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Richard 's Story > Chapters > Prague Story

Prague Story 1995-96/2003 

 
Date Range: 03/03/1995 To 03/03/2003   Comments: 5 Views: 17591
Attachments: Yes [3 Images,2 Audio]    

 

  

 

 


The Prague Story


When a person leaves their homeland for an uncertain period and takes up residency abroad, either by life change, career or by seeking alternatives by residing in a foreign land, there is change that comes to pass. The realization of ways of doing things, in many ways, shapes and forms, may give incite. Change is always inevitable as with viewpoint. The Prague Story is a story of change. It is true to life or perhaps in metaphor to many incidences that have occurred in my life during my residence in Central Europe. Names and precise events may have been changed but basic concepts are kept unchanged. I lived in Prague and Czech Republic for 7 years...There are many such stories to write of my life in the Czech Republic. Its hard to realize such a tremendous undertaking as just this abbreviated essay of my time.


Arriving in the Netherlands I rested for a time in Amsterdam to cure myself from jet lag, the often awesome travel- burden of Americans that usually takes a week or two to cure.

From Schripol I took the train in from the airport and was greeted by Kim, a wonderful young lady I had met the year before in London. She had invited me to stay in Amsterdam and had arranged a room at her apartment for a couple of days as well as a Pension along the canal where I could relax and meet with some associates that were preparing a possibility for an exhibit.

It was an wonderful visit. During the day we would go and see the major museums and remark about Rembrandt or Van Gogh and then visit the smaller galleries along the sides of the main square only to step into a small bistro midday or in the evening to partake in the local acts. I became rather comfortable with Kim and the walks and strolls through the city and park, remembering well setting up my studio easel to paint outdoors on several occasions during my visit. And of course I was encouraged to take my pieces in for exhibition as Kim was known throughout the local art scene as something of a connoisseur. I think she treated me to just about everything and introduced me to a small dinner club where I took the stage for two nights in a classical mini concert..ordering anything I wanted on the menu as my reward. People were genuine and I was offered more than once to stay in Amsterdam during my visit. On one such occasion we went to the Dusty Bricker Hause to meet some of her colleagues and soon departed to a club where we talked travels for the course of an evening. I had set myself to go to St. Petersburg and had a ticket in hand for my departure in several days. Over the course of an evening I was somehow dissuaded by the travel and my imagination was set towards...Prague. Why Prague when I was hoping to travel to St. Petersburg? I even had a lady who was going to set me in a position immediately upon my arrival there to teach English at some small school and later travel to Latvia (a days or so travel from St. Petersburg by train), where her friend offered me her house to live and stay as long as suitable...free of charge for painting lessons. I had been to Latvia and Estonia but for a short time back in 1980. It had changed over the course of time and I was assured it was much better now. Images of cold and dark Soviet State gave way to new parameters for many. A new spring was beginning, optimism at its core. My memories of our meeting and a piece of paper listing my contacts were at hand in my travel case. Of course it was the last year when I traveled through to London that all of these things were set up. London was a setting, Oxford Circus at night and Piccadilly where I met Russians and Latvians who were encouraging and most hospitable with their invitations for the next years travels. I had made plans...but there was a sudden and undeliberate shift of destinations that came to pass in a matter of hours like it was predestined. Somehow I found myself changing my itinerary. How would all of this pan out? Russia and Latvia were somehow set-up for my travel and Prague had just been something of an illusion...but memory did have its way of travel long ago and interest in returning. I stayed awake the night talking and re-planning my tour, first to stay in Prague and then to see how this would come to pass for the future. (I could always go to Russia...so it seemed) I changed my ticket very quickly the next day and was on my way.

What was initially a route to the far eastern part of Europe when my interests waned upon my arrival in Prague (Czech Republic), how the course of fate can be formed in one night. It was during the late summer and it was very warm. I said goodby to Kim and was on my way two days later on Slaftwagen (Sleep Wagon). The first class trains air conditioner had been broken and the windows were wide open as we passed through Germany via Dresden. The air was sticky and foreigners not used to the rough and ready seemed full of complaints. One British lady was trying to demand a refund and another Eastern European was trying to calm her. An argument broke out over surcharges on the train and she finally broke free into insults and demands for western standards. Some back packers stood in the isles and fixed and arranged their gear. The train was crowded from Plzen on up, and I sat there with remembered from long ago of train trips in Eastern Europe and how thing had changed out on the landscape now moving before my eyes. There were lots of memories of the travels previous, of the former Czechoslovakia, Poland and the DDR. I remembered too my travels in Russia by train. The landscape before me echoed my memories some time ago before it was free to travel here, before the restrictions were lifted, when the German and Eastern European officers would march up and down the isles of the train demanding visas and passports and doing the “control” routine that seemed itself from the 1930's.


I arrived at Halvni Nadrazi (Main Station in Prague) after a brief change in some Czech town taking a long route somewhere. The station was crowded and not a word of English was spoken. Half modern architecture and dusty halls Halvni Nadrazi seemed to speak of some modern painting that was left to be cleaned, People were meandering everywhere and one watched their bags closely. I carried two. One filled with paintings and one for my belongings. Both were large and heavy. Both were like brothers it seemed as I myself seemed the appearance of a solo traveler coming and going, here and their on frontiers from West to East and North to South.

Prague

This was my initial trip to Czech. Somehow some memories returned to me from travels in the way back machine of my mind. I had traveled to Prague before on route to Poland in the 1980's, this I remember. It was midnight and we had to change trains and take a car across town in the middle of the night for the international sleep wagon,"Wagon Lit", "Schlaftwagen" to Krakow...aka the Fredrick Chopin. At that time I had figured I would return to Prague and retain these memories for my life. Prague was magic even long ago, and now I had returned...on a dream from long ago guided to me by one score I had in my possession that I had practiced over the course of many years on piano, "The Prague Concerto" Op 99 by Dimtry Kabalevsky. From the artist...this was perhaps a subliminal inspiration, Prague-Praha, the music and the appetite for culture, an old and driven culture that was hard and at the same time soft to the advent of the modern age.
Praha, the land of Bohemia, the artists Alphonse Mucha and writers Kafka and many others. History was here, not where I had come from. Each stone had a human story upon it as the name Praha meant "threshold" or a "portal". This was a thousand old city and one of hundreds of legends and ghosts. It was a city of dreams and spires as well as a darkness so profound that the legend of Faust could be written easily from the parapets that surrounded the old town square, the clock drifting time at bay in a procession of life upon life whom this clock face encountered.
I would return the next year after being drawn back to the Czech Republic for many more months that would turn into years.


I met a fellow who let rooms at some hotel. He was a gregarious fellow with an rather animated sense of doing business. “Five Star Hotel...”Grand Europa”...Best Price for you!”

I stayed in the Hotel Grand Europa- (Pictured Above) In a studio off the Mezzanine floor for many months...


So needless to say I took up the offer as I was tired. He was a fellow who asked my business and came across with much inquiry. “Ah the arts!” he expressed. “ You might be interested that they are filming an American film at the Europa..this is why I give you a special price...” Oh I took it all in an envelope of experiences at that point. Sure enough they were making a film then at the Europa. This was a grand old hotel filled with nostalgia and ornament. They had a self-styled restaurant that was patterned after the “Titanic” downstairs...assured all original since the hotel was one of the most splendid in Prague for many years in old times. There were long wires and scaffolds and cords as well as cast and camera about the hotel. I kind of rolled my eyes. Oh my gosh...I thought to myself...Hollywood is here and with it some “noise” also. I didn't know until later that they were filming the first in a series of Mission Impossible at the Europa at that time. My room was large and open yet almost sterile with little plaster sconces that still remained from the Victorian era which still remained. Huge old puffy chairs were adorning the sitting rooms as well as ornamented curtains from the former Soviet era. There were no televisions and only a small radio which didn't really work...piped music that was sent in to each room over two selections of channels. I changed from upstairs to downstairs in the next week. What seemed like a suite became a large multifaceted room, and vice versa only to find my domain down one long corridor taking a left...down another corridor and another left and there was my resting point in Studio 10. The hotel was mostly closed because of all the movie equipment that had moved in. I came in contact with some of the Americans who worked on the set and were staying at the Europa. Perhaps they had some work I thought to myself as some sort of extra, and so it came to pass...nothing big mind you but moving around, side shots and silhouettes if needed, over a course of two days as an extra with other extras on the sets around Prague. “Could I put this in my portfolio?” I said to myself. I had done this before and it just seemed always amidst the list of things done during the course of my life...rather things forgotten, like being on the sets in Tucson, New York or Hawaii, when I lived there for Magnum PI and Bay Watch etc etc. I think what was made of it was literally nothing in the final analysis...maybe a few dollars for extra work, hardly claiming a name on credits or anything but the briefest form of a contract with my name, (show up here...) and walking back and forth etc etc. (I think all extras have found themselves in this particular category of unknown actors or players) In Prague it was with a little agency who gathered extras and a few koruna (Czech Currency). I had heard that Leon Tolstoy (the writer) as well as other notables once did this at one time as well as numerous others. Sometimes being an extra was a little source of income, and every little bit helped in the final analysis. My introduction to Czech was initially very interesting.
(Music Chapter as insert)

During the days that there wasn't anything I began to scout the city for possibilities to use my talents. I was an artist after all...a painter who had some background as well as an able pianist, and Prague was blossoming in this fashion of new culture from all angles. I used to dress up in a three piece suit and go around the city with my portfolio and on any given day meet a variety of people. Often I would come back to my room and start working at some new projects in painting and drawing. The room, my studio began to be cluttered with sketchbooks, small paintings and larger works that I had hoped to Market*


 (Perhaps I should make things clear at this point. I don't think there is ever a clear market for "Fine Art". There only has been this supposed market with the dealers who bring the wealth of "transfer" in the product of art. The artist, and if I can say "true artist" remains somewhat of an "in-between" a world of Philosophy and trying to reach a certain 5% of the population by the venue of this personal "Artistic Philosophy" often in the way a poet or writer does. It is by the venues of exhibits and showings that he possibly can reach an audience. European tradition is somewhat immersed in traditions of certain values of what art is, or is not, on different levels. One can market decorator art, or tourist oriented art, but this is not the type of work I have ever been concerned with...although there have been some pot-boilers that I have done that suit most of the average tastes. So when I refer to "Market" in this condition, I generally mean attempting to get it out to the widest possible aesthete audience possible. As a foreigner in any country, or often a person who is not from a particular home -town, set location or state, etc one can find contrasts in the way people view ways of life as well as ways of culture that are often vastly different to their native ways of perception or doing things. One soon learns one is a "foreigner"  when residing abroad...and things often don't work the same ways as we are used to. It is often good to be very flexible as this is a way one can live, survive and learn about new environments and countries.
This is true with art as it is with business and anything that has to do with life when living in a foreign land. One can be almost guaranteed that the way of life will be 175% different than one is used to, perhaps more!)
To the artist-traveler who wanders into another land in order to peddle his wares whatever they may be..be prepared for change of ones notions, perceptions,ideas and imagination. Be prepared to be introduced to the culture and history. Have an open mind. And be prepared for a battle, every single hour, every single day to advance yourself in the language, culture and knowledge. It will not be easy. This word "easy" will disappear from your vocabulary quite simply. And be prepared for sudden turns, steep precipitous cliffs that one may encounter (as a metaphor) And above all be prepared to meet some "very fine talent"..it will be around you, if not directly in person, on every museum wall and notch, or somehow involved in with a conversation and debate which is inescapable. Above all, learn from this, let it boil in your soul and learn from this.

Prague was inspiring at this level. Who wouldn't want to live in such a beautiful city with amazing attractions and scenery? Beauty at a very sublime level was always surrounding one as well as intrigue. Some would say a visit to Prague was an ideal vacation. I spent seven years from my first taste of Prague until 2003, a journey turned into a residence. To live in Prague was my mission over the next months. I was not a tourist and really I didn’t have any interest in tour events...but rather self guided from all aspects. As soon as I arrived in Prague I began to know every corner from the Old Town of Starometska to the surrounding parts of Prague and the adjacent vicinity. There would be the long lines of tourists at every season. In fall and summer it was the Italians and Germans who would come here to sport a vacation. The Poles and other Eastern Europeans would collect at other times of the year, their guides raising the umbrella and guiding them around the village for each attraction to be explained. Some didn’t like Prague. To visit for a couple of days or even a week was a vast cry from actually living in Czech. For whatever reason I met some where not sports for travel. Many westerners from other parts of Europe often couldn’t understand the local customs and methods, ways of living of the Czech people. It was a study all in its own. Others would say, its different," I would like to visit perhaps but only for a while...end of story". Still others would remain silent on the issue. Westerners were often jaded in their tastes preferring not to venture out of the vicinity of the hotels where they were residents. Americans sometimes were very difficult to convince that this was not Eastern Europe, but a new Europe that was developing and growing. I was like a child that was brought into a living and breathing museum, a city that spoke of a thousand years of history. Only the extremely left brained could not be inspired and even haunted by the surroundings. As an artist every street had something to say, and every stone seemed to be a testament of something past that was brought into the present. A changing wold was on all peoples minds. On the peoples faces there was character, the living breathing example of what change had brought forth in peoples lives. History was being made as I walked the streets, and every step a new history was made. I met people. Sometimes they smiled, other times they looked at me as a stranger or scoffed at yet another American trying to live in Prague. There were deeply etched faces of the people who had seen things that most of us rather not, and the faces that were left untouched by the changing events in history. There was pessimism and reserved optimism in these faces. Many had questions about the new world that they were encountering. Some were happy, others rather disturbed at the change that was quickly coming. Oh, the comments I had heard! And rejoices of many that there was "freedom" finally to be found! Prague is a city of vast contrasts and many paradoxes. It is a deep city yet sometimes quite playful in an unusual sense of innocence. The people are transparent in their emotions and this often quite obvious. One may hear "how things are", as a matter of reference. When you meet true friends they will be true most of the time, as well as adversaries. Moreover this is a city of beauty in a true sense of the word. One has to look beyond the flashing lights of the negative influences. Unfortunately these are posted in every city with analogies to casinos, non-stops clubs, and suggestive chasms of culture. One can look to the museums and parks, the great squares and the vast gardens for what is really true about Prague. Forget the vendors and little trinkets and t-shirts. Forget the money-changers. One can get swept up into many corners that are not what the real Prague is about. There are some of the greatest symphonies here as well as galleries. One can see plays and operas and performances by the finest players as well as others. When I moved to Prague I was only aware of three symphony orchestras...and pretty soon I realized that there were many many more under different names. I thought that their were only several galleries, but didn't notice the gigantic collections that were often hidden from view of artists that I had never heard of such as Hollar and ____. There was always something to paint. If one is not inspired to at least buy a sketchbook upon landing in Prague one has missed the meaning. Of course the rest of Central Europe would fill one of these books as well as a dozen more. The city is beautiful and filled with this particular medieval architecture which absolutely made one close to home with culture and visualizations. I took my easel out on Charles Bridge and to the various parks in Prague. Every day there was the consequence of art, and work that was beyond the words of inspiration. Pretty soon my room at the Hotel Grand Europa became my studio and larger works were being made as well as hundreds of studies for new ideas. My room was so filled with art after two months I had a knock at the door by the chambermaid. “So your an artist I see...” she replied. I had works all the way up from the floor to the ceiling. The chambermaid had an unusual background too. Fall of regimes or dramatic changes of economics have their pitfalls. Depressions and economic disasters can change peoples lives adversely. The rich become poor and the world they once knew suddenly and irrevocably shift. Communism, and the Eastern Bloc fell, and with this fall there was a disaster of very great social-economic proportions. In the west we often see this as the “Good” replacing the “Bad”, and for many this was the case. To talk to the people who were affected a totally new viewpoint sometimes comes to pass. A shifting world, and shifting ideologies changed lives forever.

