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Art’s permission to stare

wallace shawn 2

Wallace Shawn

“I have an enormous appetite to see life as I know it presented in front of my eyes.

That seems strange—after all, why don’t I just walk out into the street? But the thing is that you can’t really look at things out in the street, much less in your own apartment or in your friends’ apartments. You can look in the theater in a completely different way from the way you can look in life. You’re allowed to really look at a play—even stare.

In life, you are a character in the scene. When you’re a character in the scene, you can’t really look at the scene. If someone’s talking to you, you must respond appropriately. You can’t just stare at the person. You can’t look at life with the degree of attention and focus that you can employ when you look at a play, because you have to participate. And the people you’re staring at would find it rude. But if you’re sitting in an audience watching a scene, you can focus your entire being on looking at that scene. It’s a very special privilege.

In . . .  Les Éphémères, they had a scene where a fisherman and his wife and some other people have taken their children on an outing, and they come home, and they put the kids to bed. The kids are already asleep—they’re very young children—and they carry them in asleep, and they put them to bed. It takes probably fifteen minutes, or at least ten. No talking. Now, I have very little interest in family life, in children, et cetera. If you said, We’re now going to do a ten-minute scene about putting children to bed, I would be bored before you even finished the sentence. But it was so true and so real and so interesting. It was beautiful, and I was moved by it.”

–Wallace Shawn, The Paris Review

gathering grace

 

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A few weeks ago I and some friends 

speant some hot summer days

in my garden 

gathering grace.

 

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 lorri scott pages 

I brought out all my art supplies, 

and Lorri brought out her 

hand dyed fabrics from Kauai 

and we created.

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roxanne evans stout pages

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 roxanne evans stout pages

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 lorri scott pages

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Lorri's lovely sister Jan joined us, 

and then Susan

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susan woodridge word tickets 

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 And we made books, 

samplings for our 2015 

retreat in Kauai.

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lorri scott pages 

During this retreat we will gather all your senses, 

you colors, your textures, your words

your grace…

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And put it all together

in your own hand made books, 

all the while immersing yourself in 

island magic.

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 susan wooldridge pages

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roxanne evans stout pages 

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jan brown pages

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lorri scott pages

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jan brown pages

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Contact Lorri for more information

or to register early

lasfibersatyahoodotcom  (lasfibersatyahoodotcom)  

Leonardo was a loser

 

difficult yearsGreat short video on working in obscurity. Leonardo: fail, fail, fail, fail, fail . . . success. “John Coltrane practiced the saxophone feverishly every single day for seventeen years before he got his first big hit . . . ” A previous video shows you a whole rogue’s gallery of losers in their twenties who eventually quit losing. “Leonardo got his big break when he was 46.”

Simple hearts

flaubert's parrot“Works of art . . . (create) about them a confluence of simple hearts, a community united not in what they are . . . but in the collective mystery of what they are not and now find embodied before them. Unfortunately, the democracy of simple hearts is founded on the dangerous assumption that gorgeous parrots, hewn from what we lack . . . will continue to make themselves visible and available to us. But this is not necessarily so. Flaubert is dead, and the disciplines of desire have lost their urgency in the grand salons of comfort and privilege we have created for the arts. The self-congratulatory rhetoric of sensibilite continues to perpetuate itself, and in place of gorgeous parrots, we now content ourselves with the ghostly successors of Marie Antoinette’s peasant village, tastefully installed within the walls of Versailles.”

–Dave Hickey, Air Guitar, “Simple Hearts”

Rain and light

Cozy/Rainy Day, Davis Cone, acrylic on canvas

Cozy/Rainy Day, Davis Cone, acrylic on canvas

Bill

Saint Bill

Saint Bill

Submissions until July 21 for the all-Bill Murray exhibition at Public Works in San Francisco. It could be so much better than much of what appears here. Opens Aug. 8.

Art vs. ideology

esq-soderbergh-lgFrom Esquire:

SS: It’s at the center of everything, this idea of narrative and stories. So I am always thinking about it: Is there another way to do it? That’s why I was so fascinated and obsessed with the cave paintings in France. I’m like, “Fuck, there it is. The first stories.” I draw a little bit and was like, “Somebody practiced those.” 30,000 years ago you have your forehead out to here, you don’t just pick up a piece of charcoal and do that. That was something that struck me as “Where’s the practice board?” The other thing that I’m interested in, which is tangential, but not unrelated… All art to me is about problem solving. So I’m obsessed with problem solving. Somewhere someone discovered something or somebody was tasked to figure something out and they did. What did they figure out and how? One of the things that I believe is true is the art model of problem solving is incredibly efficient because ideology has no place there. There’s only the thing and what the thing needs to be. When I look around the world and think why is everything working or not working, it’s because it’s entrenched ideology. You can’t solve a problem if you’re sitting down with people who say, “All these ideas are off the table because of what I believe.”

