This Sorry Spacesuit 014- On Gatekeepers: In Defense of Looting

In the 15 or so years that I was a professional artist, almost every job I did had some kind of employer. Each project naturally had someone to commission it. Sometimes these people were patrons, allowing me an opportunity to excel by trusting the skills that I had developed. And sometimes they were more like that guy from Office Space:

As a professional being commissioned, I completed the task to their satisfaction. In any job there is compromise and getting paid to make art is no exception. Sometimes the compromise would make the work better and in those instances, the employer became something more valuable: a collaborator.

But there have been two instances where the employer was really a Gatekeeper: collecting and curating artists like keys on a ring, and using them to unlock a gate that was keeping them apart from a world that only they could see. A world which had no compromise.

Like our discussion in issue 5, some of the best art is achieved by the artist seeking to be a lightning rod; listening with closed eyes and doodling like some automatic-writing clairvoyant. Working to stay sharp and waiting for the hair to stand up on the back of their neck as the air electrifies with the presence of… something good. Each of these instances were significant to me because I was told by a gatekeeper that I had control, and I was given a great idea.

With the first one, I buckled to the gatekeeper’s expectation and paid the price. I learned my lesson and when the second project came around, I defended the idea and was stopped from doing the job.

Some artists don’t buy that crap about lightning rods. Some artists think everything boils down to hard work. And some artists are perfectly content to be keys, especially if it means they get to make a living holding a brush instead of a shovel.

But for me when you’ve been handed something really good coddled by the lightning, you’re doing a disservice to whatever Gods hand out ideas to compromise ANY part of it.

Here’s the story of the first one. In the interest of brevity I’ll leave the second one out. (Maybe for a future issue…)


You are here.

Nich and I (pictured above) stumbled across the idea.

I’m sure you know those boardwalk cutout displays that you put your head into; the ones that usually have the pretty lady and the strong guy hilariously painted on the front.

There’s an interesting sort of transformation that takes place when you use one. You put your face through a hole in a piece of wood and you become something else. You step sideways into another life, or another time.

For you Harry Potter fans, it’s like a pensieve. You push your face through into a different world and hold it there while a loved one stands in front of you with a camera, and you can’t help but feel funny, being the object of this incredibly simple magic trick.

And the resulting picture is proof that you lived as something that you are not for a few seconds.

These little painted machines create empathy out of thin air, really.

So we thought why not take the idea and make the scenes tragedies, instead?

Frankly the idea still scares me a bit.

I see a room filled with these things: Jackie chasing parts of JFK down the back of their car, the people pointing up at Martin Luther King Jr’s assassin, a little girl running naked down the street her back blistered from Napalm. Burning Monks, Nazi’s, Jonestown, Kent State. All these charged moments with holes where the faces should be. Time machines with empty seats, all waiting for you step in and inhabit their moment.

How do you get someone to try one? Who does it first? Do they smile nervously when they put their head in? Do they allow you to take a picture of them?

Do we judge them when they do it? Do we take note of which one they use, and attempt to draw conclusions about the size and weight of the monster that lives inside of them?

…Each time you put your head in one, does it get a little easier?

 

We sat on it for a while. Logistically neither of us had the time or space to make these large scale pieces, and I couldn’t take the time from paying work to make something without knowing who to sell them to. (That kind of decision is really one of the saddest things about making a living off art.)

But the idea stuck around. A few years later I was invited to be a part of a new project; a gallery was reclaiming advertising billboard material and was collecting artists to paint them. They had a sponsorship from Van Wagner to plaster LA with these giant pieces of fine art. 3 artists were attached to each full-sized billboard, giving me a 10×10′ space to do whatever I wanted. Not a paying gig of course, but what great exposure (that statement is the second saddest thing about making a living off art. And a good first whiff of a gatekeeper.)

And so, presented with the opportunity to do whatever I wanted, the idea came back; innocently whistling and running a stick back and forth across the top of my picket fence.

Hurricane Katrina had recently happened and there was a viral bit of news that went around at the time. The AP had captioned two separate photos which ran together. One of a black kid “looting” food and the other of a white couple “finding” bread. Although the story behind how this happened is more mundane and doesn’t seem to point to a conspiracy (Snopes has the story) it had scratched open something awful that most of the country felt but couldn’t get at. And the idea of generating empathy and meaningful conversation around that moment seemed too good to pass up. That feeling of electricity came back.