Since the fall of the wall between East and West there were many discharged from jobs, posts and work that was largely substantiated from the steady state of the world that existed (then). Many of these people sought positions in other countries besides their homeland partially because their old jobs or positions did not exist anymore...as the state did not exist anymore. This was the case for Central Europe and the Russians. This lady Marie, was a fashionable woman in her day, but now a mere chambermaid that her pride did not still accept. She would talk in a way that was educated to a different level than one would expect. Her manners were evident. The position that she took was to escape the hardship of what was happening back home in Russia. She had moved to Czech for her safety as well as the safety of her brother who lost most of his earnings from some investments with the Polit Beaureau. Yes, there were investments made in the former Soviet Union. We don’t quite understand this as we would in the west. There were investors as well as stock markets and undercurrents of people who owned property..or rather managed the state organizations that owned the investments for which they made money. It was quite different than we can assume in many respects. At one point there was a kind of State sponsorship capitalism that was kind of the economic kinky version of capitalism-State Sponsored-and of course “Communist”. Maria would come by the “studio” and often just sit and talk in broken English about the old days. She showed me photographs from years ago (1960's-80's) She had been the wife of a very important Soviet State representative and those photos were very revealing as to her status in the former world. She had stories of life then and life now. There was a vast difference. Halls of Gold, Pillars of Marble and Luxurious State Apartments, with “State Sponsored” chauffeurs were all a part of it just as we could possibly imagine these things in America. After the wall came down..they lost everything in the way of status although her ex-husband still had some clout in the new Russia under Boris Yeltsin. When things drifted they went fast. State organizations disbanded and were bought out by the equivalent of a so called capitalistic firm. On the other hand the somewhat palatial apartment that she had in Moscow was gone as well as the status. Status in the former USSR was the equivalent of what we can imagine as the directors of major corporations deserve here. Somehow though it “looked” as if it were for the benefit of the proletariat. She and her two boys in their 20's and early 30's were off to different lands to try to live and rebuild their lives and new circumstances. Maria lived in a small apartment in Zizkov. I visited her several times and she always had stories to tell me on each visit. Sometimes I would come to her house for tea and there would be an artist or writer from Russia to meet with. Sometimes our meetings were in the Old Town-Starometric in Prague for coffee and biscuits. Despite the concept of poor artists, writers and intellectuals from the East, it was always astounding how they would go to no ends to make someone comfortable. Russians often didn’t spare a dime if it were to bring comfort to their friends at a meeting, or just for conversions of interest. Sometimes it was Dutch-Treat. In the meetings of artists from other country’s of the East I was always greeted with civility. On several occasions I was rather astounded at the works these artists put forth. There was astounding talent in Prague from the East at that time. On occasions it was tempting to be jealous that these people had extreme gifts...rather than being just mere artists as we could imagine in the west. Their names were somehow not always recognized -famous-and they were now in Prague trying to pull up their careers by exhibiting and or selling their work at the Russian Cultural Center or a dozen other venues in which artists could exhibit at that time. Maria was conscious and persistent From a foreigners perspective I began to be a little overwhelmed when Maria would bring up a box of objects for me to borrow. She began bringing books for me on Eastern European art as well as books in English to read. These were not just well known books or paperbacks but recognized masters- Hemingway, Dostoevsky and Gogol etc. The stack began to be rather big. As the pile of books began to obscure one portion of the room my paintings were growing exponentially in another part of the studio. One thing is for sure...I had plenty of time to work at my art. Unfortunately there was no television to watch except for in an anti room that provided television for the guests...and the radio was not very interesting.

I had ample time to work during the day and nights at my art but I wanted the resource to broaden my horizons of some exhibits in Prague. I had also pondered some change in living conditions to provide for a larger and more substantial studio in Prague. I was immediately entertained by a dozen possibilities. Studios were available in Starometska, Hradcanska, Zizkov and right adjacent to Wenseslas square in some large and somewhat rustic lofts with gigantic wood beams and skylights. There were many “Eureka Moments” during my early months in Prague. I was in a cultural city with cultural people from all parts of Central Europe actually willing to help..and it was for friendship.

I was amazed at peoples ethics..and once purely understood this began to sink into my head. On several of my early business ventures in Prague I enlisted services and people to assist me in finding what needed to be found. I was referenced back and forth-upside-and down. If it were the new agencies there would be a fee, and often a fee that was not too delightful. People were helping. The Czechs and others that I met from Central Europe were almost delighted to give out help and all without a fee or commission. Coming from America this was almost unheard of! Of course there were opposite conditions that were...let me say dizzying and quite difficult...those private wheeler-dealers that would work on the in between levels. (I had my fill of those...and the in between-in-between)

The days and weeks moved on and very-very quickly I was able to move about Prague as though it was my homeland. I mapped out in my mind the old town. I knew every store, and every shortcut between Starometska and the other parts of the town. I was meeting people- good gallery owners and those who were on the sly (up again- and out within minute operations) I suppose Prague was growing exponentially in these days. On each trip back to Prague there were people who were still in operation, and their galleries or operations growing. The other was obvious too. There were many places that were up and running one second and out for a change the next. Clothing stores and boutiques often were lasting 4 months and then replaced by a western chain of card shops. Some places were stables. Others were not. Galleries would go in...and come out and this was the same for many places. The longest standing places were those that had been there for years and did not necessarily have the “gloss” of the new western attitude. The old book shops and antiquariats were a perfect example. Some would boast private exhibits of rare art, at the invitation of the owners. Largely the entire art world that I had known growing up was quite different here. Prague was a small town and small reference as far as a galleries and exhibits went, but it was growing quickly.


One day about two weeks into my first trip to Prague I wandered in to a gallery right off Wenseslas Square. It was not a big gallery but had a host of intentional work from artists from Ukraine, Bulgaria,Russia, Poland etc. It was all very well crafted work and not the type that one would ordinarily see in Prague (not tourist art) The director came up to me and asked where I was from. I told him the USA and he asked if I was an artist because of the intensity in which I was viewing each work. He gave me backgrounds on each of his artists and told me of the current conditions of art in Central Europe. Soon our conversations grew more intense as to history of art in Czech and the East as well as the transformations that had been through Prague in the recent years and historically. He was a resource that had a sense of history and the clarity of judgment of what good art was and what it needed. In our conversations I found out that he was an arts promoter in the former Czech Arts Cultural Agency (formerly a division of Goskoncert- organizing events)and also worked with musicians and theater people. He mentioned names of people in the arts who were legends in the East who we hardly heard and whom he knew personally as an agent. He spoke with authority as to how things are and a somewhat romantic notion as to how he would have liked to see them become once more. “I make artists money by the sales and representation of their work” he spouted. “I am the premier American capitalist in Czech Style” he boasted and throw up his thumbs with an affirmative sureness to his manner, his eyes focused forward. He was definitely an very commanding persona in his manner and it was not long before he saw my work and was soon to provide an opportunity of collective shows (exhibitions) with other artists in his shows in Czech Republic and other countries. “I make International business in art” he would remark in a broken accent. His terms were reasonable and he gave each of his artists a sense of assurance that their work would be seen in Czech. I saw his big banner “International Exhibition Here” across the front of his small gallery. Once a month he would bring his truck and trailer up to his gallery and load works aboard in boxes to send them for exhibits to other communities, towns and cities as far away as Poland Slovakia and Austria. He had a schedule worked out for exhibitions in communities that would last 3 days to a week per town and a list of cultural centers, Kulturni Dum, or other places where arts events occurred. In American terms these kind of shows would be called "traveling exhibits". However in Central Europe during this time there were several people who had similar organizations. Some were arts managers of big concerns or state authorized cultural agencies, (Ostriech or Austrian Cultural House, German or Russian Agencies or some supported by other national organizations, even the American Cultural Center) that sponsored gallery events or troupes in different parts of Central Europe. During the mid/late 1990's Prague was very much alive in a feeling of change of culture. Sovoda knew that these exhibition tours could make him some money because they were a need from the artists standpoint as well as the places that wished to stimulate a sense of culture in their area, tourism etc. "It pays only a very little, but I'm satisfied with the result" he would say. This was his occupation now. He had a long trailer that he moved behind an old Russian truck. His setup was laborious as he commented. In the spring and summer he would cover Czech and Austria and perhaps have a couple of shows in Germany. In the fall it was Poland and Slovakia. At first I couldn't believe that anyone would have this broad a perspective, to bring arts to smaller communities and cities that sometimes would be off the cultural map, but sure enough, as soon as I signed with him 10 representative artworks were on their way to different cities in small exhibitions or “salons” as he so archaic put it to post the work so people could see it “Exhibition Here” from Dresden to Vienna as well as north to Poland and Slovakia. His list of cities and towns were long as well as the galleries he had that would represent his exhibits. He organized private viewings of artwork too and arranged solo exhibits if the case may be. I think his list of artist was as many as 40 to 50 exhibitors on occasions from most of Europe, but very few if any from the United States. Sovoda would often comment that American artists would come to Prague but not stay or exhibit, and usually, if they did exhibits it would be at American owned establishments or nightclubs where no other "foreigners" would be or pay allot of money (and I mean a lot of money) for exhibits at established viewing galleries. "Now I'm encased in Russian and Bulgarian Artists" he would declare.

The Piano

On one occasion I noticed he had a grand piano in the back of his gallery. I had the use of a gallery piano in the Zal or the Salon of the Hotel Europa when needed. But this was infrequent and had a heavy door and cloak over the piano which resisted the sound coming from it to disturb the other guest s of the hotel. I was so intrigued about this particular piano that Sovoda had in the back of his gallery. (I think it was on the second meeting with Sovoda) He had it covered with a thick richly ornamented, brightly colored cloth of Bulgarian Origin. I commented on the instrument and he gave me a brief history of the Petra that graced the back corner of the gallery. It used to be at the National Opera House he said, and then it was cross' the street at the......where many pianists played it very well. With a Germanic glare in his eye he cautioned me not to play if I couldn't play, and slowly lifted the lid as if a prized possession (which it was) He asked if I played and began to remove the ornamented embellished cover to the early 20th century concert grand which seemed to be in perfect tune but heavy in action. I played for him some Liszt, being light on the action. He commented about a "pianoforte" to be played and not caressed or teased, "Into it!" he shouted..you play!. I began with the Prelude #1 of the Transcendental Eludes of Franz Liszt and fell off a few notes and continued onto some work by Chopin. He seemed very impressed and we sat down and talked music for what seemed to be hours in broken English. He was interested that my father was a pianist. I handed him a recording. He knew the orchestra but couldn't and wouldn't be analogous to knowing names of performers. "We have a lot of pianists in Prague" he assured me"and many are as good as the ones you call great in New York", he resounded in an austere leveling of authority. (After he heard my father play, he was very impressed at the album, especially at the cover I had designed) He remarked that I could play quite well and that he could set some performances for me if I wanted at galleries, small theaters, churches and even with chamber orchestra (small orchestra) if I was interested. We talked about performers such as Rudolf Furkusny and the Russian Pianists (Gilels, Berman and others whom he personally knew years ago as he arranged concerts for them in Czechoslovakia during the past regime) He knew several places where I could play and practice giving me resources to play as the case may present itself. “You play classical...not Jazz?” he asked. Sovoda had comment about the current culture and would constantly in a nostalgic sense take me back to a time when there were classical concerts given at least 10 times per day, looking back at times in a nostalgic sense. “Of course there are not those venues today...he remarked but there are still some if you look..” he remarked. He was not very impressed at Jazz and current day music. He made a phone call for me to Budapest Hungary on one occasion and referenced another person (conductor) in Nitra and Poprad Tatry as well as Bratislava Slovakia. “You go down there...I make arrangements” he concluded in a commanding tone...”But first of all you must practice...I make arrangements from there” he boasted. I went to work with an old score of Mendelssohn G Minor Piano concerto in G minor and re-learned all three movements. I practiced at the arts school near Charles Bridge on a good upright piano that was left unused and by reference I could have access to...that basement. In two weeks come back and play this for me as well as “this Liszt Piece”. He pulled out some old music of the Liszt “Naples and Venezia” that he wanted me to play. I went to work at it practicing several hours during nights as well as during the day when I could. The rest of the time I did my art and was trying to get my name around. I auditioned the following week at a small hall near Starometska which was used as a rehearsal room. The words mentioned “Dobre” but not too fast! Apparently I had taken such a tremendous tempo during my audition that some strings flew and a hammer bounced off its pinning. He looked at me with piercing intensive eyes...we have some work to do regarding getting you some concerts. I soon went to various communities to meet different associates of Sovoda and finally went south to Hungary and Slovakia to meet certain personages for possibilities of concerts in the future as well as follow a part of Sovoda exhibition circuit, which by the end of a year..I had a stack of train tickets 1 inch and ½ thick. (Believe it or not)

Slovakia

I went to Bratislava, Nitra and Poprad Tatry on a quest. During my tour I presented my art and music. I played several engagements along a two week period in hotels and small halls and continued on to Budapest where I played at a small auditorium in Buda. The audiences were quite small for these concerts but enthusiastic in a reserved way, since my name was not really known and communications were difficult especially when I reached Hungary. I traveled all the way up to Debracen on the Russian border and back to Buda-Pest this time appearing in Pest for yet another little concert. I returned to Prague exhausted. Soon I was off to Poland and Germany and return. Listening back I was quite good, but there was always that sense of reserve that to make this (Piano Performance) a career here was indeed going to take allot out of me, more than could be mustered with my art and possible teaching venues ahead of me. I had the same problem as my father used to remark at one point. I would play so fast as to be out of control, but the works were brilliant and few notes were missed. I did a string of incidental concerts throughout the region with little or no formal press except for the date and the time some concert was to happen at a small regional concert hall or hotel. During my stay in Czech (1996-2003) I did many of the small concert- group concert appearances, playing various pieces. My name never grew very much above the pieces that were played and some of these pieces were still unknown to the audiences who preferred Mozart rather than Prokofiev or Beethoven rather than Bartok. It grew tiring however. In 1998 after group of concerts all of a sudden my hands went stiff and numb, to the point where I clawed the keys. I never knew what was a matter as this lasted a month and would periodically effect me. So in the best part, I was no competition for another pianist, in the least part I had to scale back on my vision of continuing these performances. I saw a neurologist about it and he had worried whether I had had some type of seizure or perhaps some virus that was effecting me. After 2000 I usually just played for myself and pursued this more as a hobby than anything else doing home recordings as the time passed and when I felt good. To this day I play Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Moskowski and the many other composers which I am familiar with as well as compose on my own.
(The Music Story insert)


Prague Story Contagious...


