'Round and 'Round

So far 2019 has presented me with some intriguing art experiences that have brought me new inspiration. The form of a circle, the never-ending path of the spiral, and the labyrinthine inward turning of the mandala are in me and my art.

I do a lot of art now. I paint small circles with watercolors and add pen and pencil to them to create enclosed little worlds. Using colored pencils, I draw mandalas which do not look like the mandalas most people are familiar with, but I anchor the design on the central point even if it is not immediately noticeable. I’ve always liked the ‘tween times and ‘tween spaces, a dancing around of sorts.

In January I went to visit the Guggenheim to see the art of Hilma af Klint, which deeply resonated with me in a million ways, most of which I wouldn’t be able to explain in words. Around that time I worked with a fellow shamanic practitioner who invited me to draw a mandala. Before the new year, I had already been creating small watercolor circles. I remembered Carl Jung’s Red Book. All of it came together.

I continue to create mandalas as a way to find peace. I turn to the circle for solace and self-understanding. Oftentimes these days, my art feels like a self-prescribed balm for health issues I face, as I am being treated for chronic Lyme and also require more eye surgery in coming months. In Lyme, there are spirochetes which are spiral organisms that invade the deepest crevices of the joints and organs and are hard to eradicate from the body. Perhaps through the spiral and circular forms I create, I can find a way to the corkscrew-shaped life forms, and a way to make peace with them somehow. There has been a saying that to catch a fish, think like a fish. I’m not sure if this will work for me, but at least drawing the circles and mandalas brings me great peace while I’m doing them. Creating them calms my mind when my thoughts begin to race with fears of how I will get through this, how I will regain strength, how I will get rid of the excruciating overall pain in my body, and how my health will be restored. The whys are clear… nymph deer tick bites all over me in September, 2016. I pulled almost twenty fully engorged ticks off of me and had over fifty bites all over. They were small and stayed on despite showering. It took me more than 48 hours to discover them all. I became severely ill within days - difficulty walking, thinking, seeing, intense light sensitivity, a racing heart, slower breathing, the development of a facial tremor. One friend who was a nurse saved my life because she was the only one paying attention, calling me frequently to check on my symptoms and suggesting I get on a course of doxycycline asap. I did a 21-day course which got rid of the symptoms, but two months later symptoms returned and worsened and more symptoms appeared. The why’s are clear, but the how’s are not. After going to several doctors for help over the last 2-1/2 years, I am currently seeing a Lyme specialist and I have some hope as I continue forward.

So I sit with spirals, in the great labyrinth of life walking to and fro toward one destination. And I draw. A compass creates the circle around a central point. The pencils smoothly glide across the paper and the harder I press, the more vivid the colors. With a steady hand and two sets of eyeglasses with still no clear focus, I find my way around.


"Five of Cups"

Art and spirit definitely came together when I did a dance and music piece with musician Jimi Durso that we decided to title “Five of Cups”, which corresponds to the title of a song on Jimi’s band Coincidence Machine’s album “Decimation of the Monarch”. The music he created for this performance was reminiscent of that song.

Although we didn’t plan too much here, there was a basic framework we had in mind, such as costume, setting, shadow play through movement and the music Jimi played.

I once asked Jimi why the titles of his songs were the names of tarot cards and he said he knew nothing of tarot, but liked the sound of the names of the cards. The numbers, such as “Five of Cups”, did, however, correspond to the tempo he was playing. Interesting that he wrote these songs years before we met, and that I have been reading tarot cards and oracle cards since I was a teenager. Coincidence?

We enjoy our collaborations.

Moon Song + Moon Art

This song came to me when I was driving one evening when the moon was almost full. The melody came, along with some words. At a stop light I pulled out my phone and recorded the melody, which I knew would fade quickly if I didn't catch it right then and there. Over the next couple of days, the weekend when the moon was full, I finished it early one morning and played it for Jimi on my bass. He jumped in and added some beautiful guitar to it. This is not a proper recording, just one that I recorded on my phone for now, so it's rough and some of the lyrics might not be clear (they are typed below), but here it is. Many of my paintings have the moon in them, so I put those in the video, too. Thanks to Jimi Durso for the guitar playing and for the encouragement. 

by Robyn Bellospirito  

Moon, moon,  drench me in your light
Moon, moon, caress me with your light  

Silver strands to hands that reach right to you
Let me feel my way through the night
Sift my heart like flour in your garden
Gently flow me to you with the tide  

Moon, moon,  drench me in your light
Moon, moon, caress me with your light  

Reflect to me the depths of my soul's wishings
Reveal upon my head a silvery crown
Your ancient melody directs my footsteps
Lift me up so high I can't float down  

Moon, moon,  drench me in your light
Moon, moon, caress me with your light.  

