Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Thank you" for....

I routinely start each day saying "Thank you" for the smallest of things that exist in my life. A seemingly small expression that barely points in the direction of what I truly feel when I am happy with something. Being able to give gratitude for all that I am aware of, fills the space where doubt and fear could easily grow."Thank you" for the good night's sleep that has given my body rest and new dreams to live for. "Thank you" for the full breath I have just inhaled, that comes from fresh air, swirling through trees, mountains and seas to fill my lungs. As I stand up for the first time today, I am thankful for the steadiness of spirit that allows me to rise on strong legs and well taken care of feet, that has taken years of effort to achieve.

It can be so easy to sow doubt, within ourselves, about what isn't working in our lives and in our country. So, today, as to not dwell on what can go wrong, I say "Thank you" for all that is....being careful not to assign labels of right or wrong. Individual perceptions oftentimes have us bestow positive or negative qualities onto life's events, when in reality, our reactions to them are what gives an event its' quality. Being able to adjust to changes allows us to make the most out of the things we cannot control nor influence. The present is always bright, when we do not weigh it down with fears of the past projected onto the future.

"Thank you" for the friends that want your friendship...and ask you for nothing more than for you to be your authentic self. "Thank you" for the ability to unearth that authenticity within and to allow it to be shared with those who love you....and knew, before you did, of its existence. "Thank you" for the love of family members, whose destinies are karmically aligned with our own, and foreseen before birth.

Primarily, on this day of expressed Thanksgiving, I say "Thank you" for the unison that Joe and I move in tandem with, whether awake or asleep, near or far, with or without, because it occurs by our own volition, without demand, much as a circle flows into its beginning. "Thank you" for that flow that begins with one and ends with the other, for the legs that supports the weight of the other and for the thought that gives rise to an action in the other.

We celebrate this day at the home of our generous friends, Walter Allen and Brian Leister, in Easthampton, shared with dear friends that have supported our dreams for more years than any of us care to count. The commemorative friendship feast is being deliciously prepared by the professional chef in our family, Dennis Williford, with his usual taste, skill, jocularity and joie de vivre. And finally, "Thank you" for taking the time to read these thoughts and giving thanks of your own.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Old Friends

“Old Friends…Old friends…..
Sat on the park bench like bookends… A newspaper blows throw the grass…falls on the round toes..of the high shoes..of the Old Friends…”
as sung by Simon and Garfunkle.

I am having lunch today with a friend that, until two weeks ago, when he sat down in the barber chair next to me, I hadn’t seen or heard of since the early seventies. I would not have recognized him at all except for a hauntingly familiar gaze that sat fixed in his expression as he peered into the barbershop mirror. I searched my memory bank to determine where I knew that look from and it suddenly hit me that it was very similar to that of a young man that influenced the most essential part of my early maturity, the need to be honest and to be myself. Still unsure whether the provenance of that stare existed in the man that sat next to me, I forced my memory to chisel away at the years of experience that now formed his facial features and the weight of living that now smothered his once muscular frame. I suddenly realized the indelible physical elements of our existences are carved in our smiles, voices and the way we peer at things. All else is subject to change, except for the possible non-physical elements, like humor, or lack of it, or our practical sensibilities, or lack of it.

The benefit of being around friends, family and lovers for years on end is that we grow accustomed to the ever-changing transformations that age affords us. We don’t see the wrinkles and girth that bespeak our experiences with any crystal clarity, but take them on, as we do our own, with minimal resistance. We share diets, health clubs and moisturizers, all the while fighting the same battle that we gradually lose anyway, but with an adjusting eye to our own and others ‘improvements’. Yes, improvement is the right word because beauty in its full bloom is the most beautiful of all. And who is to say that in the autumn of our years the serene glow of stalwart survival isn’t as gorgeous a beauty to behold as any other. The charm of a blemish free face cannot compare with one etched with character, full of a life’s expressions. Though a toned body, of any age, still holds a greater appeal, than one that speaks of neglect, a bald patch or silver hair on the top of the head has become very appealing to my ripened eyes, as they relent to the irrepressible seasoning of the body, and I ultimately appreciate that success in living is to be still living at all.

As the guy got up to leave, his barber said, “See you next week, Mike”, and I knew it was one in the same man from my early days. Using the technology of today’s youth, I Googled him and found him on Linkedin and emailed him to verify the encounter at the barbershop. I look forward at lunch today, to having a shared reminiscence about our youth and the ensuing years that followed, and the still relatively youthful dreams of tomorrow.

