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Who is on your twig?

Julie Marks

Los Angeles, United States

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Artist's Description

I think about human relationships as tribes, not necessarily
families. Over many years we seek like minded people
who inspire and challenge us to do our best work and
congratulate our efforts leaving envy aside. As we
grow and mature, our attachments change and new
people enter our world that have the power to shape
us in a myriad of ways and create the roots of our
tree that hopefully is a solid foundation. Unfortunately,
I have seen many serious dysfunctional families and
treated children and adolescents who suffered from
divorce and death of a parent or parents in the formative
years of life. My most substantial root was my treasured
and beloved grandmother who at seventeen fled Poland
in steerage to travel to Ellis Island to roll cigars in a factory
knowing one cousin for emotional and financial support.
She was my hero and will always be remembered as
my most courageous and determined young woman
that not only fled the savage Pograms in Poland in
the 19th century, but was tormented in sterrage during
the four month trecherous and life threatening journey
that saved her life and her brother, Benjamin’s who
was the only son of her mother’s three children. I
wrote about my bubby, Dora Lodge and posted a
photo titled Dora that I recently found of her mother, 2 sisters
and infant brother. In the days before the Holocaust,
millions of people of ethnic decent were killed.
Before the Jews fled Egypt to the promised land of
Israel to find freedom and a land and people
they could call their own. I recently attended
a Passover that sang the songs of this holy day.
She was a black ethiopian Jew. Jews come
in all colors and her voice was compelling
and magnificent. Although I am not attached
to conventional religion and rarely attend
services, I was glad to see this amazing woman
and the power of her convictions and voice
of the most amazing Cantor I have ever heard.
I rebelled at 10 years old and told my
parents I refused to go to temple on
Sunday mornings. They were disappointed,
but knew that there was no way of forcing
me into something that I felt had no relevance
to my life. Coincidently, one of my patients
was the rabbi of the same temple that
I refused to attend. I remember her
words after telling her about my
protest about conventional religion
and forced compliance, not my strong suit.
She laughed and said that I do not and
never will need to attend temple or any high holy
day unless by choice. She said the
definition of religion is the “gift of healing” and
she would send any member of her congregation
to me after working for years to help her troubled son.
How interesting that our paths crossed in another “temple”
of healing, my office.

For those who lost families due to racisim, ethnic prejudice
that continues to this day, it is important to belong to a
tribe with whom shared stories of profound trauma
can ease the pain of the violent crimes of humanity.
friends that included any color or creed that
were part of an ethnic population. Before
the horror of WWII and the Hitler Regime,
many died due to the color of their skin and
family heritage. You can read the first posting,
titled, that describes Dora’s terror and lifelong
struggle to heal the wounds of losing her
parents and working hard to succeed to
bring her brother on another terrifying journey
to begin his life with his sister after moving
to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She was my greatest blessing and despite
the fact she could not read or write and
Yiddish was her first language, we had
many ways to communicate, particularily
about our profound love and respect
for each other. She was my mentor
and I lived with her on weekends
and holidays after her husband Harry died at 56.

In the 50’s Jewiish Immigrants lived in Santa Monica,
California. To me it was “Bubby Village.”
She owned a duplex for income and her
home was my magical place of comfort,
infinite love and safety. I hope to write
our story one day that is fascinating from
infancy to the day she died in 1972 at
eight one.

One day walking she stopped
me on a walk and told me that she
believed she would die soon and I
must prepare myself. I was twenty-seven
and have a photograph of myself in
deep mourning. I said, “No, You won’t
die soon." I could not imagine life without her.
Her arteries were hardering and she imagined gas coming
from the vents of her small, but charming apartment. I
knew the voices she heard and the gas she smelled
were an arterial illness, but most importantly I
understood the symbolic nature of her fears,
the unspeakable gas chambers of the Holocaust!
I bought sprays, bottles I created and potions to
tell her to make sure she uses my “defense weapons”
to ward off the evil. I was making a working alliance with
the monster that created a state of abject terror in her mind.
I could not tell her like my parents did that these voices
did not exist. For her THEY DID and daily she was
being progressively tortured by the demons of her past.
She said my magical antidotes saved her life!
At this point she was residing in assisted living
for the elderly. I ate with her contemporaries and
loved the stories of triumph and survival the
residents would tell of those who did not survive
the pogroms or the Holocaust.

Every Hannukah, Dora would pin $10.00 dollars
to her bra to make sure I received my gift..or “gelt.”
Shortly after our walk, my beloved bubby suffed a massive
fatal stroke. The 10.00 was safety pinned
to her undergarmet. That became the talisman of
her love and depth of character. The safety
pin was my life treasure for its sentiment and symbolism.

Her death was a profound traumatic blow to my heart
that continues to heal to this day. Our story
is poignant and bittersweet and Charlie and I
have written the first draft of a book or screenplay.

