Breaking Bad Lives On

I’m a Breaking Bad fan as many others are. Why, because it was the best darn show on TV and was what my son says, “the most moral show” that explored the human situation and psyche. I asked him what he meant by the most moral show. He explained because even though there is violence, as there is in that particular meth-underbelly world and anything subculture (he knows having gone to school with some kids whose family members were involved with meth) but  he said, “every death mattered” on this show.  I didn’t have to think hard to realize this day and age that violence on TV is depicted with such informality and passing that no wonder we don’t subject our emotions to get caught up in it or even think twice. Why then can people be so non-complacent, maybe because of bombardment of violence that we see in the entertainment world that has had this effect? Perhaps it’s just a form or protectionism for our emotional fragility or more likely because we’ve become accustomed to seeing so much of it and the next movie has to outdo the previous with extra amount of bang-em-up, explosive special effects and gun play?

Breaking Bad got back to the basics of the human character and how it can be flawed. It also questioned the man’s role of husband, father, provider, as very well described in this article, Die Like a Man: The Toxic Masculinity by Laura Hudson for Wired. I remember going to dinner at our good friends’ home after watching a riveting early episode. It left us unsettled and we couldn’t stop thinking about it so it came up in conversation. A Catholic priest friend of theirs was in attendance and by the end of the dinner, my husband and I had even him convinced that it was OK to cheer for the main character even if he was “bad.” The show pulled at our heart-strings early on for a character who seemed to be doing bad deeds for good reasons and made us root for the anti-hero but even as Walt turned truly bad by getting caught up in power and “feeling alive” from the plots he put into action, it was hard to let him go. Even in the end, parts of the original good Walt returned but it was too late and too much damage had been done to give him much forgiveness. All bad characters got what they deserved. Unfortunately, they hurt and “turned” good people along the way.

Many are talking about how the series ended. I thought it was brilliant, twisting all the unraveled loose ends into a final tight knot. The ending was a strong clean one with no one left hanging — except for hope — that Jesse, the other transformative character, could finally get a clean break, a fresh start but it would be truly up to him to do so with no strings left attached.

I’ve enjoyed Vince Gilligan’s writing ever since the The X Files, one of my favorite shows on TV. Breaking Bad had this same kind of anticipation with every episode but with even more depth and superlative acting from Bryan Cranston, who I also loved as the Dad on Malcolm in the Middle, as well as the entire cast, that I think it will go down in history as a show to try to emulate. Sadly, however, others are trying and failing miserably. There is no formula to follow and that is what made it great. Better leave it remembered as is and use some examples of what it taught with exceptional writing and believable, everyday, common-man characters living “what if'” scenarios in which we could easily see ourselves slip.

Fortunately, the great memories of Breaking Bad live on and these stenciled murals from VanCityBuzz in Vancouver give some nostalgia for a show that was really worth watching.

breakingbad1_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

breakingbad2_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

breakingbad3_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

breakingbad4_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere breakingbad5_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

Have to give a tongue in cheek nod to the VanCityBuzz post How Breaking Bad would have ended had it been in Canada.

Barzun, Books & Art

Jacques Barzun passed away over the weekend. He was 104 years old! He must have been doing something right. He most certainly did with his opus book, Dawn to Decadence. It breaks 500 years of the history of  Western Civilization into four periods from 1500 to the present age, which is coming to an end (just around the timing of his death, coincidentally). Will the younger generation ever read or understand the importance of his work? He was considered the most scholarly historian and intellectual of our era. Although The Washington Post did a commendable write up, here’s his official obituary, an excerpt is below:

“From Dawn to Decadence,” summing up a lifetime of thinking, offered a rounded, leisurely and conservative tour of Western civilization, with numerous digressions printed in the margins. Barzun guided readers from the religious debates of the Reformation to the contemporary debates on beliefs of any kind.

“Distrust (was) attached to anything that retained a shadow of authoritativeness – old people, old ideas, old conceptions of what a leader or a teacher might do,” he wrote of the late 20th century.

Barzun told the AP in 2003 that he remembered coming to the United States after World War I and finding a country that lived up to its own happy, informal reputation. “It was openhearted, amiable and courteous in manner, ready to try anything new,” he said. “But many of those things have gone to pieces, for understandable reasons.”

With recognition to him and his appreciation of culture and the arts, here’s a lovely piece of book art, from my archives of posts that never got written. This piece was in the Counterbalance exhibition @ March, 2010 at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, which details the creative/ healing process of the patient/ client guided by the combined efforts of clinical experience with the studio art training of their psychologist/ therapist.

Counterbalance-image via SVU, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Like Barzun’s words, art and literature can be combined for a powerful therapeutic experience, similar to “when you experience something that’s beyond words, and you can deal with it through art, there’s something cathartic about that,” stated by Deborah Farber, the Chair of the Art Therapy Department. Knowledge and creativity can work in tandem to bring understanding and healing to individuals and this often crazy world in which we live….Speaking of a kind of crazy tradition, it’s Halloween, now go dress up and scare someone and hopefully you’ll be rewarded with treats not tricks.

Happy Halloween!