I went away to continue my tour to England where I had another appearance and off on my round the world tour to return the next year to Prague mid summer of 1997.


There is a Legend from long ago: If you come to Prague she will play on your mind till you return...if she loves you, she will love you, and as an elderly lady she will beacon and it will be a life long affair of memory...”

I remembered one winter in Prague at the hotel Europa I got a flu so terrible that It made me think if I would live or not. I sat there in the hotel alone and shivering. My faith was in the days ahead that they would be fulfilling too. I remember the dank draft from those tall windows and having to open them because the steam heat was to dreadful in itself...and I remember calming myself and knowing tomorrow was indeed another chance and another dream ready to be conquered..


My mind is still in Prague, the ghost of Prague is always there...the artist relays in 2010.


And so the next year I returned in mid-summer and stayed again at the Hotel Europa. Things began to pick up quite quickly. I prepared my studio and began working out paintings in a steady stream for galleries and shows in Czech as well as other places when they would occur as well as writing on my PhD Dissertation Research again. Since I had begun this project in September of 1993 I was looking for some closure. I had been continually writing and re-writing the documents for research as well as submitting them for the proper “check” My board gave me great latitude with the research and, checking my research periodically (via 2 day posts, telephone, and now...email) gave me as much of a time limit that was needed to pull together the final articles. I was given references in Prague to the Central European University, as a possible adjunct for a continuation through their standing programs.

There was a confab one evening about the status of their degrees and my applicable research. Soon enough indeed Central European University closed operations in Prague and moved to Budapest. I often went back and forth from reference to reference at the different facilities in Prague to gather research...on my new document...a revived version of my Dissertation on Color. Of course closure was inevitable. I already had the MFA degree...and this was a kind of attenuated document that I was specializing in for the research on a Phd. This had been a long and often bureaucratic task. For each section written, there had to be approval, if not by one, by three often adjunct readers. For every section divided I had to do more research. This had been now some 3 years since I began. Stacked were books and documents in the large case that I dragged with me. Continual were at least 100 pages of script and subscript towards the final product. Off went the letters to support professors in the United States, and often replies were made for contacts in Central Europe. Both of these constituted a great deal of time sometimes from the break of day until the late hours of the evening. Of course my schedule was as such. In the morning I would work at my artwork, and the afternoon-until late evening work on the dissertation, and then go to the dungeon to practice or back late to the hotel to do some artwork.

Sometimes I would find myself on the internet doing research or going to the Clementinium library or a rehearse a contact I had made in music or art. It was a busy life. I was piled high with papers in my room, mostly put in hard books which were easily stored. Some evenings I tried to make for myself for trying to find contacts, making lists or as the case would be using the telephone (difficult sometimes due to the phone system). At least three times a week, sometimes four I would make visits to several place where I knew important people would go. There was the Continental Hotel, or various places that had a high caliber of clientele. "These people might help me, I thought to myself" in getting the proper work teaching, or at least teaching English in some venue- that I had finally come to terms with- that would provide enough income to live in Prague. So I would sometimes get suited and go to the Continental or the Ambassador Hotel where I knew some important people would be. I would carry with me a little portfolio, journal and sketchbook (if they needed to see my work) My agent Sovoda would sometimes tell me to go to certain meetings that were held by the Prague artists, if he knew where these were being held in some outskirt pub or in the closed domains of the Center of Prague. It was interesting initially to note that in Prague you wouldn’t often see the big fanfare of signs or displays (that we commonly do in the west) for meetings of artists. It was low profile- in fact-extremely low profile. (The art world in Prague is different than New York or the many other cities that I had lived. This was most obvious. Many artists would stay in their studios only to come out at night to visit selected taverns or clubs, coffee houses. Once in a while there would be meetings between Russian, Bulgarian or Czech artists at selected locations. Once in a while there would be a lecture given or symposium at the University (Primarily in Czech and not necessarily in English...which one would be interested to attend to perhaps make contacts). The Prague artists would keep to themselves, knowing people around them, and have a keen remembrance of events and times when they...could not meet in public. Ironically this was interesting. When I first arrived in Prague I searched high and low to meet artists. Where were they? Communism had done its business of pushing intellectuals underground for the most part. Many of these extremely talented individuals, many older artists who knew what it was about, would mention this in passing...well it was still the same, somewhat underground. I could tell stories that would curl western eyebrows, of things that I had heard of the despotism that occurred during the communist years in Prague. It apparently would seem that this was not the case...by some, but was still...deeply entrenched within the mindset of some artists, writers, intellectuals, many of Jewish origin. In the firs two years I learned a great deal of what sheer despotism was and how life was somehow tolerated during those former years of deeply entrenched minds who stay out of sight because of the "Police", and moreover.."The Cultural Police". Surely we could not envision a culture so repressed as to what could be painted, or printed and even spoken of in public. During the communist regime all was vetted and even the names were placed, "those for" or "those against" in any cultural marketplace. I learned about document "99" and the change of order in the country. Still, as of 1995 some intellectuals were scared literally spittless of being exhibited, publicized or announced in public. Why? One may ask..in a world that was now free. Czech Republic was free, but there were little narrow rivulets that were around that one could feel, that were the "Cultural Control", moreover a natural evolution to "Economic Control". I guess this was beneficial to have taxes paid through various sources of sales of artwork or crafts. A certain paper called the Zivnotenska Liszta was needed for most events to go forth, that or some sort of other connection.

Charles University was the Prague University. The history of this University could make one think intensely. It was formed in 1342 during the reign of Charles the IV of the Holy Roman Empire. Even as a University it had hardly ever seen a break in activity only perhaps a change in name from various times. Among the Alumni at Charles University were most of the people who made the 19th and 20th century intellectual culture. We could see a world at this University from Tycho Brahe to Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, just to name a few among the many who came here to study, teach or do research. It had been known as the oldest 'German University' among many descriptions and Charles was still active even though the dramatic shifts of culture had occurred one could find the best of the best still coming to lecture through many venues. Of course it is difficult to determine the 'best of the best' as we know it in America. Charles University was a completely different kind of University that was not based on student output for revenue, but on the simple philosophy of teaching students at the University a complete and broad ranged program that would consist of a world view of subject matter.

(See Charles University)

There were many programs that worked under the same auspices of teaching (pedagogy) during this time. The school called “Central European University” had offices and promoted lectures in Prague as well as promoted its programs. (Later Central European University would move to Budapest Hungary)

There were programs from NYU New York University, Columbia University and many Universities in the US that would have satellite programs in Prague making this a mecca for inquiry, research, business and scientific and technological research (They had been one of the preeminent universities in Europe even in the Soviet era and had many top scientists who still taught here). So there was allot going on as well as cultural programs to be a part of. Every night there was some sort of event taking place from experimental theater to experimental film or lectures on quantum physics or accounting if one wanted to attend these. Concerts too were held every night across the city during this time. (Just at the tourist information booth they had 20 classical concerts referenced from students at the University HAMU (Prague Academy) to the Czech Philharmonic (Czech Republics largest and finest orchestra-of course there were many other orchestras too playing in other cities and all of them nearly as good but they all had different names)

Czech could be very very confusing. I tried the formal way to get things done, what we would do as Americans and American process. I would find myself going in circles in the next months. I was lucky to make friends who would help me out and tell me the way it is done in Czech...which sometimes was totally different.

One night I was at the Ambassador Hotel at Wenseseslas Square. I was sitting with Sovoda (my agent) and he introduced me to an older gentlemen who had been a conductor and composer in Czech prior to the falling of the wall. We talked about music a bit and I learned his favorite composer to be Janacek. He was a good friend of another lady who had a small string orchestra in another part of Prague that would give periodic engagements. We began to talk about Kabalevsky and his Prague Concerto No 4. He spoke English but very very slowly and there was a nice young lady who came to help translate. Our conversation went on for an hour or so. Sovoda had left. I was getting connected in the musical field and certainly had some reference at this point for some opportunities. He gave me some contacts at the Czech Academy as well as a friend of his who had an interesting life as a politician. He raised his finger and pointed directly across the street to a building where I may find him. “This man is amazing and he can help you” so the translator encouraged, but laughed when the old gentleman pointed across the street. “Thats Astra Disco...and there you might find him” We laughed and the older fellow said that he just might be interested in going to “Astra Disco” too..”.were free now”, he kind of boogied in his chair. We laughed. Jiri Kotas was the man who stood on the back of a jeep and told the Czechs through a loudspeaker (on CNN) “that they were now free”..he was also running for parliament in the Czech Republic and had some leverage to help me.

We met several more times during the next three months and talked about making arrangements to do some concerts, but unfortunately he became ill and couldn't leave home.

I went across the street to Astra Disco. His name was Jiri Kotas and apparently I would find him at the salon of the club, just ask the management. I wandered in to a large Night Club with several rooms and went to sit in the salon. “Oh gosh I said to myself...plush plus, but then I looked around and it seemed like everything was going on too...” I met Jiri Kotas by reference to the fellow who owned the establishment. I did not know how famous he was in Czech Republic until quite a time after. Pretty soon it seemed we were all comrades of sorts who gave me a nickname...”Bat Masterson” or “Arizona”. I made friends with the establishment and always when I would come through the door he would yell out “He was always humorous and filled with jokes and would often “Arizona!” and would comp me for a drink or some advice. I admit that Czech at times was really foreign to me. I was the American who wandered in to many situations often not knowing what was happening. Luckily I made friends. Jiri Kotas and I talked quite a few times and he gave me his secretaries name for some work to be done that I needed...translations of resume etc.


I went through a series of translators and people who attempted to be secretaries to this date. I have stories regarding many things that one could fit in a book...How to survive the Czech Republic as an American.

Dept of Pedagogical University-Charles University, Prague (Building/Facility Left)


It soon became evident that one of the best venues I could be involved with after my art or music was gaining a position teaching English. I winced about it at first but it dawned on me that this was perhaps a most viable work here. Sovoda helped me with contacts for private lessons as well as continued with the exhibition cycles and arranging dates for playing piano to make some extra money. I played at a cinema numerous times and a hotel bar a couple times and then a large discotheque on the town square once...and only once. I also tried the church but my Czech was still pretty bad and this was a rather difficult venue to cover for what was paid...86 koruna per church Sunday-2 dollars- I gave up most of the piano playing for money routine as it was much better for others. One of my friends had a magnificent set-up of new electronic gear for his gigs. We played with it. He had been a musician and performer too at times and one of his favorite works was- the Grieg Piano concerto in A minor. (Ironically he played this in Russia somewhere) He worked out all the tuttis on his computer and would play along in a Music Minus One fashion....only the computer would do the orchestra and he would play on an acoustic piano. His technique was phenomenal to say the least...”But watch this” he would phrase in a way to give some idea of a joke. After playing little do-dads on the keyboard for an hour...he would wink and launch right into the Grieg Piano Concerto! Every time it would be one different movement or perhaps the cadenzas. One of the tricks..was to pick up a martini glass filled to the brim with ones left hand (during the Grieg cadenza) sip it an put it back before the flying octaves. Another little musical joke was to launch into the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 on one hand singing “Je ne Kor...un...a!”...”Je ne Kor...un..a! (or I’ve got no mo-ney) unter his breath..on the several broad opening chords or beginnings of that piece. On several occasions I was asked to play...and I did with good applause, as long as I didn't go too far with the long or sad pieces in a minor key. I had learned several pieces of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin. My gosh...if I were to play these today (2010) I think I would have some problem-but then-some were as smooth as glass..(I take it into consideration I was still practicing at that time, sneaking away into the dungeon and doing plow work-practicing- for whatever it was worth at the time) Some people would know these (others would say it sounds a bit crazy), but it was evident that people loved classical but preferred those in an upbeat key...I remember going on and on with Chopin then some Liszt and a little Scriabin at one place and the waitress came to me in tears. She was very beautiful and had those limpid tear filled eyes. “You play so beautifully sad...makes me tears!” ...”Don’t play! Yes, do Play!...oh I'm so confused!” I found out that classical music was for the most part..on its way out in public opinion(pop music was the latest rage-(but I don’t know how to do Rap on the Piano, without getting the piano Wrapped Up and sent away) but there was a conservative viewpoint in music in Czech. Classical was still loved among a few.(And deeply loved-not just a surface fancy....and so the few gathered to see and hear and partake in this beauty. For the most part what ever I was thinking about grand concerts coming to pass were for the most part drowned out. Yes I had some good venues so far, but scarcely they would remember my name. Music should never be about fame either...so I remembered. It should be about the enlightenment of people...if this can be done. I thought back to days hundreds of years ago, to the Mozart's and Chopin's who wandered these streets...I recalled that Liszt even performed regularly here...So many “Great Talents” Who was I? Yet another in a long line. So I could do what I could in assuming a piano when it was available...or arranged. I learned from others, and met some really talented performers who were having interesting times...whose names were rather unknown, but whose talents were brilliant as a casual word used too many times to categorize. So I usually kept what ever I was doing short and sweet or even modern...for some reason there was a love of modern music with rhythm...Ginestera or Villa Lobos Preludes of the sorts that would get good comments.
Each night it was a different place...I knew whoever was playing...but it seemed the fact was that classical music was being put aside for the popular...especially in the late 1990's some contrasts were apparent especially in Prague. Sometimes I would get together with musicians and we would talk over a pivo (beer) at places around Prague. “No music though was discussed at the table “ because the situations apparently were quite depressing and I think most knew this.

On the other hand there were the artists and painters of Prague that would gather at various places around town. Some would come in for solo exhibitions in painting, drawing, photography or sculpture from other parts of Czech and also Europe.