 

A Perfect World

The Artist's Road
Shared with the Southern Oregon Artists Resource by Elaine Frenett, who received it in an email from The Artist’s Road, a website focused on travel and plein air painting. “Having spent a lifetime exploring and finding purpose and fulfillment through art, we decided to build this art and painting website to share what we have learned and to inspire others in their creative lives. Much of the important content (over 375 articles) you’ll find here is instructional – the steps to making paintings in oil, pastel or watercolor -  often illustrated by videos, slide shows and Step-by-Step demonstrations. Enjoy the free content. We believe that you will find value and inspiration in it.”
Many thanks to The Artist’s Road for this unique and important perspective on the importance of art.
The Dream by Henri Rousseau, 1910 (PD)
The Dream          1910 (PD)          Henri Rousseau

   We recently read a description of what artists do – perhaps the best description ever uttered – in a reprint of a commencement speech given by the late Kurt Vonnegut to the graduating class of Syracuse University in 1994. It is elegant in its spare simplicity and spot on. Mr. Vonnegut was fondly recalling a conversation he had had with one of his favorite teachers:

   “The teacher whose name I mentioned when we all remembered good teachers asked me one time, ‘What is it artists do?’ And I mumbled something. ‘They do two things,’ he said. ‘First, they admit they can’t straighten out the whole universe. And then second, they make at least one little part of it exactly as it should be. A blob of clay, a square of canvas, a piece of paper, or whatever.’ ”

Cut through all the rationalizing we do about why we feel we must continue to make art each day and what it comes down to, for most of us, is that pure and noble desire to make one thing exactly as we think it should be. We have little to no control over anything else. But when we sit down to make something, then the world is ours alone. At those moments, completely absorbed with our thoughts and efforts, it matters not what anyone else thinks now, or in the future. And if we are in the zone and able to create the beautiful thing living in our hearts and minds, then we would be wise to also protect our hatchling from the greater world of Art. By all means share it when the time is right, for sharing is ultimately what art is for. However, be in no hurry to enter into any art competitions with your newborn. Besides wasting precious hard-earned cash, a rejection or two can undo all the inspiration, self confidence and perfection which we seek to instill in our work in the first place. If we have truly made our little piece of the world exactly as we feel it should be, then honestly, we need no further approbation.

Artists need to be able to separate their tender-hearted makings from the cold-hearted enterprises of the larger world. Competing with other artists and selling art can be tough on the sensitive souls whose creations the world sorely needs. There is no easy answer to this conundrum – it is a double-edged sword. That is why we believe it is so important to carve out a space and a regular time when the larger world can be shut out so that we can listen to the song of the muse without commercial interruption.

The Great American Interdisciplinary . . . (noun here)

Matthew Barney

Matthew Barney

I saw all of The Cremaster Cycle at the Guggenheim when the show was up . . . God, was it that long ago? My response was something like Bill Murray’s in Tootsie while he was watching the soap opera: “That is one nutty hospital.” My only reservation by the end of the five feature-length films was that I still didn’t know what the eye at the top of the pyramid on the back of a dollar bill is looking at, though I admired Barney’s attempt to cover just about everything else in human life. The rest of the exhibition taught me what the word vitrine means though I’ll probably never have a chance to use that word after this post. So far I’ve taken a pass on “River of Fundament,” a title that makes me smile, as I’m sure it’s meant to, though I really did admire Barney’s filthy Irish energy the first time around. Plus, like me, he grew up in Idaho, so I have to root for him. But being on Barney’s side is like putting money on the New England Patriots, isn’t it? (Go Bills!) This amused me:

“We hear about Matthew Barney’s six-hour film of Norman Mailer’s seven-hundred-page  Ancient Evenings, an unwatchable adapation of an unreadable book, and we think, Hey that might be great! It’s the American way.”

Adam Gopnik, “Go Giants”, The New Yorker, April 21, 20145

(I’m off to attend my son’s wedding in Mexico for the rest of the week, if we can trust United to get us there. We missed our originating flight this morning, which is why I was catching up on Gopnik.)

Reassembling Max Ernst

My little poem from long ago came out to play in DASH: