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I’ve been bike riding pretty much daily from my art studio to the studio of my artist friend Jon Strand in Cork Town, a distance of about three miles one way.
My biking – I’ve been doing about ten to 15 miles every other day for the past few weeks – is in preparation for the annual bikeathon Tour DeTroit this Saturday, the 15th.
Some 4500 bikers are participating. It’s my third tour, this time peddling on a 1982 Schwinn, thin-tire model purchased second hand $150, fully reconditioned, at Third Avenue Hardware.
I did the 30 mile distance last year, including once around Belle Isle, for which I earned a tour T-shirt, plus the smug-ass pleasure that comes of knowing that at my advanced age I can indeed pump my peddles. (Good gay genes.) Jon, by the way, is pumping pedals too.
Whenever I buzz Jon’s studio to announce my arrival, his five-year-old Labrador Retriever, Archie Whitetoe (black coat, one white toe), let’s out a howl when he hears my voice over the intercom. Good dog, Arch!
For the past 1,867 hours Jon, a pointillist painter has been doting away on what he says may well be his masterpiece, “A Chorus of Oracles.” It’s no exaggeration to mention that his painting, measuring 4′ x 6′ consists of nearly two million – yes, two million! – tiny dots, meticulously applied by Rapidograph ink pen.
The painting has five or six layers, with seven shimmering masks of various sizes – one for each oracle – floating above a multihued ocean of undulating wave upon wave. On the horizon a small, silver-orb moon keeps eternal watch. The affect: transcendental.
Jon, who has been creating mythological art since the 1970s (when he was also waiting on tables at Tiffany’s bar) has had two major DIA showings and a hugely successful retrospective exhibit six years ago at the Max Fisher Art/Music Complex.
I tell Jon that dot, dot, dot, doting is a form of mental masturbation, to which he laughs, “There’s no doubt I get off on my art. It’s relaxing. It focuses my mind and senses. More importantly, it’s a spiritual high, somewhat tempered by watching Lucy reruns, Jeopardy, and BBC lectures.”
When visiting Jon I share my own iPhone gallery of art (over 1000 images). Of late I’ve been averaging one new expression every two days. (Interestingly enough, during all the time I spent in bars drinking – about 25 years – I never did a lick of art, until I got sober 30 years ago.) About creativity in general…
A recent article in Scientific American MIND magazine states that it takes about ten years of daily application to your gift – art, music, cooking, bowling, golf, whatever – for the creative process to become second nature. Intuitive. Free flowing into the alpha-mind zone.
“I like to think that our gifts are a legacy of being what Native Americans have long honored as ‘two-spirited’ people. For many being rainbow born has been a blessing meant to be shared with those, shall we say charitably, less creatively sensitive,” muses Jon, adding final dots to oracle seven of his masterpiece, even as he speaks. I nod. Mr. Archie Whitetoe wags in approval.