I attended an intriguing art fundraiser last night. The art was stripped naked.
By that I mean that the event concealed the identities of the artists. The 5X7 Splurge at AMOA-arthouse, Jones Center stacked a white room with shelves of mysterious minis — over 500 small format various media miniworks (some 3D) by wide ranging artists and sculptors. All art — one price – $150.
But you have to wait for the bullhorn to buy. Yes. Its blare tore through anticipation in the museum as high style people grappled over each other to rip off little silver tabs hanging by each painting. If you snag the tab the art is yours. “Negotiations” between patrons for popular pieces – fierce. But let’s not talk about my social inappropriateness here.
I’m interested rather — in the naked place. The place where you view art stripped of all context, all brand, all socially perceived value. Only the piece and your eyeball.
How to choose from the multitude? What do I internally do to create a $150 value for a work the size of a 50¢ postcard?
I tried to analyze. Hmmm. . . what is the quality of the drawing/painting? How does the piece address the size constraint? What is its materiality? Does its presence defy its borders? Does it break the plane, do something interesting/unexpected? This intellectual toying was my catbrain with a string.
But my emotions agonized. I didn’t want to be wrong — to pick a sub-par piece. I second guessed X 10. I wanted someone to fight me for the tab I grabbed (but I didn’t). I wanted the Antiques Roadshow Moment – “you’re kidding, my painting is worth what???” I wanted to see what no one else saw. Naked value creation – for my ego.
Why couldn’t I pick a piece and just enjoy it?
Well eventually I did. See above. And I learned again what I keep on learning. Be brave. Love it just because you love it.
And because your friend — who is a consummate judge of art — approved.
in the absolutely dark sea i have birds that
land on me and go inside me
let me go near you to touch you
let me put my birds
exactly in your mouth
what can i do with your moon lighted and
what is there now
every thing on you i want
you are somthing softer than star filled night
open up my
cranes in you
open up my cranes
steve roggenbuck from i am like october when i am dead, 2013 reprint
You know the moment when you’ve collided with a hole.
You reach out to your loved one, offering a hug or smile, and swipe air. That holy-shit-what-happened-here moment. See — the faceless joker holds hearts pierced thru, these holes are what I am talking about.
The trauma spots wriggle into everyday life and reduce a beautiful competent partner to a raging tear-flung lunatic in the event of misplaced car keys. They morph a normally affection-able partner into a cold-hearted bastard. Don’t expect a movie about this or even an HBO series. These heart holes open at a moments notice — white-hot or pale-cold — to suck all good comfort dry.
This is the un-fun part of love. The possible break-up part. Doesn’t make a good Jane Austen book. Or Shakespearean sonnet — This.
Maybe you choose to wander through childhood piercings/past relationship woes with your partner or friend. Maybe not. Either choice acceptable. You can still be friends — you can still be lovers. Much depends on the sunflower.
The joker here is a scale, balancing the Swiss hearts. Two up-sized sunflowers flame divine, possible healers. The repetition of a table cloth, our daily life, interrupted and cracked by the hole moments. Making us decide how much we are willing to give. Is there enough sunself in us to comfort or at least stay calm. Enough to try to understand another? Would they do the same for us?
Don’t try to mend, fix, or patch these holes. See them, and notice their shape. Such sighting takes un-named courage. We decide if we want to give it. Maybe we will keep it for ourselves.
But I have an interesting idea about compassion when its shared. It tends to grow . . . for both. And this, I call this love.
In a gallery far far away. . .
HERS: Need I explain a heart surrounded in darkness? Dark knot of isolation. A heart in safe surround, in pearl white hermitage?
HIS: This looks like pretty much like guts to me. A heart stuck in a white gumball in outer space. Simple.
HERS: Are you kidding? This heart is asking BIG questions– motheaten through heart — has decisions.
HIS: Those are holes? Naw, those are bits of shaving cream left over from a dull razor. Or maybe blind spots.
HERS: Will the blackness be a self-grown cancer that tightens in the belly of this relationship? Refusing to nourish? Feeding only.
HIS: Oh God I’m hungry — how long before our table’s ready (checks his phone for a text message from the restaurant, looks up) You are missing the heart-shaped skittles everywhere.
HERS: Or is the dark slowly being broken, digested by compassion, melting in its multi-hued warmth? Multitudes of heart shaped cells of care. Kind words, kind actions, a little kiss, a full on hug, a compliment, a cup of coffee, a belly laugh.
HIS: Ugh sounds like too much work. This is inside a belly isn’t it? Get in my BELLY! Ha!
HERS: (Rolls eyes) The reasons for this heart’s self enforced privacy are probably pretty good. Protection. Survival even.
HIS: Survive? Who survives love?
Recently the question “what is love” google-ranked into the top ten question searches. Who’s asking? Who isn’t?
What is love? That depends on what time it is.
Is it the time when the great noise parted — the only sound — the breathing of you and another? Whose dilate eyes held in them all your healing and possible death. Who captured your soul with their fingers?
Is it the time — fifteen years in, goldfish crackers crunched to floor, high on exhaustion, child echo in your ears, when you look to your partner and feel a sense of long-lived loyalty.
Is it the time after you’ve thrown a rose down an earthen box, heard it soft thump. Tasted your tears and groped around to find some feeling to name? A duty — and still is love.
The truth is — love grows and dies on the same tree — our lives. We have a myriad hearts we’ve encaged to many people and things. And our several loves, delicate hued, have a variable shelf life. Your limited number of hearts, your time-limited love. To lavish on others, to lavish on ourselves.
We want to be free, but we want to be loved. One condition opposes the other. And the struggle between the restrictions of love and the care of self are paid in seconds ticking by. We make choices. So the cage door closes and the cage door opens. The joy close. The sorrow open.
These intricate economies of time and passion we call love.
(Series of hand paintings Louise did about the daily arrival of her long time assistant Jerry)
10 am is when you come to me.
when the clockbeast, its too slow
hands finally pass on
when my toes press to open sand
when this aged crust
strips away to white horizon
the air breathes my name
your hands bring me yet
sacred red hours
I should say that it was the margins made in printing a lithographic stone that magnetized the challenge for me from the very beginning. No matter what one does, no matter how completely one works the stone (and I have always worked the stone, as soon as it is printed) makes an imprint that is surrounded by inevitable white margins. I would create a totality only to find it change after it was printed-into another totality…There is always the intrusion of the paper frame. To crop the extruding paper or to cover it with a mat or to eliminate all of the margins by “bleeding” is an evasion of this fact. It is like cropping to make a painting. It is success by mutilation…The struggle to overcome this intrusion-to give the imprint its necessary scale so that it could have its fullest expression, so that it would not be crushed by the paper margin and still have a margin- that was the challenge for me. That is why each canto has its own personal margins…These eighteen cantos are then single, individual expressions, each with its unique difference.
-Barnett Newman, “Preface to 18 Cantos,” 1964