Sunday, February 12, 2006

Getting it where you can.

Art, that is.

This morning, I decided I'd write about resolve, and so I did my daily google image search for "resolve" and "resolution" and then, because I was so disappointed in those first two, "courage." And things just continued to look ugly, as far as my chances of finding visual inspiration in this magic machine...

...until I found the O*H+T Gallery online, when I'd gone back to searching for "resolve" and hit upon one of the OHT artists' images. I don't want to use it because it's not to my taste, but I do want to meditate on online gallery-hopping for a few minutes before I plunge into my work for the day. (And what a gloriously small amount of work it really is, compared to recent weekends!) When I started writing nearly two months ago, I planned to write mainly about things within the purview of my daily experience and my own memory--the dragon I pass on the way to school (you've seen him), the piranha jaw I own and was fascinated by when I was a child, my fondness for instant coffee, the look of the light glancing off tiny icicles on tinier branches, my ecstasy at a well-turned sentence--the usual stuff of my life. But right about the time I started incorporating images from other websites--which happened pretty early, I realize--this project became something different than I'd imagined it would be. As do all projects, no? (Before I leave this paragraph, let me tell you that the image is "Key," by Ryan Steadman.)

Even if I were living in a city, I suspect I would have a hard time getting into the gallery scene, chiefly
because I can get a little lazy once I'm in a groove I like. One groove I like but haven't been able to indulge so much this semester is the one that starts with me in bed on a Saturday morning, pretending that I'll just read a few pages of whatever novel I've been reading myself to sleep with--and then ends with me on Saturday evening, still in bed, still reading the novel, having accepted somewhere along the day that that's just the way things will be. That could have happened yesterday had I not been preoccupied by other trajectories. And what's more, there are even two candidates for the novel I could have finished! The pile-up is stupefying!

You se
e why I might never have gotten to galleries, even if I lived in a city with many of them. And in fact I live near a city with a slew of them, concentrated in a single district. There's a gallery hop once a month. I've never gone.

And this isn't because I don't love art. I do love art, and as you know if you've been keeping score at home, I love sheer creative power and energy more than almost any creative product. Watching a jazz quartet last night, I found myself not knowing where to look but finally settled on the upright bassist's amazingly fast fingers. It's not at all uncommon for me to get swept up in the movements of creativity at work. (Which is why my tastes go all over the place; this painting is "New Planet" by Wendy Edwards.) I suspect that, as is the case with so many things in my life, I have been shaped in this regard by growing up in a house with three artists: one mechanical, one textile, and one photographic. My father's right hand, possessed of a mouse (or, earlier, a pointing device for Anvil), darts about, clicking here, clicking there, highlighting, manipulating, and slowly but surely, machines and their products take shape. For the uninitiated, it looks as though his hand moves at the speed of his thought; I suspect that it's actually much, much slower than the speed of his thought, based on my experiences with trying to get onto paper the things my brain is doing when I write. My mother sits down with pieces of fabric and enters a sort of highly lucid trance state, in which she stays for hours, converting whole pieces of cloth into fragments into patterns into blocks into new wholenesses. Sometimes, when I'm home and lucky, she consults me in the late stages and we rediscover that my sense of color balance is vastly different from hers. My brother loads up his camera bag, goes out into the field, is jocular and inquiring with whomever he finds on whatever scene he's been sent to, then puts the camera to his eye and starts taking down visual astonishments. He's particularly good with catching facial ephemera, particularly in athletes: he gets the glimpses of devastation, of unbridled victorious pride, of knuckle-biting anticipation. He is an archivist of the countenance.

I, on the other hand, am an archivist of the word, the phrase, the verbal pivot, the predicative twist; I'm so glad to be writing again, and I'm so glad you all are reading.

So, now, the OHT gallery (I'm going to skip their weird punctuation for now, because it's just clutterful). (Had parking been less of a nightmare--and had that alley not been a dead end--I might have been able to tell you about what it's like to see Roller Girls in downtown Columbus while wearing a cocktail dress and high heels. But alas, some things aren't meant to be. Instead, I could tell you about what it's like to play Strolling Bowling--with what a lit-up face!--at a diner while rocking out to "Hey Ladies!"--and what it's like to find out that the
person you're with can match you line for line (she's got a gold tooth... you know she's hard core!... she'll show you a good time... [and in unison:] then she'll show you the door!). But instead, I won't.)

In a perhaps totally predictable way, I'm digressing all over the place and am losing interest in telling you about this online gallery. (I should know better than to get into the Beastie Boys here, if I don't mean to follow through.) But here, look. Here's why I started writing this post. I love this pairing of colors. I love that these swirls and spots look as though they were probably entirely easy to produce but just weren't, I'm sure. That one's by Suzan Batu.

I don't know. Maybe I need say no more. I think you get where I'm coming from, today--the moral of the story is that it's good to have online galleries when you're a) living in a rural place and b) obviously too distracted to invest the time required to hie yourself to a physical place and walk around examining things. For now, I need to go off and decide which groove I'm in this morning. Dangerously, I've picked up Kathryn Davis's The Thin Place again; it's just out, and it's been reviewed fabulously, and it includes sentences like these:
there was something about him, about the way he lay there so perfectly still yet with a sense of something enormously alive inside him, something almost insanely teeming with slumberous hidden vitality deep inside, that made her feel like she was looking at a cave full of sleeping bats. (5)
It seems to me entirely possible that I'll need to read much more of it in one sitting than I've been able to thus far, if I'm to get swamped by it, possessed and tossed around and chewed over meditatively like some frisky deaf dog's tennis ball. And that, my friends, is always the goal.


Blogger amanda said...

Keep me posted on Dhow you like the Davis. I am trying not to buy hardcover books, but the reviews have been catching my eye, and I've never missed one of hers.

10:47 PM, February 13, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Will do. I'm loving it so far. It's deeply strange, in a lovely, lovely way. I'd be happy to mail you this one when I'm done, so that you can read it--unless that would feel like a cruel joke right now. Let me know.

10:52 PM, February 13, 2006  

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