Showing posts with label arts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arts. Show all posts

April 23, 2020

OF POWER AND TIME




I have been rifling through my bookshelf these days. Now that I have a bookshelf for the first time in years, I can easily see what books I have, and what books I have no use for. Some I can't remember why on earth I own, or if they're even mine, so, one by one I am reading through them all! Thank you to my lovely friend whose comment reminded me I own this gem by Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures. Grateful that I can access these inspiring words at any time. Of Power and Time is so very relevant right now, I couldn't resist copying and pasting (except for a few omissions) the entire piece here. Within the confines of time, it is approximately a 7 minute read. Enjoy! 

















Of Power and Time











It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone.
    Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart—to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.
    But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley's birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back in to the mist.
    It is this internal force—this intimate interrupter—whose tracks I would follow. The world sheds, in the energetic way of an open and communal place, its many greetings, as a world should. What quarrel can there be with that? But that the self can interrupt the self—and does—is a darker and more curious matter.

I am, myself, three selves at least. To begin with, there is the child I was. Certainly I am not that child anymore! Yet, distantly, or sometimes not so distantly, I can hear that child's voice—I can feel its hope, or its distress. It has not vanished. Powerful, egotistical, insinuating—its presence rises, in memory, or from the steamy river of dreams. It is not gone, not by a long shot. It is with me in the present hour. It will be with me in the grave.
    And there is the attentive, social self. This is the smiler and the doorkeeper. This is the portion that winds the clock, that steers through the dailiness of life, that keeps in mind appointments that must be made, and then met. It is fettered to a thousand notions of obligation. It moves across the hours of the day as though the movement itself were the whole task. Whether it gathers as it goes some branch of wisdom or delight, or nothing at all, is a matter with which it is hardly concerned. What this self hears night and day, what it loves beyond all other songs, is the endless springing forward of the clock, those measures strict and vivacious, and full of certainty.
    The clock! That twelve-figured moon skull, that white spider belly! How serenely the hands move with their filigree pointers, and how steadily! Twelve hours, and twelve hours, and begin again! Eat, speak, sleep, cross a street, wash a dish! The clock is still ticking. All its vistas are just so broad—are regular. (Notice that word.) Every day, twelve little bins in which to order disorderly life, and even more disorderly thought…. Another day is passing, a regular and ordinary day. (Notice that word also.)

Say you have bought a ticket on an airplane and you intend to fly from New York to San Francisco. What do you ask of the pilot when you climb aboard and take your seat next to the little window…. 
    Most assuredly you want the pilot to be his regular and ordinary self. You want him to approach and undertake his work with no more than a calm pleasure. You want nothing fancy, nothing new. You ask him to do, routinely, what he knows how to do—fly an airplane. You hope he will not daydream. You hope he will not drift into some interesting meander of thought. You want this flight to be ordinary, not extraordinary. So, too, with the surgeon, and the ambulance driver, and the captain of the ship. Let all of them work, as ordinarily they do, in confident familiarity with whatever the work requires, and no more. Their ordinariness is the surety of the world. Their ordinariness makes the world go round….for the world has a need of dreamers as well as shoemakers….    
    And this is also true. In creative work—creative work of all kinds—those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. Which is something altogether different from the ordinary. Such work does not refute the ordinary. It is, simply, something else. Its labor requires a different outlook—a different set of priorities. Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child,  nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.
    Intellectual work sometimes, spiritual work certainly, artistic work always—these forces that fall within its grasp, forces that must travel beyond the realm of the hour and the restraint of the habit. Nor can the actual work be well separated from the entire life. Like the knights of the middle ages, there is little the creatively inclined person can do but to prepare himself, body and spirit, for the labor to come—for his adventures are all unknown. In truth, the work itself is the adventure. And no artist could go about this work, or would want to, with less than extraordinary energy and concentration. The extraordinary is what art is about. 
    Neither is it possible to control, or regulate, the machinery of creativity. One must work with the creative powers—for not to work with is to work against; in art as in spiritual life there is no neutral place. Especially at the beginning, there is a need of discipline as well as solitude and concentration….
    No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications….It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker. It isn’t that it would disparage comforts, or the set routines of the world, but that its concern is directed to another place. Its concern is the edge, and the making of a form out of the formlessness that is beyond the edge.
    Of this there can be no question—creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. A person trudging through the wilderness of creation who does not know this—who does not swallow this—is lost. He who does not crave that roofless place eternity should stay at home. Such a person is perfectly worthy, and useful, and even beautiful, but is not an artist. Such a person had better live with timely ambitions and finished work formed for the sparkle of the moment only. Such a person had better go off and fly an airplane.
    There is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true. For they are in another world altogether. It is a world where the third self is governor. Neither is the purity of art the innocence of childhood, if there is such a thing. One’s life as a child, with all its emotional rages and ranges, is but grass for the winged horse—it must be chewed well in those savage teeth….The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work—who is thus responsible to the work.

