the trees, gett'n us down to our knees
reconnecting our lives to some real live pain
here come the tears, mixed up with the rain
with a big gust of wind, she pushes her way in
it feels like the end of the world in a storm with the name of a girl
“Youth can not know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” J.K. Rowling
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the heck she is.” Ellen DeGeneres
“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. George Burns
I was reading family quotes this morning trying to get some perspective. I share a few favs here. We drove to Muskegon to be with Brenda's family this past weekend. We had good moments mixed in with not so good moments and a few off the cliff horrible moments that felt like an eternity. Coming off this experience that is still fresh makes me wonder why things with in family can twist into such frightening shapes so quickly. I am left with humility and profound mystery.
photo by Pearl Beerhorst
Nature calls to her children to come home. There is only so much time you can spend looking into a screen. We are all made from the dust of the earth and to the dust we will one day return and yet there is magic in every leaf. The smell of moist soil, a layer of fallen oak leaves, a dry lavender blossom stem crumbled in hand. There is a mystical portent just waiting to renew us with its power and mystery if we can only step out the door and into the cool drizzle of October.
There are so many tasks that clamor for attention and yet how many of them would be better left undone.
Yesterday daughter Pearl was feeding the rabbits and chickens at 9:15 in the morning. Later in the morning Dove stood in the pouring rain on the sidewalk in her stocking feet until she was soaked through. I thought to call her in because it seemed wrong at first but when I thought about it a little more it seemed so right.
The three little girls and I came out of the movie theater and the wind was blowing so hard we had to lean forward as we walked to the car and then the wind was filled with rain. We got more soaked with every step. Off to the South the sky was broken open with large patches of deep blue and one third of a fuzzy thick rain bow built just for us. Glorious.
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
Some where inside of us we carry our childhood along with us where ever we go. We begin our story as little children. Even Jesus began this way. We have so many things to learn and when we become adults it seems like we have so many things to unlearn.
I have been submerged in the world of children now for twenty years. Even though they break a lot of my stuff and leave their wet towels on the floor in the bathroom, I love the world of children for the way it keeps me freshly connected to my own inner child. One of the things I love most is the way kids spend so much time at play. It is as if playing is their full time job. Sometimes the life of the artist feels like an extended childhood. I say this because our work and our play are all mixed together and sometimes we don't know the difference.
"Many fathers are gone. Some leave, some are left. Some return, unknown and hungry. Only the dog remembers. Even if around, most disappear all day, to jobs their children only slightly understand. Gone to office, gone to shop, men in suits hiding behind closed doors, yelling into phones, men in coveralls, reading pornography in pickup trucks. The carpenter. The electrician. They drive to stranger's houses , a woman in a robe answers the door, they sit at the table with her, she offers coffee and cake, they talk about the day ahead. By nightfall you won't recognize the bathroom, he promises. Monday we start on the roof."
(excerpt from Another Bullshit Night In Suck City by Nick Flynn)
We were born to be a fatherless generation. How is this cycle to change? When does a Father rise up to begin a new tradition when he comes in a long line of fathers who have had no ongoing connection with their children and their wives. It would seem to be a miracle if this were to occur and last into succeeding generations.
I find it all too easy to avoid my own children through out the day and only talk to them about picking up their wet towels off the bathroom floor and reminding them about taking the dishes to the kitchen and emptying the trash on Wednesday. I have to revisit the notion that my life and my children's lives are all woven together. I can't truly have a full and potent life with out the children deeply embedded within my life in a meaningful way. This morning I remind myself that the time of having the children at home is a truly precious time and will never be repeated in the same way. I can think of few things that could be more worth fighting to protect.
Shepherd Ezra Beerhorst is 14 years old. He is a gamer. His favorite current two games are Skyrim and Minecraft. He is of a generation who has a deep connection with the computer. They know what computers can do and how it is changing not only or world but how our brains work. I know Shepherd really well and I believe our future is in good hands.
