Tuesday, October 18, 2011

occupying my creativity: excited to be a part of history

some fliers I threw together for our local and global movement. excited to see how this grows. I'll have some further thoughts on the movement to share with you all soon. till then' thanks for the support and much love, peace, and blessings to you all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

the golden calf

"the golden calf" (we are the 99) -Dylan Rooke from DylanRooke on Vimeo.
i am so inspired and stand in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street/ Occupy Together, and my local movement of Occupy Pittsburgh. this is the first version of this song. i recorded it on my laptop as soon as a felt it had some cohesion. it's unpolished and uncut for now. give me some feedback, love it/ hate it? its all good.

"The years have been too long, but the days feel short now

There’s a fire burning in our hearts and in our souls

There’s something new on the horizon, inviting us in

Our voices together, diverse yet one. liberating

We don’t want a handout, we want a foot in

We ain’t worshipin’ the golden calf a wall street anymore/ no more

I haven’t cast a ballot, yet I try to vote everyday

With every breath I breathe, and the words I choose to say

We’re here to occupy our streets and towns

Till we reconcile democracy, and tear the idols down

We’ll overthrow the golden calf

Of Wall street, of the elite

We want no more, of all deceit/ of all the lies

the choking of our democracy/ no democracy

we are the ninety nine!"

-Dylan Rooke

www.dylanrooke.com/ public domain/ open source 10/12/11

Saturday, July 16, 2011

(unexpected) Radical Simplicity: Losing Everything in a Fire

     Yesterday I had a conversation with my cousin Devin along the lines of life transitions and living in simplicity. i had just moved into the house on Fairmount street in Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh this past Wednesday, and despite my efforts of downsizing before i moved i had a lot more stuff than i had planned. I had been trying to step into some intentional spiritual disciplines one of which is a ever processing radical life simplicity. the fact was I had way more than i wanted and definitely more than i basically needed, but being an artist and a musician lends itself to acquiring a mass of supplies and instruments required for the fields. but i was determined to simplify all the more, feeling convicted that simplicity was a high goal of discipline to strive after. our conversation concluded shortly as we chatted on to other things
     It wasn't 15 minute later that i received the call that our house was on fire and we raced back as fast as we could. I prayed it was just something small and easily fixable, but as we came into the neighborhood i could see the pillar of smoke rising from behind the trees on the hill where we resided. we parked the car and preceded up the hill. 3 fire trucks, dozens of cops, 2 helicopters circling and teams of medics on the site didn't ease the surroundings. as the fire blazed upwards consuming everything on the 3rd floor and I knew I had most likely lost everything. i had just stored everything i owned in that room, with the exception of a weekend pack to Kansas City, which i was catching a plane that night. I guess life transition and radical life simplicity came crashing down harder and sooner than i had thought.
     I am surely counting my blessings; all six of us who lived there were alright, Colin, Carina, Morgan, Chris, Kyle and I. Morgan, who was at the house at the time of the fire, managed to get the 2 dogs out of the house off the second floor. The house was uninsured at the time and Colin was working his last day of work to take some time to work full time on the house. Colin had bought the house with his good friend Justin over a year ago after it had gone into to bank ownership by foreclosure. Justin got married this year and had sold his portion and moved out earlier this year. It needed a lot of work and over the coarse of the year had the roof patched, water pipes fixed, and a wood stove installed. thousands of dollars had been spent on building supplies and countless hours of labor all gone in a matter of minutes.
      we had all just started to shape and order our lives together as a house, establishing common chores, work days and weekly meals, making steps to intentionality and residential community living. we have a heart for hospitality to friends and strangers, simple and sustainable living, combating poverty locally and globally by imaginative peaceful means of action and involvement; we were just starting to collect these goals and put them together on top of already practicing these steps in small everyday ways. we were getting really excited and hopeful about the steps in the house project, and then came this wrench in the works, but we've got no plans to stop here; we're discerning what the next step is currently. I believe that God takes care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field and how much more does he care of His children. I've got faith that it'll work out for good, if we're open to the renewal to come. i guess it kind of my moto: sometimes things need ruined for a renewal to start in our lives. Lord have mercy as we step into this new chapter.
     We've been so blessed already, with so many friends and family jumping in with offers and supplying some basic, immediate needs, but the larger needs will be in the near future as we figure out what is next. to rebuild or relocate? how much is too much to invest? goals and vision for the future? and whatever else might be on the table. Colin has started a blog to keep all updated on the status of the 6 of us, volunteer opportunities, and the future of our experiment in community living. check it out at www.230northfairmount.blogspot.com . if you'd like to make a donation to our cause,visit my donations page on the top banner, and all funds will go to our basic and longer term needs. there's a whole lot more work to be done and we are so thankful for all the care, prayer, and support we've already received. In the midst of severe trial, we are truly blessed by all of you. thanks for taking time to read, pray, and support. much Love!

