Punctuate this!

Jessica Snow, Dialogue #6

Jessica Snow, Dialogue #6

I have a few choice things to say about punctuation. One would sound like this, “#*!&!!”

And the other would go like, “Ohhh, you darling ellipsis, how I adore you . . .”

It’s interesting how emoticons ūüôā have subsumed the life of punctuation. Emotional shorthand that in the “olden days” would have taken couple of sentences to explain, nicely delineated by commas and quotes – reduced now to smiling faces and stuttering exclamation marks!!!

I like Jessica Snow’s painting because it transforms the symbols of dialogue and makes these marks we call punctuation into gibberish. The addition of color further alienates them from their rhetorical duty. They are happy and carefree, released¬† from bonds of wordiness. They meander and flock like lime-green geese in formation. Emoticon-y, “cartoony,” vaguely bubblesque.

The modified punctuation itself is doing the talking here. Signs that used to tell us when someone speaks, now all jibber-jabber away, Can’t shut ’em up. So the question is, what are they giggling about? These buoyant half/symboled shapes?

Ninety percent (90%) of meaning is not corralled in words, letters or punctuation. That facial twitch or icy edge to my voice is lost on my social media friends. Are we losing some bright depth of interaction in our new tweet-driven styles? How do you tweet a pregnant pause?

I rarely punctuate in texts anymore. Who needs to tap the period key anymore? The phone does it for you. The loss of punctuation is bleeding over into my email life too¬† – since Microsoft doesn’t know to add periods like Apple does. So its Fare-thee-well my punctuated friends. ūüė¶ But I’m hanging on to my question marks


Double Moon

Robert Motherwell, Blue Elegy, 1987, National Gallery of Austrailia

Robert Motherwell, Blue Elegy, 1987, National Gallery of Australia

Blue Moon Friday. That’s right, a second chance this month to see that spacious pearl rise and reflect more glowing light to love by. Due to the calendar we’ve concocted and the actual lunar cycle, we get a bonus full moon today – ¬†happens every 2.7 years. Ok, so that’s mildly interesting. A good time to concoct a love potion perhaps.

This month’s two-moon tango reminds me of Blue Elegy by Robert Motherwell. I did a double take on this one.¬†Only a pair of marks here, not an eye pleasing threesome. It’s repeated but not¬†repetition. Just tandem. Why?

Powerful strokes that were originally the work of chance and¬†subconscious, are now Motherwell’s signature mark. The strong downward stroke with the affixed oval shape (art critics say¬†rectilinear¬†and ovoid, ugh).¬†He did about two hundred paintings in his Elegies series, mainly this same repeating mark in graphic black. A protest against the atrocities of the Spanish Civil war, as Picasso did in Guernica. See one here.¬†http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/show-full/piece/?object=84.3223&search=&page=&f=Title

But this Elegy’s in blue. Takes on celestial feel instead of the dark, stagnated fury of the black ones.¬†The stroke now softened by sky blue and gilded by a gold top line. This mark usually told of senseless death and war’s vengeful repeating. ¬†Now, it speaks of something more heavenly and I think more hopeful. The gift of second chance.

You struggle to say something important but you can’t quite get it out. You try again. You do something brilliant and then try it again –¬† fear of failure be damned. You attempted life, but it didn’t quite work out. You look up to see that second beautiful chance you thought you’d never get.

Blue moon shining.


Pollock is as Pollock does

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Convergence, 1952. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Convergence, 1952. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y. © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

¬†“When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.” ¬†

Jackson Pollock

I don’t believe Pollock on this one. He has no fear about making changes to his work? That would be¬†extraordinary¬†indeed. I tend to shy away from Pollock because of the unnerving visual chaos. I understand this explosive change (dripping paint on canvas) skyrocketed Abstract Expressionism to sparkling mid-century glory. Today many artists drip in Ab-Exstasy.

I appreciate his process a bit more after reading John Yau’s poem inspired by Pollock’s work. Am I layering esoteric upon esoteric by mixing in a contemporary poem with a Pollock to bake a giant heady souffle? Yes. But hell, here it is.

Notice how the words mimic the energy of the paint. How the repetition and redirection, indirection and circumnavigation of words whirls you around like you are a streak of yellow or red inside the painting. How Yau ravels and unravels the mystery of being in the flow.

830 Fireplace Road
John Yau

(Variations on a sentence by Jackson Pollack)

“When I am¬†in¬†my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing”
When aware of what I am in my painting, I’m not aware
When I am my painting, I’m not aware of what I am
When what, what when, what of, when in, I’m not painting my I
When painting, I am in what I’m doing, not doing what I am
When doing what I am, I’m not in my painting
When I am of my painting, I’m not aware of when, of what
Of what I’m doing, I am not aware, I’m painting
Of what, when, my, I, painting, in painting
When of, of what, in when, in what painting
Not aware, not in, not of, not doing, I’m in my I
In my am, not am in my, not of when I am, of what
Painting “what” when I am, of when I am, doing, painting.
When painting, I’m not doing. I am in my doing. I am painting.


Dog days

Gaylen Hansen, Dog and Magpie, 1989

Gaylen Hansen, Dog and Magpie, 1989

Magpie: Cawk it’s hot! Even my feathers are sweating. I’m just going to keel over and die from this heat.

Dog: Yawn. It’s the dog days of summer.

Magpie: That’s quite odd. The dog days? I think not.

Dog: Scratch. Scratch.  Yep.

Magpie: Hmm. . ¬†.¬†(stands on one leg)¬†Now that you mention it,¬†I recall they are more commonly called the “Magpie days of summer.” Yes. Yes. I know I’ve heard that somewhere before. . .oh, my friend cawed to me about it last week. (Whew! I could fry an egg on my beak it’s so hot!) Of course, it’s the¬†Magpie days.

