“Art is here to be taken to mean knowledge realized in action.”
I’m sitting in the Calgary International Airport waiting for my flight to Phoenix, the arrival and departure link to a long cherished and now realized trip to Taos, New Mexico. I’m participating in a nine day Master Class with Michele Cassou, the founder of the Point Zero Method of creative process painting.
When I began designing my experiences during this “sabbatical,” I knew I wanted to study with Michele. Several years ago I was drawn to her first book, Life, Paint, and Passion, at a book sale. $2.00 brand new, it sat on my bookshelf for a year or two until one summer, after an especially rich learning experience at ALIA, then called the Shambhala Institute on Authentic Leadership, I began to read. I immediately knew this to be a profound and true way to access creativity. Not only because it was sprinkled with beautiful quotes from Rumi, and contained a collection of full colour plates of amazing and beautiful art resulting from the process, but also because it resonated so deeply and aligned so completely with previous teachings and practices. By the end of my first reading, I went online to search out classes, and couldn’t believe my good fortune, or was it destiny? Even though Michele’s studio is in San Francisco, there was a five-day workshop being offered in, of all places on earth, Elora, Ontario, the sweet little village where The Scientist and I first lived before moving west. It took a couple of years before the stars and schedules aligned for me to attend, and three consecutive workshops later before I had the requisite hours to attend this Master Class. And in the midst, Michele survived a life-threatening health crisis supported by prayers from her students around the world.
So here we go, The Scientist and me, to Phoenix to meet up with our dear friends and travel together, first to their cabin in the mountains, and then on to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and finally the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, the retreat site. The first leg of what I am fondly calling “My Dream Tour.”
A word about the site, and another curious coincidence… Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy patron of the arts and salon host in both America and Paris during that richly creative renaissance at the turn of the 20th century, was born in Buffalo, NY, my birthplace. She built the House amidst the elements and energies of spiritual Taos, with the expressed purpose of providing artists and writers the space and stillness in which to create. Georgia O’Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, and Ansel Adams were luminaries who sought refuge and community. And today, Natalie Goldberg of Writing Down the Bones, regularly holds writers’ retreats, so too photographers, yoga and leadership practitioners, and other creative types.
Paint and brushes, orange apron, camera and journals… chocolate, yoga mat and good music, Phil Cousineau’s The Art of Pilgrimage… supplies to shore up this seeker’s sacred quest. And from the book, the traditional Arabic farewell for those leaving on a pilgrimage:
Be Safe and Well
Peace, Love, Courage