Quick Creative Post

Without a post prepared in advance and having just returned from traveling, here are two quick business related items to mention that pertain to art: Innovation and Brainstorming.

I really related to this article Tools for Innovation by Art Markman. No, it’s not just his name that makes it related to art. It’s the process he describes that entrepreneurs and artists use:

The funny thing is, being creative requires using the knowledge you already have. New ideas are often old ideas wrapped in new clothing. This process of finding new outfits for old ideas is called analogy. Analogy is the ability to find similarities in two different areas of knowledge that don’t seem similar on the surface.

This creative process toward discovering a new business solution is what casart coverings is all about — a new kind of wall covering product that revolutionizes the concept of traditional wallpaper. Our wall coverings are different in that they are repositionable, removable and reusable, requiring no messy wallpaper paste. You can decorate seasonally or whenever you want using casart™ as slipcovers for your walls. That’s the “analogy.” I’m the artist who painted the original artwork but then had to find away to make them more user friendly and portable than painting directly on the wall surface, therein casart coverings was born — a perfect solution for interior design, decorating and décor.

casart-coverings-home-page

The other business concept that I found interesting is the art of brainstorming that comes from everyday people watching and how this leads to creative inspiration. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve used this without even thinking about it. It’s a fun creative process that comes pretty naturally to most of us. It is best described by Stephanie Orma for the Examiner.

Sorry no Kick-Start-Your-Weekend music but I’ll be back on track next week.

Crystal Ball

There was a lot of valuable and artistic information in the health section of today’s Washington Post, go figure. This photo of Susana Soares, a Portuguese artist, blowing into a glass bubble/device that she designed with bees was a bit bizarre but a valuable thing. Her scientific experiment helps track diseases and monitor fertility cycles through pheromones. Who didn’t think artists were scientific and smart?

Susana Soares uses a Crystal \

Now coincidentally, this photo reminded me of this one….Don’t blow too hard!

Marepe. Courtesy Gallery Luisa Strina. Photo in Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo

A little mid-week humor for a another stir crazy week…

The other article of interest to me was, Being Difficult — For Some Patients, It’s a Coping Mechanism, by Sandra G. Boodman. I can relate to this because I was a difficult patient just as I try to be a thorough artist. But being difficult or “assertive,” as the author explains, is a way to maintain some sense of control when there seems to be none — by being your own advocate — and asking a lot of questions. Many doctors don’t like this and don’t even have the time to answer, but it is the doctors who respect this assertiveness who, as the author puts it, are “the most supportive” and give the most compassionate care. I know from experience that it’s these type of assertive patients who tend to live longer than expected because they are not complacent. However, I have also learned that acceptance of the inevitable brings tremendous peace — even when you are healthy. Both acceptance and assertiveness can occur simultaneously. What is hard on the caregiver is when the patient denies this process. It’s hard on everyone.

Speaking of crystal balls, which started this post, there was another article regarding the everyday jitters and voter anxiety that Americans are feeling regarding the election. How nice it would be to have a crystal ball to peer into the future on election day, but then again, I might not want to know ahead of time. I’ll just be happy when the anxiety ends.

Art is Therapy

While watching the news tonight, I was struck by how difficult it has been for the survivors of China’s massive earthquake — especially the children. I believe art can be used in therapy to lesson the blow of physical and psychological trauma. In fact the news showed clips of mental health workers helping the surviving Chinese kids in shelters describe their fears and experience during the earthquake by drawing. Art therapy is based on the principle that traumatic experience is stored in the memory as an image. Drawing the image helps process the memory cognitively and lessens the trauma to help resolve it.

iStock photo of child using art therapy

Here’s an interesting article on Glam Spirit by Jennifer Rosen that further explores the value of art therapy. I’ve never been one to get into the innate aura or energy of things but the link in this article to Color Theory is also intriguing with the description of colors’ healing properties. I actually use color theory when interviewing clients to determine what colors they are drawn to most — the ones that not only match with their decor but make them feel the best. Afterall, it’s their home and they typically want it to express their best mood. Choosing the colors that clients are naturally drawn to achieves this goal.

Art therapy can be used as a healing process. I thought this article was compelling in how the artist, Kearine Muizz uses cemeteries as inspiration for her Sacred Stones, painted tombstones, series. This technique transforms what might normally be a sad use for head stones into something positive and uplifting.

When we bury our cat Dante in our Memory Garden, I’m hoping to create some kind of memorial marker. Hopefully my sons will contribute to the design as I think this helps personalizes his passing and helps in the healing.

My 15 year old son, Jackson, is very creative and gifted in pottery. Here are just a few of his recent creations (top shelf). It’s interesting to see how different they are from traditional pottery. Since we’re on our way to pick him up from school (and he may have more), I’m only posting twice this week, as we’ll be on the road. It’s a long drive to Tennessee.

Jackson’s Pots © Jackson Spencer

Art, I know has been very therapeutic for him as it is for me everyday. It is also worth noting that at first, throwing pots on the wheel were a difficult challenge for my son but after much practice he has made this his passion. I’m very proud of him because his perseverance has really paid off.


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