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What is Mind the Heart! Project

By Mind the Heart!,

Welcome to Mind the Heart! Project. Please press the links below if to you wish to see:
A selected portfolio of works 
Recent partnerships and CV
An interactive map that shows what it means to let strangers dictate where you go
An archive of posts 
A deeper understanding of the artistic concepts, materials and practices

And now a little background:
Mind the Heart! (est. 2009) is a worldwide art project by Israeli artists Maya Gelfman Roie Avidan.
In the past decade, the project has reached more than 100 cities across 5 continents: from New York to Bangkok, Sydney to London, from the Israel National Museum and the National Cathedral in D.C. to orphanages in Kenya and Uganda.

The project works at the intersection of art and social awareness. It engages the public domain with the aim of getting both the artists and the audiences to be fully present, to ‘be here now’. This is achieved through street art, temporary nature installations and rituals, public interactions and lectures. The works are made with tangible materials (yarn, felt, duct-tape, found-objects) that clash with the concrete jungle. They deal with the power of choice, the cyclical nature of things, acknowledging wounds in order to heal, and interconnectedness.

Back in 2009, searching for ways to facilitate a direct connection to their surroundings, the artists stepped outside, literally, and constructed a framework that explores the ways in which people, objects, cities, and nature interact with one another. They honed their “active-wandering” method and set out to find out whether a small and personal action became transparent in the urban turmoil or, contrarily, got a new meaning within that context.

Nowadays, by utilizing performative practices – social, artistic, philosophical and physical – the project creates works that are informed by the present moment. The art is always context driven, reflecting not just the artists’ point of view but also the direct influence of the place, time and people there.

Stepping out also meant working not only in the realm of the “art world” and the “white cubes” but in the realm of daily life and the “grey streets” as well, while facilitating a back and forth flow between the two worlds.

In July 2017, Gelfman & Avidan embarked on a year-long performance across the USA, with Serendipity the leading force. The goal was: full immersion. If being present is about Being Here Now, the artists chose to maximize that ‘now’ by cutting away the past and the perceived control of the future. After giving away all their possessions, home and studios, they arrived in a new land where they knew no one and placed themselves completely in the hands of the unknown: letting strangers dictate the route, schedule and daily experiences, all the while committing to the creative process in which they not only created their own works daily, but also invited communities to actively participate in the project.

Serendipity has proven to be an incredible force. It led the project to 43 states, creating and speaking in hundreds of spaces and partnerships with numerous partners. A selected list of recent partners in the U.S. includes: City of Houston TX, City of Portsmouth NH, City of Decatur GA, City of Truth or Consequences NM, Hillary Clinton Children’s Library in Little Rock AR, Rice University TX, Halcyon House D.C., Washington National Cathedral D.C., The Smithsonian D.C., The ARC West D.C., State University of Kennesaw GA, University of Central Arkansas, The New School Atlanta GA, Savannah Country Day School GA, Atlanta Center for Civic Innovation GA, Building 98 in Marfa TX, Creative Discovery Museum TN, Re-imagine End of Life CA.

The project has also been featured in dozens of media outlets – print, online, television and radio – as well as in three international art books, in Germany, France & Colombia.
Recent coverage includes Culture Map Houston, Atlanta Jewish Times, Street Art NYC and for Hebrew speakers: Israel Today.

Selected Works

 

Event at City Hall, Houston TX

By Mind the Heart!,

We’re happy to announce our next big event – Tuesday, Feb. 20th, 2pm-6pm – at the Houston City Hall. Come get a yarn heart and become a part of the global Heart Community! Share you stories and photos both online and in an exhibition opening March 1st at the George R. Brown Convention Center! Many thanks to The Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, Houston First and Houston City Hall for their support.

At City Hall we’re handing a hundred red yarn hearts and taking your photos with them. The project’s red yarn heart is a symbol and facilitator of mindfulness. To the moment, to where we live, to our neighbors. The growing Heart Community and the exhibitions the project is creating come to show that everywhere means something to someone at some point, so you should walk around with an open heart and with open eyes.

You can see the Heart Community at: http://www.mindtheheart.org/hearts/

Your mission:
1) Put your heart out there! Each yarn heart is on a clear sticker.
Gently peel it from the tab and stick it somewhere
that is significant to you. A spot in Houston you want share with
the world and others to notice.

2) Photograph your heart in its new place.
Not a selfie, just the heart and some of the surroundings.

3) Email us the photo and a short text as to why you chose that spot.

That’s it. You’ll now exhibit your photo and text at the Brown Convention Center (opening March 1st) and on the project online archive.

See you at City Hall!
***

one with all with one, Clarksdale MS

By Mind the Heart!,

Our last day in Clarksdale was cold. We couldn’t feel our fingers and faces as we worked, but before we could leave we had to leave another little piece of our heart there. This piece is dedicated to and inspired by a special river-being and his Canoe mission. John takes people to the Mississippi River, on beautiful wooden canoes that he builds himself. He raises awareness to the way of the River – how it gathers, diverges and flows. And how through connecting to the one that is the river, we become a channel ourselves. There is an undercurrent of collective subconsciousness from which we gather and release back into the world. John’s connection to mindfulness is through the water but there are many ways to tap into the flow. We went down to the river, a group of strangers with a single mission, to row and move on. The rowing united us with it all. With the sounds and with the silences, with exertion and with release, with unconquerable nature in the shadow of never-resting industry. Wilderness is ever near. Even in the city. In the spirit of tiny weeds that grow in cracks in the cement, in the pigeons that roost on our ledges. These concrete caves of ours might be a shelter but nature is always present and amongst us. And like the Mississippi waters, the thread flows as one and as many – countless tributaries converge into the core strand which flows and churns and diverges into the delta. We are all tributaries, we are all delta, and as many and as one we merge into the sea. We flowed on.

i am of this city and this city is of me, Clarksdale MS

By Mind the Heart!,

Walking through the streets of Clarksdale, Mississippi is walking through history’s belly button. It’s all there, neatly packed in a small, tangled, half abandoned yet utterly alive and kicking town. A center, a core, a backbone, a womb, a birth place, a crossroads, a place that draws you in, that stays with you when you leave, that marks and defines and changes, like the mighty river nearby. We came here to have a cup of coffee with a stranger and ended up staying four days. We created two murals, canoed up and down and across the muddy waters, met people who are a force of nature, all the while accompanied by a soundtrack of the 24/7 no-ads Blues local radio station. We moved on, but shall return.

Kermit’s hometown, Leland MS

By Mind the Heart!,

On our way from Selma AL to Vicksburg MS, we were connected by email to John in Clarksdale MS. We suggested meeting for coffee the next day, but he invited us to come by faster so that we could join him and friends in a canoe on the might Mississippi, the very next morning. So we took a right turn before Vicksburg, and found ourselves heading north on Highway 61. Somewhere en-route, among half-flooded fields and tempting diverging dirt-roads, we got to Leland – which turned out to be the birthplace of Jim Henson and where he grew up playing in the streams with his best friend, Kermit. We stopped for a quick visit at the “Birthplace of Kermit The Frog Museum” and symbolically parked ankle-deep in a muddy bog created by a broken pipe. The museum is full of the joy of creation, as well as Muppets galore. Stephanie, the beautiful soul in charge, joined the Heart Community and before we even left had already placed her heart with the Frog for Whom It Is Named, the fabulous and ever-green Kermit. We moved on, Clarksdale beckoned.

