03/25/2013 § Leave a Comment
On a Sunday in February I spent some time with the modern Indian paintings at the Peabody Essex Museum. I came across Manjit Bawn’s 1984 painting Dharma and the God.
An object on a simple surface – its contours attracted me. Lately I have thought so much about context; here was an opportunity to focus on just the object and the beauty of a sinuous line encompassing something magical that I did not care to fully understand – I breathed in my bewilderment, just like Rumi advised: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” And so I did, and I remember feeling content with squinty happy eyes. I sat and doodled: figure on background.
Later, on a Thursday evening, I returned to the museum for a reading by modern Indian authors, among them Suketu Mehta. But I fell in love with Rishi Reddi from the moment she called herself a feminist. A word so often taken out of context, misunderstood, triggering misunderstandings. After the reading, I went up to tell her how glad I was to hear that currently maligned word, and she told me “we need to bring it back,” and we do. In this case context prevailed?
But, the first reading was by Rajesh Parameswaran. He showed Manjit Bawa’s painting Krishna and the Snake as he read a precise seemingly banal tale of a tiger’s love for its zookeper.
Its ending still bewilders me and it tantalizes; much like Bawa’s painting, you feel the shape (of image, of narrative) like a flickering breeze, soft on the skin. Again I was brought to a complex smile that was really a marvel at the capacity of imagination to bring wonder to the world and make me forget myself. Within the precise shape (of image, of narrative), yes, there is a context, deep and interwoven, but for now, the shape itself can be enough to bring a smile and raise an eyebrow.
In Minneapolis, at the Walker Art Center, I sat, transfixed to the changing shapes on monitor. I sat for a long time. Shape after shape after shape. (Thank you, Erwin Wurm, 59 Positions, 1992)
The shapes are solid but not static; they breathe visibly. But then, photo after photo, I realize that what is important for me is the shape context. The shapes changing as the museum goers go here and there and create an unintended canvas. Yes, the shape has to be good to converse fluently with its surroundings, but that conversation is what really holds, and adds to the dynamism, and evokes the present.
03/04/2013 § 1 Comment
For in truth, the most accurate definition of the urbs and the polis is very like the comic definition of a cannon. You take a hole, wrap some steel wire tightly around it, and that’s your cannon.” Ortega Y Gasset 1883 – 1955
02/11/2013 § 2 Comments
“When the city dweller leaves his home or the homes of people he knows personally, he is surrounded by strangers… the world of strangers which is the city is located in the city’s public space.”
02/04/2013 § Leave a Comment
On an early walk in Salem, I was overjoyed to find what I was sure would become my favorite sanctuary in the city. A short walk from my house, on the shore, a simple grass rectangle with mature trees, and of ideal Goldilocks proportions, being neither too large nor too small; this park was just right. Benches to sit on and listen to the gentle waves faced New England’s is pretty picturesque landscape. Here it was postcard perfect with a small island in the foreground and, across the water, a backdrop of stately Marblehead homes. The real selling point, though, was the swing set: four proper adult swings. I had just moved from Cambridge, where many close parks offered places to indulge in a bit of play. Here, I had been looking for a nearby place to swing, and while the larger and closer Forest River Park has a full playground and swimming facilities, at the time, it only had child safety swings.
On leaving the park that day I fondly looked back. There was a sign, rather large, that I had somehow missed on my initial approach – there was the park’s name, various notices, and finally, the simple words: “members only.”
I have since returned to the park, its open inviting lawn, and swung on the swings, but now it feels oddly subversive, and I wonder what I would say if anyone would ask me if I am in fact a member.
01/25/2013 § 1 Comment
a love poem
I think of you and think
I love you.
Other thoughts dim, blocked.
I reach deep to write you words of great meaning.
and unfold the layers
of my mind
and my heart
and I take a good long look,
and in reaching I find my love for you
in every crevice of me.
I feel it along the bottom of my cheek as I think of your fingers there;
or at the back of my head as I feel your hand there.
My love for you runs down my spine
and tickles in places, like lips graze,
Your hands upon me
not consuming, just dancing
on top of my skin
As I think of you, I braid these streams of thoughts
and seamlessly weave these strands of emotions
and knit whispers gentle as breezes into my cherished memories of us.
My love for you has infiltrated me and I cannot untangle you from myself;
nor do I want to.
01/21/2013 § Leave a Comment
The lasting lessons from this past visit to the Eames house had everything to do with what was beyond the house. The view across the Pacific Coast Highway brings with its beauty the desire to know what it was in 1949, before the build-up – decidedly unpoetic. On the property, the house is in playful dialogue with the trees, the sundappled meadow and nestled tenderly with the hill; the house makes one long for all buildings to converse so easily with their surroundings. An anecdote told to us by the present staff member I know will have lasting effect in my life since it articulates just the sort of evidence I need to confidently take the position that good architecture takes the time of stillness and play as much as the serious work of analysis.
The initial design for the house crossed this meadow; designed by Charles Eames with Eero Saarinen it was aptly named the bridge house and would have been built had the steel for its construction not been delayed due to the war effort from 1945 to 1948. By the time the steel arrived, the Eameses had “fallen in love” with the meadow and were determined to nurture the meadow with their structure, and not cross it.