[Excerpt from the log of the 1000 Days Non-Stop at Sea voyage, Day 1,121]

The Sacred Creations of High Performance Action and Spirituality

The art I create is the result of high performance physical action and at the same time it is a spiritual practice that empowers that action and my self to higher sublime heights. Much of what I say about my art and even the look of it may resemble many other artists and their work in the age of Modernism and Contemporary art. The words I use to describe my art are not new, but my actions are. One might say my work is rooted more in the creations of cavemen and tribal artists because I believe art is needed to help us carry out our sacred actions in order to survive in the world. The living energy of the age old quests of man is part of what has helped me surpass modern man’s physical achievements. Today I have been at sea for 1,121 days at sea without stopping, an achievement no one has come close to accomplishing. This is what sets me apart from contemporary artists. I am a man who has been carrying out an evolved physical action with the aid of artistic creations.

I have managed to live alone on the high seas for longer than any man in history and I rise to contemplate timeless and eternal realities. The quality and nature of this life at sea invites absorption and meditation lending unlimited scope to the imagination. When the imagination moves to deep places, the divine is revealed. Here on the ocean, art assists the illumination of sacred images and high ideals within me. Attempting the longest sea voyage in history has been an unprecedented opportunity for creativity. In fact, it forced me to be more creative if I wanted to survive and go beyond survival to thriving and expressing the glory of the human spirit. Expressing the glory of the human spirit may sound like a phrase out of Medieval times, but I have been obsessed with using this type of art to surpass modern man’s physical accomplishments

Perhaps contemporary art does this, but I have rarely seen it. Modern artists, critics, and philosophers may speak of the quest of the spirit and nourishing our souls through extreme action in a very educated sophisticated way, but I have not spotted enough discussion of it. I was in the wild. I look back and see myself as a youth on the deck of my catamaran in the Amazon River naked except for a little Indian flap front and back squatting next to a canoe fragment I was carving. Though I have lived in NYC, studied art history and put on a suit and tie to investigate high society art auctions and openings, I spent the better part of my life in the wild.

Who am I to say that contemporary art and artists have mostly lost the knowledge of art’s unseen sacred origin and its original purpose to empower people with a vision of their higher being? The realization that we have a place in the endless expanses of the universe gives meaning to our lives and our infinite possibilities. I don’t understand cleverness, cliquishness, grants, fashion, fads, salesmanship, media concerns, cynicism, and most “isms.” I think the real meaning of inspired artistic expression comes from the dimension of ceaseless light and eternal energy. Of course, I strive to create original and significant art and would like to be accepted by those I don’t understand who make a living off of their art and writings. I have always been an artist involved in action and the immediate necessity of responding to actual experience rather than the forms, designs and conformity called for by the art world.

For me experience is the prime source of inspiration and creation. I find this by living at sea in a state of oneness with humanity, nature and the universe. By creating art that helped me survive on the sea, what I learned has become applicable to the soul of man and earth. My greatest concern now is how I could tend to the soul of my fellow man and creation most efficiently and artfully. Care of the soul is impregnated in the art of my everyday life. Such care is a sacred art and craft of life carried out in the most modern times. Sacred art helps to focus my attention on spirituality. Each creation is a moment of transition from the material world to the eternal spiritual world. Art can be deeply religious for me having the power of solace, redemption and union with the divine. With consistent unique technique of ritual, urgency, play, and passion I create a sacred space that expands ever outwards. I nourish my soul and the spiritual aspirations of mankind. I want to illuminate the hidden with my art and reflect love and wonder into other minds and hearts.

Through my expeditions and creations I hope to help people glimpse the nature of spirituality. I would like to imagine you see me looking and talking to you from out of my paintings. We should all have sacred images around us that speak to us and remind us of the infinite and eternal qualities of the universe. It doesn’t have to be a graphic description of the universe and everything in it. Abstract paintings can show us a small part of the purity and infinite meaning of the upward path. Then we are triggered to expand outwards through the painting.

My art shows me my place in the universe and I become a mediator between heaven and earth. The experience of making and viewing art is as mysterious and deep as the ocean they were created on. They come from the sea and they belong to the sea. My art creations include my satellite verified courses across the sea. The sea and I create together and both become larger as the distinctions between us blur. The whole ocean that circles the globe becomes my giant canvas for creating in bold gestures the inexhaustible glory of humanity in oneness with the divine.

 

Art Materials

I use a lot of different materials in my art. I paint on my old sails adorned with grommets, tears, stitches, and stains. I paint on my old charts which are made of very good paper and given character with coffee spills, finger prints and lots of thoughts and emotions impregnated in them. I use all kinds of paints, thick and thin, and glues to glue on more canvases and charts. I have a lot of different collage materials that I use which include every kind of fragment from the schooner. Each piece shows wear and tear and has its own history, a life story complete with storm scars, strife and chafe. Bits of leather, wood, brass, bronze, canvas, burlap, and manila all retain the charisma of their heritage.
The mixture of all these elements creates an alchemical brew that affects our physiology.

I’ve always used aggregates in my painting, but in 1987 when I realized I was going to depart the touch of terra firma longer than any human had, I started to use earth in earnest in all of my paintings. So bags of earth, sand, and sawdust of various colors and consistencies from many places became a standard part of my cargo aboard the schooner. I also use bits and pieces of my old paintings. Some were in an accidental welding fire onboard and they have burn marks on them. Some were under drips and have holes from rot and others have rust stains. Yet all of them have character from the exciting demanding life they have been through.

