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Posts Tagged ‘johanna falzone’

Cornell: A Good Man

As said in Southern Gothic literature in the world of Flannery O’Connor, “A good man is hard to find.” A good man was Chris Cornell. A man I have thought of when meeting men in my own life. Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, and many other male artists have served as examples to young girls including myself growing up to learn what a good man is: devoted to family, loving and supportive of his wife, compassionate, motivated, kind, honest, and concerned about giving back to society.

I was first enchanted by Chris Cornell when his band, Soundgarden released the eerily beautiful song, Black Hole Sun. His voice reached ranges I didn’t quite understand at the time, but coveted greatly as with many bands of the nineties decade. I loved every musical journey he took, he was always writing and creating work in various styles. He was not only a creative inspiration, but a person who exhibited gracious character.

What made Chris a good man was not being perfect, it was being human, real, and good-hearted. His imperfections were the epitome of his beauty. He didn’t hide where he had been, what he went through, and how he evolved. I respect the honesty of people, not just their artistry. He has always been involved with his family, giving them the love and time they deserve. Fame didn’t corrupt him away from what was really important in life, he bestowed kindness. Even if when he found himself in dark places, he knew to come out, he knew to get help. Chris also dedicated part of himself to helping others not just with his music, but with his philanthropy. Chris and his wife Vicky started, The Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation to support vulnerable children. As someone who grew up knowing and now works with children in these delicate and hostile situations, this only made my appreciation for Chris and his family to grow broader. People do not always know what is done behind closed doors, sometimes even when they are open. We often times pay too much attention to the hype of fame and entertainment that we forget people are using their talent and success in other positive ways. While yes, Chris’ music has deeply impacted my life in a wonderfully special way, but his personal contributions to the children of our nation is just as impactful, if not more. Not only has he supported underprivileged children, but he has in addition donated all proceeds from his song, The Promise for the film, The Promise to the International Rescue Committee. This charity responds to humanitarian crisis efforts supporting healthcare, education, and other services to people who come from areas in conflict.

The day Chris died was surreal looking back on it days after. Thursday in the early morning, I awoke an hour or more before my alarm normally goes off. Something inside of me said to wake up and check my phone. The news reports were freshly coming in and I was in disbelief. The first posts I saw were on Instagram, people were posting pictures and messages about him passing. At first, I thought this all was some kind of sick joke, but certain people I follow wouldn’t joke about something like this. I kept seeing official articles and I wanted it all to be a nightmare. I wanted to wake up and everything to be fine. I wanted it to be a mistake, misreporting, wrong person. What I wanted was not true. I cried and cried ugly wet messy tears and blew obnoxiously into tissues. This was a strike all too close to home. It all dawned on me, the day before was all signs and I had not known.

Wednesday, Chris was with me all day in spirit. I was thinking about him while I was at work, how proud I was of his song, The Promise, seeing all of the Soundgarden tour photos and video footage. On my way home from work, I listened to one of my favorite Audioslave songs, Set If Off. I’ve always loved to sing along with him because I could actually keep up. I was enjoying the ride home like he was sitting next to me and were singing along together. Before I went to bed, at 11:29pm I shared a video clip of Soundgarden’s By Crooked Steps. Chris is seen closing the laptop of a young Hipster wannabe musician who relies on just a computer and has no real musical talent which is prevalent now. I share the same frustration Chris does with this new fad of using technology instead of actually knowing one’s craft. It’s not just loving the song, its loving the visual accompanying it and how both together speak volumes. I ended up falling asleep around midnight after posting the video. Little did I know, Chris was leaving the world, fading away as I was falling asleep. It was as though his spirit was fading all day and communicating not just with me, but his audience that night of the show in Detroit. None of use were consciously aware, nor do I believe Chris was aware. They say when you really truly care about a person, there will be signs all around you, there will be a feeling within you, an urgency you don’t quite understand trying to speak to you about what’s happening. The wake up call, hurry up, something is going on!

I didn’t want to explain this to my Mom, she and I had seen the film, The Promise together and I had prepared her for Chris’ song. I told her how amazing it was and how proud I was of his opportunity to be involved with creating something about such an important tragedy in history. She became a fan that day in the theatre. We were the only two left as the credits started and Chris’ voice made its debut over the speakers, sweetly entering our ears, we sat there and listened. I held back tears, I didn’t want my Mom to see me cry, just like Thursday at work, I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. I grieved alone. My Mom found out on her own and texted me at work, I confirmed it all, she was upset as well and more upset and confused when I told her how.

On Friday, Light My Way drove me to work and Be Yourself drove me home. It was like lullabies soothing the ride and emotions bouncing inside my stomach and mind. The tears were welling up in my bottom lids. Later, I met up with my best friend and former college roommate for dinner and to say goodbye as she was leaving for a summer theatre job in New York. We discussed how surreal it was to know the people we spent our lives following and inspired by were all slowly dying. It only reminds me to keep moving, to be strong, and continue helping others.

