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Service as a transcendental act and what is Sacred Art

Service as a transcendental act and what is Sacred Art

Another example of moving beyond a rock pile to create a garden!

We do a lot of service. I live on a spiritual Sanctuary which is 88 acres and there is a lot to do. I have been developing and expanding our landscaping as well as enlarging a holy site we have here. It is the site where we celebrate Guru Purnima which is a celebration of Gurus all over the world including our own.

The consideration of what is Service and also what is Sacred Art is fresh on my mind. Many times I am doing service as work. I am starting to sniff a difference of what is and what isn’t. In my experience service is doing a project or task as something that benefits multiple people. It is done with happiness and self transcendence. Meaning you have to go beyond your small self and limitations to accomplish it. It may be physical or mental ideas or places where we tend to stop short. Because of fear of failing the ideas and inspiration get blocked and nothing moves.  I now want to add sculptures that inspire people and help them feels something of Spirit or God which might be called real art. I am still figuring this out and will report back on what I come up with as I feel into it.

This so much more fun than doing something where I want or need praise. Its like the self has to get out of the way to let something greater come to the fore. To be continued!

Here is a place where we had to move lots of dirt and stones to create this bed on the right. Still in process!

 

 

How David got his start as a natural materials / stick artist

How David got his start as a natural materials/ stick artist

David Ward’s original career was as a landscape contractor. While trimming fruit trees he would end up with a truck load of fresh, perfectly straight suckers or shoots to find a use for. He loved to try to use the long whips especially Plum shoots to make wall art. He would stay up late at night experimenting in making interesting shapes of stick art in his living room. After he had failed for many nights he was finally able to put 4 or 5 separate stick art pieces together over a months time.

Plum branch stick artwork by David Ward
Natural materials stick artwork in a Lake Tahoe Home by David Ward

Asking for money for them was another thing

David had seen some of the work of artist Charles Arnoldi and knowing he had worked with Michael Taylor on his interiors gave David a place that might be interested in what he had made. He was inspired by Charles stick artwork and Michael Taylor is a design legend. This gave David a way into how he would sell them and a place that he felt he was familiar with.

Synchronisity

David happened to live fairly close to the San Francisco Michael Taylor Design headquarters in Mill Valley. He decided to cold call them and see what happened. Luckily enough he was able to talk to the president of the company Paul Weaver directly. Paul told him to bring his stick art pieces to San Francisco and he would look at them.

David set his completed art pieces up in the MT warehouse and Paul came in and decided to buy them all. Over a short time he made one of them the Michael Taylor Design signature natural materials art piece for their nation wide showrooms. Now David had some legitimacy and a start!

Finally and over time

With over 200 pieces behind him and 20 years later he is still making that piece and many others and has incorporated lighting in his offerings.

Beautiful interior by Fisher Weisman Interior Design. Signature piece by David Ward stick art

New Magazine Cover Aspire Design and Home

New Magazine Cover Aspire Design and Home

Here is an article and magazine cover of a lighting collaboration with Cheng Designs and architect Fu Tung Cheng. As sometimes happens the magazine forgets to credit the artist, me in this case. C’est la vie! This particular picture has been immensely popular. People are drawn to the color of the light and the concrete wall in the background. The red berries are pepper corns and they add to the scene. Many people have added this picture to their ideabooks on Houzz.com.

It has been a little while since I have done a collaboration with Fu Tung. Maybe something will pop up soon. His style and persona are on the rise. He is humble and is one of a kind in the ideas he comes up with. We will see what the next project presents. I look forward to it!

 

 

aspire

Failure as a way to feel myself

Failure as a way to feel myself

Here is what I have been feeling in regards to my art and life in general. I want to succeed. Failure doesn’t feel good although I am involved with it daily. To let in and feel failure and success helps me feel myself more fully. Avoiding anything makes it tend to recur, Spirit so relaxing into all aspects of success and failure allows full feeling and cellular opening to all possibilities.

