FRANK HAINES TALKS WITH LINDA MONTANO
1. Where are you from and what is your connection with that place?
LMM: I am from a small upstate NY village. It was like a green tunnel as I grew, filled with no exit signs. Because I could walk to m grandmother's home everyday and watch her make "outsider art", I was lucky that the village afforded this luxury of movement and ability to sleigh ride down the road, ride a horse in the filed and skate on the pond they made every winter. And NOBODY EVER SAID BE CAREFULL, BECAUSE LIFE IS DANGEROUS! So I grew in this atmosphere of permission which I cherish and continue to practice. Is there any other region which calls to you strongly? I visited New Mexico when I lived with Pauline Oliceros and we went to the American Indian rituals with Diane and Jerry Rothenberg on the reservations. So New Mexico calls as well as India, the land of spiritual permission par excellance. I like places where I dont have to comb my hair or worry about it!
2.What have you been reading and/or who have you read the most of and/or who do you need to read more of?\
LMM:I read alot of memoir. In fact I read someplace, "I didnt read a book and knew only one person, I read books and knew thousands." Reading is food to me and now I watch you tubes and make believe they are books. I can attend lectures by lamas and rimpoches and mystics and see biographies of saints from the comfort of my living room.
3. What did you do and/or how did you feel during the month of July 1984?
LMM: I had just been "untied" from the rope event with Tehching Hsieh and I felt a plethora of things: exhaltation at having survived the rope, sadness at leaving the side of this great man, but then I was in anguish because my mother developed cancer that year and I rushed home July 4th night (after being freed from the rope) and went to my mother's bedside. Now at 70 years old, I get a chance to FEEL all of this. Then it was happening and now this section of my life is for reviewing and assimilating and digesting.
4. How does one benefit from the concept of sin?
LMM: This must be introduced but only with LOVE AS THE TWIN. Children must not be finger wagged at. They must not be shamed or pulled into hell with the teachings on sin and culpability and consequences. Sin must be introduced hand in hand with compassion so the kid doesnt end up a serial killer or neurotic or psychotic or victimized cripple or psychopath! In the past sin was used as a club and not introduced as a DO UNTO OTHERS possibility with the caveat that we all faqll off the wagon. Falling off when I was a young person meant hell and buring forever and so the fear factor sets in when that is the position and what follows is physical illness, psychological shadowing and life changing crippling! I melt when I see parents introduce "right and wrong" in a rational, culturally specific and kind way to a child! How should one define their morality? The brain cements in a pattern of action from early teachings. What was moral then, in childhood, is often our moral now! To alter the original poisonous pedagogy(Alice Miller), we have to breathe, meditate, study, (books!!!) and do tons of therapy.
5. How have you seen art heal in your experience?
LMM: Art has been my drug of choice forever. I watched my mother and grandmother use art therapeutically my whole life. They DID SOMETHING, brought life to matter and as a result, made beauty from the detrius of their lives. I copied that model of transformation and sang my grief when Mitchell died, danced my joy on TV with my dog, Chicken, when I was first married, I got hypnotized to sing and dream while sleeping on a gallery floor, I offered ART/LIFE COUNSELING on a one-t-one basis because I needed to talk with people and didnt know how to do that as life....the list goes on. See www.lindamontano.com
6. Is darkness as important as the light?
LMM: So very much. One of my most favorite videos is called STARVED SURVIVORS. It is free on you tube, because after OWS, I decided to OCCUPY MY ART and make it all free. STARVED SURVIVORS is about traveling to hell and back, from dark to light. Unless we suck up the mud and mire and feel the dark, the light will remain just a flicker.
7. In the past, when you would work with the tarot, what did it mean to you?
LMM: There is a very close relationship between POWER OVER and genuine CAREGIVING that I always have to balance. It takes right intention to use inherently miraculous gifts that we have without becoming the arrogant and lording over know it all that is so easy to do/become. I used tarot as a tool of talking to peole.(I feel I grew up as a selective mute, in silence, and didnt have talking skills. In fact, see my video, LEARNING TO TALK on you tube; I sat in font of a video camera in 1976-79 and talked to it as 7 different people. I call the experience CREATIVE SCHIZOPHRENIA.) So people would come to the window at the NEW MUSEUM and I would do a whole number...tarot, palm, intuitive readings etc. It was great but when I re-entered Catholicism, I burned those tools!!!!! And now I offer ART/LIFE COUNSELING......I am basically bossy and I get to re-order that and give advice as art. When I become MOTHER TERESA, I just bless people, and do less counseling. A step up for sure. And it has filtered over to my life because I am not poking my ego and my opinions into daily encounters as much, and just hanging back and blessing bith myself and the person i'm with. Safer!
