And the Wheel Turns
This year we lost three amazing SPOKES of the Wheel, Tara Mooney, Jack Casey and Martha Oldham. Help us honor their memory and the legacy they left us at MWProductions/SPOKE. So much of our work is about creating safe places for our individual and collective stories to be held, told, and heard.
And the One became many, And the One became we,
And we are all bound to the Wheel.
And the Wheel turns, And the Wheel turns, And we are all bound to the Wheel.
Paul Edwin Zimmer 1981
Tara Mooney Standing at the Gate, Tara Mooney
“Michael Dowling called me at Victory Programs one day back in the 90s seeking to find more participation from people who were struggling with AIDS/HIV. Since my creative practice was focused on healing, community, ceremony, performance, service, this call was perfect. The Medicine Wheel took place at the Arts(BCA) at the Cyclorama space on World AIDS Day every year. My clients were early recovering addicts, there were many clients living with AIDS/HIV. I took a group down to the Wheel to check it out. I was hoping to participate in the building reflecting engaging in the phenomenon in public space for grieving and contemplation through art, music, dance. Most of these guys did not have this kind of exposure.
For 24 hours people would come and go or just stay and eat food together, sit quietly. Performers came and dances were done and songs were sung. My clients had different levels of engagement, but I brought them anyway. One day, “Stephen” came with the group and just was not able to go in. With his own diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, a strong addiction to heroin, he was loaded with painful feelings he was beginning to process. I went down to the entrance where he was standing with his back against the wall and checked in with him. He was very clear that he could not go in the BCA. So I said to him that he was “standing at the gate”, the place where his healing place could begin when he was ready. He took the time to stand at the gate.
Two years later, I am at the Wheel with other clients and Stephen come bolting into the Wheel looking for me. “Tara!, Tara!…Hi!! I wanted to find you and thank you!” And he then with high speed stated his gratitude for the Wheel and for the work doing expressive arts therapy. He then told me that he had 2 years clean and that he was going around speaking to young people about addiction and the recovery process. What a win!”
Artist, gardener, seeker, painter, planter, magician, witch, just some of the names Martha gave herself during her life. The truth is she was a conduit to all that is beautiful. While raising her children, working in her garden, rescuing animals or painting at the easel she would always reveal the deeper hidden meaning of our existence. The greatest joys and the greatest sorrows of life were brought into being with her touch. Her love of the earth and all who call this planet home was where her heart and work lived.
She was an eccentric and a recluse and one of the most generous people I know. Over the past several years she joined us on our annual artist Retreat to Italy. She was a big supporter of the Valdez Scholarship fund, which allows a young artist to join us on this life changing trip.
Her sons have donated several of her paintings to help us fund this opportunity.
On December 1, 2020 we lost one of the best, Jack Casey. I met Jack in February of 1992 almost 29 years ago. Jack had a way of seeing people for who they truly are. His capacity to listen deeply endeared him to the many communities he dedicated his life to serving. His work spanned and touched many communities including; Student, LGBTQ , HIV/AIDS and, Recovery.
He is one of the men who taught me to be who I say I am and has held me up during my own 29 years of recovery and my work in the LGBTQ community, HIV/AIDS and with the young men and women we are privileged to serve at Medicine Wheel/SPOKE
What a gift it has been to have him by my side all these years, most recently as a board member of Medicine Wheel. I spoke with him last night, November 30, as we were preparing for the 29th annual World AIDS Day Vigil. In his usual manner he said: “What can I do to help?, how can I be of service. “ That was Jack, that was my friend.
Jack’s Family has set up a fund in his memory to hire a young LGBTQ+ person of color in recovery for a full time job at SPOKE.
Please consider making a donation to