Monthly Archives: July 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Colorful

Colorful Meltdown

Colorful Meltdown

Dear Friends and devoted readers,
Today’s post is brought to you with a new shape. Imagine a square that is being pulled horizontally into a rectangle. That is the shape my photos and images are taking for now! Thus, no images. The past few days have been spent dealing with a computer failure.
Actually, the computer is fine. The monitor, however decided to fry itself, literally. As I was typing an e-mail, the view of the window suddenly changed to a distorted shape, like melting plastic, with rainbow colors all around the edges. Hopefully, and naively, I turned everything off, and rebooted. The distorted shape reappeared, now accompanied by the obnoxious stench of burning plastic or wires which seemed to be emanting from somewhere nearby.
Using colorful language, I immediately unplugged everything, and put the bloodhound nose to work. Yes, indeed. The smell was coming from the monitor. It is old. It is heavy. So with my adrenalin pumping, I was able to heft it off the desk and whisk it away to the nearest exit, declaring that if it did decide to burn, it would not be in my home office. The smell lingered, so windows open and ceiling fans whirring, I proceeded to thank my lucky star for some foresight. 3 years ago, when the monitor was acting just a wee bit balky, I had purchased a new ACER 22″ LED monitor. I had not used it, everything was still packaged.
Carefully following the simple directions, it was up and working in just a few minutes. Wow! Is it wide! The light weight is fabulous, and the small base and thin profile reduce the amount of desk space it takes up. Another bonus.

The downside – my S3savage4 graphics card is now incompatible. Adjusted settings, resolution, downloaded most recent driver. S3 graphics is no longer supporting this old card with new drivers. Do we want to know all of this? Of course not! I just want a computer monitor combo that works!
There are no computer stores within 100 miles, or friendly affordable techs… so I have given the information to knowledgeable friends, I hope, who are in search of answers.

Meanwhile, it was colorful. No time for a screen shot… so using only the x y coordinates and photoshop rulers, I offer this colorful rendering of the monitor meltdown squared. The e-mail looked sad as it faded… and the colors were like a melting rainbow…

Hoping any sadness fades quickly for you and may your week be filled with colorfully glad!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Lake Superior 3 ~ Energy

Sometimes almost literally sweeping me off my feet... and I love the storms...

Sometimes Raging...

Sometimes words are inadequate to describe energy.
Lake Superior is pure energy, given in so many ways.

Sometimes raging
Sometimes quiet
Sometimes resting
Always creating beauty.

Sometimes taking lives
Sometimes moaning
Sometimes laughing
Always joyfully giving an abundance of beauty.

Perry's Landing

Sometimes quietly starting my days...

Lake Superior Sand Drawing with Stones

Always giving ~ Simple Beauty

May your day be filled with beautiful energy!
Namaste ~ Star Bear, who is off to start another beautiful day of gratitude for this place and time.
Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

Lake Superior 2 ~ Celebration, Inspiration, Collaboration

Lake Superior always waving...

...waving hello, waving good-bye, waving hello again...

Lake Superior draws me to it. It is where I am refreshed, nurtured, safe…
It is where I go to wander, to explore, to dance, to laugh, to sing, to pray. Superior is always waving hello, or good-bye, or dancing or laughing. Off to the Lake I go, to think and be inspired and work, to be in touch with the universe and myself. Superior is never boring! I may go with friends. I may go alone. I go for time-outs, for joy, to celebrate life.

Some may ask, what does this have to do with being an artist, making art? How to explain… that. It attunes my senses. I become attuned to the world. Sometimes “it” comes in experiencing the vastness, the seemingly endless horizons, in every direction. The horizon line is seen, the vertical lines are not, and yet I know there is great depth under these waters, life unseen, unheard – the mysteries.