On any morning or afternoon, serious interruptions to work, therefore, are never the inopportune, cheerful, even loving interruptions which come to us from another. Serious interruptions come from the watchful eye we cast upon ourselves. There is the blow that knocks the arrow from it mark! There is the drag we throw over our own intentions. There is the interruption to be feared!
    It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.
    There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time. 







May 31, 2019

A PRELUDE


I am about to embark on a new phase of life. One where I get to make my own decisions and have my own thoughts. I've been thinking a lot about the things that I like, that make me happy.

I like Chopin. I love Chopin. Listening to Chopin makes me almost giddy. It fills my entire person. I am paying bills this morning, which is a task that is frustrating and has brought me to tears more than a few times. But I put on Chopin in the background and I am perfectly fine. Isn't that weird!

Piano music brings me back to ballet class as a kid. Not the struggle and self-critical part, just the absolute joy. I hear the music and I picture bodies floating through the air in ecstatic pirouettes and grands jet├ęs. I imagine my own body doing all the things I was never capable of doing. It puts a smile on my face.

Chopin also is ingrained in me because I grew up hearing my uncle play it during weekly visits to grandma's house. Chopin couldn't be more of a perfect fit for the dichotomy of comfort and tension that was grandma's house and everything associated with it. Only artistic genius could capture the drama and beauty, sensitivity and chaos of so much dysfunction in such a transcendent way.













May 25, 2018

Artist of the week: Leon Golub

Finally made it to the MET Breuer to see the Leon Golub show just before it closes on May 27th. So amazing to see this work close up, and experience the enormity of both the materials and subject matter. Golub's work is so much about power struggle, and it is expressed so perfectly through his materials. The violent torn and raw canvases, and the dry dragging of paint look almost as painful as the atrocities they depict. If I had to describe Golub's work with one word, it would be Monstrous. 

Excerpt taken from the MET's statement:
His devotion to the figure, his embrace of expressionism, his fusion of modern and classical sources, and his commitment to social justice distinguish his practice as an artist.
Alongside the monumental, terrifying Gigantomachy IILeon Golub: Raw Nerve features paintings from the artist's most important series....  that represent subjects of longstanding interest to the artist, from mercenaries, interrogators, and the victims of violence to political figures, nudes, and animals, all of them rendered in the raw, visceral style for which he is justly celebrated.
Together, these paintings attest to Golub's incisive perspective on the catastrophes that afflict human civilization and his critique of brutality and belligerent masculinity. The artist's work has much to teach us in the twenty-first century, as does his belief in the ethical responsibility of artists.
detail, Two Black Women and a White Man, 1986, acrylic on linen, 120 x 163 inches






detail, Two Black Women and a White Man, 1986, acrylic on linen, 120 x 163 inches

Two Black Women and a White Man, 1986, acrylic on linen, 120 x 163 inches

Installation view at the MET

The Conversation, 1990, acrylic on linen, 92 x 170 inches


Colossal Torso III, 1960, lacquer on canvas, 82 x 96 inches

Tete de Chevall II, 1963, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 81 inches

Combat I, 1970, offset lithograph



detail, Gigantomachy II, 1966, acrylic on linen, 9 x 24 feet


detail, Gigantomachy II, 1966, acrylic on linen, 9 x 24 feet


detail, Gigantomachy II, to show scale


Gigantomachy II, 1966, acrylic on linen, 9 x 24 feet


Leon Golub (1922-2004) was married to artist Nancy Spero (1926-2009)

Further looking and reading:
The Canvas takes Shape, on Youtube
The Paris Review
Leon Golub: Raw Nerve




Champ de Bataille, 1965, oil on canvas, 91 x 66 inches



Leon Golub in his studio


detail, Vietnam II, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 37 feet


Riot I, Lithograph

The Go-ahead, 1986, acrylic on canvas, 120 x 192 inches



March 22, 2018

the problem with deadlines

An  artist  without  a  deadline  is  like . . . . . . . . . . . . .....                        

