Rev. Jerry Lee Miller emceed "Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts," Earth Day Weekend, April 20, 2013, at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, hosted by HIVE of Planet Loving Activity (see the HIVE  Facebook page.) Above Jerry plays his harmonica during the Streetbeet's benediction performance of his composition, "The Earth is a House." Participants' thoughts, prayers and haiku written on colored papers, hang in tree branches. They blow in the breeze to spread the messages of Earth healing into the world.

Rev. Jerry Lee Miller emceed “Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts,” Earth Day Weekend, April 20, 2013, at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, hosted by HIVE of Planet Loving Activity (see the HIVE Facebook page.) Above Jerry plays his harmonica during the Streetbeet’s benediction performance of his composition, “The Earth is a House.” Participants’ thoughts, prayers and haiku written on colored papers, hang in tree branches. They blow in the breeze to spread the messages of Earth healing into the world.

On a beautiful fresh spring day after a night of sweet rain, about 25 souls greeted each other and gathered in the sunlit sanctuary of the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster to listen to the sweet music of Streetbeets (Jerry Lee Miller, Paul Montigny, Kati “Kanga” Gruber, and Tom Tucker;) to repeat affirmations and meditate silently together; to melt into the melodious poetry of Chris Hoover Seidel; to thrill with the excitement of the danced and chanted performance piece offered by Kesse Humphreys; and to wonder about the mysteries pictured in Kevin Miller’s large paintings. We laughed, cried, prayed, listened, chanted, spoke, danced, talked and shared ideas. Then we all wrote poems, prayers, haiku, thoughts, laments, and intentions on pieces of colored paper and moved into the garden to hang them in a young tree, allowing the wind to blow our hopes for earth healing  into the world. Four of the writers keep their thoughts private. The rest are copied here in bold italic among the photos of that day:

COLORED PAPER MESSAGES HANGING IN THE TREE OF HOPES AND  BLESSINGS (shown in bold italics throughout the photo essay — contributed by all the participants at “Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts”)

MUSIC A GATEWAY,

Opening our hearts to LOVE

In Loving we act…

Rev. Jerry Lee Miller (center) opens "Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts" with Streetbeets: Kati "Kanga" Gruber (left) and Tom Tucker (right.) Percussionist Paul Montigny is not shown in this photo.

Rev. Jerry Lee Miller (center) opens “Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts” with Streetbeets: Kati “Kanga” Gruber (left) and Tom Tucker (right.) Percussionist Paul Montigny is not shown in this photo.

Write songs of the Earth voicing her pain and her offer to help us…

Kevin Miller greets the group with a pranam, meaning, "My soul bows to your soul." Kevin's paintings, "Fallen Angels" and "The Flood" are displayed behind him.

Kevin Miller greets the group with a pranam, meaning, “My soul bows to your soul.” Kevin’s paintings, “Fallen Angels” and “The Flood” are displayed behind him.

 Thank you, thank you, thank you, for filling me with gratitude.

Kevin invites the group to join in repeating an affirmation, followed by a brief period of silent meditation.

Kevin invites the group to repeat an affirmation, followed by a brief period of silent meditation.

 I hope for a healing for myself and the Earth. To deal in hope and inspiration not despair and destruction. To remember the trail magic I experienced and take that into the world. To sing. To dance. To love the stories.

Kevin talks about creative action as a way of seeing, knowing, being, and healing. We are here to collaborate in "Healing Earth Pain" -- our own pain as we move through life on this Earth, and the pain of the Earth itself as it suffers the violence caused by human greed and ignorance.

Kevin talks about creative action as a way of seeing, knowing, being, and healing. We are here to collaborate in “Healing Earth Pain” — our own pain as we move through life on this Earth, and the pain of the Earth itself as it suffers the violence caused by human greed and ignorance.

 We must Change Hearts to Save the Earth from Global Warming.

Jerry greets the cubist egg containing performance artist Kesse Humphreys, before he emerges to dance and chant his compelling message.

Jerry greets the cubist egg containing performance artist Kesse Humphreys, before he emerges to dance and chant his compelling message.

 Everyone hears the sweet call of the Universe, feels their heart beating and moves swiftly to do the right thing.

Paul Montigny of Streetbeets provides percussion accompaniment to the moment of suspense leading to the hatching of Kesse Humphreys and his emergence into the world.

Paul Montigny of Streetbeets provides percussion accompaniment to the moment of suspense leading to the hatching of Kesse Humphreys and his emergence into the world.

Kesse hatches out of his incredible cubist egg, into the world.

Kesse hatches out of his incredible cubist egg, into the world.

