gray water

toward a paintbrush jar at the end of a day

Still in the neighborhood

So…while I’m not trying to “poach” you from this site, Dear Reader, I nevertheless wanted to let y’all know that I’m blogging occasionally over here now. It’s not that I don’t want to write about Karen’s art; it’s rather that I do want to write generally about the city and the people and life I see. I’m under contract to write a book for release next fall and have to smooth out the kinks.

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One thing’s for certain: whatever I say, it’s going to have to be quick. I have 21%, no 19% battery, down from 23% about three minutes ago. (Now 14% while proofreading.)

Karen and I are on an adventure. We have been, of course, for some time. But I think over the last couple days we finally realized it and have embraced it. I have shed the “reluctant” and will adopt a new, as-of-yet-unnamed adjective before the title Chronicleur. Which still, mind you, sucks as a word and a name, but which was uttered from my wife’s precious lips and therefore shall stand.

What I know also is this: I learned early while surfing that if you take off on a big wave half-heartedly, you’ll pearl and eat it. Ya gotta commit. Totally.

Schooling myself on “Google Search Console”

And a whole lot of other things web-related, now that Karen’s SquareSpace site is up. But, shhhhh for now. We’re working out a couple kinks before we break out the champagne and confetti.

Karen Freeman appearing soon on…

squarespace logo

Details to come!

 

Another reference to Cezanne

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Pencil sketch (with mechanical pencil, one that’s not sold anywhere anymore, so don’t even think about taking Karen’s) on dotted cream notebook paper. 9×7 inches. Notebook cover is a muted turquoise.

 

It’s hotter’n hell in this Birch Coffee on Seventh Avenue between 14th and 13th, and Charles Bradley is singing “Ain’t It A Sin” over the coffeeshop mix.

“It’s hotter than hell in here,” a lady who just arrived tells her friend at the table next to me. I kid you not.

I’ve tried to be a righteous man…talk to the LORD every day, sings Bradley. If you ain’t gonna do me right [says the LORD], I might just do you in! Ain’t it a sin! Good song; bad theology.

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Detail: lip of pitcher could also be crack in wall. The change of perspective is something that Karen likes playing with–a plan view becomes an elevation and then maybe a perspective.

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Detail: abstracted flowers.

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Detail: I like these shadows. They, too, are abstracted and even seem to have height and amplitude.

This sketch, I told Karen, reminded me of a Cezanne painting—the only one I can comment on with any intelligence, “Mont Sainte-Victoire seen from Bellevue,” so it’s kinda my go-to reference—in which the branches of a tree in the foreground appear to be also roads in the background. Likewise, Karen has a line coming from the pitcher lip that might as well be a crack in the wall behind it.

By virtue of this sketch being on dotted paper—almost a contextual insistence on structure and a Pavlovian call (at least to my analytical mind) to draw Cartesian graphs—one might think Karen would be…I don’t know…practical? Predictable? No. Her whimsy is apparent still.

Our middle son (Bennett, age 15) would approve of this, though, since it’s more “representational” than her true abstracts. What is it indeed that goes through her mind as she abstracts flowers and draws shadows that rise like bluffs overlooking the bottom edge of the page? I’m at sea.

I had a few trips like that while in college. It didn’t end well. A smashed Yamaha 6-string and me running around our group house in Ocean Beach, Fire Island, in my tightie whities.

You can have the urchin eggs

2016_0518 Akihisa Hirata

“Foam Form.” By Akihisa Hirata

 

It was apparent from seeing the architects’ models at MoMA yesterday that (1) many designers are drawing their inspiration increasingly from nature, and (2) there is an openness of design that allows us to interact not only with the built environment but also with the natural environment that surrounds it.

“A Japanese Constellation” highlighted how the architects displayed worked together and were influenced by each other, rather than designed more in silo fashion the way Western “starchitects” are wont to do.

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What does this have to do with Karen’s artwork versus “mine”? (See previous post to understand how this possessive pronoun when used with the noun artwork is rapidly on its way to banishment from this blog.) Look at these two palettes above made from recent work—“handiwork”/“poīema” for Karen, “effort” for me—and tell me, just guess, which corresponds to whom. One identifies with one’s surroundings. One tries to escape it and acts in a solipsistic silo.

Karen sees little separation between herself and the natural world around her. Whether it’s sidewalk cracks she can imagine crawling around as a Lilliputian among head-high crevices, or an interior with windows on two sides, or a “quiet back” (that’s for you, Darwin Harrison), Karen’s art reflects a weightless play off what she sees around her. My visual art is more from a deep sense of need—an interior lack of something that I must find outside of myself to fill my soul’s gaps, like caulk. My art, my writing, describes a wandering. Karen’s, a found-ness. A sense of one’s present home and future belonging.

She cannot see the boys’ problems and compartmentalize them—to deploy the obscene practice of transnominalizing a perfectly good noun into a frankensteined verb—waiting for a more convenient time to address them. I can put them in a Bento Life Box and pick them out with my mental chopsticks at will. Or maybe not.

I leave the sea urchin eggs for someone else.

 

Sepia and black ink

The artist reminded me yesterday that I didn’t make it clear that the abomination I posted yesterday as “my” art was my first painting as an adult. That is, it is the first creation with brush and paints I have made since perhaps 3rd grade. In one sense, it is quite an accomplishment. In another, some things are better left unaccomplished.

“You should try painting!” she pronounced with glee when I said that I was the writer and she the painter. She also reminded me that she, too, had done some writing in the past. I had grand ideas about what I would produce, also detailed in yesterday’s elegy.

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Business cards created by Karen. 1×3 inches. Mixed media on cardstock.

IMG_0209Nevertheless, I learned a little more about her world, made all the more fun by her tutelage throughout the painful process. I found myself at the mercy of a medium, and my words and linearity and wit didn’t count. All was visual and emotion and connectivity, and I felt utterly like being caught in midtown in tightie whities. It was horrid.

Not long ago, the artist created ad hoc business cards.

I have since made her some Moo cards that I think are far superior for expressing her brand, as it were, but there’s something human and unique about these. They remind me of the natural light photographs of food in the Silver Spoon cookbook, one of my favorites by my favorite publisher, showing dishes as they really are. If the plate looks good on the page, you know it must be tasty.

I love the sepia “sweep,” as I call it, of her brush, swiping up and then down and then making a beautiful mess at lower right, and I love the ink tornado she made with her fountain pen toward the upper left and the three dots pointing to the upper right corner. The juxtaposition of brown and black feels almost 19th century to me and gives the card a timeless air. The yellow at bottom is the sepia bleeding into modernity.

 

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