Spending a lot of time with the Lake is like getting to know someone intimately. There is water, there are stones, sand, wind, color, shape, contrast, texture, perspective, sounds, smells. There are tiny drops of water jumping up and laughing. These same drops of water, shape the sand and the stones. The minerals in the water color the stones. The stones are billions of years older than we. These drops of water, in collaboration with each other, push and pull the stones, tumbling them repeatedly, rolling, tossing. Listening to the stones jostle and crack against one another, I can hear them laughing… and they have stories to tell, these ancient stones. Listening to the stones… This poem, just sent by a friend, written by Charles Simic says it so well:


Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
~ Charles Simic ~

Today, I teach an adult “art” class… or is that an “Art” class? It will be simple. Eyes closed, each person will choose a stone offered by the Lake. Sitting quietly, breathing, they will listen to the stone they chose. Whatever stone they choose, it will be the perfect stone for them. They will hold it in their hands and feel the shape, the weight, and the texture. They will open their eyes, then look and feel and discover. Notice color without judging, just noticing. Some will ask what is it made of, what minerals. Shhh… that is the mind wanting to name, classify, putting the stone in a hierarchy. It just wants to be a stone… and tell its ancient wisdom. Then we will travel into the stone and see, hear what it says, what story it wants to tell.

It may be a happy story, or a sad story, or a funny story. It may be a drawing or a poem or a dance or a song. It may even be scientific information.

Whatever the stone wants to share, when the student is ready the teacher appears… and the sharing will be shared without judgment. In this class, it may be shared as a drawing or a poem, or a story told to others. It may become a science lesson for some. Is there a line between science and art? What color is the line?

You can do this, too. Hold a stone, eyes closed. Feel it. Turn it over in your hand, run your finger over it. Is it rough or smooth, cold or warm? Does it have bumps or dents or cracks? Is it heavy or light? Then open your eyes and look at it.. What color is it? Is it all one color or many? Does it smell? What does it smell like? What does it sound like when you tap it with your fingernail or a stick? Does it offer music? Can you hear its music? Going inside the stone, yes, you can… holding the stone, just breathe yourself into it. You can leave anytime, you are not a prisoner of the stone. It wants you to know what it knows… where has it been? What has it seen? What does it want you to know… about its life, it’s travels, its journeys, its color, its music, is it laughing with you? It will tell you if it is old or young in spirit. All we need to do is listen, to the spirit of the stone… it only takes a minute, once you learn to listen.

Write, draw, paint, dance, sing your stone’s story. Then, if you choose, share it with a friend. They might like to hear the story of your stone! Some may want to simply draw the stone… that’s okay, too, making a portrait of a stone. The stone will love it!

Messages in stone....

Young or Old? A family holds a stone... together

Namaste ~ StarBear – who, today, is listening, learning, laughing, teaching, sharing, dancing… celebrating being alive! 🙂

Lake Superior

On a typical day... waves

Different day, Different mood, always changing, never the same, consistently.

Sunday, July 17th was Lake Superior Day and the Big Lake was quiet with fog rolling in… This week my blog posts are dedicated to Lake Superior. (A lot of it is about Lake Superior anyway, Spirit of Place ~Place of Spirit)
Maybe you’ve never heard of Lake Superior, maybe you have never been there. Have you heard the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”? The video will show you another of Superior’s ever changing moods.

Gitcheegama, as the Ojibwe call it, is the largest fresh water lake on the planet. It contains 10% of ALL of the world’s fresh water – in this one place! Its coastline is 1,826 miles long and is shared by the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan and the Canadian Province of Ontario. It is old, very old, and the rocks and stones that line its fabulous beaches, even older.  Lake Superior is breathtakingly beautiful and because of its depth, the lake is also breathtakingly cold!
The first time I waded into Lake Superior, it literally took my breath away. Late one August, when the lake was at its warmest, following a whole summer of heating, I naively stepped into its crystal clear water,  just up to my knees. After about 1 minute, every bone in my legs ached, my teeth hurt, my body tightened, and I quickly retreated to the warmth of the sand. That was in the late 1960’s.

Today, the Lake becomes so warm in mid-summer, near the edges, at least, that one can wade fairly comfortably. In 2007, the Lake level dropped 18 inches. Shipping was greatly affected. Ships using the Great Lakes had to reduce their loads in order to make passage through much shallower channels. The cost of running the ships with smaller loads remained constant, affecting the prices paid for things you may use, wherever you are in the world.

