Create every day

Create every day

Tao and I are both on a mission in 2019 to create every day. He is sketching and i am writing. Both of us have the intention of publishing books in 2020 in response to our work from this year.

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2018, a whirlwind year so far

Art of Tao LaBossiere is busy juggling our commercial art projects and the rebuild of Still Waters Retreat Center in Voluntown, CT.  Tao is the lead creative visionary and co-owner of Still Waters, while I handle the business side. We both dabble in the creative and business arenas, however, we each use our best strengths to create new artwork, build the creative community and facilitate healing for others. Here are a few things that Tao has visualized and created this year: 

• Trompe l'oiel outdoor stone mural
• Full porch wrap-around garden boxes
• Coat and hat racks made from 300-year old rustic barn wood
• Rustic end tables and a sliding kitchen door
• Crushed stone walking paths
• Stepping stone greenway installation on Goat Island
• Pond-side stone ceremonial platform infused with healing stones
   (see work in progress picture below)

and so much more. Follow Still Waters on Instagram and Facebook to see all the visuals and stay up to date. We'll do our best to post when possible. Thanks for checking us out! 

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Amy & Tao LaBossiere receive Catalyst Award

Last night at The 224 EcoSpace in a crowd of change makers, community, and religious leaders, artists, and business people, Tao and I received an award for our service and leadership in the community. The 2017 Catalyst Awards for Transformational Leadership were presented to six Unsinkable Spirits in the Community. Unsinkable Spirits was the theme of the evening, spun off the 224's mascot, the rubber ducky. The organizations' mascot was inspired by Tao's iconic Rubber Ducky series of paintings.

A couple of years ago, Tao started that series, The Unsinkable Spirit, intended for a future children’s book. It’s inspired by the idea that a rubber ducky stays the course amidst any turmoil and despite all obstacles in the stormy seas. The rubber ducky floats and smiles, surrounded by massive waves. He just keeps going. That is what we must do in life and what we do as artists and humble change-makers. Tao has painted many of these, and most have sold to private collectors. Last night, Tao and I gifted the painting below to Rev. Dr. Shelley Best, CEO of The 224.

Unsinkable Spirit ©2017 Art of Tao LaBossiere. All rights reserved

Unsinkable Spirit ©2017 Art of Tao LaBossiere. All rights reserved

Check out this video about Tao and my love of Hartford and thoughts about having an Unsinkable Spirit, produced by the very talented Enrique Lebron

Our experience with the 224 as an organization is wonderful so far. We had the pleasure of facilitating a community mural on the back of their expansive building last year in collaboration with the CT Center for Nonviolence. The mural, The Universe is on the side of Justice, was a shining example of co-creating for the community and sharing essential ideas. Check out this making-of video for more information on that mural. 

The closing from my gratitude remarks last night: There are times we give to the community and times the community has given back to us. It’s a living, breathing, thriving energy that surrounds us. We have unsinkable spirits because of the creative community of Hartford, all the inspiring, hard-working people we’ve met over the years, by the grace of God and this beautiful universe. Tao and I are truly grateful. Thank you again for this esteemed award. May we all enjoy the practice of maintaining our own unsinkable spirit.

2017 Catalyst Awards Honoree photo by Rachel Sclare.  From Left: Michael Parker, SVP, Comcast; Rev. Ronald D. Holmes, Pastor; Rev. Dr. Shelley D. Best, President & CEO, The 224 EcoSpace & The Conference of Churches; Stephen D. Hankey, Founder of Island Reflections Dance Theater Company; Amy LaBossiere, Administrating Director of Art of Tao LaBossiere; Tao LaBossiere, founder of Art of Tao LaBossiere; Patricia Baker, founding leader of CT Health Foundation; Tracey May, Chair, Board of Directors, The Conference of Churches. 

