I Have Tried: Peter Broderick and These Walls of Mine by Diana Rivera

I got walls in me. People watching in Los Angeles, I see that guy strolling his child with a cup of Starbuck’s and flip-flops. He got his in him. That woman in Hollywood with the silky long hair flip-curled to the exact angle as Kim Kardashian, she got hers in her. What am I talking about? Humans possess walls in them.

In psychology, these walls may be referred to as schema, which is a personal, social and cultural construct. They are the building blocks to why we believe what we believe, do what we do, pursue what we pursue. It happens consciously and unconsciously. It’s the why, the what and the how that could describe our personal experiences.  It may boil down into the feelings of devotion said man feels to stroll his kid, desire to spend 1.5 hours flip-curling hair, or why I felt compelled to write about a late night purchase of Erased Tapes Records artist, Peter Broderick, and his new album, “These Walls of Mine.” Peter got his walls in him too, and knowing that broke something open in me.

Harsh schemas are crappy. I’m talking about the ones that creep you out, inhibit you, over think you, prevent you, make you hate you. Most creative people I know despise them, and often use their work to battle them out. In the back of my head, I wonder, do we ever overcome? Is it just a subtle hush for the moment so that we can produce something?

I applaud any artists’ efforts as an ongoing experiment in support. Last night, when I listened closely to Peter Broderick’s new album, “These Walls of Mine,” I didn’t applaud at first. I was subtly creeped into a new set of walls. They were his, at first, and then they were mine. I was listening to this incredibly talented artist battle out those eery moments where music and walls hit. You should listen to the album here on soundcloud.

The lyrics to Broderick’s song, “I’ve Tried,” blew open something for me, the “I’ve Tried” wall. This one I occasionally say and then loop it with excuse, excuse, excuse for why I tried, and perhaps, failed. He articulated something in his breath and lyrics that I have felt about the nature of having tried. With his whispered voice and quiet violin, he shares, “In this game of hearts, the only card is you. In this song of love, the only voice is you. And in this voice of you, every sound must be true.”

Broderick raps out about the pre-verbal experience of desire and trying new things out in, “These Walls of Mine I and II.” He consoles himself and therefore, me, when he reads: “There’s a lot of things without a word to describe them. Even when you bring them inside, where you work on your pride, you could stare at each other for hours, only to realize you’re not even sure if the other’s really there. If you really wanna try and do something new, it’s ok if there are leaks, but there has to be a few new peaks. And when the whole things drops, you can take it back to the top.”

By the end of the listen, I explored every hole in the wall he was willing to share. I saw my own in them, bright and green, shining through. By the end, my silence was my applause.


The Art of Physics and Beethoven by Diana Rivera

Energy can be neither created, nor destroyed. It can only change form. This is a law of energy conservation and also a premise for creative activity. It could help to explain the energy it takes to create a product from one’s imagination, as well as the challenges artists overcome, to direct energy toward their artistic product. All that creative energy is neither created, nor destroyed, but changes form in relationship to thoughts, beliefs, social and cultural milieu.

Let me fasten this connection with Leonard Shlain’s book, Art and Physics, to Beethoven.

Shlain’s book looks at a history of art through the lens of science to assert that scientific phenomena was, in many cases, first looked at, grappled with and explored in visual art. Artists were either consciously asking or working within the consciousness of exploration that scientists were invested in, specifically space, time and light. Listen to a lecture by Shlain here.

The book expanded the galaxy of imagination to consider artists as scientific phenomena. Take Beethoven and the vast talent in his form: he struggled intensely in his personal life with memories of a verbally abusive childhood, to medical issues affecting his stomach and ultimately his own hearing. As the savant composer began to make his mark in music history, he slowly became deaf.

For many, a disability to this extent could be the end of their career. In fact, Beethoven also struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide.

An artist’s drive to create is an energy and that energy can not be destroyed, it just changes into form. In the epoch of Beethoven’s weakest physical state, that energy was a force that thrusted into the galaxy of the imagination. As a result, he produced the 9 symphonies that have marked his career in the history of art, music and culture.

Thinking of this reminded me of Symphony #7. Whenever I listen to it, I feel an incredible potential moving toward the center of the unknown. In my youtube research, I discovered the exact visual experience, and it was deeper. It was symphony #7 to hubble space images.

The energy that had changed form in Beethoven resembled the luminous spirals in our galaxy. If it were a song, this might be the one to serenade an experience through the outer unknown manifestation of our imagination. If not, then what a fascinating voyage through the art of physical phenomena and the physical phenomena of art.

Points to ponder:

What is the role of energy in your personal, professional and creative life?

Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road’s Message about Creativity and Children by Diana Rivera

Taken from KPCC

I am a ponderer. I’ll write something and I am mulling over things for weeks later. I discussed in the last blog, and consequently ranted for days later, about the nature of having a message in one’s art work. Does it give more sound to the painted colors on canvas? Does it give more texture to the music of your orchestration? For me, it’s a rhetorical question about the relationship between a creator, their work and an audience that led to some spicy commentary.