What happens on, in and around Lake Superior affects everyone. We are all connected… water knows no boundaries. It is the rain, the rivers, the streams, in the clouds and it is always moving, even when it seems frozen.

In 2010, some friends walked the entire circumference of Lake Superior. Retired naturalists Mike Link and Kate Crowley hiked 1500+ miles around the shore. They spent four and a half months walking, camping and through the miraculous wonders of technology, documenting their adventure. You can see more of the moods and wonders of Lake Superior through their lenses here: Full Circle Superior. I was honored to walk a few miles with them on this adventure.

Sometime today, or this week, when you take that sip of refreshing water, bottled or from your tap, please make a toast to celebrate Lake Superior. You are probably drinking a drop or at least a molecule of Lake Superior water.

Namaste ~ Star Bear, who lives near the Big Lake and loves it!

To see more:
Lake Superior ~ Winter
Lake Superior Day Info
Lake Superior Stewardship
Lake Superior Wikipedia

Post-a-day 2011: ~ Full Moon

Full Moon #791... and counting!

Full Moon #791

“I see the moon, the moon sees ME.
God bless the moon, and God bless thee!”

…A poem I learned somewhere along the way between 1 and 791 full moons. Many moons ago, my children and I would sing-song this as they were being tucked into bed, covers pulled up with a kiss goodnight on the forehead.
In the witnessing of 791 full moons, I have learned much, about life and the moon… Men have visited it, and no women that I know… and yet this full circle of feminine energy shows up every month, year after year to illuminate the planet, the universe. Predictable, on schedule, radiant.
This simple image is a note to myself. It is not photogenius. It is the moon over the woods near home, a moon shared by all. How does one capture an image of moon energy? Is it possible? When I revisit this note, I will not remember the hordes of mosquitos and other biters attacking me as I waited patiently for moonrise. I will remember this moon, these wispy clouds, the muted colors of day turning to dusk turning to night, quietly. I will remember the beauty of a warm July night. I will remember loving friends who lift me up and who I lift up… along with those who are strangers. I will reflect this gentle beauty back to everyone I meet over the coming days. So with this imperfect, perfectly blurry image of tonight’s full moon, I offer you a simple note of reminder. This moon, this energy is ours to enjoy, to share, whether we can see it or not. Every person on the planet is a recipient of this marvelous energy. Isn’t that amazing?
Sometimes my kids and I would change the words and say:
“I see the moon, the moon sees ME.
God bless the moon, and God bless WE!”

I hope you count your full moons, count your blessings and have a good night and a beautifully illuminating day!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Weekly Photo Challenge: Old Fashioned

Old-Fashioned Simplicity

I find some good old-fashioned graphic design to be simply beautiful.
Old fashioned:
Black on white
Thin paper
78 rpm record cover
(78 revolutions per minute… not very fast!)
Message delivered clearly in words and image
No “hype”
No flash
Appealling to many senses
Appealing to the human in us… Listen to your dog and your dog will listen top you. Listen… just listen, attentively.
No electricity needed…
Good Graphic design is music to my eyes.
Really good graphic design can become art.
Maybe I am old fashioned, too?

May your day be filled with simple beauty – old fashioned or not! 🙂

Namaste ~ Star Bear

My Digital Art, c.1976

Is this “Old-Fashioned” Art, yet?

Click for larger view

Digital System - circa 1976

Made by my hands in 1976, when the Digital Age was just coming into being. A friend had just spent a year studying at MIT, working on her MFA. Visiting my studio in downtown Detroit, she was all excited and concerned about what was being done with computers at MIT (probably before many bloggers were born.) We argued about those who were going to be left behind, creating a giant digital divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” as delineated by access to computers.