I have on occasion sat down to do what he does with the controller and have felt totally inept, like I am the stewardess trying to fly the plane. It has been both a humbling and helpful experience in that it allowed me greater respect for the world he lives in. When I was 14 it was 1974 and a very different place with a very different zeitgeist. I want to learn what I can from Shepherd because in some way how well I adapt to the future that is coming at me like a speeding train depends upon it.
This a video by Mail Order Monsters who will be in show at the DAAC June 8th with other bands creating music inspired by video games. Check out the FB event here.
print available here
I will be spending this whole day with my friends from Leadership Grand Rapids. This will be our last official day together as we wrap up the season. This has been a very significant experience for me over the last nine months. I feel like I have a deeper understanding of where Grand Rapids is at this point in time. Cities do not stay the same. They are dynamic and constantly changing. Whether they are in a period of decline or new growth, they are always going some where. I know this may seem obvious but the important thing I believe is to know where your city is now and how to go there with it. What is appropriate now? How do we prepare for our future? What is our city wanting to become and how can we help this process along? These are some of the questions I live with. These are questions LGR is helping me to address.
I feel a great respect for my fellow classmates and all the different disciplines and business that they represent for I have learned much from them. I look forward to seeing more artists like myself woven into the fabric of the local corporate culture so that we can make innovation and fresh vision even more a natural part of our local business DNA. These are challenging times we are living through right now. We should not be looking for a "recovery" of our economy. We should be imagining a complete transformation towards an economy that is truly organic and that looks more like the complex diversity you find in a rain forest. We need to learn to embrace risk. We need to get used to doing what is uncomfortable to us. We need to make room for children and women given to weeping in our leadership positions. We need to take more time to lay in the grass and look up through the trees. We need more time staring off into space and not checking our email. Let them get angry, let them be disappointed in us, let them fall off the edge of a cliff if necessary but we must take time to be awake to the sound of the wind in the trees. Our families need this. We need this. Our city needs this.
Rose Beerhorst has the distinction of being the oldest child and the first to be launched from our home. She did not go to college, instead she chose to move in with a group of her friends right here in the neighborhood. She is supporting herself mostly through her Etsy shop which is called Sockmonster.
Rose from a very early age was drawn to weaving. Brenda and I have memories of her weaving scarves through the spindles in the back of a kitchen chair not long after she had learned to walk. Growing up in a entrepreneurial and artistic family, her lessons were all absorbed from an early age. Making something and selling it has always seemed a natural thing for her.
This rug is available here.
I like all the things Rose makes but I personally have the strongest connection to her rugs because I live with them. The Rose rugs in our home, which are her early ones, have been doing their job making rooms cozy with their plush warmth and swirl of rich color for the past three years. Rose continues to improve her weaving. Her latest rugs have become more tightly woven which makes them heavier and want to stay put on the floor and last even longer. I should also say to those of you concerned about the natural environment that these rugs are made with 100% recycled cotton material.
Rose will be including a collection of her newest rugs at our Beerhorst Family Spring Art Show the first weekend of May. May 4,5, and 6th from 10AM 'till 8PM each day.
This print is available as a blank card here.
We bought a Crosley phonograph this winter and it is now being used almost everyday. I has been interesting to see the youngest children 7-12 years old really take to it. It isn't like they couldn't find music on line or just stored in iTunes but they for some reason don't access music that way but they are now spinning records. One of their current favorites is a Nancy Sinatra titled "Nancy in London" which includes the Dusty Springfield song, "Wishen and Hopen" a song they now know by heart.
It is intersting to see technology that I grew up with that had for a time became obsolete now be in the process of being rediscovered by a whole new generation. Also it is interesting to me how we crave a touchable, physical object we can understand. We need to feel the weight of a record in our hand which some how makes the music seem more real. A digital file just doesn't have physical heft. Their is no cardboard sleeve to get dog eared. The children know that the soul still needs a body.
