Moving The Immoveable Feast

July 8, 2015

In recent weeks, I’ve become rather addicted to an online magazine called Mental Floss. Much of what is posted is silly, National Enquirer grade stuff, but with a little patience, some real gems come to the surface. One of these was a 2014 piece about a strange tree, an artificially cultivated hybrid (multibrid?) of forty different fruits (what??). Anyway, the tree is a sort of installation art project conceived by a Syracuse university professor named Sam Van Aken. The story can be read here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/60243/tree-flowers-40-different-fruits

Upon reading this article, I was immediately reminded of a story that I had written in 1994 called ‘Moving The Immoveable Feast’. It was one of series of twenty+ illustrated short stories that were published monthly (between 1993-97) by The Pittsburgh Tribune Review newspaper under the collective title, Visual Fiction. I adapted this one from an old Mayan folktale that told of a similar, though mythical tree. I am planning to publish a more fully illustrated anthology of these little tales but until then, I will post some of them here from time to time. Your comments and suggestions for this volume are welcome!
MovingTheImmoveableFeast

Scratchboard-Long before there were people everywhere, a tree that should have been impossible stood at the very center of the world, where the ruins of ancient earth pyramids now stand. The Old Ones called it “The Everything Tree” because every kind of fruit and vegetable drooped heavily from its twisted branches. Coconuts, peaches, mangoes, bananas and oranges were among its myriad fruit and its vegetables included every variety of bean, squash, pepper, eggplant, tomato, pickle and leafy green thing. The exception was corn whose tall stalks surrounded the massive tree’s trunk stretching as far as the eye could see.

Each day, from sunrise to sunset, animals gathered at The Everything Tree to sample its bounty. But for hundreds of centuries, people who eventually appeared had no clue to its existence. Until the day a man, who understood the language of animals found it. The man, who had been enjoying an afternoon nap, was awakened by the excited bleating of two of his goats as they discussed the tree’s wonders. Intrigued, he decided to follow them and see this miracle for himself.

After traveling many days over mountains and rivers, he stepped into the shadow of an enormous tree that appeared to loom just ahead, but was still many miles distant. At last he made his way through the aisles of animals that surrounded it. Starved and exhausted from his long journey, the man ate his fill and quenched his thirst with a juice he made by squeezing many fruits together into an empty coconut shell. As he rested, he marveled at the miracle he had found.

“Wouldn’t life be wonderful,” he thought, “if a tree like this grew near my home! We could enjoy its shade on hot, sunny days and we would always have enough to eat!” Plucking one more juicy plum, he set off for his village and decided to return to the tree with his friends and neighbors. Maybe together they could find a way to bring this wonderful tree closer to home.

When the man arrived at his village, the people gathered to hear of his adventures. They were fascinated at the notion of a never-ending feast and could hardly wait to witness this magical wonder. They began at once to prepare for the long, difficult journey. Anticipation made the miles pass quickly and they stood at last in the shadow of the Everything Tree.

As they approached it, several of the villagers fell to their knees at the sight, awestruck at the evidence and glory of their Earth Goddess. Then, amidst prayers of thanksgiving, they timidly began to reach for the tree’s fruits and vegetables, smacking their lips at the delicious new taste sensations. When their hunger had been satisfied, the villagers’ voices began to hum with proposed plans to transport this wonderful Tree back to their own lands. Soon, it was agreed that the tree should be cut down and its seeds carried back to be planted.

Led by a group of strong young men, the people brandished their sharp, stone axes and boldly chopped at the immense trunk. The day passed and darkness spread her curtain over the land. Exhausted from their journey and from chopping at the Tree, everyone soon fell asleep under the stars. When they awoke in the morning however, they could find no trace at all of the previous day’s work. “That’s odd,” the men murmured, glancing at each other in bewilderment. “Maybe we are looking at the wrong place,” someone suggested brightly. So they set to work again, chopping away at the Tree until sunset.

After managing to cut a few inches into the trunk, the men buried their axes in the groove to mark the spot and again retired for the night. But the next morning, the men nearly tripped over their axes that lay scattered on the ground. The tree had healed itself once more.

Frightened by this new miracle, the villagers held a council meeting to decide their next move. The strong young men advocated redoubling their efforts, while others quaked in terror. “We are risking the wrath of the Goddess,” they chorused. Then, one of the village Elders, the man who had first discovered the tree, spoke up. “Let us cut a few more inches into the trunk,” he proposed. “Then, I shall stay awake this night so that I may observe the Tree’s magic. Perhaps the Goddess herself might appear and reveal the solution to our needs.” Deeming this an equitable suggestion, the people did as he asked and then went to sleep while the Elder stationed himself among some cornstalks.

