...or tries to...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Collections: Bookish

Last year, moving away, I packed up all my books, box after box after box of them, each box sealed shut with screeching packing tape. I piled them up everywhere, one on top of the other, my rooms looking like a giant child's tilting cardboard city. I had given many away, but the rest I couldn't part with - I knew they tracked my life as much as anything that had happened to me. But they weighed me down. They were still objects, and massed together, an obstacle course, a giant weight to drag around. They were the reason I had to get a second storage space, had to ask the movers to use their shoulders to slide the metal doors shut.

I started to fantasize about E-Readers, Kindles, flat rectangles that weighed next to nothing. I swore devotion to libraries, overdue emails, driving up to book return slots and slipping them in. Sending them back. Passing them on. Releasing the words into the air like they were birds. Bye bye.

That didn't last. I miss them. I want to look at them again. Stack them up. Hold them. Hear that lovely spinal crack. Shut the covers down and trap the words inside. Feel their weight, let them weigh me down again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grace Knowlton

Sharing my show at RoCA is a room filled with the collections of artist Grace Knowlton.
Some are her own pieces, and things she collects, organic and manufactured. Other objects were sent to her by her friends around the world. Have you ever instantly liked a person you have never met?

Outside, in a field, are her sculptures-

and her wonderful essay on "how to draw wrong": http://www.graceknowltonart.com/drawwrong1.html

"...don't worry if you go off the side of the paper, just get back on", she wrote.
Good advice.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Back to the Met

The first museum my parents took me to was the Museum of Natural History, because nothing can compete with a giant blue whale hanging from a ceiling. But after that, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Later on I read "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler", about a brother and sister who ran away from home and lived there, sleeping in the Medieval bed and washing in the cafeteria fountain. I can follow my art history chronology by tracking the halls I loved most, in order: Egyptian, Medieval, Renaissance, the Impressionists, Greece and Rome, and so on. What's great about going away for a while is that when you go back you find yourself drawn to rooms full of things that hadn't interested you in the past. You realize that you are a little different than you were before.

There are things you knew you would like:

                                                                           Icelandic artist Katrin Sigurdardottir,

That tiny square in the Hans Hofmann, that I wish I could have squeezed through,

And my hero, El Anatsui, all from bottle caps.
It's one thing to see in a magazine, or online, but up close, for real, amazing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Spring was, and is

I finally flew up to New York to see "Flowers, Follies". (It was better than I had guessed from photos, and I was able to really see the work of the artists I shared the room with, how intimate and complex and beautiful their pieces are up close). I moved south almost twelve years ago, and I've been back four or five times, but I've forgotten the subtleties, the details of early Long Island spring. My Florida springs are sharp and dry, as if everything has become over-focused - imagine wearing glasses that are a little too strong. And the leaves drop. It's still backwards to me. I think that for the rest of my life seasons will be measured by northeast's normal.

There was so much gray, and the sharp black branches of still-bare trees, all that scratchiness and crunch left over from winter. And then, like they were trying to teach you yellow for the first time, shocks of forsythia.

And daffodils, a little grimy from rain, illogically bright.

Greens unwrapping.

Lichens blurring the tree trunks.

The more expected pink blossoms, hanging like bells.

And dropping.

And the least expected: blues, low down, weighing the rain.

I've missed them.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Imitation of Life

I've been thinking about Armando Reveron, the Venezuelan painter who made life sized dolls and used them as his artists models. I think a lot about Dare Wright, who wrote books about dolls that sometimes seemed more real to her than people. There are so many faces that I glance at every day, inanimate objects transformed by the simple fact that they mimic breathing life, and animated by everything I've projected onto them.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Such Green

We've been lucky with nature this month, around this little suburban house. Dragonflies on the screens, orange butterflies outside Dunkin Donuts, a nest full of baby mockingbirds in the young yellow and green Cassia tree outside my studio window. They gape at their mother dropping them insects, baring their lemon yellow mouths. They sound like wheezy squeak toys and look like breeze-trembled buttercups. The mockingbird was smart, her tightly built nest is too deep inside the tree for bumbling human photographers to get a good angle. I know they laugh at us. That's good, I don't want to be a well-meaning but clumsy interloper inadvertently kicking off some terrible chain of events.

I try to be a part of all this, if only as an observer. I try to mix greens as beautiful as the greens up there, that make up that dragonfly. But I can't, their pigment is a glow layered from stuff I can only imagine, or, more correctly, can't imagine. It's better that way. Nature wins this kind of competition, at least.