(here's a video of the fire) http://www.wtae.com/r-video/28561593/detail.html

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chiapas, Mexico 2011: Gratitude and Gift Economy


Greeting and Peace to you, friends and family,
            First of all, I would like to thank all of you for your prayers, thoughts, cares and support of all kinds and forms through all the crazy escapades and adventures life takes me on, but especially for your recent support of the trip I had the blessing of going on with a wonderful team from Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community to Chiapas, Mexico. I am always so blessed by the community that surrounds me to encourage, hold me accountable and challenges me to go the next step in life.  It will be so difficult for me to express the gratitude of my heart and the amazement of the trip as a whole, but I will do my best in this short report.
            After few troubles getting to Matzam and one piece of luggage missing somewhere between the U.S and Tuxla airport, we made it to our destination, the beautiful village of Matzam in Chiapas, the southern most region of Mexico right near Guatemala.  The people there are Tzeltal, descendants of the Mayans, and speak their own language of Tzeltal. This is the 5th year our group has returned to the Chiapas region to work with Pastor Pablo and his wife Jan who work with the Presbyterian churches in the areas surrounding where they live in the town Ocasingo, of which Matzam is one of.  The need there the last few years has been building a new church building around the old one, which they have outgrew. So when we got there this time the job before us was tearing down the old church with an arsenal of hand tools. With sledgehammers, digging bars, chisels, pick axes and plenty of bote’s (buckets) in hand, we started Monday with the week's work. We thought for sure that the destruction of the old church within the new shell was going to take most of the week itself, but with the 16 of us, and the 40-so Tzeltal men, who we were working along side of, we knocked it out in one day! So, the rest of the week was mostly hauling the rubble from the church and dumping it over a small hillside at the other end of the community compound, where they were using it to build a new foundation for a kitchen; they recycle everything! We finished off the work that week by laying over 2 tons of concrete, by hand mind you, on the ground so that the new church could be used as soon as it dried. With the old church out of the way, and new roof and floor completed, our week’s manual labor was such a feat looking back on it. Interspersed throughout the week were other adventures as well. We played and “taught” 100 some kids from the villages the first two evenings through a program they do through the church, and despite our lack of preparation and expertise, it was an amazing time with them; sometimes you just need an excuse to gather and share time together, I guess a bunch of crazy white people singing songs and playing silly games was a good one. On Thursday we visited a neighboring villages church and shared a meal with them before their service; they were so hospitable and welcoming. Nearing the end of our week, we embarked on our annual pilgrimage up one of the mountain peeks towering over the villages. with the village at it's foothills and already being above 7000 ft above sea level, it was only about a 3 hour hike up and down. i remembered vividly the beauty of the environment from my first trip in 2009, but no matter how amazing i remembered it to be, nothing compared to being there again; in the midst of the jungle foliage, on top of the hills, among the cattle, with wind ripping through your hair. After reaching the top, pastor Jeff lead us in a time of silence and prayer, and in that moment with a ragtag, eclectic group of Americans and two Tzeltal friends, i felt that still quiet voice whisper to my soul, "life is beautiful, don't forget"
It’s amazing what people can do when, out of love for one another, embrace a vision, work hard, volunteer time as a gift to one another. None of the workers were paid; we weren’t paid, they weren’t paid. On both sides, we sacrificed our own means of income for a week, and came together and gave what we could, no matter how old, young, rich, poor, American or Tzeltal. We shared our lives together for a week and when I think about it, it was really such a minimal sacrifice, but there was such a huge reward in our lives from that time. I really believe that when we as people come together, sacrifice ourselves, give of our resources, talents, and time for the sake of each other as a gift, we see something beautiful, we see the kingdom of God.  This idea of “divine gift economy”, which was rich in the New Testaments book of Acts as it describes the early Christian church, has been something I have been thinking about a lot lately and I was so encouraged to see it in action that week. It happened between people, who in ever other situation, have nothing to do with each other, but because we recognize each other as brothers and sisters, we bridge the gaps and tear down the walls that usually divide us. We surrender our previous affiliations and obligations to meet together in humility to learn from each other and work together, and this wonderful thing happens. The week ended with a church service we shared together in Matzam, outside as the cement was drying. Their congregation’s “presidente’”, who serves as a lay preacher, closed out the service letting us know that they pray for us throughout the year and truly consider us as part of they’re family; I was almost in tears with this revelation. We were family, despite all our differences and the thousands of miles that usually are between us, because family is love; God is love, and we together see this in each other. They handed out bread and soda for everyone at the end of the service and I couldn’t help but think, “this is communion”. We sang the doxology together all in our own language, some in English, Spanish, but mostly in Tzeltal;
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen”

