Posts from — June 2012
Raul Villarreal at home.
Cuban in America
By Mike Foldes
Q) It has been a pleasure getting to know you through the We Are You Project and our introduction by Jose Rodeiro. The book you wrote with your father about growing up in and around the Hemingway household in Cuba, Hemingway’s Cuban Son, offers a unique perspective on the writer and his life, but more to the point, how your father’s and mother’s lives, and your family’s, were shaped by the relationship. How much of those times do you remember and how much of what you remember are your father’s or mother’s memories that they’ve shared with you?
A) Incredibly enough, I remember those days in late 1967 and 1968. I was three and four years old. My father would come home for lunch early in the afternoon and after lunch carry me on his shoulders for several blocks up to the Finca Vigía. I enjoyed that perspective of being on my father’s shoulders. He was not tall at just 5 ft 8 inches, but he was a strong man. My two older brothers would then join us after school. He allowed us to play and roam the Finca grounds freely but we were to be quiet whenever there were visitors and he had to give a tour. Then we watched as the visitors admiringly listened to his every word and how effortlessly the information flowed from his lips. My father relived every anecdote and detail that he told the visitors with great passion and they appreciated him for it.
At the Finca, I was always impressed with a bullfighter suit that was kept in a closet. My father would show it to me often. It had been Antonio Ordoñes’, who was a very famous bullfighter of the 1950s and one of the protagonists in Hemingway’s “A Dangerous Summer.” The Hemingway relationship with the Villarreals has really defined us as a family in the United States and in Cuba. We were very fortunate that Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife and widow was able to get my parents and the five children out of Cuba and into Madrid, Spain in 1972, and eventually the United States in 1974.
My family in Cuba still has visitors and journalists from all over the world visit and interview them. Several of my Hemingway scholar friends who have traveled to Cuba have visited my aunt’s house and met my father’s identical twin brother, who also knew Papa Hemingway. Though my father stopped giving interviews in Spain in 1973 and refused to speak to anyone about his 20 years next to Papa Hemingway, it was not until the spring of 1999, when a friend of mine told me that CBS Sunday Morning was interested in an interview with my father. By then we had started working on the book and my father agreed. He trusted my judgment and I have been his translator ever since.
We had a wonderful time in Cuba with CBS. They flew us to Havana for a week and Charles Osgood interviewed my father for four hours. They got along beautifully. Osgood was very interested in my father’s anecdotes and details about the house. He was a real gentleman and so was the rest of the CBS crew. “Papa’s Place” aired that June on CBS Sunday Morning with my father’s piece being the opening segment. I was given the opportunity to do the voiceover for my father. It was truly a wonderful experience.
Q) You have said you consider yourself Cuban, not Cuban American or American Cuban. Essentially, you are one of the exiles in the Cuban diaspora. What about your wife and children or the children of other exiles. How do you think they see themselves, and how should they (if “should” is the proper word to apply)?
A) I consider myself Cuban because I was born in Cuba and even though I left the island at a very young age, I feel that my roots will always be Cuban. I am very proud of my Taino, African and Spanish mix. I love my life in my adopted and beautiful country of the United States. I would consider myself a Cuban who enjoys being a world citizen.
I have been very fortunate to have traveled to many different countries and experienced diverse cultures. There is often something from those places that I try to adopt into my way of life. In doing so, I believe that the country, the essence and its people will stay with you always. I enjoy bringing back mementoes from my trips and having them all around the house in different niches, so when I walk by them, a memory would be triggered of the place and I can relive a certain moment.
My wife (Rita) and I have no children. She is Cuban also but arrived in the United States at six months. She considers herself American. Early on in our relationship, we made the choice not to have children. We were then studying a lot and started traveling. We do have many nieces and nephews from both sides born in the U.S. I know that they, my nieces and nephews, feel more American than anything else. They have a sense of where the family is from and speak Spanish (some better than others) and most enjoy the Cuban cuisine, and the Cuban family dynamic, which at times is funny, frantic and loud. Well, at least our family is.
Q) You say in the book that your parents saw your creative side early on, and allowed it to develop independently of any other direction you might have taken in life. How did having that kind of freedom to pursue your dream differ from what you might have experienced had your family remained in Cuba? I know this is entirely hypothetical, but there are others in Cuba who were unable to leave, who would answer this question in a much different way.
A) Yes, I am very thankful to my parents for recognizing that I was an artist from an early age. I started to draw horses frantically at the age of three. Most of the time, I could be found under a table with pencil and paper at hand drawing a horse. My father’s younger brother Oscar is an artist. He would draw a horse for me and then asked me to copy it. I tried and tried to get as close to his as possible. I drew only horses until I was 10 years old. I love horses and still do to this day, however I have not painted or drawn a horse since 1986. They are too sacred for me at the moment.
I believe that my father’s friendship with Ernest Hemingway gave him a unique insight into an artist’s persona. My parents allowed me to grow as a person and as an artist simultaneously. They encouraged me. For my fifteenth birthday my parents bought me a drawing table. I sill have that table in my studio and it will be there until the day I die. I will forever be grateful to them for their support and understanding. I think that if we had stayed in Cuba, I would have still pursued the artist’s life. It has been my calling ever since I can remember. I really can’t see myself doing anything else.
Q) Do you anticipate with the changing times and relationship between Cuba and the U.S. that you would be able to go back and live a “normal life”, or is the “normal life,” as it were, here in the States?
A) I am always hopeful for a better relationship between the United States and Cuba. I still have lots of family in the island and wish that travel would be easier between the two countries. As far a “normal life” that is always up to the individual and how they want to live their life. The situation in Cuba right now is not the same as in the U.S. and for that matter, many countries around the world do not have the same standard of living that the U.S. enjoys. There are a lot of things that need to change in Cuba. It will take years but the process has started and I hope that both countries will work with open minds to better their relationships. I have my life and career here in the United States. The U.S. is a great base to travel and explore the world.
Q) From your perspective, what will it take to bring the U.S. and Cuban experiments closer together?
A) From my perspective I think that perhaps more cultural and academic exchanges will help to forge a strong bridge between the two countries. I also believe that the younger generation (those born in the 1980s) from both sides is eager for this cultural bridge and change. With technology the world has become a smaller place and communication is faster than ever before. We live in an immediate society and in order to be a part of that society a country and a system must evolve. China is one of several examples of that change. The Chinese are welcoming and encouraging cultural exchanges. Their society had to evolve to something different in order to survive.
Q) Where did you attend university/study art? What instructor(s) do you remember most and why?
A) I received a BFA from Jersey City State College in Jersey City, New Jersey back in 1988, with a concentration in graphic design and illustration. After graduation I worked as a graphic designer in New York City for 15 years. I worked all for the same company right after college. The owner treated me well and I worked hard and eventually became the art director/office manager. I made really good money but always kept up with my fine art and exhibits. The reality was that I had two professions which took a lot of time and effort but I did it because I loved it. The undergraduate professor who has had a significant impact in my life has been the internationally renowned artist, Ben Jones, who to this day is a very dear friend and I consider him my mentor. The other professor was Dorothy Dierks Hourihan. I consider her my guiding angel and Godmother. She has always been very supportive and a guiding light. I decided to go back to school for my MFA in 2003. Jersey City State College had become New Jersey City University. I had started teaching a graphic design course there and loved the experience.
Then the following semester I left my job in NYC and matriculated as a full-time graduate student. Ben Jones was still teaching and welcomed me with open arms. During the day I would teach a graphic design course, then, in the evening, switch hats and became a graduate student. It was during my graduate studies when I met Dr. José Rodeiro. I immediately liked him and knew that he would be a friend and great influence.
Memories of a Voyage Never Taken, oil on canvas, 36" x 48", 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_la_crisis2.jpg]100
La crisis de la abundancia, oil on canvas, 48" x 60" 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_nolonger.jpg]50
No Longer (In) Visible. acrylic and oil on canvas, 2004[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_daily_bread2.jpg]80
El pan de la vida cotidiana, oil on canvas, 48" x 36", 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_dragon_in_the_sky2.jpg]80
Dragon in the Sky, oil on cnavas, 48" x 36", 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_montero.jpg]80
Montero, oil on canvas 72" x 60", 2005[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_withinskies.jpg]70
With(in) Skies, acrylic and oil on canvas, 30" x 60", 2005[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/raul-villarrealartist/thumbs/thumbs_supermanwhere_.jpg]70
Superman Where Are You Now? oil on canvas 48" x 108", 2005
Q) Who were your major historical art influences? What styles did you experiment with as you developed your own voice and vision?
A) During my undergraduate years, I looked at the work of several surrealists such as Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Dalí, and also several Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci. I was fascinated by Renaissance drawing. At that time, I also looked at the work of Cuban artist Juan Gonzalez, and Puerto Rican artist Juan Sánchez. I liked what they were doing with issues of identity and displacement. As a graduate student, I studied the work of hundreds of artists. Dr. Rodeiro was and probably still is very demanding in his graduate art history courses. I was exposed to hundreds of artists from diverse disciplines and even more diverse backgrounds. In the latter part of my graduate studies I started to concentrate more on the philosophical and theoretical artistic approaches, and started to read Homi K. Bhaba’s postcolonial theories, as well as anthologies written and edited by Gerardo Mosquera, a Cuban curator and theorist.
The more I read about post-colonialism in the context of postmodernism, the more I became interested in issues of identity, multiculturalism and transculturalism. Having grown up in Cuba, I experienced multiculturalism and transculturalism at an early age. The issues of identity were a common everyday reality. At some point, I remembered my father telling me how Papa Hemingway would advise him that if he ever wanted to take up writing, he should write about experiences that he knew and actually lived. Hemingway said “because then the work will flow easier and be honest and true.”
I took the advice Hemingway passed on to my father and my graduate work became more personal and focused on my personal experiences as a Cuban, who left his homeland, lived in Madrid, Spain, and settled with his family in Union City, New Jersey in 1974. And since 1996 has enjoyed traveling and experiencing other countries around this wonderful world that according to Hemingway “… is worth fighting for.”
Q) I understand the We Are You Project as an attempt to bring the Latino population in the U.S. more into the mainstream of American life, including giving them the recognition that comes with it. That and immigration reform to change the defensive posture of non-Latino populations in the U.S. against losing their ability to marginalize what has been until recently the Latino minority. Would you say this is an accurate view? If not, why not?
A) The “We Are You Project International” is a project that hopes to present Latino life in the United States and the positive contributions Latinos have made and continue to make in the United States for centuries. The goal of the project is also to have lawmakers rethink immigration reform and the anti-Latino backlash currently being experienced in certain states across this great nation. There is an incredible phenomenon happening worldwide, which I call Reverse Colonization. As in the United States and throughout Europe, people from different countries are emigrating legally or illegally, crossing borders in search for a better way of life. Immigrants are leaving their countries, which were once colonized by force and at times denuded of their natural resources, and heading to the lands of their former colonizers. However, the We Are You Project International is more interested in a culturally positive statement by Latinos for Latinos, the United States and the rest of the world.
Q) What is your relationship now with the We Are You Project International?
A) I am one of the sub-committee members, which are the core of the project, and also the Special Projects Coordinator. I was able to procure the first two exhibit for the We Are You Project International traveling exhibit, which first took place in this spring at the Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba in New York City. The second will take place during Hispanic Heritage month in The Arts Guild of New Jersey in Rahway.
Q) Do you see or anticipate a power struggle of sorts among the various Latino sub-cultures represented within the Latino population at large and the We Are You, to control the political, social and cultural direction of the movement? Or do you anticipate respect for and an attempt to preserve the distinct elements of the group?
A) That is a very good question and one that is difficult to respond to. From my experience, it has been difficult to get ALL Latinos to unite for a cause. However, the artist members of our group are hard working professional artists and a large percentage are university professors. I think that because of this, we should be able to accomplish numerous objectives. We have art on our side and art is a magnificent agent in bringing people together for a worthy cause.
