The Free Art Philosophy
Meeting Lew Blink was pure happenstance. Through the glorious facebook ether, I joined a group Lew founded called, "The Psychedelic Society of STL." Knowing my thoughts and beliefs would likely be shared with the psychoactive psyches in a group of such a title, I shared some goings on into the metasphere. What bounced back was a connection with a multifaceted artist who would soon join our mission to alter the cosmos, this time through something called "Dumpster Archeology."
"If anything ever comes about from my work," Lew tells me, "it is to highlight the wasteful manner in which us Americans live. It is not enough that we toss out 40 percent of our usable food, plastic coverings and fixable items, but we cross the line and throw away our history." Lew has been collecting and using the pieces left behind in our disposable society to create new, magical spaces which affect the viewer's perceptions of reality. Creating Ancient Incubators and Scenic Design using scrap materials, the Dumpster Archeology project is continuous and manifests in unusual, public ways.
Lew is an adventurer, currently living in St. Louis as an urban spiritualist in the middle of a nomadic lifetime. He's also a bit of a Renaissance man, having dabbled in just about any form of art you can imagine - from photography, to painting, to theatre, to novels and more. He says his true passion lies in poetry, and I can tell Lew is a poet - his words are dripping with experience in the incorporeal.
"When you break down what the world really is, it is civilization and it's arching need to progress... If civilization is the answer then art is the question; the eternal self reflection. We make art for ourselves and hope that in some way we can connect to others," Lew tells me, and I see in him my own need to connect with the world through art. Art, like love, stretches over and beyond time, space, and astral planes in ways we are still working to comprehend - and in my opinion, we are here on earth to learn and to manifest those powers.
He also mentioned, "The question is... when one discovers a non-linear multiverse... what do you do with it?"
Aye, there's the rub. Our world is awesomely vast, complex, and somehow still growing. It can leave one feeling helpless knowing that our Earth is a tiny, gasping speck of dust floating alongside a colossal, burning star - at just the right distance for life to form, and for that life to begin to question its existence. How do we give back to the totality that nurtures our infancy?
Artica Fest 2015
I think Lew understands, as well as any of our Free Art Friends, that art imitates life imitates art. In other words, we have the ability to construct our own realities through a composite alignment with the divine gift of creation. Or, in Lew's words, "Creative awareness is simply being a vessel to the muses." He, like I, has been lead down a path of creative expression by some distant being we know nothing of - guides, spirits, tarot, motivated in imperceptible and sacred ways, driving him down the path toward the unknown.
When I asked what motivates him to continue, he reminded me that life itself is art, and the story is only just beginning, and also never ends. The trick to it is putting your art out there in a way that others can understand. Collecting data is our empirical daily experience - however, creating a narrative to match that data is unique and relative to each person. That's what's so beautiful about art and life - everyone's perception will always be different, and so the work created will have a slightly different impression of the collective human story.
As dear Walt Whitman famously wrote, the powerful play goes on and you can contribute a verse. Lew's contribution brings attention to the past in ways I admire - because if we do not remember our history, we are doomed to repeat it.
I am deeply inspired by the idea of gathering another's lost work, life story, and art and folding it into something new. In creating his Spaces, Lew has opened a door to a blank canvas, upon which the audience or viewer can perceive whatever they want. The work will ask you to reflect upon your experiences. His use of found objects creates a unique platform that is a mixed-media manifesto, and allows room for your vision of the story. The Dumpster Archeology project breathes life back into forgotten histories and energizes the histories we are creating today.
My favorite tale of Lew's Dumpster Archeology adventures is the resurrection of the work of a lost local psychic, rediscovered from diving in Lafayette Square named Carrie Seib. She wrote the following poem:
Only voices of silence emphasize the sacred.
It is in the Good and the Will
that can reward all.
So stir yourself, your life in the light.
Be a helper to the weak and bear weight.
Lew elaborated, "Changes start at home, with healing from within. Then we take that sense of calm knowing and make the world better in our own ways. Each one of us holds a key to an entire universe of potential. If we simply listen to each other and move towards creative goals of humanistic self improvement, than maybe we have a shot at surviving what is to come."
I for one think we do have a shot, and we can move mountains by shifting small rocks at a time. It is so important to remember that everything you know and love will someday come to perish - or, perhaps, left in a dumpster for an archeologist to rediscover. That said, if you don't know Lew Blink, well, you need to. There are so many stories that have been told and have yet to be told in our short time here on this planet - and this artist has been gathering them all up and releasing them back into the world. You can find his art, stories, archeology and philosophies on any one of the following links:
For all information on the Dumpster Archeology project:
For poems, art, and stories, visit:
For more about Carrie Seib, visit:
Thank you, Lew, for your inspiration!
pass it on, pay it forward.
It is within limitation that creativity truly flourishes.
This sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true. When you have a certain confined area to work within, whether it's supplies or particular themes, you have the opportunity to truly think of all the most crafty, clever combinations of creative energy within that quarantine.
Sometimes it's difficult to find the limitations yourself - it can prevent you from sitting down and getting to work. "Artist's block," they call it. Most people unfortunately seem to suffer artist's block from age 10 until they hit retirement.
