(First in a series of three ghost stories)
He married her in candlelight. A silver ribbon round her neck. Their love in flame. And the house and the cars and kids and the silver ribbon never left her neck. Silked velvet ribbon. Crushed in places, held high on her neck with a clasp of bone. He knew because he studied that ribbon, over coffee, over date night, over her making love. He could tell its everly crease and how the light softened over edge.
Him asking her, take it off.
“You’ll be sorry.” She says. Sometimes hazeleye laughing, sometimes eyes in storm.
Times he demanded, angry. Blood shot through eyes.
“You’ll be sorry,” clear grey tears. Fall like hourglass seconds.
PTA meetings go by, and the days. Going by. And cereal bowls rotate through the sink. He watches her ribbon to plot and scheme against it. This ribbon, a steel rebellion against him. He must have it.
Take it off – the years of denial crush in his throat.
“You’ll be sorry.” Her eyes pearl.
And the clouds hang dead, pale shroud the bulging moon. The branches scrape, scrape against night fall. Across the bed her breath rhythms the universe and he reaches. Reaches across to pull the clasp and her eyelash quivers,
The ribbon limp in his fingers.
A long sigh
as her head
the night hush whisper y o u’ l l b e s o r r y
Her soft lips vanish into burgundy dark.
I love this old German. The ballsy dedication of one’s life to the Great Squeegee. He creates world renown kick-ass art with it. And he’s 80. Currently he’s the top grossing artist in the world.
The dragging, adding, the taking away again. The adding, the taking away.
Smear on. Redact. Smear on. Redact.
And I find myself mesmerized. Its existential process draws me in. The way this paint pulls me apart and puts me back together. A surreal humptydumpty life.
what’s surface? what lies beneath? occupies the same plane.
What you are when your “title” is taken away. Who you are on your new business card. You, in juicy given youth, who you are as gainsaid, it peels away. (A forty-year-old anachronism) The email in your inbox – gives you hope, a slightsound of paper handed – takes it away.
Can the senselessness of the giving and taking away – can it be lovely? Can I, by some craft of hand or soul make it so?
Click above link to watch him in action.
He posted calendars. In his office and garage and kitchen – spent several hours a week updating them to quarter hours, syncing old-school. With sharp colored pencils, he outlines boxes of time.
Fox news fills squared time between 6:30 and 8:30, formerly dinnertime. Lawn maintenance and church in green numbered boxes. She watches the blue bedtime box inch its way up from 9:30 to 9:00 to 8:30. His outworn hands gripping thin pencils like colorful pickup sticks. She noticed the broken pieces pierce heavy duty trash bags on Tues mornings, even though he double bagged.
“When do you go to the john?” She was there, borrowing his angle grinder. The grey clink of his fingers rummaged through a Folger’s coffee can, searching out an odd length screw. The color sharp schedule catches her eye. Rocking back and forth, heel to toe.
“The john!” she says louder and points. He needed a hearing aid. Of course wouldn’t admit it. Old men love their bowel movements. A daily badge, a gold star sir for gastrointestinal bravery.
“You didn’t schedule your bowel movements, isn’t that the highlight of your day?”
He scowls. A hoarse sound, possible guffaw. Remembers laughter like his last kidney stone.
She’s right, he didn’t schedule in his “constitution.” Takes good half hour or more. Enough to read the front page. Or study the obits for friends.
“guess I’ll have to update it. “
“And get a hearing aid.”
“what?” he deadpanned. Heel turn. “Not gettin’ a damn hearing aid. Juliet couldn’t make me. Neither can you.” Coughs. “So go on, here’s the grinder. Keep the box neat will ya?”
Shoes her out of this neat hen-house garage. He hunts and pecks for the one screw he found and lost several times. Entirely unnatural. A neat garage I mean. That schedule too.
Move along people, nothin’ to see here. Another Dutch painting sans still life.
Wait, the Dutch and Flemish – weren’t they the painters that elevated still life to legendary status. Now MIA. Missing flowers, missing fruit, no pitcher, no half-eaten meat. All in absentia.
Which begs the question, why missing? What am I not seeing, my blind spots? In art, in life.
The answer – plenty.
Richard Wiseman at the University of Herfordshire shows us in his study of self-proclaimed “lucky” and “unlucky” people. He told them all to look through the newspaper (specially designed) and count the number of photos. The “lucky” people found the number almost immediately. The “unlucky” people took quite a long time and came up with wrong answers. Why? What did the self-proclaimed “unlucky” people not see? The answer – written bold, in two inches high letters, inside the front page.
Half-way through the special newspaper, the message “STOP COUNTING, TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU HAVE SEEN THIS AND WIN £250” also in two inch high letters. How many “unlucky” persons got the cash? Not one.
This is a stroke
This is a stroke of good luck
A wrinkle in time
the angel of death
melted marshmallows indigo night
This is a stroke
of muteness syllables whole swallowed
foam on a wave
This is Tom Cruise on a wire
I lay. To wait.
