HOKUSAI REMINDS ME again when the world runs weary to a stop. Hokusai reminds me the same snow falls around the world, that we sometimes see it less than white, when night is falling and shadows fall as softly as whispers. Hokusai reminds that the world of coming shadows, of coming hues of gray and blue soon will grow black, that in some of this is a beauty chilled and crisp. Hokusai the wild youth who became the old man mad with painting reminds me always of the snow cold that melts on your face and mine. And when the snow cold melts to run down our faces we are alive.
EIGHTIES REMIX: R.C. Gorman and Patrick Nagel were everywhere you looked in the Eighties. Was there an office or lobby without one? Gorman was Native American in tone and subject, earth and sky fairly exude in his hues. Nagel was a more foreign and remote remeninsce , a native LA, on the edge of the Pacific Rim, looking west to what we call the Far East, decorative women often in the style of Deco. Native American or native Los Angeles: those native to neither might aspire to either as a mark of who they might be, if only in an office or a lobby. Some art we only see in passing. And sometime art’s time has passed.
SOME ART SPEAKS quietly within, other art displayed is meant to mark you without words. A Nagel might sign you as slick and sharp in a coke jagged style and way. The molars grind at the thought. A Gorman in contrast could you were a hemp loving highboy who respected indian as much as space cowboy?
IS A NAGEL owner a Republican and R.C. Gorman the suff of Democrats alone? Is the art that looks wistfully backwards the art of self described but perhaps deluded progressive, forward thinkers? Is there something retro in those who loved the Nagel of the Eighties when it was now? Nagel died in his time, in 1984 of a heart attack at age thirtyeight. Is that odd but apt? Gorman died much later, just this month, some say well past his time. Judging art after its time is too cruel and easy for those who see caricature where others see soul.
BELLINI’S PORTRAIT OF A HUMANIST reminds me we may travel in vehicles more advanced than foot or horseback, but we have not come as far as we might think. A painter of the High Renaissance, in his eighty four years Giovanni Bellini witnessed a sea change of the world before his death in 1516. A once dominant church would lose its hold on its awed adherents. Who was man in relation to god made nations and ripped apart empires. Man sailed the seas to new worlds and the old order was lost.
IN BELLINI’S TIME the search for a god savaged the soul of men and women. Some claim salvation by faith, by what they believe. Others would say what we do must matter in a god’s eyes. Brother stood against brother, sister against sister. So the world forever bleeds, the stain of violence most close to the heart’s own.
HUMANISMROSE to recognize value in what a man or woman thought, independent of a god, the worth of one not tied to another’s god. Some see in this the free flight of the soul. As the ancient Protagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things.” How we measure each other is another story.
THE YEARS FOLLOWING Bellini’s death were marked by innumerable wars religious in calling. The souls lost were lives deemed less equal than the succeeding victors own. Some fight now claiming a return to right order in this world, some fight in the name of progress to perfection. Our world ever echoes with sad songs of the past.
FALL, WHEN LEAVES FALL FROM THE TREE, when what is bright fades, can be a hopeless time. The art of Roy Lichtenstein always reminds me that the brightness we see on the outside may hide a shadow growing within. The shadows now grow longer. The heat of August leaves us. Some struggle to find a fire within. How easy it would be to give up. Life throws up many illusions.
WHAT WE HOLD on to can bring us down. What brings us down we sometimes think so well deserved. So we fall within the inner sea, landlocked and lost, the cry within unheard but endless echoing. The sea within would seduce hero or heroine. Give in now to what you can’t escape.
NATURE OFFERS ENDLESS METAPHORS By a sullen sea where hope might drown, the last leaf falls from the tree. The last leaf lies crisp on ground brown. Dry leaves blow on winter wind under a sky grim and gray. But somewhere a seed of the tree unknowing is green with hope.
IN WHAT CAN ONLY BE A PERVERSE CONSPIRACY OF FATE, I came upon Warhol’s “Jackie Smiling” while the OLIVER STONE film JFK was playing in the background. At such a moment, odd and perturbing questions arise even as WARHOL has a SHOW at the CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART through Feb 2006. The first question is: Are Andy Warhol’s own fifteen minutes up? In the end will Warhol be known longer for that one quote or for his art? The comic collides with the tragic.
MORE QUESTIONS: Is KEVIN COSTNER the worst actor ever? If not, who is worse? At such times I thank what gods there might be that Tom Cruise is not yet so cocky as to try a cockney accent or worse. Is the blame for Costner’s damned sad said accent somehow the fault of the grande dame of accent aristocracy MERYL STREEP?
