t.h.a.n.k.s.

t.h.a.n.k.s.*

31 slide projection loops were co-created daily by Mike Reandeau and Markuz Wernli Saitô and presented at the window of a private residence in San Jose's historical Reed district between April 10 through May 10, 2008. *(tiny. humble. ardent. now. knock. soul)

t.h.a.n.k.s. PROJECT ARCHIVE
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Art can be understood as attention to living. What we see depends mainly on what we look for. Project t.h.a.n.k.s. was inspired by the practice of gratefulness that shifts our focus towards the positive in our lives and how we relate to it.

Mike as host and Markuz as contributing artist signed an agreement which committed them to keep project t.h.a.n.k.s. running for 31 days. Mike promised to submit every day a message to the artist describing "something to be grateful for". Markuz in turn promised to receive that message and create a "slide of gratefulness".

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SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2008 (FINAL DAY 31)

I repaired the projection screen so the last night of this project can be as perfect as possible. I struggle as I consider my 31st message. I want it to be perfect.

Rocks celebrates my aliveness in this physical world and my artistry, relationships, passions, losses and desires, religion, choices and results. As Jung wrote "I was but the sum of my emotions, and the Other in me was the timeless, imperishable stone." So my life and my dreams have confirmed. Why did I write Rocks? I was keeping track of my dreams and I wanted to know more about them.

Through Project t.h.a.n.k.s. I share my dreams of community, glimpsing the infinite, compassion, help, love, forgiveness, inspiration, friendship, survival, honesty, childhood, passion, certainty, gentleness, acceptance, healing, peacefulness, joyful expession, growth, protection, work, intimacy, support, generosity, knowledge, family, strength, secrets, learning, surprise and new beginnings.

I am grateful for this window into my dreams.

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FRIDAY, MAY 9, 2008 (DAY 30)

I woke up early this morning. It was dark but by the robins' and other birds' chirping I knew it was around 4:15. After breakfast I walked to Starbucks and when I got home read the New York Times.

I started my work day earlier than normal, arriving at the office about 7:15. The office was totally quiet since no one was here yet.

I am grateful for the serenity of this moment.

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THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2008 (DAY 29)

One of my favorite jokes is the one about Thermos jugs. Three recent college grads were discussing what they feel are the most important scientific discoveries and inventions of the 20th century. One was from LSU, one from UT and the third graduated from Ole Miss.

The LSU grad said: "I think the most important invention was the transistor. From that device, we put people on the moon, built personal computers and made our lives easier."

The others nodded. Then the UT grad said it was the DNA discovery. It had already solved crimes and will prove to be beneficial to our health care in the future. Again, the others nodded.

The guy from Ole Miss said: "It's the Thermos jug."

The other two looked at him funny and asked "the Thermos jug?"

Old Miss guy said..." yeah... you know... you put something hot in it and it stays hot all day. You put something cold in it and it stays cold all day."

The others said: "Yeah, yeah, we know what a thermos does... so why is that such a big deal?"

The guy from Ole Miss asks: "How does it know?"

Yesterday my car alerted me to check my tire pressure. I checked and everything looked okay. I checked the tires again this morning and one seemed low; sure enough, there was a nail in it. I got it fixed on the way to work. The car alerted me last year after someone stabbed a tire. Now I will believe my car when it tells me to check my tire pressure. But I will wonder "How does it know?"

Even though I work in information technology, when technology actually works and helps me it still amazes me.
I am grateful for technology that makes life better and safer.

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 2008 (DAY 28)

When I moved to California I discovered how little I understood about gardening here and began attending horticulture classes at Strybing Arboretum at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. I learned about plants that thrive here and their cultivation. I also learned about California native plants. One of things I learned was how exotic species and habitat disruption have put these plants at risk of extinction.

We included many California native plants in our new garden. It's a small step toward preserving these plants.

I am grateful for people protecting California's native environment.

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TUESDAY, MAY 6, 2008 (DAY 27)

When the ads for Mother's Day gifts started showing up recently I experienced an odd feeling, of a holiday I can't celebrate by giving my mother a gift. She died last year. For over twenty years I gave her the same gift, a hanging basket of annuals delivered to her doorstep. My father told me each year as Mother's day approached, "don't send any flowering baskets this year." During my summer visits it would be there in my parent's back yard, blooming away. But she died last February and so there is no reason to send the flowering basket any longer.

As I looked for a recipe tonight, going through the cook books, a small piece of crumpled paper floated to the floor. It was part of the cover of the Lady's Farm Journal Pie Cook Book. I liked that cook book so much I took it from my mother's collection many years ago. I cooked pies more often anyway, I told myself. A few years ago I found another one at a yard sale and bought it for her. But when she came to visit, her last visit two years ago, she found her copy of the cook book and asked, "is this mine?"

I am grateful for these reminders of my mother.

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MONDAY, MAY 5, 2008 (DAY 26)

Whether it was Sunday afternoon's nap, a whole weekend of being quiet, the new medication, or just time itself, I am feeling better.

I am grateful for feeling better.

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SUNDAY, MAY 4, 2008 (DAY 25)

Yesterday I relied on tried-and-true relaxation techniques to enjoy Saturday. After running errands I looked for a drive in, wanting an old-fashioned burger and milkshake.

As I drove into downtown I got caught up in festivities related to our Cinco de Mayo weekend celebration and ended up heading south. Then I saw the Five Spot sign. I pulled into the parking lot and discovered it had re-opened as Chivas Grill, a mexican restaurant.

I requested corn tortillas with my lunch. I wish I knew her name, the senora standing behind the counter. Smiling and singing she pressed little balls of masa into the tortilla press and then threw them on the grill. After they cooked she tossed them into the little basket by my plate. "You want more? How many?" she asked when I emptied the basket. She made me two more and I left with a smile.
I am grateful for the tortillas de maiz she made for me.

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SATURDAY, MAY 3, 2008 (DAY 24)

Yesterday morning Phil stopped by to say good morning. "I haven't seen you in a while, how are things going?" he asked. He and I are both in new roles, working in the same office. Certain that his question was about my new job, I started rambling on about it, but also noted that my back issue distracts me.

He drew a picture that explained visually what happened and why it is painful and how treatment will help. This viewpoint helped me understand my back issue and my healing path.

I am grateful for the picture he drew.

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FRIDAY, MAY 2, 2008 (DAY 23)

Looking out the window overlooking our garden this evening I first saw the simple white rose blooming among the grape vines. And then the Canary Island pine tree, and the Banana passionfruit, hundreds of them hanging from their vines, and the Brown Turkey fig.

These plants vegetate, bloom and fruit abundantly. Years ago, at a class held in Los Altos, I came to appreciate this abundance as nature's blissful strategy to ensure survival.

I am grateful for the abundance of our garden.

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THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2008 (DAY 22)

Each Wednesday morning, since the mid-90's, I join a conference call with Dan, Dennis and Ruth. Dan set it up years ago and he calls it our Personal Board of Directors.

Our meetings are partly based on Robert Fritz's book Path of Least Resistance. We share where we are at, and where we are headed. Each of us commits to listening to each other. Then we discuss.

In the couse of one hour we share the whole gamut of our life experiences. And we receive the gifts of being heard and supported.
I am grateful for Dan creating a safe place for us.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2008 (DAY 21)

Yesterday one of my co-workers and I were able to have lunch together, tacking on some extra time to just talk about life and work. I really enjoy working with her and think of her as a good friend too. In the evening Norman and I went to the pub for dinner.

Today Norman leaves for Baltimore for his two week stint working on his B&B project.