I remember this one favorite place where I would meet several artists in the old town Starometska. One of my favorites was a mysterious cafe off the town square in Husova Namesti called “Gulu Gulu” after an African statement. The entire place was brightly colored in strange Kandinsky-like designs that were rather surreal. Gulu Gulu was a coffee shop and cafe. Cafe Gulu Gulu had some form of a reputation as being a rather wild place for foreigners and Czechs to meet. I remember the first time I went there. It was suggested to my by Sovoda himself, just one of a few in Prague that had this rather strange interaction of people from different countries. I tried the American Bar and several other places in Prague but found them to be filled with the party crowd of foreigners...who can be interesting for only a very short time. I made it somewhat of a point to try to stay away from (Certain) foreigners, although I made a couple of good friends who were Americans during my residence in Prague. First of all the foreigners all wanted to party and were not usually interested in the cultural aspects of Prague preferring “Pivo” to anything like going to a museum or seeing a great site. Secondly I had my own work to be done and I was always reminded of “home” and the “riches to be had” if I bumped into Americans who were visiting. Some of the conversations were annoying like...”Why was I here?” or “Yeh, back home the economy is so good people are getting rich hanging out on the street” It was rather amazing how dimensionless many of these conversations were...I would usually reply by just saying “Look what this lovely city has in the way of beauty, culture and the arts”. I was sad when the conversation would end in a blank stare. Usually they would talk about money and least about anything cultural. This is of course all but a very few. There were retirees who came to Prague and were taking up residence here and there were corporate implants (so to speak) that came to Prague because of some corporate operation. And of course there were “the uncertain” that no body knew about who floated around seemingly on their own dollar to live and catch life in the Czech Republic. I had my mission during this time. Sometimes I would talk with other Czechs or people that I met about what I was doing. The Czechs seemed to understand more about my life than the Americans I would bump into. Life in Prague was never easy though. Even at its best there were all forms of uncertainties that one had to welcome with open arms if one lived here. Every couple of months I would go up to Germany, Poland, Slovakia or Austria to take part in some appearance for an exhibition or perhaps a performance if it came to pass. I managed practicing about 3 to 4 hours a day at this time. At various places around Prague..unfortunately I reasoned that this wouldn't be my entire life (music) and that I would have to hope on the sales of work from exhibits and or teaching (if in fact English) to get me through.

I became resourceful in 1996 and began to weigh my options as well as bargain to gain a position at some university or school in Czech Republic. Over the course of a day I sent out resumes and took them to places in person as part of my tasks. Sovoda offered me more concerts if I wanted them but the tasks of living were great and unfortunately it became difficult to manage the tasks at hand for any of these except the exhibits. My main focus was art after all. I am a painter and artist. This goes beyond the fact. But practical focus was inevitable.

I began teaching English privately through my own venue after achieving the notorious Zivnotenska Lista or business license (which I held for a while..but it wasn't profitable enough to maintain)

There was this one fellow who I met every week who tried to help me form the correct focus for my organization to work in Prague. (Needless to say it was difficult) and I had little help. It was much better for me to work off the table if possible or through a school who could get me permission for living (aka visa and working papers) instead of going into it full throttle in an expensive manner.

I began to teach having my students meet me for 40 minute sessions all around town. I didn't have many students but enough to get me started at first. I taught Austrians as well as Czech people. Sometimes I would be contacted by a professor who needed some formal paper to be prepared in English. This I did, and for not too much money (but greater than was paid by most schools) That year it seemed like the tide turned for the sales of work. At first there were quite a few...and then none (perhaps because I was a foreigner) Utilizing the advice of a friend I made up a name to put on my work for sale...an assumed name and the sales resumed off the books. In Czech one has to have this Zivnotenska List (license for everything sold). Even to exhibit one has to have this license...and quite frankly to perform and be paid in some public venue (aka concert). The Zivnotenska was a nagging process for me and required a little chunk of cash for the implementation. For the most part I tried to stay clear of this by finding someone to carry me who had the license already and would give them a fee for the transaction. I began to have an assumed name for public displays of my work and sales...and of course this was true of appearances as well. Oh gosh...it was cloak and dagger time in the Czech Republic. I was known, but then if they found out I was paid...I would have to produce the Zivnotenska)

Mafia Money Men and Back Room Capers

How does one, a person or personage exist on paper and off paper at the same time?

This is surely almost spy stuff. Somehow I seemed to be a go-between. I was exhibiting under different names and circumstances if the case may be..where a artist License were required. I gave my name as Ozanovitch..on occasion or under...Marsch on others. It was funny sometimes how the number of variants would play out...Oran-Hosanna-Olen-Ocean-Auchen or Ozanovitch and then Marsh-Marsch/ Or Marcek of the case be withstanding...Not a great thing to have misprints on brochures or posters, but it can be outright funny...but if it pushed the work to sell..or my name to travel it was one thing, and then the confusion another. It is all about paperwork in many of these countries. My papers said Richard Marsch..one time and Richard Marsh the next-or R. March, Marsch or simply -(piano) if the case may be- totally eliminating the brochure or ad which may have indicated my name was Richard Ozanne-Last case in case-appearance-point, what it said on my Zivnotenska or (drivers license) Well, its the exact same thing in America. Make sure they spell your name correctly! Many people go by what it says on paper-more-less the official papers that reveal identity, ones drivers license and the equivalent of the Dept of Motor Vehicles tend to be the precision instrument which all “truth” comes through. It may be a simple xerox with a red stamp- or typed up misprint-even a colloquialism in another tongue-as shortened or modified. These were bureaucratic knights of sorts..paper lions so to speak. In the years ahead I was to finally able to get this entire thing panned out..luckily no huge marquees pressed my name in lights -except for Czech National news..and that was in one printing, and changed the next day-with an extra run for two weeks. By 2000 my name was Ozanne and pretty much stayed that way, despite all. I guess it got out that my name was in impressive books in several countries...and wouldn’t go away on its own (kind of pressed in delivery, so to speak) It takes time in foreign countries to get ones name across...

In Prague there was a mafia problem that arose every once in a while. It is not the mafia we are used to in the states. Its kind of like the neighborhood gang gone suited. Perhaps we might imagine the 1920's and Al Capone...but this was only the case in some areas, it usually panned itself out through petty protection rackets and schemes. Its not a glamorous place to find oneself, having to pay for protection and this cost assumed at a percentage of earnings. Its the kind of scheme that makes one sick..and is not glamorous in the least. The fact is it was always gonna come from somewhere it seemed..either this place or that. Most of the businesses had to “pay” for protection..at least in 1990's Prague, and at some point in some way. The stories were astounding. This specific action had conversation and consequences to the locals as well as the foreigners who attempted to make some type of business. Americans had it a bit easy while people from other countries would have a very difficult time. Sometimes it was a Neighborhood organization..a simple elaborate and unsaid set of CC&R's (Rules and Restrictions) which if not kept-well one could find oneself-pounded to hamburger in the street or worse. If you could imagine...it might happen. Well I was American, my worries were less than some. I would hear from one person and another..”beware of this group, place, vicinity or person”..yet I had a naive notion. What was this thing called..Mafia was the greatest way to explain it. Stories abound about protection rackets and capers in the meantime. I had only hints of deeper issues. What would it take to do business? What would it take for a foreigner to conduct upright business on a commercial level, if not on a private level. When money was transacted there would be a certain level of discretion. I was not used to this often secret and discretionary way of doing business. After all I was from the United States which most things, if not all things could be done in an above-board manner. This was evident in the galleries and whatever venue one chose to exhibit in. Being aboveboard with pay could be dangerous when it came to the Mafia in Prague. I was a foreigner and this was no exclusion. If I took a project that paid 1000kc per week, say do a mural...right at the doorstep would be the Mafia wanting to collect some 50% of what was covered. Eyes were everywhere. It was not simple to make transactions not simple to make money on artwork. It was better to have agents who did the operations for one and much simpler to be out of the public eye completely on some occasions. With some advice I arranged a group of (Nome plume...pen names or aliases) to get around the “controls” that seemed prevalent in everyone's minds. I would do exhibitions and concerts through theses venues...hoping that the men in black, those mysterious mafia would not show up at certain times. I heard that there were the Czech Mafia and also the Russian Mafia to be aware of. There were also people on the take in several situations which I can tell anyone...beware!


It was not long before I was introduced to other Americans who were living under certain circumstances. I don't know where this story goes, but for a while it was interesting yet problematic.

Anything that made money in any form..even a little money had to be accounted for by those people in charge. At some point I came to the conclusion that it was better to go the official route with my business and get involved in teaching at some school, that school acting as agent for other venues. I continued with my exhibits and within one year had them traveling all over...unfortunately few sales occurred. Then again art is not necessarily a commercial venue for the artist...this goes to speak in many situations. People, especially educated people appreciate art as they do music, poetry and literature. There was a renaissance in many perspectives in Prague during the 1990's with poetry cafes and symposiums opening up that delighted intelligent audiences. Posters abounded for music and cultural events from the most sublime “classical” to the avante guarde..and highly experimental. This was Prague...a testing ground for the future. In many ways this testing ground gave impetus to the development of business- as it seemingly always does. Before the wall fell there was State Art-and the State Artists. It was a very well controlled theater from all parameters. Now that there was a sense of freedom there was a mini-renaissance. Exactly how long this would last only time could tell. Prague had a history of being the cross roads of cultures. In this history there were times during the period of Expressionism and Jugenstile- Art Deco that Prague blossomed into a fully vested culture equal to or possibly greater than France during its time. Nearly every artist that we knew from history exhibited in some kind of event in Prague. Some artists visited others and made vacations to the former Czechoslovakia- or Austria Hungary to brief reprieves from Parisian or Vienna circles. Well this is history. We can check this out in books and be enlightened how cultures change...and change back if the case may be. In Prague of the 1990's the sense of a golden decade gave light to possibilities for the future.

I was offered a solo exhibit in the center of Prague that year 1996-97 at the Expo Center (Where the Wax Museum stands today-or once stood. Needless to say it was a chance worthy of taking to get my work out there so people could see it. From there? Nobody could tell. As it is with sales...the artist doesn’t necessarily do work for “sale”...but to show his audiences and enlighten them with possibilities that they may never have thought of...if possible. The show was to consist of 30 pieces..mostly of gouache and oil paintings emphasizing a familiar Czech motive. One was to be of landscapes and the other of a more involved thematic material...”The Five Nights of Dr. Faust” It was to be divided into two exhibits each for one month over the course of December and January. This was a prime spot for sales as it was to continue through Christmas and New Years. The preparations were exhaustive and costly. Two complete exhibitions were prepared for the venue. I had questions about the contract with a foreign (German Publicist- Owner) requiring me to hunt down translators for English translations...Printing of brochures was an involved task as it is in many exhibits...this was a solo venue and therefore had to be an excellent quality product in a world where sometimes the exhibits were just photocopied xeroxes of pictures in Black and White..or some in a very low quality color...mine had to be “Of Top Quality”. Needless to say..this was a rather difficult task and I was harried on all edges trying to communicate in Czech when I could to different printers for the brochures...and at that time the product of printing was expensive and often of lower quality. If I had done this same show in 2003 I could have had the brochures printed in a way exceeding the quality of those galleries in New York for less. But we did as good as was possible..a five page brochure-book of 8X10 plates bound for the exhibit, color posters...and what I thought was a fair amount of advertising. Two months before the exhibit I worked hard to cover as many bases as possible, as an artist exhibiting in a foreign land to try to build resources for survival. My main fellow was Sovoda. He was cautionary about most galleries in Prague...especially to newly anticipating foreign artists hoping to make the gold plate debut. Sovoda was somewhat angry that I had done this on my own without consulting him first. Of course it was my mistake..and seeing that I had only known him for a few months at that time, I did not know how far out on a beam he would go for his artists being a man that was somewhat behind the scenes. I had become a little anxious about doing a big solo show that year. Sovoda was filled with caution about Prague...”come to me first..” he always suggested. I met this fellow from Austria who was preparing exhibits for the Expo Center to introduce western culture to Prague. The gallery was immense and ideally suited for exhibits. I had seen several exhibitions there before by Russian and Eastern European artists so the idea seemed almost natural. He liked my material and we signed a contract for the space and the exhibit. The first exhibition was the legend of Faust. “The Five Nights of Faust” that included some 40 images that were small yet very modern in nature. I had worked some 12 months on the images which measured some 12X16 inches not including the frame. This was worked out and framed. The next exhibit would go up in January and be called “Czech Landscapes” which were larger paintings and which depicted the Czech countryside some 30 in number. This was all worked out and supposed to appear in the newspaper, brochures, hand-outs as well as posters made for the exhibits to be distributed around Prague for the Occasion (I think I have one left from the “approval” copies. From all the contracts and everything presented the shows opened as they should have on December 18. Instead of an opening reception we arranged a closing reception for the exhibit. (Normal in some circumstances) partially because I had to return to the USA to get my resident working visa for teaching in the Czech Republic.

I returned in mid January after contacting the gallery on numerous occasions to hear the results of the exhibit. There was no scheduled opening but a closing party would seem optional. All seemed normal and I was so thrilled about making the closing party for the occasion. I arrived back in Prague and checked in at the Hotel Europa. After several hours I called in to make an appointment with the manager to arrange food for the closing party. No answer. This was typical for the phone system and I tried repeatedly. Finally I wandered down to the Gallery and found it closed. Well it was a Sunday weekend and I found this to be ok but did try to contact all the numbers present with no answer. The next day I came in early to find my banner in the vestibule of the gallery as I was looking through the window. I tapped on the window and tried to see what or who may be in there as there was a light on in the second story but the doors were again locked. I started to make inquiries. The business next door had seen my exhibit and was congratulating me on the show..I inquired a bit further and they mentioned that the doors were closed somewhere at the first week of January. A fellow came from the front door of the Gallery as I positioned myself across the street at a cafe waiting to make some contact. “Gallery Closed!” the man remarked not offering very much information nor letting me in through the main entrance. The next week I went back and forth to try to find out about the gallery...a lady came forth and said the Gallery had moved and was going to become the Wax Museum. “Hec I had 2 years work in that gallery!” I remarked..and wore my heels out trying to find out more about what had happened to my artwork and frames. A similar experience happened to a friend of mine too...he gave a solo exhibit in another part of Prague and his work disappeared. There was a rash of these events in Prague at that time..not just paintings, but durable goods and handicrafts. We tried to ban together to try to get to the bottom of things....it was a sign of the times. The fall of Socialism began a spark of a new intent and this intent was to have...things. Of course goods are things. When one has a product that sells for a price it is always of value, and to collectors and swift-armed grifters..things have the concept of money to back them, and hence established value. A new kind of greed seemed to sweep up from the gutter. People on the take. If it was not one source it was another. Some galleries began to charge front fees of a great deal of money for exhibits, while others established more careful businesslike relationships. (The concept of the advance fee- say 5,000 US for an exhibit would be charged one artist. The theory, if the artists were worth his salt in ability...is that the gallery would walk out with $10,000 and the artist would cover himself, plus make a little in his pocket for his wares. (Incidentally this goes over like the heaviest lead balloon with many artist - pay to play- especially in the East but markets {not only art markets} are tied up between leverages..and hence the advance fee) In some galleries one had to acquire a permit- a Zivnotenska Lista (or business license) as an artist to exhibit or perform- So few could make the license details and hence the markets were captive again. Galleries were coming and going, each month a different one would open its doors work for several months and disappear. Some said it was a racket, other said it was business as usual. I heard many stories of what was happening from Russian and Bulgarian artists that were exhibiting in Prague...as also with a Frenchman who was so talented...but lost his portfolio work to rogues while in Prague during an exhibit. Needless to say I was very cautious about exhibiting my work in Prague or anywhere else from that time forward even though I had many offers and still showed my work with smaller galleries and in other cities. I never found my work from the exhibit in Prague- except for one piece that was in its paper frame from the Faust exhibit that was sold to a local art merchant.(I was astounded that another piece he had purchased from an undercurrent had sold for quite a sum) Its one depressing story that I will remember for a long time. I was happy with my agent Mr. Sovoda as he seemed to have a rather calm hand in the storm of uncertainty..and very cleverly cornered the markets in many places under... Exhibitions Here!