The crooked smile, that had always generated a deep warmth within me - when I reflected on it - greeted me as I walked into our meeting place. The look in his eyes and the sound of his voice - that I had yearned to see and hear since encountering him two weeks earlier - catapulted me, for the briefest of moments, back to the time of a fantasy remembrance of what we shared. But, in as quick a moment as it takes for reality to set in, those indelible characteristics reformed around the lives that had altered the both of us. Our experiences had subsumed the fantasies we may had carried of a lost time and we left one another with an updated reality of the struggle and luck we've had in life. The hazy romantic reminiscences of what might had been - that we all carry about - crystallizes in the actuality of what has BECOME.....old friends bridging a gap in time...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Scorpio Rising

As the voices of the almost one hundred people, who crowded into the expansive dining room of Regina Darby, sang out loudly, "Haaaapppppy Birthdaaay, Happy Biirrthday, Happy Birthday" to her, Bill Freeman, Robin Bell-Stevens, Gail A. Marquis and the other Scorpios on hand, I felt lifted by the resonance of the song and the abounding joy, at a time when my soul needed it most.

Lifted from the ashes of a week of disappointment that brought dire predictions for the Democrat's political future, I felt buoyed by the bonhomie in the room. As we sang out, the ponderous negativity of media prognostications, that had consumed me for far too long, melted away...... and I began to see the power and force that we as individuals have to shape and mold our universe in our own vision. Regina, Bill and the Scorpios assembled there, represented those that will not be bound to outcomes and will rise above them.

As our friend, Micki Stickford (another Scorpio) who sent me a message about "A Spiritual Conspiracy" (see below) whereby positive souls are working quietly behind the scenes, to bring forth actions that actually care about one another and the environment, I felt an initiation and inculcation, as I read the inspiring manifesto. The inner revolution of light, it spoke of, sprang forth on the voices of the many people who had come to celebrate last night. Aligned in a deep understanding that more is ahead for us to be thankful for and that it is up to each of us to make it happen, bonded us in subconscious ways.

To our many Scorpio friends, who know the odyssey of burning out and rising again, and rising again and rising again, I wish you a Happy Birthday and thank you for your inspiration and sixth sense.


On the surface of the world right now there is
war and violence and things seem dark.
But calmly and quietly, at the same time,
something else is happening underground
An inner revolution is taking place
and certain individuals are being called to a higher light.
It is a silent revolution.
From the inside out. From the ground up.
This is a Global operation.
A Spiritual Conspiracy.
There are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet.
You won't see us on the T.V.
You won't read about us in the newspaper
You won't hear about us on the radio
We don't seek any glory
We don't wear any uniform
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles
Most of us work anonymously
We are quietly working behind the scenes
in every country and culture of the world
Cities big and small, mountains and valleys,
in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands
You could pass by one of us on the street
and not even notice
We go undercover
We remain behind the scenes
It is of no concern to us who takes the final credit
But simply that the work gets done
Occasionally we spot each other in the street
We give a quiet nod and continue on our way
During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs
But behind the false storefront at night
is where the real work takes a place
Some call us the Conscious Army
We are slowly creating a new world
with the power of our minds and hearts
We follow, with passion and joy
Our orders come from the Central Spiritual Intelligence
We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking
Poems ~ Hugs ~ Music ~ Photography ~ Movies ~ Kind words ~
Smiles ~ Meditation and prayer ~ Dance ~ Social activism ~ Websites
Blogs ~ Random acts of kindness...
We each express ourselves in our own unique ways
with our own unique gifts and talents
Be the change you want to see in the world
That is the motto that fills our hearts
We know it is the only way real transformation takes place
We know that quietly and humbly we have the
power of all the oceans combined
Our work is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains
It is not even visible at first glance
And yet with it entire tectonic plates
shall be moved in the centuries to come
Love is the new religion of the 21st century
You don't have to be a highly educated person
Or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it
It comes from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings
Be the change you want to see in the world
Nobody else can do it for you
We are now recruiting
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have.
All are welcome
The door is open
~ author unknown

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Night To Remember

By the time I walked into Cousen Rose Gallery last night for the opening of my showing, with Crystal, Joe and Genita, I was already on an emotional and spiritual high. The well wishes that had been sent to me from you over the preceding days, hours and minutes had me elated and feeling that anything that happened from that point on would already be successful. The Boston Globe highlight of the day was followed by news that Governor Deval Patrick had stopped in to see the show before going onto his much touted fundraiser that same evening. Many of the participants from that event arrived later at the show, beautifully attired and looking gorgeous. There were many loved ones and supporters, that come each year, wishing the best and quietly building art collections of their own.