2017 Catalyst Awards Honoree photo by Rachel Sclare.

From Left: Michael Parker, SVP, Comcast; Rev. Ronald D. Holmes, Pastor; Rev. Dr. Shelley D. Best, President & CEO, The 224 EcoSpace & The Conference of Churches; Stephen D. Hankey, Founder of Island Reflections Dance Theater Company; Amy LaBossiere, Administrating Director of Art of Tao LaBossiere; Tao LaBossiere, founder of Art of Tao LaBossiere; Patricia Baker, founding leader of CT Health Foundation; Tracey May, Chair, Board of Directors, The Conference of Churches. 

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My gratitude speech. Photo by Rachel Sclare.

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They made this cool banner! The 224 EcoSpace has these throughout their 30,000 square foot building on Farmington Ave in Hartford.

American Flag

Art of Tao just completed and installed a beautiful mixed media flag for the developer of Heirloom Flats, a gorgeous new apartment community in Connecticut. The developer is brilliantly curating multiple artists each time he develops a property and commissioning them to create custom work. Tao and I worked for several months with the art consultant and developer. Tao did a great job designing and building a site specific work of art.

We had the chance to meet some of the other selected talented artists. A few of them we knew from around the Hartford art scene including Stanwyk Cromwell and Michael Borders

Tao's intention with this work was to create a faux vintage 1959 look, as if the flag and logo had been there for a while, not just installed. The flag is a combination of fresh vintage style.  

More businesses should include art in their budget. It enhances the community, creates jobs in an important sector, feeds the local economy, and generates goodwill. Plus, its beautiful! 

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Tao installs the work with our friend, artist and carpenter Matt Crouch. Photo from my Instagram, reposted from Heirloom Flats'. 

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Faux vintage pre-1959 American Flag. Pressure treated wood and galvanized frame, reclaimed wood and distressed paint. 12 ft W x 7 ft H with ghosted logo.  Photo from my Instagram, reposted from Heirloom Flats'.

Mixed media work in progress.

Tao is working on a huge flag for our most recent client, a property developer in Bloomfield, Connecticut.   

"Art is solving problems," Tao says to me as he walks by carting planks of wood. He wears a measuring tape and a focused smile. I weigh in on a few details, and move some stars around.

Tao will work on this for weeks including the planning, design, revisions and install. 

I'll post more pictures on Facebook when it's done.  

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Before/after

Great project. I stumbled across the before pic today and had to post. How's this for the before/after of Tao's mural at J's? Much more suited to their brand than a plain concrete wall. It's all in the details. Even the handicapped parking sign is hand-painted. The mural wraps around the front and on to their outdoor patio! Painted by Tao with a brush the size of my pinky. We need a professional photograph of this mural. My snapshot doesn't do it justice.

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(Above) Tao LaBossiere, Jim of J's, and Amy LaBossiere stand in front of J's Crabshack after committing to their new exterior mural.

(Below) partial view of completed mural

"Please, call me Tao"

By Tao LaBossiere

When I was born my parents filed out my Birth Certificate as follows. First Name - (  none. ), Middle Name: Tao, and Last Name: LaBossiere. They intentionally did not give me a first name, to allow me the opportunity to give myself my own first name when I came of age. I believe they greatly admired similar Native American traditions of one finding a name for oneself. I really don't know where the hell they got the idea that would be a good idea in our society, because it caused a great deal of identity conflict for me as a child. But I suppose they were somehow anticipating that I might have issues with the name they chose to give me due to it's ethnic sound and that "Tao" emphasized the cultural and racial difference I had been born into, compared the predominantly Caucasian community that they had chosen to live.

I will not create a list, but I will give one example of racism that I have personally experienced. It was the first time I ever experienced racism, and the most traumatic for me, and it shaped the way I viewed myself and how I was acutely aware that I did not quite fit into my community ...as a five year old child.