So, today's blog post is to repost something I found on Pinterest, from DeviantArt user BlueNephelim. I simply want to share a way for you to bring more art into your life. I have personally ignored the first few steps and have been randomly selecting what two or three suggestions speak to me from the lists. You don't have to do this every day for 30 days, of course - but it is a really great place to come back to when you need to get going!
So... Go to! Doodle, paint, write - whatever comes naturally to you. Share your heART! Tag us on facebook or instagram!
I met Joni at a live drawing event at a mutual friend’s in downtown St. Louis. She had her paints out that night, and I remember watching her create as the performance, music, and atmosphere flowed through her and onto her canvas in a coterie of color. It was great to share in her art, and I’m so grateful we got to introducing ourselves, because she has been such an inspiration to me ever since. Joni is the type of person that makes everybody feel like a somebody, and makes beautiful art to boot. Here are a few favorites:
Joni Watkins, artist of JoJo Paint, is a full-time teacher at Dunklin R-5 School District, where she has been for the last 12 years, teaching fourth grade, grades 1-8 art, and drama. Joni jokes that she doesn't really have a job, because it doesn’t feel like it. She says her days go by fast because she is in the creative zone and gets to bring the joy of art to others all day.
“Being an educator is something that comes second nature to me,” Joni tells me, and that much is obvious from knowing her fiery young spirit and wise old soul. This energy she carries brings all sorts of people under her wings -- young, old, and everywhere in between. I know that her strength and positivity helps her students grow, and she always encourages them to think in a new way by merging the arts into other subjects. “My students would be found acting out their vocabulary words, creating artifacts of Native Americans, creating visuals of their favorite scenes from a book, and making up jingles for spelling words. Creativity brought my class together.”
Arts integration is something that personally resonates with me - when I found theatre at age 13, my life was changed, and storytelling quickly became how I process the world around me. But what's great about Joni is not only the way she makes art -- it's also her soothing presence. I wish I’d had a schoolteacher back then like her; confident and brave while embracing her talents and identity. Joni is both empathetic and encouraging, both powerful and peaceful, both creative and clear. I know she shines a beacon of light in the dark for her students.
You never know what the kids you see in public are going through in private, and they need a person like Joni to look up to. “Many of my students come from poverty and do not have very high self-esteems. Art is an escape for them and is something easy that they can also do at home. It builds their confidence and it means the world to me to see them grow as artists and humans. Moments as simple as a student rushing up to me with their artwork with joy in their eyes or giving their art to a friend is all I need.”
It seems like Joni has been spreading the Free Art Philosophy since long before we began, not only in her classroom, but by giving her art away to the people who inspired it. We could all take a leaf out of her book. If we can just consciously give each other the space to explore our creativity and be ourselves -- and better yet, to share the products of our own creativity with one another -- we can quite literally alter the future of humanity.
Aside from changing the world through teaching, Joni spreads the good word in the St. Louis arts community and beyond, from acting as Board President for City of Night St. Louis, to working with the Cryptic Mafia in Jefferson County, to being a player with the local theatre company PRIME. She has donated her art to nonprofits and to support the efforts at Standing Rock. Aside from this, whether she knows it or not, her energy, philosophy, and art are their own form of activism.
She is a multi-faceted craftswoman in her work, from watercolor and ink, to colored pencils, to acting, to pet portraits. She has even painted several murals for children’s rooms. In fact, while painting a “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” mural for a friend's next baby, the oldest son, who was 2 years old at the time, would exclaim to anyone who came over, “JoJo Paint!” The name has stuck, and I like it!
“My art is ever-evolving and I enjoy challenging myself to try out different mediums. I am open to the universe and do things that feel right. I let my art take me where I need to go. I love having a sketchbook with me at all times -- You never know when you will be inspired.” Being able to see beauty in your simplest experiences can change your perspective on everything in life. Thank you, Joni, for sharing your heART and helping myself, your students, and every life you touch to refine our focus and keep moving.
I could go on forever about all the ways Joni is an inspirational human and a true Free Art Friend, but why not find out for yourself? You can visit her website, like her page on facebook, follow her on instagram, or request a commission yourself by sending her an email.
You can also see her in the upcoming project titled “Negotiation of Self” by Elizabeth Crabtree as one of several women interviewed about self-perception and interacting with the world. She is part of an installation of abstract audio, live performance, and 2D and 3D artwork. This event will be on Friday, September 23rd and Saturday, September 24 from 8-11pm at The Nest of Cryptic Winged Photography.
pass it on, pay it forward.
I wish growing up were as easy as
ticking a mark on a door frame or
as simple as
etching my initials into aged wood
instead of the skin of my teeth
Every time the year passes, I look back
on how much I've grown
But instead of inches and ages
it feels like lightyears
and I'm slipping away from the mothership at warp speed
But at least there's a beautiful view
to help me smile through the
sorrow of dreamlessness
like a live/laugh/love cliche
I'm trying to remember
the way an imagination turns
floors into lava and
swingsets into rocket launchers
I'm trying to remember how to
skip rocks at the riverbank and
why a box full of toys is a treasure chest
what indecent creatures lie in wait between
the impatience of growth
and the pain of stagnation
when gods and angels fly beside you in your impotence
protection over providence
when does expansion become permanence?