the old within the new

sidewalk chalkin'

tearin' down walls

who needs power tools?

Matzam Hardcore 2011

breakin' hammers in the hot sun

mas mas refrescos!

reusing the rubble to build a new kitchen foundation of a hill side

the women graciously let us help with the corn

mixin' concrete by hand... a lot of it

just add water, it's that easy!
the men workin' hard on the roof before the rain comes


pastor Jeff learning Tzeltal numbers and teaching English

Playing some songs for the kids

the architects didn't have us in mind

yoga, doing our bodies good

week's work done! old church gone, new roof and floor!

time for a hike

such a beautiful place

breathtaking, the scenery that is

one of our lovely guides

the hiking crew

well... it rained on our way down

let's close out with a meal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Steel City Artist Collective: Forging Camaraderie

WE DID IT! we threw our first art show as a group at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community building in the South Side of Pittsburgh. a lot of friends, family and strangers came to show their support, admire, and a few even purchased art! it was an amazing time and such an encouragement. I was absoutely amazed at the array of talent and diversity of the art submitted; as each artist came to drop of their piece for the show, it continually added to my growing excitement. I'm looking forward to the future, and to the ideas and creativity that with birth out of this thing we've collectively created, and as we grow as a group of artist and friends i anticipate a beautiful network of artistry. we can only experiment and see what happens, and like some art projects, you just got to start working on it and it'll begin to shape and form itself in much more amazing ways then when originally planned out.
      it all started with a few of us friends talking about wanting to do more with our talent, but not just for business or success, but for fun and creativity. some of us are career artist, some of us freelance on the side and still others just create art as a way of expressing themselves. wherever we fall on that spectrum or in the sphere of artistry, we all felt the same longing: to do more with it and to encourage each other as well. one conversation led to another and then we started planning "meetings" at the local coffee shop, so hipster, i know!... love it, and next thing we knew we we're planning an art show and inviting over 35 of our friends who aspire to grow in their artistry to join in. everyone responded well and excitedly to the invitation, and 20 committed to having at least one piece in the show vaguely themed "something from nothing", to be interpreted however the artist felt. we debated whether to have a theme at all, but decided it was good to have something, even something general and simple, to draw some inspiration from. we reserved the space at the HMBFC building and started brainstorming how we were going to actually hang the artwork. after grabbing a bunch of scrap wood and pallets from basements and dumpsters throughout the week, we converged on the space Friday morning and started transforming it into a make-shift gallery space, constructing creative utilitarian ways of displaying the art. what we came up with, we we're really happy with. it was raw, creative, and gave the room some needed dimension. 6 o-clock came and people started showing up, and it got busy! a ton of people chatting, admiring, eating and just plain hanging out; it was amazing! good times, good friends, and good art! here's some photos from the event. cheers!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bound For Glory!

