One of my succulents has sprung a long, strange bloomlet.
I don't think you can see its tiny flowers in the photo, but they're lovely. They reminded me of a passage from Women and Men, by Francoise Giroud and Bernard Henri Levy-
'I've got Elsa Morante's novel Aracoeli with me. Listen to this: every creature on earth is offering itself...I exist, here I am, with this face, this body, this smell. From Napoleon to Lenin and Stalin, from the lowest whore in the street to... Greta Garbo to a stray dog, this is truly the sole and perpetual question every living thing is asking every other: Do you find me beautiful?"
We had a huge party on Sunday. A kiddie pool in the backyard, all day grilling. I made a cake; icing it reminded me of my visits between classes to this painting at the Spencer Art Museum in Lawrence, KS. I wonder if Thiebaud liked to bake?
Anyway: boozy merriment, a late night. Amidst the madness, a hurried conversation in our kitchen. A good friend told me the terrible secret about his father.
It was the key to my friend's own shadow self, the reason he has done one or ten terrible things. Now he has disowned his father.
But disowning the father is disowning a portion of one's self. Denying that it exists. Fracturing the psyche. This is why his left hand does not know what his right is doing.
Yesterday, thinking about this. Our parents' personalities figure so directly into our own. And their personalities are formed of their own parents. This, stretching all the way back to the beginning. Inherited patterns of behavior; inherited archetypes.
Embracing what you are is maybe the only way to grow the line. If you know what you are and embrace it, you have a better chance of a healthy relationship. Adding a healthy archetype to the line.
And then maybe your children can break the mold, if need be. Or else build something wonderful of it.
He knows this. A few weeks ago he said his mother told him he couldn't trust himself until he knew himself, knew the truth about himself.
I think it must be more difficult for extroverts to know themselves. They are too uncomfortable with solitude to learn who they really are- their selves when they are alone. If you exist only when you are with others, you aren't an individual.
We talk about taking a long walk in the woods.
Things Hollis Hammonds is Obsessed with:
1. Japanese Manga
2. Post Apocalyptic Narratives
3. Superhero Movies
4. Really Bad Action/Armageddon Films.
“I love seeing the explosions,” she says, leaning over the bar counter, peering around and smiling at me. Professor and chair of visual studies at St Edwards University in Austin, Texas: but with her black pageboy, smoke-colored glasses and clear gaze, Hollis Hammonds could be a character in one of her manga adventures.
A mad professor, an evil genius, doing what she can to reimagine the materialistic world.
In real life, Hammonds has 11 full-time faculty members, and “I don’t even know how many part-time members.” Although she teaches three classes a day and for a time also ran a gallery, she shows constantly. She’s had 10 solo shows all around the country just in the past two years. “I tend to be more productive in shorter blocks.”
We’re at Closed for Business on a steamy Sunday- on Mother’s Day, in fact, although as I write this, I realize I neglected to ask her if she has any children. (She doesn’t, although she does have a dog.)
“Can I get something really light and crisp?” she says. “I tend to like Chinese or Japanese beer.” The bartender amiably sets her up with a tulip of Hitachino. I order a Chocolate Rye Porter.
“I have a couple manifestations of the work,” she says. “Primarily, though, I draw. These piles, islands of objects.”
It started in April of 2011, when more than 200 tornadoes broke over the United States in a four day period. Watching coverage, Hammonds became interested in how “we, as viewers, are interested in the aftermath of both man-made and natural disasters.”
Also drawing on the aftermath of the house fire she experienced herself as a teenager, she began making charcoal sketches on white paper: “Dystopian, futuristic, kind of dark but seductive.”
“Destruction is seductive,” I say. “We’re drawn to what destroys us.” Chocolate rye, you’ll be the death of me.
So her work started as “documentation, homage. Of course, now I’ve turned it into this indulgent fascination with materialistic consumption. My father was born in the 1920s, my mother in the 1930s. So they hoarded everything. I mean, we had an entire room dedicated to plastic containers. They could not throw anything away.”
I’ve seen Hoarders. I asked if animal carcasses were ever found amidst the containers.
“That’s the defining line, isn’t it?” Hammonds said.
For the rest of the story, visit the Redux blog.
“I’ve always painted with a lot of texture, but I didn’t start splatter painting until I moved here. This is my first studio that isn’t also a kitchen or a bedroom,” Dan Dickey says. We’re at the Tivoli, standing in his studio, where every wall is shielded with color-ribboned canvases. His grandfather’s mower hulks in the center of the room, swizzled with yellow, orange, purple, white and pale-blue.
“I brought it down from Virginia, but when it wouldn’t start, I decided to cover it in paint.” With a round, fox-colored beard, and his way of rooting himself where he stands, unflappably focused in flip flops and board shorts, hands firmly in his pockets, Dickey has the distilled presence of a disciplined man.
He shows me how he dips the blunt end of a brush into a paint can and uses it to make a controlled drip over the canvas.
“Sometimes I put a dab of paint here and here, you know, and then I roll the middle of the brush through it.” He indicated a wandering swath and then, looking at the long, paint-mottled brush in his hand, Dickey said, “I like this one. I think I might put it up on a long, narrow canvas, just all by itself. It has a pop.”
