Are We the Water or the Light?

Are we the drops of water that catch the light, or are we the light that pours into form as the dew of dawn before filling the sky?

I wonder about this sometimes in the still breath of morning as I sit having coffee at Rosewood. I know I’ll never discover the answer. Yet I can’t help thinking about the question, and as I do, it occurs to me that I’m like all people. As one life in a chain of souls that have come before me and asked the same basic question, I can know that there really is an eternal mystery and a consciousness that lingers behind it, because I won’t be the last person to sit beneath the morning trees, and the dawn will always bring the dew and the light.


The Vdara Canoe Explosion

Although there’s never been a known explosion of canoes, Las Vegas gives us a good idea of what it might look like in this colorful bouquet of canoes outside the Vdara Hotel & Spa.

As a Canadian staying near the Vdara at the Aria Resort & Casino as part of a four-day marketing conference, I gotta say. I felt a bit homesick. Yet a few seconds later, I was distracted by thinking, “You know? With all those cables holding the canoes together, the display also kind of looks like Spider-Man  stopped an invasion of voyageurs.”

Whatever the thinking behind the sculpture was, I just couldn’t convince the hotel manager to let me rent one of the canoes so I could paddle around the hotel fountain.

That would have been fun.

Somewhere Else

somewhere-else-xristopher-bland-abm-creativeDo doorways to other worlds exist? Common sense says no. Yet common sense has nothing to do with looking at a sunrise… or finding that special place in the garden… where despite beliefs about doorways, you find yourself traveling to somewhere else.

That was my experience one frosty morning last summer at Rosewood Farm, where I knelt within the grasses to take this sunrise photo. Other than setting the image to an amber hue, nothing else in this photo has been altered.

Do You Remember Being Wild?

the-wildboy-xristopher-bland-abm-creative-3Do you remember running wild and free as a kid… perhaps through some summer meadow… or just down the street? Do you remember the day when you stopped… because it was “dangerous”… or “foolish”… and you had to get “serious” about your life? Do you also remember the feeling of leaving something behind?

I think that’s where the Wildboy comes from… or, Wildgirl… or pan or sprite… or whatever you like to call wild spirit. And there are those who say, “Oh there’s no such things as wildboys. If there were… well, where are they? Why can’t we actually find one?” And the answer to that is simple: When you look for the wildboy, you can’t find him—because in that moment of looking, you ARE the wildboy. The only question becomes whether to run back to the meadows and greenwoods where your spirit is always waiting for you.

Please note: “The Wildboy” is a preview of “Theatre Xrisville,” an art-music-video project coming soon. Subscribe to this blog to make sure you don’t miss any details.

Red Tide

red tide abm creative xristopher blandI have to admit, it took me some time to see the hidden wonder of this outdoor art, installed along a walkway just west of Yonge Street between two condo buildings on King Street, Toronto. I was in town last fall to interview Dani Jean and Brendan DeLyzer of the band Mickey Loves Mallory for SMC magazine, and as I wandered in and around the display, I didn’t think much beyond the humorous impression that the walls looked a bit drunk in their droopiness. So I took a few photos and filed them away until a few days ago, when I finally realized what the artist had created. By standing at the right angle, the curled top edges of the piece resembled red waves, and in seeing how obvious that had been all along, I laughed at myself. As focused as I’d been on the interview that day in Toronto, I’d completely missed what had plainly been standing before me, and that was my reminder about life in general—that the beauty and wonder of life is always around us. All I had to do was never let the distractions and to-do lists of life so fog my lenses that I couldn’t see it.

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Firepaint Mixdown 1Though light-tracing techniques are nothing new, I hadn’t really played around with them much. So last Saturday while enjoying the company of friends around a bonfire at Rosewood, I set my camera to its night setting, asked our guest Alex to trace random patterns in the air with a flaming stick and steadied my hand as best I could to record what came. As impromptu as the moment was, I didn’t think of getting my tripod from the trunk of the car, and that may have lent the images better clarity. Still, the blurred effect of the images lends an element of otherworldliness, and I’m certain that I’ll be exploring this technique again in the future because it was just great fun, and that’s likely the best reason to do anything.

Rock Candy

Last Rock at the Candy Factory 3Though they say all good things must come to an end, the implied inevitability still didn’t make it any easier yesterday as the last of the Candy Factory rehearsal space was stripped back to the drywall in preparation for the Factory’s complete close at the end of this month. In stark contrast to how the room was only a few months ago, with its cool, lounge-type draperies and racks of overhead lights, it was a bare-bones moment that clenched around my heart. Yet as I tend to see the world in metaphor rather than on a nuts-and-bolts level, I saw the moment as a truth that often comes along—that sometimes you have to break something apart and strip it down in order to arrive somewhere new, with its own wonders, charms and learning experiences. So I settled back on the floor, levelled my camera against my kit and took this shot also as metaphor—that within the seeming starkness of the world, it’s always good to sit back, relax, focus on what’s central and important to it all and get ready to rock again. As Neil Young once sang, “Hey hey, my my / rock and roll can never die,” and that’s also true for the spirit within everyone, meaning I’m playing right up until the last day—right until they get set to click the lock on the place—and for some inexplicable reason at what would seem to be an hour of gloom, I’m playing those drums like never before.