I am grateful for sharing meals with loved ones.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 29, 2008 (DAY 20)

This morning about five, I heard low voices in the back yard. I stuck my head out the window but couldn't see anyone. I called 911 and asked the police to check things out.

The police found two people lying on a garden path. These two folks had made a bed for themselves there in the back of our garden. After a few minutes, the police escorted them to the sidewalk and told them to go away.

Walking home from the gym this morning I thought about those two folks making their bed in our garden. "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford." I am grateful for the grace of God.

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MONDAY, APRIL 28, 2008 (DAY 19)

Last evening as I stood at the Chop House restaurant's bar eating my dinner, the bartender gradually shared details of his last year.

"I've moved four times in last year" he said, adding that the RV in which he traveled and lived caught fire while passing through rural Texas. "Luckily I saved the flat screen TV and my clothes, but then I had nowhere to live and no transportation."

"I even went back to Florida", where he had grown up. "I hated it and had to get out of there." He lived in Denver for a few months, to ski with a friend who lived there. "The skiing was great, but I hate big cities."

That explained why he had come to Palm Springs to enjoy the warm weather, low humidity, small town feel, cheap summer-time golf and days off barbequing in his backyard.

"This has been the worst year of my life" he said. He packed his belongings, and dog, into his car each time he moved. "She gets car sick" he said of his dog. He outlined his work schedule of three nights bartending, which provides time for relaxation. "I won't work more than that. I just have to have time off." But he added that he does worry about the slower summer, smaller tips, and how "everybody else" works two jobs here. "If I did that I could save some money again, 'cause I spent a lot when I was skiing."

I stood there and took it in, gratefully. I looked back at my own years of upheaval, new beginnings, confusion and searching.
I am grateful for the balance in my life.

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SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2008 (DAY 18)

Last night at the Coachella Music Festival I watched and listened to Kraftwerk, Portishead and Prince.

I listen to music frequently, but rarely attend live performances. Even in my younger years I didn't go that much and it seemed amazing to see and hear the performers perform their music in person. It still amazes me.

Both Kraftwerk and Prince expressed political sentiments. I remember Kraftwerk from the 70's and I accepted their anti-nuclear message without much thought. When they performed Radioactivity it made me realize how my attitude about nuclear energy has changed since then. Prince chose Come Together by The Beatles to preach to the audience about peace. Portishead sang about love and relationships.

I am grateful for musicians and their music.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 26, 2008 (DAY 17)

On my morning walk I enjoyed quietness. Even the happy hour going on in a bar I passed at 7 AM sounded subdued.

The birds, mainly finches, mockingbirds and doves, come and go freely, enoying their desert home.

I am grateful for the joy that surrounds me.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 25, 2008 (DAY 16)

Hoping that it would help my back pain, I had a massage yesterday morning. The masseur made an extra effort to loosen up my back muscles. The masseur let me know he would look for stretches that will help.

I talked with a colleague yesterday and told her I was in pain due to my back. "Should you be going to the music festival?" That's the right question, but not one I wanted to hear.

I am grateful for people helping me feel better.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 2008 (DAY 15)

When I arrived at the resort in Palm Springs, Joe, the desk clerk greeted me. I met him last November when I stayed here. I remember when I was here last time I felt uncomfortable, as he seemed almost too friendly.

Project t.h.a.n.k.s. makes me more aware of gifts offered to me and whether I accept them.

Joe's friendliness is his gift to me and likely everyone who stays at the resort. It comes with no strings attached, he's just a friendly guy and that's probably one reason he manages the resort.
I am grateful for his friendliness.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2008 (DAY 14)

It sprinkled on the way home last night and when I woke up this morning I could hear rain falling on the roof.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where rain usually came too frequently and lasted too long. In the summer when it didn't rain I would worry about forest fires. I live in California now where it doesn't rain much most of the year. I worry even more about fires and also about drought.

