A history of the Heart, Pt III

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows (I), 2009

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.

A history of the Heart – Pt II

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows

Francesco Clemente, A History of the Heart in Three Rainbows (I), 2009

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?

Blue Moon

I hear the thwang of Cupid’s arrow near and offer up my favorite painting of love as a target for today’s discussion– Thomas Hart Benton’s Romance, on display at the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas.

Thomas Hart Benton, Romance Blanton Museum Austin, Texas

Thomas Hart Benton, Romance Blanton Museum Austin, Texas

I’m immediately drawn to the intense turquoise blue of the sky,  embraced by the tree branch and her vibrant poppy red dress. The statuesque couple contrasts with the dream-like landscape surrounding them. They walk, hand in hand, eyes closed. The the moonlight casts its spell; wafting clouds swirl to the ground.

I’m again caught up in the depth of the jewel-like colors intensifying this dreamy, atmospheric feeling (almost Surrealist with echos of El Greco).  His shoes are off, hers are on.  Is this a new romance? Are they courting, walking though a neighbor’s backyard, blind to each other’s faults (love is blind)?   Each experience intensified yet dreamlike in the thrall of eros.  Their feet don’t seem to be firmly planted on the ground.

Or is this an old love, deep and unscarred by time and circumstance. What they have is beyond sight, a heartfelt soulfulness.  At peace with each other. Such that they know each other’s thoughts. The hard work of running their farm, a silent testament behind them. Do they walk side by side, even in their dreams?

The mystery here is the mystery of love. What drives it. What sustains it. How we get it; how we keep it.  It’s a million immutable questions that must be answered one at a time. With our eyes closed.

I love you this much. . .

So what can you get your sweetie this Vday to show him how much you care? How about a $23.6 million dollar, 9 foot high stainless steel heart pendant? Complete with bow.  Sorry no gift wrap for this baby.  This is Jeff Koons’ Hanging Heart in Magenta (there are five others in different colorways).  A little above your budget perhaps?  Well that’s because this piece garnered the highest price paid for art by a living artist in 2007. The next year his magenta balloon flower sold for a cool $25.7M.

 “I realized you don’t have to know anything and I think my work always lets the viewer know that. I just try to do work that makes people feel good about themselves, their history, and their potential.”  Jeff Koons

Some think he’s a high price manufacturer of artsy kitsch. Each time his art changed hands, the prices skyrocketed.  A Koons “art bubble”.  Art as commodity.  (Koons is a former stockbroker) Now the recession has hit, his violet heart sold for only $11 million. Look honey, its 50% off!

As a former machine shop owner who knows a little about stainless steel, I can tell you this work is fascinating for its sheer perfection. The balloon-like heart is a 3D mirror that reflects you, the viewer. However, as in a fun house mirror, your image distorts into various shapes as you move around it, following its curvatures. Light refracting. Images bending.  Now, I don’t know whether Koons will last as a cultural icon like Warhol, but I do think this is very clever.  What reaches our hearts without a little distortion? The play of light on the heart’s surface, the play of love – – an ever changing game of desire and perception. Reality curves as it bounces through our various colored consciousness.

Still, I’ll leave the chromium plated psychoanalysis to the people who can afford it and opt for the plebeian (but tasty) standby Godiva chocolate this V-day.  Cheers!