I collage parts of my life into the paintings. There are pieces of press from magazines and newspapers with illustrations and stories about the life of an adventurer. I use my old photos, proposals, brochures, and out of date promo materials. I use my crew lists, clearance papers, ships papers, weather charts, and inventory diagrams. I recycle the paperwork and records of my life. All of these elements in the paintings create a vibratory rate that has dimension, body, and life that extends off the paintings in all directions.

All of the treasures and junk incorporated into the art are imbued with the hopes, anguish, and love of their own intentions. They were all supposed to have done something to help the missions on the sea succeed. Many of them did help. Some in ways I can’t explain. Others had high hopes but never made it off the schooner to promote the voyage or fulfill their prophesies. The paintings are full of my words and the hands of other writers describing the fantastic art inspired voyages to sea.

From a distance, my art looks abstract. A closer look will show an old sailing course across a worn and torn chart or the minute details of where hundreds of items are stored. As often happens, finished paintings of the moment live a life and then they are used in another creation, on another adventure. All the materials of daily life on a sailboat find a place in my paintings.

 

Dragon Dancing

[Excerpt from 1000 Days Log, Day 1, 045]

I did some dragon dancing on deck today. First, I had to sew up an appropriate loin cloth. I couldn’t wear a dragon mask and shorts or go completely naked if I was going to video tape it. I found some appropriate material and a string to sew into it to hold it in place. It is about as simple, but efficient covering that I could make. Then I got out the seven colors of the rainbow in acrylic paint and painted my body all over like a rainbow. By this time I was ready, transformed and in the mood. I got out the tripod and the digital camera first to get some still shots, then I set up the video camera. It was a very hot day and I normally do my best to stay out of the burning tropical sun, but I was eager to dance in the dragon mask. I pointed the camera so I could dance right on top of the cargo hatch with the sail and the sea in the background. There were some big mahi and some very big tuna that were chasing fish around the schooner and the water was clear. As I was videoing I could see the fish eat fish action going on.

I danced until my feet were sore and I was utterly exhausted and sunburned. I reviewed some of the video and parts of it are quite funny because I had my iPod hanging on my loin cloth string and dragon dancing to rock music at sea is quite absurd. However, special insight does come from outrageous absurdity. I was in a swoon of heat exhaustion so I bathed with buckets of sea water, washed the paint off and rinsed with fresh water. Then I laid down in my shady bed under the soft glow of the rainbow skylight and did my afternoon OM chanting……..

A Lifetime of Dragon Dancing 12/22/10

If I said I’d been dragon dancing for most of my life, I wouldn’t be exaggerating. Nor would I be unique among the people of the world. Have a look at the history of man. From the very beginning people have been dancing even before we became what is now called human. Perhaps our deep archaic memories surface as we remember the elaborate mating dances we did when our ancient spirit resided in the reptiles, birds, insects, and sea creatures before we crawled out of the eternal abyss. These are the feelings that come to me as I dance. Even as children we danced like animals, roared and made noises. I dance like all these creatures and in my imagination colors flicker phosphorescent in kaleidoscope patterns as my cosmic opposite and I trade moves. I think anybody who has danced into a heat can relate to what I’m saying. Mysterious things happen to our psyche even on a sawdust cowboy dance floor. But imagine what it is like to wear a dragon mask and dance naked on the wide open eternal seas far from all of civilization after not having seen another person for years. This is real dragon dancing in a shamanistic, ritualistic, ecstatic sense very similar to dance that still goes on today. I think people the world over dancing in a night club for hours to loud amplified music are experiencing a form of transcendence that all people long for deep in their psyches.

What I call Dragon Dancing is close in spirit to the shaking practiced in shaker churches. I’ve done that too. Many years ago, Son Mitchell, the Prime Minister of the Grenadines took me to the shakers church overlooking the Caribbean Sea. When the church members started shaking, a chill ran up my spine and I started shaking and quivering all over. I felt an uplifting sensation, a separation from my body, and a religious feeling of oneness with the people. When we walked out of the church, all the people reached over and touched me. The next day Son Mitchell told me that the church goers told him that I had the spirit.

I have also whirled with Whirling Dervishes, a Sufi sect that spins around and around together experiencing ecstatic bliss. I still spin when I can conjure up the inspiration. In Brazil, I have seen and been inspired by Condomble dancing in which certain “trance mediums” speak in voices other than their own when they loose themselves in the frenzy of throbbing music. Carnival dancing is also a mix of ancient and modern religion. Hours of dancing in masses of tight pressed people transforms their consciousnesses. Tribal and ritualistic dancing is still practiced all over the world.

When I make my own masks with reverent hands and holy motives then dance into ecstatic bliss I merge into that common consciousness of man that is still alive and connected through time. It is a colorful, patterned, beautiful and mysterious energy I entreat to help me stay alive and exist on the very fringes of human experience. I have used this energy to help me accomplish the physical and technical feat of sailing and departing the touch of the solid earth for much longer than any other human in history. Dragon dancing can be done by anyone who dances vigorously and lets their fantasies free and focuses on a goal.