the land remembers, the land forgets

By Mind the Heart!,

Heading from Alabama to Mississippi, we took the marvel that is the Natchez Trace Parkway – a road that is a national park that is a journey through history. While still essentially just an asphalt road crossing beautiful landscape, of which there are thousands across the continent, the experience on the Trace is very much different. The intent and the care invested here are felt the second you get on. The acoustics, even the air itself, change. There is quiet, there is peace. And as you slowly pass through this wonderland, you encounter scores of historical markers, progressively accumulating to tell the tale of how this land was won and who had won it. It’s a complex and dichotomous experience – a sense of awe of the enterprise of mankind and heartache from the atrociousness and self-centered hubris that historically accompany it, almost by default. One of our stops was named Witch Dance (see photo below). An almost unintentional spotlight to an ever-present parallel road through human history, one on which powerful and independent women were demonized and prosecuted and burnt at the stake. Yet, progress has been constant throughout the centuries. Like waves licking the shores, slowly turning stones to sand, turning hard unmovable axiom to an infinity of shifting possibilities. Regardless, no matter the atrocities, the spirit cannot be quenched. We will eventually be gone, a mere blip on this earth, and it will shrug off and move on. And for women and for men, for whom time is briefer, we shall carry the stories and lessons of the past within us, from generation to generation, from wave to pounding wave, and eventually shift the tides.
~R

out & about in Tupelo MS

By Mind the Heart!,

The beauty of out&about-ing is that you never know what you’re going to encounter when you take the next random turn.
This is one of the longest ‘healing scars’ we have ever done, situated just a right-straight-right turn from the main street in Tupelo.
Right around the corner we encountered another artist’s scar-like work, an excellent piece done in black duct-tape. We added our own heart next to it – through elation and through trauma, underneath cracks & scars, life beats on, ever red. We moved on. 

hang on, Tuscaloosa AL

By Mind the Heart!,

We stopped in Tuscaloosa briefly to meet Steve, a Professor of Theater History & Playwriting and an old friend of Nia (whom we had met in Decatur GA and had since become our own dear friend). We sat over great coffee and sandwiches on the bank of the Black Warrior River and talked about life and art and Saying Yes (a backbone of improv theater and of our journey). It was really surprising to learn that Steve and Nia hadn’t actually met in decades. Nia was turning the soil of her life over for us, revealing and replenishing this root that run deep and strong even when things seemed dormant above the surface. It is a great gift to bestow – to connect someone to your web of relations, the network that has been curated and nurtured over a lifetime. And we are as two butterflies in this year-long experiment – touch and let go, touch and move on. And hopefully – just as butterflies – our movement helps to facilitate the cycle, rekindles connections, brings things to bloom.
~R

flood gates open, Selma AL

By Mind the Heart!,

From Montgomery we went to Selma, pondering about history and present and future. Pondering about these two dots, the line between them, the bigger picture. We ambled through Selma’s streets, taking random turns and eventually parked in an empty lot behind beautiful, crumbling buildings by the river. If you take a moment and stand still, you can feel the energy-of-past-significance in this city, shimmering just beyond your peripheral and buzzing just beyond the reach of your fingers. And yet, it feels as if the tributary that had once sprung here has gushed on, flowed on, left its source cracking in the Mississippi sun. An idea for a new work began to percolate, but it was exactly then that a hard rain began to fall, erupted deafening and drenching, forcing us to flee back to the van. We waited and waited, but there was no letdown and in any case all was wet. We left one heart and moved on, riders in the storm on the way to the Mississippi.
~R

time stands still, Montgomery AL

By Mind the Heart!,

As we were leaving Montgomery en-route to Selma, we passed this junction. Two majestic businesses, now defunct and corroding to oblivion. One can only imagine the backstory here – the rivals on opposite sides of the road; garments that clothed a thousand lives whirling in a sea of suds; these red and white bricks under the blue blue sky, striving for 1st in a predetermined race. ~R

rebel line, Montgomery AL

By Mind the Heart!,

Montgomery, Alabama. Forecast of an afternoon thunderstorm. A layer of cement covers the raw flesh of the earth, just barely.
A long crack in the pavement caught our eye. A crooked, organic, rebel of a line, cutting through a rigid concrete geometry that aims to keep things in order. We stopped to stitch this scar. To acknowledge the wound and invest in the healing. Chance would have it that right here, in this exact spot, once stood a bus stop. In this exact spot, Rosa Parks boarded that bus. Right here, where the pavement feels as tender as skin and as tough as history. Right here, a line was drawn as part of a much larger picture. A persistent, winding line, decidedly pushing forward.
We are the sums of our pasts, of both our radiant triumphs and of our bloody crashes. It is only by embracing our falls, our scars, our sins, that we can truly heal and progress. Lightning, thunder. We moved on.

a hearts beats on, Orlando FL

By Mind the Heart!,

We stayed in Orlando a couple of nights, sheltering from the storm that raged everywhere north of it. Weeks ago in Gainesville, we’d been told of a small but vibrant Vietnamese district in Orlando with legendary cuisine, and now we had a chance to try it. There were a dozen restaurants dotting a couple of city blocks. Searching online, they all looked the same, boasted a similar menu and heralded similar reviews. We picked one on a gut feeling. Serendipity would have it that Pho Hoa are patrons of the (street)arts, inviting artists from around the world to create murals on their walls in what has become a bona-fide gallery. So after dinner we stayed the night in the van at the restaurant’s lot, and in the morning created this piece – next to and in dialogue with this powerful piece commemorating the victims of the horrific event at the Pulse night club in 2016.  “and yet, a hearts beats on, a mind wonders, a soul wanders on”. #orlandostrong #wallsofphohoa
~R

what i stand for, Orlando FL

By Mind the Heart!,

“While there is a lower class, I am in it; and while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. Let the people everywhere take heart of hope… for the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning. ” ~Eugene Victor Debs

out & about in Ivanhoe Village, Orlando FL

By Mind the Heart!,

Another arctic front forced us to flee NOLA all the way back to Florida. This winter was breaking records, hurling wave after wave of sub-freezing temperatures all the way to southern Louisiana and Texas. We weren’t sure our van’s water system would survive and couldn’t take the risk it wouldn’t. And thus, 36 hours later, we found ourselves in (cold!) Orlando again. Our previous visit had been so busy, we never got the chance to just walk-work as we usually do. Perhaps that’s why we Serendipity brought us back here 🙂
~R

it might be today, New Orleans LA

By Mind the Heart!,

We passed this little house, tucked away and abandoned in the midst of a residential area of NOLA. Just a few random turns from the French quarter, where our legs carried us. Then these words appeared, and made us stop in mid-track. Our eyes and hearts stopped with them, in front of the wall: “tell my mother I love her”… Final words are not new words. They have been swimming inside us for a long long time, rising and sinking back with the shifting tides of the soul. It was a good reminder to say them out loud, today. ‘There is no time like the present’ might sound corny, but it rings of the deepest, simplest truth.
~M

out & about in New Orleans

By Mind the Heart!,

NOLA Mon Cherie… For three long days we traversed your beautiful streets. Walked and worked, the way we do, utterly enchanted by the magic and profoundly moved by the decay. You are definitely the ONLY city we ever saw where a trash can or a road-hazard look festive and ready for the next parade. We also saw pain, worn faces, scars left in the wake of storms and parades. Like every old soul you have a story to tell, one that comes with baggage, with tears of joy and of endless sorrow, with inner incessant groove.
~M

 

so many shapes, Gulfport MS

By Mind the Heart!,

Our daily movements – waking, sleeping, taking a shower, eating and most importantly, walking – all are completely entwined in the making of art. There is no more separation, no buffer, no pause. We work where we stop to eat, sleep where we worked and discover new roads to travel in search of a new “canvas”. Geography, social life, health, finances, all the way to bowel movements – life and art affect each other constantly, are one and the same. This symbiotic relationship makes us somewhat unraveled at the edges. It exposes our nerve endings and blends us into the habitats we explore. There are days that we feel stretched, in the words of Bilbo: “like butter scraped over too much bread”. This piece – the first of a new series called Body of Work – was done at a coin laundromat in Gulfport, just outside Biloxi. It was conceived, prepared, put up, documented and taken down by the time our clothes were dry. We had just passed through Biloxi, a beach city defined by its casino-hotels. This whole stretch of shore felt like a ghost town this time of year. Its wind swept boardwalk was deserted, its huge blocks of hotels on top of shiny casinos were dark. All-you-can-eat seafood restaurants – painted in bubble gum pink and green and with doors shaped like a massive shark and alligator – opened their maws to admit the crowds that simply weren’t there. The striking contrast of it all, on the pale cold backdrop of the sea, was haunting. This city was programmed to have the high tide flowing through its arteries and now, in the low tide, it was struggling to find meaning amongst the empty shells revealed. Us two – who were used to walking slowly upon the sand and admire the shells and driftwood – now, adrift in the flood, we are struggling to find a root to hang on to. We moved on.