Here is my stick art exhibit at the Truckee airport near Martis Camp that I am proud of. Two of the pieces were made with a series of D shapes attached in various ways. This exhibit was at the Truckee airport. A friend who works at Spirit Gallery in Truckee is in charge of the exhibits there.

New shapes and a loose, minimal style.

I Like It!

 

Staying in the Game

Staying in the Game

Doing stick art is challenging if you haven’t already picked up on that from previous posts. Opportunities often come up for exhibiting my art on consignment. This was one such time. A friend and fellow artist Carole that I met at Spirit gallery in Truckee is the art exhibits coordinator at the Truckee airport. She asked me if I would like to show my stick art there.

Martis Camp, a high end 2nd home community for high rollers and stars  is very close by where I live in Nevada City so this was good exposure for future work and maybe to sell something.

I don’t like the feeling of doing art for money so that is something for me to fall through when feeling the reach for the cash or the pay off for me from this show directly. Do what you love and the money will follow right?

Reluctantly I thought wow another time where I put my art someplace with a chance, maybe in the future to sell something. As I opened more to the art and that I let go of this exhibit having to make money , it became more fun. Do it for love!

I created new pieces using a bush that we have on our Spiritual  sanctuary land where I live. The plant is called California Lilac. It starts off lime green and over time, especially if it is in the sun turns more and more red. When it is freshly cut it is fun to bend the branches and make shapes that are usually not possible. This time I made a D shape, or a bow,and one at a time joined them together into a finished piece. I like the result very much!

The pieces have a primitive subtle feel. Like independent, falling down shapes connected.  Next came choosing where to hang the pieces with the available walls. Two other artists were showing their work in the airport so Carole and I chose the walls that seemed like would be most appropriate and artful.

airport 1

This kind of collaboration is especially fun. The pieces seemed to choose the spaces where they would look best with Carole’s guidance.

airport 2 They seemed to blend in and display themselves with no effort or pushing. Towards the end when we had hung them all up we had to make names for them for the labels that would be displayed with each piece. I came up with the most literal names and Carole was like, “come on names are important!” She then took a shot at naming them. Flying Dolphins, Cornucopia was another and Olympian was the last. It felt so much better to complete the process by naming them in the best way.It brought them more to life.

airport 3

The end product was a mysterious process with no desired result by two people putting their enjoyment together into one exhibition.

Now I am thinking what happens now? Will someone buy one? Maybe a big job?

Just breathe and enjoy the process!

My advice to myself.

Holding the Line in doing Stick Art

Holding the Line in doing Stick Art

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Being a stick artist is challenging although I don’t think I would do anything else given the chance. Holding the Line pretty much sums up the artist life. Great ones are able to stay with it and keep expanding even though life’s response might be saying otherwise.

At these times being able to keep focused, breathe and go in new and different directions with my art can take everything I have.

Here is a new Light_install light I did very experimentally in a very small format. I showed it to a designer and very quickly it expanded into a project. This was Green Couch Design and talented designer Jeff Schlarb. I am now in the process of morphing on it to make it much taller and more abstract and DNA like.

Many times I feel myself reaching to get a project or get desperate about making money. Then I practice falling back into myself and trust that things will work out without me pushing and trying to make things happen. Love the process and haven’t quit my day job yet!

 

New collaboration with coveted Design Company

New collaboration with coveted Design Company- Yabu Pushelberg

After over 12 years of sending my art e-mails to Yabu Pushelberg finally I got a response! When I first started doing my art work I was pretty naive and fearless calling and forming relationships with well known Interior Designers and architects that I had no business contacting. I had my top 10 design companies that I coveted doing a collaboration with and YP was maybe the very top. Each year I assumed relationship with the visionary owners George Yabu,  Glenn Pushelberg and their art rep Corrine Huard sending probably too many e-mails, mostly by complementing their work, and sharing mine. I am kind of surprised they didn’t lock out all of my new stick art e-mails!