BE THE CHANGE

(TAKE IT PERSONALLY)

Covered with the black dust of ashes and dirt, an exotic bird of black plumage rises to chant and dance "When the waters rise all around, forget not you have wings to fly!" -- Kesse Humphreys

Covered with the black dust of ashes and dirt, an exotic bird of black plumage rises to chant and dance “When the waters rise all around, forget not you have wings to fly!” — Kesse Humphreys

Kesse takes flight.

Kesse takes flight.

Ashes to Ashes

Resurrect

In the New Earth

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Resurrection of the Phoenix.

Resurrection of the Phoenix.

From pain come the vision

From the vision come the people

From the people come the power

From their power come the change.

After the Phoenix flew, Chris Hoover Seidel calmed us with the melodious tones of her voice and the thoughtful notes of mystery and hope in her poetry.

After the Phoenix flew, Chris Hoover Seidel calmed us with the melodious tones of her voice and the thoughtful notes of mystery and hope in her poetry.

We are listening to the “yes”

          in yesterday.

We are composing an “or”

          for tomorrow.

By touching the egg of the Phoenix, Kevin finds the courage to lead participants in a 3-part round, singing "White Coral Bells upon a slender stalk. Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk. Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring? That will happen only when the faeries sing." (We sang, and they rang!)

By touching the egg of the Phoenix, Kevin finds the courage to lead participants in a 3-part round, singing “White Coral Bells upon a slender stalk. Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk. Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring? That will happen only when the faeries sing.” (We sang, and they rang!)

“Heal the Earth,” she said,

“Why?” he said.

“Because it’s the best use of the time we have left,” she responded.

“But isn’t that God’s job?” he asked.

“He never meant it to be this way” she said sadly.

Kevin leads a lively  discussion about his 12 large canvases displayed in the sanctuary, and hears clues about some of the mysteries  he has pondered in the paintings over the years.

Kevin leads a lively discussion about his 12 large canvases displayed in the sanctuary, and hears clues about some of the mysteries he has pondered in the paintings over the years.

 First Snow Drops, crocus, Wind Flowers, Daffodils, Weeping Cherries, and Tulips. Soon Irises, Lilacs, and then the Roses of Summer.

Left to right, Kevin, Tovie Mirot and Fran Gouveia are part of the group discussing "Captain Agape" and "The Revelations of Eve and Adam."

Left to right, Kevin, Tovie Mirot and Fran Gouveia are part of the group discussing “Captain Agape” and “The Revelations of Eve and Adam.”

 Clean Water for All and Future Generations…

Kevin hears the thoughts of Fran Gouveia and the rest of the group, about what the meaning might be in some of the symbols and images in "The Musician and the Tree of Life."

Kevin hears the thoughts of Fran Gouveia and the rest of the group, about what the meaning might be in some of the symbols and images in “The Musician and the Tree of Life.”

 I will knit green hats –

          not green berets of the military

but soft, easy slouchy hats

All green, many hues,

          for my planet-loving friends.

Will you wear a hat with me?

 

Church people stand straight!

I wear sneakers and love my

Seven Sunday weeks!

 

“Etz Chayim!”

(Tree of Life)

Kevin explains how he and Robert Allen collaborated to paint "Deep Woods."

Kevin explains how he and Robert Allen collaborated to paint “Deep Woods.”

I pray “The Susquehanna is for Lovers (& ALL OTHERS!)” is Healing Earth’s Pain and Creator helps me (us) do it!

Kevin explains how he will expand this print of "Woodland Spirits" extensively to both sides and below, adding many more animals and figures to create a new painting called "Woodland Spirit Guides." Behind him is "Apple Man."

Kevin explains how he will expand this print of “Woodland Spirits” extensively to both sides and below, adding many more animals and figures to create a new painting called “Woodland Spirit Guides.” Behind him is “Apple Man.”

 Greed is manmade. Money, debt, hatred, intolerance – They don’t come from the earth, but we do. Amidst all of the destruction and pain, still we are born. Still we come into this world filled with beauty and light. They frack our water, they poison our soil, they patent our food – and STILL we fight for justice – STILL we wake up and love the world all over again. Lucky enough to be young, wild, and free, happy healthy, loved. We still exist. There is something still right in this world if people like us continue to be born into it.

At the end of our healing time together, we all wrote out thoughts, haiku, poems, lamentations and intentions on colored papers and hung them on a tree in the courtyard. Here Rich Humphreys (center) reads his thought before adding it to the tree.

At the end of our healing time together, we all wrote out thoughts, haiku, poems, lamentations and intentions on colored papers and hung them on a tree in the courtyard. Here Rich Humphreys (center) reads his thought before adding it to the tree.