But the trick was in finding out how to represent this. I could paint the empty hole where the head should be, but I didn’t think it would translate well at a distance. So I thought I’d need to paint it as if someone was using it. But who would want to sit for that?

I finally figured, if I was going to ask people to take this as anything more than a cheap joke, I had to be the first person to try it on.

I did a sketch that was approved, and I started going to the gallery every day to work.

As the piece developed, the gallery owner began to take interest. So did the people who dropped in, though it seemed to me like the black people who came in didn’t care for it one bit. The mailman would come in and be nice at the door but seemed a lot cooler when I said hello. There was a guy who came every day to sweep up and do odd jobs and I’d see him occasionally leaning on his broom, sizing me and the billboard up. But I thought I was just being paranoid and overly sensitive. I’d look at the thing for hours and I thought it was working.

When I was almost done, the gallery owner started asking me questions about it. He admitted that he hadn’t realized that this was the point, even though he had approved it. He expressed concern that it would be taken the wrong way and the man who swept up the place got into the conversation.

What happened next was an exchange of ideas between two strangers regarding the murky area surrounding race, privilege, and experience. The gallery owner pretty quickly fell out of the conversation, embarrassed I think because he never looked at the sketch. But the handyman and I talked for an hour. After I explained the intention, he loved it and thought the idea could be useful. But for him and the mailman and most other people of color that came in there, the image of this kid clutching Diet Pepsi in waist deep water was too new and racially charged to be appropriated. And the bigger purpose of the piece, the empathy part, was getting lost.

He gave me two valuable insights that fueled my decision. He flatly stated that he felt Katrina, and the government’s response to it, was a black man’s holocaust. And he said that this thing, sitting above a highway couldn’t be properly processed by someone who has 4 seconds to look at 1/3rd of a billboard while going 60 miles an hour.

He said that all anyone was going to see was a white man’s head in a black man’s tragedy.

I began to feel that my choices had been wrong, I went through the options of how to get it back on track. Nothing seemed clear about it anymore and it’s a bewildering and panicky thing to have been trusted with a 10-foot blank canvas that will be seen by thousands of people and to be told once you’re done that it doesn’t work. We talked about how we could change it, and removing the race of the empathizer seemed the only option. So I painted myself out.

It looked ridiculous. I tried to salvage the blank space with a passive-aggressive “you are here.” but the point had been broken, like when you push too hard on a pencil trying to cross something out.

Then, in the vacuum left by the fleeing good idea, all the little daily stuff rushed back into my head. “You’re already over schedule, just finish the damn thing.” “Other artists need to work on their section, get out of the way” “You have real, paying work to do.” Life was now out there with a stick on the picket fence and I didn’t have the time to sit quietly, waiting for the lightning to come back and help me figure this thing out.

A few weeks later it went up at a busy intersection, but I felt like a failure.

4 or 5 months after the unveiling, the gallery owner called me and said the billboards were headed to San Francisco and he was wondering if he could get another artist to paint over my section. There were 2 other great paintings on that billboard and mine was limiting their exposure. I told him to go ahead. It’s funny how 1 square foot of bad decision can ruin 30 feet of good work, like a burn hole in a couch cushion.

I’m not really disappointed with the gallery owner, who seemed to sell me an opportunity then pull the rug out. And I’m certainly not disappointed with the man who suggested I change it. Everyone was incredibly well intentioned, and that hour-long conversation was one of the most valuable ones I’ve ever had.

But more than an admonishment, it was undeniable proof of concept for the original bolt of lightning. And that part of it I ignored. I was disappointed in myself for not following through with the idea I was given.

I was disappointed that, when it came time to put my head in the hole, I backed out.

And I learned that the next time I see a gatekeeper no matter how well intentioned, I’ll hold that idea up out of the floodwater. Maybe even put it in a plastic bag to save it from getting all wet.

I guess to me, some things are worth looting.


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This Sorry Spacesuit 024- But In Other Respects It Is Light: The Legacy of Jay Defeo

“I believe the only real moments of happiness and a feeling of aliveness and completeness occur when I swing a brush. I don’t think I can do without it.”

-In a letter to her mother in 1952.


In 1988, Jay Defeo knew she had lung cancer.

