Authentic Art

IMG_0935As kids, my sisters and I were masters of the fort. When my parents were looking for a new house, our votes went to the one with the open space under the stairs. What an awesome place to hang blankets from and hide out. Upon moving in, we soon discovered that forting in the aforementioned space was harder that we had originally anticipated. How to get the blankets to stay? Hair-ties? String? The weight of the blankets always seemed to overpower our efforts. And it was dark under there. And cold. We gave it a healthy handful of tries and resumed our forting efforts elsewhere.

Coming home to Florida last month for Christmas, I had a mind to build a fort with my sisters. I had made a brief visit at Thanksgiving, and on a run with my mom at our local beach, had discovered a part of the beach I had never seen before. It wasn’t a secret, or particularly remote. Many families had set up camp for the day with dogs of all shapes and sizes. My relationship with this beach had until now been with a straight shot of coastline, cars dragging alongside. It was our high school hangout, and family retreat when we could make the time to all be in one place. The landscape of the dog beach, a short two miles from our usual haunts, could not be more different. Trees with roots creeping toward the ocean, towering dunes, moguly uneven sand; it was easy to imagine oneself far removed from the social buzz mere moments away.

For some months I had been working with recycled clothing as a means to create rope to be used as an exterior for a series of forts as yet unresolved. As of December I had built teepees in two separate exhibition locations, utilizing the fabric rope – but, viewing these installs as sketches, was still grasping for the appropriate locale.

December 23rd arrived and I piled my car high with rope, setting off for home.

Per usual, there were unexpected difficulties… like the miles of intersecting boardwalk between my car and our intended destination, the weight of the materials we were attempting to transport, and my lack of knowledge of where any path might lead in relation to our ‘spot’. (I had previously accessed our destination from the main beach, on foot.)

I’m not sure if Jackie would agree with me, but the effort was worth it. It brought me back to similar endeavors from our childhood. Games and adventures that laid the groundwork for my current studio practice.

In her short story ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement’ Jamie Quatro lays out a future where marathoners are required to carry statues throughout the duration of their race. Most of these statues are crude, heavy, meant to embarrass and encumber their carriers, but a select few are granted the privilege of running with authentic art. I think about this story a lot, and for many reasons, but recently I have been occupied with the definition and implications of authentic art… a vague and subjective label in itself- but one that could mean something more for me personally. In Quatro’s story, the authentic art is heartbreakingly moving. A runner leads another runner – who is failing, on by unzipping his pack and giving her a glimpse of his statue. She can’t look away. She continues on, following. I have been searching for that pull in relation to my own work.

Anyways. We built the fort! In a perfect not-so-secret, secret place. It was hard and it was fun and – all the things.  It was fun coming back to it days after the build and “rediscovering” it at high tide. A place within a place, hinting at its origins, but begging for a story.

Sven liked it too.

IMG_1006

check out Coastal Forting On The Home Planet here

Advertisements

Finding a 20.00 on the first cold day

It’s here.

The first cold day since summer’s long, sticky hug

Your favorite coat embraces you

as your hands retrace memorized paths

through familiar sleeves

and dive into pockets

softened with wear.

In this moment

you remember something you had to do

somewhere you needed to find

Finishing sentences across seasons.

map1

Snow

I’ve been summing things up with haikus for the past week. I have always had a hard time editing my explanations for things, and the 17 syllable template has been a welcome escape from my endless hoarding of beautiful words.

Monday brought with it a nice little ice storm ( with about 5 minutes of flurries.)

Leaving the house only to run a few miles through the nearly empty city streets around five o’ clock, I spent the majority of the day stitching together landscapes.

Feeling like a proud third grader after picking up vacation photos I shot with my very own camera, I let myself give in to the need to flip through them one-by-one, becoming sucked in by the sound of notebook paper being turned and written on. This is probably the closest thing I’ve had to a sketchbook day in a long time, as I usually tend to rip things out, contributing them immediately to a greater whole. But each of these little collages, the words, the low-tech tablet video, they are all sketches; breathing room between the larger obstacles I am currently processing in the studio.

