It's early morning…3 am to be exact and I am wide awake. Insomnia? Perhaps, but my this is not a normal state of being for me. I really do love to sleep, so my suspicion is that my creative mind is working overtime and I can't find the shut off valve.
It's been a roller coaster ride, "excruciating," as one friend termed this decision to sign the lease for our JUICY new collaborative space. Yes dear readers and clients, in case you are wondering, I did run the numbers, and as always, they didn't make one bit of sense in the "real world view," so I've decided to go with my personal view…leaping into the BIG, DARK, VOID, that of trust of the heart. Which leads me to breakfast.
A few weeks ago a friend reached out and touched me on Facebook. Over the course of my life, there have been those people you can count on one hand, who have made a very deep impression on your life in one way or another-mentors. Wikipedia describes the word mentor as: "a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Today mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals to help them advance their careers, enhance their education and build networks." I am not sure he knew this, but this describes my feelings about this person exactly. One part outlaw, curmudgeon, wild man, and whiskey maker; one part visionary, educator, physicist, philanthropist and feisty, kindred creative spirit. "A smooth blend," as they say.
George S. Stranahan and I met about twenty years ago when he founded the Woody Creek Community School (now known as Compass), and immediately bonded over our love of black and white photography. Since that time, we have weaved in and out of one another's lives, checking in as new things developed-no pun intended-in our individual pre-occupations. The last time we checked in, George has started a digital printing business and graciously offered to print some of my fine art work and take it to a show he was doing in New York. He did not charge me a red cent. Have you ever felt a relationship was a one-sided deal? Well very often with George, that is how I feel. George has a heart wider then the crevasse in the Grand Canyon.
In the years that passed since our last meeting, an unexpected thing had happened for both of us, we became authors. Last week, we made a date for coffee, to share our books and catch up on the last several years. And oh "Whata cuppa coffee!," it was, as George stated after the fact.
I was a bit apprehensive meeting up this time. I'm still not comfortable with this acquired role as "author". It's a skin that doesn't quite fit yet and I still tell friends that becoming published at times feels like a "cosmic joke," to this dyslexic gal. What was I worried about? It was just George. Yet I knew this moment was different, as it was time for me to give back and to share my gratitude for the years of encouragement and support and that upped the ante.
As soon as I sat down at the table-late, due to a crisis call with a client-I felt all trepidation melt away. He graciously accepted my apology for my tardiness and the banter proceeded from that moment on, as if no time had passed between visits. I gave a copy of my book to George and shared with him that threads of his years of encouragment were woven into its pages. He then went to the car to bring in his book, "Phlogs: Journey to the heart of the human predicament" co-written by Nicole Beinstien Strait and published by the publishing house he founded with several other partners, People's Press (I told you he was a visionary!).
It turns out that George isn't that comfortable in his role as author either. I didn't know that until I got home and had an opportunity to read through the first 14 pages. His friend artist Ralph STEADman writes in Appeciation, "The game's up George! It is time to come out and show us this world you have been preserving, not only for yourself, but for the others, though you are not like the others. That is the important difference. In an attempt to hide that fact, you are allowing this glimpse of yourself and your pain to be shown as though it were something quite necessary and unimportant. Handed in nervously like a school exam paper you wait for retribution because you feel that perhaps it wasn't what was expected or called for. Well, you are right! It was completely unexpected – and utterly beautiful. It is time to kick ass with more – to let go and be the blooded Outlaw you are, only now – in broad daylight!!"
Ralph is right George. We've been waiting for this part of the story and I for one love knowing the similarities in life experience are astonishing! George began making photographs in 1942, (to my 1975), starting with his mother's Leica IIIg (to my fathers, Olympus). We both progressed from there, with George lugging around a 4×5 and experimenting in darkroom techniques and artistic "loneliness." As for me, I dropped out of Jacksonville University in 1978, after 1.5 miserable years of thinking I wanted to be a teacher and attempting to fit into that box. I discovered my creative mind didn't have the traditional discipline required to sit in a classroom everyday due to grain alcohol and other assorted Floridian excesses, so I packed up my bird and my Beetle, drove home during Christmans break and announced that I wanted to go to art school. Needless to say, it wasn't the gift my parents were hoping for. Horrified, my mother declared, "Art school, over my dead body!" So we compromised. I stayed close to home due to limited finances and enrolled in the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and pursued my degree in Photography. My mom's since come around, and I know it was hard for her knowing I would always be financially hungry, if I pursued my passion-I have to say she was right in that respect, but she knows how full my heart has been and in the end that brings us both comfort.
As it goes, our conversation led to the places it generally goes, that of creative hearts and minds and the freedom to be authentic, in a world that invites more of the same. That cup of coffee is one I won't soon forget and some thrilling ideas for possible collaboration were born. It turns out my mentor will be right down the hall from me now in our new creative home, so I anticipate a few more of these inspirational conversations, and a few more sleepless nights.
It's 5 am now, time to get a few winks before sunrise. I for one am will always be grateful for the time my Feisty Female spent brainstorming with that "blooded Outlaw."
s stunning and filled with large format black and white photos, which are exquisite and rich in color and detail. To read more about the guy who hung out in Gonzo's kitchen, makes whisky and writes books, visit his website.