Tag Archives: summer

2014 in Review: Saints and Sinners (janice j. cunningham)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Do you like art and the creative process? Does the “eccentric” life of the “typical” artist intrigue you? Scare you? Amuse you? Inspire you? Read on…

Allo allo!

I would like to cordially invite you to join my ARTISTS’ group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/JJCunninghamArtLove/

It is a private, invitation-only group,  but if you request membership, an admin will approve you as long as you’re not a bot.

Not only do I post my own work and artistic musings, as well as upcoming shows and #contemporary #art news, but I have SO MANY uber-talented friends worldwide, whose work I love to share with the public every day.

You could be one of them! All art is the soul, ergo beautiful.

So far the group has almost 4k  (!!! — so grateful) members, so if you would like to either be a voyeur or an exhibitionist, please be my guest.

To me, my readers and followers are all VIPs.

Try it out and see if you like it…you can always leave! Ain’t no Hotel California, lol…

Feel free to also follow me on #Twittter: @jjgrape.

(I heretofore take no responsibility for any profanities or insanities contained therein. Twitter is fun! No rules. Just what we painters like best.)  😀

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OPHELIA SWIMS. 2013. Oil, gold leaf, tears, and poppy dust on wood. 18x24

It’s my happy place — besides the library, the easel, or in front of my iMac. 🙂

Above are a few samplings of my paintings, but this group is dedicated to sharing the work of my many artist friends from all around the globe: a virtual #gallery of sorts! What fun.

(But it is strictly bring your own wine and cheese… 😦  Sincere apologies. Hehe.)

Cheers,

JJC

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Filed under and angels, art, books, children, cool stuff, diary, duality, dysfunction, enlightenment/spirit, existentialism, film, food/recipes, humor, imperfection, life, love, mental illness, MUSIKKKKK, nature, painting, people, photography, poetry, prose, rabbits, random, sadness, saints, sinners, smokin", stupidity, The Good Life

The NYC Cockroach: A Brief Tutorial

WHOA NELLIE!

…just came across this one, written in the bleak summer of 2012 and never posted.

Difficult to read this, it was…i have since nearly forgotten the horrors that my eyes have seen in the past 12 months alone.

THIS, I will NEVER EVER forget: the horror of BURNING ALIVE for almost five minutes while remaining fully conscious.
I went into paralytic shock and simply stared at the hungry orange flames, greedily licking my arms and reaching for my face.
My silk tee shirt melted into my chest.
My grandmother’s antique 24K gold crucifix glowed hot in the flames, presumably almost molten. I have a burn scar underneath where it hung.
Alas, it did not survive the inferno that my little body miraculously did.
I will never forget that image of a glowing tiny Jesus, helpless on the cross, looking up at me from my own chest in my burning kitchen.
Never.

“STOP, DROP, AND ROLL”, the epic drill taught to us in elementary school during the Cold War Era,
completely slipped my mind.

However, ON A POSITIVE NOTE!!! — I am delighted to say that through the use of beautiful images and positive thinking, as well as the purest love of my three year old son, William James, I have made it through another personal Hell. Through the the magickal world that is photography, painting, and digital imagery, I have crawled, bloody and charred, from the bottom of the blackest of millennial holes. AGAIN I WILL STAND IN LIGHT. Painting religiously, writing, and shooting, while exercising like a madwoman and plying myself with vegan meals and phytonutrients, I have overcome burn injuries that would frighten Freddie Krueger into submission. (I sustained third degree burns on 80% of my body above the torso, excluding, somehow, my head — and have healed 1000% following the most gruesome nightmare i ever had while awake.)

My left arm, once slated for amputation, was surgically receated in January, using flesh and skin grafts from my lower and mid-lumbar region, and I sweated through 8 months of grueling physical therapy. I graduated!
NOW: FULL ROTATION > SKIN COMPLETELY HEALED > OFF PAIN MEDS.
My melted and charred body, has somehow (!!!???) completely regenerated itself almost as if the fire itself was eons ago in a distant forest.

SO, here goes…thank God it is over. One more nightmare under my belt.
Hold on, little Susie — this old leather belt is running out of notches.
There will probably not be One More Chance.
For my life, I am eternally grateful.
Here is the BEFORE pic of my arm, post-surgery just 10 months ago.
The last four photos are the AFTER pics, now.

July 14, 2012

“I am trying to remember — one step at a time today — that the body is merely a temple for the soul. I feel that my temple has been blasted with a wrecking ball and am sick of pretending I am fine.

