Big changes. I am currently in Portland, Oregon — the closest thing I’ve got to a hometown — and have been for the last several months. It is not over between me and New York City, but we are definitely on a break. When I came home to visit this summer, I was able to see Portland in a new light. There are things here I couldn’t see because I had gotten too close. One of the things I realized while I was visiting home this summer was about my art. While I was visiting Portland this summer I had a surprise realization. I realized why I used to paint, and why I had stopped. My modes of expression seem to have ‘hometowns’ of their own. I don’t paint in Oregon because Oregon makes me love paint, I paint because I love what I see and I want to recreate the effect the landscape and the light have on my soul. Other environments make me want to do other things. New York makes me want to move and dance and yell and build impossible contraptions to mesmerize and inspire. Oregon makes me reflective, a historian of inner space, and that is what I need right now, so Oregon it is.


On Monday, I had a nice visit with my Step Mother, who helped raise me. I rescued her and her friends from Times Square and took them to dinner on a boat at Peir 66. The Real New York. Every time a loved one visits I’m becoming a little bit better tour guide.

There in the wind overlooking the Hudson River, we talked about everyone we both know. My main line of interest was to express that we are only human. That I am only human. That her husband my father is only human, and that my mother and brother and sister are only human. We spoke of them all with animated compassion and admiration over my corona an her some kind of fancier beer.

I have been thinking about that interaction a lot. I tried to explain to another friend later the same night, that we must forgive our parents for every thing because they were just children when they had us. How would we have handled what they had to hand when we were 30? 26? 23? YIKES!

My friend said that he thinks in the ’70’s and ’80’s, 24 was an older age than it is now. That they were, that they should have been more responsible. But I don’t think so. I think that Our Parents are the bravest wayshowers of all. They tried to be a new way in the death throws of the old world. The question they asked HAD to be asked so that we could be who we are now. The question was “Do we have to stay married to love our children? Do we have to be the ‘real’ father and mother to be real parents? Can we care for ourselves first and still care for them?” and the answer was not yes or no. The answer was a sea of broken hearts that still ripples the waters today. But the answer was also that you can ask the most dangerous questions and still be ok in the end if you Love each other.

It was a brave, and worthy question.

The next question in line is for my generation. Our question is, how do we honor the needs of our own souls WITHOUT breaking our children’s hearts. I know many parents, married and unmarried, biological and otherwise, who are answering this question in my generation now with similarly mixed results, but only as a gift to OUR next generation. We say “there will always be someone to love you. You are more important than we are. We know you are sentient. We know you are special. We will never leave you.” But, though we are as a generation, jaw droppingly intuitive and Loving, we still don’t get to control the Answer. We are still only human. We will break our childrens hearts too.

Hearts will be broken opened, and seeds will be planted of the next question for humanity. I can’t even begin to guess what that seed and that question will be. I don’t know what I will have to ask my children forgiveness for. I only know the day will come.

I should be so lucky as to have children to desire the forgiveness of. I should be so lucky as to be entrusted a young heart to accidentally break with my own imperfection. Each generation born more perfect but more helpless than the next. I am in awe of this miracle experiment of humanity.

Today the song “I’ll be your Mirror” by the Velvet Underground is a prayer for the future of my family.

Ill be your mirror
Reflect what you are, in case you dont know
Ill be the wind, the rain and the sunset
The light on your door to show that youre home

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside youre twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
cause I see you

I find it hard to believe you dont know
The beauty that you are
But if you dont let me be your eyes
A hand in your darkness, so you wont be afraid

When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside youre twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
cause I see you

Ill be your mirror

Today is the Jewish New Year, and my birthday, not to mention Talk Like a Pirate Day. But it also became one other important day for me. Today I recieved a proposal rejection letter from one of the most respected object performance incubators in New York City. Awe! rejection letter on my birthday? But put away that crocodile sympathy and raise your glasses! Heartless form letters are part of the circle of artist life. It didn’t hurt too bad and now I’m even LESS scared of rejection. Mitzvahpalooza!

On Friday, I spent all day at a thing called parking day, which was amazing, and that was followed by an inspired and intense meeting with my friends Steven and Ronnie, about a new idea. Well, not a new idea, but an idea that continues to evolve out of the process I started with Ronnie when I was working on the proposal last month.

My proposal submission that I just got the dreaded polite letter about was titled ‘Izzy and Elemeno’ and was a childrens story in the metaphysical tradition, like the little Prince kind of, but more than that. Work all night for a month and almost destroy my computer more than that.

Today we had an exhuberant business meeting outside of a coffeeshop in Flatbush that then spilled over into the Halloween section of the Rite Aide. There was lots of yelling, but no fighting. We made friends with an old lady artist in the Rite Aide who used to make hats out of the New York Times but can’t anymore because they changed the size of the paper. She was wearing bright pink lipstick. Thats right, our meeting was so awesome that we ended up shopping for costumes and becoming a collective crazy magnet.

The thing is though, that this meeting was about a very significant evolution from the original idea we had started planning this summer and submitted as ‘complete’ on september 1st. Epic change in form and structure, as well as whole new humans brought on board. Izzy, who is from the original concept, is based on the character of Ishmeal from the Bible. Thats right, the ascended son of Abraham. In Elemeno, the original story I wrote for the proposal, Izzy is a chicken on rollerskates.

In the new story, Izzy is grown, and she’s grown into a bird that is maybe a chicken, maybe not. Her body is changing. We talked about that today too, about how Izzy is sexy and punk now. But not dumb punk. Dark, downtown old school art punk. Lydia Lunch Punk. And she’s wise now, too. But deeper in, She’s still all Izzy, and still quite a bit Ishmael as well. She is still blessed and ready to lead her people. Only she’s a grown up now and the lead singer in a tent-revival style glam rock band. Oh, you’ll see. But I don’t want to blog tell you it. I want to show you. Soon.

But so anyways flash back to the five seconds before I recieved that letter today…coming up the stairs from having spent Rosh Hashana evening with a nice family, I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do that project that I proposed. Not the way its written. Izzy has grown up, and after today I don’t know if I can grow her back down again’. it was just a passing thought. I would have taken anything that I had been offered. I’m not trying to pretend I didn’t want my original idea to be accepted, or that it didn’t hurt to hear a ‘no’, but I can see a blessing in this project being allowed continued growth. It is growing regardless.

And then there it was.

Happy New Year Form Letter.


Welcome to Whim of Steel. I’m Robin Lehto, a performer, artist, lover, fighter, troublemaker and heartmender living in New York City. My work is a little hard for me to describe even to myself sometimes, so in the coming days, weeks, and maybe years I will document the progress of my work here for reference. I intend this blog to be

a living interactive resume for people who may be interested in hiring me or working in collaboration with me

a fundraising piece for people who are interested in helping me to fund my vision

an expression of Gratitude to my teachers and

as a wayshower page for others on a simliar journey to mine.

Thanks for coming.