The hours passed and a soft breeze stirred the old man’s beard. Soon, he heard a faint musical sound emanating from the Tree. Curious, he began to creep through the cornstalks around her perimeter looking for the source of the music. Suddenly the Elder felt, rather than heard the Earth Goddess’ voice gently directing him to sleep and pay attention at the same time. Confused, the man struggled to keep his eyes open, but succumbed at last to the world of dreams.

Asleep, yet awake at the same time, the man became aware of a deep violet light that slowly suffused the Tree. Fascinated, he watched as the light summoned every living creature of the land and sky including elephants, armadillos, cockatiels, macaws, jaguars, serpents and monkeys. When all had arrived, they organized and set to work, eyes glowing yellow and orange in the darkness. Collecting bits of bark and root from the base of the Tree that the men had chopped away, the animals worked all night. Patiently, they replaced each tiny piece in the trunk and before the sun rose, the Everything Tree was just as it should be.

Shortly before he awoke, the old man again felt the Earth Goddess speak. “You and your people may not cut down My Tree,” She commanded, “ for it is my soul. But you may sample all that grows upon me, planting the seeds of your harvest throughout the world for all generations. Go now. For when you have filled your basket and returned to your village, I must cause you to forget where you have been.”

In the morning, the Elder related his experience to his friends and neighbors. “It was truly a miracle! The Goddess herself spoke to me!” he whispered in a hushed voice, prostrating himself briefly on the ground towards the Tree. The villagers were filled with joy, for the solution to their needs was so simple after all. Triumphantly they gathered some of every variety of fruits and vegetables from the Tree’s twisted branches, then returned to their homes. For generations afterward, their descendants carried the seeds of that first harvest to the four corners of the earth.

Although the Earth Goddess had decreed that no one would ever remember where the Tree stood, it is entirely possible that we were left with the suggestion that the Tree existed only in our imagination. Nevertheless, the colorful fruit and vegetables enjoyed around the world remain as tribute to that magical immoveable feast, The Everything Tree.

Text & Illustration ©1994 Ilene Winn-Lederer

Update #7: Notes From London: Above & Below-At The Crossroads…

May 11, 2015

Today, on Mother’s Day, I remember mine with fondness and one of the many bits of wisdom she imparted to me in my artistic endeavors which I paraphrase here: When you undertake a task, do it with all you’ve got and whatever the outcome, don’t be discouraged; every perceived roadblock only means you are facing a door that will lead you somewhere new and unexpected. So, having received my official sign-off note from Kickstarter, it is with a mix of sadness and relief colored with hope that this will be the final update for this project before we move on to its next phase.

Although I didn’t reach my stated goal at Kickstarter, I don’t intend this to be the end of the road for Notes From London: Above & Below. But first, here is something I’d like to share with you.

The Kickstarter experience is both exciting and terrifying. Exciting for the opportunity to learn the new skills necessary to present and promote a project like this, yet terrifying for someone like me who, for the most part, thrives in the comfort zone of my studio and quakes at the idea of putting myself out there in the meleé of thousands of projects all vying for financial support. When anxiety comes to sit on my shoulder like some hyperactive raven, I find myself thinking “What if nobody likes this?” or “What if I work really hard but still don’t make it?” At times, it’s almost enough to put the kibosh on the whole thing. Yet, that saner, optimistic part of me usually comes to the rescue reminding me that I walked into this knowing that despite all my hard work, failure is always a possibility but not necessarily an option.

That said, I want to thank all of you who pledged your support this time around. Knowing that you all appreciate my work and understand my dedication to crafting unique content and high quality art and books makes it easy to carry on from this point.

Because Notes From London: Above & Below has been press-ready since this campaign began, I have decided to complete publishing arrangements for it and release a modest limited edition of the book within the next few weeks. Remember that your pledges will not be charged to your credit cards now that the campaign has concluded. Instead, you may pre-order your copy at this link:  http://magiceyegallery.com/PicturePage.aspx?id=1370

Each copy is on offer for US$30 + shipping worldwide. If you have any questions, please contact me at: ilene@winnlederer.com. Again, I thank you for your confidence in my work and I’m looking forward to sharing Notes From London: Above & Below with all of you!

Update #6: Pittsburgh City Paper Rocks!