 

Cleaning

In undergrad, a painting professor of mine used to share stories of his yearly summer retreat. He and his wife would travel to a friend’s ranch in New Mexico and stay in a desert cottage boasting only the essentials (complete with outdoor rainwater shower.) He described the property as scattered with objects: bowling balls, lawn statuary, rusted tools that had long lost their purpose. Every day, he would walk the property, and considering their relationship with the space, move the objects. Sometimes he painted the landscape and the ordered shapes he filled it with, sometimes he didn’t. His purpose was in finding his own clarity within the vastness of that space.

At 19, I puzzled over this a little. I liked the idea of it, but I didn’t have a grasp on the real purpose of such an activity. The tiny spaces I inhabited within college-life had their own hugeness to me, and my capacity to see my relationship to anything outside of that was limited.

In a new city for the fourth time in three years, I find myself thinking of the shifting of bowling balls more and more.

Since moving to Spartanburg, South Carolina two weeks ago for a six-month residency at Hub-Bub, most of my studio time has been spent outdoors; running the trails, getting acclimated to having clay under my feet again (bliss,) and calibrating the sprawl of my surroundings and what they might hold.

Cleaning tonight (it’s amazing- not really- the mess one can make of a place in two weeks) I felt the same clarity I feel in the woods in the winter months, when void of the jungle-like vines that press in on the footpaths in summer, everything seems tidy, and it’s easy to mark the changes and the sameness in the space throughout the season.

I feel myself inventorying the places I visit: the glittering grit embedded IMG_5609in the eroded clay at Croft State Park, the groupings of fallen timber and sandbars in the creek that guides the Cottonwood Trail, the number of hills from the gate to the field on the Cleveland Preserve Farm (an incredible acquisition to the Spartanburg Area Conservancy that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice in the past week.) These are the things I know about these spaces, and there is comfort in them, as there is comfort in knowledge of the people we surround ourselves with.

An amazing facet of this residency is the eagerness with which the Spartanburg community is willing to work with Hub-Bub artists in realizing their projects in the city’s public spaces, including many natural ones. (Yes!) What we (myself and the other artists) will do with that freedom is still in flux, but the beginnings of ideas have begun to take shape, and I look forward to their continued evolution.

IMG_5666There is solace in picking up sticks on the trail; delving farther past the trail-line to select the best ones; moving things from one resting place to another; using them to form new entities in the confines of their native wood. Working on my first project in this new city (more on that later) I feel like a bird; gathering materials piece-by-piece, and I marvel at their efficiency. But I also feel like I’m moving bowling balls in the desert, and I finally get it.

There is purpose in busyness. And there is a poignant significance in contributing intervention to a space proportionately so much greater than what we can take in in single sight. Quite like arranging books on a shelf, or color-organizing one’s closet, there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing the location of things in our lives. Private acts, cloaked in the largeness of our natural surroundings help us to feel small again, and in turn the bigness of those spaces aids us in feeling connected to something exponential.

Larry Shineman View From Sparks Bowling Ball Garden 54 x 72  Oil on canvas 2008 Image courtesy of the Springfield Museum of Art

Larry Shineman
View From Sparks Bowling Ball Garden
54 x 72 | Oil on canvas | 2008
Image courtesy of the Springfield Museum of Art

The shortest day of the year

If sunlight fell like snowflakes,
gleaming yellow and so bright,
we could build a sunman,
we could have a sunball fight,
we could watch the sunflakes
drifting in the sky.
We could go sleighing
in the middle of July
through sundrifts and sunbanks,
we could ride a sunmobile,
and we could touch sunflakes—
I wonder how they’d feel.
 Sunflakes
BY: Frank Asch
I remember reciting this poem in elementary school on the morning announcements.
 It has always stuck with me.
Sunday, (finally) taking Ellie to the beach before we leave for South Carolina next week, I was reminded of the sunny kind of winter Asch’s poem suggests.
I am still sorting through the images for the final project (working title: snowbirds…?) but in the meantime, here’s a quick look at some “behind-the-scenes” footage from our winter solstice excursion.

IMG_5054

DSCN3449IMG_5061IMG_5122IMG_5081IMG_5104IMG_5094A BIG thank you to Cat Bradley for contributing your many talents to the success of the day!
catandjenny

Happy solstice everyone! To the longer days to come!