Everyone thinks I am such a hero, and so beautiful, and I am sorry to tell you that it is bullshit.
I am alive. That does not make me a hero.
I have been hiding in my house in the heat trying not to cry because the painkillers do not work, and posting pretty pictures to make myself happy. I stared at my ceiling fan all night in bed, sleepless, praying that the itching and the pins and needles would stop. But every time I drifted off, BAM!!! A stab here, a pinched nerve there. I got so mad, I screamed, got out of bed, threw my pillow against the wall and made a pot of coffee. Called it quits. Heroic behavior? I think not.

I am looking at a body that was once athletic and proud and is now a shriveled mass of gristle and scar tissue. How can I sit back and allow you all to shower me with accolades simply for staying alive? How can I allow you all to tell me how beautiful I am? I look in the mirror now and I want to vomit.

I think maybe I am a writer, painter and  photographer because I can create a more beautiful world than the one that actually exists. I look at the photos I post and sometimes think, “Gee, I wish that was my life.” Maybe I have disassociative disorder. Maybe, as a photographer, I am merely a liar with a camera and a paintbrush.  I have been told that the world I have created is indeed a beautiful one, so that leaves me to ponder further on whether or not the filter of intense physical pain causes me to see everything as ruined and distorted — hence my unending surprise when I do see my photographs uploaded on to the screen.  “Who’s life IS that? Certainly not mine!”

I am not fine. I am in pain. And I am sick of being strong today. I just can’t.

Sorry. I am going to let myself hide, let myself cry, and
just keep trying to photograph myself onto another quantum plane. Lord knows this one is feeling mighty sucky today.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. The truth comes out. If people run from me now, as I expect they may, I will smile in recognition of the fact that when you laugh, the world laughs with you.
And when you cry, you surely cry alone.
I have my paints. I have my books. I have my son.
I have God. At least I thought I did.
I am beginning to wonder.”

EPILOGUE:

November 23, 2012. 9:20:48 P.M. EST

ALLES IN ORDNUNG. I am A-otay, Buckwheat.

WOOT!
Âllo, Herr FIRE???
Was ist das?
Who is laughing now?

Yours truly,
The Original NYC COCKROACH — unkillable.

Janice J. Cunningham
Planet Earth
11.23.12

Take THAT, mighty god of HELLFIIIAH! Mwahahaha. :O


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Do Not Go Into The Light (just yet)…the Bardo of Rebirth

The verdict today @ Cleveland Clinic, by Dr. Paul Bryson the Great:

At 9 a.m. EST Tuesday, June 26, 2012, Dr. Bryson is permanently closing the “irreversible” tracheostomy hole that has defined/defaced my throat for almost three years now.

Permanently, as in, forever.
Permanently, as in, I can again wear my beautiful Hepburn-esque double strand of pearls.
Permanently, as in, I will be teaching my three-year-old son, William, to swim underwater in about three weeks.

Then, onward and upward to the HIGHEST DIVING BOARD I CAN FIND! Somersaults, back dives, swan dives, CANNONBALLS!!!Going underwater and staying there for as long as possible in a tub full of sea salt. BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS! Tortola, Hawaii, the Keys, California coast, St. Barth’s. Mexico. Ile-de-France. All, someday, i pray, with my son by my side.

My dreams and my faith that dreams indeed, come true.
Manifestation now happening.  Must believe. Failure no longer an option. As if it ever was?

In my mind’s eye, I am already hurling myself into the sea at Main Beach, Maidstone, Georgica, Ditch, Toilet Bowl, Turtles, and,
most importantly and poignantly of all, TERRACE.
At Terrace, this I will do with the utmost glee and joie de vivre — to honor my long-departed beach buddy, Alexander Lowenstein.
(I know your tanned 21-year old face is smiling that big blinding grin at me, wherever you are. And that wherever you are is someplace “TOTALLY AWESOME, DUUUUUDE!”)
This I will cherish to seize the rest of my days here on this earthly plane. This I will do to make up for the days you lost by leaving us too soon, on a 747 at age 21.
Not a day goes by that I do not think of you. And laugh.
And/or cry.
Thank you for teaching me more from a beach chair then I ever learned at school.
R.I.P. Alexi. We love you…like you loved us, if that is at all possible. You ARE love. Can you hear me?
I miss you. Like nuts. Still.

R.I.P. Alexi Lowenstein 1967-1988.

And MILLE GRAZIE from the bottom of my Sicilian heart TO ALL MY FRIENDS for holding my hand through these past horrific three years of
*outliving a purported diagnosis of “TERMINAL” (at least it got me out of my pinstriped suits and DEVIL WEARS PRADA life!)
*being pregnant alone,
*surviving two comas,
*re-learning how to walk, talk, eat, and breathe,
*living on a respirator,
*getting OFF said respirator,
*doing my best under dire circumstances to raise my son William as a single mama (WITH TONS of Help, mind you. OMG. GRATITUDE)
to be the pure love and light that he is,

*and um, er…CATCHING ON FIRE from the waist up five months ago.