I think I maybe heard back from Corrine once but nothing else over all the years. Finally about a month ago I heard back from George. He said,  “let’s see if we can make something happen. I will pass your light pictures along to my team.”

I was so surprised and  I could also tell that the new lights I have been doing are really amazing and have that certain something. Then a  project that they were doing needed some lights, although in reality it was too late in the process and the project was tight on money. Not a good place to fit me in!

Next time I hope I can get in from the beginning, have a budget and actually do the project.

So you are telling me there’s a chance!

Stick art cylinder light
Stick art cylinder light for Green Couch Design /Jeff Schlarb
Collaboration with Marin Fine Livings Tami Gendel and Stick artist David Ward

 

 

Life’s accidents and discovering Adi Da

Life’s accidents and discovering Adi Da

Thinking a lot lately about my life and how one small “accident” or happenstance can change the entire course of one’s life.

Here is the story of one of the main serendipitous moments in my life.

I moved to California from Utah to be with my first love/ girlfriend in San Francisco. When I got to California I found out she had had an affair with her teacher at a new age school she was attending in San Francisco. Everything was so different in California,  people were into all kinds of new age things spiritual teachers, Osho, Muktananda you name it. I was pretty repulsed by the whole thing. I would not be following any teacher or Guru! We broke up after a short emotional time.

         So I was living in California with no friends, no job and living by myself. To add insult to injury I got sick, surprise!

      Staying home with not much to do and emotionally in a slight crisis to say the least. I lived in Mill Valley in a yurt up in the hills which was home at this time. I would drive to the Depot book store and look at all the books and magazines, self help, metaphysical, Grist for the Mill etc ,etc. One day I reached up for a book, Steven Levine if I remember right. While reaching up high I hit the book next to it and it fell down at my feet. I picked it up and put it back and pressed on it so it would stay in place. As I did it sprang back and fell back down once more at my feet! It was like juggling books. There was a woman next to me and she said you should buy that book! I said ha ha uncomfortably and ended up buying it. I took it home and tried to read it before bed one night and could not relate to it or follow it at all. It was a book by Adi Da Samraj the Four Fundamental Questions. It took some days until I cared to pick it up again. This time I read it or I should say it read me all the way through! I was like wow this is so” The Truth” as I had never heard it before. Like the original Truth that explained all of my seeking for happiness and why it had never worked. I was part ecstatic and part mind blown. I was smiling ear to ear. After finishing it I was ready for more! So I bought another book and another and poured over His teaching, Laughing Man magazines, whatever I could find. After the third or forth I saw the address on the book and it was fairly close by where I lived, in Mill Valley so I thought I am going to go and get closer to where He is and check it out in person. His teaching and presence radically changed my whole reality and opened my heart.

This and many moments like this were and are perfectly choreographed for me to bring me to God as I had really always wanted since I could remember.

This radically changed my life. From a pointless life to a Spiritual focused, and Graceful directed life. All of this brought my wife and future Guru to me which gave me my amazing son, and new wife and now grandchild. It was like a Topsy turvy complete 180 degree life change. I ended up with a Guru after all!

He did find me which is what is said in the spiritual traditions. You don’t find Him, He finds you!

If you are reading this maybe He found you too!

 

http://www.adidaupclose.org

Sacred Relationship to stick art project materials

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David Ward harvesting willow on Wa She Shu tribal land to make stick art

As with most great things that happen with me the best ones happen by accident. And so it was with the Willow branches that I use in my stick artwork projects. I used to get the materials for my artwork from plum trees that I would spot in landscapes around the bay area and where I live in Nevada City. They were hard to find and took a lot of my time and attention. Sometimes it felt like I was almost having to steal them from roadside medians and along freeways.