I lie. To simplify.
A streak of buff in crimson.
To let me be. To wait.
To simplify. Simple lie.
My hair is tied.
So the queen bought the Warhols, but how about the Lucian Freud?
Just to give you some back story – Lucian Freud is the greatest figurative painter of our time. Passed away July 2011. Yes, he’s the grandson of Sigmund. Draw your own assumptions.
As a rule, I don’t find much compassion for the rich and famous. But here I feel the ruthless sting of mortality. Fatal age is coming for her too, despite her sovereign-dom. Despite the pearls and diamonds. She is a commoner, sharing the same fate as I. It’s a deft touch is that Freud evokes this common cord while juxtaposed with the Diamond Diadem (Freud’s specific request).
He painted this portrait gratis so she could not influence the image. Imagine the conversation in the room as she sat for him. I bet she did not go lightly into this dark night. “Really Lucian, must you go sooo deep into the wrinkles?”
The hairdo really suffers. That would bump it out of Royal Collection for me. I’m sure she (and a stylist team) works very hard to get it that way. The crown jewels got lucky. They actually look valuable in a faded postcard sort of way.
If your know his work, you will realize he was actually quite kind to her.
Recoil at one of his greatest portraits, the Benefits Supervisor Sleeping. Sold in 2008 for $33M.
“I paint people,” Freud said, “not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.”
Interested in seeing more? His only exhibition is in Texas at the Modern in Fort Worth until Oct. 28, 2012.
Many Brits wanted to send him to the tower for painting such an unflattering, de-powdered monarch. But in the end, she did acquire it for the Royal Collection. Bully that!
(overheard – Queen Elizabeth II on cell talking to her stylist of eleven years, Stewart Parvin about the acquisition of the Warhol prints)
Stewart, when you come up, bring a gin and that beastly pillbox.
Yes, yes. I’m fine. Just reading up on reviews of my Diamond Jubilee. It’s just the bees knees. Don’t you think it’s gone swimmingly so far? The paracute out of the plane at the Olympics was genius. And that Daniel Craig – brill.
Don’t forget the updated wardrobe spreadsheet. I need to approve next month’s ensembles. I do believe we forgot to log the Hermes scarf I wore yesterday. Bollocks – these readers!
I saw it on the tele, yes – I’m absolutely cheesed about Harry’s naked bum pictures and Kate’s as well. Brings down the Royal brand, of course. PR is casting about for a new image to release for the media to bandy about. Preferably one that’s clothed.
Oh the Warhol prints? Those were ages ago – 1977 as I recall. My he was a cheeky monkey.
I don’t know, Stewart. I think the colors are quite too garish. Do you think the public will like to see them at Windsor?
But I’ve run through my art allowance this year. I could approve a petty cash expenditure.
Oh, alright, they are modern, sigh. Send up the Royal gallerist.
Don’t forget the gin. And Stewart, I won’t wear the cornflower blue pumps until Lilly breaks them in again. They still pinch.
“If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago.” Yayoi Kusama
On the subject of being crazy and creating mind-blowing art let’s talk Yayoi Kusama.
She came to prominence in the 70’s when she staged Body Festivals – naked people walking around clothed only in painted polka dots. And since then the dots have not stopped.
Polka dots are a way to infinity. Yayoi Kusama
Kusama leads the avant-garde contemporary art world. She checked herself into a Japanese mental institution in 1973 and since 1977 has called it home. She is escorted each day to her studio and is walked back to the hospital at night.
The Whitney now features an eye-popping retrospective of her work which you can browse when you click the picture above. She’s a published poet and novelist. Louis Vitton partnered with her to make this fall’s hottest, spotted accessories.
Her latest work sold for $5.1 M, the highest amount for a living female artist.
Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem too crazy to me. Just badass.
If you haven’t papercut your pinky on the slim corner of sanity, then maybe you aren’t pushing the life envelope hard enough. Or maybe you have solid mental health genes (also good). This painting reminds me of the daily tip-toe tripping of the mental health wire and our need to balance out these “wiggles.”
The background color – this minty pea soup green – is also the color of the walls of the mental hospital one of my best friends stayed in. Checked in to that facility to get the wiggles out. But it’s very routine in there, no wiggle room. Only pills, clocks and talks. If you have the dough. The bill alone could drive you nuts.
I have the distinct impression that these deep purple wiggles will not be worked out. Are the green walls giving structure to the wiggles, lending a stable hand? Or are the wiggles encroaching on the green walls in a slow-mo land grab? Is it a stalemate, a writhing truce with ground being lost and gained in equal measure. Or a protracted battle of attrition with sanity as the long shot?
Don’t miss the red dots which could be game changers. Stabilizers or trauma points? Although they may just be ticklish.
I just found out wriggle and wiggle aren’t interchangeable (though I did it anyway). Wiggle is a back and forth movement. Wriggle is a turning twisting movement a.k.a. to squirm.
So there is wriggle room in a wiggle room. But not the other way around. Drives me crazy.