Hemingway's Photo Collection
Ernest Hemingway with Blackie (Black Dog) Finca Vigía, San Franciaso <br />de Paula, Havana Cuba, 1957[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_hemingway-close-up.jpg]80
Hemingway_close-up. Finca Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Havana <br />Cuba, 1955[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_hemingway-favorite-chair.jpg]50
Hemingway sitting in his favorite chair, Finca Vigía, San Francisco <br />de Paula, Havana Cuba, 1954 (when he found out that he had won the <br />Noble Prize)[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_eh_nobelprize_day3.jpg]50
EH Nobel prize day. Hemingway the day he found out the had won the <br />Nobel prize. Finca Vigía, San Franciaso de Paula, Havana, Cuba, circa <br />1954[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_finca-vigia-1957-xmas.jpg]240
Christmas 1957 at the Finca with Siskie in the background, the <br />Richards sisters, Reneé, Mary and Ernest Hemingway. Finca Vigía, San <br />Franciaso de Paula, Havana, Cuba, circa 1957[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_boys-playing-baseball-2.jpg]60
Boys Playing Baseball. The Villarreal boys playing baseball at the <br />Finca Vigía, San Franciaso de Paula, Havana, Cuba, circa 1940[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_hemingway_rene_elpidia.jpg]80
Hemingway, Fanny and Rene. Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, <br />Havana Cuba 1957[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_rene-villarreal-1940-finca.jpg]70
Rene Villarreal at the Finca Vigía, 1940[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_rene_bust.jpg]90
René Villarreal with bust of Ernest Hemingway, Finca Vigía, San <br />Francisco de Paula, Havana, Cuba 1964[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/hemingway039s-photo-collection/thumbs/thumbs_rene-villarreal-museum-director.jpg]60
René Villarreal as Director of the Ernest Hemingway Museum, Finca <br />Vigía, San Francisco de Paula, Havana, Cuba, 1964
Q) I understand your family has quite a number of Hemingway artifacts, including photos, letters, and so on, that were secretly brought out of Cuba when you came over. What kinds of things are included in this collection and can you share any of these with us?
A) We have around 120 photographs of Ernest Hemingway with my father from the early 1940s up to the late 1950’s. There are some postcards as well from their trips to Spain and Italy, and some items of clothing such as a sweater and a beanie hat that Hemingway took with him on safari in 1953.
Q) What advice do you give your younger students when they come into your class as aspiring artists or even as ‘accidental tourists’?
A) I will try my best to follow the advice of my friend and mentor Ben Jones. I will tell my students to work hard and get their technique down but it is the idea, the concept that counts, and be true to your art, and to be honest and true. I believe that there is a place for everything and everyone in life. “Show up to your life and you will be successful.” That is somewhat of a Woody Allen quote.
Q) Is there anything you’d like to add for this interview that we may hot have touched upon?
A) You have asked very meaningful questions and I thank you for that. It has been a real pleasure. I would add that WE just have to live LIFE, and live it to the fullest, because OUR LIFE and the LOVE we know are the constants that will be truly ours from the time we are born and even after we die.
For more about Raul Villarreal, see: http://www.raulvillarreal.com/
This interview was conducted in person and by e-mail from April thru June 2012.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Raul Villarreal/Artist Interview
The Doctor and His Camera
by Mike Foldes
NDLR: L’interview qui suit a été réalisée par e-mail en mai et Juin 2012. L’intervieweur ne comprends pas assez bien le français pour s’entretenir directement avec le photographe, et le photographe a choisi d’utiliser sa langue maternelle pour exprimer au mieux ses concepts et ses idees. Pour les bi-lingues, les réponses apparaissent en français et en anglais. Pour les autres, nous espérons une compréhension satisfaisante. Nous n’avons pas inclus de traduction Google pour les questions de l’intervieweur. Traductions Google et Hélène Gaillet.
* * * * *
Ragazine: Pierre, I see you were born in Perpignan. I was only there one time, in 1972 or so. And then I was only passing through, hitchhiking from Barcelona to Paris. I ended up sleeping in a doorway at the train station in Montpellier, not too far away. It was November, getting cold, and raining. I took the next train, to Paris, cutting short my hitchhiking trip. I understand it is a beautiful area – especially in summer – and good for tourists …
Did you go to medical school there? Are you a general practioner, or do you have a specialty?
Corratgé: J’ai fait mes études de médecine à Montpellier, et exercé la médecine générale à Perpignan pendant 32 ans, jusqu’en 2009.
Trad. C: I studied medicine in Montpellier and practiced general medicine in Perpignan for 32 years, until 2009.
Q) You began working in photography as a teenager. Did you get support or help from your parents or teachers? Who were your influences?
A) Mon père m’a initié à la photographie, sur le plan technique, très jeune, puis, par des stages, notamment à Arles, j’ai davantage pénétré la dimension artistique de la photographie à la fin des années 70, notamment grace à Christian Vogt, Meridell Rubenstein et Jack Welpott. Ensuite, c’est un vrai travail d’autodidacte, grace aux livres, aux revues et depuis quelques années, l’ Internet. Mon influence la plus forte est certainement le photographe français Jean-François Bauret (years b & d?), avec lequel j’ai beaucoup échangé et qui est un ami. Sur un plan plus général, c’est Avedon qui a le plus influencé mon esthétique et le contenu de l’image. La culture de la photographie nord américaine a toujours eu beaucoup d’importance pour moi, j’ai appris le Zone System en lisant Ansel Adams dans le texte…
T) My father introduced me to the technical side of photography at a very young age. Later, through internships, especially in Arles, I delved into the more artistic aspects of photography in the late 70s, studying with Christian Vogt, Meridell Rubenstein, and Jack Welpott. Later, I plunged into a great deal of self-teaching thanks to books, photographic magazines and, in recent years, the Internet. The strongest influence in my work is certainly from the gifted French photographer Jean-François Bauret, who is a wonderful friend with whom I have shared a great deal. On a broader scale, Richard Avedon’s work has highly influenced my aesthetic views and image content. The development of North American photography has been of great importance to me; I learned about the Zone System deciphering the context of Ansel Adams’ books…
Q) Were you always fascinated by the female form in your photography? You speak of a personal study of the face and body….
A) Dès les années 70, le portrait a été mon domaine de prédilection. J’ai toujours plus facilement photographié les femmes que les hommes, pour lesquels j’ai trouvé que la relation avec leur image, notamment dans la nudité, était plus complexe et moins décontractée que les femmes. Aussi, dans l’art en général, le nu féminin est plus présent, et ma culture picturale inclut autant Botticelli que Sieff ou Avedon. Je pense que la relation que j’ai avec mes modèles, qui ne sont pas “professionnels” mais viennent de mon entourage, des amies ou des amies d’amies, est au cœur de mon travail photographique. Je ne suis pas photographe à faire passer des messages, non, j’essaie de poser un regard neutre mais bienveillant sur celles que je photographie.
T) As early as the 70s, portraiture became the core and center of my focus. I have always found it much easier to photograph women than men, where I discovered that men’s relationship to their image, especially in the nude, was more complex and less relaxed than women. Also, in the art world, the female nude is everpresent. From what I have learned of art, that includes Botticelli, (Jeanloup) Sieff and Avedon. I think the relationship I have with my models, who are not “professionals” by the way, but gather around me as friends, then friends of friends, this relationship is at the heart of my photographic work. I’m not the kind of photographer to surreptitiously emit secret messages, no, I just try to pose my models in a purely simple and sympathetic way,
Q) How did you develop the blur technique that you began to use in the ’90s?
A) Á la fin d’une séance de photographie de danse, j’ai essayé de faire une photographie très floue, car je voyais sur le dépoli que la lumière du fond blanc, sur-éclairé, “mangeait” littéralement le corps du modèle, en changeait les proportions, ne laissait plus que deviner les seins, le pubis : on était dans une abstraction, une déconstruction du corps. La réception de ces photographies a été très bonne, et j’ai continué. Même en numérique, mon flou n’est qu’optique : fond très éclairé, mise au point manuelle décidant du degré de flou. Ce n’est pas un flou “Photoshop”! J’ai ensuite transposé cette technique à la vidéo, et on peut voir quelques vidéos de danse, floues, sur mon site.
T) At the end of a session of dance photography, I tried to photograph a blurred image, because I noticed that a ground glass over-lit with white light, literally ‘ate’ the body of the model; it changed its proportions, leaving one only to guess at the breasts, the pubic hair: the work became an abstraction, a deconstruction of the body. These photographs were very well received and I continued exploring. Even in digital work I like an optical blur. My background is brightly lit, the manual focus deciding the degree of fuzziness. This is not a vague abstract on “Photoshop!”. Eventually I transplanted this technique to video, and you can see some of these ethereal blurry dance videos on my website.
Q) You say you had the feeling there was another “calling,” one might say, a parallel path that is photography. Do you still practice medicine, or are you full time involved with photography? How did that transition take place, if there was one?
A) J’ai exercé la médecine de 1977 à 2009, mais j’ai toujours beaucoup fait de phototographie, simultanément. Depuis 2009, je ne fais plus que de la photographie… Mais il y a, entre la médecine générale et la photographie, une grande proximité dans la relation à l’autre, une “neutralité bienveillante” qui exclut la séduction mais trouve un réel intérêt pour la personne en face.
T) I practiced medicine from 1977 to 2009, but always worked simultaneously on my photography. However, since 2009, I do nothing but photography…. But between general medicine and photography there is a very close relationship from one to the other, a “calming neutrality” which excludes seduction but offers a real benefit to an interested individual.
Q) Looking at your portfolio, I am entranced first by the sensuousness of the women. Do you select your models for the sensuousness they convey, or do you find you have to work with them to bring it out?
A) Comme Ralph Gibson l’a dit, la plupart des femmes qui posent nues le font parce qu’elles se trouvent belles. Je ne sers que de révélateur à la beauté qu’elles trouvent en elles, mais aussi à leur sensibilité, leur inquiétude à être photographiées ainsi, à la nature de leur vraie personnalité. Le “portrait nu” a été théorisé par des auteurs français, photographes comme Bauret, mais aussi écrivains comme Michel Tournier.
T) As Ralph Gibson said, most women who pose nude do so because they believe in their intrinsic beauty. I serve only to reveal the beauty these women find in themselves, and also to explore their sensitivity, their anxiety to be photographed thus, in the nude, within the basic nature of their true personality. The “nude portrait” has been explored and exposed by many French authors, photographers like (Jean-François) Bauret, and also by writers such as Michel Tournier.
Pierre Corratge / Photographer
Q) What kind of equipment do you use, and how far have you evolved toward digital photography?
A) J’ai très tôt vu l’intérêt du moyen format, notamment dans la restitution de la structure de la peau. Après avoir beaucoup cherché, c’est avec un Hasselblad (501 C) que je trouve le mieux ce que je cherche pour la plupart des mes photos, notamment avec le 120 mm Macro Planar. Mais j’utilise souvent la chambre (une Sinar Norma 8 x 10 et une Toyo Field 4x 5) en noir et blanc et en Polaroid où je fais beaucoup de transferts. Pour la photographie de danse et de mouvement, le numérique a été un apport extraordinaire, non seulement par la diminution des coûts, mais aussi par la possibilité de discuter immédiatement d’une image avec la danseuse et de changer de petites choses à notre travail à tous les deux. J’ai eu tous les reflex Nikon numériques, mais maintenant, avec mon D800, je ne vois pas l’amélioration qui pourrait changer -en bien- ma photographie : je suis comblé…
Souvent, dans une même séance de prise de vue dans mon studio, je commence par photographier en numérique, je discute avec le modèle de ce qui est important, nous recentrons notre travail, puis, quand c’est cadré, je fais 2 ou 3 films 120 et si, la chambre peut apporter un plus, quelques plan-films et quelques Polaroids (l’inverse de ce qui se faisait il y a 20 ans!!). Je continue, bien sûr, le laboratoire argentique, de la même façon que je tiens à maîtriser moi-même l’impression numérique avec une Epson 3800. Je travaille aussi sur des procédés alternatifs (tirages lith, palladium, virages à l’or…) et j’ai transmis cela à mes enfants!
