Saturday, February 13, 2010
I want to have just one valentine this year. I want to give all my art 'n crafted hearts to one special person -- somebody who doesn't expect them. It's a valentine in the spirit of "all around the world there may be folks singing tunes/about the love of other folks that they barely knew," and, "someone somewhere might be singing about you."
Posted by antiphony at 10:52 PM
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Every Christmas my mother and I assemble our fake tree. The tree must be 20 years old; we ought to be able to erect it by memory.These are the directions, gilded and preserved. They diagram how wire-veined boughs hook into the trunk.
We store our tree in a crumbling cardboard box -- it juts precariously over the edge of its shelf, threatening Dad's car all year long. We fetch it from the garage, carry it gingerly, alert for mice or lizards, sure that some Floridian creature has nested in its plastic boughs and will be waked by this jostling.
Branches scratch our shins and forearms as we wrestle each into place, perk up the flattened wire, arrange the needles to look 'natural.' I don't think we enjoy building our tree, but the tradition feels necessary and inevitable. We drink egg nog, untangle lights, replace broken bulbs, search for ornament hooks, hang glass balls and bells to cover up the tree's barer sections.
Posted by antiphony at 10:42 PM
Monday, February 8, 2010
CHOOSE YOUR TEA. RED TEAS ARE IDEAL:
ROOIBOS POMEGRANATE HONEYBUSH
RASPBERRY CRANBERRY ACAI
COLLECT GLASS JARS.
ON A SUNNY DAY.
STEEP THE TEA WITH COOL WATER
MAKE AS MANY SHADES OF RED AS POSSIBLE
KEEP THE LIDS ON YOUR JARS
NOTE WHICH SORT OF TEA IS IN WHICH JAR
STEEPING TAKES A FEW HOURS
SLOW STEEPING MAKES SWEETER, MORE MELLOW TEA
ON SCRAPS OF WOOD
THEY SHOULD READ
THE SIGNS OUGHT TO BE BRIGHT AND VISIBLE FROM THE ROAD
(WRITE ‘DANGER’ IN RED LETTERS)
SUN TEA DOESN’T GET HOTTER THAN ABOUT 130° F
BACTERIA MIGHT GROW
THEY’RE CALLED Alcaligenes viscolactis
CAFFEINE CAN HELP KILL BACTERIA
I THINK YOU’RE NOT IN MUCH DANGER
SOUTHERN MOTHERS HAVE BEEN STEEPING SUN TEA SINCE FOREVER
SET UP YOUR SUN TEA STAND.
CHOOSE A SPOT ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD THAT’S SHADY AND GRASSY
TABLE CHAIRS LEMONS IN A JAR SUGAR HONEY DIXIE CUPS ICE CUBES A SPOON JARS OF SUN TEA
SIT AND WAIT.
SOMEBODY WILL WANT A CUP OF SUN TEA.
Posted by antiphony at 8:00 PM
From our living room window, we see a quintessential Providence-scape: a vast parking lot, a highway on-ramp (under construction), a Portuguese Catholic church, the dumpsters behind the Coffee Exchange, the three smoke stacks from the power plant (and the three red lights at their tops with blinking periods that never align.) Sunlight filtering through the smokestacks is bent a little bit, so that the shadows it casts on the living room wall seem to wobble in and out of focus. Here are shadows from Arielle's aloe plant and a tree-shaped Christmas ornament.
Posted by antiphony at 7:40 PM
Sunday, February 7, 2010
(PAINTING = PERFORMANCE
PAINTER = PERFORMER)
This one is a sculpture: If you pay her a quarter, she'll talk to you. She'll sing or she'll whisper something wise.
Red is my favorite color:
1. Moses’ face shines pink after he sees the back side of God. Forever. His skin is stained by this sight.
2. I’ve been sunburned. it hurts. I can’t tell you about it; you’ll have to feel it for yourself. It’s beyond words.
(Still, I’m proud of the pink: a badge of experience.)
3. We bleed every month. Someone suggested we ought to sit in tents while we bleed -- because the world is impure, and we are so pure. We must be aware of our bodies. We mustn’t be distracted by routine and triviality.
Posted by antiphony at 10:19 PM
I walk home across the Point Street bridge, half yearning for the warmth and stillness of my apartment, half content here, tensed against gusts of February wind and a stream of traffic headlights. After such a day of work, how can anyone paint? How do we do anything but sit dumbly in front of a book, a bowl of soup, a computer screen?
I'm proud of myself for drawing this evening. Rare fruit.