the devoted artist, Ocean Springs MS

By Mind the Heart!,

“Big Daddy” Jason in Fairhope told us about Walter Anderson and his museum in Ocean Springs. Anderson had been so committed to his art that he once tied himself to a tree on an island in a hurricane, so that he could paint the storm. He would disappear for weeks, rowing to deserted island strips and becoming part of the natural habitat, which he religiously documented through incredible paintings, drawings, blockprints, sculptures, pottery and texts. If you are in the area, we really really recommend visiting there. Afterwards, we walked around, took in the sunset with many pelicans and one Blue Heron, left a heart, and moved on.
~R

prairie heart, Payne’s Prairie Preserve State Park FL

By Mind the Heart!,

With the worst of the storms past, we headed back north from Orlando. Weeks ago, on our prior visit to Florida and Gainesville, several people recommended we visit Payne’s Prairie Preserve. Now we got another chance, and took it. Most of the park’s trails were inaccessible due to flooding, but even from the one accessible vantage point we were rewarded with an oil-painting like scenery, dotted with deer and wild horses.

through the glades, Big Cypress Natural Preserve FL

By Mind the Heart!,

We woke up on Christmas Day with the sun, even a little before the first rays kissed the dark asphalt. It had been a rough few nights and we welcomed the feeling of being welcomed, that beckoned in Sarasota. Just last night, our recently-acquired friend from Georgia, Nia, had invited us to join her on a family visit there. So westward we went. A foggy morning drive took us to the outskirts of the swamps, the Everglades on one side and Big Cypress on the other. As time progressed the morning tendrils dissipated to reveal a yellowish greenish color scheme. Panthers x-ing signs every few miles, water drenched roots and branches, and birds, thousands of birds, of water, of prey, of every color and size. And anywhere and everywhere – gators galore! Warming their scaled magnificence in the rising sun.

from the ashes, Big Pine Key FL

By Mind the Heart!,

We spent less than 36 hours in the Keys witnessing mind boggling rejuvenation and perseverance, side by side with heartbreaking mounds of destruction, debris, shattered pieces of homes and trees and boats and… We left many site specific installations behind. This one, “from the ashes”, on the wall of a destroyed community center.

per severe, Cudjoe Key FL

By Mind the Heart!,

By the side of the road in the wake of the storms. As written is a previous post: “per severe / persevere”. Always incredible to witness first-hand the resilience of our species. When hardships befall, strength and compassion and determination manifest. We pick up the pieces, or sweep them neatly to the side, and life goes on. #keysstrong
~R

bird on a wire, Wynwood Miami FL

By Mind the Heart!,

Nature always finds a way. We really believe that this fragile unbalanced balance is crucial to our urban sanity. Without it, our cities would sink deeper and deeper into concrete obliviousness. Every plant that grows in a crack in the pavement is an activist by nature. Every bird. Every cat. This presumably dead tree at this street corner in Wynwood, a make-shift (human) street toilet, has a green new sapling of a beginning. A future embedded in the past. ~M

out & about in Wynwood, Miami FL

By Mind the Heart!,

The Delray Mom sent us to Wynwood, a Miami district astonishingly filled with murals and art, covering walls, sidewalks and even homes. As is pretty always the case in buzzing, hip art areas, gentrification is ever-evident. The cycle is clear and even logical. Artists and other young people flock to rundown, cheap neighborhoods where they can afford the rent. Art blooms, small businesses mushroom and as the neighborhood becomes cooler, the rent gets higher. First pushing away the original dwellers and eventually the artists themselves, who are then forced to look for the next rundown area and restart. All of this is extremely evident in Wynwood, where homeless take up one street corner and craft micro-breweries the other. It’s a rattling, dichotomous experience, and a very powerful one. And amidst it all, the art here is really spectacular. Both the single pieces and more-so the overall effect of it. We spent several hours walking, taking it in, reacting to it with our pieces. We left full of the joy of creativity but also with deep pondering about how this colorful environment affects its less fortunate dwellers. Does it feel as if the world is mocking them with street-art tourists who flock here, mostly choosing to ignore the darker side of this palace? Or contrarily, does it instill some ever-present beauty and inspiration and in a way, helps them re-tune to life? ~R

meeting the (other) parent, Delray Beach FL

By Mind the Heart!,

About eight months ago in Haifa, Israel, we had already deconstructed our lives there and given way our belongings, and literally had no kitchen to make dinner in. And so we went out to a smokey burger joint, a tiny tiny place run by a Russian moon-shining meat-smoking pirate of a being. Sitting on the bar, bellies full of goodness and clothes full of smokeness, we struck a conversation with a girl and her dad. A Boston girl, she was here for college and her dad was visiting from the States. We ended up with the warmest of invitations to visit him in Boston when we were there and stay at his home. Alas, dad never answered our emails or messages as we neared and then passed Boston. But, half a year later and as we neared Miami, it turned out that mom, whom we had never met, was living in Delray and would love to meet. And so, on a blue and sunny December afternoon, we met a really and totally cool mom and left a heart in Delray Beach before moving onward.
~R

a brief rest for the weary (and a shower for Woody the Van)

By Mind the Heart!,

On a recommendation we picked up in Orlando, we stopped for a night at the Jonathan Dickinson State Park. The effects of the storms were clear, and yet life was abundant in all its forms. We took this opportunity to give our Woody Van Housen (1st of his name) a much needed shower.

per severe, Satellite Beach FL

By Mind the Heart!,

“per severe / persevere”. Always incredible to witness first-hand the resilience of our species. When hardships befall, strength and compassion and determination manifest. We pick up the pieces, or sweep them neatly to the side, and life goes on. ~R

everything is unfolding, Maitland FL

By Mind the Heart!,

Everything is unfolding… Five months ago we closed our eyes, opened our arms, took a deep-deep breath and fell back into the embrace of the unknown. Five months ago we stepped outside, literally, with no safety net. These are not just cliches, this is our reality. The reality we choose and create each and every day. We came to a new land with a suitcase each and began a 24/7, 365 artistic experiment. What does that mean? That we invite strangers to dictate our path and on that path we leave red pulsating marks of mindfulness. Making art as a way of making life. This piece marked a beautiful spot and a heartfelt connection in Maitland, FL. ~M

longing to belong at The Hope Community Center, Apopka FL

By Mind the Heart!,

“be longing / belonging”. We had the privilege to spend a week with the truly inspiring Hope Community Center in Apopka FL, and invite one hundred DACA dreamers and the local staff to join the Heart Community. To belong is one of the most basic and primal human desires. Being a part of something greater than ourselves, putting ourselves out there and letting others in, these are fundamental for meaningful existence. We long to belong. The blackbirds are intrinsically connected to the tangle, to their history, their origins, their traumas. And yet, this past does not need to be a chain. If we only so choose, we can use this as a source of power, fly higher and go further and use that thread. The same thing that seemingly holds us back, can grant us wings. 

everything is unfolding, Pensacola FL

By Mind the Heart!,

Winter was coming. the nights in the van were verging on miserable and the days were too cold to do art outside. We had also been taking turns being sick or almost sick for the last month. What we needed was the sun and the ocean. For the first time, we decided to set course to a spot that had not been given to us by someone else, and drove all day all the way to the shore. 12 hours removed from freezing in the woods, we were on the beach in t-shirts and our spirits were rejuvenated. Everything was unfolding, floating upon the tides. ~R

A space/time specific mural & heart event @ the Creative Discovery Museum

By Mind the Heart!,

For the first time on this journey, we returned to a place. On our stay here a couple of weeks prior – at our presentation in the Temple, in fact – a connection was made. It was this connection that brought us back to Chattanooga, to the Willy Wonka-esque Creative Discovery Museum. On the first day, scores of guests were invited to become active participants in the project, getting yarn hearts to go and mark their spots of significance with. We asked each participant to describe what this Museum meant to them, in one word. On the second day, we returned and created a mural encompassing these words, in the form of a crossword puzzle centered around a phrase. Be here now. A phrase that not just symbolizes the essence of this mural, a tangible art manifestation of life passing a specific place at a specific time, but also the base notion of the entire Mind the Heart! mission to promote and induce mindfulness. Be present. Be aware. Be. It’s also a summation of the most wondrous part of being a child – a state of mind of being in the now, completely engrossed in what you do/build/play with/imagine. We couldn’t envision a more perfect setting and context for all of the above.