I am grateful for the gentle rain.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 2008 (DAY 13)

"Do you feel proud?" Keith asked after I shared my delight with a job advancement and my joy participating in Project t.h.a.n.k.s. "Well, hmmm, kind of..." I replied, worrying that feeling proud represents bragging.

As I reflected on Keith's question, and my reactions to it, my thoughts wandered from shame to worry. These reactions, not new ones, arise from low self-esteem. What is my work worth? What am I worth? I often pay attention to critical feedback and dismiss supportive feedback. Life's more challenging that way!

"A gleeful sense of exposure" as I wrote in Rocks. That's what I feel right now. And pride for having arrived at this particular summit, with more to come.
I am grateful for feeling proud on this summit.

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MONDAY, APRIL 21, 2008 (DAY 12)

Last night Norman handled two property emergencies. I slept through most of the second one.

I do not enjoy property emergencies, because I do not trust myself to be able to fix them. So when Norman fixes them, I am relieved. But I also feel irresponsible, and think perhaps I shouldn't have property at all.

More candidly, I want my time and energy to go where I decide, and to minimize surprises which can end up deciding for me.

But then there is my poetry, in which I lament my life feeling empty. How can I expect a full, rich experience of life without embracing surprises?
I am grateful for Norman's support that helps me embrace life's surprises.

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SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2008 (DAY 11)

I stopped this morning to smell the Hawthorne tree blooming in the garden. Its rich fragrance reminds me of my childhood home where we and our neighbors had them in our yards.

My mother gave me the Hawthorne seedling about three years ago. We both thought it was from a Garry oak tree we planted about 45 years earlier. We brought that tree home as a seedling from Victoria, BC. I remember we worried about being caught with it going through Customs on the way into Port Angeles.

My mother died last year. Norman and I talked about her yesterday, how she had a good life and died quickly.
I am grateful for the tree my mother gave me.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 2008 (DAY 10)

Yesterday a co-worker asked me if everything was okay, as he had noticed my facial expression during a meeting that made him wonder. He asked if I thought he should have prepared something I did myself. Or was it just my back pain. I assured him that I did not expect him to have done my work, but I told him there was something else that concerned me.

We sat down and I shared my concern. I let him know what happened and what I had expected would happen. We discussed what we will do differently going forward. A little later I received an email from him thanking me for the feedback.

This man wants to move forward in his career. In my eyes he demonstrated a new level of awareness and forthrightness.

I am grateful for his asking if everything was okay.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2008 (DAY 9)

Last evening our host brought out a bowl of popcorn and placed it on the table set with fruit, cookies, water and wine. It was a party! After a while, as Alex started his bicycle story, I took a handful of popcorn.

Alex's story, my impression of it anyway, predicts that bicycles will be the cause of Earth's destruction. But the same people, technology, brilliance, luck, timing, etc., etc., that created bicycles can also save Earth. His "bicycles will cause the end of the world" story made me think about the popcorn.

In my mind I can see the white pyrex bowl holding off-white popcorn. There were some charred pieces. Where did corn come from? America, as I recall. Where does corn go more and more these days? Into ethanol, fueling cars, ending up in the atmosphere. It didn't take many of these idle thoughts to begin seeing Antarctica melting in that pyrex bowl.

"We are destroying the earth" Alex said at one point. I am grateful for the popcorn that made me wonder, what am I doing to save Earth?.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2008 (DAY 8)

I developed back pain a while ago and lately it has caused discomfort that has begun to interfere with my sleep, walking and sitting. During the week I have wondered what gratefulness I might find from it, given me Project t.h.a.n.k.s. insight about finding gifts sometimes in unpleasant situations.

Yesterday Steven asked, "Are you getting the care/attention you deserve?" Steven practices medicine where I work. We have also been doing a project together and enjoy each other as friends.

I don't recall ever being asked that question. Steven had recommended an acupuncturist and I forgot to call him to make an appointment. All of this is so interesting. That I AM IN PAIN. That I may not think I DESERVE CARE and ATTENTION. That I FORGOT TO CALL.