For artists...even the contract which you hold in your hands and is notarized....Caveat Emtor! (Beware!)


I had returned to Prague. One must take the good with the bad in each circumstance. I was lucky to have some guidance along the way. I'm quite sure one day some of the work (60 pieces) left with the gallery in Prague will show up...but this was a disappointing circumstance. The Artist (Ozanne) has had numbers of friends and associates who have exhibited and continue to exhibit their work. I recollect on some occasions I have heard of this happening during exhibitions in New York and other places...artwork and exhibits in total disappearing. (Some will say, well...this is bogus, others will recall my words to them...in any situation...watch your gallery with your work and be absolutely sure of the contract that you sign. (same with musicians)

The First Zizkov Studio-Right Building 3 Level-

The Zizkov Studio

In the spring after the confusion was over I moved out of the studio in the Grand Hotel Europa to the vicinity of Zizkov in Prague. The apartment was really nice and came completely furnished, let to me by an American who was an engineer in Prague. Over the next few months I began teaching in Prague having the proper papers and enlisting a school for my documents. This school would also act as an agency for other teaching venues. I began teaching at NOVA Television in Prague, most notably the broadcasters which still work at the station until this day. I also taught from my home and other teaching (jobs) when they would occur. Still I was working on the closing of my (PhD) dissertation now over two years in process. It was finally reaching the aspect of closure. One evening long-distance with the USA I had a long, and costly discussion with the head of my department and my board via a tele-conference. I was to bring the close of the PhD by May 1997, and the dissertation completed. It was an order, and a command..as the rules were changing and foreign research (dissertation only) degrees were on the decrease...to newly provided internet-based research. In April I got the final signings for my degree to go through. A great deal of legalization proceedings came about at that time. For authorization I had to pass through a jury of legal professionals in Czech law offices to post signature for my dissertation in Prague. The final release of my dissertation was completed in about a month in Prague with a team of writer-researchers which were permitted at this point- It was bound and sent in. I returned to the United States for my oral examinations. ( a regular proceeding) and continued on to return to Phoenix on a short one month return trip to Prague.

I realized I did all this work so I could teach professionally. It established my credentials as PhD for teaching in foreign countries. And the hope and faith was through this.

When I returned to Prague I continued on to pursue my career.

I taught as much as I could these days and never turned down a position that was offering something permanent in the final analysis. During the spring of 1997 I sent out to many schools in Europe and America for teaching positions as I felt sure that all this work would produce something good and something stable in the good end. I maintained the same schedule, mornings for art and afternoons for teaching as well as canvasing different opportunities. One evening I had an interview with a firm that was looking for a designer to put together international advertising as well as a design for new lines of shoes. In the next couple of months I found myself designing several prototypes of new designs without my name attached to a firm in Prague. It paid quite well for Czech but was rather short lived because of the ideas of westerners taking the place of Central European designers. I remember that Andy Warhol had done this in the past and it seemed a valuable opportunity and was paid well...although the contract short and to the point (a shoe designer for a product) I think I over produced at one point the number of designs for the line, basically trying to impress them. Another project by the same company was to redesign an archaic model -now turned into the “shoe-stopper” of footwear and perform and advertising campaign for the internet to bring this line of women s shoes to life again. It was a challenge and I engineered a good campaign that seemed to plow through the internet like a hot knife through butter. I remember one meeting with the Czech designers who were satisfied at my initial and final designs and I came out with a vantage point...well if all else fails...”Paint the Shoes by Hand!” (They thought this a little eccentric) There was a hmm when I discussed this with the engineers....Art in Shoes? How could this work? Needless to say the concept was like a skyrocket and the next time I returned to the USA there was a one page spread about the art of painting shoes in the Phoenix Paper. Ironically I got wind of some other designer who borrowed this idea and tried to chase it down...of course it was back in the US, but they were designing these in Czech and Germany first. Word must have gotten around because it came out in the Phoenix AZ papers on one grand spread of the paper. “That Idea was mine!” I couldn't say it loud enough! Over the next years I watched the internet and the product soar in popularity. I think someone must have just taken the task in action because still one can see the success and this variety of shoe over the internet as being popular in America. Needless to say I laughed to myself and was quite protective of some of my novelty ideas from that point forward. People steel designs and ideas. If one is in contract to a firm then it is their idea....right? I was getting my ego kicked by the shoe business over the course of months...as an adjunct designer. Another offer was for the production of a no-moving-part foot measuring device that was so simple its very complicated....to most. So the artist has been involved in more than the production of art during his lifetime. He has done commercial and industrial designs and inventions as well. (Kept safe from peering eyes...now) .How many times has one had an idea or concept and taken it to paper. The pen comes out and the design goes down and is scaled and drawn up as though it were an architectural design. Now its on computer. Now it is digital...and digital has its disadvantage. Once something is digitalized it can be reproduced millions of times without a flaw from the master-Bad for digital...no original exists once the process is initiated. I began to take heed in my own designs...for if one style were to become popular, so popular that it was conceived in Prague and in the next months be seen all the way in Phoenix...I knew that whatever I did could have consequence without it being known...Of course I went back to work on my own. Corporations, and working as an adjunct design-engineer for such companies has its draw backs-no pun intended. (One can become a statistic)

My own art was calling as well as my music. It was always a terrific difficulty to keep these things under my palm with all the demands of earning money to live, in whatever perspective. I am an artist. Nothing should abridge that. Of course concessions had to be made somewhere...and I was going to make this concession teaching.


After several months I left the first Zizkov studio and moved to a simpler environment that I thought would be more conducive to my work. I bought a hand-made intaglio printing press for my studio from a local manufacturer in Prague that was portable enough for travel. Imagine the curiosity at going at printmaking once again on a portable press. Intaglio Mono-type and Dutch Etching. I explored it all The Second Prague Zizkov Studio form the Street

from my studio as well as became more and more deft at a technique called Aquatint. Many many hours I would spend in my studio over the next months in preparation for a show of my prints which were getting quite good with practice. At one point along the line I thought that everything was moving my way in Prague. I was exhibiting once again in simple group shows and doing some small concerts too as well as appearances in the small towns around Czech. My schedule was busy. Unfortunately my friends did not always understand the meaning of my profession at this point. It was very obvious. Of course I tried to make every exhibition or “gig” as standing paying performance...but this was concessions one has to make between the lines. ..not always in the cards. I exhibited and played. It is the artist stature to do this just for the sake of art sometimes...but others, well others will present themselves quite heavily in a conversation, and that conversation...all about money. Of course there is the option of being the “starving” artists or the one that has made certain concessions to be able to live normally...and certainly this I did.

I started teaching at the Pedagogical School at Charles University several classes held primarily at night. It became part of my education at this point as well as certification for collegiate teaching in Prague. I was right at the end of my dissertation and by May of 1997 had completed it. I had to return to America after my dissertation was approved as well as get a legal stamp from the Czech Republic Notarska (Lawyer) for the various approvals that would make this PhD in Arts and Humanities solid and affirmed as well as do my orals which went without a glitch. Everything went well except for the problem of something external having to approved by some additional tests and Dante...because most of my research and dissertation were written overseas in Europe. At this point I left the situation to what is absolute fact...a PhD Doctorate of Arts and Humanities) Ye Gods! It seems just all about money-thousands and thousands of dollars put out-and nothing about education...I am very fortunate to have a Doctorate and I will leave the years of research and dissertation to a large hard drive of some 200 pages written and..plus>some self and personal discoveries made should be the outcome of ones personal dynamism through “discovery”, this is what education should be all about and is in the final analysis. At this point I make personal self discoveries...what education is about despite the dynamism of having ones degree. Personal discovery is the vantage point of education. Whether the wold (at large) knows of what one person has done, or what self-discovery was made through that effort...The parchment fades, the papers disappear, but the knowledge of this thing called- discovery lives on, if not in others eyes, in the actuality of Gods eyes...having knowledge of all things both visible and invisible. Actuality is a case in point!



John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.


1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.


Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him



To say that man/women cannot make certain personal discoveries is a difficult thing to suggest. Or that such discover requires a hierarchy of “command and control” and academics (pondering among metaphoric fixed stars and limited paragraphs with which knowledge is termed and disseminated among the “on” and “off”...the 1 and 0) which often leads one more into business than the simple measure of acquiring that discovery. Certain things are true of relationships and one-to one correspondences that go DE-facto into an known universe that is (actual to us) but irrelevant towards others-requiring a known balance of two physical universes that exist in the one-to-one correspondence relationship of a multifaceted universe that exists between us (known, seen, and felt) to that which is (unknown, unseen and...felt, beyond the periphery of things material-solid-and what we can construe as 'tangible') This is the artists domain...abstraction- 1/0-Base 12.

And of course there is the hardened branding of one named...Candide (Voltaire)


The Prague Story

Women, Wine and Self Afflicted Wounds


Upon the occasion of life that one meets the necessary “other person ” to compliment to ones life and happiness, this is a good thing. It is a necessity for normal living, and the arrangement of personal balance. It should be a good thing, objections dismissed. Some say it is the best thing in the world. During my years in Prague I didn't date that often but left the door open for one to come through, the best of best as I myself should determine. When I first came to Prague I noticed most young ladies to be somewhat beautiful. Some extraordinarily gorgeous..but that is a matter of personal reflection. Most were intelligent too which was a contrast to many which I knew in the past. I am sympathetic. Sympathetic as they describe in Central Europe is a bit beyond the range of Western conditions. I am an artist, thinker, discoverer and maker, in other words one who take to heart the cares of others and attempts to give that little extra detail that makes for the million mile journey of life. In the west this behavior may be misconstrued. Our development is not always up to par to realize this dimension. Roughnecks and rogues, players and magicians, tough-men and bad men are the part of many evolutions in every story that Hollywood produces. Sometimes we live by the stigmata of these. A caring man is one who is outside the box. A gentle-man is quite outside the definition of a paperweight template. Rather rare by today’s media ideas, we could go to the 17th or 19th century to describe the world of what chivalry is...and perhaps the world of the gentleman, by all definitions rare by comparison to what our idols may be in contemporary society. A gentleman is a preceptor of taste and its intellectual analogies. Beautiful things become conscience-able objects in his world of perception, and the gnawing angular male qualities are tempered to include a sense of conscience about his realm and his world. Of course there are many variable definitions but the artist appreciates a world of this realm. Beauty has quality written in it an under it. Certain tastes must be acknowledged and discernment inaugurated as an active element. It goes beyond the spurious and often false facade that make-up and cosmetic distortions supply amply. During my residence in Prague the first year I learned of the “swifting” behavior of many of these young women. When I use the word “swifting” I am referring to the ability to overtly con a mans heart into believing that there is love present. And of course this is the romantic version of love that I’m writing about, as old as the seas and as present as the mountains. In this world there is little call for the definition of romantic love. It is often pictured in a shady way in the scope of idealizations where one may see it in romantic novels from the 19th century. Unfortunately in the refinements of today it is somewhat lacking. The book of love (this romantic love) could be written in Prague. It is a romantic place with the beauty of a thousand spires peering over one on any particular day or beautiful walks to be had. It is an inspirational place with 100 parks and even more beautiful gardens which could inspire even the less fortunate foreigner into believing there is such a thing as romance when the clock tower strikes and a walk across Charles Bridge produces a kiss from a beautiful woman who feels like a feather in ones arms. Its all magic! Magic of the day and of the evening, of little walks along the Charles Bridge or to the Hill where the small Eiffel tower stands on May Day to hear a little poem by Macha (Czech Poet). If one can dream it would be here, a most beautiful circumstance in Spring that one could find love present and lay a ethereal foundation to eternal and blissful love. Of course I’m pointing to the idealization of Prague. In today’s modern-day version there can be a great deal of contrast to outmoded ideals and ways of the past. It seemed that the changing environment was changing the atmosphere in Prague in the late 1990's as modern-day ways and new-norms are outmatching more traditional values. It is saddening in many ways as tradition is changing. From my first visit to Prague until the time I left I saw changes. As the past gave way to the present, the values changed too. Often one could sense that Prague of 1997 and 2003 were extremely different.

I dated a number of Czech ladies when I came to Prague. It was difficult not to be wrapped up in the intrigue as the display of physical apparent beauty was nothing less than stunning. It seemed They were all/or for the most part beautiful and extremely intelligent...and designed to be. I fell in love with one and then another, keeping my distance until I could find out more about the so-called veil that was illusion and Maybeline, in contrast to the hard assets of solidity, and stability. Much of this was illusion however. The smart-intelligence level was impressive, and how they would swoon the foreigners was nothing less than clever..Beautiful/Clever. Of course being single one has to have discernment, and careful discernment for many women could turn a man to putty if allowed. Unfortunately... it didn't keep for very long infatuations...as after all the Czech ladies do prefer after all- Czechs. There was a trick up sleeves or a minor tort in the foundation of what could be called “true love” from a clever trick or optical illusion. Pretty soon it became quite obvious I had too much on my plate with all the things I was doing than to pursue all...and not keep somethings rather in the background. One certainly knows after a while the reality-vs the illusion. If one doesn’t know then one finds out as most tricks are in the looking glass or among makeup and mirrors surely can find one out (at least in a term or two...what ones agenda actually is. For some it is money. For most it is money. Its somewhat startling what was in the background, in essence and energy that defined this. That most might be out for money could be a generalization. In Czech Republic one sees this transfer and transaction quite a bit...sad but true. It grew into a somewhat sad experience to see what was going on in the final analysis, beyond the guise and disguise, into the depths and nature of things real and illustration. A few drinks and then off! Sad but true? If this was part of the illustration, I could see it was in black and white with trimmings and textures. It is very silly what one could see here, rather a mockery of something as delicate and fragile as love being put to the test of an elephant in a china shop or a gorilla among priceless articles..ones heart if one would let. There is enough to put a beware sign here, right here in Prague of all the practitioners of magic and occult, the women who could draw one in and make earthly sacrifices. It was magic pure and simple..and one had to be aware. Not to be part of it is a careful choice.