Fall break(down) in Indianapolis

By Mind the Heart!,

From Tennessee we decided to head for Indianapolis. We were already in the neighborhood, so to speak, so it made sense to visit Michelle, the person who had connected us to Austin in Chattanooga in the first place. She was also the first American friend to witness the birth of the idea that evolved into this crazy-sane-intensive art experiment across the States. We had grand plans for this city – street art, a masterclass, several meetings. Alas, by the time we got there we had fallen sick. Our week long stay consisted mostly of watching the yellow leaves swirl in the wind, getting slowly better and being grateful for our wonderful hosts. A single, floating blackbird was left in our wake.

An evening of mindfulness at the Temple, Chattanooga TN

By Mind the Heart!,

Austin, our wondrous host, had connected us to an art lady in the city. We met her to explore possibilities and while we’re talking she picks up the phone and calls her husband (“you have to meet these two Israeli artists, they’re here right now, where are you?…”) It turns out he is jogging near by. In less than 10 minutes we are introduced to the Reform Rabbi of the community. We are independent thinkers and non-practicing in terms of religion, but here we were, sitting with the two of them, discussing mindfulness, life, beliefs, passions and the pursuit of happiness. And BBQ and ice cream. We spoke quite a lot about BBQ and ice cream. One thing led to another, and so it was that on that very Friday eve, we found ourselves giving a presentation of Mind the Heart! to the congregation at the local temple. An old, historic, beautiful building. Preceding us, the Rabbi had curated an evening of texts from the bible and sermons all dealing with mindfulness, many of which were breathtakingly beautiful. His interpretation of the 2,000 year old text felt deeply modern, and connected to our day-to-day secular experiences.

Out & About #2 in Chattanooga TN

By Mind the Heart!,

Our second day of walking-working in this excellent city. Among our findings – a baby tree that had apparently just been delivered by stork,  vines clinging, vines that have let go, and the scalp of a pumpkin.

Out & About in Chattanooga TN

By Mind the Heart!,

Having been snuffed by the Knoxville teachers, we soon landed in beautiful Chattanooga, cradled by mountains and percolating with genuine creative spirit. A friend in Indianapolis connected us to our host here, a superb & gentle & generous soul, who took us in and also took the time to show us around and introduced us to anyone and everyone.  

Knoxville is not answering

By Mind the Heart!,

About a week earlier, we had made a rather dramatic detour – instead of continuing south from Savannah to Florida, we had crossed The Carolinas and The Smoky Mountains into Tennessee – all for a handwritten sheet of paper with the names and emails of two teachers in Knoxville. When we embarked we had emailed them, and later also wrote to the Savannah teacher who had sent us their way, but we never did receive a reply from any of the three. But as the saying goes, and we live by it, all for the best. We felt grateful for this thread as it had led to several incredible serendipitous encounters and experiences. And now that we were here, in Tennessee, we decided to pick up some other threads that were given to us months ago and head on to Chattanooga and Indianapolis. So now, on the way to Chattanooga, we made one symbolic stop and left our heart in Knoxville.
~ r

Smoky Mountains Solitude

By Mind the Heart!,

Having briefly passed through Asheville, we crossed the mountains into Tennessee. Daylight was fading fast and our fuel faster. Fuel light on, we found an exit and thankfully found a nearby gas stop. It had gotten pretty dark, and we weren’t going to make it to Knoxville tonight anyway, so we searched online for a nearby option where we could spend the night. The last few days it had seemed that all camping grounds on either side of the mountains were either fully booked or very expensive and usually both. But serendipitously, we had stopped less than a mile from a place called Foxfire Campgrounds, which – on the phone – turned out to have vacancies. Getting there, it turned out that we were actually the sole guests on the grounds, our only companion the beautiful soul that was Joan, the camp manager. Under a clear starry sky and huddled around a campfire on the riverbank, we shared life stories and adventures. When Joan turned 50, a couple of years back, she had decided that she would celebrate for 50 days, doing one “awesome” deed in each. These varied from helping stranded strangers on the highway all the way to spending a night in jail, and this brief blog-post will not do them justice. Suffice to say, we stayed an extra night at Foxfire, gained a friend and much insight, and moved on.

out & about in Asheville

By Mind the Heart!,

We had heard so much of this place from various people along on our journey. As usual, though, our favorite spots in cities are the ones no one recommends.
~ r

the duchess and the bay breeze

By Mind the Heart!,

Our van – Woody Van Hausen, first of his name – is a glorious friend and ally, but he is old and not so sturdy and therefor we seldom drive for more than 4-5 hours a day. Thus, heading up into the Smokey Mountains en route to Knoxville, we stopped for the night at a Walmart parking lot in Hendersonville, just outside Asheville. After a cold mountain night, we went for a quick workout and hot showers at a local gym and there, during our very final stretches, we met Duchess. Glorious Duchess is 77 and still waits tables twice a week at Bay Breeze, a local seafood restaurant. She is an advocate of hugs and their scientifically proven healing power. She has a mathematical formula which says that 7 hugs of 20 seconds each are the just-right-amount to heal ailments and keep degenerative diseases at bay. Duchess told us how state laws prohibit assisted-living staff from hugging the elderly, for health reasons. And so these seniors, many of whom are far from family and that have lost many of their friends, are devoid of that most basic thing – human touch. Many of the clientele of Bay Breeze are elderly, and Duchess, along with Bobbi the owner and the hostess, make sure to give each person a 20-second hug going in and another going out, 6 hugs in all. They then send these seniors on their way with a farewell of “Now go get that seventh hug yourself!”.

p.s. after farewell hugs with Duchess, we went to Bay Breeze where the food was good and the cakes were heavenly. A couple of ladies at the next table struck a conversation with us and we told them about the project. Hunter, our radiant waitress, overheard us talking and asked to hear more. She then went and brought Kayla and Bobbie, the aforementioned owner. All three ended up participating in the project, Bobbie wouldn’t let us pay for lunch, and we left for Asheville with full stomachs and hearts.

~ r

down by the water

By Mind the Heart!,

Sitting in the teachers’ lounge after our very-early-morning assembly, a teacher at the Savannah Country Day School presented us with a handwritten sheet of paper and said very decidedly: “This is where you’re going next”. It was her decree that we need to go to Knoxville TN and meet two teachers there, former colleagues of hers. On her paper she had written down their names and emails. We were actually en route to Florida, we said, but she would have none of it. “Florida is too hot. And the leaves are turning in Tennessee. Go to Knoxville”. So, obviously, we did. Heading out north as dusk settled, we found ourselves a park for the night. A weird and wonderful place where roots grow upwards and some trees lie down. We also encountered a riverbank meeting between a fallen trunk and a reflection of his living sibling, his feet on the ground and his had in the clouds.