She had found a wounded dove in her basement, something her dogs must have got a hold of. She put it in a shoe box and rushed it to a vet, but it was too late. She was affected by the death and the image of the still bird in the box- it’s glassy black eye pointing back at her, stuck.

Some would say that the style she was using at the time seemed a far cry from the works she created in the 70’s, when she had returned to art-making after the ordeal of The Rose. She was using the palette of her earlier career; warm light muds pushed together with strong black and whites. She spent most of her time in the greys, shoving around highs and lows to blend out soft edges- building up forms with the black and white then knocking some of them down again. Sculpting areas of interest and focus with paint.

Jay Defeo was an artist of the beat generation. Her artwork was hanging on the walls in the room when Allen Ginsberg read “Howl” in public for the first time. She was likely there to hear it, as her husband Wally Hedrick was a founding member of the art space in which Ginsberg read it. Defeo and Hedrick kept a little apartment on Fillmore street in San Francisco which became a hub for poets, musicians and painters in the burgeoning beatnik scene.

Before that she spent time in Europe. She visited Lascaux and ancient cathedrals. She made over 200 paintings during a 3-month stay in Florence. When she returned, she taught art classes for kids until she was fired for being convicted of shoplifting two cans of paint.

Her and Wally struggled to make ends meet. She made jewelry, took odd jobs and kept painting.

 

 

When Jay Defeo died at the age of 60, her most important work The Rose– a piece she made during her time in that little apartment on Fillmore- had been seen sealed up behind a wall for over a decade. And it would take close to another decade before anyone would see it.

She began The Rose in 1958. And she was still working on it in 1966 when she was evicted. Some of her friends said being evicted was a blessing, it’s what finally took the work out of her hands. The painting had become her obsession.

She worked and reworked the surface. She scraped it down and built it back up. She used only paint, occasionally mixing in powdered mica. She would finish a section one night, only to wake up the next morning and find that the heavy paint had slid down with the night’s gravity. So she would scrape it off and start over.

Six months in, she decided that the composition should be centered, and it took friends a whole day to cut it away from it’s backing and place it on a new, stronger frame. They wedged the canvas into the full-length bay window of the little apartment, and she worked by the light of the little windows on each side of the painting.

Her friend and filmmaker Bruce Conner later noted that the apartment “…had no electricity; when the sun came up, the room was illuminated, she worked on the painting. When the light went away, she left the room. The room was like a temple.”

It went through phases: geometric, crystalline, organic, light, dark. She burrowed in sticks to help support it and extend the design, then she thought better of it and took some of them out. She hacked at the painting with a knife, cutting shapes into it, and deep radiating lines.

It went through whole eras of art history with her. It moved towards curves and she carved intricate designs into it’s surface, a time she called it’s Baroque Period.

The Baroque Period proved too flamboyant for her and she moved back towards a classical design, straightening the lines and building up more paint. In some areas it grew to 8 inches thick.

At the time of her eviction, the 7.5′ x 11′ painting weighed over 2,300 pounds and had to be cut out of the apartment like a tumor. A crew had to remove part of a wall so that it could be eased out of a window hole and a forklift could lower it to the street. Her friend Bruce Conner was there to document the process, cutting a short film to “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis. In the film Jay Defeo wears black and prostrates herself across the painting when it’s finally laid on the apartment floor. Later, she sullenly sits off to the side, watching the workmen from the third floor fire escape.

Defeo quit making art for 4 years after The Rose was removed.

The painting went to two shows and after that, it was installed in a meeting room of the San Francisco Art Institute.

A few years later it was determined that it was deteriorating- sagging under its own weight- so it was covered over with wax and plaster in a haphazard attempt to preserve it. And a few years after that, the institute got tired of seeing the mess and put a wall up in front of it.

There it would sit, covered over with plaster behind a wall for decades, becoming a myth until 1996 when the Whitney Museum started collecting work for a retrospective on beat culture and had the notion to excavate it. They pulled down the wall, and built a new structure to properly support the painting’s weight. With all the reverence of anthropologists, they lovingly removed the plaster and wax and painstakingly cleaned it. And when it was ready, they put it in a small black space with a diffused light on each side, mimicking the little bay windows of the apartment on Fillmore Street.