It was the First Day of School! My mother was holding my hand as we walked down our our long gravel country driveway to ride my first School Bus! My mother was kind and encouraging, she said to me,"You are going to make so many new friends and learn so many things! School is an amazing place. You are going to love school!" I could still feel the warmth of her love and reassurance as the enormous yellow bus pulled up to our driveway. It was so big I could barely pull myself up the steps and when I triumphantly reach the top and turned to look up the aisle at all of my new friends, a Big Boy in the back stood up and shouted,"Hey everybody look, it's a CHINK!" Almost all of the kids were suddenly pointing at me and laughing and I had no idea why but it felt like the end of the world as my heart dropped into my stomach. I knew instantly that I was different from everybody and they didn't like me.

Apparently the laughter reassured the bullying Big Boy that he had a captive audience, and victim, and he was on the right track. He gleefully attacked me again, shouting, "How do Chinks name their kids? Huh? They throw utensils down the stairs...Ting! Tang!Ching! Chong!" And the entire bus roared with laughter as almost everyone stared at me with disgust and took pleasure making me the target of someone they could hate ...for no reason other than the fact that I didn't look exactly like them.

The only other person on the bus who didn't join in the laughter was a little red headed girl sitting in the first seat to my left. Her head was down and I could tell that she had been crying and that she had peed in her pants. So I assumed that she had been the  previous victim of the bullying Big Boy. The bus driver told me to sit with a little red headed girl and thus began my first day of school, as an unacceptable five year old child.

I tell that story so that those who know me can understand why I ended up choosing "Scott" as my legal first name when I transitioned into grade school. It was the only Anglicized name that was not taken by any of my classmates and I had hoped that it would give people the impression that I was more of an acceptable Caucasian and less Asian and that I would be allowed to fit in.

Assuming the name and identity of Scott T. LaBossiere did indeed have a profound relief on the level of racism that I experienced. I still experienced it from time to time but I cannot imagine how much worse it would've been had I continued to introduce myself as Tao.

Today, as a 48-year-old man who has come to accept myself and that I am better equipped to deal with the ignorant and mean spirited racism that exists in the world, I have reclaimed my birth name, Tao.

Tao is spelled T-A-O, but pronounced with a "D" sound, as in "Dao" or "Dow". I am not really sure why it's pronounced that way other than my mother's insistence that that is how you pronounce it! Apparently there are fifty-six dialects of the Chinese language, but I wouldn't know because unfortunately I don't speak the language.

So the name Tao, being of confusing pronunciation, gives me the perfect opportunity on almost a daily basis to have to explain my name. Why it's different. I am acutely aware that with many folks who do not share my heritage, it stands to emphasize our cultural differences.

For the most part folks are interested and accepting and will tend to remember me because of my name and the arduous task of its explanation and pronunciation.

But still today, for some, the name Tao gives cause or proof to them that I am an 'other', that I am different, and not in a way that they find palatable. "Oh, I thought you looked a little Asian!" One of my ex-girlfriends mothers who has known me for nearly 30 years, still refuses to call me Tao. She insists on calling me Scott despite my informing her many times that I do not go by that name anymore.

I am half French & English on my father's side and and Chinese on my mother's side. So I am perceived as mostly white, or as one of my buddies use to say, "He's one of the good ones!"

The degree to which I have personally experienced racism is appalling, but I'm sure it pales in comparison to others. I can not imagine the depth of anguish endured by my tan, brown, and black skinned brothers and sisters in the world.

Racism is the manifestation of human insecurity, and we have not out grown it.

Yes, my legal first name is Scott ... but please, call me Tao.

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Mural complete at J's Crab Shack

We are excited to announce that Art of Tao has completed another beautiful exterior trompe l'oeil mural. If you've never been to J's Crabshack, it's on Park Street in Hartford.  this photo is just a crappy iPhone shot. But until we get a professional photo, you get the idea. This mural took just under a year from start to finish. Mostly because we started it last fall and had to stop over the winter. The owners were not in a rush for it to be completed, so we worked on it alongside other projects. Trompe l'oiel is one of Tao's favorite ways to paint murals. He loves transforming architecture with a paintbrush the size of my pinky. Now, please stop reading this, go get some seafood and check out this mural in person. Art in real life is always better. 