We laughed, discussed, argued, about the future of computers, the world, the economy, the environment. At about the same time, Bill Gates and his partner were creating Microsoft.
Were they watching our work? Listening? This piece is kinda micro-soft-y…

Micro fiber soft art - click for larger view

Micro-fiber Soft Art Digits-Detail

At the time, I was creating soft sculpture, with new micro fabrics – yet, old fashioned, one at a time, hand stitched. I sold a lot of art to collectors and institutions. I exhibited frequently and was even listed in the Who’s Who of American Art. (Under a different married name – it was after all, 1970’s… again, “Old Fashioned”)

For some reason I wanted to keep this piece… I found it funny, sensual, and a humorous quiet social statement. The blue and silver colors represent the cold steel and hard edges of the computer age, ironically rendered in soft materials. It always makes me laugh, reminding me that I do have a sense of humor…

Two seperate decimal systems in one small package!

Digital System dis-integerred... Even so, you can count on this back-up system!

It’s fun to play with, too. Seperate the pieces and you can “hold hands” with it while communicating on facebook, or if you want something warm and cuddly to touch!
Into toes? They’re here, too.
This piece is also very useful…. form follows function. When the power goes out or the computer crashes, this is a great back-up system… the original “Digital System.”

Digital Systen Vertival

Vertically, visually more fun... positve negative digits - in case of computer failure you can count to 40!

Only a few eyes have seen this piece… and now I reveal my “old fashioned” work to you. The piece is actually titled “Digital Systems”. That was the title from it’s inception.
It measures 18″ h x 9″w x 5″ deep when digits are inter-digitated and is ready to hang or sit. It is now for sale for $1,000.00 including shipping inside the U.S.!

I think it would be a great fit in a computer executive’s office. Maybe in the your office? In any event it is my humorous reminder of how we learned to count, the calculator always on hand.

Contact me if you are interested in purchasing this old fashioned “Digital System” as a gift for a friend or yourself! Leave a comment and your e-mail address will magically appear in my dashboard.
I will respond to any serious inquiries.

May your values stay old fashioned while your mind thinks new thoughts and you count your digits, err, blessings! 🙂

Namaste ~ Star Bear
copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

Post-a-day 2011 – Circle Dance

Circles of Friends, Circles of Joy

Circles of stone...

Lao Tzu “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
… Step one: “The first step out of darkness can be blinding in the light… as we step into the light and our eyes adjust… we find ourselves surrounded by loving friends.”
Today it is a crowd, cheering me on…cheering for each other and I thought it was baby steps… or just going in circles… then the circles grew larger… while my slow eyes adjusted to the brilliant light. Creator is laughing with us… and the light is coming from everywhere… 🙂
May your day be joyful and filled with color, friends, love and circles of laughter with friends!
Namaste ~ Star Bear
~ copyright 2011~Betsy Lewis
This post inspired by Daring Dreamers, SARK, Mike, Angi, my kids and my incredible circle of friends and of course, you and everyone who “sends” me to the beach for time outs! 🙂 Thank You!

Post-a-day 2011 – Retro Poster ~ Free!


Library Cards are FREE! So were the recycled materials used to create this collage...

Creating this poster for our “Get a Library Card” campaign was a lot of fun! (I work at a library) I felt like I was doing 1960’s retro hippie look. Everyone else working there is too young to remember the psychedelic look. I laughed a lot, every time someone walked by and said “Very Cool!” like it was something new.
Living in a small U.P. town, maybe psychedelic is just now arriving here? Recycling hasn’t, for the most part… except for a determined few willing to drive 100 miles to recycle plastic and metal… The Girl Scouts recycle paper.
I retrieved the material for this collage by reusing stuff already used and ready to discard.
Recycled materials, recycled ideas… guess it’s true that “fashion” comes around again every 40 years or so…
Yikes! We’re gonna go through this yet again? LOL! Hang on to those hip hugger bellbottoms… 🙂
May your day be colorful and free – to read, to dance, to visit a library! We even have free Wi-Fi!

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Post-a-day-2011 ~ Cogito ergo sum

Shine on!


Cogito ergo sum
“I think, therefore I am” ~ Descartes

Evidence that I exist:
“I write, therefore I think, at least I think I think!” ~ Star Bear

I make art, therefore, I think visually, I think.
I am off today to be the visual artist that I am.
I am happy being me. I hope you, too, are happy being… you.

Namaste ~ Star Bear