Revolution Radio - Bound For Glory from Justin A Nixon on Vimeo.

this is one of the musical groups I'm a part of, Revolution Radio. big thanks to Justin Nixon, a good friend, for putting this video together with some other friends, to Matt Davis for the amazing recording and for always being there for us, to Aaron for writing these songs and sharing his heart and spirit with all of us, to all the other guys who I play so much music with, and for all the friends that support so much of what we do and for coming out on this night in particular to help make it so memorable. good times for sure!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

folk, fun and friends

nothing special, just a little flyer i doodled up for a show I'm playing with friends this weekend. Timbre plays the harp and is absolutely amazing, as a person and musician. it'll be so good to see her along with all the other amazing friends that we'll be among the crowd and musicians for the night. I'm so blessed with so many good people in my life. can't wait to celebrate it through music that evening. cheers!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Murals: an interview by Kayla Mento

Kayla Mento Interviewing Dylan Rooke

K-     When did you paint your first mural and where was it?

D-   I believe I painted my first mural when I was in 9th grade, the year 2000, at Yough High School
K-     When and why did you decide to start painting murals?

D-   Well, our art teacher was pretty enthusiastic about having students paint murals and slowly infecting the halls and classrooms with art. I, being an ambitious young artist, was quickly encouraged to do so in the halls of the school. I embraced the opportunity and I’ve been having fun learning and practicing mural art from time to time amongst other art endeavors over the years.

K-    Have you ever been funded by an organization for painting a mural?

D-   I’ve been personally hired on occasion by individuals desiring art in their places of business and houses, but I never been funded by a group or organization to date.
K-     How many murals have you painted in your lifetime?

D-   Well, I’ll have to estimate this number, because I’m not sure if I had recorded all of them. I did most while in school, and who pays attention in those years, haha. So, if I were to estimate, somewhere near 15 or 20, some of those wouldn’t be strictly murals, but art done and presented in such a way. Not a whole ton, but enough to grapple the concept.

K-     Have you ever had to pay out of pocket in order to paint a mural?

D-   In the murals that I have been hired to do there has been times I’ve had to pay out of pocket for supplies up front, but the payment usually includes a supply list compensation. I have done others for enjoyment, and those, of course, have no outside funding. Though I don’t have personal experience from it, I’m sure when hired by an organization to do a mural, they usually supply the equipment before hand and have it separate from the budget they are paying the artist for. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s something of the sort.

K-    How long did it take you to paint one of your murals and did you have help? 

D-   I’ve had help on occasion, usually my twin brother who is also an artist, since we share similar artistic style. I’ve never had a large-scale mural project under my belt, like on the side of a building for instance; the murals I’ve done usually are on interior walls. The time spent on a mural is very relative; time working on them has generally taken anywhere from 10 to 40 hours, maybe? It’s hard for me to answer that non-generally. A lot of factors play a role: size, detail, medium, and as you’ve asked, team size. But as for one example, I just finished a mural which was two small bathrooms in a restaurant, everything that was wall space, the medium was acrylic and spray paint, I worked alone, and it took me somewhere between 15-20 hours.

K-    How important is it to have team work available during this process?

D-   I believe teamwork is a little more vital the larger the project, especially if there is a time restraint or deadline. The other reason would be to keep excitement on the project. Sometimes if working on a huge project by oneself it can be very overloading and mundane and progress can feel like molasses, but if working with a team, you can see progress happen faster and also, hopefully, have a higher moral from being with other artists, rather than slaving away long hours alone. Then again I’ve also seen distractions arise from being in teams and not being able to focus.  I guess it depends on the team and the ability to be productive and focused together. Again, so many variables.

K-    Have you ever purposefully tried to use different art styles in your murals to give yourself a challenge?