Dog: Actually, I’m right on this. Definitely the dog days.

Magpie: Oh doggone it (stamps claw)– is everything always about you?

Dog: Hey, I didn’t have anything to do with it – it’s an ancient Greek thing. Blamed the “dog star” Sirius. Got too close to the sun. Didn’t you see my post about Roman dog sacrifice on my FB page?

Magpie: No, FB’ s just annoying. Seriously, you have a star and a whole couple months of summer named after you? (cocks head) For all your lying around and tired panting? Lazybone’s like. Really there’s no reason to name something after a bunch of drooling, lazy good-for-nothing’s. I’m calling them the #Magpie day’s of summer. Tweeting it right now. Magpies bring #good luck. What do dogs bring? Only #fleas.

Dog: And dead birds.

Magpie: Gasp. Cawk! Flutter.

Dog: It’s the dog days Magpie, just google it.

Magpie: Nope, don’t like google watching me. If you ask me, the “Magpie days of summer” sounds better.

Dog: Lacks alliteration.¬†(Stands to leave) ¬†It’s too damn hot to squawk about it.

Magpie: Certainly is not. (ruffles feathers, cranes neck high) Really this is too unfair. . .


Sun/shower

Lily Martine Baxter, Bloom Painting (ponderosa), courtesy of the artist

Lily Martine Baxter, Bloom Painting (ponderosa), courtesy of the artist

Missing flowers today, caught in the gaping maw of August here. The ravage heat wastes any precious bloom this time of year. Water is just a wish to save all but desert plants from crusty brown demise.

I think of leaving to a lushlovely, rainy place when the sun takes permanent throne. When 100¬†degrees is ho-hum and only 50 or more days of ¬†white-hot 100¬į+ leaves the weather person dry mouthed and¬†sweating¬†for synonyms for hot. Or hotter. Or hottest. ¬†But the clouds hinted at rain this weekend, some wayward drops sprinkled. Plash. A soft pliff here and there. Smell of overheated earth. This painting by Lily Martine Baxter captures the moment.

Where between the sun and the rain, blossoms a fresh cluster of color. The heavens cooled briefly and then the color springs and drizzles. Lavender rivulets and saffron trickles. A color front Рprecipitation blooming.  Open-mouthed to catch a drop or perhaps a petal.


the sun in our eyes

Natalie Dower, Octadecagon No. 1, 1995

Natalie Dower, Octadecagon No. 1, 1995

Yesterday I wrote about the law of diminishing returns and questioned if we commoners could use such economic theories in daily life. Whether we would turn into nerd-buttoned sociopaths, judging everything by the return on investment it afforded us.

And I was reminded of this work by Natalie Dower, who harnesses the power of mathematics and scaled form to derive the universal constant. To show us the beautiful power in mathematically calculated form. A comfy rational aesthetic. (I’m not going into how she constructs the paintings because it involves crazy equations,¬†Fibonacci¬†sequencing and¬†square¬†root measures to the nth degree).

To mask ¬†chaos. To mask entropy. Cheering us on as we search for reason and pattern for the market’s ups and downs, for our lover’s cold shoulder, for our kids’ grades, for our boss’s promotions. For our¬†success¬†for our lack thereof.

Yes, there should be some over-riding constants, like gravity. Yes, by the force of reason, by sheer brilliance, we should deduce these patterns. From data, draw conclusions. To¬†forecast markets and plan for weather. To profit from Google¬†Analytics. To write a book and blab the secret. ¬†After all, if seashell whorls are governed by mathematical principles, shouldn’t the nature of life be so goverened? Solving the Equation that plucks our own lucky star from the sky. Drafting¬†Pythagorean¬†Fate to run the fifth wideout on our team.

Calculations like constellations to guide us in deepspace life. But when I look up from my daily minutiae, all I see is sun. And my brittle-life theories fracture into wounded kite splinters.

Float down like confetti.

Happy that it’s happy hour.


Sunday, Sunday

Daphne Confar, George thought today was Sunday, 2012 courtesy William Scott Gallery

Daphne Confar, George thought today was Sunday, 2012 courtesy William Scott Gallery

George thought today was a Sunday.

Sunday’s were his favorite days after all. He waited in the lobby for the church van to come pick him up and deliver him to Sunday School. Free coffee and donuts. The ladies smiled at his jokes.

He could belt out the hymns. A mighty fortress is our God. . .¬†Fractured light from stained glass windows colored his hands holding the hymnal open. He could’ve sung in the choir behind that preacher if he’d put his mind to it. People complimented his strong singing voice.

He enjoyed meet-and-greet too, liked greeting all the visitors.  Sometimes he felt odd when some seemed familiar and knew his name before he introduced himself. That lost little fog would soon lift as they got to talking.

He turned to his right, grinned and shook the hand of the attractive lady just seated. Her eyes took him in, searching, tender. Her soft hand and the smell of rosemary and mint.

“I’m your wife George,” she said.

“But I’m not married.” ¬†George felt he was standing on a ladder missing the last rung. Wobbled in a low-grade panic of ¬†toes reaching for the last step, foot paddling the air, searching.

“I gave you that gold tie for our 40th wedding¬†anniversary. It looks so handsome with your navy blazer.”

He peered out the window, following¬†the light posts down the street. He didn’t see the van.¬†George¬†started to think today was not a Sunday. He rocked the squeaky pink recliner for several minutes longer. The van did not come. An orderly in sneakers turned the corner.

“George, it’s Thursday. You can wait in the lobby every morning but you have to count six days between Sundays. Now let’s go get you changed.”