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

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

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