The whole piece now has the feeling of a monument. Despite the relentless commitment to the radiating composition, I don’t feel like it’s bursting out from the center. Instead it crumbles from the top, erupting from caked earth. My eyes aren’t drawn to the center as I would assume, but instead they tend to rest on the lower third, in the high contrast area where she put the boldest cuts- deepest relief- and the black she left showing, like a vein of ore. She shows her mastery of the effects of contrast.

The powdered mica that she mixed into some of the paint layers has a reflective quality. It shimmers, it glows, it radiates. It’s called The Rose, yet it fans out like a dove.

It’s 11-feet tall and weighs over 1 ton, and yet it looks light. Suspended or lifting.

Some people say that this ponderous work was a symbol for the culture that bore it. And that being evicted from it’s little manger on Filmore Street- and later covered over and neglected on the wall of an art institute- was a coffin-nail for the once vibrant beat generation. In the same way that the Rolling Stones’ concert at Altamont heralded the end of the hippie era. Both well-intentioned acts gone awry, and beyond anyone’s control.

As I said, when she died in 1989, no one cared for the work. 8 years of her life walled up and hidden away. And after her death the painting became a ghost, a mysterious and mythic work from an obsessive who said plainly to people that she separated her life into 2 parts: the time before The Rose, and the time after.

She was changed by this piece, inside and out. The lead paint and turpentine that she breathed in during those eight years working in that little alcove of her apartment gave her a deteriorating gum disease which later made her teeth fall out.

 

But while The Rose may be Defeo’s largest work, it isn’t the biggest painting ever made. She isn’t the most eccentric artist we’ve known. In interviews she is coherent and shrewd, very clear about her time spent making this piece and each phase of its development. She wasn’t whisked away by the experience- where fate moved her hand for 8 years- like we assume when hearing about her obsessive dedication.

Taken as a single work The Rose, while impressive, is a small, quirky and compelling footnote in a slightly larger, quirky and compelling footnote of American cultural history.

So why is it a big deal?

This painting is from 1988. The year of her cancer diagnosis and heading into the last year of her life. It’s the memory of that dove she put in a shoe box and couldn’t save.

And It’s 16″ x 20″. Inches, not feet.

 

These paintings are studies of the dental bridge that she was given when her teeth fell out. They were the first things that she made when she finally got over her obsession with The Rose.

Origins, from 1956- 2 years before The Rose.

The Verónica, from 1957.

Persephone, from that same year.

Verdict #1, from 1982.

And I had another dozen that I would have put alongside these. They show her incredible versatility and intelligence.

Jay Defeo may have been a part of the beat generation, but she is also part of a larger, more complex community. Creators that are unflinching in their dedication and committed to turning over every stone they can find. Artists who decide for themselves when it’s time to stop.

The Rose by itself isn’t what makes Jay Defeo one of my favorite artists. I’ll be honest, when I first came across this story, I didn’t think much of The Rose. It seemed like a lot of hoopla over a big (and admittedly very pretty) thing. A painting whose purpose was it’s size, and while that’s respectable, it’s also not that unique and didn’t jump the rails in its intention. It moved through some pretty country, to be sure. But really it was just a train that showed up on time.

But when I looked for her other work and saw The Dove #1 and I put them both under one hand, a silhouette emerged of an artist with incredible versatility and strength. Then I found her collage work. Her work with ink and photocopiers. Her early work in Florence, her jewelry, her drawings, her bold choices, her humor, her dedication to craft, her aesthetic. I realized that I had completely misunderstood The Rose.

 

In 1959, she was invited to be in a show in New York. The “Sixteen Americans” show at MOMA was groundbreaking and included a roster of names that would come to dominate the art world: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Nevelson and Frank Stella as well as Wally Hedricks. They wanted to include The Rose but Jay Defeo said it wasn’t done and she didn’t know when it would be and she wasn’t going to rush it.

So they ran a picture of it in the catalogue. They heralded it as a great work and this was just a few months into it. The composition hadn’t even been centered yet.

I wonder how they felt about the 7 years of changes it went through afterwards. Whether they understood that it was called The Rose for the way it blossomed.

I’m pretty sure that Jay didn’t care. She was busy making it right.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this essay. If you’d like to receive more stories like this, please sign up for the This Sorry Spacesuit newsletter below. Once a month or so you’ll get an email with a story or discussion on art, music, history etc.- Something like what you’ve read here. And when you sign up, you’ll get access to the archive- over 30 more posts, stories and essays like this.