T) Very early on I understood the value of the medium format, specifically for the restoration of the texture of the skin. After much research, it is with a Hasselblad (501 C) that I found the best of what I am looking for in most of my photos, especially with the 120mm Macro Planar. But I often use a view camera (a Sinar Norma 8 x 10 and a 4x Toyo Field 5) for black and white and Polaroids when I do a lot of transfers. For dance and movement photography, digital has been of tremendous value, not only by lowering expenses, but also by giving me the opportunity to discuss an image immediately with a dancer or model, enabling us to change little things as we progress during a shoot. I have Nikon digital equipment, and now with my D800, I do not see the how I can fail to improve my photography: I am thrilled …
Often, in a single session in my studio, I start by shooting digitally. I consult with the model about what is important, we refocus our work, then, when it’s framed, I take 2 or 3 films of 120 and if there is room to amplify, I’ll shoot some sheet film and a few Polaroids (quite the opposite of what was done 20 years ago!). I continue, of course, with my darkroom work as well, to master my own digital printing with an Epson 3800. I also work with alternative processes (lith prints, palladium) … and I have transfered these talents to my children!
Q) Taking a step back, for a moment, how extensive was your work with Polaroid photographs, and is this something you are still doing?
A) Le Polaroid a nourri mon travail sur “l’intervention” : sans arriver aux excès d’un certain pictorialisme, le Pola permet de mettre une distance par rapport à la réalité. Mais le travail de mise au point technique, surtout pour les transferts que je fais sur du papier Arches aquarelle, a été considérable pour cela. Les films (55 PN, 59 et 809) avec lesquels je travaille ne se fabriquent plus, hélas, mais il en reste quelques boîtes dans mon frigo. Mais ma dernière boîte de 809 est entamée… Mais j’ai des dizaines d’épreuves!
Concernant le SX 70 ou le 600, The Impossible Project est encore loin de ce que nous apportait les anciens films. Quand on voit la part de l’imitation des anciens procédés Pola dans les applications numériques, on voit bien que cette spécificité était une vraie création artistique, mais pour moi l’analogique garde une grande supériorité.
T) The Polaroid fed my work on “intervention” without reaching too much for ‘pictorialism’ excess. It lets you disconnect from reality. The work I continue to explore on technical development is considerable, especially for transfers done on Arches watercolor papers. The films (55 PN, 59 and 809) which I work with are no longer manufactured, alas, but there are still a few boxes in my fridge. My last box of 809 is started … but luckily I have dozens of prints!
When it comes to the (Polaroid) SX 70 or 600, The Impossible Project is still far from what we were able to develop with the old films (Kpdak, Fuji). When you see the imitation of original Polaroid processes in digital applications, it is clear that this innovation was a real artistic creation. Truly, for me the analog retains great superiority.
Please also visit: http://www.pierrecorratge.com/
Editor’s note: The preceding interview was conducted via e-mail in May and June of 2012. The interviewer does not speak or write French well enough to interview the photographer and the photographer elected to use his native language to best express his concepts and intent. For those who speak and read both languages fluently, Corratge’s answers appear both in French and in Google Translator’s English with the further assistance of Hélène Gaillet. For those who are not bilingual, we trust the bridges to understanding are satisfactory. We purposely did not include a translation of the interviewer’s questions.About the translator: Hélène Gaillet de Neergaard is a previous contributor to Ragazine.CC. Her web site is: www.helenegailletartist.com, where you can find out her most recent book, “I WAS A WAR CHILD”, her other Writing, Painting, Photography.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Pierre Corratgé/Photographer Interview
Though I don’t minimize impediments
To second-guessing silence at its darkest,
At least one scene comes into shaky focus:
Obsession checking date and time, eyes fixed
On clock-hands as they tick, move, tick, and strike;
A soggy half-life fumbling for the phone
To key an atonal carillon of pings
Assigned to alphabetic numerals
Triggering rings until they ding their target:
“Hello? Hello? Hell-O? Who is it?” Click….
That itch must have been scratched now, breathless breather,
Amusement skittering around the corners
Of a hot rictus laughably at odds
With comedy’s half-pixilated mask.
Eavesdropping human ears, if any were,
Would hear your voice huff out a ha—at what?
At its own serrated, call it, cleverness.
Beyond uncurtained windows January
Branches subdivide the twilight’s agate
Grey and that blank horizon, neutral witness
Of many earlier eras’ months and moods—
Sometimes, an all-consuming nullity
Funneled into this gleaming plug-in object
Firing its blank, its toy obliteration.
Committed caller, snared in spiral-corded
Fables, did I get it, and is spite love.
About the poet:
Alfred Corn has published nine books of poems, the most recent titled Contradictions. He has also published a novel, titled Part of His Story; two collections of essays; and The Poem’s Heartbeat, a study of prosody. Fellowships for his poetry include the Guggenheim, the NEA, an Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and one from the Academy of American Poets. He has taught at Yale, Columbia, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He spends half of every year in the U.K., and Pentameters Theatre in London staged his play Lowell’s Bedlam in the spring of 2011. In 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, preparing a translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies. His first ebook, Transatlantic Bridge: A Concise Guide to the Differences between British and American English, was published in 2012, and in 2013, Press 53 will publish a new volume of poems titled Tables.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Alfred Corn/Poetry
The Lovers | 60x60cm | Photograph
Collage: When One Is Not Enough
Interview by Mike Foldes
Ragazine: Marcin, a lot of your work seems to focus on themes, such as your story boards on Democracy and Animal Farm. Are these collections of illustrations for books, or are you delving into the multi-dimensional aspects of these subjects and finding that not one illustration fits all?
Marcin Owczarek: My art focuses on the human condition and I show the world behind the curtain. ‘Democracy’ and ‘Animal Farm’ are part of this uncovered world. They are not collection of illustrations for the books, because I did not want to illustrate George Orwell’s thoughts, instead I wanted to express my reflection on the contemporary world.
The reason why I called my image ‘Animal Farm’ is that, this book describes the totalitarianism, the world where one greedy tyrant rules, and where the people are not free or equal. On animal farm, “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” Regarding the history of 20th century and the present history of 21st century, I couldn’t find a better reference.
In ‘Democracy’ I wanted to articulate that many modern countries claim to be democratic. In fact this is some kind of illusion and behind the mask, the situation is totally different. The situation is more related to the reality descibed many years ago by Orwell that to the democratic process where people have influence for theirs life and shape of present world.
Democracy | 70x170cm | Photograph
Q) How did your career evolve into what it is today? Did you start out as a digital collagist, as a painter or photographer?
A) At the beginning I used to create ‘classical collages’ – I mean paper, scissors and glue. Afterwards I found photography in the analogue way. My first artworks with camera I can describe as conceptual. I remember at that time I highly admired the photography by Duane Michals. Approximately, during the second year of my College of Photography, I bought digital camera and discovered the method which might be called digital manipulatiol or digital collage. It was the crucial moment for which led me to the present images I create.
Q) Who were the early influences on your choosing this career path? Were your parents artists? Family members?
A) None of my parents are artists. The only member from my family who had any relations with art- was my aunt who was painter. As far as I remember I didn’t have early influences. In my case, at the age of seventeen I created my first paper-collage. I remember that one day I came back home, took some newspapers. I cut two elements out, first was dead bird laying on the ground, the second was orchestra playing in philharmonic. That first-born collage I called ‘Requiem.’ Since that moment I started consciously to follow the ‘path of art’ and tried to find best medium to express myself.
Q) What influences brought you to an awareness of the social conditions that come to life in your images?
A) I can honestly say that there were three aspects of my awareness: the way I started to perceive this world, hundreds of books I read and my study on Cultural Anthropology. I always repeat that the great value of inspiration for me are: Antonin Artaud, Guy Debord, Hannah Arendt, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, Austin Osman Spare, George Orwell,’Tibetan Book of the Dead’…Beside that, the study of Anthropology gave me erudite knowledge of other cultures what includes for instance: mitologies, beliefs, rituals of ethnic groups, ethnic art, from the ‘primitive’ tribes to western societies. Now I’m able to compare the various and unusual activities of human beings and flourish my imagination. This amalgamation is the source of my awareness of the social conditions.
Q) I don’t see as much of this thinking in American artists. They seem to have a different approach to the same questions. We just did an interview with Xavier Landry, a Canadian, whose works seem to be more European than North American, more surreal than comic. Do you believe the Europeans are farther along in the intellectual evolution than North Americans, and Americans in particular?
A) From American intellectual artists, writers, philosophers I highly value: Joe Coleman, Jean Michel Basquiat, Beat Generation (Jack Kerouac,William S. Burroughs) Hunter S. Thompson, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Henry Thoreau.
The only problem to answer to that question is that I have never been in America and I have never had the opportunity to converse with any American artist. Without that knowledge I wouldn’t like to describe the intellectual evolution of America.
In reference to Europe, we need to remember that this continent has history full of human blood, had experienced the First and the Second World War, Totalitarianism, Nazism. This is something I presume determined artists to think in other way about the surrounding world. Old people still remember exactly what used to happen in the streets. I think the mature reflection has this kind of historical background and if the contemprary artists look in the future, they see that some parts of that history might repeat. They simply try to desribe it.
Q) Where are you working now? Where is your studio, and how long have you been there?
A) I come from Poland and was born in the city of Wrocław. For the last few years I used to live in Germany, Ireland, Norway. Since one and a half year I live in Belgium. At the moment here is my studio and I work here.
Q) What kinds of equipment do you use, both cameras, printers, paper, and so on?
A) To my work I use camera Canon EOS 7D. The rest is computer programme. I usually print my images on barite paper 285gr.
Q) What are you principal markets? Do you sell you work through galleries, commissions, commercial work?
A) I’m represented by Susan Zadeh (Eyemazing Susan) who runs an excellent magazine focusing on contemporary photography called ‘Eyemazing’. Apart from the magazine, Susan also runs an online gallery where I sell my artworks.
Q) What advice would you give to a younger person who is an aspiring artist or photographer?
A) My only advice would be work, work, work hard and never give up! I think that talent is only beginning of the road, but without consequence, resistance – talent gives you nothing. If somebody wants to achieve the masterpiece in art, he needs to work hard. I work with my artworks 14 hours per day, without this kind of sacrification, it wouldn’t be possible to be where I am right now.
To find out more about Marcin Owczarek, please see: http://marcinowczarek.wix.com/photography.
About the interviewer:
Mike Foldes is founder and editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us.”
This interview was conducted via e-mail in April and May 2012.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Marcin Owczarek/Artist Interview
“The Place I Call Home”
A Spiritual Landmark (and a Glimpse at Horror)
By Emily Vogel
Typically, when we think of “place” we consider first its physical geography, what exists in its proximity and what best describes its coordinates and physical dimensions. To consider that a “place,” perhaps besides being a physical location, is also a dimension of the memory, a particular habitat of the mind and heart which cannot be drawn on a map, suggests a type of vault of emotional reserve that can best be channeled through the medium of poetry. Maria Mazziotti Gillan’s book of poems, “The Place I Call Home” (forthcoming from NYQ Books in September) easily taps into this dimension, and while the landmarks that might be mentioned in many of the poems are recognizable as physical realities, there are without doubt other “spiritual landmarks” which carry the reader through all fifty-two poems so that we’re not only in a city in New Jersey, but also journeying through the story of the “self,” which has its own “emotional coordinates,” in its own right.
Gillan succeeds in constructing the “herstory” of an Italian immigrant girl. Her work is honest and bears the integrity of a woman/narrator we’d all like to sit down with and have four o’clock tea (or espresso), tell stories, and exchange matters of heart. She recalls the details of her growing up with a sense of real specificity and awareness. While reading the book the first time, I received what I’m used to after reading the last line of a really good poem or novel: the chills – what I’ve come to know as a brush with the Holy Spirit. It is the kind of physical sensation which demands you just appreciate the beauty of the poem without the need to examine it immediately for its deeper meanings with an “intellectual” ear.
The deeper meanings of her poems resonate viscerally, as opposed to the type of poems which beg we impose the intellect, eviscerate them of their emotional impact, and analyze them until it’s no longer the poems that we appreciate. Gillan’s poems are easy to appreciate, and require no second-guessing or deconstructive examination beyond what they attest. She does not cloak by gestures of language that leave us confused and dissatisfied, wondering why someone just doesn’t tell us a story we can identify as a story. In this book of poems, she has opened the vault of the self, with all its shame, joy, passion, triumph and discovery, that anyone would argue requires a certain kind of courage that many poets on the current poetry scene are not willing to employ.
My favorite poem in the collection is one which recalls a dream (In My Dream, The Light). The poem’s vivid imagery succeeds in suggesting a kind of horror story: “someone with huge dark circled eyes and a bright/red gash of a mouth and huge stitches bisecting/her face and body, as though someone had cut her/in half and sewn her back together, and the dishes/on the table are full of severed heads and pulsing/hearts.” The shock of these images helps us to see the difference between the narrator of the conscious world and the Gillan of subconscious magnitudes. Perhaps the real essences of our truths are revealed in dreams? In narratives over which we have no dominion or control?
While we are given a long glimpse of Gillan’s childhood and early relationships in the first half of the book, much of the poems on the topic of her late husband are in the latter half of the book. These poems certainly suggest a shift, both in perspective and in sentiment. More anger and grief become the focus, yet with a real sense of maturity, integrity, and originality. These poems reveal details that are not always pretty: “even your face/looks delicate, the skin drawn/so tightly over the bones of your head that it’s almost transparent,/your neck so thin it cannot support your head” (The Other Night, You Came Home), and “There is no medicine/for the sound guilt makes at 3 am.” (How Do I Pack Up the House of My Life?).
There is much more to Gillan’s poems than simply well-crafted stories about life. What becomes evident in many of the poems in this collection is the portrait of the narrator’s fear, in the same way a child might tremble in her bedroom at night when the shadow cast on the wall by the lamp becomes a terrible monster – when perfectly ordinary images are transformed into something violent. In the latter half of this book, the narrator is revealed as someone who is confronting these horrors and conciliating with them. Perhaps the Gillan we know of in the poems is not only haunted by the ghosts of childhood, her late husband and dreams, but dares to resurrect these ghosts and render them remarkable aspects of the self. “The Place I Call Home” is truly a work of literary merit. Look forward to its release in September: New York Quarterly Books, www. nyqbooks.org
NYQ Books, ISBN: 978-1-935520-67-2
See also, http://www.mariagillan.com/
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Maria Gillan’s “The Place I Call Home”/Review
Fathoming “The Spirit of the Sea:”
an interview with Christie Devereaux
By Dr. José Rodeiro
Brooklyn native Christie Devereaux is a painter with a degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, who during that Pratt interval worked with acclaimed director Robert Wilson, as a modern dancer. After Pratt, she continued her career as a dancer on tour with the Electric Circus.
In 1969, Devereaux moved to Italy, where she worked as an industrial designer and graphic artist. In addition, she completed official church and state painting commissions, e.g., a portrait of Padre Pio for the Museum of Padre Pio, Pietrelcina, Italy. In 1980, she returned to New York, exhibiting at Lever House, Broome Street Gallery, New World Art Center and The Chung-Cheng Art Gallery at St. John’sUniversity.
From 1991 to 2011, Ms. Devereaux worked with both teachers and students in the Freeport Public Schools, New York, where she designed educational murals and facilitated school-wide art projects that were supported by grants. In 1999, Devereaux was awarded a museum fellowship from Long Island Educational Enterprise Zone where she collaborated on a curriculum-based project, working in conjunction with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). As the 21st Century unfurled, she unleashed a series of paintings and sculptures that were designed to engage the viewer in meditative self-reflection; contemplatively assailing her viewers with a host of secular, political, and spiritual perspectives. Her current series titled “The Spirit of the Sea” (click here to read Review) offers passionate seascapes that reflect on her personal experience with the forces of nature. This elegant and fluid exhibition is the result of the very talented TIC curator, Frank DeGregorie. Recently, in Manhattan, at the home of the notable master-draughtsman Nikolai Buglaj (across from the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center), RAGAZINE’s roving Contributing Art Editor, Dr. José Rodeiro (Coordinator of Art History, New Jersey City University) caught up with Ms Devereaux, and the following insightful conversation ensued:
JR: When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
CD: It wasn’t until my last year at Pratt Institute that I knew my major in Industrial Design was not going to be my lot or destiny. After studying “I.D.” for four-years, I heard an inner voice, saying, “FINE ARTS!” We all have an internal voice that guides and informs us about the many choices we make in life. Finally, I decided to listen to that voice.
JR: Why do you create art?
CD: The passion to create art exists within me as a primal need to express my most inner thoughts about the world around me.
I have always been fascinated by the power of language. For me, art is a universal language, such as music, dance, and math, with which I can explore and express an entire range of ideas and emotions. Just consider that art has always been the first written language, which we have used to communicate our feelings and ideas. Children first express themselves through drawings. Also, the first record of art as a language appeared as cave paintings in places, such as Altamira and Lascaux, and earlier. Other spoken languages have become extinct, but visual art always manages (somehow) to survive over time. I, too, have a longing to “communicate” my feelings and ideas over time.
With regards to artistic creation, personally, the actual creative process for me has to do with reflecting on an array of ideas, feelings, and issues that range from secular, religious to political. I am always questioning and exploring those ideas. My goal is to try on some level to provoke thought or emotions on the part of the viewer, so that they, too, start to reflect on their own perspectives about the various issues they face.
JR: Where do you get your ideas for your subject matter?
CD: Ideas come from numerous sources, such as witnessing something firsthand on the street, a conversation, nature, music or even just a few words read (a poem, etc.). All of these things – that are seen, heard, felt, and experienced – have the potential to inspire creativity and art.
JR: Now let’s talk about your recent work – your seascapes in The Spirit of the Sea series. I see that in the past your paintings addressed social and political themes. Why have you chosen to paint majestic monochrome Neo-Romantic seascapes?
CD: Throughout my life, I have always painted seascapes; usually, watercolors or oil paintings. However, this new series of seascapes is different because my focus is tonal or grayish luminescence as a means of examining the effects of refracted shimmering light on human emotions. I am using the seascape to explore how natural incandescent light encourages meditation and contemplation by means of imaginative-manipulation of light and shadow.
Another new component that I am introducing in this series: in order to heighten the effects of light and also to create vibrant sensate-surfaces, which constantly change as a result of whatever existing environment surrounds the piece. I primarily use either silver or copper primed metallic surfaces to paint on.
I usually start with a small copper or silver sketch. Often, I photograph a painting halfway through its completion; and then draw on the photograph to adjust the lighting and the composition.
JR: Are there any specific challenges when working on metallic surfaces?
CD: The challenge is always in how the light hits the painting in various environments. For example, the same painting can look great in a semi-dark room and then look washed out in a well lit room. When metal-surfaces are beneath the pigment, each painting has different lighting requirements.
JR: How long does it take to complete a painting? And, how do you know when it is finished?
CD: The length of time depends on the complexity of the painting. Some small paintings can take longer than a large painting. Once, the image is sufficiently apparent, I take each painting and place it in as many different types of lighting situations as possible – in order to see if the composition is still interesting. I also photograph the painting to distance myself from the actual image. This process helps me to analyze the composition, revealing anything that is still needed or not.
JR: I see allusions to Joseph Mallord William Turner. Are you influenced by his work? If so how?
CD: I was a teenager when I first saw Turner’s work. His influence has been profound; because Turner’s paintings really connect to my personal childhood experiences at sea, when I went boating or sailing with my family as a kid. It is Turner’s light that permeates my childhood memories. Also, important to me is the fact that I have always seen a direct correlation between Turner’s Romantic sea-images and the Romantic sea poetry of Coleridge and Byron.
JR: In the new series, I noticed that there is a great aesthetic range from realism to abstraction in your approach to painting your seascapes. How do you explain that? Is there a preference?
CD: Creating challenges is a key component to my art. By pushing things to the point of abstraction; I am testing and exploring my own limits. In the future, I would like to continue in a more abstract direction – fully considering and fully animating the veneer, the texture, the light, and surface-façade of my sea-surfaces, dealing with each seascape abstractly as surface. Again, the intention is to assist the viewer in finding her/his capacity to see the surface as a means for sublime contemplation – as Turner’s or Rothko’s surfaces elicit.
JR: Thanks, you’ve given our readers plenty of perceptive insights into your work and your future artistic aspirations.
CD: With gratitude.
For more on Christie Devereaux’s art visit:
About the interviewer:Ragazine.CC’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey. You can read more about him in “About Us.”
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Christie Devereaux/Artist Interview
Stormy Weather 18 | Acrylic on canvas | 36″ x 24″ | 2012
Christie Devereaux’s Buoyant “New”
Sturm und Drang Seascapes:
“The Spirit of the Sea”
By Dr. José RodeiroArt Editor
Pivotal to burgeoning 21st Century “Neo-neoromanticism” is Christie Devereaux’s summer 2012 display of mysterious and sublime monochromatic seascapes floating upon the walls of the distinguished Treasure Room Gallery (within The Interchurch Center (TIC)), 475 Riverside Drive, New York City, NY. The show is insightfully organized by TIC’s eminent curator, Frank DeGregorie, who sympathetically encouraged this art historically crucial “must-see” exhibit, which runs from June 25 through August 27; with an opening reception on Tuesday, June 26, from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Entitled The Spirit of the Sea, her buoyant radical-postmodern paintings of aquatic scenes generate intense, reverential, and awe-inspiring feeling(s), brimming with visual-nourishment and spiritual epiphanies [(viewable Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the southwest corner of the historic and monumental edifice known as The Interchurch Center, facing Harlem’s Hudson River shoreline (at West 120th Street); a majestic late-Art Deco cultural institution built in 1958 by John D. Rockefeller II and supported by The Sealantic Fund)].
Argento 21 | Acrylic on Canvas | 48” X36” | 2011
Despite (or because of) her cutting-edge radical postmodernism, Devereaux’s luminous “tonal” seascapes imaginatively blend nascent early-Romantic Sturm und Drang artistic approaches. These aesthetic dichotomies were initially invoked by 18th Century German art theorist and poet Friedrich Von Schlegel as aesthetic dualities (or binaries) guiding the process of human creativity within the natural world via either 1). objective naturalism or 2). subjective naturalism. Both of these Sturm und Drang creative methods were brilliantly paraphrased (in English) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge within his Biographia Literaria, as two types of creative imagination: “Primary” and “Secondary.” Ingeniously, Devereaux’s marine imagery treads between both of these valid and substantial aesthetic positions, wherein “Primary Imagination” correspond to being faithful to physical phenomena; i.e., naturalistic representation, or empirical mimesis [(signifying sheer realistic artistic perception in art)], while “Secondary Imagination” signifies numinous, metaphysical, visionary, poetic and symbolic rearrangements, exaltations, as well as distortions of nature in art. Whereby either, the external transcendent spirit of nature: geist (the “Without”), or the innate imminent spirit of nature: duende (the “Within”), is expressed creatively via art [(What is Duende? http://duende-art.com/page1.html )]. A creative inspiration motivating art, as Coleridge stated, which, “Makes the natural world appear supernatural.”