I  am  good  with  deadlines.  I  have  actually  said  those  words.  What  does  that  even  mean?  It  does  not  mean  that  I  don't  freak  out,  get  mean,  anxious,  impatient,  frustrated  and  generally  riddled  with  nerves  and  self  doubt,  because  I  do.  I  need  deadlines  to  make  me  insane  is  the  more  accurate  thing  to  say.  Maybe  I  should  replace  it  altogether  with,  I'm  not  good  at  deadlines  at  all,  I'm  good  with  the  outcome  of  deadlines.  I'm  good  with  good  results,  and  the  enormous  feeling  of  relief  and  accomplishment.  Deadlines,  if  you  make  them  and  keep  them,  will  give  you  the  confidence  to  keep  making  and  keeping  them.  Deadlines  keep  you  in  check.  They  keep  you,  even  if  you  are  simultaneously  a  frazzled  mess,  focused.

Deadlines  Are  The  Great  Motivator.  So,  yeah,  I'm  good  with  deadlines.

Of  course  the  real  problem  with  deadlines  is  that  once  they're  over,  then  what.  You're  admittedly  a  little  high  on  yourself,  but  you're  exhausted  from  working  your  ass  off,  everything  is  a  wreck  around  you  because  you've  neglected  absolutely  everything,  and  you're  literally  slumped  over  the  studio  couch  wondering,  now  what  am  I  supposed  to  do..  Am  I  right?

Anyway,  that's  kind  of  where  I'm  at  at  the  present  moment.


January 3, 2018

TIPS FOR THE NEW YEAR


For some reason writing 2018 seems totally natural, like it's been a long time coming. This year I'm not making resolutions. I mean what's to say a resolution at the beginning of the calendar is any more special than at the end of it, or the middle. I do have plans however... yup, plans are good. I'll have some work included in a few exhibitions coming up:



  • January 12-21, "Member Exhibition" at Garrison Art Center, Garrison, NY. Opening reception: January 12, 5-7pm
  • February 2-25, "Conversations" a group show at Buster Levi Gallery in Cold Spring, NY. Opening reception: February 2, 6-8pm
  • June 2018, Three person show at Hudson Beach Glass Gallery in Beacon, NY. (exact dates tba)


with artists Jackie Skrzynski


Jackie Skrzynski, Studio view of Clapper2016, charcoal on paper, 50 x 80"

and Tanya Chaly

Tanya Chaly, Unravel, Installation View March, 2017, The Cluster Gallery, Brooklyn, New York


I'm also planning to apply for that good ol' NYFA Fellowship grant again this year, and more surprises, a couple of people have shown interest in purchasing a painting here and there. So... things are feeling pretty good. At the moment I have a few small pieces in the Small Works show at the Catalyst Gallery in Beacon. The show closes with a reception this Sunday on January 7th. 


Samantha Palmeri Contemporary Artist
Samantha Palmeri, Untitled, 2016, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 inches
This morning I had a lovely studio visit, which I hope is the first of many this year. I get stuck in my own world of time management and obligation and studio work etc. I forget how important it is to stay connected with other artists. Studio visits are awesome! A win-win for everyone. So, maybe that's some kind of a resolution after all, to stay connected. Send me a message if you want to have a studio date... Oh, and happy new year!













September 26, 2017

WHY DO WE FOLLOW RULES?

I make up a lot of rules for myself. Rules that may or may not actually exist, that I may or may not have invented all for myself. And I follow them, maybe out of tradition or convention or fear or doubt or bad habit or laziness, or maybe because it's what I see other people doing so I think this must be how things are done. Rules that seem perfectly logical and reasonable.

