WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW

Especially if you are a novice writer.

Few read this blog.  Very few who don’t already know me, and those readers are especially treasured.

Wandering into the side of my brain that is rarely used, WordPress statistics tell me when a breakthrough occurs.  Simple numbers.

These viewership numbers are the highest when the post discusses something about which I know a lot.  As if a genius is inhabiting my fingers.  Like when writing about leaving my adjunct teaching position, and why.  Or when writing about art.  Blood pulses fast.  Same as when a visual composition is going well.

demoiselles d'avignon

Picasso had a great thought.   About a hundred years ago, he was working like hell to reinvent painting.  He realized some warmed over Renaissance style did not describe the 20th century.  The world was getting smaller.  Different cultures were seen everywhere with travel.  Some say that he spent nights in a museum dedicated to African art in Paris, in his effort to experience and integrate the strange sculptures and masks being imported from a far away place.

masks

Demoiselles d’Avignon” is one of Picasso’s masterpieces (MOMA).  Details from the painting above show the importance of African art in his new painting.

HE reinvented painting by posing that new question, and then answering it himself.  Brilliant.  He worked harder than anyone else with those answers.  Georges Braque followed along for a while; he may have seen the genius of the conversation that Picasso created.  In this visual conversation,  Picasso was painting about what he knew better than anyone else, answering a question that he himself posed.  No wonder he dominated the painting of that century.

1-judy epstein

Above is a photograph of my late friend Judy Epstein and Picasso.  This was in 1947 in the south of France.  The long low building behind them is the studio where Picasso did his ceramic work while there.  Judy was married to her first husband, a painter, then.

Below is also Judy.  This painting is by Ivan Albright, of (can you believe it) Warrenville, Il.  Chicago suburbs.

Ivan le Lorraine Albright  13

Look at the legs.  Judy was in the right place at the right time, several times.

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TALKING TRASH

A couple of posts ago, I tried something found in my current book.  Reading Jane Smiley‘s “Moo“, within the complex story is a student at Moo University rewriting the same story over and over again in a writing class.  Interesting process to read about, and to do.  One time, the prof said to write the same story again from a different point of view.  Brain-stretching, I thought.  This would be good for me too.

So next post, I wrote from the point of view of the cast away things that make up my art these days.  Thus, the post “I AM TRASH”, exists as opposed to my writing a statement about a new piece and its influences. (actually tried to submit that blog post as an artist statement for an upcoming show, but that pushed the envelope too far).

I AM TRASH described new work and the part of Japanese aesthetics which compelled me to make my work, and to honor the history of the so-called medium.

art window

Truth is stranger than fiction.  Above is a piece from a group of naive painted images by passionate hobbyists that hangs on the front porch.

1-broken window

And above the same piece after strong winds sent here from the land of Moo tore the window from its nail.  Putting my money where my mouth was, I glued the broken piece back in and outlined it with gold.  Now it has more history.

FRAGMENTS

Did Joyce Carol Oates popularize the use of fragments as sentences?  She does it all the time, and in reading one of her books just now, “We Were the Mulvaneys” there are lots.   Since my current book is always dwelling quietly in the back of my head, fragments are in my writing too.

Sad book.  Only halfway through now, maybe it changes.  A happy family is destroyed by the rape of the daughter, a high school girl, and parts of the family turn on themselves.  Seems unbelievable, counter-intuitive.  You would think the family would pull together.  But they did not.

Therapists will tell you that little moments remembered from childhood are important.  My mother had a book once written by an artist who said her life changed when she saw in a doorway, the line where an avocado carpet met an orange one.  Totally get that.  Your mother brings a new baby to the house.  All that stuff.

One of those moments for me was literary.  I am the poster person for Garrison Keillor.  Before an art major, I was an english major.

art

In middle school,  a teacher dissected a short story where there was a sentence:  “No answer.”  Mygawd there was no verb!  How could this be?  So this was happening a hundred years ago when I was in school and Stan the Man still played for the Cardinals.  Anyway, this event must have been important.

Wishing the name of the short story was still with me, it is not.  I remember two others, without names.  One was about people hurling themselves out of the window on the east side of the Berlin Wall to freedom on the west side.  Another was how a neighborhood in Brooklyn turned itself around and it all started with a couple of window boxes of flowers.

This stuff is so important.  We went to teacher conferences when Garrett was in 9th grade, last year.  He was taking the mainstream ninth grade English course within his special school.  They had read “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Most Dangerous Game“.  I read the same damn stories with the very outrageous Mr. Trumpfeller!  His teacher shook her head and said some works have been proven to be perfect for ninth graders.  Imagine that.  Except that they read them now on Kindles.

There might be another reason for my fragments.  My last edit is always to eliminate as many “I”s as possible.  Criticized about that in grad school,  (I) cast around finding ways to toss them.  Using fragments can be a good solution.