AND JACKIE O born Bouvier, who more than anyone made the Kennedy myth magic? I cringed when I watched Stone’s JFK for more reasons than Costner’s accent and awful acting. I lament the sad accent of the early Sixties, the high pitch of high fallen ideals, the long ago of one brief moment that was America’s Camelot. I see the arrows strike the king, his body lurch back and forth. One archer alone let those arrows fly, so say some and contest others. Where have we come since then?
THAT KING IS DEAD and so his QUEEN is as well as his SALUTING SON. No sun rises that may outshine what in memory burns as fire. Memory is the trick that tells us that what was surely was better than what is. We move ahead but always back, unfound in the same place.
I SEE AGAIN IN STONE the brave Bouvier Kennedy O woman in the PINK PILLBOX Halston hat reach across the back of a Lincoln Continental convertible limousine to pull a Secret Service agent onto a car even as her husband’s brain hangs halfway out his head, the other half gone with the ages, some splattered on her pink suit, the suit she still wears when LBJ gets sworn in the next day on a plane at the strangely named Love Field.
SOME SEE IN THAT TRAGIC FALL DAY a MAGIC BULLET and others the end of a magical age. We live now in a seeming more real world, where magic may still be found in the rendition of a soup can or in a woman’s smile.
The Last Weekend Of Summer Reminds Me of what we have and of Edward Hopper’s People in the Sun. Earlier in the week the air had a chill in early morning, a reminder that cold nights and higher heating bills will come with frost on the mailbox. But I am reminded to of simpler times, as though such times might truly exist. Such simpler times do spring forth even on the edge of fall.
So I Water The Garden in early morning with a hope the English roses might have one last flourish of glorious hue. The bike comes out of the garage and I ride with little distraction and pay attention to cars on the road that pay no attention to me. I put on the sun screen that probably causes another kind of cancer and consider the quiet, wondrous contentment of bareheaded people in summer savoring the last offerings of the sun.
In A Time When The Sea Has Brought Death and disquiet disturbs the lives of souls struggling to survive with dignity, when a nation shudders with every image shown, the more peaceful image of life born of the sea found in Boticelli. The Birth of Venus may somehow salve the soul.
The Same Sea Which Brings Death brought life to land, the evolution of life washed up on land in lapping waves. Life found its way forward in gentle sea foam.
A More Cruel Humanity Now Rules The Land. The sea remains a mystery majestic, the mistress of dreams, a haven for hope on its horizon, the grave of fools who unwisely challenge it and drown. Nothing can control the sea in its time of destructive rage.
Each Of Us Is Born Of The Same Sea. We should remember that most in times like this.
The Tattered Coat has a list of places where you can contribute to helping the souls savaged by Hurricane Katrina. You can also help in the challenge [here]. Please do what you can. Leave whatever further links of hope you have in comments please.
EASY IT IS TO UNDERSTAND THOSE LIKE OURSELVES We think ourselves pure and true. Those unlike us get less consideration. BOTTICELLI reminds me of this in “Pallas and the Centaur.” To the Greeks PALLAS ATHENA was wisdom, but a warrior goddess as well. Neither wisdom nor war are so well understood today. How is Athena meeting the pained CENTAUR, half man and half horse?
IS IT POSSIBLE to understand truly others unlike ourselves? Who today admits they are half anything? Our world demands certain simplicities. Undesired details must not perplex. Some see a centaur as more a man, others see more a beast. Does it take a god or a goddess to see both?
DANTE IN THE DIVINE COMEDY HAD AN EAGLE EYE FOR DETAIL And BOTTICELLI reveals above DANTEalso had an aquiline nose good for sniffing out what is out of place. The Divine Comedy begins in the Dark Wood. Dante descends to hell with Virgil for a guide. Times have changed. You will not find Virgil as a tour director on Carnival Cruise line. Virgil takes Dante through the ten circles of hell, one of which is possibly Cheney's "secret location." Then Dante ascends Mount Puragtorio, across from Jerusalem. Some New Yorkers believe the Jersey Pallisades serve as Mount Purgatorio today. Others believe Purgatorio need not be a physical entity, but could be an event like the Sundance Film Festival. Or that could be hell. In time Dante sees Paradiso. Heaven today probably is not one of those cookie cutter McMansions littered in gated communities across America. But if heaven is not there, where is it? Who is today's Dante?
QUESTION OF THE DAY: If there is hell on earth, where is it? Where do you find your heaven?