This isn’t a marketing platform, just letters in a digital bottle tossed into the glimmering sea of content, that hopefully will spark conversations which are more than 140 characters long. There is NO sales-pitching or spam.

This Sorry Spacesuit 025- Only 16% of His Dreams Survived: The Story of Batiste Madalena and George Eastman

Only 16% of his dreams survived;

The story of Batiste Madalena and George Eastman.


By 1919, George Eastman was rich. Wildly rich in fact, having created a way for us to capture dreams.


In 1884, George Eastman invented and patented a camera. Plate cameras had been around for a while, but his camera made practical use of his real innovation: film. He created these things while trying to find a way for his little photography business to grow, so that he could care for his mother, who had been taking in boarders at their house to support his dreams since his father had died in 1862.

He was smart enough to know that cameras could be made by anyone- and would be made by everyone- so he focused on the elusive and consumable part: the film. He created the Kodak and the Brownie to make use of his product, but he also provided high quality and affordable rolling film to anyone who made a camera, thereby turning every company that could have been a competitor, into a customer.

George Eastman’s mother died in 1907, after a prolonged illness and 2 years in a wheelchair due to chronic pain. Her death was something from which he never fully recovered. Friends said he would cry uncontrollably in public. Her humble nature and refusal of lavish gifts in her lifetime had an interesting effect on Eastman, who became one of America’s greatest philanthropists.

And so in 1919, when George Eastman was wildly rich and missing his mother, He donated three millions dollars (43 million dollars today) to The University of Rochester to start a music endowment.

The crown jewel of this endowment would be a theatre, designed to show live music and films. The 3,350-seat Eastman Theatre opened in 1922 and was top of the line in every way, including a number of unique features that George Eastman personally oversaw: A chamber hall called Kilbourn Theatre (Kilbourn being his mother’s maiden name) and outside wrapping around the corner of the magnificent building, he placed six brass marquee frames to advertise the dreams that would play there, printed on the very film that he manufactured.

At the time, movies were a huge business and Eastman disliked the advertising that studios provided for films. He found them busy and haphazard, crammed with fine print, created by committee and mass-produced for the nation.

He wanted something more modern and bold to hang at his theatre, so he set out to search for an artist that would paint them for him.

Batiste Madalena was born Italian in 1902. He emigrated with a foster family to America in 1904 and later studied art, enrolling at the Mechanics Institute in Rochester. He studied under the great J. C. Leyendecker there and won a scholarship to the prestigious Art Students League of New York in 1924.

He was 22 years old and packing for New York when he was summoned to George Eastman’s office.

Eastman asked Madalena to postpone his studies and stay in Rochester to paint movie posters. “He told me, ‘You do anything you want.'” Madalena said in an interview. The only directive that Eastman gave was that the posters had to be bold and striking enough to catch people’s attention from the passing trolley cars. “The trolley was pretty far away, so the posters had to be big, not fancy and finicky. The point was to get people to cross the street and stop for a while at the Eastman.”

Madalena took the job. A new painting for each brass marquee in front of the theatre each week.

Having no way of seeing the movies beforehand, he often used publicity stills and the boilerplate plot info that the studios would send to theatres in order to come up with his work.

He worked quickly on 24” x 48” posterboard using gouache, tempera and conte crayon. He would change the color of the posterboard- a trick to save time in painting backgrounds. He often used the black boards for the dramas and cream boards for the comedies, but he was also known to use whatever best suited his design.

He was incredibly deft at lettering, and while the studios were contractually obligated to include billing and fine print in their posters, Madalena disregarded that, including hand-painted text sparingly and always in service of the design, in order to not waste space on things that wouldn’t attract attention.

There is an amazing versatility of style in Madalena’s work. He would occasionally mimic popular notions from the world of commercial illustration like the Fadeaway style, or his mentor Leyendecker’s painterly magazine covers. And he would dip into the fine art world, borrowing moves from early Kandinsky or the more popular art deco movement (especially in his lettering).