Zita Cousens, in royal blue, glided amongst the crowd she assembled with tremendous grace and ease. Jackie Orridge, the radiantly beautiful mother of my dear friends, Valerie Preston and Richard Orridge, and aunt of our New York Governor, was there, a trooper, barring any encumbrances she had to deal with to do so. I met the noted author, Stephan Carter, whose many works I have collected and was just discussing with Chuku Lee the day before. Amy Goldson and her daughters, Aerin and Ava, were there with Amy's mother, one looking more beautiful than the next. Many people were drawn to the painting of her, and that of Patricia Hayling Price, as they are both noted perennials to the Vineyard.

Flying in that day from a five week sojourn in Europe were our guests, Dr. Crystal Silas, of CA, with her son, Charles, to partake in the beauty of the Vineyard for the first time. A long time friend of ours from the Vineyard, DC and Brazil is Dr. K. Ezeze, who was there also, in advance of the launch of his new book, Dream College, this September. There were too many wonderful people there last night to mention in this limited space so included below are a few photos of those smiling faces and loving supporters that you may know.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The President arrives on island

I think that was President Obama's plane that just flew overhead, as our house rumbled in the wake of the huge plane's low descent onto the nearby airport runway. Everyone is all a twitter with thoughts of the first family's return visit to this small island. The political, wealthy, socially prominent and regular folks, like me, have descended on the Vineyard for the remaining days of summer to bask in quiet solitude accentuated by media glare.

Since my first night on island we spoke of the President's second coming to the Vineyard over a delectable dinner celebrating the birthday of my dear friend, Christine Cummings, whose words of wisdom were, "The older you get the easier it gets because you don't have to worry about stuff". Arrayed in her daughter and son-in-law, Linda and Hassan Minor's new home in Edgartown, were their equally beautiful and accomplished daughters, Keija and Kali, and the esteemed Philip Clay and his wife Sandy. Of course, my entry to this divine evening was through many years of friendship with Pat Cummings (a college buddy) and her husband, H.Chuku Lee.

Last night Martha's Vineyard had it's annual Illumination Night event, where the campground residents lit their homes with colorful lanterns and thousands of visitors sang in unison choruses of our national pride. I, like everyone else, loudly sang along, with words that have been stored in my memory since childhood. The unabashed melodic patriotism sprung from our lips and was on display for our visiting house mates from London, Jennifer and Sharon Thompson, who were more prepared to sing, "God Save the Queen". Valerie Cooper, of Stamford, CT, had again assembled a coterie of friends from near and wide to partake in the summer festivities of the Vineyard. Judy and Wesly Mayo 's campground abode was filled with it's annual illuminated guests that enjoyed the delicious fare and warm comraderie.

Barbara and Peter, from Westport, CT and Maine, are doing their annual pilgrimage here, which will include attending a fundraiser for Deval Patrick with the oft noted speculation that our dear president will be in attendance also.

This special event occurs just hours before my own opening here at Cousen Rose Gallery, 7pm this Saturday, August 21st. Many will attend both. Please alert your friends that may be on island this week to stop by for a visit, by forwarding this blog or this invite.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thoughts of a Life so Far...

Sixty years ago to this day, on a bright full moon in Aquarius, like the one over the past few nights, I slipped into this present incarnation, which has been a surprise to me every step of the way. Not particularly pleased with the circumstances I found myself in, I made plans to change them as soon as possible. Most of those plans fell apart, like becoming a doctor, although I couldn't stand the sight of blood, or a brilliant singer, although I couldn't hold a note, or a family man, although my interest were otherwise. Even though I sketched for pleasure it didn't become a career goal until I was a teenage student at Cass Tech. Growing "up south" in Detroit, the limits of my life were implied during segregation, but those suddenly fell open as the wings of revolutionary effort for equality created opportunity for many of us. Being in the right place at the right time has been the key to many successes in my life and probably in yours, too. Though I thought I was doing it on my own, the world conspired in the achievement of my plans, like a silent partner. From acceptance to Parsons to acceptance within a previously barred fashion industry the pull of change took hold of my life. Therefore, at this point, having tried to keep up with the Jones, and for brief moments having been the Jones, I can appreciate the joy of just living.