Being an onlooker and being involved are two different dimensions..one of being sad but safe at what one sees going on and the other of being very very sad indeed.. Modern existence has its dangerous ways of influence. Ways of the west were rapidly integrating themselves into the modern existence of the Czech culture. Greed as a word was too as well as bizarre and strange ways that are not clearly understood..a culture of pseudo-sexuality for the benefit of procurement, whatever the case may present itself...

Oh the artist has seen both sides of this story say 100 times without boasting a bit and then wanting a desperate reprieve to ones studio for silence!  Evenings might be spent out...but the studio and practice would still take the helm. How many people know the artists world. I figure there have been enough so called lovers to fill a small commercial aircraft (but I must be hallucinating)...but most didn't make it down the tarmac much less the runway. In the entire time of my foreign intrigue I can say only a very few were "actuals" rather than "virtuals". Yes...virtuals. After all was said and done, most of the frenzied chasing would end up as a date for coffee or less. Only a particular few would ever make it for dinner...or how many times stood up for a date at the theater, dinner, or cinema? Too many...oh I remember now. (hallucination..goes with the territory of Prague and actual-not virtual- a totally different story. It was a short time before I made the discernment, and set back to work with hopes and dreams at a distance.
Yet for the young artist who lost his heart on his sleeve he was annealed with copper, bronze and finally tungsten (The hardest metal) I always reserved “Love” for the special ones and that didn't necessarily include “indulgence”. Ok I’ve been really good (to most of the foreigners )and better than some for others...but singularly I always wanted that one artful person to call my wife and my first best in my life. That one singular person could command my heart..and I certainly thought I would find this lady in Prague (or Central Europe). “But it is fruitless to go meandering about..” I thought to myself. Certainly and most certainly “if” the right person were to present herself...she would come to me..as chasing doesn’t have much courtesy in the final analysis.


And Back to the Studio...


I had spent most of my time alone. Tens and Hundreds of Thousands of hours of work in art, and thousands of hours at writing, if not on my dissertation (when that was on the board to be done) on the procurement of ideas, the purpose of keeping my mind active and alert. Prague was teaming with inspiration from the architecture to the museums...and recorded in the studio. Even more at learning new ideas and concepts in a personal way or those that were in a more formal setting. It was always difficult to be alone. What aspect of life is demanded of the artist to be perpetually in this state. It is still to this day but I have learned not to complain but deal with the issue. Needless to say I had my contacts which I would meet during the cycle of the days or meetings at nights between coffees or at an office for a 15 minute reprieve from silence bridging English with 10 other different languages so it seemed. The aspect of loneliness..ey, its a key to creativity. Once an artist knows that this precipitation of fate has been called upon him he has time to advance study..if he/she thinks for one minute that just being lonely is...they have not a clue. Loneliness is an artistic perception. But I have a poem which I can share with you:

If one is alone

and very alone that soul

there...

right at the table staring straight forward and hands clenched

one knows this moment

for it is with no one that one finds themselves

it is of this moment that one can reason and understand

what the star must feel sitting in the universe,

there but all alone, but burning brightly

one remote

(one)

So don't fret

right before you sitting in the next chair is God.

He is lonely too

there...right there

one knows this moment

when Love can shine in another way

as with the soulful generous lonely star.

Richard Ozanne 1996



Pariska Street in Prague- (Old Jewish Center) It was down this road I would walk every night, through the old town towards a building where I would practice...

Walks around Starometska

Every night between and after studio sessions or rehearsals (practice) I would find myself walking in transit in one of the worlds most beautiful cities...

It always occurred to me in such an old city as Prague there were always old souls drifting the streets here. There must be Ghosts of some fashion too. All this plaster and stone and the figures of heads sculpted long ago have to be some fine kind of ghost to still be around looking and peering out there. These streets are so old that the footsteps must be inside them too, from another time and place. Who walked here. Was it some common soul looking for a button or a great mind with thoughts wondering about the universe. Could it have been a child that was walking here, looking up at the gargoyle and then being scared, scared enough to cry. I could think that there were lovers too from long ago that held hands on this very same spot or those broken hearted that walked these miles of the catacombs in old Starometska after, broken hearted events left them to this walk, search and cry. I saw an old man who walked here. I think every night I see him and he has a cane. Hes got white hair and a sad face all hunched over and filled to the brim with rheumatism. What a life! I see him forever walking until that tender day when life passes...perhaps this way. And maybe a future telling that he is me, that old man along the waters of the Vlatava (Moldau) along Charles Bridge. Wherever he may be...you just might see him there. Sometime he is alone but so am I now..to wander and ponder, to think of the places I have been and end up here, a young man waiting for oldness to discover me. A young man waiting for wisdom to touch me. An innocent soul to fight for innocence and not be discouraged, each day and year of this disorder called life. I walk this path every day and know the legends of Prague from here. The Catacombs of these streets can get one lost. But that is where it is more comfortable to be lost, because found is not a place that is lonely but is discovered by many. I prefer the lonely walk then to think and wonder, to dream and perhaps not be discovered as the whistle of my melody is not yet a tune set by a symphony only a stream of air cast from my lips. Of course there was that one...that caught my attention off guard. And she consumed my attention..


Tanya-The True Love in Prague (Eventually made my wife)


“Don t be a jealous spirit, one sparrow said to another the wings of an Eagle are sometimes not ours”


Oh I don't know what happened. I guess it was a gentle mix-me-up. I was sitting alone in a cafe reading the New York Herald Tribune when all of a sudden a lady jumped across the room and was staring in my face. “Like what do you want” I said to myself in quiet mental conversation. Oh this one wanted to sit and debate politics and make my life a distress. “Oh Brother”, I said to my self quietly in my minds contemplation. I asked her to leave and then when she didn't I moved to a different table. “Brother this one has tenacity...I thought” but shes rather pretty...”Like...well, kind of ..really, better not go there” I said to myself. Her friend peered from across the room and tried to put the pin back in the grenade as “This young lady has a mouth about her...and I just want her to leave me alone” . Nevertheless she didn't leave me alone and she finally introduced me to her friend across the room. Oh what a night! I remember like it was yesterday.

This was Tanya a Czech lady who was in reserve of herself and very lovely as well as beautiful and intelligent. What nature provides one...the kindest disposition very pretty and gentle features that I could imagine! Oh I was taken immediately. Who wouldn’t be! All my tensions were lost as time came to pass. Seemingly I was in love and it read...this too shall be. I however was somewhat distanced for a while.

The young lady gave me her telephone number but I lost it by accident twice. I thought we would never see each other again and then she would appear somewhere in Starometska or the old town. Then I bumped into her friend crossing town from a practice session and she reminded me to call Tanya and gave me her number again. I didn't and it happened yet a third time in another synchronicity. Ok, third time this one is supposed to be.


I really didn't want to test the waters and I did want a long term relationship. I was totally uncertain about how long I would be in Prague to begin with...nevertheless it happened. Love for all the right reasons. We met for coffee and arranged a date. She was a young English-Czech translator who needed assistance towards the Czech State Examination. Her credentials or what she told me were her credentials , having worked at the Presidential offices of the Czech Presidents staff was enough to say...well heres one for the record. I was impressed and I did take her as a student, and she became my translator. It all started very slowly and was wonderful. I look back at the memories with a specific golden story about these times. We began to know about one another and grew together, it seemed to be a match made in heaven.

I gave up allot to be with her, a position offered to me in the orient and a air ticket to see the world. ( How can I express this...quite taken by the young lady) She was tall and had Black Hair with very light blue eyes that seemed to shimmer in the sunlight. Everything about her was charming and lovely including her innocent charm that was pure and without any tarnish. We became to be very good friends and she began to know more and more about me and I about her. She came from a good family, her mother a medical doctor and father a general surgeon both prominent in their professions in Prague. It seemed so blessed this relationship that at times I almost felt like for once the clouds were opening up on a surely miserable existence. We began traveling together and she showed me the Czech Countryside. We both adopted a Ferret named fillipo that traveled with us on our ventures across Czech. It was a golden summer of 97. I thought of that particular summer as being one of the best ever had. We went all about and danced in the fields of newly sprouted flowers and had picnics in the beautiful places of Czech, going to Czech Paradise and the spa towns as well as visit castles where we would sit on hilltops together and watch the sunsets. There was not one single time I could have remembered as being bad..it was always wondrous...almost like a dream, so blissful and beautiful. We had many good times together and would show good humor and share bad humor. We were the best of all friends together.

On Christmas 2000 I invited Tanya to Hawaii and asked her to marry me. Much celebration was to be found as it was soon to be, very soon to be our marriage in Kona Hawaii Feb 8th 2001 that would tie the knot to much happiness that I felt and so much loneliness lost...for she was the apple of my eye and the golden ray of hope in my life to come.

I was so happy that day. So happy. So very very happy.

Until...two months later when I suddenly was brought to the airport and I found her on a plane back to Czech Republic alone. I still see that plane in my minds eye lifting off the runway as though a bird had taken my baby away...standing there worried, feeling hopeless and wondering what ever happened.

Tanya Cont.

I returned to Prague a few months later. The Sep 11th attacks hampered my departure as well as the number of things that needed to be done for Tanya American Green Card (after all she was coming back...right?) Thousands of dollars had been spent for her to live here in a nice home and good circumstance... I had invested in a down payment for a house (a week before 911 to surprise her...on her return) to surprise her what else could go wrong..so I asked myself...what was going on? September 11th was the saddest day in my life. Everything seemed to till right under. My funds went dry and the down payment money fell through the floor. Worst of all I had to wait for a reprieve in this present situation to return to my wife in Prague. I wasn't nor could I release her even though warnings came that she may have drifted in my absence.

I returned to Prague on a wing and a prayer borrowing money, selling my car and taking what funds I had to return to her. Bad choice but the cost was inevitable. Tanya soon enraged the experience of marriage to entertain hurt. I returned to Prague nevertheless and resumed teaching courses at FAMU of Charles University as well as teaching privately through other schools. There were many unfortunate events that prevailed in the months ahead. I as a person tried not to think of these since it would make me feel of the suffering that I was going through. There was positively nothing I would not do for her. Unfortunately the troubles that came to pass revealed themselves in a somewhat terrible realization..unfortunately.


Sometimes love can never be had, no matter how one tries to please another...even with true love


It was soon to end in the fall and winter and the following spring of the year 2003. It was not long after the divorce I heard she was re-married. Our marriage only lasted months after our ceremony on the beach at Kailua -Kona. It was a sad time of confusion and a congregation of thoughts. What more does a man desire than a woman of like mind and tasks..a human condition and notion, how sweet and enduring. Love is a manifestation of mind, and too often confused by notions. When one thinks of marriage they picture the family that it presents and the future that it brings. May this be truth or notion? One sees in the eyes of ones mate...the children that are brought forth. The first, a sweet grace which time can tell, a gift from the universe upon the Earth to cherish and the other three. It was a large family I dreamed of...perhaps only in fantasy now that I look back. Of the four children I thought of, it was the last that came through to the most clarity. It was that small, inquisitive and troublesome one that always did things the wrong way that most surely grasp my dreams. It was he..or she that graced the dreams, and the one that I would miss as the dreams stood like sandcastles on the beach..as the marriage faltered into obscurity and eventually into that void of time itself. Needless to say my vows were true...but it ended in some kind of craziness of laughter and terror.


1997 was a turning year so it seemed. I moved my studio twice in Zizkov and was preparing a gigantic exhibition for the American Embassy Cultural Center in Prague. It was the exhibit of dreams and so of work for the artist. The series that I was doing underlay the idea of portraits of common people. Some of these works were 6 feet by 6 feet and absolutely consumed the walls of the studio I was living at. I worked up yet another series called “The River of Stones” These were intaglio prints that were done on zinc and copper plates. I spent numerous hours on each experiment that tried to give the effect of rocks...or rather pebbles in a direct fashion using the technique known as “ A Water Etch” or ________.. Needless to say the experiments went on to contain several acids which I distilled myself. It was an involved process. As usual 2 of 10 prints would be acceptable to me. Each print had to be etched directly without any per-preparation in an Ala prima fashion. I worked the same on mono types. Once again I had to move my studio because it was too small for my work. The next year I moved to the vicinity of Versovice (Prague). Unfortunately during these times the teaching schedule as well as the exhibit schedule were a little slow. I had been teaching for a small school in Prague but their students were drifting in numbers. I went on to apply for several college teaching positions one at the faculty of Law at Charles University. I was given the contact and made an initial interview for a post teaching graduates English for their trade. I also taught art when the students came forth to learn. Often I would find myself giving portfolio critiques to students at the Czech Academy. Of course I was enthusiastic about teaching studio classes directly but unfortunately the positions were primarily held by Czech Artists. In 1998 I started another series that was of large scale works in pastel. It was rather unfortunate that all these changes in my studios meant sacrificing work at times. I had reams of paper work and numerous canvases that were sitting still during this period. The sales dropped off, but my studio work continued and exhibits continued through new venues hoping for a solo exhibit to come to pass in Prague. I took work via train to several towns in Czech Republic for local exhibits. It became rather evident that times were changing too and that some artists were showing and names not getting around enough.

