For this week’s installment in the Feature Series, we’re honored to present one of our true inspirations: artist Keenan Hartsten. First off, just know that if you’re open to experiencing something new, this one will touch you. The organics of Keenan’s feature are pure and well cultivated—Reflection and Response really gets moving here! It may take a little bit longer to process the energy, but when it hits it’s sure to activate appropriately. You may find yourself off balance at first as it bumps you off the rhythm of the everyday hustle and bustle – don’t sleep though, cause it pounds a direct message—this one packs a big punch. Independence is at the core of the LIFESTYLE movement and the dude Keenan is definitely putting down his indie grind as he creates new spaces and waves in the world. So sit back, kick aside the stress of the week, put on some chill tunes if you please, and digg on his interview along with photos of his various creative endeavors. This one deserves two green-thumbs-up in approval…enough from us though; enjoy and watch it blossom. Peace.
Reflection and Response is really part of a larger set of processes including absorption/assimilation, digestion, and growth…I feel that to be a well rounded person/artist/liver/lover, you are constantly receiving, receiving, receiving.. especially if you are consciously open to it. I feel like life is there always willing to give, whatever it is that you need to see, hear, think, taste, and ultimately feel…I think that the most interesting thing is the way in which one takes all these seemingly disparate bits and actively responds with whatever is right there, here, now.
– Keenan Hartsten
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
KH: I originally hail from a town in the middle of the state of Oregon named Bend. It was a beautiful place to grow up with an abundance of opportunities to be close to nature… rivers filled with trout, crystal clear lakes, epic mountains, overall a really amazing place to cut one’s teeth. Needing to see new sights and meet new people I moved to San Diego 7 years ago and have worked to make this place feel like home.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
KH: Well, for me Reflection and Response is really part of a larger set of processes including absorption/assimilation, digestion, and growth. I think you could liken it to the act of eating. In order to fuel my body I take in calories through my food consumption. So I’m eating, eating, eating, everyday, all day, chewing, chewing, chewing. Chewing along with saliva, which helps to start digesting the starch in the food, are the first acts of accepting consumable molecules into my body—the first acts of digestion. Once the food is sufficiently chewed, my internal systems start to work by taking those larger molecules and breaking them down into smaller more manageable bits. These manageable bits are then further broken down and ultimately used for their energy potential. I think Reflection and Response are the second and third bits of a trilateral experience of being alive, especially for someone pursuing creative endeavors.
I feel that to be a well rounded person/artist/liver/lover, you are constantly receiving, receiving, receiving.. especially if you are consciously open to it. I feel like life is there always willing to give, whatever it is that you need to see, hear, think, taste, and ultimately feel. For me, the Reflection part of the tertiary equation is that process of digestion; taking these different particles and breaking them down into smaller bits, being present to and appreciating what I have received by letting those things not only come into me but also become one with me. We are given much in life to reflect on and the feedback is always there if I want to look. The Response part of the equation is that process of using what I have taken in and doing something with it. What is interesting for me about Response is that there are all these little bits banging around from all of the time that we are all tapping into. I saw something when I was five, or had a particular experience, only to find that years later in my twenties that experience is still with me and I am responding to it at some level, consciously or not. I think that the most interesting thing is the way in which one takes all these seemingly disparate bits and actively responds with whatever is right there, here, now.
How does your piece When to Water fit in with that definition?
KH: Well, “When to Water” is an installation/exhibition I have up now at my buddy’s coffee shop, the Coffee & Tea Collective. The exhibition is twofold in that I have made an installation on the walls of the space consisting of these floating shelves that accommodate planters which contain all these different variety of plants that work together to create a very crisp, alive essence in the space. The name of the show “When to Water” is very in line with this notion of Reflection and Response. When one is attempting to nurture and take care of a plant, a very important thing to know is when to water. That water is crucial to the energetic functionality of that plant, without it it will eventually wither and die. When you water that plant, the plant is involved in its own version of Reflection and Response: the taking in of that life giving substance to the plant, its cells pulsing with new liquid, and its response in the form of lifting its arms to the sky and driving its roots deeper and further into the soil. The connection between human beings and plants is amazing. There have been countless scientific studies that have pointed to the fact that there is no separation between us and plants; we are both completely sentient beings, and interconnected, affected by our surroundings, in the process of reflection at all times, and responding to all that we are feeling, sensing, etc.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
KH: I’m also currently working on some large private garden commissions. I really love that, helping people live with more aliveness in their lives.. plants and creativity and all.
Too, as part of the exhibition I have currently, “When to Water,” I am throwing a musical gathering and making a crazy handmade instrument to be a part of the event. For the instrument, I have been going to thrift stores buying all kinds of kitchenware/utensils that will be transformed into a percussion instrument. Pots, pans, lids, cookie sheets, silverware, cups, dishes, and utensils are all coming together to form this original percussion instrument. For the gathering I am hosting, I am inviting a bunch of talented musicians to come together and play a percussive set on this instrument, them having never played this instrument before, completely improvised. I am really excited to see how this turns out, the way that all these different pieces sound are amazing.. Wish you could be there to hear!
Besides that, I have a line of limited edition clothing, one off clothing I am making called ffiisshh, which can be found at ffiisshh.com. I am taking retro patterned sweaters and cutting them up and remixing them into one of a kind creations.
Who or what inspires you?
KH: I am inspired by much… I think we live in a pretty wondrous world. I am inspired by the hummingbirds that I have been seeing nearly every day without fail. Wow, those little creatures are magic to me! I am inspired by music, always. I am inspired by the people I encounter each day that just seem to be open to connecting, whether through a smile in passing, a quick conversation, or a heart to heart with a friend, sibling, or parent. I know I have talked a bit about this but I am really inspired by plants, I think they are magical and worth being close friends with.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
KH: That I am proud of what you guys are up to!
Shout out to…?
KH: My mom: Probably first on the list because without her I wouldn’t be half of me.. or me at all in that case!
My dad: Thank you for being a barometer in my life!
My sisters: You always give me room to be but are amazing and supportive.. Thank you!
My roommates: For being great inspiring people to be closely related to.
My Teachers: The many they may be, for helping and encouraging my growth.
Vicken: You’ve been a crystalline example of what a solid man can be in this world.. keep doing your thing and thanks for inviting me into the collective!
Reflection and Response.