~ r

what’s left behind #2

By Mind the Heart!,

Another in the ongoing series of temporary public installations. This one on the storm ravaged dunes of Jekyll Island GA, where the remains of a stairway runs aground on a sandberg. These shores have been hosts to immense wealth and bigger crimes. But like the dunes, our landscape is ever-changing, and we can strive for and hope for and act for a better tomorrow.
~ r

don’t let go

By Mind the Heart!,

When we work in nature we leave no trace behind us. A piece is created, breathes for a minute and is then torn apart – its existence remaining only in documentation. Something that has taken an hour to build is dismantled in one minute. It’s a good exercise in zen and in letting go. This piece, however, stayed on site for a couple of hours, as we felt the need to give it some time to be while we were making a few more works close by, on the same beautiful and mostly empty beach. After we finished (and took them all down) a woman approached us and asked what we meant by “don’t let go”. She then told us that she considered this a message from god, took a picture of it and sent to her daughter. “My daughter, a recent rescue from human trafficking, is a drug addict. She’s in a bad place. She lost custody of her two year old child and disappeared for eight months. A month ago we got a phone call from a hospital in South Carolina. The doctor said that if we want to see her alive we should come immediately. She’s with us now, struggling to get back on her feet. Struggling to believe in life again. This is a message to her, to continue, to believe, to not let go.”
~ m

out & about in Savannah

By Mind the Heart!,

We arrived in fair Savannah on a beautiful afternoon. We had been connected to a teacher at the Savannah Country Day School, a connection that blossomed into an 8:30am (!) assembly with the entire school the next day, followed by another class. But that was tomorrow. So as a gentle wind caressed the clouds in the blue sky and the Spanish Moss in the trees, we went out & abouting.
~ r

bog of reflections

By Mind the Heart!,

Atlanta just kept on keeping us, day after day, with exceptional human beings and their incredible hospitality. By the time we left for Savannah, it was days behind schedule and getting dark. We stopped for the night in a bog of reflections, where tree barks simultaneously reach to the heavens and to the depths. Ground level becomes an in-between place, a paper-thin layer between two dimensions.

We had reached Decatur to do the “being” mural and left the Atlanta Metro more than two weeks later. Two weeks in which we did 5 masterclasses, a city event, an exhibition, and a mural. Several of the aforementioned exceptional human beings had also given us future dots on our map, places to go and people to meet. It had been so overwhelming in the best of ways, that all we could do now was use this place of reflections to reflect, to digest, to recharge before heading on.
~ r

life will flow

By Mind the Heart!,

in a place of ceaseless flow, some machinations of man have come to a halt. but where there is death, there is life. the crumbles of past are the building blocks of tomorrow. underneath the grime and decay and rust and mold, always flows the all powerful force that is life.
~ r

being

By Mind the Heart!,

For a week in late September, in mostly sympathetic weather, we created this large mural right at the city square of Decatur, GA. Our hosts -an exceptional dance group and powerful Amazonian tribe called CORE. Here is a poem and text we wrote to accompany it:
“You become.
You are.
You develop a sense of self,
you define your borders,
you defend the land.
But it’s only when you let others in and let yourself out,
when you embrace the fear that is inherent in connection,
it is only then that you can truly be”.
Human connection is at the core of our being. The word ‘being’ itself encapsulates a life cycle – You come into this world (be). You define your own self (be I). But it’s only through connection, through becoming a part of something bigger than yourself (be in), that you can truly be (being). The Black Birds encompass a duality: a tension between the pulling force of the ground and the endless promise of the open sky. Our history, our past, our roots can all be sources of great strength or chains that hold us back. But the birds and their ‘chains’ are made of the same, soft material. That which can unravel them, also grants them wings. If they choose to fly high enough for long enough, they will unravel the tangle and get all the thread they need. If they so choose, they’ll be free. Lastly, the building or breaking down of a word (adding or subtracting the next letter) is a conceptual act that aims to strengthen or weaken an idea, to bring something into or out of existence.
~ r

Mind the Heart Event in Decatur GA

By Mind the Heart!,

Ahoy Decatur, Atlanta and all! This Saturday afternoon you’re invited to become an active part of Mind the Heart Project and share your spots of significance with the world. From 1pm-5pm at the Decatur City Square (under the shade of the trees), we will be giving out 100 hearts for you to put out there. If you’re not sure what that means, check out this page of the ever-growing Heart Community.  And there’s more! Within a week’s time, your photos and stories will be exhibited at the Decatur Arts Alliance, in an exhibition opening October 6th at 6pm. So come one, come all, tell your friends and neighbors and family, and help us spread this message of mindfulness – “Everywhere means something to someone at some point, so walk around with open eyes and an open heart”. Feel free to contact us with any questions at mailtheheart@gmail.com

So – Saturday, September 30th, 1pm-5-pm, Decatur City Square. Be at the square or be square.

Special thanks to Core Dance, Decatur Arts Alliance, the City of Decatur and the Israeli Consulates in Atlanta & NY.

go to elsewhere

By Mind the Heart!,

Somewhere in North Carolina, rumbling along in an invigorated Woody the Van, we received a cryptic text message from a marvelous man we had met a few days earlier in DC. “you need to go to elsewhere”. All lower-case, nothing more. While we were racking our brains to decipher this, to even decipher what we’re supposed to decipher, a second text arrived. Elsewhere, it turned out, was a place in Greensboro NC. A magical place run by a magical person, that we just had to visit and meet. So to Elsewhere we went, arriving for dinner and staying the night. It IS a magical place, full to the brim of history and of stuff and of historical stuff. All colors and toys and… stuff. Where objects that have lain dormant for decades are now reborn again and again and again through art. Where collaborative processes take on whole new meanings, on a space/time axis completely of their own.

go to elsewhere: http://www.goelsewhere.org/

~ r

 

 

in with the new

By Mind the Heart!,

And on the same shore, scattered with souvenirs of death and of life, and jellyfish-like-blobs, lay a toppled corpse. Its brethren stood stoically behind its flailing roots, keeping watch. And the waves came and went, and the schools of baby fish silvered the surface, and eagles glided along the shoreline between water and land. And as all of these things happened, minimalist and monumental at once, from the upturned toots blossomed a new forest. A new eclectic explosion of life, which heeds not to what was or what should be, but just is.
~ r

into the now

By Mind the Heart!,

As the blankets of night descended upon us, on route from DC to Atlanta, we stopped on the shores of an enigmatic lake where waves materialized from nowhere and crescendoed upon the sand, laying roots bare and tumbling trees. The solemnity and totality of nature were an elixir after several hectic and human-filled weeks. We had left almost all we knew and owned on other, faraway shores, to facilitate exactly this – an all encompassing life process that embraces the unknown, lets go of the past and future and leaps right off the edge, into the now.

Falls Lake State Park: https://www.ncparks.gov/falls-lake-state-recreation-area

~ r

all it takes is one

By Mind the Heart!,

We made this mural at an apartment in DC, where we spent a few days meeting incredible people while Woody the Van was being treated for some mechanical ailments. This house is a hub where socially-engaged and art-minded people converge on a regular basis. To discuss actions, to share life, to vent, to eat and drink. From places like this grow possibilities. In times like ours, when our channels and feeds are flooded mostly with white noise and poisonous pills, it’s helpful to remember that a simple action can have tremendous ripples. That each and every one of us has the power to create change. That there are an infinity of tomorrows, and all it takes is one.
~ r


on & on & on & on &

By Mind the Heart!,

Four seasons ever-turning, four generations and counting, four truly inspiring days for us at the Potomac Vegetable Farms in Virginia. Here seasons and decades come and pass while the values and ethics strike roots deeper and deeper.
~ r

the birds of refuge

By Mind the Heart!,

Hopping apartments across NYC throughout the week, Dominique was the driver from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn. A single father of two who had lost his wife tragically not long ago, he was soft-spoken yet powerful, optimistic yet realistic, inspiring in his practicality in the face of adversity. It was therefor not a total surprise to learn that he was also a pastor, at a Refuge Center in Queens. We met him there briefly the next day.
~ r

never too late

By Mind the Heart!,

never & too late. Two such final and fatalistic notions, both stemming from false notions of things being black and white, of the past/present determining the future. But two negatives can easily become a positive. It’s never too late.
~ r
Works emerge. Sometimes they come as fragments of a vision, sometimes as half formed thoughts, every once in a while as complete sentences, more often than not as a physical sensation tingling in the fingertips. And sometimes we get a sign from the universe indicating that we’re on the right track.
As we went out that morning, with the words “it’s never too late” in mind, that same sentence was echoed in a conversation in the elevator on our way down.
~ m

confront the doubt

By Mind the Heart!,

walking in a maze of my own make,
the walls keep shifting with every step I take.
put it down, lay it out, then
pick it up, confront the doubt.