 

But they hardly seem like the same hand is responsible for them, as each set jumps genres and bends towards the film’s aesthetic (or plainly improves upon it)

One week, the designs would have strong outlines and the next, no outlines at all. Some weeks were all bright colors, and other weeks the figures swam out of the black of the posterboard. Some weeks he filled the frame with the face of a star, and the next just text with a sliver of light cast through the suggestion of a window, bathing a small figure so detailed that trolley car riders would be compelled to cross traffic just to look it over.

If there is a unifying quality to Batiste Madalena’s work, it’s the incredible strength of his compositions. Even when the rendering misses the mark- and there are some poor drawings here and there, mostly in the likenesses (though it should be expected when you remember that he’s painting one every day.) The compositions break convention just enough to be engaging, without becoming obtuse.

 

They’re sometimes aggressive in their assembly and he uses what could be considered very modern visual ideas, photographic wipes and overlays, as in the case of Greta Garbo’s forward shoulder in the piece below; the way it fades into the background and overlays the title bar. Also note how he uses it to cleave the text; separating the larger text of the star’s name from the modest title.

Maybe it was the confluence of his constraints: the quick schedule and the medium, the directive to be bold enough to draw attention from a moving vehicle- and the lack of editorial influence- that pushed him.

But Batiste Madalena is one of those rare young artists who is let off his leash but doesn’t fall down a rabbit hole of self expression. He’s a 22 year old who has begged off a scholarship and has no editor to speak of and he takes his job seriously. He uses his tools and growing experience in order to get the job done while simultaneously challenging himself to get better with each movie that he advertises.

For four years, until 1928, he made an average of one painting a day. That’s over 1,400 paintings, advertising over 200 films. And he was paid $4.50 per painting ($61.50 today.)

I could write all day about them, But I’m going to shut up and let his work speak for itself:

 

In 1928 George Eastman sold his theatre to Paramount-Publix and Batiste Madalena was considered an extravagance. It’s unclear whether he was fired or quit, but Madalena never pursued his scholarship to the Arts Student League. He instead opened a small design studio in downtown Rochester.

A few weeks after that, he was heading home when it started to rain. “On my way home I cut through the alley behind the theater and found my posters thrown out with the trash,” he said. “It was raining so they were all slopped around, and I thought, ‘Holy mackerel, why didn’t they tell me? I did all that work and they just threw them away!’ It made me sore.” 
Paramount-Publix no longer had use for the posters and never contacted the artist. The water-based paint was coming loose in the rain- the works were a mess, color running in a stream down the gutter.

Madalena picked through the garbage and gathered up as many of the paintings as he could, rushing them home. With the help of his wife, he worked through the night salvaging what was left- wiping them down and using a warm iron to dry them and reset the colors, flattening them with books and weights.

Out of the 1,400 original paintings that Batiste Madalena made for the Eastman Theatre, only 225 survived. He built crates to keep them safe and put them away in his attic, where they sat for over 40 years.

And in 1932, when Madalena was running his design studio in Rochester, George Eastman was in constant pain. He had a degenerative spine condition and was deeply depressed. He could barely walk, and he was facing the inevitable prospect of being wheelchair-bound, just like his mother.

So on March 14th, George Eastman shot himself through the heart, leaving a note that simply said “To my friends, my work is done – Why wait? GE.”

At the time of his passing, George Eastman had given away over 100 million dollars (1.6 billion dollars today). His generosity is responsible for the betterment of countless lives for every dollar that he pledged to education, health and the arts. And if you factor in his contribution in the making of film, there is no end to his impression on every corner of our world.

We only have 16% of Batiste Madalena’s paintings from the 4 years that he worked for George Eastman (and, I only put 9% of that percentage into this newsletter.) And we only have any of it because the artist happened to go down a rainy back alley on the right day.

But in that 16% of Madalena’s posters our dreams are intact: in an era, a record of time and aesthetic, a look at the future, all filtered through a voice that was brought to the foreground by a broken-hearted man who had vision and could recognize potential.

May George Eastman’s echo through the world never stop ringing.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this essay. If you’d like to receive more stories like this, please sign up for the This Sorry Spacesuit newsletter below. Once a month or so you’ll get an email with a story or discussion on art, music, history etc.- Something like what you’ve read here. And when you sign up, you’ll get access to the archive- over 30 more posts, stories and essays like this.

This isn’t a marketing platform, just letters in a digital bottle tossed into the glimmering sea of content, that hopefully will spark conversations which are more than 140 characters long. There is NO sales-pitching or spam.