Posts Tagged ‘Parisian Cafe’

Evening at the Parisian Café

January 19, 2016

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At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement.  And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.

T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets

Today I finished reading one of the most satisfying books in a long time: Bernard Jacobson’s Robert Motherwell: The Making of an American Giant. The text is comprised of 120 pages of fine print, and I do not like reading fine print, but this was a genuine feast, begun Saturday and finished today (Tuesday). I simply could not put it down. I have been a devoted student of Motherwell’s life and work since the late 1980’s, and have chafed that there were no biographies written on him. Last year marked the centennial of his birth, so this book has come out, and another is coming out the first week in March, which I have already ordered pre-publication, compliments of Amazon.

I share almost nothing in common with Motherwell’s style of painting and collaging, but I absolutely love his writing, and he wrote prodigiously. The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell remains one of my favorite art texts of all time. I love his lifestyle which combined reading, writing, publishing, editing, teaching and making art across multiple genres. He was a contemplative, quiet man, and I have felt an affinity with his solitary side during my own hours of work and study. Nearly every day when my job is done, I retreat to my home and studio-my sanctuary. Tonight, as temperatures drop outside, I am enjoying this fireplace and re-reading all the notes I took in my journal from the reading of this excellent book. I posted the drawing of the tree above in a brief blog earlier this evening. I went to La Madeleine Cafe on the north side of Arlington to meet some kindred spirits, and got there a half hour early. So I took out my sketchbook, and with a cup of coffee at an outside table, did this 5 x 7″ drawing with great pleasure and gladness of heart. For years I have stared at winter trees, and questioned myself why I was not studying them with a pencil. Last November I got in the groove of this, and don’t want to get out, I enjoy the practice and discovery so much.

Once my friends arrived, we repaired ourselves indoors to the warmth of the cafe and excellent, spirited conversation. It has taken me decades to find such rich camaraderie and verbal exchange among artistic spirits. The French Impressionists had their Café Guerbois. Picasso and friends had their Les Deux Magots. The Ash Can School had 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. The Abstract Expressionists had the Cedar Bar in Greenwich Village. I myself have ached for an art cafe where I could show up once a week or so and just talk with other creative people, and finally I found a married couple who possess this overflowing zest for art, ideas, music, literature and film. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I could listen to their ideas all night. How marvelous to have this space on Tuesday evenings for sharing a table, cups of coffee, and an abundance of dreams. Thanks Z and Elaine. You are truly the best! I’m still buzzing with the things we talked about this evening.

Now back at home, I’m enriched in front of the fire with memories, a journal, good books and a glad heart.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to explore.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

 

Relaxing and Rethinking

July 8, 2015

Every artist has a central story to tell, and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.

Gregory Crewdson

Approaching Real Life DFW Talk Radio Station

Approaching Real Life DFW Talk Radio Station

Talk Radio Host Heidi Valdez Hardy

Talk Radio Host Heidi Valdez Hardy

The Broadcast Booth

The Broadcast Booth

I can think of few occasions more delicious than an evening to relax and reflect over a satisfying day. I am exhausted to the bone, but after a few days of tension building up to this afternoon’s two-hour radio interview, I am serene and thankful that all went well. From the moment I entered the broadcast booth with host Heidi Valdez Hardy, I knew things would go smoothly. She is a confident broadcaster, with a pleasing demeanor and enthusiastic wit.

The afternoon had its points of humor. Fifteen minutes before going live, Heidi asked me if I would mind being the co-host of the program. I had no clue what that meant. Did I know how to navigate facebook? Yes. Then would I mind posting information on her facebook timeline as the show progressed? And would I mind answering the phone when the screen lit up with an incoming call? At first I thought this would unravel me, but as it turned out, I was multi-tasking, and it took my mind off the nervousness I had been feeling about speaking over the air. So . . . I got to be the interviewee, social media secretary, and call screener all rolled into one, and it was wonderful. I had no time to feel nervous or uptight. Quite frankly, it reminded me of days when I worked in the Office of Communications of the Fort Worth Police Department long ago–I just didn’t have to take any 9-1-1 calls today.

The very first call into the program came from Cedar Hill, Missouri, from a friend with whom I had graduated high school forty-three years ago. Heidi could not believe that this was a caller from outside the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The man had the most gracious words of praise to offer, and started the program on a highly affirming note. Thanks, Mark. I really needed that boost.

The two hours rolled by, feeling like twenty minutes. When it was over, I just heaved a sigh of relief and genuine thanks. What a rush of good will. I could reproduce pages of handwritten journal memories from these two hours, and I’m very satisfied that we got to talk in earnest and at great length about the experiences of the Artist in Residence program at the Texas Laguna Madre. A podcast will be posted in the future of today’s show, and anyone wishing to access www.dfwreallifetalk.com may listen to it.

There were two questions posed that moved me deeply, and I want to address those. First,which artist would I bring back to life with whom to have a conversation, if that were possible? I feel that I had waited all my life to answer that, and I was stirred up, just thinking about it. I would start with Andrew Wyeth. I have always been fascinated wtih his eye for the environment, and his way of rendering the details with exacting precision, while at the same time allowing some of the watercolor wash and splatter to spin out of control. I love his balance of control and freedom in the compositions. I feel that his still waters ran very deeply and wish I could have had private moments to talk quietly with him. Edward Hopper is also on my list. That quiet man had such a profound philosophi and poetic mind, with his love of literature and the American scene. I see the profound loneliness and isolation in his urban and small town settings, and wish that I could unlock the secret to instilling that kind of mood into my own compositions. And finally, Robert Motherwell. That brilliant scholar lectured on twenty-seven university faculties, wrote and published essays, edited for scholarly journals, devoured literature and philosophy, and still had time to create a vast inventory of paintings, a huge body of work. How rare to see the scholar and creative artist occupying the same body. And he made no apology for loving both worlds, perhaps because it was all one to him. That is what I want to embody as well. He is my role model.

The second question concerned my ultimate dream or desire. This answer would surprise some, because most would expect me to wish for broader exposure or sales. Of course, those things are important, but there is something more: I love painting more than selling or displaying my work. But I make my art in solitude, and don’t complain about that. What I do covet though, is the Parisian Cafe. Never in my life have I known a gathering place for creative spirits to meet at least once a week. The French Impressionists had their Cafe Gerbois. The Lost Generation met at Gertrude Stein’s. The Abstract Expressionists had the Cedar Bar. The Ash Can School met at 806 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. But I have never had a cafe where I could meet consistently with other creative minds eager to talk of ideas, philosophy, literature, art, music, or any creative endeavor. That I have always craved. That I still seek. When I sit and read a lengthy email from fellow WordPress blogger Corey Aber, I feel that I am sitting in a Parisian Cafe, listening to another creative, eager spirit. I just wish I could physically sit in the presence of a circle of those men and women, and hear their dreams, share in the joy of their explorations, and talk of ways that we can make this world better by living more artful lives.

It is bedtime. But I wanted to put some thoughts onto the blog before retiring. I didn’t think it possible to feel even better than I did before I started writing this, but it happened. It’s been a day worth recounting.

Thank you again for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.