Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Enter His Gates

Le Tete (The Prophet) 2006
acrylic and collage on canvas 20w x 20"h
The Hodari Foundation

Lets see,...oh yeah,

I was driving my new truck into the city for Sonya's Sunday Edition of The New York Times.
For me the drive is worth it..to get the Times Magazine crossword puzzle.

Brutha cain't jus' walk down the corner for a Sunday Edition of The New York Times in OKC...
...ya' gotta git in a car and drive,

20 minutes west on the Interstate at 75mph, through acres of deer cover and new housing developments still going up. Driving beneath beautiful displays of American might and the jet roar of AWAC's and Bombers flying overhead like albatrosses and black daggers. Taking off, then slowly circling and landing again, with precision and skill at Tinker Air Force Base.

Cruising at 60, a straight shot, slight curving and dip along I-40 past David Stanley Dodge, Hudiburg Chevrolet, Midwest City "Home of The Bombers" and The village of Del City. More car dealerships and the approach into the eastern edge of the City and the confluence of highway. The burgeoning riverfront, the Boathouse, A mound rising from the earth. Bricktown. Bank and energy towers like fortresses over the renaissance of Downtown. I got a spot right at the door of Taylor's Newsstand and Bookstore, told myself I would buy the first book that I picked up..(Sonya had been playing The Secret dvd while on the treadmill.)

Charles Stanley, Enter His Gates, A Daily Devotional.

"hmmm...I guess that's the one."

I grab a copy of Barron's, The Times, waxpoetics No.32 with Sly Stone on the cover, and Hope Meadows, Real-Life Stories of Healing and Caring from an Inspiring Community, by Wes Smith.
I showed the woman behind the counter a copy of Wrestling With Angels and
she says, "when you get that published we'd love to sell it."

This morning I'm reading the Introduction to Dr. Stanley's book. "In John's vision of the New Jerusalem, the Holy City had twelve gates of pearl--three on each of it's four sides:

She had a great high wall with twelve gates and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel
three gates on the east,three gates on the north, three gates on the south and three gates on the west.The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. (Rev. 21-13, 21)
Dr. Stanley writes,
God has set before us twelve months of the coming year. these months are precious gateways to spiritual growth and development. each month during this year, we will strengthen a different spiritual gate.

JANUARY devotions concern the New Gate (Jer.36:10), which speaks of making a fresh start, setting goals, and preparing for challenges ahead.

Can a pick 'em? maybe you didn't hear what I jus' said..
I said,..Can I pick 'em, baby?...or what?!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wrestling With Angels

Amsterdam, New Year's Day

Okay, the secret is out,

but only because I let it slip.

I have received from http://www.blurb.com/, the Artist's copy of my latest book, Wrestling With Angels. I put a leash on Neo and headed down the path to the crossroads tucked in the overgrowth at the western edge of the developer's property. I peeled the sheath of cellophane from the package like placenta from a baby's face. I rejoiced in the essence of seeing it for the very first time. In that glorious moment, seven years or so in coming, I realised a vision and held it in my hands. After holding it close for several days, I heard a call to release it carefully to those precious ones who have been there from before the beginning.

and I've shared it with a select few of you.

Let me thank you all for your validation and affirmation.

The positive responses of friends and critics who have studied it, and snatched a few paragraphs to ponder, have been overwhelming. You have managed to recognize, to grasp the spirit immediately, and it resonates.

I began this project several years ago when my wife and I were separated for nine months.

We had a child together and it was early still in our marriage, and it was troubled and complicated. Leaving my baby son behind, I retreated like Ezekiel running from Jezebel, to Red State America, and a basement apartment in Chandler, Oklahoma, to lick my wounds, to heal and to begin the shaky steps back towards God's redemption.

The question for me at the time, as I began writing, was "How did I manage to get to this place, at this point in my charmed life?..." A life shaped by my choices, my fears, my doubts and delusions. A life created by romantic notions and quests towards the sacred and profane. Life driven by a will to happiness and sadness and adventure beyond the Jesus loving, African-American, middle class reality that was my personal foundation.

I revisited periods of my past and moments of choice in Thailand, The Netherlands, North Africa, LaJolla, California, and these Oklahoma badlands. I wrote of vain recollections, vivid memories and recognitions of the treasures lived back there. I wrote of my resentments and hurts; of my regrets and hopes for she and I, and for him.
By the time I finished the rough draft, we were reconciled and I moved on to making that work. The writings sat fermenting in the hard-drive of the old Mac G-5 that sat collecting dust in my studio.

...until the day I rediscovered the manuscript with the eyes of objectivity. It read as a story worth sharing, and so I do.

