just a few BioGRAPHICAL NoTES
My name is ARLENE MARGUERITE GRASTON. I began this human journey in Reims, France (where Champagne comes from) and found myself with a dual nationality. I entered this adventure as an unlimited Soul who expected to merely “play” at being a human, so a dual nationality or any nationality at all, never quite explained how I saw the thing. All is consciousness; I remember the very first time I heard someone call a tree,”his tree,” as if a Tree doesn’t belong to itself! But that dual nationality was telling me that I was to land elsewhere some day, and elsewhere was patiently waiting.
Danny, me, and Evelyn, when we were the children…we still are … for the Heart never becomes anything else.
I’m an autodidact, (a fancy word for simply knowing you can teach yourself). In school I learned the necessary skills of reading and writing—the very basic way to communicate here. I left that place as soon as I could. Naturally, I didn’t go to art school either. I realize this approach is not for everyone, but it was the only way for me to want to stay in this world. I’ve never felt any loss or impairment, to the contrary, I’ve kept my interior world alive, too. Still, I did learn about Time and Space and I know how to break things down in a logical and politely linear way, I don’t get in anybody’s way. Consequently, I am an efficient human being in spite of juggling a split perception. It is quite a mistaken notion that artists and people with the sensitivity of Insight cannot be practical and get things done. We’re often better at it than anyone.
Before coming to the States I apprenticed with the haute couture house of NINA RICCI because for a while I toyed with the idea of designing clothes. Hmmm.
Imagine! Me, a
Anyway, I fell in love with New York (where my other nationality waited for me) and made it my most wonderful home while I continued working with Paris to create a lingerie line, a gold and diamond collection, and perfume ads.
Soon I had my own graphics design studio creating projects for major corporations as well as businesses in the arts. I wrote copy, designed logos and catalogues, and produced ads and fashion illustrations that appeared in the major publications. It was fun.
On Broadway I designed the posters for the original productions of BUBBLING BROWN SUGAR and EUBIE! among others. I tell you, I got worldly!
During my interior decorating phase, my trompe-l’oeil murals decorated apartments from Fifth Avenue to Long Island (it was a long time ago and they may well be painted over by a new decorator by now!). All in all, I think I can say I tried my hand at everything that interested me. But what I really learned about, was how people view Life and live it! Relating to people was always my main challenge. They got in my way.
Before my birth, I knew there would be music when I got to Earth. I knew about Jazz even then. I knew its essence, though I didn’t turn out to be musical. Jazz enraptures me; it is free, alive and, after all, my inner being is freedom and total aliveness. Classical Jazz is simply, divinely earthy, a beautiful, blood-warming daring of improvisation (!) that makes me feel all is right with the world and the Spirit that creates us all. This uniquely American sound fills me with spiritual reassurance. I’m not kidding, and I know it’s another one of my “clues,” for I met my husband, Charles Mathes, when I did a job for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatre Library. My Charlie is now a private art consultant and advisor and the author of many mysteries and art books. He is my beloved..
So, along the way, I unexpectedly got published when a television show I wrote for CBS’s “Lamp Unto My Feet” became a Bantam children’s book, SPECIAL FRIENDS. A few years later Doubleday published my THUMBELINA.
Our award-winning, IN EVERY MOON THERE IS A FACE, is the one Charlie and I created together and waited a long time to bring out. Despite the “experts” we knew this book had to remain genuinely simple and not be turned into something commercial—that is to say, trite, empty of meaning.
It is a different kind of book: it shows rather than tells. It has a secret about Reality within it. It is the story within the pictures that reveals itself when awareness is doing the reading. This is precisely what matters to me in doing my work. The viewing of art requires the participation and imagination of the reader for its meanings to be revealed. It is the ultimate sharing and confirms the oneness of Reality. I laughingly call IN EVERY MOON a spiritual activity book. Charlie wrote the circular poem that gives rise to the story that the images unfold. It is a deep story full of joy and beauty about the nature of Creativity. Children have said that they are not afraid of turning its pages or reading it before bedtime. Oh, why have we created a world where what is dark and scary is considered reality? Our imagination is created for joyful living because it’s source is Joy itself.
We were totally willing that it never be published. The world needs works of purity even if many people do not understand the subtle world of their inner being. There are those who call our book a work of fiction but we know better. Of course, since then I’ve written books myself that can be considered works of fiction. And yet, they are about the very nature of reality. The power of Gentleness.
It’s been the most empowering experience of my life to be the sole creator and publisher of these books. I have the skills t do so, but the really significant thing is NOBODY can change my words because they didn’t understand my meaning, or think other people won’t. I have found many people do. I have written three such books, and now a fourth, about my Soul’s experience trying to be human. My Soul isn’t trying to teach my human anything, it is reminding me of what’s already here that truly matters. Just reading my own words makes things right for me, because it’s been challenging being here. I am grateful for my work and happy to share it.
This is me and my Charlie (and our sunglasses.)
No one ever told me
All is well with us. We keep growing. We keep learning. We watch the world go rolling along as it does and we continue to be suitably incredulous. Artists still do not survive only on love and water and they don’t simply blow on a canvas and have an image magically appear. It is noble work and often, long hard work. I wish people understood the significance of the images they look at all day, and the images their children grow up with. What the subconscious takes in day by day creates who we become. I don’t need to describe what kind of world we are creating using this principle of contemplation. Mostly, I wish people understood themselves better. We are the presence of the Infinite Presence. Period. Thankfully, because of the work I do, I meet lovely people who do understand these deeper things. From the quiet isolation of my workroom, be assured: I’m glad you’re out there. Thank you for spending time with me.
But before you go…
…here is a magical video made by extraordinary Ukrainian children. It turns out that these young people were very surprised to find that in New York, America, was an artist who created the kind of work I do. Russian, is the language of fairy tales, after all … so it follows that the magic and wonder I believe in would be felt by people of that tradition. The video is in Russian but the charm, talent, and open-heartedness, is Universal. I am deeply touched by this gift, and so is Charlie. The video is about the two of us and the transcendent joy we put into our work. You will find it enchanting even if you do not speak the language. And most assuredly, you will be made hopeful by the presence and power of genuine Innocence and pure creativity.
(The video is below this brief introduction taken from Natalya’s translation with some of the spellings delightfully unchanged):
The mole and the mouse meet and talk.– Today we must shed light (!) on the problem: who is Arlene Graston and who is Charlie Mathes?– Don’t you know who is Arlene Graston? Maybe. Arlene Graston is Thumbelina.
— No! She is a painter and she lives in New-York!
— No, she is a tale-teller!
— No, she is a wrighter!
— No, she is a Fairy!!
Then they try to understand who is the strange man who often walks in the Magic Garden. At a meeting of the elves, they say: — He is the director of Manhattan gallery!
— No, he’s a wrighter, he wrights wonderful books – full of adventures!
— No, he is an oddball who likes to ride on the cloud and to create poems! Then Thumbelina interrupts:
— We are sure both of them had а private conversation with the Moon!!!!
— I am sure, the Mole declares, that the Moon doesn’t have any face.
— You as a businessman don’t have romanticism! the Mouse exclaims.
— You are also a businessman, the Mole replies.
— Yes, I’m a businessman, but I am poetical because I’m a woman. And I am sure: the Moon can speak.
— Where are your proofs?
— Here they are!
So the Mouse proposes this new “video” filled with dialogues with the Moon and the small tales written by the school children.: