Monday, May 14, 2012

Making Faces

Self portrait contour in baling wire
Talk about not being able to erase . . . . well, I was able to rebend, but you can only do that so many times with metal before it breaks on you.  Unless you heat the metal with a torch, I think it's called annealing, to relax it enough to bend again.  Kind of like working out, I guess.  The warmer you are, the more flexible you can be. 
Dan Dwyer and I did a collaboration between his class (jewelry and small sculpture) and mine (drawing and painting) at the beginning of the year (maybe ten years ago?).  I know, many of you think I've barely aged . . . well, that's the power of art.  Anyway, we hung them at the Gavilan show--there must have been a couple of hundred of these--one for each student in our classes.  Each so similar yet very different from each other. I also hung some pen and ink drawings that came from the process of creating the wire drawings, and some colored pencil drawings as well.  I like the possibilities of sustained metaphor in a project--how far can you push an idea.
I can't help but wonder if my obsession with drawing faces is contagious to any of my students.  Wonder if they continue to look in mirrors to call upon their ever-present, and hopefully ever-willing, subjects.  Some days my face is less than willing to be drawn.  But maybe that reluctance only comes with age.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting grounded by the Pacific Ocean

In one of our very favorite places. I wish that all people left behind were their shadows. Not exactly Carmel--but close . . .

Robinson Jeffers' poem . . .

Carmel Point

The extraordinary patience of things!

This beautiful place defaced with a crop of surburban houses-

How beautiful when we first beheld it,

Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;

No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,

Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rockheads-

Now the spoiler has come: does it care?

Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide

That swells and in time will ebb, and all

Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty

Lives in the very grain of the granite,

Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.-As for us:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;

We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident

As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Goodbye to Etta James

When you're young, it seems like all the notes in a good song stick a little tighter to your soul and you end up carrying them with you for the rest of your life. Then, when you hear that song again, the notes kind of pull the old years forward with them--kind of like the memories are stuck on the little stems and flags of those particular notes. When I hear Etta James sing "At Last," the years of the early-sixties in Turlock start to accumulate around me. The most most clearly focused of those years hold a memory of me being baby-sat by my cousin Patsy (closer to the age of an aunt to me than a cousin). Patsy takes over for my mom for awhile while Mom is working some hundred miles away and has to leave my two brothers and me during the week. Somehow in my memory, the boys are barely there--probably in school, and mostly I'm hearing songs--songs playing on a record player, songs from Patsy's record collection.
And this song comes on and it's perfect, because even though the lyrics are about winning her love--at last--there's such a sadness to the music. The lyrics and the music counter each other. Like they should in this song. I don't know . . . it's as if once the loneliness gets into a person, it can never really leave. It becomes part of you--on a cellular level, forever.
It kind of feels like that.
And now Etta James has gone . . . and not exactly. . . because she's in our cells, together with the loneliness and joy and everything else stored up in the years.
I'll be celebrating my birthday this Wednesday--it appears she and I share the same date. This year it'll be a lot like that song.