~ r

say yes

By Mind the Heart!,

A few years back we saw a small, enchanting indie film called “Liberal Arts.
(A 35 years old Jesse returns to his college for his favorite professor’s retirement party. On the way out, he takes a trip down memory lane and stumbles upon a fairy-student, Zibby, in a dorm party. Zibby studies acting and decides to take on the first rule of her improv course – say yes – to the next level.)
The story line is simple and familiar in a way, but there its inner beauty lies. It shines of little truths, of precious moments, of naive passion to live life to the fullest, of optimism and joy. Not because it is childish or unaware of harsh realities, but because it chooses to say yes in the face of worry, criticism, darkness, loneliness, cynicism and doubt. It chooses to say yes in spite of the fears, as a remedy to the soul, as an act of trust and gratefulness.

That little yes was among the first seeds of this phase of this project.

~ m

out and about in Bushwick

By Mind the Heart!,

This was a long and fruitful day in which we spotted endless street corners, peeling doorways, crumbling brick walls and other urban textures.
Among the beauty and neglect of Bushwick we bumped into the inspiring and prolific street artist, Sara Erenthal. Sara joined our wandering path and shared her favorite spots. All and all it was a good day.

~ m

homing bird

By Mind the Heart!,

Homing pigeons were sent and awaited for, all over the globe, for many a year. Pretty much the same pigeons that we see everyday.
They share our cities, they dot our skies, they peck at our pavements, they are everywhere, high or low, literally. And we – two legged creatures – have been fascinated with them since forever. Their ability to fly away yet always find the way home, over extremely long distances, is a true gift.

We place our yarn birds in various locations for various reasons – some are there to go on and migrate, some to stay and nest, some to soar and take the sky to an unexpected place. They come in flocks or by themselves, pair of a feather or one winged soul. But that basic idea and old fascination remains the same – they represent freedom and hope, a longing for adventure. They reflect a common earthly struggle: the tension between where we are and where we wish to be, what holds us back and what makes us fly.

The Bushwick sky was full of circulating flocks, flying back and forth from a specific building. On its rooftop we spotted a man waving a flag. Another pigeon keeper in a long line that dates back 3,000 years of history.

~ m

good enough

By Mind the Heart!,

Some days you just got to go out and do it.

 

baby steps

By Mind the Heart!,

The first step towards healing is acknowledging the wound.

behind the wall

By Mind the Heart!,

On the edge of town, on the edge of a lush forest, stands an old wall. In the middle of that wall there is a wooden board covering an ancient doorway. Simple and closed. Simply closed. Where it leads, no one knows. It felt like a fairy tale, so we left a key hole with a red thread. Perhaps one day someone will come along, someone that can pull that red-thread and enter the magical garden that lies beyond.
But beware of the cat-bat that guards it day and night.

~ M


the shed at the intersection

By Mind the Heart!,

On the way to Woodstock NY,
right at the intersection where a right turn from a winding country road
leads off to a narrower and windier country road, this abandoned shed beckoned.
Screeching cicadas above in the treetops, serene and still pond at our feet,
merciless kamikaze mosquitoes everywhere in-between.

~ R

on the thread to Woodstock

By Mind the Heart!,

So how does Serendipity lead us on this one year journey?
Lessons in intentional randomness.
The leading force of our project is serendipity, which means the places we go and people we meet are not planned
but rather are conjured through initiating random yet meaningful interaction with people we meet on the road.
In turn they send us to that place we must see, thing we must eat, cousin we must meet if we happen to be in…
We put ourselves in the hands of lady luck, let ourselves be bounced in the great pinball machine of life
and commit to a 24/7 artistic process inspired by all this.

Prologue: We went to Boston to meet the sister of a dear friend for breakfast
and ended up staying at her place for the night.
On the second day, we accompanied her for a concert she played at an assisted-living home.
As she wrapped up her gig, she surprisingly introduced us and the project to the elderly congregation
and a brief Mind the Heart presentation and Q&A commenced.
Afterwards, a few amazing and truly inspiring old ladies approached, in turns, to dive deeper into this.
One asked if we were Buddhists. Another suggested we should go to Woodstock NY and meet Marc at City Hall.

So to Woodstock we drove (through Worcester, to meet a couple of Buddhists,
only as we arrived unannounced at the temple door on the weekend, it turned out that they’re all the way in Denmark).
Now, it turns out that Woodstock does not have a City Hall. Instead, after some searching,
we found a couple of wooden huts/offices at the end of a climbing road on the edge of a forest.
We went into the second of those in search of Marc. Marc wasn’t there, but Bill was.
Bill was weary at first of these two strange artists who have come wandering into his office but warmed up quickly,
told some stories of the wonders and quirks of the town and even recommended spots where we could sort-of-legally park overnight.
We gave Bill a heart.

Epilogue: Marc was actually in the first office-hut. Marc also got a heart.
Turns out that Marc doesn’t really know the elderly lady who sent us from Boston.
Also turns out that Bill is the Mayor (in Woodstock it’s actually: Supervisor) of Woodstock.

a magnificent giant

By Mind the Heart!,

Trees are resilient creatures, as they move cyclically between a death-like state to lush life. This specific magnificent specimen, its branches reaching high and mighty into the cloudy sky above, was a living proof of how inspiring nature can be. From our point of view, us short humans, it was completely blackened from within. A thick bark engulfing an empty black hole. How can this possibly be the basis for this thriving giant with its green vibrant canopy?

~ m

concrete veins, wooden hearts

By Mind the Heart!,

The city is a living organism of which we are a part, influencing and being influenced simultaneously. It is not just an urban grid, but a network of life that inhabits a given space – buildings, people, air, pollution, roads, cars, pavements, footsteps.
Nature is a living organism of which we are a part, influencing and being influenced simultaneously. It is not just a patch of land, but a habitat in which life moves around, stands still, lives – ants, leaves, wind, grass, hooves, wings, clouds.

~ m


strings of attachments

By Mind the Heart!,

We are but a vessel. Following a thread of an idea, a myriad of red strings, hopes and dreams, veins and muscles that connect us to the thought of who we are, and then to the concrete ground and back again. On and on. When a glimpse of an image catches on, it travels that path – inward and outward, manifests itself into a line, into a life unfolding in space. This tree was torn apart, but I believe that it is whole nonetheless. Connected from stem to broken trunk by invisible lines of life and death.

~ m


the giving garden

By Mind the Heart!,

We headed south to Boston for a breakfast rendezvous with the (wondrous) sister of a dear (and wondrous) friend from back home and ended up staying a couple of nights at her place. Her hospitality facilitated numerous chance encounters and leads for our journey – from a radiant English Literature Professor to an awe-inspiring Palestinian peace activist to a very elderly but extremely sharp art critique to a Buddhist temple and eventually to the Mayor/Supervisor’s office in Woodstock NY, where that particular thread tapered off. Some of these people and stories you can already see on other posts on this blog or on the ever-growing Community Hearts page. The others will probably join in the future. But back to the Boston sister. Behind the house there is small garden, a serene and simple place where some plants are grown intentionally and others burst from the compost infused ground. As we prepared to get back on the road, our host and the garden gifted us with an offering of mint, basil and grapevine leaves that have vastly improved our culinary experiences in the days since.

We are grateful to both.

-R

be longing

By Mind the Heart!,

Off the recommendation of a girl from Boston whom we met at the edge of a peninsula in NH

and with a mistaken assumption that we could get breakfast here,

we arrived at this cool fermentation joint in Portland ME serving a plethora of tasty fermented liquid concoctions.

A few Saturday morning beverages later, but unconnected to that fact, we offered the guy at the bar to create a wall-piece for them.

be longing. belonging.

This is what we felt here. At that moment we felt this was just about the place, the vibe, the communal sense of it.

But looking back and writing this, I wonder if it’s not also about the two of us,

flying far from home, always staying connected to our source but always carrying on, putting faith in letting go,

belonging to the longing for the interactions and creations, always new but all connected to the one great source

from which all is drawn.

– R

 

the abandoned piano

By Mind the Heart!,

Driving in search for breakfast, somewhere in the White Mountains region,

an abandoned piano called us from the side of the road.

A quick U-turn and we heeded its call, stopping at a deserted shop-plaza and lot.

