I went to a Millennial poetry reading last night literally sitting on the train tracks. I peed in a bathroom lit only by a black light and watched the torn pieces of toilet paper scattered-squat on the floor, glowing bits of paper eyes. I heard poetry like this.
imagine trees growing out of your arm
people walking all over you
cars and trains polluting the air you breathe
octopuses spraying bad tasting ink in your mouth
nuclear bombs going off around your neck
oil rigs digging under your skin
kimono dragons fighting each other in your hand
polar bears swimming in your eyes
a dad dropping a plate of hotdogs on your knee
meteors from space hitting you in the head
the inside of your body molten hot
and you cant escape any of it
this is what is feels like to be mother earth
daniel alexander from slime dog you are my friend
And I remembered again that I am not young anymore. I am old as dirt.
Today I made a collection of oh-so-delightful chubby haystacks.
In Monet’s vision, the haystack stands to the side, giving full deference to the atmosphere. And the sunset in turn, halos the hay in gold. We watch light’s magic, glorifying, coloring and blanching things. And though the colors sizzle, the haystack casts a prosperous cool shadow, holding down the foreground with calm aplomb. Prepared.
Haystack pops front and center in Lichtenstein’s study of pattern creating form. A braille stack redux. I want to reach out and touch the dots, to push them together so they don’t hurt my eyeballs, which constantly try to connect and reconnect them. I give up and decide to study their shape and configuration. Like a nervous-tic they continue to addle my eyes, needling my subconscious. Scatterbrained haystack please stand still, please.
Ahhh, now my favorite, Will Klemm’s hay bale. Here we return to an atmospheric piece like Monet’s. And though reposed in stillness, there’s a tremendous amount of emotion rolling around. I want to give this hay bale a big squish hug and tell it everything’s going to be all right. But maybe it’s not lonely. A buddha bale that has reached peace, stopped rolling. With compassion it listens to my tales of woe. The shadow stretches impossibly long from a bright light source at an extremely low angle. Is it physically possible? And then you realize he’s painting some hidden soul-field in your mind.
Or today your noggin (like mine) is the Lichtenstein.
Yes, I am missing a cloud today. I’ve looked for it in several places, the usual ones. But not to be found.
Like I look for my life on a Monday morning, in all the usual places, sometimes not to be found. And I’m jealous of these white houses standing so upright and sure. Confident in themselves and their plans. Smug-happy they made the right decisions. Strutting out red-roofed optimism.
They do not lean in, searching. To find that thing they are missing, the white cloud. But the rest of the painting does. The lake and the horizon pinch together in the middle, pull the hills and trees inward, a landscape search party. Bowed around the center.
Ah here it is. The cloud, blithe floating on the convex lake, off-center. Taking a break. Tired of holding up the sky. Gonna leave that job to the others. Maybe it should have been fog in the first place.
But the land does not release its searching tension. The charcoal sailboat still tilts. Maybe we have found what we were looking for, maybe we haven’t. Here the joy is in the looking.
‘art is not reporting. It is memory.’ Ivon Hitchens
Do you see a landscape in this woman’s body? The river blue lines of her legs and thighs roll along the canvas creating mountains and gullies. She is an archipelago of land surrounded by the blues of the sea. Her body, all serenity and repose, curled in vibrance. Adobe colored legs, ocher fields reminiscent of wheat. Bold patches of color suggest the color fields of maps. Your eye flows back and forth between the surrounding colors and the mass of her body. Hills, ravines and valleys. She anchors herself deep in the painting, rising from the earth, yet planted in it.
Ivon Hitchens, primary known as an English landscape painter, was deeply interested in the Japanese concept of beauty called “notan,” translated “lightness darkness.” Notan is concerned with the harmonious balance of light and dark as it relates to pattern. Hitchens frames the nude using this concept. Look at the area of blues surrounding the nude on the left and top, see how they are balanced with an equal area of reds and yellows around the bottom and right side of the figure. The equally balanced masses of cools and warms almost perfectly frame the reclining body. This creates the the serene tone of the painting even amidst the passionate color oppositions. The anchor pattern.
Which brings me to a deeper musing on light and dark and their value as structural elements in life. We just experienced the vernal equinox which is the time when both light and darkness are equal, in perfect celestial balance. We seem to desire this “balance,” searching for “work/ life balance” and to “strike” a balance. But what we may be speaking of is “control.” Passion and creating even, is an unbalancing force, by far more intriguing. Yet I would favor “life balance” more if it looked like this painting. I’ll leave the beautiful myth of “balance” to be achieved by the heavens, and that only twice a year.