In some ways, a sideline participant, I have witnessed dramatic social, economic, political and technological changes that only existed in dreams and in science fiction. Social equity as a goal has been a norm since proponents of my generation like Fannie Lou Hammer, Martin Luther King and James Baldwin, and the many that didn't share my pigmentation, fought for inclusion, spoke in our voices and wrote searing commentaries about the unjust burdens of our lives. Economic opportunity has lifted many of us into lifestyles that our parents and grandparents could only dream of, and time has allowed us to know that the ups and downs of life is just that, and not a static commitment to any placement therein. Political advancement has seen the move beyond the first celebrated black local official to the first black president, and has elevated an entire nation in its capacity to appreciate a person for the content of their being and capacity of their skills. And technological advancements has rivaled anything I ever watched in episodes of Buck Rogers or Star Trek. Who knew they where the signal of things to come and not just fantasies to stir our imagination.

These accomplishments would be enough for some but the true joy of witnessing life is the learning that comes with it. Learning that what your parents told you was true, that your friends determine who you become. Thank you to my many friends that has shaped me (you know who you are). Learning that hard times really does create strength and that good times inevitably follows. Learning that less is more and that more has always been there. Learning that what goes around comes around and that you have a choice in the matter. Learning to not blame anyone for anything but yourself, because taking responsibility is the key to success. Learning whether you look to a specific God or the God within you are not alone on this journey, and that the journey itself is the destination. Learning that as the experience of life unfolds, fears recede, and appreciation for life grows. And as the Beatles sang "And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give".

In this bucolic stage of my life, I no longer swat flies and wish the deer that ate my flowers were dead, but realize I have a part in their experience of the miracle of life too, and I couldn't be happier.

Glenn Tunstull, A Personal View of Light and Color Book

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In the Midst of Summer...

Surprisingly comfortable mornings become muggy afternoons and the once crisp shirt I started the day with is sticking to my back by the time I return home. Born during the height of summer (July 29th) in the city, I have always loved the heat that rises from the pavement, warming my ankles and throttling my slowing my steps as I breathe deeply climbing each inclining block...until I reach an air cooled destination. The initial sensation of falling into a cool pool of water subsides temporarily as my body's attracted heat searches for equilibrium. Moments later I am either still breathing deeply with clammy neck and brow or chilled to a point of discomfort, where only a sweater contest the chilly air.

With the completion of my Parsons summer school session yesterday, I have returned to the Hudson Valley, in hopes of a cooling breeze off the hillsides nearby. So far, the pastoral setting offers calming vistas but not wafts of cool air, and I am lodged inside under the controlled environment of air conditioning. In this setting I am putting the finishing touches on several paintings for the August 21st to August 27th show at Cousen Rose Gallery on the Vineyard. I hope to see many of you there next month. Maybe some of you are lucky enough to get to the beach today, as in the painting above entitled, Beach Frolic.

In advance of that you can see a catalog of my work in my new book, Glenn Tunstull, A Personal View of Light and Color.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne

A legend that I had the pleasure of meeting continues to shine. Here is my sketch of her for Playbill when she did "A Lady and Her Music" on Broadway.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Embracing the Future with the Past

To be wrapped in an embrace that is so unconsciously confident that it feels as if you are holding onto your own skin, with someone who has the freedom to be on their own, yet come together in an embrace of total fusion....this is love. And so, the loves of one's life can come together in a confluence that ties one's past to one's future. Such a day presented itself as I witnessed the merging of my fashion past with my world of today.

The rains poured over New York yesterday as I made my way to the Parsons Senior Thesis Show at the Chelsea Piers with fellow instructor Steven Broadway. Former students were making their foray into fashion's eye with divine designs that they have been crafting for an entire semester. Under the watchful looks of the top professionals that make up the Parsons faculty, unique and forward thinking creations, that defied gravity and percolated new design directions, were paraded down the runway. Wedged among these colleagues, on a mission of excellence, I sat with pride as I saw their efforts carried out with aplomb. Simon Collins, the dean of the department, gave his praises to all who had help shape the fashion talents of the future. The ever-beautiful Susanna Moyer was there with her son Christian, as was Steven Faerm, the BFA fashion director, who rallies his team to ever-greater success each year. Max Wilson, designer extraordinaire, who later had lunch with me and Shawna McGee, another designer that shared our Cass Tech and Parsons alumni status, was pleased with the work he had done with his students. Richard Rosenfeld, Francesca Sammartino, Riet Peters, Kathie Maggio and many more, all agreed that the efforts of these high quality students made it all worthwhile.