It was a beautiful thing, still, even with its guts laid bare for the mountain winds and rains.

Hesitantly we pressed a key and were startled by a loud and clear note that pierced the morning silence

and sailed across the empty lot, onto the road, onward.

A few more notes and we were off on our way, but we left our heart there

as a quiet companion to the unheard music of the piano’s soul.

R+M

time will tell

By Mind the Heart!,

“time will tell”.
Deep in the White Mountains of New Hampshire,
where the moose are elusive and the moss is ever-present.
Our first day on the road in our mobile home/studio.
A day full of gut feelings & intuitions, truly inspiring human encounters, new experiences,
great unknowns, winding roads, thunderstorms, aligning fear to faith, trusting it all,
minding our hearts.

Mind the Heart! comes to Portsmouth, NH

By admin,

You are all invited to Come take part in a worldwide public-art project!

Starting this week in Portsmouth, NH –

This Friday 28th July, at Prescott Park Arts Festival, 4pm-6pm (right before the concert)

and a following exhibition opening at 3S Gallery on August 7th, 5pm.

Scroll down to find the details 

– – – – –

see more at: mindtheheart.org/hearts
and reserve your heart at: melanie@prescottpark.org

– – – – –

Still just touching down on this side of the ocean and preparing for Friday’s event,
we took a few hours to wander and happened upon an abandoned boat by an abandoned pier and an intimate,
wind swept shore that revealed the first perfect spots for a heart…

To participate, meet us at the park and get a yarn-heart. With this heart you also get a simple, fun and mindful mission: to venture outside with an open mind, wandering eyes and a curious heart and look for spots of beauty in your neighborhood.
After you choose the spot for your heart – take a photo of it in the location and send it to us along with a couple of sentences explaining the significance of the spot. Any reason is a good and valid reason –
be it the place where you first kissed or a spot with an interesting texture.
This Friday at Prescott Park, we will also take your photo along with your heart.
On August 7th, an exhibition will open at 3S Gallery, presenting your images and texts
(which will also appear on the project’s website and social media).
The exhibition forms a multifaceted display of perspectives that highlight points of beauty and importance as experienced through the eyes and souls of one’s neighbors.

the ship and the green wave

By Mind the Heart!,

On the shore of one of numerous heavenly isles

off the Maine coast, off the main road,

beside a building scorched by fire so as to resemble a black-scaled dragon,

lays a gloriously white vessel in eternal battle with a raging vegetation sea.

– R

Mind the Heart Community Event in Beit Tami, Tel Aviv

By Mind the Heart!,

We’re happy and excited to announce a new phase of Mind the Heart:

Starting with this pilot event in Tel Aviv and continuing in the USA until August 2018,

we are inviting people we meet to actively partake in this project, put a heart out there

and promote mindfulness to the present, to our surroundings, to nature, to our neighbors.

Throughout this year, we will hand out thousands upon thousands of the little, red yarn hearts to people we meet.

Each will go and put this heart out there, in a spot that is significant to them for any reason.

Check out the Heart Community tab on our website to keep up with the ever growing archive of this spots of significance,

of these stories and moments, of these amazing people.

Our pilot event, in collaboration with Beit Tami and the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality,

took place on May 3rd and culminated in a physical exhibition opening on May 14th in Beit Tami.

You can see many more photos and texts here:

Put Your Heart Out There

 

in complete

By admin,

incomplete. in complete. complete.

We continue saying our goodbyes here in Israel, this time to Tel Aviv
whose walls welcomed our first works, 8 years ago.
A different text was originally set for this piece, a poem about longing across the seas.
But once the separated yarn halves were up, that initial text just didn’t feel right.
So we left them there, dangling and incomplete, and went to do some soul-searching.
What was born is this – a piece about relationships, about belonging, and… about longing across the seas.

dusk turns to dawn

By admin,

As our days here in Israel wind down
and the On the Road phase of this project beckons,
we are dealing even more than usual with the cyclical nature of things.
The end allows for a beginning, a beginning necessitates an end.
Behind doors that have long remained shut and dormant
wait the possibilities of a decisive action.

 

the cursed corner

By admin,

The text of this work reads: m-ma-mag-magi-magic
The building or breaking down of a word (adding or subtracting the next letter) is a conceptual act that originates from the Kabbalah and aims to strengthen or weaken a particular idea, to bring something into or out of existence.

You know those cursed corners, where businesses perpetually fail?
A seemingly perfectly situated spot on an otherwise bustling street,
where nothing succeeds and nothing lasts but boarded-up windows and crushed hopes.
One after another after another. Cafe, restaurant, shop, deli, cafe again.
Sometimes they last a year, sometimes even less.
It seems that no matter what they do and how they do it, the Curse prevails.
Each closure a broken dream and a devastated savings account.
People who were sure they would be the ones to break the cycle,
or who could care less about supposed “curses”.

We notice these spots, accept them as a wayward but intrinsic parts of the living-city-web.
Perhaps just blips, but perhaps serving some strategic purpose, unbeknownst to us,
within the urban venous system.

Either way, a little magic doesn’t hurt.

~ roie

let it go

By admin,

The expectations, my fears, the people and animals whom I love, love, love more than words.
The set of clothes for a special mood, the bookcase(s), my own bed, the excellent shower, the table on which I work, the collection of large color markers, the countless spice-jars (shelves full of them!)
All that connects me to this place… my home base.
This is a lesson in release.
I train myself in the way of the unexpected and the unbelievable. :-‘)
~ Maya

out of the ashes

By admin,

In late November 2016, a great fire raged across the streets and woods of Haifa.
It was supposed to be winter but the air was dry and very windy. Not one drop of rain to hush the burning hisses,
no moistness to dampen the red tongues wildly licking wood and concrete alike.

The opening night of my new solo exhibition was a week away, which obviously meant
a complete mad house in our apartment… (9-foot long paintings piling up on the floor,
sculpture parts resting on the kitchen table, wet paint and brushes on every shelve).
At the time, not knowing how the story is going to unfold, I wrote in a FB post –
“We’ve prepared an emergency bag, in case the fire spreads and we will be forced to evacuate.
Not much went into this bag and what didn’t is an entire world of memories and significance that’ll be left behind.
We’ve calculated how much we can cram into our tiny old car next to one dog, two cats and two humans.
Against the formidable forces of nature, one is required to find focus and choose…”

Thanks to the hundreds of firefighters and to Lady Fortune,
the fire was extinguished before it reached our neighborhood.
Still, it made us think, and it made us choose. We chose life and not much more.
The rest was just stuff. Oh so precious and important, but stuff nonetheless.

Last week we went back to the parts of town that were devastated and burnt.
Here too, it was apparent that Nature has made a choice.
Green sprouted here and there. Flower beds among the blackened branches.
Death creating life anew.

~ Maya

the crumbling quarry

By admin,

Up on the mountains that oversee Jerusalem,

there once lived a quarry where machines and men ate into the mountainside,

in turn feeding other machines that digested the stones and earth, turning them to powder

that other men could use to make their own brand of stones and earth, and build homes and roads.

The bellowing clouds of dust which incessantly encompassed the nearby town

eventually led to a citizen revolt, which led to the quarry being shut down, two decades ago.

Abandoned and derelict, its skeletal remains crumble slowly but somehow majestically.

Perhaps absorbed at night, with no soul to witness, back into the scarred terrain.

the dry creek

By admin,

A short walk down one of the many creeks that descend, vein-like, down the Carmel Mountain. It’s the end of summer, and there’s not a drop of water to be found. Several trees have been cut down through the years, presumably to clear way for water or travelers, depending on the season. Their carcasses are laid out, sliced, presumably so other trees don’t get any ideas.

This text-construction means: tree – object/bone
(weirdly and not weirdly, in Hebrew it’s the same word).

Read about the De/Construction series in this post:
http://www.mindtheheart.org/2016/08/11/the-skeleton-tree/

so many shapes

By admin,

Dedicated to all who crave for starry skies and distant horizons.