May 11, 2015

Although my Kickstarter campaign officially ended yesterday, May 10th, I wanted to re-post Update #6 here for this blog record:

Last night, I received a very pleasant surprise notice that Pittsburgh City Paper (Bill O’Driscoll) wrote a lovely announcement for Notes From London: Above & Below!

Here’s the link: http://www.pghcitypaper.com/Blogh/archives/2015/05/06/kickstarter-campaign-for-local-artists-new-book

Only three days left to this campaign! Your contribution will be greatly appreciated! (See next post (Update #7) for follow-up comments.

Update #5: Notes From London: Above & Below: Miracle?

May 5, 2015

If material miracles are possible, then this campaign for Notes From London: Above & Below,at 5 days left to go and funded at just 22% of its 3,000 goal will certainly need one- if it is to become a book you can hold and enjoy for years to come. And If you are a latecomer to this campaign, then by all means, do visit this link and lend your support!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330347473/notes-from-london-above-and-below

As a professional writer and illustrator, I am also a realist who agrees with Israel’s former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion when he said, “...in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles”. I say this because many strange things have happened both over my personal life and career; unexpected meetings that led to connections with people that led to certain important tasks and outcomes that I’ve only come to understand in retrospect. While it’s not quite over, the trajectory of this project is one of them. And I feel certain that it will become a stepping stone to an event or project yet to find me.  That said, Albert Einstein provided the perfect segué to Mr. Ben Gurion’s comment: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; or you can live as if everything is a miracle”. And the latter is exactly what I plan to do, since hope is the essential catalyst in all human endeavor.

There is one final update to this campaign that will be posted at its conclusion on May 10 after 3:20PM. Until then, here is one more illustration from Notes From London: Above & Below for your consideration. It is my interpretation of the famed Lewis Chess set, now divided between the National Museum of Scotland and The British Museum. I’ve chosen to present this image now because I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of chess as a game, not unlike the Kickstarter business model, whose rules and roots lie beneath the workings of our world:

LewisChessmen

Update #4: Notes From London: Above & Below: Inspiration

May 1, 2015

What is it that drives a project like this? With 21% funding reached and 9 days remaining in this campaign, I am learning that all my efforts to have this unique book funded for publication at this site have never been about money, nor will they. How can one put a dollar value on the product of work done with love and passion? Of course I greatly appreciate your support thus far, but in truth, what drives this project is the hope of sharing the experiences and observations from an important period in my life with all of you who can appreciate them via the art and writing I produce. That said, I’ve decided to show you an illustration from the book that not only documents my visits to L. Cornelissen & Son, a favorite art shop in London, but which has also inspired an ongoing series of original thematic alphabet drawings. More about these in a future post here. Your comments and questions are always welcome as is your generosity in making Notes From London: Above & Below come to life!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330347473/notes-from-london-above-and-below

Without further ado, here is Kalligraphie:

Kalligraphie

Week 3: Notes From London: Above & Below

April 22, 2015

Here it is, week 3 of my Notes From London: Above & Below campaign: 17% funded with 17 days to go to meet my $3,000 goal. I’ve been busy publicizing here and wherever else I can think of, social media-wise and on the street, while heading towards the philosophical bent of mind. I love this project; not only has it been several years in the making, but it represents an important period in my life vis á vis a special family member who lived in London for many years and who has always been a great influence on my work; inspiring this book in no small measure. That said, the images I’ve chosen are not necessarily personal but they are intended as memes, as reminders for us to look beyond what is in front of us and ‘see’ or imagine a much deeper picture and story. So, as promised last week, here is another image for your consideration, a detail from ‘Neo-Medieval On The 343′:

I hope you all will continue to help this project gain momentum and spread the word to friends and colleagues worldwide! Every little success gives an artist hope and like fuel for your cars, that keeps us wanting to make things that make you smile!

Thoughts On Week 2: Notes From London: Above & Below @KICKSTARTER!

April 16, 2015

One week has passed since my Kickstarter book project launched. It’s been quite exciting, first, being chosen as a Kickstarter Staff Pick and of course receiving encouragement and many kind words from friends around the world. To date, Notes From London: Above & Below is now at 16% of its $3,000 goal, with 23 days until the campaign ends on May 10 at 3:20PM.

For the duration of the campaign, I’ll post illustrations from this unique book here and at my Kickstarter page which you can reach from this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330347473/notes-from-london-above-and-below

You are invited to comment and /or post your questions and of course Pledge Your $upport to help bring this creative endeavor to life!

