Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. 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. 







February 22, 2019

NYC ART: 3 MUST-SEE SHOWS

I went to see some gallery shows yesterday, in particular Dana Schutz at Petzel Gallery, Judy Pfaff at Miles McEnery, and Brenda Goodman at Sikkema Jenkins.

Judy Pfaff, detail of Quartet II

Judy Pfaff, Quartet II, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, steel frame, acrylic, expanded foam, aluminum discs, lightbulbs, wood, melted plastic, Styrofoam. 128.5” x 160” x 60”

Dana Schutz, Trouble and Appearance, 2019, Oil on canvas, 90 x 96 inches

Brenda Goodman, Let the Match Begin, 2017, oil on wood, 60 x 72 inches

Brenda Goodman, Possibility of Age, 2018, oil on wood, Two parts: 80 x 144 inches overall


WOW. These three artists are kicking ass with uncontained, unbridled energy, intention, and material-love. Monsters of color, detail, and form. I saw the shows in that order, Schutz, Pfaff, and Goodman. I left the Dana Schutz exhibition feeling like I should just give it up right now. The work feels so big, and a lot of it is so big. Big and bold and juicy. I imagined my paintings next to hers like little puny specks. Then I walked into Judy Pfaff's show and just started smiling uncontrollably. She is total exuberance! I was still smiling when I got to the Brenda Goodman show. Goodman has been at it for so long, I think of the saying, slow and steady wins the race. She is persistence. The surface details and little unexpected moments everywhere are too marvelous!

These women are laying it all out there. Led by a very personal, intuitive layering of material and meaning. I am so inspired. I feel like I have to go back and soak up some more.

These shows prove that seeing is believing. Visual art NEEDS to be experienced in person. Not one online image I viewed of any of these artworks came even close to what it feels like to be in a room with them.

Both the Dana Schutz and Brenda Goodman exhibitions end tomorrow, so if you haven't been, high tail it over there. Judy Pfaff's exhibit runs through March 9th.


Dana Schutz, Painting in an Earthquake, 2019, Oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Brenda Goodman, Bringing it Home, 2018, oil on wood, 16 x 20 inches

Judy Pfaff, Quartet I, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, wire frame, acrylic, melted plastic, aluminum discs, fungus, paper, glitter, Styrofoam, florescent light. 120.75” x 156” x 32”

Judy Pfaff, detail of Quartet I

Dana Schutz, Washing Monsters, 2018, Oil on canvas, 94 x 87.75 inches

Dana Schutz, Boatman, 2018, Oil on canvas, 88 x 75 inches

Dana Schutz, Smoker, 2018, Bronze, 28 x 30 x 12 inches

Brenda Goodman, Pink, 2018, oil on wood, Two parts: 50 x 72 inches overall

Brenda Goodman, Pushing Through, 2018, oil on wood, 14 x 18 inches

Brenda Goodman, Say It's So, 2018, oil on wood, 12 x 16 inches

Dana Schutz, The Visible World, 2018, Oil on canvas, 108 x 140 inches

Judy Pfaff, Quartet III, 2018, Photographic inspired digital image, acrylic, expanded foam, aluminum discs, Melted plastic, paper, acrylic, melted plastic, Styrofoam, lightbulbs. 121” x 149” x 21”

Judy Pfaff, Installation view

Dana Schutz, Washing Monsters, 2018, Bronze, 44 x 38 x 17 inches

Dana Schutz, detail of Strangers, 2018, Oil on canvas, 88 x 84 inches






January 29, 2019

Kiki Smith, Art Exhibitions, Journal Writing, Inspiration, Vulnerability


from the exhibition Genevieve and the Wolves, Sainte Genevieve, 1999, ink on Nepal paper, 7 feet 8 1/4 inches



Kiki Smith


My Blue Lake, 1995, color photogravure with a la poupée inking and lithograph in colors, 33.7 x 45.8 inches


Sojourn installation image at the Brooklyn Museum, 2010

book cover



I got a great book for Christmas this year, Kiki Smith: Photographs
Published on the occasion of the exhibition I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith, March 6-August 15, 2010, at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. Organized by Elizabeth A. Brown.

I've been following Kiki Smith's work for a long time. I remember one of the first exhibitions I saw of hers in the 1990's of black birds and bent over bodies hanging on the wall and scattered on the gallery floor. The psychological, emotional, and physical relationships she explores: self to nature, nature to animal, animal to human, and so on, mesmerize and enthrall me. She seems to be an artist who is so completely enveloped in her work, consistently working on numerous projects at once, in complete servitude and surrender to her art.

It both inspires and intimidates me. On Christmas Day I wrote in my journal,

Kiki Smith inspiration. I am not an artist/person who lets it all hang out. I am full of fear not vulnerability. I do not photograph myself naked or give myself tattoos. I am not fearless. I am covered. I want to break through like piercing the yolk of a poached egg. I want to completely dissolve and disappear into my absolute. I wonder if this is a thing everyone is even capable of. I'm starting to think this is the thing that makes great artists, and this is the thing I do not have.


Ribs, 1987, terracotta, ink, and thread, 22 x 17 x 10 inches

Silver bird, 2006, ink on Nepal paper with silver gouache, mica, glitter, and graphite, 72 1/4 x 58 1/4 inches

Lilith, 1994, bronze, silicon, and glass

Lilith detail



Fawn, 2000, Etching and aquatint, 22 1/2 x 31 1/4 inches


Daisy Chain, 1992, steel and bronze, chain 100 feet


Untitled (red man), 1991, ink on gampi paper in four parts


Rapture, 2001, bronze, 67 1/4 x 62 x 26 1/2 inches






Touch, 2006, suite of 6 prints, aquatint, etching, and drypoint, 30 x 22 inches


Wolf Girl, 1999, etching and aquatint on paper, 8 x 11 inches




Jewel, 2004, suite of three prints, aquatint and etching, each 14 x 17 inches





Cat, 1999, cast porcelain, 3 x 3 x 3 inches





Kiki Smith


further looking and reading:

Art21

ArtObserved

Shoshana Wayne Gallery




January 21, 2019

Reference images for paintings


I've spent the last week preparing canvases. Cutting, pasting, screwing, priming, etc. I have not decided how to tackle the actual painting part yet. Today I printed some reference photos as a point of departure, a jumping-off point to get me started. 
It is everyday things that I find most interesting. I catch a glimpse of something and imagine a whole world within it and around it. These glimpses can sometimes be very personal parts of me and my day. Mostly they evoke something greater than just color or composition, something I can't really articulate. One day I would like to publish a whole book of my reference photos and collages. 
 
dreadlocks. this color. 


cherry tomatoes from the garden



this is dough.


a dwarf maple tree in my backyard



 


food that's gone bad and ends up in the trash is both an ongoing challenge, and resource for my work.
stemming from my desire to never let anything go to waste and my guilty conscience when it does



spotted this giant ball of rope at a friend's studio



                                                          
clearly I'm obsessed


this is not a staged photo. the dirty dishes were really piled that high 


Some photos are from Instagram and Pinterest. Sorry some image credits are unknown. If I've swiped a photo from you unknowingly, thank you! and let me know so I can give you credit.