 

the skeleton tree

By admin,

Hebrew writing is not dependent upon vowels, instead relying on punctuation –
dots & lines that give a letter sound by mere proximity.
Once you reach mid-school, though, they just drop these punctuations,
and pretty much leave you with jumbled blocks of vowel-less, dot-less letters
and trust your vocabulary to make sense of it. It’s beautiful, really.

To the point at hand – it’s thanks to this that the building blocks of words in Hebrew
can many times be words all by their own.
When you don’t need vowels, you’ve got tons of 2 and 3 letter words.
Sometimes, you can shave off a word, letter by letter,
and be left with a another, functioning word every time.
And sometimes within those sometimes, these words encapsuled in one, tell a tale.

The construction/deconstruction of this specific work we did here means:
tree – object – itself – bones

This location, Stella Maris, was once a Monastery upon the mountain top.
Today it is a naval radar base. Figuratively, in both instances,
a specific demographic could enter to serve and search for signs from the heavens.

Things renew, things move forward, things mostly stay the same.
It’s beautiful, really.

the pilgrim on the mountain

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When we returned to the city, we drove up to the mountain overlooking the sea
and mended the cracking gray concrete with blood-red scars.
While working, a zealous Australian approached,
his heart full of kindness and his eyes full of flames.
Him, on a 4-week pilgrimage in the footsteps of prophets;
us, metaphorically healing the wounds of time.

He wondered whether the nearby Elijah’s Cave is the real deal, or just a tourist attraction.
I replied that in my opinion, even if Elijah had never actually dwelled there,
but thousands of people over the centuries are convinced that he had,
then the place is imbued with their energy
and that makes it into a meaningful place, either way.
The zealous Australian sparkled his eyes and disagreed.
“You,” he said, “contend that humans can produce such energy,
where as I believe that energy such as this is the sole property of God.”

Either way, it was a beautiful day.

 

the space between

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Haifa is dotted with more than a dozen crumbling colossals,
relics of a time when cinema was larger than life and cinemas were its churches.
These huge majestic buildings stand out even today in their girth and magnitude.
Shut, hollow and abandoned, it seems no present-day venture has a use for such beasts.
The Hadar Cinema is actually the smallest member of this family.
It sits between the railroad and the flea-market, its doors and windows barred.
While life whizzes around it, its rows of chairs remain buried in darkness and memories.

The text of the work reads:
there are no answers
between the lines
only spaces.

let the beating ground

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“What is this nonsense? Draw something beautiful!”,
the old man shouted at us from his 2nd floor window across the street.
“I’ll erase it, just like I erased the previous nonsense that was here.”
Well, that explained the white coat of paint, expressively brushed on the wall.
“Draw a horse, a bird, something beautiful!”

I tried to de-nonsensify the work to the man in the window,
hoping to change his mind about erasing it,
hoping to grant our work at least a few days of life. He wouldn’t have any of it:
“Why don’t you draw a camel, something beautiful?”

In the meantime, an old homeless man stopped by with his overflowing shopping cart of found treasures.
“All these graffiti hooligans, defacing the city. It’s just ugly.”
While he and Maya began discussing street-art and vandalism,
my exchange with the man in the window continued:
“Draw a lion, a bird. Something I understand.” And there it was.
He hated it, really hated it, because he did not understand it.
I translated the text, explained in details the positivity of the message,
brought his attention to the relative fineness and delicateness of the work.
He heard, but I wasn’t sure he listened.
Same for the homeless man, who continued to decry the “ugly, self-promoting graffiti”
and long for “actual art” to be done on the streets.

As we got into the car to leave,
the man in the window retracted silently into the darkness behind him.
The homeless man, though, rummaged through his cart, pulled out a gold spray-paint can,
and with a serious smile and devious eyes, said: “Now I’m gonna go make some real art”.

the casino on the waterfront

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The Bat Galim Casino in Haifa was never actually a casino,
but it is a cool name, given to it at birth in the 1930’s.

Built literally on the waterline, defying past and present construction laws,
this 3-story building never lived up to its immense potential.
Even with the tide coming and going right underneath its glass floor
and the sea winds caressing its rooftop terrace, it’s almost as if it was cursed.
From a cultural center under British rule, to a cinema in the 50’s, to a night club in the 70’s –
no matter what it tried to be, it never lasted.

And then the aforementioned laws caught up, and put the Casino at an impasse.
One cannot renovate it, because it’s illegal to build right on the water.
One cannot tear it down, because it will harm the marine environment around it.
And so, for most of its life and for the past 30 odd years,
this could-have-been gem is a hollow shell slowly whittled away by the salty waves,
whistled through by the winds, bleached by the summer suns.

the text of the work reads:
with our incessant creation —
colossals upon the water —
the beating wind — and the two of us —
and should they dare enter the eye of the storm —
they will never be able — not for a moment —
to calm us.

Photo by Naftali Shoshani

the playground

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(Translated from Hebrew)
As I tether my fate to your rope

As a shepherdess, a Messiah, a noose
Blanket myself in your breath, in your skin
Stumble through the haze of the dream
The embers of past ignite in the dark
And my heart misses a beat

in memoriam

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A Facebook follower whose mother had just passed away
asked if we could place a heart at the mother’s house, in her memory.
It was our privilege.

rebel birds

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Done on Hamered (translation: Rebellion) Street, separating the old, ground-bound
and picturesque Neve Zedek quarter from office buildings that loom over it.

taking flight

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We did this mural on the wall of abandoned shop at Haifa’s Turkish Market.
In Ottoman days, the market was the city’s commercial center.
Several phases later, and as city-cycles go, it degenerated into neglect
but is nowadays experiencing an attempted resuscitation that is only somewhat successful,
hence the abandoned shop(s).
Here’s hoping this place, its alleys imbued with history and magic,
rises again to be all that it can.
It does usually take more than one electric-shock to revive the patient.

This photo and the featured one at the very top, by: Naftali Shoshani

down town

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Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, Haifa has a history spanning more than 3,000 years,
all originated down by the seaside, by the port. This area today is a mishmash of modern, old and ancient;
of active commerce, culture, food and education but also of abandonment and decay.
It’s weird how the city’s center seems to drift further and further away,
opting for newer, blander neighborhoods and businesses
while in many ways leaving behind its oldest structures, in essence its heart and soul.

healing the concrete

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As we were figuratively putting some healing touches on the cracks of time,
a young man passing by began to fervently explain to us the futility of our actions,
that we should be using cement if we’re trying to really put things right.
He went as far as ripping a few pieces off, to prove his point.
We tried to explain the use of metaphors in art and about the soul inherent in all things,
but he quickly moved on to pitch us his own music, Ethiopian pop, on his mobile-phone.

home is where the hearts are

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Our first artistic expedition in our new city.

Moving to Haifa after 15 years in Tel Aviv was surprisingly not dramatic,
and has felt more like the natural course of things.
The two cities are vastly different.
Haifa is laid back and somewhat dormant, whereas Tel Aviv is the hub of activity.
Haifa is green and wild and mountainous, while Tel Aviv is flat and somewhat arid.
And Haifa is multicultural, in a way that no other place in Israel can match.
Muslims, Jews, Christians, Bahá’ís, each group composed of people from a multitude of nations,
all just live here.

There’s a term in Hebrew, “dual existence”, which aims to describe
a somewhat Utopian future where Jews and Arabs live, side by side.
There is no dual existence in Haifa.
Here it is mutual existence, not side by side but simply together.

Goodbye TLV

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We’re moving from wonderful Tel Aviv after 15 years.
The last week here is a good time to put some final touches of love and healing.

spots of quiet

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Like any commercial boulevard, anywhere in the modern world,
Ibn Gabirol St. is a constant bombardment of your senses. It’s more than just colors, sounds and smells. Anywhere you look, you are being sold something. From the shops and cafes to the billboards and the sides of buses.
Unless you are actively shopping at this exact time, the natural reaction is a dimming of the senses, a blurring of the outside reality, to grant yourself some peace. These dimmed hours accumulate over a month, a year, a lifetime.

Our small installations aim to be tiny havens for the senses, spots to which your eyes can flee, where no one is pitching you anything. Spots that remind you and hopefully aid you to stay present and in the present.