Posts Tagged ‘Frank Lloyd Wright’

Avalanche

April 24, 2015
"Constellation" by Isamu Noguchi at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

“Constellation” by Isamu Noguchi at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth

This has not been an easy day. Waking up to a dark, rainy morning does not crater my spirits, though that was the climate that greeted me at 6 a.m. and stayed throughout the day. No. Today was a day that brought me into contact with two students knocked down by serious medical issues. As a teacher, I know that I have stayed above the fray of meddling–I do not get emotionally involved with my students’ personal affairs. From my first day, twenty-seven years ago, I have felt that caution to stay away from the personal stuff–pour as much passion and intellectual material into their minds on a daily basis as possible, but do not try to be a father or big brother or guidance counselor to them. I have been consistent. But for the first time that I recall, I have spent an entire day inside this school building, fighting back tears, bitter tears. These students are too young to bear what has been dropped onto their slender shoulders. And I cannot even begin to know what their parents feel, because I am crushed beyond help as I write this.

Once school let out, I felt the need to shake off this heavy week, and decided to return to the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth. The rains had brought cool winds, and I felt my tensions elide as I sat behind the Kimbell, sketching the Henry Moore “Figure in a Shelter” bronze that quietly anchors the outside corner of the museum.

Henry Moore "FIgure in a Shelter"

Henry Moore
“FIgure in a Shelter”

After the sketching period soothed my spirits, I turned to one of my Robert Motherwell books, and read his comments about one of his favorite poets, Stéphane Mallarmé:

Sometimes I have an imaginary picture in mind of the poet Mallarmé in his study late at night–changing, blotting, transferring, transforming each word and its relations with such care–and I think that the sustained energy for that travail must have come from the secret knowledge that each word was a link in the chain that he was forging to bind himself to the universe; and so with other poets, composers, and painters.

Just this morning, as I was ironing my shirt for school and listening to a DVD over the life of Frank Lloyd Wright, I thought of Wright’s analogy between the composer and the architect, how each symphony was an edifice of sound. As I sat on that back deck and mused over the synergy between all the creative souls on this earth, my eye drifted over to Isamu Noguchi’s “Constellation” in the sculpture garden below.

It was nearly time to go inside for the 6:00 lecture on the contributions of Noguchi, so I gathered my books and went inside. Unlike many museum lectures, this speaker was stunning. Alison de Lima Greene, curator of contemporary art for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, delivered her lecture titled “Isamu Noguchi: Between Measured Time and the Vastness of the Universe.” Her scholarly erudition was first rate, and her skillful use of words kept me on the edge of my seat. Halfway through the lecture, the lights suddenly went up, and security instructed us to move directly to the underground shelter, as a tornado warning was in progress. I did not know until then that an underground tunnel connected the Kahn and Piano buildings of the Kimbell Art Museum.

Waiting out the Storm

Waiting out the Storm

Once the storm passed, and we were allowed to return, I would have had the perfect excuse to exit the lecture. But the thought never entered my mind. Returning to my seat, I listened to the second half, equally as engaging as the first. I would drive across several counties to listen to this scholar lecture on any topic concerning the arts.

Driving home later, I felt good for the first time today, and am fortunate that this evening’s opportunities were afforded me. Twice this week, the Kimbell has provided a respite for troubled days. I tried twice today to pull some troubled souls out of the waters. In the end, I needed to be pulled out as well, and I’m thankful that spiritual healing was offered. I want to close this chapter with some words from Emerson’s Nature that Frank Lloyd Wright never tired of sharing:

Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven. Know then, that the world exists for you. . . . Build, therefore, your own world.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Momentum

April 23, 2015
Lexington, Texas Gas Station Finished (Perhaps)

Lexington, Texas Gas Station Finished (Perhaps)

I can’t get them out fast enough.

Frank Lloyd Wright

This afternoon I was in a watercoloring mood, and felt a little disappointed when I brought the old white house to a close. Then I poked around and found this one that I had forgotten some weeks ago. Without a second thought I went to work on the left gas pump which had been barely underway, then worked on the foundation underneath. All the while, I listened to the very lengthy Ken Burns documentary playing on the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. I was thrilled to hear how prolific he became around age 80, almost fifteen years before his death. When asked how he managed to tend the details of so many works under construction at once, his answer was: “I can’t get them out fast enough.” I have known that feeling personally from time to time, but would like to experience it again. Maybe it’s about to happen. At any rate, I’m closing in on finishing this gas station from Lexington, Texas that I love seeing on my trips to the coast. I’ll try to make a decision soon on bringing it to a close, and then see about the next one . . .

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Andrew Wyeth Died Too Soon

April 23, 2015
Completed Watercolor of my 1987 Dwelling.

Completed Watercolor of my 1987 Dwelling.

What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their works is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.

Eugene Delacroix

I know. I posted that same Delacroix quote last night, but it has remained with me throughout this day, and I cannot let go of it just yet. Though it has been an art history day filled with 20th-century architecture and Abstract Expressionism with the A. P. classes and Henri Matisse with the Regular Art History class, my mind throughout the day has gone back to Andrew Wyeth and the legacy he built until he died at the age of 91. I was saddened the day he passed away, realizing his last watercolor sketch had been created, and nothing more would come from his fertile mind or sensitive eye. But today I realized that I cannot let go of the land or rural structures he explored. I lived among such places, and I still carry them in the best memories of my life. Once realizing that, I could not wait to get back to my studio and go back to work on the piece posted above, not realizing I was actually going to finish it today. Now I need to move on to something else. I’m very absorbed with the notion of rendering the raw land that engulfs us, and Andrew Wyeth remains my muse in that endeavor.

The day is just a blur to me now. Three sections of art history over two eras kept me occupied enough, but in every free moment, I was pouring words into my journal, re-thinking things we covered in Thoreau in yesterday’s philosophy class. One of the students, during roundtable discussion, read the following from Walden:

It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.

I was moved at how long the students lingered over this text in discussion, musing: “how does one live a creative, artful life?” How does one begin to answer such a question? Indeed, it is much easier to make beautiful things than to live a beautiful life, simpler to bless others with your creations than with your behaviors. I was not able to provide an answer to the class, and I’m not sure who could.

As I moved through the day, I resolved to continue chewing on this one, and, once home again, pick up the brush and attempt to make something beautiful. While painting the above watercolor, I listened to a DVD of Ken Burns’ documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the archtects we covered in A. P. Art History today. Luckily our public library had the disk and I’m delighted to listen to his story as I work.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Watercolor Respite

April 21, 2015
Picking up the brush again

Picking up the brush again

Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists . . . 

Marcel Proust

A gentle reminder from a special friend sent me back to reading Proust last week after another long hiatus. Then I had to close up my shop and leave for a three-day art festival. Once the festival closed, I returned to two days of grading hell, promising me not one minute of down time. Finally I return home late today to find a surprise in my mailbox–a gift book Paintings in Proust. I’ve had some wonderful rocking-chair time with this beautiful volume. Now I’ll need to design a way to continue my reading of Proust’s novel, as well as The Fountainhead.

I managed a little time today on the watercolor I abandoned last week. The more I stare at the sprawling land around that house, the more I think of a passage from The Fountainhead as an architect surveyed the surrounding landscape:

The earth was like the outline of a great story, like the steel frame of a building–to be filled and finished, holding all the splendor of the future in naked simplification. . . . Wynand wondered what reins this man was gathering from all the points of the landscape into his hand.

Between this Ayn Rand novel, the writings of Proust, and a library book I checked out today on Andrew Wyeth, I am getting a profound itch to explore the land in watercolor and pencil, and find a way to fit the architecture into its natural surroundings. So many things are starting to come together in my mind, and it’s been frustrating that I’ve been buried in administrative details to explore them. To borrow again from The Fountainhead:

It was as if an underground stream flowed through the country and broke out in sudden springs that shot to the surface at random, in unpredictable places.

Sometimes I think our decades of ideas and experiences from reading and living life form a deep, still reservoir which from time to time bursts forth like an artesian well. Over the past week, these streams from Rand, Proust and Wyeth have comingled with ideas gleaned from Thoreau in my Philosophy class and certain twentieth-century ideas in my A. P. Art History classes, particularly Frank Lloyd Wright. In a perfect world, I would shut down my school for a week, crawl under a rock, and give these ideas time to hatch and develop. But alas, the hour is drawing late, and I have school again tomorrow. It just never ends.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.