This abstract painting by Brenda Beerhorst is available here.
Our household is full of art everywhere we look - and we like it that way. We know the world can be a hard place full of heartbreak and dissapointment. We know this. We want to do whatever we can to keep fluffing up the beauty and the poetic in our life together. We choose to do this in every step we take, in every dish we pass, in each path chosen.
We understand understand life's coin has been stamped with success on one side and failure on the other. We know they have been minted together and so we have learned to accept both without fear. God is still in the shepherding business, and that simple fact has become the fulcrum that lifts the whole family business into the air - and that is a good thing.
Photo by Pearl Beerhorst
"Genius is the recovery of childhood at will."
Arther Rimbaud (Who quit writing at 20 years old.)
My children keep tugging me into their world, and it seems like my first reaction is to wanna pull back. I don't exactly know why this is. I guess it just seems like I always have something "more important" to do at that moment.
Yesterday we had a good amount of fresh snowfall with temptures hovering just above freezing. I know from childhood experience that those are the perfect conditions for snowman building, which is just what we did to kick-off the day. I am convinced that adults need children smooshed into their lives as much as the children need us smooshed into theirs. We need to find ways to keep blending it together. It is as if the world of adults and the world of children are like those salad dressings that need to be given a good shake before you pour it on your salad. I think our lives just taste better this way.
I discovered this little book with a record in the middle at a Breathe Owl Breathe show in Grand Rapids this past year and it has haunted me every since. I just ordered my own copy this morning, taking the plunge and spilling $33 out of my pay pal account. If I want to be supported as an artist it follows that I need to support other artists as well.
I love this book for the way it marries visual art with music in the context of children's literature. As a parent who is still reading to his children every night, it is very important to find books that I can love as much as the children. Last night we were in the magical world of the brothers Grimm Fairy tales. I look forward to the arrival of The Listeners and the adventure that awaits us there.
(This drawing is by Grace Beerhorst 9 years old. It is her attempt at planning her day.)
Think of climbing roses with out a trellis. They would be all a jumble on the ground with half the amount of blossoms they could be making living in the constant threat of the lawn mower. As much a wild man we like to think Picasso was, it is said that he kept to very tight daily routines, even making the same few walking paths through his disheveled mansions from one room to the other. The great Italian painter Morandi painted the same dozen or so bottles and vases over and over in different arrangements for fifty years. His daily adventures were circumscribed by a room ten feet by fourteen feet.
Creatives need structure. We need boundaries to hem us in. As much as we want to ignore them or jump over them, we know that deadlines and limited budgets are there to scrape us together into a more concentrated pile of pigment that has a more potent color. If every tap is running in the house we are left with a very tepid and shallow bath to soak in.
A whole lot of of living goes on here in our house every day. With five children at home between the ages of 7 and 17 there is always something going on. We took a big risk and never sent the children off to school. They are right here with us day after day and night after night. We are trusting the children to find what interests them rather then lead them through the typical school achievements. They play a lot of computer games throughout the day. They all draw pictures, make up crazy games, cook and run around out side. About the only thing we make them do besides apologize when they have mistreated another member of the family is clean up after themselves when they make their messes.
The Wright brothers took a big risk when they shuttered the successful bike shop they had been running and packed up for Kitty Hawk North Carolina to test their gliders. When they were finally ready to put a motor in one they couldn't find an engine maker anywhere in the US that would build them a motor for something as crazy as a contraption for manned flight. They had to make their own.
We have been making our own culture in our home these last twenty years. We left the dominant culture because it didn't work for us. God has been calling his people out for thousands of years. Abraham, St Francis, Joan of Arc, St Jerome, Thomas Edison, Howard Finster, Patty Smith and Robert Wilson, these people all left the well trodden path. They all "left home" to chart a new course that seemed crazy at the time but now makes all the sense in the world looking back through the lens of time.
What is the crazy idea that is calling your name?