Last year, about this time, I contributed to “Resonance” Art Opening/Multimedia Performance. The Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall hosted the event. I read some of my new poems at the time and then Philip (guitarist) and Julie (rock vocalist) joined me with a music/performance set based on my book Late Night Writing. Julie contributed an original song to the set while Philip added an original soundtrack. The collaboration between the three of us was inspiring (to me at least). It was kind of weird hearing Julie sing my poems “Fragile” and “Driftwood” back to me and to the audience. In a way it was a relief to hear someone else claim them, own the words, project the ideas. I miss that. There are a few live bootleg recordings of the three or four gigs we did together. Maybe when I find some server space, I’ll offer them as free downloads.
Three paintings represented me at “Resonance” Art Opening/Multimedia Performance. “Fragile,” named after the poem I wrote, was painted last summer. Previously, I had done a series of four paintings inspired by the poet Kahlil Gibran (which was part of the 2003 “Resonance” art show) with bright, dramatic abstractions using a simple palette of red, yellow and black. With “Fragile,” the colors deepened in order to create a stark, lyrical image. A young poet from South Carolina once confessed he didn’t particularly get into modern art, but he liked “Fragile” because it seemed like a place he would like to visit. The poem I wrote that inspires this work includes these lines: “I am naked/ When truth strips me/ Of a lie.” And later: “I am reborn/ When the old shattered remains/ swept away, replaced with/ a new vessel to contain my soul.”
Among The Myrtle
“Among The Myrtle,” named after a passage from the book of Zechariah, was also painted last summer. Most people who view this painting don’t know the passage that inspires this work. The passage reads:
“In a vision during the night, I saw a man sitting on a red horse that was standing among some myrtle trees in a small valley… I asked the angel who was talking with me, ‘My lord, what are all those horses for?’ ‘I will show you,’ the angel replied. So the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, ‘They are the ones the LORD has sent out to patrol the earth.’ Then the other riders reported to the angel of the LORD, who was standing among the myrtle trees, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and the whole earth is at peace.’
Again, as with the painting “Fragile,” I attempt to present a sparse place for the eye and the mind to roam–a place someone would like to sit and rest and visit often. In a way, I was trying to create a sanctuary were “the whole earth is at peace.”
My son, who was two at the time, painted along side me. We would paint outside, on the front deck on Saturday mornings. It became a weekend ritual. At the time he merely enjoyed mixing the colors on an old canvas I had forsaken. He named one dinosaur and the next weekend he would paint over dinosaur and call it puppy. During the winter we stopped the outdoor painting sessions and he began working with pencil and paper. By springtime he graduated to markers. As spring gave way to summer he had developed a curious visual language that inspired me. He began drawing people with arms and legs that didn’t quite fit and dots and lines representing eyes. The smile became his creative signature–it sliced across the heads as if to say “it is what it is.”
One Saturday, after we resumed our painting ritual, I created “I’m Putting on My Socks” in honor of his drawings. Three other paintings were created that day (which I may post at a later date) and a series of twelve drawings. He told me I needed more gray. I told him gray was not a color I liked to use because it’s too bland. He insisted by adding a few strokes of his own. After moving him back to his canvas, I conceded. Gray became the visual language that supported the red, black, copper and white motifs.
I don’t know if there will be a “Resonance” Art Performance this year. Whether collaborating with adults or children, an artist needs support in order to grow. Hearing a poem or viewing a painting from another perspective opens up a world of opportunity. Irving Stone mused that “Art’s a staple. Like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter… Man’s spirit grows hungry for art in the same way his stomach growls for food.” For those who have supported my growling stomach, I thank you.