In one case, I spoke to TV/Film Composer Roger Neill and his partner about art–be it works in the visual and performing arts–having a message. Roger explained to me that he disagreed and thought it was too didactic. In fact, I agreed with his disagreement: art should allow people to experience ‘universalities’ or ‘truths’ (lower case ‘t’ on that one), allowing the audience full reign to create the bridges of comprehension. Whether it be take-away messages, morals or themes, art should raise the bar of its audience allowing them to be thinkers and multi-sentient comprehenders in the process.

Fair enough. That’s how I like to experience art like a grown-up woman: one who can think on her own and create her own meaning with sand, water and a shovel.

Then the day I met Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, I got to thinking again. At a recent stop in L.A., Yo-Yo made sure to roll into Inner City Arts Organization before his performance that week at the Disney Hall. Yo-Yo played and showed the power of music with the help of dancer Lil’ Buck. He called it a “creativity strike.” Here is a glimpse of that day.

Yo-Yo later explained to journalists at KPCC that our creativity crisis in the U.S. can be best challenged through creative practice. As Yo-Yo  explains, “The best way to get to innovation and creative imagination and the most efficient way is through movement, visualizing, sound and writing.” He went on to say that we can build community through imagination and empathy. Empathy shows that we care. To listen to the full interview: click here.

Is this about message? Maybe. For me, it’s all about the depth of this artist. Yo-Yo Ma doesn’t just roll into LA, play and hit the road. What makes him a talented and multi-layered cellist is his empathy. He cares about others. He sees the power of his work and his colleagues as a basis for humanizing and fomenting community.

If that were a message and if messages were important, this would be a powerful one. Show that you care. Show that your work matters. Show that your art has meaning to others. If not, that empathic could be a descriptor  defining a world-renowned artist puts my thoughts to rest.


Where does empathy exist for you?

Lhasa de Sela: A Bid farewell by Diana Rivera

“Then I’ll die three times and be born again
in a little box with a golden key
and a flying fish will set me free”

–by Lhasa de Sela

I think it was professor of mine that once said that performing artists are like athletes of the heart. In their ability to relinquish their ego and become a trained vessel for creativity, they go so deep within their human form that they traverse to the formless. The power of their imagination alone crosses the light bridge from their heart to their audiences within milliseconds.

When I first heard the voice of Lhasa de Sela, I felt we shared a common universal heart. For those who do not know her, take this opportunity to learn briefly of what she meant to me and a rainbow of fans world-wide now and before her passing January 1st 2010 to breast cancer. She was 37 years old.

Lhasa de Sela, the American born singer grew up in the US and Mexico and her colorful life appeared to be a gypsy like caravan of experiences, which led her to live in France and Montreal. She seemed to have been adopted by any culture she landed her wings. She sung in English, Spanish and French. Here is her website: http://lhasadesela.com/

The resonance of her voice, her emotional depth exposed, her intricate lyrics–all of it took me in as if I was a traveler who, after a long journey, had been invited into the home of the most unique artist who would then become a life-long muse.

Here she is, live:

Her albums serenaded many travel passages, as I was piecing together my existence and harnessing life purpose. Since she was so willing to go to the deepest emotional crevices musically, she almost supplemented my desire to do it. I think she did something similar to a lot of people and  so much more. I never knew her in form but I knew her, formless.

As that long-lost friend that took me in on my travels, I have been reflecting over her life for the past month or so, and ended up falling back in love with her song “Soon This Space Will Be Too Small” on the Living Road album.

Here is a glimpse of her lyrics:

Soon This Space Will Be Too Small

Soon this space will be too small
And I’ll go outside
To the huge hillside
Where the wild winds blow
And the cold stars shine

I’ll put my foot
On the living road
And be carried from here
To the heart of the world

I’ll be strong as a ship
And wise as a whale
And I’ll say the three words
That will save us all
And I’ll say the three words
That will save us all

Soon this space will be too small
And I’ll laugh so hard
That the walls cave in

Then I’ll die three times
And be born again
In a little box
With a golden key
And a flying fish
Will set me free

Contemplating on her life and these lyrics, I wonder about the emotional cloak of human expression. How was it for her to wear it? Was she able to take it off? What were those 3 words that would save us all?

From my understanding, Lhasa withstood an amazing battle against breast cancer. January 1st her adoring audience bid her farewell so that she, as her song foreshadowed, can be “born again in a little box with a golden key and a flying fish” that has set her free.


The creative individual–and I mean anyone that utilizes creative fervor combined with a commitement to service in others as Lhasa did–contains a rare ability to embody and utilize  the human condition. When this individual takes on the ‘weight’ of the world, it can create a vulnerability in one’s body, mind and spirit that must be addressed and swiftly.

How have you been addressing the emotional intensity of  work in your body? How balanced have you been? If imbalance exists, what might be something you can do to fortify the very ground your creativity lies on?

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 3:11 am  Comments (6)  
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