As the rains wore on into the evening, I waltzed into the Chelsea Museum for the annual Live Out Loud LGBT fundraiser, which was founded by my dear friend Leo Preziosi. Pleased to have his parents there on a night that saw the greatest turnout of guests ever, he greeted all, along with his sparkling co-host Alan Cummings. Coordinating the mass of people was Hector Rojas, at once efficient and effervescent, with the help of his partner Steven, who had managed the extensive silent auction options. I was immediately made to feel at home by the presence of our dear friends Genita Ingram, John Rivers, Bruce Sloane, David Chin and Enrique Mago. The place was filled with beautiful people of every description, that tantalized one's eyes and probably set into motion a few new romances.

Into this bevy of beauties, my fashion past appeared in the lovely visions of Alva Chinn and Pat Cleveland, with Stephan Burrows and Elsa Perretti in tow. The fashion heyday of the 70's roared into view as I dreamed of bright colors, lettuce hems and youthful abandon, dancing the night away. Though more tranquil in demeanor they stylistically set off the energy of the room in a way that celebrated beauty always does.

Elated by the presence of so much positive energy during the day Joe and I made our way back to the Hudson Valley, enfolded in our joy and ready for an embrace.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Moment of Reflection

WE are always in a state of transition, whether we are approaching a change, in a change or coming to terms with a change. Below is a poem written by my friend Micki Stickford in a moment of reflection.

you know........sometimes....i am a the thought of being only a few years from 60 where did the time go????.....and what have i done....and what am i doing...what am i going to do .....there is a vulnerability ...i feel ..i's something i've really just become aware of internally ....and it has created an inner sensitivity ....that i really can't explain .....only to makes me more and more thankful..for the process i'm in ...the process of becoming more aware..and kinder.......for if i do nothing else.....let me do that ...........i haven't really voiced it until now.....but it is definitely a part of me consciousness.....time really does enjoy the's important....for some reason..these are words i feel compelled to share the life you live.......

Monday, March 22, 2010

Feasting on Heathcare Reform

Duck a L'Orange with braised carrots, sauteed string beans and mashed sweet potatoes, that I had prepared, was served as we watch Congress dine on sweeping health care reform last night during Joe Steele's birthday party for two. It was a beautiful day as we had awakened late yesterday morning from a late night of partying in Manhattan, with Reggie Van Lee and his partner Corey, where friends from New York, DC, Chicago, Rome, Brazil and other corners of the world cavorted in high spirits in celebration of Corey's B-Day and the surprise timing of the legislation that Reggie worked so diligently on. I reconnected with Nadia Fattah, who spoke of her global destinations and Susan Taylor who looked beautiful and energized by her project to find mentors for under served Black youth and other people equally delighted to be there. Norma Jean Darden and I reminisced about our fashion days together too, while dining on her delicious fare. Though it wasn't Joe's party he celebrated like it was, because he loves a good time with great people.

And better people we could not have enjoyed than Walter Allen and Brian Leister who took us to brunch with Julia Hotten the next day at the charming Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, the oldest hotel in America for Joe's birthday. The conversation was fast and witty and full of excitement about the pending vote that could provide opportunity denied for so many. The tasty brunch was served up with the delight of finding myself on the cover of the local newspaper that morning, The Register Star, in anticipation of an artist's talk I'll be giving at the Claverack Library on Sunday March 28th. Feeling fit and full of fun we settled in alone for the evening, preparing the dinner that satiated our taste buds, and monitored the wrangling of legislation that will change our lives. Joe and I have always been political junkies and we reached another highlight on his birthday. What a day!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

From Fashion to Fine Art

From Fashion to Fine Art:
An Artist’s Journey to Self-Expression

Glenn Tunstull
Sunday, March 25, 2010, at 3:00 P.M.

The latest in a series of Programs on “Local Art and Artists”
Sponsored by the Claverack Free Library

Admission is Free
A Claverack resident, Glenn Tunstull began his artistic career as a Fashion Illustrator in New York City, where his work graced the pages of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, WWW, the New York Times, and other publications
His search for challenges as an artist, initially inspired by his fascination with the effects of light and water in different settings, led him to the painting of landscapes in water colors and later in oils. His travels took him to many far-flung places—Brazil, Bali, Australia, Italy, France, Japan--as well as closer to home--Cape Cod, the Berkshires, the Hudson Valley. His images extend from the pastoral settings of the Hudson Valley to the energetic colors of Bahia, Brazil.
Tunstull will give a PowerPoint presentation of his watercolors and oil paintings that demonstrate his development as an artist. He will also show some of his actual paintings.
Q & A session and light refreshments will follow

This event will be held on the lower level of the A.B. Shaw Fire Station
adjacent to the Library at routes 23B and 9H, Claverack, NY