PHEW!!! My, what a long, strange trip it’s been. And I would do it all again. I have learned much, been humbled, and am stronger than I ever deemed humanly possible.

PAIN+NON-ACCEPTANCE=SUFFERING.
I have discovered something called RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.
SUFFERING IS AN OPTION.
HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE.

I am  so happy. Every day that I am breathing is a good day.

No one can take this away from me.
LIVE LIFE WHILE YOU ARE HERE! Please, please.
I have seen the face of Death three times now.
DON’T go there.
Unless, of course, your time here is done.
Then, go to the light. I did.
It is warm and lovely and tempting and people you know are there calling and reaching out for you, but

you cannot change your mind should you forget to
say to someone here,

“i love you.”

i love you.

i love you. i have always loved you. i will always love you.

namaste

Hey. I LOVE YOU! Thiiiiiiiiiissssss much!

pure love

Always, always in love. Be always in love.

the purest love of all. i would die for you, baby boy.

Be always in love, and always in joy. This, you can never buy.

Leaving on a jet plane. April 2008. Post-coma, 78 pounds, pumped with morphine. I conceived the love of my life about three weeks after this was shot.

i think i was a ghost already when this was shot. I am haunted still, every minute of every day. It’s eerie and beautiful.

bardo of rebirth brought great relief.

The present. Forget the past after it has taught you, however harshly.

light chaser

You may get burned very badly if you do not listen carefully …

LISTEN.

Listen. And then grow.

omnamahshivaaya

grow, little one. you are loved beyond measure.

Spirit Horse. 2004, oil and glass beads on board. 2×3.5′. Collection Karen Clarke, NYC.

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Dear William James, (A letter to my son c. 2009, post-hospital.)

I missed you so much this sign at the ferry made me weep.

Sweet William,

When are you coming home to Mommy? It feels like an eternity since we fell asleep together listening to the crickets and frogs of your jungle mobile…your head resting on my chest and your little chubby arms wrapped around me in a baby bear hug. What I would give for that now.

I am sleeping on a couch that my legs hang over the end in someone’s home that is so over air-conditioned, I feel like a corpse on a slab. I am saving money  to get us a bigger place in Brooklyn, where you will have your own room that we can fill with toys and stuffed animals and put glow in the dark stars on the ceiling. We can leave the windows open for fresh air and I will make you home-made baby food in the blender. We will spend afternoons in the park together and I will be sooo proud to have you in the baby seat of the shopping cart at the grocery store. We will get a pet goldfish and a guinea pig so I can teach you how to love gently without harming. “Nice baby, nice baby,” I will coo to you as i guide your chubby hand over your furry little friend.

Every night I will sing to you, and in the morning I will smile and kiss you as soon as your eyes are open. I even have gift cards to Baby Gap and Fao Schwartz for you! I am going to buy you whatever you smile at first…and next spring I will take you to the carousel at Central Park, and Coney Island in the summer…

Oh my sweet. When are you coming home to me?

Love,
Mommy


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i want my life to be the color of this sky…

HANNAH'S GARDEN. 2006 oil on canvaas, 36x40. sold, collection Hannah Brooks, M.D. NY


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For My Sweet William James (a letter to my son, while ill. Summer 2009)

My sweet William,
The summer is slipping sneakily by, with a void left in my arms where you used to constantly be. Another Sunday spent on the deck, pointlessly reading 2-year old back issues of Newsweek and resisting (not always successfully) the urge to email your father about the damage he has done.
Everything hurts so acutely. Seeing other baby boys sitting in the baby seats of the shopping carts at Pathmark. Magazine ads for baby formula. Your tiny denim sun hat, now way too small for your head, lying forlornly on the piano bench.


…Later

It is that magical hour, when the light cornflower blue of the sky begins to turn ever so slightly pink, and as always, I am thinking of you, my sweet son. Again the baby pool has amassed a pitiful collection of leaves and wayward insects, who, thinking they might take a quick dip, met their untimely demise. The lightning bugs are just starting to proudly flash their taillights and I wish I could show them to you. But you are not here, and here I sit – pruning my basil plant on someone else’s back deck…and watching ants meandering aimlessly while wishing I were one of them. Oh, if only to feel nothing.

The sun is going down, and it is growing too dark to see what I am scribbling. I am crying, longing to hold you and never let you go.

Love,
Mommy

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