 This Dandelion curled into a ring.

Reviled, More Delicate than gold and brown decay.

The mind wanders, Hope, base, distraction and despair.

Sounds good.

Jerry Lee Miller watches as all the participants share their writings and hang them on  the Tree of Hopes and Blessings.

Jerry Lee Miller watches as all the participants share their writings and hang them on the Tree of Hopes and Blessings.

 Blessed be the creator and the Creative Spirit that brings healing to our earth and our lives.

Rev. Jerry Lee Miller leads Streetbeets in a performance of his signature composition, "The Earth is a House," as our benediction for "Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts," and our beginning to Earth Day Weekend.

Rev. Jerry Lee Miller leads Streetbeets in a performance of his signature composition, “The Earth is a House,” as our benediction for “Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts,” and our beginning to Earth Day Weekend.

 Thy Kingdom Come

Thy Will Be Done

On Earth as it is in Heaven!

On this beautiful spring Earth Day evening, my wish for the world is that a miracle will happen and we will all wake up with the compelling conviction that we can arrest global climate change and save many of the life forms on Earth by immediately switching from fiossil fuel extraction and consumption to clean renewable energy. My prayer is that we will accept our moral responsibility to leave a habitable planet for future generations.

It is time to become our higher selves and take creative action for the sake of life on Earth.

Love, Wisdom, Peace, — Kevin

My thanks to Alison Stein for providing all the photos for this essay and for helping me so extensively with the logistics for my art display at “Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts.”

Our thanks to the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster and its congregation for sharing their beautiful, sunlit facility with HIVE of Planet-Loving Activity to produce this event.

 

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“Something Was Happening in the Sky,” 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas, 2004, (SOLD)

Dreams about momentous events happening in the sky have visited me all my life — a vast net descending upon the entire nation from space — or — many enormous futuristic air tankers falling out of the sky all at once into an urban landscape. In my dreams the people are electrified, thrilled and concerned, as they are in this painting. But the dogs — thank God for the dogs — are filled only with wonder and delight.  Six dogs live with me at Sawmill Run. They and the sky out here in the woods show me new revelations every day. 

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Multiple Personality Self-Portrait, image area 33″ x 42″ acrylic on 9 canvases

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Self-Portrait, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas

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Kevin with his Multiple Personality Self-Portrait. The artist constructed and hand-marbled the frame, approximately 54″ x 66″ without “legs”

Here are a few quick thoughts on each face left to right and top to bottom, as I experience them. 1st row: Little Debbie Kay is a very sweet and feminine, white bearded lion-girl, who will seem young and innocent even when she is 75. She loves to groom herself meticulously and look pretty. I adore her because she makes me feel happy and warm. Noel Coward Lee Lion is one of the most mysterious faces and one of my very favorites. I “found” some of these faces by sea-sponging textured color onto the canvases and then peering intently into the random patterns until faces emerged. That was the case with Noel Coward Lee Lion. He materialized out of the chaos. The more I defined his face, the more compelling he became to me. I think of him as a lion-man who has lived most of his life in ignorance, misbehavior and doubt, albeit striving for understanding, stability and answers. We see him at the moment of Enlightenment, when all his suffering, anguish and hard-living suddenly and finally give way to Total Awareness, and the entire universe opens up before him. The Cowardly Lion becomes Leonardo. I find this portrait very absorbing. Next is Marg (short for Margarine) the unabashed drag queen who thinks of herself as a rich 1940’s Rosie the Riveter with power — all brash fun, irony and out-there self-expression with no apologies. She’s a Type A transvestite with a shitload of attitude and an agenda. Ouch! Watch out! She’ll seduce you, make love to you, eviscerate you and publicly trash you, all at the same time. That’s the top row.

 2nd row: The handsome young Latino man, let’s call him Antonio, is very idealistic and innocent, but intelligent and articulate. He believes in great possibilities for his own future and for humanity. Then there’s 60-year-old Kevin Miller in the mirror. What can I say? My attempt here was NOT to create an idealized self-portrait by any means, but to paint a somewhat abstracted composition that would see inside the mirror and reveal more of the truth than the glass does. I like the results. It is disturbing, colorful, and piercingly focused all at once. This face seems to look deeply into the viewer from inside the painting, and to know what is going on in the observer. That suits me. The Young Entrepreneur is next. He represents the internal attitude I always adopt when working with corporate groups. He’s appealing and likeable, but there is something that is more than a little plastic and insincere about him. I suspect he may be hiding something…
 
