January 23, 2018
Matt Hall can pretty much do anything. Build things, frame, print, fish, fix and know anything in the world you need to know or need to meet when it comes to Captiva Island Florida. Matt was first the gardener and then the irreplaceable right had man to American Master Robert Rauschenburg on his Capitva Estate. That estate is now an artist's residency and honestly Matt is the soul of that place. Ask any artist that has had the honor of time there. It's Matt, the majestic manatees and the legacy of Rauschenberg that they'll talk about. He knows every story, every mess and every moment of brilliance that came out of that haven when the man himself was still on this Earth.
Sometimes you look back on things that happened and you can't quite grasp that it was you in that moment in time. Sometimes you realize the experience was so extraordinary, you can't conceive that for a time it was just your day to day.
Two years ago I was hired by the Robert Rauschenberg Artist Residency to create the chef in residency program. This job entailed me to move down to an island off of Florida for three months, put my daughter into a school down there and get the work done. It was a lot.
Captiva is small and off the coast of Ft. Myers. You have to drive through another island, Sanibel, to get to it. It's really something special. So much wildlife. Ocean on one side, bay on the other. For me, it was a dream. Art, nature, legacy and ghosts beyond measure. The residency has artists come in six-week shifts. By invitation only, each artist has all the time and support to work on their art.
Bob (as we all referred to Rauschenberg) was dedicated to a few key things in his life time that would make this experience extraordinary for me: activism, collaboration and food. His legacy was at the forefront of any artist's stay there.
When I arrived, I was told I'd have an assistant in the kitchen. That's when I met Lori. Lori had been there for a couple of years. Made to learn how to cook from the chef before me, she was a reluctant foodie. She was also head of housekeeping, so her responsibilities were big. Chefs are a pain in the ass at best. Cleaning up after artists is another thing. Saint Lori.
I don't think it was that long at all before I told her I was a medium. Immediately after that she told me she saw visions and understood spirits.
Before I took the job at the residency, my daughter and I went down there for the weekend. I had to find out what I was getting us into. We stayed in one of the houses that was for the artists and happen to be empty during this time. It was a beautiful house with two bedrooms on either side of a living room. On the side of the second bedroom was the kitchen. It had three entrances. One for each bedroom and one in the common living room.
Walking into that house on the side of the kitchen and second bedroom was to say the least, like walking into someone else's personal space. That's the best way I can describe it. The air was thick with long term existence. Thick with other people's personal issues, belongings, resentments. I didn't feel unsafe so much as I felt like I had an aggressive roommate with a chip on their shoulder. My daughter felt it immediately. She did not want to sleep in that bedroom. Who could blame her?
I had heard from Matt, who had been working on the estate and with Rauschenberg personally for almost 30 years, that it once housed pirates. No surprise. I don't run across pirate energy often but if I had to take a guess I'd say that was as close as I'd ever come. Honestly, the whole pillage vibe was there. There was also an aggressive female energy. You could really feel what Florida was like hundreds of years ago. Still a land of the culture of the sea. Gorgeous, crass and spooky.
The weekend was filled with getting to know how the place ran, what would be needed by me and getting my daughter used to the idea that we would be moving down here. It was in the throws of her dad getting married and having another baby. As it turned out, moving down to a beautiful tropical island for her own experience was great for her. As it turned out, the spirits were with us the whole way.
Lori and I had our conversation/confessional about our gifts about a week into my three month stay there.A couple of days after that she said, "I see Bob in the Bay House."
"Yup. I see him pretty often."
OMG. CAN YOU TALK TO HIM?
"Yes, he gives me guidance when I ask for it."
We talked a lot about going in there together when she had to clean and the artists were in their studios to see how it would be for us together. I could read that she actually did see him quite clearly. I asked him if he might be there for us. It honestly shocked me to get a clear answer. Really startling.
We decided to go during the second residency. Felt right. We went to the Bay House. The Bay House is right on the bay and usually houses three artists. It's an open layout with a large communal livingroom and an eat-in kitchen in the back. The residence is up on the second floor. The first floor is kept as studios and storage.
When we got in there we walked around. I went to feel where I had felt him before. My daughter and I stayed in there the first two days we had arrived. It felt crowded. But crowded with one very present person. And that's when we both saw him. In my whole life I only ever once saw an energy at the same time as someone else and that was with my daughter. He walked down the hallway. I could see and feel him. It was enormous.
It's funny. You can feel Bob in so many places. Each house has a different name. In the Beach House, which was his first house there, you can tell he's been there. His earth bound self was there. Good, loving feelings are there. In the basement of it where there is a studio, it's a much older energy. Not his. Someone who battles with their own entanglements. I noticed that over the course of two residencies, the artists drawn to that space had a heaviness. Something fine but a just a touch off the rails. Socially odd. The writer's cabin was at the turn of the century home to a slave family. Did not surprise me when I found out. It's a small two room cabin that at one time housed 10 family members. The energy was heavy. At times calm and at times full of anger. Sadness and pain.
In the Weeks House, where I cooked, Lori and I communed and it's where all the meals were eaten. You could feel Bob moving through the kitchen. His art work was also hanging in the livingroom area of that house. It never felt like much except for the art geek in me getting excited to be next to epic pieces of art work every day.
The week before I left to move back to New York, Lori and I were making lunch and I asked her if she had seen Bob lately. She said no. Maybe it's because you're leaving? I laughed. And then the sliding glass door that takes even a grown man some elbow grease to move, flew open and then we heard the floor creek. Like steps.
Then the door shut.
We looked at each other. "Wow." (It was more likely "Holy Shit.")
We told Matt as he walking in about five minutes later and we were still reeling. In perfect comedic timing, he turned around and walked out.
I heard from a friend that was raised in the area that Captiva is known as a spiritual epicenter. A place where energies are palpable, memories tend to linger and art is inspired.
It's hard not to agree, but let's remember what brings this up as far as the residency goes: the emotional energy of fame, abundance and excess. And now the emotional movement/grief and love of artists creating. The intensity of sequestering in the name of ones calling. I think about these things a lot.
When I see clients with money issues, I always see that money equals abundance and then abundance=love=being wanted=feeling as sense of belonging. Medically, it tends to sit in the hips. The entrapment sits there. Especially for women. For men, I see it more in the chest. The heart and the pectorals. Both carry in the shoulders.
Artists and love have the similar energy body wise to the business person and money. Not to say that artists don't work and have money issues or that 9 to 5ers aren't creative and have their love issues. It's just that it resonates when artists talk about love and their art as a business person speaks of money. There is great creativity in business. It is what I enjoyed best when I had my own restaurant. But the love/abundance connection is key when I read or even do self work. More about that later.
I see I'll be talking about my medical work soon.
Anyway, oddly I had a Captiva day today. I thought about a couple of friends there. One artist messaged me instead of a friend of his by mistake. He's in Ireland. I had a moment of wanting to reach out to another friend from there after an awkward moment we had months ago. And I had a very clear image of Matt and his wife Teresa.
Never in my life have I not been able to decipher between a husband and a wife in a reading. I reached out to one about the other and when I had one on the phone I wasn't sure who I was reading for. How crazy is that?
The spirits were guiding me somewhere for sure.
When I met Teresa it was a moment when you realize that there is no one else in the world for Matt. Not even meant to be together, but really created to be together. So many lives together it would blow your mind. Right back to another solar system.
I have yet to process the reading I did for her today. It was like reading for conjoined twins, which I've never done. If you know any that need a reading, it's on the house.