Similar to Coleridge, Lord Byron, J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Moran, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and other mystic Romantic poet/painter seascapists, Devereaux’s seafaring art evokes the same intimate, epic, moody and melancholic nautical-emotions that inhabit these above-named masters’ finest naval works. In fact, consistent with these great maritime masters, her oceanic scenes, as well as shoreline images, are predisposed toward abstraction, reminiscent of the organic abstraction evident in the Blaue Reiter works of Wassily Kandinsky or the late Surreal works of Joan Míro, as well as the sublime (“pure”) enigmatic abstract-abstraction found in late-works by Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt. For example, in several of her seascapes, we find identical moody, abstract, and heightened conceptual tendencies that are equally present (as open “arch-writing’ verbal abstractions) in Lord Byron’s“Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” when he hermeneutically conjures-up an iconological, vivid, and symbolic picture of the sea, conveying infinite and unbounded interpretation(s):Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean – roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the earth with ruin – his control Stops with the shore; – upon the watery plain The wrecks are all thy deed, not does remain A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own, When for a moment, like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin’d, and unknown.
As in Byron’s above “Ocean – roll” poetic-vignette, Devereaux’s art connotes a sensation of motion (movement), rushing tides, churning whirlpools, rippling eddies, stirring currents, undulating waves or placid calm. In her work, the dynamic terpsichorean sea is surrounded by energetic streaming or swirling milieus either detained or activated by breezy clouds, spectacular light, ominous darkness or blustering wind. Her most poignant and astonishing quality is an inimitable penchant (or genius) for expressing cinematographic atmospheric and aquatic action(s), suggesting visible motion/movement. This masterful painterly allusion to cinematography (“motion-pictures”) evokes haunting post-war Hollywood films like the unforgettable Portrait of Jennie (directed by William Dieterle) with its striking hyper-romantic and dreamlike New England coastal scenes engendered by epic and dramatic gray atmospheric tonal-value paintings of sea-nocturnes. This subliminal and insightful awareness of cinema in Devereaux’s current marine paintings animate, with faint paroxysms, her sentient seascapes that courageously intermingle paradoxical “primary imagination” with “secondary imagination;” thus, diaphanously joining “sturm”with “drang” as reciprocal traces of Derridaean différance.
Christie Devereaux/Stormy Weather series
In lieu of titles, she numbers each seascape, thereby compelling viewers to enter each image directly (“visually”), as something on the whole abstract, or free from any ancillary “pictorial-narrative.” Thus, her inherent abstraction presages ethereality, spirituality, and meditation, mapping a voyage toward greater contemplative awareness of all unfathomable realms: “Within” and “Without.” As in contemporary tonal monochrome 2-D artworks by Vija Celmins, Hugo X. Bastidas, Mark Tansey and Nikolai Buglaj, luminosity plays a major role in her work, i.e., wherein light intricately bounces off each painting’s gray metallic surfaces, thereby, “making the natural world appear supernatural.” For instance, in Stormy Weather 18, which is part of her copper series; sunlight boldly emerges from behind the mountain, moving left-to-right with looming anticipation or foreboding. In another painting, Argento 21 (which means “silver” in Italian), conflicting waves of light clash against dim darkness encroaching, upon an intense and somber gray spirit of the sea, light and dark spar along the center of the image, providing a somewhat exigent emotive experience, as reflections in the water continue to darken – as if an unforeseen and menacing cloud were passing by. In her work(s), the glimmering light of the deep ocean provides something shimmering, metallic, shiny, glittering and glassy; through which a Byronic mirror-like watery surface endows an identical feeling as that expressed (by Byron) in these below-stated Childe Harold lines:
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty’s form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless and sublime-
The image of eternity – the throne
Of the invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.
If the 21stCentury sparks a “Neo-neoromantic” revival reawakening the possibility of a “new” ardent emotive art capable of sublime and visionary neo-naturalism, future art historians will inevitably cite Devereaux’s summer 2012 The Spirit of the Sea series of monochromatic radical postmodern seascapes as one of the key catalysts fostering this paradigm shift away from incessant “Neo-neoDada; or ”post-Duchampesque/post-Maciunasean regurgitated anti-art; mindless Neo-conceptual art; inhumane biogenic art, as well as inhuman hyper-technomania, and other lugubrious latent-20th Century inartistic ills still unfortunately plaguing contemporary art.
Christie Devereaux/ Argento series
As a viable antidote to the current (above-described) importunate art-malaise, Christie Devereaux’s work will be on display in the Treasure Room Gallery at the Interchurch Center, located at 475 Riverside Drive, from June 25 through August 27. In addition, please note that other examples of her work will be shown in Times Square on an enormous electronic billboard on June 18 as part of a VIP after party featuring Questlove of The Roots with Jimmy Fallon. Recently in spring (2012), thanks to the auspices of Jimmy Fallon, another Devereaux seascape graced a vast electronic billboard at Time Square (see Ragazine‘s News, Haps & Snaps).
For more on Christie Devereaux’s art visit: (http://www.christiedevereaux.com/Christie_Devereaux/Welcome.html).About the author: Ragazine’s contributing art editor, Dr. José Rodeiro, is Coordinator of Art History, Art Dept., New Jersey City University. You can read more about him in “About Us.”
June 29, 2012 1 Comment
Writer, professor, social networker, humorist Scott Galanty Miller sends along a collection of his latest tweets aimed at whoever is still listening. Did someone just say something? Would you like to share it with the class?
By Scott Galanty Miller
My friend died before I had a chance to tell him how much he meant to me. (So now he’ll never know that he didn’t mean that much to me.) • If you really want to flatter a self-absorbed woman, compliment her I’s. • At dinner, my blind date had a sudden heart attack and died. Total red flag! • People accuse auto mechanics of being crooks.
But my guy only charges me 15 bucks for my weekly oil change. • Geez- Why would this person think I have any interest in looking at pictures of her kids?! (Well, true, they’re *my* kids.) • After sex, I said “I love you”- and she immediately ran off. Did I say it too soon? (Or was it because she was a prostitute?) • Without Middle School, I would never have learned how to calculate the square route of how traumatized I am from Middle School. • I broke up with the woman I’m seeing because she always brings her suitcases on our dates… and I just can’t deal with all her baggage. • My favorite part of the Chelsea Handler program is when she says the unfunny things. God I love every minute of that show. • I loved that movie about the low-cal sugar substitute. I hope they make an equal. • It’s an honor just to be nominated in the same way it’s an “honor” to get kicked in the nuts. • It has been almost 3 years since Michael Jackson died, & I still can’t get over the shock of people being shocked when Michael Jackson died. • When I’m on my death bed, I’ll probably think, “Is this a Serta?” • The Federal Government’s Drug Czar is now following Lil Wayne on Twitter. • The most stressful part of my job is trying to avoid people from work. • Do you know what you never hear? “And I owe it all to Ryan Seacrest.” • According to my dream interpretation book, my common dream where I’m at a Coldplay concert means I have bad musical taste. • I remember exactly where I was when Dick Clark died; I was killing Dick Clark & trying to make it look like natural causes. • Everyone remembers what they were doing when they heard Kennedy died, yet nobody remembers what they were doing when they themselves died. • We could solve 95% of the nation’s problems if everyone would just calm the f*** down. • I always order Coke without ice. (I mean- who wants to snort ice?) • Not into improv. I prefer outprov- watching people on stage who are overly rehearsed. • Winning the lottery would finally give me the chance to buy all those friends I’ve always wanted. • As punishment for the “bounty” system, if the Saints make the Super Bowl, the Black Eyed Peas should play the halftime show again. • I’m not embarrassed about failing the math exam because I studied hard and gave 110 percent. • “Do you remember Twitter?” “No.” (conversation between two people ten years from now)/ I was hanging out at the graveyard. Those people need to get a life. • The only “drug” I need is the power of positive thinking. (i.e. meth) • You never really hear about doctors botching up a sex-change operation. • One thing I’ll say about the word “it”- it is what it is. • I have an unopened DVD copy of ‘Green Lantern’ on my shelf because I still haven’t gotten around to throwing it away. • Stole a car &parked it in a private lot. I’m off the hook, tho, cuz the sign says ALL UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED AT OWNER’S EXPENSE. • I believe that after we die, we’re reincarnated as zombies. • The best jokes don’t make you laugh; they make you THINK. (Think about it.) •
Praying 4world peace. That way, God won’t think I just ask Him for shallow & selfish stuff & He’ll reward me by letting me win MegaMillions • Sometimes I feel like Superman in a world full of people-shaped Kryptonite. • I hate life. But years of therapy have taught me that it’s okay to feel that way./ How is Rush Limbaugh able to face himself in the mirror? (I mean- do they make mirrors that size?) • Kids- stay in school! A new study shows that people who graduate from college are 20% less likely to wind up homeless. • If men could get pregnant, ‘abortion’ would be a sporting event. • I don’t know why people are so afraid of being attacked by space aliens. We all worship the same God. • I went to the Dollar Store yesterday. I bought laundry detergent, a bag of pretzels, and 1/20 of a lap dance. • I’m pretty uptight & conservative. In fact, I can count on my rubber spiked glove the number of sadomasochistic sexual encounters I’ve had. • “I’m about to come up with a witty comment for my Twitter page.” (Pretweeted by Galanty Miller) • Up until last week, I didn’t know that Facebook was free. I have no idea where my checks have been going. • If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to feel other people’s emotional pain.
Scott Galanty Miller is a contributing writer for The Onion News Network and Us Weekly Magazine’s Fashion Police. Follow him on Twitter at #GalantyMiller and on his website at www.scottgalantymiller.com.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Galanty Tweets
TRANSAMERICA BUILDING, SAN FRANCISCO
4 Dec 2011
Always looking up
Interview by Chuck Haupt, Photography Editor
Q: What got you started doing a daily photography blog?
It was New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2010, in Buenos Aires. I was walking the streets of the Palermo district, trying to decide what commitment I would make for 2011 as a daily contribution to my life, when I walked under a sign that literally read “Up.” The photo of that sign became my first post. The great thing about using a public forum to take on a daily commitment is that it helps ensure I will actually keep the commitment. There is motivation in keeping your promise — especially when people may be watching.
Q: Why the name: “Take a moment, every day, to look up…”?
I wrote the words “Take a moment, every day, to look up” as much for me as anyone else who may stumble upon this site. The words are a reminder that life is truly a gift worth celebrating and to remember that there is so much more to gain with a daily discipline.
When I was a senior in high school I quoted Ferris Bueller in my yearbook with his famous words: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you’ll miss it.” I see “Looking up” with a metaphorical meaning. It’s a daily promise to myself to do just that — to look up and put a smile on my face no matter what. No matter how busy I am. No matter how self-absorbed I may be. I have this commitment that forces me to look for a shot that will have some meaning or significance to me and my life in some way.
Q: Since you started in January 2011, you have posted over 500 photos. What sustains you?
The great thing about a daily discipline is the time passes no matter what. So if you can keep the daily practice going, the numbers take care of themselves.
DJ Pierce / Looking Up
SNEAKERS ON A WIRE, YOGA WORKSHOP, BOULDER<br />22 Jan 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup002.jpg]10
ROOF ACCESS LADDER<br />22 Mar 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup003.jpg]10
CARLSBAD PELICANS<br />10 Jun 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup004.jpg]40
UNION SQUARE, 7AM<br />28 Jun 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup005.jpg]40
SANDI'S FAREWELL, RIVERSIDE MEMORIAL<br />21 Sep 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup006.jpg]20
CANADIAN GEESE, SOUTHERN CHESTER COUNTY, PA<br />20 Nov 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup007.jpg]10
CLIFFS RISING ABOVE MII AMO, SEDONA, AZ24 Nov 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup008.jpg]10
TRANSAMERICA BUILDING, SAN FRANCISCO<br />4 Dec 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup009.jpg]10
GULLS IN SANTA MONICA<br />18 Dec 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup010.jpg]10
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!<br />31 Dec 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup011.jpg]30
TIMES SQUARE AT SUNRISE<br />15 Jan 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup012.jpg]20
QUARTER MOON OVER MADISON AVE<br />17 Jan 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup013.jpg]30
STOPLIGHT, SPRING & WEST BROADWAY<br />3 Feb 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup014.jpg]20
UBS BUILDING, PARK AVE<br />4 Feb 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup015.jpg]10
PIGEON CITY, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA<br />10 Mar 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup016.jpg]00
EMPIRE STATE BLDG FROM PS26029 Mar 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup017.jpg]10
THE NEW YORKER HOTEL<br />27 Mar 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup018.jpg]00
THE CHELSEA HOTEL LOBBY CHANDELIER<br />11 Apr 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup019.jpg]00
30 ROCK FROM 5TH AVE<br />13 Apr 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup020.jpg]00
ALLIANZ STADIUM, HOME OF BAYERN-MUNICH<br />17 Apr 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup021.jpg]00
DRAMATIC CLOUDS ABOVE MUNICH RUNWAYS<br />21 Apr 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup022.jpg]00
LOOKING UP FROM WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK<br />23 Apr 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup023.jpg]00
FLATIRON DISTRICT ROOFTOPS, NYC<br />26 Apr 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup024.jpg]00
6TH AVENUE HIGH RISE2 May 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup025.jpg]00
THE TOP OF THE TRUMP, SOHO<br />16 May 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup026.jpg]00
THE TREES OF WATER MILL, NY<br />27 May 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup027.jpg]00
PRAYER FLAGS IN A BREEZE, BOULDER, CO11 Jun 2012[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup028.jpg]00
HALF MOON + PARAMOTORIST OVER HALF MOON BAY<br />12 Jan 2011[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/dj-pierce-looking-up/thumbs/thumbs_lookup029.jpg]00
MUNICH'S LAST LIGHT ON HACKERHAUS<br />18 Jun 2012
Q: Technology surely has made it easier to do projects like yours. Just shoot, tone and post, correct?
Yes and no. When I first started, I used high-end point-and-shoots and SLR’s to shoot. But once I upgraded to the iPhone 4 and I became comfortable with the quality, it got easier for sure. But still there are times when I am faced with international travel, time-zone shifts and the like when just finding Internet service for the posting can be a real challenge.
Q: Are you using any apps that are helping with this process?
I use Camera+ almost exclusively. So far that feels like the most flexible and reliable. Some of the filters I initially loved feel way too gimmicky to me now but the basics are strong.
Union Square, 7AM
28 Jun 2011
Q: Since you are “looking up,” several of your photos, naturally, have birds or airplanes in them. Ever been surprised while taking the unexpected?
Early on I realized that sometimes if you wait long enough, it’s only a matter of time before something flies overhead. What’s really exciting, though, is when I am framing a shot and right as I am about to fire, a bird darts right into the frame. Those are very special moments that help reinforce that I am right where I am supposed to be.
Q: As someone who shoots with an SLR professionally, what is your feeling about the fact that the camera you use for your blog is almost exclusively an iPhone?
I’ll never forget that once I was asking a photographer about the best camera to use for a certain kind of shot. He said to me that the best camera to use, always, is the one you have with you. That was such a great piece of wisdom that I carry with me always.
Q: Lots of photography blog sites are featuring iPhone photographs. As an art director, do you see photos from devices such as smart phones ever being used in national advertising campaigns?
With digital advertising such as banners and other forms of media that resolution isn’t a production issue, of course. The production value of these images is not high enough for certain print applications but that will come soon enough, I imagine.
Q: Have you ever missed making a daily post?
I have never missed a day in that I have taken a photo every day and each one has been posted. There have been days, however, that I have had to delay posting because of being away from any cell or wi-fi network. In these cases, I simply post the photos from the missed day or days so they are all there, in order. Again, it is a daily discipline.
Q: Got a fav?
I’d have to say today, meaning the present. As the artist behind the “Lookup2day” blog, I must say this is my personal photo diary — a record of a single moment of each of my days. So they are equally important to me as a reflection of my presence and therefore I am grateful for them all.
As a creative director? Sure. Some are better than others. But each day, as the collection grows, it becomes harder to pick a favorite.
DJ Pierce is a executive creative director for KBS+P, an advertising agency in New York. You can see his blog postings at: http://lookup2day.posterous.com/
Editor’s note: This interview was conducted by e-mail in April and May 2012.
About the interviewer:
Chuck Haupt is Photography Editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us.”
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on DJ Pierce / Looking Up
The view belowInterview by Chuck Haupt Photography Editor
Intrigued by Dennis Maitland’s “Life on the Edge” series, where Maitland climbs to the top of Detroit’s buildings for another perspective of the Motor City, photography editor Haupt gets to the bottom of Maitland’s motivation.
Q: While viewing your Life on the Edge series, vertigo comes to mind. While shooting, did you ever get lightheaded or have a fear of heights? If so, how did you deal with it?
A: Funny you ask, I’m fortunate not to suffer from vertigo and have no real fear of heights.
Q: What gave you the idea to starting shooting the series in Detroit?
A: The project was started to capture a different perspective of what “I” saw in Detroit. I heard what was being said about Detroit, and as much as some of it could be true I saw something else when I looked through my lens – the real beauty in truth – Beauty in Decay.
Q: Ever worried about your safety? Do you use any climbing equipment?
A: Safety is always on my mind. I don’t use any climbing equipment. I’m not sure the photos would have the same meaning/emotion to me if I had safety equipment. With that being said, I’m extremely cautious at all times. If I ever get a bad feeling about something, I trust my instinct and back down.
Dennis Maitland / photographer
Q: Since your shoes show in every photo, did you ever think how they might affect the look?
A: When the project started I never thought much about the shoes because there were only a few shots to the series. I liked how the series progressed and it was always the same shoes (mostly) in the shots. I felt it was like a visual story of where I’ve been or a “take a walk in my shoes” feel to the photos. Now that I can look at the collection of photos I’ve taken, my mind is going crazy with ideas for different shoes and how they would make for a deeper story-telling experience.
Q: Are you surprised at the attention the series has been getting? Many are calling you a daredevil. Is that fair?
A: The amount of attention the series has attracted is quite overwhelming and humbling. The first few shots of the series were just an idea I had been kicking around and didn’t expect it to be much more than that. It is great to get the e-mails, comments and responses from people all over the world That’s cool.
Q: What is our next project? Hopefully, with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
A: I’m on another personal project now and have an another in Chicago at the end of May, but I can’t mention the client.
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted via e-mail in April of 2012. For more information about his work, visit: dennismaitland.com
About the interviewer:
Chuck Haupt is Photography Editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in “About Us.”
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Dennis Maitland / Looking Down
December 18, 2011
I watch the clock and feel like drowning. Cease, oh respiration. Call to question the autonomous species. Classify. I once heard an acronym for the order of earthly life: “Killing People Can Often Feel Good Sometimes.” A woman is a type of man. A man is a type of homo sapien. Homo sapien sapien. Putting life into a box and squaring things up with words is unfair. I am homo sapien sapien dreamicus, child of the harbor. Let me call the rain surreptitious as it falls, let me feel the sound of a whisper and a whimper in my ear. What great decadence can be seen in this perfect arrangement? Huffy Henry, chuck out this ticking clock. Its tiny hands are daggers.
* * *
December 18, 2011
A Cinnamon Baked Apple
The first time I woke up early I could swear I smelt the sun blooming through the flowered curtains. But who are we to judge? We are the godlike complex of human beings. Let me curse the camera crew surrounding the starving child, unable to throw her a sandwich. A scrap of dignity. The sun gleams through the wilting foliage and I smell the reds, the yellows and oranges of deep Fall, baked with cinnamon and sugar. Is this indigestion or something else. No, it is love welling inside me.
About the poet:
Chelsie Malyszek is an undergraduate student at Binghamton University studying Creative Writing. Initially aspiring to become a Biomedical Researcher, she shortly turned to Fiction Writing after a freak lab accident removed the left hemisphere of her brain, causing her to lose all common sense and the desire for job stability. Chelsie has a profound yearning to be blissfully aware of the world through her writing. This is her first publication.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Chelsie Malyszek/Poetry
Beach Boys vs. Beatles:
A Facebook Discussion and Retrospective
By Jeff Katz
My Facebook proposition was simple: “Now that you’ve all had months to hear SMiLE in all its official glory (as opposed to bootlegs and not counting Brian’s solo version), where does it rank? Remember the chronology – Rubber Soul begat Pet Sounds. Revolver followed 3 months later. SMiLE was supposed to be released in Jan 1967; Pepper was released in June of ’67. SMiLE or Pepper? Could be a toss up.”
I know I write too much about The Beatles, but they are still entirely relevant. If Rolling Stone can put the Fabs on the cover every year or so, then your humble ragazine music editor (that’s me) can scribble away. And the actual release towards the end of 2011 of SMiLE, The Beach Boys great missing piece, is certainly au courant.
Sometimes when I posit the terms for a Facebook discussion I request specific opinions. In this instance I did, but got so much more than I bargained for. A brilliant, enlightening panel discussion ensued (if I do say so myself), with over 60 entries. Here were the players:
- Jeff Edstrom – consultant from Chicago who I’ve never met but an interesting guy
- Roger Peltzman – fellow Binghamton alum and wonderful pianist (find him on YouTube)
- Ray St. Denis – fellow Binghamton alum and current chef instructor
- Kelley Duncan – another Bingo alum and former and current Oklahoman
- Eric Scoles – yes, another Binghamton connection and all around insightful dude
- Eric Schafer – Viet Nam by way of Binghamton, a musician with strong opinions
- Joey Katz – youngest son and musical maven
- Michael Lee Smith – Binghamton alum
Edstrom set the table with a great idea – let’s listen to them all in order of release! An excellent thought considering hearing how each work was a reaction to another. Joey began doing so, as did Jeff. While we waited for everyone to finish (if they chose this time consuming path), Ray made his position clear: “I have to go with Pepper for overall songwriting, production quality, breadth of concept, etc. An instant Cultural Signpost. I have to face it, the original SMiLE is just too damn weird, in parts too opaque, ‘in-jokey’ or not serious enough to be anything but a stoned giggle. ‘She’s Going Bald’ or ‘Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow?’ Amateurish if held up to ‘Rita’ or ‘Good Morning.’
Though I countered with the idea that Pepper was a major event in part due to the missing SMiLE, which never was issued (I was later told that on this I was dead wrong), I said, and truly believe, that except for “A Day in the Life,” which stands above all other Beatles tunes, there’s no song on Pepper better than the best of SMiLE. That best includes “Cabinessence,” “Surf’s Up,” “Heroes and Villains,” “Wonderful” and, of course, “Surf’s Up.”
But Ray hit on something quite important. The always safe, seemingly innocent Beach Boys were really fucking strange as the 1960’s progressed. There’s Brian Wilson, already jumping off Sanity Point but the other guys were into meditation, drugs, drink and messed up. Unlike the former Moptops, they didn’t, as a group, have the skill to channel their growing quirks into consistently great work.
Speaking of skill, Rog made a connection between Wilson’s half-fulfilled Smile snippets and Mozart’s Requiem. He felt comparing SMiLE and Pepper was like comparing Edgar Varese to Mahler. I take him at his word. That’s way above my level, a writer who spends his time thinking about The Chocolate Watch Band and old Jerry Lewis records. Didn’t I tell you there’d be enlightenment for all?
