Monday, January 28, 2013

Sonata Rondo

Before going to bed on the night of the full moon, Friday, I stood at the window looking out, and I saw its light reflected in little spots all around, like stationary fireflies. I have never seen snow quite like this; the flakes were individual, and flat and smooth, as though they'd been pressed and glazed before being cast from a cloud. Then they remained separate and didn't clump or cling, were almost like a cold fluffy snow, but those I can usually see, in the characteristic snowflake crystal, and these were, as I say, more flat and shiny, lying like fish scales. They appeared designed for sparkle, intended to delight, to hypnotize, to send me flying into a White Dream of eternal return.

I must describe these things; it makes them last. Some of the phenomena I experience I am not even able to describe, they are too fleeting, faster than the breath of one word. That's where painting takes up. Nature is my life raft. It was for that reason that I had to leave the city. I feel I can't count on anything but the perception and emotional attachment I have to the landscape, rivers, trees, birds and bugs. Maybe it's inherited; I often think of one of the last things my father said before he died: "There will be no more bushes and trees."

It's snowing again today, but a warmer, clumpier, softer snow falling to the ground, in a dimmer, warmer, morning kind of light. An appointment I had has been cancelled, and I'm reassigning those hours to music practice, yippee! I love our current program and even though the concert is more than a month off, already threads of that music have woven themselves into my brain, and I find them when I wake, or in a moment of indecision. This has been a tough winter already, although it's only halfway through, but my private voice lessons too have been sustaining me - I have been quietly working on performance skills for the last few years, and recently had one of those encouraging threshold experiences that give me the impetus to keep on growing -- to no purpose, just because I am, and I can.

Ravenna Taylor, "Song Cycle, Rondo Pastoral," 2010, paper, photos, fabric

I also finished a painting Saturday and started another, and I will bring this one quickly to its conclusion also; I am completing preparations for another online-only exhibition next month. I have one recently completed painting which is impossible to photograph; I'll have someone with more skill and better equipment give it a try, but I'm betting that the optical qualities are not going to translate. It's a pity that my work will only be seen in photos on computer screens; the way I use oils doesn't really come across, the work looks much flatter on screens.

Yesterday I was at a concert (Dryden Ensemble) featuring a fantastic piano that was built to duplicate the one that Mozart used. I loved the sound of that instrument so much (would love to sing recital with a piano like that)! If I had such a piano, I might start playing again, I thought. The pianist gave a little talk about his instrument, and my imagination was sparked by his mention of Beethoven and the piano's evolution -- how Beethoven was working at a time of fast development in the design and building of the fortepiano, and that must have influenced his composition and expression.

I thought about that and how, in our time, what has been developing so fast and has influenced so much of what we do is digital technology. There's a whole world of people who have dedicated themselves to early music. There's another world of people who paint in slow-drying layers, oil, pigment and canvas. I look at art online every single day, and have for the last few years; but I am finding it increasingly dissatisfying. Sometimes I feel as I do when I enter a large supermarket or a restaurant with a long menu, and although I might have entered hungry, I want nothing anymore.

As I prepare for my exhibition, which will occur only on computer screens, it is wonderful to have a show to look forward to, one that is "open to the public" 24 hours every day all over the world. It occurs to me that what looks good in a photo on a computer screen might be having too much influence on the contemporary art world though. I know there are works that I won't put into an online exhibition; they will remain in my studio and be there when I leave this world, I guess, without ever having been a part of the ecology of art thought -- that's how I see the value of exhibiting work, to become part of that ecology

Music only exists in the time it is unfolding -- a voice is subject to the conditions of one's anatomy, as is one's "self"; in that way it is more like my life than my drawings and paintings, which will outlast me. Even if they end up in a landfill, they will be all that they ever were for longer than I will be. I guess that's what the poem I published here last week was getting at, with many fewer words than this, today.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sublimation is like transpiration, a natural process of transilience.

There is no record –
you exist, or don't exist,
the way the minutes of meditation exist:
Stillness, a pool of time
through which action yet flows
as though space might contain thought,
sound, experience, sensation

 but space does not contain and
nothing can hold you, and nothing
can conjure back into being
Not here.

Ravenna Taylor, 2013