There will be various opinions on Chris’ death, I do not know what he was exactly going through, but I can tell you I understand the darkness and fight it everyday. To know he is free, is how I grow to accept his death. We connect ourselves with people and our selfish attachment can cloud our vision and make us forget the person who had died is the one we need to be concerned for and knowing they are in a place of relief. We may not like it, I certainly do not, the situation is upsetting, but we cannot change what has taken place. We can only learn from these situations and help people in the future to prevent tragedies as this one. This is hard to accept, Chris, his family, and friends had many events to look forward to, but at some point we have to be thankful Chris fulfilled his destiny of giving beauty to the world. He has been called home. We must have peace in knowing Chris is home. We must understand even though Chris is no longer here, his spirit lives on, and he has planted seeds to bloom and grow amongst this world to bring new hope, talent, success, and peace. He can comfort children in a new way, a way so powerful, I believe every child will be guarded by his spirit. There was a beautiful moment later in the day on Thursday when my cousin’s daughter was taken off her G-Tube and told her condition was improving. I can only believe the strength from Chris helped finish this phase of her recovery.

I wish Chris’ wife and children love and healing. They are impacted more than anyone will ever be, they deserve respect as they endure this painful time. I am 100% in support of Vicky’s statements. I do not want to use this time to go into detail, but I’ve been there, I’ve had friends go through it as well, we need to be careful about the things around us and who and what we entrust our mental health with. Take one day at a time, meditate, practice yoga, breath in and out, smile.

You are free Chris, spread your love, goodness, and wings even wider.

Sincerely,
Johanna Falzone, May 20th, 2017

(The drawing I created in Memory of Chris. I had originally planned for him to be part of the next round of paintings, but after his death, felt it couldn’t wait and I needed something that represented him in a new form. There is also a poem I wrote, titled, Sunlight Filled Bloom, due to not having copyright protections yet, I am currently not sharing it at the moment, but will in due time.)

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I will not stray from the truth, 2016 has been a bittersweet year for the United States. As a whole, we have suffered from an outpouring of hatred, political piracy, and deaths of beloved people. While, I could expand upon these issues, I won’t, I would like to focus on the positive, the events making 2016 good.

To start out 2016, I had left 2015 behind with many new paintings and an application submitted to graduate school for the 3rd time. I was burnt out. I began drawing again which has been the most pleasant experience for myself and inspirational. Painting is always a stressful media for me to use, being a perfectionist about my art and knowing with oils, I could easily modify, I would freak myself out over getting everything just right. When I went back to drawing, it forced me to let go of perfection and to work with mistakes. I also got to explore observational ideas as well instead of setting up a stage. This was a much needed transition for me artistically and payed off very well in helping to lead me to the next step. I played pretty low, didn’t participate it shows, just gave myself a break to work and solve artistic problems without putting myself in a strenuous mind set.

I also have been continuing writing poetry, my poetic expression expanded into short story writing. As I have been working on a poetry for the past eight years, I’ve now added a short story manuscript. This seems like a heavy load, but really its therapeutic and a work as I go type of process, not a commitment at the moment. With this, my songwriting has increased, there had been a death in the family of a person who was musical and had encouraged my music. It was unexpected for this person to pass on and came a week after I wrote my first song of 2016 to be recorded on a short demo. Somehow, I think he was passing his musical energy onto me. When these songs come to fruition, they will be dedicated to his memory.

Meanwhile, my cousin gave birth to a cute little boy whom I refer to as my nephew. He has been a joy to be around and watch grow. Talk about one of the happiest babies I have ever known! He smiles, giggles, plays, and now he’s trying to walk. He loves to play with my jewelry, I don’t mind at all. My Aunt Rosa used to let me play with all her breakables when I was a kid and never blinked an eye, with my nephew, I feel the same way. I trust my nephew to handle the jewelry with care and I make sure he knows what he can do with it in a proper way. (Of course he still has to learn boundaries, he’s a good little guy though.)

Over the summer I went to see Weezer, which I may have previously posted about. I got to hang out with our Weezer Fan Club Family. We all enjoyed the show, the guys did an amazing job as usual. What has been so great about being involved with Weezer is the wonderful people I have met and gotten to know. Everyone is friendly and although we all have our agreements and disagreements, it does not get in the way. What I have realized over the past couple years is community is extremely important and it doesn’t matter if they are right next to you or in a totally other state or country, as long as you build bonds with people and can communicate, you will be in a healthy place.

After the show, I had a slated move date to Los Angeles, I was set, I had bags packed, I was just trying to seal a deal on a lease. I couldn’t get anyone to lease a place to me due to not having a job in the state. There were so many obstacles getting in the way, it was to the point I had to go back to my job. This was not the only reason, I needed to keep my health insurance, then my Grandma’s health was threatened and I had to help my family get her back to a good state (She is doing better that ever now!), and then Frida Kahlo also had a hand in keeping me around. As much as I wanted to leave and finally start my new life and career, Big G had other plans, the Insurance provider had other plans, and Frida had her own plan too. I do believe there is a reason for everything and I know these are the reasons. I would have loved to have started my life again, but I guess my work here just was not quite finished. I get to see Frida this coming week for our visit. This was a long time coming and I cannot wait for our visual communication conversation.