Lying in bed trying to get comfortable, I remembered two accidents from my childhood. One resulted in broken teeth and the other in torn ligaments. I am hanging on to resentments of my parents and how I remember their care and attention. But I am not seven or fourteen years old now. I FORGOT TO CALL. That's the most interesting choice in all of this. I don't have my parents to blame for my not caring and attending to my needs as I deserve. I am grateful for Steven's care and attention, gently reminding me to take responsibility for my healing, and offering his help.

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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2008 (DAY 7)

I serve our neighborhood association as its president. Elections will be held in June. Shall I run for re-election? Or be lazy and drop out of service?

At our neighborhood meeting last night MACLA leaders outlined their vision for our neighborhood and then received great suggestions for neighborhood events. Several new people attended last night's meeting. I recognized in a few that spark in their eyes that I read as eagerness to make a difference. "Just one more thing..." Leif said, all on his own at his first meeting.

It's these people and our shared dreams that prove it is irresponsible to be lazy and not care. I am grateful for the answer I got last night.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2008 (DAY 6)

Walking up Paseo de San Antonio a worker was blowing the day's trash away and dust got in my eyes. I squinted to avoid letting even more dust in, and then my eyes started watering heavily. If someone had seen me they might have thought I was crying. At that moment I remembered a day trip to Tikal, which required a three hour drive from Belize into Guatemala on a dusty, bumpy road. For the entire trip dust got in my eyes, I would squint, or shut my eyes, crying the whole time. When we arrived my face was white with dust.

I went to Belize in 1981 with my friend David. He invited me to join him and a larger group touring the islands and jungle, for two weeks. Shortly after returning I went back to school, and with a full-time work and school schedules, I dropped out of his life.

David's is not the first or last friendship from which I disappeared. I feel guilty admitting it, but honestly, I have been the kind of friend who disappears. I am grateful for the dust in my eyes reminding me of my friends.

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MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2008 (DAY 5)

Yesterday I received several emails acknowledging Project t.h.a.n.k.s. As people learn about it some of them tell others and then some of them send me emails including their own statements of gratitude. Thank you to Christine, Steven and Tish for expressing your thoughts and encouragement.

Norman was one of those emailing me, from Baltimore, to let me know that my writings are what he's enjoyed. With all the activity now occurring in his life, I'm giving him perspective on how this relates to life and its enjoyment.

His email continued, "I love you Mike. As much as I miss you, I find myself feeling closer with you than ever." It took me quite a while to let that gift in and to receive it. My immediate reactions included, how can he feel closer when he's in Baltimore? Than ever? That's a scary thought, if this is the closest he feels in thirteen years. But these are my reactions, not his gift. Later, after much thought about my selfishness I found his gift. I am grateful for Norman reaching out to tell me he loves me. I love you too..

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SUNDAY, APRIL 13, 2008 (DAY 4)

"Metta. M-E-T-T-A. Learn about it" said Selora at dinner with her husband Steven. And so another guide post appeared on my path.

In 1991 when I my job was eliminated and I was "laid off", that is fired, my friend April encouraged me to attend The Pursuit of Excellence seminar beginning that evening. "Now that you're going to take a next step in your life, you might as well take it with excellence" she said.

In 1994 I received a postcard in the mail that asked, "Are you creating or consuming your life?" Nancy, the post card sender, invited me to attend her course based on Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way." I completed the course twice. During the second time I wrote a poem titled "Rocks" part of which reads, "don't forget how you came to this point in your life/it's a miracle/a free time/you were gifted..." I am grateful for my friends who plant guide posts on my path.

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SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2008 (DAY 3)

One experience frame for this project came to me in my self talk this morning. This is like having 31 publication deadlines. That self-centered notion led to an appreciation of your collaboration. How it may be for you to receive statements – of all kinds – and to create a visual...