Prague changes. One year the focus will be the arts and the very next year it will be business or sales. I have never lived in a city that changed so much during a 7 year period as Prague. It was often hard to know the new rules for living (Visas or Working Papers) or the rules in general as how one was to live their life in general. Fashion went in one door and out the next. As with all arts oriented cities this could be seen by the new shops that popped up in the city. There was a TGI Fridays, 4 New Mc Donald's, A Dunkin Donuts, Versace, and the fashion boutiques that lined the small avenues and walk streets to the central square. Galleries moved or closed and new attempts were made. Popular culture seemed a rage as new magazines filled each rack at the magazine sellers and other ones died away. I remember a special magazine of Prague Arts that was published each year. It mentioned what was happening and the newest artists in Prague doing exhibits. It was a Czech oriented magazine and hardly a foreigner much less an American could find himself there in print or picture of his/ her work. There was a small club and bookshop in the center that was specifically for artists and sold many of the new magazines on contemporary arts in Prague. I remember it moving from one side of the street to the other and then no mention of it. I also remember some cafes that exhibited the newest modern work during this time...exclusively by Czech artists. (It was really hard as a foreigner to come between the nationality and exhibiting in Prague at this time)

Historically this happened as I read in some old books on the subject of Prague in the past. During the turn of the 20th century Prague had been an arts capital as it is often seen today. Many artists from all over Europe would bring their works to Prague for exhibitions. On one side of the street would be the Austro-Hungarian artists, on yet another the German artists and of course there were French Galleries and Italian Galleys as well. It was a much faded book that I found this history. I think it was probably one of those one-of-a kind small editions of works by Prague Artists from about 1900-1914. Prague had always been a cultural center and during the early part of the 20th century it was a mix of sedate forms of science, culture and the arts as well as leaps of contrast to a new and coming age of modern art. I think I read that Kandinsky, Klee and other modernists had come to Prague to exhibit their work at one time too. I think they found the paradox and drifted west to Germany or south to Switzerland and Austria. The cubists were here as well. I think all the artists that we knew of had at one time or another (speaking of the developing modern age from 1870-1937) came to live, exhibit and stay in Prague. I know for a fact that Teplice was a point where many artists congregated as it was known as the Paris of the North. (Today it is a simple spa town with only several minor galleries) Prague had been home to many great and innovative scientists as well. But this is unsure in Western History and is little mentioned. There are artists who were very good at what they did who lived here and some did remark that it was often a difficult place because the parameters changed seemingly overnight. During the early part of the last century, the 20th century, there was the change from Austria-Hungary to Czechoslovakia and from Czechoslovakia to the German Protectorate of Czech-Moravia (a assumed state of Germany) After the war it was returned to Czechoslovakia and became the CSSR (Socialist Republic monitored by Russia) and then the (CSR) to change again during the Velvet Revolution to CR Czech Republic as we know it today. So these land had seen change and their history runs quite deep. Still today there is change as it becomes a satellite of the European Union and then a Country-State. What change dosent happen?


I returned home once more to Arizona to work the Czech visa situation out. Needless to say...Arizona was not interested in what happened in Czech. I had to be the educator..and then again, it was quite a difficult task to make PR (Public Relations) since many people were rather fresh when it came to foreign experiences...thinking that Prague was somewhere near the Mid-East or was under seige (Hearing of Czenya on the News and thinking that Prague was somewhere near there...) It became quite an honest opinion to keep my own experiences to myself.

The following year I was offered a position at CVUT (Czech Technical University) one of the oldest schools in Czech Republic for technology. I was to teach at the Electro=technical facility. (Electronics English) Enthusiastic for the proposal I returned to Prague only to find myself in a particular circumstance of being split up into several positions along the lines of the intended position. I moved again from Versovica to a small apartment at Flora which was shared by the Medical Faculty at Charles University. It was a simple place that was rather compact but reasonably comfortable in a house that looked like the mansion of the Adams Family...Czech Style in 1920's concrete.

1999

During this same time I decided to evolve my interests from an intellectual standpoint to include working towards a graduate degree in key Religion as well as ontology. It had been offered to me several times and I was interested in the prospect of continuing this study in Prague where I could make the most of it. The college in America which offered this program via a foreign university to which it was aligned and was related to the Universal and other Churches and was a broad based program that worked with the international programs of other Universities all over the world. What can I say? For the most part foreign studies...whatever they may be, weather in Europe, Near East or Far East, or some place inbetween are rather "invisible" to western or especially American eyes...This I experienced. If I were to go full term with the program I would have to do this for myself, and for no one else. At the final end and finish of the program I would have to be involved with a great amount of paperwork establishing the degree or degrees that I had earned (and quite hard work...has anyone out there ever experienced foreign boards? A unique other way, other system?) This was not an easy task at all. Religion, even calling oneself a minister may or may not have its pitfalls especially if reference is gained in a place like Prague...reference stifling somewhat...some of my chief board members were some of the high 'Kahunas 'of the newly established Czechoslovak Church in Prague, another a Rabbi and yet another whos name (all names witheld) was an expert on Ancient Metaphysical Ontology and Pagan Mysticism. I began my studies in Prague and was working towards the preface to my dissertation among other things. Although it was a two year program...inclusive of some of my past experiences, the challenges put upon me were quite deep especially in the areas of little known Central European religious beliefs...and other areas which had me studying a 'gestalt' of subject matter...from the Bible-Referancing Unknown Books and Ancient texts (attempting to get translations) to Pagan Magic and Alchemy as it was practiced in Prague during the 14th and 15 centuries clear up to Rudolf II. I had a refresher course in objectivism and very very serious scrutiny, the Oxford Dictionary of definitions for nearly every term were dangled quite literally right infront of me as an extracted tooth.

I wasn't seeking to be a Minister per say, but this was a broad based objective to study key religions and their juxtaposition to Christianity and other World Religious Beliefs systems. I think the entire program was going to have me committed to every concept known to man in form of religious belief systems...and then watch every system of belief fall to the frailty of the subject matter. A Large box of books were included in the initial study program numerous more were bought for this study, and this I had to carry with me to Prague....for in Prague there were hardly any English book stores at the time aside from the "Globe". Of course part of the course was experiencial...running amok in my mind of the definitions of "truth", were almost a maze, only to read books of ancient texts of John Dee the famous Mystic who chartered the Invisible College, the initiation and content, mysticism 101 through eyes of the past.

John Dee (13 July 1527–1608 or 1609) was a noted mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist,[4] and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy.

Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic just as they were becoming distinguishable. One of the most learned men of his age, he had been invited to lecture on advanced algebra at the University of Paris while still in his early twenties. Dee was an ardent promoter of mathematics and a respected astronomer, as well as a leading expert in navigation, having trained many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery. In one of several tracts which Dee wrote in the 1580s encouraging British exploratory expeditions in search of the Northwest Passage, he appears to have coined (or at least introduced into print) the term "British Empire."[5]

Simultaneously with these efforts, Dee immersed himself in the worlds of magic, astrology, and Hermetic philosophy. He devoted much time and effort in the last thirty years or so of his life to attempting to commune with angels in order to learn the universal language of creation and bring about the pre-apocalyptic unity of mankind. A student of the Renaissance Neo-Platonism of Marsilio Ficino, Dee did not draw distinctions between his mathematical research and his investigations into Hermetic magic, angel summoning and divination. Instead he considered all of his activities to constitute different facets of the same quest: the search for a transcendent understanding of the divine forms which underlie the visible world, which Dee called "pure verities".

Dee's high status as a scholar also allowed him to play a role in Elizabethan politics. He served as an occasional adviser and tutor to Elizabeth I and nurtured relationships with her ministers Francis Walsingham and William Cecil. Dee also tutored and enjoyed patronage relationships with Sir Philip Sidney, his uncle Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, and Edward Dyer. He also enjoyed patronage from Sir Christopher Hatton.

In his lifetime Dee amassed the largest library in England and one of the largest in Europe.[6]

Just incidentally some of the greatest collections of Dees preferances are at the Clementinium Library and the Tepla Library in Southern Bohemia... (just for insubstantial information)

About ten years after Dee's death, the antiquarian Robert Cotton purchased land around Dee's house and began digging in search of papers and artifacts. He discovered several manuscripts, mainly records of Dee's angelic communications. Cotton's son gave these manuscripts to the scholar Méric Casaubon, who published them in 1659, together with a long introduction critical of their author, as A True & Faithful Relation of What passed for many Yeers between Dr. John Dee (A Mathematician of Great Fame in Q. Eliz. and King James their Reignes) and some spirits.[35] As the first public revelation of Dee's spiritual conferences, the book was extremely popular and sold quickly. Casaubon, who believed in the reality of spirits, argued in his introduction that Dee was acting as the unwitting tool of evil spirits when he believed he was communicating with angels. This book is largely responsible for the image, prevalent for the following two and a half centuries, of Dee as a dupe and deluded fanatic.[46]

Around the same time the True and Faithful Relation was published, members of the Rosicrucian movement claimed Dee as one of their number.[47] There is doubt, however, that an organized Rosicrucian movement existed during Dee's lifetime, and no evidence that he ever belonged to any secret fraternity.[33] Dee's reputation as a magician and the vivid story of his association with Edward Kelley have made him a seemingly irresistible figure to fabulists, writers of horror stories and latter-day magicians. The accretion of false and often fanciful information about Dee often obscures the facts of his life, remarkable as they are in themselves.[48]

A re-evaluation of Dee's character and significance came in the 20th century, largely as a result of the work of the historian Frances Yates, who brought a new focus on the role of magic in the Renaissance and the development of modern science. As a result of this re-evaluation, Dee is now viewed as a serious scholar and appreciated as one of the most learned men of his day.[46][49]

His personal library at Mortlake was the largest in the country, and was considered one of the finest in Europe, perhaps second only to that of de Thou. As well as being an astrological and scientific advisor to Elizabeth and her court, he was an early advocate of the colonization of North America and a visionary of a British Empire stretching across the North Atlantic.[15] The term "British Empire" is in fact Dee's own invention.

Dee promoted the sciences of navigation and cartography. He studied closely with Gerardus Mercator, and he owned an important collection of maps, globes and astronomical instruments. He developed new instruments as well as special navigational techniques for use in polar regions. Dee served as an advisor to the English voyages of discovery, and personally selected pilots and trained them in navigation.[9][15]

He believed that mathematics (which he understood mystically) was central to the progress of human learning. The centrality of mathematics to Dee's vision makes him to that extent more modern than Francis Bacon, though some scholars believe Bacon purposely downplayed mathematics in the anti-occult atmosphere of the reign of James I.[50] It should be noted, though, that Dee's understanding of the role of mathematics is radically different from our contemporary view.[19][48][51]

Dee's promotion of mathematics outside the universities was an enduring practical achievement. His "Mathematical Preface" to Euclid was meant to promote the study and application of mathematics by those without a university education, and was very popular and influential among the "mecanicians": the new and growing class of technical craftsmen and artisans. Dee's preface included demonstrations of mathematical principles that readers could perform themselves.[19

One section of study text, the unknown-unpublished books of the Bible brought clarity for many things another set of books...confusion and disorder to the entire concept of organization of belief systems in general...and a certain sense of the methodology of absolutism when it came to organizational beliefs in the way the society implemented the crusades. At one point a person could find themselves a devout Catholic, and then a very interesting concave inversion as a  participant in the Hussite Insurrection.
I found a great and wonderful reference to my art in some of the art, literature and concepts of the past...to conclude in a rather large body of small works based on the ______.

Anybody know Jan Huss out there?

Jan Hus also known as Jan Huss, John Hus, John Huss (Czech pronunciation: ['jan '?us]  ( listen); ca. 1369 Husinec, Bohemia – 6 July 1415 Constance (today Konstanz, Germany)), often referred to in English as John Huss or variations thereof, was a Czech priest, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague.

Charles University (formed in 1342) is still an active university...I taught there, it is a magnificent school

He is famed for having been burned at the stake for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, including those on ecclesiology (the branch of theology concerned with the nature, constitution and functions of a church), the Eucharist (a Christian sacrament commemorating the Last Supper by consecrating bread and wine), and other theological topics. Hus was a key predecessor to the Protestant movement of the 16th century, and his teachings had a strong influence on the states of Europe, most immediately in the approval for the existence of a reformist Bohemian religious denomination, and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself.[1]

Between 1420 and 1431, the Hussite forces defeated five consecutive papal crusades against followers of Hus. Their defense and rebellion against Roman Catholics became known as the Hussite Wars.[2]

Why a Theological Doctorate or a D. Min? To what efforts and goal does one embark upon such study?

There are certain things that one cannot explain. If one likes religion one is orthodox to that study. If one is curious as to what Ontology exists one has found a study not of religion itself but the foundations that have come forward...study. Why a Theological Doctorate in the first place. One must be primed for this inquisitive study..and certainly one should join a church or organization of “faith”, if this represents itself, and this “faith” be purely and righteously represented. The school, university must be based on Religion or on the inspiration of set practices put fourth into motion as the perceptive mind greets these for study. First and foremost, one finds curiosity in the subject and wants to augment understanding as to how the world is in an ontological sense or perhaps a religious sense as it presents itself. We have our choices. Catholic, Presbyterian, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim or Metaphysical Christianity. One million forms of Religion grace the planet. This is a truism. Each way we investigate the cosmology of our being. In each breath that anyone takes is a life force or the seed with which we breath inspires us to greater ideas of consequence. If this notion...the notion of spirituality “exists” or does not exist to inspire us, this can be too, with the pretense of Atheism. To believe or not is an individual summoning point. For me it came out of cause and effect, a certain inspiration to delve into the fabric of my art which is in tune..with is that of creation. Each one of us prays and from this point, each one of us acknowledge a sense of God through our lives. Christianity, Catholic, Baptist, Buddhist, Taoist the list goes on, all different one key item, we are all acknowledging a sense of God and His Being, a Universe breathing with understanding each expressed in a certain way. I am an artist. I paint and draw as well as sculpt. How do I do this? What is guiding my expression, sense of art, beauty and tabulating what is before it is put on canvas? Why have I, in singular person, gone to the “Ends of the Earth” and have seen both Great and Minor things and find interest with these...acknowledging a certain sense of beauty. One cannot explain. And of course there are many of those that don't acknowledge a god at all...Why? (I'm not going into this) That something guided me to the study of belief at this point was in keeping with my upbringing. I believe that being guided through the circumstance of life we all must ask a great philosophical question at one point or another. If we don't we might be encountering a short coming. So the question is there..or is there not. I have my own beliefs and the sense of Ministry may in fact be for my own experience as a rational intellectual person. In another framework would one rather take funds for personal education and enlightenment and put them in a slot machine and say they reaped the same reward? Or purchase the paying rights on property to be paid off later..under duress of a bank. I was given a scholarship for this study. One of my key points is always to improve oneself at any point in time, whether reading books of some value or simply the free bee of writing a poem, writing a book, painting a work of art. Its all about building oneself after all. Some may say this is supposed to be...in work or labor, conscientiously seeking the best for the company, corporation (setting standards of industry that others can look up to in a mechanical senses or monetary sense...big buildings, ostentatious cars, maybe a chateaus mansion and grand title) in all our motions and deeds, or simply doing what one is supposed to do after all, following patterns of another. We are free to choose after the band has come and left, free to choose what our conscious tells us, and..yes, free to do what God wills with us...hopefully changing and building castles and dreams of spirituality...beyond the presence of material (Illuminated territory of understanding God...maybe for once)

Well no argument...this is why. No explanations.

I continued with this program for nearly 2 years, keeping notes but in the finality of the situation that existed.. had to put the books down for I surely had the experience of Saul enter my life, and a series of miracles that put me to think this period of my life out. (This is another chapter)

In 2001 I had all the materials for the dissertation completed but I let the degree rest..simply ( I quite simply didn't complete the program...yet I did not quit the program, as this is a progressive understanding that must be addressed in live itself. ) its course, this dissertation for another day in the future and period when I can work at this without distraction.

(I was given a note that gave me the rights of a representative minister...maybe a Chaplin to perform all the duties as clergy, marriage, funerals and rituals accepting to most if not all church...such a small book containing these ) Later in 2006 I was given these rights from the Mennonite church and a non sectarian church of Secular Humanism. They approached me, and I inquisitive as to certain justifiable understandings within this precedence seemed compelled to join a higher ministry. Again in 2008 I was approached for completion of my degree in a doctoral program with which I still presided in my limited understanding, that we as mortals cannot understand but little of what is given to us in the sense of the sensory. It was never about job, or money, these things highlighting the material existence which ends in a terminal cadence of the symphony of life. It had allot to do with prosperity in a higher sense. As far as job, making money this has little to do with spirituality. I think many would agree. If the money comes from above it may come from below..beyond this no one can know if this is in fact some kind of religion. I don't talk much about this...its an honor (of such)to myself. Do I consider myself a “man of the cloth?” Perhaps not as it has too much leveraged upon it...but a “Paladin” who seeks some “truth” from virtue and some strength from God...if this is possible in an obsessive and compulsive world.

What is know as truth is from within...

others may sway the viewpoint

What is known as truth is...

Experience

What is Truth?

Love the Truth.

Being is the Truth

God being the Truth

Others may worry us and scurry about

All we can know is the only Fact

God.


2000

My life took me to southern Bohemia in the early spring of 2000 to go to a festival of the “Three Petaled Rose” and perhaps a good chance to exhibit my paintings in multiple settings. I proposed the idea of “Bohemia 2000” as an exhibition venue for a traveling show. I submitted it to the Cultural sector of the American Embassy in Prague and was given the go ahead to peruse this idea. I had the work. Laid flat it was over 3 feet laid flat and off stretcher bars...these were studies for the exhibit. Of course the idea was centered around Southern Bohemia, and I was most ecstatic when the concept of a solo exhibit and gaining sponsorship for this venue the summer of 2000. I had combed the Czech Republic with little exhibits, group shows and other venues. I had a hand full of tickets that were almost too big to fit in my hand...train tickets, bus tickets and air tickets. If my name wasn't getting around, at last after all of this adventure, surely there was little if any hope. But art, being an artist is not about the exhibits, if it were about exhibits or numbers of them I could fill pages. If art were about profit, I would not be teaching. Yet, getting the work out there was always “in a manner of speaking” a priority...if this were possible under the almost enormous constraints of changing values and ideas of popular culture that were emerging themselves in modern-day Czech. I was happy to go away from Prague at this point. Some events that I overheard and saw in Prague made me want to leave for calmer territory.

Cesky Krumlov,Czech Republic

Czech Studio at 6 Rybarska in Cesky Krumlov Czech


Cesky Krumlov is a town on the frontier of Austria. I had been down her many times in previous years for little exhibits and appearances. The town knew me. Upon arrival a young lady brought me fresh strawberries and another lady brought me some gifts. This is a precious town to me. A little Eden snuggled in the mountains of southern Bohemia. It is well traveled by tourists during the summer months. I had the advantage of doing a big exhibit this summer. The cultural ambassador in Prague had been alerted to the possibilities of this exhibit in Krumlov...then known as Bohemia 2000. During the summer I explored Sumava and the mountains south of Ceske Budovitza, those little castles remote on the hills and territory so beautiful one could sink their eyes into it as one would a wedding cake. It was a summer of love and laughter as well as a new and large studio...just the way I wanted things to be. A studio with three levels that overlooked the Vlatava underneath. The exhibitions name was Millennium of Exploration and it was to be a large exhibit of my work...finally. I couldn't have been more content than to work in my studio days and nights preparing for this exhibit. Some 200 works were prepared and it felt as though at last all things were coming together. I returned to Prague for the weekends and met friends during this summer, but each time I did there was a frantic feeling that I should leave. Tanya's family lived in Prague, a reason to return, but something about Prague at that time had a certain air about it...


Subject of Screenplay- ( Nine Minutes before Eleven)


Gulu Gulu Story

Always when in Prague my soon to be wife and our friends would go to the cafe Gulu Gulu to meet.

Gulu Gulu, Hotel Grand Europa, The Kafka Coffee House and the House of the Stone Bell, The Red Hat were common meeting places as well as underneath the Clock Tower during my residence in Prague. We had other meeting places also.

There were always new travelers from different countries there. I remember a man who was a Czech Guide who took me on a tour of the Southern Czech Frontier across Austria was one of the fellows who became friends. It is common to intermingle in Prague and I can say without much hesitation that most of my friends were Czechs, Bulgarians, Russians and people from other countries. It was somewhat rare, however, that I had in common friendships from America during my residence. Many Americans, British and exclusively western Europeans tended to meet at known places..what were called British Pubs or American Clubs by Czechs who knew these to be reference points. Since I was living in the country it was a great learning experience to become part of the culture rather than be exclusive to places of my own origin. During this time I was doing allot of personal research as well as teaching and there was much more interest, and conversations, from young students or older people who had enlightening thoughts towards discussions, analogies and literary contexts than the crew of travelers and backpackers that came through for a day or a week and then left. Once in a while I would meet those enlightening people who would bring to the table unique concepts for development in whatever discussion would go across the table. During this time there were many that were out of work, or retired, and trying to find jobs or positions in their fields. Most of these were older people and once sought professionals who found themselves after the fall of the wall without work or attempt to gain new work in the broadening range of possibilities that seemed to be growing by the advent of a free and unrestricted regime. Ironically enough there were technicians of all varieties who I would meet as well as scientists who, often elderly would sit and share their experiences over coffee with me and a group of friends during an evening out. There was no television to watch in Czech at that time and personal discussions were frequent. Internet had just begun, but the price for the service was rather high..even by western standards..and restrictive to Internet Cafes that did not have Wifi (1996-2003)

I recollect meeting one fellow who was a rocket scientist on the Baran project as well as many artists who had very interesting stories to share. When a conversion ran out of words or vocabulary it often was extended to a game of cards, Mariash or chess which would consume the evening. I look back at the early days in Prague with fondness although through the time I was there things began to change. In 1996-97 there seemed to be a good feeling between foreigners and the locals. This was to change as droves of foreigners rushed in. Czechs began to meet other places than were the foreigners frequented. The times changed over the years too. By 2006, the last time I was in Prague, it was hard to see many Czechs at the old stomping grounds...in fact many of the old places were torn out, disestablished, or turned into boutiques leaving a very new territory which was far different.

In 1999-2000 things changed quite a lot. Prague had become overrun with many tourists. Places where I used to go were no longer considered safe by the Czechs except for the friendly place called Gulu Gulu (which existed till 2000 and then was changed to an art gallery.

Gulu Gulu during the fall of 1999 had become almost exclusively for backpackers and foreign tourists. My friends did not really want to go there to meet and rather go other place where the conditions were more settling.

Recently though the place (Gulu Gulu) had become very mysterious. During that particular year 1999-2000 the essence of this place was giving off rather strange vibes ( I say vibes because one know when one has those chilly kinds of feelings towards a place)

I remember we were ready to move off to Krumlov that summer and the date was pretty evident. Walpurgisnacht Nat (Or Walpurgisnacht Night) was one of those times...and dates one makes reference to. It was the last day of April 2000. during that time there is a Czech legend that the women must dress up as witches and be kissed by 12pm to turn back to being ordinary ladies. (It goes back in tradition) What I am going to reference is almost beyond an encounter but as factual as could be represented in memory.

I had been giving some lessons in Prague to several private students. It was always a hope that they would make their date or keep their appointments. (Unlike a fixed school I took people at their word that they were going to show up...if not I would never teach them again...if at a fixed school I would be paid for the students absence) During this time I was really wanting pupils. I had taken out advertisements in the local papers as well as posted “Teacher of English” signs wherever possible. My telephone was not necessarily ringing off the hook...it was always a difficult task to be an independent teacher in Prague. If students would show they would always bicker about the amount that they thought they should pay. Some wanted lessons free to test out the teacher. In such cases I gave small consultations. In other cases they would often go to classes at a fixed school for lessons. Many Czech people want things for “free” or terribly reduced cost...what I was asking is nominal to what I was paid at the University or some private school where I worked. I don't know why when spending my valuable time. It was this case for piano lessons too or art lessons too. Sometimes frustrating my date books would sometimes look like jigsaw puzzles. I knew by some kind of inclination if there would be a class held or not..cancellations were sometimes later with the words sorry...no shows were common. It was after the days routine that I would sometimes come down to Gulu Gulu to get a cup of coffee and perhaps find another student. On one occasion there was this fellow who asked me if I wanted to teach at the Algerian Embassy some ESL courses. Of course I was living on a tight budget and always I said...ok what courses and how much are you paying. I was sure to know in a few minutes if the job was going to be worth it or not. I did some teaching at the Russian Embassy in Prague for a bit, only a few lessons to an interpreter so I was used to the higher profile students as well as the students that came out of college or at some business school.

Of course this Algerian was playing me I said to myself. An old fellow apparently from some Mideast country beckoned me from across the room clued me into it. He spoke English quite well and mentioned...Dont waste your time. We sat and talked for a few minutes and then I left and went home. “ Your American or Canadian...or what “ he asked. I have always been somewhat straight forward unless I felt it might be dangerous or awkward. He went into some sort of entanglement of political issues at that point and I excused myself and left Gulu Gulu (I remembered his face quite well)

The next afternoon I came back towards the center of the town when I ran into the old man. Perhaps he wanted English Lessons, so I thought. I asked...and he began talking in circular ways about events and things that really had no interest. He went on about it...something that had to do with “something” and old families putting together some day of witness to something very bad. Ah I said to myself...I have to get on my way! Politely excusing myself. He continued however...as though he were repenting of some sort of sin in conversation. Etc.


I returned to Cesky Krumlov again weeks later. I remember the yellow flowers as far as one could see on the slow train from Ceske Budowise. I remember the slow little train that would pass through villages and then stop to let the villagers out along route. I had memories of each stop and the shifting of the train as well as the way the train stops were called...around this long bend Cesky Krumlov. Of course the little train station was about 1 mile and ½ to the actual town. One had the option to take a bus to the outskirts or walk down this long set of walkways and a steep hill that constituted how to get to the town. It was always a pleasant walk on cool days, but during the summer this little walk could be tiring especially across the many cobblestone streets and into the center. One could not really do this even by car except to the main square. You could get a cab to the center also.

In spring/and again in late 2000 I went to the embassy to gain my Tanya's visa for America. I was so happy we were finally planning our lives together. I planned to go to Hawaii and the island of Maui for Christmas. We stayed in Lahina and enjoyed the Millennium from the pier. My engagement was tightened as a promise was put into effect with our wedding in Kona-kailua at the King Kamehameha Royal grounds. We were married on Feb 8th 2001. It was a most beautiful and simple marriage on the beach with vows in Hawaiian and English. Tanyas father and Uncle flew in for the wedding and stayed a week, Our honeymoon was a beautiful assortment of walks and dinners by the sea and a 1st class view of the ocean. We later took residence in a wonderful apartment that overlooked the village of Kailua-Kona for about two months before returning to Phoenix. I believed strongly that we should have stayed in Hawaii as things were just beginning to look up, the environment was beautiful and still our lives were beginning. Personally I would have liked to stay in Hawaii but there were auick changes in plans that seemed to go around me. About two months later we went to San Francisco and returned to Phoenix. Less than a week later my Tanya was on her flight back to Prague. I remember it was in August when all of a sudden she bought a ticket and was on the plane the next day. What a hollow feeling it was to see the plane taxi and takeoff, the love of my life, my wife disappearing into the clouds..would I ever see her again? So many things happened in the next month..of course! And fear above all things wrenched through me.

I had tried everything to make her home our home. I worked at some corporate offices in East Mesa in aircraft testing in order to afford the rent and try to make a lifestyle for us both. I managed a second job to try to make things worthy for us in the best possible ways, a good house to live in and a purchase of a new home...ironically 1 week before 9/11 happened! It did not close and I lost my down payment altogether...during the collapse of Enron and the debacle over stocks assets, laid on credit towards what I certainly felt was a good future for us both. I had a large sum of money that dwindled in a day as stocks dropped..and then dropped again, without ability to move them because of the National Calamity. It was a terrible thing that was being balanced out...by fate.

I had returned to Prague to resume my career form 2001-2003 teaching at Charles University as well as international schools...and this is another part of the story, my life which I look at now in hindsight...(To Be Continued)


Over the next two years the dreams had disappeared of being married and giving my resource and experiences their full Monte as a goal. I would return several times to Czech in the next too years to travel to this beautiful land and peruse ideas and concepts for my art. During the years 2004-06 I returned to the cities of Prague, Marianski Lazni, Karlovy Cesky Krumlov and lower Bohemia to re-consume many memories of Czech.

I was impressed by the Czech Republic and had a wonderful time..and beautiful experience. I attained Czech Residency in the fall of 2001- to return to Prague and rejoin my wife. and continued my art, teaching, exhibitions (Continued)




We must come to understand the deep mutual connection or kinship between the various forms of our spirituality, We must recollect our original spiritual and moral substance, which grew out of the same essential experience of humanity. I believe that this is the only way to achieve a genuine renewal of our sense of responsibility for ourselves and for the world. And at the same time, it is the only way to achieve a deeper understanding among cultures that will enable them to work together in a truly ecumenical way to create a new order for the world.

Vaclav Havel





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Member Since
Aug 2008
Myka Piereonini said:
posted on Jun 25, 2009

Your writings make me want to travel, although that is not going to happen any time soon. But it's nice to read about. Thank you.


Member Since
Aug 2007
Brian Childers said:
posted on Jun 27, 2009

that it didn't work out with Tanya.... you tried hard. I think we all have a Tanya in our lives. 


Member Since
Apr 2008
Sarah Green said:
posted on Jun 30, 2009

You write really well; just wanted to tell you that. So enjoyable to read.


Member Since
May 2009
Matthew Stanford said:
posted on May 28, 2010

WOW.......what a post....must revisit that city one day for a better look.


Member Since
Aug 2007
Olga Pinashova said:
posted on Jul 02, 2010

Fascinating, insane, wild and vibrant. Can you tell I'm a bit jealous?