Copyright Robyn Bellospirito 2018, All Rights Reserved 

"Cosmic Shadow" Dance+Music Performance

Here's a small portion of my performance with Jimi Durso at KrazFest last week. I've been having some health issues, so dancing with "the buddies" made it easier. Actually, I'm not sure I could have done a dance performance without them. They kind of held me up as I found the authentic movement of the story that wanted to emerge. I created "the buddies" years ago as props for performances. To me, they symbolize death and the ancestors. With what I'm experiencing now with my health, I need to dance with that, in a healthy way. It fits my spiritual beliefs and it's felt cathartic to embrace the idea of dancing with mortality. That day and the day before, when Jimi and I rehearsed, it felt good to move, and because of my physical "limitations", I found a way to move that I wouldn't have found otherwise. It was a gift through the challenge. In that way, my limitations became a strength. I don't call myself a dancer, but an artist who dances. I love movement, have taught butoh and slow movement and find it to be very healing. Movement is good medicine. Thanks to Jimi for being an amazingly beautiful part of my life and also a wonderful creative collaborator. I love how we are together. Thanks to Paul Lipsky of LIVP for this video.

The Dolphin Show - Art & Music

At the time I'm writing this blog post, I've known Jimi for over a year now. He's a really important person in my life, and it's also wonderful that we find so many ways to share our art and music. Since we met, we've collaborated in many ways, including doing Art & Music Improv events around Long Island, NY and me painting his guitar cases and doing art for his band's music video. At the Opening Reception at The Dolphin Bookshop in July, 2018, I asked Jimi if he would be interested in playing music at the opening. He said yes. Here's a video I took of him playing and then I panned around the room to show some of my work. I included newer paintings as well as some that were over thirty years old. In a way it was a little retrospective exhibition. I liked having my work there. Thanks to Robin for the show. 



My Show at The Dolphin


In July, 2018 I had a solo show at The Dolphin Bookshop and Cafe in Port Washington, NY. It's a really nice space in a charmingly unique little bookshop in a cool seaside town. I was happy to show my art there. 

During the Opening Reception on July 7th, 2018, friends came to see my work and musician Jimi Durso played some cosmically ethereal music on his electric guitar. The photo below was taken by my dear friend Liz when I was moved by the music to begin a slow dance. That was one thing I didn't plan to do, but when the music moves us, its important to follow where it leads. That was a really special afternoon. 


me and jimi - photo by liz.jpg

Sacred Dolls

I did not make the dolls in the photo above, but they are similar to what I made for a friend.

I did not make the dolls in the photo above, but they are similar to what I made for a friend.

Several years ago I began making small dolls for friends out of homemade clay, fabric and other materials. I called the dolls "I Love Me" dolls, and each one was a small version of the person for whom it was created, with colors and objects that held meaning for that particular person. My intention was to make dolls for my friends that would help them get in touch with their little self, their child self, to help them feel nurtured and feel self-love. 

It's strange being an artist who has all my life, known myself to create art as, well... art. For most of my life, even though I knew my art had a spiritual component to it, I didn't do it with any spiritual intention, but merely to create art as an artist does. Recent years of progressing on my spiritual path have allowed me to see my art differently. A teacher called my paintings power objects and I thought, hmmm... that's interesting. The papier mache masks I made were created for pure fun, although since I made them years ago, I learned about the use of masks in sacred ceremonies, particularly in shamanism. Some of the art objects I've made (as art), are still art to me but yet call to a deeper place within me, as if they were made for a purpose greater than what I had intended. One example is my "buddies", as I call them, or skulls on sticks. They were made for a performance, but feel like they have a deeper meaning the more I have them around, although I only use them in performances and creative projects. I'll write about them in a separate blog entry of their own at some point. More and more I am seeing that so much of my art is linked to my spirituality, and that my artistic talents can be used to create power objects for others and for myself.  

Recently a friend for whom I had made an "I Love Me" doll a few years ago contacted me to request that I make her a new doll. She is a dear friend who is going through treatments for cancer, and she wrote asking for a doll that would help her find strength and love. This is something special, not just an "I Love Me" doll. I needed to journey on this one, so I did. In a journey I met with this friend's great-grandmother who told me exactly what the doll should look like and what it should be made of. It was to look much like a Native American corn husk doll, but made instead with cotton cloth and other soft materials. According to her great-grandmother, it was very important that the doll wear the color red, for strength. I worked in sacred space, smudged the materials before using them, and then began to work with love in my heart and my hands. The doll ended up being a little bigger than the one shown to me in a journey, so I checked again in another journey to ask if it was right, and the great-grandmother said yes, it was.  I didn't take any photos of it. The dolls in the photo above are just examples of what I based this doll on. It was different, but similar.

It was difficult scheduling a time to deliver this doll to my friend, as her schedule is filled with doctor's appointments, self care and time with her family. One day I knew it was time for the doll to go to her. I think her great-grandmother was prodding me a bit to get it to her somehow. I happened to have a wooden basket with a lid, so I set the doll inside of it on some soft fabric with a card explaining its creation, wrapped it with ribbons, and then left the basket on my friend's doorstep. 

She let me know it was received, which is all I wanted to know. It's so important in this work to not have expectations or be attached to an outcome, just to do the work and let it go. With my paintings and other art that is "just art" (is it ever really JUST art, I wonder?), I sign them. But, when a special object is made for someone else, it wouldn't be right for me to put my name on it. It's not mine. I'm just the conduit making it for someone else, guided by spirit.

Peace, Healing and Blessings to all.