In my gratitude journal today emerged a theme: questions. Is approval a gift from others? Do I accept approval only sometimes? How can disapproval be a gift?

I discussed a problem with a colleague and she gave me an earful of disapproval. She angrily unloaded her frustration and disappointment. I took it in as a gift, albeit a hard one to receive. I could see the situation from her perspective and understood why we have the problem, and my part in creating it. In her rage she even apologized for the tiny part she created. I am grateful for her honesty which let me see our world through her eyes.

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FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2008 (DAY 2)

Yesterday I was given many gifts. I received some of them with gratitude. Others, I am sad to admit, I declined, or worse yet, accepted without gratefulness.

As I reflected on my walks, particularly to Sobrato House, I decided to find the gift I was given that I received gratefully. When I looked deeper, I came upon the notion of god, or the universe, giving me connections and opportunities. I recognize how blessed I am by synchronicity. These "little things" are gifts which I sometimes receive gratefully, and other times I am so distracted by trivialities that I am unable to either receive them or be grateful for them.

So yesterday afternoon, despite feeling late, and not receiving a formal invitation, I knew Sobrato House's grand opening was happening and walked the few blocks to their new center. As our neighborhood leader, I have led over the past five years many discussions of our neighborhood's opposition to the center's placement in our neighborhood. Despite our objections and concerns, the center was relocated to our neighborhood. Over the past year I have focused my leadership on helping the center be included in our neighborhood and yesterday, to welcome them as a new neighbor.

Despite showing up after the ceremony ended, when I walked up to the center there was Michelle, who greeted me with a smile and immediately offered to give me a tour. The universe gave us that serendipitous meeting to celebrate the opening of a new chapter in our lives. As Michelle and I walked around her new center I remarked on its fine construction, observing this center will be serving people long after both of us are gone from this world. A humbling thought. I am grateful for these new beginnings, these opportunities to create what is most important and to be part of something much larger than myself.

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THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2008 (DAY 1)

Today's "little thing" was a friendly wave from my neighbor. Early this morning, just before getting in my car to drive to work, I walked down the driveway to stretch my legs and enjoy the morning. My neighbor Don was riding down the street on his bicycle, our eyes connected, he waved and we said "good morning." I am grateful for the fabric of social connection growing around me in San Jose.

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HOW ABOUT YOU? What are you grateful for today?

April 10, 2008 marked the start of a month of short, daily slide loops that will be projected in the arch-shaped window of Mike Reandeau. The words and visuals derive from the conversation between the host and artist about the small things in life to be grateful for.

Image credits
CAMERA: Yuka Saito. MODELS: Yuka Saito, MD Dundon (April 13), Markuz Wernli Saito. ART DIRECTION & PIXEL PUSHING: Markuz Wernli Saito. ARCHIVE IMAGERY: markuz photo works. PROPS: The Play-Doh Connection.

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The Distributed Exhibition

Project t.h.a.n.k.s. is part of The Distributed Exhibition, an initiative organized by artist Sara Thacher and hosted by the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Eleven artists got the opportunity to work closely with eleven owners of private residences and businesses in and around San Jose to realize site-specific artworks that were on view March 28th to May 17th, 2008.


Artists needed to be interested in responding to the unique layout, architectural features, personal display, or social dynamics of the space. The Distributed Exhibition asked: What might happen when artwork is created for a particular person, family, or living situation? What if private residences became display spaces? What if the occupants became gallerists? What if the viewers became guests? In order to view the works in the show, visitors must enter into a much more intimate situation than other art exhibition venues with a different social contract. The show crossed the boundaries between public and private, exploring an alternate mechanism for viewing and displaying art. It mixed the social context of a friend or trusted party invited into a personal space with the more distant relationship art consumer and gallerist or curator.


The Distributed Exhibition was funded by a CCA Center for Art and Public Life Grant and made possible with the support of the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).
CCA Center for Public Art