I needed to find a new way! I used to think that willow was kind of cliche/ common. and that I was above using it. I got a job using willow on a fence and it changed my mind about it. I would drive from where I live in Nevada CityCalifornia to Mammoth,  Ca going through Nevada on the way looking for materials.  Usually when I put my mind to it what I am wanting usually shows up mysteriously and gracefully.

I put up an ad in small stores and stations along my way to find ranchers who had willow and were wanting to get rid of it. I made connections and one thing led to the next and before long I had pretty much all the willow I needed to finish the 400 foot willow fence I was building.

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Abstract willow fence done with Cheng Design in Mammoth Ca and Nevada City artist David Ward

I started to appreciate willow and the history of it’s use by the tribes in the area where I got it namely the Wa She Shu tribe in Nevada. Little by little I was instructed in the beauty and utility of this plant. My arrogance started to melt away. I stopped into the tribal office of the Washoe tribe and asked if they had willow I could harvest. Since I had already gotten enough to finish my project this would be for the future. This was a gift that I couldn’t see at the time.

Eventually I started to make trips to the reservation to harvest and also to read about the Wa She Shu tribe and the way they related to the land and plants. It was more of a sacred relationship than a consuming one. A giving and receiving. When I went I would bring a gift to offer at the somewhat official trailer office of the environmental protection office and kind of sneak it to the first tribal person I came to at the desk and thank them.

As I assumed this “give a gift receive a gift” positioning I would be available to learn all the sacred land and plants could teach me.It was harder at first and then became easier over time. I could even find my way to give the tribe a gift of money to make it more lawful to take the Willows.

I could also mention the tribe in my description of my art. To me using sacred materials from sacred land made my artwork more special and meaningful and exposed more people to the tribe and what they had to offer.

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The author and artist cutting Coyote willow on Washoe land and then using sacred materials to do his stick art projects

This process of learning makes my artwork more part of my spiritual and money making life. I am grateful!

Here is the tribes web site.

Washoe tribe web site

Collaboration using stick art – Cheng Design and David Ward

Bamboo and stick art light by David Ward and Cheng designs
Lighting for Celadon Tea Bar in Berkeley,  Ca, best  Cheng Designs and David Ward

Some of the most gratifying moments as an artist have been my stick art collaborations with talented and generous architect Fu Tung Cheng at Cheng designs. Fu Tung is able and willing to design on the fly. My job as an artist is to take his ideas and make them come to life. The first project we worked on together was lighting for his Tea Bar, Celadon in Berkeley, Ca. His ability to sketch project concepts is so helpful to take me along with his overall vision.

Then I can go home and see what works with the materials I have pulled together to work with. It takes inspiration, and buying into the whole vision for it all to come together in a great way. At the first there is always a feeling that I am not going to be able to do it. Then little by little in spite of my doubt, gracefully it all comes together. I love the scale, subtlety and edge that Fu Tung is able to work with. It is so fun! Things flow and I work as late as it takes until it’s done.

Stick art and paper lantern collaboration Cheng design and David Ward
Tea Bar with Iconic light fixture done by Sticks and Stones designed by Cheng Designs
Dinning light fixture collaboration Cheng Design and David Ward stick art
Stick art project by David Ward for a lighting project in Idaho Cheng Design
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Beautiful House 6 exterior and pool by Cheng Design

 

Luxe magazine, Cheng design, David Ward stick art
Palo Alto House 6 collaboration with Cheng Designs and David Ward

Our collaborations have included smaller stick lights for over dining tables, a trade show canopy, stick and paper pendant lights, and also a willow fence.

 

 

 

stick art, artist David Ward, Architect Fu Tung Cheng , collaboration
Willow stick art fence design by Cheng Designs, made by David Ward in Mammoth Ca

Fu Tung is always generous in his collaboration giving credit to everyone who participates. His home designs and interiors are covered by magazines and newspapers (with me included) such as Luxe, Dwell, the San Francisco Chronicle and others. I look forward to more creativity with Cheng Design – whatever challenges it may bring!