Love has no boundaries...
StarBear interviews Artist, Betsy Lewis
(Bear) What kind of “Art” is this?
It is art from the environment, made with what is/was at hand. It is the “original” art form, people using material in their environment to express an idea, thought or feeling without words. Visual art.
(Bear) Why do you do stuff, art, like this?
It started as a little gift for my sister, 400 miles away and ill, to cheer her up, find a way to tell her how much I love her, a way to deal with her illness from so far away, a way to deal with sadness, loss, not feeling good about feeling sad, then it became more… a way to share the JOY in life… in my life with others. It made me happy. It just grew into something that I had to share with others outside of my immediate family! Why do I do “art?” Love! Joy! Sharing!
(Bear)How many stones are in it?
Over 100 full canvas book bags (each bag weighing about 35 pounds when full) so my best guess-timate is, oh, maybe, a ton and a half. As I worked, each stone, large or small became reminder of all the people I love… people I know, who are in my life, those who have left, those who taught me, loved me and those not yet known. We are all connected. I don’t know how many stones are in it, a lot, and I had a spiritual, loving, encounter with each one. The variety of stones is similar to the people in my life, large, small, rough, smooth, bright, light, dark…. it takes them all fitting together, somehow, to make a whole heart. Each one has it’s own special place in the heart, and it’s own story to tell.
(Bear) Is this like a… a Heart of Stone?
Well, Yes and No.
The “yes” part: In the physical universe, it is made of individually and randomly selected pink pieces of smooth rock…granite, agate, mica, sandstone, and God only knows what else! I’m an artist, not a geologist, Ms. Bear. I only know they are old, beautiful, and have spent eons being washed and tumbled by waves and scrubbed by sand.
The “no” part: The heart is a universal symbol of love. Pink represents the life and lifeblood of all living creatures, past, present, future. Up close, the colors of this heart range from nearly white to deep red and include orange and purple, peach and lavender, light and dark stones. They were there, in the sand, little spirits waiting to be noticed. Many of them said “Take me, take, me!” “Notice me!” “helloooo!” “I want to play, too!” or “Hey! What about me?”
Some said nothing, just resting quietly, pale rocks in pale sand, waiting patiently, subtly. There were some who said, “If you choose me, I will fit wherever I’m needed,” or “I’ll help you build this up.” Each stone has/had a message… and many taught me to worry less, work harder, to feel good, to be silly, and playful. Funny little (or big) Spirits, Ms. Bear, like you and everyone else can be!
When they all were in place I saw that, Love, this heart, cannot be broken… it is made up of so many pieces, always changing, moving, new pieces added, some may be carried off by strangers, or hopefully by children! The rocks say add to this heart, take some with you, we are participatory public art. It is in ongoing flux.
(Bear)How long did it take you to build it?
At first, the better part of 3 weeks… I started July 31st, 2009. Working full-time it might have taken a week to locate, carry, then place and fit all pinkish stones/rocks. I completed it (I thought) on August 17th. After several days, I saw that more rocks were needed to build it up, make it higher, as sand, shifting from high west winds began to bury it. Then later, I had to wait for rain and wind to do their work, erasing footprints.
I am now waiting for a rainy day to photograph it wet. The intensity of the colors increase when the stone is wet. They shine, they become even more brilliant and lively.
Also, I am scheduling friends to help carry an eight-foot ladder through the woods to this beach to shoot a more aerial view.
(Bear) Will it ever be finished?
People are leaving notes written in the sand around it. It’s now becoming a way to communicate “hello, is someone there?” “I love…” for others.
More rocks were added this week… for DIsnowshoe and his wife; for a newly born child: Shaw Mitchell; visiting friends, Jim, and then he added one for his wife, Mary… and so the heart grows! I added some more for special friends and told them there was a piece of love in my heart, just for them. Shall we add a “Bear” stone for you?
((Bear) You would do that… for me?
Of course! All you have to do is ask!
(Bear) How big is this heart?
Over 6 x 6 feet… I am 5 feet tall and it’s bigger than you and me, Bear.
(Bear) How long will the heart last?
Physically? In this form? Who knows? – as long as it does. When Superior’s storms wash sand over it this fall, it may disappear completely. Or maybe the waves will roll all the stones back into the lake and carry them to another beach, or deep into itself, or maybe someone will come along and take them all to build something else.
(Bear) You don’t care if it disappears?
It will not disappear. The energy in those rocks is as old as God. The spirits in those rocks is just as old. The love and care put into joining them together was from…not me, an inspiration, being inspired to make a little I love you to and from God for my sister. I was just the human carrier, laughing at how much joy there was in being a prisoner, yes, a prisoner moving rocks, imagining a chain gang moving rocks. I was/am never alone in a labor of love.
If the rocks go somewhere else, they will carry the spirit of love with them. They will probably disperse in a storm, be gone by Spring. We’ll see when the snow melts won’t we, Bear?
(Bear) How will you make money on this kind of project? People don’t buy disappearing art do they?
Oh, Bear, you are funny! I don’t know if anyone will buy it…. it would take many loads and a big truck to move it… and a lot of friends carrying rocks to get them to the truck! And you can’t drive motorized vehicles on the beach ~ (actually a Bear can’t drive anywhere! LOL) Maybe someone will buy one rock? Maybe someone will buy a photo. I don’t think this heart, in it’s current physical form on the beach is for sale, it may be physically too large, too heavy. One cannot put a price on Spirit, Inspiration, can they? Hey Bear! When you are finished with this interview, would you please call ALL of your friends and mine to see if they would each help carry a few stones off the beach, before winter, so we can deliver this heart to somewhere that needs a little love?
copyright 2009 Betsy Lewis