In the fourth grade, my brother Joe wrote a poem called "Conflagration." It upset me; I didn't know what conflagration meant. My baby brother was titling his poems with foreign, adult words. The poem won a prize, too. He read his "Conflagration" to an auditorium full of youth-fair-goers. Blaze of glory.
Geddes and I drove once through all of Florida, through the Southeast, all the way to Pittsburgh. On our way home, we stopped at a campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were beautiful in an unwashed, un-brushed, we've eaten sardines and saltines for quite a few nights in a row, we've obviously never pitched a tent and started a fire before way. The campground caretaker gave us a half dozen logs and helped us start a fire. We sat proudly by our fire for many hours, tracing shapes into the darkness with the orange embers at the end of our marshmallow roasting sticks. We traced the names of all the people we loved, and all the people we could think of.
Posted by antiphony at 5:22 PM
One of these rocket ships is a drawing by Benedict from a community center where Providence Children's Museum runs after school programs. It's okay. Great artists steal.
Moreover, it would be best for everyone involved if the city of Providence could fly away from New England, orbit the earth a few times, and then land on top of Miami.
Posted by antiphony at 5:15 PM
I believe that painting 12 paintings in a row is, in hippie language, a healthy image detox. Here's how I want it to work:
1. Thoughts and pictures build up in my head. They compete for space, crowd each other.
2. When I paint, a dozen of these images will tumble out of my head, through my hand, and sprawl across a dozen papers. They don't have to land gracefully.
3. I'll line them up, and with a little distance between me and the images, I'll be better able to judge whether any of them deserve more attention.
4. Then I'll reconsider the worthwhile images, and space in my brain will be opened wide for new ones.
Really, though, the process isn't orderly: When I paint, I'm reacting not only to the image I'm holding in my brain, but also to the paint that's already on my page. Paint is so real and interesting. And I get tired and bored. I decide to test all the markers in Geddes's marker drawer. I like the way these pastels feel: they're big and heavy and the marks they make are silky smooth. So I make marks mostly unrelated to the pictures I intended to paint. Still, I make the marks confidently, unabashedly. I can't be self-conscious for 12 hours straight. My lines can't remain tight and tense and careful. The paintings are brave and easy-going.
Posted by antiphony at 4:46 PM
Once on an airplane I sat next to a boy with a watercolor set. He painted a picture for me on his barf bag, and he narrated his painting as he worked: "Here we are, see? On this plane. And here's Milan, here's Miami. We're above the ocean, which is blue. We're also above more fish than you can imagine. I'm only going to draw two. And there are bird in the air, especially over Miami. These dos are birds. When we get to Miami, I'm going to drive in a taxi cab to my house. That's my house, see? I'm putting it on top of the ocean because there's not space to put it somewhere else..." He drew layers on top of layers. He introduced new characters, new places, new problems to solve all on top of each other. You'd never figure out a thing about his story by looking at the muddy mess scrawled over the waxy paper an hour into the story. It was beautiful.
Posted by antiphony at 4:35 PM
I collect paper scraps, as do many painters and art-makers, I think. My collection is manageable: I've only hoarded two drawers and one box full of stickers, wrappings, receipts, drawings, photos, labels, dries flowers and tea bags, etc. To create this poem, I pawed through my scraps box and clipped out every time I found my name. Sometimes I wrote it, sometimes I typed it, more often somebody else wrote or typed it. Now my paper scraps are the anonymous detritus of an artist. Now my name is a poem.
Posted by antiphony at 4:27 PM
Dear Geddes Levenson has promised to paint for 12 straight hours with me once every month. On the last day of January, we kept our resolution: we each painted 12 paintings. Here is the last of mine, an ode to Buffalo (and, more generally, a celebration of the English language.) The word buffalo, as you might know, is magical. It creates grammatically correct sentences when repeated 3 or more times: buffalo (n.) is a big mammal, buffalo (v.) means more or less to bother (it takes an object) and Buffalo, NY is a place. Buffalo buffalo are mammals from Buffalo, NY. (Here buffalo is being used as an adj. and a n.) When buffalo buffalo buffalo, several ox-like mammals bother several other ox-like mammals. From here it's easy to conceptualize how Buffalo buffalo (adj., n.) buffalo (v.) Buffalo buffalo (adj., n.). But what about 10 buffalo? What about 300? What would Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo mean? I've written a poem to explain the concentric adverbial phrases at work here:
cats eat mice.
cats that dogs lick eat mice.
cats that dogs that birds sing to lick eat mice.
cats that dogs that birds that bees buzz past sing to lick eat mice.
cats that dogs that birds that bees that rabbits hop over buzz past sing to lick eat mice.
Posted by antiphony at 4:08 PM