Day after election, caught on the wind, these words:
"All I want from Obama in the next four years," said jogging guy to buddy, "is something small, humble and achievable." Small, humble and achievable. That stray bit of conversation became my mantra for the rest of the day: smallhumbleandachievable; smallhumbleandachievable. I kept repeating those words like a prayer.
White sky tonight coming home from the Central Library, where Jonathan Letham and Daniel Mendlesohn (The Lost) were in discussion about the "essay." Their conversation flowed back and forth about writing, about structure, about length and form; about fiction v. faction, (i.e., what is made up, possibly based on fact, or not, versus what is fact, based on one's own perceptions, which may be, or not, true, got that?). Nothing was said about politics, though we were all floating on the historic moment.
For someone who's been working nights, it was nice to be back in the library hearing a weighty discussion about ideas. Something I'm realizing from taking courses at Art Center: artists don't necessarily tell you why they do the things they do. They don't sit around discussing the who, why, where, when and what fors like writers do, like these writers did so openly tonight. They handle "what's behind the curtain" (Jonathan L's reference to why he began writing essays) in a different way.
Whenever it snowed in Louisville, where I grew up, the sky would turn white, like it did tonight. I can see that winter sky, with bare cold branches silhouetted against it, the clouds low and heavy, with a light snow coming down, making the road slippery. Let's say I'm heading out of the East End in my VW, through the park towards downtown, taking the curves with a slide.
For most of my childhood I didn't even know real artists existed, and definitely not in Louisville, but one day I saw an ad in the newspaper announcing an art show in the West End, so my friend H and I went, and we discovered that the West End, or, as it was called back then, the black section of town, wasn't so far away, certainly not as far as we'd been told. Also discovered were real artists, living real artists' lives, and from that point on, we went back as often as we could, or at least til the end of senior year. During that winter, the sky was the same in the West End as it was in the East End, with those dark bare branches silhouetted, and I was amazed it had taken this long to find out.
Bringing art back into my life is like revisiting the West End, meeting artists who approach life in mysterious ways, taking bits of reality, mixing it with how they see the world and producing something more beautiful than beautiful, truer than true, realer than real, or the converse, taking something and destroying it, the same as writers do, framing, structuring, making shit up, exploiting circumstance, forming words into what isn't necessarily real, but true.
Some drawings/paintings from my contemporary illustration class with the Clayton Brothers, Christian and Rob. Check out their incredible work at: www.claytonbrothers.com/
ALOUD Program at LAPL: www.lfla.org/aloud
Click on pics to see as slideshow.