Another reason keeping me in town was to make sure I did the best possible work on a poster commission. My good friend and former Screenwriting professor, Lorraine Portman had me create a poster for her comedy short film, Endangered!!! It was my first commission and one that would be at film festivals. Working in collaborating on the design was an awesome experience as Lorraine passed on her ideas and I brought them to life. This is a big deal for me, never did I think I would fulfill a dream of designing a real poster nor think it would get to be at film festivals and promoted online. Ten years ago, if I knew this would happen, my younger self would have been crazy excited! That girl would be proud of what I have gotten to do with Endangered!!!

This year also charged me up politically, my whole life I have been a Feminist. I’ve always been involved, but the unfortunate events have inspired me to expand my voice. In 2017, I plan to embark on artwork centering around people who feel victimized by hatred. I want to visualize them and write their stories to share with the world. I also want to be active in lending my voice to rallies, speeches, any public speaking engagement. I may be a powerful writer, but I am a charged up speaker as well and this passion needs to be channeled to the nation. Also, the plans to relocate to Los Angeles will happen for the sake of my future and health. With this, I would also like to get involved with the Girl Scouts and volunteer with a Troop. My students have inspired me to take action on this long pondered dream. I would share my stories about being a Girl Scout with my students and they would remind me of all the fun and prosperous activities they engaged in. I feel it would be a good group to be involved with again. I’ve also reapplied a 4th time for graduate school, I hope this time they will see I am an excellent pick. If not, I have so many plans, I know I will not be idle and my talents will be going to work for the greater good.

I sincerely hope we will have a good four years to come due to our fighting against the evil raised. Do I fear whats to come? Yes. This is why we retaliate with our votes, our voices, our art, our communities, everything, but peacefully, civilly. We must not be the hate we dislike. Do not turn yourself into a monster to fight the monster. Be a hero/heroine. Be a leader, be a role model, be positive, and support one another. If you see bad things, call it out, do not stand idle and be an enabler. Take back the good of this world and reject bigotry in all of its forms.

Happy New Year to all! There is light amongst the darkness, do not be afraid to walk through. Stay strong, be brave, enjoy the beauty of this world, do not forget it exists, do not believe it has died. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the manipulators.

-Johanna Falzone Dec. 31st, 2016

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After finishing the Miss America Deconstructed paintings, I was pretty much burnt out. I knew where I wanted to go next, but was not sure how to get there. I decided to go back to drawing/illustrating with a focus on people in natural states of sleeping and lounging. Of course I stayed true to my self-portrait nature. I participated in the 5.4 Million and Counting project put together by Chi Nguyen, which is an amazing effort constructing a tallied quilt by women all around the nation to show support for women’s reproductive rights. To see the whole quilt and learn more about it, visit the website, http://5point4million.tumblr.com I also have been returning back to Timmy the Cyclops. Back in June, I included Weezer into the world and had them passed off to the guys by their tour manager at the show I attended. Hopefully those little guys brought some laughs because that’s what the cyclops world traditionally does!

Recently, drawing has been on pause for a special project I have been working on. I am so excited to share it with everyone, but I cannot reveal anything until its finished! But, I can hint that the creation is beyond adorable and hilarious!

This past weekend I hung out in Downtown St.Pete and pretty much ate my way through and photographed. I was looking for new inspiration for the next half of the drawing series I have been working on. I want to incorporate vintage chairs with unique design and textiles to illustrate. Pretty much every antique shop on Central Avenue was visited to find unique chairs for me to photograph, luckily, I got some great shots to work with.

Some who are friends with me or have recently visited my website, may have spotted something new on the Bio page, Los Angeles. Yes, I will be moving out to the Los Angeles area. It’s been a tough process, I’ve been looking at apartments and applying for about five months now. It’s not easy when you are coming from out of state. Hopefully something will come through this month or next, the move has to be made ASAP. So, please keep your fingers crossed for me! This is the perfect time to make this change!

Also, some of you know I am a HUGE Bernie Sanders supporter, still am and I support his decision to back Hillary Clinton. I will be voting for Hillary. We don’t have room for bigotry, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia etc. in this country. I am extremely disgusted by what has come out of the wood work this election year. Now, I knew these people existed, I’m from the South, I’ve lived my life around people who are grossly racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, and just plain ignorant. These people found their puppet and it’s scary. Some of you are probably disgruntled because Sanders did not make it, I’m upset too, but as Bernie said, “No one is more upset than me.” The thing is, do not give up on the political revolution, giving up is being a traitor to what Sanders started. People need to get involved with Government if they want to change it. Voting Third Party in this election is going to increase chances of us having a Hitleresque Dictator for President, so I caution everyone, be careful, keep in mind the severity of this election. While I support Third Party normally, I cannot condone it in this current election. The good thing is, Third Party is going to now be seen as a normal option and the next elections to come, I can guarantee we will see an increased amount of Third Party elected politicians.

Enjoy some images of my recent work below, I’ll post again when the project I am working on is finished! To see all of the work and my process, please follow me on Instagram at doll_legs on Facebook, or my website, www.johannafalzone.com

-Johanna

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