Lila was a little down yesterday. She missed Damian. He was very good with her and she had been following him around like a puppy dog. She was fascinated when he played with her toys; he made up new games with them, very different than her chewing and tossing games.
As for me, I went from top to bottom cleaning the house. It was too hard seeing remnants of Tamar and Damian without having them here. I even cleaned up my studio, put fresh paper on the floor (I use flooring paper so I can keep it fairly clean at times), put away bubble wrap and other odds and ends. Sorted paintings, saw which ones needed more work and making decisions what sizes to work on next. I’ll have to have some new stretcher bars made up soon. My studio is full, mostly finished work. I had photos taken last week and will post them soon.
So now all is back in order. Today I’ve been busy catching up on the business side of making art as well as weeding in the garden. Tomorrow I can paint again.
Tamar and Damian left yesterday. Lila and I are so very very very sad. At the airport, I told Damian to bug his parents to bring him back soon. He turned to his mom and immediately gently poked her. Good!
After a sad goodbye at the airport, I went to pick up my work from the Marigold Arts Centre in Truro. Then Lila and I went for a walk in beautiful Victoria Park. Damian would have loved it there. On the way home, I stopped at a garden centre and found the boxwood plant I have been searching for to put on the steps leading up to my front door. Now I will have six in pots on the stairs.
Then home to an empty, quiet house. Did I say we are sad to see them go? We are so very sad.
P.S. The title above is from a Buddhist text, The Sadhana of Mahamudra, recited on the new and full moons. Today is a new moon.
Tamar and Damian are visiting for a week. So far we have had exquisite weather—warm and sunny. We’ve been swimming, riding in the paddle-boat, playing games, reading, walking, playing with Lila—relaxed and fun. Yesterday we went to Blomidon Provincial Park, walked in the woods. All of us, except Lila, were taking photos but my camera jammed. It was the battery so all is well again. Today friends came over for a swim, boat ride pesto-from-my-garden dinner. Lovely.
Yoko came over the other day with two wonderful videos. I can highly recommend both. The first is The Tiger and the Snow with Roberto Benigni. Similar to Life Is Beautiful, he plays a rather fetching, quirky, intelligent but odd character. Very delightful and poignant. With a perfect ending.
The second movie is Zelary. At once tender and terrifying, very beautiful, sad and satisfying. A story about an unusual couple during World War II in the Czech republic. If you need some fulfilling cinema, these are two to see.
Alyson Stanfield threw out the question for thought: What is art? My (very loose) answer is that art is when something personal—a thought, a feeling—is transformed (with words, physical materials, aurally) to become available universally, to have universal impact—taken beyond the personal reference.
So, is this art? A graciously painted rock in the woods at Mills Reservation in Montclair, New Jersey. Someone had inspiration to transform the rock for public consumption. . . . Or is it craft?
Certainly it was a crafty idea.
I went to a dinner party a couple of nights ago. It was a sixtieth birthday celebration for my friend Suzanne. There were seven of us sitting around the table, all people in the arts. So the conversation was mostly about art, of course.
I mentioned that I had seen the Louise Bourgeois exhibit at the Guggenheim a couple of weeks ago and was very inspired. Suzanne had seen it at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in May and hadn’t liked it at all. She thought there was too much talk about pain. Too much focus on her childhood, her parents. Enough, thought Suzanne, get on with it. Have a life, as they say today. I agree, artwork is better when it transcends the personal, is not a diary, can be interpreted, and felt, on many levels. But I thought Bourgeois' work successfully transformed the original impetus, the pain, into something universally beautiful and expressive. And I was so inspired that Bourgeos said she was glad the art world had overlooked her until she was in her seventies because she was able to do her own work all those years without any outside pressures.
Suzanne had read the blurbs about the artwork posted on the walls. I hadn’t and perhaps that is why I was able to enjoy the exhibit so much more than she did. So much can be said about artwork that then destroys the pleasure of experiencing it in its purity, as art, not idea. I much prefer looking at the art to reading about it (especially if I have to stand up to do the reading). Although, I must say, because I liked the exhibit so much, I’ve been eager to learn more about it. So it goes both ways it seems. Seeing and understanding, knowing and seeing.
Some of the subway stations have been decorated to make fascinating images--almost an Elsworth Kelly painting:
And then there is the Guggenheim, a concrete angel spreading its wings:
Lila and I went to Truro yesterday to hang an exhibit of my paintings at the Marigold Cultural Centre. The gallery is small so I made the selection with that in mind. I think it looks good. Clean and crisp for a small space. If you are in the area, do stop by. It's up until the end of the month.
And of course, we took a stroll through beautiful Victoria Park.
I’m home! The plane was only a little late. And that was the usual: other planes being delayed, holding up our plane. Seems to be the way now.
Then when leaving the airport I noticed some strange noises coming from what sounded like the right rear wheel area. I know nothing about car mechanics nor did the friend who had been staying here with Lila (and taking wonderful care of her) and who also picked me up. So we drove to her house and her husband said it sounds like wheel bearings. They very kindly lent me their car to go home and will be taking my car in for repairs in the morning. Too bad, but it’s great to have such good friends.
First thing I did when I got home, after bringing in my bags, was to go out in my garden and pick dinner. Peas, lettuce and then blueberries. So nice to be home!
To my surprise, I just found a very early piece of my work listed for sale on eBay. Someone in Cyprus is auctioning it off. Sale is over August 6. I like my recent work so much better. This piece is a work on paper, using oil pastels and collage. It was before I found a way to work on canvas that was satisfying to me. Canvas talks back, is much more sassy. Now I find working on paper much harder because it is not as challenging.
I went into Manhattan yesterday. First to the Louise Bourgeois exhibit at the Guggenheim, then visited with some friends, Leah and Pedro, in the loft building where I used to live in Soho. I hesitated because of the rain but am so glad I did go. I have my old appreciation of the NYC cultural offerings back. Next visit I will plan more time there. I've had an aversion to Manhattan for a while, the crowds, commercialism and speed. You could fart anywhere in the City and no one would notice because it is always so busy, noisy and smelly. It was raining just before I left, when I was on the bus, in the museum but otherwise, bright and sunny, so I didn't get rained on after all.
The exhibit was fascinating. I loved seeing Bourgeois’ work, how it evolved over the years and how she thought about it. I'd not seen too much of it before and I am inspired to learn more about her. The work is mainly about body, gender, desire and sexuality. Most of it is very sensuous. She is constantly playing with different materials and how they can be used counter to their nature. (Making soft, breast-like forms from marble, people-like forms from wooden sticks). Each piece has so many layers of meaning and possibilities.
Her inspiration throughout her life was her childhood, her family, especially her father. From my brief visit with her, it felt like there were no (visual) thoughts about her husband and three sons, other than in a performance piece she held a rose, implying to her son (who was there) "I never promised you a rose garden." She was, she has said, protecting their privacy. I can imagine she would have been a strong mother figure, with her penetrating intelligence, wit and dedication to her work.
She's in her 90's now and still active, has a salon gathering at her house where young artists come to meet her. She challenges them: "do you know what you are doing in your work" and "do you know why you are doing what you are?" I have to try that one on for size! I know what I say to people, what I write for public consumption, but the real inner thoughts, the ones that really inform the work, to me, they are so visual they transcend words. Maybe I need to dig a little deeper to see what words I can put on the wordless.
This week, while I’ve been here, Damian has been going to a drama camp. Today was the grand performance. The play was titled How to Torture Your Parents, but I don’t think anyone needed lessons. The suggestions went from babyhood to adolescence, from food to phone. Very well done. Lots of fun.