There is so much to tell about healing
traumatized souls. I was a staff psychologist
on the locked ward of the VA Hospital
in Los Angeles. I fully understood the
deepest trauamas of human nature treating
victims of another kind of war, futile and
hopeless. The book “Savage Sleep” reads
like my biography. It is about the sensibilities
of the main character, Dr. Marks who knows
how to treat the post traumatic brutal consequences
of war!

I will upload my photograph of Dora at 17
before she left her homeland. Her
elegance and beauty was astounding.
Her sparkling blue eyes were the
mirrors of her beautiful soul!

Her life and stories reflect the horrors of millions
of immigrants all over the world. Despite
the fact she was almost totally deaf, we did
not need words. We sang songs from
the old country and she laughed in
pure delight as I sang to her in her
own language. We held hands under
the table at Passover and we clapped
when served her homemade gefilte fish
and matza ball soup after she waited in line
for the fresh ingredients that were
unparralled. I was fascinated watching
her grind the fish and looked forward
to “Bubby’s Pickles” that she made
in large bottles for me to eat at her
simple home and take with me as
the most wonderful gift a child could
ever imagine.

Our roots are critical for human attachment
in the formative years. As we grow the
branches on the trees are our friends
that we meet in school at work and
other places. Some of the branches are
strong and we have lifetime friends and
others have cracks in the foundation and
we learn as we mature what true frienship
means. Trust, loyalty and the ability to be
a caregiver in sickness and health are the
important values. Many we knew
in youth no longer are compatabile as
we grow into adulthood and we form
new attachments to kindred spirits.

The twigs on the tree are those
special people that we refer
to as soul mates or twin souls
that without looking, we meet
at the most unexpected times.

I was never interested in casual
relationships and was fortunate
to enjoy three significant romantic
attachments before I married my
husband Charlie on October 18,
1980. I was thirty two years
old and Charlie was thirty one. We met
at a party of a mutual friend in
Laguna Beach, CA on July 15th,
1978. At that time I had a solid
carreer and was living alone in
a stunning home in Point Dume
Malibu with 12 dogs, many rescued
and placed in wonderful homes.
My love for animals filled my need
for companionship and my work
life was so rich and fulfilling that
marriage was not in my plans.
We often meet people when we
are not looking and I was never
a hunter, but enjoyed the company
of brilliant minds and loving serious relationships
when surprisingly opportunity became a reality.

Charlie and I lived together in Malibu
for two years before moving to our
beautiful architectural A. Quincy
Jones in 1980. I feared pregnancy
due to a repetitive dream that i
would die in childbirth. My dreams
are often pre-cognitive and offer
me the most important material
to understand myself and my friends
and patients. I carried to term not knowing
that I was in serious danger. My dream
had warned me, but I made life saving
decisions and survived a near fatal delivery.
We think in pictures (primary
process) when we are infants and develop
abstact thinking in pre-adolesence. Children’s
minds are fluid filled with wonder and metaphors
that reveal the truth about their psychic life.
The ability to interpret dreams is essential
when trained as a psychodynamic therapist
using various systems of treatment to
heal the psychic wounds of those we
encounter in the most intimate relationships
with patients eager to learn and not feel
compelled to repeat old patterns that are
self destructive and sabatoge all efforts
on our personal psychological and spiritual
journeys. When asked, who had the most
impactt to stimulate my evolution as a
clinical psychologist, the answer is easy.
My patients are the greatest teachers.
I believe the members of the group I host,
“the healing journey” are powerful healers
and I respect all systems of belief that
delivers hope and guidance to the many
who suffer from emotional and serious life
threatening illnesses. I have the gift
of healing and want to share it. Money
is not my motivation and I have received
many wonderful letters and experiences
with all of you.

We have met “twig” friends in internet
groups who have supported our
personal pathway to health and
have fueled and inspiried us as
artists, writers and poets. When
some leave us for various reasons,
others appear to nourish and motivate
us to belief in ourselves and to
challenge ourselves to do the best work
we can and to use art as medicine to
mend the wounds that have trapped us
into states of deep depression and despair.

You know who sits on you twig as you view
this multi-colored tree with leaves and
those special people who hold us
when the storms of life hit hard and
hopefully we can look next to us to
find our most important and life
sustaning attachments. After 35
years of my attachment to Charlie,
I know I would marry him again today!

I hope you have a wondeful holiday
with those who live in the deepest
recessess of your roots, branches
and twigs.

Best viewed in the large format
by clicing the photograph!

I have finished a lot of new work
and look forward to sharing my
iconic imagery and narratives with you.
I also will pair my work with the brilliant
writers in our group. I have featured
the artists for December and will
soon feature the writers.

I feel grateful to all of you for joining
our collective healing community.
The only challenges I propose are
for philanthropic purposes. There
will be a challenge for the artists
and writers as we celebrate the four
years we have evolved as a wonderful
and cohesive community. The internet
has provided us with a powerful tool
to connect to the world and to ourselves.

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