8. In your letter to the Pope you mentioned you had a “heart full of contradictions and paradox” and that the title of “Catholic Performance Artist” was a contestable oxymoron. Could you elaborate on this?
LMM : I was a wild and free performanceaholic! Did what , where, how ,why,when,and how much I wanted without reserve. When I was gigging, I wnet from place to place, did my thing or things then left next day. No muss no fuss. Then I got a tenure tract job and had people/students for awhile in my life.... They were doing such intense work that i felt I had to be more accountable to them, more careful with them and with their minds and bodies! Also I was in academia and that is about connecting and thinking out loud and transparency and creating an academic"family." These were all social and professional skills I knew nothing about. So, I started going to the Catholic church on campus which was more with it than the one i grew up in so I thought ,"This isnt so bad!" And then I saw a Catholic counselor and started dealing wiht some of my Catholic stuff and my mind stuff in a atherapeutic way and not just an "art way" as I had before. The keystone was returning home to upstate and then taking care of my dad in the same house, taking him to the same church BUT seeing the beauty of the sacrtamental and MYSTICAL LIFE OF CATHOLICISM, through new eyse, the eyes of the Eastern teachings I had practiced which were about compassion and wisdom, not rules, sin, shame, guilt and damnation!!!!!! But I must admit that putting Catholicism, perofrmance art and my need for creative autonmy in the same blender, mixing them up and pouring them out has been extremely challenging but I LOVE CHALLENGE and will endure!
9. Do you think periods of explosive and disciplined creativity are often followed by astounding displays of annihilation?
LMM: Balance, rest, breathing and letting the elements heal are a daily must.
10. Can you tell me about Dr Mishra and your experiences together?
LMM: I met him formally in SF when he came to the Integral Yoga Institute one night, sat infront of 3 asana students and played a guitar by just strumming it, no notes, fro a long, long long long time. I went into a definite trance and heard: He is your teacher. Hindus,people from INdia have a spiritual skill, unmatched in the west. This is their gold, this is their technology, this is their beauty and they have gods and ogdesses of love, of ecstasy, of pleasure , of power and of tolerance. The people refelct this permission for an earth-heaven ecstasy that they are always emitting and teaching. Dr Mishra was a genius of science/medicine/meditation and psychology. A magnet of love and compassion and humor, he became my guide to my soul and my heart and opened them . He always encouraged my Catholicism and gave me Jesus phots, talked about my being in the convent and indicated that I would "return" to the religion of my youth/roots. He was a MD and knew the body and a mystic and knew the soul. Atrue scolar of sanskrit and sutras and everything theologically hindu, he was a genius and father to all. He saved my spiritual life and gave me the gift of meditative ecstasy. I am his student for sure.
11. Has a work of art ever made you cry? If so, what?
LMM: Anger Management with Adam Sandler and Jack (forgot last name.....
12. Can you tell me about someone you have lost?
LMM: Mrs Mehta, an Ayruvedic physican was my adopted mother and soul-mate friend for 19 years. I mentored life and compassion with her/following her around rooms, standing one inch ffrom her at all times/ironing her saris/willing to apprentice by being there in her life. What she gave back was waves of compassion and love. She could have been one of those GURUS and MA but she chose to give her shaktipat to her family and friends. A few minutes after her creamation, I saw a car go up in flames, 40 feet in the air, as we were driving out of the cemetary and away from the crematorium. She guide me still in the guise of BLESSED MOTHER MARY.
13. Do you spend much time considering notions of a first cause? Is the Universe indifferent?
14. Where do you like to go when you come to NYC?
LMM: I go to churches and do 3 HOUR PRAYER PERFORMANCES. I advertise these on the Franklin Furnace list and others join me.
15. When you were a child, did you view the world in a fantastical way that has faded as you've gotten older?
LMM: Did and it is still here.
16. What is a good exercise for someone who wishes to calm down?
LMM: The LION from yoga.
17. What can you see from where you are sitting right now?
LMM: One of my favorite second homes, the library wall.