3rd row: Maybelline is my beautiful, if somewhat vacant, vulnerable and innocent inner woman. She’s a model. She does not show emotion, although she feels entirely at the mercy of the manipulations and attitudes of those around her. Her only defense is remaining silent and walking away with the aura of her intimidating beauty in tact around her. Next is Ooloo, the alien princess from another galaxy. She literally has a golden headdress and silver stars in her eyes, and, obviously, she can see twice as much as we can, because she has four eyes. Finally, there is Zulu, one of my favorites. He is a strong, virile, African warrior-prince — the next king. He knows Magic. He knows the Truth. He is profoundly powerful. He sucks all the oxygen out of every room he enters and commands total attention. People don’t cross him. I especially like the way all the lines on the top 2/3 of his face converge in one point between his eyes.
 
I tried to arrange these images around my “mirror portrait” in a way that simply provided some balance in color, style and impact for the entire piece. But, having written these descriptions, I realize that there are 3 distinct vertical columns with a completely different themes for each: Column 1 — Little Debbie Kay, Antonio and Maybelline — is about innocence, idealism and vulnerability. Column 2 — Noel Coward Lee Lion, Mirror Portrait of me, and Ooloo — is about deep vision and enlightenment — arriving. Column 3 — Marg, The Young Entrepreneur, and Zulu — is about a powerful public persona and the control that comes from projecting the right attitude. Hmmm… Interesting… Weakness and vulnerability on one side, enlightened vision in the center, and public power on the other side. I’ll have to think about this. Understanding art is like interpreting dreams, especially when it’s my own art, because I’m too close to it.

 

Eve & Adam 1“The Revelations of Eve and Adam,” 20″ x 24″ acrylic on canvas

Sometimes art unfolds in mysterious ways. “The Revelations of Eve and Adam” started as sea sponged colors on canvas. As I peered into the sponged shapes, I could see vague misty outlines of the faces of Eve and Adam, so I drew them out and defined them. One by one the animals came to join the party. Near the very end of the process the purple wildcat appeared on Eve’s head and the eagle on Adam’s brow with the crown of stars above it. I have no idea where they came from, and I am still learning what all the elements of the painting “mean.”

Some people say that artists should only make art about things they know. I disagree. It is much more exciting to start with a question or a mystery or a joke. I’d rather get out of the way and let the art reveal itself on its own terms, according to its secret designs, because then it will have something to teach me. Art will provide answers to questions, surprising messages, and unexpected wit, if we leave it to its own devices, whereas, if we dictate the subject and control the process and all the forms from the beginning, we won’t learn a thing from what emerges. Discipline and mastery of technique are still essential, of course, but when those elements are in hand they become automatic, and the forms can come through effortlessly, like wonderful dreams, during a good sleep on a cool rainy night.

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“Time and Money Dancing Together,” 20″ x 24″ acrylic with gold and silver paint  on canvas, by Kevin Miller, 2009

29″ x 32″ framed and ready to hang

After 10 days of intense corporate work and the inevitable sick-in-bed crash that follows, I am painting calla lilies and watching our koi leap into the air to restore the soul’s peace. This painting, “Time and Money Dancing Together,” is still something of a mystery to me, but I produced it a few months ago to explore the artist’s age old dilemma: If we have enough money to live, it means we are employed and don’t have any time to create. If we have enough time to create, it means we aren’t employed and don’t have any money to live. For ages we artists have been trying to find the right balance between time and money so that we can both create and live. I’m still searching for the answer. It’s a roller coaster at best.

In this painting the dilemma has been resolved. Time and Money are represented here by Krishna and Rada, dancing together in perfect harmony even though their demons and attendants would appear to be poised to destroy one another. Time is accompanied by his laughing wolf of temporal destiny in the upper left corner, who mocks all human pursuits and cuts them short at his whim, as does the skull woman of death in the lower left corner. The wolf is under attack by the brightly colored, seductive but poisonous snake of materialism at Rada’s upper right. And Krishna’s skull woman of death waits for the old man who attempts to hide and camouflage himself in Rada’s lovely shoulder.

Perhaps this particular balance is not so perfect after all. It may be little  better than a standoff. But it is clear that at least for the Avatar Krishna and His ecstatic lover Rada, Time and Money can exist in dynamic union, and their lower natures are held at bay. As they dance, embrace and kiss, their two profiles become one whole face — the balanced blending of Time and Money every artist craves.

It may be that such a dream can only come true in the rarified atmospheres in which the gods dance and love. However, a painting of this fantasy brings it one step closer to physical manifestation, and helps me to hope it may yet be possible.