I cited an old Lennon line about how Sgt. Pepper worked because The Beatles said it worked. There’s much truth to that. The album contains some weak songs that are surrounded by a powerful aura. But, as Ray pointed out, so does SMiLE. I think Pepper is better but I definitely listened to Smile more in recent months (as did Rog) and that alone makes it a currently larger presence in my mind.
Then Joey chimed in. At 16, Joey is well-versed in music and is a talented musician himself. “Smile is not a great album when it comes to listening to individual tracks, as the whole album is one continuous thread of songs. Sgt. Pepper, on the other hand, is much more well known for the individual songs, while SMiLE is more of thematic piece.” See, he didn’t fall for John’s insistence that Pepper was a “whole.” It’s not. SMiLE is and Joey gets that.
Eric Schafer hurled his first comment in from across the Pacific, hailing Pepper’s production but slamming its “mainly lousy songs.” The thread took a detour into a debate on Beatle quality, with Peltzman defending the Pepper tunes and Ray challenging Eric to list the so-called lousy. Everything after “Lucy” and before “Day” are “clunkers,” he replied, without a quiver of backtracking.
Rog followed with a solid point. “SMiLE is a little like Big Star’s Sister Lovers. Eccentric and the vision of one man. To a lesser degree Ram is like that. They’re cutting edge and exciting.”
You know, he’s dead on and creating that triple-headed hydra was a magical feat. Most listeners hail Brian Wilson’s aborted efforts as mystical genius, while at the same time slamming McCartney’s poorly executed noodlings. No one adds Alex Chilton into the mix. Yet, the three records Roger attaches do have a similar feel, totally quirky and odd but no one I’ve ever read has put those three works together. Well done sir!
Ray wasn’t going to let Eric slip away; he continued jousting over what makes a Beatle standard. Schafer likes A Hard Day’s Night, John and George’s Rubber Soul songs McCartney’s Revolver entries and a few others. Once again, Rog blasted one out of the park, lumping Pepper, Exile, and OK Computer as wholes that are greater than their parts. I have yet to understand that,“Exile is the best Stones album,” or that,“OK Computer is the best album ever,” but they both are excellent and have singular moods.
Eric scored with a quote by Hendrix that Pepper is “the most non-physical album ever made.” Though it was actually Pete Townshend who said it (a fact dug out by Detective Raymond St. Denis), it’s a solid statement marking the point where rock became less about dancing and more about thinking, like the move in jazz from Big Band to Bebop, the latter a thinking man’s exercise.
Michael, in his only entry, brought us back to the original subject, but in an interesting and truthful, way. “I must be the only person who doesn’t like the Beach Boys. Zzzzz.” In side, even the biggest Beach Boys fans know there’s much validity to that. The beatification of Brian Wilson and the elevation of The Beach Boys to artistic equals of the best of their era is a meme that often completely wipes out, like the hero of a surf song. Ray agreed, reflecting on when he thought they were squaresville, until he heard Pet Sounds and Smile bootlegs, as well as specific tracks sure to change a naysayers mind.
“The problem with most Beach Boys songs,” I wrote, “is that they are lyrically stunted. No sophistication at all, though the surf/car stuff has a feel all its own. What makes them great are the tunes, the harmonies and Brian’s voice. As Ray says, check out “Please Let Me Wonder.” It’s an all time great song. I was surprised to find, as I got older, that there were a substantial amount of quality album tracks outside the hits. Lots of shit too. Sort of like The Stones pre-Beggars Banquet.” And after, I’ll now add.
After a few meanderings, Jeff Edstrom reappeared. See, he was the only one who took his own advice and sat and listened! His thoughts:
“I started to listen to the recordings in order. I have not purchased SMiLE. I don’t know which one is the representative album. I went from Rubber Soul to Pet Sounds to Revolver to “Strawberry Fields as a single that stopped Brian Wilson in his tracks. I found myself focusing on the emotions of the songs rather than the engineering and the structure of the songs. What was interesting is that Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds are parallel albums of a sort. There’s a struggle with the theme of love that is going wrong and the response that you have to it. It gave me fresh ears to listen to it. Brian Wilson is caught up in the depressive agony of losing someone, while the Beatles are taking a slightly bitter angry view at it. With Revolver, the Beatles are starting to come out of it and taking more mature view of relationships. The relationships of the band members probably contributed to the albums. The Beatles stopped touring and went to the studio and worked toward the albums together as a group, whereas Brian Wilson stayed at home while the rest of the Beach Boys toured. There’s an insularity of the Beach Boys that you don’t find in the Beatles. Brian Wilson sitting alone in his room trying to deal with the roller coaster of emotions while the Beatles are seemingly talking with each other, each with their own take but moving in the same direction.”
For me, Jeff’s take on the two views of love and relationships was a brand new point of view. I thought it was an excellent analysis and the group’s views of love as refracted through the prism of group dynamics made me think deeper about the albums in question.
Then Jeff had to go and bring up Murry Wilson, Brian, Carl and Dennis’ drunk, abusive piece of shit father. Ray directed us to a YouTube clip of a shitfaced Papa Wilson instructing the band on harmonies and such during a session for “Help Me Rhonda.” It’s painfully uncomfortable, the aural equivalent of waking by as a parent smacks their kid for being grabby in the candy aisle.
“What a cock!” I wrote. “I hate listening or reading about that guy.” Ray admitted he too couldn’t get through the tape. Horrible stuff.
As we plugged along, jumping from topic to topic, Jeff E. gave us all a well-deserved pat on the back. “One of the best threads I’ve seen in a long time.” Now I have to say that Jeff gets into some heated political arguments with the same people he fits in with nicely when it comes to music. Nothing explodes political strife better than a discussion on the relative merits of favorite bands and songs. Ah, the power of music to bridge divides!
The talk returned to SMiLE and how, even if it had been released it would have failed to make the sales impact of Pepper, certainly on the heels of Pet Sounds’ disappointing reception in the States. Though Ray noted that the inclusion of “Good Vibrations” would…well, his words are best left unparsed:
“I agree, Jeff, that SMiLE would certainly have been even less successful than Pet Sounds, and that Pepper would have always captured the zeitgeist. However, with “Good Vibrations” on SMiLE, as was originally considered, you would have an album… that sold, though surely would have confounded people even more than those who bought PS for “Sloop John B”. If Pepper is the English 3 Ring Circus of 67, safe and good vibes-y, SMiLE is an American sideshow; stranger, with pronounced gothic touches. Do You Like Worms? With A Little Help From My Friends! Who ran the I-ron Horse? Would you be free to take some tea with me?”
Kelley’s first salvo brought us to a different level altogether. He’s older than the rest of us 1960’s wannabees who look back as adults to a time when we were in kindergarten. Duncan on the other hand was there, a teenager in 1967. His ability to look at it in hindsight, when he existed in present-sight, is admittedly clouded. We now travelled down a distinctly different road.
The good old days, which now include the 1980’s, had Eric Schafer bemoaning the loss of cultural connectivity, which he saw as disappearing with the transition from album art and ephemera to MP3 and ethereal. Kelley wistfully concurred, citing his first album purchase, The Beach Boys’ Shutdown Vol. II, and his own hero Craig Breedlove, subject of “Spirit of America.” (Duncan hates that tune; I quietly disagree).
Our other Eric S., Mr. Scoles, followed with some of the best writing on any topic I’ve read recently. “As my wife is fond of reminding me, change happens whether we want it to or not. If you’d like the artifacts and think you can get people into them, great but lamenting their passing is really only useful as a nostalgia exercise and it says more or less nothing about art per se.” Schafer rebuffed this trivializing of his big point on social consciousness into a minor quibbling on artifacts, but Scoles continued. I quote him here:
“Maybe, but I’m not sure this has much to do with that. And it’s not as simple as disposable versus permanent. Things have appropriate life cycles and we often have a tendency to try to extend things beyond their appropriate life cycles — it can be as much of a problem as rampant disposability. We end up setting up a war of ‘preservers’ versus ‘progressors.’ People are often quick to cite the persistent artifacts that are used in traditional culture — but they’re not so quick to recognize the disposable artifacts. For every genuinely wonderful chair or wagon or hand-welded trailer hitch, there’s a dozen quick and dirty tools made out of a stick and a pocket knife. For every opera score with detailed production notes, there’s a thousand people showing ten thousand other people how to play a tune without ever writing down lyrics or notes and likely changing it in the process.
As for what’s going to happen to the youth, only they can tell us that. Really, that way of putting it — a shift to disposable culture — has been more or less intact since the early 60s and it goes back probably hundreds of years if you shift your terminology a little. Is it bad? Yeah, probably; it’s certainly not how we would like to see things done if we’re going to be living sustainably on the planet. But it’s a rung bell. If we want a more socially connected culture, we’ve got to make one, and I just don’t see the promotion of arbitrary artifacts (e.g., something that denies the inherent disposability of digital files) as a useful step. It’s like saying ‘You know the critical property of this thing we made for you? That it’s based on data that has no physical reality to it? Well, you can’t use it to actually make anything because that discourages social interaction in some way we’re not eager to define.’
“All that aside and in addition: if we’re relying on the value of the whole artifact as a signal for the quality of the musical component, we’re missing out, big time. The beautiful artifact can have a venal, unhealthy core. Actors give great performances in abhorrent plays and films; musicians play beautifully on meaningless pieces; producers and directors produce magnificent, beautiful, enduring works of cinema that encourage us all to behave in ways that are destructive to society.”
That’s brilliant right? The thread had hit an insightful philosophical endpoint.
I tread a fine line, I know. “My friends are scintillating.” Can that really come across? I hope it does. Maybe it’s like watching someone else’s slide show and wishing you were far away, as they enthusiastically babble on. What Facebook has granted us is another look at people we once knew and now know again, former friends who were and remain so smart, so witty, so deeply thoughtful.
“We drift apart for a/Little bit of a spell/One night I get a call/And I know that you’re well.” Carl Wilson sang that on “Friends.” (You thought I’d quote “With a Little Help from My Friends?” Too easy.). Take this thread as a series of late night calls, from a group of people who have drifted apart over the decades but, through the continued power of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, still find quite a bit to talk about.
June 29, 2012 2 Comments
A Snapshot from Harlem
By James Palombo
From May 16 to 19, The People’s Film Festival was held at the Maysles Theater in Harlem, New York. I happened to be in NYC at the time and as luck would have it one of my colleagues was interested in attending the event. So, it was that we went to the Theater for two of the four days it was held, specifically to participate in the film presentations of Stain – Changing Lives After Incarceration (by Doris Mangrum and the Saidiana Movement), and “OWS,” a series of shorts on the Occupy movement (including features: Day in the Life of Occupy Wall Street by Barbara Green and Right Here All Day by Alex Mallis and Lily Henderson.) Having had my share of experiences with both prison reform and the Occupy movement, I was very much looking forward to seeing the films and engaging in the discussions that were to follow.
But there was more to my interest. This is because I had the chance to once again visit Harlem, a place I had been in and out of for many years. The multifaceted issues that have always been part of Harlem are the same ones which, particularly as a criminal justice and sociology professor and community worker, have also become part of my concern. This of course added to my enthusiasm regarding taking the A train uptown in Manhattan to Harlem – it was a chance to see what was happening.
Stepping up from the subway, into the sunlight and onto 125th Street, it was quickly clear that Harlem remains as unique as it has always been. As I walked amid the famous (infamous) streets and avenues, it was easy to notice the significant amount of modernization happening. Certainly, things are changing in the community as the businesses and rebuilt buildings readily attest. At the same time however, in taking better notice of the men and women crowding the streets, I couldn’t help but sense that there remained a culture that seemed almost reluctant to the change, a culture that recognized itself both in terms of its coolness tied to things like music, dance, and art and its chilliness tied to concerns like poverty, inequality and crime. In a strange, seemingly disjointed way, the culture seems glued to all of these aspects that, while not always consistent or constructive, have come together to define the particular nature of Harlem.