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your contributions!

Notes From London: Above & Below is a very special book for me. It not only distills many of the strange and wonderful experiences of my travels to London from 2002-2009 but also marks important milestones in both my creative development and family dynamics that are reflected on my dedication page.

So, without further ado, here is the illustration called Lillith@Shoreditch. Spotted at Apostrophé, a tasty, inviting café in East London’s media district, this unusual person and her ‘pets’ was a drawing just waiting to happen. The annotation that appears next to her explains it all…LillithShoreditch

Notes From London: Above & Below–A New Book @KICKSTARTER!

April 10, 2015

In my closing post of 2014, I hinted that a new book was in the works following the successful Kickstarter launch and funding of An Illumination Of Blessings. Now, nearly four months later, a very different book, Notes From London: Above & Below is ready for publication. For this to happen however, I am counting on the magic of my second Kickstarter venture which has just gone live today! Please visit this link to learn more about the project:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1330347473/notes-from-london-above-and-below

This unusual 42-page collection of annotated illustrations is not the typical tourists’ travel book one might expect with pictures of Brits, buildings, bridges and double-decker buses. Rather, it is a mind’s eye mix of the factual and the fantastic that began in journals kept during my travels to visit family and friends in London between 2002 and 2009.

Although some of these drawings were posted in progress here at Imaginarius (which began in 2009) and others received awards in international illustration/design publications, the possibility of collecting them in book form was only a back-burner project until last year when Kickstarter became a viable resource for marketing and funding. Here are a couple of the illustrations with excerpts from their annotations:

MindTheGap

Mind The Gap was the first drawing that I completed. At the crowded tube stop near Portobello Market, I nearly tripped over a small yellow dog wearing a leather harness and a tidy checkered blanket. I began my apology to its elderly owner, but when she turned at the sound of my voice, I realized that she couldn’t see me. Amidst my conflicting emotions, I suddenly envisioned these wondrous allies trading places as though they  were denizens of an alternate universe in which believing is seeing…

Connoisseur

Sometimes, watching people in a museum rivals looking at the art itself, especially at London’s Tate Modern Museum where my ‘Connoisseur’ in his expensive camel hair coat and silk scarf seemed a bit too fascinated by Cy Twombley’s gigantic scribbles.

********************************************************

You can see more of them and learn about the project from the video at my Kickstarter page when you visit this link:

Your generous help throughout my 30-day campaign at Kickstarter in bringing this very special book to life is greatly appreciated!

I know that Notes From London: Above & Below will be a welcome addition to your personal collections and will make wonderful gifts for your friends and family.

As the campaign progresses, I’ll be posting updates here and at other social media sites that include Facebook and Twitter. Please help to spread the word as well! Thanks muchly in advance!!

Imaginarius Reflects: Glancing Backwards, Moving Forwards…

December 29, 2014

Cat+Mouse-TheMusicOfDesireCard2015

Dear Readers: As 2014 slows to a stop, I would just like to thank all of you for taking the time to stop by, peruse my memes and musings and occasionally leave words of your own. To which I have done my best to respond. Though I’ve taken a couple of months rest from posting here to recoup from an intense Kickstarter book project, it was only to let my mind’s eye wander towards the next one! Yes, a new book is in the works, but will be preceded in appearanceby a project of an entirely different nature. Look for details mid-January 2015. Meanwhile, I wish you all a very healthy, happy and inspired New Year! 

Imaginarius

ps. if you click on the link below, you can avail yourselves of activities on Imaginarius for this past year.

Click here to see the complete report.

An Illumination Of Blessings Is For Real!

September 22, 2014

Dear Backers of An Illumination Of Blessings:

As of this past Monday, September 15th, I am pleased to announce that with your generous support and encouragement, this Kickstarter project is done and delivered! It’s been a wonderfully challenging year and a half of research, writing, design and illustration for these 36 illuminated blessings including the  interactions with all of you throughout the process. Recently, I’ve been asked whether another edition of blessings will follow to bring us closer to the originally intended count of 100. Perhaps, if there are a significant number of requests for it. But for the moment a bit of recovery is in order as I contemplate a short list of options (which include both Judaic and secular themes) for my next project. Your questions and suggestions are welcome!  Again, thank you all from the bottomless-ness of my creative well: I look forward to continuing our creative conversations and collaborations!

Ilene Winn-Lederer, September 18, 2014


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 367 other followers