Thursday, June 19, 2008

Provincetown 18

I catch myself thinking, I must hurry, and then I realize there's time, there's so much time for me to work on this book.

I had 30 pages, then I started over and went down to 8. Now I'm up to 23. When I printed the pages last night and took the editing pen to it, I made very few changes or corrections. I am on the right track.

I'm off now to mail some postcards. It's a beautiful day, so sunny and cool. Yesterday I mailed some things and stopped by Far Land Grocery to buy things for a salad. The avocado was the perfect ripeness.

I saw a slideshow given by the artist Robert Henry. My apologies to those about to get postcards: I wrote about the slideshow in the cards.

First Henry talked about the years he spent as an art teacher at the university level. He didn't have nice things to say. He felt the art department tried too hard to justify themselves on an intellectual level. Always with this: What does it mean? He also had choice words for art critics. He said we're in trouble when criticism comes before the art.

What was really intriguing, though, were the images. Many of them were of his wife who was comatose for several weeks and hospitalized for three months. One of them showed her near the end of her medical dilemma in a wheelchair, her hands thrown up and giving two peace signs. Many of the other paintings look at the side of life we want to avoid: his wife in a neck brace, her vulnerability.

One image was of many people crawling or lying on the ground. Out of the heavens came thin, bright shafts of light. He said he put the painting away for a long time after he'd finished it because it didn't adhere to certain rules. The shafts of light were stark against the dark background. There was no effort made to make them part of the picture by using any painterly technique. Another painting was of a heavy man, his eyes bulging. The portrait most certainly looked like a madman. This was another painting that Henry said he had to put away before showing it to anyone.

The point is that what drives you, what fascinates you, are the things that scare you. It is by your exploration of this frightening mental terrain that births your art. It also makes you carry on because you want to find out how far you can take it; you want to know what there is to know.

I better get to that PO.

2 comments:

Judith HeartSong said...

nothing is more precious than the time to create!

redsneakz said...

First Henry talked about the years he spent as an art teacher at the university level. He didn't have nice things to say. He felt the art department tried too hard to justify themselves on an intellectual level. Always with this: What does it mean? He also had choice words for art critics. He said we're in trouble when criticism comes before the art.
Isn't this the largest argument that is used against the deconstructionist movement? I've never been a fan of criticism per se, but deconstructionists were trying to make it a stand-alone, non-referential artform. It's rather Romantic of them, really - a number of musical pieces were titled "Intermezzo" - but they weren't between anything.

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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