D-   This most recent mural was an experiment on a style I hadn’t really done in a mural yet. I chose to do mostly stencils and spray paint, which took a lot of patience cutting out stencils and measuring them to the size relevance of the rooms. The most challenging part was doing the project in layers rather than from say left to right, because you don’t get a complete idea of the finished product until the last layer. Whereas, if you do a mural a more traditional style, like acrylic paint, you see it piece together a lot more as you go along.

K-     Who was your first inspiration in deciding you wanted to paint murals?

D-   My first inspiration for doing murals would probably be my high school art teacher, Bob Weaver. He’s not only an art hero of mine but a life hero as well.  He was a crucial part of training and encouragement in art expression and motivation.

K-   Do you think painting murals can brighten up a community and pinpoint important issues going on in that neighborhood?

D-   I think public murals are an amazing tool at communicating current issues and goals ,and historical structure and experience. I really enjoy murals that help give an understanding at what a neighborhood embodies or what its aims are. I see a lot that are very historical in nature, which pulls a populace together in a realization of local value.  You could argue that “graffiti” is a sort of public mural as well, I enjoy a lot of socially relevant street art for similar reasons as well, but it’s not exactly legal, but that’s half the fun, right? Haha. Cheers!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Compassion: His Crown

"His Crown" medium: newspaper, poly urethane, and stenciled spray paint. Compassion: to suffer with. I did this piece after some reflection on what it means to be a modern Christian in America. the main-stream church at large does not follow the example i see in Christs suffering, and sharing burdens of others. I do see "charity" but that can be worlds a part from actually walking with someone in their trial; living, breathing their pain and loss. we live in a country where comfort and security are the strivings and goals of everyone, even the church,. It seems to come way above simplicity and self sacrifice, which was the walk of Christ. we always like to make our gods and masters look like ourselves, and some ways, even though we claim to worship Jesus, we're just worshiping a projected view of ourselves, cause we've made him look just like us. white, blond hair, blue eyes, patriotic, comfy and clean. though you may hear a sermon or see a image of Jesus on the cross that might give the impression otherwise, the loudest message comes from the expectations and judgments that stand at the pulpits and sit in the pews. i say this cause that is what is expected of anyone walking into most churches. When i read the gospels, it doesn't quite look like that. They called him "the sufferer", so if we are to follow Jesus, that means choosing to step outside of our comforts and securities into sacrifice and standing in solidarity with others; sitting with the tax collector, pardoning the harlot, embracing the diseased, welcoming the foreigner, and loving all enemies. Jesus was a radical, so much so, He and his following were a very threat to the religious elite and the ruling empire. It landed him on a cross; an execution of criminal done with the states legal sanction. Is this what we embrace as a "Christian" nation? ( is that even a good idea? "christian nation") do we really sacrifice all of ourselves for the radical love of all people as Jesus did? or do we just want our "freedoms" to collect and consume whatever our hearts desire. we want our "right" to harm others in defense of what is ours, our possessions, our family, ect. (it seems the two are the same for most patriarchs). I guess this is what we wrestle with if we consider ourselves people of Christian faith. I hope this doesn't come off too preachy or self righteous; these are questions i ask to myself everyday, and plenty times fail. I choose safety in the name of wisdom over love of a stranger in the spirit of my Lord. I spend money on myself because i feel entitled to it rather than giving it to someone who is in need. so lets ask these questions together, believers or not, as fellow people. are we working towards a better tomorrow? i hope i am, which is why I follow the footsteps of Christ and try to put on this kings thorny crown called "compassion". As I'm sometimes overburdened with the thoughts of what that entails, I am always reminded of what Momma T said. "do small things with great love." Love and Peace! -Dylan

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Communion: Three in One

I did this triptych for Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community a little while ago (I'll be updating some past fine art projects I've done in the last year or so, since i just gathered some photos of them) they asked me to put together a symbol of the trinity on tables, that would hang on the wall, and used on occasion. I along with two other artists in the community did table series. the other themes were the process of making bread and of making wine. there was something i found so beautiful about having art apart of a more utilitarian purpose. the tables hang on the wall for aesthetic purposes, but then the "walls" are taken down, to be used for community gathering; it's such a beautiful picture to me of what "communion" is. take down the walls and just sit and share together.