In many ways, this made me consider how much of what I was seeing resembled what I’m seeing more and more in the country, almost as if Harlem has become a symbolically enigmatic piece of the American experiment. There are changes occurring but people appear uncertain as to what the changes actually are and/or if they will lead to anything better. And for many, they have been left sitting by, listening to a great deal of noise while blankly staring back into the echoes of it all, weary from having heard these things before.**
Once arriving at the Maysles Theater, situated at 323 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Blvd., and then enjoying the films and discussions, it was not hard to notice another element tied to what was occurring in the Harlem community. This element relates to the fiber of the people who helped organize the film festival, those who continue to try to work at the preservation of the Harlem culture while trying to improve upon and/or change the circumstances that have strained the essence of that culture. These are individuals who, by differing sets of skills and mediums, are trying their best to bring an understanding to the issues at hand, who are trying to maintain dialogue regarding the concerns that bear upon both the questions and answers pertinent to what has and may happen in Harlem, people who are trying to bridge the past with the future while staying involved with the moment. This is difficult work indeed, especially as the struggle between growth/progress and cultural identity also implies different political, economic and social agendas, all promising to have value as to what might develop. Add in the historical ties of the community to the “actualities of the system” and, well, I think you have the picture – it takes a particular strength to continue to work at the matters at hand. (In terms of this strength/fiber, I would be remiss in not noting the faith/religious underpinnings that are prevalent in the community. However one chooses to interpret this fact, there is little doubt that it is an integral part of the community efforts.)
In talking with the young people involved with the festival, some professionals in the field, others social workers and community activists, it made me think of the idea of hope – and that all of us to a significant extent are clinging to it while we struggle with the way “the system” has (and hasn’t) worked. In this light, perhaps we have some things to learn from Harlem and the people working there, perhaps there are some lessons to revisit. In this context, I suggest you take a trip uptown in the grand city of New York, and see what you think. And as always, don’t hesitate to pass your thoughts along. In trying to put the pieces of our collective puzzle together, we will need to continue to create informative dialogue.
**Addendum: Upon reflecting a bit more on my brief trip to Harlem, especially in terms of what it meant in more comprehensive ways, images of the civil rights movement readily came to mind. The grand push for equality, for opportunities within labor, education and society in general, could hardly escape recall. Yet, I couldn’t help but consider that with today’s struggles, there is less certainty over what might be our direction in terms of addressing the problems at hand. In other words, in terms of issues like inequality, unemployment, under-education, governmental mistrust and of course war, cures for what ails us seem less evident. This is especially so in that the substance of the issues has clearly been extended to the population in general.
Said another way, the reach of opportunity via education and jobs for most Americans has been stunted. Moreover, relying on pure market solutions appears illogical, as the market itself has shown us. Taken in the context of globalization and a world labor market, there is simply less room in the national labor force (or education for that matter) to facilitate promise. At the same time, government regulation/intervention appears fraught with concerns tied to corruption, inept policy initiatives and a set of cultural instincts that seem to fuel rather than alter the notion of “business as usual.” Additionally, and on this point of cultural instincts and “business as usual,” consider what is occurring in the public and social service arenas as well, as many of those individuals who work in those sectors point their fingers elsewhere while they continue to do/be/produce the same. With all these variables in play, certainly the notion of “progress” for the country, much like in Harlem, brings its own set of disillusion and doubt.
In thinking about these concerns as well as the civil rights struggle, there was one more point worthy of note. It relates to the equation that brings freedom and equality in relationship to abundance and prosperity to mind. It is no secret that the perceived nature of our freedom has always been linked to our historical ties to being able “to have.” This nature was challenged of course in terms of the notion of equality during the civil rights movement, as this pushed the idea that abundance and prosperity were not only to be measured by the freedom to access things, but also to share them. To a significant extent then, the movement altered ‘business as usual.” But the world, including the United States’ part in it, has changed. It is clearly an interrelated, globalized world, market and otherwise, and there are other powers now more prominently in the game, with other growth models that simply cannot be ignored.
Given this, is it fair to ponder what might be happening as our relationship to abundance and prosperity changes, as the means to produce and consume “more” is lessened? Will this encourage greater reliance on the idea of equality, the notion that we must somehow come to share more in the changing world? Or will this prompt an all out fight over what is on our table, certainly, by mere logic, providing those who already have access to things more of the same? Given the scope of these type questions, it seems imperative that we also ask ourselves where/in what direction the “system,” as well as our cultural instincts, have developed in relationship to where it/they might be taking us? Of course, this demands that we come to an understanding of “the system” itself, as well as the cultural instincts that have followed.
In essence then, we have to get a better sense of just what the American experiment has been/will be about. This is definitely tough stuff, a lot to undertake. But, like in Harlem, there seems no other way around the block– and no better time to take that walk. (For more on considering ‘abundance and prosperity’ in the United States, see Thomas Byrne Edsall’s significant book, The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics, Random House Publishers. For more on the “nature of the system” and the idea of related cultural instincts, please visit www.cicorg.com)
About the author:
Jim Palombo is Ragazine.CC’s Politics Editor. You can read more about him in “About Us.”
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Jim Palombo/Harlem Snapshot
The Cat and Mouse and the Shoe
By Hermine Pinson
By the time the woman came upon the scene, the cat was perched on its silky haunches and eyeing the mouse, as if the two of them were the only ones in the world on this quiet city street. The woman liked to think the mouse was faking its ignorance of the cat’s proximity, whistling and looking up at the sky like its famous cinematic cousin, Mickey, feigning nonchalance, just before making a dazzling getaway, glittered and gloved. Mouse and cat seemed frozen in place, or was it just the mouse that seemed frozen while the cat sat at the curb, its tail writing an invisible calligraphy on the air; the cat resting and alert to the stasis of the object of its attention. Unlike Tom’s Jerry, the mouse, only eight feet away and nosing parched grass, averted its small eyes and went nowhere.
With the toe of her leather-bound shoe, the woman prompted the mouse to move along, but it just lurched in ragged circles, finally running to a nearby tree, all the while followed by the cat’s eyes. Then the woman followed the mouse, but she didn’t shoo the cat while she chased the mouse around the tree, compelling it to run away to safety. It was then that she noticed its right back foot hanging at an odd angle. The cat had already bitten it, then sat back to see what it would do but the mouse, with its hunched back and quivering nose had done nothing but stay put, seeming to eye its vanishing options. Was it watching for the cat when the one with the shoe came with her prodding leather foot? The mouse skittered then scrambled in tighter and tighter circles, as if to draw a cage around itself.
The woman reached down to pick up the mouse and take it where there was dense foliage in which to hide or possibly escape but when she reached down with gloved hand, the mouse lurched. The woman gasped and in her fright, placed the toe of her shoe on the mouse’s quivering back, When she removed her shoe, the mouse lay still. She prodded it, but the mouse neither moved nor made a sound. From a safe distance, the cat wound its tail.
About the author:
Hermine Pinson has published three poetry collections, most recently Dolores is Blue/ Dolorez is Blues . She also released a cd, Changing the Changes in Poetry & Song, in special collaboration with Estella Majozo and Pulitzer-prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa. Pinson’s poetry, fiction, nonfiction and critical essays have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. She is currently working on a memoir. She teaches creative writing and African American literature at the College of William and Mary.
Her web site is http://www.http://herminepinson.com/
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Hermine Pinson/Fiction
There is an old waitress in me
sitting in the small place
between my ribs, reaching up
to my hands, palms looking
for pies to slice, tables
to clear. She knows the heavy
weight of the waist apron
at the end of the day, how the strings
tug down at the lower back,
make imprints on expanding hips.
Her feet are always tired,
but she never mentions her bad
instep, the high arch that shallow
shoes never seem to reach.
She knows that the manager
has a blow up mattress
in his office crunched into a ball
between the desk and shelves
for when he’s tired of his wife,
and that it smells like wet food
from being too close to the dishwasher.
The wrinkles on her hands
match the crumpled napkins
she picks up all day from the
table top, the booth seats,
the floor. I thought I left her there,
between the cracks of the fake plastic
on the red chairs split from wear,
or on the water-stained tongue of the butter knife.
That on the last day I washed her
down the drain with the dried bits of food
and peeled off skin,
that she swirled away,
instead of burrowing deeper, waiting.
When I See Steven King
walking the white sand beaches of Siesta Key,
his floppy hat, skin to match the sand, socks
pulled up to fleshy kneecaps I want to press
my lips to the jarring output of his cheekbone
and tell him that my mother used to go to bed
at seven p.m. just to read his books for hours,
the kids finally in bed, the house a dull ache
as my stepdad snored to the news in his
I want to tell him as I see him drive by
in that little red car up from Casey Key,
the road you can barely fit two cars on,
how I stole her books, the ones she stacked
under the nightstand, to find out her secret,
to see how she spent her time alone. With
a flashlight next to my check and covers
pulled up over my head I read Pet Cemetery,
The Green Mile, Carrie, The Body,
and whispered fuck, shit, with just a wall
between her head and mine, two open books,
the quiet settling around us like a fog.
After Poppy’s Wake
Aunt Pam’s trailer smells like hamburger helper.
A deaf cat slinks through the few rooms
of the trailer trying to find someplace to hide
among legs and feet and sneakers squeaking
on laminate flooring. I hover over the veggie
tray, bat away comments from uncles and cousins
about my vegetarianism. Poppy never noticed
what I did or didn’t eat, but only tucked nectarines
into the palm of my hand.
I sit in the wood chair because the old fabric ones
likely have mites or fleas, and the last time
we were here visiting Poppy in the hospital
my stepdad complained of a welt on his butt
the entire ride home, and all I could think
as we passed Rosco’s Diner and signs for
deer processing was that I had never heard him
say the word butt before, hadn’t even thought
about his butt, that he might have one.
My brother stands next to me at the table
poised and ready for attack at the flies
buzzing and moving around us.
Unwashed curls stroke the top of his ears
as he bobs and weaves, his wide hands
smacking the table, the wall, the sides of chairs.
The flies line the ceiling fan, dip down
to the cheese plate, find the pepperoni.
I say nothing but make eyes at my mother
who passes out Poppy’s belongings
from the nursing home: a teddy bear
to cousin Ty who screams Fuck,
fuck as Timmy holds him in an MMA pin;
a book to my younger sister who hasn’t
moved from the couch, tissues lining
the pockets of the coat she still hasn’t
removed; a picture in a frame to
cousin Sylvee who is screaming at the dog;
a coffee-stained sweater to my brother.
I lose track of what goes to the rest,
hold a hymnal book she places in my lap
even though I haven’t been to church since
Catholic School, since before they asked me
to leave. My brother whack-whacks
next to my face, my hand in motion
to a carrot. I dodge him, the flies,
the small things I feel crawling
up my ankles.
I want to put my coat back on,
I want my brother to take off
Poppy’s sweater that he tightens
around his neck, the stain
of coffee like a corsage on his chest.
He screams and shakes his hips
lifting both palms to show
how he hit two flies at the exact same time—
the first time the room falls silent.
But it is late October
and flies should be gone by now,
it has already snowed, the ground
frosted, and things
are supposed to have seasons,
something we can rely on.
About the poet:
Marissa Schwalm is a Ph.D. student in English Literature and Creative Writing at Binghamton University in New York, where her fields of study include contemporary poetry and creative nonfiction. Her research interests most recently include understanding how the evolution of the circus in the United States reflects changing social anxieties. Her creative work has been published most recently in Clockhouse Review, Decompression, and others. She is current co-editor in chief of the Binghamton University graduate run journal Harpur Palate.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off on Marissa Schwalm/Poetry