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Mural at J's http://www.jscrabshack.com/

Expo, fail!

This weekend we attended an extra large expo at the Farmington polo grounds, all with vendors who specialize in local items, so everyone had products they made in Connecticut. Unfortunately, Saturday brought torrential rains, and flooded our area. We were not able to stay through on Sunday.  Ultimately, were glad that a couple of art patrons were able to acquire a few pieces. 

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Uh oh!  

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A river runs through it: view from our booth.

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Most of the work was meditative and hence we were calm.  

What's up

Hey friends and art fans, 

Somehow the past few months have truly flown by. We've had quite a bit of fabulous work commissioned. I'll likely omit a few projects by way of brain overload! Nonetheless, a few of our stellar moments for clients include a boatload of new rusty steel items that Tao is creating these days. He's so inspired working with metal. You can see some of these on our Facebook page here. You can check out more of these on our new ETSY store here

Our latest cool project was a custom etched copper bar top for The Blind Pig in Hartford. Our artist friend Matt Seremet is working on some completed visuals we can share with you, although you really need to GO there and see it for your self (plus their pizza totally rocks). Tao created custom illustrations inspired by Prohibition-era posters and he etched them into the copper bar top. Then he and I spent hours upon hours over a few evenings refining the top until it came out as the unique, beautiful patina'ed top that it is! 

Much more in progress for our favorite clients and new ones too. More to come. There is no doubt that 2017 will offer many challenges, opportunities and unique experiences in our corner of the universe. We are excited and optimistic! 

Tao LaBossiere working on etching the copper bar top at The Blind Pig in Hartford, CT.

Tao LaBossiere working on etching the copper bar top at The Blind Pig in Hartford, CT.

 

 

On the air

Last night, Tao and I were on the air with J-Cherry's show, Voice of the City, on WESU-FM Middletown. I love this station and show. We've been on a few times and it's great to spend the hour with Jennifer and Tim. On this episode, we chat about art, open studio weekend, art+soul Hartford, Still Waters Pond, our work with J's Crab Shack and Bear's Smokehouse BBQ, and much much more.  Listen HERE

The Tap Room: making of a trompe l'oeil mural

Creating a mural that transforms architecture is a fabulous creative process. First, a concept needs to be born. For this mural at Still Hill Brewery, we were inspired by the logo created by Gary Holmes of Gariphic. Originally, the brewery owners contacted us to paint that mural on the wall. When Tao saw the future tap room space, he instantly imagined the logo in the form of a rusty old sign, inside of an old barn known as Still Hill. The story and visual unfolded in his mind and he created the visual to share with the brewery owners. They too fell in love with it, and hired us to create the mural. Along the way, Tao took many progressive images during the creation of this large-scale, indoor mural at Still Hill Brewery. He would stop painting, take a picture, paint some more, set up some automatic shots from his phone, and paint some more. We also used some other images available to us as content. 

Our gratitude to Matt Seremet that constructed this video and animated various elements from the mural artwork. Let us know what you think. It's pretty wild!  

Welcome Home Community Mural

Led by master artist and Connecticut muralist Tao LaBossiere, the team of artists co-created a large-scale mural that celebrates what home means to them in the City of Hartford’s North End community. 

The artists and project planning team would like to thank the people and places of North Hartford that inspired “Welcome Home”. 

“Welcome Home” planning team: Thea Montanez of North Hartford Promise Zone, Tao & Amy LaBossiere of The Art of Tao LaBossiere, Patrick McKenna, Gina Muslim and John Thomas of Community Solutions; Ryan O’Halloran and Ron Pitz of Knox, Inc., and Gordon Scott of Scott’s Jamaican Bakery.

What goes into planning and creating a community mural?
Check out this video that highlights some of the process.