But it's like WHY?? Why am I following all these rules that I may or may not have had anything to do with and that maybe have nothing to do with me.

Painting is a very traditional medium. It's been around for thousands of years now and has accumulated a VERY long list of rules. So many rules that even breaking traditional painting rules has become a rule.

I think I've been very conventional in my thinking about my work. For the most part I'm a stretched canvas, paint brush and palette of oil paint and medium kind of painter. And that's been fine except that all of a sudden it's not!

Samantha Palmeri Contemporary Artist
Hangover painting, 2017, acrylic and oil on cardboard


I've been very precious with these things and it's holding me back. Following these painting rules whether self imposed or not, is holding me back. It's created four walls around me that I keep banging up against. I want to feel free, like there are no rules at all, like I've just discovered painting for the first time, like a child. I especially want to feel like if something's not working I'm not forcing myself to try to gloss over it to make it better. Working through painting issues and the problems we create on canvas is all very well, sometimes even the whole point, but trying to make it work just because it's already there and because I've already spent so much time on it will never work! The only rule really should be, if you know in your gut it's not working destroy it and start over. But I also have a rule about time... I think I consider some paintings finished when they're definitely not because I feel like I've spent ample time with them. Or the opposite, where I keep working on something that may already be finished, because I feel like I've invested so much money and energy in the materials and preparation it can't possibly be done after a few hours of work. These are ridiculous self imposed rules that are clouding my judgement.

Being precious with your work gets you nowhere. I need to get rid of this way of thinking and be free to get at the thing I'm supposed to be getting at! I have no idea exactly how to do that, but recognizing the problem is a good first step!




July 7, 2017

What it means to be an artist and a vegan

40aprons.com
My first homemade vegan blueberry pie! 

A little less than six months ago I became a vegan. It's just occurred to me how being a vegan is sort of on par with being an artist... People tend to react in very similar ways.

When you tell people you're an artist, right away they put you into a stereotypical category that may or may not have anything to do with you. Temporarily they may start using words like artsy, crafty, eccentric and even weird, all the while recounting every family member or friend's relative or neighbor they know of who is also an artist. They will insist on giving you advice you didn't ask for and don't want, about making more money and getting more exposure, and will often exclaim how little they personally know about it and how they "can't even draw a stick figure", indicating in some degrading passive/aggressive way that being an artist is way too special* for them and thank goodness they don't have to have anything to do with it. 

*a.k.a abnormal


I think it would shock and bewilder people even more if they knew anything about what being an artist is really like. Let me get all defensive for a minute and say that artists just happen to have the hardest working, most conscientious, community minded, concerned, empathetic, risk taking will power and nerves of steel you'll ever encounter in your life! One day I would like to respond to the question what do you do with the answer; I stand in a quiet empty room by myself for 5 hours a day contemplating my existence. I build frames and staple fabric to them so I can paint pictures and argue with myself over how to properly express my ideas visually. I spend hours, days and months working on things that I end up destroying. I obsessively examine my purpose, my inner voice, and how to make even a tiny ripple in the overall world around me. I attempt to define and redefine an imaginary dialogue with artists who've lived two hundred years ago, artists who are here now, and artists who aren't even alive yet. And then I hang it all up for strangers to ogle and critique. What do you do? 

Hmmmm... Maybe this is proving that artists really are weird, but I think it's the other way around. Maybe everyone else is the weirdo in this scenario. 

Anyway, when you tell certain people you are a vegan, and it definitely depends on who it is, as "the times they are a changin'"... some people are immediately suspicious and put off, even annoyed, like oh, you're one of those* people. There are a lot of questions asked that require proper justification. And then there is, again, lots of advice that you didn't ask for and don't want. 
Humans crave the familiar, and fear the unknown, and there's just no way around it.

*a.k.a special*

*a.k.a abnormal



I became a vegan for one simple reason, to be healthier. It just made sense to me. 

I may not decide to be a vegan my whole life, but in the end, it's not all that complicated, and really, neither is being an artist.



P.S Get the recipe for vegan blueberry pie here at 40aprons.com