Preview Wrestling With Angels at http://www.blurb.com Click the bookstore link, search 'Skip Hill', and order your copy of this limited edition work of Art.

This is the day dat the Lawd Has made


are you up?

as morning breaks and the young monks wrapped in saffron robes come quietly through the lush, wet bushes down the moist dirt path, carrying bowls of alms and fruit, flower garlands and rice cakes; nodding and bowing in gratitude. What are you doin for breakfast?

good morning...

I'm up. She's out. Kids will sleep for hours yet. ..."but It's Sunday morning. This is the day that the Lord hath made.. get yo' ass up and make some time for meditation and prayer..." I heard someone say in Jesus' name.

"Get yo' relationship right with Christ, and you could have more money than you can throw away.." Granny said to me Christmas night. I bent on one knee next to her, close to her seat at the breakfast table. I wrapped my arm around her and held her to me. Then she pulled away to say what she had to say. She gently collected and organized what food crumbs she found and shaped little mounds of them across the glass as she spoke with great love and grave concern...The air of quiet about us like the eye of an Oklahoma tornado, in mix of everyone having a real good time, shouting eating, drinking and laughing over each other.
All i could hear at that moment were her words.
"Ain't nobody told me nuthin' and I ain't heard nuthin', but I feel that somethin's wrong between you and God, Skipper.."
I was telling her about my recent trip to Chicago to visit some galleries and have my interview at the School of The Art Institute. "Did I tell you, Granny, that I happened to meet Rev. Jesse Jackson? yeah, my podna and fellow artist, Arthur Wright gave me a tour of The Little Black Pearl, a cool community arts academy...

"Until you get your relationship with Christ right, Skip you will not get all he's got for you in those powerful little hands of yours! God gave it to you and you got to give it all to Him! You can only do it through Him! God is pushing you forward and you letting the The Devil push you back, God pushes you forward, The Devil pushes you back!"

Okay, so now I'm listening to her and staring into her one good eye, as he chastises and encourages me... I mean you know I ain't gonna say nuthin back to her, I ain't crazy!... brutha's gotta give E. L. Madison her respect. But wasn't I just testifying to how I had heard and trusted the voice of a Holy Ghost telling me to leave the Oklahoma wilderness and drive to Obamaland, "I have a place prepared for you."...and seek my destiny by faith and action?
"Did you hear me, Granny?"

I struggle not to take offense, but I admit I was stunned. I stare at her clean, brown skin and the tug of time on her face, her small mottled fingers, bent, shiny, like varnished and polished oak.
I love on her, caress her with my eyes and I hold my tongue to consider her words.
They are on my mind and in my meditation this morning.
I'll get back with you on that.

This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it.
I'm going to write, get in the studio, work and worship in the spirit of creativity. I'm gonna play some guitar and get caught up with what's going on in the National Football League and specifically the NFC playoff scenario. I'll prepare some good food for the family, dream visions, make plans and delight in His ways all the days of my Life.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

ghetto geisha

Naomi Bubblegum 2008
acrylic and collage on canvas 29"w x 36"h
Private Collection

Between the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery show, my trip to Chicago, and the holidays,
I haven't been in the studio for weeks now. But when I do, I look forward to getting back, with much love, to these sexy sistas,..my haiku divas and ghetto geishas.
Tapping that feminine id and energy, using andinkra symbols and asian motifs, like tattoos, over her big hips and juicy lips... to catch her with a cup of mango tea, daydreaming about a lover just gone...or on the way.

Friday, December 26, 2008

baby, you betta' git ta steppin

Early in the a.m.,
I'm in that post Christmas funky postpartum limbo,
but I got a little poem for ya'...

something written on the back of a postcard, a love note, that arrived in the mail from the Netherlands. She sent these words to me at a crucial moment of choice in my life, as I stood at the crossroads many years ago.
It's a love poem come back to me today, in these crisp, gray days
of winter...of darkness...of anxiousness...of anticipation,
of Hope for change, and the new year's redemption.

It goes a little sumthin' like this...


Hij bestond slechts met z'n hoofd.
Beleefde dingen erover te denken,
erover te lezen.
Niet het doen, maar het denken over het doen
deed hem de dingen to beleven.

Totdat hij, op een dag,
zijn gedachten wereld doorbrak en er vandoor ging...

op zoek.

He existed only in his head.
Lived life thinking about things,
reading about things.
Not doing things, but thinking about doing things
is where he lived.

Until one day
he broke through his world of thinking, and went...

in search.

Baby, you betta' git ta' steppin'...