“Yeah, it does.” It’s warm, breezeless in the room, and I pluck at my shirt, absorbed in his paintings.
He smiled. “A lot of sweat goes into these. Pretty soon it’ll get too hot to work in here at all, but I usually paint a month on, a month off. So it’s all right.”
“What’s it like in the winter?”
“Well, it’s cold.” He shrugged, indifferent. “I like to work at night. This canvas, here? I got up to the crow’s nest up there, all whiskey drunk, and threw the paint down from there.” The result was thick, ridged tributaries like dried sediment.
I looked around at the other studios. White drapes swaying from rafters, ladders to nowhere, propped up against the walls. Large, industrial furniture slouched in the corners, rusting comfortably; the warehouse was full of coves where artists could work deeply, losing themselves in process.
“Yeah,” I said, “and in places like this, alone in it at night? You’re aware of space in a way you can’t be when there’s people in it...”
You can check out the rest of the article here.... meanwhile...
Half a million years ago, prehistoric men first began using these caves; as mankind advanced, he appropriated the caves for everything imaginable: wine-cellars, jails, torture dens, harems.
By the 1930s, when the cellars began to operate as both shelter and military hospital, the cave system could house as many as ten thousand people at once.
The caves were appropriated by the military during the Cold War, and afterwards briefly became a museum. It was cited as one of the underground wonders of the world, replete with wine fountains, wax statues and the long shadows of our shared past.
During black out tours, visitors were allowed explore the cave in the enveloping privacy of darkness, carrying only a single lantern to light their way. The caves were permanently closed in 2011, when a police raid flushed out Hungarians and travelers alike. No warning was given, and visitors believed they were under siege.
Permanent is a strong word for a system older than time. I'm sure there are those who still slip through its hallways even now. Quiet as ghosts...
And when the police and measurement have all gone, ghosts will wander there still.
I want to see it.
I just meant to look up labyrinths for a description in Evening's Land. You see what happens?? Oh well.
When Andrew and I backpacked through Ukraine, lovely new friends took us into Odessa's old limestone catacombs. We scrambled through, hunched over, for miles.
Poetry written with candles on the walls. Broken lanterns, vodka bottles. The smell of rain. Carved beds for the miners, discarded tools. We turned out our lights and lay in the dark, just breathing.
There is a density to silence underground, a sense of stopped time.
It was a womb of our forefathers' own making, burrowed back into mother Earth. And how wondrous.
"Some books and magazines I skimmed as though I were flying over a landscape, and as I did I was aware of already knowing what was written in them. As though a single word could summon back a thousand others, or could blossom into a full bodied summary, like those Japanese flowers that open in water. As though something were striking out on its own to settle in my memory, to keep Oedipus and Don Quixote company. At times the short circuit was caused by a drawing, three thousand words for one picture. At times I would read slowly, savoring a phrase, a passage, a chapter, experiencing perhaps the same emotions sparked by my first, forgotten reading.
It is pointless to speak of the gamut of mysterious flames, mild tachycardias, and sudden flushes that many of those readings gave rise to for a brief instant, which dissolved as quickly as they had come, making way for new waves of heat..." -Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Wonderful article: Your brain on fiction
In other news, I'm in love with this vibey pair. They remind me of something Ada would wear, or what a conjure woman might wear if you invited her to tea...
Drizzly Sunday, perfect for open windows, Townes Van Zandt... and linocut prints!
I'm going to make a few illustrations for my novel, so this was a warm up. Also, I wanted to make something neat to wrap a birthday present in, because I fucking hate wrapping paper.
Once you've got your drawing all good to go, tape a piece of tracing paper over it, and draw over the whole thing with a pencil.
Carefully lift up the tape and flip the tracing paper over.
Trace over the reverse side of the tracing paper.
You might want to grab an envelope or something to rest beneath your hands as you work, so not to smudge the lead.
Now tape your tracing paper, reverse side down, onto your lino-block.
Use the butt- end of a soft pencil to firmly rub the lead impressions onto your block.
If they aren't quite coming off, you can always trace over them directly onto the block, or simply start again. Just make sure to place your tracing paper exactly over the lines you've already transferred.
When you've got your block all scooped out, make a few test prints before printing on anything fancy, like tea towels or tank tops.
Squirt your ink out onto a smooth surface, and run your roller (brayer) back and forth in the ink until it makes a crackly sound, like frying bacon.
Now roll directly onto your block. Ink generously, but no need to press too hard; you don't want to fill in the blank parts!
Carefully position your paper on top of the block and smooth it down. I use my hands initially, and then a rolling pin. I also like kneeling on top of chairs to get enough leverage! ah, next time I'll do a better job documenting this process. Maybe.
There's this awesome moment of resistance when you lift up your print. From the paint sticking the two surfaces together? Love that.
Sketch pad & soft pencil.
Tracing paper, tape.
Lino-block. I like the soft carve stuff.
Ink roller, AKA brayer.
Linoleum ink. They have tons of kinds. Make sure to get fabric specific ink if you want to print on fabric. duh.
A smooth place to roll your ink out.
Lastly, some place clever to let your prints rest in peace for 1-5 days (depending on the ink.) Your cats will find this stuff, so it's a good idea to get them up out of the way if you can.
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)